Turn on the Bright Lights

The stage lights up like a slab of white crystal, protruding far into the centre of the crowd. The crowd has disappeared into darkness as the lights fade to black, accentuating the flashes of photojournalists and kids with their smart phones taking snaps. The air was filled with the snap-snap and blink-blink, nearly saturated with excitement, filled with the excited screams and cheers of the audience. Tonight the world would be seeing the new collection from Valerie Glamour for the very first time.

The music starts, a low and mystic sound, setting the scene as the back stage is lit up light blue. The first model hits the stage and the music picks up, a beautiful soundscape. She walks in time with the bass, as if every step she takes shakes the earth. The exquisite black dress hugs her luscious curves, showing them off in the way only a pro would know how. Strutting to the centre of the stage, she poses, the cameras crowding around her. She stares blindly into the distance, the Never does an expression touch her face. Like a work of art, she stands there, petrified so that she might live forever in photo. The lights reflect off the silver jewellery around, blinding some members of the crowd. Turning off, she returns backstage, and another female model takes her place. Then another male model, dressed in this year’s style. He looks like a drag queen.

And then the final exhibit, the man called the modern day Adonis. Perfection. Daniel Green takes to the stage. The crowd goes wild. Cameras and flashes capture the exception sight of him in just jeans and a crisp white shirt. He reached the end of the stage, and as a final stage piece, ripped off his shirt, , showing off his carved and oiled chest . The flashes and subsequent shadows serve to emphasis the already well-defined shape of his body, and shine his white teeth as he grinned into the crowd.

The cameras did not quite capture the missing or cracked teeth, or the stain of brown. They failed to see the stretch marks and the lose skin that hung off the skeleton of a man, or the cuts all over his face from shaving drunk that morning. Neither did the cameras catch the shape of his matted hair that he tried to hard to style every morning. The next issues of the world’s fashion magazines will feature him on the cover, and overnight bloggers will upload pictures and articles before breakfast. None will capture the depravity and emptiness of the man. The pictures do not see the needle marks, or the hole where the bridge of his nose used to be, worn away from drug use. On his arm was an infected needle wound, right out of that film, all purple and black. He looked in pain, moving the arm awkwardly.

Turning to walk back and return backstage, his leg gave way, bone snapping as he falls down. The audience see him posing on his side, pandering to the cameras by the stage, one leg bent up, as he lies looking seductively into the eyes of the cameras.The stage had met his face with considerable force, the Perspex that formed the surface breaking leading his face to crash into the strip lights beneath. He was barely conscience by this point, his mind recoiling at the horror of his situation, blood dripping into his eye from his forehead, the smell of burning flesh permeated the air as the hot strip light burnt away at his cheek. Tears rolled down this scarred cheek, dripping down on to the light, evaporating with a sizzling sound and diffusing into the air. T

he neon stage snaps off, as stage hands come to pick up left clothes, and give the stage a quick clean before the next batch of models hit the stage. They lift Green off stage. “Good show” they says, “nice improv, the press loved that posing at the end. Some great shots!”

They do not know whose blood is on the stage. He had never imagined it would be like this.

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This and That

Credit cards, debit cards, crinkled receipts kept in case of dissatisfaction and returns, one play slip, donor card, good brand of condom, drivers license, library card, an unflattering black and white passport photo an unhappy look, all enclosed in brown leather, complete with that distinct smell of authenticity, all under an embossed metal logo, where the real monetary value of this simple object lies.

Now I sit on my bed, the contents spread over the red covers as I scan from object to object and I wonder what the kind of person owns this. A personality, a series of snapshots, bank details, and phone numbers, bric-a-brac, all scattered on my bed. I sit there waiting for the imminent collapse of my personality, waiting for someone to break me down into pieces of plastic, Internet histories, credit card bills, the food and things I buy.

