This summer I’ve been working to complete three projects. One a piece for an anthology with other authors which I finished early up, which should be coming out Stateside (release date to be announced), a full length ‘Devotion’ (Love Chances Series) which I’m still tweaking, and another full length which is for me something ‘totally new’ in terms of genre … which has been taking up a lot of research time.
This short story – Georgia Lights – was written in those in-between summer spaces. It’s the personal story of Georgia Ellis, a modiste working in the heart of London’s west end. It’s a story framed by a budding sexy black romance, you know it, but one that explores Georgia’s particular experience (some of the facets & patterning that have made her … just so), her disparate diasporic sense of ‘self’ for one, unpacking some of the challenges and conflicts thereof, but also the opportunities, strength and the ‘love’. Anyway, more soon …
‘Til then hope you’ll enjoy!
Georgia Lights – A Short Story
My parents rarely had friends to the house, and hardly did the sort of excursions mum would plan for Christmas or my birthday. Once or twice a year max. A trip to a West End production, for example.
A trip to the centre was considered a mega-traipse, way out of their comfort zone. Mum assured me I’d love it. Dad would always stay home.
At the time I was eight and grateful, truly I was, but a little tired at the prospect of sitting through a long-ass matinee.
You wait, Georgie, you just wait ‘n see. My mum would pat my hand in reassurance.
It wasn’t every day I got to spend an entire afternoon with mum, and she was right on one thing.
Yuh kant not ‘like’ wha yuh don’t know.
So I was definitely up for it, willing to give it a go.
That-particular-afternoon, we took the tube, the Victoria Line first from Brixton up to Green Park.
It was a Saturday and Brixton station was packed with shoppers, as we crossed at the lights, people selling all manner as we rounded the back of the coffee queue near the entrance, a mélange of smells – the damp metallic scent of pavement fusing with the one emanating from the depth of the trains, incense, traffic exhaust, coffee, weed, perfume, a variable mix of body odour – a blend of voices, calling for lottery tickets, local newspapers, some church missionary somin’.
I remember it was particularly loud that day. A sound-system was pulsing dub and one of two bredrin, newly set up for an event,were active. The leaner of the two on guitar, swinging his locks like Bob, the fatter baldhead seated behind an assortment of drums with some upturned plastic pans and buckets, bopping his head, Mala beads and a thick gold chain swaying his neck, looking in deep meditation as his hands danced across his instrument construction, producing unique sound.
I remember, feeding in the travel card, descending into the humid bowels of the station, the Victoria Line taking forever. Overcrowded, my mum was getting more flustered by the minute as the platform packed in.
By the time the train whirled in and we all jammed inside like sardines in a can, it mustered a sluggish creep north, ’cause of maintenance on the line or somin’, the driver keenly announcing at every opportunity to a collective sigh. At Green Park, the northbound Piccadilly started bouncing through dem stops, the driver only focusing on the fact ‘this train will be terminating at Arnos Grove’, the significance of which was neither here nor there as we surfed the rumble to Covent Garden.
The entire trip took much longer than mum had envisaged.
She’d started to sweat, dee good mood-a-melting, dabbing her brow with her hanky, in a rain of sighs and inaudible complaints, mutterings, her neck bent, hanging on, one hand on the hand grip, the other on me.
I must’ve looked anxious cause my watch kept showing we were cutting it fine, and probably wouldn’t make it in time. Mum wasn’t the type of person to endure frustration calmly, a fact she quickly outed my way, getting in a fix yuh face, chile, loud enough for everyone in the carriage to hear.
When we reached, mum started bustling, mumbling under her breath, holding my gloved hand like kite-string, as I tripped-on behind at full pelt, looking around at the smart buildings with fancy lights, meandering through pedestrian after pedestrian, a maze of people, a flood, talking all kinds of languages and dressed strange. We shan’t be late. Mum kept muttering as we turned into Bow Street, her breath escaping in thick foggy clouds as we trounced towards Catherine Street, while I dodged puddles like a ballerina, feeling rain trickle down the inside of one sock. We’d landed in a milieu of all-pervasive dampness, so mum’s mood was catching. I couldn’t bear to have my favourite shiny leather-upper white shoes dirtied. I started whining, and mum warned for the third time … fix yuh face or lemmuh give yuh somin to cry ’bout.
I remember, we rushed up the few steps and pushed the flap door at the entrance to the foyer of the Georgian theatre. A warm cloud enveloped us, relief, I’d nearly lost all sensation in my toes, the deep freeze rising from toe to knee. These were the reasons why, I disliked wearing dresses, I’d thought, my gaze sweeping once around the sumptuous space, my breath catching in recognition of the opulence, my inner banter petering out.
It was as if we’d entered a parallel reality. Expensive-looking people were milling around, sipping tea and coffee from proper cups. Children getting their munch on with a pastry looking bored eating it, as if they weren’t even proper hungry.
The noise and bustle of London dampened out by the closed doors, and cocooned in foreign lavish ‘warmth’, I started to watch …
(In editing ‘Georgia Lights‘ – Text Copyright © 2021 L. S. Bergman)