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Laura // Pushing // “My longing inside…”

My longing inside pushes me to say

Those words

An incantation of the desires I hold

That should be buried and forgotten about.

Instead the air pushes the words up through my lungs,

They rush past my teeth,

As my head screams at my heart “Don’t do it!”

Alas the communication strands have already been broken.

“I love you.”

Three little words said to the wrong person,

Push my world beyond any recognition

As the future shatters around me. 

Andrew // Pushing // “I met this…”

I met this old guy in the shelter yesterday. I’m not sure I believed a word he said, he didn’t look like he’d ever amounted to anything, even a small time dealer, but this is what he told me:

I used to be specialised, me. Pills, pills were my thing. You wanted uppers, downers, hallucinogens, designers, I had the lot. I even ran to some acid of the sort that went out of favour many many years ago. Had quite a few old timers and burn outs come to me to live the sixties all over again. Sad, really. But nothing like as tragic as this particular story I’m about to tell you. This was a proper tragedy and soon after these events I gave up pushing altogether.

So anyway, I’m at a party - this is many years ago you understand? I’m at this party, it’s a fairly upmarket do. That’s one of the perks of my old line of work, lot of invites, lot of parties. People who wouldn’t give you the time of day as they run out from their posh hotel to the cab, or even the limo, waiting outside, they’re suddenly keen to have your company if they know that you can supply the necessary to let their little party go with a swing.

So. I’m at the party, ‘soiree’ actually was what the chap called it, in some huge loft-space apartment in the city. It was all white walls, discrete lighting, modern art. In fact the place would’ve looked like an art gallery which someone had dumped a bedroom and a beer fridge in, except it had far more people in it than any art gallery I ever heard of.

I’m actually getting on quite well with a young lady. She’s sampled some of my more extreme wares early on in the evening and is no longer standing on the same planet as anyone else. She’s in her own universe, in her own bubble and she’s grinning at me a lot and clutching onto me like she might fall down any moment if I wasn’t there. She’s got a tiny dress and huge hair (this was a while ago) and I have to say I’m rather enjoying her clutching onto me.

Anyway the chap who owns the loft-space-gallery-house (I can’t remember his name for the life of me now, but I remember he was wearing a red shirt and braces to this do. Twat.) introduces me to Mark and tells me to give him something to chill him out. Mark’s from out of town, he’s nervous, he’s a friend of a friend and unused to these little debauches.

Mark grins up at me. Timid. He’s got a little downy moustache and he’s sweating slightly. Good grief. Poor guy. I decide to start him on some new and exciting stuff I got from the Russian and one discreet transaction later (I am renown for the discretion of my little transactions, or at least I was) he’s the proud owner of two tiny blue Angel Eyes. “These will calm you down, make you feel good, help you enjoy yourself” I tell him. I pat him on the back as I’m telling him this, but gently, he looks breakable. I’ve told him to take them both at once, down them with the remainder of his rum and coke. Dutifully, he does so. In fact, looking at his pale little face and his worried eyes I’m thinking, Jesus, here’s a guy who’d take twenty pills and chase it with a bottle of bourbon if someone told him to. He had the look of a man whose been doing what he’s told his entire life.

He slopes off and I turn back to the attentions of my young lady but she’s buggered off while I was transacting. Damn. I saunter through the press trying, and failing, to scope her out.

I’m heading towards the kitchen-bit of the loft when I hear shouting and hollering behind me. Everyone’s heading towards the noise which is soon drowning out the electronic music they’ve got playing. In the centre of the loft the party-goers have made a circle around something: my first thought is ‘fight! Fight! Fight!’, it looks just like a circle of children crowding round a playground scrap.

In the centre of the circle though there’s no scrap, in fact there’s just one figure. It’s a man: shirtless and with a bottle of JD in each fist. It looks like he’s poured most of the JD down himself: his hair and face and hairless chest are slick with it. He’s whirling faster and faster and faster round on the spot and spraying the rest of the JD at the circle of people round him some kind of insane fountain. It’s Mark. And he’s screaming as he goes round, screaming and screaming. At first I think it’s just a shriek, but then you can make out words: ‘Angel Eyes! Angel Eyes! Angel Eyes!’. Oh shit. I’m going to get in trouble for this one. They don’t seem pissed off though: the people around him are hollering and egging him on.

Even when he strips his trousers and pants off and stands stark-bollock naked in the centre of the room people are still applauding him: it’s great entertainment. But when he pushes open the big loft window and steps out onto the window ledge the mood changes. Two things quickly become apparent: 1) he’s managed to scramble up onto the flat roof, 2) everyone’s turned to glare at me: it’s now my problem.

I hadn’t even realised it was raining out; the slippery ledge nearly proves my undoing as I clamber after the mad bastard. He’s standing, arms upraised to the lashing rain laughing and laughing like he’s never going to stop. I call out but he doesn’t hear me, or he can’t hear me.

“Angel Eyes! Angel Eyes!” The mad bastard screams up at the sky and the rain and then, with a huge grin plastered all over his mad bastard face he runs full pelt at the edge of the roof and leaps off. For one stupid moment he hangs there, bollock naked, wet from the rain, suspended in mid-air and I actually think ‘he’s going to fly, he’s actually going to fly’. He doesn’t, of course.

I can barely make out what’s left of him, the rain and the dark make it hard to see and it’s a long way down. Knowing that there will be questions and a whole load of policemen to ask them, I slip straight down the fire escape and head back home.

I can’t sleep that evening. I think ‘fuck it, why not?’ and, for the first time try one of the Angel Eyes. I want to feel the hit that made Mark feel he could fly. I’m not daft though, I just take the one. After half an hour of absolutely nothing I take another Angel eye and, finally, two more. Nothing.

In the morning I take the Angel Eyes to my chemist friend. He tells me that the bastard Russian I bought them off stiffed me; the Angel Eyes contain just two things: paracetemol and blue food colouring.

I gave up dealing a few months after that, I didn’t have the stomach for it anymore. Sometimes it’s not the drugs you need to be scared of you know: it’s the things your own mind is pushing.

Louise // Pushing // “Two thirty-six and…”

Two thirty-six and twenty two seconds. Twenty three…twenty four…twenty five…twenty six…

His arm fell back down onto the sand but the never-ending ticks from his watch still echoed in his head.

Twenty seven…twenty eight…twenty nine…

He had been lying in the same spot since dawn. The sand had slowly warmed as the sun had risen and gradually pushed its way through the thick cloud cover. As he skimmed the sand nearby with his hand, the radiating warmth felt comforting as if encouraging him to stay still. However he was conscious of the cool damp sand that remained beneath him. He could feel it against his skin as if the sand had permeated his clothing and was slowly working its way through his very being. Trying to shift the idea that this cold surrounding him alone may be a reflection of his inner self, he contemplated moving a few feet along the beach.

…Four fifty-one and eleven seconds. Twelve…thirteen…fourteen…fifteen…

To move would have defeated the purpose of being there he had decided. He had to prove he could do this, even if it was only to himself. He raised his arm and counted the hours on his watch, guessing a few more until dark, wondering how many until someone missed him.

Further up the beach someone was calling their dog. Tilting his head towards the noise, he could just make out a small black shape darting in and out of the waves paying no attention to its human companion. The shouting continued, increasing in pitch and frequency but unfortunately decreasing in distance as the man started to walk round the bay.

He turned his gaze upwards again hoping they would miss him or at least ignore him if he acted uninterested in them. A small aircraft broke the clouds far above, nothing more than a dark dot against the white and bright blue. He wondered what it would be like to soar with only the birds to keep you company, to look down at a world seemingly devoid of life. Images of the world from airplane windows flashed through his mind, all borrowed from films or television shows as the closest he had ever been to flying had been jumping out of the top of the tree in his father’s garden five years ago. That effort had resulted in a broken arm, numerous days off school and several months of boredom after being banned from doing almost everything by his mum he recalled absentmindedly rubbing the small bump in the bone which was the only physical reminder of the accident. But to fly, to soar, to float, to feel the air rushing past, to see the world stretching beyond sight, oh to have that experience. He wondered if the birds realised how lucky they were.

The waves continued their relentless crawl up the sand, slowly inching their way towards his feet. Realising he hadn’t considered the possibility the tide could come so far up the beach thoughts of moving resurfaced. Looking around he soon discovered himself alone once more. There was no sign of the man and his dog, no calls carried by the breeze, no rustling in the undergrowth as something pushed its way through, no footsteps. Just his breathing, the ticking of his watch, the gentle breaking of the waves and the sighing of the breeze. He hadn’t noticed the sun had already started to sink between the edge of the sea and the sky. Swinging his arms out from his sides, he found nothing but cold sand. Already the heat of the day had been lost, the light was fading and the day had gone full circle.

As the darkness crept over his head, the words of yesterday rang in his ears.

“not good enough”

“lacking purpose”

“uncommitted to any goal”

“never pushing himself enough”

Remembering their doubts he became even more determined to stay on the beach, even more determined to prove them wrong. He knew he could achieve something unexpected, all he had to do was push himself.

The sky was now a dark inky blue dotted with specks of light as if someone had thrown a handful of sand into the abyss. The cold light of the moon had replaced the warmth of the sun, and now reflected in the water bathing the landscape with just enough of a glow to pick out its features. After clearing the sky of the clouds of earlier, the breeze had also disappeared.

He wondered if they had thought of him, if they were worried or concerned. They probably thought he was in his room reading or working, he’d come down for food if he were hungry so there was no need to bother him; he decided they wouldn’t have noticed he wasn’t around.

… one fifty-five and three seconds. Four…five…six…

It was silent now except for the waves but even they seemed to be sleeping. He was completely alone; there were no lights apart from those in the sky, no noises, no signs of anyone else existing. But he suddenly realised he liked this feeling. Trying to pretend that everyone else on the planet had in fact vanished, he imagined spending his days wandering the length of the coast, swimming in the sea, running in the fields. And finally he smiled. He had found what he had been longing for.

He decided at that moment to stay exactly where he lay. On his little spot on the beach, overlooking the bay, surrounded by the water and the sky. All he had had to do was to rise to their challenge. He had pushed himself and made it through. And with that the sun began to push up from the horizon, ready to start it all again. 

Max // Pushing // “Stood facing each…”

Stood facing each other,

One hand on the door.

You don’t have to…

She whispered. Don’t say anything.

 

Hollow eyes staring,

There’s nothing left to say he said.

If you push that door you’ll be gone.

Don’t come back I won’t be here.

 

Staring straight ahead at him,

She pushed the door walked out

And was gone,

Without a backwards glance.

Mark // Pushing // “I take my…”

through the Block”

I take my shoes off as I lean back in my chair, stretching, shaking off the anger that had built in my bones.  I go looking for things that will anger me, but they are the things that allow me to feel alive and get my creative juices flowing.  I can write hundreds of thousands of words on why religion is such an annoying thing in the current world, but sometimes my anger gets the better of me and I have to sit back and stop, take stock, and remain calm.

I look at my blinking cursor as I start to think what I am going to write for this weeks topic.  I had tried to write a short story earlier in the day about two friends called Calum and Matt, one straight and one gay, one who is religious and the other who is not, and that they were moving flat.  It was going no where, but I was wary of jumping down the rabbit hole of trying to wrestle with the third person arguments of for and against, but it was already 500 words in and going no where - like a first chapter of a Cormac McCarthy novel, but without the bleak text and disassociated prose.

