‘It was a Saturday, I remember because I’d just finished work - I’m a Saturday girl at Woolies - and was running to catch the bus to town. I always meet my friends for a milkshake. Anyway, I got off at the bus station and walked through the precinct - you know, the one where they knocked down the cinema and…’ Lizzie paused as the policeman raised his hand.
‘Yes, yes, Miss Cooper, but where was it that you saw him? This is important. Mr Thomas has been missing for some time now. It would help if you could focus.’
‘Sorry. Nervous. You don’t think anything horrible has happened to him, do you? He’s such a lovely teacher. Always patient, explaining stuff. Some of the boys are mean to him, but the girls really like him. My friend Dotty thinks he’s creepy, but I don’t. He’s nice.’
‘Miss Cooper. Lizzie.’
‘Oh, sorry, well, I’d just walked through the precinct when I remembered I needed to get some ink cartridges from Smiths, so I cut down the alley near Marks and nearly bumped into him. He looked tired, like he hadn’t slept, and didn’t seem to notice me, even when I said “Hello”. Maybe he didn’t recognise me.’
‘He didn’t say anything to you?’
‘No, just sort of grunted and pushed past. He seemed to be in a hurry.’
‘Now you said your friend…’ PC Lane consulted his notebook, ‘Dotty. Yes, Dotty, thinks Mr Thomas is creepy. Why is that?’
‘Oh she said something about him touching her leg or bottom or something. I don’t believe her. She’s got tickets on herself if you ask me. Why would Mr Thomas do that? She does wear very short skirts though. Mum says she’s a bit of a tart.’
‘Did Dotty ever say anything else? About Mr Thomas, that is.’
‘No, not really. She definitely didn’t like him though. Especially after she got an E for her homework. Said she was going to get her dad to, what was it? Oh, yes. “Have a word” That’s what she said.’
‘And did she tell you whether her father had spoken to Mr Thomas?’
‘No. And she wasn’t at the cafe on Saturday…which was strange because she always comes. It wasn’t the same without her. Sometimes we laugh so much we snort milkshake out of our noses!’
‘So you didn’t meet up with her later in the day?’
‘Well someone said they saw two girls, one of whom who matches your description, with a man. You were walking near the river. They said you seemed to be shouting and they thought they heard a splash. Was that you, Lizzie? Was that you with Dotty, arguing with Mr Thomas? Tell us what happened. And think very carefully.’
‘Can I have my mum with me now, please? You think I was with Dotty? On the quayside? That can’t be right. I never…I, I. I don't go there on a Saturday.’
© Jill Waters
It was a Saturday, I remember because Kragathan (the Keplerians' first 'weekend' day) is when the transgalactic wormhole visits Kepler 442-b. That's my home planet, whence I moved after that time the Galactic Senate offered Earth access to the wormhole. Disaster!
As I Sci-Fact teacher, I knew that galactic harmony meant selflessness and open-mindedness. Neither are the greatest of humanity's attributes, which we sadly proceeded to prove. But because of my background, the latterly-imposed persona scan set me aside, eventually winning me both the Senate's confidence and my galactic travel VISA.
Anywho, back to 'the' Saturday. I'd not long gained Keplerian citizenship and was still getting used to the babel fish multilingual translator. Desperate to test it on different species, I made planet Dermaat's Intergalactic Festival my first wormhole destination.
My babel fish translated the wormhole's neural menu, despatching me instantly to Dermaat's 'door'. No security checks; babel fish work two ways: if I'd masked ill intentions, I'd not have accessed the portal. Simple.
Once inside, an explosion of life awaited! I was both giant and midget, colourful and mundane, intelligent and stupid. But no-being cared; acceptance was the byword, here.
I wandered the exhibits, attractions, and stalls; the diversity of organic and artificial life left me speechless.
Whilst browsing, I learned that Emperor Llørssåan, a proud Trisauran, would lead the parade. By all accounts, his appearance was a rare occurrence.
