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Issue number 9 Autumn 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 07 17 18 20 21 29 30 31 32 34 36 38

First Day Helen Burke Fast Car James Linton Do You Know When I’m Smiling? Eli T. Mond 770 N Las Vegas Blvd Andy White Burning Paige Lyman Lip Ring James Linton Modern Values Annie Maclean In Loving Memory Of Michael Marrotti Nil Met Ed Blundell There Will Be Singing Anthony McIntyre In Which Dad Is “Dances With Chocolate” Helen Burke Sequoias Paul Waring The Western Wall Michael Marrotti


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A Note From The Editors Welcome to the Autumn issue of Scrittura Magazine! This issue is another landmark for us, celebrating the second anniversary of the launch of Scrittura magazine! Two years ago we sent the very first issue out into the world with bated breath and we’ve been overwhelmed with the response ever since. We’re very proud of how far we’ve come, publishing new writing from across the globe, and have high hopes for the future of this little publication! We start off this issue with a very apt poem titled ‘First Day’ (page 6), which describes the many emotions associated with the first day of school for young children. We also have some supremely topical poems, ‘The Western Wall’ (page 38) about the political climate in America, and Modern Values (page 29) an extremely thought-provoking depiction of society. Nature is also a prevalent theme, with both ‘There Will Be Singing’ (page 32) and ‘Sequoias’ (page 36), observing the beauty and wonder of the natural world. The cover art is inspired by ‘Lip Ring’ (page 21), an uplifting short story about young love. As always, thank you to everyone who submitted to us for this issue and anyone who’s interacted with us on social media; don’t forget to let us know your thoughts! We continue to have a rolling submissions system, but the deadline for Issue 10 is October 31st 2017. Finally, a huge thanks to Catherine, our brilliant designer and Melis, our wonderful social media assistant.

Valentina & Yasmin

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First Day Helen Burke

First day of school There were others being held captive when I got there. Some made a break for it at play time, but were re-captured. The day was sunny, but I was not allowed outside except when the rain began. My coat was hung on a hook marked Violet. “Whose coat will I be given?” I asked – no answer. My money was taken from me and I was given food I did not like. A boy poked me in the eye while a story about a monkey was read to me. Everyone had to sit in a circle, and was made to sing. “When you get to the next class, a nun hits you,” a boy told me. Someone left the front gates open, so at the second play time – rain pouring down – I trudged home without my coat. Across the bridge and the beck, all on my own. “I’ve been and didn’t like it much,” I said. Just as well its only for the one day.


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Fast Car James Linton Bright lights blurred past the car speeding along the country road. Bill Marshall had one arm wrapped around Lizzie’s shoulders with the wind sprinting through his hair; he felt alive. The moonlight contrasted with the electric streetlights, guiding them along the road. The roaring engine of his Lamborghini brought a comforting hum in the darkness, as it carried them through the night. Bill had grown up in this area and knew where to avoid the police. They wouldn’t be spoiling his fun. *** Bill woke up from the same dream that he had been having for the last twenty years, the last time he felt like he had belonged. He turned on his side and watched Lizzie sleep, her golden hair slowly turning grey. Bill had also lost most of his hair, except for a few tufts around his ears. When did they both get so old? A beeping broke the darkness and Lizzie thumped the alarm clock silent. ‘I guess you’re working late today, as well?’ Bill sighed. ‘You know I have to.’ Lizzie sat up and as Bill stared into her face, he could still see a spark in her electric blue eyes that had made her so attractive all those years ago. ‘You’ve been working late since we were twenty-five. When are you going to take some time off?’ ‘When we can pay our rent without starving.’ ‘Do you remember those nights in the Lambo? Those were great times.’ ‘Yeah they were,’ Lizzie agreed, before standing up and walking to the shower. ‘I dreamt about it last night. I miss those times.’ ‘Bill, I need the car for work today. Make sure you leave enough time to get the bus for Jimmy’s go-kart lessons. It’s his qualifying race for the club league today. You can’t be late for that.’

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*** Bill watched Jimmy zoom ahead of him, kicking up the smell of wet dust. Bill struggled to keep up with his son who was tearing towards the bus stop; he was a go-kart in himself. ‘Keep up, Dad!’ Jimmy called. Bill hobbled towards his son who was running around the bus shelter, much to the amusement of an elderly woman. ‘Is that your son?’ she asked. ‘Yeah. That’s him,’ Bill spluttered out. ‘I wish I had as much energy as him,’ she laughed. ‘Don’t we all?’ Bill agreed, watching Jimmy drive around the bus-shelter, weaving in and out of the other commuters. Stepping on the brakes. Flooring the gas. The bus pulled in just as Jimmy was gearing up for his final lap. He sped onto the bus and pulled into a seat. Bill scanned his oyster card and sat down next to his son. ‘Calm down, Jimmy. We’ll be there soon.’ ‘But Dad, I want to be there now!’


