Restless

Alas the weekend of Keira has receded to the annals of memory. The humdrum existence of the male has returned and in the void of femininity restlessness abides. Desire still prevails like a nervous tick, a nervous itch; the mind becoming a proverbial authority that the strikes the hand of the heart when it reaches for the blusher or polish.

It is often said that our minds work differently, that our brains are wired a different way from others. Perhaps there was a chemical imbalance when developing in the womb, a chemical soaked up by the brain like a sponge. Perhaps they’re right, but my desires don’t come from my mind, they come from my heart. It is it that aches, when the lip-gloss comes off and the shoes get boxed. It is it that aches, not my mind.  

Maybe the mind is right to act in the way it does, for thoughts of friends and family finding me in my secret bring a colour to my cheeks that render blusher unnecessary. When an unexpected knock comes at the door it is my mind that makes my heart stop dead, yet beat faster and harder than it has ever done before. It is my mind that causes the hand on the locked front door to paralyse my body as it hides beneath the window, wishing the dear friend to depart and leave me to my shame. It is my mind that tells me to grab the face wipes and change the clothes, while gleefully whispering, “you don’t have time”. So instead I cower beneath that window. Instead I wait for the car door to close and the engine to start. Instead I peek from beneath the blinds hoping to find a vacant space allotted well-wishers. A void.

I’m restless as a write.

I’m restless as I look in the mirror and see what isn’t there.

I’m restless in the night, when I plan her allotted hours.

So when the weekend is over and Keira is put away with rest of her belongings, I’m left with a heart that aches and a mind that askes “what do we do now?” For life isn’t bleaker without her; for life is never truly that. There is always hope. Life isn’t bleaker; it’s just lost some of its taste, some of its colour. Muted and faded life goes on with a restless nervous tick, a restless nervous itch.   

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The Host With the Most

I wrote this script as more of an exercise than anything else, but I was quite pleased with the results. It was intended as a dark comedy, which I hope comes across in the writing. Hopefully one day it will see the light of day and I get to film it. On a side note, I may not be brilliant at names.

To view the script in the correct format >click here< (which I recommend doing) or just keep scrolling to read on this page.

SC1 EXT. FOOTPATH

MAN walking down the street. He is being followed by FOLLOW MAN. Whenever MAN looks behind, FOLLOW MAN ducks out of sight. (badly) This happens several times. Until MAN Says

MAN

Ok seriously, why do you keep doing that?

FOLLOW MAN

Doing What?

MAN

Ducking out of the way, whenever I look.

FOLLOW MAN

Oh, right. You seen that huh?

(pause)

I get a bit nervous round famous people.

MAN

What?

FOLLOW MAN

I never know what to say. I get a bit worried they might think I’m weird or something.

MAN

Yeah. I’m getting that, but I’m not famous. So you know, if you could…

FOLLOW MAN

Come on. I get the need for secrecy and all, but come on. It’s you. The Host With the Most.

MAN

It’s really not.

FOLLOW MAN

Tobias, I watch your show every night. Wait I can call you Tobias right?

MAN

Nope. Not my name.

FOLLOW MAN

Brilliant I knew you wouldn’t mind.

MAN

Ok. Great to meet you, but I’m going to walk this way now.

FOLLOW

Oh right yeah, of course. Was really nice to meet you. Tobias.

MAN walks off muttering weirdo to himself. In the background FOLLOW MAN can be seen pulling a large suitcase out of a hedge. FOLLOW MAN opens the suitcase and takes out a baseball bat. FOLLOW MAN takes a practice swing and seems pleased with the result. FOLLOW MAN runs towards MAN and hits MAN across the head with the bat. MAN is knocked out and falls to the ground. FOLLOW MAN throws the baseball bat away triumphantly. It dawns on FOLLOW MAN what he has just done.

FOLLOW MAN

What have I just done? That bat is going to be absolutely covered in evidence.

FOLLOW MAN retrieves the bat and drags MAN towards the suitcase. FOLLOW MAN awkwardly shoves MAN into the suitcase. Next we see FOLLOW MAN walk along the footpath, bat over his shoulder and the suitcase (which has wheels) being dragged along beside him.

CUT TO:

SC2 INT. LIVING ROOM

MAN is tied to a chair behind a kitchen table. Behind the table a sheet covers the wall. SPORTSCAST WITH TOBIAS FLYNN has been crudely written across it, an arrow from the Words TOBIAS FLYNN has been painted also. It points to where MAN is sitting. MAN is now wearing a suit. MAN begins to wake up as FOLLOW MAN enters the Kitchen, FOLLOW MAN is now wearing a woman’s dress.

