Fiction · Flash Fiction · How to be British · Language

It’s not on


Saturday, July 29, 2017. Daily Brit Wit.

It’s Not On:

Phrase, informal

(Something) is not practical or unacceptable.

*So did you like Lift from last week? You can thank my crazy Muse for this new series.

“You are dozing in the fourth to last row of a work conference, partially out of boredom but mostly from sleep deprivation. You don’t travel well, unfortunately. It’s especially true when you’ve had less than twelve hours to acclimate and time zones mess up your sleeping habits. A yawn escapes and you don’t care about being discreet as both hands clap over your mouth.

After several blinks and three more yawning incidents, you concede and allow the next blink to do as it pleases. There’s at least another couple hours left in this seminar and since you haven’t picked anything up yet, why not sleep?

Only, as your breathing deepens, you realise quickly it’s not R.E.M. you’re slipping into but your mind palace. Despite the lack of sleep, you are aware of the fact you never dream of the mind palace: it would send you off in a tailspin like you experienced the first several weeks after its construction. You certainly don’t need to speculate on what’s reality again.

Whatever reason you’re slipping inside your mind, you do not fight it. You are exhausted and anything is better than not paying attention to droning lectures presented at imbecilic levels. May as well embrace the zen before your snarky attitude ends the conference for you prematurely.

You enter at the usual starting point, a habit by this point than actual necessity. You could probably dump yourself inside whichever room you so desired after eleven years, but sometimes glitches happen and you’re not an unnecessary risk taker. The two hallways are your first look, but instead of heading down toward the once locked doors (why would you even contemplate visiting No Man’s Land?), you turn north. Perhaps a visit to the oldest section of the library will transition you to slumber? Never hurts to try, you muse.

The journey toward the library is less clinical and more ostentatious, posh glamour. Thankfully, the gold is kept to a minimum and the artwork is tasteful. (And by tasteful, you mean it’s all eighteenth century and recent with no naked baby angels.) You don’t glance at the decorations in any case, determined to reach the destination. Though you love all corners of the palace more or less equally, sorta like a parent’s adoration for children you liken, the library is the unofficial favourite.

At first, you constructed that particular room off your childhood library, weathered instead of rundown and so incredibly loved; now, it’s the work of continuous expansion and your own imagination loosely depicted from all your favourite libraries. Okay, so what if it’s like a cheat room? There’s elements within from reality and that’s what counts.

You stride through ceiling-high double doors and smile softly upon entering. You pause momentarily (because how could you not?) before pivoting left. The circulation desk is deserted as well as the study tables, check-out lanes, and stacks. But this is the way you like it: your own personal library.

Somewhere between seventeenth century cookbooks and medieval ancestry journals you hear something. It’s faint and fleetingly you think it’s the wind; you dismiss it. Could even be a noise from the outside world that tickles your subconscious, which is as unlikely because even physical contact isn’t a sure-fire way to exit the palace. You shrug and carry onward, never missing stride. Plus, who knows: maybe the old tomes finally decided to enact revenge for their neglect and the noise you heard is their opening act to frighten you?

‘Why do you always assume it’s something other than me? Argh!’ A voice appears near your right shoulder.

And you scream.

Muse grins manically over at you. ‘Hello again, my dearest friend.’

‘Musie!’ You’re breathless, leaning against some shelves and clutching your heaving chest.

‘Yes?’ She’s all innocence, mirroring your pose minus the heavy breaths.

‘You can’t just sneak up on people!’

‘Why not?’

‘Because it’s not on!’

‘I didn’t really sneak up on you.’

‘Yes, Musie, you did.’

‘Nuh uh. I was totally stomping my way through this dump. How did you not hear me?’


‘Oh, come now, don’t play dumb,’ she chastises with a scoff. ‘Wow, I didn’t know contact by association gave you the case of ordinariness.’

You sneer, ‘Well, if that makes me contagious, you best scuttle.’

‘I’ll take my chances.’ She’s preening for some unfathomable reason.

You eye her cautiously. ‘What’s your game?’

‘Me?’ She jabs a black-painted index finger at her chest, astonished.

‘Who else?’ You reply dryly.

‘Well…’ she drags the word out, pushing away from the shelves opposite to close the gap. ‘Other than me…looks like you’re the only alive thing ticking round these dusty parts,’ she finishes with a shrug.

You roll your eyes at her dramatics. When you’ve had enough, you carry on through the stacks.

‘Hey, wait!’ She hollers behind you before running footfalls slap-echo. ‘Where are you going?’

‘I have a purpose for being here, Musie.’ You answer.

