h e r e a f t e r adverb 1. from now on.
c o n t e n t s
e d i t o r â&#x20AC;&#x2122; s n o t e t h e f a l l
v a n t h e r a p y s p o n t a n e o u s r e i n v e n t i o n t h e d a y i d i e d j o h n a n d u n n a m e d
y e s t e r d a y
b u l b
c o m e b a c k
f o r t e n i g h t f a l l a m a t t e r o f t i m e e p i l o g u e
l e i t h p i e r
c l o s i n g n o t e t h e t e a m
5 6 7 11 13 15 20 21 24 32 33 39 43 49 53 55
From the submissions we received, this speculative future contains less aliens than we predicted.
2 0 1 9 marks the Inkwell’s ten-year anniversary, so for this edition we wanted to inspire writing about what is yet to come, which is how we decided on ‘Hereafter’. Moving from the present day into the future is something that is both terrifying and exciting and as a student who is graduating at the end of this academic year, I felt this theme would be cathartic for many people: be that by voicing hopes or fears about tomorrow and the days that follow.
I would like to thank the editorial team for their dedication throughout the year, and especially Stephanie, our Head of Design, as she turns a word document into the piece of art you are holding right now. None of this would be possible without everyone working as tirelessly as they do each semester. I am so proud of the content we have produced this year as a team, and I am grateful for the two wholesome years I have been a part of PublishED. Although I am sad that this will be the last Inkwell I will be involved in producing, I am excited to see where PublishED goes hereafter. - Georgia
photography by clara ng
the fall the fall the fall the fall the fall the fall the fall the fall the fall the fall the fall the fall the fall the fall the fall the fall
t h e fa l l benjamin wolff
Severed from the branch, a leaf fell in a way that any person would say implies grace. She watched, until it settled amongst the others. Then left.
va n t h e r a p y
t was one of those things that took a while to sink in. I couldn’t form a word around it. Not for months, maybe a year, or two. And when I finally did, when it loomed into view from the back of my mind, I saw capital letters. Four of them. Red. Shrouded. Cracked. Like blocks of stone. Cold and weighty. I tried to shove them back but they wouldn’t budge. I tried to chisel at the cracks. Tried a hammer, and an axe. Not a crumb crumbled. Facts are facts. I grip my steering wheel a little tighter now, stepping firmly on the clutch, take a considered breath as I change up, and accelerate on the exhale. Another breath to un-knit my eyebrows. Another to roll my shoulders. Another to check my mirrors. Nobody but me on the road at this time. I can relax. I push the lighter button in and pick up the halfsmoked joint on the dash. I wait for the pop, that swirl, glowing hot. Lights her right up. They don’t make them like this anymore. Ashtray and all. Nightmare to get parts for. But I love her. A strange thing to love – a van. Silly obsessions over material goods. Everything wrong with the world, right? But she’s my first, and I do – I love her. Or perhaps it’s the feeling that I love. So high up. So big. So forward. So fast. So in control. Sealed off. Complete. Onward, onward. She rattles. She’s
got gaps. Sustained rain: a little drip on my eyelash. Never crashed but, she breaks down a lot. Have to pretend to be my sister when the AA man comes. Ten years difference. Never a flicker. Do I look old?
Older than you did before it.
I can talk freely to myself in the van. Or scream. Something like: FUUUCK. On the motorway. Most days. It’s fine, nobody hears. Sometimes, on the ring road, I don’t steer to take my exit. Just keep circling the city, flirting with the speed limit. I scream. I grin. I sing. I turn up the tunes. I fucking love my van. By the end of the month I’ve no money left for food or fuel and have to call in old debts. Dear brother, where’s that tenner? But today’s the first, and I’ve got a full fucking tank. Though I’m a little pissed off with the wanker in the bank from earlier. Talked to me like I was simple. Simple as that. And I thought, I fucking wish I was fucking simple you fucking twat.
