Tag Archives: fiction

Suddenly, Someone Brings Up Hemingway #3

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USE VIGOROUS ENGLISH

The sign in the window read: Full set nails £15.

It was a busy shop.

The lights that ran around the sign seemed to dance in a kind of Morse code; all dots and dashes. Bian Cai sat at the desk next to the window answering phones all day. It was dark and dull outside. It had been all day. The blinking lights began to hurt her eyes. Still, she felt this was much better than having to wear the face mask. The shop had an acidic smell to it but she did not have to worry sitting at the reception desk. It was not as strong there.

Bian Cai was glad that she did not have to use drills or electric files today either. She would not be shouted at if the drill slipped and cut a cuticle of some guileless, bland girl. She would not have to concentrate so hard when she looked down at the countless hands, shaping and filing pale nails of these insipid women who just stared at her, not saying a word.

And she was happy not to have to touch the customer’s hands.

They had soft, pink hands. They looked so clean. Soft and pink and clean. They had never known hard work. They had never known what it was like to climb or grasp or pull. They had never hit at men’s chests.

“Can you tell me anything about the procedure or the product?” The voice on the phone was harsh and almost sing-song. It was definitely British but not like the people that usually come into the shop.

“You come in. You can see. I book you in. Ok?” Bian Cai hated when they asked questions. She let Sang Ngu answer those kinds of questions. She was older and had been there longer. She was Big Mother to all the girls.

The voice on the phone asked about someone working there. She asked about a student doing work experience. Bian Cai said yes. The voice asked about liability insurance number and if she would answer health and safety questions.

“Who is this?” asked Bian Cai

“Siobhan Grainger. From the college. Asking after your work experience student, Mel Gray. I need to fill in the Health and Safety Vetting before she can work there,” said the voice.

“Oh no. We don’t need any vetting. We are ok.”

“No, WE need to do the vetting. Mel listed that you had agreed to take her on for work experience and we need the information to ensure that she is protected…” the voice kept going and Bian Cai looked around the shop. She saw all the girls she knew in the world diligently filing and painting away. No one looked like they would carry a name like Mel Gray. She became fearful. Was this a trick? Was this police seeking to shut the nail bar down? Bian Cai could not go back to being under old, sweaty men again. She could not endure nights of walking in next to nothing down the city streets and being made to do things to fat, old men.

“No, we do not need work experience students. We do not have them here. Thank you. Good-bye.” Bian Cai replaced the phone. She heard Kieu advise a client that she would need a new set of nails. Not infills. She even offered her the special price of £10 instead of £15.

They would all sleep well tonight. They would all be safe tomorrow.

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Suddenly, Someone Brings Up Hemingway #2

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USE SHORT FIRST PARAGRAPHS

He spent the night with an old friend. A woman.

It was a bright, crisp day. It had not been this lovely for a long time. Winter was giving way to spring but this upset Emma. A new season would mean new clothes. But months of being happy in a new relationship showed around her belly and thighs. Too many nights down the pub. Too many nights ordering from the chippy.

She moved alongside of Gina through the Victoria Centre. Innocuous faces floated by as she followed Gina through the exit and began to merge with the crowds on the street. They had not been in the city for more than an hour but already the blur of white noise made Emma feel tired and lost. “I’d rather be on my couch,” she said.

“Let’s go get breakfast before we start shopping,” said Gina.
They crossed the street and meandered through Nottingham until they found a narrow street that led to a teahouse. The smell of bacon assaulted them as they opened the door. Emma looked at Gina. “Oh God. Food.”

“We can start our diet on Monday. Forget about everything today. Let’s just have fun. We never get to be together anymore,” said Gina. Emma looked at the menu and shrugged.

Rog was away on business with Katrina. Katrina of university days. Katrina of smiles on Facebook. Katrina of countless and pointless text messages. Katrina. Not-in-a-relationship-Katrina. Non-fat-Kat. And Rog was away on a business trip with her. Emma checked her phone. He still had not sent Emma a text since yesterday. Emma had kissed him and whispered naughty things in his ear while Katrina was in the other room preparing her briefcase. Katrina had joked with Emma about life and love and sex and lack thereof. Katrina spoke about needs and having been rejected by some man she only just met. Rog had laughed. He had been amused. Emma smiled and offered words of comfort. Kat had smiled. But now, Emma had not heard anything from Rog. Is Rog giving Kat “the business”? Rog had kissed Emma goodbye before she left him in the very capable hands of the smiling Katrina.

Six months into her new relationship with Rog, Emma had only met Kat once before yesterday. She might have been ok with this over-night trip had Rog never mentioned how he once fancied Kat. He said that it had been a failed pass. Kat did not even remember that incident. But they became friends because of a chemistry that revolved around wit, business and energy. “A great set of knockers don’t go amiss, either,” said Emma.