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Bill smiled in response and leant his head against the window. The remnants of the morning’s rain shower trickled down the glass. He felt the engine’s vibrations grow, as the bus inched into the lunchtime traffic. ‘Dad, can’t you make the bus go any faster?’ ‘I wish I could, son, but looks like we’re stuck here for the moment.’ Jimmy sighed and carried on twitching in his seat. Bill turned his attention back to the window and stared out at the adjacent lane where cars were speeding past the traffic jam. *** Bill and Jimmy rushed to the reception of the racetrack where Bill blamed the bus’s slowness for their unpunctuality, said that his wife was using the car. Bill wished Lizzie was here. Not only was the go-karting club a chance for children to socialise, but also parents. Lizzie would anyway. Bill never felt comfortable. He just wanted the last minute checks to the karts to take place. And then they were off. Within seconds, the calm silence had been obliterated by the growls of engines. The spray of the surface water. The sizzling of

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rubber. Images of bright lights and empty roads crept into Bill’s vision. He shook his head and the images were overpowered by the screams of the parents next to him. Bill smiled at the intensity of this noise. He chuckled at the ridiculousness of the parents taking the races so seriously, when they were just casual races designed to instil some friendly competition into their children. Bill shook his head and left. He could fit in some driving before Jimmy’s race was finished. *** Bill caught the bus to the Lamborghini showroom. He had been itching to get back behind the wheel of the luxury sports car. To feel the adrenaline growling in his veins. The wind dancing through what was left of his hair. The bright lights ahead of him. The gorgeous blonde sitting next to him. ‘This is Chapman Road,’ the electric tannoy blared out, reminding Bill that he needed to alight here for the Lamborghini showroom. He stepped into the building and breathed in the majesty. He was surrounded by twelve of the mighty beasts. Aventador SV Roadsters and Huracán Coupés amongst others. Silver, red and black. Sleek. Low to the ground. The centrepiece of the collection was in the middle of the room. The one-off Centenario. Its bodywork was polished black and it could go from 0-60mph in under three seconds. One of the shop assistants approached Bill; she was in her twenties, with blonde hair in a ponytail and blue eyes. Simple make up accompanied a slate grey skirt suit. Bill liked her minimalist look. It made her prettier. ‘Are you here to sample a car, Mr Marshall, or just to flirt with me?’ she asked. Bill gave his most innocent smile. ‘I was never flirting with you, Natalie. I just said that you looked just like my wife when she was your age. She was gorgeous too.’ ‘Goodbye, Mr Marshall.’ ‘Wait, I’ll try the Centenario.’ ‘Very well. Meet me outside in ten minutes.’ *** Ten minutes later, Bill was joined by Natalie who had driven up in the Centenario. She switched over to the passenger seat, whilst Bill sat behind the wheel. He relaxed into the leather seats and ran his hand across the steering wheel. ‘You know I used to drive a Lambo when I was your age.’


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‘Yes, Mr Marshall, you’ve told me that before,’ Natalie reached into her handbag and retrieved a clipboard, ‘I have a few routes in mind, but is there anything you wanted to try out?’ ‘Any chance we can get this baby up to top speed?’ Bill asked, with a smile. Natalie didn’t return it. ‘No, Mr Marshall. This baby’s top speed is 217 mph, which we aren’t getting to today. However, we can take the Tracy route, which, if you remember, takes you along some of the main roads. You can get up to 50, 60 tops.’ Bill sighed and turned right out of the showroom. Progressing towards the traffic lights, he shifted into second gear. The transition was seamless. The light hit red and Bill rolled the car to a stop. He looked in the reflection of the people carrier next to him. He saw a young man with a full head of hair and a gorgeous blonde in the seat next to him. ‘Eyes on the road, Mr Marshall,’ Natalie warned. Bill looked back at the traffic lights, which had just hit green. An impatient beep behind him was all the motivation he needed to pull away. He almost immediately shifted the car into second gear, which he kept it in, as they approached a steep hill. They began climbing it and Bill marvelled at how easily the Centenario was managing it. ‘That’s the V12 at work there,’ Natalie commented, inspired by how impressed Bill was. Bill took the Centenario over the crest of the hill where he saw a 30mph speed sign. He changed to third gear. They were rapidly leaving the town behind, with terraced housing being replaced by bluebells and hawthorns. It wouldn’t be too long before he could hit 50mph; Bill couldn’t wait. A left, then a right and he was onto a dual carriageway. It was a country road with no lampposts and pasture land on either sides. Bill brought the Lamborghini up to 50mph, loving every second of it. The car had the power of a boxer, but the grace of a ballerina. Bill wished he could take it faster. He used to do that when he was younger, driving along the country roads, knowing when to slow down and speed up. Where the speed cameras were. The golden sun or the stars and the moon suspended overhead. Silence except for the laughter of the gorgeous blonde next to him. Bill looked at her. His Lizzie. ‘Mr Marshall!’ Natalie yanked the steering wheel, narrowly missing a reticulated lorry coming from the other direction. Bill pulled into a lay-by and got his bearings. ‘I’m so sorry. I don’t know what happened there.’ ‘You almost lost control. That lorry would have made mincemeat of us.’

