125. How to Preserve a Memory

  1. Listen to an album of your choice at least twice a day for a fortnight. 4-6 weeks is better. Studies have shown that this is most effective when the album is a new release.
  2. Avoid all contact with photographs and film from the time, as those will dilute or overwrite any images in your head with theirs.
  3. After at least a decade, listen to the album again. If too intense, it may be possible to acclimatise with the Greatest Hits album. Occasionally, it may have fermented into regret or bitterness, so it is advisable to repeat step 1 little and often.
  4. The listening process cannot be skipped by the purchase of mint in box. This sterile environment will not marinate your emotions successfully. Reunion tours whereby an album is played in its entirity are also poor substitutes.
  5. Side effects can include but are not limited to: sadness at lost youth, ill behaviour, memory lucidity, increased motivation, crying, strains from dancing, anger at acoustic cover versions, the booking of concert tickets or purchase of band t shirts. Very rare side effects include a haircut, the purchase of a guitar or a camper van.
  6. Please enjoy nostalgia in moderation.

124. They Never Leave Their Wives

Photo by Plann on Unsplash

This, like all my short stories, is a work of fiction. It was inspired by a newspaper headline prompt on the theme of lockdown in a creative writing/flash fiction zoom class hosted by the author SJ Bradley. Thanks also to Comma Press and North West Libraries Reader Development Partnership.

Photo by Malik Skydsgaard on Unsplash

It’s not limbo. It’s purgatory. No, it’s hell. He’s all I think about. I should be baking sourdough or banana bread, or getting through that pile of hardbacks, painting watercolours, or even doing jigsaws like every other saddo, but I can’t focus.

Every day it’s the same. I start getting properly ready about 4pm. At 5:30, give or take, he goes for a run and rings me. I imagine him all hot and sweaty. If he doesn’t ring me on time, then I know he’s not alone. He says he sometimes pretends he’s listening to his voicemail, so I only get a breathless “hi”. Then I have to wait until he gets home. That’s the best bit of my day. The muted zoom call while he’s in the shower. We have about fifteen uninterrupted minutes to watch each other.

Oh God, what if he’s recording those and putting them on the internet!

I don’t think he knows that I activated his find my phone app, or he’d have said something. I keep thinking that I might drive to that woodland area where he runs, just so I can bump into him accidentally on purpose, but what if he’s got his kids with him? It would be just my luck to get questioned by the police for going out of area to exercise.

It’s not fair. He’s stuck in a loveless marriage with two ungrateful teenage kids and a fat nagging wife, while I’m here all alone, in this flat, wasting one of my hot years. Every other woman stopped wearing a bra months ago, and slobs around all day in pyjamas, eating what they want. Not me. Full make-up and matching lingerie, just in case he facetimes me from the supermarket car park.

I can’t stop worrying about whether he’s cheating on me with his wife.

Photo by Ross Sneddon on Unsplash