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Issue number 8 Summer 2017


Scrittura Magazine © Copyright 2017 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 Roe SOCIAL MEDIA ASSISTANT: Melis Anik WEB: www.scritturamagazine.tumblr.com EMAIL: scrittura.magazine@gmail.com TWITTER: @Scrittura_Mag FACEBOOK: scritturamag


In This Issue 06 08 09 10 11 12 16 17 18 19 20 23 24 25

Happy Mother’s Day Michael Marrotti Benchmarks Ed Blundell Reading by Moonlight James Bell Donut Friday #40, #41, #42 Darren Demaree Dream Lover Ed Blundell Oniomania Christopher Walker My Mother Has Become an Angel Annie Maclean D. Muscipula Tim Melton Earth Ginko Annie Maclean Emprise Brandon Marlon The Suite James Bell Falling Annie Maclean Open up The Bottle Tonight Mendes Biondo Mediations on 4:39 am Tim Melton


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A Note From The Editors Welcome to the Summer issue of Scrittura Magazine! Firstly, we’d like to introduce a new member of the Scrittura team! English and Creative Writing student Melis Anik has joined us as our social media assistant; hopefully you have seen all of her tweets and facebook posts promoting the magazine, and most importantly your work, over the past few weeks! Welcome to the team Melis! As always we have a great selection of writing for you to enjoy in this issue, with submissions continuing to reach us from all across the world. Being able to bring such diverse writers together in our magazine is something we absolutely love, and hope to continue to grow. We have a very emotional poem to kick off this issue, ironically titled ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ (page 6), which reflects on the emotional scars of an unhappy childhood. The emotions don’t stop there, as we have two more poems ‘Benchmarks’ (page 9), and ‘My Mother Has Become an Angel’ (page 16), to test your stoicism. Also included is a story capturing a familiar struggle – the tribulations of being a writer (Oniomania, page 12). The cover art is inspired by ‘Mediations on 4:39 am’, a poem about finding yourself - turn to page 25 to read. The next issue will mark the start of our third year, which we can’t quite believe! If you would like to submit your work for consideration, the current deadline is 31st July 2017. Please do send us your work– we love reading everything that we receive. As always, a huge thank you to everyone who’s submitted their writing or shown their support; don’t forget to tweet your thoughts to Melis and let us know what you think of the issue! Finally, a huge thank you to our designer Catherine, whose talent astounds us every issue!

Valentina & Yasmin

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Happy Mother's Day Michael Marrotti I’m stepping on every crack  my Chucks are fortunate enough to touch Cursing each  and every liquor store in my horizon Sending out an envelope of disdain for her special day  that comes around  once a year  To remind me  of all the abuse 80 proof or  80% of the time  the rest were spent on her random lovers who would split after a few weeks fortunate mother fuckers Driven to madness lashing out  only to be put  in psychiatric care 


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when the strait-jacket should’ve been worn by you it would’ve been a better fit  You label me a monster when I’m a product of my environment I’ve learned  how to deal with it  by following  the instructions  on the bottle  and adhering to the rules of an imaginary restraining order The days doused in vodka insincerity of the heart love trapped in a bottle passionately emptied into an abrasive soul happy mother’s day you earned it  bottom shelf vodka enough is enough

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Benchmarks Ed Blundell

The writing on the bench records That Mary Ballon loved this view. The seaside and the distant cliffs, The raucous, swirling, grey backed gulls. The children playing on the beach, The different people walking by. This bench, the family placed here, To honour Mary’s memory. I ponder as the sun comes out Wondering if the view has changed. Then, for a moment, I believe, That Mary too was sitting there.


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READING BY MOONLIGHT James Bell one night you decide to read by moonlight for it is still warm outside still and warm and much quieter than by day with no distractions like birds other than the odd owl with its inbuilt dark intentions – unlike day you need a clear sky and a full or near to full moon where the text fills with new depth has a glow you cannot leave for this light has a different rationale and moon shadow more blurred edges – demands you must not see with the same limitations as day – you are willing to forget such data as the moon reflects the sun along with much else as you continue to read sink into the words before you while night forms slope silently or fly by on swift pipistrelle wings – you hesitate to turn a page become part of this night stillness one who absorbs into this diffuse light until a cloud helps you turn the page – mark your place and go back inside

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Donut Friday Darren Demaree DONUT FRIDAY #40 I hear none of the decaying. DONUT FRIDAY #41 I see none of the obscurity. DONUT FRIDAY #42 Sugar drunk, I remember how often I used to be high or whiskey drunk before my son was born & I know that this cute tradition of us venturing out into Columbus every Friday is different than all of that, but I also know that I could never, ever relapse on a Thursday night, because what if I slept through a morning of Donut Friday? I’ve invented many traditions in our family, just to stay sober, to remove the randomness & questioning & entitlement I feel while in the trappings of this dangerous & darling & methodical & tempting world.


