Fiction: The Bathroom Floor

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Fiction: The Bathroom Floor

Eva got off the bus and waved to Ally and Kyle as it sped away. It had been a weird morning. A session of English and a session of Psychology, followed by coming out to two friends in the front seat of a 168. Eva had only known them for a few months. The confession sat weirdly in the pit of her stomach, but Kyle was gay and Ally bisexual, so it’s not like she was the only queer on the bus.

Eva trekked up the hill towards her house and let herself in. Her phone buzzed.

So are you seeing anyone at the moment? – Ally

Eva blinked at the screen and put it back in her pocket, then washed the dishes left on the side from breakfast. She plodded up the stairs, put her bag in her room and walked into the bathroom and locked the door.

She took her phone out of her pocket, bit her tongue and wrote:

No. I’m not dating anyone.

Eva lay down on the floor next to the bathtub and traced the outline of the wooden panelling. Her phone buzzed again. She counted to ten.

I was, uh, wondering if you might like to go out with me? – Ally

Eva plopped her phone down in the middle of her chest and stared at the ceiling.

She was 17. She’d been kissed once during a game of spin the bottle, but no-one had ever paid her any real attention before. The ceiling was white, but had a couple of marks where her sister had swatted a moth, but wasn’t tall enough to clean up the mess.

Ally was nice. And she was cute. Eva was attracted to her, but as she lay on the bathroom floor she realised that her whole body felt numb.

Finally, Eva took a long, tight breath. Then shot back:

Yeah! Okay 🙂

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Poem: Penny For Your Thoughts?

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Poem: Penny For Your Thoughts?

I remember the day,
Not the exact date,
But the moment
When the penny finally dropped.

It was another lazy afternoon,
Just me and you,
Walking for hours, talking for miles.

And then you said,
“I like these random conversations,”
And paused, still in motion,
As the tiny metallic object fell
And rolled around your skull.

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Fiction: The Intersection

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Fiction: The Intersection

She stood on a bar stool and yelled the name, “Larry!”

When everyone turned, she rolled her eyes and yelled again, in perfect British English “I’m looking for a man named Larry, or Lawrence.”

I looked around, no-one waved or put their hand up. Slowly, I raised my own arm. She looked at me and frowned, then climbed down. She plucked two whiskies from the counter and stalked over to my table.

“You don’t look like a Larry.” Her mouth twisted.

“Well, that’s because I’m not. I’m Alex.” I held out a hand, but she didn’t take it. “Sorry, I was just worried you might fall.”

She sighed. She turned as if she was about to leave, but then her head snapped back to me.

“Wait. What did you say your name was?”

“Alex.”

She grinned. “Holy shit. I found one of you.”

She slid into the booth and handed me a whisky. I suddenly felt like I’d made a terrible decision.

“So, Alex, how’s life going?”

She was tipsy, but not drunk. She had the air of someone who didn’t often walk up to strangers and start a conversation, but hard spirits were bolstering her confidence.

“Uh. Fine. I guess.”

She fixed me with a steely glare. The blue of her eyes was practically translucent.

“I don’t believe you.” She smirked.

I tilted my head to one side. “What makes you say that?”

“It’s Friday night and you’re sat in the gloomiest part of a bar by yourself.”

“Maybe I like to be alone?”

“Oh, you do. But not normally in public. Hence you calling me over.”

I clicked my tongue. “And I guess your life is just fantastic?”

“It’s alright. Not brilliant. I’m on a quest.”

“A quest?”

“Yeah. I’m looking for someone.”

“This Larry?”

She nodded and took a sip of her whisky.

“Who’s this guy to you?”

“Oh, uh, no-one yet. But I’m hoping the love of my life.”

I snorted. “You’re joking right?”

She frowned again. “No. No. Unfortunately not. I’ve never met him. Never spoken to him. But I know he exists. I think he’s American. This seemed as good a place as anywhere to start searching.”

I looked at her. I sure did know how to pick ‘em. She was crazy as all shit, but then I’d got past worse.

“So, what have you done that’s ruined everything?” she asked.

My heart skipped a beat. “Excuse me?”

