Changing Shoes. Sometimes a new pair of shoes offers not just more stylish options but offers a new outlook on things. This is what we are hoping when we changed The Floor Magazine to All Floors Magazine. We want to be as inclusive as possible on our platform as we can. We want a location where writers both emerged and emerging can come show of their works off in an open way, to experiment with form, style and just simple pleasure with words. Hopefully All Floors can be a place where we all can try out our new shoes regardless of wear and tear. From the whole team at All Floors, we hope you enjoy the magazine and we hope to see you once again on the Floor. -All Floors Team and Editors Kev Murphy @AllFloorsMag Caleb Brennan @CalBrennan Thefloormag@outlook.com.
Cover Photo: Sadbh Farrelly.
The Couples It’s nothing but couples in love now that you’re alone. Would they ever stop flaunting their perfect happiness like that? Their embraces, their hand-holding, all that tongue-knotting on street corners. That lingering gaze stuff, not looking where they’re going. That nauseating just-us-all-alone-in-the-universe obliviousness of theirs to all the cars honking horns and screeching brakes, to the beep-beep-beep of the green man signalling them to cross, but, of course, they’re in no hurry, have all their lifetimes together for that. Can’t they see you’re hurting? Can’t they see each sweet little nothing whispered, every trifling touch stolen between them just gives another twist ever so slowly to the knife in your loneliness.
Edward O’Dwyer Edward O’Dwyer (b. Limerick, 1984) has had poems published widely in journals and anthologies in Europe, America, Africa and Australia. He was selected by Poetry Ireland for their Introductions Series (2010), later that year editing the Revival Press anthology, Sextet. He has been shortlisted for a Hennessy Award for Emerging Poetry and the Desmond O’Grady Award, among others, and has been nominated for Pushcart and Forward Prizes. His work is featured in The Forward Book of Poetry 2015. He represented Ireland at the Poesiefestival in Berlin in 2012 for their European 'renshi' project. His first full collection, The Rain on Cruise’s Street, is published by Salmon Press.
Observation in a Café I’m observing a man, I’d assume, in his fifties. He is observing a young woman definitely no more than mid-twenties. She is working at her laptop, and perhaps making observations of her own, as he, again I’m assuming, considers her laptop in relation to his. She gives no indication she is aware she is being observed. If she is aware, she gives no indication, I would imagine, because this isn’t anything new to her. She is as beautiful as any woman on a magazine cover. He can’t be aware he is being observed. He hasn’t so much as glanced elsewhere. If he knew, I’d guess he wouldn’t care. The lady behind the counter is, perhaps, observing all of this. I don’t think she’d think much of it – she observes such things five days a week, and she isn’t paid, anyway, for observations. She made this cappuccino, sold her that fruit smoothie, and him his pot of tea, ignored as the wife I’m assuming is at home and won’t be made love to tonight. I’m noticing the time on my wrist when I realise I’m to be somewhere else. I fail to distract the man’s stare as I swing my coat over my shoulders, ready myself for the November streets. This does get a momentary glance from the beautiful young woman, however. She observes that I’m leaving the café, but it’s nothing more. It isn’t the observation I was hoping for, but I am content with it/ To have existed in her observations, between whatever other observations. Even a fleeting moment in such a woman’s thoughts may do immeasurable good for a man. 4
Neon Generation We know we want to be in love but I think that might be all we know how to do. I don’t know how to fill in a checkbook and I can’t drive a stick shift but I promise! I will love you enough to make up for the fact that I bought an automatic. I think I would be great at making documentaries but sometimes I don’t remember what my name is – I am very good at putting on makeup but I need you to like me without it. All I want is to be in love but we’ve been taught to shoot from the hip and keep running– I never bothered to learn how to read a cookbook and now there is no one here to wait on the microwave. No one told me until much too late: the only way out, the only way up is to burn like a rocket at launch, shoot our souls up spinning like firecrackers into the darkness off so far in the night we won’t ever have to come down– maybe that’s how we were supposed to be in love but I’ve shot you full of habanero and hate mail instead, (I never did learn how to read very well) and we end gingerly on the floor with cracks running through us and sorrowful whispers– We’re sorry.