Prose.  I look at another newspaper article on the second tab of five open on my computer that talks about the new wave of Fashionable Atheism that is apparently appearing in the UK and my blood involuntarily boils and simmers again.  I look at my Microsoft Office Communicator status message “Good without god” and the deliberately lowercase name of the deity, and wonder what people who are religious think when they see it.  Are they as enraged as me when I see Romans 1:16?

I hope they are.  I am doing it to get a rise out of people, to protest.

I consider what I should be writing and that my lunch break is almost over.  I should’ve been focusing on a narrative, something similar.  Instead, I stand up and go and grab a coffee, or at least that’s what I want me peers to think.  I get half way to the door of my office when I see that my office co-habitant is not sitting there, his computer locked out.  I was certain he had been sitting there not a few seconds earlier.

I realise I am still only wearing socks.  I go back and slip my shoes on, before heading back to the door of the office and out into the corridor.  Suddenly, i realise something is amiss - the lights are all out, and each office door that lines the corridor is closed.  This is very uncommon, even after hours - the lights are sensor activated and the office doors are never closed.  The hairs on my neck pick up in response to the sight of the dark office.

I walk to my friends’ offices to see if they are there.  I slowly open the door and find that the office is empty - not even any furniture is there, no Scotland flags adorn the walls; it’s bigger than I remember it and darker than it should be.  Into the main corridor I look into another office - it’s empty too.  I am suddenly a little aware of something watching me, but I can’t quite figure out what it is.

I head to the lifts and push the button for going down - nothing happens.  No noise, no light, not even the temperature of the metal button transfers to my finger.  I press it again, but nothing happens.  I look to the window that is at the end of the hallway and notice that there is nothing outside.  The silence is so loud.

What is going on? I ask myself.  I can see myself typing this question in my head.  There is silence swirling around me.  White.  Black.  Text.  I walk to the other side of the office and head to the other toilet area, where there are several water fountains.  My lips are suddenly incredibly dry and my throat is cracking and I push the button on the fountain but nothing comes out.  I stand back up and feel suddenly a hand pulling at my right shoulder.  I turn around to find nothing there - no office, no cubicle dividers, no computers, just infinite grey expanse of nothing.  A whisper of something brushes my conscience, but it doesn’t stick.  No creation and no development.  There’s nothing there but me and my mind and I am looking at the end of infinity.

I hastily start back towards my office, but instead I turn to the emergency exit door and push the barrier entering the fire exit stairwell.  I work on the fourth floor, so it’s not too high up, but I dislike walking up them each morning.  As the fire exit door starts to close behind me I suddenly hear voices from the other side of the door.  I lunge back and pull it back open.

The office is busy again.  I am suddenly holding the door open onto the wildly busy office, telephones are going off, the lights are bright, and the air con is humming.  I slowly walk back to my office and see that everyone’s working away.  I am confused.

I sit back at my computer screen and it’s exactly as I left it, cursor still blinking away, my two characters, Calum and Matt, still in limbo.  They are still sitting outside their old flat in my story, awaiting my ending. 

Did I imagine it all?  Was the office empty or busy?  Did that even happen?

I know what I am going to write.

Callum // Pushing // “The swing was…”

Tree Swing

The swing was just off a path adjoining the main path; it was to be found in a wonderful forest made of Alder trees and Birch. It was remote, the type of place you could go for a day and only see a handful of people, as the village was that far out and the locals never really walked as far. I like the idea of being with nature and this forest was teaming with wildlife; you could see a lot more than the handful of different species that you see in town. A river was visible from the swing; the river had plenty of little fish in the deeper parts, but was more of a slow and shallow run in this area.

Have you ever seen those lovers’ films where the man swings his girl on the swing, painted with a white wooden plank for a seat and the flowing ivory growing over the ropes? The swing was like that but without being painted and without the ivory on the ropes. It was green, with mould growing over the ropes, slowly rotting them away, until one day they will break. Though, it had been there for as long as I can remember.

I had my first kiss there. There was a girl that had just moved into the village. I was partnered with her on her first day and the teacher asked me to show her around the school. There was a custom where you knocked on the door of every class and introduced the new student. We knocked on every classroom door and I introduced Imogen, the students all shouting “HELLO IMOGEN”. I was only thirteen, but I was fairly confident at this age, and I had the coolness to say “smell you later” after every introduction - only to have a stern look from every teacher and a few laughs from the class. Even though I was fairly confident and lively, I never really interacted with many people outside of my friends circle. I had two friends and I was never the leader, the most entertaining, or the most interesting – though I tried to be all of them. The alpha male was a guy called Kissy - which was his knick name. He got it from kissing a frog as a dare; he was basically bullied into it, and it took many a month of people blowing kisses and shouting frog at him, until the name settled as Kissy. The other guy was a bit of a dork, though he had a sense of humour that no teenager could resist. He once flicked a piece of clay from a ruler at the teacher. It landed on the teacher’s glasses square smack in middle and covered his eye sight - he looked up, stood up, and walked out the classroom with the clay still on his glasses. I think it was a bad day for him, but it was the funniest day ever for the class.

After introducing Imogen to the school, I took her to the cloak room where all our coats, and if it was snowing our wellies, were kept. We sat down and I offered her a fruit gum from my pocket. She took it, and slowly put it in her mouth then sat there with her hands together. I asked her where she lived and she replied with two words - “Hapfield Cottage!” I knew where that was, it was a farm and we use to get eggs and milk from. It was turned into a luxurious house with “out houses” and that. I asked her where she had moved from, and again she answered with few words – “Dorset!” I was getting the sense that she was a quiet girl, even to say it was her first day, even the new ones are usually as loud and brutish as me. It was strange but I liked it in some weird manner; it gave her a bit of mystery, like there was something there to find. I said “we best get back to class” and asked her what she was doing after school. We met that night and continued to meet after school for just under a year, until she finely found the confidence to make some friends. I was not in love with her, I just idolised her for a while. I took her to the rope swing on many occasions, where we built fires and talked. I had never lit a fire before so I used petrol and I nearly burnt down the woods. I had to empty about a litre of petrol from the bottle and fill it with water to stop it from getting out of control. There were colourful petrol streams running down the river and they looked kind of beautiful. We hung-out there nearly every time we met, speaking about our past memories, our families, and our future. She told me a story about her Grandfather, who once tried to take his own life with his medicine. She found him on the sofa completely unresponsive and she tried and tried to wake him up but failed. Finally Imogen’s Grandma came home and phoned an ambulance and he survived. Imogen said she has never felt as terrified as she did in that moment and in all probability never again will. She obviously loved her family but she had a lot of difficulties with them; I guess she enjoyed my company because we talked about a lot of things.

It was an alright kiss; I expected so much more, being my first kiss, and I really did not feel anything. I am guessing the same of her, as we only hung out a couple of times after that, and nothing much happened.

I had my first spliff there. I was fifteen and I was hanging around with some new friends I met when I started high school. I dumped the friends I had at primary school as they never really did anything other than act like fools, even in high school. I was still a bit conceited, though, by now I was perfectly alright to let anyone else take charge. Most of my friends lived in the next village, well, saying that there were only four of us – so fifty percent - the one that lived in the same village as me never actually did anything; no one ever saw him outside of school, and it remained a mystery for many years. The other two were more like best friends to each other; they had us two around to keep themselves entertained, to laugh at everything they did, and keep them from falling in love. Ha, I always thought they would make a good couple! I still wanted to be cool and when they approached me with the weed I was happy to be involved.  Feltsy – Antony Felts was really paranoid, even though he had bought the weed from his brother, he was trying really hard to mask the paranoia which made it even worse. He was constantly asking where we should smoke it and what we would do if we got caught. Run! I instantly thought of the swing and convinced the guys it was the best place to go. I remember that first spliff like my life had changed, like everything I had ever done did not compare to this moment and now. It took me four pulls and I was as high as a kite. I could feel world spinning on its axis, as every minuscule amount of detail had finely become clear, and the world was alive and now I could feel it. I pulled a whitey after half a spliff and I hung over the swing with my chest on the board being sick. My so called friends were laughing and twisting the ropes to make me spin…“spinning sicky” Hahaha!

I last saw the swing on my eighteenth birthday. We had been out in town and just come back to the village in a taxi. It cost us £18 to get each way. My best friend had some weed on him and he picked up some beers from his house - which was close. We met at work; the famous duo, that met at a quaint garden centre just down the road from the village centre. What a team we were; we never missed an opportunity and always had the same ideas. Garden centres are quite a fun place to work if you know what you’re doing and that. Apart from pretending we had nervous twitches in front of the customers, that we were swatting flies and getting really agitated about it - and all that is such. There are a lot of things to play with at a garden centre, and the hose pipes were the best. If you put the hose on a certain drain and left it running for half an hour to an hour, the water would come up through the kitchen drain and flood the cafeteria. We did that twice and never got caught, though I left to go to college before I got into too much trouble. Melters stayed at the garden centre for another year then moved to Morocco to work in a bar and pursue his dream of success.

I have many memories of that swing. I still wonder if it is there today. I might go back one day; I might even push my children on that swing, as all the memories are happy ones.  

              

The current topic is: Pushing.
Send your stories, poems, sonnets, non-fiction creative writing, whatever tickles your fancy to writeinforwritingssake@gmail.com by 8pm on Thursday 23rd June.
The above image is display under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. More information regarding the origins of this image can be obtained by clicking on it.

The current topic is: Pushing.

Send your stories, poems, sonnets, non-fiction creative writing, whatever tickles your fancy to writeinforwritingssake@gmail.com by 8pm on Thursday 23rd June.

The above image is display under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. More information regarding the origins of this image can be obtained by clicking on it.

Andrew // Gone Fishin’ // Free Choice


After I died I found myself on a shady path that led gently downwards through beech trees to a wide river. An old man met me as I stumbled out on the river bank and looked around me. He didn’t have a beard and his face was not particularly lined, but I could still tell that he was old.

“What happens now?” I asked, shielding my eyes with my hand. It had been dark under the trees and the afternoon light reflected from the river dazzled me.

“What happens now?” The old man repeated, seeming to chew the words around his mouth. “’What happens now’ is a good question, I like that question.” He gestured down the river bank. The river stretched on and on. Along the bank, for the first time, I noticed the others. Lots of them seemed to be casting fishing lines into the river. “Normally they ask ‘where am I?’ I get that a lot. I prefer ‘what happens now?’ because that one I can answer.” He smiled at me.

The old man held up a long fishing rod; I hadn’t noticed that he’d been holding it before. “This is yours,” he said, holding the rod out towards me. “What happens now is this: the sun will be going down soon and tomorrow will be a new day. Tomorrow, if you choose to, you can cast this rod into these rivers and wait for a fish. If, by the time the sun sets tomorrow, you’ve caught a fish then you’ll be taken to Paradise. Forever. If, however, you choose to fish this river tomorrow and you catch nothing… well if that happens then you’ll be taken to the Pit. Forever. Of course you don’t have to fish tomorrow, you can wait as long as you like. You can fish when you’re ready or never at all, it’s your choice.”

The old man then sat himself down on the river bank and gazed out at the light on the ripples as I railed and screamed. I shouted and I threatened. I waved the rod about and I flung it down at my feet. I cursed him, the river and the events that had led to my death in the first place.

I grew slightly calmer and began to outline the idiocies of the system: was it really fair that better fishermen stood a greater chance of salvation than people, like me, who had never held a rod in their lives before? Or was the river rigged? Would some divine agency lure the fish to my rod if I had led a worthy life? In which case why bother with the river at all? Why not simply tell me if I was worthy? What was the purpose of all this if not to torture me and the others on the bank?