I found the wallet on the pavement; smack bang next to a large puddle with some spilt and wet chips floating in the dirty water. This was not normally the way I walk home but on a whim I decided to live the life less ordinary. Fate. That is what some people would call this. I was drawn to this wallet. This all happened for a reason. Now the wallet is dry, and the leather feels smooth and warm under my cold hands. The window blows through the curtains, knocking the wind chime hanging from the curtain rail. My one bedroom flat is cool this time of year. I find myself wondering what fine specimen of a person owns this, what pinnacle of evolution and genetics, filled this with themselves, then lost it. Did they lose themselves? Was their life forever changed? How many phone calls? Police, credit cards companies…

Their picture stares up at me and I find myself slowly imagining their lips on mine after a nigh in a fine restaurant, all paid for by one of these fine pieces of plastic. I imagine slipping the condom on, I imagine me imagining the moment of release. I imagine taking a drag on a shared cigarette between their seductive lips and mine. Find this person, I am thinking, first date in a small café I’m thinking, together forever with no wedding I am thinking. That is how I am meant to react isn’t it? You find attributes of someone attractive and your mind wanders. Thoughts snowball but sometimes mine feel like tumbleweed, and fuck me this desert is lonely.

Slowly I put everything back in the wallet, feeling a little dirty, a little strange at that timeline in my mind, formed from fragments of someone I do not really know. Someone who I feel I want to know. A set of cards, trinkets and a phone number. Maybe someone I can love. Maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe I repeat to myself until the word starts to sound strange.

A few seconds suspense before the phone begins to dial. One, two, three tones, along with the fragmented sound of my own breathing. “Hello” a gruff voice, “who’s speaking?” He sounds like a drinker, a smoker. He sounds older than I expected. But hey, a girl can dream.

Heart of Gold

Antonia is facing down the street, looking towards the distant mountains and past the Station Hotel. Two men, a bartender and a waiter, are sharing a cigarette they bummed from a passing workmen, and they suck back delicious smoke as a child and his father sit on the other side of the main entrance, talking about buying ice cream. The air is filled with laughter and the sounds of passers by, all heading to the station as the three fifty heads into town. Men and women on days off adorn roadside cafés, sipping on whiskey, white wine or coke, nibbling on warm ciabatta with melted garlic butter.

Another child is being dragged home, tears in his eyes. Antonia catches a glimpse from the boy’s red eyes, and knows immediately that he is going to be beaten. Probably for bad grades or something, but he has that scared look in this eyes. One of inevitable pain and punishment.

She turns to Marco, falling into his arms. At last she is his, and her former life dies behind her. The smell of his cologne intoxicates her. It smells of freedom, of the future. She used to wear perfume similar to this, to avoid implicating her clients, and getting them into trouble with their partners. Marco admires the hotel, his hotel, and his life’s work.

With a crash of glass, a wastepaper bin flies from a third floor window, landing on the brick red of the pavement, flaming bank notes inside, spreading and landing all over the pavement.

“Ay dios mio” someone screams, people rising from their lunches to stand and watch the burning bin, now in full flame, bank notes burning like scattered ashes all in the street. At first, a little smoke comes from the broken window, then more and more until it billows into the sky like a dark stairway.

Marco shouts to the waiter and bartender to get inside and help put out the fire, before turning on his heels. She grabs him, kissing him on the lips, half in terror of something bad happening. He whispers everything is going to be okay, turns and runs away to the fire station. Antonia stretches her arm out as he goes, almost used to his warmth and now it is gone. The fire now has taken over the entire building. The little boy outside dropped his ice cream, and it melts into the gutter, staining the dusty red pavement.

“Todo por mi culpa” she whispers to herself as the train pulls out of town, and the roof of the hotel collapses in on itself.

 

She had a heart of gold, really she did, but what she wanted most was a Midas touch

 

Six Word Stories

Hemmingway, rather famously, said in an interview, that the shortest story he had even written was only six words: ‘Baby’s shoes for sale. Never worn’. This is an interesting concept as from those mere six words, you know exactly, or at least have a good idea, what is going on. With that in mind, I have been doing my own recently. Here are a handful.

Third world problems, first world guilt

Drunken mistake, a beautiful baby boy

Tarnished engagement ring in pawn shop

Poppies survive the cracked, war-torn earth

Turns out the gun was loaded

Hemmingway is turning in his grave

Naive

A childhood game, gone wrong. Under-edited at the moment.

