Summer writing circle assignment #4 – a text based on this David Hockney painting

Conveying the purple frog

”Ready?”

”Ready.” Helen shifted in her uncomfortable chair, shut her eyes and tried to relax. She really wasn’t in the mood for this today.

”OK”, came Tom’s voice from inside the house. “I’m visualising an object. I’m holding it in my hand, and looking at it carefully, viewing it from every angle. I’m smelling it…” He paused. “And touching it with my fingertips, feeling the texture…”

She loved to listen to his voice. When they first met, three years earlier at a meeting of the Psychics’ Society, she’d been attracted to his warm, velvety tones from the start, and she had never tired of hearing him speak.

Concentrate! she thought to herself. This is important! She wriggled her shoulders and tried to tune in properly.

The ESP technique that they had developed together was revolutionary, and the result of three years’ intensive trial and error. The result, too, ultimately, of that first meeting in a freezing cold church hall one February night, after which they had gone to the pub to defrost with the other attendees from the meeting – and never really been apart since. Her friends at work had thought she was mad even to go to the meeting in the first place.

“A load of loonies”, Lisa had said, picking the currants out of her hot cross bun, when Helen had mentioned that she intended to go. “You’ll end up in a pork pie, my girl, and if you do don’t come running to me!”

“She’s right”, Mandy had agreed, adjusting her headset over her new hairdo for the umpteenth time that morning. “Ghosts and ESP and all that. A load of effing… Accounts department, Mandy speaking, how may I help you?”

Helen had laughed and shrugged off their comments. She’d just had a feeling she ought to go to the meeting, ever since she’d seen it advertised in the local paper. She’d always had an uncanny aptitude for card games, and she’d read somewhere that this could indicate someone with a high natural level of ESP.

And she’d been right. They’d had a connection the first time they set eyes on each other. Not exactly love at first sight, but definitely something special. And now they were really starting to get somewhere. Tom had recorded the latest version of their specially designed instructions, and now she listened to the recording every night as she slept. By combining this sleep study with hearing him sending the object, using equally carefully developed wording, they’d achieved amazing breakthroughs.

Before each session, Tom would go into town without her and scour the charity shops for suitable objects. They needed things that were a uniform colour and relatively simple in shape – and above all that Helen hadn’t already seen or touched. They were kept in a large cardboard box in the corner of the study, which she was under strict instructions not to open.

Last time they’d done really well. She’d got the bright pink colour of the jug and the shiny surface of the mirror. Maybe this time she’d get the object itself. If only she could concentrate.

“Anything?” said Tom, appearing in the open patio door behind her.

She turned and smiled ruefully at him.

“Afraid not”, she said. “But we’ve only just started. Let’s try the next one.”

“Right oh”, he said cheerfully, disappearing back into the house, then popping his head out again.

“Oh, by the way, that one was a big yellow chrysanthemum.”

A yellow chrysanthemum? She’d had no feeling of yellow, or any idea that the object had been a flower. She sighed and shifted again in her chair. Last time they’d tried this it hadn’t been so sunny. Maybe that was making a difference. Or maybe it was the sight of Rascal, their tiny Yorkshire terrier, sniffing about the garden. Resolutely, she shut her eyes again.

“Ready”, she called.

“Right. I’m visualising an object…”

But today nothing worked. She kept getting distracted by Rascal’s antics, by the smell of the flowers, the noise of nearby weekend lawnmowers and the swallows darting above the house. They tried for two hours, until she was exhausted from listening and Tom was hoarse. Although their best results had previously been achieved with her on the veranda and him indoors, they tried it with her indoors, in the same room as Tom; even back to back. But nothing appeared.

The ring with the red stone, the blue ball, the purple plastic frog… all of the objects that Tom visualised remained stubbornly invisible to her. Eventually they gave up for the day.

“Never mind”, said Tom into her hair as he gave her a consolatory hug. “We did really well last week and we can’t expect to make progress every time.” He stepped back and slapped his hands together.

“Now let’s take Rascal out for a walk and blow the cobwebs away. And then this evening maybe we could have a pizza and go to the pictures, what do you think?”

She hugged him back. She loved him so much. And she knew that one day he’d be famous – they both would –- for having achieved success with their new method. It would just take more time, that was all.

As he trotted in front of them along the path to the common, Rascal decided that his favourite had been the blue ball. Although the purple frog had looked interesting too.

Hockney

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