If I’d have been simple back when. There would’ve been none of that. He wouldn’t have batted a lash, found another young lass to discuss poems with after class. Or maybe I was simple. Naive. Easy to read. I’m not so quick to believe anymore. Not so eager to please or receive as before. A distrusting heart still beats. Safer alone in the house, under the sheets. Cold, safe, single bed. But then there’s the silence that opens your head. So it’s better in the van, always going on, with the rattles and the rush. I wrote him a letter once. But it was angry and the syntax went to shit. Didn’t matter much. Only mattered that I’d done it. Didn’t send it. But I will. Just waiting until I can, face the name, face the man, face the facts, follow the plan. There is no plan. There is nothing but a van and a road. My exit is in one mile. I smile with the power of choice. I use a declarative voice.
A few more laps. 8
don’t make them this
all. to for.
s p o n ta n e o u s
r e i n v e n t i o n ian kirkland photography by frankie eccles
Vincit Qui Se Vincit (Evaluation) You found me lonely, unaware, And lost along a branching trail. Where, in this contemplative stare, You found me lonely, unaware. I swear to you – sometime, somewhere One day I’ll act, not dwell and fail. You found me lonely, unaware, And lost along a branching trail.
II Acta Non Verba (Determination)
I made a vow before you left And stowed it deep inside my head. You think you’re smart, but I am deft, And made a vow before you left: To never mourn a lover’s theft With bruises, hate, or bouts of dread. I made a vow before you left And stowed it deep inside my head. III Tabula Rasa (Reinvention)
I promise you I’ve made a change That boy you knew, he died in vain. His pain has vanished – disarranged, I promise you I’ve made a change. I burned his chains and then exchanged The ash with love free of domain. I promise you I’ve made a change That boy you knew – he died in vain.
It was the day that I died That I saw another world, The one with different coloured lights. It was the day that I died When I had used up all requests And for the sake of my heart, lost my mind. It was the day that I died I found a new form of sensitivity, One that was hidden far on the wayside. It was the day that I died That the waters burst open my doors, And stole my hands, my mouth, my eyes. It was the day that I died That I found myself as fleeting as faith, With great expectations that still yet could not be defined. It was the same day the earth cried, That I was made the war-bride And found true that the worst part of a broken heart is not the ending, so much as the start. 13
photography by frankie eccles
john and Kiefer Holland photography by albert wang
on’t look at me like that. Please. I know you didn’t want this, but you didn’t have to see yourself like that; the blood stagnating under skin that was turning to parchment; the edges of your lips still clinging to the pink against the onrushing blue.
They said I had a week. Maximum. I know. I’m being stupid. Was being stupid… but I honestly felt like you were watching me. Laughing at me. Even with your cold body on that cold slab. Laughing at me. Not meanly… No, not meanly, but, just, finding it funny, you know? Me all beetrootfaced ugly crying over your body, and throwing up what felt like my lungs into those plastic buckets the poor staff have had to keep on giving to me. They must be horrified. Or fucking hate me. Or both… But it doesn’t count now, you know? All those years pretending we were cynical; saying “fuck you” quicker than “I love you,” and talking about how we’d enjoy the freedom we’d have after the other one died or left. It was all bullshit, and you do know that. Some kind of cheap hangover survival technique from the old days. I don’t know my arse from my elbow without you around. And neither would you. Admit it. I have broken more kitchen appliances over the last week than I knew we owned. I’ll admit that one or two of those may have been deliberate… It’s hard, really, to explain how you “accidentally” broke the blender that took the window with it. Where the fuck did they come from by the way? Just cupboards and cupboards of shite that between us we couldn’t work out what they were meant to do. Or how to turn them on, for that matter. The neighbours think I’m a maniac. Oh c’mon! Don’t look at me like that!