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I remember the crack as his head hit the ground, our shouts ringing in the snow silence, spreading like the mist we breathed in the cold.

It started with throwing snowballs, just the four of us, on an iced over road near my house. It was not used often. I would later learn that it was a supply road for a bar in the rugby club nearby. Our only light was from the distant main road, with the red and white of passing cars. Those bold enough to brave the slippery roads, alongside the occasional blue of emergency services. “Probably ambulances” we speculated. Only our cries of laughter and conversation could be heard.

My hands were red-raw-cold, putting the finishing touches towards a snowman we made earlier. He has one of our hats, not sure whose. I was smoothing down part of his head, trying to get that picture perfect thing you see on Christmas cards and in musical films. A cold block hits the side of my face and I spin with the impact, finding myself facing down towards the main road. I touch my face, checking for blood. Ice in the snowball, I think, but there is nothing.

Shadows grow from the main road, a group of figures, silhouetted against the orange of the streetlights. Each was taller than us. My friends moved closer together. Safety in numbers.

“Eh, boys?” one of the figures shouted, “mind if we join?” All spoken in a fake London accent. Kids from the Northwall Estate. Rough part of the neighbourhood.

“Sure” one of us replied, all of us surprised they have not just come to beat us up. That they are so calm. I am not sure who answered, but before long the nine of us are dodging and dipping between blocks of snow. For the first time, we are interacting on a level where threats and egos are not involved. “Maybe this is what growing up feels like”, I remember thinking, “past all that childish scrapping.”

It is only five minutes before it all went wrong.  One of the Northwall boys was bent over, blood coming from his nose. In his hand, on the floor, was something. A block of ice.

“Tha’s fucking ice!” holding it in the air. It wasn’t big, but it shone with hardness. Finger prints of bloody red tainted the clear white.

One of our lot threw it. He was apologising, saying he had no idea, that it was an accident, but it was only seconds before the Northwall boy’s first collided with his face and he was on the floor, his nose also bloody. That crack, I will never forget.

Both sides were tense, ready for something to happen. The Northwall boys were crowded around the boy with the bloody nose. We had picked up our boy from the floor as he clutched his nose. Was bent. Looked like it might be broken. We knew more was to come, so we ran.

We ran.

They chased us.

The icy air in my lungs burning.

The pain in my side as a stitch came about.

Looking back now at these flashes, these stupid childhood moments, I cannot help but laugh at my naivety, but it is nice to see that one day we would all just get along.

Lay Down Your Burdens

A happy piece about guilt. This is a reworked piece from ages ago.

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Lay Down Your Burdens

The sunset paints the sky crimson across the dusty plain. Sinking towards the ground, the waning light bends the long shadows of the trees and lampposts, extending and warping them like Pinocchio’s nose. They stretch until night comes.

The whiskey by her side tastes awful, but she is not sure if that’s just her taste, or if the whiskey really is that bad. She takes a sip. It burns, but she forces it down, feeling it in her stomach, warming it up. The chair on the veranda rocks back and forth again and she goes with it, crossing her legs and letting her body sway. Her hair blows in the evening wind. She closes her eyes and imagines she is on a swing. One that her dad would have pushed her on when she was young, but it’s been so long since she saw him.

The wind picks up, catching the iron-gate and making it to creak. They need to buy some oil, but never do. Much more pressing things to buy. The last time they went shopping it looked like the most random assortment of items: various flavours of ice cream, energy drinks, bottled water (lots of water), mild painkillers, stronger painkillers, vitamins, several cans of soup, and cheap alcohol. The cashier gave them the strangest look.

Inside the house he screams and moans. He’s been like this for days. She went through it all a few days ago, her body a dictionary of scars and wounds. They are scattered across her body like fairy dust, settling at random points and glistening, deadly and telling.

The first time was painful; the needle poised centimetres from her flesh. It was not like the films, or the books. She had not been pressured into it, she wanted to try something new and different. It was her idea. Life was dull. They were bored so they fell into something darker than your regular addiction. And a few years, from this hole they had been watching their world fall apart. The powder bubbled and spat in the spoon. Then it was ready. Soaked into a cotton bud, sucked up into the syringe, now touching her vein, inside her vein, sucking blood out into the syringe, a dragon or supernova floating, pulsating in the syringe. She said she was ready, and he plunged down, sending the poison into her. She was crying, but then the warmth and euphoria hit her. Moments later she was sick.

