__MAIN_TEXT__

Page 1

Issue number 18 Winter 2019


Scrittura Magazine © Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved. Scrittura Magazine is a UK-based online literary magazine, launched in 2015 by three Creative Writing graduates who wanted to provide a platform to showcase new and exciting writing from across the world. Scrittura Magazine is published quarterly, and is free for all. This means that we are unable to offer payment for publication. Submissions information can be found online at www.scritturamagazine.tumblr.com EDITOR: Valentina Terrinoni EDITOR: Yasmin Rahman DESIGNER / ILLUSTRATOR: Catherine Browne SOCIAL MEDIA/EDITORIAL ASSISTANT: Imani Dunkley WEB: www.scritturamagazine.tumblr.com EMAIL: scrittura.magazine@gmail.com TWITTER: @Scrittura_Mag FACEBOOK: scritturamag Artwork created by Catherine Browne or sourced from Unsplash.com


In This Issue 06 08 09 12 14 16 17 18 22 23 24 29 30 32 34 36

06:13 Bryant Schmelzel First Kiss Ed Blundell Getting Hot, Isn’t it? Matthew Appleby Heaven And Earth Geraldine Douglas To a Friend Who Shall be Nameless Kate Rigby Marguerites Lynn White Honeysuckle Lane Bryant Schmelzel The Accordion Player Lisa Reily The Silent Season Geraldine Douglas Poem From a Wheelchair Richard Bates The Coastguard Kristal Peace The Death of Summer Geraldine Douglas Penwen Lynn White Self Portrait of The Artist as a Young Woman Ed Blundell Modern Living Kristal Peace The November Wobble Josh Oldridge


Scrittura Magazine

A Note From The Editors Welcome to the Winter issue of Scrittura Magazine! And welcome to a brand new decade! We hope you all had a lovely festive period and new year, and are ready to get back into the swing of things. January is known for new beginnings, and fresh starts – with that in mind, we’d like to introduce you to our new member of the Scrittura team – Imani Dunkley has joined us as Social Media & Editorial Assistant. We’re sure you’ll give her a warm welcome over on our social media pages, where she has already begun to bring you the latest writing news, competitions, and inspirational writing prompts. Issue 18 is similarly packed with tales of endings and new beginnings. Check out the poem ‘First Kiss’ (pg 8) to read about the overwhelming feelings of new romances and first times. On the other end of the spectrum is ‘To A Friend Who Shall Be Nameless’ (pg 14), a touching poem about grief. If you’re looking for a piece of fiction, we have a really interesting piece about social activism, ‘Getting Hot, Isn’t It?’ (pg 9). We really hope you enjoy this issue. Why not check our website to read all our back issues? They’re available to read for free. As always, huge thanks to all our contributors for sharing their work with us. If you’re a writer looking to get your work published in this new year, please do submit your short stories, poetry, and scripts to us. Our next deadline for submissions is January 31st 2020. Massive thanks must also go to our brilliantly talented designer Catherine for another wonderful issue.

Valentina & Yasmin

|

5


Scrittura Magazine

|

6

6:13 Bryant Schmelzel


Scrittura Magazine

Kids called him Uncle Rabbit, and not for the reason any adult might think; he did not have two buck teeth or gobble down carrots or anything like that. He was run out of town for molesting two kids, or accused thereof,
but that wasn’t the reason he had the name.
I am only interested in telling you about the man,
because somebody will ask about him;
and what needs to be known is that he was shot dead in the heart – 
but not by a bullet, by a razor blood clot,
arterial,
that was missed in a CT angiography.
My job is to know why that is, why it got missed and who is liable.
So, naturally I will ask so and so, doctors and staff,
investigate the health providers for malpractice or worse,
and conclude that everyone behaved satisfactorily.
But to talk about it eight to ten hours a day—I would much rather get on with my life
and peek in on this little rabbit as my week goes by. Right now, I’m going forty over the limit through a miserable part of town, a grainy desert that belongs as a backdrop to a propaganda film. It is sand rolling out of an hourglass, cracked and hurled over –
and I got to breathe, so the window lets in a little sky, but I hate it.
If I take the freeway, I’m Odysseus, and may never get home.
So I stop, and there is one good thing.
Going home, there is a Russian restaurant, the only kind in sixty miles.
I stop in two or three times a week – I waste my money there.
I don’t know if the food is good, but this is where I want to be.
The staff have no choice but to be courteous again and again,
and I cannot bypass this repetition, and walk myself in, opt for the bar, because they don’t serve the stuff... ‘Where would you like to sit?’ she asks me. ‘Anywhere is fine.’
And we go through the same routine. She leads me into a jungle of chairs, and halfway through, twists her neck, passes over my eyes, and asks if this one is good.
It’s good. Always is. She leaves the macabre menu. The next thing I need to do is get the hell out of town. The next thing I need to do is get to the hospital. But first I’ve got to feed my cat. It’s 5:30 am.
I don’t know where she is, making the grass molten death, I wonder.
Because of her, I haven’t seen a cricket in six years.
How long should anyone go without seeing a house spider or a dragonfly?
I owe a lot of reparations because of that monster.
If it were someone’s child...I don’t want to imagine it.
Makes me wonder, how the parents of serial killers live – not live with themselves, because that is a different matter, but how do they live? Normal breakfasts, sweet n’ low, eggs, lots of bacon and butter and eggs. Or not, not too much of it, for the cholesterol, if that’s the reason?

|

7


Scrittura Magazine

|

8

First Kiss Ed Blundell

Do you still, sometimes, in a dream, Remember me and our first kiss? My cousin’s party, Postman’s Knock? The children’s game, when I went out And you were picked, or did you choose To be the postman, eyes dark bright, Asked me to choose, Dare, Truth or Kiss? Me, heart pounding, lost for words, Just stammering, “I’ll have to think.” You bolder, older, just thirteen, “I’ll steal a kiss then while I wait.” Your lips so soft, two ciders sweet, Linger and linger on my mouth. In the lounge, the others waiting Calling, “It’s someone else’s turn.”


