More Said Than Done - Issue One

Page 1


Craig Bates Cover art & illustrations by

Megan Wall @meg3456

Editorial - Crossing Oceans Craig Bates

Here you hold the very first copy of More Said Than Done, made with a lot of love and very little money. We've ended up with a little collection that seems, retrospectively, to be run through with the idea of distance. Some pieces directly confront the issue of physical distance and its impact on a relationship (Unexplainable Stories, [long-distance lovers]); in others, people side-by-side remain apart on an emotional level (The Beach in Watercolour); there's the inevitable distance between generations (The Nursing Home, Hopscotch) and different species (What Dixie Ate), and when combined this all suggests journeys to be had, distances to be crossed, and people to be brought back together. Therein lies the theme for this first issue – Crossing Oceans . Thank you to everyone who submitted work – it's a real privilege to read new writing from so many talented people. We hope to keep expanding with each issue so check our wordpress site for guidelines and send us your best work. While you're visiting, you can also find out about all our contributors. If you've paid for a copy or donated to our zine then a massive thank you. If you've found yourself in possession of these pages for free then that's cool too, but if it feels a little like stealing, maybe consider giving something back – buy a copy for the story-lover in your life and help to keep us going. Most of all, thanks for reading.




Max Dunbar Leg.

DS Maolalai (Peering Closely at Paper)

Jessica Edwards

The Nursing Home

Alan O'Gorman Wings

Tracey Scott-Townsend


5 6 7 8 10

The Beach in Watercolour

DS Maolalai

Unexplainable Stories

Kevin Tosca Hopscotch

Chelsey Beeson What Dixie Ate

Mark Jackley

[long-distance lovers]

Dargan Dodd

12 14 16 17 18

Exclusive Max Dunbar

I had hunted you for twelve years, through a trail of false sightings, loudmouth vigilantes, and innocents burned out of their homes. I followed you across the walkways and ginnels of forgotten England. What exactly was I expecting to see? Maybe something like the jailhouse art on those walls, and dozens of stray cats, that gathered at your place, knowing they’d be fed. And of course, the neighbours would speak well of you. Always a smile and a free hand. Your good new name. You were right to be afraid. I have bought paparazzo shots of twelve-year-old actresses, I have intercepted the voicemails of murdered adolescents. So why don’t I expose you? Maybe it’s because instantly you knew I knew. Maybe it’s the eyes, which were no longer the eyes of a child. So I finish my tea, say thanks for your time and shoulder back down the path, talking on my smartphone, telling him fuck it, another dead trail, and could we lead on the helicopter smash instead?


Leg. DS Maolalai

All it would have taken to have brought you apart would have been a shudder of wind and a ruffling of cafe napkins, and you were sat in that chair there with that kind frailty on your face and especially on your weak chin, soft, sat low down there with all those tremors all over your body and from where I was sitting I could see your white leg dancing from your black coat to your black leather shoe, and that leg held me, ugh, stepped into my head like a pillar of ice in a room full of nothing, I was there like soft sugar on the tongue or life in the moment, like nothing, nothing, nothing, and I wanted to grab it and hold it, clasp it, clutch both of them, feel the doughy skin in my fingers, down in, in behind the knee, with tears on my cheek and cold, I knew it'd be cold, and beautiful and lonely, and I would have done it, knocked over tables, torn flowers young from their stems, fuck words like rape, fuck the people, fuck everyone, I dont care, I dont care, were it not for the absurd fear that my any movement would send parts of you tumbling away into the dusty corners of the room, your head and arms all off, slapping at air, one breast out the window with a noise like an alarmclock falling down an attic ladder, clang, clatter, and your torso flumps down wet smack onto the floor taking your sexual organs with it and leaving those perfect long legs with me holding them, bare, white marble dripping in my hands, ugh, still good as anything, white as chalkdust in their black leather shoes.


Jessica Edwards

(Peering Closely at Paper) Peering closely at paper, I come to comprehend a small idea, a thought so obvious it seems strange: this Western pattern is made up of twelve pages with thirty five squares on each. I suppose this was inevitable – humanity’s disposable irony. And so I’ll tick off each day that comes to pass by without so much as a kind adieu. I love you, I love you, I love you – I love you.


The Nursing Home Alan O'Gorman

I went to visit my Nan in the nursing home. My skeleton of a grandmother who’s been on the way out for the last 13 years or so but apparently no one is willing to oblige her. I took my friend Marco along with me at his own insistence cos he’d heard of her aimless, sporadic racism and was curious as to what she would make of him. His being Italian and all. Last month, she had a go at the Greeks. Bunch of Mediterranean queers she called them. I don’t think she’s ever even met someone from Greece. As we walk the corridors the stench of loose bowels surrounds us. Wrinkled heads stare at blank walls as if they hold the answer to eternal salvation. Marco says to me ‘What do they use to make toast in nursing homes?’ ‘I dunno.’ ‘Naan bread.’ A young nurse shows us down to the room. Massive pimples protrude from her caked face. They look like dusty craters. She must have applied her makeup with a trowel. As we come into her bedroom, my Nan clocks me, tries to remember where she knows me from, looks at Marco, asks him for new bed sheets and then proceeds to yell at me, saying ‘OH THANK GOD YOU’RE HERE. YOU’LL NEVER GUESS WHAT THEY’VE DONE TO ME NOW.’ ‘What’s that Nan?’ ‘LAST NIGHT, THE BLACK NURSE, SHE CAME IN AND SHE TURNED ME


