Friday, July 19, 2013


Mat and Hilda were a couple who did a lot of role-playing to spice up their marriage. Often they never knew if the other one was being serious or pretending. That is the art of role-playing -- to believe in your own role and that of the other with the excitement of not knowing when one role turned into the real self and vice versa. I'm not an expert, of course. I'm only going on what Mat and Hilda told me -- but what they told me separately was often different from what they told me together.

Eventually they invited me to join in with their games. Knowing I was single, they presumably thought I was flexible enough to fit in to whatever they decided I should do. I would be so grateful for their company I would be amenable for any demeaning role, even a situation that bordered between life and death. Or so they thought.

My only experience was a Murder Dinner, one that I once attended as a gypsy girl in drag -- and I ended up being the murderer. I spent many years in prison as a result -- but that was better than being the one who was murdered. A life inside was better than a life without. But of course all those years turned out to be imaginary and here I was about to be welcomed by Mat and Hilda on the night of the ultimate role-play.

I had been told at first there would be nobody at all in the house and that I should make myself at home inside and there would be plenty of nibbles scattered about. And I was to expect the unexpected -- and I suspected that I would not recognise Mat and Hilda when they eventually arrived. This seemed a bit off because the original thought of mine was one of pleasure at being in Mat and Hilda's company. But to sit there in an empty house, listening to the clock tick, fiddling with cheesy crisps in a half-hearted fashion, sipping lukewarm Lucozade, expecting, at best, complete strangers....

None of this really seemed fair. I imagined myself back in prison - and the windows grew bars before my very eyes. But I was woken from my day-dream by the sound of steps coming down the stairs. I had earlier been upstairs but there had been nobody around. I even poked my head in the loft and the various cupboards.

The soft crump of carpet slippers, the shamble and shuffle in the hall ... then Mat and Hilda hopefully bursting into the room dressed in wonderful costumes and make-up, wanting me to enjoy playing up to the role they wanted me to play...

I watched the door slowly open --

-- and then slowly shut again. Somehow, I knew it wasn't me inside the room. It was me out in the hall not daring to come in, terrified at the thought of who may be inside the room in my place.  A gypsy girl in ghostly drag -- once called Mathilda  -- looking inside the mirror above the fireplace and seeing nobody there.

[Last night's speed-writing exercise at the Clacton Third Thursday Group.]

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