Alright. I know. I am a maniac. But are you really going to tell me that you wouldn’t have done the same? Are you really going to tell me that on the other side you were handling things perfectly; that you were adapting to whatever form of nothingness or hell that we’re bound to go to when the lights go out? You were just as lost out there. I know you were. I felt it. And it’s not like you’d actually submitted your new will. And I don’t believe that you’d really thought about it. You hadn’t. So it was my choice; “the choice of the closest person to the deceased,” as they say. Not much of a competition with us was it? Who else was there? Who else could there be? Absolutely no one, as it turns out…. I know, I know; I only left it a week. But what was I supposed to do when I only had a week to make the decision? So I told them to reanimate you. Said I had no reason to believe that you would have chosen not to be reanimated. I lied, I guess. They’re getting better, they said, but after a week it’s still just hopeless. There’s not enough of the soul left to work with. If I’d have left it any longer you’d have been a total imperfect, and I wouldn’t have done that to you. I want you to be able to enjoy the rest of our life together. And it will just be our life together, I promise; I sorted all that out. They haven’t quite worked out how to, well, end it – end it again, I suppose – but they have assured me that the technology to reverse it will be developed soon. They even said that one of the speculative processes might be to bury the animated soul into a recently dead body so that it can pass into the earth as the body decomposes. The traditional way, you know? As traditional
as this could be, anyway… So they might be able to bury you inside my body, and we could be two souls in the same body, decomposing together. How cool would that be? And my body was always the better one. Just look at what happened to yours! I know, it sounds stupid and nothing like me, but I’m honestly done with all that cold bullshit. I love you, and I refuse to live without you. I would’ve killed myself, but that’s not an option anymore. You know what they do with suicides now. How is your skinsuit by the way? It’s the best I could afford. But I promise that I will get a better one for you when times are a little easier. I spent most of our savings on the reanimation, but I’ll get you one of those skinsuits you see the Hollywood people wearing, as soon as I can… I promise. They’re even starting to develop ones which have working biomechanics in them that allow you to enjoy food again. Would you like that? I’ll cook you a Thai feast as soon as we’ve upgraded to it. How do you like the sound of that? I wish you’d stop looking at me like that. Or that you could at least tell me how it feels. The doctors told me that the extraction went well, and that you’ll be able to talk again in a few days when your soul gets used to the suit. But I worry, you know? You hear so many stories about imperfects whose extraction was so bad that they never learn to speak again. That they never get over the pains of extraction. That they just wander around, suffering silently until they decompose… whenever that is. But no, no, that hasn’t happened to us. The doctors said it went well. So you’ll be fine. I know you will. Just a few more days and you’ll be able to tell me that yourself. I know you will. John?
y e s t
photo: albert wang
e r d a y
These things take time. And after a while, when heart and soul (and everything inbetween) have marinated, and youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve put some things down (on good paper) and maybe been inside a church (or an old building, because the effect is the same) you come out, boiled and fresh, to find another to piece you together again.
