NEXUS Autumn / Winter 2009
NEXUS Autumn / Winter 2009
Welcome to the first edition of UWICâ€™s Creative Writing magazine, Nexus. Dictionaries remind us that Nexus has at least two meanings - it can represent the process by which things come together, as well as referring to the centre of that connection. It seemed a perfect title for a magazine seeking to bring together and represent creative writing across the university. This Autumn / Winter 2009 edition showcases writing from last yearâ€™s First Year BA (Hons) English & Creative Writing students, in the Department of Humanities, Cardiff School of Education, UWIC. A Spring / Summer 2010 edition will be available in the New Year. Dr Spencer Jordan firstname.lastname@example.org
Wild Roses By Ben Liddle (BA English and Creative Writing, Year One)
Dear Rose, For many years, I have been looking, without knowing it, for you and those like you. I ache for your scent, the texture of your deep red skin. Thoughts of thorns torment my dreams and flickering at the corner of my waking eye, your vibrant colour flashes. You have inspired a thousand poets, brought down kingdoms, seared the souls of lovers and had your petals scattered in the air by those whose hearts are glad to beat. I have never known you, Rose. You slip out of my grasp each time I come close. Often I crash through bramble thickets thinking that I see your perfect beauty, only to discover yet another empty crisp bag, forgotten, faded red and wrinkled by the ravages of time. Can time have meaning for you, reborn each spring to bloom then die? It does not matter, for if you fear to die then come to me in fear and rest your head, if not then come with glorious laughter in your heart and stay with me eternal, until I go to ground and you bow your head beside my place of rest. I beg you come, inspire, respire, breathe your life into me, as I will breathe into you. Take me away and sing in my heart. Yours forever Author.
Dear Author, I have tried, God knows Iâ€™ve tried. To each and every Man (not men alone you understand but your entire race) I have been fair and shown myself in desperate hope that one day you understand. I can do no more than this. Each poet is so inspired not in my name, but in their own. My beauty is diminished by the page, for while a rose is but a word, a word is not the Rose. No kingdoms have I killed, no lovers saved. But I have watched. You clamour for me yet you will not work. Your hands are petrified by soil and so you seek a false economy, a rose in nothing but the name, no earthly smell, no thorns, no drops of honest moisture on the leaves. Where are your sonnets to the worm, that miracle? Would your amour not accept the tender gift of half a bag of soil, a flint? And why must you make me frail? Loveâ€™s not frail, and nor am I, nor weak, defenceless, apt to die in frost. A rose is hard, protected, unafraid. We grow from stony ground and still we reach great heights. Damn you and damn your inspiration. If you love, then love, if you must fight then fight. But leave me be. Forever, Rose.
Stranger By Jamie Watts (BA English and Creative Writing, Year One)
Two shots, a second apart, fire out. The heft of the blast, and the subsequent ringing drones, reveal the offending weapon to be a 1902 Holland and Holland double rifle. Set against the drabs of winter, seasoned with drizzle, one would not commonly find fowl out on open field, braving their heads to the indecisively mourning sky. A weathered man of age strode intently, though not forcefully, towards his target. The hound sniffed curiously over the carcass, excitedly pawing its find in anticipation of its master. As the gentleman bent to gather the bird, the hound continued to actively investigate the fowl until, quite unreasonably, the man batted the dogâ€™s snout with his now un-mittened hand and sighed to himself. As bleak as it indeed was, Brian knew of no other place he would rather be. For him this landscape, this life, was all he could ever envisage, all he could ever manage. Times were once where he had many great plans to travel to the south Americas. But he was young then, and besides, wheels were much easier to set in motion when the component parts were still well oiled and eager. As he turned to leave he took a moment and stood. The hound eagerly nudged his knees and made a low whimper. alright lad. i ken still walk by mâ€™self fer now. youâ€™re as old as me remember. As Brian went to close the lock on the rifle the hinge seized up. It was probably the cold. He slowly rubbed the hinge and tried again.