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Bill could see that Natalie was breathless. Her skin was pale and sweaty. He watched her step out of the car and quickly observe it. It had been a close call, but not that close. The car hadn’t been damaged. ‘Give me five minutes and I’ll drive us back to the showroom.’ After Natalie had recovered, she began driving them back. They drove in silence, while Bill replayed the events in his mind. What the hell had happened? He had never lost control like that before. Had he really seen Lizzie when he had looked at Natalie? She looked so much like her. ‘Goodbye, Mr Marshall.’ Bill had been so lost in thought that he hadn’t realised they were back at the showroom. He left the car and looked at his watch. His eyes widened, as he realised what time it was. He needed to pick Jimmy up from his go-kart lesson. Bill saw the bus approach and he started running. *** As soon as Bill opened the front door, Jimmy manoeuvred around Lizzie and scooted up the stairs. ‘You’re back home early,’ Bill commented. ‘I swapped shifts with one of the girls. What’s up with Jimmy?’ ‘I don’t know. He won’t talk to me.’ ‘I’ll talk to him.’ Bill nodded. ‘I’ll fry some bacon and eggs. Jimmy’s favourite.’ Bill headed downstairs to the kitchen and reached into the cupboard for a plate. As he took it out, he realised his hand was trembling. He dropped the plate and it shattered. He cleaned up the mess and reached for the frying pan that was at the back of the cupboard. He grabbed it, but it was stuck on something. He yanked on it and fell onto his backside, as the cooking utensils skittered across the floor. He sighed and stood up. This was when he realised that Lizzie was standing behind him, holding her car keys. As she began speaking, she put them down on the kitchen counter. ‘Jimmy says you weren’t at his race today. Where the hell were you?’ ‘Let me clean this mess up first.’ ‘William, where were you?’ ‘You only call me William when you’re angry.’ ‘I’m furious, William. Jimmy won his qualifying race today. He’s in his club league. Do you know how much he wanted to win? Do you know much he wanted you to see him win?’

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‘I screwed up, okay. When I got to the races, I realised that I didn’t have my wallet or phone on me. I went down to the station to see if someone had handed them in.’ ‘Jimmy said this is the fifth time you’ve been missing. Lose your phone and wallet all those times too?’ ‘Lizzie, he’s in a go-kart. Do you know how fast those things go?’ ‘William, stop with the rubbish and tell me the truth.’ ‘How do you know it’s rubbish?’ ‘I remembered what you told me about your dream in the lambo, so I thought that you might have gone to the Lamborghini showroom. After I finished talking to Jimmy, I drove down there to check. There was a very nice, young, pretty blonde girl there, called Natalie. She explained you’ve been there five times before and this time you almost crashed the car. But there’s still one thing that doesn’t make sense. What would make you miss Jimmy’s race, almost crash a car, and then lie about it? Unless it was Natalie.’ ‘What are you asking me?’ ‘You’re really going to make me say it? Are you sleeping with her?’ ‘Of course not. How could you even ask that?’ ‘She’s blonde. She looked like me when I was her age.’ ‘I love Jimmy and I love you. I would never hurt you like that.’ Lizzie raised a hand to her face, stifling a sob. ‘But you have hurt both of us, Bill. Even now, you’re still not telling me the truth.’ ‘Ok. I’ll tell you,’ Bill said, after a few minutes’ hesitation. ‘Jimmy deserves to hear this too. I’ll go get him. Come join us in the living room.’ *** After Bill had mentally prepared himself, he joined Jimmy and Lizzie in the living room. Jimmy was curled up on Lizzie’s lap, fondling a toy car. He sat down opposite them. Jimmy was still playing with the car. ‘I was scared, Lizzie. I was so scared.’ ‘Of what? I don’t understand.’ Lizzie could see Bill rubbing his eyes and was beginning to feel her anger evaporating away. ‘Twenty years ago, we had everything, Lizzie. The lambo, the business, my hair. We were moving up in the world and then we lost it all. And now you have your job and I’m stuck taking the bus. I remember when we were first dating, all those long nights in the car; I’ve never felt happier. And I wanted life to be like that


