Monthly Archives: July 2020

Callous (adjective)

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1 a. being hardened and thickened

b. having calluses

2 a. feeling no emotion

b. feeling or showing no sympathy for others: hard-hearted

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the day, 16 July 2020

Use it in a sentence

He collected all of the cups, wine glasses, spoons and empty snack bowls, and loaded them into the dish washer.  Then he took the big bin out from the pantry and with that in one hand, he went around the room, picking up crumpled napkins, empty sachets of instant coffee, sugar packets, random pens. ‘Like a bloody student café, this place’.

He set the bin down and turned his attention to the kitchen table. He drew together weeks’ worth of magazines, books, newspapers, and assorted, stray papers strewn all over the surface and massaged them into one neat pile.

She walked in as he straightened the pile. She stared at him a moment, then in a low voice, said, ‘What are you doing?’

They both stood still for a moment, sizing each other up.

He looked around, gestured around the room, at the stack of papers. ‘I’m tidying up, that’s what I’m doing. Like I’ve asked you to do a hundred times at least. I can’t sit at this table, I can’t eat at it for fear of getting food on one of your bloody books.’

This set him in motion again. He went back to his frenzy of repositioning, tucking, dusting. He stooped down and picked up a folder full of journal articles, pages torn from magazines, scribbled notes, all sitting on the floor, and set them on top of the swaying pile.

‘That’s my stuff’, she growled.  

‘Oh year’, he snorted. He held up a take-away container still half full of cold, congealed noodles from two nights ago. ‘You want this?’ He grimaced at it before throwing it violently in his bin.

‘Disgusting’, he muttered.

‘You’re such an uptight, clean freak. Get a life, jerk. And get away from my stuff, you’ve got no business touching those things’.

He looked up at her. ‘Oh, sorry,’ he said. ‘I wouldn’t want to mess up your important work.’ He was sarcastic and sneering, and without breaking eye contact, he swept his arm dramatically across the table, sweeping all of her papers, notes, books (some of them from the library) right into his bin. They both heard the soft plop of noodles coming into contact with recycled white paper.

She gasped, her hand instinctively reaching out. But she was rooted to the spot, anger thrumming through her like a fever. They glared at each other.

‘That was a callous move, shithead’.

He leered at her. ‘Honey, I’m just getting started’.

Histrionic (adjective)

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  1. deliberately affected: overly dramatic or emotional: theatrical
  2. of or relating to actors, acting, or the theater

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the day, 10 July 2020)

Use it in a sentence

Even as a very little girl, Jasmine was prone to histrionic outbursts when she didn’t get her way. Even in the library, perhaps especially in the library, where it was quiet and still, and she could be guaranteed everyone’s full attention immediately. There was an unnerving self-awareness about her – the way she flicked her eyes around first, before her face went through a series of dramatic contortions. First, disbelief – eyes wide, mouth slightly open, an injured look. Then the distress, her expression crumpling, her nose wrinkling, eyes glassy. Last came the rage. The perfect circle her mouth made as she threw back her head and howled unreservedly. The snorting gasps for breath before releasing the next haunting wail.

Her mother would quickly gather up their things, scrambling to tidy up the picture books, tuck the tiny chair back under the table, all the while smiling meekly at the other children who were often stopped dead in their tracks by such a display. Jasmine would hurl herself to the floor, a dead weight, snot and tears streaming down her face.

She absolutely was not ready to go home yet.

Jasmine’s mother should have left her there, pretended to go home for milk and cookies without her. But she tried to coax and cajole, bribe and even reason with Jasmine, to no avail. In the end, Jasmine’s mother had to manhandle her out of there, suffering the hard stares of adults and children alike. She would awkwardly catch the handbag falling off her shoulder, whilst trying to avoid Jasmine’s flailing fists and hard patent leather shoes. The librarians had seen it happen too often and clucked rather unsympathetically.

Fifteen years later, not much had changed. Jasmine still knew how to put on a show, but her mother was only just learning to ignore her. In the café today, she watched Jasmine for a few minutes as she sobbed into her tea and hiccuped about how desperately she needed the money for a holiday in Byron. But Jasmine’s mother quietly got up, picked up her handbag and left.

Frisson (noun)

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  1. A brief moment of emotional excitement: shudder, thrill

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the day, 12 July 2020)

Use it in a sentence

I mute the TV and at first there’s silence. Then a scuffling, rustling noise, just outside the window. The remote is frozen in my outstretched hand and I hold my breath. It’s the moment I’ve dreaded since I moved into the new flat by myself. An intruder. Potentially a rapist, murderer, abductor, sadist. I look down at my bare feet and picture myself running across broken glass like Bruce Willis in Die Hard. My hands shake as I scrabble under the cushions, looking for my phone. When I find it my finger hovers over the emergency button. I cock my head to the side, straining to hear what’s going on.

The scuffling becomes more insistent and I feel a frisson of dread and terror.  Is this person trying to pick the lock? Jimmy open the sash window? My heart beats hard and fast as I flash back through all those true crime stories I’ve watched recently. At the same time, I make mental notes – scratch to draw blood so that they can use the DNA, scan for distinctive markings, look for tattoos or scars. Damn it, I’ll make sure they get this bastard. No matter what happens to me.

I hear a low noise, almost a growl. Bloody hell, what’s that? I unclench all my muscles and get off the couch. I flick off the lights and tip toe over to the window. I’m desperately looking around for something to defend myself. There’s a half empty bottle of vodka on the coffee table. I’m prepared to smash it into a jagged weapon. I’m trembling but determined. I pull back the curtain just a little…. And… Eyes! Eyes staring straight at me, fierce and vicious. I scream and leap backwards, my arms flailing, my throat dry, vodka splashing everywhere.

And then I look again.

It’s that bloody cat from next door. He’s sitting on the window sill, impertinent as you please.

He blinks and flicks the tip of his tail. ‘Meow’.

I close my eyes, press my hand to my chest, feel my breathing slow down.

I scowl at the cat, who meows again.

‘You know what you can do, you little shit? You can….’