come bac k ryan maher
t must have been something I ate. Maybe something I drank last night coming back to haunt me. Whatever it is, I can’t take another call. I look around my cubicle, my three grey herringboned walls padded with marketing tips and pictures of me in uniform - body contorted in the air, completing the pass. Usually, I can forget that the padded walls look like a cell in an insane asylum and remember for just a moment that I used to be a competitor. Then I get conscious about the walls and I pick up my headset and punch in the next number. Once in a while, somebody recognizes my voice. Maybe they saw me talk in an interview on ESPN way back when. Or maybe they just recognize a defeated loser when they hear one and I’m tragic enough and profiled enough to warrant their assumption. They say: ‘Oh, well that’s who you are! David Thomas Leroy! Oh man, hey, I don’t give a shit about buying a DVD box set of Greatest Plays. I mean, who has a DVD player these days? But could you just tell me one thing that’s been bugging me? So during the ’22 AFC playoffs…’ Then comes a barrage of inquiry and I lean back 24
in my ergonomic chair to see if Mr. Nieman will notice. He used to tell me not to engage with them if they recognized me. But sometimes I get a pity sale and so nowadays he nods me on to sell. But today I just can’t read the script. When I put on my headset, there is interference. It starts out in a dull static, but it builds up until my head spins like I’ve been shoved backward onto a merrygo-round from hell. I drape the headset over my monitor, grab my windbreaker, and take an early lunch. Marylin’s Yum-Yum Deli is just down the street and I always eat lunch there. My doctor tells me to cut back on the prepared stuff. But I never tell him how life is utterly miserable without a career and that Marylin herself gives me a discount on the cheesesteak sandwiches she makes. Sometimes, the fans can do good, and I save a trip to the grocery store. Besides, I consider it playing catch up. Five years ago, the greatest delicacy I had to look forward to was a chocolate protein shake, and a lifetime’s worth of conditioning and self-denial eventually needs to be accounted for. So this is the living I can carve out of the death of my oncepromising career: I can eat as many goddamn cheesesteak sandwiches as I so desire. ‘David, young buck,’ she calls. ‘How the hell are you? I’ve already got one sizzling right now. I’ll bring it out to you. Help yourself to a Coke. Or another beer?’ As she says this, I sit in a kid-peeled red pleather seat by the front window. I like to sit by the window and imagine that Telegraph Boulevard is thronged with people. They’re barricaded onto the sidewalk and crowd into the shops and look out 25
the windows on all the stories of all the buildings. sch-sch, sch-sch the steak sizzles on the stainless steel ...and Shawn Paterson’s down at Broadway and I’m sprinting down the boulevard and there are blurs of pasty, and brown, and tan faces which follow me as I run. And Shawn snaps the pass and that ball arches up, up into the fog and no one can see it. But I know exactly where to be, and the ball fires back down to view and rifles the fog like a silver tornado and phwoo. Pass completed right in the intersection! The throngs, for a halfmoment, wheeze with excess anticipation then UWWAAAAEEEEE, they roar. ‘Unbelievable, a remarkable pass! This is the comeback of the century, ladies and gentleman, this is what redemp–’ ‘Here you are, darling,’ Marylin says. The cheers silence. Replaced with the fidgeting clink of the fake porcelain plate on the table. I pick up the greasy sandwich and bring it to my mouth. The steam burns my lips, so I open it up to let it cool and the steam escapes in a whirl onto the window pane. The foggy plane is so opaque and smooth. I draw Shawn Paterson, a small stick figure in the centre, and hem him in with a dozen Xs and one star. My finger on the star, I trace a proper play: out three drags and in seven. Eight drags will land me in the end zone. But I can’t. Pain fires down the back of my thigh and disperses across my calf. Jesus fuck. It’s as if the devil’s grasped my stringy tendons and flossed his teeth with them. I have to keep my leg bolt-straight just to keep from crying out. The floodlights have shut off and all the crowd has left the park. My hands tremble, the steam field reduced to a child’s scribble. 26
I call for Marylin, but she’s nowhere behind the counter. The diner is empty. I glance down. My sandwich is a shrivelled corpse of a meal, the grease pooling on the wax paper. A housefly floats motionlessly, its legs contorted as if grasping for a rescuer that never came. The cold steak pulses. I vomit onto the window– –And in front of the people now gathered on the other side. A few adults with glassy eyes and a young boy with rigid dimples. The boy breathes on the glass and starts to draw his own Xs and stars, drawing his finger deliberately up the field. As he draws, the crowd grows. Anyone who passes by, even on the opposite side of the street, stops in their tracks and makes for the window. Some press their hands and foreheads against the glass, and some stand behind and crane up on their toes for a better look at me. None of them speak. The only noise comes from the creaking of the glass, straining under their weight. The boy re-fogs his corner and makes another play. I turn. Marylin’s is packed with people, all facing me. A tanned man in a grey suit with slick curly hair begins to clap. The applause spreads to everyone else. A few whistles and all beaming grins. Trembling, I stand to receive it all. My face is numb, and as I massage my cheek, I feel hot tears. Something behind me steadies my shoulder and leads me to meet my fans. The tears cloud my eyes.
