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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Kidiot: Emma ends up in a bush #2

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Kidiot: Emma ends up in a bush #2 

A Preface:

Unfortunately, I’m out with a friend today, and because I had to travel back to Wales yesterday, I didn’t have time to write anything shiny and new. However, I’ve been meaning to post this little article here for a while now.

The following short piece was the first thing that I have ever had published (bar an interview about being emo that I did for Sugar magazine…yup). The article was published in 2015 in Oh Comely magazine, Issue no.24, p.119. The original title was ‘lost: pint-sized indiana jones’. Those of you who have been following this blog for a long time may remember my excitementOh Comely is a great independent magazine, full of thoughtful articles and beautiful images. You can find out more about it here. They stock Oh Comely in W.H. Smith and Waitrose in the UK, or you can by copies from their website. I highly recommend it if you fancy something that goes beyond celeb gossip and TV news.

The Story:

When I was five, I got lost in the wood. It was at a holiday camp; my mother was helping with crafts, my brother was playing football. I was bored, and the thick line of trees that edged the campsite called to me. As an excellent smooth talker, I made short work of convincing two others to join my expedition team.

“We’ll stick to the path,” I told them, “It won’t take long.”

The path was a dirt trail, sign-posted with a series of animal pictures. Eventually, the track disappeared, and we had to rely on the pictures to navigate. That’s when it happened. We couldn’t find the purple octopus and so were lost for good.

My team began to sob, but I was ecstatic. This was exactly what I had hoped for. In my head I was Indiana Jones, trekking through the undergrowth, holding back vines (stinging nettles) for a couple of second-rate explorers who couldn’t find the back of their own hand if it slapped them in the face. I remember the valley of brambles we passed through, the river we hopped across. I feel the surge of triumph that swelled in my chest as we emerged from the bushes unscathed.

The truth, my mum tells me, is that my expedition group was lost for twenty minutes in a patch of fenced woodland less than half a mile square. Still, when I’m nervous, I summon that memory and use it to find my sense of adventure once more.

An Epilogue:

So recently I’ve been thinking about this story again, and I’d like to make a couple of points.

Firstly, the “two others” who were with me were both older than me by a couple of years, yet somehow I not only convinced them to come with me, but got them lost, and then un-lost in the space of twenty minutes. Me, the five-year-old.

Secondly, the purple octopus part of this story is a very distinct memory. However, it makes no sense. The previous day we had, as a group, followed this trail of images and they were all woodland related animals. This means that either I hallucinated the purple octopus when we did our first walk, or I deliberately made it up because I was bored and wanted to get us lost so I could adventure.

I mean, basically, this could be a story about me lying to make myself look like a hero. Which makes me Gilderoy Lockhart.

I mean, to be honest, I’m fine with that. Dude’s fabulous.

 

gilderoy lockhart cosplay

Age 19: Cosplaying school age Gilderoy Lockhart outside the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff (now known as Principality Stadium).

 

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