Trees Can Talk

Trees can talk.
Like birds, the wind, they speak
of sadness, of
love.
Look. Blades of
grass whisper.
Closer now.
There is loss in the air.
But sit.
Here, with me,
yourself,
and perfection will
breathe
its way inside you.

Another poem

Did you take it when you told me
"No. Not
you."?

Was it lost in time, in the
grey 9
to five?

Did it expire in the gym, sour
after half
a decade?

Did it die in the thoughts of
never being
good enough?

       ---- where did my motivation go?

The Park

A short story.

 

Men approached. Hannah instinctively guarded -- thinking they’d snatch her bag -- when she should know by now that they’d prefer to bag her snatch.

 

“Do you have a light?” double tattoo sleeves asked. It looked like he’d done both arms himself, and he was right handed -- the inked design on his left was well executed, the one on his right, crap.

 

“Sorry, I don’t smoke.”

 

Hannah was just the right amount of pretty -- enough that shy, young men (with non-negligible egos) would ask for a light, stare for too long in her eyes, continue to thank her, long after she’d looked away; or old, ugly guys -- confident, but way past it -- would sit down on the bench next to her, trying it on, talking directly to her athletic body, their pupils dilating, filling their dark holes with her large breasts.

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The Cotswolds

A short story.

 

Sophie’s head had exploded in a fury of dandruff. There were white flakes in every strand, that no amount of brushing, flicking, shaking could remove -- or even hide -- from the judging eyes of everyone she knew she’d see today. Her scalp itched; she scratched at it like an infuriated cat. Yellowish clumps of infected skin became caught in fingernails, which began to smell funky. And yet, she noticed, as she pushed her fringe back, looking in the mirror of the girls’ bathroom, her forehead was greasy -- oily, spotty, pussy -- a real teenage nightmare. She’d squeeze the white out of the spots until they bled, as often as she could, but they just kept coming back, the bastards. How could skin -- mere inches apart -- be so different? she wondered. A greasy strip in a desert of epidermis; the worst of both worlds.

 

She went into a cubicle, locked the door, sat, head between knees. Her eyes directed themselves, finding interest in the world underneath the bowl. She wondered how many people had had a good, long look under there. It was a school toilet -- not a nightclub, or any other vomit-prone cubicle (Elizabeth Barker in lower-sixth, notwithstanding) -- and so, she guessed, not many.

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Perfection Complex

Prose poetry, published in Issue 5 of The Fable Online:

 

Coke addiction, heroin. Hell, a caffeine dependency would do. To be starving, disabled, dying; any of ‘em could work, I’d wager.

 

Maybe I could get leprosy, some form of cancer, a brain aneurysm. Anything, really. I could take up smoking, try -- then fail -- to quit. That’d be nice.

 

To have a real problem.

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Angel

Flash fiction, published in Issue 6 of The Fable Online:

 

 

Announcement. Delays on the Northern line. Someone under a train.

 

Depression is an inconvenience for everyone.

 

I did a half-run up the escalator, shuffling my feet against the ridged steps. The surface was farther than I first thought, but how could I stop running? What if people behind me – the ones I’d never see again – what if they judged me for slowing down? My thighs burned slightly, but I was used to that.

 

I got to the top, assumed I’d impressed everyone with my ability to use a staircase. I was not out of breath. I put my contactless bank card on the yellow Oyster symbol. It denied me; I scanned again. Success.

 

I hung around.

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With Turgidity, they shuffle

Vignettes of four different characters -- Laura, Katie, Joseph and Emily. These pieces eventually became my first novel, Return If Possible.

 

The orange glow lets Laura Blakely know it’s 03:42. She wonders why the colon flashes repeatedly, over and over, before synchronizing its absence with her blinking. Now she won’t have to deal with the problem anymore. She believes there are two types of insomnia. The first, she posits, is often accompanied by the feeling of tiredness to the point of being unable to work on something constructive, thus forcing her to lie there, in bed, getting more and more annoyed at the increasing light outside, mockingly dribbling in. Every which way she lies is awkward. Prone becomes supine, supine becomes lateral. Refreshingly cool becomes frustratingly hot. A pillow gets flipped. She questions if there is anything more repulsive than sitting on a pre-warmed toilet seat. The duvet gets tangled in the thrashing of her legs, then thrown off in a rage. It’s the knowledge that the previous occupant has had to sit there, arse-hole-naked, for so long that their warmth has transferred into the rim, that distresses her. Her head now feels too high, so she throws off a pillow. Then immediately regrets the decision. She worries about how tired she will be at work tomorrow. She thrashes her legs further in aggravated misery; smashes her head on the mattress in ambivalence. She dreads to think of the how many pubic hairs she has had to sit on over the course of her lifetime, and of all the hygienic concerns the whole affair entails. She’ll try lying on the floor but always ends back up on the mattress eventually. This is where she is now.

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