Friday, 22 June 2018

The Writer, the Word Demon and Wild Damson Jam.

Once upon a time there was a writer who lived in house surrounded by titanic fruit trees. She was a little known writer who wrote mostly for her own pleasure and because, at times, it felt like there was a ravenous word demon roiling inside her. She loved creating worlds of wonder and impossibility, etching out visual and sensual nuances with language. Then one day, because she had a whole lot of other stuff to do, she had to abandon tug-of-war with the demon and wean herself off creative word usage.

It was hard going and she missed it dearly, but there was no other quick and easy way to feed her family, and a ten-hour day job didn't leave much energy to play with words. How she longed for the summer, a time of freedom and fruitful work at her ageing laptop. In her notebooks she had been scribbling dreams and visions of other worlds, she had been visited by so many characters that she was beginning to feel her head would explode.

The summer inevitably arrived and finally she sat down to write. She prodded the the demon affectionately.

'Come out to play!' she demanded.

It didn't so much as flicker it's ears. She jabbed at it for a few more days but it did no more than lower it's scaly eyelid and look right through her. She kicked at her desk in frustration and fled into the garden.
...the fruit trees began to thrash above her. It rained cherries first of all.
A storm was brewing in the mountains all around and the darkening sky was encroaching on the sun. The air zinged with static and the fruit trees began to thrash above her. It rained cherries first of all. Grabbing a ladder and a bowl, the writer gathered the ripe fruit knowing that a jam making session would cure her blues and might even lure the word demon from hibernation. She left the bowls of glistening fruit on the kitchen table while she slipped out to buy sugar. On her return she found only the rotten worm-ridden fruit left. Her children lay snoring, their bellies bloated and their faces smothered with cherry blood.

In frustration, the writer went back to her laptop and wrestled the demon again. It stretched a lazy talon in her direction but never stirred. Instead, she went and scrubbed the bathroom until it glistened. At least something positive would come from the day.

The next day she bought sugar home with her, but most of the cherries were already scattered in the yard after the storm and the sparrows fought over the last hanging few.

Leaning from the balcony like a love struck Juliet, the writer gathered a few kilos of the globular gems.
Above the porch the wild damson was laden with fruit, tart and ruby red they glistened like semiprecious stones in the dark green branches. Leaning from the balcony like a love struck Juliet, the writer gathered a few kilos of the globular gems and rushed inside. She boiled the fruit and fished out the stones that would break the demon's teeth and the tough skins that would lead him to choke. She added the sugar and boiled the jam. She waited for it to thicken. It never did. She tested it thrice and another dozen times, but it never wrinkled. Swearing under her breath she poured it into jars and hoped it would at least taste okay.

The demon opened an eye when the writer lay the jam at the entrance of his lair. She dipped a spoon into the syrupy mixture and held it out. Raising it's head slightly, it tasted the air with its blue forked tongue and then rolled it's nose under its wing. She brought bread and butter - the unsalted kind - because salt shrivels the guts of word demons, dries them right up. After slathering a few hunks of bread with creamy butter and the sweet juice of the wild damson jam the writer left the word demon in peace.
The demon opened an eye when the writer lay the jam at the entrance of his lair. 
The town clock struck three am and the writer awoke. The word demon lay coiled at her feet flicking it's tail like an angry cat.

'Don't you dare wake my husband.' the writer whispered.

The demon huffed a breath as rotten as bad poetry in her face, it's eyelids blinking inquisitively. The writer gathered her notebooks and sat at the laptop, a smile on her face. The word demon sidled past her, it's haunches so broad that it nearly toppled the knickknacks in the hall.

'Where are you going?'

The demon sat expectantly in front of the pantry. A whole loaf, a pat of butter and a jar of syrupy jam later the writer finally put words down. The demon slept contentedly at her feet, it's tail twitching as it dreamt of wild damson jam.

'It's great to have you back.' the writer thought.
If you enjoyed this tale then you might like to check out The Arrangement, a tale of horror, winter and undying desire, soon available in Dark Voices from Lycan Valley Press.

And if you're inspired to make jam click the link for the damson jam recipe I adapted and read about ways of testing jam.

Recipe for damson jam.
Ways of testing if jam is set.


1 comment:

  1. Ah, sadness then redemption. A true classic, and served with damson jam, no less. A beautiful return to form, Milady!

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