FOLLOW MAN

Brilliant you’re awake. I was getting worried you’d miss tonights show, but nope here you are just in time. Tobias Flynn, the constant professional.

MAN

(Still groggy)

Huh? Wait. What?

FOLLOW MAN

Don’t worry about that Tobias. Just focus on getting ready for the show.

MAN is still trying to raise his head as FOLLOW MAN is sitting down beside him. FOLLOW MAN misconstrues this as MAN looking at his breasts.

FOLLOW MAN

Hey, eyes up here mister. I need you concentrating on the show, not the milk shooters.

MAN

Show? What the fuck are you talking about?

(Looks down and sees that he is wearing different clothes)

Did you change my clothes?

FOLLOW MAN

Well you got blood all over your other ones. Plus you always wear a suit for the show.

MAN

What? Why do you keep talking about a show?

FOLLOW MAN

Oh, Suush. We’re about to go live. Just read your queue cards and look at camera three.

(FOLLOW MAN points at nothing in front of them)

MAN

What cameras?

(swearming)

let me the fuck go.

FOLLOW MAN

Five. Four.

(Counts Three, Two, One on his fingers)

Good evening, it’s Saturday the 8th of May I’m Christina Aguilera and this is the man with the most, the man who likes to boast, my Co-host Tobias Flynn.

(Pause… FOLLOW MAN nudges MAN)

Tobias it’s your line.

MAN

Please just let me go.

FOLLOW MAN

Ha ha ha, what an odd thing to say.

(Whispering)

Just read from the queue cards.

MAN

Why are you doing this.

FOLLOW MAN looks embarrassed and flustered.

FOLLOW MAN

What a funny joke you made there Tobias. HA HA HA. Why don’t we cross over to Gerry for todays match highlights. Ok we’re off the air. Jesus Tobias what the fuck was that? Get your shit together.

MAN

I was suppose to be meeting my girlfriend.

FOLLOW MAN

Do you even care how unprofessional that looked.

MAN

I’m not Tobias Flynn, I don’t have a sports show. Please just let me go.

FOLLOW MAN

You’re being really weird today. Have you bumped your head of something.

MAN

(starts crying)

Help. Help, please somebody.

FOLLOW MAN

(Looking off camera at some someone who isn’t there)

Listen Craig, I don’t know what’s gotten in to him but I can’t work under these conditions.

MAN

You’re absolutely mental.

A women enters the living room. She is holding shopping bags. She sees what is going on and looks surprised. She drops the shopping bags.

WOMAN

Tobias?

MAN

My name’s not Tobias.

WOMAN

Well of course it’s not. Tobias what the hell is going on in here?

FOLLOW MAN

I was lied to and very much deceived, by this man here. He has somehow managed to convince me that I am not me, and that he is in fact is me.

MAN

I haven’t. I swear I haven’t.

WOMAN

I know you haven’t sweetie, he does this sort of stuff all the time.

FOLLOW MAN

(to MAN)

Once, maybe twice a year. Max.

MAN

Can I please just go now?

WOMAN

(Laughing)

Oh God no. See if people knew that Tobias got up to this kind of weird shit, his career would be over. I mean can you imagine, his show would be cancelled like

(clicks fingers)

and god I dread to think of the legal ramifications.

FOLLOW MAN

I’ll go get the shovel.

MAN

Shovel, what? No you don’t need a shovel. I’m not going to tell anyone.

FOLLOW MAN

Dude come on. You got knocked out by a celebrity, which by the way how did you not recognise me? I’m sort of a big deal. There are literally billboards all over the city with my face on them. You know what it doesn’t matter. Anyway you got knocked out by a really famous person, with a totally recognisable face, may or may not have had your junk fondled with while unconscious,   got tied to a chair and made participate in a fake TV show. Which to be honest you were kind of sucky at. Of course your going to tell someone.

WOMAN

Just go get the damn shovel, I want to get this mess cleared up before dinner.

FOLLOW MAN grumbles and leaves the room. MAN begins desperately trying to escape from the chair, while shouting repeatedly.

MAN

WOMEN picks up the baseball bat and walks over to MAN.

WOMAN

Sorry about this.

CUT TO:

SC3 EXT. FOREST CARPARK NIGHT.

FOLLOW MAN is dragging a suit case from the back seat of a car. He looks like something has just dawned on him.