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Dream Lover Ed Blundell

I tread the restless halls of sleep, Unwaking, deep, down in dark dreams, Where all seems real, I feel, I think, Alive as when I walk the day. The logic there turned on its head, Brings to me her I know has gone, Dead but living still in dreams, Still sharing all our special things, Still knowing where my weakness lies, That secret smile, those haunting eyes. A she that isn’t her but still Is close enough to make me wish, That I could sleep a hundred years And fill my morning eyes with tears.

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ONIOMANIA Christopher Walker Click. Click. A sigh. Another click, a pause, and then a final click that sounded wilful in its finality. ‘All right,’ Alex said to himself. ‘That ought to do it.’ He slid the bank card free of its slot in his worn leather wallet, and keyed in the series of digits and the expiry date. Even though he knew the three numbers on the reverse he still flipped the card over to check. Likewise, he re-read the shipping address three times to make sure the parcel would be delivered to Poland and not his billing address in the UK. Had he got the two the right way around? One last check confirmed that he had. Marzena came into the room and leaned over Alex’s shoulder, her hand running comfortingly down his chest. ‘More books, sweetie?’ ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘I hope you don’t mind.’ ‘No, of course not. But you do have a lot of them.’ At Marzena’s words Alex slowly turned in his rotating desk chair and observed the room around him. As he did, he nudged a short stack of books with his knee, spilling the uppermost three volumes. ‘I’ll read them all,’ Alex said somewhat petulantly. Marzena’s trick was to criticise his actions through words of praise. She’d praise him for being so literary, then mention that the town library did stock a few volumes in English. Alex would nod and restate his position: the books that he wanted were more recondite titles for the most part, not the Harry Potter series nor Jane Austen and certainly not Clive Cussler, which the library stocked in profusion. ‘Besides, they’ll be good for little George one day.’ Marzena tapped her hand against Alex’s chest and then retreated to the kitchen. George was stirring and she needed to put the kettle on for some formula. As she was leaving Alex’s study, where the desk was squeezed into one corner to accommodate the growing piles of un-ironed laundry and the wardrobe with George’s winter clothes, she said, ‘You’ve got enough books now to build a Great Wall.’ Hmm, thought Alex. An interesting proposition. He’d read about the Great Wall recently, in The Devil’s Mode by Anthony Burgess. It was the novella about Attila the Hun, who had visited China to declare some kind of non-aggressive pact. The Wall, Burgess had suggested through his Hun conqueror, worked as well to keep the Chinese in as the Mongolians out. Or was that Theroux in Riding The Iron Rooster? He couldn’t remember. But Marzena mentioning the Great Wall was germane because it was something that had been causing Alex some pain recently, much like the washing tag in a new t-shirt when you first feel it rubbing against your skin and then you can’t not notice it any longer. The burgeoning book collection was turning into Alex’s Great Wall; it kept him reading but it also reduced the time he


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had to devote to writing, which was what interested him most. He liked to think of his book purchases as investments. When inspiration ran dry, as surely it would, he could turn to the shelves and simply peruse the titles. He’d find something there to spark the dry firewood in his mind, and another tale would be born. Incredibly, this had already occurred twice, and his two minor publishing successes had had their genesis in this method. But really each book represented another brick in the Wall. With George’s arrival, Alex’s free time had shrunk to just those two hours in the afternoon when the infant took his nap. The mornings were spent at the local language school with Alex instructing several primary school groups on the irregularities of the past simple, and in the evening Marzena would leave for the restaurant on the rynek, the main square, and not be back until eleven. Sometimes the books really did prevent Alex from writing the stories he wanted to write. For instance, in those lonely few months after George was born, when the child had a monopoly on his mother’s attention and Alex was relegated to the position of house maid, he considered putting together a book about the horrors of the pram in the hallway. But when he wondered why the phrase ‘pram in the hallway’ came so easily to him – their eighth-floor apartment in a smoky suburb was too cramped to permit of a hallway – he realised that it was a second-hand construction. He’d read it in Julian Barnes’s A Sense of an Ending, and not wanting to re-tread the same ground as a Booker winner, he’d dropped the idea. Incidentally, his enjoyment of Barnes’s modern classic had led Alex back to the website where he ordered his books, and a week later Pulse, Flaubert’s Parrot, and Arthur and George all turned up at the school. When Alex felt guilty about ordering books – this guilt was dimly connected with a corresponding guilt about not being of sufficiently central importance to George, who in his innocence