The old man sat impassive throughout my tirade. When I finally lapsed into silence he rose, touched me on the shoulder, smiled at me and left. I never saw him again.

When night fell it fell quickly and absolutely: there was no light, no moon, no stars. I never saw or heard what had happened to the people further along the river bank: I had been hoping to use their fate as a guide to my own decision and I was disappointed. It didn’t seem to grow any colder though and, in the absence of anything else to do, I slept.

In the morning there were others further along the bank, I couldn’t judge how far. I could tell that one person at least was raving; I could see his arms waving frantically. Most sat motionless, their lines in the water.

As the sun climbed higher in the sky (was it the same sun I had known whilst alive? I had no way of knowing) I sat with my rod on my knees and I considered my options.

When the sun drew exactly overhead, I took my rod up and snapped it cleanly in two. I turned my back on the river and set off to explore the woods and the hills that rose up ahead of me. I didn’t know what I would eat, or even if I needed to eat in that place. I didn’t have any fixed destination or any idea what I would find. But I knew that I was free and that I had made my free choice.

Harry // Gone Fishin’ // For Hugo

This is for you Hugo, every time I drown in diction
For every time (which IS every time) I can’t get out my words
For every time my one skill fails to serve.
 
This is for you, Hugo, for your youngness/masculinity
For your hidden art, arched taut odd femininity
Hugo this is for you
                     For your age.
 
This, Hugo, is a quick and ardent sketch,
For I shall never paint your portrait.
This is a mere wondrous impression-
The deep and wonderful impression of your impressions on me.
 
This is for the fleetingness of things
The backs of reflections in dirty mirrors
Glanced guilt and things built
On half tones.
 
This is for every time you refuse to speak to me.
This is for your sibling, revered by the world
(NB: I chose you to seem alternative. A point, perhaps, of taste).
This is yours, Hugo,
                 Trapped in your age.
 
Hugo, this is for my fear and fear of joy
Hugo this is for us.
Write your name, write it write it  write it before it dies, or you or I
The strong straight H the almost HUG the O
Letters. Something certain amongst all this extremity.
                (Hugo, this is yours as much as it is mine,
                 Trapped like ambers in our age
                 Together? Chasms apart).

Laura // Gone Fishin’ // Wedding in the Botanics

The radio call said ‘Watch out for the individuals with flowers in their hair’. ‘Aye and this isnae the summer of ’69,’ PC McGovern muttered as he cut off his beat and turned into the Botanic Gardens. This was 2pm on a Wednesday afternoon. In McGovern’s experience, not many serious crimes were committed mid week.

McGovern sauntered up towards the greenhouses. Wednesday afternoons were for moving drunk old men from the playpark. Or dealing with lost dogs or children. But flowers and hair? That was a new one for him. Bad enough he was out on his lonesome today, this being an odd, in number, not personality, of individuals on the rota sheets.

As he approached the greenhouses, he swore he could hear….bloody panpipes? Unless Drunk Stewie had taken up the tin flute to pay for his Buckfast habit, something different was afoot. McGovern quickened his pace, rounded the greenhouses and stopped in his tracks.

Someone was indeed playing panpipes. It was not Drunk Stewie and his cronies. Beside the greenhouse was a small informal orchestra, comprising of the panpipes ensemble, three saxophones, one drum and a cello. As the radio call had suggested there were many androgynous individuals with flowers in their hair. What the radio call had failed to mention were the trio of goats off to the side of the musicians.

McGovern collared the man with the shortest haircut. ‘What’s going on here, pal?’

‘My friend’ Beardy answered ‘it is a joining of two hearts, two minds, two bodies….’

‘A whit?’

‘A wedding.’

McGovern paused. ‘This is the first wedding I’ve been to that’s had goats as guests. What have they got to do with proceedings?’

‘They are providing the sacrifice.’

A sacrifice? True, many Glaswegian men viewed the march towards the wedding altar and a harridan of a fiancé (“Yes, it does fucking matter if the swan napkins are PINK instead of WHITE!”) on a par with heading towards the electric chair. But what had the goats done to deserve this? Currently the sacrifices were munching away on the grass, no doubt ruining some poor parkie’s attempts to keep it under control.

‘Have ye got a license?’ asked McGovern. Beardy looked slightly puzzled. ‘For those animals. You canny just bring a small herd of goats into this area withoot permission, son.’ As if on cue, one of the goats looked up at McGovern, wagged its tail then proceeded to sprinkle pellets of shite all over Glasgow City Council’s grass.

Suddenly the panpipes died away. Beardy’s face lit up. ‘No time for that, for the ceremony is about to start!’ Then he scampered away before McGovern could object.

For first time in a number of years, McGovern was scuppered. What could he do? Before he had time to act, the saxphone delivered a loud wail. The cello plucked out some notes. It sounded like the opening chords to All You Need Is Love. McGovern could see the happy couple, arms entwined, heading towards the ensemble who were throwing petals on the ground.

 

Oh holy shite, McGovern thought, as the couple approached. One was a man wearing nothing, except a bizarre cod piece arrangement hiding his modesty. The other member of the couple was dressed in a panda costume.

By now, quite a crowd had gathered. Adults, by the sound of panpipes; the children, by the excitement of the goats’ bodily functions. Some mothers with pursed lips were looking at McGovern, expecting him to take control of the situation. One mother, dressed in a bright orange kaftan and yellow Crocs marched up to him. ‘What are you going to do about this officer?’ she demanded. Her crisp Kelvinside tones ran alarm bells in McGovern’s head.

‘Well, madam, they’re no really daeing anything illegal as such…’

‘My children have been violated!’ yelled Kaftan Woman. ‘Look at that man barely dressed! Look at the panda costume! They are making a mockery of the sanctity of marriage!’

‘Last time Ah checked, such a thing wasnae against the law.’

Kaftan looked like she was about to turn purple. ‘There should be! Who is your superior officer?’

Fucking great, thought McGovern. Jumped up West End bint. He could deal with the eejits who threatened to follow him home and kick his head in. He could handle the City Centre drunks and party girls who tried to kiss, punch or throw up on him. However, he could not be bothered with West End arseholes. True, this bizarre event would not have lasted five minutes in certain areas of Glasgow. Though that was more down to the aggressive nature of the locals than the authority of the local police force.

McGovern felt someone poking his chest. Kaftan Women looked like she was about to burst a blood vessel. ‘Stop. This. Right. Now!’ she spluttered, poking him with her finger.

‘Are you touching me, madam?’ he asked, in his voice he reserved for dealing with her sort.

Kaftan realised what she had done and the possible repercussions. ‘Officer, I’m sorry..got a tad carried away there…please accept my apologies…”

‘You do realise that assaulting a police officer is a serious offence?’ McGovern was beginning to enjoy himself. ‘You have committed more of a crime here than this group of individuals.’

‘I was the one who phoned your station when they arrived!’ spluttered Kaftan.

‘Oh, so we can do you for wasting police time as well?’ In reality, McGovern would never consider wasting his time and vast amounts of paperwork taking in this orange monstrosity. He  noted the wedding ceremony appeared to be under way and most of the crowd’s attention had turned to that. Off to the side, Beardy and some helpers were milking the goats and handing out glasses of the liquid to the excited children. One mother strode over yelping ‘Artemisia! That milk has not been pasteurised! Spit it out at once. That’s it dear, use your Capri Sun to rinse out your mouth.’

McGovern bent close to Kaftan. ‘Now listen here. I could arrest you.’ Kaftan squeaked and began to cry. ‘However, I shall practise some discretion as you should have done in the first place. I will ask the gent to cover up. Otherwise, they’re not doing anything wrong in the eyes of the law. I will ask you not to waste police time with such nonsense in the future.’ He pointed towards the band. ‘I ask you, dae they look like they will suddenly spark a riot because someone has dropped a sweetie wrapper on the path?’

 

Kaftan muttered, ‘No, officer’ and slunk back towards the pack of yummy mummies. Some of them seemed to be quite enjoying the ceremony. They probably recognised their mother-in-law amongst the pack of goats.

McGovern waded into the wedding party and corned Beardy, who had left his milking post for a quick break. ‘Listen mate, gonnae ask yer man to cover up a bit? He’s offended some genteel ladies over there.’

‘Not a problem, my friend. I have a spare robe in my rucksack.’

‘One thing before I go,’ said McGovern. ‘Whit’s the idea behind the panda suit?’

‘Furries,’ smiled Beardy.

‘Furries? Right, I guess I’ll have to work that one out on my own.’

And off went McGovern, back onto his beat and full of stories to share round a welcome pint this evening. Tonight he would put in a request to be transferred back onto his usual beat.

McGovern did not realise he was humming All You Need Is Love under his breath as he went.  

Callum // Gone Fishin’ // The Loss

The Loss

I could tell she had more fun elsewhere. Though, I was not trying to please her, or entertain her, that is not my job, she expected it all the same, as that is what she likes, to be entertained. She enjoyed a laugh, like most people, though she was never satisfied unless there was a laugh at the end of everything. She never tried to make anyone else laugh. Quite demanding really! As the conversation had run dry, I picked up the paper and read the “and finally”. There was a story about a man that was trying to replace milk in schools with tomato juice; he said the benefits of five a day far outweighed the calcium intake of milk. He was protesting in the streets of Italy on a daily basis. The banner read “Tomato’s not Milk”. I smiled a bit, though I thought the whole idea was ridiculous, and he was just jumping to a conclusion that he could not prove. To be so passionate about such an idea, he had to own a tomato farm. He did as well!

“We should go abroad” I said.

She was looking out the window, the scenery was quite impressive, though I am sure she was more concerned about her boredom. We were travelling to Scotland – Edinburgh – the journey took us past some of the most spectacular landscapes in the country. It was Mya’s sister’s wedding; we booked the time off work and we were travelling to Edinburgh second class, though second class was still luxurious. Mya’s sister had planned a firework display from Edinburgh castle; I thought the idea was brilliant; I was really looking forward to that. Mya got a long with her sister so well that it made me somewhat jealous. I was dreading it really; I always feel like a spare part, just there to remind everyone else just how much of a good time they are having.

She nodded and said, “You need to get more hours”.

I already knew that, she did not have to remind me; the reality meant more to her than the idea and the dream of doing something unprompted and original. I did not like that. It was never like this at first! When we first met, we would do our weekly shopping in the 24 hour megastore, at half four in the morning, drunk as anything, buying on impulse, anything we wanted - we spent a small fortune on nibbles, Doritos with loads of different dips; we would open them there and then, sat on the floor of the furthest aisle, cramming them in our mouths, until we were rolling in a mess of food and laughter. We stopped it soon after our first serious decision – to move into together - we never ended up with what we needed, so we had to do something different though the idea was fun all the same. Everything seemed to be different now, and I was starting to think that all we needed was bread and butter. Is that what life boils down to? The need of bread and butter, everything we need for our continued existence?! I do not know which I prefer anymore. Real life is certainly a lot more taxing, and inconsiderate.

I thought about how we were at this moment in time, then our future, and I certainly wanted a future with her; she was the most beautiful, light hearted and pleasing individual, who only really stopped to prepare herself for the next time she was going to share her natural gift - of delight and wonderment. We could be getting married one day, and if it turned out to be anything like it was now, we would be exactly like every other couple. I guess there is no “Hollywood” ideal situation, though I believe communication is crucial to a happy relationship - I heard that on GMTV one day. So I decided to ask her what she thought.