Gradually the rifle was coaxed into closing back up and locking into place. The rifle was well maintained for its vintage age and was only now showing its years; slowly yielding to the weathering effects of the moors and the routine of use. From behind lightly frosted panes one could see the dense wooded coverts to the south, just past the four-hundred acre fields which belonged to Brian. The small lanes were almost too deeply set into the scene to be easily noticeable from the elevated view as the sides now ventured outwards and gave the impression of a single hedge dividing the fields. The table was set with implements that looked as if wrought, crudely, from the very mines to the north of them. The plate was of a design long since faded and the placemats depicted scenes that were now fine period pieces. Soup was both hearty and practical in this season and Brian settled down with his bowl, a plate of fresh bread and a large pot of tea. Bits of ham remained on the side as Brian periodically passed a piece to the hound sat expectantly at his side. As he raised his mug to his mouth the enamel coating reflected deep orange licks teasing out and falling. The hearth was lined with stuffed animals - minks, ferrets and stoats all stood cautiously, eyeing the scene around them with mock faces of innocent wonder. Placing tobacco into the pipe had always been a most pleasing of tasks and Brian sat back in the chair and observed his countryside. As the clock chimed six times Brian raised the match to his pipe and embraced the smoke. ......................................................................................................................................... The sign for the M74 said four miles to Hamilton. It was curious that of all the places that had red rings around them in the AA guide this was the only one where you were required to actually mentally calculate the miles travelled to the miles necessary in order not to wind up on the main road to Glasgow. The window was open but Anna still refused to light up. It had been a good while now and it would help keep her mind clear and focused, but mere cravings werenâ€™t going to win over at a time such as this. All the signs, all the names, all the endless calculating had taken far more energy than Anna had ever supposed she could reasonably handle. On top of this Anna was hungry. She
hadn’t eaten in over a day and the lack of fuel was setting in. The Range Rover’s handling had irked her from the very beginning and was only now becoming more fluid and bearable. There was such strength in the engine and the re-assuring grumble it made. It felt to Anna as if she could feel the very weight that she was directing at sixty-eight miles per hour and she allowed a small smile to tease her face as she thought of the difference between this car and her old Metro. Clutching her stomach Anna let out a groan and suppressed it. It wouldn’t be long now after all. The wipers were irritatingly constant and fought staunchly against the rhythm of her syncopated music to the point where she finally had to concede and drive in near silence. It then occurred to her that without the music Anna’s mind was drawn, irreversibly, to the scrutiny of her route. Soon she knew that an opening was waiting for her and that failing to turn off she would have to carry on for miles, resulting in the ultimate demise of her trip and the end of everything in sight. Weren’t places out of the way more signposted? Surely it made more sense to provide greater directional assistance for a lesser known place. It was too much hassle to dwell on this however, and Anna finally made the turning right as the scenery changed instantly. The well-levelled motorway gave way, periodically, to gravel-kissed tarmac, to greying pathways and finally narrow, mud-touched lanes. On each side the trees hung down into the path as if patting encouragingly on the shoulder of the hedges, like a proud parent zealously inciting its child to take the first step. As the contrast of the sky gradually dimmed, Anna’s intense scrutiny now turned on a place to stop the car for the night. Past a small brick bridge she had found an agreeable patch on the edge of a farmhouse and gently turned the ignition off. She reckoned that the slowness of the drive and the large wall had sufficiently concealed her presence from anyone who might inhabit the house, and settled down in the backseat and slept. Anna never questioned her place in the world, she only knew of her humble trappings in East Anglia. On the road up to Scotland she quickly realised that she had absolutely no real idea of what she wanted from the trip. It hadn’t really occurred to her at all since she