Diana Sunder Diana Sunder of Winchester, Massachusetts in the United States is a recent graduate of Colby College with a degree in English Literature and a minor in Theater. Her original play, With Love, has performed OffBroadway and Off-Off Broadway at the Riant Theatre's Strawberry One-Act Festival and Manhattan Repertory Theatre's Spring OneAct Competition, respectively, and was a Finalist for Best Play at both competitions. Her other work includes an experimental play entitled Themes and Variations on Obsession and a novella "Strada di Casa: The Road Home".
Playing Poker with You in August
The heat is coming down like rain, it is heavy-hot, tablehot even the chair under my thighs is hot. I try to hold your hand but your eyes shift, your face doesn’t move, you say Stop it I’m busy and then Damn this heat I wish we had some food and they nod too so I unstick my skin from the damp wood and wander into this house; the inside is cold, slate, cold silence, and the sink gurgles from the bathroom. I open glass cabinets and glass doors. Between the cereal and ovaltine I spy popcorn and I bring it out. You started up, at this bowl, not the silver sweet smile I wanted, and you are surprised, you say I didn’t ask you to- and I I know. Later you say suddenly
Whoever marries you is a lucky man.
I open my mouth and silently spew surprise - and then, pride. Yes, yes I think he would be but by September I was losing things and every new moon a little more was lost – a few more drops of me were gone to sweating sleep, salty sleep, sticky slices every night of the week from the Oh-won’t-you-stay-for-a-moment and the No-I-love-you-now-shut-up-
I’m-going-to-bed like little bits of fruits cut up and rotting
on my rug in my bedroom. It reeks of sweetness and now, in October, I have begun to worry about my husband, my poor faceless, delirious love, I have begun to worry that no amount of salt over your shoulder will save you from me, your always-love-you-always-bitingher-fingernails wife. You will unravel me, you will kiss me like battery acid, and I, oh, your downtrodden angel, I will let you.
The Open Bottle is the falsity of lipstick the terrible temerity of speaking the crushing weight of the sky above small umbrellas the sky is very good at doing one thing and that is filling enough space
open lips for the madness close lips before it comes back choke, breathe the tide creeps in Can you feel it? the weight of the air
Pink Hibiscus Out the window, a lady with a cane is just sitting on the steps in the shade What’s she doing, pink hibiscus growing behind her And the mountains, just sitting there, not going to work Aren’t they sick of themselves But when evening comes time spaces out, it keeps going and I can’t say I’m all there rolling in my chair with a dog just sitting there, at the fence in the dark I don’t care, its bulging eyes dogging my stillness
Ariel Fintushel Ariel Fintushel is a poet, visual artist, and writing teacher. She was born in Rochester, NY near Kodak and Jolt Cola plants. At five her family relocated to Sonoma Mountain Zen Center where she achieved enlightenment and has maintained it ever since. She has an MFA from SF State, and recent publications in Welter, Red River Review, and Everyday Genius. Stop by her tumblr at 10humanfi ngers.tumblr.com.
In the morning, I take time to form jumpy! Then it rains for a moment (self-consciously) I see the calendar of Chagall paintings even the ghosts he paints on brightly colored breasts
Secrets Secrets are to be â€“ Cowering in the dark corner Never to be revealed Always hidden from the light of day Smirks and sneers behind your back A world of closed doors and hidden motives You always have to watch your back With your soul in a locket Locked away Keep the chain Never take it off Hide them away forever Were repercussions cannot reach Keep your secrets safe The price is never worth it [5-1-08]
Sasha Kasoff Sasha Kasoff is a published poet, fantasy writer, and aspiring teacher. Having recently returned from studying abroad in Ireland, she is currently attending University of the Pacific earning her BA in English with plans to continue her studies in creative writing as a graduate next year. Her poetry can be found in two self-published books as well as in anthologies, magazines, and other literary presses. Look for her on Goodreads.
