Hermione Wilds


The Thames at Chelsea by Harold Gilman

He was walking along a street. It was the same London street. Leafy because the Liberal Democrats had once offered everybody the right to choose whether to have trees planted along the roadside. But most people had forgotten that small historical detail. It was a pleasant day in February. Autumnal weather came now in odd bursts. Sometimes when you least expected them, cold and bright and fresh. Not a whiff of pollution in the air.

Why this then? He would eat his hat. Why? Not because it was some worn out cliché that he had grown used to. What then? Well, it was available, and everyone was doing it. There wasn’t much else to say about it. You just gave in and copied everyone else, didn’t you? There wasn’t any point in attempting to be original. “Eat your hat” was the motto of the day. There were memes circulating online. Everyone was doing it. “Eat your hat” mania. Apparently, you could eat your hat and survive this.

He had his scissors in his pocket. They were shiny and silver. People didn’t really have much call for scissors anymore. Mostly people didn’t use paper. Scissors tended to be for trimming it off. Anyway, they would do the job perfectly well. When he reached Teddington Lock he started to cut, enjoying the feeling of the crisp blade against the firm wool of his green hat. He continued to walk as he cut and ate. Cutting and eating had a certain rhythm to it and he was soon halfway along the Thames path and approaching Ham House. He glanced towards the house momentarily, pleased that it looked the same as it had when he was a child, and then continued on noticing the canoes out on the Thames and the glassy water, reflecting perfectly the odd white cloud.

He needed his shoes and his clothes. It was crisp and autumnal as I pointed out earlier. He ate one finger and then the next. Noticing how like chicken they tasted; sucking the blood greedily and moving swiftly now so that the pain was barely discernible and came to him in waves that he paid no attention to. He had stopped looking at his surroundings and, as he approached Kew, he barely gave the deep green stretches of pond to his right a second thought. He had forgotten how good the sun felt on his back. He had denied himself the connection with the Heron that sat ramrod straight and still to his left, a leg half in the water and half out of it. He himself would have preferred to be out of this mess. Now that he had started, he had no idea when to stop. His eyes were the last thing on the menu. No hands left even to take a picture and post it on Facebook or Snapchat.


About the writer:
Hermione Laake writing as Hermione Wilds is a twice award-nominated writer of fiction for both adults and children. Wilds/Laake is reading for an MA in creative writing in London and is a reader for O:JA&L. You can find more of her work on Amazon and connect with her on Goodreads. Laake/Wilds is a frequent contributor to the O:JA&L Youtube channel as a reader-in-performance.

Image: The Thames at Chelsea by Harold Gilman (1876-1919). Oil on canvas. No size specified. Between 1899 and 1901. Public domain.