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Lancaster  Writing  Programme   Campus  &  Distance  Learning  Students   Creative  Writing  MA     Online  Anthology  2013  


Lancaster  University   Lancaster  Writing  Programme  

postcards   Campus  &  Distance  Learning  Students   Creative  Writing  MA  Online  Anthology   2013       Published  June  2013   Copyright  ©  2013  retained  by  contributors.   All  rights  reserved.  No  part  of  this  book  may  be  used   or  reproduced  in  any  manner  without  the  written  permission   of  the  contributor.     Postcards  editorial  team:   Fin  Jackson,  Janet  Lees,  Lizette  Martinez   Cover  Photograph  ©  Ian  Pilbeam     Acknowledgements   Thanks  to  Lancaster  Writing  programme  tutors  Jenn  Ashworth,  Sarah  Corbett,  Jane  Draycott,   Paul  Farley,  George  Green,  Zoe  Lambert,  Sara  Maitland,  Brian  McCabe,  Graham  Mort,  Conor   O’Callaghan,  Ian  Seed,  Jayne  Steel,  Tom  Pow  and  Michelene  Wandor.    


Lancaster  University   Lancaster  Writing  Programme   Campus  &  Distance  Learning  Students   Creative  Writing  MA     Online  Anthology  2013  


Contents       Foreword  by  Graham  Mort…………………………………………………………………………………...………i     Mandy  Bannon    

 

The  Pickers……………………………………………………………......………....1  

Claire  Black      

 

The  Man  Who  Is  Not  My  Father…………………………………….....…...4  

Suzanne  Conboy-­‐Hill    

Dance  To  The  Wild  Ice………………………………………………….....…...5  

Alex  Croy    

 

Freelancer………………………………………………………………….....……...7  

Olivia  Dawson    

 

One-­Night  Stand…………………………………………………………...….…10  

Natalie  Gordon    

 

The  Ice  Rocket……………………………………………………………....……11  

Shannon  Hancock      

Petra  with  the  Hard  P…………………………………………………....…...12  

Jenny  Hodkinson    

 

Prince  Phillip  the  Elderly  Cockpheasant  …………………….....….14  

Adrian  Horn      

 

In  the  Doctor’s  Surgery…..………………………….....……………......…..15  

Fin  Jackson      

 

Red  Kites  …………………………………………………….................................18  

Steve  Lee    

 

 

The  Saddle  And  The  Ground………………………………………....…...19  

Janet  Lees    

 

 

When  Charles  &  Camilla  came  to  visit……………………….............21  

Liz  Monument    

 

Extract  from  novel  Frozen…………………………………………….....…...23  

Anne  O’Brien      

 

The  Last  Performance,  Copenhagen  1943…  ………………....…..26  

Bryan  Phillippi    

 

Extract  from  Untitled………………………………………….........................28  

 

Nguyen  Phan  Que  Mai    

My  Father’s  Home  Village………………………………………......………30  

Amali  Rodrigo    

 

Cormorant  Fishing…………………………………………………….......…...32  

Michelle  Scowcroft      

Missing  Men………………………………………………………………….....…33  

Isobel  Staniland    

 

Lost  Hoard……………………………………………………………….....………35  

Ericka  Olsen  Stefano    

Primes  and  Prams……………………………………………………...………36  

Phillippa  de  Villiers    

Gautrain……………………………………………………………………………...38  

  The  Contributors.......................................................................................................................................................39              

 


Foreword     The   work   in   this   anthology   has   been   solicited   from   the   part-­‐time   and   full-­‐time   campus   Creative  Writing  MA  groups  at  Lancaster  University  and  its  two  part-­‐time  distance  learning   MA  cohorts.  It  therefore  represents  different  stages  of  engagement  for  those  students.       Our   programme   at   Lancaster   remains   distinctive   because   of   its   ‘open’   or   student-­‐centred   approach   to   teaching   and   learning.   We   have   no   set   curriculum   and   no   modular   structures.   All  students  work  together  –  face-­‐to-­‐face  or  online  –  whether  they  are  writing  poetry,  prose   or  scripts.  The  course  is  taught  by  published  writers  who  have  strong  interest  in  pedagogy   and   who   are   continually   making   new   work.     Students   come   to   us   with   a   project   they’re   keen   to  develop,  and  we  help  to  develop  that  project  through  the  workshop  process,  challenging   and  shaping  the  work,  making  a  curriculum  from  the  writing  itself,  drawing  out  rather  than   instilling.   Such   freedom   can   be   exhilarating   both   as   a   student   and   a   teacher   –   it   is   also   deceptively   demanding   because   the   writing   projects   themselves   have   to   gain   strength   and   independence  to  sustain  the  students  and  their  tutors  in  such  an  ambitious  joint  enterprise.       The  breadth  and  range  of  the  work  in  this  anthology  is  a  testament  to  this  working  method  –   there  is  no  hint  here  of  the  production-­‐line  literature  that  is  sometimes  attributed  to  creative   writing   courses.   As   I   turned   the   pages   I   was   continually   surprised   by   the   freshness   of   the   work  and  the  strength  of  individual  voices  (whether  in  prose  or  poetry)  and  by  the  range  of   geographies  (physical  and  psychological),  cultures,  subject  matter  and  techniques.     The  creative  work  itself  is  intriguingly  varied  and  it  is  only  when  turning  to  the  biographies   of   the   contributing   writers   that   the   reasons   for   this   really   become   clear:   our   MA   students   comprise  a  remarkably  diverse  cultural  grouping  who  have  chosen  to  work  in  the  medium  of   English.   For   me   this   is   one   of   the   great   strengths   of   the   MA   at   Lancaster,   which   brings   together   students   from   all   over   the   world   to   explore   the   creative   act   of   writing,   which   opens   up   debates   about   the   provenance   and   future   of   language   itself,   which   negotiates   a   hard-­‐won   identity  for  each  writer  and  each  piece  of  work.     I   hope   you   enjoy   reading   the   work   here   as   much   as   I   did.   For   me   the   experience   was   of   finding   writers   whose   work   I   thought   I   knew   evading   my   expectations   through   new   i    


experiments   in   form   and   technique,   continuing   to   grow   and   extend.   But   literature,   of   course   has   to   fly   free   of   any   educational   context.   It   has   to   engage   with   and   become   human   experience,   returning   us   to   a   sense   of   life   and   its   exigencies,   interactions,   opportunities,   hopes,   disappointments,   and   sometimes   unidentifiably   mixed   emotions.   This   anthology   captures   that   essential   texture:   by   which   I   mean   the   interweaving   of   language,   lived   experience  and  an  expectant  and  reflective  consciousness  into  new  works  of  literature.       Professor  Graham  Mort,  May  2013.                                                

ii    


Mandy  Bannon     The  Pickers     Luo  spat  the  mollusc  out.  No  wonder  the  English  exported  these  things  abroad.  He  wiped  his   mouth  on  a  red  scarf  that  was  binding  his  neck,  where  the  iced  west  wind  fought  to  invade   his  so-­‐called  weatherproof.         He’d  been  intrigued  enough  to  prise  open  the  heart-­‐shaped  shell  when  no  one  was  looking.       It   had   a   small   orange   beak   like   a   baby   chicken   and   shone   in   its   cosy   case   like   a   sleeping   malformed   gem.     He   loved   shrimp,   but   this   was   different.     A   creature   at   home   in   the   dark   grey  mud  of  a  bay  so  vast  he  could  barely  see  to  the  other  side.    Still,  this  was  only  the  first   day.    He  must  keep  working  and  think  of  his  family.         The  salty  taste  and  grit  lingered  in  his  mouth  as  he  raked  at  the  shells.    He  was  not  afraid  of   hard  work.    He’d  farmed  with  his  father  and  cousins  since  he  was  a  boy.  Ploughing  and  tilling   the   dusty   soil   of   his   Fujian   hills.     He   knew   how   to   take   orders   —   keep   his   head   down   and   do   as  he  was  told.         Last   night   he’d   thought   of   nothing   else.   The   promise   of   fresh   air   and   sea   had   buoyed   his   restless  night  and  kept  his  mind  alert.  That,  and  the  droning  from  the  sleeping  bag  next  to   him.  Seventeen  of  them  all  bunched  together  in  the  living  room.    He  smiled  as  he  scooped  the   pile  of  sea  shells  into  the  orange  nylon  sack.    Huddled  together  like  poor  cockles,  he  thought.     But   these   creatures   were   destined   for   the   tapas   bars   of   Spain,   and   he,   Liang   Luo,   was   destined  for  a  better  life.  It  had  been  agreed.  Passage  to  the  UK  and  the  promise  of  a  steady   income.    Accommodation  and  food  all  taken  care  of.  The  language?    No  problem,  Cheng  had   barked.    We’ll  look  after  you.    We’ll  even  take  you  to  your  work  place.    Just  pay  us  in  advance.     Think  of  it  as  an  investment.    Of  course,  if  you’re  not  interested,  there  are  plenty  more  who   are.     Jing-­‐wei   had   smiled   sadly   and   lowered   her   eyes   when   Luo   had   told   her   his   plan.   She   was   holding  Xiu-­‐xiu  in  her  arms  and  bent  to  kiss  her  sleeping  baby’s  bulging  cheek.    I’ll  only  have   to  work  a  year,  then  I’ll  have  enough  to  pay  our  debts  and  buy  some  land  of  our  own,  he’d   1    


said.    And  Jing-­‐wei  had  looked  up  with  those  hungry  eyes  again.    You  promise  to  come  back   to  me?  she’d  said.    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four  Years  Later…     A  cloud  of  geese  ebbed  and  flowed  above  an  egg-­‐yolk  sunset.  Landing  in  swirls,  the  honking   softened   to   a   muted   moan.   The   estuary   provided   rich   pickings   for   all   its   visitors:   curlews,   oyster  catchers,  redshank.  David  held  the  binoculars  to  his  young  son’s  face.     ‘Can  you  see  the  geese  now,  Jack?’  he  asked.     ‘Yes,  but  it’s  fuzzy  daddy.’     David  hadn’t  been  back  since  that  night.  He’d  taken  the  first  job  he  could  get  on  the  oil  rigs,   until   Carol   threatened   to   leave.     So   then   labouring   and   now   —   well,   how   could   he   have   expected  her  to  stay  if  he  couldn’t  work?  If  only  he  could  go  picking  again,  maybe  she’d  come   back  and  they  could  all  be  a  proper  family  like  before.     That   night.   He’d   been   working   since   low   tide   all   afternoon   —   so   was   surprised   to   see   the   clapped  out  minibus  turning  up  so  late  in  the  day.    It  was  the  Chinese  again.  Didn’t  speak  a   word  of  English.  No  bloody  clue.  He’d  tapped  the  face  of  his  watch,  but  they’d  just  stared.  One   of  them  peered  out  over  a  bright  red  scarf  and  simply  shrugged.       David  had  thrown  the  last  of  his  sacks  into  his  4x4,  changed  out  of  his  waders  and  climbed   into  his  car.  Ignition  on,  Dire  Straits  and  instant  warmth.    He’d  driven  home  thinking  about   his   day’s   work   and   what   it   would   fetch.     There   was   a   baby   on   the   way   —   and   his   heart   swelled.     The  Police  had  thanked  him  and  the  rest  of  the  lads  for  their  help.  ‘Local  knowledge’  they’d   called  it.    It  had  been  a  long,  bitter  night.  He’d  seen  fear  frozen  onto  the  faces  of  the  survivors   and   felt   the   anguish   of   the   rescuers   retrieving   bodies.   Just   one   tide   had   swept   something   away  forever.     ‘I  can  see  them  now,  Daddy.  There’s  so  many  of  them.    Why  do  they  come  here?’   2    


