I don’t no I don’t no I don’t no I don’t want anybody else

When the phone was enough, I took your calls at the office, on the bus, when I climbed the stairs a la Year 4 gym sessions trying to rigging rope climb, closer than Ally, faster than John, who I had a crush on the month before I left, before I knew what crushes were, what love is. I wanted to talk to him more than another person, about nothing, and I was 11. And this meant something, so Charlotte dated him.

I wasn’t astute at first, knowing when a person liked me. And I don’t know when you did, from, until, or I, you, but I log the little increments like it’s important: the first day at the edge of the Travel Section or the moment you said who you lived with.

When phones were enough, we had each other’s numbers and said, “Phone whenever you want to,” like we were family, eventually, at the craziest time to try that. But that’s what it felt like, feels like, and although my school, that first school, where we faced front for the bloodied crucifix, morning and afternoon prayer, said, “Change how you feel so you’re better,” I don’t think that’s a thing, is it? And really, like, listen when your feelings say something, or what’s the fucking point?

A few years back I found John on Facebook, but that was a pointless add, a “Remember me?” 3 message breakdown. But of course you don’t, he doesn’t. I’m mousey. Which has advantages. I eke myself out of it, trying to find that buried layer of what I am, like a pudding penny breaking teeth on its way out; not a prize at all. Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 21.14.11

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Self-deprecating-overload-ation

I read books until my 18th birthday. After that, the “have to”-ness, made the process attractive as anchovy pizza.

There are opinions. Trustable ones, solid like second hand furniture checked for furrowing woodworm. And the ideal is ingrained like Corinthians and the Fresh Prince theme or the yellow M. Mouthwatering down to each tooth root.

I undercut myself completely from 12 and the damage is not reversible. But ours is, which is a fuck-up luck advent calendar second life shot jumble. Rare as Impossible Princess.

No matter what happens, there’s no banter like it. And that’s a compartmentalised important sort of novel detail that mattered pre-diagnosis, before any off-switch, was theatre director fact. She said, “Is he coming? Can he see it? Will it be a bit fucking weird?”

And I can’t change all opinions, of the part I family play to each of my well-worn peoples. But updating operating systems is time-wise lengthy, and maybe we won’t blame others for changing our minds on this one, for how were they to know? How were we?

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 01.35.58

You cannot make someone love you, nor can you prevent it, for any amount of money.

I start to regret what I said.

I wasn’t watching words,

which felt best: there’s nothing unsaid,

anymore.

Obviously there are things I don’t say;

you skirt a lot more than I do.

You’re braver. You can be.

The under layer of being best friends, ha, friends,

is anger.

I’ve said all I hoped of the past.

There is no therapy left.

The problem expressing each wrong, each ash, upset is,

sentence quick, jokes

are laced bile.

So when I said, “What do you know

of parenting?”

it was a mis-delivered line, an unintended strike;

Really, I meant, “Do you want kids yet?”

and

“With whom?”

hannah

H.E.

I regret unregrettable things, like when I asked you to come after work to the cinema and you said no. I can’t change your answer, however many times I go over the word in memory with a blue Bic.

Memory is a shitstorm, makes me understand lobotomisation, because clean slate. I wish my perpetual state was not knowing you, to never have known you to the millimetre, the tailorable inch.

If you ate hearts, I’d be okay with it. I’d be meat, then, sustenance, have made a difference to energy levels, made your synapses fire like one time. But you don’t eat them. You don’t even excavate them fully. You’re a blind operator, using your lighter to torch-guide, and your fingers to detach ventricles, unsterilised. I don’t have a number to ask you why.

Butcher. Come back. Finish what you started. Marry me.

Hollywood Ending

The Internship

This year I was an intern for National Flash Fiction Day, which involved receiving, compiling and covertly reading submissions before anyone else saw them. Sure, it was an admin task, the core of which involved building a spreadsheet of all the anthology entries, logging names, email addresses and word counts. But it somehow managed to be super fun. It was great seeing entries arrive in the inbox, some from recognisable names, some from newcomers, and getting to read them first. I didn’t have a say in the judging process, but it was awesome reading the stories before anyone else, trying to guess what might make the cut. The main lesson I took from this was that a story might be great, but that doesn’t mean it’ll fit into any project, necessarily. There was such a volume of entries, it must’ve been tough to choose what made it into the book, and what didn’t. And a part of that has to be which stories create a product, fit together, are cohesive. A story doesn’t always find a home on its first submission. Which is why it’s massively worth re-subbing, over and over again if need be. It was cool to see the breadth of responses too, each about a piece of art, be it book, film, sculpture, each so unique, personal, different, new.

