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PUPPET

Winter 2008


heartbeats beat hieroglyphs any day. None of these stones are alive. Besides, kisses don’t crumble.

Cover. Martin Grosvenor 1. Contents / Elen Griffiths 2. Editorial 3. Eleanor Mortimer 4. Michelle Koufopoulos / Stan Kuran /Rebecca Brewis 5. Samuel Evans / William Small 6. William Small 7. Samuel Evans / Elen Harris 8. Martin Grosvenor / Venetia Thorneycroft 9-10. Martin Grosvenor 11. Elen Harris 12. Aisha Mirza / Venetia Thorneycroft 13. Fiona McKenzie 14. Aisha Mirza / Katie Scott 15-16. Submitted by Oliver Rant 17. Michelle Koufopoulos 18. Rebecca Brewis

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puppet is back once again. keep it up, you know.

This Puppet was made by Ottilie Sinead Rebecca Binky Aisha Ellie Sam Ossie Fiona & Rich

Too few cooks make the same broth every time...

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How far is the wilderness? That leaklng realm of luckless shreds drifting, yet striving I fumble at the ropes of the lawless port plunging now

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into

then

silhouettes of never-missed trees now turned matter yet shrinking, mutter in misty dreams that fool the wiry fence the putrid crumbs of broken leaves blown by a breeze through the panes of pitiless seasons.


I don’t remember falling. I remember other things. The packed dirt, where a few stalks of dandelions had succeeded in taking root between woodchips and asphalt. The orange sand pail, now lying haphazardly on its

side. The leaf which had crushed between my fingers. I don’t remember crying, or children running, or my mother. Just the dazedness of a small child who doesn’t expect to be hurtled to the ground, because even a

plastic pail should be able to hold her slight weight. Because no branch seems impossibly out of reach. Because a particular leaf in the slanting late afternoon light is positively breathtaking, and what reason in the world could there possibly be for her not to touch it?

‘If a child thinks it large enough, can a telephone box hold an elephant?’ my father shouted, catching the wind so that the scream flew over the heather. I don’t know. Yes. I think the shed would be big enough. The telephone box. It can, think. But I was crying as I spoke and knew that what I felt could not be shouted back across the heath, the wind was from the wrong direction, was in his favour. So I turned and rested my elbows on the stonewall and looked out over the trees, sparse on the sheer descent. I raised myself up, so that my shoulders bore the weight and my feet barely grazed the ground, and it was like when my feet didn’t reach the floor at the table, and swayed on the Underground. He looked from a distance. He doesn’t think it can be real, all this crying. But my feet only lightly touch the grass, and I know I am here but not here. And that is my father and beside him, the elephant and there, the telephone box. And here is the view. But why doesn’t he come closer? Soon we shall search the house for carrier bags and clocks.

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JANE My father says to me-

1930. We are eight.

‘Emma, this is your cousin Jane.’ We are waiting to hear our Congressman finish making his speech so we can go home. I wear a frock of orange calico. Jane wears linen, lace, a pearl. Her shoes are neat black leather, with shiny buttons. Mine are brown. I resent her. The day is warm. I squirm in my seat. Jane looks at me and her small mouth smiles very prettily. Her eyes are distant. They flow over my blunt nose, my thick jaw. Her smile deepens. I hate her.

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1940. We are eighteen.

Graduation looms. We are sitting in a classroom, perhaps for the last time. It is time to submit our final papers, and to deliver our verbal reports. Both of us have read the other’s paper, and they are both perfect. She writes lightly and joyfully, without difficulty. I have not spent an evening outside of a library for almost two months. I resent her.

The day has arrived. She stands. She is witty, graceful and incisive. If anything, her speech outdoes her paper. She handles challenges and questions with almost contemptuous ease. When she is done, there is applause. She smiles at me, encouragingly. It is my turn. I stand. Within a few heartbeats, I am lost. There are whispers, gasps, giggles. Jane looks at me. Disappointment. I hate her.

1942. There is war.

I am invited to her wedding. Her Bill is tall, handsome, lively – newly recruited into the naval air force. They dazzle all during the ceremony, he in his blue uniform, her in her white gown. Bill is not as tall as my Tommy, nor as handsome, and he lacks Tommy’s sparkling humour. Tommy died in Hawaii in 1941, when the Harbour burned. Now Janie and Bill lead the room in a waltz. I resent her. I know I shouldn’t. I try to smile – I must stay cheerful, like Tommy would want. I have had my wedding, and this is hers. Bill’s brother asks to dance with me, and I assent. I last for half a circuit before I must apologise and move to the edge of the circle, alone. At a pause between dances, I see Jane looking at me. At first, I am shocked by the concern in her gaze. Then the moment passes, and I realise it isn’t sympathy, just pity. I hate her. I hate her. I know I shouldn’t.