Just say it Just say it if you have something to say She masks the meaning of her machinations mixing her metaphors intertwining innuendo like lovers locked in lip-service serving only the cerebral cyber cyphers that are incomprehensible to the incompetent voyeur with his lack of vampiric virtues and his virtually vacuous knowledge of the gloomy gothic arts grotesque yet gregarious simultaneously strange and familiar forming as they should part of his own foundation in fictional formation Just say it if you have something to say Her words are weighty well-chosen sounds to surround the sinner with psychedelic scenes in super cinescope the graveyard the gravestone the graven-faced lady a grave mistake indeed these grave analogies over anxious and under analysed what is the message what is the motif in your motive where is the fire that once fanned the fighting spirit to be spirited away in spite of beauty substance has been substituted for semblance (Continued.)
Steve Downes Steve Downes is an Irish contemporary poet, playwright and novelist, currently living and working in Ireland. Born in Drogheda, Country Louth in 1973, he was educated in NUI Maynooth and holds a Degree in Classical History and a Masters in Research Anthropology. From 1991 to 1997 Steve's poetry was being featured in Poetry Magazines/Journals in both Ireland and the UK. His first major publication was 'The Pagan Field', 1996, a collection of poems inspired by the Irish historic landscape; the book's striking artwork was created by the late Artist Teddy Doyle. In 2005 Steve and the English poet, novelist and filmmaker Roger Hudson launched 'Side Angles', two twin collections of poems published back-to-back. Steve's collection was entitled Cityscapes and featured poetry written about his experiences in London and Dublin. In 2010 Steve launched 'Urbania' a collection of experimental poems centring on the Urban experience. In 2014 all three collections were republished as e-Books and Steve completed his fourth Collection of poetry works 'MisPlaced Places'. Steve's first novel is the comedy/ fantasy Cosmogonic Marbles (2013) and his second novel is Temporal Tome (2014), both books are part of the Botolf Chronicles, a third novel will be published in 2015. 11
Just say it if you have something to say instead of images behind tired illusions and incessant alliterations ironic as they are here Just say it If you have something to say
FATHER LUKE WADDING ATTENDS MASS IN BETHLEHEM (On the Feast of the Holy Innocents)
A Palestinian in jeans Who's hardly reached his early teens Is lobbing rocks like hand-grenades Across the ethnic barricades. I pray for him, for all of them, Where Christ was born, in Bethlehem. A uniformed Israeli shoots Live bullets at a mob of youths Who scatter screaming down a street Past me, hardly a paraclete. I mouth a prayer for all of them, Where Christ was born, in Bethlehem. I've read the Talmud, the Koran, But find a nobler sense of man Is offered in the Holy Mass. (Beyond both bullets and tear-gas.) I pray to Christ for all of them, Where He was born, in Bethlehem.
Conor Kelly Conor Kelly is an Irish writer living in rural France. He hashad poems printed in The SouthernReview, Poetry Ireland Review, The Irish Times,TheSunday Tribune, Boyne Berries, Snakeskin, Kri no, Envoi, Revival and AndOtherPoems.He runs the twitter account @poemtoday which prints short poems, classic and contemporary, on a daily basis.
How Boys Become Men Dig deep, weâ€™re told. Our bodies fold in half. The old shrug, say us young are too weak when they see us itch the tingle after numb. This is how it happens. How boys become men. The old know well the well of weakness. They hand us theirs to wear. An anchor becomes a necklace.
Cameron Conaway Cameron Conaway is the 2014 Emerging Writer-in-Residence at Penn State Altoona. He is the author of Caged:
Memoirs of a CageFighting Poet (Threed Press), Until You Make the Shore (Salmon Poetry), Bonemeal
(Finishing Line Press), Chittagong (forthcoming from Iris Press) and Malaria, Poems (forthcoming from Michigan State University Press). His work has appeared in Rattle, Juxtaposition, FictionWeek and Ottawa Arts Review. Follow him on Twitter @CameronConaway.
the printerâ€™s devil it always asks at your elbow you the inkstained paper-crowned journeyman if you would rather not turn the whole thing up in the air for a giggle and let it tumble across the floor and be swept up into the hellbox
Christopher Mulrooney Christopher Mulrooney is the author of Grimaldi (Fowlpox
Press). His work has recently appeared in London Grip and Glasgow Review of Books.
the marketplace in the old city is the newest place in the whole city ask Apollinaire in the trenches what additions are come after and are much older much more decrepit and far removed accordingly senile almost flaky shell of the shallot
The Fruitful my shadow across your skin a reminder you are the apple the fruit and the fruitful I am the heart the pain and the torture
a leaf where the flame still grows a stem where my cross was built.
