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Gold Dust

issue 33 summer 2018


Twice-yearly magazine of literature & the arts Issue 34 winter2018

golddustmagazine.co.uk

Editorial Welcome to our 34th edition. It’s amazing to think that we’ve now been going continuously for 14 years, longer than any other small press literary magazine that I can think of. We started small, grew to a point where, four times a year, we were reaching more than 3,000 readers on the Internet and about 100 through the printed copies sold on Lulu.com. Funded by the sales of the printed copies we were able to award a cash prize to the writer of what we judged to be the best poem and the best story in each edition. We also organised competitions for poets, playwrights, short story writers, children and singer-songwriters, published anthologies of both poetry and prose, and held live events in London in connection with all these activities. But all of us are, and have always been, volunteers with other jobs or at least other lives to lead, and we couldn’t maintain that pace indefinitely. So we went over to two editions per year, and slowly the numbers of both our readers and of the people submitting their work dropped off again, in prose more dramatically than in poetry. I think the time may be approaching for us to re-invent ourselves once again. We want to talk to you, our readers and contributors, about where we should be trying to go in the future. In furtherance of this we have added a forum to our home page at golddustmagazine.co.uk We have already started to put together another Poetry Anthology (see Page 26) and we’re wondering about doing a third edition each year, perhaps with a theme, such as ‘self delusion’, ‘ageing’, or ‘decision points’. We’ve talked about dropping colour altogether and going for a cheaperto-buy black-and-white only policy, since Lulu.com seems to get more expensive all the time. But we really need to know what our readers and writers would like. Please visit the forum and tell us. And if you can possibly spare the time, please join the team and help us to cope with that future. Email me, David, at sirat@davidgardiner.net or our Poetry Editor, Adele, at Bramwith22@aol.com. Thanks.

Gold Dust Team Founder: Omma Velada Prose Editor & DTP: David Gardiner Poetry Editor: Adele C Geraghty Photographer: Eleanor L Bennett (all photographs unless otherwise stated) Illustrations: Slavko Mali Co-Features Editors: Nansy Grill & Stascia Lynne Contributing Artist: Slavko Mali (all drawings unless otherwise stated) Social Media & Marketing: Megan Chapman & Abigail Wright Cover picture: Slavko Mali

Gold Dust Online http://golddustmagazine.co.uk/ YouTube: youtube.com/user/golddustmagazine Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/golddust Twitter: https://twitter.com/GoldDustMaga Issuu: https://issuu.com/golddust Founded 2004

We select solely on merit, regardless of the age, gender, reputation or prior publication history of the writer


Contents

Features & Reviews

7

On the Future Prospects for Humanity by Martin Rees reviewed by David Gardiner

11

Between These Shores Annual – Issue 1 reviewed by Nava Renek

24

Richard Thomas interviewed By David Gardiner

Interview with Sybil Baker 38 An by David Gardiner

39

While You Were Gone By Sybil Baker reviewed by Adele Geraghy

Housekeeping

1 26 46

Editorial New Poetry Anthology announcement About the Contributors


Short Stories

4 8 22 28

Hot August by Jane Seaford

34

The Ghost-maker by Kristy Kerruish

Never Chamge by Clare Ditson Book Stacks by Geoff Nelder Mrs Monster by Stephen McQuiggan

Poems

20

Shana: five impressions by Robert Beveridge

BEST POEM

Without a garden by Sunayna Pal

33 36 Wit, Whimsy & Satire 40 41 45

Transfiguration by Richard King Perkins II

One Act Play Are You? 15 Who by Geoffrey Heptonstall

Less is More

Flash Fiction

Vulture Whisper by David Bankson

Star of Night by Salvatore Difalco

31 42

Future Imperfect by Jean Duggleby

43

First Do No Harm by Kevan Youde

BEST PROSE


RT Y O SH TOR S

Hot August by Jane Seaford

The car crunched on the drive and then slid slowly through the gates. As it turned onto the road, Aunt Kitty called out through the open window, ‘We’re off on an adventure.’ She waved and laughed and then they were gone. Mum and Dad were standing on the terrace, side by side. We girls had been practising cartwheels on the lawn and had stopped when we heard the car starting. ‘Come back,’ Martin, Kitty’s elder son, yelled. ‘Waste of time, Martin,’ Dad said. ‘Ed,’ Mum said; she was the middle of three sisters. Kitty was the youngest and prettiest of the three. Martin had been born before she was eighteen. Dad flipped his cigarette case open. Mum reached over and took one. ‘Which beach are we going to?’ Martin asked. Normally that’s where we’d be. ‘None. We’re not going anywhere today,’ Dad said. ‘Don’t ask, Ellie,’ Mum said when I opened my mouth. After that, we cousins, seven of us, spent the morning mooching about. We climbed the big oak tree, scrambled over the wall into the next-door field. When we came back, I went inside for cold drinks. The grownups were sitting at the table smoking. Mum filled a jug with orange squash and added ice while I put beakers on a tray. No one said anything. Then we had an argument about climbing the wisteria and Robbie, my little brother, ran in complaining. I sat cross legged, chewing my hair and glaring at the rest of them. Martin was leaning against the tree, staring into the distance. Uncle Jack, who was married to Mum’s elder sister, had been driving the car that had taken Kitty away that morning. Mum came out, holding Robbie’s hand. Her hair looked as if it hadn’t been brushed. It was damp and the permed curls were limp and stringy. She sighed. ‘Robbie says Martin hit him. ’ ‘They’re being mean,’ Robbie whined and Mum raised her eyebrows. ‘Did you hit Robbie, Martin?’ Mum asked; her voice thin and sad-sounding. Martin shook his head. He had not hit Robbie, had just told him he was too little to climb the wisteria. ‘Robbie hit me,’ I said and went back to chewing my hair. ‘Oh,’ Mum said. ‘I can’t cope. Be nice to each other, can’t you?’

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We ate lunch in the kitchen. There was cold meat, beetroot and potato salad. Pudding was tinned pineapple poured over sponge cake. None of us children spoke and the grownups said little. The clattering of cutlery on plates, the buzzing of an angry fly and the soft hiss of the kettle sitting on the Aga filled the space. My stomach was tight. The meat was hard to chew. Afterwards, we girls washed up while the grownups had more tea and then Mum asked me to pick beans and gave me a trug. ‘How much?’ ‘Oh,’ she said. ‘What you can.’ Martin came with me to the kitchen garden. He was the oldest of us, fourteen, three years older than me. When we’d filled the trug with beans, he reached out and took my hand. He pulled me to him and kissed me. When it was over I felt a strange tingling in my throat; the tingling moved down my body. ‘Sorry,’ Martin said. He was blushing. He turned away. ‘S’OK,’ I said. But it wasn’t. Nothing was that day. For the children’s supper, Mum cooked sausage and mash and the beans Martin and I had picked. We ate in the kitchen and Mum leaned against the sink drinking gin and tonic. The other grownups were in the drawing room listening to the news on the radio, as if it were important. We heard the sound of tyres on gravel and I looked at Martin. He raised his head and dropped his fork. I swallowed. Aunt Kitty flew through the kitchen door. ‘Hello, hello, what a lovely time we’ve had,’ she said. She was wearing a new straw hat. It had a wide brim and a mauve silk band around the crown. Her lips were plump, red and lipstick shiny. When I looked at her, I thought of an ice-cream sundae covered with whipped cream. Uncle Jack came in slowly. He didn’t say anything. Just stood looking as if he wished he weren’t there. ‘Mum.’ Martin stood and said ‘Mum,’ again, his voice hoarse. ‘What is it, Martin?’ Aunt Kitty came over to him and tousled his hair. She was laughing. We stayed in the garden trying not to listen to the sounds of the grownups. Finally they were all talking; shouting even. The sun was sliding away


‘Ellie… You know… It’s too strong.’ He leaned over to kiss me and when he drew back I was breathless. ‘I can’t. I have… a husband...kids…’ ‘But you love me.’ ‘I don’t know,’ I said, standing up. ‘I must go. Pick the children up from school.’ He stood too and put his arms around me and we kissed and kissed. When I pushed him away I was dizzy. ‘I want you,’ I whispered. ‘And I don’t want you.’ ‘That doesn’t make sense,’ he said. ‘I know what I feel.’ ‘I can’t…’ I shook my head. He stood facing me, his hands on my waist, his face close to me. His stare was compelling. I I met Anthony when I was thirty-two and married didn’t want to look away. I was aware of the with two children. For months we saw each other heaviness of my breathing. occasionally; once or twice our fingers touched. ‘So, Ellie, will we… will you come to me?’ He looked so much like my cousin Martin that just ‘No. I mustn’t.’ I made myself run from him. He thinking about him gave me a strange guilty feeling. called after me, but I kept on running. I thought One hot August day Anthony phoned and about my first grownup kiss with Martin in the suggested we meet for lunch. We both chose kitchen garden of my parent’s house. I game pie and salad. remembered the confusion that had accompanied ‘Let’s have wine, cold white wine,’ he said. it. And the suggestion of pleasure. ‘Shall I order a bottle?’ Anthony and I spoke on the phone every day I shook my head. ‘Just a glass,’ I said. for a week, sometimes twice, but I wouldn’t see ‘A special occasion,’ he said when the wine him. I thought about telling him that he looked so arrived, smiling at me and then not smiling. We like Martin but I didn’t think he’d understand the didn’t talk much. I think I was supposed to ask point of that. Probably because I didn’t understand what was special about the occasion but I couldn’t either. find the right words. The restaurant was In the evenings after I’d put the children to bed, oppressive with its starched table cloths, gliding I would eat dinner with Jeremy and he would talk waiters and air of opulence. about his work. After I’d cleared away, I’d join him ‘This isn’t the right place,’ he said when we on the sofa and we would watch TV and I thought were finished. He paid the bill and we walked to a of my life going on and on and nothing changing. little park. We sat on a bench and he said he loved During the day I found myself crying and not me. I shook my head. knowing why. but it was still warm. Robbie lay on the lawn sucking his thumb. ‘Bedtime,’ Dad said when he came out. He picked Robbie up and we followed him inside. As we passed the drawing room door, we heard Aunt Kitty shouting. ‘We’ve done nothing wrong. Nothing. Just a bit of fun. Isn’t that right, Jack?’ We didn’t hear a reply. ‘Martin,’ I said when we reached the landing. He turned. I wanted him to kiss me again to see if I could like it. I wanted to ask him how he felt, what he thought was happening. He shook his head as if to tell me to leave him alone.

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I woke one morning from a dream of Martin. I lay in bed thinking about the two of us in the kitchen garden on the day Kitty went away with my uncle, Jack. How confused I’d been both about Martin kissing me and about my aunt leaving with a man who wasn’t her husband. It wasn’t right, we children knew, but we couldn’t have said why. Now I knew that it was the possibility of forbidden sex. Later that day, the dream still in my head, I phoned Kitty and said I needed her advice. ‘Advice! Goodness. Me, the black sheep?’ She laughed I left Jeremy looking after the children and went to her place that evening. ‘Why are you going to see her?’ he asked. I didn’t answer. I walked out of the front door without saying goodbye and took the short bus ride to where Kitty now lived. She offered me wine or gin and we sat on the terrace of her small garden. We talked of earlier times, of Devon holidays in my parents’ house, summers and Christmases. She lit a cigarette, refilled our glasses and leaned back. ‘Ellie, you said you wanted my advice, get to the point.’ I told her about Anthony. How he made me feel. But how I didn’t want to hurt my kids or Jeremy. ‘Good but boring is he?’ I nodded.

‘And the sex with Anthony? Best ever?’ ‘We haven’t... Yet.’ She laughed. ‘Do it if you want to. Then decide whether you want him permanently or not.’ ‘But…’ ‘But what?’ ‘It seems such a big step.’ ‘It’ll seem smaller once you’ve taken it,’ she said. ‘Was it like that for you?’ I asked. She looked at me, not smiling, not answering. ‘I have a choice. I can tell Anthony to go, or I can have an affair with him, maybe leave Jeremy. Both choices make me feel wrong: make me feel sad and alone.’ ‘How do you think I felt? All those times I was tempted.’ ‘All those times,’ I said. I only remembered one, that hot August in 1958. The morning after she and Uncle Jack had taken off and then came back, I sat on the terrace and watched her as she leant against the oak tree, talking to Martin. He was angry, angry, shaking his head as she spoke, but saying nothing. He walked away from her, crying. She came slowly towards me and she was crying, too. Later we went to the beach; all seven children; all six grownups. ‘I can’t tell you what to do, can I, Ellie?‘ Kitty said now after a long silence. ‘No,’ I said. GOLD DUST

We’re very much on the lookout for outstanding new short stories. The average number of submissions per issues has dropped off in recent years, although the quality has remained high, but we’re worried that we may be missing out on writers who haven’t sent us anything for a while. Don’t forget, up to an absolute maximum of 3,000 words but 1,000 -2,000 preferred, must be previously unpublished and above all must be GOOD. Include your contact details and max. 150 word bio in the main file – and good luck! Also, please join us in the new forum that you can join by visiting our home page at:

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On The Future Prospects for Humanity by Martin Rees ~ reviewed by David Gardiner

B RE OO VI K EW

Princeton University Press 2018 We've become very used to listening to prophesies of doom from scientists and environmentalists. Ever since Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in the early 1960s we've had it drummed into us that we live in an age of runaway global warming, accelerating overpopulation, mass extinction of animal and plant species, lethal levels of pollution and an on-going game of Russian Roulette played by the despots and terrorists poised to initiate nuclear or biological Armageddon. To this list can now be added nanotechnology reducing the world to grey goo and uncontrollable Artificial Intelligence deciding that we serve no useful purpose and exterminating us like the Daleks. Rather a restrained voice in this debate has been that of the British Astronomer Royal and President of the Royal Society, Professor Martin Rees, whose academic laurels, if listed, would probably fill all the space available for this review. He is a stunning polymath who looks down on the whole scientific arena like a mighty Titan and can see, understand and explain, to non-scientists and even to children, where all the pieces fit together, what we should really fear, what’s just science fiction, and what we can do about it. The very soul of calm rationality, he has never been given to hyperbole or scare mongering. He likes to tell it the way it is. In 2003 he wrote a book which he wanted to title Our Final Century? His British publisher deleted the question mark and his American publishers changed the title to Our Final Hour. What you will find in this his latest book is first of all a lucid account of the state of play in all the sciences and their practical and ethical implications. I know of nowhere else you could look for such elegant and precise summaries all in one place. Since my own far-distant days of teaching school physics I have tried hard to keep abreast of the more important developments in my own former field, but this book filled-in so many blanks that I might have been a hermit living in a remote mountain cave. The twenty-page closely-written index gives some indication of the ground Rees manages to cover: artificial intelligence, GM organisms, posthuman evolution, aliens, biodiversity,

consciousness, limits to human understanding, xenotransplantation, downloading thoughts, the greenhouse effect, circular economy, the big bang, gene editing, global inequality, energy generation and storage, gravitational waves, a hydrogen economy, nuclear fusion, sustainable lifestyles, quantum computing, stem cells, tidal energy. It's astounding how much you will learn without even realising that you’re doing it. So what is Rees' overall thesis? He believes firmly in the power of human rationality to solve problems, and science is of course human rationality writ large. Our world economic system has evolved to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of a small number of individuals and institutions. Capitalism and state capitalism work in much the same way. There is no incentive for long-term planning built into either the political or the economic system. Both are motivated by short term gain, and that for the few at the top. In the words of Jean-Claud Junker, 'We all know what to do, we just don't know how to get re-elected after we've done it." As a species we treat the world like a stolen car that we may as well run into the ground because it belongs to somebody else and we'll never have to pay for the damage. The world economic system is driven by the quest for the fast buck. Why should anybody spend money to create a new sustainable electricity and hydrogen-powered economy when it's going to be a lot cheaper and more profitable to sink a few more oil wells and burn a bit more hydrocarbon? Human beings have the capacity to save the planet and ensure their own continuation as a species. They have the capacity to keep it green and beautiful. We all know what to do. The technology to do it is already here, has been for a long time. The political and economic will to do it is not. Unless we can change our values, the way we assess benefit and loss, we lose everything. Professor Rees, an optimist and a very nice man, cannot believe that human stupidity can extend to committing species suicide in one of the many ways that are uniquely open to our generation. I sincerely hope that he is right. GOLD DUST