His 'float' - a palace gliding on impossible clouds - slowly approached where I stood, watching. All along, cheering beings had hopped or been thrust onto the float. By my reckoning, not all had alighted.
As the float drew level, four batrachian guards pounced off, 'encouraging' me (with 6-foot barbed spears) to climb aboard. The crowd cheered and, assuming spokespersonship for humankind, I obliged.
Onboard, Emperor Llørssåan was surrounded by other Trisaurs: his daughters, I learned, all of whom he was marrying off. I wish I'd known.
The emperor looked me over, whilst one of his daughters, Zamagora, whispered to him. I was subsequently invited onto her podium, garnering more cheers!
Zamagora, despite being blue, brown and nobbly, was utterly enchanting. As her eyes hypnotised me, fuzz ensorcelled my brain. As it cleared, she raised her hand and, trancelike, I stretched to 'high five' it.
Upon contact, a forcefield momentarily surrounded us; the crowd, Emperor, and his daughters roared!
Buoyed by this reaction, I jumped off the podium, leaping to high five the next daughter along. The crowd hushed, shocked, making Zamagora's sudden weeping all the more voluble.
According to my babel fish, now audible over the silence, I'd just married Zamagora, and, having subsequently proposed to her sister, had immediately divorced her.
The emperor was livid, the batrachian guard even moreso. A fine representative of human chivalry I proved to be.
Somehow, I made it back to the wormhole unscathed and affected safe passage to Kepler 442-b.
Tomorrow, it's Kragathan again. Am I tempted to make reparation on Dermaat? No. I don't go there on a Saturday.
© Jason Darrell
It was a Saturday, I remember because I was back at the Manic Street Barber's.
The fittings were the same: the car on a stalk for toddlers, the missing ceiling tiles, one fluorescent lamp out, the wretched Radio One music, the chequered lino on the floor, the tubular steel chairs, the smell of detergent and hair dye, and the solitary hairdresser.
She was very slowly cutting the hair from the head of a youth who had some strange writing tattooed from below the lobe of his left ear to the nape of his neck. He was having most of his hair shaved off. Given that his head was shaped like an anvil, which, added to his beak nose and protuberant teeth made him look like an iguanodon, this was perhaps not the wisest choice. His father was sitting sullenly in a chair, watching. He had a copy of ‘The Sun,’ folded at the racing page, in his lap.
I took my seat and observed the hairdresser. She was young, blonde, dumpy and short. She wore spectacles. She had her hair tied back in a pony tail. Every now and then, as she came across a stubborn nostril hair or a particularly uneven part of the skull, she shook her head in anguish. After about forty minutes, during which time she chopped away at Anvil-head one hair at a time, she suddenly whipped off his smock, flicked a brush in the general direction of his neck, and announced that she was finished. She picked up a mirror and gave the youth a view of the back of a neck that was shorn but not particularly clean.
‘’Ow much is dat?’ the youth said.
‘Six pounds fifty’ she replied.
His father stood up and wandered forward with the requisite money in his hand.
‘Took yer time, dinchew?’ the father said.
‘If a job’s worth doin’’ she replied and called me up to the chair.
‘What’s yours?’ she said, laconically.
‘An eight on top and a four at the sides,’ I responded.
She picked up the electric shaver, unclipped the end, spent twenty minutes selecting a new fitting, and then started on my hair.
A long time later, she said: ‘D’ya want yer ears done?’
‘Yeah, yuv got hairy ears. Do yer want them done?’
‘Does it cost more?’ I asked. She laughed uproariously.
‘Does it cost more?’ she replied. ‘Yer a comic, you - nah, iss all in with the service.’
‘How much?’ I asked.
‘Yer a pensioner, aren’t yer?
‘I’m not drawing my state pension yet.’
‘Well, yer look like a pensioner, so I say yer a pensioner – that’ll be three quid.’
I stepped out onto the street amazed that anyone could cut hair for three pounds. When I saw how long it had taken her, she was working for four pounds an hour, give or take a penny or two.