“Well, I mean. The Alex I know is prone to doing…shall we say, stupid things? Things that have a habit of making his life a complete disaster.”

I took a swig of my own whisky and hissed. “I don’t know you, lady.”

“Oh, yeah, sorry. Lily.” She offered me her hand. I shook it.

“I’m still not telling you anything.”

She grinned. “But there is something to tell! Interesting.”

I grunted. “So, why New York?”

She shrugged. “I’ve always wanted to come here. Figured two birds, one bar stool. Plus, I wrote this thing the one time where Larry was a professor at some university, so I thought I’d check out a few of the big ones in town.”

I raised an eyebrow. “You know you sound completely mental, right?”

“Oh, yeah. Definitely. But I kind of gave up pretending to be sane when I left the UK.”

I laughed. “That sounds like and interesting way to live.”

“So far it’s paid off.” She knocked back the rest of her drink. “Look, I’m moving on tomorrow; I’ve rented a car and I’m headed to DC. You should come with me.”

“What?” I chuckled. “Lily, that’s nice and all, but we’ve only just met.”

“And?”

“And, apart from the fact that either one of us could turn out to be a serial killer, I have a life.”

“That you don’t enjoy, and that you’ve recently fucked up so badly, you’re inevitably going to turn up at my apartment tomorrow with a bag.” She pulled a pen and card from her pocket. “This is my number, this is my current address. If you’re late, give us a ring.”

She dropped the card down next to my glass. As she got up, she clicked her back and suddenly she held herself with a completely different posture. It was almost as if she’d been possessed by another person entirely.

“I’m not coming with you.” I stated.

“Sure thing, see you tomorrow at 11, okay?” Then she winked at me, and began to walk away.

“Good luck on your quest, Lily!” I called.

I sat there, sipping the rest of my whisky. My heart was pounding and I had no idea why.

 

I didn’t go the next morning. And I didn’t ring her.

 

The day after, I packed a bag and headed to Virginia.

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Tip Tuesday: How to be Smooth as Fudge

smooth as fudge
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How to be Smooth as Fudge

(Flirting tips for awkward folks.)

Up until fairly recently, I was completely incapable of flirting. When I was 19, I signaled to a person that I liked them by pufferfish kissing them, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs style. Then, just in case they didn’t get the message, the next time I saw them I kissed them on the lips and before running off to catch my bus. Fortunately, they found it cute, but in hindsight, if they hadn’t felt the same way, that would have been the creepiest thing I have ever done. However, since then I like to think I’ve got a handle on things. I’m still mahoosively awkward sometimes, but I’ve developed techniques to help keep me smooth as fudge, bae.

1.

I’m so awkward, I don’t even know how to flirt! How would you let someone know that you like them?

smooth as fudge

Address the above to the person that you like. Then not so subtly do what they suggest. If they’re as awkward as you, and so don’t flirt either, look up tips online, and act these out. The beauty of this is, that if they start to get uncomfortable, you can laugh it off as “practicing”, apologise, and then distract them with a question about what they’ve been watching/reading lately.

2.

Are you multiple sea creatures with tentacles, cuz girl, you octopi my thoughts.

smooth as fudge

Go ahead and learn some crazy pick-up lines, the weirder the better. You want them to be so strange, that no-one in their right mind will think you’re using them unironically. That way, whether the person likes you or not, you’ll get a laugh. Laughter is infectious, so even if you don’t get the girl/boy/other, you’ll feel better, and you’ll gain a reputation as a bit of a comedian. Who doesn’t want that?

3.

Hey the weather is nice today, by the way I like you, don’t you think that cloud looks like a lion?

smooth as fudge

Honestly, the best way of finding out if someone likes you, is to tell them how you feel. But of course, this can be terrifying. The trick is to keep it casual, to remind yourself that it’s really no big deal. My favourite way of doing this is to sandwich the words into an ordinary sentence (see above). It makes it seem like you’re just dropping a random fact into conversation. And when they inevitably respond with, “What did you say?!” you can say it again. It’s always easier the second time, because the words are already out there. Stay calm, and ask how they feel. If they feel the same, well then it’s time to get excited! And if they don’t, tell them it’s okay. Because it is okay. Sometimes people won’t like you back, but there will always be someone else.