FOLLOW MAN

Forgot to get an autograph.

CUT TO:

SC4 EXT. FOREST NIGHT

WOMEN is carrying the shovel. FOLLOW MAN is pulling the suitcase.

WOMAN

You should have changed that dress before you came out. Your going to ruin it.

FOLLOW MAN

It’s my dress, I’ll wear it where I like.

WOMAN

Ok, but I’m not washing it.

THE END.

 

 

Reflective Essay

Below is the accompanying essay I had to write for my folio, I thought it might be fun to put up, for those who are interested as it shows the themes and subjects I was trying discuss in my folio. In hindsight I also think it’s interesting or perhaps even quite telling that I was interested in masculinity and what it is that makes a man a man in-light of my trans awakening.    

*****

We are living in a world where equality for different minorities are making positive strides forward. As recent as June 2013 same-sex marriage was legalized in England and Wales, the act which now allows couples in a same-sex relationships similar rights afforded to heterosexual couples. Most notably the right to same-sex marriage if the minister of the religion consents to preform the service. There has also been a noted change in the attitude of social generations towards homosexuality; recent research carried out by NatCen has shown a steady decline in the number of people who believe homosexuality is wrong. Falling from over sixty percent in 1983 to below thirty percent in 2012.[1] These findings seemingly suggest that it is becoming more socially acceptable for men and women to be openly gay. Gender equality is also on the rise, with the pay gap between men and women becoming smaller and ‘there are growing numbers of women who earn more and are more employable than their partners, who are more career focused, who have a more secure career, or who enjoy their job more than their partner does.’[2] As a society we are also entering an era where typical gender roles are changing as it is becoming common for both parents to stay in work or for fathers to stay at home to look after their children as appose to the mother. During the mid-1980s just under 50 percent of the british population believed in a separation of male and female roles. With the male taking on paid work while the female stayed at home. Since then there has been a consistence decline in the percentage of people who hold this belief. As of 2012, only 13 per cent of the population still agreed. From this information we are able to ascertain that there has been a sizeable shift in the attitude to stereotypical gender roles within the last 30 years.[3] In the past stereotypical male roles within society have been that of ‘aggressive (or at least assertive), logical, unemotional, independent, dominant, competitive, objective, athletic, active, and, above all, competent.’[4] These are stereotypes which in the past have been reinforced in the media.

One example of this is the classic American Sit-com The Dick Van Dyke Show which ran in the early 1960’s. The show depicts what many would consider an idealised family life. Dick Van Dykes character Rob Petrie has a successful New York career and a happy family life, where he is portrayed as the archetypical man of the house. A man who is in control of his work life, family and household. For whenever he comes home his wife comes to ask him how his day was and whether he would like a rest, while his son greets him with a hug. One of the ways the show exemplifies Rob’s control is when it comes to disciplining his son. His wife Laura is often portrayed as being unable to do this without the help of her husband. However, the traits Dick Van Dyke portrayed in the show are now in more recent times being associated with female characters, and likewise it is now common for men to hold what was once stereotypically female traits. Traits such as being emotional, passive, sensitive, quite, weak and self-critical too name but a few. A more recent American Sit-com which flips these traits is Malcolm in the Middle. In this show it is the mother who is portrayed as the dominate head of the household, who is in control and the main figure when it comes to disciplining their children. While the father in comparison is portrayed as bumbling and child like. Personifying many of the trait which were once associated with women, such as emotional, passive and sensitive. One could argue that because of changing attitudes towards homosexuality and with same-sex couples now being allowed to marry in conjunction with the changing roles of women within society that the stereotypical view of what a man should be and what constitutes typical family life is being challenged. It is this theme which is explored in the accompanying folio. Particularly how men who still judge and base their own masculinity on these older stereotypical roles (such as in the Dick Van Show) react to this challenge. Although this is the overall theme of the three pieces collected in the folio, each shall also be examined individually which an explanation given as to what was trying to be achieved and the literary influences that aided in their creation.