2006. It is over.

Jane is dead, and Bill preceded her. He survived the war; post-surgical infection triumphed where Zero fighters and kamikaze failed. They had many years of reasonably happy married life. I never remarried, and have spent my life alone, but this is an old bitterness, like an old friend. Their children soon take their share of property, relics, assets, heirlooms. To me is left only an empty house – empty, save for odds and ends too old or obscure or insignificant to mean anything to the children. I…am too tired to resent them for that. The house is large and seated on a lake. It is pleasant enough. I think the children hoped I could live out my life here in peace. I don’t know what Jane told them about me. I’m sure she knew how I felt about her. If she didn’t tell her children, then I won’t either. I won’t tell them that their gift has taken what peace I had left. Jane is everywhere here. The baubles that mean nothing to them mean everything to me. Every step reminds me of her, but I will live here nonetheless. I think I owe it to her. But I still hate her.

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Echoes of Mariana

And in the heat, as i wrap myself Around my corner of the bed And watch the rise and fall One single hair – uncurl across your chest I hear the echoes of Mariana I hear everything my mother thought was best I see a vision of myself, better groomed, and better dressed And standing by the kitchen sink, the arches of my stomach Pressed, on white wash kitchen units My fingers curled around a glass Green drawn from the garden where the sun has cast Its aging yawns across my lawn And brought back glimmers of the past How i waited as you slept, and counted out the Hours that passed And watched you wake and quietly say Just watch me dress and take away Inch by inch, each speck of skin That joins the pile of what-has-been

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“Yeah well I met this man who wanted me to mend his trousers because he thought it would be an honour for me to mend his trousers” “Really...how extraordinary” “Quite”

a I think that this is what people thought about when they thought about the

future in the past.. This is what Hanna-Barbera thought of when they made the Jetsons; a bubble sitting on top of a tower. Apparently a ‘futuristic utopia of elaborate robotic contraptions, aliens, holograms, and whimsical inventions’. Not always so frivolous though; in nineteen thirteen two one point seven million Americans turned on the radio and thought that there was an extra-terrestrial invasion. Luckily for them it turned out to be another man’s thoughts about the future. If the people that thought about the future in the past knew what we thought about the future in the present I think that they would think that we were pessimistic. If they knew what their future turned out to be they would be disappointed. It’s not nearly as whimsical as they had hoped.

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Shanghai,

9

summertime


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were [theycommit a murder,] A Short Story

the two of them. Her hatred of the victim was genuine, his, purely aesthetic. ‘Shall it be today?’ he asked, drawing the curtains to the morning as she lay still semi-wrapped in sleep, crumpled under the cigarette burned duvet. ‘Mmm’, she murmured, she smiled. ‘As good a day as any’. ‘Better,’ she thought secretly. The world was fresh and crisp, the winter ground would let nothing seep in today, her crimes would bounce back against the tough earth and there would be no trace of it left to leak out under her future footsteps. She watched him at the window as he lit a camel and peered right and left looking for imaginary witnesses to his mental states. ‘I wonder how I’ll be changed after?’ He addressed the window more than her in particular. The outdoors, he thought, looked like Alaska, bleak, deserted - although that was perhaps more the lighting than any true resemblance. It was maybe just the matching up of memories. The conditioning that gives post cards some scent of the summer, that makes you drink chocolate milk with two hands, and purposefully wipe your upper lip with a clumsy sleeve (preferably outside the corner shop). Yes, the window framed it nicely, how the footsteps would fall on the icy ground as he ran, a rhythmic crunching breaking the silence of the scene. She had fallen half asleep again and he let her curl and twist beneath the covers as he sat on the bed, buttoned up his shirt. He paused above his belly button, reached to relight his cigarette, its impotent end diminishing his satisfaction. Once dressed he lay down besides her on his back and, keeping his gaze strictly fixed on the ceiling to minimize new input, made a mental mind map of his personality to date, which later he would transfer to paper, not trusting his brain to preserve it as it stood. He was pleased to be emotionally detached, he wanted a clear and unbiased approach to such a situation, he wanted a view-point unclouded by the rage that seemed to fill up in her eyes when she contemplated it too hard. He ran his fingers along the wood panelling by the bed and down, across the duvet, up her arm and through her hair like a spider, his face quite expressionless. She didn’t stir at all, having sunk back into the depths of her dreams. He watched her motionless face and the steady in-out of her stomach as she breathed, heavy tobacco scented breath. She was beautiful in a sense, the angles of her nose in particular, the small gap above her wide lips. She was beautiful in the way all faces are. She was like the Nivea advert women, perfect in the right light, the contrast slightly adjusted: she’d be good in French dresses, in dull black and white. ‘Martha?’ He whispered. ‘Coffee? Morning coffee?’ He dragged himself up off the bed, checked his face in the mirror and was out the door. Martha turned. In her mind were brief flickers, sea sides, tidal waves, tiny little people. Glimpses she couldn’t hold on to. She opened her eyes. He was gone. She sat up and leant back against the tea stained walls, drew her knees up. Her legs were pale. Good light she thought. Good choice of underwear.