‘Were you going to just leave me back there?’ She’s scandalised. ‘Did you even notice where you planned to ditch me? The natural poisoning section!’

You both pause. You’re fairly certain such a section doesn’t exist, but best not gamble. Before Muse can retreat backwards, your hand strikes out and winds round her elbow. She squeaks when you yank her over. Then you’re tugging her along.

‘You’re no fun,’ she pouts, dragging her feet.

When you take a quick, sharp right turn and her foot snags on the corner of a metal shelf, she curses mightily as she rights herself and starts walking properly alongside you. She mutters under her breath about finding mythical grimoires to practise on credibility. There’s no point explaining to her it’s a lost cause. Plus, why give her ammoniation to prompt another science-fiction era again? You hardly exited that last one intact.

‘That was fun, wasn’t it?’ Her grin is daffy as her expression turns reflective.

‘Stop reading my mind,’ you hiss.

‘What’s the point of being a Muse if I’m not permitted doing my job?’ She screeches.

Your gait falters, yet you refuse to give Muse an inch. She does have a point. Your eyes close and you feel her press closer to your twined arms.

‘Be useful and help me find the oldest, dustiest section in here, won’t you?’ The words spew out before you have the chance to think it over.

She squees, jumps onto her tippy-toes, and smacks a loud, wet smooch to your cheek. ‘On it!’ She bellows out and sprints away in a flash. ‘You know this means you have to play with me!’ She shouts from somewhere in the general vicinity she departed in.

You groan. ‘Not really,’ you mumble, weaving in and out of rows.

‘Yes really!’

‘How-? Oh, never mind.’

You’re rummaging through what you think is fifth century Latin or what looks like Latin…is it Archaic Latin?…you never could quite distinguish pre-classical Latin well, when Muse starts shouting again.

‘What do you mean you can’t distinguish Latin in its various forms?’

You don’t reply, simply close the leather-bound text and slip it back.

‘What kind of human are you? And I thought I got lucky getting a smarty pants. Ha! Yeah, right. You’re just as normal as the rest of them, aren’t you!’

You grit your teeth. And recite ten times that Muse ought to be grateful she has an entire palace to run amok in. She’s such a pest.

She pauses her tirade. ‘You’re abso-bloody-lutely right!’ A smacking sound reverberates and you picture her hitting her forehead. ‘I’m sorry. Do you imagine Greek would put you to sleep? While Latin wouldn’t knock me out, Greek usually gives me a splitting headache.’ She giggles and it cuts off. ‘Wait! Don’t reply, I know what you’re thinking! No Greek, understood. No point adding to your travelling woes. Hold up. Why do you want to read before sleep? Don’t you know that trick never works for you?’

Her tangent takes you by surprise and you stumble into another stack. ‘Huh?’

Her laughter is high-pitched. ‘Don’t tell me you haven’t deduced that tidbit yet! Oh my goddesses above, you haven’t!

You can’t mock her for the inconsistency of being a Muse, worshipping nine mythical Greek goddesses, and disliking the culture (okay, cultures- Rome counts, too) responsible for her origin’s historical language and capabilities before she’s zooming back at you. She knocks right in you and if the shelves weren’t metal, there’d have been a phenomenal domino effect. And she’s still cackling.

‘Tell me,’ you groan, attempting to heave her weight off you and rub out the tender spots colliding with Muse and shelves results in.

‘It doesn’t matter what books you read, silly! It’s nothing but lark that bad literature puts you to sleep; in fact, every time you read, it practically rejuvenates you!’ She states.

The moment the words spew out her mouth you recognise the truth. How had it taken you all these years and from Musie no less to figure this out? Uni years of studying makes a lot more sense now, you reflect.

But she’s not done with you. Her arms wrap around your torso, spinning round and round and round, making you so dizzy you can’t even close your eyes and you’re off, flying down the stacks you’ve travelled, out the ceiling-high doors then blurring motions don’t mesh well with dizziness; thus you can’t identify where she’s taking you. She slams into a hard surface- a door? a wall? They seem to be favourites of hers- and of course she shifts around so you take the full impact.

‘Off you go!’ She shouts, shaking off you and dusting you off. ‘Up, up, up, up! So lazy. Come on, I have ideas percolating and you have a seminar wrapping up. Goodbye now!’

You can’t reply because she’s shoving you and you startle with a snort-gasp-hiccup inhalation combo that draws the attention of a handful of colleagues.”

8 thoughts on “It’s not on

    1. Hahahaha I think Tamara said something of that effect the first time she read this, too. πŸ˜…πŸ˜‚πŸ˜œ Thanks for reading because it’s fodder for my mind palace πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ


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