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again. That’s why I did it. It made me feel good. I felt like a man again. I felt alive.’ Bill looked at Lizzie who reached over and hugged him. He then felt Jimmy hug him around the waist. After a few minutes, he broke free. ‘I want to make this right with both of you.’ ‘You want to make this right, then take Jimmy to his first league race next week and be there to see him win. I’ll take the bus to work, so you can have the car.’ Bill crouched by Jimmy. ‘I’ll be there to see you win, little man.’ ‘Really?’ ‘Wild Lamborghinis couldn’t drag me away.’ Bill then faced Lizzie. ‘Are we alright?’ ‘If you can do this, then we might be.’ *** Bill trudged through the rest of the week and on Friday he was watching Jimmy fidget in the seat next to him. Bill smiled at this and pressed down on the gas. They had left in plenty of time and were making good progress to the racecourse. Bill sighed in contentment and looked up. The overcast sky shone a diffused light down onto the tarmac below making everything bright but dull. Bill returned his attention to the road and took a brief glance at his rearview mirror. ‘How are you feeling, Jimmy? You nervous about the race?’ ‘A little. What you said to Mum. You will be there, won’t you? You won’t leave?’ ‘Of course I’ll be there. I told your mum and I’m telling you. I’m going to watch you win that race.’ *** And they were off. Bill watched his son accelerate up the first straight and turn around the corner. Around him all of the parents were still screaming and cheering, deafening out the engines of the go-karts. Bill shook his head at these people. He wanted his son to win, but he didn’t have to scream to the heavens about it. He looked back out at the racetrack and watched his son disappear into a tunnel. Further down, one competitor sharply cut off another one, causing a furious torrent of abuse from one of the dads in the crowd. Jimmy emerged from the tunnel weaving in and out of the other drivers and coming up on first place, whilst the parents were yelling for their children to go faster and faster. Bill rubbed

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his face. He shook his head again and started feeling in his pocket for his keys, before moving towards the exit. *** Bill slammed the door shut and collapsed into the seat. There was no way he could stay there. He had to get out. All of those parents were like spectators in a Colosseum shouting for the losing gladiator to be executed. He couldn’t be part of that. Bill stuck his keys into the ignition and the car jolted into life. He manoeuvred out of the car park and onto the main road. He glanced at his side mirror and pressed down on the accelerator. Bill looked in his rear view mirror and thought about Jimmy; he needed someone better. Bill bit his lip and brought himself up to the speed limit. He needed to drive. He returned his gaze to the road and locked his eyes on the horizon.


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Do You Know When I'm Smiling? Eli T. Mond Eyes wide and panting, Arms outstretched in joyful longing. Your face touches mine, As you draw the love from my skin. In those moments, Those pure and blissful moments, I wonder, “Do you know when I’m smiling?” Do you know that seeing you Sparks a reaction known among my kind As a sign of happiness; A sign I could only hope is recognized By your innocent and primal mind. Do you know that when that streak of white Stretches across my face, It’s because you’ve blessed me with your presence? Or do you simply see this thing I do whenever you trot into the room As a human oddity, a strange custom Unworthy of your loyal reciprocation?

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770 N Las Vegas Blvd Andy White Decayed neon signs sitting in the boneyard This marquee advert for a showgirl past A burlesque dancer before the fall Now old limbs in an overlooked home and the nostalgia helps her forget Las Vegas flavoured her sequin dress dust coated just about every surface At 24 she worked Caesar’s Palace Foundation run under thousand watt bulbs She cursed her pores and cursed the lights At the time had no thoughts for getting old and in old age she gave little thought to her youth She believes she was beautiful but doesn’t know if it’s true isn’t sure she made it out of Sinatra’s era The swing and falling coins still resonate A dropped dollar is a story for her A little different for anyone who hears There’s a museum with her photo and lipstick print on a napkin below The building itself an ode to lost causes Memorabilia collected by Jennie Lee to preserve an idea she wouldn’t live to see And Miss forty-four once took her name for a union she was building These days if she makes it to the strip Nothing in the sights or sounds to recognise Maybe the past she remembers is fiction a princess for a time if the eyes would align and a variety show for the ageless


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One performance survives forgotten but burnt into film a testament in celluloid proof that she existed and her name was held in lights flashed out in neon She thought it was carved in stone but no one can name Dixie Evans no one remembers Gypsy Rose Lee They might have appeared together but they ended up in the boneyard anonymous on the marquee And she is now another member of the boneyard long forgotten relic way out of fashion She is now curator of the boneyard from what she remembers she lived forever and whoever she is now is unrelated

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BURNING Paige Lyman sparks started in my head, but instead of smoking out, disappearing upward, they simmered. they tip-tapped against each other striking and stoking until they were flames. orange-red fire sluices down, filling me from feet to fingers, consuming every particle. I ask if I was meant to be of fire, of the rippling heat, and “yes” is whispered back to me. I am burnt and  I am burned and  I am burning.