Scrittura Magazine

Getting Hot, Isn’t it? Matthew Appleby Another protester burned themselves alive. It was all over social media for days. You couldn’t go online without seeing the video, and if you knew Andy like I did, it was pretty horrible. And I didn’t even know him as well as all that. He was kind of a newcomer to my group. I’m not saying that I started the group, but ask anyone, I was the one who kept it running. Environmentalism has been my thing since before I can remember. I tried to talk to Hannah about all this. We were sitting in her room, she was about to graduate. She really had the smartest – honestly, the smartest – and the bluest eyes. They were so blue that they were almost…and her hair, that was really nice as well. It was all wavy and thick until she switched to that organic shampoo. But I understood why she did that. I respected her decision. That’s what boyfriends are supposed to do.  Her face was blue too – not, like, naturally, but because of the light from her phone. ‘Sorry, babe, what were you saying? I was literally on another planet for a second there.’  ‘I was saying how much I really like you.’  ‘I know you love me. You’re always telling me.’  That wasn’t true. I’d only told her once. And before you start thinking that I was drunk, it wasn’t like that. It was one of those mornings when I couldn’t get out of bed. Not that I’m depressed or anything – I don’t want you to think that, either. Anyway, one of those mornings she came over to my room to see how I was doing, and this was before we were even sleeping together. That was when I told her, you know, that I loved her.  ‘You always have to make things so awkward,’ was what she said. But when it comes to love, I think what you need is lots of little changes. And I don’t think the environment is any different. Lots of little changes adding up.  She said, ‘I just think that Andy’s concept of environmentalism – it was different to the way we thought of it.’  And I was like, ‘You don’t have to mention him all the time.’  ‘Say what you like, he made a statement. He said to everyone, like, that he wasn’t going to sit there and be complicit, you know?…Babe, I’m talking to you.’  Like I said, little changes, and I got her to think differently about me. Soon enough I was feeling good and she was the one in bed – she was depressed for ages. I was the only one she could turn to. And when I asked her to be my girlfriend, to be honest, she couldn’t say no.  ‘Are you even listening to me, babe? You look all spaced out and whatever. I’m just saying, all these small changes, it’s just – that’s such a bourgeois way of thinking. We’re talking about climate genocide. Andy could really see that.’  Ever since he topped himself, it’s been Andy, Andy, Andy. Seems like all anyone will talk about is Andy. He had this big manifesto that no one would publish, so no one even read it, but everyone knew about it, at least. And he went to the middle of a climate march and he sat in the middle of a street and, you know, the police, what could they do? They watched him pour petrol

|

9


Scrittura Magazine

|

10

over himself. You can see that in the video. ‘Of course, he’d have thought it was totally ironic. Like, millions of people die in the climate emergency – who cares? But one rich white guy dies and it’s a national crisis.’  One of the things I loved most about her was that, you know, she never just saw things from her own point of view. Does that make any sense? I mean she was all about other people’s opinions. I remember the first time we had sex, and she was just like that.  ‘Oh, babe, don’t worry about it. That’s really nothing. It’s probably my fault, like, I’m not turning you on or something. The only thing you need to worry about is the latex that we’re wasting.’  Funny thing is that it never happened again. What are the odds of something happening once – more or less once – then never again? Because most things happen in groups. Andy wasn’t the – I’m not being harsh, but he wasn’t the sort of guy to start something on his own. I mean, he was more of a follower. I think there was some guy in the Maldives who did it first. Then there was someone in Greenland. Basically, the only thing that was different about Andy was that he wrote that manifesto – which nobody read – and that he left that note. Everyone read the note, of course. That’s just the society we live in. It said, Getting hot, isn’t it?  I said, ‘I just think, you know, that’s really him, isn’t it? I mean, it’s noble and everything, but it’s a bit…a bit smug.’  ‘Actually, I think it was iconic.’  Oh, iconic, yeah, sure. Iconic is what happens when beautiful people die. You never saw an ugly icon, and I’m not being rude, that’s just the way it is. I always knew that Hannah had a thing for Andy, but everyone sort of liked him, which is typical. Take a group of revolutionaries, add someone posh, and if he’s handsome, they’ll treat him like he’s Prince Harry or something. You could tell by the way Hannah looked at him, she thought he was an icon-in-waiting. It was pretty disgusting, to be honest.  ‘Anyway,’ I said, ‘I’m twice as green as he was. Don’t you remember that time we ate dinner together in second year? He had parmesan. Parmesan, Hannah. That’s not even vegetarian.’  ‘I literally hate the way you say green. It shouldn’t be green. It should just be how things are.’  ‘And his dad has money in oil,’ I added, maybe a little too huffily.  Hannah’s not like that: her and Andy never did anything together. She was always telling me that she didn’t think of him in that way. I was basically just imagining things because I was in love with her. Ask anyone, that’s easy to do.  ‘He was right,’ and I knew she meant it, because she threw her phone across the room. ‘What’s the point of our degrees if no one listens to academics anyway?’  It must’ve been one of my bad days, because something about what she said, you know, it really got to me. Maybe it was because, like, Andy was this hero. He was her hero. And even though I knew I was imagining things, I still told her, ‘I always knew you fancied him.’  I remember her phone was lying at the foot of her wall. It was screen-down on the carpet and, when she picked it up, it was pretty badly cracked. And I winced, you know, on her behalf. And I saw that she was smiling at it.  I didn’t see her for a week after that. I thought it was because of what I’d said about her fancying Andy. I knew she was going to break up with me, but I wasn’t too worried about that, since she’d done it so many times before. So I was just sitting around in my room, not worried


Scrittura Magazine

|

about anything, when someone texted to ask me if I’d seen. The way they asked, I knew that something big had passed me by. So I signed into Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, and Hannah was on all of them. Someone had taken the video on their phone. She was in the middle of the road with the people from our group, and she was burning.

11


Scrittura Magazine

|

12

Heaven And Earth

I pay tribute to this glorious day. Cock-eyed rocks, faces like lecherous old men, Aubrieta squeeze through crevices, illuminating dawn’s white lace as the sun zigzags orange crayon over Poppies of California, wrapping green stalks to Victorian ribbons. I chose that life… Last memoires recalled, passing an ornamental pond, fish blue, red and silver, surrounding soil nutritious, plants unlimited, certainly lovely, waves of emerald grasses swoon. Two souls seated on a bench dressed in robes of cheesecloth. Exceptionally happy faces invite me to join. A presence takes a place beside me… Granddad, wearing the same cap, died fifty-five years ago… ‘I’m taking you to the edge of Heaven, you will feel rather unpleasant as alterations take place. You will be subject to a lower atmosphere… You will not be able to speak or travel by thought.’ We walked in silence.


