The East Side

There were some witches, on the East end of town. Only witches, mind. Nobody else lived there, because they simply weren’t allowed. Not that there was an outright statement saying so. It’s just that, somehow, there were never any houses for sale around there. Schools could be seen, but were never listed on national websites. Enquiries were made, but never replied to. Eventually people gave up, and realised that any regulars simply were not permitted on that side, and it was no use pursuing the matter.

If you walked down their streets, a distinct smell wafted into your nostrils.

The smell of burnt.. cake. Sharp, sweet, and slightly frustrating.

Their streets were spick and span. Neat as a pin. Not a blade of grass out of place. The flowers grew politely in their assigned beds and boxes and hanging baskets, and didn’t dare peep over the edges. The pavements were a neat, uniform colour, each tile placed evenly and with care. The cars were parked in order of colour, so a person standing at the very far end of one of the streets saw a rainbow of cars parked along the right hand side. Not the left, mind. That could get you killed.

When newcomers drove through town, they marvelled at the East side.

Be careful,’ the man who ran the newsagents would say, ‘thems the streets what those witches live on.’

Don’t go down the East end,’ mothers would caution their little ones on their way out to play, ‘that’s where the witches live.

Sometimes children would wander down to the East side. They would peep around hedges, which almost looked like they were paintings, drawn out to be mathematically correct in proportion. They would try, sometimes, to peer through windows. They never succeeded at seeing any of the goings on inside the quiet houses. A pitch blackness would greet their eager eyes.

A pitch blackness, I will assure you, which arose from some mysterious magical power, rather than a lack of electricity. The windows looked perfectly normal, and witches certainly don’t believe in blackout curtains, so only some kind of spell would allow nobody to see what went on in the drawing rooms of the witches.

Not many human children, however, got away with these nosy antics. Sometimes, if a witch became particularly irritated by bright eyes or the edge of a curious nose peeking around the corner, accompanied by the sound of terrified giggling and scuffling, a human child would rise to the sky with a look of wonder on his or her face, and be promptly and firmly set down right on the edge of the East side, next to the sign that read, in curly lettering,Welcome to the East Side of Pickletown. Please drive carefully. Do not pick any flowers or step on any lawns.’

Some of the children enjoyed being airlifted in such a fashion, and would conduct little expeditions with their other daring little friends into the East side, purposely poking their heads over hedges. They would scream with laughter whilst floating through the air, shouting that they were flying, and altogether feeling mighty smug and superior.

Then they would attempt to trawl back into the East side, for another ride.

They didn’t ever get one, however. They could never step beyond the sign. No matter how hard they tried to put their feet beyond the sign, they couldn’t It was as if some kind of invisible wall was blocking them. It was mighty frustrating for them, of course. They could plainly see the bit of pavement they couldn’t touch. Their brains were convinced they could walk there, because there was no visible obstruction. However they simply could not, so they attempted running at the wall at top speed (not a very wise idea, I assure you), only to be flung backward on to the pavement in a rather painful manner. That stopped them, alright. They would then give up and plod cheerfully back into their respective side, nattering on about who flew the highest and who was thrown back the hardest.

Not a bad day of earnest playing for the little ones, that’s for sure!

 

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Espresso

I spilt my coffee all over the table and if it hadn’t been for that, I would not have become who I am today.

It all started that morning. The twenty third of August. I woke up ten minutes late feeling exhausted. And my hands were shaking in that way that only coffee can cure. Or cause. I am not a habitual coffee drinker. I would not know.

I went into the coffee shop and asked for their strongest drink. The coffee-tender looked at me oddly before pouring me an espresso. I overheard a man wearing a cashmere jumper saying primly that it was called ‘espresso, not expresso’, and he ‘didn’t know where these hobos got their kicks’.

Nevertheless, I sat down with quite a thump, earning me some disapproving glances from a pair of thickly spectacled young ladies who were tapping away at ten thousand words per minute, while simultaneously sipping their drinks. Whatever they were drinking looked heavenly because they kept smacking their lips and commenting on the divinity of their beverage.

So I took my first sip of espresso, turning my eyes to the golden rays of morning sunshine flooding the city streets, preparing my mind for the stressful day at work ahead, when the abominable taste of coffee knocked me to my senses. I spluttered most unbecomingly and slapped the table, feeling my face flush deeply as I struggled to contain the hot coffee in my throat without choking.

Choke I did, of course, and I made such a palaver of it that everybody stopped what they were doing to stare at me. Well done, they all thought, can’t even choke quietly.

While I was making my racket my hand flew outwards uncontrollably and I knocked the espresso all over the table.

There is a monster under my bed. I swear it. And he is intent on having me scramble out of bed on the wrong side every day, minutes late for anything I set out to do. There is a monster under my bed, and he is hindering me from success.