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Lip Ring James Linton People who saw John Foster described him as a punk; he had long brown hair down to his neck and piercings in his nose, eyebrows and lips. For college, he had to remove the majority of them, which left a multitude of minute holes in his skin. On his right shoulder was a tattoo of a screaming skull. Outside of college, people thought he looked very aggressive and unapproachable. Similar to any teenager, he loved listening to music and whenever he got the opportunity, he would plug in his earphones and scream in melody with one of his favourite hard rock or death metal bands. His obsession with this genre of music led to many people thinking he was very hostile and peculiar. However, he had a caring and supportive personality. He had a very small circle of friends, who he enjoyed socialising with, but not even they knew his darkest secret. *** It was a Tuesday afternoon and John was in his History class. He was finding it difficult to concentrate; not because he found the birth of Communism boring, but because he was distracted by Rudy O’Connor. John had only been going to college for two months, but he had always watched Rudy from afar. Perhaps he should try and approach him. John packed up his things and was about to walk over to the empty seat besides Rudy, but hesitated and sat back down. John sighed and nervously pulled on his lip ring – ­ one of the few piercings he was allowed to wear. What was he so afraid of? Rudy was just a boy. *** John had finished college and was with his two best friends, Abbie and Brian, in his bedroom. Abbie was constantly dyeing her hair different colours and today it was bubblegum blue. On the walls of his room were posters of some of his favourite rock and metal bands, such as Asking Alexandria, Deep Purple and Avenged Sevenfold. Hanging in his wardrobe were band shirts he had bought from all of the concerts and gigs he had attended. As soon as he had gotten home, John had reinserted all of his piercings

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and now there were pieces of metal in various positions across his face; it looked like a bizarre mixture of flesh and metal. He didn’t want his parents to hear their conversation, so he reached to his iPod station and played Bullet for my Valentine at full blast. ‘I have something to tell you. Something I have been keeping secret for a long time.’ ‘Oh my god! You’re pregnant?!’ Brian joked. He was a closely shaven skinhead with a lot of spots. ‘No I’m not, but you’re close.’ Brian suddenly looked very confused. ‘Ummm…you’re going on an epic quest to find your long lost brother?’ Abbie rolled her eyes and slapped Brian across the head. ‘What is it, John?’ she asked. ‘I’m gay.’ John nervously tugged on a small hoop in his ear. Upon revealing this secret, there was a reflective silence. Abbie scratched her head. ‘I kind of figured that.’ Seeing her friend’s perplexed faces, she decided to elaborate, ‘I’m a girl. I can tell when a guy is checking me or another girl out and I have never seen you look at a girl in that way before.’ ‘You can tell when a guy does that?’ Brian asked, looking like a little kid who had just been caught stealing cookies. ‘Well you guys are never exactly subtle, when you do it.’ ‘Well aren’t you the clever one?’ Brian muttered. ‘Why do you sound surprised? I’ve always been clever,’ Abbie retorted. ‘Shut up guys! I like…a boy.’ ‘John, I know I’m gorgeous and brilliant, but we’re friends; it wouldn’t work out.’ Abbie groaned and slapped Brian again. ‘Who is it?’ she asked. ‘Rudy O’Connor.’ ‘Oh, him. He’s not what I would call classically good looking.’ ‘What do you mean by that?’ John scratched his nose. ‘He’s very scrawny and his hair in those awful dark, curls. And I’ve never liked his eyes; they’re really hard, as if there’s a layer of steel behind them.’ ‘That’s not true,’ John protested defensively. ‘His eyes aren’t cold, they’re deep. There’s something behind them. In our history lessons, I try to figure out what it is.’ ‘Good for you, man.’ Despite all of his jokes, Brian genuinely cared about his friend and respected all of his decisions.