Two weeks later, I moved a hundred miles away.
I don't go there on a Saturday.
© R.T Hardwick
It was a Saturday, I remember because I always went shopping on Saturdays with my friend, Mia. We would have lunch out and then browse around the shops, or maybe see a film. Those were the days when I was teaching, and Saturday was a brief, luxurious day in my otherwise stressful life. Sundays were for chores, and dread of the looming week ahead.I came across Fight for the Life You Want to Live in the Self-Help section of the book shop. Somehow my fingers were drawn to the bright-red cover as if my brain was sending commands without my knowledge or say-so. Then I was reading the back cover, the Contents, and before I knew it, I was halfway through the first chapter. It was the sort of shop that encouraged reading and browsing so I bought an obligatory coffee and spent the rest of the afternoon lost in the fight for my life. Mia, huffing in annoyance, went home.
Part of me knew I shouldn’t be taken in, and I imagined my no-nonsense sister, Ellie, shaking her head in despair at this ‘self-help garbage.’ But somehow, I was gripped! Here was a way forward. I bought the book and spent the rest of the weekend immersed in The Fight. I dutifully answered questionnaires, made candid notes about what I hated about my life and what I wanted instead. Sorted out my priorities – and planned my escape.
I set off for work on Monday morning full of energy, my letter of resignation – the bomb that would trigger my new life – nestling in my bag. The end was in sight – four more weeks and then I’d be free. I felt light-headed and giddy.
My vision, dutifully described in the exercise for Chapter 3, of sitting in a beachside coffee bar, notebook in hand, writing my first novel, was dizzyingly close to coming true. Re-mortgaging the house to raise enough funds for my adventure was completed the following week. I felt as if I was walking on air – way above – looking down on everyone else’s hum-drum, boring lives.
Before I knew it, I was sitting by the Mediterranean with a notebook, smugly imagining my former colleagues on break duty in the grey, cold, concrete playground. There was only one problem. My notebook lay, pristine, waiting for me to write my inspired thoughts – of which I had zilch.
As the weeks passed, the glistening sea became exhausting, like a friend who is fun and exciting to be around but eventually becomes too much. The money was draining away faster than I imagined and I moved from hotels to hostels – hardly conducive to writing. When I only had my air fare home, I admitted defeat and surrendered.
Now I am on antidepressants and state benefits. I can go to the shopping centre any day I want, but I can’t face seeing anyone from my old life. I don’t go there on a Saturday.
© Sheena Billett
It was a Saturday, I remember because Mum made blueberry pancakes for breakfast, humming softly as she did so. She asked me about school, friends, whether or not I had homework. I told her Billy got in trouble for farting loudly in class and we both laughed (quietly, because Dad went to bed late on Fridays). I did so love our Saturday mornings. Now, we have Sundays, but that’s besides the point.
What matters is that I was playing in the garden when Dad came to take me to Auntie Sarah’s. On the way, we stopped at the park. He sat me down on the old wooden bench beside the swings and said nothing for what felt like a very long time. We were the only people there. I buried my nose in my rain-jacket as the damp wind buffeted my small frame. The sky was a grey tarpaulin, badly affixed and sagging at the edges.
I understood something bad was happening. Dad was shaking, sweating despite the cold and his clean-shaven face was marked red and turning yellow in places: around the bone of his right eye, his clenched jaw, his cheek.
“I’m going away for a while, son.” His words barely made sense to me, so heavy and slurred was his speech. “But one day I’ll come back… and when I do, I’ll come here every Saturday morning and wait for you to come see me.” He sniffed, looked down at his hands. “And I’ll understand if you don’t.”
Some time later, I realised he went to prison. Was it days later? Weeks? I don’t know. The timespan of childhood memories fluctuates every time I try grasping hold of them. It’s as if my immature brain wasn’t sure what was worth remembering and what wasn’t. It doesn’t remember, for example, the dead space in between me eating pancakes with Mum and Dad fetching me from the garden.