d a y
Traditionally, forte (“strength, talent”) was a one-syllable word, like its French e t y m o n . Perhaps due to with
(“loudly”), a two-syllable pronunciation
Perhaps I will be given a taste of ambrosia in the gold-tinged memory of your eyes it is hard to believe you are mortal too, not chiselled by some crazed sculptor, touched by visions with a smile that could bring the most devout from His alter to your own, where I wait already, leaving blossoms and fruit and letter after letter after letter in a plea to quiet the sea-ravished shore rising in my ears, I profess a love that you cannot hear, and like Phaedra before me, languish in the noisy fields of my heart forever.
n i g h t f a l l by euan nicoll illustration by sara dobbs
he sun, struggling against the overpowering will of the night, casts its final rays of light up into the abyss in the hope of expelling the darkness. Each golden streamer bursting into the sky with such hope and energy only to be stopped short by the inevitable darkness. Clouds gather grey around the fading halo of light, ushering the day into its final stages. A sprinkling of miserable cold rain falls giving everything a dreary atmosphere. The day, worn out and desolate, descends gently over the horizon and onward. The world is left dark and cold as the clouds gather and the slither of a moon begins to take the sunâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s place. This all happens out there, out in the world where the chaffinch sings and the trees sway. Where taxis speed by and people trundle on. In here, life stops. The white seems to rule here like a great colonial power. It sucks the life out of everything and makes humans science. People scuttle past with their heads drooped downwards. Trolleys fly by like cars on a motorway, going quickly from one destination to the next, never stopping long enough to consider the world around them. Flowers are carried around as substitutes for human presence and chocolates are passed over in silent searches for forgiveness. Blue scrubs and squelchy surgery shoes dash by windows that look out not onto nature but inward onto brightly lit corridors. Large clocks remind everyone of different things. How quickly time passes; how slowly time goes; how long is left until you are to be ripped from the ones you love. Even the air is distinct. It smells of lost hopes and sterile procedure, of clean linen and stale bodies. In the corridors, it almost smells efficient. It sticks to your nose, your clothes, your 34
memories like a stain. It is irremovable. Everything in here seems irremovable. It sticks like tar. You may try to wash your hands of it but all the water in the oceans would fail to wash it away. You cannot run from it or hide from it. You cannot forget it or replace it. It is always there. It follows you like a hauntingly cold shadow, its long spindly fingers reaching into your every conscious thought. It is an eternal prison never to be escaped. Sitting in a cancer ward you become infected. Infected by your every thought, your every move, your every action. Everything you do stays with you forever, tattooed beneath your skin and etched into your heart. It’s hard to explain really. There’s a reason none of the great Romantics wrote about hospitals. They are anomalies. They suspend nature trying to save it. Wordsworth’s landscapes don’t exist in here. Instead, there is a microcosm of society, built up in clinical bricks to protect and save. A church of the human need to keep going, to never stop. The priests dressed in white shirts with the sleeves rolled up, carrying around clipboards instead of crucifixes. They offer them the saviour’s body and blood in the form of pills and morphine. They try all they can to exorcise their demons, but cancer knows no gods. So instead, they stand helpless at the foot of beds and watch as demons consume them. It’s hard to sit in a cancer ward and say there is a hereafter. In the desolation that surrounds you, you realise that these warriors will not reach Valhalla. Here Elysium is a dose of morphine and heaven is a pain-free minute. These ghosts are charged to suffer in the barren waste. Starved but unable to eat, tired but unable to sleep, present but invisible to see. Preta confined to hospital beds. You look into their eyes and wonder if there is hope 35