I said, “What do you want to do?”

“What do you mean?” She said.

She looked perplexed but the tone of her voice sounded interested.

“What do you want to do? Do you want to do something remarkable, like climb a mountain once a year - be more normal and live in a nice house being happy with contentment - find something we both enjoy and do it together for the rest of our lives?”

She was thinking for a moment, these sorts of questions were nothing new to her. I came out with some unusual things, and she knew the best way to shut me up was to tell me what she really thought. If I knew what she really thought, I tended to just drift off and dream about the idea.

“What I really want to do is not possible” She said.

“Why?”

“Because I want to take the cancer that is killing my sister and rid the world of it forever!”

I did not know this; it was the first time Mya had told me. I was taken aback! We talked for half an hour about the situation and what if anything there was to be done. It seemed like the worst news possible.

I fully understood why she had not told me, she did not want to believe it. I was concerned for Mya and more for her sister Anita, she was only young and for something so unfortunate to happen so early in her life is near impossible to accept; I knew Anita had the resolve of a missionary and the wedding would be spectacular, though a few would know deep down that the vows they speak on the day will come into promise sooner rather than later. At that moment I thought how fragile life really is, that there are something’s that are just not humanly possible. I always thought I would do anything and everything for Mya and I sort of felt that from her; now all I could do was show feelings of compassion, as she was losing something a lot more precious to her than anything I felt we had lost. I hoped this was enough as I felt inadequate in most circumstances. She smiled with the corners of her mouth, though her eyes were not committed, how could they be, she was pleasing me. I was so thankful for her attempt. I could only imagine what she was feeling; the world was robbing her of her sister - all of their future to share and be happy with, all of their past that was brought to their person in an instant, their bond overwhelming their person, as if they glowed like a beacon.

And call it selfish or heartless to be thinking of me, as there was a fruition and realisation; I knew that the maturity of our relationship was a lot more valuable and meaningful than I had ever imagined. She did not need me for entertainment; she needed me as a partner to be strong and reliable as she was, and I was a part of that, a vital part. In these moments I felt that our relationship had evolved, to a place where my heart was moulding with hers; a place where I felt there was nothing needed or nothing left to say. I felt entirely captivated with her, yet I could not be happy and I could not be sad. Something had changed inside of me. I felt Mya’s arms around me, I felt something a lot more, warmth that was gripping me and binding me closer than anything I had felt. 

This bitter sweet day, where love can bring together and life can rip apart.

       

Andrew // Reader // “If the science…”


If the science of the past 100 years has taught you anything it is that all possible worlds exist. The universe in which I sit here writing these words is only one of a countless number. If you can conceive of the possibility it must exist somewhere. There are possible worlds where I am not writing but sleeping (both dreaming or not), where I am talking (both truthfully and lying). There is a possible world where right now I am eating human flesh.

Now consider the consequences of this when applied to fiction. If every possible world exists, does every possible “Jane Eyre”? If you can conceive of it, it must exist. In fact, “Jane Eyre” is only gripping if you believe in the possibility of the worlds in which Jane and Rochester do not get together in the end. If you believe that the story of their reunion, reconcilement and eventual marriage is inevitable and immutable then the story bellows a dull and lifeless puppet show.

(Some of you readers may believe that that “Jane Eyre” is precisely that. I will allow you your tastes).

There are countless different “Jane Eyres” out in the fictional multiverse: I have read thousands upon thousands of them and yet I have not touched the tip of the different possibilities in existence. It would make your head spin. Jane marries St John Rivers. She marries him and dies on first reaching India. She marries him and flees back to England from India after seeing Rochester burning alive in a dream. She meets neither St. John nor Rochester but remains a teacher at Lowood until she dies of cholera at the age of 33 (this is a rather dull one).

There is even, in one of the worlds I have visited, a “Jane Eyre” which is really nothing more than an extremely graphic (and rather over-long) pornographic novel based on Jane (then an ‘under-teacher’) and Miss Temple’s secret Sapphic trysts in the latter’s study after their charges have been sent to bed.

There is, tragically, one “Jane Eyre” where Jane, the character, becomes self-aware. Over the course of the novel, she becomes conscious of her status as merely one facet of one aspect of an imaginary character in an inconceivably limitless fictional infinity.

In this world Jane’s famous line is not “Reader, I married him,” but instead, “Reader, are you there? Where are you? Can you truly see me? Are you reading me right now? Reader?”

Of course there are also versions of “Jane Eyre” where her parents do not die and she is not sent as an orphan to be brought up by her Aunt Reed. These novels are almost unrecognisable from the one that you know. Of course Jane is not alone in being a character totally influenced by the early death of her parents. Consider how many children’s stories you know start with the death of parents. Harry Potter also grows up to be a very different boy in the worlds in which his parents survive Voldemort’s attack.

Another children’s story that begins, in your world, with the death of parents is “James and the Giant Peach” (and if you think that some of the fictional universes I postulate are unlikely then stop to consider for a moment how unlikely the version of the story that you know in your universe is: a story that starts with James’ parents being “eaten up by an enormous angry rhinoceros which had escaped from London Zoo”).

In your world James is given a bag full of magic by a mysterious man he meets in the garden (you do remember him surely? Squeaky voice – sign saying ‘deus ex machina’ on his back). He gives James the bag, telling him to mix the magic crystals into a concoction with his own hairs and drink the resulting brew. Of course in your world he trips and drops the bag by the peach tree before he can do so. You may well have been satisfied as children reading the resulting tale of mutant fruit and giant insects, but you are missing out on the extraordinary stories in the universes where he doesn’t drop the bag. Most of the tales of maltreated and abused little boys who suddenly have limitless power and magic at their fingertips are strange, dark and frightening ones.

I suppose that the tragedy for you is that you will only ever read one story, you only ever see one side of the sculpture and therefore can be tricked into believing that it is in fact a painting.

Maybe this is why your “Hamlet” is the classic of your particular literary canon: your Danish Prince, more than any other I have seen, finds himself eternally torn between two worlds and two stories: the one in which he takes his revenge and the one in which he doesn’t.

If I have any advice for you it is this: cultivate an awareness of all the possible different threads lurking between the words, behind the pages. You need to stay on your toes if you are to be a reader.

 

Hey fellow scribblers,
Your friendly mod is off on a long weekend that starts on Thursday. Any submissions sent to WifWS will be posted on my return. In the meantime I’m throwing open the gates to you. Yes, that means you and you and you at the back picking your noise. Gone Fishing means the floor is open and WifWS will accept submissions on any topic of your choice until Thursday 9th June. Call it part of my generous nature.

Hey fellow scribblers,

Your friendly mod is off on a long weekend that starts on Thursday. Any submissions sent to WifWS will be posted on my return. In the meantime I’m throwing open the gates to you. Yes, that means you and you and you at the back picking your noise. Gone Fishing means the floor is open and WifWS will accept submissions on any topic of your choice until Thursday 9th June. Call it part of my generous nature.

Max // Reader // “So far out…”

So far out now that only a few glimmers of light shone in the darkness of the night,

The emergency lighting shone with a jaundice yellow gleam. The end of the line a clocking in stand stood its scanner like a check out stand ready to read the code imprinted on his armband. The light flashed green as it recognised his number and clocked him in for his shift.

 It was silent work no sounds to distract him, the captain orders were no window or images to be visualised in this room. Nothing that could distract him was allowed, this room of rooms viewed almost as an inner sanctum among the designers when it was built and the crew when they realised the significance of the tasks that were completed there.

 No one disturbed him the only noise a clicking as he read through each report and file, storing away the answers in his mind; weighing up scenarios, measuring against the specifics that he had been programmed to measure.

 The comlink flashed on his arm and the captain voice loomed over him,

“Isari 4326 has a decision been made, power is fading quicker than we anticipated this time. I repeat power is fading quicker than anticipated… What is the choice?”

The correlations and formulas programmed in his matrix allowed Isari 4326 to provide an answer within moments.

“Hazelton Philip Jnr is the selection. No skills or specialised knowledge, there are no factors which require his specifics over another.”

The captains quivered slightly down the com as she responded,

“Philip? He’s the only choice?”

Isari 4326 responded while making his away to the control hatch next to the door and began inputting the information of his selection,

“He is the choice for this time, Systems will begin the process of utilising his status field and re routing the power to the main engine.”

The captain’s response was unusual but Isari 4326 was programmed to obey all commands that would not have a detrimental effect to the survival of the journey.

“5 minutes, give me a 5 minute countdown before the systems actions the commands.”

Isari programmed the countdown and completed the process keys needed for the programme to be completed once the countdown was complete, he then returned to his files and moved Hazelton Philip Jnr from the pile of required personnel file to the growing pile of those who had been utilised to ensure the continuation of the journey.

9356 required 378 utilised.

 

Captain Helena Hazelton made the short walk from the bridge to her cabin in seconds, the status chambers stood there, all glowing in that jaundice yellow glow. He lay there his smaller chamber next to the slightly larger ones of his sisters and father. Philip jnr was only 8 years old. Her youngest child, the inspiration for her taking on this role, he’d always been an adventurer always wanted to be an explorer. When the bombs had been dropped on earth and the system started to become uninhabitable they had asked for volunteers for the different options. She had opted for the unknown, to journey into the deepest recess of space to find a new home. The journey had not gone to plan and 800 years had passed since she’d seen the excited glow and the shouts of joy of the adventure ahead of him that he’d made as he’d climbed into his status chamber. And now it was over for him like so many others whose lives had been sacrificed during the seemingly unending course of this nightmare journey.

Hearing the timer counting down the last few seconds, she passed her hand over her sons face and watched as the status chamber started to glow amber then blue then red then it was empty, the life force pumped out and the regular lighting for the deck flooded back cancelling out the emergency jaundice yellow glow.

She made the solitary journey back to the deck and sat in her captain’s seat staring at the stars. Neither she nor the systems had any idea which way they were to go next to reach their goal. They floated aimlessly through the heavens preying for an answer.

In the depth on the inner sanctum Isari picked up the files and began again to correlate and test the information contained within them. If calculations were correct another would need to be selected in 16 weeks and 19 days if they had not arrived at their destination. All that time would be spent studying and understanding so if the choice was to be made he would have the correct data in order to do so efficiently and correctly as programmed.

The new topic is Reader. Please send your work to us by 8pm on Thursday 2nd June. 
Copyright of the above image belongs to By drcorneilus (beginning reader) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. More information about the image can be obtained by clicking on it. 

The new topic is Reader. Please send your work to us by 8pm on Thursday 2nd June

Copyright of the above image belongs to By drcorneilus (beginning reader) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. More information about the image can be obtained by clicking on it. 

Laura // Pushing // “My longing inside…”

My longing inside pushes me to say

Those words

An incantation of the desires I hold

That should be buried and forgotten about.

Instead the air pushes the words up through my lungs,

They rush past my teeth,

As my head screams at my heart “Don’t do it!”

Alas the communication strands have already been broken.

“I love you.”

Three little words said to the wrong person,

Push my world beyond any recognition

As the future shatters around me. 