Lines and techniques aside, however, the main reason I’m able to talk to people now, is because I’ve learnt how to be comfortable with who I am. I’ve learnt that being a nerd is amazing, that needing to be alone is perfectly fine, and that you can get away with doing all kinds of weird stuff (meowing, putting glitter on your flatmate’s nose, lying under the coffee table to think etc. etc.) in the right context. All you have to do is be brave, and remember that, love is not everything in life.

Mort out. xx

smooth as fudge

Coming Up: March 23rd-29th

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Coming up

Personal Post: Thoughts on the Paper Towns Movie

Thoughts on the paper towns movie
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Thoughts on the Paper Towns Movie

I should preface this by making it clear that I love John Green. I think he’s an amazing Youtuber, and no-one has done more for the nerd community that him and his brother, Hank. The VlogBrothers played a big part in how comfortable I’ve become with my intelligence, and my passion, and for that I’ll always love them.

But I don’t like John Green’s writing. Particularly, Paper Towns.

For me, John’s voice is just too strong. When I’m reading his books, I can hear his voice; the fast pace, stopping only to take a breath; the emphasis on multi-syllabic words; the jovial tone. For example:

Your twenties are not destiny, your thirties are not destiny. Destiny is not something that happens all at once, it’s something that happens only in retrospect.

Compared to:

I’m starting to realize that people lack good mirrors. It’s so hard for anyone to show us how we look, and so hard for us to show anyone how we feel.

Can you tell which is John, and which is Quentin? (The protagonist of Paper Towns.) I couldn’t. Of course, to a certain degree this is expected. A writer without a voice of their own, is a sales assistant. But there’s a limit to how much a writer’s own voice, should affect that of the character. I got particularly irritated by the fact that Quentin – who struggles to interpret the meaning of Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself, and who worries that he might fail an English test – can somehow quote obscure T.S. Eliot lines like pop lyrics;

Light, the visible reminder of Invisible Light.

I studied Eliot with enthusiasm at university, but I never got round to reading ‘Choruses from the Rock’. How Quentin – a boy who apparently struggles with basic English Lit analysis – is supposed to know this line is beyond me.

My qualms with Green’s writing style aside, I thought perhaps the story would translate better on screen. After all, who doesn’t like a good teen romcom? Then I made the mistake of watching the trailer, and ruined it for myself.

The trailer is ridiculously spoiler heavy. It covers almost the entire plot, from Margo and Quentin’s night of revenge, through to Quentin getting out of the van at the end of the road trip he takes with his friends. The only thing that’s missing is the story wrap up, which (unless they’ve changed it) is incredibly disappointing. For a book that supposedly subverts the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope, it sure turns Margo into a complete ass.

As for the casting, well, Cara Delevingne was a bit out of nowhere, and I can live with it. But seriously;

  1. They could have left her tattoos uncovered – Margo is supposed to be a bit of a rebel, and they had already picked a girl that looks nothing like the original description. Why not let her have her own flair? Go big, or go home.
  2. That poster (see above) – Whoever chose the photo needs their head checked. Having her hair in front of her face does not make her look “mysterious”. If anything, it sort of makes her look like Zack Efron in drag (see below). I mean no offense to Cara – she’s a beautiful woman – but that photo is just bad, bad, bad, and the marketing team should know better.

thoughts on the paper towns movieUltimately, I know it will do well. Fans of the book, and those who just like a good romantic comedy, will be all over it. Hell, I might even give it a try when it inevitably ends up on Netflix.

I suppose my conclusion is this; for the love of God, Green, get a decent marketing team. One that is not going to give away the entire plot of the movie in a two minute trailer.

If you haven’t seen it, the trailer is below. However, if you intend on watching the movie when it comes out in July, I’d recommend skipping it. Otherwise you’ll just be spending £8 to watch the end, and the end is not worth £8.