but all you see is fear. No-one knows what is to come. Whether the gentle grasp of surrender will take them in their sleep or whether the war will continue. Silently, the cavalry charge into bloody battle. Skirmishes go on, invisible to us. The crash of swords and the boom of canons are unheard by those of us who are sentenced to being bystanders. All we can see is the great suffering that the war brings with it. The starved hopes and the salty tears of worn out soldiers. The clock ticks on, and you just wish it would stop. Looking into those eyes, you just want to escape. Escape to a time before this all began when laugher was untinged by sorrow and pain. When life was life and you all lived it. But time ticks on and samsara continues. Confined to the realm of death and suffering, we are to witness and then to ache. We are to sit by and watch as our whole world is stolen from us. Each time you leave wondering if it will be the last. Hoping that your â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I love youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; falls upon the battlefield like a white dove, a peace offering to the regrets of the past. But peace is unachievable, a mystic ideal. Instead, you are left with nothing but painful regret and stabbing grief. Back on the battlefield, the last rays of light are cast in golden wonder, trickling through the darkness in-between the thunder clouds that have gathered. The rain begins to fall, soaking the land as the soldiers make their last stand. As the sun dips behind the horizon, the soldiers are ungracefully torn from this world and thrust into the darkness. The battle now exists in your head, doomed never to end. Life that was once a journey downstream becomes a struggle against the current. You are haunted by your every action, your every thought, your every word. And you wish and wish and wish a little more, that you could go back to that room 36
and spend just a moment more. But the sun has set, its last rays cast out. Night has fallen. Cold and lifeless, the abyss consumes all light. Here I am to suffer in this starless night.
photography by david korn
time of m at t e r a clara ng
’m grinding my teeth again; it’s been a year almost. I do it to drown out the old music, get another beat going – the sound is light, smooth, soothing. Dad says I should wear one of those mouth guards, rubber moulds that fit your teeth. As a kid I’d often start drowsing with a song in my head, chewing at the air, gnawing out a rhythm that wove a shawl of sleep. Never really lost the habit, I suppose. It happens more when I dream. I found a cavity four days ago. White mineral punctured by a speck of grey, no bigger than a full stop. My god, now I’m one of those people with holes in their teeth. As a kid I knew only grownups have backs that creak and arms that won’t swing or chests that hurt. My grandfather had five clean gaps that flashed when he yawned. This didn’t stop him whistling endlessly – mostly old movie tunes like Robinson Crusoe, The Godfather, Bridge on the River Kwai – tongue against his teeth, a rasping, airy sound. I never could whistle – years of grinding have evened out the ridges on my front teeth and worn my molars flat. But I still hum the old songs in my head: pht-pht-pht-phtpht-pht-pht-pheeeet. In Tajikistan, they sow their children’s teeth in the fields, hoping they’ll grow up warriors. Mine were collected in several plastic cylinders (meant for what, I can’t remember), labelled carefully in ballpoint ink. Each loose nugget in my mouth was a talisman – with my tongue I’d prod and poke it with nervous anticipation, each wobble yielding some measure of delight. And when – after a week, two weeks – it finally detached itself from my pink bleeding gums, I never knew whether to cheer or
to mourn. Why the occasion? The souvenir; what exactly had I lost or found? A string of rewards bestowed after 28 difficult tasks, each fallen tooth was a small triumph, a small sacrifice – a small pivot at the juncture where childhood meets adolescence. Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body – the hardest and probably the most lasting. This is how – after wars, after tsunamis, after fires – the dead are named and returned to the living. Long after everything else has vanished into the soil, the only thing to look for are the scattered drops of white, sometimes buried several feet deep. Imagine – a piece of mixed mineral no bigger than your fingernail, a souvenir of a life; testament to how you died, that you died. And perhaps to how you lived: where you were born, how old you were, if you smoked, what kind of sickness ran in the family. Teeth are telling. Imagine – when you’re gone, twenty-eight small gems are all that is left over. Is this where the soul resides – in the teeth? My jaw clenches and I start awake. It’s going to ache.