‘Well,  to  feed  themselves  and  their  young,  and  well,  that’s  it  really,’  David  replied,  crouching   down.  He  picked  up  a  cockleshell  and  placed  it  in  his  son’s  unfurled  palm.  ‘That’s  everything.’                                                                 3    


Claire  Black   The  Man  Who  Is  Not  My  Father     Mum  kept,  tucked  into  the  back  of  one  of  her  photograph  albums,  a  big,  glossy  picture  of  her   and   a   man   who   is   not   my   father.   They’re   sitting   at   a   table,   a   big   round   table,   with   a   white   tablecloth.  It  looks  like  some  kind  of  dinner  dance  and  the  man  has  dark,  dark  hair  which  is   slicked  back  with  something  which  is  making  it  shiny.  Mum  looks  very  pretty.  She  is  laughing   into  the  camera,  and  she’s  got  a  long  string  of  beads  around  her  neck,  which  she  has  knotted   at  the  front.  She  told  me  the  beads  were  red  but  on  the  photograph  they  are  black.  The  man   has  his  arm  around  the  back  of  her  chair.  She  told  me  that  it  was  taken  the  year  before  she   met  my  dad,  when  she  worked  for  a  summer  in  a  holiday  camp  in  Scarborough.  She  worked   in  the  record  shop,  and  she  said  she  thought  she  was  the  bee’s  knees.  I  don’t  know  why  she   said  it  like  that,  that  she  thought  she  was  the  bee’s  knees,  as  if  actually  she  wasn’t.  If  you’re   working   in   a   record   shop   in   the   nineteen-­‐sixties,   knotting   beads   around   your   neck   and   getting  photographed  at  a  dinner  dance  with  a  man  in  a  Beatles  suit  with  slicked  back  hair,   you  are  completely  the  bee’s  knees  and  that’s  all  there  is  to  it.   I   used   to   like   looking   at   that   photograph.   I   used   to   think   that   if   Mum   had   chosen   to   marry  this  man  with  the  dark,  shiny  hair  instead  of  my  dad  with  his  thick  glasses  and  fat  ties,   that  he  would  be  my  father.  But  it  doesn’t  work  like  that.  I  would  be  half  someone  else  and   this  photograph  would  just  be  one  of  many  of  my  parents  in  their  younger  days.  I  wonder  if   the  man  who  is  not  my  father  got  married  himself  and  had  a  child,  a  son  perhaps,  who,  when   he  happens  upon  this  picture  of  his  dad  at  a  dinner  dance  with  a    girl  who  is  not  his  mother   thinks  that  she  might  have  been  his  mum.  I  used  to  like  thinking  about  that.  I’d  think  about   the  endless  possibilities  of  my  life,  my  nearly  life  and  Mum’s  life  and  get  them  all  in  a  tangle   like  the  beads  around  her  neck.                   4    


Suzanne  Conboy-­Hill   Dance  to  the  Wild  Ice     When  Izzy’s  eyelids  got  burned  off,  she  had  to  watch  all  the  time  without  blinking  —  apart   from  the  frog-­‐lick  that  slides  across  side-­‐to-­‐side,  but  you  can  see  through  that  so  there’s  no   escape  and  she’s  been  watching  since  Jinty  started  making  the  dance.     Izzy   and   Jinty   and   me   are   on   the   same   birth   ring   —   at   least   for   now.   When   the   ice   breaks   on   your   birthdays,   you   don’t   want   to   get   distracted   by   the   noises   and   the   flap-­‐ yappering   of   the   spirits   getting   into   people’s   mouths   and   ears.   If   you   do,   you   might   forget   to   keep  looking,  like  Izzy  did.  She  won’t  be  on  our  birth  ring  after  the  dance.    

Making   a   dance   is   tricky;   you   can’t   just   put   it   together   from   nothing   with   your   own  

leggy-­‐hops   and   chinbobs   and   such   —   there’s   a   right   way   to   do   it.   For   a   start,   you   have   to   make   sure   there’s   the   same   number   of   steps   as   celebrators.   You   can   have   multiples   or   squares   or   roots,   but   you   can’t   have   primes;   they’re   sneaky   and   unfriendly,   so   you   put   harmonics  on  primes  to  layer  them  up,  like  chords  for  feet.    

Jinty  got  permission  to  open  the  Book  of  Dances  and  stuffed  leaves  in  his  ears  so  the  

whistling  wouldn’t  get  into  his  head  while  he  traced  over  the  old  patterns  with  blackwood   chalk.  Jinty  plays  cat-­‐string  harp  and  he  knows  harmonies,  but  he’s  not  good  at  numbers,  so   we  blew  the  good  ones  into  his  left  ear  and  the  bad  ones  into  his  right  ear  and  made  marks   on  the  backs  of  his  hands  so  he’d  remember.    

He  was  gone  half  the  year  doing  that  dance  with  only  the  tapping  and  thumping  to  say  

he  was  still  in  the  Book  House.  We  pushed  bits  of  bovey  meat  and  pea  parkies  under  the  door   to   keep   him   going,   and   we   tried   not   to   sing   in   case   we   put   him   off   his   rhythm   and   he   got   something  wrong.  The  problem  with  being  the  dance-­‐maker  is  that,  if  you  get  it  wrong,  you   have  to  join  the  dancer  and  do  the  dance  together,  hopping  over  the  ice  from  beat  to  beat  and   picking  up  more  and  more  birthdays  on  the  way.  Of  course  it  means  you  share  them  with  the   dancer  so  you  only  pick  up  half  each  which  can  be  a  blessing  —    as  long  as  it  doesn’t  leave   you   with   the   head-­‐dallies   and   not   being   able   to   think   straight   because   then   you’ll   straightaway  make  a  mistake  and  end  up  stiff  as  a  snowfish  with  your  eyeballs  pointing  at   the  sky  and  the  deep  at  the  same  time.    

Jinty’s  doing  it  because  he  got  the  green  twig  and  there’s  a  lot  of  us  on  our  ring  so  not  

much  chance  of  coming  back  if  he  fouls  up.  Not  like  when  there’s  only,  say,  ten  or  twenty  of   you.   You   can   add   ten   or   twenty   birthdays   no   problem   as   long   as   you   don’t   already   have   a   5    


whole   lot   stacked   up.   There’s   over   two   hundred   of   us,   and   we   have   twenty   five   rings,   and   who  lives  that  long?    

We  knew  he  was  done  when  the  spirits  started  chasing  about  above  the  Book  House,  

whipping   the   roofing   up   at   the   corners   and   screeching   through   the   windows   like   banshi-­‐ ghosts   riding   on   lightning.   It   was   going   to   be   our   birthdays   tomorrow   so   there   wasn’t   any   more   time.   Anyway,   he   came   out,   pulling   the   dance   along   behind   him   on   wax-­‐leaf   runners   and  it  twitched  and  throbbed  like  it  was  ready  to  go  all  on  its  own.  We  all  helped  to  pin  it   down  —  spitting  on  its  edges  and  freezing  it  to  the  ice.  The  last  step  had  to  be  in  the  right   place   for   Izzy,   in   the   middle   where   the   wild   ice   shifted   and   sucked   like   a   whirlpool   full   of   skinning  knives.  We  could  see  the  spirits  under  the  surface,  charging  about  with   trails   of   fire   behind   them,   and   we   made   sure   to   keep   looking.   Izzy   was   looking   too,   of   course,   but   even   with  the  doze-­‐weed  it  was  like  she  knew  this  was  for  her.  She’d  be  stepping  and  hopping  and   gathering  years  to  her  back  until  she  was  stooped  and  crouched.  But  if  Jinty  had  done  his  job   right  and  we’d  done  the  freezing  out  right,  Izzy  would  drop  into  the  wild  ice  just  before  her   skin   fell   off   and   her   arms   and   cheeks   and   bones   came   apart,   and   her   blood   and   water   and   gristle  spread  over  the  lake  to  feed  the  shinny  beetles.  It  wouldn’t  be  so  bad  if  she  couldn’t   feel   any   of   it.   It   wouldn’t   be   so   bad   if   the   rest   of   us   couldn’t   hear   any   of   it   either,   but   we   only   had  the  doze-­‐weed  so  we  could.  Jinty  wasn’t  allowed  doze-­‐weed  and  he  was  scrabbit-­‐scared.   We’d  know  tomorrow  if  he  had  good  reason.                                 6    


Alex  Croy   Freelancer     It’s  not  a  job.  Not  really.  I  mean  I’m  paid  for  it,  sometimes,  and  my  CV  grows  a  little  with  each   confidence   eroding   offence.   But,   well,   it’s   a   sign   of   the   times;   you   take   what   you   can   get,   and   don’t  get  me  wrong,  at  least  it’s  interesting.  One  day  I’ll  be  working  in  a  call  centre:     ‘No  madam,  I  don’t  know  what  time  it  is  in  Singapore.  No,  I  wouldn’t  like  to  be  called  for  a   survey  when  I’ve  just  gone  to  bed.  That’s,  yes,  look  I  dialled  a  Bournemouth  area  code  you’re   not  in  Singap…I  what?  Well,  I’ll  give  it  a  go,  but  I  don’t  think  I  can  bend  that  way.  I…  yes,  yeah   ok  same  to  you….yep  Merry  Christmas.’     The  next,  filming  cut-­‐aways  for  the  local  paper’s  online  section:     I  stand  in  the  middle  of  Bournemouth  town  centre  in  my  best  suit,  diagonal  hail  ricocheting   with   a   thuck   sound   off   my   unsheltered   head,   icy   water   pooling   in   my   professional   shoes.   I   hold   my   only   umbrella   to   my   right   to   shelter   the   camera   that   sits   smugly   whining   away,   filming  a  two  minute  still  of  a  new  council  robo  recycling  compactor  bin  that,  as  luck  would   have  it,  is  solar  powered.     Still   there   are   the   upsides.   Every   student   has   a   shit   job   but   at   least   I   get   all   kinds   of   experience  with  mine.  I  even  got  to  work  for  some  real  papers:     Three   thirty   in   the   morning.   It’s   cold   and   rotten   outside.   Numb   arse   and   bad   back;   I   hate   stakeouts.  But  my  editor  Andy  is  paying  me  two  hundred  quid,  just  to  ask  one  question  of  the   bloke   that   comes   out   of   that   house   as   he   makes   his   way   to   court;   that’s   worth   a   bit   of   discomfort.   The   door   opens   and   a   suited   man   steps   out.   Not   my   guy;   must   be   his   lawyer   looking   for   press.   Another   one,   shaved   head,   tattoo   over   the   back   of   his   neck,   stalks   impatiently  after  him.  I  make  my  move.  I’m  out  the  car  and  half  way  across  the  tarmac  before   the  lawyer  throws  up  a  hand  shaking  his  head.   ‘Mr   Andies,   scuse   me,   Alex   Croy   Bournemouth   Echo,   can   I   ask   you   a   quick   question   about  your  sentencing  today?’  