I’m older now, an adult. I work at the local accountancy firm and I’m still friends with Billy, who runs the bakery. No girlfriend though; there’s only so much I’m willing to divulge.
How do you tell someone that the frail old man who sits alone on the park bench is actually your dad? That one morning, after finding his hard-earned money spent on not one but two punnets of blueberries, he strangled your mother right there on the kitchen tiles.
It wouldn’t be fair to unload this (my) darkness on another. That’s why I remain single and why I tell people that I visit my mum on Sundays, but omit that she now lives at the cemetery.
Am I too frightened to confront him? Too angry? No. That’s not it. My father will die plagued by emotion, but not me. I will not become that man. And I don’t care that he waits on that decrepit bench every Saturday morning, flinching whenever he hears footsteps on the gravel path. It’ll never be me.
I don’t go there on a Saturday.
© Rachel Smith
Published in Issue #29
It was a Saturday, I remember because my team were playing in a Cup match. Premier league versus non league. No contest, right? Yeh, ok on paper, but our lads had been playing out of their skin all season and were sitting in second place in the league with a couple of games in hand. Add to that our Chairman`s promise of a bumper bonus for the players if they won the match, and the tie was all set up for one hell of a cracking game.
So, there I am, filling my hip flask and polishing my rattle, when the phone rings and it`s my mate Pete on the line saying he`s ever so sorry and he knows it`s match day but his wife`s about to give birth and his car`s just failed its MOT.
`Her waters` have broke all over the kitchen floor mate, ` he shouts down the phone. `and my bloody Skoda`s stuck in the garage waiting for a new ball joint, or som`at like that so I can`t take her up to the `ospital and all the ambulances are out on a major pile up on the motorway.`
So you can see where this is going can`t you? There I am, thirty minutes to the most important footie match our team have ever been in and Pete wants me to take his wife up to maternity.
`Look mate, I`d like to help-`
`Oh thanks pal, you`re a brick. See you in ten then?`
Well what could I do. I`d known Pete since we went scrumping together back in the day. So I put my rattle back in the cupboard and sets off for his place. Trouble was the bloody traffic. Manic it was, log jammed as far as the eye could see, friggin` blue and amber flags fluttering out of every open car window. It looked like VE day, not that I was around then but you get the picture.
Anyway I finally makes it to Pete`s but I`m too late. She`s gone and had the nipper right there on the kitchen floor. Trouble was the poor little mite was still born. It looked so peaceful too, lying there on the cold tiles with a crooked little smile on its face.
The team? They won, on penalties. Cracking game, apparently. But the nipper`s death did it for me. Too many memories. So? I don`t go there on a Saturday.
© Roger Woodcock
It was a Saturday, I remember because it was to become a pivotal moment in my life. One to be savoured and laid down as a ‘Forever’ memory. I was eight years old, and it was the first time that I’d experienced achievement. The feeling of strength and power that ran through my body as I reached my goal was intoxicating. I felt invincible and remember it vividly as if it were yesterday.
My tatty black bike was far too big for me. And because it used to belong to my brother, it had a crossbar, so my first challenge was simply to get on it. Stradling the cross bar, I could just touch the ground with the tip of my left toe, with my right leg waving about, desperately trying to find the pedal.
I don’t like to give up, but it was precarious as the bike kept falling over even before I had chance to ride it. And ride it I would, my determination was steadfast, with the injuries to prove it. I had huge grazes on my elbows, with great yellow and purple bruises where I kept hitting my hips on the unforgiving concrete when I tumbled. Injuries which would cause my Mum to raise her eyebrows, a terrifying prospect which I put to the back of my mind.
Then I had a bit of luck. “Maisie, Maisie. Would you like some help?” It was Bryan, my friend’s dad from across the road. “We’ll go to the park. Falling on grass will be less painful for you.” His offer came just at the right moment.