after wars, after tsunamis, after fires
are named and returned to the living.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;
after wars, after tsunamis, after fires
are named and returned to the living.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;
e p i l o g u e claire chee
t seven in the morning, on the bus to the airport, the sky is yawning pink and orange above the outskirts of the city. As I watch small self-important cars driving past big unassuming fields, I think: I’m about to break up with one of the most beautiful cities in the world. There’s a difference between romanticising and romancing, although they frequently go hand in hand. Things are considered romanticised if you’re of the opinion that there isn’t much to love, as some people believe about Edinburgh, to my strong disagreement. Strong but, at times, silent disagreement – a negligence on my part, maybe an early sign of flagging. To romance, on the other hand, is to actively court someone whose attention you crave, even if it ends up only being for a while. Or more specifically, 1095 days.
It started off, as all relationships do, with uncertainty. It was my first dalliance with someone Western: someone who wore shoes indoors, who didn’t wash their fruits, who began winding down for the day at six in the evening. Jarring, albeit bewitchingly so, with a body of aged stone instead of fresh concrete and a face of mystique instead of machinery, accessorised liberally with an unabashed love of literature. I was seeing London around this time too, who met my familiarity halfway and made promises I wasn’t sure could be kept. It was Edinburgh’s quiet confidence that tipped the scale, a quality that’s noticeable when ostentation would be completely justified. I told London we’d be better off as friends. Cultural differences aside, the attraction grew exponentially in the first few months. I insisted on taking hundreds of photographs, committed 44
to capturing Edinburgh’s ineffable allure and deaf to anyone who didn’t understand. It wasn’t just physical; I couldn’t get enough of Edinburgh’s heart and mind either – a dichotomy of intellectual depth and emotional warmth that proliferated both ways beyond my awareness. That Edinburgh was more petite in stature than either Singapore or Hong Kong was hardly noticeable for the vast sense of complexities within, and I wanted to know it all. Life with Edinburgh was effervescent yet safe, enigmatic but unpretentious. Breaking up is a term that should not be thrown around casually because, once entertained, it’s hard to dismiss. The first time I thought of ending things was when I began missing Singapore. Edinburgh and I are not exclusive, and we never have been. I still see Singapore every six months or so. You know the person whose main appeal is their accessibility? (Don’t lie, you thought of a name.) That’s Singapore to me. Full of comfort, ready to please, plenty of mutual friends – easy to love, if sometimes torturous to like. Singapore was unequivocally good at providing, the verso of the same convenience that bored me whenever I was there. Singapore is happy to get a steaming hot supper whenever the whim strikes, while Edinburgh raises so many objections of distance and availability that the moment passes. At these admittedly petty times, sitting in the dark with a stomach that rumbled for Chinese food, facing a turned back, I felt sure the relationship was temporary. Strengths are just the other side of weaknesses. In being less acquiescent – opportunely timed to this early phase of my adult life – Edinburgh has taught me obstinate independence. Walkable (and I mean 45
truly designed to be pedestrian, not just literally able to be walked through) and reticent, you don’t discover what you don’t seek out, physically or verbally. To some, this is tedious, and their laziness is deflected by blaming it on an inherent dullness. Don’t listen to them. You find your own permutation of treasures based on how you decide to explore – Edinburgh is only as uninteresting as you are. Ironically, Edinburgh’s freedom has encouraged this break-up. I’m a different person than I was before we met, not least of all because of how much Edinburgh has let me pick up a variety of interests, giving me the space and time to turn them over in my palm, pocketing some and discarding others, slowly constructing a solid sense of self. Edinburgh doesn’t laugh, doesn’t shame, doesn’t mock. Compared to Hong Kong, a broken relationship I’ve only recently agreed to revisit for coffee-length periods, Edinburgh’s seduction is not disarming glamour, but nourishment of the soul. So much so that the soul becomes strong enough to move on when the time is right. I should know more about Edinburgh’s history than I do, but how much does someone’s past matter? It’s about who they are when you’re with them, isn’t it? Don’t take my word for it, we are breaking up after all. For all Edinburgh’s open-mindedness, there is still ugliness. It comes out past eleven at night, shaken loose with alcohol. I am greeted in East Asian languages I don’t speak, accused of selling ‘chingchong fried rice’ (whatever that is), and reminded that there is an essential, time-worn disconnect between us. In the morning, it’s as if nothing happened. This is always hard to forget, but when 46