Scrittura Magazine

Geraldine Douglas I knew the concept of what he told me. ‘Knowing the karmic dangers of an Earthly life… Cruelty, ignorance and confusion will flicker on your face. Travelling many avenues, lessons to be learned, living on the edge of fear is not easy.’ ‘A level of primitive development will affect you as a prisoner. Your heart will throb…throb…Encased in an iron box. Eyes remain open, cannot see…’ Granddad turns, walks a few steps, fades into nothingness. I move ahead, my Spirit body becomes heavy and denser, Love dispersing, bleeding out of every fibre, seeping into shadows. Shadows that brighten, whiten, filtering into masses of colour. A floating quilt of dapple-grey surrounds… I sense a feeling of black…

|

13


Scrittura Magazine

|

14

To a Friend Who Shall be Nameless Kate Rigby


Scrittura Magazine

Goodbye old friend. I know what size shoes you wear. I know the inside of your children’s lives. Your struggle to choose curtains, the book of poems you treasure, and why. I know about your holidays and the workings of your internal organs, your cycling exploits, your charities, your views on Brexit, Syria, cleaning fluids, the cramp which afflicts you at night. Your loves and hates, your ups and downs, and what he said on Wednesday. I know you know my name, and where I live, a brief biography to establish my credentials. Beyond that, you never asked. Thank you for sharing everything about you – except kindness, which you keep to yourself.

|

15


Scrittura Magazine

|

16

Marguerites Lynn White I cut the marguerites from the garden and placed them in a vase. They stood there twisting and turning this way and that. I placed my glass carefully well out of range of their gold dust filled heads I spoke to them sternly, don’t you dare drop your pollen in my wine! They seemed to hang their heads in contemplation except for one. She turned her dainty daisy head with great deliberation and nodded so that a shower of bright yellow pollen floated like sprinkled gold onto my red wine. It left a bitter taste.


Bryant Schmelzel

Scrittura Magazine

|

Got my name wrong. Night before, I couldn’t sleep. At work, I couldn’t sleep. And Lindsey is married to Mr. Shima Bukshiro. I am Shima Bukshiro. Small in my cubicle. Told I speak with an accent, even with English as my first. Lived with my parents very long and much of their voice runs over mine; my father’s skinny mouth beats over these lips—it is as if I am a thousand years old. People tell me I worry too much. ‘You’re fine. It’s fine. Everything is fine Shima.’
 But I am without happiness.
 Lindsey tells me, ‘We should travel.’
 I tell her we need more money.
 I am why she buys so many shoes. She wishes to walk in my opposite direction, and she imagines she needs so many pairs to do so. I am the reason she looks elsewhere. Neither of us have had an affair. Lindsey’s told me she’s thought about it, but she’s never been in love. And she dislikes my body. I know she wishes me different. I’ve done very little for her. If Lindsey was serious about love, I can’t imagine her staying any longer. ‘You’re odd,’ she tells me. ‘And I love you so much. But I don’t want to stay here. Can’t we just go?’ We live on Honeysuckle Lane next to Mr. Gonzales. I can’t remember what he does. His youngest, Luke, plays varsity football at the University of Arizona. I don’t like Mr. Gonzales, and I have no reason for it. Occasionally, he tells me about my sprinklers, even though I hear them drowning each morning. I’ve never seen Mr. Gonzales on weekends or evenings or mornings. We only speak when I am ill. Lindsey tells me everything about him, and I am not sure at what hour she and him speak. ‘Shima! The dog got out again!’
 I am uncomfortable living in such an unusual place. It is safe and we’ve used the air conditioner once last year. Winters are unlike winters here. They are an assortment of shorter days with a mild shift in clothing. I find nothing more exhausting than living so descent. But I protect it. It is all I can stand. When I fantasize myself elsewhere, doing anything more, I imagine every way to improve it, and each time, end up back at Honeysuckle Lane.

17


Scrittura Magazine

|

18

The Accordion Player Lisa Reily


Scrittura Magazine

|

Theo’s feet crunched over snow and he growled at the stray dog that dared to come close. ‘Leave me alone,’ he muttered, his hot breath melting the winter air. Taking his usual shortcut to the taverna, Theo strode across the icy park but slowed when he heard the sad, familiar music. He had noticed an old man playing his piano accordion the past few mornings and was grateful for the break from his inner chatter, the monotony of his small life in Kavala. Each day, the man sat on the only wooden bench still sturdy enough to sit on; the rest were worn, their backs splintered, odd nails protruding. As Theo inhaled the first solemn notes of Czardas, he rummaged for coins. He could see the old man through the trees, eyes closed, fingers moving tenderly across the keys. It was a song Theo’s father used to play on his violin in Velingrad when Theo was only a boy. It was not long before they had moved from there, to his mother’s hometown of Kavala, that his father had died in his sleep. Enveloped in the memories of his father’s music, its melancholy, its sudden liveliness, Theo stepped softly across the muddied ice. He remembered his father prancing about, his mother laughing as she stoked the fire, the smell of freshly baked bread throughout the house. He followed the music’s call, depositing a few euros into a handkerchief set upon the ground. The old man nodded. How clear and blue the old man’s eyes appeared; his crumpled coat and white hair had hidden his vibrancy. Beside him sat a wooden box, its exterior chipped, and on its face a faded heart of pink and blue. Theo moved closer to read the two small words written in the heart’s centre: You’re Next...The box, partly open, was filled with crumpled paper notes. Strange, thought Theo, as he eyed the papers in the curious, worn box. They looked very old, almost tea-stained, and he wondered why the old man would carry them. ‘Take one,’ said the old man, noticing Theo’s gaze. Theo hesitated, but the old man gestured to the box again and continued to play. A crinkled note smoothed over his hand, Theo quietly read its message. ‘You will find love,’ he whispered to himself. ‘You’re next,’ remarked the man. ‘Now, give me back my paper.’ ‘No one would have me!’ Theo laughed, surprised at the old man’s bossiness. But he returned the paper just the same. ‘You will see.’ Theo shrugged, then went about his business. When he arrived at the taverna for work, he told his brother what had happened. ‘Can you believe it? Love!’ he joked. And the two drank ouzo to that. *** Alexandra ran through the park. She did not want to leave her son at work on his own for too long as it was her habit to help him each day. When her husband passed away many years ago, it had kept her heartbreak at bay. It made Alexandra feel useful to help others, and she often brought food to those in need. It was only yesterday that she had seen the old man in the park, and she decided on waking to bring him a freshly baked tiropita. ‘Here you are,’ she said, her face glowing in the chill. The old man stopped playing. Alexandra was a beautiful woman, even at sixty. He gladly accepted her pie, the scent of warm filo and feta tempting his nostrils.