Touching the scars on her arms and legs, she is scared at how routine all that had become. These scars that would never go away. How easy she had ruined her life on a day-to-day basis, but also how boring life became. She had dreams once. After that, she had need, and life itself became dull. She went through it all. He watched and through her pain she could see his terror; he would have to go through this soon. He held her hand as she threw up and spasmed, doubled up in pain. No, not pain. Her body was just learning to feel again. Nerves long dead and drugged at the tips of her body came back to life. She curled her toes in agony, just feeling again.

She remembered the first time they made love, before the drugs. Her hands pressing against his back as he moved in her. The gasps. Him on her lips. His lips all over her curves. Her toes curled up as she saw the beautiful colours every woman deserves to see, but many do not. That amazing rush. She bit her lip as the wave hit her.

Oh he loved her so much, and she loved him too, but that was then. This was before the drugs. Now she could not bear to see him in this state. They had been through too much. She imagined the interior of their bare flat, naked from where everything of value had been sold off to pay for other habits. She imagined the space behind the door, under the letterbox. So many letters. So many how-are-yous, where-are-yous, what-are-you-doings. She thought about running again. This time alone. She had come this far.

She takes another sip of whiskey, savouring the taste, and stares into the sunset. She smiles.
She takes another sip and lets the ashen taste float on her taste buds for the first time in so long. It’s the little things, after all. Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from all your worries.

Red

So my life has gone back to the normal university thing where I seem to be tired all the damn time. This does mean I will be writing more. Might even post a segment from my novel, if I get much more written in the near future.

Speaking of writers, check out this blog. Her name is Rosianna, and she’s already a bigish deal on You Tube (and you should follow her, very good channel) but she also does a blog. Check it out

Meanwhile, here is aice little piece from Creative Writing. Enjoy x

In mid air, at the centre of the room, the glass, seconds before impact on the clean floor tiles. The last chord, B sharp minor resonates and pulses slowly and the crooning voice of the singer fades into silence. A burning cigarette in my mouth, but I was not breathing in, and it continues to burn-burn-burn like some awful fuse, dripping ash onto the floor. Those five words hung in the air like a gas, like carbon monoxide that slowly and without and warning or odour kills everyone in the room. That ugly elephant that was in the room is now visible for all to see, but now we can ignore it no longer.

The guest all gasp as the words take full effect and the wine glass finally hits the floor, sending red and clear shards in each and every direction. The band remains still, sitting poised to play the next note, while the last hangs in the air, their silence allowing this scene to play out as it does.

The white dress is now stained with specks of red around the bottom and a piercing shriek. Never to be worn again, but now stained permanently, the white dress looks sullied, much worse than it actually is. The red would come out, if you took it to the right people. Tears hit the floor in slow motion, starting as a circular drop, hitting the floor and flattening out, the outsides rising in a strange and unique shape.

His words feel as though they left his mouth a long time ago, the silence folding the real timeline, though the words still hang in the air like a speech bubble in a comic book. His tongue is caught between his teeth, not regretting, but scared of the repercussions. These words about love and are met with shouts, all concerning money and respect, her father taking a step forward, striking the young man with a blow to the face, blood bubbling up under the skin of his cheek that he would later notice, staring into the mirror of his hotel bathroom. Blood hits the floor as a tooth snaps cutting the inside of his tongue, blood flowing over his teeth as he shouts at his attacker. More red hits the floors, but by now this is no surprise, the pool trapped underfoot as he turns to leave.

The father is pulled off, and somebody throws over a napkin to the bleeding man, the man who everybody in the room knows. He looks over to the bride, and everybody knows what the look means. She once again kneels down to see if her new groom is okay, but he pushes her away.

“I can’t believe I was the only one who didn’t know!”

A plain silver ring hits the floor Moments later, a waiter is on hand to clear up the mess, the glass, blood and wine.