had packed a rucksack, jumped in the four by four and left. Life in Norwich could be so insular, so paltry. Her pedestrian family wallowed in their middle class success like a finely trimmed privet hedge, contented with what they had, meekly accepting of their constraints in life. The stirring of the grouse roused in Brian a singular moment of appreciative wonder. It was here, at the break of dawn, that he truly felt alive. He recalled reading that a certain part of a person is only ever awake in these hours, a sort of heightened consciousness, as fresh and invigorating as any dip in the lake. The inviting smell of gun smoke and its enveloping nostalgia always brought Brian’s mind back to the steam trains of his youth, passing from Glasgow to the Cotswolds every year to see Nan and Gag and enjoy the tales with tea that always coloured every Autumn. Much work was to be done if the cottage and the grounds were to remain inhabitable. The south field required more work on the soil, the barn needed a new door with hinges and the fence to the west of the grounds required mending after an unlucky incident involving a rushed businessman and an oncoming tractor. This was all menial of course, and Brian was just glad of the yield this year. The stores were suitably stocked and the winter looked to be an easy, relaxed one. Even the pheasants had made a re-appearance. This pleased Brian most of all for, although shooting fowl was a favourite pastime, the pheasant produced such beauty that he could never raise a gun to one. For Brian the bird represented all that’s most divinely elegant in nature’s design. It looked so proud and yet so frail. This quality provided Brian with a tough, but thoroughly satisfying, task of making sure these birds could comfortably inhabit his grounds. The task of keeping the natural predators, such as the fox or the stoat, away from the fowls’ nests was a welcomed hobby and a source of responsibility. This winter would indeed be a treasured one for all of its myriad opportunity. .......................................................................................................................................... By the time Anna rose from her sleep the owner of the cottage had already been up, come back from the town and was mowing the lawn.
The plump lady looked over to the Range Rover just as Anna was taking her in. Her tired indifference contented Anna enough to start the engine and promptly leave without a word. Being back on the lanes was exciting, for, as last evening’s drive had presented tension in abundance, this morning had been relieved of all stress. She could causally navigate the country lanes and take in the beatific scenery. With the windows down, the air was allowed to envelope Anna. She was bathed in the warm, stuffy air that only came about as a result of rain the previous night, and Anna embraced its stuffy electricity. It had come as a pleasant, wanted surprise, when it occurred to Anna that she hadn’t seen a sign for the last hour or so. She had finally left it all behind, quite literally. The range rover knew little of the wilderness, being used as the transit system to town and back for five years, and the suspension willingly took the now uneven, unkempt lanes. Snatches of starlings whistled minutely and dissipated almost before they were heard, and as the leafy growth became more prominent and evidently more diverse, Anna sighed and eased off the pedal to slow the rover down to a hum. She had taken a break off to the right and into denser foliage, mirroring all of her anxiety in the tense swaying of the reeds between the trees. As Anna stepped out of the rover she took a second look at her bag and decided to leave it on the passenger’s seat. She held the cardigan sleeves closer to her chest and breathed out slowly. The chirpy air had a sense of both purity and expectancy, as if by being here Anna needed some reasonable explanation as to her unwarranted presence in the realm of the old world. Her eyes passed over fern and branch with equal wonder. Below the din of nature’s smaller denizens lay an altogether more throbbing murmur. The face of this foliage masked a stream of escalating drive. The trickling in the highs, caused by shallows over pebble, juxtaposed a triad of atonal flourishes; the steady displacement of larger stones at depth rumbling below the perfect harmony of the stream. The first thing to do would be to find a place deeper in, which also retained a suitable size to account for the girth of the four by four. A spot picked for coverage by greenery and visibility over the fields to