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Abbie smiled at Brian’s encouragement. ‘OK John, you’re in his History class, have you talked to him yet?’ ‘I haven’t. I’m so annoyed at myself. I need to.’ ‘Yes you do. You’ve got History tomorrow, talk to him then and see what he’s like. It’s still early in the year.’ ‘Thanks guys. You really are both great friends.’ ‘Eugh, don’t go all mushy on me. I might throw up.’ Abbie recognised the humour in his comment and went to playfully slap her friend, but she stopped her hand, just before it made contact, which made Brian jump. ‘Two for flinching.’ *** It was Wednesday, the lesson before lunchtime, and John was eagerly waiting for Rudy to sit down next to him. He was sitting in the chair next to Rudy’s seat, which had always remained empty. This had always puzzled John; even though Rudy seemed to be popular and well liked, by guys and girls, he was always on his own. Perhaps he just preferred to be alone. Rudy walked into the room and nervously pulled on one of his curls. This made John grin like an idiot. The boy’s crush frowned, as he saw a stranger in the seat next to him. He was intrigued though. Rudy walked over and sat down; he knew he should try and break the ice. ‘So…are you liking college so far?’ Rudy was very interested by this punk boy. ‘It’s fun, I suppose. The people are nice,’ John could see Rudy was on edge, which made him even cuter. ‘Relax mate, just because I look like this, doesn’t mean I’m going to start moaning about my life or start screaming “death to the mainstream!”.’ Rudy chuckled. ‘It’s not that; I’m just nervous around new people. Sorry…I haven’t asked you your name yet.’ ‘John Foster at your service. I know you’re Rudy O’Connor; I’ve heard about you.’ ‘Have you now? I haven’t heard a thing about you.’ John’s heart sank slightly, but he decided to stay strong. ‘We need to do something to change that. Why don’t you come over to mine on Saturday? We can play some games and have some beers.’ ‘That sounds quite social. With how you look and everything, I would imagine you being the complete opposite.’

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‘That is a stereotype, my friend, and you shouldn’t listen to those.’ There was a sudden slamming as the teacher brought a heavy textbook crashing down onto the table. ‘If you’ve finished talking, boys, then I would like to begin my lesson.’ *** History had just finished and Rudy had already left for lunch, but not before exchanging numbers with John. The latter was now texting his friends. His heart was thrumming with excitement and his fingers were fluttering over the keypad. OMG guys! This is so awesome. I’ve got Rudy’s number and he’s going to come to mine on Saturday. This is just great. We really hit it off. Oh wow!!!! *** Saturday could not have come soon enough. John was trembling with a mixture of happiness and nervous anticipation. This was silly; he had only known Rudy for a couple of months. The doorbell rang and the sound echoed around in John’s mind. He ran to open the door and when he saw what stood behind it, he almost died; Rudy was standing in a t-shirt and shorts, which left his beautifully tanned arms and legs exposed. There was a subtle watery quality about his eyes. ‘Can I come in?’ he asked awkwardly. John realised he had spent a few seconds staring at him and Rudy had seen every moment of it. The former nervously smiled and let his crush into his house. As Rudy climbed the stairs, he was thinking that he liked the look of John. *** The rest of the day had been a complete blur. Rudy and John had laughed and drank. They had talked about trivia and bonded into the twilight hours. Then there was the kiss. John remembered every second of it. It was like a scene from a movie, which he played over and over again in slow motion. His stomach flipped upside down every time he remembered their lips slowly dancing over each other, how on occasion, Rudy would trip over John’s lip ring. Their tongues met, mingled, caressed, loved. ‘Dude, you sound like a teenage girl,’ Brian commented. ‘Shut up. It’s really sweet,’ Abbie retorted.


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‘I’m just teasing. I’m happy for you.’ ‘It’s amazing. I just can’t believe it. It’s only been a day. Wow.’ John was rubbing his hands together and fiddling with his various piercings. ‘I can’t believe it either. I didn’t even think he knew who you were,’ Abbie remarked. ‘I guess we were both looking at each other from afar. When he said, he hadn’t heard of me…he must have been lying. It doesn’t matter how it happened…it just has.’ ‘How did you know he was gay, when you guys kissed?’ Brian asked. John shrugged. ‘I didn’t…I just…the moment felt right and I decided to take a risk. Luckily it paid off.’ ‘What are you going to do next?’ Abbie asked. Today her hair was completely black with blonde highlights. ‘A date, I suppose. Is it supposed to happen like this?’ John scratched his ear and inclined his head to his girl friend. Abbie shrugged. ‘Love is confusing and unpredictable.’ Brian smiled slyly. ‘Aww, you’re in love? That’s so cute.’ *** It was time for History and John was already inside, waiting for Rudy, for his boyfriend? Were they boyfriends now? No. Don’t be silly John. We’re not boyfriends yet. Rudy walked into the room and made eye contact with John. He smiled and approached his seat. Oh my god! Here comes my boyfriend. John was squirming with delight. ‘Oh Rudy. I can’t stop thinking about last night.’ ‘It’s been on my mind a lot too.’ ‘This is just crazy. I didn’t even think you knew who I was.’ ‘I know quite a bit. I just was too scared to say anything.’ John smiled and breathed deeply. He was about to take another risk. ‘Now we’re…you know. I was wondering whether you wanted to do something with me. Is this moving too fast? Oh…I don’t know.’ Rudy chuckled affectionately. ‘It’s fine, John. Don’t worry about it. I’d love to. What were you thinking of?’ ‘It’s a surprise.’ ‘I’ll tell you what’s a surprise. John and Rudy are talking through my lesson again. Would you boys please be quiet?!’ their History teacher demanded.