7    


The   guy   nods   and   calls   off   the   lawyer,   standing   with   his   hands   in   his   pockets   and   glaring  expectantly.   ‘Great,’  I  unfold  the  piece  of  paper  Andy  gave  me,  ‘Now  that  you’ve  been  convicted  of   six  counts  of  GBH,  do  you  think  violent  gang  crime  will  see  a  drop  in  the  weeks  to  come?’  I   swallow  hard.  It’s  silent,  but  for  the  popping  sound  of  the  troll’s  knuckles.  Ah  feck.     The   editor   position.   That   was   a   proper   job.   I   was   in   charge   of   the   entire   arts   and   culture   section.   Respectable.   Professional.   A   chance   to   really   make   my   opinion   count.   Of   course   it   could  have  had  a  better  name  than  The  Bad  News,  and  maybe  I  should  have  asked  why  the   owner’s  “office”  was  a  booth  at  the  back  of  a  Turkish  hookah  bar:     We   wait.   The   three   editors   of   Poole’s   latest   local   rag,   each   commanding   a   team   of   the   best   student   journalists   on   the   south   coast.   Mark’s   just   gone   to   get   his   notes   on   our   various   layouts,  as  well  as  the  cheques  for  paying  us  and  our  writers  of  course.   ‘He’s  been  a  while,’  says  Joe  (local  news  editor).   ‘Probably  just  double  checking  the  wire,’  I  say,  ‘doesn’t  want  to  miss  out  on  something   this  close  to  print.’   My  cohorts  nod.  Mark’s  a  professional.  That’s  why  he  came  to  us;  actual  journalists,   pillars   of   the   fourth   estate,   rather   than   just   drafting   in   a   bunch   of   witless   students   who   don’t   know  anything  about  the  real  world.   ‘There  are  offices  behind  this  place  right?’  Galvin  (sports  and  leisure  editor)  says,  his   tone  hinting  at  concern.   I  snort,  ‘Of  course  there  are.  Where  else  would  Mark  have  gone?’   We   sit   in   silence   a   moment   longer   then   look   down   the   bar   at   the   door   Mark   disappeared  through.  The  door  with  the  push  bar  on  it;  lit  faintly  by  the  glow  of  a  fire  exit   sign  glaring  at  us  through  a  fog  of  fragrant  smoke.   ‘Well  maybe  it’s  around  the  corner  from…’            

‘Alright   gents?’   a   smart   casual   clad   man   says   striding   up   to   us,   ‘One   of   you   Mark  

Harris?’            

‘No,  he’s  just  stepped  out.’  I  say  in  my  professional  voice,  ‘He’ll  be  back  in  a  second,  

but  we’re  his  editorial  team.  Is  there  something  we  can  help  you  with?’            

The  man  smiles  pulling  out  a  digital  flash  mic,  ‘Ian  Marshall  Poole  Informer,  what  do  

you  have  to  say  about  Mr  Harris  being  charged  with  fraud?’   8    


‘He’s   not   coming   back   is   he?’   I   sigh   and   take   a   puff   from   the   table’s   complimentary  

hookah  pipe.     What?   Ok,   well,   maybe   those   weren’t   the   best   examples.   But   you   know   I’m   not   doing   too   badly.  I  wonder  if  Burger  King  has  any  openings.                                                           9    


Olivia  Dawson   One-­Night  Stand     I  turn  to  catch  his  scent  in  the  bed   like  a  game  of  hide-­‐and-­‐seek;       bury  my  face  in  our  playground   my  heart  spreadeagled       hands  open  ready  to  strip  the  bed   for  the  next  unexpected  guest.       A  wink  of  blue  ruffles  the  emptiness;   a  tiny  button  has  popped       from  his  perfect  denim  shirt  and  spun   under  the  duvet  like  a  pest       so  I  tuck  it  into  my  knicker  drawer   ready  with  some  matching  cotton  thread.                             10    


Natalie  Gordon   The  Ice  Rocket     We  start  on  the  rocket  ramp.    The  back  end  wedged  and  weighed  down     with  mum,  the  front  end  in  the  air,  a  diving  board  daring  me     to  clamber  on,  tuck  my  snow  boots  in,  grip  the  rope  —       if  I  let  it  go  I  ruin  everything  —  “Ready!”       Mum  pushes  off  as  I  head  for  space     Bang!  The  front  end  hits  the  ice,     I  shut  my  eyes  and  scream     and  scream  again  as  I  fly     like  rockets  must,  the   scraping  skidding     crunch   of  sledge  on  icy     snow  grabs  and  spins  and   hurls  me  laughing  down  the  slope,   faster  faster  faster  till  I  see  the  wall  —   the  jagged  ends  of  rocks  jut  out,  further  than  I     thought  they  did.  I  lean  and  so  does  mum  but  the     sledge  ignores  us,  hurtles  on,    held  in  frozen  ruts.    She     shouts  at  me  to  lean  some  more,  I  scream  and  mum  is  laughing     but  not  me  —  I  shut  my  eyes  and  feel  her  arms  around  me  as  she  yanks     me  off  and  we  tumble,  limbs  entwined,  and  hear  it  slam  into  the  wall.  “Again!”                     11    


Shannon  Hancock   Petra  with  the  Hard  P     She  was  an  older  woman  who  knew  who  she  was.    She  was  tall  for  her  age  but  so  was  Bryan.   She   carried   a   magical   twitch   in   her   left   eye,   possibly   a   nervous   tick,   but   to   Bryan,   it   was   a   secret   wink   forever   in   his   general   direction.     Bryan   thought   she   must   be   in   grade   7,   Petra   with   the   brown   braid   and   the   single   blue   ribbon.     Bryan   liked   the   way   she   dressed   so   casually   American   in   no-­‐nonsense   zip   off   shorts/pants   combinations   and   cozy   sweatshirts   that  zipped  as  if  she  had  just  gotten  out  of  bed  or  was  about  to  head  back   under   the   covers.     There   was   always   a   sense   of   purpose   about   Petra   on   the   yard,   like   the   Darling’s   Nana,   ready   for  anything  the  other  children  might  need.    Bryan  needed  to  be  rescued,  to  have  his  shadow   reattached.     After   a   decent   start   at   this   school,   he   had   lost   his   confidence   and   was   now   floating   around   in   the   sky   like   a   cottony   seed   to   Neverland.     After   all,   he   had   not   meant   to   be   boastful  or  careless  or  even  selfish  to  John  or  Michael  or  the  other  real  boys  who  had  been   here   since   pre-­‐K.     But   he   was   a   lost   child   in   the   strange   land   of   Serbia,   and   in   his   childish   ways,   he   had   overshadowed   the   others   with   his   boasting.   They   saw   his   baby   teeth,   his   vulnerabilities,  and  they  went  for  the  easy  mark.   Petra  and  Bryan  had  finally  met  face-­‐to-­‐face  during  his  second  month  at  Chartwell  School.     She   had   been   assigned   to   present   a   science   fair   project   to   the   younger   kids.     It   had   been   a   Rube  Goldberg  machine.  The  sheer  creativity  and  innovation  of  the  idea  had  sealed  Bryan’s   fate.    This  was  the  muse  he  had  been  trying  to  invoke.    Using  a  pendulum  and  a  cloth  napkin,   this   invention   could   wipe   a   child’s   chin   as   he   or   she   ate   their   nightly   dinner.     Bryan’s   classmates   had   lined   up   to   eat   the   raspberry   cupcakes   Petra’s   mother   had   made,   while   having   the   contraption   sweep   back   and   forth   on   each   of   their   faces   as   they   sat   in   the   hard   chair   underneath   it.     The   machine   tickled   and   caused   giggles   as   it   caressed   them.   It   was   a   hit   in  grade  4.   Gaining  some  of  his  old  courage  back  momentarily,  he  had  walked  up  to  Petra  and  asked  her   if   she   had   ever   been   to   San   Francisco   where   Rube   Goldberg   was   from.     Petra   had   stopped   scanning  the  crowd  of  children  then  to  peer  at  his  blue  eyes  dead  on.    “Why,  yes,  I  have.    That   is   where   I   am   from   actually.     Well,   right   across   the   bridge.     There   is   a   museum   in   the   city   where  they  have  all  of  his  machines  and  you  can  play  with  them  all  you  want.  Have  you  been   there?”  She  was  as  wonderfully  intense  as  he  had  expected  her  to  be.   12    


No,  of  course,  he  had  not,  but  luckily  his  aunt  lived  in  Mendocino,  which  was  close  enough  to   fake  it.     “I  have  been  to  California,  but  not  there  exactly.     I  read  about  him  and  it  online  a  lot   though.”     Then  he  decided  to  risk  it  all.  “Yours  was  the  coolest  project  I’ve  seen.”  He  paused   and  added,  “Have  you  seen  Edward  Scissorhands?”     The   7th   grader   smiled   knowingly.     “Of   course,”   and   she   tossed   her   braid   across   her   chest   and   sucked  on  its  soft  end.   This   is   how   it   all   began,   the   odd   pairing,   the   7th   grade   girl   and   the   4th   grade   boy   hanging   around  at  recess  times.     “I  am  Petra  with  a  hard  P  like  this,”  she  said  then,  pursing  her  lips   and  spitting  out  the  P  sound  as  if  it  were  a  bullet.   “Hi.  I  am  Bryan.    I  am  new  here.”   “I  know.”   True,  Petra  could  not  manage  to  be  with  Bryan  all  of  the  time,  as  that  would  alert  attention,   but  she  was  generous  to  him  most  of  the  time.   Petra   counseled,   “You   must   forget   your   own   adventures   and   what   you   have   learned   about   the  world  in  order  to  stay  childlike  to  the  others.     You  need  to  forget  about  being  so  damn   American  and  stop  talking  about  all  that  you  know  in  order  to  be  accepted  here.    Just  shut  up,   okay!”   Then   she   saw   the   glisten   in   his   eyes.     Petra   put   her   hand   on   his   bony   shoulder   and   said   softly,   “They   will   stop   if   you   just   let   them.”     These   were   new   found   lands   of   deep   understanding  in  this  Petra  with  the  hard  P.   Though   at   night   he   would   still   fly   home   to   Pennsylvania,   to   baseball   and   normal   milk   and   backyard  games  in  the  trees,  but  during  the  day  he  would  look  forward  to  visiting  Petra  with   her  signature  blue  ribbon.    For  now  this  was  how  he  could  manage  things  here.                 13    