the north, or to the left of Anna, provided both practical sentry elements and sheer landscaped beauty. It really was spectacular. The elegant chaos merged perfectly with the inalienable liberty at work afforded by such seclusion. Anna recognized, in the small network of snails making their way to a large crumbling mass of bark, the strive for life which had forever tainted whoever had savoured it before. At the base level, where instinct is the very dictator of all and any desire, life seeks to preserve, not just the bountiful fruits awarded after a life’s work in struggle and modest restraint, but the very journey embarked upon to reach such a triumph. Anna saw now that whatever happens from there on in would only move to carve upon her life what the world had intended; her life would be moulded by that which she had sought to leave behind. ............................................................................................................................................ Lunchtime for Brian came at twelve o’clock sharp every day, and in the warm weather he would sit outside by the barn on his old bench and survey his grounds and its inhabitants, both welcome and unwelcome. Slugs were the gardener’s nightmare, but for Brian the trouble came in the form of weevils, imperially attempting a conquest of his fruit crop each week, only to be held off by a staunch rearguard of pellets and routine extermination with a shovel. Brian respected nature, even feared it in part, but over many seasons an abject dislike for weevils had developed from the sheer problem they presented and often caused. This task would wait for after lunch, however, as Brian considered it an almost relaxed task, best saved to work off the lunchtime meal. The sun shone generously Brian thought, as if the bad weather needed as much of a break from pelting the fields as Brian needed from weathering through them. As he bit into his Ploughman’s sandwich he looked out to the town. The waves of slate quaintly reflected an old passer-by and the church steeple always took on an almost divine glow under the scrutiny of harvest’s greatest benefactor. If it kept up the crops might last that bit longer before the winter months; all the better since any perceived excess could be sold off to the market for a fair price. Thomas ruffled over Brian’s trouser leg and eagerly awaited dividends, purring at his side and glancing up expectantly. The sun
soaked all energy out of the land and Brian reckoned he could afford a nice afternoon smoke, and possibly a small nap, if the weather was going to hold out quite as unexpectedly well as it had been. In the distance Brian could hear the calls of Monty. He only ever barked in the fields when he had found something he thought might interest Brian. After a small trek down hill to the lowermost field he came upon the dog, whimpering the way he does when he had found a bird. The fowl, in all its enticing beauty, was alone in the roots of a slanted alder tree. Brian could see that the bird was on its last evening. He walked awhile until he came across a patch of wildflower and uprooted a knapweed, laying it down beside the root nest of the pheasant. It seemed curious to Brian that a bird so elegant and strutting in its prime could die under a tree like this, with not so much as a mate to see it safely to its last sleep. Brian shuffled off and made his way back up to the house. Monty stayed beside the tree a while, whimpering, and then looked up to his master and slowly followed on. ............................................................................................................................... The opening on to the field required a small trip through the stream and up onto the other side. It didnâ€™t look hard, but then, shallows rarely did and the currents that forced the water down on to the main river, like whip-wielding jailors to unwilling slaves, could be singularly misleading. With a brief spark she seized up her will and plunged down into the river and, having gained a foothold in a none too threatening current, began wading to the other side. The fields were indeed large, and one could envisage a small encampment set up in one of the corners so as not to attract attention. In the wilderness of the lowlands could anyone really own every piece of land? It surely didnâ€™t seem plausible. At that moment a few cockerels rose up in a kind of jagged alarm and as Anna turned to see the direction in which it came, a large hound was already making for her at quite a speed, barking and charging in equal measure. Anna was on her back and looking up at the dogâ€™s excited whimpering, nudging her sides and head with its snout as though it had found downed game. It was around this time of a Wednesday evening that Beryl from the