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had no idea of the problems he was causing his father – he preferred to put in the address of his school, and now his locker was full of remaindered books, cast-offs from libraries across the British Isles, and the detritus deemed unsaleable by charity shops. The three Barnes books were not the only volumes he’d ordered that time, either; they were accompanied by a selection of recent prize winners, including The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. This sizeable tome Alex was using as a makeshift shelf at the back of his desk, a pile of students’ homework obscuring the cover. The delivery was so large that the British Post Office had sent it in one of their large grey sorting bags, and hadn’t bothered asking for this back. Alex lived in a waking nightmare of imagined sudden visits to the school by Marzena and George; he dreaded the thought of having to explain to his wife where all these books had materialised from. Oh, she’d smile complacently and say to whoever would listen that Alex was obsessed with buying books, but there’d be a darkness to her look that suggested the money could rather have been used to buy nappies. Today Alex wasn’t ordering prize winners or collections of short stories. Wojtek, an old colleague now working at the pedagogical institute in Katowice, had sent him an essay about the works of William Golding. Alex had only ever read Lord of the Flies and so he immediately, upon finishing his proofreading, clicked through the catalogue looking for titles with which to cement over that particular gaping lacuna. Everything Wojtek had mentioned was flung into the basket without much thought: The Inheritors first, because there were several copies in so-called excellent condition, and then The Hot Gates and The Paper Men and Pincher Martin. Alex prevaricated over adding Freefall and The Double Tongue, since the total now came to more than he’d earnt off Wojtek for this latest commission. But what the hell, Alex thought, what difference did another couple of books make? That was approximately when Marzena had walked in. Alex closed the browser window and double-clicked on the story he was working on, something he called The Blame Generation. He’d started it before last year’s Polish elections, and given the surprising, indeed shocking outcome of that farcical stand between slightly-right-wing and full-on-right-wing parties, Alex had shelved the work with a fatalistic scratching of the head. Now he thought he could see a way to resolve the conundrum of his disparate characters, and wanted to get the ideas down before they floated away like so many moths after the lights were switched off. Just then George began making those muffled whimpers which always preceded a good cry. Alex wanted to call out for Marzena, but she’d never hear him over the whistling kettle and raising his voice was sure to send George into fullblown hysterics. Alex grimaced, pushing his chair back from the desk and rushing into the bedroom to attempt to console the infant. George had his arm twisted to an odd angle and was lying on it now; he looked like a child who had been dropped into his crib from a great height. Alex tried to decide what to do: he could attempt a dangerous rotation of the child, so that he was back in the foetal position and might sleep for a while longer, although touching him now most likely meant waking him. Or he could do nothing, and hope that Marzena’s maternal instincts would kick in and she’d rush to his aid before George quite opened his eyes. As it happened, neither option was possible. Like somebody only pretending to be asleep George suddenly blinked open his eyes and looked up at Alex. He