The main inspiration behind Fracture came from the notion that modern man is like a dangerous animal kept in a cage, similar to a lion kept in captivity. That societies notion of how a man should behave is representative of the cage, and the values which we believe a man should hold are domesticating his animalistic instincts, such as aggression and sexual appetite. What Fracture tries to explore is what would happen if the cage was opened and man were let loose; if he was no longer domesticated by societies rules on how a man should behave. This was done by having the main character have a phycological breakdown/mid-life crisis brought on by a reflection of the man he had become. The main character is man who always expected his life to be like that of Rob Petrie in the Dick Van Dyke Show, but wakes up one morning to realise that it is in fact far from it. The violent opening of the piece where the main character repeatedly bangs his head against a mirror is representative of the lion breaking out its cage, and attacking what it perceives as being weaker than itself. The broken mirror itself also becomes a metaphor for his physic, which is something the structure of the text tried to represent. The piece is broken into many paragraphs of varying length, with some being only seven words long. The reason behind this was that each paragraph regardless of length would represent a shard of the broken mirror and a different piece of the story. The main influence behind presenting the text in this way was Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. One of the things which this novel does is present text in a way that reflects what is happening in the narrative. Sections of the novel revolve around the exploration a house which is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. This house can seemingly grow, shrink and change it’s inward shape on its own volition. One of the ways this change is represented is with the layout of the text on the page, for example at one point when a character is exploring a corridor it begins to shrink. The layout of the text reflects this by using less space on the page, so as the corridor gets smaller each page has a smaller amount of text.[5] The overall effect of this is that the novel become a representation of the house. So as in House of Leaves where the novel is a representation of the house, the structure of the text in Fracture is supposed to represent the broken mirror and the main character’s broken physic. Throughout Fracture minimal description is given to the main characters’s location or of the people around him, this again was designed as a way reinforce the idea that the broken mirror represents different parts of the story. This was intended to put across the idea that even if one where to put the mirror back together, that pieces would be missing. That you would never be able to get a complete image of the events, they would always be distorted through the physic of the main character’s first person narration. Fracture tried to portray the main character as a man who had given way of the rational and given in to his animalistic urges coupled with an outdated chauvinistic belief as to how a man behaves. Such as his treatment of women, for example ‘Now I just sit at my desk and watch the smug little bastard who will one day be my boss stare at her tits every time she walks past. She sees him when he does it. She likes it.’ This shows the outdated belief the women like being objectified. This, like the main character’s interaction with the secretary and the bar man was an attempt to hark back to the theme of animalistic instincts. The bar man was used as a counter point to show the conflict between what could how be considered the new alpha male or domesticated man. The interaction between the bar man and the main character was to show the challenge to mans old stereotypical role, verses what would now be considered the appropriate action. The idea being that when the main character backs down to bar man that it represents the control of the new alpha male or the more contemporary belief of what constitutes masculinity. The bar man is the personification of the challenge on mans old stereotypical role.

While Fracture could be considered an extreme reaction to this challenge, Polystyrene approaches the subject in a much more reflective way. In this piece the reader is presented with a grown man reflecting on the final days before his parents separation in the late 1980s. What Polystyrene tries to address is the move away for the idealised family life put forth in the Dick Van Dyke Show, to the realistic view the not every family is perfect nor does every marriage last. Which Information procured by the Marriage Foundation confirms as it shows that from the 1960s divorce increased rapidly until peaking in 1993.[6]To a certain extent Polystyrene, like Malcolm in the Middle flips the traits normally associated with each gender. For male and female characters within the piece show traits that are associated with both genders. Take for instance the female characters, they are portrayed as being in control, assertive, aggressive, logical and independent; which are stereotypically male traits. While also being emotional and sensitive. For example when Katy’s mother follows her out of the cabin, she is in the lead and carrying her daughters coat, which shows the logical and tells her husband ‘For God sake I’ll go get her, you just stay with him.’ This again shows the logical, but also her control and assertiveness by telling her husband to stay behind to look after their son. Likewise Katy also exhibits traits associated from both genders, such as independence, aggression, emotional. she shows independence when she storms out of the cabin, aggression when attacking her father and of course emotional when crying, with the implication being that her actions are a result of her anger at her fathers affair and the fear that he might leave. Again with the narrator both sets of traits are in play; such as passive, quite and being self critical. Passive in the sense that he only has a vague understanding of the events that are going on around him and for the most part doesn’t interact with them. Opting instead to play in the snow and because his parents are trying to protect him from what is happening by not fighting when he is present. The reader gets to see the characters self critical side, when his older self reflects that his ‘concern didn’t go to Katy, but to [him]self.’