19


Scrittura Magazine

|

20

‘Take one,’ he replied, gesturing to the box beside him. Alexandra peered inside. What is this? she thought. But she humoured the old man and playfully selected a note. ‘You will find peace,’ she read aloud. ‘And you will,’ said the man, as he began to play the song her late husband had so often played. Alexandra was taken aback, at first by the old man’s words, then the memories enfolded in his song. Had she no peace? She was fine. Just fine, she told herself. *** When his brother told him the story of the old man, Philip laughed wholeheartedly. Theo was a gruff, sometimes unapproachable type and the thought of him finding love was not easy to imagine. All the same, Philip’s curiosity beckoned. Coins ready in his fist, Philip made his way through the park, even though he had little money to be doing such a thing. At first, all he could catch was the wind. The crunch of a stranger’s feet through the snow. Feeling foolish, and much colder now, he pulled his coat around him, ready to head back towards the taverna. But just as he turned to go, the soulful melody of the old man’s accordion drifted through the trees and beckoned him. With some trepidation, Philip followed the sound until he came upon the old man. When he dropped his coins onto the handkerchief, the old man spoke. ‘You know that you are next,’ he said. Philip shivered at his words. He stood frozen as the old man gestured to the mysterious box his brother had described to him. ‘Take your pick,’ the old man grinned, and he began to play a song that Philip recognised. It was the music of his father, the music he had never heard him play. ‘You will find a new path,’ read Philip, the music seeping under his skin. Tears welled in his eyes. He was not yet born when his father had passed away. *** The next day, Alexandra woke with a terrible cold. ‘This is not peace,’ she muttered. Alexandra made herself a cup of tea and gazed from the window of her small flat, which overlooked an empty field. In spring, she always loved to watch the sheep amongst the camomile, and the old ladies in black collecting it for drying. In winter, nothing. As she put dishes away, a little bird passed the window, then flew back to sit right in front of her. Alexandra hadn’t noticed the mud nest it had built against her window frame. Odd, she thought, at this time of year. So beautiful. It was only now that it caught her eye. The little bird sped into its nest, poked its head out of the tiny hole, and began to sing. ‘So pretty,’ said Alexandra. And she stood for a moment, just listening. *** It was night by the time Theo made his way back through the park, so he wasn’t surprised to find the old man gone. As usual, a stray dog approached him. ‘Leave me alone,’ he griped.


Scrittura Magazine

|

The little dog cowered at a distance. But her sad eyes caught Theo’s and for once got the better of him. Theo rummaged in his pocket; his mother had not come to work today, but she had still made him a tiropita for his breakfast. He retrieved the paper bag from his pocket, broke the remains of his tiropita apart, and spilt the pieces onto the ground. The little dog sat shivering. ‘I don’t have all day,’ Theo grumbled. ‘Come on.’ Seeing her fear, Theo crouched and spoke gently. He beckoned, a crumb in his hand until finally, she surrendered. It was only then that Theo noticed the old man hobbling in the distance, his accordion strapped over his shoulders, his wooden box tied to his side. ‘Wait!’ called Theo. But the old man was too far away. Theo paced after him, but his years of smoke and ouzo did not help. ‘Wait!’ he cried. Theo traced the old man’s steps around a corner, but by the time he got there, the street was empty. Not a soul. Only the pitter-patter of footsteps behind him. *** Philip headed off on his customary bus ride to the Baptistery of Saint Lydia. It had become his routine, a way to avoid a morning ouzo, and out of season, he found it a peaceful place to rest his mind. Here in this place, Philip deliberated, the first woman was baptised by Paul the Apostle. Philip sat on the grass. He pondered the words that Paul must have said to Lydia that spoke to her, like the earth and its history had spoken to him. Unfortunately in Greece, Philip’s studies had become a waste of time. If not for the rooms his mother rented in the summer, he would not have completed them. But what use was an archaeology degree now? His love of times past had kept him penniless, and living with his mother for all his twenty-four years. Philip so loved this church, with its stained-glass windows. He was drawn to the greenness around it and the sweet sounds of the river nearby. As he sat outside, the sun on his back, he felt a sense of ease he had not felt for a while. *** Philip smiled when he arrived at the taverna to find his brother with a tiny little dog by his side. ‘I have not found love,’ Theo beamed. ‘But I have found this!’ The two brothers looked at the dog, who had settled herself happily at Theo’s feet. ‘At least you have the dog!’ exclaimed Philip as they toasted a glass of ouzo. ‘And we have a new mother!’ laughed Theo. ‘She refused to come to work today! Can you believe it?’ ‘Yes,’ said Philip. ‘When I left this morning, she was painting again—a little helidoni with black and white wings—something she hasn’t done in years.’ ‘Maybe now, she’ll take life easy for a while,’ nodded Theo, raising his glass. The two brothers drank to that, and the old man in the park, and the music he played. It was the music of their father and, for a moment, the two could feel his presence. And later that evening, when Philip walked home through the park, past the sturdy wooden bench where the old man had sat and played to him the music of his father, he knew, just knew, that things were about to change.

21


Scrittura Magazine

|

22

The Silent Season Geraldine Douglas

A Winter traced day, chestnuts frozen under breaths of ice. Wobbling alone in the heart of December, my shadow shivers. The stitching of nature riddles its way through curves of haze, silently drifting. Diana dripped away yesterday, her lace lit lips kept me happy, her firm breasts dazzled me. Her loveliness turned a grey Moon silver. We sang Christmas hymns whilst patterns danced in our frost-bitten heads. The silent season quivers‌ Pole Star flares his secret halo, instantly my body flashes sparks, as peaks of green erupt from silken snow. Come February yellow droplets pirouette, nodding their heads like little golden bells. Feisty snowdrops wriggle escape from leaden hosts, Then wiggle-twist their way, becoming fluorescent diamante clusters gleaming in the wind. Blue Tits swerve, Spitfires, Emeralds, acrobatting in a velvet dawn. Robins tiny throats throb with song, smudging their scarlet on evergreen firs, leaving pinpricks of rosiness in a shawl of icicles.


Scrittura Magazine

Poem From a Wheelchair Richard Bates As a tetraplegic, you Might be surprised to hear me say this: There are compensations in disability. I like studying you able-bodied lot, You are my zoo, Beasts that go squawking and fighting About stuff you think matters. I have the hard-earned wisdom of a broken neck and back. You are the little people, children in my world. I warm my bitter heart on the flame of a greater wisdom You may never learn. A rough sleeper, very, very still, tucked up in a wheelchair While the world thunders around me oblivious. I turn on the telly and smile at the crazy population (who can put on their own socks) Chasing their tails round the issues of the day like demented dogs. In every town you will find us People whose boundaries are four walls The disabled who are not energetic young Paralympians Coping well in the able-bodied world. We are the elderly, the watchers and this truth we have learned: Progress is not doing things faster, going further, appreciating nothing. It’s sitting quietly and still in a warm room, having good people cut your toenails.