Andrew // Pushing // “I met this…”

I met this old guy in the shelter yesterday. I’m not sure I believed a word he said, he didn’t look like he’d ever amounted to anything, even a small time dealer, but this is what he told me:

I used to be specialised, me. Pills, pills were my thing. You wanted uppers, downers, hallucinogens, designers, I had the lot. I even ran to some acid of the sort that went out of favour many many years ago. Had quite a few old timers and burn outs come to me to live the sixties all over again. Sad, really. But nothing like as tragic as this particular story I’m about to tell you. This was a proper tragedy and soon after these events I gave up pushing altogether.

So anyway, I’m at a party - this is many years ago you understand? I’m at this party, it’s a fairly upmarket do. That’s one of the perks of my old line of work, lot of invites, lot of parties. People who wouldn’t give you the time of day as they run out from their posh hotel to the cab, or even the limo, waiting outside, they’re suddenly keen to have your company if they know that you can supply the necessary to let their little party go with a swing.

So. I’m at the party, ‘soiree’ actually was what the chap called it, in some huge loft-space apartment in the city. It was all white walls, discrete lighting, modern art. In fact the place would’ve looked like an art gallery which someone had dumped a bedroom and a beer fridge in, except it had far more people in it than any art gallery I ever heard of.

I’m actually getting on quite well with a young lady. She’s sampled some of my more extreme wares early on in the evening and is no longer standing on the same planet as anyone else. She’s in her own universe, in her own bubble and she’s grinning at me a lot and clutching onto me like she might fall down any moment if I wasn’t there. She’s got a tiny dress and huge hair (this was a while ago) and I have to say I’m rather enjoying her clutching onto me.

Anyway the chap who owns the loft-space-gallery-house (I can’t remember his name for the life of me now, but I remember he was wearing a red shirt and braces to this do. Twat.) introduces me to Mark and tells me to give him something to chill him out. Mark’s from out of town, he’s nervous, he’s a friend of a friend and unused to these little debauches.

Mark grins up at me. Timid. He’s got a little downy moustache and he’s sweating slightly. Good grief. Poor guy. I decide to start him on some new and exciting stuff I got from the Russian and one discreet transaction later (I am renown for the discretion of my little transactions, or at least I was) he’s the proud owner of two tiny blue Angel Eyes. “These will calm you down, make you feel good, help you enjoy yourself” I tell him. I pat him on the back as I’m telling him this, but gently, he looks breakable. I’ve told him to take them both at once, down them with the remainder of his rum and coke. Dutifully, he does so. In fact, looking at his pale little face and his worried eyes I’m thinking, Jesus, here’s a guy who’d take twenty pills and chase it with a bottle of bourbon if someone told him to. He had the look of a man whose been doing what he’s told his entire life.

He slopes off and I turn back to the attentions of my young lady but she’s buggered off while I was transacting. Damn. I saunter through the press trying, and failing, to scope her out.

I’m heading towards the kitchen-bit of the loft when I hear shouting and hollering behind me. Everyone’s heading towards the noise which is soon drowning out the electronic music they’ve got playing. In the centre of the loft the party-goers have made a circle around something: my first thought is ‘fight! Fight! Fight!’, it looks just like a circle of children crowding round a playground scrap.

In the centre of the circle though there’s no scrap, in fact there’s just one figure. It’s a man: shirtless and with a bottle of JD in each fist. It looks like he’s poured most of the JD down himself: his hair and face and hairless chest are slick with it. He’s whirling faster and faster and faster round on the spot and spraying the rest of the JD at the circle of people round him some kind of insane fountain. It’s Mark. And he’s screaming as he goes round, screaming and screaming. At first I think it’s just a shriek, but then you can make out words: ‘Angel Eyes! Angel Eyes! Angel Eyes!’. Oh shit. I’m going to get in trouble for this one. They don’t seem pissed off though: the people around him are hollering and egging him on.

Even when he strips his trousers and pants off and stands stark-bollock naked in the centre of the room people are still applauding him: it’s great entertainment. But when he pushes open the big loft window and steps out onto the window ledge the mood changes. Two things quickly become apparent: 1) he’s managed to scramble up onto the flat roof, 2) everyone’s turned to glare at me: it’s now my problem.

I hadn’t even realised it was raining out; the slippery ledge nearly proves my undoing as I clamber after the mad bastard. He’s standing, arms upraised to the lashing rain laughing and laughing like he’s never going to stop. I call out but he doesn’t hear me, or he can’t hear me.

“Angel Eyes! Angel Eyes!” The mad bastard screams up at the sky and the rain and then, with a huge grin plastered all over his mad bastard face he runs full pelt at the edge of the roof and leaps off. For one stupid moment he hangs there, bollock naked, wet from the rain, suspended in mid-air and I actually think ‘he’s going to fly, he’s actually going to fly’. He doesn’t, of course.

I can barely make out what’s left of him, the rain and the dark make it hard to see and it’s a long way down. Knowing that there will be questions and a whole load of policemen to ask them, I slip straight down the fire escape and head back home.

I can’t sleep that evening. I think ‘fuck it, why not?’ and, for the first time try one of the Angel Eyes. I want to feel the hit that made Mark feel he could fly. I’m not daft though, I just take the one. After half an hour of absolutely nothing I take another Angel eye and, finally, two more. Nothing.

In the morning I take the Angel Eyes to my chemist friend. He tells me that the bastard Russian I bought them off stiffed me; the Angel Eyes contain just two things: paracetemol and blue food colouring.

I gave up dealing a few months after that, I didn’t have the stomach for it anymore. Sometimes it’s not the drugs you need to be scared of you know: it’s the things your own mind is pushing.

Louise // Pushing // “Two thirty-six and…”

Two thirty-six and twenty two seconds. Twenty three…twenty four…twenty five…twenty six…

His arm fell back down onto the sand but the never-ending ticks from his watch still echoed in his head.

Twenty seven…twenty eight…twenty nine…

He had been lying in the same spot since dawn. The sand had slowly warmed as the sun had risen and gradually pushed its way through the thick cloud cover. As he skimmed the sand nearby with his hand, the radiating warmth felt comforting as if encouraging him to stay still. However he was conscious of the cool damp sand that remained beneath him. He could feel it against his skin as if the sand had permeated his clothing and was slowly working its way through his very being. Trying to shift the idea that this cold surrounding him alone may be a reflection of his inner self, he contemplated moving a few feet along the beach.

…Four fifty-one and eleven seconds. Twelve…thirteen…fourteen…fifteen…

To move would have defeated the purpose of being there he had decided. He had to prove he could do this, even if it was only to himself. He raised his arm and counted the hours on his watch, guessing a few more until dark, wondering how many until someone missed him.

Further up the beach someone was calling their dog. Tilting his head towards the noise, he could just make out a small black shape darting in and out of the waves paying no attention to its human companion. The shouting continued, increasing in pitch and frequency but unfortunately decreasing in distance as the man started to walk round the bay.

He turned his gaze upwards again hoping they would miss him or at least ignore him if he acted uninterested in them. A small aircraft broke the clouds far above, nothing more than a dark dot against the white and bright blue. He wondered what it would be like to soar with only the birds to keep you company, to look down at a world seemingly devoid of life. Images of the world from airplane windows flashed through his mind, all borrowed from films or television shows as the closest he had ever been to flying had been jumping out of the top of the tree in his father’s garden five years ago. That effort had resulted in a broken arm, numerous days off school and several months of boredom after being banned from doing almost everything by his mum he recalled absentmindedly rubbing the small bump in the bone which was the only physical reminder of the accident. But to fly, to soar, to float, to feel the air rushing past, to see the world stretching beyond sight, oh to have that experience. He wondered if the birds realised how lucky they were.

The waves continued their relentless crawl up the sand, slowly inching their way towards his feet. Realising he hadn’t considered the possibility the tide could come so far up the beach thoughts of moving resurfaced. Looking around he soon discovered himself alone once more. There was no sign of the man and his dog, no calls carried by the breeze, no rustling in the undergrowth as something pushed its way through, no footsteps. Just his breathing, the ticking of his watch, the gentle breaking of the waves and the sighing of the breeze. He hadn’t noticed the sun had already started to sink between the edge of the sea and the sky. Swinging his arms out from his sides, he found nothing but cold sand. Already the heat of the day had been lost, the light was fading and the day had gone full circle.

As the darkness crept over his head, the words of yesterday rang in his ears.

“not good enough”

“lacking purpose”

“uncommitted to any goal”

“never pushing himself enough”

Remembering their doubts he became even more determined to stay on the beach, even more determined to prove them wrong. He knew he could achieve something unexpected, all he had to do was push himself.

The sky was now a dark inky blue dotted with specks of light as if someone had thrown a handful of sand into the abyss. The cold light of the moon had replaced the warmth of the sun, and now reflected in the water bathing the landscape with just enough of a glow to pick out its features. After clearing the sky of the clouds of earlier, the breeze had also disappeared.

He wondered if they had thought of him, if they were worried or concerned. They probably thought he was in his room reading or working, he’d come down for food if he were hungry so there was no need to bother him; he decided they wouldn’t have noticed he wasn’t around.

… one fifty-five and three seconds. Four…five…six…

It was silent now except for the waves but even they seemed to be sleeping. He was completely alone; there were no lights apart from those in the sky, no noises, no signs of anyone else existing. But he suddenly realised he liked this feeling. Trying to pretend that everyone else on the planet had in fact vanished, he imagined spending his days wandering the length of the coast, swimming in the sea, running in the fields. And finally he smiled. He had found what he had been longing for.

He decided at that moment to stay exactly where he lay. On his little spot on the beach, overlooking the bay, surrounded by the water and the sky. All he had had to do was to rise to their challenge. He had pushed himself and made it through. And with that the sun began to push up from the horizon, ready to start it all again. 

Max // Pushing // “Stood facing each…”

Stood facing each other,

One hand on the door.

You don’t have to…

She whispered. Don’t say anything.

 

Hollow eyes staring,

There’s nothing left to say he said.

If you push that door you’ll be gone.

Don’t come back I won’t be here.

 

Staring straight ahead at him,

She pushed the door walked out

And was gone,

Without a backwards glance.

Mark // Pushing // “I take my…”

through the Block”

I take my shoes off as I lean back in my chair, stretching, shaking off the anger that had built in my bones.  I go looking for things that will anger me, but they are the things that allow me to feel alive and get my creative juices flowing.  I can write hundreds of thousands of words on why religion is such an annoying thing in the current world, but sometimes my anger gets the better of me and I have to sit back and stop, take stock, and remain calm.

I look at my blinking cursor as I start to think what I am going to write for this weeks topic.  I had tried to write a short story earlier in the day about two friends called Calum and Matt, one straight and one gay, one who is religious and the other who is not, and that they were moving flat.  It was going no where, but I was wary of jumping down the rabbit hole of trying to wrestle with the third person arguments of for and against, but it was already 500 words in and going no where - like a first chapter of a Cormac McCarthy novel, but without the bleak text and disassociated prose.

Prose.  I look at another newspaper article on the second tab of five open on my computer that talks about the new wave of Fashionable Atheism that is apparently appearing in the UK and my blood involuntarily boils and simmers again.  I look at my Microsoft Office Communicator status message “Good without god” and the deliberately lowercase name of the deity, and wonder what people who are religious think when they see it.  Are they as enraged as me when I see Romans 1:16?

I hope they are.  I am doing it to get a rise out of people, to protest.

I consider what I should be writing and that my lunch break is almost over.  I should’ve been focusing on a narrative, something similar.  Instead, I stand up and go and grab a coffee, or at least that’s what I want me peers to think.  I get half way to the door of my office when I see that my office co-habitant is not sitting there, his computer locked out.  I was certain he had been sitting there not a few seconds earlier.