Jenny  Hodkinson   Prince  Philip  the  Elderly  Cockpheasant     The  breathing  of  my  mother     in  the  snoring  sleep  of  old  age.     On  the  carpet  the  dog  chews  her  paws.       Infected  with  my  mood:       her  spirits  are  low.   It’s  too  early  for  tea,   all  hope  deferred  ‘til  Monday.     In  the  garden,     Prince  Philip,   the  elderly  cockpheasant,     is  making  his  presence  felt     and  pays  court  to  Philipa,     his  queen  consort,     outside  the  window   as  he  struts  up  and  down,     shouting  in  triumph     in  spite  of  his  gammy  leg.     The  black  hour  will  pass.     I  hear  the  owl  hooting,   telling  me  to  put  on  the  light.   My  mother  wakes,     demanding  her  tea.                 14    


Adrian  Horn   In  the  Doctor’s  Surgery     ‘Good  morning  Lieutenant  Strang,’  said  Miss  Tulip  with  red  lips  smiling.  ‘Won’t  you  sit   down?   Dr.   Cassidy   should   be   free   soon.’   Derrick   smiled,   nodded   and   sat   down.   ‘It’s   such   a   beautiful  morning,  what  a  shame  to  be  wasting  it  in  here,’  she  said.   Dr  Cassidy’s  door  opened  and  a  middle-­‐aged,  clearly  well-­‐to-­‐do  lady  emerged  with  Dr.   Cassidy  holding  the  door  open  for  her.   ‘Would  you  book  an  appointment  for  Mrs  Robinson  for  two  weeks  time  please  Miss   Tulip?’   He  turned  to  Derrick.  ‘Ah!  Derrick.  What  a  lovely  day.  How  are  your  parents?  Doing   well,   I   hope.   It   must   be   six   months   since   I   saw   either   of   them.   Do   send   them   my   very   best   regards.  And  how  is  Lucy?’   Derrick  mumbled.   ‘Splendid.  Splendid.  Now  we’ve  got  some  serious  business  to  get  down  to.  How’s  the   pain  been  since  you  last  saw  me?’   Derrick  shook  his  head.   ‘Where  is  it  worse?’   Derrick  touched  the  top  of  his  head.   ‘In  your  head?’   Derrick  nodded.   ‘I   presume   your   arm   is   still   giving   you   some   gip.   I’ll   need   to   give   you   a   full   physical   examination.’  The  doctor  stood  up  and  paced  up  and  down  behind  his  desk.  ‘I’ll  give  you  a   note  to  take  to  the  pharmacist  for  some  more  morphine,  new  needles  and  hypodermic  but   you   must   try   to   only   use   it   when   you   absolutely   need   to,   just   to   ease   the   pain.   It’s   a   good   servant  but  a  poor  master.’   Derrick’s  eyes  opened  a  little  wider.   ‘Now   I   have   to   write   to   the   War   Office   explaining   your   condition   since   the   relapse.   This   should   correspond   with   their   own   examination   when   they   see   you   next   week.   Don’t   worry,  they  won’t  send  you  back  to  the  front;  you’re  still  too  shaken  up.’   Derrick  lit  up  a  cigarette  and  crossed  his  legs.   ‘I   must   say   it’s   been   extremely   helpful   that   you   wrote   to   me   beforehand   with   the   details.  That  will  save  a  bit  of  time.  I  do  understand  that  this  may  cause  you  some  distress  by   15    


bringing  it  all  back  but  it  can’t  really  be  avoided.’   Derrick  crossed  and  uncrossed  his  legs.   ‘The  main  problems  seem  to  have  arisen  from  the  concussion  you  experienced  after   the   piece   of   shrapnel   pierced   your   skull.   The   whole   experience   has   clearly   shaken   your   nerves;  it  must  have  been  terrible.’   Derrick  took  in  a  lungful  of  smoke.   ‘Am  I  right  in  saying  that  you  are  still  experiencing  continual  headaches?’   Derrick  nodded  and  repositioned  himself  in  his  chair.   ‘And   are   you   still   only   able   to   walk   short   distances?   The   doctor   paused   but   got   no   reply.  ‘And  do  you  still  get  dizzy  spells  when  doing  so?’   Derrick  nodded.   ‘Well,  that’s  good.  Some  improvement,  eh?’   Derrick  nodded  and  then  nodded  again.   ‘Do  you  still  need  a  stick?’   Derrick  started  to  rock  backwards  and  forwards  in  his  chair.   ‘It’s   alright,   Derrick.   Things   are   beginning   to   improve   now.   Given   more   time   and   plenty   of   rest   you   could   make   a   very   good   recovery.’   Dr.   Cassidy   got   up   and   walked   to   the   door.   ‘Would  you  come  in  for  a  minute  please  Miss  Tulip?  Thank  you,’  he  waved  his  arm  at   her.  Miss  Tulip  came  in.  Derrick  was  shaking  and  rocking  and  his  leg  twitched  in  front  of  him.   Miss  Tulip  knelt  down  by  his  side,  put  her  arm  around  his  shoulders.   ‘It’s  alright,’  she  said  cushioning  his  head  on  her  chest.  His  mechanical  rocking  eased.   Dr   Cassidy   loaded   a   syringe   with   morphine.   ‘Can   we   just   drop   Lieutenant   Strang’s   trousers  a  little  Miss  Tulip  please?’   Derrick   felt   her   fingers   as   she   undid   the   buttons   on   his   braces   and   then   started   at   the   top  of  his  fly.  He  stopped  rocking  to  help  her.  She  worked  his  trousers  and  underpants  down   far  enough  for  Dr  Cassidy  to  push  his  waiting  needle  into  Derrick’s  buttock  and  press  down   the  plunger.   ‘This  won’t  hurt  a  bit,’  he  said  as  the  needle  went  in.   Derrick  didn’t  struggle.   ‘One…two…three…four…’  the  Doctor  counted  gently  and  Derrick  felt  the  tension  leave   his   body.   His   arms   fell   to   his   side.   He   looked   up   into   Miss   Tulip’s   eyes   and   felt   her   compassion  then  his  eyes  glazed  over  and  tears  ran  down  his  cheeks.  He  wheezed,  coughed   16    


once  and  started  to  breathe  lightly.  The  morphine  flowed  through  his  veins  relieving  his  pain   and  then  his  bladder.  He  wanted  to  say  he  was  sorry.                                                                 17    


Fin  Jackson   Red  Kites       Like  sentinels  –  but  swaying,   too  many  chevron  tails   strung  along  the  road’s  edge.   Shot  with  smart  phones  now   these  sentinels  are  waiting       for  a  tyre  squeal   for  a  cracked  carcass  spread  wide  as  a  wingspan     hot  blood   the  only  thing  a  Chilterns’  picnic  lacks.     They  wait,  like  sentinels  –  but  swaying.                                     18    


Steve  Lee   The  Saddle  And  The  Ground     The  pub  was  snug  and  warm  as  a  badger’s  den  in  winter,  glowing  with  a  golden  aura  left  by   echoes   of   thumping,   bouncing   New   Year   and   Christmas   party   nights   that   had   brought   regulars  and  strangers  in  through  the  door  until  there  was  not  a  square  of  carpet  to  stand  on   and  steam  rose  from  the  crowd  as  it  does  from  a  squash  of  cattle.       The   slow-­‐ticking   mantelpiece   clock   still   wore   its   red   tinsel   scarf,   taking   its   January   time,  no  longer  required  to  hurtle  towards  Christmas,  and  the  little  brass  jug  next  to  it  still   sprouted   with   berried   holly   but   no   mistletoe   —   that   had   been   stolen   weeks   ago.     But   the   larger  decorations,  the  room-­‐high  tinsel  tree  and  the  snowman  lights  were  all  packed  away   in  a  cupboard  for  next  year,  exhausted.   Beryl,   a   veteran   of   campaigns,   decked   in   Primark   opulence   and   hung   with   baubles,   read  the  newspaper  behind  the  bar  in  the  deep  peace  that  follows  a  bountiful  yuletide.  The   festive  takings  were  safely  banked  and  now  she  bathed  in  the  blessed  calm  after  the  storm.     She   read   about   the   Amalfi   Coast   and   fiddled   with   the   pearlescent   beads   around   her   neck.     Seven   nights   in   a   four-­‐star,   all   inclusive.     She   might   book   it   tomorrow,   or   might   keep   looking   a   bit   longer   —   the   possibility   was   the   sumptuous   thing.     Her   gloss   black   shoe   with   its   diamanté   detail   pivoted   on   the   point   of   its   toe,   her   foot   lolling   left   and   right   in   a   luxury   of   idleness.   Just  a  scatter  of  customers,  and  all  of  those  in  easy  groups  were  settled  in  the  corners:   two  couples  on  their  way  home  from  a  meal  at  the  Harvest  Moon,  four  young  lads,  loud  on   the   lagers,   and   the   Three   Wise   Men,   George,   Des   and   Colin   from   the   climbing   club   in   their   usual  Wednesday  corner.    Good  regulars.    She  turned  a  page  and  read  an  advertisement  for   erectile  dysfunction.       George  was  in  full  flow,  his  volcanic  laughter  shaking  his  shoulders  and  trembling  the   empties.     Two   pints   down   and   a   healthy   sup   into   the   third,   the   three   men   remembered   Eastern   Buttress   on   Dow   Crag,   the   scene   of   Sunday’s   triumph.     George   led   the   meeting   as   he   led   most   things.     He   slammed   his   hand   down   on   the   table   and   insisted   on   a   Macallan   all   round.    And  without  waiting  to  hear  the  mock  protestations  he  stood,  banged  his  head  on  the   low-­‐slung  lamp,  suffered  the  usual  jeers,  steadied  the  weighty  glass  lampshade,  and  wavered   in   the   direction   of   the   bar.     Beryl   came   alive   from   her   newspaper,   smiling,   all   teeth   and   lipstick  and  earrings,  dyed  blond  hair,  straightening  her  crocheted  jumper  with  its  peep-­‐hole   19    


