Constellate Literary Journal recently published my short story, All Fixed. Read it here.
The pub smelled of stale lager and pork scratchings, but that’s just the way Dad liked it. One of the last good, proper pubs left, so he used to say. A shithole, in other words. But at least it was friendly. I watched Mum as she wandered across the dingy maroon carpet. Her nose crinkled as she noted the soles of her shoes clinging to the sticky pile with each step. I sipped my large white wine and hoped its effects would wash over me quickly.
Gavin nudged me. ‘One drink and we’ll be off.’
I took in the clusters of mourners which filled the room. ‘I haven’t spoken to anyone yet.’
Little Timmy sat at the kitchen table with his head in his hands, his tears blotting the ink of the homework that tortured him.
“Oh ‘eck, lad,” said Grandpa. “Wotsmatter?”
“My homework,” whimpered Timmy. “I can’t do it. I need help with my 3 times tables.”
“Times tables, ey? Ba gum, that does sound ‘ard for a bairn like you. Only seven, aren’t you lad? I ‘ad trouble at school at your age an’ all. Tell ya what—you go up to bed and I’ll sort this out for you. Don’t tell t’teachers, mind. It’ll be done by morning and that’s a promise.”
We always used to buy bubblegum from the ice cream man when he came around in summer. We weren’t interested in 99s and Mr Whippies and ice lollies – the sweets was where it was at, and bubblegum was the crème de la crème of ice cream man goodies.
There was this game we used to play where we’d all try and see how many pieces of gum we could chew at once. We’d hang about on the street corner chomping away like cows, chewing through the jaw ache until our mouths seized up and we had to admit defeat. I was the record-holder – twelve pieces of gum I did, once!
We all got a kick out of it – it was dangerous, according to our parents. Bubblegum’s a choking hazard, see, ‘specially when you’re shoving a handful of gumballs into your mouth at once. There was this rumour that went round about a kid that died from chewing on two many pieces of gum. This big, sticky mass of strawberry Hubba Bubba got stuck in his throat and none of his mates knew how to do the Heimlich manoeuvre and he turned all blue and his eyes bulged out and he pegged it.
It’s a yellow sticky note today. Blue ink. Just the one line: “Your hair is shit and so are you.”
Bit lacklustre. Not witty, not clever, not even particularly brutal. Perhaps the culprit’s losing his knack. After all, this is sticky note number 398. They’re bound to run out of insults to throw at me eventually. They can’t all be fierce doozies like number 187 (“Mr. Blobby called. He wants his body back.”) or number 249 (“Do something for the greater good. Kill yourself.”). They’ll probably stop soon.
Lit Up published my short creative nonfiction piece about losing my dad. It’s not the most cheerful thing I’ve ever written but we can’t write fun stories all the time, I guess!
His skin is too thin. Not papery — not that frail— but like the corners of a paperback that have been crumpled up and smoothed out one time too many. Each crease seems to be etched deeper than it was just twenty minutes ago. When the blood was still going round.
It’s my first foray into creative nonfiction and I’m really happy with how it turned out. Read it here.
Something really cool happened. Janise Michel created an animation for one of my short stories, I Remember, for her digital drawing class at university. It’s amazing and you should watch it immediately! That is all.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to a new and totally
unoriginal feature that I’m calling MONTHLY BLOGS. The concept is simple; I
will have a ramble once a month about my writing life, my reading life and my
personal life. Nobody asked for this but it’s happening. You’re welcome.
What have I been writing?
Aside from the fiction I’ve been posting here and on Medium, I’ve been frantically working on a whole bunch of other stuff in hopes of making up for time lost during my mental health crisis (we’ll get onto that later).
First, I’ve been cracking on with what I hope will be a final round of edits for my novel. I plan to query it to literary agents again because, well, why not? I’ve made some pretty big changes to the opening and to the ending since my last round of submissions, and the story is certainly better for it. But I’m doubtful that it will get picked up, mainly because I want to keep my expectations low so that I’m not utterly crushed by inevitable rejection it’s kind of half way between the young adult market and the adult market and it’s hard to fit into a definitive genre. Basically, I don’t think it’s something that is ‘trendy’ enough in the traditional book biz right now. So when if I don’t get any bites from agents, I’m going to gear up to self-publish it next summer because I think it’s a good story, damn it. I’ve worked too long and too hard on this book to give up on it.