Friday, February 20, 2009


I wondered at the little girl, painting her in fast thin lines. I didn’t want to capture her details, not the folds of her coat, or the wild streamer of her blond hair. There was no time. I wanted to capture her spirit. The energy that made her run as fast as she could down the sands, her footfalls as brief in life as she will be. As brief as we all are. I wondered if I could capture her giggles. Is laughter a spiral or a circle? Should it roll or wriggle across my canvas?

“What you doing?” she drew to a halt right by my side.

“I’m painting. Painting you. Do you want to see?”

She giggled, looking at the sand, awkward and embarrassed. I turned my easel to show her her figure. The joy, could she see it? Was she too young to know how lucky she was to be so uncomplicated? She pointed at the squiggles I’d made. “What’s that?”

“That’s laughter. That’s what it looks like to me.”

She shook her head. “That’s not laugher.”

I offered out my palate, a brush. “Then paint it for me.”

She picked the sunshine colour: yellow. She painted with studious concentration in one low corner. A swirl? A lump? Two eyes?

“That’s a snail,” I said when she’d finished.

“I like snails. They’re funny looking. They make me laugh.”

“Gwyneth”? A voice called to her. “Come along now.”

She ran to her mother, two arms becoming a protective ring about her shoulders before she was gathered up. Precious little bundle.

I hoped she’d always run free. I hoped she wasn’t always told endlessly to be careful of this, careful of that. Don’t touch. Don’t look. Hardly be. No, you couldn’t trap a spirit like hers, why would you even dare to try?

I breathed the sea air deeply; smiled then out a laugh of my own. Snail shaped, of course. A swirl. A lump. Two eyes.

Rona J Frith


douglas.bruton said...

As I am a newbie here I feel I should comment on some of the now-posting pieces...

I like the child in this and I like how we get to know the painter through her thoughts about the child. I like the clever coming back to the yellow swirly lumpy snail at the end... a nice structural element.

But some of the other elements did jar a little in my head: "her footfalls as brief in life as she will be"??? Is the little girl going to die and does the painter have some kind of prophetic insight? Or is this just about her being a girl one minute and then all growed up, and therefore, as is, a little over-written?

And "I hoped she’d always run free. I hoped she wasn’t always told endlessly to be careful of this, careful of that. Don’t touch. Don’t look. Hardly be. No, you couldn’t trap a spirit like hers, why would you even dare to try?" This seems like another example of over-doing it... and for me these thoughts being overdone lack the ring of truth.

But I do love that little girl... she rings true.



Anonymous said...

Dear Mr B, sorry you didn't like my do-do but it was quick 15 minute do-do, it was never meant to be a literary masterpiece I slaved over for days,weeks, the rest of my life. I could explain its inner working but I have a biscuit resting in my tea I cannot leave alone for too long. I just want to say that I sold my do-do for a cheese-straw to a woman from Yorkshire(t). I'm still waiting for my straw, apparently her ninja trained attack cat who wears a bullet-proof pop-sock ate it. I shall never trust that woman again.

Not the real RJF (from a padded cell in Lurkland.)

Now, woman from Yorkshire(t), you see why I never post here. And why the price for my do-do has gone up so much.

Douglas Bruton said...


Focus on the positives... I like the structure of the piece a lot. And I love the girl... really love how real she is. That's what you should be reading.

The rest of what I said is just static interference. Stick your fingers in your ears and you won't hear it.

Sorry too you have not got your cheese straw. Is that the going rate for 500 words these days? I gave mine away for the love.

Really with my best wishes for you and your writing.

Mr B (sometimes known as D)

Jane Smith said...

Douglas, I liked this piece too. The very nature of this project makes it difficult to realise the full potential of any of the characters in just one piece about them, doesn't it?

And Anonymous, I'm not quite sure what you're trying to imply here, but I suspect you need to find yourself a different brand of biscuits: the ones you're eating seem to have upset you. Or was it the cheese straws?

I shall confirm: no one gets anything for their writing here. Not a cheese straw or two, and certainly no love. I don't love anyone but me. Just so you all know.


Anonymous said...

You're just trying to pretend you don't know me now.

RJF (not the real one.)

Douglas Bruton said...

And Jane... sorry if I gave you, or others, to think when I said 'for the love' that it was the getting of love from you or others... What I meant was that I gave mine away for the love of writing, and giving, and being a part of something.


Loving it.


Jane Smith said...

Douglas, don't worry: I might not adore you yet (I hardly know you!) but I do love your writing.