From the spreadsheet I created a mail merge, which built a word document containing all of the submissions, each uniform, all in the same font, anonymous, with title only, so that the judges could read every story without the prejudice of knowing its author. I like that Calum and Holly read all the submissions this way, it makes it so much more fair if the first time they see the work they have no idea who submitted it. Everyone has an equal shot.

Once the selection was made, I compiled a new document with the chosen entries in it, which Calum typeset (and I still can’t believe how quickly he made the book happen, and that we’ll have it in a week).

There are many reasons I love flash. It’s the first form I really enjoyed working in. I just got it and it, me: it’s like the most reliable boyfriend/girlfriend ever. Flash can tell a whole story, a half of it, or a moment only, as it passes. It’s at times impossible to define, maybe called poetry or a prose poem in the mouths of others. It works in sequence or solo, but it’ll never spawn 7 sequels like Die Hard’s going to. It’s so much more efficient than that. Sparse yet filled with possibility which the reader injects like a jam machine in a donut factory. It’s compact, resourceful, won’t waste morsels. It’s the opposite of a Kardashian. And I’m totally, one hundred and ten percent, in love with it.

kk

Flash Kardashian

(Originally published on the National Flash Fiction Day blog, 17th June 2013)

Magnetic Fields & Electric Fences

It was late, when we stood in a field, with fifty cows. The bull, you said, was two fields down, and you thought it would be funny to let it in this one. I wouldn’t let you. You, who listens to me sing without laughing. Which isn’t easy.

Earlier, when it was light, I sat on your lap while you sat on a picnic table. You came up with lines to let him down with. I liked ‘Let’s just be friends,’ emphasis on ‘for now,’ and ‘I’m unboyfriendable.’ You told me it’s from a song, but you wouldn’t sing it. It wasn’t late enough and you needed more to drink.

Later, in the field, with the cows, we lay down, somewhere we guessed was centre, though is sure to have been off. You said it was the most women you’d slept next to, not just in one night, but always.

‘Me too,’ I said, and you laughed.

‘But you’re not next to any women,’ you told me.

‘I thought you meant the cows,’ I said. ‘The cows are all girls.’

After the lines about the cows, that made you laugh, that shouldn’t have, I thought how I could never use that line on the boy I was meant to, and I couldn’t keep him hanging on either. You fell asleep before I could get you to come up with other options.

The next day we found the bull, three fields down, not two.

‘Not much to do, on his own, is there?’ you said.

‘Too much in the other field though, really.’

I told you then I couldn’t tell the other boy I didn’t want to be with him, with the lines we’d come up with. You thought I meant I chose him, which wasn’t it, Pétur. It really wasn’t.

‘This is where we leave it then,’ you said to me, ‘One wanting to give it a try, and the other, not brave, with not enough charming lines to get them out of dates they said they’d go on.’

So I stood, in that field with one bull, thinking how, three fields down, he had so much choice, but he didn’t know it.

electric

(Originally published on FlashFlood Journal, 19th April 2013)

Capital Phoenix

I ask Jack what wrong is. Can he quantify it? This is a man whose answers are too specific for pub quiz questions: like the star signs of each of the Spice Girls, how often Matt Damon washes his hands.

Jack says, “I can’t tell you which choice to make, or even label every choice that’s on the table. I can tell you what I want, what I think you want, but then it’s getting into speculation; even Perez Hilton’s not right every single time. And me neither.”

But at church there were such clear rights and wrongs I fell asleep sorry for something, every morning a flu-like guilt squeezing my stomach like a stress-ball in the shape of a heart sure that the pumping action was helping. Then there was only purge, purge, purge.1 in the dark

-ity Fair (NaPoWriMo #28)

Jack says that you’re weird not because you’re weird but because his undecorated flat is a forgotten empire and his family were company-erased before he got here and his last mirror rusted then mould and he couldn’t bleach it or scrape so put it in the shed and when he over-hears you message leaving he recognises a trait, his or Jones’, which is what he calls the people he knew, that he forgets or was made to, that swim between Tom Hanks films, red velvet cake and Jupiter at 4.55am when no-one’s asleep, not even next door, when the Night Nurse lull lurches like vertical drop rollercoasters or falling from a tree accidentally or when Brad left Jen for Angelina Jolie and every year since the untrue article about them getting back, un-divorcing, is a promise, is your mantra, is a prayer, and you give up god, but not that.

sccc

 

We’re Moving On (NaPoWriMo #15)

It precipitates

he TV declares it’s over via foreign policy, kissing wife and off-camera looking

He’s impossible

to get over on six TVs playing simultaneously in your bedroom/office/house

You scrapbook

the tour bus start and the White House end and restaurant cleared security

Battery-less remote

moving on