|

23


Scrittura Magazine

|

24

The Coastguard Kristal Peace I had been drowning in the desert for years when the coastguard saved me. My father was a man with a fatal admiration for the illegal, and I was his cat’s paw in a country where unquestioned birr al-waalidayn, filial obedience, had been in the air we breathe since God had told the land to be, and it was. But sometimes, a person is blessed with the gift of knowing that the air they breathe is polluted. Without any book learning to my credit, I had figured out that birr al-waalidayn is not absolute. God set limits. My mother was a speck that had disappeared from my life early. With her departure came the absence of any kind of order or kindness in our home, and it was after she vanished that my father began taking me out at night; the time when the darkness regurgitates thieves and scoundrels and the heat is still running in from the dessert, pressing its tongue against your skin. I was not yet seven years old. From then on, school would be a place I could only reach by hiding and then skulking along the walls of the alley beside our ancient little concrete house, praying the shadows and trash would be my unassailable escorts. They were not. More often than not, my father caught me. I was as dirty as the trash and the shadows, but he would see me. He’d take hold of one of my fennec-sized ears, yank me away from the wall and out of the shadows and drag me back home. “Ayna!” Where, he’d yell, as he backhanded me with the hand that was not engaged in mutilating my ear. “Where do you think you’re going?” “Nowhere, Baba!” I would lie. “Haram! You lie! Fear God, you lie! Haram! Get back in the house. We have work to do.” He would drag me along and then unexpectedly slap me violently on the side of my head and reproach me again. “Haram!” he would spit. Forbidden! Haram! In this way, we made our way back to the house. Once inside, he would begin the preparations for that night’s outing. Sitting on the disintegrating palm mat in the corner, he would count the foreign money he had had me steal on previous nights and decide which hotel we would visit once darkness fell on top of the desert. And I? I stood in front of a low table making my hands faster and softer than they had been the night before. Objects – wallets, watches, keys and pens – that my father had set out on the table would disappear as if they had been mirages, and my father, still counting his foreign boodle, would grunt in approval or say, “Asri’.” Faster. “I saw you. If I saw you, they will feel you.” And I would make my hands faster, softer, lighter: invisible. Sometimes, when my hands were too fast even for his falcon’s eyes, he would come over to the table, count the objects still there and look at me with a gleam in his eyes. Then, with his dirty hand, he would hold my chin in his palm and lift my face to his own and say nothing. But from the angry lines of his


Scrittura Magazine

|

mouth, a smile would bloom: a rare sand rose that would soften his scarred, sun-dried face. I was surpassing him. When he returned to his mat, I would keep practising, wishing my hands would always be fast, always be invisible. And then I would repent. God doesn’t like thieves; He takes their hands. The year I was in grade four, one of my attempted escapes from the house was successful and I arrived at school for the first day of the term. When I found my classroom, the coastguard was there with my classmates. On a frayed and faded Persian carpet on the concrete floor, fifteen boys, as dirty as me or dirtier, sat gathered around him. I was confused. It was barely eight o’clock in the morning. Why weren’t the students sitting at their rusty, metal desks, like our grade three teacher had had us do? And why wasn’t an uninspiring, monotone lesson in progress? The coastguard’s voice floated alongside my confusion and put its hand out. “Assalamu alaikum and welcome. What is your name, akhi?” Akhi. He called me his brother, a name used among men with affection in our country, regardless if they are related or not. I was embarrassed. No teacher had ever called me akhi before. After a brief pause dedicated to staring at my feet, I answered, “Milhan.” The coastguard invited me to join the circle of boys on the floor. I had found my home. After he had settled us down, the coastguard opened one of the books on his lap, and that morning and those that followed, he took us all over the world with him: through time, across borders, and into wars that make countries unsafe and impenetrable. He wrapped us in the languages and cultures and habits of people we never knew existed, and probably could not have imagined. With his voice, he penetrated forests, dove into seas, descended underground, and scaled extinct glaciers to show us God’s creation in all its variety and splendour. And then, with his voice, he gently brought us home, each of us now in possession of a capacious treasure chest, which some of us would hoard greedily for the rest of our lives, like dragons. Over the next few weeks, he read us stories about pirates and villains who didn’t bother with equivocation or pretence; they boldly lied, pillaged and stole with one goal: to make their wooden chests and their tattered pockets heavier with the wealth of others. And in many of these stories, these disreputable men living sordid lives had a name: they weren’t just pirates, they weren’t just villains, they were blackguards. There, in the pages of the coastguard’s books, were portraits of my father painted with inky black characters that I could barely read. Something inside of me broke. Afterwards, I could never experience the thrill or excitement my classmates felt when the coastguard read us stories about pirates, but I still enjoyed the other stories he read, so I became very skilled at sneaking to school. But my success came with a price. I showed up to school regularly with black eyes, and I blamed them on neighbourhood hooligans that were as real as the fantastical creatures in the books my teacher read to us. If the coastguard saw through my lies, he said nothing, but suddenly, as often as he could, he would show up at my house and offer to take me to school. “Sabah al-khayr, ya shaykh!” The coastguard would beam effusively at my father as he said good morning to him and called him shaykh, a name of veneration in our country. Then

25


Scrittura Magazine

|

26

he would drown my father in respect. My father was defenceless. Here was an educated man in a thoub so clean he looked like a snowflake that had landed in the desert, treating him as an equal. As if there were parity between them. And so my father’s pride would not allow him to be anything but accommodating, especially with the neighbours watching. That year I saw more of the inside of the school than I had ever dreamed possible. One night, the night of the day the coastguard had finished reading Treasure Island to our class, my father took me out on one of his ventures. On this outing, I remember I tried to reason with my father. Tried to dissuade him from his vile objective. He had met a man, a tourist, in the bar of a hotel that was a favourite of European tourists. My father knew the waiter and together, while I waited in the lobby, they had plied the foreigner with khamr, a thing forbidden in our religion and our land but was smuggled in illegally. My father never drank alcohol. “Haram!” Forbidden!, he had shouted indignantly when I had asked him about it once. When the man, an Englishman or a Frenchman, had been gifted enough liquor to drown him and he was near to passing out, my father generously offered to help the man to his room. I joined them in the elevator and when we were inside the man’s room, my father instructed me to “do your duty.” I protested. “When he wakes up, he’ll think our people are barbarians, uncivilized thieves!” I hissed, borrowing fretful glances from storybook characters and showering them alternately on my father and the unconscious man on the bed. My father, unconcerned, had made himself comfortable in the foreigner’s room. He was rummaging through the man’s suitcases as if they were his own. With his fingers still hiking leisurely through the foreigner’s belongings, he turned his head slightly, narrowed his eyes and growled. “Let him! You just stick your hand in that civilized man’s civilized pockets and find his civilized wallet and hand me his civilized money. And when that civilized drunk wakes up tomorrow, we’ll see who’s the barbarian. Now shut up and do what you’re told!” “But Ba-“ A large and powerful man, I had forgotten how agile and swift he was but when I fell on top of the drunk foreigner, my cheek and left eye smarting, I remembered. “You dare disrespect your father! Do not question, obey!” And then he sneered, “and don’t forget his civilized watch.” I wiped the tears from my face, sent my hands into the man’s pockets and did as I had been ordered. My father gathered the man’s fine clothes, his expensive shoes, and his exotic toiletries and we left. Years later, when I remembered that night, I tried to laugh. My father, the blackguard, had used anaphora to wonderful effect, but I am sure he did not know that, and he would not have cared if he did. I wouldn’t know about anaphora until many years later when I was a young, still desperately poor, graduate student struggling to complete my English degree. The night we robbed the drunk foreigner, the only thing I heard was the sarcasm and the scorn, the savagery and the storm, in my father’s voice. I only heard the commands of a blackguard. When I was in grade nine, I had grown into my fennec ears. I was tall and broad, almost as tall as my father. And I was strong. One evening, I refused to join my father on his night excursion, that nocturnal ritual that I had been chained to for so long. He said nothing at first, and then he struck me. This time, I didn’t fall. I didn’t cry. I barely moved.