bakery would phone. Their conversations were muddled, like an elderly couple fumbling to negotiate the gap between platform and train. why’ve ye been a stranger? she would ask. i’ve nae been. just been a wee bit busy is all, he would reply. Then she would go on for what seemed like the whole afternoon at how he’s never busy and has no one to be busy with. And it carried on like it every week. He knew she wouldn’t phone this week. Their last conversation, in the town, outlined that if Brian didn’t show some bottle and take her out to the Motherwell fair then they needn’t bother themselves with each other any longer. Brian stirred at the sound of Monty’s barking. It was likely that the old hound had come across a ferret or stoat or even fox, though Brian knew it was far more likely that a starling or even fowl had become injured and wondered into the field. Getting to his feet Brian noticed the large mass beside the dog and reckoned upon a poacher. The last one was back in sixty nine and ever since, Brian had gotten no trouble from the like again. He was after the bulbs that had been planted three weeks before, which at the time struck Brian as being odd, but nonetheless a nuisance, and firmly apprehended the fool and took him to the constabulary personally, earning a pat on the back and a pint of bitter in the Moorhen’s Trail. This one was female though, the hair was too long, too fair and they were not at all quick on their feet at that. In fact Brian was amazed she had even bothered. monty. monty come away boy. good boy monty. good lad oh i am sorry sir i didn’t realise this land was owned i swear it sir. please if you let me go i’ll not come back i swear. im not here to steal. or trespass is that reet. then hay cum ye know the exac’ way ac’oss the river o’er there then. tell me that yun’ lass. monty come on boy. come away oh i didn’t. i mean i really had no idea that there was a way across i just came looking. looking across the fields. please sir aye ye look tay yung t’be getting ye wee self inta any mischeef. what ye be doin’ here then on this here land. it’s not open te the public ye know. they cannae find it anyway. way out here ye know. hay comes ye gone an’ foond it then oh i dunno sir. i mean. i was just wondering really aye well ye lucky that it was me who foond ye and not some o’te others. nae as understandin’ as me ye see. come up to me wee abode and i’ll fix ye a brew.
From over her shoulder Anna could just make out the outline of her Range Rover beyond the foliage, across the stream. She kept looking towards Brian, searching his expression, still undecided as to whether he was angry or not. She could hardly stop herself from noticing the strain with which he apparently walked and wondered why he had no cane. There was a tacit understanding there. so. whats it like up here. seems awfully cut off from. well. everywhere. s’why i like it so much. cant hear nobody cant see nobody. its perfect really. i ken grow me own vegetables an’ apples an’ pears. though not so many pears lately. sell any left over. along with my barley crop in town. and from there i can get anything else i need. other than that i can go to the moorhen’s trail for a pint or a lunch of a sunday when i feel like it. nice place. cosy. especially on sundays. sounds lovely, it does. do you live with anyone only monty here. who you’ve met already. and thomas me cat. me wife left years back. oh. oh well must be peaceful then. I won’t trouble you for long. i’ll go after my tea. thanks again It wasn’t that Brian disliked the girl, much the opposite; she had fair hair and her petite face recalled features to his mind that he thought he had lost to all eternity. No, she seemed a nice young lass. It was simply that he had all but lost the knack of being in the company of young women. He felt like a rune, etched on the side of a monument to offer an insight into the ways people of the olden days used to live. Of the people in the towns and in the Moorhen’s Trail Brian only conversed with the older gents and Beryl in the bakery on a Thursday. His experience was worn and half perished. As they entered the small cottage Anna caught her breath. It was as if she was in a museum exhibition. Every aspect of the abode gently wheezed antiquity. The only sign of electricity was the classic radio in the corner, the crude lighting system and a telephone. And yet, for all of its modern inadequacies Anna found herself being drawn in by its old brass charm. She saw photos, grainy and greying, of men and women on promenades, a slender man in a military uniform. Anna could feel the unpleasant rising feeling within her bones and tried to take her mind off of it by admiring the animals by the fire.