OVER AND…’ ‘Nan,’ I say. ‘Keep it down.’ ‘KEEP WHAT DOWN? THE BLACK NURSE, SHE CAME IN…’ she roars. I look around uneasily. A fossil with tufts of wiry grey hair is eyeing me from the corner. ‘Nan,’ I whisper. ‘You can’t say that.’ ‘Say what?’ ‘Black nurse, Nan. You can’t say black nurse.’ ‘Oh right,’ she murmurs, and begins again. ‘SO, THE BLACK nurse,’ whispering, ‘SHE CAME IN AND SHE TURNED ME OVER ON MY SIDE…’ ‘Here,’ I say, mortified. ‘Have a Creme Egg and be quiet.’ She forgets about the nurse as I hand her the unwrapped chocolate. It proceeds to melt slowly in her purple hands. Not that there’s any heat in them. Marco stands awkwardly by my side and as I’m about to introduce him she says ‘Gomes, where are my bedsheets?’ and then looks at me, appalled. ‘They’re useless,’ she says. ‘This is Marco, Nan, not Gomes. He doesn’t work here.’ Not interested. The fossil suddenly speaks from behind us. ‘Come here till I tell ya a story, young fella.’ Marco doesn’t know what to do. The man looks like a bed-ridden ostrich, crusty scabs around his mouth forming a beak and all. The evident delight on his face at having four young ears present comes across as perverted and unsettling. He licks his beak and I try not to envision the tingle passing through his dormant nether regions. ‘Don’t mind him,’ my Nan says. ‘He’s mental, doesn’t know what he’s talking about.’ Marco wants to leave.


Wings Tracey Scott-Townsend

The man sat on the steps of the town hall blowing doves out of his hands. It was something I had always wanted to do. After seeing this miracle at a Christmas party as a child I had crumpled my father’s handkerchief into my carefully curved palms, repeatedly blowing into it, confused that the doves didn’t appear. If I could have made my wish powerful enough, it would have happened, I was certain. The stage had been brightly lit by incandescent bulbs of every colour. The magician took out a huge white handkerchief, bundled it up and raised it to his lips. All the children went quiet and the magician breathed, his mouth faintly rounded. His breath came out orange under the lights. A few moments later there was a soft cooing sound and a dove struggled out of the handkerchief, flapping its white wings before circling the room once, low down over the children’s heads. It alighted on the magician’s shoulder, followed out of his hands by another dove and then several more. Back at home I wondered why I couldn't make doves appear. It must have been that my wishing wasn’t strong enough. At Art College I drew wings. Next I painted wings using thick oil colours, layers and layers of buttery paint. Finally I began making wings, some out of paper feathers, some created with white muslin and others constructed of delicate sheets of tissue paper. These were stretched over frames made of wire so thin it was almost impossible to see. I was convinced if I wished hard enough, I could make those wings take off and fly. The man on the steps of the town hall was old, hunched over in his black


coat. All the shoppers had filtered away and it was getting dark. I was late returning home from my studio by the waterside. The man looked up from blowing doves out of his hands as I passed close by. He raised his face slowly and gave me a beaming smile. A dove fluttered up as he spread his hands wide apart, holding each palm out in a supplicatory gesture. In the last rays of the sun I saw how intensely blue the magician’s eyes were. A thrill unravelled in my stomach. The magician nodded his head slightly, making a rounded shape with his lips. Shrugging my rucksack to the ground I took out a sheet of white muslin. I found myself placing my hands in a curved shape on either side of my mouth with the muslin bunched up inside, and I began to blow. Very gently, but my wish was the strongest it had ever been. The magician stood up, his eyes beaming. He wriggled his shoulders as if getting rid of an ache. There was a tearing sound followed by an almighty flutter. The magician experimented with a few jumps before taking off into the sky on his huge white wings.


DS Maolalai

The Beach in Watercolour Last summer we drove out to Howth Head to the beach there across from the islands. We had food for a picnic and a bottle of wine cooling in a rockpool and we sat down and looked out at the sea. Far away you could see Wexford or Wicklow, light blue wind on sealight, fading. I said I didnt think it was Ireland, I didnt know though, maybe England or Wales, somewhere, the beach was certainly pointed at somewhere, you could see it, and off too beyond that, folded into the horizon you said were other places better


than our beach - North Africa, Paris, Peru, sleepy plans at midnight to kill your boyfriend and elope I remember that the sand got under your nails and that you complained that your salad had sand in it - I said "Serves you right for bringing a salad to the beach" and that the horizon, between clouds and tides looked like someone had smudged their thumb on a watercolour. Not much happened that day, the trains were kind of loud but it was nice so I thought I'd remember it.


