Monthly Archives: September 2020

Heyday (noun)

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  1. The period of one’s greatest popularity, vigor or prosperity.

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the Day, 5 September 2020)

Use it in a sentence

In her heyday, she could rival any act in any circus. It wasn’t just the knife throwing and the sword swallowing, or her prowess in juggling burning clubs whilst balancing a dagger on her head. It was the fact that she could do all of that, and then follow it up by drinking a gallon of beer in one beat, starting a fight between patrons, and then smiling coquettishly at the end of it all, as grown men lay about the floor, bloody and dazed, for her sake.

Delilah had held her own in the ring. All she had to do was crook her finger at the ringmaster, and everyone knew exactly who was leading the circus. He would invite her into the ring, bow graciously and then leave with a flourish so that she could start her act. But one afternoon she gave him a wink and a wolfish grin that was perceptible even from the back row, and invited him to stay – to be her volunteer. She turned her head to the side, then dropped her chin and looked long and hard at him. If there hadn’t been children present, Delilah would not have been able to resist a shimmy, or a hip thrust, or something equally suggestive to encourage the ringmaster. In any case, she need only stand there – her curvy figure spoke for itself.

She had pressed him up against the knife throwing board, her hands on his chest, and enjoyed every flinch, hard blink, and nervous smile. The crowd had loved it, whooping with an energy and hysteria none of them had ever seen. He played along and thanked her on stage, as the audience stamped their feet and begged for more. But the row they had later was terrible to behold. The strong man had hovered outside of her caravan, ready to intervene if he had to, and others milled around to see what would happen. They all heard them shouting at each other, hurling insults and recriminations. Something smashed dramatically and the strong man took a step forward, but the trapeze artist stayed him. ‘Hang on a minute,’ she told him. And soon enough the shouting died down, and the soft murmurings and gentle moans that followed made the crowd quietly melt away.

To look at her today, silver hair framing a pale face, walking frame perched beside her like a companion Labrador as she sinks into a giant sofa, you would never think Delilah was the darling of the circus world in 1936. She gets up now and then, to shuffle around the garden, stopping to admire the bluebells, and picking the daisies she was told she absolutely could not pick. She’s always back in time for cocoa, one particularly large daisy tucked in behind her ear and her chin thrust up at the nurse when he frowns at her. Her blue eyes have never lost their defiance. If you look long enough into them, you can see the crowd reflected in them, cheering and shouting her name.

Impregnable (adjective)

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  1. Incapable of being taken by assault: unconquerable
  2. unassailable; also: impenetrable.

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the Day, 8 September 2020)

Use it in a sentence

At first, he tried all the usual things. He presented Beth with flowers and chocolates, tickets to a show. Hands shaking slightly, he held them out to her, like a cat presenting his master with a dead mouse – the expression on her face held the same repugnance as the master. Without either of them exchanging a word, he would drop his hands, his head, swivel on his heel and walk away. He felt her eyes boring into the back of his head, willing him to burst into flames, he was sure of it. He felt the ridicule of everyone in the staff room too, crawling onto his back and making his neck itch.

But still. He felt compelled to keep trying. Her heart was not impregnable, it was just heavily fortified. He knew about her dead husband. Her childhood sweetheart that took his own life shortly after they were married. He knew she mourned him still, even after a decade or so. But all mourning must come to an end. Or at least a small gate must be cut into the fortress walls. He was no storming army – just an ordinary man.

He tried not to watch her too closely when he ate his lunch at work. Beth would sit at the same table every day and he would do the same, so that he could look at her out the corner of his eye without seeming too obvious. Her long brown hair would swing forward like a curtain as she bent her head forward, and his heart ached when she used her middle finger to hook it back up behind her ear, all the other fingers arcing away. She chewed her food solemnly, staring ahead, always poised and erect, and never slumped on one elbow.

One day, he gathered up the usual courage and walked as casually as he could towards her. Her eyes followed him as he crossed the room and when he stood in front of him, she looked at him without lifting her chin.

‘Your husband is at the same cemetery as my wife,’ he told her.

It was true. Possibly, it was why he loved Beth so much. He knew her suffering and knew that the constant anguish in her eyes was only a reflection of his. They both held fast to their memories, wearing them like clothes, close to the skin.

‘She died six years ago, in an accident. Can I take you there Sunday? We can both bring flowers.’

She nodded, a small movement at first, and then a long acknowledging nod. She gave him a small smile, ‘I’d like that.’ Then she cocked her head sideways, ‘Would you like to sit down?’

He smiled broadly. ‘I would.’

Pediculous (adjective)

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  1. Infested with lice: lousy.

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the Day, 2 September 2020)

Use it in a sentence

There was no telling what the boss would make of the boy. The kid was a lout alright. Never stopped squirming, always making faces, sticking his fingers in things. His cap was always on crooked, and his buttons all done up wrong. He was scrawny, but you could tell he was a fighter. He’d hold his own in a scuffle.

I pushed him in front of me, towards the boss. The kid slapped my hand away, like he was swatting a fly, so I cuffed him on the ear. ‘Oi!’

The boss just looked at me, then at the boy, then back at me. He sniffed and raised his chin right up, looking down his nose at me.

‘Where in heaven’s name did you unearth this one? The scrap yard, I should imagine.’

A small cough/laugh escaped against my will. ‘Nah sir, he was skipping in and out of the stalls at the market. Caught him stealing an orange. He’s crafty. Thought he might be useful to you… for your.. er… work.’ What the boss did with these boys was not his business.

The boss prodded the boy with a silver tipped cane. ‘Turn around.’ The boy scowled but did as he was told. The little bugger could sense an opportunity.

‘He’s rather pediculous,’ the boss said, squinting through his eyeglass and screwing up his nose. He stepped closer and then reeled back with an anguished face, when he caught a whiff of the boy.

‘Erm, per… pid… what’s that, sir? I don’t rightly…’

‘Lice!’ the boss roared. ‘He’s riddled with lice! And God knows what else!’ The boss was clearly disgusted by the state of the boy. But still, I could see he was interested.

‘Oh those! Wash right off, those. He just needs a good, cold bath. He’ll be a sweet cherub once he’s cleaned up.’

The boss raised an eyebrow, incredulous, but he made a decision. He flicked me a coin. ‘On your way, scoundrel. Despite the filthy state of this boy, you’ve done well, I think. Leave him with me.’

The boy turned to give me a smirk, half triumphant, half afraid.

‘Right you are then, sir. I’ll be off.’ I winked at the boy, and turned to go. I glanced behind me as I left. The boss was smiling now, leading the boy away, with a tentative arm over his shoulder, his disgust overcome.