The main literary influence behind Polystyrene come from the graphic novels, Violent Cases and The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch (Mr Punch) both written by Neil Gaiman. Although these graphic novels at times are more surreal than Polystyrene, both share common themes. Mainly that of an adult narrator reflecting on his childhood, a child’s inability to understand the adult world and how our memory may not always be truthful. One of the key aspects in Violent Cases is the changing appearance of the character known as the Osteopath. The narrator admits that he cannot accurately remember what the Osteopath looked, and that the image of him in his head is based on a combination of what he does remember, his fathers description of him and Humphrey Bogart’s partner in the Maltese Falcon. Similarly in Polystyrene the narrator admits that he only has one clear memory of his father and the events surrounding his father leaving have been influenced by his sister’s experience of the events. in both instances the narrators memories are influenced by other people. A pivotal scene in Mr Punch revolves around the narrator not being able make the connection between what he is seeing and hearing with the events going on around him. The scene in question being when his grandfather and two other men hit a women who the grandfather has gotten pregnant in the stomach. Although the circumstances are very different in Polystyrene the same theme appears. For example, when the narrator misinterprets the meaning of his ‘mother asking, “Do you love her?” and [his] father saying “no” to being a reference to his sister. In both cases the narrators are unable to properly understand what is going on around them resulting from their lack of understanding of the adult world.

The final piece in the folio, To See the World was also influenced by Neil Gaiman’s Violent Cases and Mr Punch. Again it is told from the point of view of an adult narrator reflecting on his childhood and shares the theme that adults lie. In Violent Cases this done by keeping the reader in the dark as to whether or not the Osteopath’s story about working for Al Capone is true. Where in To See the World the lie is a scary story the father tells to keep his son from climbing a tree. Although this theme only makes up a small portion of To See the World it is worth noting as it has wider implications; as it is the catalyst for the narrators fascination with the tree. The father’s story makes the tree in to something to be conquered and in turn a representation of masculinity.   This takes us back to the folio’s overall theme, that of changing male roles in society. So if Fracture is an extreme reaction to the this change and Polystyrene is the move away from outdated stereotypical gender roles, then To See the World is intended to represent how the seeds of these outdated roles may be sown. The father by telling the ghost story about the tree gives it a sense of danger and makes it something the narrator fears. This is explored in To See the World by the game the children play at halloween where they have to run up and touch the so-called hunted tree. The narrator fears the reprisals and ridicule he may suffer at the hands of the other children if he is unable to complete the game. The game is intended to represent a type of negative reinforcement that promotes certain stereotypical male traits such as competitiveness and athleticism, while demonising stereotypical female traits such as being emotional and weak. This is again an idea that is further examined when the narrator attempts to climb the tree with Tommy. That section of the story was intended to explore an whole range of different male traits; not just the ones within the narrator by also within Tommy. Tommy’s character was intended to represent the archetypal male within the story, this was done by again giving him stereotypical male traits. For you will note that he is assertive and dominant when it comes to the declaration that they are going to build a tree house. Logical by drawing a crude plan for it and by sourcing the materials they will need to build it. Active because he instigated the plan and helped in the procurement of the materials. It is because of this that Tommy can be seen as the alpha male of the two children. The Narrator on the other hand, by failing to climb the tree, and by his friends playful mocking is left feeling emasculated and tries to regain his masculinity by challenging Tommy or the alpha male in a fight. Tommy’s mocking of the narrator was again intended to be a way of reinforcing stereotypical male traits, which is main idea this piece intended to explore. The intention was that by having the narrator emasculated by mockery and physical inability (not being tall enough to climb the tree) that it only further reinforce the stereotypical traits and again demonise the female ones, when present in a male. What To See the World ultimately tries to explore the social influences behind why a man may judge his own masculinity in a certain way; with the tree acting as a metaphor for that masculinity

Along with the other literary influences what the three pieces collected within the folio try to explore is the changing roles within society between man and woman, and what it is that challenges these roles. This was done by approaching the theme in different ways. In Fracture it was done by having the main character have an extreme reaction against how society believes a man should behave. While also exploring how outdated male traits seen by others in contemporary society. With Polystyrene the approach was to show the effect changing gender roles has on a family, and how both men and women can share the same traits. Finally with To See the World it was to show how stereotypical gender roles can become ingrained in a person psychologically by have it linked to their masculinity.

 

 

 

[1] Alison Park, Rebecca Rhead, Personal Relationships: Changing Attitudes Towards Sex, Marriage and Parenthood, (2013), <http://www.bsa-30.natcen.ac.uk/read-the-report/personal-relationships/homosexuality.aspx> [accessed 19 November 2013] (para. 6 of 15).