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perforated mannequins

carelessly clouded

by smoke, it

sits in the creases

of their expressions.

lingering.

expectantly.

if only she could blow him away.

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Brett wears: jacket, Paul Smith; shir t, Uniqlo; jeans, Gap; belt, M&S; boots, Office,

Kate wears: top, Help the Aged; leggings, Primark; boots, New Look.

Jesus wears: jeans, Levi’s; tie, New Look.

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Candice wears: vest, H&M; skir t, American Apparel; vintage belt, Beyond Retro; tights, Jonathan Aston; shoes, a Japanese shoe stall in Camden.

Chloe wears blouse, Oxfam; body con skir t, Giles Deacon; belt, Antik Batik; socks, Pamela Mann; plimsoles by Primark.

NO FA CE


I am undressing myself tonight And I sigh with half-smile laden lips, Well… this isn’t quite how I imagined it. Bent over, caressing my laces With my legs straight, A ballerina’s grace I think to myself Pressing the kettle on with neglected fingertips Disappointed but alive Wrestling my t-shirt over my head As I stride, I am grateful for any emotion while Massaging my legs with cocoa-butter lotion. My tea is ready! ENTER: Sugar a-plenty. You’d see it as a sign of weakness But you’re not here and My tongue has the all clear to indulge in Sublimely. Stoic. Sweetness. If that’s touché then I’m too Blown to know. Bra unfastened and thrown to chair Its regular position, it is at home there Except tonight it took my breasts with it. If I can laugh that off in my mug of tea You’ll never know what you’ve done to me.

S t o o d U p

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Submissions

Puppet was given these letters and illustrations by a contributor who found them amongst many similar submissions in a paperrecycling bin in London. All were sent to the same publishing house by people who wanted to publish their work. Their identities have been protected.

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16


In Absentia, a Letter The evening my sister and I were born my father cried over more daughters than he wanted while the doctors worried. My mother just tried to breathe. An hour apart, I was last. Her tailbone broke with me.

My father left when I was eight, for a woman with no sons but the money to keep on trying and a love for red vermouth and plastic purses. They married four years later, in 2019, in Helsinki where none of us could afford to go and my sister burned his ties on the kitchen stove as I sat on the counter and wondered what my mother would say about the bits of ember, the smell of charred silk and the wedding invitation, gold and gaudy, strewn across the floor. At fifteen Kella seduced the boy who lived downstairs, sneaking his car keys out of his crumpled pants pocket, while he slept sprawled across the bed we were too old to share. I drove and she planned, until we reached the corner of Jennings and Bedlam where we ran out of gas and dumped the car. He should have pressed charges but he fell in love with her instead, like they all did, eventually. I married on Crete; to a man I did not like, but wanted to love. My mother gave me away, ashen-faced and ill, reminding Kella to take photographs, fix my train, My son was born three years later, greet the scattered guests. on Easter Sunday of 2049. We named him Jason, after my father, and I nursed him in front of the television, watching England burn – the university I had studied at, the parks I had walked in, the libraries I had loved—and feared for the world. A continent away, Kella slipped and fell, running for the last rush-hour heliojet, her heel catching against a crack in the platform. A man reached out for her, flailing, her sleeve slipping through his fingers as she jerked away from each possibility once offered up for the taking: a visiting professorship, the four lovers who had proposed in succession, the two children she could have had, if it weren’t for money and timing and travel and her life, which had always come first.

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I took the phone call in silence, and waited just a few hours longer to break my mother, again.


8 r 200 e b m e Nov

pet. ppet, ing Pup l or ed it Pu ead y, d a e r for e alr lp fil Tha nks u wa nt to he e Spring issu th If yo ting for h. c e ll o c we’re in touc so get Puppet x

in

magaz . t e p p pu

ail.com

glem e@goo

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Issue IV  

"Because too few cooks make the same broth every time"

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