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RT O SH ORY ST

Never Change by Clare Ditson

Chloe pointed at the sharpened tip of her ear and smiled across the table. “Yes, this was my first,” she said. “Started small-just synthetic tips. He likes sharp ears.” Monica, sitting opposite, drew her brows together ever so slightly. “Hasn't anybody told you it's bad etiquette to talk about your ex on a date?” Chloe let her hand drift back to the table and her gaze moved away from Monica, out into the restaurant. It was busier today than on their previous dates. The tables were packed with diners, and the waiters weaved between the tables with their wide, dinner-plate-sized hands that made it easier to carry several dishes at once. “Sorry,” she said. “It's just... talking about the procedures, it's difficult not to talk about him.” “Because you did them for him.” Monica curled back her lip to sip from her glass and Chloe caught a glimpse of diamond-studded teeth. Her first procedure, as a teenager, an act of rebellion against her anti-mod parents. “I didn't do them for him. I did them for myself.” That was true, in so far as she had liked pleasing him, had felt proud when he looked at her body and saw in it all of his exact desires. His had inclined towards the feline--hence her pointed ears, sharpened teeth and slightly widened eyes, and the lifted arches in her feet that allowed her to move with more slink. And then there was her skin, his favourite colour. “But you don't even like blue,” said Monica. “I like it fine.” “Yes, but your whole body?” “You're green.” “I love green.” “Well, I love blue.” Monica sighed and spooned a mouthful of steak into her mouth. Her teeth flashed again and a little flutter went through Chloe's stomach. There was something so exciting about those teeth, so bold and independent. “Have you ever thought about getting them reversed?” Monica asked. A little sadness hollowed itself out in Chloe's stomach and she placed her hands in her lap. Her blue arms lay against the green of her dress like a river in a field. “Why would I do that?” “Look,” said Monica, “you won't find anyone more pro-mod than me. But I believe that it should only be done on a person's own terms. You designed yourself for him, and now he's gone and you're left with this body that he wanted. So what are you now?”

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Chloe had no idea how to answer that so she stayed quiet. Somewhere at the back of the restaurant somebody dropped a glass and the smash made the other diners pause for a moment and look up from their plates. As the hum of conversation returned, Monica reached across the table and took Chloe's hand. “Don't you want your body back?” she asked. “It's been two years. Don't you at least want to look different than you did when you were with him?” Chloe looked down at Monica's hand enclosing her own and remembered how he had whirled her around in his arms after that first procedure. As soon as they got home from the clinic he had thrown her onto the bed and made love to her, and afterwards he had whispered beautiful things into her ears and stroked them gently with his fingertips, like he thought they might disappear if he touched them too roughly. But his excitement had faded within the year, until he barely seemed to notice them anymore. When she went in for the teeth sharpening he thrilled in her once again, but the effect of that had worn off just as quickly. It was the same with all the procedures: the ardour, and then the forgetting. It seemed to her as if each procedure lit up the changed part of her body more intensely for a short while, but then it became invisible to him forever, like a star flaring brightly just before it burns out. The skin tinting had been her last, and in forgetting about that, he had forgotten about all the rest of her as well. And then he had gone. Against Monica's vibrant skin, Chloe's fingers looked pale, insipid. Perhaps she was right. Perhaps it was time to change. “I'll think about it,” she said. Flashing teeth and the warm squeeze of a hand. Chloe, lightheaded, wondered whether Monica would prefer her with rounded ears. The smooth white walls were broken by posters of smiling men and women in various combinations: couples of all kinds, families with kids, pastelhaired parents with arms wrapped around their adult children. All these people were modded: some had colourful skin or elaborate dermal patterning; others had tipped ears, bifurcated tongues or reshaped pupils. Chloe fixed her attention on the poster directly opposite her. It showed a single woman, smiling at the camera, with lilac-tinted skin, electric blue eye-whites and a fashionably retroussé nose. How many mods must she have had, Chloe wondered. In the end, it had taken just two weeks for Chloe to call the clinic for a reversal. As with her


first procedure, she had wanted to start small; if she was going to 'get herself back', as Monica called it, then she wanted to do it one piece at a time. At the moment, her body held all the memories of her time with him, and she was a little worried about where those memories would rush off to if she reversed all the procedures at once. She closed her eyes and settled back into the chair. It was padded, like a dentist's chair, and had extra sections on which to rest her head and her feet. A gentle electronic hum filled the air. Under the blue paper gown that circled her neck and covered her body, she could still feel the ghost of Monica's hand in her own. “I'll see you on the other side,” Monica had said, before disappearing down the corridor to goodness knows where. Chloe had been hoping she would offer to stay, but instead she was just as happy to leave as he had always been. The door opened and the doctor came in. He was smiling widely and Chloe could see he had several of the mods that were typical of his profession: the lifted cheekbones and squared-off jaw gave him a look of confident power, and his muscular fingers had been elongated to give him the fine motor control needed for delicate surgery. “Well, Miss Clyffe, let's get going, shall we?” He pulled a trolley up to the side of her chair and picked up a pair of fine metallic gloves. As he stretched them over his fingers, Chloe sat up and looked at the contraption lying on the trolley, in a metal tray. It had a cylindrical body inset with indentations for fingers, and at one end was a cone-shaped head covered in an abrasive-looking coating. A wire came out of the opposite end and plugged into a socket in one side of the trolley. The device lay in the tray, on top of a sheet of green paper towel; Chloe could see that one corner of the towel was ripped. “I'll just apply the anaesthetic salve,” said the doctor, and began dabbing at her ears with a cotton swab dipped in something cold. “Not that you'll feel much during the procedure, of course, but the anaesthetic does help with the vibrations.” Looking at the device, Chloe had a sudden image of Monica, right now, walking into a fast food

restaurant. Even though she had never seen her eat fast food in her life, at that moment Chloe could not shake the image of Monica collecting her order, sitting at a tacky plastic table and tucking into a large, juicy burger, the sauce leaving sticky marks on her emerald skin. How unfair, thought Chloe, that Monica should be eating and sitting and looking out of a window, while she was in a clinic with a doctor and a frightening medical device. “So it won't hurt?” asked Chloe. “Not at all,” said the doctor. “There is a small risk that the abrader could touch the natural tip of your ear, but I assure you I'm very experienced.” Under the gown, Chloe locked her hands together. The doctor gave her another wide smile. “Don't worry,” he said, “you'll likely only feel some strange vibrations and then it'll all be over. Anyway, you needn't be nervous--this is far from your first rodeo.” “I've just never had a procedure reversed before.” “Well, I assure you it's much the same as getting it done in the first place. Are you ready?” He picked up the device and turned it on; the cone-shaped head began to move and hum. Chloe leaned back and rested her head against the back of the chair, and the doctor placed his cool palm against her forehead. His fingers wrapped around the side of her head and held her firmly. “Try to keep as still as you can.” She took a deep breath and looked down her nose at the model on the poster. As the abrader touched her left ear-tip, she felt a wave of vibrations pass through her ear, down the side of her head and into her neck. It wasn't an unpleasant sensation, but it unnerved her nevertheless. Very carefully, the doctor moved the abrader up and down over the curve of her ear, grinding away layer after layer of synthetic substance to uncover her real skin underneath. All the while, she stared at the model with the fashionable nose and thought of Monica eating a burger with those glittering teeth while Chloe did exactly what she had told her to do. After a few minutes the doctor said, “There, the left is all done,” and swapped the abrader into his other hand. As he settled his first hand, warm from the machine, against her forehead, Chloe sat up straight in the chair. “Stop,” she said. “Miss Clyffe? We can take a break if –” “No, I want you to stop.” The noise of the abrader halted. Chloe pulled

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the blue paper gown off over her head and gathered up her things without a word. On her way out, she had to resist the urge to tear the poster of the smiling, snub-nosed woman off the wall. As Chloe closed the front door behind her, she wondered whether she should wait or call Monica right away. Then she saw a familiar pair of shoes on the rack and the spare key in the bowl on the hall table, and knew the decision had been made for her. “Hello!” Monica called from the kitchen. “How did it go?” Chloe carefully removed her coat and hung it on the hook, then she bent down and unlaced her shoes. She stood for a few moments and flexed her feet against the cool wooden floor before she made her way into the kitchen. “There you are,” said Monica, glancing up as Chloe came in. She was standing at the counter chopping vegetables; a pot of something was bubbling on the stove. “I thought I'd make us some dinner – chilli, your favourite.” She put down the knife and wiped her hands on the apron she was wearing--Chloe's apron. “Anyway, let's have a look!” Arms outstretched, she advanced towards Chloe, and stopped. Her arms dropped to her sides. “What did you do?” she asked. Her lip curled back and Chloe could see the fake diamonds in her teeth. “I like it,” said Chloe. Monica laughed and put her hands on Chloe's shoulders. Something stirred inside Chloe's chest. “Come on, this one's a temp, isn't it?” said Monica, tugging playfully at Chloe's still-sharp right ear. ”Take it off and let me see properly.” “It's not a temp. I didn't get that one removed. I said I like them like this.” “Don't be ridiculous! Of course you don't like them, all ugly and uneven like that. What on earth were you thinking?” The fluttering in Chloe's chest condensed into a hard stone. “Don't tell me what I like.” Monica stepped back a little and released her shoulders. “Excuse me?” “I've told you I like it and you won't listen. Why don't you ever listen to me?” Monica's voice hardened. “I don't like your tone.” “Or anything else about me, apparently.” The look on Monica's face was not one Chloe had seen before, and it gave her a thrill. She felt that for the first time she was seeing past the mods – past those ridiculous flashing teeth – to the real

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woman standing in front of her. “You've never liked any of my mods, and you won't accept that I might like them.” “You don't like them!” Monica said. “Don't tell me what I like!” Chloe raised her voice in return. “Maybe I got them for him, but so what? Who were your teeth for--you or your parents?” The look of shock on Monica's face pushed Chloe on. “And if I got my procedures reversed, who would that be for? You?” “For you, to get your body back.” “I have my body. It's right here.” And Chloe could feel it now, her body, solid and reliable and real. Hers. Whoever had touched it and held it and changed it, still hers. Monica raised her palms in front of her and a poisonous look entered her eyes. “Look, it's quite clear that you've still got issues with your ex. And I'm afraid I can't be with someone who hasn't moved on from their past.” “The only person who hasn't moved on from my past is you.” Chloe stepped aside and gestured towards the open door. “You can leave now.” A wave of agitated air accompanied Monica's leaving as she swept past Chloe and slammed the front door behind her. Chloe stood for a moment, breathing deeply and feeling the still air return. Soft, afternoon light filtered through the kitchen window and illuminated the chopping board on the counter, sprinkled with chunks of freshly cut pepper, the knife lying to one side, just where Monica had left it. Chloe picked up the knife and cut up the rest of the pepper. When she had finished, she put the knife in the sink and then reached a hand up to each ear. One was sharp, one rounded. One for him, one for her. And in between: Chloe, at last.

GOLD DUST


Between These Shores Annual ~ Issue 1

FEA TU

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A Community of Artists Thrive On-Line and Off by Nava Renek seems to exist to nurture the artist and provide space for an eclectic celebration of the arts. Their debut issue features writers from 8 countries, including 14 stories, 3 works of creative non-fiction, 54 poems, cartoons, illustrations, photography, fine arts, reviews, interviews and features. In preparation for this review, I asked some questions of Adele C. Geraghty, Founder and Publishing Editor of BTSA, and discovered answers to the true etiology of the publication. The thought and reflection about the origin and philosophy behind the journal made me think a review alone might not have the same energy. Geraghty’s own words make it clear that the journal is not just a compilation of contributions, but an actual manifestation of a vision. Renek: There are lots of interesting reflections about the origin and philosophy behind BTSA which readers may enjoy understanding. What made you start an arts magazine? Geraghty: My reasons go back many years, really. I attained seven years of formal art training in New York City and was also lucky to study Creative Writing with Pulitzer nominee Daisy Aldan, whose own work was overlooked in her early years. She might have gone unnoticed indefinitely if she and a number of her peers hadn't decided Between These Shores Literary & Arts Annual to self-publish. She always encouraged writers to do this whenever necessary and to support others may be purchased from BTS Books at: to do the same. When asked if this was simply betweentheseshoresbooks.com 'vanity press' she famously responded, 'It's only 'vanity press' if the work isn't good.' I took this view £10.00 / $13.00 to heart, considering the great number of classic A sense of community is vital for most human bewriters who began this way. I considered creating ings. Being among others nurtures growth and can a way for talented writers and artists of varying prolong survival. Often, the workplace provides that genre, to have their work seen and appreciated, community where, like-minded come together to even if they may have been rejected by mainaccomplish a set of tasks, which often leads to a stream publishers. I wanted a place where graphcritical outcome. Yet, if a tree falls near a writer’s ic and literary artists could support each other desk, will anyone but the writer ever hear it? That’s through collaboration and promotion of their comwhy we employ writing workshops, open mics, and bined efforts. So, I created 'Between These of course, literary magazines, journals, broadsides, Shores Literary & Arts Annual', allowing a chance web-sites and annuals; all these in an attempt to to not only be published but, to produce a finished reassure each other that we, as writers are not product which would enhance each other's work. alone in practicing this solitary endeavour. All media supporting and complimenting each othBetween These Shores Literary & Arts Annual er and the use of that variation and partnership to (BTSA), is a comprehensive new multi-media magtell a story is the apex of artistic expression and azine, which provides another forum to dissemiwhat BTSA tries to achieve. I hoped it would also nate and promote original art through the written be a vehicle for emerging writers and artists to word, photography, graphic arts, and poetry. Unlike share the same pages with those who are more many journals and lit-mags which, each season seasoned, in a creative community. publish a wave of new work by disparate writers, whose bios appear on the final pages, and who Renek: Literary journals have a long history in may or may not ever be heard from again, BTSA the US, how is your journal connected/related to

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magazine and achieved its purpose, as many of those people are now world famous. I love the fundamental ethos of story-telling in all its many forms. It’s our oldest and most intrinsic creation; the greatest way to communicate, sometimes without words, without language; something to beautify life and transcend death. The merging of graphic and literary was the foundation for ‘Folder’ and BTSA has taken it a step further and incorporated all the arts. Aside from this, and thoroughly unrelated, my guilty pleasure is a hobby of reading and collecting old volumes of classic ghost and horror stories from the 17th to the early 20th centuries. As my collection grew, I began to appreciate those early seasonal Victorian annuals which followed the time honoured tradition of telling ghost stories during the long nights of winter. Charles Dickens’ yearly, seasonal issues of his weekly periodical ‘All The Year Round’ were collections containing stories, both from his peers and, at least one story from himself, again engaging in self publication. The BTSA team also lends their own works to the pages of BTSA, along with our submitters. I embodied both my self-publishing ethic and the winter story-telling, and BTSA accepts both standard and supernatural stories. I'm also Poetry Editor of Gold Dust Magazine, which I respected greatly before joining their team. I believe in their ethos of accepting work on quality alone, with no interest in former publishing credit or experience, and this is something I have also made a foundation for BTSA.