[2] Jo Parfitt, A Career in Your Suitcase, (Britain: Summertime Publishing, 1998), p253.

[3] Elizabeth Clery, Jacqueline Scott, Gender Roles: An Incomplete Revolution?, (2013), <http://www.bsa-30.natcen.ac.uk/read-the-report/gender-roles/attitudes-to-gender-roles-change-over-time.aspx> [accessed 19 November 2013] (para. 3 of 13).

[4] Robert Crooks, Karla Baur, Our Sexuality, (Belmont: Cengage, 2011), p135.

[5] Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leves, (Double Day: Britian, 2001), p444-458.

[6] Harry Benson, What is the Divorce Rate?, (February, 2013), <http://www.marriagefoundation.org.uk/Shared/Uploads/Products/5357_MF%20-%20What%20is%20the%20divorce%20rate%20-%20060213.pdf> [accessed 20 November 2013] p2.

To See the World

Ok, so this is the third and final piece of my winter folio, and one I like the least. It was written in the worst possible way and that was under pressure and to a deadline. I was written to make up the word count of my folio and didn’t come easy. The original idea for the piece was, that the kid would climb the tree and see his entire future laid out before him; I couldn’t get it to work. I reread this piece just there now and contemplated doing some heavy rewriting, but decided against it. So as you read it, was as it was submitted. As always enjoy,

 

K-

They say the World is small but I have never found this to be the case, for when I was a child I climbed a tree to see it. It hung over our back yard, in the winter its branches cast shadows like capillaries along the surface of the Earth.Full bodied, green leaves and pink flowers would blossomevery summer. Grooves etch its bark, like fingertips soaked in a long bath. Green moss crept from the trunk, like a slow marching army, threatening one day to conquer all. From the peak you could see as far my as childhood stretched; all the way to the other boundaries of my neighborhood. If you looked from here you could see in-between the other houses and make out the tip of our driveway. It was from there that I was able to watch the van as it drove along our street before stopping in our drive. Mum already had the car packed from the night before and had it parked on the curb. It was mostly furniture that was left to be moved and a few other pieces that Mum had said would be too big for the new place. From the far left branch that stretched over the fence you could see into Tommy Morgan’s yard. My Mum never liked me hanging out with him because of rumors she had heard from other people in the neighborhood, but I never thought he was that bad, to me he was always just stupid Tommy Morgan, the kid who tried to jump dustbins on his bike and showed me pictures from his brother’s dirty magazines.

 

Dad told me once that the tree was haunted and because of this it had always fascinated me, part out of fear and part out of wonder. He said that a hundred years ago before our house was built a little boy had climbed it, but slipped and fell to his death. That now when other little boys climb it, he would push them off as easy as a gust of wind pushed dust. It’s strange at that age how we all just take what we are told to be truth, at the time it never once occurred to me that my father could be lying, that it is was just some sort of grownup joke or a way to keep me from playing in the tree in case I actually did fall and hurt myself. In a strange way this was probably the worst thing my dad could have told me, he had given the tree a sense of danger, given me the idea that there was something to prove by reaching its peak. One Halloween when my cousins and Tommy came around we played a game where you turned off all the lights on the porch so the backyard was dark, you had to run up and touch the tree before the ghost got hold of you. In reality it was just a bunch of kids running back and forth from a tree but in our imagination the sense of peril was real, I remember being scared of the ghost but also scared that my cousins and Tommy would make fun of me if I didn’t do it. The game had become a rite of passage, a way to prove that you weren’t just a kid.

 