Story Time: Moving Day

Moving Day, E.M. Harding
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Moving Day

Franco was a perfect male specimen. He was tall, but not too tall, had broad powerful shoulders, and sported a surprisingly elegant neck for a gent. Despite this, he didn’t make his sexual debut until the age of 8. His mother informed him that, back in the homeland, most men his age already had children. Franco just scoffed. It wasn’t his fault. The other chaps were always getting in the way, and he wasn’t very good at necking. Then Kanna arrived. She was sweet, and nice enough to slip behind the acacias, where no-one could see them. He wasn’t going to waste such an opportunity. The lady made his heart feel three-feet big.

“A creature of habit.” That’s what the help called him. But so what? So what if he enjoyed the little things in life; taking long walks, freshly prepared meals, and his newly scheduled romps before bath time? Franco was living the good life, and he knew it. Some of the others hated living behind fences, and being herded into their little wooden huts at night. His mother – who remembered the homeland well – strongly advocated the benefits of sleeping under the stars, but Franco liked the warmth of his hut and the soft floor. The bathroom facilities did leave something to be desired; he often had to spend a night with a room full of his own “offerings”, but they were always gone by the next evening. The help were very good that way. Honestly though, he could find no real reason to complain to the manager. He had warmth, he had food, and he had Kanna. What more could a man ask for?

Franco had 11 years of complete serenity, before the evening when everything changed. It began in the most bizarre of ways. A short, sharp pain in his bottom, that’s all. It wasn’t too bad. The pain dulled quite quickly, and for a while he felt fine. He continued to munch his supper. Gradually, however, everything started to get a bit blurry. Everything felt heavy too, even the air. Franco felt like his lungs were heaving in mud. It was rather disquieting, and he did in fact feel like he should be panicking. He just couldn’t. He wondered whether there was something wrong with the central heating, and went to call the manager. It was then he found that he had too many legs. There were too many legs, far too many. What kind of animal had four whole legs? Franco took a tumble and narrowly avoided bashing his skull against the wall. He tried to pick himself up off the floor, but found it was useless, and for some peculiar reason he didn’t really care. He let out a sigh of utter contentment and slipped into unconsciousness.

Waking up was not quite so fun. After all, he didn’t remember being blind before. And he was sure he used to be able to feel things. Didn’t he remember the pain of falling, of his knees buckling one after the other? For a moment he pondered whether or not he might be dead, then quickly came to his senses because you didn’t wake up dead, and he definitely remembered falling asleep. Besides, Kanna wanted to try behind the juicy looking sycamore next, and there was no way he was dying before he’d done that. He decided to try moving his legs about a bit. He heard something go bang, so it must have worked, but then why couldn’t he feel or see? Just breath, he told himself. Don’t panic!

He lay there for what felt like a month, but he couldn’t be sure. If he had been able to see a clock, he would have known it was only 30 minutes. The numbness began to wear off. A heavy weight eased away from his torso and Franco thrashed his legs around further. He could sense a presence in the room with him, several even, and it wasn’t very nice. Polite people announced themselves, introduced themselves. Even the help had names. No-one spoke to him now, and no-one tried to help him up.

There was something wrapped up in his legs too, some strange vine that burnt his skin when he wriggled. He tripped up onto his feet and his head nearly hit the floor with the effort. A vine around his neck choked him as it forced him up straight, and then all of the vines began to pull and tug and pinch, forcing him to move. There was yelling. Shouts of help speak, “This way!” “Watch yourself!” “Mind his head!” None of it was directed at him. They seemed to be shoving him into what he was sure should have been the wall of his home, but instead of slamming into wood, he stumbled up onto a cold echoing floor and something icy brushed against his side. He shuddered and his leg twitched out. Someone screeched. “Did he hit you?!” “No, I’m fine!” “Don’t scare me like that!” There was one final heave on the vines and Franco lurched forward. He jumped at the loud metallic bang that came from behind him.

It was all very odd, and very strange, but Franco still felt drowsy. He wanted to take another nap, but a sudden surge of motion put all thoughts of sleep out of his mind. He was standing still, but he could feel the wind rushing past his ears.

“Okay, what in the Savannah’s name is going on?” he coughed.

But no-one answered, because no-one spoke giraffe.

Moving Day, EM Harding