Daisy Aidan

Richard Miller, Floriano Vecchi and artist Grace Harigan printing Folder Magazine

Renek: As Poetry Editor of GD Magazine, what is BTSA’s relationship with Gold Dust? Are the two annuals related in some way?

other arts journals from the past? Do you have specific favorites or models? Geraghty: I admired the work of 'Folder' from the 1950’s, published by 'The Tiber Press', and created by Daisy Aldan, Floriano Vecchi and Richard Miller. Daisy Aldan used ‘Folder’ to promote the Beat Generation poets and artists in NY. Some copies of ‘Folder’ may still be found; simple folders with unattached pages of poetry and silk screened art, complementing each other. It was a ground breaking

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Geraghty: GD and BTSA are not connected in any way and I stress this to anyone with submission guidelines queries. Omma Velada successfully created Gold Dust more than ten years ago and I created BTSA in 2016 and it launched a year later. Both mags have similarities but widely different agenda. However, beside myself, some of the team from Gold Dust now work with both magazines; Slavko Mali, who illustrates for Gold Dust, has been a part of BTSA since the very


beginning. Stascia Lynne and Lorraine Brooks, have been GD reviewers and do the same for BTSA, beside feature writing. David Gardiner, Prose Editor for GD has contributed his stories to BTSA, too. In fact, many long term regular GD contributors submit to BTSA. There’s no conflict of interest and both BTSA and GD have their own following, beside those who submit to both.

lishing company, also named BTS, and that has now launched 'BTSA'. Today, along with its original meaning, the 'shores' represent all the diversified people we publish internationally. Our first issue contained the work of people from eight different countries. Renek: Who are your readers?

Geraghty: Apparently, more people than I expected, so quickly! Some of our authors and artists have a fan base who follow their successes and purchase copies just to read their work. It seems the majority of purchasers do so as a result of positive word-of-mouth promotion. Some want to know what the magazine is about before they submit so, they purchase a copy to be sure it's for them. Some have come back and asked when they can purchase Issue 2! They’re all ages, our youngest to date that we know of being sixteen and our eldest is ninety-four! The median age of readers is between twenty-five and sixty-five. Many readers Renek: What is the are pleased with what they read and have let us journal's connection know. The seasoned authors and artists who are between 'shores' (the also readers, are pleased to share the same pages US and UK)? as the emerging ones and that's what this is all about. So our readership is diverse and growing. Geraghty: My husThe submissions for our second issue have been band and I met in 2001 through a typo- twice as many as for our first, so that should mean graphical error. I sub- more readers as well. I'm pleased that we have something for everyone and we plan to keep the mitted an email of work as varied as possible. submissions inquiry to a literary magaRenek: What are some of the challenges artists zine editor, whose are facing today? email was given as Author54, but it Geraghty: I’m assuming you mean graphic artists should have been but, there are challenges facing all the arts. I supAuthor45. I received pose it depends on which point of a career one a further reply asking has reached. Primarily, for students starting out, how I came to have art education is usually the last to receive funding that email saying that and first to be cut from curriculum. Further to that, the party I had and for more established professionals too, public reached wasn’t the funding is currently almost non-existent. Art has publisher whom I always had its finger on the pulse of world change. was seeking. So with It's the reflection of and the provocateur of change a bit of investigating, and though there have always been times when I discovered the repolitical extremes have created difficult choices, there is currently a definitely sinister and expandversal of numbers and sent him an explanation ing international movement of intolerance and xenwith apology. He contacted me by way of thanks, we began talking and discovered we were on both ophobia. It goes without saying that this is a most sides of the Atlantic; he in England and I in Ameri- formidable threat to artistic expression, not just by exclusion but most dangerously, through political ca. We had a great deal in common and decided suppression. Artists are not just bystanders, they to combine his work (Archaeology) and mine (poetry) by first creating a web-site which I named are riding the crest of this wave and are becoming 'Between These Shores', to indicate all we had be- swept away. When politics and commerce join forces, control becomes even stronger through its subtween us and as it turned out, was so much more than an ocean. The BTS web-site evoked a lecture version. Artists are finding it more and more and performance poetry piece by the same name, difficult to make personal and ethical choices. which was replaced by an independent book pub- There is no longer informed decision, when com-

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mercialism of vast numbers of galleries make it intellectually impossible to know who is working behind the scenes. So, the question for the ethically conscious, professional artist is, 'Whose gallery is this? Who am I dealing with and do they even share my values?' The bottom line is, how can artists be selective and actually still make a living? Do they risk their standards to support themselves? It's dancing in the dark. For writers, whose best support were independent publishers and book stores, they are finding now that more and more of these have become ‘establishment’ or simply, no longer exist. Artists of all genre have never had it easy, especially during world upheaval and no more than now, when trying to keep a step ahead, while maintaining their ethics and solidarity.

book and we're in the process of setting up a podcast too, And, if all goes well, I’ll be looking forward to a time when we may begin selecting our best works for a BTSA anthology.

Reading BTSA is like visiting a town square in a strange country where off in each corner something unusual is happening. Slavko Mali, a Serbian born graphic artist, illustrator and writer, is featured in this first issue with a lengthy interview, his responses interspersed with his own lively cover art and illustrations. Each offering seems to be connected to another. Editors are writers; writers are critics. Poets are photographers and graphic artists. This is the essence of being an artist, not a commodity wrapped in a commercial package where one must stick to one genre to make their work easier to display. Renek: What is your New and seasoned writers, photographers and visual hope for BTSA in the artists share the stage. In future? a feature for ‘The Four Geraghty: I'd enjoy Freedoms’, a gallery show seeing more of the collective by artist Louis same, diverse, internaEbarb , we are introduced tional works we have to the art of Tina So, born been getting. By submitand raised in Hong Kong, ting to BTS Annual, a using painting as a mediwriter has the best um to explore the human chance of our consider- About to be published: the second emotions spurred by rapid ing their work for book changes in society. Kamal Between These Shores Annual publication with BTS Kumar Tanti, an Assamese Books. We’ve chosen three new authors so far, in poet, presents a series of poems rich in atmothis way. I’d like to hear people’s thoughts and sug- sphere and texture. American born-British residing, gestions about the annual and its contents, too. Jolen Whitworth’s delicate personal poems are inReaders’ ideas and opinions are important to us. terspersed with her own stark photographs, adding To further expand the idea of story-telling through to a melancholy and eerie essence that permeates different genre, I'm currently planning an issue de- the entire annual. Ed King’s cartoons and on-thevoted to live performance. We're open to hearing road-memoirs create a comedy showcase throughfrom actors, puppeteers, mimes and story tellers out the varied pages. It’s this solidarity in these using sign. I'd like to receive more from alternative pages of Between These Shores Annual that bolwriters and poets and more creative non-fiction sters our sense of community and keeps isolation writers, too. We'll be devoting an issue to cartoon- at bay. Sit down, flip open the annual and, enter a ing, and want to receive work from Cartoonists of world of anguish, sadness, confusion or contentboth still and animated work. I’d also like to receive ment; then flip to another page, for more colour, book reviews and news of any literary or art related poignance, or even irreverence. Where variety subjects. And of course, we want all kinds of stoblooms, understanding, appreciation and recognition grows. ries, always and told in any way! The BTSA team is working on a live event called 'Just One Book', GOLD DUST where the price of admission is the cost of a single

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Who Are You? by Geoffrey Heptonstall

PLA Y

Characters: ROSA Black 25 NORMAN White 60 STRANGER Middle Eastern 30 Scene: A living room in Norman’s flat. [Norman, an elderly man of limited experience is visited by his new home care worker, Rosa, young and educated and black. Norman is confused by the modern, multicultural world. Then a stranger enters who is vaguely familiar….] NORMAN:

Where is everything? Can’t find nothing. These glasses is no good. I should of gone to a proper optician, one who speaks English. If they can’t speak right how can they see right? [Knock on door. Norman opens door]

ROSA:

[Entering] Norman? May I come in?

NORMAN:

Who are you?

ROSA:

You got a letter about me from the council. I’m Rosa.

NORMAN:

There’s suspicious-looking types creeping about the place now.

ROSA:

Do I look suspicious to you?

NORMAN:

Not you personally. But there’s lots of funny types nowadays. You don’t know who they or where they’ve been or what they’ll get up to next.

ROSA:

I’m here to clean your house. The council sent me to look after you.

NORMAN:

Couldn’t they have sent someone British? No offence, mind.

ROSA:

I am British.

NORMAN:

I mean British in the accepted sense.

ROSA:

You mean painted pale.

NORMAN:

I mean British. Not foreign. Someone who believes in God.

ROSA:

I believe in God. So important to me.

NORMAN:

Yes, but not a British God.

ROSA:

No, a godlike God, one in Heaven, one who came down in a faraway country speaking another language.

NORMAN:

Well, that’s not God, then is it? I mean, it stands to reason that if the Bible’s written in English…

ROSA:

I’ve got to start cleaning your house. I’m a very thorough cleaner. It comes with so much experience.

NORMAN:

Well, I suppose it’s more natural to you. I mean, with you having a lot of experience and that.

ROSA:

Maybe if I ignore you? And shall I clean the portrait you have in your attic? The one that grows kinder and more tolerant with every passing year? Forget it. Irony is lost on you.

NORMAN:

What have I lost?

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ROSA:

Your sense of tidiness. This house is a disgrace, Norman. Look at it.

NORMAN:

The wife went. One moment she was fine. Then, you know. And suddenly I’m on my own. It’s not been easy.

ROSA:

I’m sorry for your loss. My mother died, and I had no money to go see her as she was dying.

NORMAN:

A long way away, was she?

ROSA:

She moved to Plymouth some years ago. Train fares are so expensive when you’re a student. I was a student.

NORMAN:

What did you study, then?

ROSA:

English. The literature I love.

NORMAN:

University? You could get a good job.

ROSA:

That’s what I hope. In the mean time I do something useful. I help others. I serve humanity.

NORMAN:

Don’t talk to me about humanity.

ROSA:

Don’t worry, I won’t.

NORMAN:

Education. Eh? They say it’s a wonderful thing, but I’m not too sure. They don’t learn people the right things, do they?

ROSA:

And what are the right things, Norman?

NORMAN:

Respect for their elders, for a start. We was taught respect. We stood proud and saluted the flag because we was British. Well, there’s not too many of us left now, is there? No offence, mind. No, they learned us values.

ROSA:

And good English.

NORMAN:

Exactly

ROSA:

I was trying to use irony.

NORMAN:

Well, there’s one in the cupboard. It’s served me well.

ROSA:

I think I’ll start on the carpets.

NORMAN:

I gave them a sweep.

ROSA:

If I look under what shall I find? So many difficulties, just swept under. Yes, I think that’s what I’ll find, Norman. Quite a few realities, too.

NORMAN:

Well, whatever. What was your name again?

ROSA:

Rosa. But you can call me Lulabelle, master. Forget it. My name’s Rosa.

NORMAN:

Just as long as I know. Rosa. Nice name. You get some funny names now. Family next door called their little girl - what was it? - Oh, yeah, Siberia. And they were white. Not that I’m….I mean, who’d called their kiddie Siberia?

ROSA:

I suppose they want to be something different.

NORMAN:

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Why can’t they be normal? What’s wrong with Susan? There was a girl I knew. Suzanna Swann was her name. Lovely name. She was lovely, graceful like a swan.

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ROSA:

What happened to her?

NORMAN:

She drowned in an accident. Death by misadventure. Deep waters, see. Dangerous undercurrents. Lovely girl. No older than you. I mean, what are you, eighteen, nineteen?

ROSA:

That’s very flattering. But I’m twenty-three.

NORMAN:

Twenty-three and no wedding ring? Nice girl like you.

ROSA:

I’m not so keen on men.

NORMAN:

Just not met the right one.

ROSA:

Well, maybe there’s isn’t one.

NORMAN:

I mean, you want to give it a chance. You never know, do you? There’s all sorts in this world, but the old ways are best. Do you believe in God, Rosa?

ROSA:

Yes, I told you so.

NORMAN:

We’re all his children.

ROSA:

That’s true.

NORMAN:

We’re all his children, British or not as the case may be. And he made us all different. Don’t do to mix it all up, in my opinion. Not very Christian. No offence, as I say.

STRANGER:

[Enters] None taken, Norman.

NORMAN:

Who are you, then?

STRANGER:

I’m a stranger.

NORMAN:

I can see that. But who are you and what are you doing here?

STRANGER:

I’m nobody.

NORMAN:

Well, I mean everybody’s somebody

ROSA:

That’s true.

STRANGER:

I’m nobody. That’s why you don’t recognize me, even though you’ve seen me many times.

NORMAN:

Do you know who exactly this is, Rosa?

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ROSA:

Not exactly.

STRANGER:

It takes time to get to know me. A lifetime, maybe.

NORMAN:

You all look the same. No offence.

ROSA:

Stop saying that, Norman. You know it doesn’t mean anything.

NORMAN:

Only being polite, like.

ROSA:

My God!

STRANGER:

Let’s not get too metaphysical, not at this stage. Just call me Emmanuel.

ROSA:

So I was right. I thought so. Well, it’s an honour - Emmanuel.

STRANGER:

No, I assure you the honour is all mine. Pleasure to meet you both.

NORMAN:

What’s going on? This is my flat. I’ve a good mind to call…

ROSA:

To do what, Norman? Tell the authorities you’ve been visited by Emmanuel?