Tender is the Night Slowly sunset dissolves the scene taking the river & hiding it in night (only the ear hears it still) . Even mountains disappear
become a darker blue within a darker blue hues within hues.
Dónall Dempsey is from the
Only the memory placing things where
Curragh in Ireland. Before
it thinks they may have been.
Ireland’s first Poet in
birds create a tapestry
school and appeared on Irish
of song that can be
been performing in London
and now lives in Guildford,
the mind joins ...the dots
Surrey.Under the title “The
to create what cannot be
highly successful monthly
yet is a patchwork quilt of sound
Guildford, Spoken Word at
where even silence
he moved to London he was Residence in a secondary television and radio. He’s venues for the past 25 years
1000 Monkeys” he hosts two spoken word nights in the Bar des Arts and the Keystone Slam.In the past
shines like the brightest colour
three years he’s also been
and Time tenderly
Edinburgh, France, Ireland
erases yet another day.
launched his book, “Being
invited to read at festivals in and New Delhi, where he Dragged Across the Carpet By the Cat”.
Sticky Notes Sticky notes everywhere. I've got reminders, quotes Every single one denotes something I've forgotten, And though I sort of know I have somewhere very important to be I can't help but get caught up in Rearranging the fridge magnets because London should not be next to the giraffe, but then I just laugh because I think of giraffes parading on London Bridge and then I realise I've been staring at a motherfucking fridge. I have things to do! Quick pat on the pockets then I'll go. Keys? Yes, okay, leave! Wait no! Phone? Yes, got it... Go! Stop it! Wallet? Yes! Get out! I could swear I left my phone down somewhere.... I forgot to brush my teeth! I'll do that fast then I'll leave. At the top of the stairs I kind of stand there, because I know I came up here for something... My phone rings.... It's not in my pocket, shit! Where'd I leave it! Did I brush my teeth? I can't remember... Did I leave my phone somewhere? Okay I really have to go! Did I brush my teeth though? Shit! Am I wearing underwear!? How did I forget that! My phone was next to the toothpaste. I can't remember brushing my teeth... But I must have because I have that distinctive taste of mint chased with orange juice. I'm already late... I'll have to come up with another lame excuse. Excuses, I'll have to start writing them on sticky notes too.
Emily Waters Emily Waters is an eighteen year old student from Limerick, currently studying for her Leaving Cert at Gaelcholรกiste Luimnigh. This is her first publication
To My Far Future Self, To Remind You You seem to be setting off some smoke alarms in me. Every time that I am required to concentrate On something that is larger than me (Larger than life) I hear this perpetual beeping and thick vibrations, so muscular Come from the tower And it blinds me. Iâ€™m learning every antithesis of what you are teaching me: Every syllable that I try to annunciate is an exclusive paradox. Iâ€™ve never been able to put liquid gold on to cold paper before now. You are the hand of Midas. And here I am: tearing flesh is a thing of the past, My ancient history textbook is worn And worthless and I cannot sell it to replace What you have lost and for that I am sorry. I only want you to suck the marrow out of my dreams For as long as it takes you to. Voices from the tower echo throughout my body And I start to feel sick. Violently sick, almost. A war rages. And the walls become tepid and I can taste my sweat from the night Before on the back of my tongue And you are there too; not consciously, but your pressure is there.
Ellen Reid Ellen Reid is a 20 yearold young & restless feminist from the Mid West, currently based in Manchester. Ellen also has a blog over at darthellen.wordpress.co m as well as writing poems. She studies English Literature & Media. http:// hellopoetry.com/ellen-reid/
And something begins squeezing my skull And I can hear swords clashing. Oh heavy, precious metal. I do not want to be frightened by this. In fact, I want it to last forever. Well past its expiry date until the nausea fades out. And we will not be strangers then but My eyes will be blackened and maybe You will not remember the waxes we shared. But I will.