They settled down at the table and methodically stirred the tea. In the corner of Anna’s eye, behind Brian’s chair, lay several long stocks of wood, all broken in half in the corner of the room as if left for reserve firewood. She felt unsure of where to take the conversation, her obligatory subjects already covered on the way up. She resigned to banally plug away at the beauty of the landscape and perhaps ask more about Brian’s life. After many superlatives in regards to the beauty of the nature and natural history of the setting Anna decided to ask about Brian’s past, how he came to own such a cottage. Brian revealed that although his father was indeed a farmer this land was brought up and tended by Brian himself, having no real passion for livestock farming. That business was best left to better hands. Besides, that job required more attention and Brian liked nothing better than to tend to his birds, his crops and to his shooting. It wouldn’t be practical. so what brings ye way up here then young lass. ye seem a bit out of yer way if ye get me meaning. well. well i guess. i guess i came to get away. leave a few things behind hmm. hmm i see. people getting ye down. they can be like that She told Brian how long she had been on the road and how she planned to settle down up here for a few months. Brian listened intently. They finished their tea and as Anna got up to leave she embraced Brian and couldn’t help thinking of her father, and equally embraced the thought. Brian felt a rushing sensation from his toes to his head and back again and nearly tumbled. thanks. thanks a lot. i needed it. nae problem lass. if you’re up here again don’t be a stranger. They waved and Anna walked back across to the gate and down the road to the opening into the woods where she had left the car. Brian kept chewing over his final words to the girl. Don’t be a stranger. He saw the car leave and then looked to the town. He stepped back in, over the welcome mat, and into the living room. As he looked in the kitchen he saw that the two mugs were still on the table opposite each other. Then he turned and picked up the phone.
Flight By Abigail Heatley (BA English and Creative Writing, Year One)
The lights get brighter each year, I’ll swear it. There would be nights where I’d wake, the sofa stealing my senses and the warmth of my own tiny body caught in its creases while the television still buzzed with the static of Christmas cartoons; I could kind of remember faint voices whispering to leave me in peace and hushing the others’ spongy footsteps all the way up the stairs; my chocolate milk had been taken out before it could get cold. The tree would ignite my oily eyes, every time. It was a part of me. I’d helped to decorate it like a bride and dress it in pictures within pockets, glittery as the stars at this time of year on the films we’d only watch on Christmas Eve. There were a few; too many to watch all on one night. We’d try it anyway. And I’d fall asleep on the sofa. Only a week until Christmas, and I’d done everything to bring it closer; bought presents, sent cards, made lists; I had already learnt from the clock in my classroom that time is ignorant and won’t listen to you, no matter how sincere or reasonable your wish is, like my parents for the best part of the year. They’d always have something to say about my impatience. I think time must fly when you get to their age; they didn’t seem to be very excited at all, or to care all that much either. It was as though it hadn’t hit them yet. It would though, like the snowball, on Christina’s cheek. Christina had been talking to Tom when it happened. It was a
mistake on her part; in Newsdale Primary no girl talks to a boy unless she’s pulling his hair or laughing at him, especially not on her own. Her fingers were tangled within each other, like seaweed, and her eyes seemed lost, or jammed. They couldn’t even make it to his sneaker-white face without falling back to her shoes, which were probably wet anyway. Snow is like secret rain when it finds its way inside your shoes. I think she must have known some kind of reprimand was coming; she looked nervous. Then it happened. A slushy globe of mud-stained snow flew at her, like a bird to breadcrumbs and planted a wet one, right on her cheek. Tom giggled, not aloud, and Christina ran with her tears in our ears. I don’t get what she was so upset about. It’s not like there was any long-lasting harm done; everybody knows that snow just turns into steam and goes anyway, after a bit. So would her tears, come to think about it. “Little boys,” my mum would sigh. There’s a difference you know, between boys and men; men never cry. Only children, and sometimes women on New Years Eve. Men would dance like metronomes, ticking clockwork, rhythmic, for sure, only a little withheld, a little boring. Women on the other hand did cry, and danced with more repose; like sloshing wine that was sure to spill. They’d turn a deep red at each other’s whispers and seal their vicarious delight with a telling hand over their mouths. Children, I’d picked up, were more like women, they wouldn’t grow out of womanhood for a while; and some never did. Only, sometimes a man does cry. Even when he shouldn’t. My dad had taught me this, years ago. They were taking me onto an aeroplane, for the first time ever; my parents. They’d told me that we would fly, like birds or angels; I’d asked questions about heaven, clouds, and the practicality of it all and they assured me that it would work. And that God wouldn’t mind. The week leading into this anxious trip was drawn out and punctuated awkwardly by phone calls and another woman’s name: Anne. I’d heard them both say it a few times; hushed, from their bedroom, my mum spitting it; my father on the phone, softer. Awkward dinner tables would wait, nervous for conversation. The clatter of my cutlery drowned out their muttering, back and forth, like the wagging