NORMAN:

He’s just a stranger to me.

ROSA:

What did you expect, Norman?

STRANGER:

I often surprise people.

NORMAN:

That I can well believe - creeping up on people, letting yourself into people’s homes.

ROSA:

You let me in.

NORMAN:

That is entirely different. You’re from Social Services.

ROSA:

This is a heaven-sent opportunity, you stupid man.

NORMAN:

What? An opportunity to welcome into my home a scruffy-looking stranger? Jesus Christ!

ROSA:

I must apologise for this, Emmanuel.

STRANGER:

No worries. Happens all the time. I’m used to it. Being Jewish, you know.

NORMAN:

You mustn’t think I’m prejudiced.

ROSA:

No, of course not, Norman. Nobody’s suggesting it for a moment. We don’t need to suggest it, Norman.

NORMAN:

It’s just not what I knew.

STRANGER:

It never was.

NORMAN:

We used to be proud, a proud nation.

STRANGER:

You still could be proud.

ROSA:

Of welcoming strangers…

STRANGER:

Who aren’t strangers, just people you don’t yet know. Except that you know me, Norman.

NORMAN:

Well, I admit you do look a bit familiar.

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STRANGER:

I know you very well. You used to talk to me. You went to my church. You were a child then. And to me you’re a child now.

NORMAN:

There’s not enough room on this island for all and sundry to come here.

STRANGER:

You were a stranger once.

NORMAN:

Never. Who said that? Who’s told you that?

STRANGER:

Your people, they came from far away, across the sea. They came not with pass ports but with swords and torches. That was a long time ago, you say. But it wasn’t so very long in the history of the world.

ROSA:

And we all came from Africa once.

STRANGER:

Where it all began, the great experiment we call humanity.

ROSA:

Where’s your humanity, Norman?

NORMAN:

For Christ’s sake!

STRANGER:

I want you to talk to me again, Norman. I’m listening.

NORMAN:

The pair of you, go. Just leave me alone.

ROSA:

We want to be with you.

NORMAN:

Hellfire and damnation! I don’t need help. I’m all right the way I am, I tell you.

ROSA:

You’re independent and proud and lonely and miserable and sometimes you wish you were dead. But not yet, Norman, not yet.

NORMAN:

I hate foreigners. I hate everything. And most of all I hate myself. So leave me alone. [Breaks down]

STRANGER:

Rosa, be an angel and make a cup of tea for all of us. Two sugars in mine, remember.

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ST BE EM PO

Shana five impressions by Robert Beveridge I: Foreign it's funny how many different dialects we Americans use I can think of six offhand and a thousand variations on those. Yet when you came into my house I knew none of them had an expression to fit you II: Sestina I look around at everyone I know a compare them to you Sappho's fragments and a Franciscan sestina III: Reluctance You said earlier to me I don't want the boys to tell me of the birds and the bees. Now what I want to hear drop from your lips like warm rain in October is you're not the boys.

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IV: Hiding Inside As I touch your hair long wavy flow I want to part it with my hands, enter V: Poppy some call the rose the perfect flower but the rose is too clichĂŠ to describe you the rose is ephemeral and must be handled with gloves. Blood and rose petals don't mix. Your flower is the poppy its mystic intoxication and addictive properties you have been refined like opium made knowledgeable and ready to be tasted in myriad forms I grasp at the knowledge of you in your wisdom you keep it just out of my reach

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T OR SH ORY ST

Book Stacks by Geoff Nelder

Seeing her mouth open he pre-empted her Colleen listened to her own footsteps, clicking their way along the wet, grey flagstone sidewalk in question. “I like reading.” “Sure. So do I, Unc, but…” She picked up the Woodlawn, West Bronx. She wrinkled her nose at a nearest and nodded approvingly. “Oh, One Flew tipped garbage can. Fish and lemon—a delicious meal a night or two back, but now an olfactory as- Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I’ve heard of that. Is it the book about the Broadway play of that name?” sault. She knew her uncle had inherited his redRandy poured them both a shot. “You ignorabrick ground-floor apartment as she might one day. mus. It’s a novel by Kesey—see on the cover. PubHer advice to sell before the neighbourhood delished in October sixty-two. It’s about… well…” clined fell on ear-waxed ears. She hadn’t visited Colleen took a genteel sip of the strong yet the recluse for three years, but his seventy-yearsyrupy liquor and pulled a face. A quick read of the old twin sister, Aunt Morag, had used a nickel hardback’s sleeve told her it featured a psychiatric phone call to demand this visit. hospital. ‘Nuff said. She put the book down on the She found his block and turned to look up at stack and picked one from the next pile. the pink granite steps leading to the glass door. “Hey, uncle, this one is also One Flew… maybe Brown tape secured a long diagonal crack. ExperiI can have the spare?” ence told her that Uncle Randy wasn’t going to He yelled, “No, no!” then calming down, buzz her in, so she waited a few minutes until a tall, thin woman came out, smelling of cheap rose per- “maybe sometime. You can go now.” Finally, she took in what the literary landscape fume. A welcome improvement on bad fish. Colwas really about. The pale greens and reds fooled leen walked into the lobby, examined the rack of post-lockers and found one labelled R. McMurphy her for a moment into thinking that all those volMD (retd). Yeah, retired now ten years but still ille- umes were from a book club. Nope. Ignoring gally self-prescribing his chlorpromazine for schizo- Randy’s pleas to be gone, she wandered the room’s reduced periphery inspecting the literature. phrenia. She pulled out a folded N.Y. Daily News dated They were ALL One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. She cleared pencils and notebooks off the three days ago, July 21 1969 ‘Men Walk On The Moon’, tucked it under an arm, walked around the chair in front of him and sat. Poured herself another JD and pointed at the mono-library. She didn’t back of the stairs and knocked on his door. She start with a why even though she was dying to added a yell. “Uncle, it’s Colleen.” know. A rich baritone responded, “Go away.” “Where did you get them all from? There must “No.” be…erm a thousand?” “This is your aunt’s doing. Busybodying ol’ coot.” “Two thousand, three hundred and eleven. “I’ve brought doughnuts and a bottle of JD.” Found them in a dumpster around the corner.” “Push the door. Not locked.” She examined the inside page of one of the She pushed then staggered back at the stench of old man, stale piss and decaying food. Stacks of books. “This one was printed by Woodlawn Offset. That’s local sure enough. Unwanted remainders, books lined the hall walls. Colleen put on her richest Irish accent. “Some yeah?” “Maybe. So…” quack you are. Doctor wash yerself, let alone heal “I’m coming to it, Unc. So, why?” yerself.” “Because sooner or later I’m gonna find where His reply came from his living room on the right. “Healthy bacteria to fight the rat fleas. Wash it’s different.” His grin could be seen through his silver moustache. a couple of glasses, Colleen dear, and bring that “Okay, you’re reading two thousand copies of bottle in.” She rescued a couple of glasses from the filled the same book, printed by the same press on the same day… in case one’s—” ceramic sink, noting fish bones on the wooden “You got it.” draining board. She nearly dropped the tumblers “I understand,” she lied. “I often miss things the when she saw the old duffer sunk into a oncegreen soft armchair. His white beard and hair, rust- first read through and even the second. Couldn’t peppered and what once might have been a smart you just read one of them a hundred times and maroon smoking jacket, gave him a derelict Santa move on?” She hoped so, or a real nuthouse is going to receive a new patient. look. What shook her most were piles of books, “You don’t get it. If you knew this masterpiece, around the room. The window was spared, but his and yes it will be seen as such, you’ll know there’s gramophone and wireless perched on books as if something significant. I’ll give you a minute.” the latter were avant-garde furniture.

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She flicked through and skimmed the inside flap. “Randle McMurphy. What? You think this coincidence means something? Your name isn’t even Randle, it’s Randy, short for Randolph.” “You don’t get it. Yeah, the name of the main character creeps me out. It ties me to the darn thing. The date, girl. I’ve told you once but when was it published?” Again, she flipped the first page or two. “October 28th 1962. So?” He fished around in an overfull magazine rack beside him then threw her a yellowed newspaper. ‘Cuban Missile Crisis Averted.’ She read its date and it matched. She frowned at him. “Still don’t get it, eh?” She slowly shook her head. “Tell you what. I’ll wash up enough to make us a strong coffee.” To her surprise he followed her out to the kitchen and pointed at where his coffee grinder was. “You see, back when I was a small-town doc in Wisconsin, the whole population of eight hundred souls depended on the nuclear silos not three miles distant. Others were ten and twenty miles. On that day I could swear I saw a mushroom cloud on the horizon. I dived under the table to await the blast when a nuke hit our silos, but hit my head and passed out.” “So, nothing happened. Khrushchev banged his shoe on the table and all went peaceable.” “Did it? Did it really? The date of the book, its printer being next door, and the damned name—a coincidence too many. Just suppose the apocalypse did happen in a kind of cusp so one future escaped it, the other… and these---” He waved his hand at the stacks "… printed that day…well.” He shuffled back to his chair leaving the percolator wafting heavenly aromas to mask all others. An hour later she kissed his whiskery cheek goodbye and saw herself out. She headed for the cracked front door and hefted her straw bag. It wasn’t empty. A copy of

One Flew rested in there. Was her uncle a cuckoo? Had his brain flown? The book in her bag was on the chair she’d sat on, presumably the next copy for him to read. He’d needed reassurance that his world, hers too, carried on as normal, but if he found an aberration it might mean he’s in the wrong world. Laughing to herself she flicked through the book – from page one to page three twenty. All of them, blank. She laughed, more nervously this time, opened the front door and blinked in the pure white light.

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R HO IEW T AU ERV T IN

Richard Thomas Interviewed by David Gardiner

sion, dread, and unease. I think it’s like riding a rollercoaster – we don’t REALLY want to die, but we like the idea of being on the edge of something dangerous. In horror, whether it’s film or literature, it’s often trying to see what you can handle, and knowing that you’re going to survive. We liked to be scared. It makes us feel something, feel alive. We like to experience the entire range of human emotions. Though, obviously, not everyone enjoys the experience. I think we’re drawn to tragedy because there is a catharsis – we’ve all been through love and loss, birth and death, joy and suffering – in so many different ways. Misery loves company, right? I do think there is a trend that is getting away from the gore, and more into Redemption, the first story of yours that I saw, the psychological. I look at films like The Witch, or was far removed from the kind of thing that Hereditary, for example. Gold Dust usually publishes, being a seemingly surreal series of numbered snapshots of a Do you write with a particular audience in woman's life that I found compelling to read mind or primarily to satisfy yourself? even though I was aware that I understood only a fraction of what each entry meant or con- Great question. I think at this point in my career I tained. You have defined the genre in which do have an “audience,” but I also know that I can’t you write as 'neo-noir transgressive slipwrite anything compelling if I’m not into it, if I can’t stream fiction'. I can attempt to interpret this create an emotional response within myself. from the meanings of the individual words, but While people may think of me primarily as a horror when I get to 'slipstream' I find myself flounauthor, I really prefer the psychological – the idedering. Can you enlarge on what you mean by as, emotions, and tensions that lurk inside the the description? unexpected, the supernatural, the grotesque, and the mundane too. I am definitely swinging for the Yes, that story was a bit surreal, wasn’t it? I want- fences more these days. My last story, a noveled to hint at a world of events that was off the ette entitled, “Ring of Fire,” blocked me for months. page, a series of memories. Which is something It was for a horror anthology of seven deadly sins that’s quite common in “neo-noir” (which just stories, and I got lust. I didn’t want a regurgitation means “new-black” or contemporary dark fiction). of Hellraiser. And I wanted to avoid any whiff of It also taps into unreliable narrators, the atmosrape or misogyny. I watched a lot of films, read a phere and mood of classic noir, and the tension lot of books – seeking new imagery, ideas, voices, inherent in contemporary thrillers. Transgressive etc. Brian Evenson’s novella The Warren, was a is usually defined by taboo subject matter, and big influence, as were movies like Ex Machina, those that rebel against the norms of society. Slip- and Under the Skin. There was also this concept stream can mean two things – slipping between about the 100th Monkey I’d run across. That all genres (in most cases, usually speculative genres worked together to create this (hopefully) compellike fantasy, science fiction, and horror paired with ling narrative about man, the dark deeds we do, literary fiction) and/or between reality and deluand the idea of hope, and evolution. I rarely use sion. I do all of that in my work, most definitely. beta-readers these days, but I did bounce it off of two editor friends, as I had no idea if it worked. Why do you think it is that so many people are One really liked it, and had a few suggestions. attracted to fantasies of brutality, terror and The other LOVED IT, and said it was a home run. cruelty, whether in fiction, cinema or drama? In the end my editors were very happy with it, anWhat is the human need that such imaginings other author in the anthology saying it was one of feed? the best things he’d ever read. So, I went into that process uncertain, and came out of it with a story That’s a great question. I don’t write as many gory that I thought might be terrible. It worked out, I think. But there was a lot of doubt. The one thing I stories as I used to, but I definitely want that ten-

In 2008 (Issue 14) Gold Dust became one of the first magazines to publish the work of Richard Thomas, who has since become a prolific writer of both novels (three) and short stories (over 150 published including three solo collections), edited four anthologies and been nominated for the Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson, and Thriller awards. He was also Editor-in-Chief at Gamut Magazine and Dark House Press, and has just launched a new full time career as an online tutor of creative writing. I asked Richard the following questions:

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for sure wanted, was to be different, to be innova- You need to be humble, and open to suggestions. Also, trying to be a certain kind of author, or write tive, to avoid clichés and tropes, and to create a certain kinds of stories – if your work keeps sliding strong emotional response. into magical realism or Southern gothic or science Implicit in setting up as a tutor of creative writ- fiction just embrace it. Write to your strengths, and then reinvent the genres you’re in. (I also suggest ing is the faith that writing is a craft that can writing across a FEW genres, it’s a lot of fun, and I be taught. I share this belief but I also think that there is an unteachable, perhaps even in- think hybrid fiction, the genre-bending fiction that’s born spark that separates the outstanding writ- coming out now is some of the most compelling work.) er from the merely competent. Would you agree? It's often said that writing is under threat from I do agree, actually. I think there are some people a number of directions, such as a culture of laziness that encourages the passive viewing that are just naturally-born storytellers. Some have a gift for language, some for emotion, some of pulp television shows; the ease with which for innovation. You can be an average writer, and poorly written and unedited fiction can be published, either electronically or in print; digitalstudying can make you a good writer, even a communication and great writer. But to be 'text-speak' eroding lantruly special, I think you guage itself, blurring the probably have to be born precision of meanings with certain gifts. I could and blunting our clarity say the same thing about of thought, and so on. musicians, professional Are you optimistic for athletes, etc. Working the future of the written hard, studying, learning, word and the literary growing, that can all take tradition, particularly in you pretty far. At some the English-speaking point in your career the world? stories should come to you, the process should I am. There will always be be less painful, and you fluff, there will always be should pour your blood, mainstream. I used to sweat, and tears into love Dean Koontz, then your work, on a regular basis. You should have success, you should hear woke up one day and couldn’t remember the plot of ANY of the books of his I’d read. I can’t say the from editors and publications, start breaking through. That being said I started writing seriously same thing about Stephen King – I don’t love everything he’s written, but I remember it all, and at the age of 40, and I’m 50 now, with three novels, three collections, 150+ stories published, four much of it is fantastic. There are plenty of horror anthologies edited, and a number of award nomi- movies that can scare you with a cat jumping in a window, but that won’t stay with you, it doesn’t nations. I’ve also published alongside Stephen King four times. But ask me tomorrow, and I’ll tell resonate, and get under your skin. If you want a you I’m a fraud. If I wasn’t bipolar when I started, I Big Mac, go get a Big Mac – there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s satisfying. BUT, if you look probably am now. One day, KING OF THE around, some of the work that’s really getting a lot WORLD, the next, an imposter. of attention, it’s innovative, it’s different, it subverts Are there any specific traps that almost all fall the expectation of the genre it’s in. Movies like Arrival, based on the story by Ted Chiang, “Story of into when setting out to become writers? Your Life.” Or the work of studios like A24 Films, who are winning awards and getting attention with I think so. Most people don’t realize how much a wide range of movies – Enemy, Under the Skin, work it really is. It’s very difficult to break into the top markets, to sell a lot of books, to make a living Ex Machina, Hereditary, Moonlight, and Ladybird, for example. Or films like Get Out. The same thing at it. Most people don’t study enough – whether that’s taking classes, reading the Best of the Year is happening with fiction. If you look at the stories in the Best Horror, Best Fantasy and Science Ficanthologies, or honing their craft, finding their tion, and Best American Short Stories anthologies voice, over years, and dozens of stories you’ll find some wild, weird, wonderful authors – (especially before trying to write that first novel).