open   weave   that   offered   glimpses   of   bra   strap   and   made   him   imagine   a   penchant   for   adventurous  underwear.       George   placed   the   three   tumblers   in   the   very   centre   of   the   table   before   then   sliding   each  one  out,  perhaps  three  inches,  so  that  they  sat  centrally  but  allocated  on  the  high-­‐gloss   territory,  like  chess   pieces,  as  if  he  had  made  a  move  to  reclaim  the  board  and  proposed  a   fresh  initiative.   ‘There…  you…  are,  gentlemen  —  your  very  good  health.’   The   peat-­‐coloured   liquor   evaporated   around   them   and   drew   them   together   like   a   camp  fire.   ‘A  bad  day  at  work,  it  was,’  said  Des.    ‘I  had  one  of  the  new  starts  sitting  in  my  office   for  an  hour.    First  day  on  the  gun;  everyone  thinks  they  can  do  it.’   There  was  a  sympathetic  tutting  and  angling  of  heads.     ‘A  shaky  hand  just  isn’t  fair,’  he  continued.    ‘There’s  been  times  the  lads  have  had  to   bail  the  new  starts  out  but  not  till  we’ve  had  beef  staggering  about,  half  stunned,  skating  in   their   own   mess,   then   it’s   not   an   easy   job   to   finish.     You   can’t   put   a   bolt   between   the   eyes   of   a   shaking  half-­‐ton  animal  so  easy.    There’s  a  particular  way  to  go  about  it.’   He  glanced  around  the  pub  and  leaned  forward  a  little.       ‘You  keep  the  gun  concealed  till  the  last  second  and  you  keep  a  calm  in  your  eye.’       He  tucked  a  hand  behind  his  back.     ‘Now,  you  don’t  say  bugger  all.    The  animal  knows,  just  from  your  voice,  what  you’re   up  to,  so  you  say  nothing.’     He  brought  his  hand  round,  slowly,  beneath  the  table  and  presented  it  over  his  glass   with  a  single  finger  as  a  barrel  pressed  to  the  fist  of  his  other  hand.       ‘Then,  all  matter-­‐of-­‐fact  you  place  the  bolt-­‐end  on  the  right  spot  and  pssht,  she’s  down  and   quiet  but  for  the  twitch.    You  miss  by  a  millimetre  (he  pinched  the  air)  and  she  screams  like  a   stuck  pig,  and  I  tell  you  what,  it’s  a  noise  you  don’t  forget.    It  goes  right  into  you.  At  the  end  of   the  day,  we’re  all  beasts,  and  that  sound,  that  squeal  goes  all  the  way  down  to  the  pits  of  your   stomach.’             20    


Janet  Lees   When  Charles  &  Camilla  came  to  visit     they  didn’t  take  the  hill   where  cars  roll  upwards;   didn’t  stroll  among  the     ruins  of  our  fairy  village.     They  didn’t  meet  the  Pearly  King   who  cruises  the  charity  shops;     the  lollipop  ladies  christened  Hinge   &  Bracket  by  Angie  in  the  vets.       They  missed  the  mushroom   ice-­‐cream,  the  museum’s  pair     of  space  suits,  the  yellow  polar     bear  on  his  resin  iceberg.       They  didn’t  even  come     close  to  dipping  their  toes     in  the  blue  shriek   of  the  Irish  Sea.       They  only  had  time  for  a  nose     round  the  new  kipper  factory  –   the  film  of  this  runs  on   a  silent  loop  in  the  library.               21    


22    


Liz  Monument   Extract  from  novel  Frozen       Dead   Beat   wasn’t   my   kind   of   club,   but   I   wasn’t   there   to   enjoy   myself.   The   dance   floor   pulsated   with   slim   youths   and   scantily   dressed   girls.   Most   of   them   were   high.   Even   the   crowd   standing   round   the   edge   swayed   in   time   to   the   music,   like   mannequins   pulled   by   a   single   string.   Mo,   who   looked   the   part   in   skin-­‐tight   black,   and   wore   a   pout   the   size   of   HQ,   hung  back  by  the  bar.  He  turned  his  head  away,  but  I  knew  he  was  watching  me  from  behind   the   shades.   I   pushed   my   way   through   the   sweaty   bodies   and   headed   for   the   stairs.   Merv   had   spent  too  long  among  people  who  hadn’t  got  a  clue  what  he  was.  I  didn’t  have  to  see  him  —  I   could  feel  him,  and  he  got  stronger  as  I  continued  on  up.   Once   I   reached   the   top,   the   crowd   thinned   out.   Merv   was   leaning   against   the   balcony,   his  back  pressed  into  the  rails.  The  slouchy  settees  on  the  mezzanine  level  had  been  bagged   by   amorous   couples.   Merv’s   expression   of   rhapsody   had   nothing   to   do   with   the   music.   He   was  staring  at  a  threesome  in  one  corner,  their  lean  limbs  entangled  —  until  he  spotted  me,   and   shot   away   from   the   balcony,   dropping   his   water   bottle.   He   stood   in   the   middle   of   the   gangway   with   his   mouth   open.   There's   something   singularly   unattractive   about   a   guy   who   wears  a  parka  and  jam-­‐jar  bottom  glasses  to  a  nightclub.   'Jess?'  he  squinted.    

'Hello  Merv.'  I  thrust  my  hands  deep  into  my  pockets  and  stared.  

 

'What  are  you  doing  here?'  

 

'Looking  for  you,'  I  said.  'I  have  to  take  you  in,  Merv.'  

 

We   were   lip-­‐reading,   but   he   got   the   message.   Merv   began   to   back   away,   until   he  

slipped  on  a  puddle  of  water  that'd  leaked  from  the  bottle.    

'Don't  play  hard  to  get,'  I  said,  advancing.  

 

'How  did  you  know  I'd  be  here?'  

 

I  gestured  towards  the  threesome.  'You're  a  creature  of  habit.'  

 

'Don't  knock  it  till  you've  tried  it,'  Merv  said,  straightening  his  glasses.  'I  won't  come  

with  you.'    

'If  you  don't  come  with  me,  they'll  send  somebody  far  more  frightening.'  

 

Merv   appeared   to   think   about   it,   then   he   turned   and   ran.   There   was   only   one  

staircase,  and  he  was  going  in  the  wrong  direction.  I  waited  for  him  to  bounce  off  the  far  wall   and  return  like  a  boomerang.  When  Merv  ended  up  exactly  where  he'd  started,  in  the  same   23    


puddle   of   water,   and   fell   over,   I   realised   he   was   crying.   His   glasses   were   on   the   floor.   One   lens  was  cracked.  I  picked  them  up  and  knelt  by  his  side.    

'Merv,   why   did   you   come   back?’   I   said.   ‘I   haven’t   seen   you   since   Torches,   then   you  

send  me  a  card  and  you’re  here,  right  under  my  nose.  Why?'    

Merv   looked   me   up   and   down,   and   sniffed.   ‘What's   with   you,   all   Unit-­‐tagged   and  

official?  What  happened  to  Torches?'    

I  shrugged.  ‘I  got  tired  of  guys  trying  to  touch  my  butt.’    

 

‘I   didn’t   recognise   you   without   makeup,'   Merv   said.   ‘And   you’re   wearing…   well,  

clothes…’    

‘Get  used  to  it,’  I  snapped,  ‘because  this  is  me  now.  You  can't  fight  the  Unit  forever,'  I  

yelled  in  his  ear.  'They  know  about  you.  They  want  you.  Please,  come  quietly  and  there  won't   be  any  trouble.'     I  handed  Merv  the  broken  glasses.  He  fumbled  as  he  slid  them  on.   'You're  sat  in  the  water,'  I  said.  'You're  going  to  look  like  you've  pissed  yourself  unless   you  stand  up  quick.'    

Merv  scrambled  to  his  feet  and  backed  away.  I  was  three  feet  smaller  than  him  and  

yet  he  was  afraid  of  me.  A  teensy  weensy  part  of  me  enjoyed  it.    

'I  don't  want  to  be  like  you,  Jess.  I  won't  be  forced  to  join  something  I  don't  believe  in!'  

 

'Mervyn,'   I   shouted,   'I   need   you   for   one   job.   You   have   to   join   the   human   race   some  

time.   Hanging   around   sex   bars   surfing   on   the   desires   of   complete   strangers   is   not   an   appropriate  use  of  your  skills.'    

'Neither  is  poking  around  in  the  minds  of  criminals,'  he  yelled.  'I  know  what  you  do,  

Jess.  I  know  all  about  Department  Thirteen.  News  travels  fast.  Especially  among  people  like   us.'    

'Don’t   ever   mention   the   others,’   I   said,   moving   in   so   close   that   when   Merv   backed  

away,  he  fell  into  the  wall.  ‘I  don’t  even  want  to  know  where  they  are.  What  I  want  to  know   is,  why  did  you  come  back?  Why  send  me  a  post  card?  Didn't  it  occur  to  you  that  vanishing   into   the   Disaster   Zone   might   afford   you   a   bit   more   anonymity?   Don’t   you   realise   you   haven’t   given  me  any  choice  about  what  happens  next?'    

Merv  started  to  cry.  'I  didn't  think  the  Unit  would  look  under  their  own  nose.’  

 

I   took   a   deep   breath   and   checked   either   side   of   us   from   underneath   lowered   lids.   The  

other  clubbers  were  oblivious.  

24    


'The   Unit   pay   a   wage,'   I   said,   calmly.   'When   did   you   last   actually   earn   anything   you   could  call  your  own?’                                                                 25    


Anne  O’Brien   The  Last  Performance,  Copenhagen  1943     One  sheet  of  paper  would  be  printed;  then  the  dentist  would  start  up  his  drill....S.  Toksvigi   Søren  buttons  the  white  dentist’s  coat  with  hands  that  tremble.  He  must  look  the  part.   He   stares   at   his   slender,   ink   stained   fingers   in   dismay;   no   way   to   clean   them   in   time.   His   stomach  lurches  and  his  mouth  fills  with  saliva.  Maria's  muffled  voice  reaches  him  through   the  surgery  door,   'But  of  course  Officer,  we  will  help  you.  Tomorrow  morning  is  good,  Dr  Jansen  can  see   you  then.  You  are  coming  at  8  o'clock?’   Søren   hears   the   slight   inflection   in   her   voice   and   all   the   hope   that   hangs   on   it,   weighing  it  down  like  an  anchor.  He  holds  his  breath.   'What  you  say?  Tomorrow  morning?  Are  you  stupid  woman,  it  is  now.  I  will  see  him   now.’   Søren  strains  to  listen  to  the  sound  of  shuffling  papers,  the  plaintive  screech  of  chair   legs  on  the  tiled  floor.   'But  of  course,'  she  says.  'Yis.  I  will  tell  him.’   Not  for  the  first  time  Søren  wonders  how  on  earth  he  was  persuaded  to  help  out  with   the  underground  newspaper;  Hans,  with  his  brilliant  idea  of  setting  up  shop  in  the  disused   dentist's  surgery  where  the  noise  of  the  drill  could   be  used  to  muffle  the  sound  of  the  press.   But   for   Christ's   sake,   could   one   of   them   at   least   not   have   been   a   dentist?     He   thinks   of   the   others  in  the  back  room,  as  scared  as  he  is,  barely  daring  to  breathe.    