I realise I am still only wearing socks.  I go back and slip my shoes on, before heading back to the door of the office and out into the corridor.  Suddenly, i realise something is amiss - the lights are all out, and each office door that lines the corridor is closed.  This is very uncommon, even after hours - the lights are sensor activated and the office doors are never closed.  The hairs on my neck pick up in response to the sight of the dark office.

I walk to my friends’ offices to see if they are there.  I slowly open the door and find that the office is empty - not even any furniture is there, no Scotland flags adorn the walls; it’s bigger than I remember it and darker than it should be.  Into the main corridor I look into another office - it’s empty too.  I am suddenly a little aware of something watching me, but I can’t quite figure out what it is.

I head to the lifts and push the button for going down - nothing happens.  No noise, no light, not even the temperature of the metal button transfers to my finger.  I press it again, but nothing happens.  I look to the window that is at the end of the hallway and notice that there is nothing outside.  The silence is so loud.

What is going on? I ask myself.  I can see myself typing this question in my head.  There is silence swirling around me.  White.  Black.  Text.  I walk to the other side of the office and head to the other toilet area, where there are several water fountains.  My lips are suddenly incredibly dry and my throat is cracking and I push the button on the fountain but nothing comes out.  I stand back up and feel suddenly a hand pulling at my right shoulder.  I turn around to find nothing there - no office, no cubicle dividers, no computers, just infinite grey expanse of nothing.  A whisper of something brushes my conscience, but it doesn’t stick.  No creation and no development.  There’s nothing there but me and my mind and I am looking at the end of infinity.

I hastily start back towards my office, but instead I turn to the emergency exit door and push the barrier entering the fire exit stairwell.  I work on the fourth floor, so it’s not too high up, but I dislike walking up them each morning.  As the fire exit door starts to close behind me I suddenly hear voices from the other side of the door.  I lunge back and pull it back open.

The office is busy again.  I am suddenly holding the door open onto the wildly busy office, telephones are going off, the lights are bright, and the air con is humming.  I slowly walk back to my office and see that everyone’s working away.  I am confused.

I sit back at my computer screen and it’s exactly as I left it, cursor still blinking away, my two characters, Calum and Matt, still in limbo.  They are still sitting outside their old flat in my story, awaiting my ending. 

Did I imagine it all?  Was the office empty or busy?  Did that even happen?

I know what I am going to write.

Callum // Pushing // “The swing was…”

Tree Swing

The swing was just off a path adjoining the main path; it was to be found in a wonderful forest made of Alder trees and Birch. It was remote, the type of place you could go for a day and only see a handful of people, as the village was that far out and the locals never really walked as far. I like the idea of being with nature and this forest was teaming with wildlife; you could see a lot more than the handful of different species that you see in town. A river was visible from the swing; the river had plenty of little fish in the deeper parts, but was more of a slow and shallow run in this area.

Have you ever seen those lovers’ films where the man swings his girl on the swing, painted with a white wooden plank for a seat and the flowing ivory growing over the ropes? The swing was like that but without being painted and without the ivory on the ropes. It was green, with mould growing over the ropes, slowly rotting them away, until one day they will break. Though, it had been there for as long as I can remember.

I had my first kiss there. There was a girl that had just moved into the village. I was partnered with her on her first day and the teacher asked me to show her around the school. There was a custom where you knocked on the door of every class and introduced the new student. We knocked on every classroom door and I introduced Imogen, the students all shouting “HELLO IMOGEN”. I was only thirteen, but I was fairly confident at this age, and I had the coolness to say “smell you later” after every introduction - only to have a stern look from every teacher and a few laughs from the class. Even though I was fairly confident and lively, I never really interacted with many people outside of my friends circle. I had two friends and I was never the leader, the most entertaining, or the most interesting – though I tried to be all of them. The alpha male was a guy called Kissy - which was his knick name. He got it from kissing a frog as a dare; he was basically bullied into it, and it took many a month of people blowing kisses and shouting frog at him, until the name settled as Kissy. The other guy was a bit of a dork, though he had a sense of humour that no teenager could resist. He once flicked a piece of clay from a ruler at the teacher. It landed on the teacher’s glasses square smack in middle and covered his eye sight - he looked up, stood up, and walked out the classroom with the clay still on his glasses. I think it was a bad day for him, but it was the funniest day ever for the class.

After introducing Imogen to the school, I took her to the cloak room where all our coats, and if it was snowing our wellies, were kept. We sat down and I offered her a fruit gum from my pocket. She took it, and slowly put it in her mouth then sat there with her hands together. I asked her where she lived and she replied with two words - “Hapfield Cottage!” I knew where that was, it was a farm and we use to get eggs and milk from. It was turned into a luxurious house with “out houses” and that. I asked her where she had moved from, and again she answered with few words – “Dorset!” I was getting the sense that she was a quiet girl, even to say it was her first day, even the new ones are usually as loud and brutish as me. It was strange but I liked it in some weird manner; it gave her a bit of mystery, like there was something there to find. I said “we best get back to class” and asked her what she was doing after school. We met that night and continued to meet after school for just under a year, until she finely found the confidence to make some friends. I was not in love with her, I just idolised her for a while. I took her to the rope swing on many occasions, where we built fires and talked. I had never lit a fire before so I used petrol and I nearly burnt down the woods. I had to empty about a litre of petrol from the bottle and fill it with water to stop it from getting out of control. There were colourful petrol streams running down the river and they looked kind of beautiful. We hung-out there nearly every time we met, speaking about our past memories, our families, and our future. She told me a story about her Grandfather, who once tried to take his own life with his medicine. She found him on the sofa completely unresponsive and she tried and tried to wake him up but failed. Finally Imogen’s Grandma came home and phoned an ambulance and he survived. Imogen said she has never felt as terrified as she did in that moment and in all probability never again will. She obviously loved her family but she had a lot of difficulties with them; I guess she enjoyed my company because we talked about a lot of things.

It was an alright kiss; I expected so much more, being my first kiss, and I really did not feel anything. I am guessing the same of her, as we only hung out a couple of times after that, and nothing much happened.

I had my first spliff there. I was fifteen and I was hanging around with some new friends I met when I started high school. I dumped the friends I had at primary school as they never really did anything other than act like fools, even in high school. I was still a bit conceited, though, by now I was perfectly alright to let anyone else take charge. Most of my friends lived in the next village, well, saying that there were only four of us – so fifty percent - the one that lived in the same village as me never actually did anything; no one ever saw him outside of school, and it remained a mystery for many years. The other two were more like best friends to each other; they had us two around to keep themselves entertained, to laugh at everything they did, and keep them from falling in love. Ha, I always thought they would make a good couple! I still wanted to be cool and when they approached me with the weed I was happy to be involved.  Feltsy – Antony Felts was really paranoid, even though he had bought the weed from his brother, he was trying really hard to mask the paranoia which made it even worse. He was constantly asking where we should smoke it and what we would do if we got caught. Run! I instantly thought of the swing and convinced the guys it was the best place to go. I remember that first spliff like my life had changed, like everything I had ever done did not compare to this moment and now. It took me four pulls and I was as high as a kite. I could feel world spinning on its axis, as every minuscule amount of detail had finely become clear, and the world was alive and now I could feel it. I pulled a whitey after half a spliff and I hung over the swing with my chest on the board being sick. My so called friends were laughing and twisting the ropes to make me spin…“spinning sicky” Hahaha!

I last saw the swing on my eighteenth birthday. We had been out in town and just come back to the village in a taxi. It cost us £18 to get each way. My best friend had some weed on him and he picked up some beers from his house - which was close. We met at work; the famous duo, that met at a quaint garden centre just down the road from the village centre. What a team we were; we never missed an opportunity and always had the same ideas. Garden centres are quite a fun place to work if you know what you’re doing and that. Apart from pretending we had nervous twitches in front of the customers, that we were swatting flies and getting really agitated about it - and all that is such. There are a lot of things to play with at a garden centre, and the hose pipes were the best. If you put the hose on a certain drain and left it running for half an hour to an hour, the water would come up through the kitchen drain and flood the cafeteria. We did that twice and never got caught, though I left to go to college before I got into too much trouble. Melters stayed at the garden centre for another year then moved to Morocco to work in a bar and pursue his dream of success.

I have many memories of that swing. I still wonder if it is there today. I might go back one day; I might even push my children on that swing, as all the memories are happy ones.  

              

The current topic is: Pushing.
Send your stories, poems, sonnets, non-fiction creative writing, whatever tickles your fancy to writeinforwritingssake@gmail.com by 8pm on Thursday 23rd June.
The above image is display under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. More information regarding the origins of this image can be obtained by clicking on it.

The current topic is: Pushing.

Send your stories, poems, sonnets, non-fiction creative writing, whatever tickles your fancy to writeinforwritingssake@gmail.com by 8pm on Thursday 23rd June.

The above image is display under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. More information regarding the origins of this image can be obtained by clicking on it.

Andrew // Gone Fishin’ // Free Choice


After I died I found myself on a shady path that led gently downwards through beech trees to a wide river. An old man met me as I stumbled out on the river bank and looked around me. He didn’t have a beard and his face was not particularly lined, but I could still tell that he was old.

“What happens now?” I asked, shielding my eyes with my hand. It had been dark under the trees and the afternoon light reflected from the river dazzled me.

“What happens now?” The old man repeated, seeming to chew the words around his mouth. “’What happens now’ is a good question, I like that question.” He gestured down the river bank. The river stretched on and on. Along the bank, for the first time, I noticed the others. Lots of them seemed to be casting fishing lines into the river. “Normally they ask ‘where am I?’ I get that a lot. I prefer ‘what happens now?’ because that one I can answer.” He smiled at me.

The old man held up a long fishing rod; I hadn’t noticed that he’d been holding it before. “This is yours,” he said, holding the rod out towards me. “What happens now is this: the sun will be going down soon and tomorrow will be a new day. Tomorrow, if you choose to, you can cast this rod into these rivers and wait for a fish. If, by the time the sun sets tomorrow, you’ve caught a fish then you’ll be taken to Paradise. Forever. If, however, you choose to fish this river tomorrow and you catch nothing… well if that happens then you’ll be taken to the Pit. Forever. Of course you don’t have to fish tomorrow, you can wait as long as you like. You can fish when you’re ready or never at all, it’s your choice.”

The old man then sat himself down on the river bank and gazed out at the light on the ripples as I railed and screamed. I shouted and I threatened. I waved the rod about and I flung it down at my feet. I cursed him, the river and the events that had led to my death in the first place.

I grew slightly calmer and began to outline the idiocies of the system: was it really fair that better fishermen stood a greater chance of salvation than people, like me, who had never held a rod in their lives before? Or was the river rigged? Would some divine agency lure the fish to my rod if I had led a worthy life? In which case why bother with the river at all? Why not simply tell me if I was worthy? What was the purpose of all this if not to torture me and the others on the bank?

The old man sat impassive throughout my tirade. When I finally lapsed into silence he rose, touched me on the shoulder, smiled at me and left. I never saw him again.

When night fell it fell quickly and absolutely: there was no light, no moon, no stars. I never saw or heard what had happened to the people further along the river bank: I had been hoping to use their fate as a guide to my own decision and I was disappointed. It didn’t seem to grow any colder though and, in the absence of anything else to do, I slept.

In the morning there were others further along the bank, I couldn’t judge how far. I could tell that one person at least was raving; I could see his arms waving frantically. Most sat motionless, their lines in the water.