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creased his brow as though he could not recognise the bedraggled face peering down at his own. The dummy fell from his toothless mouth. ‘No, no,’ Alex said, trying to smile reassuringly. ‘Daddy’s here, little one. Don’t worry.’ But of course George was worried, because the one he’d wanted was still in the kitchen. He squirmed, a high-pitched wail breaking free from his tiny lungs. Once again Alex was astounded by the ability of one so minute to produce a sound so vehement, so room-filling. Marzena soon arrived, George’s bottle wrapped in a moist towel. ‘Here,’ she said, handing the hot bottle over to Alex. ‘Chodź tu moje kochanie,’ she whispered in Polish; but George had moved too far now in his emotions to be brought back by so simple an expression of love. He found himself lifted into his mother’s arm; Marzena rocked him steadily back and forth whilst Alex stood uselessly by. He wanted to ask what he should do, but even this simple question was dangerous. His voice risked startling the boy, and then the whole afternoon would be ruined. How would Marzena go to work if George was still so terribly upset? Like a careworn old dog carrying his master’s slippers, Alex followed the mother and son into the living room and stood next to them as Marzena settled herself onto the sofa. She reached out for the bottle and took it from Alex without a thank you; she was too busy cooing gently to the child, who was beginning to show signs of calming down. Still, the next hour was fraught, and Alex was tense up until George’s bedtime and Marzena’s departure for work. ‘Please sleep well,’ Alex whispered to the slumbering form in the cot; he said this more for his own benefit than his child’s, as any slightly selfish father might. The screensaver was ticking over on the computer when Alex returned to it. The first photograph that flashed up was one he had taken of Marzena in Florence three years previously, when they had first discussed the possibility of starting a family. Halcyon days, Alex thought. He nudged the mouse. The Blame Generation was open, and Alex stared dumbly at the lines of text before him. He knew that he’d worked his way out of the labyrinth already, but the clever expressions and snappy dialogue that had momentarily played in his head were gone now. All that remained was a vision of the Great Wall of China, looming menacingly over his prose. He could barely recall how he’d gotten onto that in the first place, either. ‘Well, perhaps now I can get some writing done,’ Alex said quietly. Just then his phone vibrated; it was Wojtek, asking delicately if he could forward on an article written by a young academic in his department. It needed proofreading as quickly as possible, if Alex didn’t mind terribly. A figure was appended to the message; it would suffice for keeping George in nappies for the next two weeks, so Alex accepted the work. A Contemporary Study of the Works of Arthur Conan Doyle was the title for the twenty-paged academic thesis which beamed into Alex’s inbox. ‘Conan Doyle, huh?’ Alex mused. ‘Can’t believe I’ve never even read the old Sherlock Holmes stories!’ He briefly scanned the document to see how weighty the grammatical mistakes were before opting to do the work later. For now: click. Click. Refine search. Click…

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My Mother Has Become an Angel Annie Maclean Each day, she seems fainter. I wonder if she will disappear right out of focus. Feather-light, she floats on a breeze cushioned on thermals warmed by the sun. She’s as beautiful as ghostly tamarisk spinning on her dizziness flying higher high above becoming white. Can she breathe in the clouds transparent transcendental? Could I stop her? Will she float away? She smiles down at me airy as thistledown weightless as a dandelion clock. Now she seems too far to touch and I hear the beating of her feathers.


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D. Muscipula Tim Melton He showed me how they ate. He told me he felt like they were alive. When I walked into my brother’s garden with a tiny set of hand-shears and took to knife all their spindly necks, I didn’t do so for the good of flies that flash like frenzy around my face, or the rounded beetles who only care to eat and eat. I cut each flower to watch its upturned mouth— would it still gape at me in shock? or would it shut itself up, sealing in itself its dying remorse? The scattered heads were easy to sweep.

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EARTH GINKO Annie Maclean thick ice on the lake large slow soft snowflakes falling sleeping ferns dream green pebbles gleam and click beneath running melted snows clear black thoughts of dust deep hot magma creeps footprints dance upon the earth icebergs sigh, creak, float


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Emprise

Brandon Marlon To live means to forsake the shoreward glance and boldly set out to sea, though it be fractuous, turbulent, unpredictable, a probative venture manifesting mettle, sure to unsettle, an act of faith willfully defying augurs and haruspices, marginalizing naysayers, debunking detractors, trading the comfort of a cove for the courage of a cape,  an escape from arbitrary origins and confines, a momentous determination to never let your fate get in the way of your destiny. Should meager results cast a pall on your quest and question the wisdom of your endeavors, answer bystanders with soulful counsel: better to try and fall short than refrain and wonder; better to respond to the inherent challenge to achieve with alacrity and zest, striving for your best, knowing the attempt itself, in the end, is the summom bonum in life, that sometimes great digression from death. 