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Stephen Graham Jones, Livia Llewellyn, Brian Evenson, Kelly Link, Brian Hodge, Adam Nevill, Kristi DeMeester, Michael Wehunt, Damien Angelica Walters, etc. I’m very optimistic for the future. As long as we keep reading. To what do you attribute your own success as a writer, and what would be your advice to someone seeking to emulate it? Well, this may sound a bit “new-age” but I was frustrated with a career in advertising. I saw the film Fight Club, and it woke up my desire to write. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed writing. I took some classes, wrote some stories, sent them out, and ended up in Shivers VI alongside Stephen King, Peter Straub, and others. It was a dream come true. I cried. I feel that writing has always been my destiny – and the minute I started pushing in that direction, the resistance I felt in other fields fell away. Not that’s it’s been easy (some 750 rejections in ten years, with plenty of “white whale” markets left to be harpooned), mind you, but it’s been a joy, a pleasure, something I work really hard at, but is immensely satisfying. You must dig deep, really put yourself on the page, be honest, and raw, and deep. That emotion will

come through whether you’re writing horror or westerns or literary fiction. It must be personal, it has to mean something to you, and you need to take chances. If you are scared, sick to your stomach, uncertain – then you probably just wrote something compelling. You have to persevere – it’s a long road, not an easy one to tread, and you’ll spend a lot of time alone. But, when you can write a story that makes somebody cry in Germany finding closure on a personal issue, when you can change the life of a suicidal teen in Australia, when you can inspire a lonely divorced mother in Kentucky to find love again – you know you’ve heard your calling, and responded. And the last thing I’ll leave you with: keep an eye out for something special, something different that’s unique to YOUR stories. Maybe it’s where you grew up, a certain perspective, something about your culture, or experience, or maybe just the way you tell your stories, the framework. That’s you, that’s special – give us more of that. Be weird, tap into your hopes and fears, in ways that have universal appeal, while retaining that unique element that only you can provide. Keep reading, and good luck! GOLD DUST

Announcing a new Poetry Anthology from Gold Dust by Adele C. Geraghty, Poetry Editor It's been six years since our last poetry anthology, and we're definitely overdue for another. So, I'm very pleased to announce the forthcoming 'Capella: Gold Star Greats', (Gold Dust Poets, 2013 - 2018)'. I'm hoping that everyone who reads this will share the information with as many former Gold Dust poets as possible, as some of our files have been destroyed over the last five years so, there is no way to personally alert all our past contributors. We will be sharing the news on our web-site and our facebook page also, with the hope that we reach as many of you as possible. You may find the submissions guidelines below and I'm looking forward to receiving poetry from all our 'Gold Star Greats'. Anthology' Guidelines 1) All poets who have had poetry published in Gold Dust between 2013 and 2018 are welcome to submit two new, unpublished poems to the anthology. Subject matter and size is not relevant. Just make certain that these are the best of your best, as there will be a great deal of competition and only one of your poems will be accepted.

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2) Any poets whose poem was chosen 'Best of Issue' between 2013 and 2018 will also have their 'Best of Issue' poem republished in the anthology, along with one of their two newly submitted poems. Please include (whenever possible) the issue and year in which your 'Best of Issue' poem appeared and a new copy of that poem. 3) The Important Stuff: Many people don't realise how much time and effort is involved in cre-


ating a book, especially if one is doing it without assistance and it is only one of many others also being produced. Nor do they realise how much time is lost in trying to enter locked files, or to change font type, size and line spacing for more than a hundred poems. So, please, in order that this anthology is ready for the winter of 2019, I request (with gratitude for your taking it seriously) that you all avoid the following: No locked files No headers and footers. Only Tahoma 12 pt or closest font in appearance. Only single line spacing. Thank you!

diately and will continue until 30 May, 2019. Apologies to all but, no poems arriving after that date will be selected. It is best not to leave off sending until the last minute. For those of you in the US, please recall the several time differences between there and the UK! New York = five hours behind the UK Chicago = six hours behind the UK Denver = seven hours behind the UK California = eight hours behind the UK Alaska = nine hours behind the UK Hawaii = ten hours behind the UK Also, please be patient as, I won’t be notifying anyone of their chosen poems until June/July of 2019.

4) All bios should be sent within the same Word doc. as your submissions, not in the body of your email. We want to devote as much page space to your poetry as we can so, please, I ask that your bios be cut to the bare minimum. Your poetry will speak for itself so, please tell our readers the things you are most proud of in 50 to100 words or less. I know you can do it!

6) For all other queries I can always be reached at the Poetry Editor's email Bramwith22@aol.com and will be glad to help but, please remember not to send submissions to this email. And, just a final note; the number of poems which have been published since I've been Poetry Editor have been a complete joy to read and share so, I know that this anthology, filled with fresh new works by our very best 'gold stars', will be well worth waiting for! 5) All submissions should be sent in Word doc. Well,...don't just sit there,...start submitting! to the email used for this anthology, which is democ53@aol.com, with “GD Anthology’ in the submission bar. Submissions will begin immeGOLD DUST

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T OR Y H S OR ST

Mrs Monster by Stephen McQuiggan

It was hard to see Tess clearly through the slats of the garden fence but something in the way she held her head, in the false bonhomie of her tone, made Maggie press up close to the gap in the wood for a better look. Sure enough, her bottom lip was bulged out like a blown tyre and the heavy makeup only highlighted, rather than concealed, the dark bruise that ringed one eye. Tess laughed, getting out a well rehearsed line before Maggie could bring herself to ask. ‘I slipped on a wet towel and smacked my head off the sink,’ she said in a ‘would you believe it?’ voice, and no, Maggie would not believe it; not unless the sink had been drinking, and shouting in a perfect imitation of Ray’s voice. Maggie smiled sympathetically, but said nothing. ‘I know I must look a sight...People will start calling me Mrs Monster,’ Tess forced out a thin giggle, ‘but it’s Ray I feel sorry for.’ At the mention of her husband’s name the bruise got heavier for she hung her head, unable to look Maggie in the eye. ‘People are gonna think he beat me or something, you know how they talk. It’s so unfair he should get blamed just because I’ve got two left feet.’ Janice, the gossip monger who worked in the local shop (and who had Bell’s Palsy and a host of other ailments, but that was neither here nor there) told Maggie that Tess had been in and when she had bent down to get some ice cream from the freezer (Ray had ever such a sweet tooth) Janice swore she saw teethmarks on her breasts. ‘It’s none of our business, dear,’ Dennis told Maggie when he got home. ‘I’d love to go round there and kick seven colours of shite out of him but I can’t, can I? It’s best not to get involved. If he is beating her, well, she’s a sensible girl. She’ll leave him and that’ll be the end of it.’ Her husband smiled confidently, but Maggie wasn’t so sure. A good hiding had a funny way of knocking the sense out of you, until your judgement was skewered enough to rationalise anything. Dennis had no idea what he was talking about, no matter how much he grinned. Hadn’t her own mother (a most sensible woman) put up with it for years? That night, when the walls started banging and the wailing reached a poltergeist crescendo, even Dennis (grouchy from being awoken on a work night) was talking about putting on his trousers and going next door to ‘sort it out’; the row stopped abruptly, as if cowed by his half-assed whispered threat. The next morning Maggie considered telling her husband of the abuse she had watched her mother endure and found that she couldn’t. He wouldn’t understand. He was a kindly man, and kindly men

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struggled to believe in cruelty. Dennis had never raised a hand to her, not once; strange that she should take something that should be a given and elevate it to a virtue. She felt raw with memories, the abrasive past rubbing her nerves down to sharp slivers. Memories like the time she was painting the garden gate – she loved to help daddy out, though in truth it was just another excuse to get out of the house and breathe. She could hear Daddy yelling inside, then the crack of upturning furniture. Mr Rourke, the lay preacher next door, was reading his paper on a summer seat in his yard; he put his paper down and gazed sadly over at Maggie, seeming to come to a decision. He straddled the small dividing wall and walked slowly toward the shouting. Maggie put down her paintbrush and crept beneath the window, her young heart racing now that something would finally be done. ‘You can’t hit your wife on the Sabbath, man,’ Rourke was saying. ‘You’ve all week to keep her in line, but keep the Lord’s Day holy.’ Maggie was scared that if she told Dennis about her childhood he would tell her, in a stern preacher’s voice like that of Mr Rourke, to let it go, that it wasn’t important anymore. But Maggie couldn’t let it go. She was the one in the house all day, she was the one who could hear in the silence of the noon when the telly was off (Maggie couldn’t stand the News, all that suffering) and the traffic gone, the sobbing seep through the walls like the ghostly echo of her own Mother’s pain. It broke her heart. She wanted to go outside for a cigarette but she fretted she might run into Tess. That good for nothing shit (yes, shit – Maggie didn’t swear too often but Ray deserved that smelly mantle) of a husband of hers would saunter out to his car every morning practically whistling, whilst his knuckles still throbbed from pounding on his wife’s face. Ray reminded Maggie of her Father, another macho shit (yes, Shit with a capital S) who was only a man on the outside and nothing but a cruel little boy on the in. Every day now, the sobbing; every night, the shouting. It was the kids Maggie worried about, no-one else seemed to. She had been a child in such a house and the quiet horror never left her. ‘Keep your nose out of it,’ Dennis warned for the umpteenth time, taking off his great big clumpy work boots and slipping them under the bed; the smell of sweat and cement would keep her awake but she knew it was pointless to protest, Dennis was set in his ways. ‘You’ll only make things worse.’


Worse? Really? In the darkness Maggie started to think about Her husband had a decent heart, but a selfish the contents of her cutlery drawer and the array of one too; hiding behind pointless etiquette the way tools that Dennis hoarded in his garden shed: chisMr Rourke hid behind his God. And God, when all els, hammers, Stanley knives and spanners...or a good old steak knife? She felt the phantom heft of was said and done, was just another man. If Dennis had to endure the crying jags next them in her hand, fantasising about the force needdoor all the livelong day would he truly believe that ed to ram them home, pound them into flesh and any form of intervention could be worse? The bone. She fell asleep to a constant inner litany of thought of those little kiddies hearing their mother Yes, I can – for their sake, I can. When she awoke her dreams followed her up yap like that filled Maggie with a fizzing, murderous rage. She remembered all too well how her own into daylight. She kissed Dennis as she packed him mother tried to hide her tears, painting on a ghastly out to work then sat and listened, drawn to distracsmile as she sang a tuneless dirge, until the day she tion by the keening coming through the walls; drawn cracked and slumped on the floor crying fit to choke. also to the hammer that lay such a short step away Maggie and her brother shared her tears, their bel- in the garden shed. She found herself there, rooting lies rumbling, too frightened to ask the broken thing through the toolbox, without any real memory of how she got there. She found the hammer in her they called Mama for their dinner. No, those little dears next door would not have hand, calmed by its solidity, as she peered over the to go through that, they would not grow up to think gate into her neighbour’s yard. Such a normal scene – so quiet – who would such things were normal, not if she could help it. believe what happened there behind such a bland ‘Somebody needs to do something,’ Maggie said. ‘So call the police,’ her husband’s voice was facade? Just a regular family home passersby muffled by the pillow, ‘let them handle it. It’s their job, would think (if they gave it a thought at all); a tidy greenhouse, a patio set, a little bike with stabilisers after all.’ They wouldn’t do what needs to be done, and a brightly coloured swing-set. But it was all a thought Maggie. They might arrest Ray but they tawdry lie. All you had to do was look a little closer would shy away from the only real solution. She at the sheets blowing on the line and see the persistdidn’t voice any of this to Dennis, for one he was ent bloodstains that would never fully wash out. The back door was open and Maggie let herself already snoring, for another he would likely be appalled. She lay awake waiting for the shouts to start, in – a child of abuse needed no invite to such a followed by the god-awful stomach churning sobs, place – drawn to pain like iron filings to a magnet. imaging the two little children hearing that as their Tess was cowering by the pedal bin, her face a wet sculpture of welts and bumps, her tears cascading lullaby and she wept silent tears.

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over swollen cheeks. The rage that coursed through Maggie caused her to grip the hammer shaft so tightly she could hear all the little bird bones in her hand crack. Ray was looming over his wife, his fists clenched, his knuckles shining like shark teeth through the caked blood. He followed Tess’s puffy gaze, turning to look at their unexpected visitor. ‘What the fuck do you want?’ he spat, but for all his belligerence she could see the shame in his eyes and, yes, the fear too. ‘You can’t just go marching into people’s homes and –’ Maggie had no time for his bleating; she cut it off with a yell as she raised the hammer. Ray dived out of her way like the coward he was, sending the breakfast clutter crashing off the table. But it wasn’t Ray she wanted; Ray was not to blame. Again and again, until her arm ached almost as much as her heart, she swung the hammer down upon Tess’s weak and submissive skull. Now the only sobbing to be heard in the kitchen came from Ray. He tried to push Maggie out of the way but barely moved her. He couldn’t intimidate her, she had seen it all before.