Scrittura Magazine

|

“Fear God, Baba. Fear God.” His cold gaze measured me for several seconds, and then he exploded. “You! You’re telling me to fear God! I fear God! You don’t fear God!” His fist brought the table to its knees and the remains of our dinner cartwheeled in the air before coming to rest on the dirt floor. “You disrespect your father! You don’t obey your father!” He advanced on me. “Fear God and obey your father! I am your father. Obey!” He backhanded me again, but I persisted with preternatural calm. “These nightly outings are wrong, Baba. Stealing is forbidden, Baba. I won’t go.” The blows came rapidly, and they were joined by multicoloured imprecations. I blocked as many of the blows as I could, but I could do nothing about the imprecations. When it was over, he stood snorting through dilated nostrils and the lines of his jaw stood out violently. I had a bloody nose, but I was still standing. “You think what they teach you in school makes you better than your father?! You are not! You are nothing!” And then he pushed passed me and out into the night. From then on, my father went on his nightly expeditions accompanied only by darkness and contempt. I did homework and went to the mosque. I would usually be asleep or lying in bed when he returned, and on the nights when I was still awake, reading or eating whatever edible food I’d been able to find, darkness and distance sat between us like a vast desert that neither of us knew how to traverse. When I was in high school, the night my father was buried, which was the day his body had been found in the desert without its hands, a neighbour, an ancient man who had known my father when he was young, took hold of my hands and told me, in a scraping, soft voice reserved for the elderly, “Forgive your father, Milhan. Ask God to forgive your father. His childhood wasn’t easy.” He paused and looked off into the past. I waited while he simultaneously returned to the present and tried to capture enough breath to continue. When the hunt was complete, he continued, “Your grandfather was a brutal man. The only way he knew how to communicate was with his belt or his fists or any object that offered itself to be thrown across the room, and the only knowledge he had to teach your father was how to avoid the authorities, avoid school, and avoid the mosque. Your father grew up hungry, Milhan. Very hungry and always hungry.” Twenty years now cover my father in his grave, and many nights, when insomnia is once again my bedfellow, I hear my father singing a nasheed he used to sing when he thought I was asleep and too far away to hear him. It was a plaintive, sirenic thing that sounded like a wounded soul keening not for another but for itself. From those around I hear a cry, A muffled sob, a hopeless sigh, I hear their footsteps leaving slow, And then I know my soul must fly! A chilly wind begins to blow, Within my soul, from head to toe, And then, last breath escapes my lips,

27


Scrittura Magazine

|

28

It’s time to leave and I must go! So, it is true (But it’s too late) They said: Each soul has its given date, When it must leave its body’s core, And meet with its eternal fate. Oh mark the words that I do say, Who knows? Tomorrow could be your day, At last, it comes to Heaven or Hell Decide which now, do not delay!1 On those nights of depredation, I end up on the roof of my childhood home staring into the blue-black night, passed the suffocating darkness, into the desert, with my hands buried deep in my pockets. Wounded soul, you Perished alone Your keening Haunts me still.

1 Last Breath by Ahmed Bukhatir


Scrittura Magazine

The Death of Summer Geraldine Douglas

Summer seems endless, never pausing to catch her breath, she dwells where dreams are painted and nightmares slop, wriggling down blank paper. September, still Summer, but not, showing creases in her skin… ready to shred for a coppery dance. Phlox wear ivory stockings, Violas’ dresses depend on which way the wind blows. Seeds fall, sprawled on a tablecloth, patterned fresh Rosemary and Thyme, they crack to hums of hummingbirds as the Sun titillates their fine spine. Miss Spider spins her construction, shoots climb a silver staircase to open like a Spanish fan. Time hurries, mops of Roses droop like half-sucked lollies. Petunias struggle, their trumpets sag to a puddle of grey. Autumn, she’s an old soul, not a stranger, her different textures fidget with the material world. Periwinkle snoozes, dreams of his star petals creeping along kissing Lady Gnome whose lips are chipped, cheeks eroded… She still smiles. October’s spirit animal bellows.

|

29


Scrittura Magazine

|

30

Penwen Penwen was thoughtful. He’d heard that numbers of dolphins had washed up dead with pieces of plastic in their bellies. And not the ubiquitous micro but chunks, big chunks. He shook his head and pursed his lips. He knew that dolphins were mammals and that mammals were said to be the most intelligent of sea creatures, yet they ate plastic! He shook his head and pursed his lips. Sometimes plastic bits had been blown into his pond and he’d tested them for food worthiness and spat them straight out, so tasteless and with a tough unpleasant texture. He’d rather eat raspberries, well, perhaps not raspberries, but fish food, yes, he’d rather eat fish food. He wouldn’t let his human friends know, that this was an option though.


Scrittura Magazine

Lynn White He was concerned about Brexit and wanted to make sure that their stockpile of chocolate biscuits was adequate to see him through. When they gave him a luscious big piece he always gave them a big wet kiss in return. They seemed to like it and really it was no trouble, they were so sweet. They’d told him that he was very old and that the oldest goldfish had lived for forty-four years. He shook his head and pursed his lips. He didn’t think he was quite there yet, but one thing he knew for certain, when he did eventually sink into the big pond in the sky, no post-mortem would reveal plastic pieces in his belly. or raspberries.

|

31


Scrittura Magazine

|

32

Self Portrait of The Artist as a Young Woman Ed Blundell

In the picture she still looks young, Pretty and pouting, long dark hair Falling across her bare shoulder. She painted it to cheat the times, To turn the clock back to her youth. Sad memories in every stroke, Brushes with recollections, Stains spread on old arthritic hands.


