Fools Rush

You tell me to buy the audiobook, even though I called you, whittling my phone contract down into minus figures, for you to tell me you’re not reading a book out loud over the phone. Our conversations out-price me. And this is costing 50p a minute, probably.

Maybe you think it’s a joke; I guess that it is. Because intonation’s a learnable trick, isn’t it? Really no reason why yours is margarine thick, understands each judder bone better than contractual agreements and metal.

But I don’t want the book, or Stephen Fry, or some palatable, 5-star Amazon review, award-winning voice reading it to me.

Like the things you said last night you shouldn’t have said, but you said publicly, anyway, because you’re table laying, or openly flaying, or we’re somewhat flailing, or you’ve lost that filter most people have to not say the things they think to the people they think them about, plus their most treasured 176 FB friends, this is honestly it: I’d keep you in my ear if possibility, technology allowed it. And it’s boring for you, sure. But not me. Never me.

I’m not buying audiobooks, loser. I feel the same about that stuff that you said. What was it again? And I almost called like 40 times, 2 days ago, just to hear you. My thumb twitched at the dial. Because you make me better.

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Point Match

It’s two words: match and point. I pick discrepancies up each piece I read. Whether you like it or not, I am your editor.

You got the volley right, the limbo, the way we photo developed until every picture was a little reddy orange, overexposed, ultimately unframeable. And endless.

So I ended it, quite unprompted. Except, do you even believe anything’s over which wasn’t before? That we’ll never really talk again? Because I don’t.

There’s always next week. All I need’s a pencil and a print out of everything you ever wrote. I’ll perfect you. That’s what I do. And you know that, don’t you?

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Alert Went From Orange To Red

I’d like to believe the best in people. That there’s best in people, and some of us aren’t the stiff skin we seem and, underneath, our organs are swimming with meaningful feeling which we’ll bestow on another human being should we meet one.

Who am I kidding? I’ve believed the best in people, saw what they could be, not what they were. It was a cliff drop. There’s no way back from. And I’d do it again in an instant. Because it’s better than painkillers. Or I just need stronger ones.

I dreamt about you last night. But I won’t write about that. I won’t write it. And you know why? And you’ll never.

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I Don’t Remember The Total Conversation

Your name’s ingrained like Jonah in belly skin. There’s no script, or coercing, and I wish I’d remember more context, solid sentences, that tone resonated for days. But it doesn’t. And worst is to wake up, wonder if we meant any of it. Maybe we didn’t?

To call is the only thing better than feeling your pulse through t-shirt chest, super warm breath, stubble select. So I waste minutes; I have 7 left.

You wish other people had what we have. But what, concurrently, is that? Are we lucky or doltish? Will anything end how we predict?

I guess this is why taking notes in lectures is, like, recommended. Several of my organs would question if what I want is important. I know you’d say that it is. Feels selfish. Biased. I talk about tactics. My guilt is ten Hail Marys from alkaline. I’m basically acid. And that’s how June sits.

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I Just Like When You’re My Facebook Friend

When you piss me off, I’ll draw your attention, because this is a thing that you said.

It’s not the only or worst or last or best or, even, stupidest, but you said it. Do you remember saying it?

You’re so intent on saving something, I don’t have an adequate analogy for it. I guess it’s a bit like when our friend Sammy got born again and this meant that heaven beckoned but, also, the hell weight of all his friends going there, was a breeze block in a hot tub, and he couldn’t not try to convert. What else would a person do?

So claw. Imagine there’s this solid thing you can save. That we’re not an altogether hypothetical un-green-lit disaster waiting to happen. Why do we even like the idea of that? What the fuck is wrong with us?

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I’ve Grown Attached To Your Thinking

You think there’s revelation, altering us both because we’re in the same multipack. I guess our expirys match, or something, even if you’re way old, and when you say, “It’s fine,” it’s not fine because the only thing better is a stranger lying. I wish you were a catfish plethora, 6 people operating the same account so it’s always online. That would explain how you know what to say. Because, like, as it is, you spend days just thinking up a winning sentence, right?

But there’s just one of you. And you’re a dick.

There’s no satisfying answer, only, how can I sustain this many strands? I don’t read but, if I did, how’d I choose which book to finish out of the shelf stack, apocalypse-ready, except it isn’t food, so where’s the use? What’s the good in paper? Say, “You mustn’t know how I feel about you,” though I’m sure we said it, in person when we shouldn’t, and online, all starred out, on blogs, an investigator field day, matching IP addresses to the worst declarations ever, all 7 years late but, like, real, which is worse, I think. I miss doubt like a Lindsay Lohan laugh line.

Nothing happened. It’s not that. It’s the not happening, actually, being so available, droppable, how at home, achievements are glossed over like junk mail, no special offers, just my name and TV’s more attractive. And I’m sorry it hurts every time I try find a way to do a thing. But there’ll never be right, a right, and conjecture says we want the same things and the questions your friends ask I’d answer the same. But does it matter?

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I Keep Waiting

Expiration dates are loose and, like, wartime was tough, Mum says, not that she was there, and people ate tins ten years after, and they were okay. No-one’s going to blog about how brilliant old food was but it was better than nothing and that’s the sort of country this is: rationing’s ingrained like defects and illness developing slow like adaptations of books to TV shows, and Jennifer Aniston’s hair colour or, I guess, several colours at any one time because I can’t achieve that gold, no.

I wonder if we’ve a sell by, if we didn’t play out the exact arc of what this is, think we’re due a re-run for a singularly unacceptable blip. But some broadcasts don’t get a DVD release because the music royalties are too high, and when they switch in songs it’s never the same. Think you won’t notice, but you do, and half-fake is worse than full: a broad daylight cheat we’re not brazen to try.

But it’s not a repeat. It’s not the same for me. It’s rooted in a bagful of unrepeatable things, but it’s new, like a reboot but better because what reboot’s even good, actually? It’s like all those TV couples, dead now, you wish had met at other times and started then instead of fucking everything so spectacular-royally the first time. You think you fucked things up for me, even slightly; you didn’t. My medicine’s monthly, but don’t make me wait long like that. I can’t even take it.

An inscription in the front of a book in the charity: “To do something about this. When’s the time limit? Cross fingers, I won’t miss it.”

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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)