Before your eyebrows raise, like my Mum’s, this was the 60s. The kids played in the streets all day with little supervision, unlike the poor souls of today who are watched over morning, noon, and night. We were free, different times and this was one of the good bits, although many other bits weren’t quite so good.
Bryan held the bike, whilst I steadied myself on the saddle, right foot poised on the pedal to push. “OK, get ready, I’ll support you for the first 20 yards then you’re on your own.”
Off we went and I wobbled and weaved and managed a further 10 yards before I fell off. The ground was softer to land on, but the long grass made peddling harder. This continued for countless more times until Bryan had a brainwave.
“Try going round in a long, left hand circle, as that’s the way you tend to fall,” he suggested. So that’s exactly what I did, and I was off, wind in my face, peddling for all I was worth - it worked. Round and round I went, shrieking at the top of my voice, I never wanted to stop.
That moment inspired me to ride. I become an Individual Pursuit, Olympic champion. I still go to the Velodrome today with my friend who coaches at weekends, but I don't go there on a Saturday.
© Jonathan Wainwright
It was a Saturday, I remember because she was hanging out her washing in her back garden. I watched her take the clothes from the laundry basket, shake them, then hang them on the line. Each time she stretched to reach the line, she threw her head back and her waist-length dark hair fanned out across her upper back. An ochre-red dress clung to her curvy body.
I watched her for several weeks. I discovered she lives at number six on the ground floor, that she cycles away at eight a.m. Monday to Friday and returns at six p.m. Every Saturday, she stays home, hangs out her washing; every Sunday goes to church. No visitors and no male callers that I noticed.
Saturdays, I take a break from the computer and story writing. Early in the morning, I do my shopping at the farmer’s market. The rest of the day I spend cleaning, cooking, and relaxing.
This Saturday, I call out to her from my balcony, polite and casual.
“Hello there, glorious weather for drying clothes!”
“Hi neighbour, I’m Hugh,” I say.
She balances her washing basket on her hip and nods.
“I’m Angela,” she says.
“I love your wild and shady garden,” I say.
“Thanks,” she replies.
“There’s a Chardonnay chilling in my fridge. Care to join me later? Number thirteen, second floor,” I say.
“Come to mine, number six, ground floor. We can enjoy the garden. Say six. Bring the wine.”
I need to tell you something. I moved here a year ago. Before that, I lived far away. One evening when I was nine and a half years old, Daddy returned home from one of his beer-drinking bouts. He and mom started shouting at one another in the kitchen. There was a loud bang. The silence that followed was terrifying. Mom warned me to say nothing. Said if I did, the police would send me away. Said I'd never see her again. So, I didn’t utter a word for two years.
My mother went to prison for manslaughter. She fell into a severe depression and tried to commit suicide. She now lives in a mental institution. I don’t visit.
Shrinks assessed me. Foster parents raised me. I attended a remedial learning centre and found comfort in writing. I went off the rails, but I am now clean.
After showering I dress for my laundry love in my new blue jeans and best black shirt. I dab musk perfume—the same scent my mom loved—behind my ears and on the inside of my wrists. At five minutes to six, I take the wine out of the fridge.
I told the police I keep to myself. Don't socialise at all with neighbours; saw nothing. Didn’t tell them about surfing the internet for those Japanese torture cartoons sites and sex sites I love to visit, except on Saturday. I don’t go there on a Saturday.
© Mary Anne McEnery
It was a Saturday, I remember because the Seventh Day Demon erupted that evening. It happened right on schedule, proving the rumor true. It was also the day when everything got turned upside down.
Time can't heal this. I'll always feel the plastic edges of the ties pinching my wrists. The marriage between nature and this territorial tyrant coming together at just the wrong time to teach me a lesson I won't forget.
"When you flirt with steam, you're damn right you're gonna get scalded!"
Sadistic words of wisdom. That voice, that breath moistening my ear every evening as the Montana sun abandoned me to another sleepless night of shivering, hunger, and thirst.