As the sun climbed higher in the sky (was it the same sun I had known whilst alive? I had no way of knowing) I sat with my rod on my knees and I considered my options.

When the sun drew exactly overhead, I took my rod up and snapped it cleanly in two. I turned my back on the river and set off to explore the woods and the hills that rose up ahead of me. I didn’t know what I would eat, or even if I needed to eat in that place. I didn’t have any fixed destination or any idea what I would find. But I knew that I was free and that I had made my free choice.

Harry // Gone Fishin’ // For Hugo

This is for you Hugo, every time I drown in diction
For every time (which IS every time) I can’t get out my words
For every time my one skill fails to serve.
 
This is for you, Hugo, for your youngness/masculinity
For your hidden art, arched taut odd femininity
Hugo this is for you
                     For your age.
 
This, Hugo, is a quick and ardent sketch,
For I shall never paint your portrait.
This is a mere wondrous impression-
The deep and wonderful impression of your impressions on me.
 
This is for the fleetingness of things
The backs of reflections in dirty mirrors
Glanced guilt and things built
On half tones.
 
This is for every time you refuse to speak to me.
This is for your sibling, revered by the world
(NB: I chose you to seem alternative. A point, perhaps, of taste).
This is yours, Hugo,
                 Trapped in your age.
 
Hugo, this is for my fear and fear of joy
Hugo this is for us.
Write your name, write it write it  write it before it dies, or you or I
The strong straight H the almost HUG the O
Letters. Something certain amongst all this extremity.
                (Hugo, this is yours as much as it is mine,
                 Trapped like ambers in our age
                 Together? Chasms apart).

Laura // Gone Fishin’ // Wedding in the Botanics

The radio call said ‘Watch out for the individuals with flowers in their hair’. ‘Aye and this isnae the summer of ’69,’ PC McGovern muttered as he cut off his beat and turned into the Botanic Gardens. This was 2pm on a Wednesday afternoon. In McGovern’s experience, not many serious crimes were committed mid week.

McGovern sauntered up towards the greenhouses. Wednesday afternoons were for moving drunk old men from the playpark. Or dealing with lost dogs or children. But flowers and hair? That was a new one for him. Bad enough he was out on his lonesome today, this being an odd, in number, not personality, of individuals on the rota sheets.

As he approached the greenhouses, he swore he could hear….bloody panpipes? Unless Drunk Stewie had taken up the tin flute to pay for his Buckfast habit, something different was afoot. McGovern quickened his pace, rounded the greenhouses and stopped in his tracks.

Someone was indeed playing panpipes. It was not Drunk Stewie and his cronies. Beside the greenhouse was a small informal orchestra, comprising of the panpipes ensemble, three saxophones, one drum and a cello. As the radio call had suggested there were many androgynous individuals with flowers in their hair. What the radio call had failed to mention were the trio of goats off to the side of the musicians.

McGovern collared the man with the shortest haircut. ‘What’s going on here, pal?’

‘My friend’ Beardy answered ‘it is a joining of two hearts, two minds, two bodies….’

‘A whit?’

‘A wedding.’

McGovern paused. ‘This is the first wedding I’ve been to that’s had goats as guests. What have they got to do with proceedings?’

‘They are providing the sacrifice.’

A sacrifice? True, many Glaswegian men viewed the march towards the wedding altar and a harridan of a fiancé (“Yes, it does fucking matter if the swan napkins are PINK instead of WHITE!”) on a par with heading towards the electric chair. But what had the goats done to deserve this? Currently the sacrifices were munching away on the grass, no doubt ruining some poor parkie’s attempts to keep it under control.

‘Have ye got a license?’ asked McGovern. Beardy looked slightly puzzled. ‘For those animals. You canny just bring a small herd of goats into this area withoot permission, son.’ As if on cue, one of the goats looked up at McGovern, wagged its tail then proceeded to sprinkle pellets of shite all over Glasgow City Council’s grass.

Suddenly the panpipes died away. Beardy’s face lit up. ‘No time for that, for the ceremony is about to start!’ Then he scampered away before McGovern could object.

For first time in a number of years, McGovern was scuppered. What could he do? Before he had time to act, the saxphone delivered a loud wail. The cello plucked out some notes. It sounded like the opening chords to All You Need Is Love. McGovern could see the happy couple, arms entwined, heading towards the ensemble who were throwing petals on the ground.

 

Oh holy shite, McGovern thought, as the couple approached. One was a man wearing nothing, except a bizarre cod piece arrangement hiding his modesty. The other member of the couple was dressed in a panda costume.

By now, quite a crowd had gathered. Adults, by the sound of panpipes; the children, by the excitement of the goats’ bodily functions. Some mothers with pursed lips were looking at McGovern, expecting him to take control of the situation. One mother, dressed in a bright orange kaftan and yellow Crocs marched up to him. ‘What are you going to do about this officer?’ she demanded. Her crisp Kelvinside tones ran alarm bells in McGovern’s head.

‘Well, madam, they’re no really daeing anything illegal as such…’

‘My children have been violated!’ yelled Kaftan Woman. ‘Look at that man barely dressed! Look at the panda costume! They are making a mockery of the sanctity of marriage!’

‘Last time Ah checked, such a thing wasnae against the law.’

Kaftan looked like she was about to turn purple. ‘There should be! Who is your superior officer?’

Fucking great, thought McGovern. Jumped up West End bint. He could deal with the eejits who threatened to follow him home and kick his head in. He could handle the City Centre drunks and party girls who tried to kiss, punch or throw up on him. However, he could not be bothered with West End arseholes. True, this bizarre event would not have lasted five minutes in certain areas of Glasgow. Though that was more down to the aggressive nature of the locals than the authority of the local police force.

McGovern felt someone poking his chest. Kaftan Women looked like she was about to burst a blood vessel. ‘Stop. This. Right. Now!’ she spluttered, poking him with her finger.

‘Are you touching me, madam?’ he asked, in his voice he reserved for dealing with her sort.

Kaftan realised what she had done and the possible repercussions. ‘Officer, I’m sorry..got a tad carried away there…please accept my apologies…”

‘You do realise that assaulting a police officer is a serious offence?’ McGovern was beginning to enjoy himself. ‘You have committed more of a crime here than this group of individuals.’

‘I was the one who phoned your station when they arrived!’ spluttered Kaftan.

‘Oh, so we can do you for wasting police time as well?’ In reality, McGovern would never consider wasting his time and vast amounts of paperwork taking in this orange monstrosity. He  noted the wedding ceremony appeared to be under way and most of the crowd’s attention had turned to that. Off to the side, Beardy and some helpers were milking the goats and handing out glasses of the liquid to the excited children. One mother strode over yelping ‘Artemisia! That milk has not been pasteurised! Spit it out at once. That’s it dear, use your Capri Sun to rinse out your mouth.’

McGovern bent close to Kaftan. ‘Now listen here. I could arrest you.’ Kaftan squeaked and began to cry. ‘However, I shall practise some discretion as you should have done in the first place. I will ask the gent to cover up. Otherwise, they’re not doing anything wrong in the eyes of the law. I will ask you not to waste police time with such nonsense in the future.’ He pointed towards the band. ‘I ask you, dae they look like they will suddenly spark a riot because someone has dropped a sweetie wrapper on the path?’

 

Kaftan muttered, ‘No, officer’ and slunk back towards the pack of yummy mummies. Some of them seemed to be quite enjoying the ceremony. They probably recognised their mother-in-law amongst the pack of goats.

McGovern waded into the wedding party and corned Beardy, who had left his milking post for a quick break. ‘Listen mate, gonnae ask yer man to cover up a bit? He’s offended some genteel ladies over there.’

‘Not a problem, my friend. I have a spare robe in my rucksack.’

‘One thing before I go,’ said McGovern. ‘Whit’s the idea behind the panda suit?’

‘Furries,’ smiled Beardy.

‘Furries? Right, I guess I’ll have to work that one out on my own.’

And off went McGovern, back onto his beat and full of stories to share round a welcome pint this evening. Tonight he would put in a request to be transferred back onto his usual beat.

McGovern did not realise he was humming All You Need Is Love under his breath as he went.  

Callum // Gone Fishin’ // The Loss

The Loss

I could tell she had more fun elsewhere. Though, I was not trying to please her, or entertain her, that is not my job, she expected it all the same, as that is what she likes, to be entertained. She enjoyed a laugh, like most people, though she was never satisfied unless there was a laugh at the end of everything. She never tried to make anyone else laugh. Quite demanding really! As the conversation had run dry, I picked up the paper and read the “and finally”. There was a story about a man that was trying to replace milk in schools with tomato juice; he said the benefits of five a day far outweighed the calcium intake of milk. He was protesting in the streets of Italy on a daily basis. The banner read “Tomato’s not Milk”. I smiled a bit, though I thought the whole idea was ridiculous, and he was just jumping to a conclusion that he could not prove. To be so passionate about such an idea, he had to own a tomato farm. He did as well!

“We should go abroad” I said.

She was looking out the window, the scenery was quite impressive, though I am sure she was more concerned about her boredom. We were travelling to Scotland – Edinburgh – the journey took us past some of the most spectacular landscapes in the country. It was Mya’s sister’s wedding; we booked the time off work and we were travelling to Edinburgh second class, though second class was still luxurious. Mya’s sister had planned a firework display from Edinburgh castle; I thought the idea was brilliant; I was really looking forward to that. Mya got a long with her sister so well that it made me somewhat jealous. I was dreading it really; I always feel like a spare part, just there to remind everyone else just how much of a good time they are having.

She nodded and said, “You need to get more hours”.

I already knew that, she did not have to remind me; the reality meant more to her than the idea and the dream of doing something unprompted and original. I did not like that. It was never like this at first! When we first met, we would do our weekly shopping in the 24 hour megastore, at half four in the morning, drunk as anything, buying on impulse, anything we wanted - we spent a small fortune on nibbles, Doritos with loads of different dips; we would open them there and then, sat on the floor of the furthest aisle, cramming them in our mouths, until we were rolling in a mess of food and laughter. We stopped it soon after our first serious decision – to move into together - we never ended up with what we needed, so we had to do something different though the idea was fun all the same. Everything seemed to be different now, and I was starting to think that all we needed was bread and butter. Is that what life boils down to? The need of bread and butter, everything we need for our continued existence?! I do not know which I prefer anymore. Real life is certainly a lot more taxing, and inconsiderate.

I thought about how we were at this moment in time, then our future, and I certainly wanted a future with her; she was the most beautiful, light hearted and pleasing individual, who only really stopped to prepare herself for the next time she was going to share her natural gift - of delight and wonderment. We could be getting married one day, and if it turned out to be anything like it was now, we would be exactly like every other couple. I guess there is no “Hollywood” ideal situation, though I believe communication is crucial to a happy relationship - I heard that on GMTV one day. So I decided to ask her what she thought.

I said, “What do you want to do?”

“What do you mean?” She said.

She looked perplexed but the tone of her voice sounded interested.

“What do you want to do? Do you want to do something remarkable, like climb a mountain once a year - be more normal and live in a nice house being happy with contentment - find something we both enjoy and do it together for the rest of our lives?”

She was thinking for a moment, these sorts of questions were nothing new to her. I came out with some unusual things, and she knew the best way to shut me up was to tell me what she really thought. If I knew what she really thought, I tended to just drift off and dream about the idea.

“What I really want to do is not possible” She said.