It was with Tommy that I first attempted to climb the tree; it was during the long summer months that you dream about all day while at school, but when they finally come you don’t have much to do, but sleep late and watch TV. Tommy came around to my house one of those mornings and told me that we were going to build a tree house. There was no doubt in his voice, just a steady confidence and the reassurance that he had it all worked out. He had even made a crude drawing that we were to use as a plan. He told me that he had a bunch of old wood left in his garage from when his parents got their new kitchen, and that his dad wouldn’t notice if we borrowed a few of his tools. The wood that Tommy was talking about was a cream coloured Formica, that was chipped around the edges and had holes where screws once were. We spent most of the morning throwing it over the fence from his garden to mine. I was made to climb the tree first; Tommy said that because he was taller it would be easier for him to pass the wood up to me. That summer I wasn’t yet tall enough to reach the first branch, so Tommy had to give me a boost until I was able to wrap my arms around it. Tommy had let go of my feet and I could feel my arms slipping from around the branch, the weight of my body pulling me towards the ground. My legs instinctively kicked out searching for something to stand on, something that could hold my weight, but I was too far out from the trunk, my shoe could barely rub against it. During those moments I felt like I was drowning in a sea of air, desperately striking out for a ledge before the water pulled me under. It was then that I started shouting for Tommy to help me, for him to grab my legs again; instead he just started laughing. It was the shock of this that finally made me lose my grip, and sent me falling to the ground. I landed on my back and winded myself, it took me a couple of minutes to get my breath back and Tommy was still laughing by time that I had. He put his arm out to help me up, but instead of taking it I just pushed it away and walked towards my house. Tommy came after me and told me to stop being a little baby. Eyes fixed on the house I told myself that wasn’t the point, he was supposed to be my friend, but instead he just let me fall, I had hurt myself and all he could do was laugh. Like my father had lied about the ghost I was lying to myself, hindsight now tells me that it was my pride that was really hurt. Tommy’s laughing made me feel ashamed of my own shortcomings, like I was somehow a failure for not making it into the tree. Through a cocktail of laughter and words of ‘you didn’t even fall that far’, Tommy tried to get me to come back. Instead I shoved him out of the way causing him to trip over a bundle of the wood we had thrown over the fence that morning. One of the pieces was by my foot and I was able to pick it up before Tommy got back on his feet. I swung it, trying to hit him with it before he could hit me, but it broke over his arm as he blocked it. Thinking back I don’t know what I expected to happen, I am not even sure if I was thinking. This was the first fight I was ever in, if it even counts. The only real memory I have of what happened next, is being on the ground as Tommy ran away. I know I was crying and that my nose didn’t start bleeding until after I touched it. We never really spoke again after that, the last time I saw him was the day we moved out of the house. I was in the front seat with Mum while she let the removal van pull out of the drive. Tommy was watching from his bedroom window, staring at our car and when Mum started to drive off he raised his hand to wave. I waved back, but to this day I don’t know if he saw it was me. I hope he did.

 

Fracture

This is another piece I wrote for class and my folio, and it’s also the one I’m most weary about showing people. Typically the response on people face when they finish is one of what the fuck did I just read? Follow by “dude that’s dark”. It has become what me and my friends now affectionately refer to as “The Penis One” I think a lot of the time when I show friends and family my work they struggle to comprehend that what I write is completely fictional. I also had to write what is called a reflexive essay on this piece, Polystyrene, and a third one. I’m planning to post the third one at some point as well even though I’m not the keen on it, but I’ll post the reflective essay after in order to lend a bit of context, as they all have a common theme. I’ve also realised that you could probably do a transsexual reading of this piece, which could be interesting as looking at the authors life to lend context is coming back into fashion in the world of literary analysis.

This piece, as strange as it is, is also one of my favourites and in my opinion one of the better things I’ve ever written, but yeah be prepared, it’s pretty weird/stylised.

Enjoy, K-  

***** 

It all started with a reflection in the mirror, and ended with the distinct sound of fracturing. I repeatedly, forcefully and purposefully slammed my head against it. Blood was dripping along vertical axis. Along white porcelain, boxers, and floor. The mirror was shattered and so to the façade of a retched fucking existence. A whole lays scattered on the floor with edges and points and sinew and nerves left exposed and raw. There was only one question left, one question that could ever be muttered from these lips. Who the fuck are you, and what have you done with my life?

I put my hand down and inside. I reclaimed what was mine.

It all started with a reflection in the mirror. This is an arbitrary statement, a misnomer. The mirror was merely a catalyst for the revelation, a facilitator for the realisation. Twenty years of bad decisions, supplemented with a dead-end job, a frigid wife and a shit for a son will create one tiny mass after another, that over the years come together to form a cancerous life.

I haven’t had sex in two years. I haven’t had sex with my wife in four. I fail to remember the last time I masturbated. Sometimes I wake up during the night with my penis in hand, and try to see it through to completion before the dream of whatever spurred it on recedes to my subconscious. This rarely happens.

My day starts the same way my day always starts, with my feet squirming on ceramic and my eyes squinting under florescent. Sometime ago my life fell into a pattern of mundane predictability. I blame my job for this, twenty years sitting at the same desk processing insurance claims. In the last two years four men in my office have died from heart attacks. One of them was younger than I am now. If I’m alive in ten years I’ll be old enough for my pension. I can’t decide if sitting all day in my house would be better than sitting all day at work. I miss the old days when I was still able to maintain an erection for long enough to fantasise about banging the office manager. Now I just sit at my desk and watch the smug little bastard who will one day be my boss stare at her tits every time she walks past.