“Fuck sake. Are you still thinking of them off together?” Gina shook her head. “If anything was going to happen, it would have happened a long time ago, right? He’s with you now. You both look so happy.”

“They are just on business,” said Emma. She picked up her mobile phone and checked it for messages. She dropped it into her handbag. “So, shall we have cake and coffee or just a blow-out breakfast?”


Kerouac Rules For Spontaneous Prose #27

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In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness

The Lodger

Woodward. He’s just there—but not like a piece of furniture—more like a pet—but one that no one particularly wanted in the first place– a stray, taken in on the short term—and no one has had the heart to chuck him out.

He wakes up cocooned in duvet warmth on a fold-away bed across from the double bed he once slept in before Macaulay came home from university. That was seven months ago and Woodward has not made any effort to find new digs. He sleeps in until well after noon—groggily coming to—laying in vacuous thought in the cot over his worldly possessions—fantasy books, scraggy clothes, a bong and porn. His long, blond hair and Jesus-like countenance makes him look docile as he rises from the cot, stretches and glides into the hall before quietly closing himself in the loo.

Downstairs, Macaulay’s girlfriend startles as she realises they are not alone in the house. Her uneasiness makes her oddly self-conscious. Macaulay reads this and reassures her that they will not be disturbed.

“He was late coming home last night. Coked out of his mind. He might just stay up there,” he said and kisses her. She tenses and shakes her head.

“He should get a job. Why is he still allowed to live here if he can’t pay rent? Isn’t that what a lodger is supposed to do?”

“He said he thinks he is ready to start looking for a job now. So that is good, right?” Macaulay smiled, kissed her again. Upstairs, they heard the toilet flush and the wispy-whisking-whisk sound of baggy trousers moving down the stairs. The couple’s eyes opened as they were still locked in their kiss. Diffidently, they pulled apart from each other and forced some distance between them.

Woodward appeared in the doorway, asked if the kettle had just boiled and if there was any milk. Macaulay and the lodger lapsed into a conversation that must have been started at some other time because to the girlfriend it made no sense. The lodger moved from the doorway and back into the kitchen and Macaulay got up from the couch and followed him. The girlfriend checked her outfit and began looking around for her bag and coat.

Macaulay reappeared to find his girlfriend getting ready to leave. She made her apologies to Macaulay, passed the lodger in the front hall and caught a whiff of marijuana entwined with tea — “Sorry, I’ve got to go. See you, babe– Bye Woodward.”—The lodger turned around and sat in the front room with Macaulay—he put his mug of tea on the table and picked up the Nintendo controller and settled in to play until someone moved him out of the front room or until he got an invitation to go out of the house.

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A Piece Within the Novel– Stream of Consciousness

imagesCAQ3TW8LDriving to work on a Monday morning, my body is in auto-pilot whilst my mind is meandering from room to room looking for the next big fix to get me back into the life-space of all the other souls—the ones that sit next to me at work—the ones that stand behind me in the queue at the post office—the ones that seem to be going out to the park with their kids every weekend and seem to be so jolly-happy all the time. Meandering within the catacombs, the vaults, the chambers—whatever they are—in my head to find where it all went so incredibly dark.
There was trust there, once upon a time, lying in the sun with someone who had my best interests at heart. That one-time-ago place that sends us into reverie of “whatshouldhavebeens” that keeps us from opening up to that “whatcouldbenow”. It keeps me from lying in the sun again. It keeps me from being warm again. It keeps me in that Narnia where everything looks really pretty but dormant-dead. Walking through the building from hall to hall, nodding to all the others who look as empty as I feel—“Good morning…”
Walking around the aisles at Tesco, I see my friend’s husband. We smiley-chat about spouses, kids and dogs. He recommends a beer to take home to “Him-indoors”. Smiles, tentative plans, give-my-loves and then he is gone. Meandering again, this time into old-time songs sung on a Saturday night and the fairy-lights in the garden and the smell of spilled wine—and the memory that you had my best interest at heart when you said you had to set me free.
Back home now with the kids wanting this, throwing that, being unquenchable in their need for something that I cannot give them. The failure of home-cooked dinner hangs in the air as I try to breathe. Night-time ritual and Himself sips that recommended beer. The kids go to bed. Checking Facebook, I read status after status : He’s in a relationship. They’ve been down in Cornwall. They celebrated a friend’s engagement. He’s happy with a cup of tea.
I update mine: “Ah, hubby is happy with his new beer, bless him. My ickle angels are tucked away in bed. Now for a bit of me time. Roll on the weekend!”
How chained I am to this freedom.


(CALIATH)

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