Scrittura Magazine

|

33


Scrittura Magazine

|

34

Modern Living Kristal Peace


Scrittura Magazine

This old house has plenty of room For misunderstandings, Plenty of space for The silent treatment. There are four bedrooms to offer comfort To each person nursing a grudge, The spacious, sunlit kitchen accommodates everyone As they take their meals alone. And the living room is a cozy gathering place For insults, accusations, lies, deceits, Prevarication and yelling. The porcelain bedecked bathrooms are clean and inviting; The perfect places to sob in silence. The finished basement has a quaint Obsidian room, where the memories of our Joy, happiness, and contentment Fester and mold in neatly stacked boxes, Safe from the pestilence upstairs. Behind the house there is a Sprawling, picturesque garden Where resentment, rage, and rancour grow, Their blossoms perfuming the fetid air, And the backyard affords a breath-taking view Of the horizon of our disfunction. There is also a three-car garage where we park The polished chrome smiles we show the world. The only thing missing in this old house is A library. We have no place To chronicle and shelve our decline. But the house is perfect otherwise; Yet my eyes seldom look at The houses of our neighbours Without envy.

|

35


Scrittura Magazine

|

36

The November Wobble Josh Oldridge ‘Okay, rules are no hits above the shoulder, no eating, and definitely no stabbing – that could actually hurt,’ Liam said. He pulled the little blue Clio we’d named Chloe over into one of those laybys beside main roads with the blue sign with a big white P on it, and I hurried out into the headlights of the still-running car. He opened the back door and lurched in to grab the two baguettes we’d just bought from the big Morrisons you could still see at the edge of town. He joined me in the headlight beam which made us feel famous because the lighting was like from a film set, handed me a baguette, and drew his from its crinkly film wrapping with the bright yellow 10p sticker on it, and shouted, ‘En garde!’ ‘What if someone sees?’ I said. ‘Don’t worry, it won’t be anyone we know.’ ‘Maybe,’ I said, ‘but if anyone at all sees us I’ll be embarrassed!’ ‘Well, they’d probably best ignore us and keep driving. They don’t want to get drawn into this dangerous game,’ he said. ‘And we don’t want blood on our hands.’ I laughed but felt nervous. So many of our friends had just passed and I knew some would be driving around practising for giving lifts to college and pulling up stylishly and with ease, which was the thing back then. At least it was quite dark. The sky above the town we went to college in, and in which Liam lived, was illuminated only by the brightness of the retail park. In the headlights, though, I could see the flame in Liam’s eye, and his dirty fabric shoes, which were meant to be white. I wondered what stories lay behind their muck. ‘Ready?’ ‘Yep. Ready to go down?’ I said. ‘Wow! Your jacket.’ I had on my sparkly cardigan my nan gave to me. It was caught in a duo of light from the headlights and the oversized shops. ‘It looks like space,’ Liam said. I thought of Nan. ‘Thanks,’ I said, ‘but I think you’re delaying.’ ‘So, it’s like that. Well,’ he crouched back with this weird funny stance, ‘let’s boogie.’ We touched our baguettes for the sword fight to commence at his request, but it was over before it had even begun. Liam took a huge crunching bite out of his, which already had me doubled over, and then, as he swung it back to take aim at me and I yelped with a playful smile, it snapped off in his hand and went skidding off into the road, leaving just a handful of stale bread remaining in his grip. I was almost crying as he fell to his knees in disbelief, and I beat him to the tarmac until my baguette was all crumbs and pieces.


Scrittura Magazine

|

A car came shredding along the road. I noticed a little raised sign on top of it. My hands turned cold and damp and I yelled at Liam to get up. But it was only a white taxi and not a police car; something Liam found hilarious. ‘Let’s go,’ I said, with a big upside-down smile to make him feel bad. We got in the car and I asked, ‘What music shall I put on?’ ‘Rock.’ He turned to me while jerking it into third gear, ‘What else!’ ‘Hm. How about radio?’ I said. ‘How dare you.’ ‘Radio it is.’ ‘How dare you. Play rock, play rock, play rock.’ ‘Oh! what about the baguettes? We just littered, didn’t we?’ I asked. ‘Don’t worry,’ he said. ‘The pigeons will find themselves in wonderland in the morning, let’s leave them for them.’ I smiled and put my cheek against his bony shoulder. Then I flicked down the sun visor and checked my single plait coming down over my left shoulder, then started picking flakes of stale bread from his jacket. He was quiet for a bit, and then whispered, ‘Play rock.’ I stopped picking the flakes, folded my arms and looked away. ‘Aw. Don’t stop. Okay, radio it is…but it has to a rock station.’ ‘Deal,’ I said. We were out in the countryside now, leaving one town a shrinking purple glow back in the distance and another a growing one ahead of us. ‘El…El…Ella!’ I said, ‘Yes, yes, yes.’ ‘What the…?’ He started laughing. I smiled up at Liam. ‘Sorry, I was just daydreaming.’ ‘It’s evening! How could you be daydreaming?’ ‘Oh wow, well, just thinking then, Mr Pedant.’ He told me I was a joke and then asked me to double-check the tickets. ‘What time are doors?’ he said. I undid the little piece of elastic band wrapped around two nails he’d manufactured into something like a closing mechanism for the broken glove box. I took out the tickets and held them to my face to smell them, and smoothed over the hologram with my thumb. I loved the feel of those tickets. ‘Eight o’clock Greenwich Mean Time,’ I said. He laughed and then said, ‘Good.’ He checked his mirrors and indicated. ‘Liam, where are we going?’ He turned down a lane off the A-road; away from our trajectory towards the other purple glow that was our beacon. I didn’t know this part of the county. A song he liked came on and he turned the volume up high and rocked his head and hair, which was just long enough to be blown by the breeze. ‘Let’s just say I know a play area,’ he said when the song was winding down. We started losing signal and the radio went crackly as we meandered along the empty road straddled by fields on both sides beneath the star-soaked sky. Then, at the back of some of the fields beside a little wood, silhouettes of weird stubby circular towers higher than the trees