Orla McArt is a thirty-year old history and English teacher. She lives in Tullaghan Co. Leitrim.
She has seen the wolf*
Moral from Charles Perrault’s version of Little Red Riding Hood: Little girls, this seems to say, Never stop upon your way. Never trust a stranger friend; No one knows how it will end. As you’re pretty so be wise; Wolves may lurk in every guise. Handsome they may be, and kind, Gay, or charming never mind! Now, as then, ‘tis simple truthSweetest tongue has sharpest tooth.
Once upon a time if a vodka bottle disappeared from behind the microwave Nadir would have climbed the stairs in hot pursuit of it and its anaesthetising properties. Not anymore. Time and innumerable psychological scars had resulted in the youth merely registering its absence with a resigned shrug of her small shoulders. Coupled with the fact that her mother had not made an appearance, and it was rapidly approaching midday, Nadir concluded that she was better off avoiding the addiction-den that was her mother’s bedroom. Yet the soft metal cap remained. It was encircled with three indented rings and seemed so harmless, almost attractive, in its plump roundedness. It heralded its existence as it perfumed the immediate air with a stale, almost acidic, stench. Between it and the pepper canister stood a note. The top was wilting, kissing the frayed edges of the vodka stopper. The missive scrawled in her mother’s broadvowelled script, on the back of a Silk-Cut box, stated that she had indeed returned to the sanctuary of her four-poster ‘scratcher’. However, in her absence Nadir was to uphold the position of an adjusted, fully-functioning member of society. In other words, she had to leave the house. Her task for the day involved visiting her Gran, who lived across the park from them. There were further instructions to take the picnic basket located beside the fridge. This basket, her mistrustful mother explained, was in fact a decoy so that the ‘scroungin’ dirty tramps of neighbours’ that inhabited her Gran’s estate couldn’t spy the trafficable array of alcohol and fags buried beneath the neatly folded tea-towels. The note ended somewhat abruptly, as space was mightily short on the unfolded cigarette packet. In her last lines Nadir’s mother, issued the parental warning, not to dawdle in the park as ‘those druggies are always tryin’ to push their wares on young’uns’. ‘How thoughtful you are mother,’ Nadir thought as she tugged her faded red hoodie over her head. Pulling tightly on the drawstrings she ensured that the hood was unlikely to escape from her brow. Then she zipped the vertical zip up to her chinyou never did know when you’d need to dip your nose into the furry fabric to avoid detection. You see, hoodies weren’t merely a fashion statement in these parts- it was the business suit of the underclass. Essential wear in armed robberies, particularly useful in concealing oneself from those pesky C.C.T.V. cameras and a suitable uniform for an array of anti-social behaviours. Nadir knew that the epithet ‘hoodie’ was a stigmatising label with a litany of negative characteristics. And she knew that to the naked eye she was one of them. With a final glance in the microwave’s glass door, she made her way over to retrieve the basket. With a sharp thug, Nadir swooped up her Gran’s ‘goodie’ basket onto her forearm. Her small frame doubled over from the weight of it. ‘Owww, for fuck’s sake,’ she complained. As she dropped the basket to the floor, she coyly dipped her hand under the edges of the chequered tea-towel and clutched a twenty-box of Benson and Hedges. Slipping them in to her pocket, she immediately salved her conscience with the thought that the journey warranted some degree of recompense. Acknowledging that the basket was too heavy to carry across the park, Nadir pulled an empty shopping -trolley from among the debris in their backyard. Pulling and thrashing her way back into the kitchen, she placed the basket into the trolley with a heavy thud. ‘There’s always one bloody dodgy wheel,’ she muttered to herself, as she manoeuvred the cart past the living room. ‘Hey fuck-face, I’m head’n ta Gran’s. Wanna come?’ Her brother, without glancing from the T.V. screen, continued to pivot his console to the left and then sharply to the right. His demented thumbs pounded the centre buttons in an endless thumping rhythm. ‘Shag off red hoodie. That cow hates the sight of me. Anyways am in the middle of level 6 in GTV. So, no can do. Bring us back some biscuits though’. With that, he continued to smash into cars as he sped along a virtual motorway. A nine-year-old’s rampage, as he lay atop three sofa cushions, the sleeves of his pyjama-top rolled up and a can of Coke positioned beside his left knee- for beverage 21 breaks, obviously.