Unexplainable Stories Kevin Tosca

There was a band and she knew a member in this band and this band’s name was Cloud Cult and the girl’s name was, well, never mind. We loved each other, this girl and I, we stuck our faces in each other’s genitals and held each other through the long, cold, Midwest nights. We respected one another’s silences, too, and told each other our secrets, secretly knowing that secrets don’t matter. Still, it ended poorly. We had been separated a long time, long, but not too long actually, a couple years, maybe, but it felt longer and I never owned a CD from this band that was, and still is, called Cloud Cult, but I went to a concert of theirs in a city half a country away with a new girl I loved, a girl I stuck my face... well, you know the rest. The concert, so far from one, so close to another, was amazing. After going to this amazing concert I couldn’t help but think of my old girlfriend, my old lover, and then this new girlfriend, this new lover with whom I had attended this amazing concert, crossed the ocean on me, and I ordered this band’s latest CD, Light Chasers, in order to think of them both, and when it came to me in the mail from some stranger I felt so good and so depressed that I thought of writing the first girl, the first lover, a suicide note, and so I did. I still had her e-mail. I had kept it, as I keep everyone’s. Dear ______, I typed. I’m listening to Cloud Cult and thinking ofyou, fondly, and the time we knew one another. I hope you’re okay. I hope you love your life. I hope you’re chasing the light. I’m going to kill myselftonight.

There was a two-hour time difference between us, and it was a work e-mail,


and I had sent my message well after quitting time, so when she opened it the next morning she must’ve thought I was dead, or bluffing. In my own morning, when I turned on my computer, there was a message waiting for me, a message without a subject. I hadn’t written one either, a subject, but I decided not to read this piece of electronic mail. That was my right, not to read my mail, and it was what I had wanted, I realized: I wanted to see her name in my inbox one last time, and I wanted to make her think I was dead, that I was dead to her, again, which I was for the second time, but better dead this time, truer dead—a death more concrete. Now I wouldn’t be living and breathing somewhere, elsewhere, without her. Isn’t that a more peaceful, proper, satisfying ending? I answered myself by clicking on the word “New” next to the word “Inbox”. I would start with the ocean crosser and work my way backwards. I would end these stories. I would end them well.


Hopscotch Chelsey Beeson

The sun was hot -- warming the cracked asphalt, making the children's faces red and spotted. Somehow, they found solace and excitement in the summer heat, galloping and whooping with joy. The bright-eyed boys with muddied trousers and grubby hands reached for the football being juggled over the road. The girls ignored them from their place at the sidewalk, and instead chose chalk rainbows or flowers on the cement, the colors smudged on their dresses and faces. I watched them from the concrete porch that jutted out from my house. The children tumbled and giggled -- boys with their game, girls with drawings. They continued like this for hours, even as the sun lost little battles with the clouds, dulling the glare on the open bay window to my house. The television chattered inside, a commercial for soap echoing out into the yard. The TV remained on when things seemed to go wrong. From the porch, I could hear shouting, glazed over by the sing-song tunes of the afternoon program. I never knew what the words meant but it didn't matter. The TV crackled again, the sound of static loud as my father changed the stations. He shut the bay window roughly, the glass reflecting the dying sunlight into my eyes. I left the sound of soap commercials, shouting and static behind to join the little girls’ game of hopscotch in the sweltering heat. Evening settled in, the sun nestled behind the clouds, and only then did the glare fade on the bay window. Inside, the TV flickered, illuminating the figure of a sad, damaged woman who every evening from the arm chair at the window, gently waved me home.


Mark Jackley

What Dixie Ate before she was put to sleep, a Big Mac and fries, grilled chicken on a bed of spaghetti, sirloin steak and rice, two scoops of vanilla ice cream with a splash of Maker's, all-you-can-eat portions of love and guilt and sadness and helplessness, more guilt, seasoned with our god-like moral calculations, our medical and financial algorithms too, all served with a hint of dread about our aging parents, our aging selves and, sure, our perfectly healthy kids. She gorged, compensation for every cross word, every "Jesus, stop your whining," every time I swore while she did the Tennessee waltz as she sniffed the ground for the sweetest spot to poop as the rain came down and the grass and snuffled dirt smelled to her like heaven and she, snout to earth, savored every bit, never mind how brief it was, the walk, the moment, never mind the leash.


[long-distance lovers] Dargan Dodd

The static on the phone makes almost everything sound like a snore. But it's soothing, nonetheless, the bits and pieces of your breath I hear, scattered in fragments through the night. The words "I love you" are small to this. Silence is sound. If you can listen there, you can hear everything. The train horn in the distance. The flick of a thumb. The cold of the fridge. The drip of a faucet. The blade of a ceiling fan. The beep of a house alarm. The slice of the wind. The whisper of the night. The beat of your heart. It leaves tremors in the ground, cracks through to the clay. Water rises from the dirt. My ankle pops like tree bark hit by lightning. The static is gone. I turn my head to the side. Your breath used to be so humid, a rainstorm pressed into me. It was the gold in the sun that hit every part of me. The night air lingers. Everything is still. My ears tingle. My phone dies.


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