Deep  down  he  knows  it's  not  all  Hans  fault.  For  almost  a  year  he'd  kept  quiet,  going  to  

work  each  evening  to  the  Tivoli  Gardens,  taking  his  place  as   second  violin  in  the  orchestra   pit,   not   raising   his   head   to   look   at   the   benches   filled   with   Gestapo   officers.   A   whole   year   spent   pretending   that   all   would   be   okay,   a   year   regretting   he   hadn't   taken   Hanne   and   fled   to   Sweden  when  he'd  had  the  chance,  a  year  wishing  it  would  all  go  away.  With  each  day  a  little   more  hope  eroded  and  he  got  to  thinking  they  were  silver  herrings  caught  in  a  trawler’s  net   which  was  closing  in  around  them  tighter  and  tighter  until  there  was  no  way  out.   If  only  he  was  brave  like  Hans.  ‘Little  Bror’  his  friends  still  called  him,  his  nickname   from   school,   always   Hans’   'Little   brother',   small   and   slight.   But   Hanne   said   that   was   why   she'd  noticed  him  first.  His  beautiful  Hanne,  unlike  the  Danish  girls,  with  her  dark  eyes  and  

26    


hair,   oh   her   hair,     spread   out   about   her   head,   dark   against   the   white   sand   of   the   dunes   in   Skagen  where  they  lay  sheltered  from  the  wind  that  first  long  summer.   'Little  Bror,  will  you  just  wait  until  they  come  for  Hanne?  Will  you?  We  can  use  your   help  and  you  will  feel  better,  Little  Bror,  believe  me'.   And  so  he  had  said  yes,  though  what  did  he  know  of  printing?  Oh  Hans,  where  are  you   now?   Søren  longs  for  the  feel  of  the  smooth  neck  of  his  violin  in  his  hand  and  the  sound  of   the   orchestra   tuning   up.   His   eyes   flit   around   the   dentist's   surgery   taking   in   the   yellowing   leather  chair  and  the  alien  arm  of  the  dentist’s  lamp.  They  come  to  rest  on  the  row  of  shiny   instruments  lined  up  on  the  small  hinged  table  attached  to  the  chair.  It  is  then  he  spots  them,   a   pair   of   surgical   gloves   lying   quietly   beside   the   drill.   Relief   makes   him   lightheaded   as   he   pulls  them  on.  The  rubber  sticks  to  his  clammy  skin,  snapping  as  he  forces  each  ink  stained   finger  through.     'Wait,  I  will  just  check  the  dentist's…,'  Maria's  voice,  urgent  now  as  footsteps   approach  the  door  which  abruptly  opens.     A  gowned  and  gloved  Søren  turns  and  raises  his  head,  looking  straight  into  the  eyes  of   a  Gestapo  officer,  Maria's  white  face  just  visible  over  his  left  shoulder.   'Yes,  Maria,  what  is  it?’   The   Officer   answers,   'What   you   think?   My   tooth,   all   night   I   have   been   in   agony   and   now  you  will  fix  it.'   'Herr  Boch,  Doctor,'  Maria  interjects.  'He  insists  to  see  you…'   Herr   Boch   crosses   the   room   and   installs   himself   in   the   dentist's   chair   which   tilts   back   with   his   weight   leaving   his   black   boots   dangling   over   the   end.   Søren   turns   towards   him.   The   overture  is  about  to  begin,  he  thinks,  and  the  first  violin’s  place  stands  empty.  Søren  knows   what   he   must   do.   He   flicks   the   switch   of   the   dentist's   lamp   illuminating   each   pore   of   the   face   below  him;  the  clean  shaven  chin,  the  bulging  adam’s  apple.  Herr  Boch  closes  his  eyes  and   opens   his   mouth.   Søren   stares   down   into   the   gaping   hole,   then   slowly,   oh   so   slowly,   he   picks   up  the  sharpest  instrument  from  the  tray.           1  p.141  Toksvig,  S.  ((2006)  [2005]),  Hitler’s  Canary,  Great  Britain:  Random  House  Children’s  books.  

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Bryan  Phillippi   Extract  from  Untitled     It   was   a   cool   autumn   day   and   I   was   doing   my   usual   thing,   leaning   back   in   my   chair,   feet   kicked   up   on   my   desk,   and   a   victory   at   Frogger   under   my   belt.     It   might   have   taken   me   since   the  80’s,  but  those  frogs  had  finally  made  it  across  unscathed.    As  a  result,  I  felt  I  was  in  need   of  a  reward.   I   reached   for   my   desk   drawer   and   pulled   out   a   tin   candy   box.     A   puff   of   dust   shooting   out  when  opened.      Reaching  in,  I  was  disappointed.    Not  to  mention  annoyed  at  myself  for   not  planning  ahead,  and,  most  of  all,  annoyed  because  it  meant  one  thing.    I  would  have  to   visit  Crazy  Steve.   Crazy  Steve,  although  not  a  bad  guy,  was  in  no  ways  someone  I  would  call  a  friend.    He   was  fat,  messy,  and  legitimately  Crazy.    He  also  had  the  consistent  habit  of  locking  you  into  a   conversation   whenever   you   visited.     Hence   why   I   always   took   Andy.     It   might   not   sound   like   the  nicest  thing  in  the  world,  but  Andy  didn’t  mind  Steve.    That  made  him  the  perfect  person   to  shove  on  the  talking  hand  grenade.       I  got  up  from  my  chair  and  went  down  the  hall  to  my  partner’s  office.       “Andy,”  I  knocked.    “You  decent?”   “Come  in.”        Upon  opening  the  door,  I  saw  my  partner.    Pants  down,  playing  an  anime  game  that   didn’t  even  seem  legal.    One  hand  on  the  keyboard,  one  hand  on  his  joystick.       “Good  Lord!”  I  shouted,  doing  my  best  to  cover  my  eyes.    “You  said  you  were  decent!”   “It’s   just   my   penis.”     I   heard   the   shuffling   of   pants,   the   crinkle   of   a   zipper,   and   the   fumbling  of  a  buckle.    “It’s  not  like  you’ve  never  seen  my  penis  before.”   “I  didn’t  want  to  see  it  last  time  either.    From  now  on  let’s  just  have  a  no  masturbating   policy  in  the  office.    It’s  bad  for  business.”   “What  business?”   As  much  as  I  wanted  to  slap  the  bearded  man-­‐baby,  he  had  a  point.    Business  was  bad.     It  had  always  seemed  like  such  a  good  idea  in  the  movies,  having  your  own  detective  agency.     Femme   fatales.     Tail   jobs.     Gun   chases.     Crime   galore.     Instant   paycheck.     And,   best   of   all,   you   could   be   drunk   all   the   time   and   it   didn’t   matter.     That   was   part   of   the   job.     But   in   the   real   world,  there  were  only  bills  and  the  random  adultery  case.    Hollywood  had  lied  to  me.    Aside  

28    


from  maybe  the  drunk  part.    I  don’t  really  do  that,  because  of  the  whole  calories  thing.    But   I’m  fairly  certain  that  if  I  wanted  to,  I  could.   Anyways,  where  was  I?    Oh  yeah,  Steve.       “Grab  your  coat,  Andy.    We’re  heading  to  Steve’s.”     “Pizza  Steve  or  Crazy  Steve?”       “Crazy  Steve.”   Andy’s  eyes  lit  up  like  a  child.    “I  love  that  guy!”   “I  know  you  do,  Andy.    Now  let’s  go.”   And  like  that  we  were  off  and  away.       “Should  we  lock  the  door?”  Andy  asked  as  we  left  the  building.       I  thought  about  it  for  a  moment.    In  the  movies,  they’d  always  come  back  to  see  a  case   waiting  for  them.    And  if  we  just  got  robbed  instead,  there  was  always  insurance  money  to   collect.   “Fuck  it.    We’re  fine,”  I  told  him.     We  left  for  Steve’s.     ***     The  Plymouth  Prowler  raced  along  as  we  made  our  way  to  the  north  side  of  town.    It   was   a   sketchy   type   of   area,   and   I’d   prefer   to   buy   at   safer.     But   Crazy   Steve   needed   a   favor   years  back.    Since  then,  discounted  prices  on  an  already  competitive  rate.   I  parked  the  car  in  front  of  his  beat-­‐up  Tudor  and  got  out  of  the  car.    Judging  from  the   looks  of  it,  one  wouldn’t  suspect  a  drug  dealer  lived  there.    It  had  the  beaten  down  shingles   of  a  crack  den,  the  broken  windows  of  a  gun  nut,  and  the  grass  of  a  welfare  addict.    It  was  the   perfect  cover  for  a  man  in  Steve’s  line  of  work.    And  if  any  of  it  had  been  intentional,  I’d  have   commended  him  for  it.   “You’d  think  a  man  that  takes  so  much  speed  would  have  at  least  some  energy  to  fix   this  up,”  I  commented,  as  we  approached  the  front  steps.       “Steve  doesn’t  like  to  go  outside.    He’s  afraid  the  government  is  checking  him  out.”   That  raised  a  flag.    “Checking  him  out  as  a  suspected  drug  dealer?”   “No,  checking  him  out.”       29    


Nguyen  Phan  Que  Mai   My  Father’s  Home  Village     For  the  villagers  of  Yen  Mo,  Viet  Nam     Among  the  new  corn     my  father  waited  for  his  mother;     the  grass  on  the  dike  withered.   The  afternoon  in  deep  sleep,   my  grandfather  started  the  fire,   sunlight  came  to  rest   on  our  doorstep,  muop  flowers   made  the  pond  golden,     dragonflies  flew  high,  grasshoppers   flew  low,  calling  rain  to  come   and  fill  the  fresh,  clear  well.     The  war  rushed  in;  village   men  left  and  few  came  back,   pain  engraved  white  on  the  old  ones’  hair.   My  father’s  childhood  was  filled  with  bombs  and  bullets;   after  the  drought,  the  river  flooded  the  village.   My  father  tied  his  promise  into  a  grass  ring,     and  during  a  windy  afternoon,   he  proposed  marriage  to  my  mother.   The  small  road  filled  with  laughter,   the  gao  flowers  set  fire  to  the  sky.   The  leisurely  dew  came  to  weave  its  net  on  the  pond.   Upon  the  arrival  of  autumn,  I  cried  my  first  tear.   The  vegetable  flowers  are  gold,   the  hibiscus  red;   on  the  windy  dike,  my  brother’s  kite  flew  high.   I  baked  sweet  potatoes  in  hot  ash;     30    