of an excited dog’s tail. My mum had spent hours on the food, you could tell. A cake had been baked, larger than any she’d done before; the house had been completely tidied. My father had been coming home late recently and my mum was just keeping busy. “A family trip,” my mum rewound and started again, “like a family”. She looked tired and drained, her eyes painted with drab rings: a teacup’s stain. I was excited. Later at night, their whispers were spat a little louder, sounding moist, like a rainstorm. It was almost violent; I was almost asleep. We landed early in the morning and filled the day with our surroundings: hotel rooms, beaches, siestas, evening meals, comfortable beds and the brightest of nights. I woke to find my father treading heavily into the doorway. “Your mum’s gone out.” A pensive pause. “Let’s go for ice-cream.” The parlour was foreign to me, quieter than I’d known them at home, and subdued. The flavours were limited and turning to cream in the heat; humidity made me clammy. We sat in a corner with my father’s back to the door, his left palm lying flat next to the salt and the fingers on his right stroking its depth, longingly, almost scratching into it. A consuming glance into empty tables and then words, leaking out like an apology; “Your mother…well…we, well, I’ve…” Another, longer, bottomless pause and then a murmur, cavernous and instantly seized by his teeth, catching his lowest lip. It was as though he couldn’t breathe; his eyes looked suddenly bloodshot and raw, swelling up like a bruise and dripping tears. The tenderest, most honest tears I’ve ever seen. Not like my mum’s, not so desperate. His shoulders engulfed the extent of his neck and he became stiff, like a trapped animal. And in an instant he had stood up, turned around; I could see he was straightening his tie. His words soaked into meaning once he’d left, “Excuse me, I’m going to the toilet.” He returned as before and bought ice-cream as planned; mint-choc-chip, for two. When my mum arrived from her walk they talked, probably planning the week ahead, the week that became tied in our cohesive company: the week that was enjoyed, embellished with presents and
attention. I yawned the journey home through, whilst my father slept, my mumâ€™s eyes fixed open. She looked hungry, her figure skinnier than weâ€™d left. Arms pin-thin, like matchsticks. Waiting to be lit.
Funeral of a Young Man By Ioan Morgan (BA English and Creative Writing, Year One)
They gathered early to save a seat, Hurrying in from the slanting rain that stung our cheeks, Falling in tune. Reverential whispers in dusty pews smelt of the past and pitched you forward into prayer. Serried rows of blackened shoulders and reddened eyes, Filling the balcony, upstairs and down, and on into the vestry. Hundreds more stood outside. The service all in Welsh with hymns and tender tributes and bitter sweet rhymes from school mates. Prayers and supplication and in between Llef and Gwahoddiad His music - corny pop made poignant. Puff Daddy at Tabernacl. And the believers drank - in the words of God And saw reason in his madness And it sustained them, bore them up But for us the lumpen Godless, no such peace of mind. Though, I did notice, on shuffling out, through the heavy chapel door, That the rain seemed kinder on my face.
Bionic Beauty By Louise Cosgrove (BA English and Creative Writing, Year One)
The room reeked of chemicals still fresh in the air from the night before. He felt uneasy as he peered about the bright white room and walked nervously into it. His eyes squinted and began to run. “Sorry about that, we need it bright in here for the…” He would never know what the reason was that he was being near blinded and wasn’t happy either that this could hinder his decision-making process. Apparently, however, ‘Samuel’ had a crisis that could only be solved at that particular moment. “Yah yah, well I’m sorry, Samuel, I really am but we simply cannot go under ten thou. No, no that just won’t do, it won’t do at all.” A charismatic person she may be, but annoying certainly. He wondered to himself what else he expected from a person in her line of work: the ability to take a breath between sentences perhaps. She stood hand on hip in a tight fitting black dress and suit jacket. He noticed her immaculately manicured long fingers as she held her hand up and ran them through her jet black hair. “So anyway, Dave, tell me, tell me, tell me, which little lady here takes your fancy?” Dave glanced up to take in the room properly, smelling the artificial air. This decision was impossible.