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The Suite James Bell It is late afternoon. A small electronic screen inside the door indicates that the temperature is kept at a constant eighteen degrees. The suite is divided into a sitting area and bedroom. The former has a half circle of four spacious joined up and upholstered grey fabric seats. A couple of faux sheepskin fleeces are strewn casually on the light coloured laminate floor. A round glass-topped coffee table with a heavy metal stem and base sits before the comfortable seating. On its top sits a TV remote control. The TV itself is fixed to a faux carbon brick wall that divides the seating area from the bedroom, which contains a queen-sized bed. Another remote control is for the faux double-sided wood style burner that is lit and burns ethanol. There is no heat from the glass. It has been turned on by staff to give a homely and friendly welcome. On the other side of the faux wall is another TV with a remote control on one of the bedside tables. The bed has been sprinkled with small tissue paper hearts. A welcome message is on a printed sheet and propped on the pillow: WELCOME ON THE OCCASION OF YOUR ADVERSARY. The wrong word used has been missed by the reception desk computer spell check because it is correctly spelt and is a similar word. In capitalised form it screams rather than shouts its odd message. The adjacent bathroom suite, even with its lights off, is white and pure. Large white bath towels are piled on shelves under twin sinks. There are also two walk-in showers so guests do not have to wait while one or the other has a shower. Net curtains over the windows throughout offer discreetness without blocking out light. Heavy drapes are designed to conceal and protect from light when required. The drapes are pulled back so the modern building opposite can be seen. It is an office building where there is a motif and a name for the company above the entrance. It is the headquarters of the company, though the sign above the door gives no indication of what their area of business is. The suite is on the sixth and top floor and overlooks the busy road that runs between the hotel and the building opposite. Off in the distance are trees and hills. The sun is heading towards its setting point. The windows are not the place to look out from and be meditative. The suite itself is constructed to be more concerned with its internal perspective and serves people who make decisions while revelling in its luxury or merely revel. An abstract print on the wall in the seating area regales in shades of brown and orange of the darker kind. It tells stories that each person looking at it need to make up for themselves; feed it with their own lies to make new truths. The suite is now ready for its next visitors. Nobody stays here very long, two nights at the most. It is the reason there is only a small wardrobe set discretely into the wall beside the toilet, which itself is just inside the door to the suite.


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It is now the morning after. The heavy night drapes have been drawn back to let in the light of a grey morning. The faux double-sided wood burner is switched off, dead in the dullness. On a tray on the coffee table are the remains of a continental breakfast for one that has been ordered from room service. A croissant is half eaten, lathered in butter and marmalade. It lies on a plate among shredded flakes of pastry. Two empty papers of butter portions lay screwed up on the table surface. Two small jars of marmalade and strawberry jam lay too open and empty. Some coffee has been spilt on the table and dripped on the faux fleece below. The queen-sized bed is in disarray. No paper hearts remain. The wardrobe door beside the toilet is open. Inside, on one of the hangers provided, is one long red silk evening dress that dangles from thin shoulder straps. It has been badly splashed with red wine. A white dinner shirt hangs from another hanger in a similar condition. There is no sign of any other clothes. The pureness of the bathroom is scattered with used white bath towels, some stained red. Some of the red looks like blood and some clearly wine. The TV in the seated area has a dent in its blank screen. The remote control has been tossed into a corner near the abstract print, while the remote control for the faux wood stove is carelessly dropped in another corner. The small screen just inside the suite door indicates that the temperature is still a constant eighteen degrees centigrade.

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FALLING Annie Maclean She told me that she had slid, slipped and fallen. Her ankle kinked upon the gravel. A bone clicked. An unbalancing to throw her body out of kilter. She felt her fall as though through treacle, as if she were watching herself from afar. She traced the line which led to her fall. It veered on sideways in slow motion, a scary corkscrew to the ground. She felt she was helpless. There was nothing to do. No sound broke through her concentration. A heavy feather, floating madly, to hit the hardness beside the pavement. She anticipated distorted edges which might rip her flesh and splinter bones while she continued like an exhalation, diving into falling down‌

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Open up The Bottle Tonight Mendes Biondo

open up the bottle tonight because the first flower of the year blossomed and it was gorgeous and wealthy and it will breathe for a pinch of days again open up the bottle tonight and toast to the stars shining dots in the dark sky the marks of exploded suns open up the bottle every day and toast for that stolen kiss given to that gorgeous woman you secretly loved and it doesn’t care if after a year passed together she wants to break up with you that love will be like a sunset falling in a deep sea that no one saw open up the bottle tonight and don’t mind if it will end through laughs and songs because everything will end and tomorrow night will be the right moment to open up another bottle


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Mediations on 4:39 am Tim Melton You have walked the hollowed-out streets washed in those neon lights that call out to no one. And (even with the hours of silence to study and probe at the questions of your mind as if they were polished gems) still you haven’t yet figured out why both the city and yourself cannot sleep as the real people do.

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Scrittura Magazine Issue 8 Summer 2017  

Welcome to the Summer issue of Scrittura Magazine!

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