I  ran  to  hide  among  the  young  green  rice     my  mother  had  sown.     Through  hungry  seasons,  the  village  hill  was  steep,   people  bending  their  backs,  patiently  tending  their  seeds,   their  gazes  haunted  by  cracked  fields.     My  father  still  believed,  still  ploughed  and  hoed,   the  village  roads  fragrant  again  with  the  scent  of  new  cut  hay.   Storms  come,  destroy  the  gao  tree  at  the  village  gate,   but  the  bamboo  grove  gave  birth  to  new  seasons  of  young  plants.     The  curves  of  the  village  temple,   the  persian  lilacs  purple,   the  sun  set  low  with  low  flying  stork  wings.   I  hug  the  rice  straw  to  sleep.   Because  I  keep  my  homeland  in  my  heart,   my  harvest  is  rich,     all  year  round.     Translated  from  the  Vietnamese  by  Nguyen  Phan  Que  Mai  and  Bruce  Weigl                           31    


Amali  Rodrigo   Cormorant  Fishing         China     Black  banners  in  wind  — prodded  with  a  pole   fold  blade  tight  and  rip  in  to  the  tapestry   of  a  hunt.  Catch  still  writhing  in  beaks   they  hop  back  on  the  sampan,  obedient       as  old  dogs,  stay  rag  sack  still.  No  quick  throw,     or  snapping  beak  in  a  skyward  Y.     The  man  must  grab  their  rope-­‐thick  necks  to  pry   away  the  fish  and  they  eat  shadows       from  their  own  wings  scrap  by  scrap,  small  enough   to  keep  them  alive,  always  the  silk-­‐fine     wire  in  a  choke-­‐hold,  calling  each  medallion     to  chew  at  the  root  of  this  long  hunger,  fief       of  yellow  eye  and  fish-­‐stare.  O  flown  prayer   hook-­‐hung  on  a  man  walking  on  water.         (First  published  in  the  Bridport  Anthology  2012)                     32    


Michelle  Scowcroft   Missing  Men     Cleavering   off   a   snake’s   head   isn’t   the   simplest   of   tasks.   Alvin’s   unexpected   disappearance,   however,  had  caused  Hetty  to  become  quite  the  expert.     Alone,   she   now   got   down   to   doing   those   things   that   were   not   considered   a   pretty   lady’s   business;   things   like   taking   out   trash,   chopping   wood   and,   of   course,   decapitating   snakes  that  slithered  the  highways  and  by-­‐ways.    She  preferred  it  that  way.     It’s   one   thing   having   a   brother,   but   it’s   totally   another   having   him   in   your   bed   .   .   .   whether  you  want  him  there,  or  not.  Hetty  was,  in  fact,  far  the  happier  now  that  Alvin  had   gone   missing   .   .   .   even   though   it   did   mean   her   killing   snakes   regularly.   In   fact,   she   seemed   to   relish   the   activity.   In   fact,     she   began   to   stalk   them,   lifting   up   abandoned   tyres   and   other   debris   scattered     in   the   yard,   yanking   open   the   cesspit’s   lid   and   leaving   petite   piles   of   dog   food   bait   on   the   cool   tiles   of   the   outhouse   floor.   Oftentimes   she   could   be   seen   rocking   on   the   loveseat  on  the  porch  with  a  cleaver  resting  on  her  lap.  Waiting.  Other  times  crashes  could   be   heard   as   she   hacked   into   the   floor   with   such   astonishing   vigour   and   resonance   that   people  passing  by  jumped  at  the  sound.   Neighbours,  who  wouldn’t  normally  pass  the  time  of  day  with  each  other,  were  seen   shaking  their  heads  and  agreeing  that  Hetty  had  surely  lost  her  mind:  what  with  losing  her   daddy  and  her  brother  all  in  such  a  short  space  of  time.  “It’s  too  bad,”  they  declared.  “What   that  girl  needs  is  another  man  about  the  place.”      As  you  can  imagine,  there  were  plenty  of  candidates  in  Las  Animas  County  only  too   willing   (whether   they   were   available   or   not!)   to   be   of   manly   help   to   such   a   pretty   lady.   Anyhow   decency   prevailed   since   Alvin,   like   his   daddy,   had   not   yet   been   declared   dead.   They   were  still  considered  missing  persons.   The  police  couldn’t  find  no  clue  to  Alvin’s  disappearance.  “He’s  probably  gone  looking   for   Daddy,”   she   explained   to   the   officer   when   he   called.   “He   missed   Daddy   just   something   awful.   They   were   so   close,   Officer,   you   know,   just   like   this.”   She   slowly   crossed   over   her   second   and   third   finger   in   front   of   Officer   Hatchet’s   face.     I’m   feeling   so   lonesome   these   days   and   so   very   vulnerable   without   my   men   around.”   Hatchet   coughed   and   moved   his   weight   from  foot  to  foot.     “As  you  say,  Mrs  Brigham  …”     33    


“  .  .  .  Oh  no,  Officer,  it’s  just  Miss  Brigham!”   “Were  you  and  Alvin  not  matrimonially  joined  in  matrimony?”   “Alvin   was   my   brother!”   She   rubbed   her   fingers   over   her   lips.   “Now,   why’ve   you’ve   got  that  idea  into  your  head?  If  I’d  matrimoned,  d’you  think  I’d  go  for  a  lily-­‐breasted  type  like   Alvin?  I  like  my  men  to  be  solid.  Y’know  what  I  mean?  I  thought  you’re  well  aware  that  Alvin   was  my  big  brother.  You’ve  been  listening  to  too  much  gossip,  Officer!”   “Excuse  me  there,  Ma’am.  I  got  in  my  head  you  were  man  and  wife.  ”   “I  don’t  think  you  can  marry  your  brother  in  this  county,  or  can  you?”   “No,  Ma’am.  I  must’ve  heard  wrong.  Sorry  if  I  caused  upset.”   “No  offence  taken.  People  may  have  gotten  you  confused,  Officer.  By  the  way,  may  I   call   you   Rodney?     I’m   feeling   kinda   sensitive   having   lost   both   my   dear   brother   and   my   wonderful  father  in  such  a  very  short  space  of  time.  I’m  not  used  to  a  man  standing  in  front   of  me  no  more  here  in  my  home.   “That’s  okay  with  me,  Ma’am.”    “Now,   oh   where’s   my   manners   gone!   Can   I   fix   you   a   drink,   Rodney?   Oh,   excuse   me,   no,  you’re  probably  on  duty.”     “True,  Miss  Brigham.”   “Hetty  to  you,  Rodney.    Well,  maybe  some  other  time?  Just  drop  in  whenever  you’re   passing.  Don’t  mind  the  dogs.  Their  bark  is  worse  than  their  bite,  or  so  they  say!”    She  watched  him  swagger  the  path;  his  gun  stuck  out  sharp  against  the  setting  sun.     She   swung   open   the   refrigerator   door   and   called   the   dogs   from   the   yard.   She   stood   back   whilst  they  hounded  in  and  devoured  their  meat  from  the  shelves.     Two  nights  later,  Officer  Hatchet  returned.  This  time  he  was  dressed  in  slacks  and  a   V-­‐neck.  Hetty  ushered  him  in  and,  later  that  night,  after  leaving  her  bed,  he  sneaked  home  to   his  wife.  He  enjoyed  the  ‘pot-­‐luck’  he’d  been  served.  He  was  a  good  investigator.     One   sad   day,   Officer   Rodney   Hatchet   died   in   the   most   dreadfully   grisly   accident.   He   was   found  in  Hetty’s  bed;  savaged  so  badly  by  the  dogs  that  his  poor  widow  did  not  recognize  his   body  when  she  saw  him  lying  there  in  the  flesh,  and  blood.   After  that,  Officer  Hatchet’s  widow  came  to  live  with  Hetty  for  the  company.  Together   they  went  out  hunting  and  decapitating  all  the  snakes  they  could  uncover  from  their  travels   around  Las  Animas  County.       34    


Isobel  Staniland   Lost  Hoard     I’ve  laboured,  pushed  out  the  pram  in  the  hall,   could  no  longer  stomach  it,  staggering   top  heavy,  swollen,  too  much  of  my  all   given  in  worrying,  guilt,  carrying.   My  over  taxed  body,  forever  in  debt   bears  the  scars  of  raising,  ripened,  quickened   by  innocents  who  took  all  they  could  get   left  me  high  and  dry,  limited,  thickened.     But,  life  of  my  belly,  buns  of  my  oven,   now  the  hall’s  empty  I  want  the  pram  back   for  just  one  last  time  and  I’ll  lift  up  the  covers   searching  for  something  to  put  in  the  bank   and  I’ll  see  them  again,  curling  in  rows,   and  this  time  I’ll  treasure  those  pearly  toes.                                 35    


Ericka  Olsen  Stefano   Primes  and  Prams     You   are   delicious,   my   precious   baby.     I   could   eat   you   up.     I   could   eat   your   little   toes,   eat   your   little  fingers.  You  look  like  me  but  you  also  look  like  your  father.     I  recognize  the  chin  I  saw   bobbing  above  the  knife  he  held  to  my  throat  as  he  whispered  nasty  words  in  my  ear.       Look  at  Mommie.    She’s  going  to  eat  your  little  hand.       I  put  the  baby’s  hand  in  my  mouth  and  suck  it.    I  nibble  just  a  bit,  just  a  tiny  little  bit,   but  damage  is  done.    The  baby  cries,  and  I  want  more.   I  pick  the  crying  thing  up,  so  helpless,  so  tiny.   Look  at  what  you’ve  done  to  Mommie,  look  at  my  hair  falling  out,  look  at  the  marks  on   my  thighs.     You’ve  stolen  my  figure,  and  stolen  my  nights.     You  cry  like  a  kettle  until  I  come   and  take  you  in  my  arms.       I  wake  to  feed  you,  but  we’re  going  to  swap  roles,  you  and  I.    Yes  we  are.       I  could  eat  your  little  eyes,  pop  them  out  like  eggs  with  a  butter  knife.    Make  myself  an   apple  pie  with  your  eyes,  with  cinnamon  and  spice  and  a  bit  of  whipped  cream.     Eve  did  not   eat  an  apple  but  the  apple  of  her  eye,  as  will  I.    I  do.     I  was  alone  in  eating  you  up  at  first,  but  now  I’ve  met  others.       There  is  a  look  in  the   eyes  of  a  mother  who  knows  that  special  taste,  and  we  recognize  each  other  at  once.       They  have  already  eaten  theirs  up  and  will  help  me  finish  mine.     The  trick  is  moving   around.     The   borders   are   so   slippery   these   days.     We   arrive   with   our   poor   handicapped   babies,  oooh  look,  it  has  no  eyes,  no  arms.    What  a  trial  for  you.    What  a  worry  for  you.       My   worry   is   how   to   eat   the   rest.     The   little   finger   food.     Appetizing   appetizers.     We   three  who  have  partaken  of  the  final  forbidden  fruit.     We  know  that  the  Garden  of  Eden  is  a   place  we  can  go  back  to,  once  we  have  digested  you.         Mary  ate  hers  raw   And  complained  about  the  gristle   Sarah  gnawed  and  gnawed   But  forgot  to  shave  the  bristle   But  we  will  eat  you  right   My  charming  little  whistle   Three  to  make  a  coven     Put  the  baby  in  the  oven   36    