“Why?”

“Because I want to take the cancer that is killing my sister and rid the world of it forever!”

I did not know this; it was the first time Mya had told me. I was taken aback! We talked for half an hour about the situation and what if anything there was to be done. It seemed like the worst news possible.

I fully understood why she had not told me, she did not want to believe it. I was concerned for Mya and more for her sister Anita, she was only young and for something so unfortunate to happen so early in her life is near impossible to accept; I knew Anita had the resolve of a missionary and the wedding would be spectacular, though a few would know deep down that the vows they speak on the day will come into promise sooner rather than later. At that moment I thought how fragile life really is, that there are something’s that are just not humanly possible. I always thought I would do anything and everything for Mya and I sort of felt that from her; now all I could do was show feelings of compassion, as she was losing something a lot more precious to her than anything I felt we had lost. I hoped this was enough as I felt inadequate in most circumstances. She smiled with the corners of her mouth, though her eyes were not committed, how could they be, she was pleasing me. I was so thankful for her attempt. I could only imagine what she was feeling; the world was robbing her of her sister - all of their future to share and be happy with, all of their past that was brought to their person in an instant, their bond overwhelming their person, as if they glowed like a beacon.

And call it selfish or heartless to be thinking of me, as there was a fruition and realisation; I knew that the maturity of our relationship was a lot more valuable and meaningful than I had ever imagined. She did not need me for entertainment; she needed me as a partner to be strong and reliable as she was, and I was a part of that, a vital part. In these moments I felt that our relationship had evolved, to a place where my heart was moulding with hers; a place where I felt there was nothing needed or nothing left to say. I felt entirely captivated with her, yet I could not be happy and I could not be sad. Something had changed inside of me. I felt Mya’s arms around me, I felt something a lot more, warmth that was gripping me and binding me closer than anything I had felt. 

This bitter sweet day, where love can bring together and life can rip apart.

       

Andrew // Reader // “If the science…”


If the science of the past 100 years has taught you anything it is that all possible worlds exist. The universe in which I sit here writing these words is only one of a countless number. If you can conceive of the possibility it must exist somewhere. There are possible worlds where I am not writing but sleeping (both dreaming or not), where I am talking (both truthfully and lying). There is a possible world where right now I am eating human flesh.

Now consider the consequences of this when applied to fiction. If every possible world exists, does every possible “Jane Eyre”? If you can conceive of it, it must exist. In fact, “Jane Eyre” is only gripping if you believe in the possibility of the worlds in which Jane and Rochester do not get together in the end. If you believe that the story of their reunion, reconcilement and eventual marriage is inevitable and immutable then the story bellows a dull and lifeless puppet show.

(Some of you readers may believe that that “Jane Eyre” is precisely that. I will allow you your tastes).

There are countless different “Jane Eyres” out in the fictional multiverse: I have read thousands upon thousands of them and yet I have not touched the tip of the different possibilities in existence. It would make your head spin. Jane marries St John Rivers. She marries him and dies on first reaching India. She marries him and flees back to England from India after seeing Rochester burning alive in a dream. She meets neither St. John nor Rochester but remains a teacher at Lowood until she dies of cholera at the age of 33 (this is a rather dull one).

There is even, in one of the worlds I have visited, a “Jane Eyre” which is really nothing more than an extremely graphic (and rather over-long) pornographic novel based on Jane (then an ‘under-teacher’) and Miss Temple’s secret Sapphic trysts in the latter’s study after their charges have been sent to bed.

There is, tragically, one “Jane Eyre” where Jane, the character, becomes self-aware. Over the course of the novel, she becomes conscious of her status as merely one facet of one aspect of an imaginary character in an inconceivably limitless fictional infinity.

In this world Jane’s famous line is not “Reader, I married him,” but instead, “Reader, are you there? Where are you? Can you truly see me? Are you reading me right now? Reader?”

Of course there are also versions of “Jane Eyre” where her parents do not die and she is not sent as an orphan to be brought up by her Aunt Reed. These novels are almost unrecognisable from the one that you know. Of course Jane is not alone in being a character totally influenced by the early death of her parents. Consider how many children’s stories you know start with the death of parents. Harry Potter also grows up to be a very different boy in the worlds in which his parents survive Voldemort’s attack.

Another children’s story that begins, in your world, with the death of parents is “James and the Giant Peach” (and if you think that some of the fictional universes I postulate are unlikely then stop to consider for a moment how unlikely the version of the story that you know in your universe is: a story that starts with James’ parents being “eaten up by an enormous angry rhinoceros which had escaped from London Zoo”).

In your world James is given a bag full of magic by a mysterious man he meets in the garden (you do remember him surely? Squeaky voice – sign saying ‘deus ex machina’ on his back). He gives James the bag, telling him to mix the magic crystals into a concoction with his own hairs and drink the resulting brew. Of course in your world he trips and drops the bag by the peach tree before he can do so. You may well have been satisfied as children reading the resulting tale of mutant fruit and giant insects, but you are missing out on the extraordinary stories in the universes where he doesn’t drop the bag. Most of the tales of maltreated and abused little boys who suddenly have limitless power and magic at their fingertips are strange, dark and frightening ones.

I suppose that the tragedy for you is that you will only ever read one story, you only ever see one side of the sculpture and therefore can be tricked into believing that it is in fact a painting.

Maybe this is why your “Hamlet” is the classic of your particular literary canon: your Danish Prince, more than any other I have seen, finds himself eternally torn between two worlds and two stories: the one in which he takes his revenge and the one in which he doesn’t.

If I have any advice for you it is this: cultivate an awareness of all the possible different threads lurking between the words, behind the pages. You need to stay on your toes if you are to be a reader.

 

Hey fellow scribblers,
Your friendly mod is off on a long weekend that starts on Thursday. Any submissions sent to WifWS will be posted on my return. In the meantime I’m throwing open the gates to you. Yes, that means you and you and you at the back picking your noise. Gone Fishing means the floor is open and WifWS will accept submissions on any topic of your choice until Thursday 9th June. Call it part of my generous nature.

Hey fellow scribblers,

Your friendly mod is off on a long weekend that starts on Thursday. Any submissions sent to WifWS will be posted on my return. In the meantime I’m throwing open the gates to you. Yes, that means you and you and you at the back picking your noise. Gone Fishing means the floor is open and WifWS will accept submissions on any topic of your choice until Thursday 9th June. Call it part of my generous nature.

Max // Reader // “So far out…”

So far out now that only a few glimmers of light shone in the darkness of the night,

The emergency lighting shone with a jaundice yellow gleam. The end of the line a clocking in stand stood its scanner like a check out stand ready to read the code imprinted on his armband. The light flashed green as it recognised his number and clocked him in for his shift.

 It was silent work no sounds to distract him, the captain orders were no window or images to be visualised in this room. Nothing that could distract him was allowed, this room of rooms viewed almost as an inner sanctum among the designers when it was built and the crew when they realised the significance of the tasks that were completed there.

 No one disturbed him the only noise a clicking as he read through each report and file, storing away the answers in his mind; weighing up scenarios, measuring against the specifics that he had been programmed to measure.

 The comlink flashed on his arm and the captain voice loomed over him,

“Isari 4326 has a decision been made, power is fading quicker than we anticipated this time. I repeat power is fading quicker than anticipated… What is the choice?”

The correlations and formulas programmed in his matrix allowed Isari 4326 to provide an answer within moments.

“Hazelton Philip Jnr is the selection. No skills or specialised knowledge, there are no factors which require his specifics over another.”

The captains quivered slightly down the com as she responded,

“Philip? He’s the only choice?”

Isari 4326 responded while making his away to the control hatch next to the door and began inputting the information of his selection,

“He is the choice for this time, Systems will begin the process of utilising his status field and re routing the power to the main engine.”

The captain’s response was unusual but Isari 4326 was programmed to obey all commands that would not have a detrimental effect to the survival of the journey.

“5 minutes, give me a 5 minute countdown before the systems actions the commands.”

Isari programmed the countdown and completed the process keys needed for the programme to be completed once the countdown was complete, he then returned to his files and moved Hazelton Philip Jnr from the pile of required personnel file to the growing pile of those who had been utilised to ensure the continuation of the journey.

9356 required 378 utilised.

 

Captain Helena Hazelton made the short walk from the bridge to her cabin in seconds, the status chambers stood there, all glowing in that jaundice yellow glow. He lay there his smaller chamber next to the slightly larger ones of his sisters and father. Philip jnr was only 8 years old. Her youngest child, the inspiration for her taking on this role, he’d always been an adventurer always wanted to be an explorer. When the bombs had been dropped on earth and the system started to become uninhabitable they had asked for volunteers for the different options. She had opted for the unknown, to journey into the deepest recess of space to find a new home. The journey had not gone to plan and 800 years had passed since she’d seen the excited glow and the shouts of joy of the adventure ahead of him that he’d made as he’d climbed into his status chamber. And now it was over for him like so many others whose lives had been sacrificed during the seemingly unending course of this nightmare journey.

Hearing the timer counting down the last few seconds, she passed her hand over her sons face and watched as the status chamber started to glow amber then blue then red then it was empty, the life force pumped out and the regular lighting for the deck flooded back cancelling out the emergency jaundice yellow glow.

She made the solitary journey back to the deck and sat in her captain’s seat staring at the stars. Neither she nor the systems had any idea which way they were to go next to reach their goal. They floated aimlessly through the heavens preying for an answer.

In the depth on the inner sanctum Isari picked up the files and began again to correlate and test the information contained within them. If calculations were correct another would need to be selected in 16 weeks and 19 days if they had not arrived at their destination. All that time would be spent studying and understanding so if the choice was to be made he would have the correct data in order to do so efficiently and correctly as programmed.

The new topic is Reader. Please send your work to us by 8pm on Thursday 2nd June. 
Copyright of the above image belongs to By drcorneilus (beginning reader) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. More information about the image can be obtained by clicking on it. 

The new topic is Reader. Please send your work to us by 8pm on Thursday 2nd June

Copyright of the above image belongs to By drcorneilus (beginning reader) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. More information about the image can be obtained by clicking on it. 

Laura // Pushing // “My longing inside…”
Andrew // Pushing // “I met this…”
Louise // Pushing // “Two thirty-six and…”
Max // Pushing // “Stood facing each…”
Mark // Pushing // “I take my…”
Callum // Pushing // “The swing was…”
Andrew // Gone Fishin’ // Free Choice
Harry // Gone Fishin’ // For Hugo
Laura // Gone Fishin’ // Wedding in the Botanics
Callum // Gone Fishin’ // The Loss
Andrew // Reader // “If the science…”
Max // Reader // “So far out…”

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We're here to help people who want to write do just that. And we're also here to give people new, varied and interesting subjects to read that don't take up to much time but still make you think. It's really easy so why not have a go? Every second Thursday we'll post a subject for you to write about. You've got a week to get down about 1000 words on the subject in any form you like - short story, snippets, poetry - and we'll post them on the site, along with all the other submissions. Send your submissions by 5pm on the deadline day to writeinforwritingssake@gmail.com. If you want to suggest a song or two around the subject, each week we'll be adding a playlist of related songs. To access the playlist, just click the title on the playlist page to open the Spotify playlist. You can follow us at the following: Tumblr: http://writeinforwritingssake.tumblr.com Twitter: http://twitter.com/Writeinfor Facebook: http://bit.ly/wifwsFacebook Email: writeinforwritingssake@gmail.com

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