“Um, well, I don’t know, Deborah; it’s a hard choice to make, you know, appearance wise. What do you think?” Deborah looked Dave up and down; her blue eyes judgmental, and thought about this for a long second. How could she tell the spectacled, corduroy suited man to her left that she didn’t recall having a Woman there who she could see him with? She needed this commission after all, her en-suite needed a new look almost as much as Dave did. “Doll, you seem like a very nice guy and all, but I’m working on the clock here honey, now who takes your fancy?” He was immediately drawn to the blonde right in front of him. A bionic beauty. She looked like Paris Hilton’s younger sister but with dark, piercing eyes; he’d never seen anyone so pristine. He’d never seen himself with a blonde, probably because Marie wasn’t, and she was the only one he had been with anyway. Only now he had the choice. ‘Easy enough decision,’ he thought to himself, and was surprised at how little time he’d spent on it having once taken twenty minutes deciding whether to wear black or navy socks to work. Dave’s eye’s shifted as he swept his feet warily back towards Deborah. ‘Wait’, a voice in his head made him stop dead in his tracks. ‘It can’t be.’ It had been nearly a year now since he had been able to look upon this face which had been the first thing he saw when he went to sleep, and was smiling at him when he woke up. It was difficult to look at this, this imitation of Marie, but wasn’t that what this ‘investment’ had all been about? He couldn’t have the real thing anymore, she was in another place, but he wouldn’t give her up. Marie’s majestic green eyes were like saucers on her heart shaped face, draped with strawberry blonde hair. Dave remembered how it hung perfectly, showing off her freckled shoulders. There she was. Yes, that was definitely her. She looked just like her. ‘She’s perfect.’ “Erm, yeah, so I would like to take this one right here.” Pointing to his strawberry goddess and beaming Deborah looked thoroughly bored
by the whole decision making process and simply clicked her fingers, ushering over a boy stood in the far corner of the eerie warehouse. “She’s all yours, Dave, honey, enjoy. Vincent here will sort out all the details, payment and the paperwork. I have to dash I’m afraid, I hope you’ll be so happy with her.” Dave listened to her, nothing she said sounded unrehearsed and blasé. He woke, his head resting on the keyboard of his laptop. Deleting the jumble of letters from the last paragraph he began to read back. The phone broke his concentration and although he was in no mood to talk to anyone it beat listening to its harsh, persistent ring. “How are you, Davey?” His brother, it didn’t surprise him, it was near enough ten thirty and he always called from work, ever since the accident. “Look I’m sorry about last time we spoke, but I stand by what I said, you can’t just make people come back into your lives. You need to move on. It’s not healthy.” “Yeah, good- err, can I call you back later, and I’m kind of working, so yeah I’ll call you.” Moving through the dimly lit room, sitting himself down on the couch next to the bionic beauty, Dave let out a sigh and looked hard at her face. “Now, my love let’s hear that sweet dulcet voice I’ve missed so much.” He took the remote hidden under the polystyrene balls from the cardboard box and pressed the volume button. Almost at once a grating, monotone sound erupted from the doll positioned at his side. “Hello, Dave, it’s me, Marie.” Something was different. Ah who was he kidding? It would never be her, never really her. He raised his arm throwing the remote aggressively back into the box. Sighing frustratingly he vigorously jumped up and snatched his car
keys off the coffee table positioned in the centre of the room. Cursing loudly, banging his leg on the table he headed for the door, got in his Peugeot and drove.
NEXUS Autumn / Winter 2009