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*** ‘Am I allowed to see again?’ Rudy had been blindfolded. He wasn’t allowed to know where John was taking him. ‘Yes you are. I wanted it to be a surprise.’ Rudy untied the old school tie from his eyes and looked around. ‘Wow. This is just amazing. Wow.’ The college boy was standing in front of a most tranquil lake. It was completely peaceful and very quiet. The water reflected the dark silhouettes of the skeletal trees, which surrounded the lake banks. John took his boyfriend by the hand and started running off. ‘Come on. We haven’t got much time. Twilight is coming in.’ The two boys started running down a dirt path, past fishermen who gave them strange looks before returning back to their quarries. ‘John…slow down.’ Rudy was breathing heavily and starting to slow down. ‘Come on, we’re almost there.’ At the end of the dirt path was a little wooden boardwalk, which jutted out into the lake. It was used for fishing, but today it was empty. ‘John! Stop!’ ‘We’re here now.’ John walked over to the boardwalk and sat down, before being joined by Rudy. ‘I don’t think I’ve run that fast since I was thirteen and I was running away from some homophobic dickheads. So what did you want to show me? What is this place?’ John thought that Rudy had the softest pair of eyes he had ever seen in any boy. Any enigma in them had melted away and had left behind two pools of caring, kind emotion. ‘This is one of my favourite places to come and just wind down. This is where I come to be antisocial.’ ‘Again, I would never imagine this as being you. With how you look, I’d’ve thought you’d bring me to a heavy metal gig or something.’ John chuckled and rubbed his tongue on his lip ring. ‘You really need to stop listening to those stereotypes. It’s true that I enjoy all of that stuff. I mean, I do love the music and the image and what it stands for, but I’m not like that all the time. I just wanted to bring you here.’ ‘I’m glad you did. It’s gorgeous.’ ‘And in the time we’ve been talking, it’s gotten even more so.’ John directed his boyfriend’s attention to the lake and skyscape. Sunset had just started and an intense red light was reflecting off the wispy Cirrus clouds. The


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whole sky had caught fire; yellows, oranges and ambers were dancing across the atmosphere. The whole spectacle was mirrored in the lake’s indecisive surface. John grinned when he saw Rudy’s astounded face. ‘I was hoping that’d be your reaction.’ ‘This is beautiful and so romantic.’ The two boys made eye contact and there was a moment of pure clarity and understanding. The two lovers fell into a silence as their lips talked for them. Their eyes closed. Their mouths opened. John became lost in his sanctuary. Rudy started to run a hand through his boyfriend’s hair. The lip ring rubbed between their skin.

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MODERN VALUES Annie Maclean “The worst storm of the century”? Nightmare floods. Drowned worms stretched out to rot on saturated land. Banks belch inside their bloating. Guardianships have been forgotten. Anna, in the foodbank queue waits to swallow charity. She cannot shake her rasping cough. The High Street funnels gusts of wind, scattering litter. Bleeding drains.   Young people gamble pay-day loans to buy their beers and breast insertions. On TV, dark-eyed kids are dying. Tigers are butchered. Wars are raging. Has something, somewhere, been forgotten?

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In Loving Memory Of Michael Marrotti I remember you before the epilogue the obituary people dressed in black your final appearance I recall a time when promises were made to be kept living was ordinary There was no in loving memory of in fact to be frank I never knew then the precise date of your birthday

You had a great sense of humor but strayed away from ingenuity We all thought that after the death of your brother you would have walked the other way I miss you but you died just like him living life in a stamp bag and for that you’ve become just another clichÊ


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Nil Met Ed Blundell

We’ve never met and never will. I’m drinking coffee on my own, You’re at a table with a friend, Enjoying cake and idle chat. There’s something in the way you smile And roll your eyes coquettishly. Your blouse, unbuttoned at the neck, Just decent but alluring yet. Your legs, unstockinged, crossed, uncrossed, Suggests a sort of restlessness. I watch discreetly, fantasise On things I know can never be, And as I leave, I smile and nod And you smile back with knowing eyes.