Nadir headed for the park. As with many parks in recent decades, this particular area had earned a reputation for being a breeding ground of teenage gangs, who loitered menacingly, grouping together for protection. Their territorial behaviour was a direct reflection of their poverty, their fear and their isolation. Throwing boredom into the mix proved explosive. To relieve the tedium of unemployment and truancy, and already burdened by the stigma of deviancy, a few gougers were scuffling on the pavements. Binge drinkers popped their cans and graffiti artists and scribblers unburdened themselves onto pebble-dashed walls yellowed from urine. However, the main purpose of the park, these days, was more economic than recreational. Prostitutes, pimps and drugs traders used their low cunning in a bid to make profitable business transactions. In fact, legend had it that so many drugs were consumed in that park that even the local dogs were overdosing on the addict’s excrement. Or so the story goes... Nadir neared the entrance to this very park. Strewn, as it was, with empty cans, bottle and other rubbish, its appearance acted like a late-night bouncer on a night-club door. Halting certain clientele in their tracks- indicating that this really wasn’t there ‘sort’ of place- they turned away. Nadir though, a local resident, barely noticed the mess and it certainly didn’t cause her to think twice before she entered. Uncharacteristically, for a mid-May day, the sun had side-stepped the clouds. Broken glass brought forth a myriad of colour. The ring-tabs of aluminium larger cans glittered like the buds of spring that ought to have littered the parks green areas. Even the trolley gleamed a tin-foil silver under the bright rays. The warmth of the sun and the distinct lack of junkies, in her immediate vicinity, made Nadir reach into her pocket and light up a cigarette. Perched sideways on the edge of a bench facing in the direction of her Gran’s, she barely noticed the presence of a dark shadow falling over her. ‘Gotta’ light?’ Nadir scowled in the direction of the voice. Unsolicited attention from strangers in the park was risky, Nadir knew that. A wolfishly slim figure sitting Buddha-like swung around the aged roundabout. Creaking softly, it created light and shade as he spun. Throwing a slender toe forward, in an almost dancer-like movement, he stopped the rotation abruptly, casting a deep shadow over Nadir. ‘A light? Got one?’ he repeated, seemingly amused by Nadir’s chilly reception. His head was low, but his primal eyes gazed directly at her- almost through her. Grudgingly, Nadir tossed the lighter in his direction. ‘Ta.’ Slowly, deliberately, he leant to pick up the lighter. ‘Yer grand.’ ‘Eh, nice trolley. You peddlin’ your wares?’ ‘Fuck no. Baskets too heavy. Bringin’ it ta me Gran’s,’ Nadir squinted into the sun as she squashed the butt of her cigarette into the gravel beneath the bench. ‘Ta yer Gran’s... yeah right! Young wans like you don’t hang out ‘round der Grans,’ he gave a low howl of laughter. Nadir coloured slightly but her tone changed, it softened self-consciously as she said, ‘What’d’ya mean, like me?’ ‘Sure look at ya, you’re fuckin’ gorgeous. Sex on legs I’d say. If I was a few decades younger I’d jump ye meself. It’s yer boyfriend I thought you’d be meetin’.’ Nadir had rarely been the centre of attention, particularly the centre of male attention. Granted one of her mother’s boyfriends had taken a liking to her but once her mother noticed that her daughter was one the he was really after- that was the end of him. Not for Nadir’s benefit, mind you, but because her mother couldn’t bare Nadir ‘thinkin’ she was somethin’ special’. Uncharacteristically, Nadir smirked, ‘you’re some feckin’ chancer you are. Tryin’ to pick up young wans in this place... the cheek’a’ya.’ ‘Ah now, sure when a beauty crosses your path, its only right, that you’d admire her’. He ruffled his hand through his greying fluffy hair, giving her a sheepish grin. His cigarette long discarded he proffered Nadir another. With a nod, Nadir indicated her acceptance. He was taller than she imagined and he had a somewhat lopping gait as he edged towards her. Handing over the cigarette, he placed himself on the ground beside the bench. He was attractive enough, she supposed, in an older man way. ‘Name’s Perrault- its French.’ ‘Nadir.’ ‘So yer headin’ ta your Gran’s eh?’ ‘Ya. She lives over there in St. Antos. The green house on the corner... colour-blind ould bat.’ ‘Know it, used ta live ‘round there. Never know, I could see yeh there sometime.’ A crowd of youths rumbled past them as they were speaking, their presence seemed to disturb Perrault and spring him into action. Abruptly, he rose, fag in mouth and indicated that he was going to take his leave. The way he positioned his body indicated a sudden pulse of energy- a need to escape. ‘Ya, sure, bye.’ Nadir turned her hand and faced the tip of the cigarette towards her eye-line, feigning nonchalance. Poor Nadir, she just craved some attention, some approval. Leaning her head against the trolley’s handle-bar she stamped out the cigarette. Even the used butts were now a pair, she mused miserably. Loneliness washed over her. ‘Feckin’ old git anyways,’ she thought moodily and she pulled a naggin of vodka out of Gran’s basket. She raised her knees up to her chin and took a hearty swig. ‘Cheers,’ she saluted the run-down park in a mocking gesture. A while later, when the sun had rested its head on that pillow in the east, Nadir, a little more unsteady, balancing against the rickety shopping trolley continued through the park. Her head low and her chin tucked into her neckline, she avoided any further interactions. Reaching her Gran’s green house, she kicked clumsily at the mat. It raised minimally off the ground. ‘Where’s the bloody key?’ she thought as she progressed to the ground and scrambled on all fours. But Gran’s door was ajar. Pushing the door open with her foot Nadir heaved the trolley over the threshold and called, ‘Gran, I need some help here!’ Hearing no response she wandered from room to room. She had to grasp onto the doorframe when she saw Perrault lying naked- she presumed- in her Gran’s bed. ‘Thought I’d surprise yeh.’ ‘What the fuck... Jesus Christ man... you’re a proper nut-job!’ 22 ‘Maybe I am. Just wanted to see you again. Take your clothes off and come join me.’ ‘What? Here? Now? Where’s me Gran... what have yeh done with her?’
‘Where’s the bloody key?’ she thought as she progressed to the ground and scrambled on all fours. But Gran’s door was ajar. Pushing the door open with her foot Nadir heaved the trolley over the threshold and called, ‘Gran, I need some help here!’ Hearing no response she wandered from room to room. She had to grasp onto the doorframe when she saw Perrault lying naked- she presumed- in her Gran’s bed. ‘Thought I’d surprise yeh.’ ‘What the fuck... Jesus Christ man... you’re a proper nut-job!’ ‘Maybe I am. Just wanted to see you again. Take your clothes off and come join me.’ ‘What? Here? Now? Where’s me Gran... what have yeh done with her?’ ‘Would you believe me if I told you I’ve killed her?’ ‘Yeh didn’t though – did yeh?’ ‘I did Nadir. She bled like a pig- the fuckin’ sow,’ he grinned at his own joke,’ now come over here and let me enjoy you.’ ‘You’re a bleedin’ psychopath,’ Nadir smirked as she undid the zip on her hoodie. All the while, Gran lay dead on the bathroom floor and all she’d wanted was a few fags and a drop of liquor to quench her thirst. *elle avoit vû le loup. Old French idiom for a girl having lost her virginity.