‘What have you done?’ he whimpered, reaching out to touch his wife’s mangled face, his hand revolting at the last second from the twisted dogmeat; ‘What have you done?’ More sobbing, as if he hadn’t been knocking seven bells out of her since the day they married, as if he were a delicate flower shocked by violence. ‘Moving things along,’ said Maggie. She pointed the hammer, claw end, at Ray’s nose, flicking it to emphasise her words, sending little splats of Tess’s brain spattering onto his flushed cheeks. ‘It’s for the best. Do you really want your kids seeing their mother so helpless? Do you want them to grow up believing such submissive behaviour normal? Do you want them to see what a weakling she was and end up hating her? Trust me, that’s the kind of thing that can scar for life. At least this way they’ll idolise her memory and that’s more than I ever got to do.’ Maggie dropped the hammer at Tess’s feet and walked back outside. It was a beautiful day, and so quiet – perhaps when Dennis got home they could have their tea out in the garden for a change; it’s not like they would be disturbed, or ashamed, anymore.

GOLD DUST

Live Show, Drink Included: Collected Stories by Vicky Grut reviewed by David Gardiner

OK W O B VIE RE

Grutt has a talent for giving us just the right little observations that bring a scene to life in two or three sentences. Less than 150 words into the title story we know that Neal and Gayle are a young working class couple down from the North of England as a birthday treat for Gayle to see London and we have a vivid picture of them standing in the sleazy entry booth of a Soho sex club where Neal uncomfortably negotiates the payment of the £10 entry fee so that his girlfriend can 'see what it's like. Just for a laugh.' The 14 stories range widely in both setting and theme, the unifying elements being those of style and voice rather than anything more concrete. They avoid dramatic action in favour of setting up situations that evoke a response and require the reader to take up a position of some kind. What they explore most frequently is the moral ambiguity of life through which we must all plot a course. To offer a few examples, Saucer of Sweets deals with the emerging undefined relationship between a young female editor in the employ

Holland Park Press for publication 05/10/18 Pre-order price £10

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of a non-fiction publishing house and one of her older male clients. Poignant and memorable, although very little actually happens. This is what life is really like. An Unplanned Event is a deceptively simple story about an old man employed by a retired head teacher as a gardener and the resentment he feels towards the young Polish boy who visits the house for regular personal tuition. It is a study of exclusion, the belief that one is an outsider, an inferior, and how readily it can grow to dominate a person's entire sense of self. The last story in the collection, Into the Valley, chronicles the last few days in the life of an old lady, her refusal to 'go gentle into that good night' and the total and unexpected emotional vacuum left in the hearts of those

who have loved her: '... for now we’re stupid and dazed, blunted by what we’ve seen.' These are tightly written and beautifully observed little vignettes of ordinary life, with convincing three-dimensional characters and (a bit unusually for contemporary fashion) intelligent and engaging plots that are rich in subtext, metaphor and emotional resonance. Proper stories in fact, with beginnings, middles and endings, notwithstanding that said endings leave us more often with questions than answers. Padding and pretension are entirely absent. This is someone who knows how to write short stories for grown-ups. I can recommend the collection without reservation. GOLD DUST

Star of NIght by Salvatore Difalco

On December 21st, 2049, when the red star Betelgeuse—10th brightest in the sky— unexpectedly exploded in a blazing supernova, scientists told us we had nothing to fear, that our planet was too far away for this explosion to harm, much less destroy, life on earth, and to enjoy the show. The solstice had never been so spectacular. “A once in a lifetime occurrence,” asserted one talking head on the yak circuit. Another intoned, “We are thrilled to have a nearby supernova to study.” And so the scientific community was abuzz. And this was understandable. Not every day a giant red star blows up in your neighbourhood. Prob-

FL FIC ASH TIO N

lem was, the supernova had lit up the night sky—a dull yellow glow that obscured the stars but didn’t quite duplicate daylight. Indeed, the night sky was expected to be lit up for at least several months. And while scientists said no physical harm would come of it, no one could honestly predict its psychological ramifications. “So much for the Christmas lights this year,” my partner Felicia lamented as we stood on our snow-covered lawn and stared at the sky. “They still look nice,” I offered. Felicia shrugged. “It’s just weird. Makes me feel weird, and small.”

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She had something there. The supernova had uttered the command to the brewing unit. In seconds a mug of frothy hot chocolate awaited me. I somehow dwarfed us all, and turned our little worlds upside down. Hard to explain, but perhaps threw on a few miniature marshmallows. I hadn’t the lack of a black sky dotted with stars toyed with bothered asking if Felicia wanted a hot chocolate because she hated chocolate. I blew on my mug our psychic equilibrium. For instance, people and glanced out the kitchen window. It was alwere staying up all night to watch the sky, much to the detriment of pace and productivity, the two most ten pm. It didn’t look like daylight out there, but it didn’t look like night. Christmas lights keystones of the New Society, as we called ourglowed faintly in the neighbourhood; nativity selves after the economic and societal convulscenes and more kitschy displays were fired up; sions of the past three decades. Many problems someone tried to get their laser-drone show gohad been solved; but many still remained. Pering; but the velvet loveliness of night was missing, haps the supernova would shine a light on our stars, moonlit snow, magic. I carefully sipped the emotional and spiritual deficiencies. hot chocolate. My next door neighbour Peter waved to us Just then I saw Peter in his silly sweater hopfrom his window. His vintage Rudolf the Redping around the side of his house, kicking up Nosed Reindeer sweater made us smile. Not that we found it charming, but we knew that Peter ex- snow as if playfully chasing someone. He had on furry white boots and these thick tinted goggles pected us to find it charming. He had lost somethat made him look more lunatic than he was. At thing after his wife Izzy left him the year one point he slapped his hands on his hips, gazed before—with a million other Earthlings—to seed the Martian colonies. It had become difficult to talk up at the sky and started laughing. Felicia came up behind me, put her arms unto this once chipper man, reduced to cliches der my armpits, and squeezed. about weather and hockey. His reaction to the “Hey,” I said. supernova had been peculiar. He believed it was “Hey.” all a fraud, a great hoax perpetrated by subver“He’s really lost it.” sive oligarchs overseeing the Martian operations. “Peter?” He believed that Betelgeuse was still intact and “Yeah. Must be tough during the holidays.” that giant Martian spotlights lit up the night sky. "I think the supernova put him over.” Felicia and I went inside. We kicked off our “Don’t ever leave me for the Martian colonies,” boots and fleeces. Glittering in the corner of the I said, more firmly than I intended. living room, the holographic Christmas tree gave Felicia squeezed me. “Now that you mention me pause. It never failed to move me when I it.” looked at it. Perhaps it was the reach back into We both laughed. I sipped my hot chocolate. childhood, the memories, the twinkling nostalgia. “How about something stronger,” Felicia said. But on this Christmas Eve, it felt different. It felt “It is the festive season.” weird. “What do you have in mind?” “What is it?” Felicia asked as she wrapped herShe opened the liquor cupboard and selected self in a blanket on the sofa and engaged the Em- a rare bottle of Canada Club. pathic Multimedia Cube, or EMC, which offered “The hard stuff,” I said. classic Christmas music: Vince Guaraldi. Perfect. “Reminds me of Christmas with my grandpa “I don’t know,” I said. “Things feel off.” and his brothers. They used to hammer a case of Felicia chuckled. “No kidding!” it over the holidays.” I smiled at her. Of course. Things didn’t just The EMC changed tracks. God Rest Ye Merry feel off, they were off. I mean, a supernova next Gentlemen came on. door. Nothing to sneeze at. And Betelgeuse gone. Felicia smiled. That was messed up. I glanced out the window again. Peter was “Wonder how Santa Claus will manage tonight,” gone. Felicia took out two shot glasses and filled I said. them with the amber whisky. “Geez,” Felicia said, “you figure it would be “Here’s to Betelgeuse,” she said, as we clinked easy-peasy with the sky all lit up like that. Unless glasses. he needs stars to navigate.” “Here’s to Betelgeuse,” I repeated, taking the “Hm, never thought of that.” whisky down in one go, feeling thankful and sad “Peter has totally lost it, eh?” and weird at the same time. “Poor bastard. Loneliness will do that.” I wandered into the kitchen. I felt like a snack but was torn between something savoury and GOLD DUST something sweet. I decided on hot chocolate and

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Without a garden by Sunayna Pal The deserted white marble sill awaits the pregnant clay pots off-shooting rainbow dots in various dimensions instantly filling nostrils and eager heart. The vacant somber grill lingers for the vibrant breathing and alive green. Craving for it's soft gentle dance caressing the black iron cast. The blank glass pane aches for the plant to compete its frame. Undecorated and dull is a life without a garden.

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T OR Y H S OR ST

The Ghost-maker Kristy Kerruish

He had promised to make her a ghost. In his letter he told her that the eyes of a ghost have a rare light; a timbre of forgetfulness and clouded memories, places half remembered, faces forgotten, words vaguely recalled. We have all seen such faces, on occasion sought them out and tried to remember them. He had told her he needed light, that was all he required. She chose a day filled with light. The light that spilled with a cascade of colour over the canal's creeping waters to be shattered by the wake of the slow boat into fragments, melting into the dark waters. Light that brought with it the promise of spring, pale foliage and bird song. Sophie Cohen knew him to be a demon, a monstrous creature; brutal and cold, without compassion. Those to whom the gift of ghost-maker has been given are frequently such creatures, displaced and lonely. She imagined his demonic form writhing in the shadows of an oily lamp-lit room; half-creature half-human. She paused before his house. Holding her parasol behind her head and raising her hand up to the glass to shield the light's reflections, she could see the room within. She felt afraid, it was the first time she had felt fear but to stand before his home and look into its dim interior seemed a feat of courage to her and she struggled to overcome her compulsion to run away. Gradually her eyes grew accustomed the the darkness and she could see the ghosts clearly. His ghosts filled the room, each one meeting her eyes with a resolute stare - a timbre of forgetfulness and clouded memories, places half remembered, faces forgotten, words vaguely recalled. Above the door of de Berg's studio was to be found a sign 'Hermanus van de Berg, painter of likenesses'. She knew van de Berg painted horrors into every canvas. Yet every portrait she saw by his hand, every ghost, could only have been the creation of the most beautiful soul; a man who sought and found beauty in the world around him. It was not merely his sitters whose spirit and vitality had been captured by his brush but the fallen leaves about their feet in the autumn wood, the tiny beetles clinging to the stem of summer grasses, the drifts of clouds that masked the sun on a spring day or low mists snagged in the clouds. Sometimes in the background there was a small town nestled between the steep shingle escarpments of hills, in others the sea, just the sea - torn by storms and tides. It was true that painted portraits had become old-fashioned and expensive and indeed the artist appeared little different from the dying art he still gave life to. A small moustachioed man sat at his

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B PR EST OS E

easel, his hand poised holding a delicate brush, looking at the canvas in front of him. His head was cocked to one side with lips moving wordlessly around his thoughts. Discerning the movement at the window van de Berg turned and seeing Sophie gave her a swift and charming smile before coming to the door and opening it. He welcomed her graciously and set the canvas he was working on for her to see. Sophie looked at him with open curiosity, bobbed a curtsey and walked in. “Madam, do you suppose that a painter should seek to beguile his sitters, to flatter them?” “I suppose I do,” Sophie replied cautiously. “I should imagine it is what they expect.” “You have come to commission a portrait of yourself?” “Indeed. My husband wishes for one.” “You will not regret having such a work done,” van de Berg said turning back to the canvas. “Time changes us imperceptibly. I can capture a moment and hold it and in that moment all your memories, everything you love, is held forever. Such are the ghosts I paint my dear.” Sophie looked about her at the paintings stacked against the walls. Everyone was fine and she had no notion why she had heard such poor reports of the unassuming man who stood before her. “When I first meet a sitter I ask them what manner of painting they require,” van de Berg said wiping his hands on a rag. She looked about the walls. Some of van de Berg's paintings were set within a landscape with, she supposed, the sitter's favourite view beyond. Some had chosen the Tuscan hills, others a rugged coastline stretching into the mists of the distance or a tranquil windmill with the morning dew still on the grass. Others had selected dark rooms, streets in nameless towns, tangled woods. “I had not given it a thought. I believe I would wish for a true likeness of me with our house to be painted behind. It is our new home and my wish is that we should stay there forever.” Van de Berg smiled at her, moistened a brush and with a few thoughtful swipes and fashioned a rough outline of her on a sheet of paper. Then on another sheet he drew the image of her and her husband's new home. “How enchanting,” Sophie cried clapping her hands together and holding them to her lips as if she were afraid she might cry out once again in delight. “How could you know it so well?” “I am an old man,” van de Berg replied tapping the stem of his pencil theatrically against his tem-


ples. “Old men see a great deal. Old painters see more.” Sophie smiled at his modesty. She supposed that he had seen many pass through the doors of his small studio. The numerous portraits which populated the walls and stood stacked against bookcases testified to that. “You had been informed that I was a good painter but a monstrous man?” van de Berg said watching her intently. “You believe me cruel? I sit here day after day and watch my brush immortalise the beautiful people who come here to charm me. What cruelty is there in that?” “Indeed Mr van de Berg, I do not know,” Sophie replied. Then as she looked about her she wondered why so many paintings appeared not to have been collected. Why did they remain stacked against the walls and not bringing light and colour to those who sat for them? “The truth is not so very elusive,” van de Berg said returning to the canvas he was working on and rattling a paint brush around in a glass jar of clear liquid for several moments so that the paint, like a drift of smoke, darkened it.

it seemed a pity to have it painted over again. After exhaustive investigations Sophie and her husband identified the pretty town van de Berg had painted as Oswiecim.