And  we  do.   We  slip  away  now  with  our  tickets,  our  bellies  heavy  and  swaying.    We  are  given  seats   on  the  bus  and  men  help  us  with  our  suitcases.     We  are  pregnant  again.     We  are  leaving.  We   are  hungry.                                                             37    


Phillippa  Yaa  de  Villiers   Gautrain     Grandfather  bought  a  ticket  for  the  new  Gautrain.  He’s  always  clean   and  neat,  but  he  dressed  for  the  occasion.  When  you  reach  a  certain     age,  if  you  don’t  take  care,  you’re  liable  to  find  some  well-­‐meaning     stranger  pressing  coins  into  your  hand.     Dignity  glides  on  wheels,  riding  history  smoothly     it  arrives  and   life  clicks  satisfyingly  into  place.       Johannesburg's  underground  belongs  to  Europe.  They  started  with  the  gold  and  now   We  rent  air  from  them:  the  master  alchemizes  our  fluids  into  oil,  which  we     purchase  again  and  again;  as  much  as  they  have  wept  with  guilt  and   acknowledged  centuries  of  war  crimes,  the  only  reparation  is  the  privilege   of  becoming  European  in  short  bursts,  moments  where  commuting   becomes  pleasantly  predictable.  On  buses  and  taxis  workers  run  ragged   with  worry,  but  on  Gautrain  we  are  whole  again  .                   Sugar  heaped  on  a  spoon.                                   Sweet.  Spoiled.  Bad  for  you,  but  nice.   Out  of  the  chaos,  in  with  the  plan.   Evolved  to  modern  life.  Just  say  it  –     civilized.     The  pensioner  steps  into  the  clean            plush              train   a  child’s  wonder  in  his  eyes:     light  trapped  in  the  nest    of  his  tangled  mind.   He  sits  on  a  seat  that  will  never  belong  to  him   and  races  over  his  ancestral  land  at  320km  per  hour,     and  it  feels                                            quite  fun,  actually,   something  to  tell  the  grandchildren.         38    


Mandy  Bannon  started  creative  writing  three  years  ago,  when  she  joined  a  writing  class  in   her  hometown  of  Lancaster,  UK.  She  has  since  written  several  short  stories,  some  poetry  and   one-­‐act  plays.  Mandy  is  using  the  MA  as  an  opportunity  to  write  a  historical  novel,  which  is   inspired  by  the  local  landscape.     Claire   Black   is   38   and   currently   a   second   year   on   the   DLMA   programme,   working   on   a   collection   of   short   stories.   When   it   finishes,   she's   going   to   change   her   name   and   apply   again.   Originally  from  Blackpool,  she  now  lives  in  Lyon  with  her  husband  and  their  two  little  girls.     Suzanne   Conboy-­‐Hill   has   published   stories  in  Every  Day  Fiction,  Boomunderground,  Zouche,   The   Other   Room   Journal,   Ether   Books   and   some   lovely   others.   She   lives   in   Sussex   with   a   fluctuating   number   of   cats   and   dogs,   fish   and   visiting   wildfowl,   and   tries   to   be   kind   to   spiders.  Website:  http://conboyhillfiction.wordpress.com/wheres-­‐my-­‐published-­‐stuff/     Alex  Croy  is  a  writer,  part-­‐time  poet,  freelance  journalist  and  professional  wandering  idiot.  A   fan   of   authors   such   as   Terry   Pratchett   and   Iain   M.   Banks   from   an   early   age,   Alex   began   writing   his   own   science   fiction   and   fantasy   prose   and   is   now   working   on   a   science   fiction   novel.     Olivia   Dawson   is   originally   from   London   but   now   lives   in   Portugal.   She   started   writing   poetry   when   studying   for   her   Literature   degree   with   the   Open   University   and   then   leapt   straight   into   the   Creative   Writing   MA.   She   set   up   an   English   bookshop   in   Portugal   and   has   written  articles  for  local  newspapers.     Natalie  Gordon  writes  short  stories,  is  working  on  a  children’s  novel  and  very  occasionally   slips   into   poetry   when   the   mood   takes   her.     She   loves   to   write   and   squeezes   it   into   the   early   hours  of  the  morning  before  the  kids  wake  up  and  the  work  phone  starts  to  ring.     Shannon   Hancock   is   a   writing   and   literature   teacher   currently   living   in   Belgrade,   Serbia.     This   is   an   extract   from   her   working   novel   which   explores   the   quirks,   scabs,   and   lost-­‐in-­‐ translation  moments  of  a  modern  American  family  living  overseas  within  the  backdrops  of   suburban   Pennsylvania,   post-­‐war   Serbia,   and   the   burgeoning   economic   powerhouse   of   Brazil.   39    


Adrian  Horn  is  a  prose  writer  who  specializes  in  historical  fiction.  His  intention  is  to  give  a   voice  to  those  people  who  have  long  since  been  unable  express  their  views  and  feelings.  His   current   novel   Anaesthesia   is   a   tragic   love   story   set   against   the   background   of   morphine   addiction  in  WW1.     Fin   Jackson   spent   her   undergraduate   years   at   Lancaster   University   and   didn’t   want   to   leave.   Currently   a   part-­‐time   MA   student,   with   a   passion   for   poetry   and   short   fiction,   she   also   organizes  a  quarterly  reading  event  called  Flash  Fire.  She  enjoys  walking  and  eating  cake  and   has,  on  occasion,  done  so  simultaneously.     Steve  Lee  enjoys  writing  poetry,  short  fiction,  and  drama.    His  play  Mackenzie’s  Choice  was   performed  at  the  Dukes  Theatre  Lancaster  and  at  the  Theatre  By  The  Lake  in  Keswick.    His   current   project   is   a   novel   for   young   teenagers   entitled   ‘King   of   the   Mountains’,   a   story   of   Mountain  Biking,  teenage  dreams,  and  family  realities.     Having  worked  as  a  freelance  copywriter  for  many  years,  Janet  Lees  enrolled  on  the  Creative   Writing   MA   in   October   2011.   She   was   one   of   the   12   poets   shortlisted   for   the   2013   Poetry   School   &   Pighog   Press   pamphlet   competition,   and   has   had   poetry   and   collaborative   work   featured  in  Cannon’s  Mouth  and  Aesthetica  magazines.     Liz   Monument   teaches   music   on   the   Isle   of   Axholme,   in   North   Lincolnshire.   Before   joining   the   DLMA,   Liz   had   three   supernatural   non-­‐fiction   books   published,   and   won   two   short   story   competitions.   She's   currently  working  on  a  sci-­‐fi   trilogy,   and   hopes   to   stay   on   at   Lancaster   for  PhD.     Anne  O’Brien  is  an  MA-­‐CWDL  student,  living  in  Brussels.  Until  recently  she  worked  for  the   European   Commission   writing   everything   from   speeches   to   policy   document,   while   all   the   while   dreaming   of   writing   stories.   Windy   days   make   her   homesick   for   her   native   Ireland;   Belgian  café  life  and  excellent  chocolate  help  chase  the  blues  away.        

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Bryan  Phillippi  –  born  Abraham  Jacobson  Pierre  the  Third  –  originates  from  the  far  off  land   known  as  The  States  United  a.k.a.  The  United  States.  It  was  there  that  he  studied  English  at   Western   Michigan   University,   before   travelling   to   the   United   Kingdom   where   he   studied,   read,  and  wrote  an  exactly  fifty-­‐word  autobiography.     Born   in   a   small   village   in   north   Vietnam,   Nguyen   Phan   Que   Mai   embraces   the   full   range   of   Vietnamese   traditions   in   her   creative   works.   She   has   won   three   of   the   most   prestigious   literary  awards  in  Vietnam  including  the  Poetry  of  the  Year  Award  from  the  Hanoi  Writers   Association  and  First  Prize,  Poetry  Competition  about  1,000  years  Thang  Long,  Hanoi.       Amali  Rodrigo  holds  a  BA  is  Econometrics  and  is  currently  studying  for  the  MA  via  distance   learning.   Her   poems   have   appeared   in   Magma,   Poetry   London   and   PN   Review.   In   competitions   she’s   won   1st   prize   in   Magma,   2nd   in   Poetry   London,   was   shortlisted   for   the   Wasafiri  Prize  in  2012  and  has  been  commended  in  Café  Writers  and  Bridport  prizes.       Michelle  Scowcroft  was  born  to  non-­‐British  parents  in  the  1950s.  She  loves  silence.  She  likes   rain  and  likes  snow.  Her  work  always  contains  an  uplifting  message;  life  can  be  good.  She  is  a   feminist  and  will  not  tolerate  any  form  of  racism,  or  homophobia.  Her  first  novel  'Squashed   Tomatoes  and  Stew'  is  available  from  Amazon.     Isobel   Staniland   is   using   the   Creative   Writing   MA   as   an   inspiring   and   supportive   space   to   complete  a  novel.  Learning  about  how  to  keep  going  with  it  and  how  to  approach  the  work  of   crafting  it  into  a  readable  consistent  piece  is  a  big  challenge...     Ericka   Olsen   Stefano   is   an   American   who   came   to   Geneva,   Switzerland   to   learn   another   language  before  turning  thirty,  met  a  guy,  and  stayed.     She’s  since  done  an  MA  in  English  at   the  University  of  Geneva  and  teaches  in  a  public  school.         Phillippa   Yaa   de   Villiers   is   a   South   African   writer   and   performer   whose   collection   The   Everyday   Wife   won   the   2011   SALA   award   for   poetry.   Her   work   has   been   translated   into   Italian,   German   and   Mandarin,   and   appears   in   local   and   international   journals   and   anthologies.    Her  play,  Original  Skin,  tours  locally  and  internationally.  

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