37


Scrittura Magazine

|

38

came into view – about four or five of them. It gave me the chills. ‘They’re just the old oil terminals,’ Liam said. ‘I know – they look scary, right? They’re disused now.’ I couldn’t take my eyes off them. ‘They’re bizarre,’ I managed to say. After a while longer an irrepressible shudder ran through me and I confessed, ‘I’m glad we’re not going too close to them.’ Eventually, houses appeared on either side and when they soon ended we found the warm lights of a village pub on one side of the road and a dark field with outlines of skeletal play area frames opposite. ‘Swings,’ said Liam. He pulled up and darted out into the darkness. I followed. As the swing creaked under his weight, I looked back at the pub, with little hanging baskets either side of the dark brown front door. A warm glow radiated through the windows on what seemed a slow night. ‘Join me,’ Liam shouted over to me. ‘Could we go for a drink in the pub? Do we have time?’ ‘Look up,’ he said. I had never seen the stars like that. ‘They seem so close,’ I said. ‘I feel like I can touch them.’ ‘That’s why…’ He strained with exertion. ‘…I’m swinging as high as I can.’ I looked back at the hanging baskets. ‘Could we still go for a drink, do you think?’ ‘We wouldn’t be able to see all this from in there though, would we?’ he said. ‘It looks like your cardigan.’ ‘I’m cold,’ I said, ‘I love it, but I’m cold.’ ‘Okay, we’ll go then. Just one…more…try.’ He leapt off and rolled on the cold dewy grass. ‘Voilà.’ He exhaled a cloud of breath just like the little clouds crossing in front of the stars. ‘I need the toilet.’ ‘Me too.’ He ran off toward the bushes along the park edge. ‘You’re going there?’ ‘Yeah,’ he shouted over. ‘I’m going inside,’ I said. ‘Liam, I’m going to the pub.’ ‘Okay,’ he said whilst peeing. ‘Meet me back at the car.’ I looked at the nice, warm, random pub. ‘Aren’t you coming inside?’ I shouted. ‘You want me to come with you? That’s very cute.’ He was soon done and on his way back towards me out of the shadowy bushes. ‘Okay,’ he said, and kissed me on the cheek, ‘let’s go.’ I held his hand as we crossed the empty road and, once inside, it was easy to persuade him into a drink. I didn’t have much disposable income back then, but I said I’d buy us both one. There was a row of hand-pull pints with descriptions and origins on the clips, but we had bright blue shots and then sat at a little round table by the window looking out over the dark park, sharing a bag of crisps by taking one at a time each, alternately, giggling as we gave a detailed assessment of each one. The bar protruded well into the pub towards the windows, and, after a while, the youngish barman said, ‘Where you from?’


Scrittura Magazine

|

It could have been because I’d barely ever left my hometown, but his accent sounded subtly different – even though we were only ten or so miles away from my house, and only five from college. Liam sprang into action at the chance to meet a local. ‘Different places,’ he said. ‘She’s from there.’ He pointed beyond the mirror behind the top shelf. ‘And I’m from …’ He pushed his tongue into his cheek in deep consideration, as though it was of vital importance, and eventually pointed to the big framed landscape painting of a summer river at the end of the pub. ‘… about somewhere that way.’ A couple of locals pretending not to listen at their bar stools chuckled. ‘Can I buy you two a drink?’ one said. ‘I’m driving, I’m afraid,’ said Liam. ‘Sure. And you, my dear?’ I hesitated and twizzled my plait. I looked up and Liam was staring back with the light bouncing off his soft brown fringe. He shrugged and said, ‘Go for it.’ The gentleman bought me a peach schnapps and lemonade. When he asked if I wanted a double I said no; then they barraged us with questions on what we were up to and what we were doing in their little village. When Liam told them about the park swings and the stars, I expected them to kick us out or something, but they just laughed and then asked more. Liam gave me a nudge and I necked the drink, and he crunched up the crisp packet since it was my turn but the game was over now that we were socialising, and poured it into his mouth. ‘Let’s go,’ he said. The locals and the nice barman gave us a hearty goodbye. One of them shouted, ‘Off to get some more shots, are ya?’ and laughed. But the truth is we didn’t even think about the drinks, we just did it. Nowadays, on Friday nights, my fiancée spends a good few minutes deliberating over which hand-pull he’s going to buy. Sometimes his planning creeps into early midweek. I’ve started to do the same. I still think Liam is on shots, somewhere. ‘Can we play my music now?’ I asked as we got inside Chloe. He drove us out of the village and back on course for the purple glow of the next town over – a much more mellow, soft indie easing out from the speakers. My choice. ‘I think some of the locals in there liked you,’ he said, grinning over at me. I snickered to myself. ‘Do you think they knew we’re seventeen?’ I asked. Liam smiled and said, ‘No doubt about it.’ We passed the line of oil terminals but I wasn’t interested this time. Instead, I checked the little cluster of spots on my chin to make sure they were still covered by foundation. ‘Fun, though, isn’t it?’ I said yes. ‘I like doing random shit like that,’ Liam said, ‘in random nowhere places. It makes me think less about other people’s problems. My mum says I do that too much.’ I wasn’t sure what he meant; I wasn’t fully paying attention. I listened to the music coming out of the speakers – it was the band we were on the way to see – and rested my head against his shoulder. Then I kissed him on the mouth as he was driving. It was hot and tasted of cheese and onion. I went in again. He laughed and said, ‘What was that for?’

39


Scrittura Magazine

|

40

I shrugged and said, ‘I don’t know. Everything.’ ‘Bit dangerous,’ he said. ‘I like it!’ We both laughed. We didn’t say too much more until we hit town and the gig, where we stood beneath the bright lights in – at least, for me – complete awe of the band and the whole situation. I rested my head on his shoulder the whole way back and sometimes put my hand over his on the gearstick. Then, when I couldn’t sleep after he’d dropped me off, and we had had a long long kiss on the doorstep, and after we’d finished sending lovely sweet dreams messages, I listened to the band, nodding off with my earphones in – already reliving it. * The craziest thing is, I’m more into rock now than I ever was. Liam and I stopped seeing each other a month or so after that gig. He said he needed someone more into his kind of thing, which seems stupid, now. And now, every November, a sadness – just a gentle melancholy – overtakes me for a few days. Although in truth it gets worse every year. In total honesty it gets quite crippling now, as I recall my glee when, the day after the gig, as the autumn dark was lifting and the college bus taking me to my friends and Liam passed the layby with the big blue sign, a group of seagulls and pigeons were tearing those baguettes to shreds, fighting one another, and shitting everywhere. And I think to myself, these days, during the November wobble – I can’t help it – how could we have been so irresponsible as to waste two full portions of bread?


Scrittura Magazine

|

41


Profile for Scrittura Literary Magazine

Scrittura Magazine Issue 18 Winter 2019  

Welcome to the Winter issue of Scrittura Magazine! And welcome to a brand new decade! We hope you all had a lovely festive period and new ye...

Scrittura Magazine Issue 18 Winter 2019  

Welcome to the Winter issue of Scrittura Magazine! And welcome to a brand new decade! We hope you all had a lovely festive period and new ye...

Advertisement