It was only years later that Sophie knew the truth. In the intervening years she had forgotten van de Berg and his paintings. Her life in Amsterdam now seemed a fragile wisp of smoke in her memory and the friends and family who had framed her life had all vanished. Yet somewhere there was the ghost of her, a nameless silent woman whose laughing eyes watched the world play out before her and trespassed into the future. They would come soon. She sat on the floor, her arms thrown around her knees listening to the sounds from outside. She did not know where they would take her. She had had one glimpse of the town when she arrived, hunched and grey, nestled in the steep hills that surrounded it. She knew it then to be the same that she had looked on so many times in the portrait. She and the portrait had parted company several years before. She had not given it much thought nor indeed the small town that van de Berg had depicted – until that hour. It was war and fate, desSophie commissioned the portrait and went for sev- tiny, a foreign army – that had brought her to the eral sittings at van de Berg's studio. Each time it place where she would die. was the same, he sketched her numerous times, Now she understood the monstrousness of his pencil dancing over the pages, sometimes an van de Berg, that small gentle man hunched over eye, a hand or at other times her nose and little an easel in a small studio. Van de Berg saw everyelse until he was satisfied that he knew her feathing, her happiness, her laughter, the things that tures well enough; her character, her half smile moved her, the things she loved. He saw what was and each of her moods whether pensive, conbeautiful in every sitter. His monstrousness was cerned or gleefully happy. During every sitting that in seeing the person, in understanding them, there was conversation, he saw their death, the occasionally laughter and place where they would die van de Berg would inand he painted it into the dulge in long rambling anpainting to complete the ecdotes about previous canvas. Many had returned clients. Sophie loved to their canvases to him for hear his stories, to laugh painting over but he was a at his jokes and listen to painter of the truth and he his occasional silence. could not deceive them. No When the portrait was artist, however great, can complete it was delivered paint over the future just as to their home for inspecnone can paint over the tion. Here in their own past. Van de Berg had put house they could hang it into every painting what where they pleased in difwas feared the most, that ferent lights until they were fully satisfied and only which forever follows unseen and unknown until then would van de Berg take the full payment. The the day it is faced. The monstrous demon which painting delighted Sophie and her husband, it was lurked within him was truth and truth alone. in every way what they required, save for one error; van de Berg must have misheard her telling The town of Oswiecim is in Poland. It lies close to him about the background she required, for the the camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau. one he painted was unfamiliar and curious. Sophie had thought about returning it and yet the care and attention that had been given to the scene of the GOLD DUST village behind her was so beautifully executed that

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In the Salon by Frederick Pollack In the salon, feet are trimmed and peeled, appeased in hot blue foam, oiled and patted dry, prepared for what was bought for them – important bargain shoes: high-wire act or unobtrusive ease. Here too are moments of small pain and sighs, and talk, though mostly on phones; while the much-sought-after, curt but friendly miniaturist carefully, swiftly crowns on a claw a gold arc with a turquoise pool buttressed by swirling stripes, then jeweled – It’s like those messages knitted once to prompt the guillotine, though signal here is lost in code.

A NOT SO ‘FAIR’Y TALE By Maria Zach Once upon a time, The damsel in distress Was dark and curly-haired The prince, he could not Love so dark a lass, his amour waned, valiance bailed Clever damsel, she rescued her hapless self From the witch's evil clutch What's a fairy-tale, Without a handsome Prince, So, the tale never was

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Holy Communion By Jack Donahue The little angel loses a wing within a blasphemous joke on the occasion of his Holy Communion. All’s forgiven as he ditches his new blue suit and big white tie and stands in line at the family reunion. He reads the cards, stacks the twenties, hides the fifties, and unfolds the C-note from his favorite, Uncle Joe. Little does he know, amidst the idle chatter and sloppy drinks, that Aunt Marjorie in her wide-brimmed hat, plays tiddledy winks. He chases his cousins around the adults, spills peanuts on the floor, then bangs his head on the kitchen door. Seven stitches later he is gifted with fives and tens along with a big fifty from his favorite, Uncle Joe. When it was time to go he waves goodbye fingers tracing the quiltwork on his wounded head. Up the block he spots his classmate in her white bridal dress, aching to tell the world she just married Jesus. The little devil looks at his shoes, scuffed and worn, unaware, for now at least, his future spouse is not yet born.

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R HO EW T AU RVI E INT

An Interview with Sybil Baker author of While You Were Gone ~ by David Gardiner

I asked Sybil some questions about the not been to war, I writing of her latest novel and about writing try to be careful in how I develop in general:

and present characters who are people of colour I know some writers do have a specific audience or per- or who have been son in mind. I usually write about what I am interested involved in war. I in and what I would like to read-so in that case the audi- agree with the ence is me. But in general, my audience is anyone inter- recent article in ested in reading about complicated women. lithub.com arguing that more 2) Is the book genuinely inspired by Three Sisters white American (Chekov) or even King Lear (both of which get a direct writers should be addressing white supremacy. mention on Page 199) as has been suggested, or are any surface resemblances just coincidence? Are you comfortable describing the mental life of a teenager, or do you think that there are aspects of the Yes– the novel was definitely inspired by Three Sisters teenage world view that can not be re-imagined in latand was the basis for how I structured the novel and er life? developed some major plot points. If you look at the play you’ll see parallels with some of the characters I am comfortable describing the mental life of a specific and plot. There are also some plot points and reversals teenager in my own work, since every teenager is differthat echo King Lear. That influence was a bit more sub- ent. In this novel there are only two sections that contle, but one I was aware of from the beginning. which tain teenagers—the opening section, which is senior was also on purpose. year of prom and much later in the novel, a section told from a twelve year old’s perspective. I remember both 3) In While You Were Gone do you write primarily to time periods vividly and know many teenagers. Since I entertain or is there some lesson or insight that you was creating specific characters, I didn’t worry about would like your readers to take away from the book? portraying their world view. 1) Do you consciously write for a specific audience?

I don’t write fiction to impart a moral or lesson, although I hope the work itself has a moral centre. I hope that readers will be entertained, find the novel compelling, and come away with compassion and a larger understanding of each character's humanity.

7) Starting a new book, do you begin with characters or plot?

I’ve written three novels and one linked short story collection. Each work has been different. Usually I start with characters with conflicting desires, which then pro4) The story seems inseparable from the ethos of the pels the plot. For one novel I was inspired by a painting. southern states of the USA in which it's set. Do you For this novel I was responding to Three Sisters, so both see it as universally significant as well? characters and plot were tied to that play. 9. Do you experience the sensation of characters Class issues, wars, and racism are not exclusive to the 'taking over' and moving the story in a direction in American South. By setting the novel in an specific loca- which you hadn't planned to go? tion in a specific time, I can focus on those universal conflicts in particular ways. I hope readers will connect I know some writers do say their characters take over. Mine don’t in that sense, but I find I’m usually writing with the these conflicts around family, race, and class to discover and to know them better. I often have to as we encounter them no matter where we live. revise a novel many times to discover the story that 5) Do you find any particular area of life challenging was there all along. This was certainly true in While You to write about? Were Gone. Many of the family secrets I as the writer only discovered after multiple drafts. I find it challenging but imperative to write about race GOLD DUST and America’s wars. Since I’m a white woman who has

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While You Were Gone by Sybil Baker reviewed by Adele Geraghty

BOO REV K IEW

subterfuge, deceit, dark stories and outright lies. We all have secrets. It's how we handle them which is the test of our mettle. Secrets being what they are, a wealth of withheld stories which at the end of day simply prove us all to be victims of human frailty, is the basis for the engaging new novel 'While You Were Gone', by Sybil Baker. If you find no romance in the quirkier foibles, the schemes and disenchantment's of life, then avoid this lush depiction of characters who are at their richest and most altruistic when in the depths of their definingly clarifying and crushing imperfections. Covering the years between 1995 and 2011, while touching upon the memories of earlier decades, Baker's work is a showcase for the impact and steady transformation of social change, of injustice in the American south and the limiting mores of the past. Based upon Chekhov's 'Three Sisters', it introduces us to Claire, Shannon and Paige, three sisters living the question of 'Nature vs. Nurture', while dealing with and quietly blaming their current conditions upon familial lies, while creating their own and, by coming to the realisation that we aren't defined only by the lies we were told but by the lies we choose to tell ourselves. These characters are intelligent, gifted, earthy and real. They are also poignantly flawed; diamonds beautiful to look at but We all seem to secretly think, from time to time if which never quite make the grade. They are peonot consistently that, our families are at best ec- ple anyone would want to know and want in their centric and at worst, completely deranged. We own families, despite the heavy baggage they can't imagine how one family can have so many carry. This is Baker's gift. Her characters are skeletal remains in as many closets or can some- charmingly, achingly real and will remain with how make a complete fiasco of a lifetime of sothe reader for a very long time. This is a story of cial gatherings, from holidays to birthdays . And unattained goals, impossible love, undeserving if we are honest, at least some of us may even idols and above all else, satisfying self awareharbour our own secrets in that, we really find ness, acceptance and second chances. 'While these eccentricities of origin rather charming and You Were Gone' is published by C&R Press and even ingratiating, though we'll probably never may be purchased through Amazon for $19.00. admit it. Truth be told, if we were able to gain access to and examine the wealth of truths and deceptions which our friends and neighbours conceal, we'd be pleased to find that our families are no worse than any others and, at the end of the day GOLD DUST we are all victims or producers of all manner of 39

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Transfiguration By Richard King Perkins II Black ground eats the light of every heavenly expression in this ungratified November night. We watch the dissipation of vapor and mist, endearing darkness further to itself, betraying the tranquility of nocturnal harvest, the lunatic scraps of this moment fighting to keep their particular bearing. In this nearness, I measure the asymmetry of your features with my own, revealed by a sudden and gradual intrusion of amber, a different time of a different year, tresses of tangible air igniting the pores of our skin, and even so, we maintain that we are the uniqueness of our own transparency. And because this feels like shared togetherness, we embrace, sliding through and past each other into other seasons, other countries, knowing less of each other than we would have ever believed. I thought I understood the dialect of your mouth, your vision, the unbearable absence of your regard, the countenance of roots and persona of a river’s delta, but I’m just a memory of myself, and you, an imitation of even that. How bittersweet is this plunder of air, this vacancy of clouds, the unavoidable transfiguring from then into now?

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In the architecture of pain by Sam Smith skies lie, those blue lids of day ceilings of deception Better the one closed room, the one bed and the hard black mirror of night the undistracted looking back into unextenuated memories

Keeping Birds by Suzannah Shimwell The cage that hung by the bedroom window was only wicker and the miniature white doves cardboard and imitation feathers.

You the Hypocrite

Nevertheless I couldn’t quite bear it. I broke the fragile lock and let the door stand open.

by EG Ted Davis You with the hypocritical mind. You desire evidencejust wait, long enough... and you shall see... ...prophecy unfold.

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H AS N L F TIO FIC

Future Imperfect by Jean Duggleby

‘Mummy, what’s a tree?’ ‘Who told you about trees?’ ‘That old man who lives in the forest.’ ‘Oh, yes dear. He’s very, very old. His forest is made of white plastic trees but he might remember the real ones. Well they were very tall with thick poles at the bottom called trunks getting thinner and splitting up into thinner poles called 'branches'. They had flat, green things all over them called leaves. They were a terrible nuisance falling off all over the place and blowing about, then rotting and getting smelly. The poles were made of something called wood but they were full of horrible insects. Of course, the trees in the forest where the old man lives aren’t real. They're made of plastic, much better for keeping clean and tidy.’ ‘What are insects, mummy?’ ‘Oh, you do ask a lot of questions, dear. Well, insects were mostly little creatures and lots of them would bite you and make you ill. Some of them were slimy and horrible. The nuclear bombs and chemical weapons got rid of most of them and a good thing too, except the cockroaches. They survived and are big and very different now.’ ‘Mummy, the old man said that he used to be a sailor and sailed the seas. What’s the seas?’ ‘I don’t know if I should let you go to see that old man. He gives you funny ideas. Well, there used to be a lot of water and the seas were the biggest. bits There were long, moving bits called rivers and high, dropping bits called waterfalls. It got polluted and now it’s all plastic which is much better. Water was very dangerous. When people went under it they couldn’t breathe so they died. We called it drowning. And sometimes there were floods, when the water covered their homes. Now it’s carefully controlled in reservoirs.’ ‘How did the old man sail the seas?’ ‘Well, he got into something called a 'boat' and went to other countries to get things. Of course, there aren’t other countries now. We’re all joined together in one world.’ ‘Can I go down and see the old man this evening?’ ‘Yes. But remember most of what he tells you are stories and nonsense, so take no notice. Don’t stay too long.’ ‘Mum, I’m back and it was really exciting. He took me into a huge plastic dome and showed me things that he called 'fruit' and 'vegetables'. He’s going to eat them. I can’t

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remember all the names but there were raspberries, gooseberries, potatoes, carrots, marrows and all sorts of stuff. He gave me some strawberries to eat and they were lovely. Then he took me to a little pool of water with things moving about in it called fish. Then guess what? He caught one! 'Then he got some of that stuff called wood that he’s stored in a secret place and some little things that he called matches and made a fire. It was lovely and moving and bright and warm. Then he got a stick thing and pushed it through the fish and put it over the fire and turned it over and over. After a few minutes it was ready and we ate it. It was so lovely, Mum. You wouldn’t believe it. 'He said that the fire keeps the cockroaches away cos’ they’re frightened of fire. Mum, why does he want to keep the cockroaches away?’ ‘That’s enough questions, son. Just go to bed now. I don’t think you should go to see the old man any more. He puts funny ideas into your head.’ ‘Wake up, son. We’ve got to run. Quick!’ ‘Why Mum? Why are you shouting?’


‘That’s enough questions. Yes, you’re right. We have to be absolutely quiet. Don’t even whisper. It’s dark so just hold my hand and follow me.’ ‘Mum,’ whispering, ‘I can see some lights moving.’ ‘Oh, no. It’s the cockroaches. They stole the lights from the fireflies a long time ago. Run, run for your life.’ ‘I can hear some hissing.’ ‘Yes, they’re getting nearer. I know where there’s a tunnel where we can hide. Here it is. We’ll fit in and go right to the end where they can’t go as they’re too big.’

roaches. They killed and ate all the scientists. That’s what happened to your poor daddy.’ ‘Are they going to kill us?’ ‘Yes, if they’re hungry. They keep us for breeding. I had babies before you but they took them away. I was allowed to keep you for some unknown reason.’ ‘Mum, I can feel something pulling my arm.’ Oh, no they’ve sent a young one small enough to reach us. I’m going out, darling. You stay here.' ‘Yes, yes, your royal highness, great leader. You must be hungry. Please tell your youngster to let go and spare my son. Take me, instead; I’ll make a bigger dinner.’

‘Listen, darling. I want to tell you the truth just in case. The world used to be very different. There ‘Mum, where are you? Do we still have to whisper? were trees and they were very beautiful. There I think the cockroaches have gone., were insects, and some did do harm but many Silence. were very beautiful like the butterflies, or useful like ‘Mum, Mum.’ the bees. They flew from flower to flower and made Crying. honey for us. We could swim in the seas and rivers Silence. and go in boats to exotic places. I was very young ‘Mum, it’s getting light now. Where are you?’ but I can remember some things. It was a wonderSilence. ful world.’ ‘Mum, can I go and see the old man?’ ‘What happened, mummy?’ Silence. ‘People didn’t look after it. Greedy, selfish peoMum, Do you want me to stop asking quesple destroyed it. I couldn’t tell you before. It would tions?’ have upset you. Me too. 'Then there were the scientists. Your dad was one of them. They wanted to experiment and combined the instructions for making one kind of creature with the instructions for making another. They made a monster. They didn’t mean it but that’s GOLD DUST what happened. Those creatures we call the cock-

First Do No Harm “So, you must be the doctor.” “And you must be the traitor.” The first speaker was seated with elegantly crossed legs on a battered kitchen chair set next to an old kitchen table. Both table and chair were pushed against the wall of a bare, damp room. The only natural light came from a barred slit of a window, high on the narrow wall opposite the only door. The second speaker had just entered through that door, his arrival heralded by a rusty fanfare as the door's external bolts were withdrawn. Now that he was inside, the bolts squealed back into place behind him.