Laura-Louise Slattery is a 20-year-old young-adult/children’s writer from Thurles, Co Tipperary. Her writing is heavily influenced by her two favourite authors, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. On September 26th 2012, Slattery’s first young-adult novel, ‘Flame-Girl’, was published by the Xlibris Press House and reached no.21 on the Amazon Bestsellers List. The novel was also shortlisted for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in the same year, but lost out to ‘On Little Wings’ by Regina Sirois. Her latest Children’s novel, ‘The Witch Princess’, has been considered for publication by Mercier Press. Learn more about Laura -Louise Slattery and her books at: http://www.goodreads.com/ author/show/6550611.Laura_Louise_Slattery
The Mist The mist; it permeated the very atmosphere of the forest that surrounded them. She had thought the sights and sounds of the ancient woods were daunting enough in daylight. Now, however, as the blanket of the night fell, the girl could feel the dark mist not only tearing at the perimeter of the campfire’s glow, but she found it clawing at the edges of her soul. A shiver ran down her back as she moved closer to the fire. Her gaze rose over the flickering flames to rest on the hunter. She was not sure what to make of the man. He was strong; his undaunted march through the woods in spite of the wound he’d received from the queen’s men was proof of that. The knowledge of his strength was a cause for both concern and comfort. Following his broad shoulders through the tangles of bush and branches gave her hope that she would survive the evils that pursued her every step. Yet, the same man had first sought her as a prize for the queen. She remembered the swiftness with which he’d first tracked her down. When she’d initially seen him, the hunter had been just a shadow moving in the distance. Within moments, he’d not only found her hiding place, but had circled around to drag her from beneath the ragged hollow of the tree as though she were just a small sack of grain. Should her turn on her now, there would be no escape. The girl wrapped her arms around her body to ward off the chill brought on by the thought, but could not suppress the shudders that assailed her. It brought his gaze to rest on her. She diverted her eyes to the fire; finding the blinding orange of the flames more soothing than the unsettling intensity of his grey eyes. Silence reigned with the crackle of the fire serving as the only sound between them. Across from her, the hunter pondered his companion. She was young, no more than eighteen years of age at most. He wondered just what the queen had wanted with her. Her knight’s reasons for hunting down the girl were less of a mystery. He had seen the look on the face of the queen’s knight the moment his gaze fell upon her, and he recognized the man’s lewd desires for what they were. Perhaps it explained his own initial hesitancy to hand her over; the terror on her face set against the unhidden lust in the knight’s eyes warring against one another in his conscience, blurring his perceptions to the point of uncertainty. Unsure of his footing, he had latched on to the one truth with the power to once more ground him in painful reality. Lisa was gone, and he’d come to this forsaken kingdom grasping at the unlikely chance of seeing her again. It had been a bargain with the devil, a final effort to escape his own emotional torment. Now, as he looked back upon his agreement with the queen, the hunter scoffed at his own stupidity. No soul had ever bartered itself from the gates of her hell. He had been a fool to think that his blackened heart would fare any better. He had known the pure light of love once. Lisa had drawn him from the dark thickening mist of his soul. She had given him a reason to live, a purpose beyond drinking and brawling. He had cleaned himself up, piled his trade, he lived for her. But, with her death, he had lost that purpose, and he had lost his way….. A movement across the flames caught his eye, and the hunter glanced up to see the young girl shivering against the chill of the night air. She was small, but brave. He thought of how she’d struck him before pulling the sharp dagger that hung by his side. It had been a move born of fear; for once she held the blade between them, and he’d seen the uncertainty in her eyes. This was no scullery child turned thief. She was neither a murderess nor a vindictive wench. There was an innocence in her eyes he’d not seen in such a long time that the pureness of it skewered his heart. She set him on guard immediately. No one inhabiting the queen’s wretched bleak provinces could have such sweet innocence in the depths of their gaze. The stench of death permeated the kingdom as strongly as it hovered over a battlefield. Here were not the putrid remains of flesh, however, for the queen’s poison went much deeper. The land suffered the death of dreams, joy, and….peace. Yet, in the midst of this mist, in a forest evil enough to give even the wretched queen pause, this hazel-haired girl with skin so olive, lips so rosy pink, and eyes so green had dared to favour him with a light he’d thought to never see again. She had looked upon him with pure untainted hope. It had been so long since anyone placed such a burden upon him. He had been pushed, cajoled, ordered, and even threatened into action before. But no one had ever asked so much of him with so few words; no one but Lisa. Perhaps it was why the hunter found himself in the dark misty forest, sharpening his axe while staring across at the innocent girl whose name he did not even know. No matter what the reason, he felt a stirring, an almost forgotten call struggling to surface. Seeing her through these enchanted woods gave him a purpose, a path to tread, a reason to live. It gave him a light within the mist.