the gothic spires of the Walter Scott Monument come into view, it’s just as hard to remember. We all forgive things we shouldn’t. Often when distracted by beauty. Do you believe in breakups of pure circumstance? I don’t. There are always things you can do. There are things I could do to stay, but I’m not going to do them. That doesn’t mean I didn’t (don’t?) truly love Edinburgh. It’s not in Edinburgh’s nature, but let’s pretend there are angry protests and questions of fidelity, questions of where I’m going to go next, of where is better than here, of what exists after this ends. The answer to that is non-existent – I have nowhere else in mind, I promise. On the plane, staring past two other people to watch the runway gather speed through a small oval, I think about the hereafter I’m about to lift off into. Thoughts drift to a city I’d like to think of as grieving. Is there solace in being told of your wondrousness when someone is choosing to leave? In being known only to be set aside? What if you know they’ll tell others for years to come? Or if they could write thousands of words about how you’ve changed them? There should be.
photography by albert wang
where to next?
illustration by sara dobbs
At the end of the pier the gulls come to say hello, they strut and dawdle by the rocks and then away they go. The fishermen sit and twiddle their thumbs, muttering to the sea, muttering because the fish won’t bite, they are wanting to be free! The little boys sit by the edge to watch the waves and say ‘man, this is neat’, and when their hands get cold they get back on their feet. The islets in the bay are basking in the sun, had the islets mouths to speak they’d say, ‘Oh what fun!”, but the gulls have come to poop on them, and islets cannot run. How I’d like to stay here by the pier, but the day is nearly done.
e r e
photography by albert wang
With our writers having covered moving into the future, and the present being rather full of deadlines, I will close this semester’s edition of the Inkwell by thinking of the past. The PublishED 2019 events schedule has been a wild time; somehow even wilder in retrospect.
January kicked off with ‘Blind Date with a Book’, which saw our members having some lovely chats about their favourite reads. This was followed by the much loved/ needed ‘Write Drunk Edit Sober’, and the return of our weekly book club. February saw ‘Illustration in Publishing’, a blockbuster panel event featuring authors, illustrators and publishers who discussed the role and importance of illustration in storytelling. Up next, our Open Mic Night had a special twist this semester, with all profits going to Health in Mind – a wonderful way to celebrate our talented performers. Creative Learning Week was a break from the mayhem before we cracked back on with ‘The Life of a Book’. This one was a personal favourite, and featured the founders of indie publisher 404 Ink in conversation with their author
Chris McQueer. They explored the multi-faceted, collaborative effort that is the creation of a book, and Chris entertained with some hilarious readings. The ‘World of Books and Publishing’ mini fair in collaboration with the University was up next, followed by an event with the wonderful author Malachy Tallack, on themes of place, time and islands in Scottish literature. The semester came to a close with a bang at the Media Ball, where we joined forces with the University’s other media-related societies to celebrate the year and bring you lovely people together one last time! It’s been an incredible time as president of PublishED, and I would like to thank our 2018/19 committee for putting together this magazine, and generally being an outstanding bunch of bookworms. I am so proud of everything we
have achieved. Hereafter, I hope that The Inkwell continues to be the pinnacle of each semester’s efforts to encourage creativity and collaboration. I have no doubts that the incoming committee will continue to help PublishED grow, so that we can better support emerging voices and celebrate the book industry. I also wish them the very best in dealing with the terror that is the fresher’s Bookshop Crawl Best wishes, Kirsten
As I watch self-important
about to break up with
one of the most beautiful cities
so where do we go from here