Kevan Youde

FLA FIC SH TIO N

“I know you're a doctor because they said they'd send one to give me a checkup before I was let out on my little trip. What makes you think I'm a traitor? What have they told you?” “Nothing, or next to it; they never do, of course. I've been to this part of the estate only a few times, mainly to see to the injuries of people who are being...questioned. I have to say that you're in a lot better shape than most of my patients. All of them were traitors or double agents. It appears to be what this part of the estate deals with.” As the doctor spoke, he opened his bag and took out a bottle and syringe. The man at

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the table looked on with cool detachment. “I prefer to think of myself as being imaginative with respect to the concept of loyalty,” he said. “And the reason that these goons haven't so much as creased my Gieves & Hawkes suit is that I have something that they want. I always do – whichever side I'm temporarily playing for. So, a check-up? Is it running on the spot or drop-and-cough?” “Neither. I understand that you're going on an overseas trip.“ “Yes. When the powers-that-be discovered that I'd been pursuing alternative employment they were rather miffed. In return for no hard feelings, I am to arrange to meet my significant other – my handler – in a place where he can be lifted and brought home for a chat. On the whole, I'd say that I'm rather good value for money.” “You'll need to have a jab before you go. Roll up your sleeve.” “Very well. I've never needed a jab before. Visited the place several times.” “This is different.” “Ouch! A little heavy-handed there, old chap. Need to work on the old bedside manner.” “Now that's done, there's something you need to know. The serum I just injected contains an active pathogen. It's a genetically modified version of a tropical disease. The symptoms initially resemble a heavy cold: fever, headache, sweating. Twenty-four hours after they start, the body's immune system goes into irreversible overdrive, resulting in death. The technical term is a cytokine storm.” “My God! Are you mad?” “No, and neither are your employers. They don't trust you and they think you might do a runner instead of delivering your handler. Given the circumstances, you can hardly blame them.” “But why would they kill me? What about bringing my handler in?” “That will go ahead as planned. Only you can cause your death. If you try to make a run for it, the disease will run its course. The time taken to characterise the virus is much longer than the incubation period and the process is only useful in determining what the patient died of. There is no physician in the world who could examine you and provide any advice more useful than 'take two aspirins and call me in the morning'. After the third day, you will not be calling anyone in the morning. Your only hope is

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to play ball, do what you've promised and get back here for the antidote before the disease is too far developed. How long will your trip take?” “A day to get there, a day to execute the plan and a day to get back.” “And you leave tonight? Hmmm...best not to dawdle.” It was the same room and the same man was sitting at the same chair. This time, though, he was pale, unkempt, covered in a sheen of sweat and clearly terrified. The door opened and the doctor entered. “Thank God you're here,” the man said, rising from his chair. “You took your bloody time. Quick, give me the antidote. I'm dying.” “I understand the mission went well.” “Yes, yes. Hoo-bloody-ra and God Save The Queen. I did what I was told and now the other side want me dead. Hurry up, damn you.” “Hurry up? Oh yes, the antidote. I'm afraid that I wasn't strictly honest with you the last time we spoke. There is no antidote.” “What? Are the bastards going to kill me?” “No, no. If they were going to do that, I'm sure that there are people who'd want to do it personally. I understand that some of your treachery cost the lives of our operatives and agents.” “Then why did you give me that bloody tropical disease?” “Another economy with the truth. What I actually injected you with was a sample of the new strain of influenza that will be arriving here this winter. Unpleasant for a few days but ultimately harmless for a fit man like yourself.” “What? Do you mean it was all a trick? I could have made a run for it?” “Any time you wanted.” “But I feel terrible. I ache all over, I'm covered in sweat and my head is pounding. What can you do to help me?” “Help? Well, you could take two aspirin and call me in the morning.”

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Vulture Whisper by David Bankson A vulture will whisper once of its life after it is born. Birth is the corpse the vulture consumes but consumes it but once, the only time its heart stops itself. Boys kill kills with their hands in the fields before the sands consume the vulture’s meal in a rough gray. The vulture rejects heelbone, tee-shirt, amber sphere. A vulture will whisper of life once after a potential birth. Birth is the corpse the vulture consumes and consumes until its heart stops. The vulture is rejected, whispers its similarity until we feel our own dislike of birds avoiding only the light. When does the whisper appear, the whisper is the same for all vultures, the go aheads, the yes yous, the no mores, the forget mes. The vultures are the same as any other bird, except when in the light.

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About the Contributors

Poetry David Bankson lives in Texas. He was finalist in this year's Concīs Pith of Prose and Poem contest, and his poetry and microfiction can be found or is forthcoming in Concīs, (b)oink Magazine, Thank You for Swallowing, Artifact Nouveau, Five 2 One magazine, Iconoclast, and Texas Poetry Magazine. Https://www.facebook.com/davidthewordsmith davidbankson@gmail.com Robert Beveridge makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry in Akron, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in COG, OUT/CAST, and Up the River, among others.

Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL, USA with his wife, Vickie and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications. Frederick Pollack is the author of two booklength narrative poems, THE ADVENTURE and HAPPINESS (Story Line Press), and two collections, A POVERTY OF WORDS (Prolific Press, 2015) and LANDSCAPE WITH MUTANT (Smokestack Books, UK, 2018). Many other poems in print and online journals. Adjunct professor creative writing George Washington University, Washington, DC.

EG Ted Davis A currently semi retired from the real working world poet who has pieces appearing in Poydras Review, Scarlet Leaf Review, The PenSuzannah Shimwell holds a PhD in Creative wood Review and others. Writing form the University of Leicester. Her poems have appeared in Agenda Broadsheet, From Jack Donahue is the author of numerous short The Lighthouse, The New Luciad and Cake. She stories and poems which have been published in runs the Cambridge based writing group The Free journals such as: North Dakota Quarterly; NewInkers. She edited The New Luciad between 2013 town Literary Review; Prole (U.K.); Poetry Salzand 2017. She was awarded the G.S Fraser Prize burg Review (Austria); The Main Street Rag; in 2016.urnal (once 'of Contemporary AngloBindweed (Ireland); The Almagre Review and others throughout North America, India and Europe. Scandinavian Poetry'), and publisher of Original His first book of poems, “Just Below the Surface” Plus books. He has been a psychiatric nurse, residential social worker, milkman, plumber, laboratois set for a fall 2018 launch. A children’s picture ry analyst, groundsman, sailor, computer operator, book, “Come Play With Me By The Sea” will be scaffolder, gardener, painter & decorator........ published later this year. Mr. Donahue received his M.Div. degree from New Brunswick, Theologi- working at anything, in fact, which paid the rent, enabled him to raise his three daughters and cal Seminary, NJ in 2008. He is married and resides on the North Fork of Long Island, New York. which didn’t get too much in the way of his writing. Now in his 70s he has ended up living in South Wales. He has several poetry collections and novSunayna Pal Born and raised in Mumbai, India, Sunayna Pal moved to the US after her marriage. els to his name, his latest two collections being A double postgraduate from XLRI and Annamalai Speculations & Changes (KFS Publishing) and Local Colour (Indigo Dreams); and his latest two University, she worked in the corporate world for five odd years before opting out to embark on her novels Marraton (Indigo Dreams) and The Friendheart's pursuits - Raising funds for NGOs by sell- ship of Dagda & Tinker Howth (united p.c. publishing quilled art and became a certified handwriting er). analyst. Now, a new mother, she devotes all her Maria Zach is an unpublished writer/poet who free time to writing and Heartfulness. Dozens of her articles and poems have been published and enjoys experimental fiction/poetry, genre mixing and fantasy involving bad-ass women. She lives she is a proud contributor of many international in the southernmost state of India with her husanthologies. Her name has recently appeared in "Subterranean Blue Poetry," "Cecile’s Writers" and band and 4 month old daughter. She thinks she should get a dog soon. Her pet monster – it’s "Poetry Super highway" (website: called Over-Thinking. sunaynapal.com) (sunayna.pal@gmail.com)

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Prose fiction and poetry. She has had work published in online, printed magazines and books including, among others, her short story 'Silence' in 'Joe Stepped off the Train and other stories', edited by S. Kay, which was published in 2016 in support of War Child and 'Armada' and 'Music' in 'Between Clare Diston is a freelance writer, editor and proofreader. She received her MA in Creative Writ- These Shores Literary & Arts Annual', 2017. ing in 2011 and she loves reading (and writing) Jean Duggleby is a retired primary teacher who literary and science-fiction. Her work has apeventually specialised in teaching deaf children, peared in Visual Verse, The Bohemyth and Disand started writing short stories only about three sections. years ago after becoming inspired at a Creative Writing course which she attended originally in Geoffrey Heptonstall is the author of a novel, order to make the tea (!). She lives with her partHeaven's Invention (Black Wolf Edition, Fife) and has had several plays performed and/or published ner in east London and has a married daughter and baby granddaughter in New Zealand. She in both the UK and the USA. Recent poetry appears in Poetry Pacific and Penwood Review. Re- has lived in east or north London all of her life except for three years in Hong Kong as a young cent stories appear in Black Dandy and Fiction Week. Recent essays appear in The London Mag- woman. She likes reading, walking, gardening, azine and Montreal Review. Several of Geoffrey's travel and cinema, and teaches Circle Dancing. plays have appeared in Gold Dust. Kevan Youde grew up in Derbyshire, England Geoff Nelder lives in Chester with his physicist and works as a marine scientist in Europe. His wife, within easy cycle rides of the Welsh mounpublished fiction can be found in Bunbury, Dream tains. Geoff is a former teacher, now an editor, Catcher, Jotters United and The Ham among othwriter and fiction competition judge. His novels ers and he contributes regularly to Winamop. His include Scifi: Exit, Pursued by Bee; The ARIA trilo- short story 'The Flight of a Falling Bomb' was pubgy; The Chaos of Mokii; thrillers: Escaping Reality, lished in Steven Kay's 2016 book, 'Joe Stepped Hot Air. Recent: historical fantasy inspired by the off the Train and other stories', published in supmass abduction of the population of Malta’s Gozo port of War Child. His short story 'The Graduates' in 1551 by pirates. Those 5,000 spirits need juswas published in 'Between These Shores Literary tice: Xaghra’s Revenge (July 2017). & Arts Annual', 2017. Collections: Incremental – 25 surreal tales more mental than incremental. Suppose We, a sci-fi novella out by December 2018. https://geoffnelder.com Nava Renek is a writer, editor, and educator. Her most recent set of novellas, Where The Survivors Are Buried, was published in 2017 by Rain Mountain Press. Visit her at navarenek.com

Gold Dust Team

Stephen McQuiggan was the original author of the bible; he vowed never to write again after the publishers removed the dinosaurs and the spectacular alien abduction ending from the final edit. His other, lesser known, novels are A Pig’s View Of Heaven and Trip A Dwarf.

Omma Velada read languages at London University, followed by an MA in translation at Westminster University. Her short stories and poems have been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies. In 2004 she founded Gold Dust magazine. She is a member of the writing group Storyshed and her first novel, The Mackerby Scandal (UKA Press, 2004), received critical acclaim. She has Salvatore Difalco is the author of 2 short story collections, Black Rabbit and The Mountie At Nia- also published a short-story anthology, The Repubgara Falls (Anvil Press). He lives in Toronto, Cana- lic of Joy (Lulu Press, 2006). da. Adele C Geraghty is a citizen of both the US and the UK. She is the recipient of the 'US National Kristy Kerruish is originally from Edinburgh and Women's History Award for Poetry and Essay' and currently living in Europe. She writes non-fiction,

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author of 'Skywriting in the Minor Key', a poetry collection. Adele is also an illustrator and graphic designer and member of both the New York ensemble 'The Arts Soire' and the writing site UKAuthors.com. Adele is Publisher of BTS Books and Founder & Publishing Editor of 'Between These Shores Literary & Arts Annual'. Adele's work has been published in numerous anthologies, magazines and journals, and performed on radio in both her countries

can Gothic and Eastern European Folk Art. Even the most light-hearted of his illustrations harbour a dark nuance, an underlying flip-side of monsters in wait. Magnetic, evocative and disturbing, his alternative cartoons and captivating illustrations are nothing if not irresistible and thoroughly unforgettable.

David Gardiner – ageing hippy, former teacher, now retired, living in London with partner Jean. As well as stories in magazines, anthologies and newspapers he has four longer published works, SIRAT (a science fiction novel), The Rainbow Man and Other Stories (short story collection), The Other End of the Rainbow (short story collection) and Engineering Paradise (novel). The latter has been used as the basis for a stage musical whose creation was described in the last issue of Gold Dust. Interests include science, philosophy, psychology, scuba diving, travel, wildlife, cooking, IT, alternative lifestyles and communal living. Large, rambling homepage at davidgardiner.net.

Nansy Grill is Co-Features Editor for Gold Dust. As a freelancer, she writes short stories, book reviews, and interviews. Nansy is a traveler touring nearly half of the US states and five foreign countries. She lives in Tennessee, USA with her two Pomeranians, Buddy and Jazzi.

(From 'The Iconic Art of Slavko Mali' by Adele C. Geraghty, BTS Annual Issue 1)

Slavko Mali – For seven years, the covers and pages of Gold Dust Magazine have been privileged to display the iconic art of Slavko Mali. Mali's art runs the gamut from mystical to horrific. There are no grey areas or half measures with this artist. The beauty of Mali's work is in its serious mystique. His images are a convoluted crosshatch of madness and divine inspiration. Imagine a hybrid of these styles; Salvator Dali, Robert Crumb, Hieronymus Bosch, and a touch of Ameri-

Stascia Lynne is a visual artist residing in New York City. Her poetry can be found in The Colors of Life 2001, Scarlet Literary Magazine 2010 and Gold Dust Magazine 2014; her short stories have appeared in Joe Relativity Magazine 2011. Megan Chapman is a 27 year old junior in college studying creative writing and film. She writes primarily fantasy and is also creator and co-writer of the fictional podcast The Aftermath which will be premiering in January 2018. Abigail E. Wright’s work has appeared in World Book of Poems(I):Humanity anthology, included in the 2017 Poetry Circus Event and Seedpod Publishing. Her first mini-chapbook, Just After Sunset is forthcoming and she lives in Jamaica.

HELP US FILL UP THIS SPACE Join the team producing Unfortunately Stascia is leaving after this issue and we would love to hear from anyone with a bit of free time and an interest in magazines and small press publishing. Email: sirat@davidgardiner.net or

bramwith22@aol.com

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Profile for Gold Dust magazine

Gold Dust 34 ~ winter 2018  

Issue 34 of Gold Dust, the twice yearly magazine of literature and the arts. The magazine is also available in two printed formats, either w...

Gold Dust 34 ~ winter 2018  

Issue 34 of Gold Dust, the twice yearly magazine of literature and the arts. The magazine is also available in two printed formats, either w...

Profile for golddust
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