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THERE WILL BE SINGING Anthony McIntyre I packed my rucksack two days ago. It sits underneath the window waiting for the morning. I spent last night listening to the noise of this guesthouse and my own breathing. When I woke, the room was bathed in early morning sunshine. The furniture seemed old and tired as if each piece had been washed in on a restless tide. Hot water from the shower soothed away the fatigue of a sleepless night. I sat at the bedside table and tried to write but the words were shipwrecked. Lost souls screamed for an identity only to be swallowed by solemn waves. I’ve told no one I’m here. The landlady served gluey eggs and wanted us out by nine. I paid with notes, which she crushed into her purse. Black curtains hang at the windows like discarded sails; she doesn’t like to see the sea. I share the dining room with an optician down here for a week of drizzle and depression. The bedrooms are not en-suite. I saw him on the landing. He stood at the landlady’s door. Light and singing spilled from the room as he entered. ‘I’m pleased you’re here,’ she said. The next morning he wasn’t there for his gluey eggs. He had to leave early, a death in the family, she had said. I hesitated before I reached for the rucksack. The one you bought me for those coastal walks. The place I put the box. I hate the way I refer to it as ‘the box’, but I know of no other way. My journal is in a separate compartment; I’ve taken to doodling mindless shapes, and I’ve no one to read it to. Your favourite poem offers no comfort; even my muse has left.  


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I walked the path of broken wrecks to the beach. A sheer rock face dropped away and the tide serenaded along the shingle as it retreated back into the sea. The heavy pull of the earth, or is it the moon? You would have known. I heard my name whispered through the sand dunes. I went barefoot in the sea, the sand between my toes felt like broken bones ground against unforgiving rocks. I took the sightseeing boat around the island. I felt I had to explain to the captain, irrational explanations as to why. He smiled and said he understood. I could see why you loved it here. Guillemots chattered like old friends, puffins launched themselves from high places and made me smile as they landed belly first. Kittiwakes soared above and gannets dived for lunch from a fantasy blue sky. The horizon danced like diamonds, the promises of riches in the distance. I took out the box and carefully opened it. I began to recite your poem, only to stumble on the second line. Then a wind came and took the ashes like a genie released from its lamp, only you didn’t appear. I saw her in the dining room: long legs encased in shimmering nylon, a shoe dangling seductively from her toes. Her blouse struggled to cover her aching breasts. She smiled and said she was a woman with needs. She beckoned me, plumping her hair like a seventies porn star. I entered the dining room and her.   We lay together; all self-respect retreated into the sea.   Then I thought of you. How do you keep a wave on the beach? Guilt crashed around me. Waves hitting rocks and rocks spitting back. I could sense your anger smash against the window. Tears in the rain.   The landlady crossed the room and pulled the black curtain. She put weights in my heart and sent me towards the sea.

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Helen Burke Like some old Injun – that was me dad. On a Friday night, him and me, watching the late film– Maybe a good Bette Davis or Casablanca– All being well– And there would always be chocolate. But ONLY Fry’s cream. Or a good bar of Terry’s dark. None of your lightweight stuff. Not on a Friday night. Not watching Bogart. And in the drawer in the kitchen – bags of chocolate waste That friends had brought. There for small emergencies And little known Saints’ days. But for Casablanca and Inn of the Sixth Happiness And (if we were lucky) The Maltese Falcon– Only Terry’s dark would do. And dad would dance while he watched. Glad of the end Of the working week – and the club tomorrow night (a few pints). And chocolate was the totem of our tribe. And we two would smoke the pipe of peace from all our arguing. And watch Bergman catch that plane into the night. And Mam would be Stands and Says “Do you want a cup of tea or what?” And I would be Writes it All Down With Hope in The Heart. This was and is my tribe. And no need for cavalry coming over the hill. Only the great unvanquished spirit of the earth. Only the wise words that make smoke rings in the heart. (And Terry’s dark.)


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Sequoias Paul Waring


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Storms are big business for sequoias who listen like priests at confession   to chaos of gathered clouds    a black widow orchestra waits  to grieve drum-heavy tension  into open-mouthed leaves  and unquenchable quarries  housing skyscraper roots  arteries   veins   capillaries after the rain  march itchy bark beetles relays of secreting squirrels and outside part-built apartments  metronomic echoes of woodpecker

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THE WESTERN WALL Michael Marrotti He rose to the podium like he was destined for greatness. Calling out the establishment like Martin Luther in 1517. We knew they were fake news but he was the first to point it out. He had us at no amnesty, confirmed his status by promising a wall. Months later, it’s all rhetoric he’s the same establishment he denounced

And we now know who is pulling the strings of this president with an active Twitter account, When the only wall in sight is the Western Wall. We’ve been suckered into voting when No other president has touched it and it’s the only wall that counts.


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Scrittura Magazine Issue 9 Autumn 2017  

This issue is another landmark for us, celebrating the second anniversary of the launch of Scrittura magazine! Two years ago we sent the ver...

Scrittura Magazine Issue 9 Autumn 2017  

This issue is another landmark for us, celebrating the second anniversary of the launch of Scrittura magazine! Two years ago we sent the ver...

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