Sunday, 29 November 2015

Faking It

Character sketch for the fiction course...

Laurie sat, legs crossed, reclining slightly, left hand cupped beneath the bar, right hand ripping at the corner of a bottled-lager-branded beermat, sienna hair falling over bare shoulders, drinking her Martell brandy, thinking how you couldn't compare. Comparison was the mother of... It was a path to... It fucked you all kinds of up, is what it did.

Not that she was comparing with the best of them. Not with those... things. The undulating ones over there on the dance-floor, those shimmering sirens for whom the surrounding men were practically spasming-out in orgiastic fervour. They were welcome to it. I mean obviously, if given the... but you had to be realistic. She'd let them have the beauty and the glamour and the riches, if they'd let her have an ordinary life.

Ordinary. But you couldn't compare. Each life was unique, uniquely felt. You couldn't lay one on top of another and say the peaks here are higher, the troughs there not so deep. From the inside, each life was terrible enough.

Still though. To be an averagely attractive woman. A bit fat, even. She'd take fat. A plain, plump girl -- someone who'd maybe had to wait until second year of university to lose her virginity, but had (lost it), to perhaps a computer programmer living on her floor, who'd played drums with zero rhythm and had moved on top of her with even less, who'd spent three months of evenings curled beside her watching his little portable television as the two of them gradually realised how little they had in common.

Laurie would have taken this. She would have taken this gladly. But you couldn't. You couldn't.

She swirled the nubbin of ice in her glass, brushed the hair from her broad face with a move she thought of as "defiantly feminine" -- which sounded nice but did not, in the end, assuage the feelings of ugliness and ungainliness that bubbled up at her -- and she considered the possibility of being taken home tonight.

49.05 percent of the country's population was male. Of this number, maybe 20 percent might see Laurie on first appearance as anything more than a twisted monster, an aberration, a faggot. Maybe one percent of this number, maybe less, would see her not as an object of pity or sympathy but as a woman in her own right, someone they could legitimately be attracted to.

There were, at best guess, 80 people in this bar, which did not exactly stack the odds, the fucking piece of shit fucking god fucking damned odds, in her, in, fucking...

She wrenched her thoughts away. She ordered another brandy from the barman who was trying not to look, she tore at the bar mat, she drank the brandy. The worst was in truth behind her. She no longer felt at war with her own body. More like a refugee making camp in a war-torn land, hanging fairy-lights around the barbed wire, laying rugs at the bottom of trenches, doing the best with an alien landscape that would never quite be home. If she sometimes still thought briefly of open skies, of a short plunge and then endless expansive peace, the borders of her being marked by the stars themselves, well, that wasn't so uncommon.

She was not, she had been assured, mentally unstable. Rigorous psychological evaluations prior to the multiple medical procedures on which she had spent all her savings had made certain of this fact -- though of course she allowed secretly to herself that maybe she was just good enough at faking it. But then wasn't that, when it came right down to it, the best any of us could say: that we were good enough at faking it?

Laurie (née Daniel) Staples, 28, alone once again on New Year's Eve, composed and demure and, yes, beautiful in a sequinned azure dress, drinking overpriced brandy and contemplating the smudged and fiery walk home by herself to a flat without central heating or companionship, did not then feel it but was, in this moment and for all moments after it, loved.

Thursday, 12 November 2015


Another wee thing from the fiction course. Can't be bothered doing anything with it so I'll just leave it here for your delectation...

The businessman sat down two seats ahead. The collar of his expensive coat was turned up and flecked with droplets of what moments before had been snow. Thinking himself alone, I presumed, for I was hunched as usual into my seat and mostly hidden, the man took out his phone and held it to his lips. He began speaking rapidly into its screen. "You are in for it this time," he said. "You are ruined. I will ruin you. I will smear you into my carpet. I will squelch you. Eviscerate and obliterate both, believe you me. I am the heel, you are the worm. You will rue the day. Oh you will rue... I will spank you. Be prepared. You are in for a spanking. You dirty, you repugnant... I will fondle your toes. I will cause you to whimper. I will call into action the largest of my toys. You putrid blemish. You worthless, squirming--" The man's phone at this moment buzzed and his ringtone played. "Hello?" he answered. "No. Kevin: no. I have left the office. I am distinctly suburbs-bound. What you're asking of me would be quite impossible. I don't care how important. My schedule for the next evening is, I regret to inform you, capital-F-in-largest-filigreed-font full."