In his mind, he was the land. Owned everything on it, including the geyser. Seven feet tall from the perspective of someone on their knees shackled to a tree. The hot breath, sulfuric. A voice that rumbled through bones, gurgling pent-up rage and wounded-animal fear. Father-figure to countless acres of wilderness. I call him the Seventh Day Devil.
The days were endless, and the nights relentless. Surrounded by lurking enemies. Blood stained, razor teeth always near. Circling eyes in the Big Sky watching me deteriorate in a slow, painful death; harassing me with shrill anticipatory exclamations. Whipping wind tearing through layers of clothing until the numbness set in. Twin barrels sniffing at my neck just before "supper" every evening.
He didn't want me dead, just to wish I was. Every time I heard the crackling of twigs and leaves, I knew he was coming. He was my god that whole week; the provider and the taker. In the evening, he'd be there to dump another splash of water down my desolate throat; shove another tear of bread in my begging mouth; remove another fragile layer of my dignity with further slicing words.
"Gotta learn to read signs, boy."
Those were the words last time I saw that leathery face. The geyser was due to put on its weekly spectacle any moment when he'd wedged an opened pocket knife between my wrists. Ribbons of boiling vapor made their way between foliage, and my own watery face bubbled as I fought to apply enough pressure to the plastic before the blade slipped out of my hands.
On the advice of my therapist, I've signed an agreement that I will commit one whole day each and every week to visiting "happy places" via meditation. I doubt it will make a difference, but I've been sticking with it so far. Thus, Sunday through Friday I find myself still there, on my knees and at his mercy, as if time froze and my life with it. But as for that little corner of Montana just past the Wyoming border and the boundary of Yellowstone. I don't go there on a Saturday.
© Gip Roberts
It was a Saturday I remember because we were going to the footie in the afternoon. Our Spar grocers is tiny and crowded and you end up queuing , whilst squashed up against mountains of water, or piles of toilet rolls. I only want a newspaper, but join the queue.‘Oh ,spare me’ I say to myself ,as I notice Gordon Ellis, the Victor Meldrew of our close , two places in front of me. Gordon can moan for England ! His wife died two years ago and since then , he has been a pain in the proverbial. With time on his hands, he has embraced every cause imaginable, either to grumble over , or take up cudgels about.
He’s in full flow to someone and his voice is rising rapidly as he gets into his current subject; doctors’ appointments. It seems he has tried to get one of these elusive items, without success.
‘It’s just an excuse, this Covid business’ he’s saying. ‘ to get out of seeing folk. What use is a telephone appointment when you’re suffering like I am?
I needed a face to face about my piles . They‘re not your ordinary piles you know. They‘re bleeding piles.’
I grimace to myself. It wouldn’t have been Gordon’s face the poor doc would have been studying , in this case. Has the man no shame, discussing all his medical history with a shop full of people ?
‘Well he prescribed some cream, and a bottle of God knows what for my bowels, and then he had the cheek to suggest I sat on a rubber ring. I ask you . I’ve not had a rubber ring since I learned to swim seventy years ago. Are you going to get me one of those on the NHS I said to him ,because I certainly won’t be paying for one.’
At this point the notices me.
‘ Ah Nora. I expect you heard that. What a shambles this health service is now. It comes to something when a man of my age , with bleeding piles, is fobbed off like that. Bleeding Nora , that’s what I told him, but was he bothered enough to see me, no. Anyway I wanted to catch you about that laurel hedge of yours…..’
His voice tails off. There’s a commotion at the counter. Someone screams and Gordon pushes to the front. A youth is brandishing a knife and ordering the shopkeeper to open his till. He’s resisting. There’s a shout.
‘Put that knife down ,son.’ It’s Gordon. He’s alongside the youth and holding out his hand. The youth slashes at Gordon, drops the knife and flees from the store.
Gordon lies bleeding in front of the counter. I drop to the floor and check his pulse.
‘I’m bleeding Nora’ are his last words.
I don’t go there on a Saturday.
© Dorothy Snelson