She sees him when he does it. She likes it.

On a Friday night, the office descends on one bar or another. It doesn’t matter where. They all look alike. They all serve the same purpose.

Fluids flow forth.

Ingested.

In the morning detested.

We’re gathered around two tables. The bar we’ve stopped at is exceptionally busy, even for a Friday night. The younger members of the office prefer it that way. They enjoy the atmosphere generated by a crowd mostly their own age. After several drinks I understand why, the laughter and music is an infectious combination. It’s easy to make connections and take an interest in the people around you. Normally, on nights like these I would just have one or two and then leave.

It’s near eleven o’clock before the bar quietens down; most people have left to go home or to go out somewhere else.

It’s just me and a secretary left.

She’s blond and petite and quick to laugh. She’s stayed here longer than she had too. Turning down unwanted offers of dancing.

Music and chatter recede to low din.

Still is the world.

All but for me.

Sweats of hair stick to her face, as her head rests towards the wall. I can smell the scent of her perfume. My nose is by her neck. Lips shut, I breathe. Her silky skin caresses my hand as it glides up her thigh. A cold breeze snaps and my attention is stolen by the hand on my shoulder. The bar comes rushing in. Reformed.

“That’s enough” he says, “I think you’d better leave.”

“But”

“You’re done here.”

Outside the night has turned bitter; I turn my collar up against it and watch from across the road as two barmen carry her to a taxi. My mind screams with all the force it can muster, ‘come on then, hit me just fucking hit me.’ I’ve already decided that I don’t care what they do. How far they take it. I’m begging them, daring them to beat me until I’m a bloodied mess on the ground. I doesn’t matter how loud my mind screams. All I can do is stare. They fail to notice my presence.

The stars shine as I walk home.

I wake up during the night with my penis in hand and a scent in the air, and try to see it through to completion before the dream of whatever spurred it on recedes to my subconscious. The moment is gone. Faded.

Feet squirming on ceramic and eyes squinting under florescent, I stare at my reflection. I repeatedly, forcefully and purposefully slam my head against it. Blood drips along vertical axis. Along white porcelain, boxers, and floor. The mirror is shattered and so to the façade. There is only one question left, one question that could ever be muttered from these lips. Who the fuck are you, and what have you done with my life?

I put my hand down and inside. I reclaim what is mine.

 

Polystyrene

This is a short story I wrote a while ago for my university folio, it got a pretty good response in class so I thought I’d post it. If people enjoy this one I may post some of weirder/more stylised stuff. Enjoy.

DSC01329“You know none of this is real? It’s all just polystyrene.” These are the last words my father ever said to me. It’s the only clear memory I have of him that isn’t stolen from a photograph. It’s funny that isn’t it? How over the years memories lose their sharpness, their clarity. As though someone has pulled a veil over them, so that all you’re left with is a dull sense of a time and a place. The details blur but their meaning stays the same. Much of what I do remember during those weeks comes from my sister Katy, for years after she wouldn’t talk about it, every time I asked all she would ever say is that Dad was an asshole. It wasn’t until we were both in our twenties that she finally told me what had happened. I look back at those weeks with a different perspective now that I’m older; more of it makes sense to me. It was early December and there had already been a thick layer of snowfall. We were spending the holidays at my Grandparents cabin in New Hampshire, not far from Bean Pond. We usually only went up there for a couple of weeks each summer, but Mum had insisted on getting away for a while. I had always enjoyed the cabin during the summer, but in winter it had taken on an alien and hostile appearance. It was like the place I remembered from the summer had died. The trees that I had been so use to seeing full of life had disappeared; all that was left were damp and fragile branches that seemed almost black against the snow.

The cabin wasn’t big; it only had two bedrooms both of which opened from the main living area. Whenever we stayed there Katy and I had to share the smaller bedroom. At night it was hard to get to sleep, the wood burner kept the main room warm but at that time of year the bedrooms were still cold even under the covers. I found it hard to get proper sleep most nights. Outside stimuli would encroach upon my half conscious thoughts. My mind seemed perpetually stuck in the place before imagination ends and dreams begin. Rattling windows would occasionally bring me back to the room and to the familiar sound of Tracy Chapmen playing on Katy’s Walkman. Muffled voices from behind the wall would have discussions I couldn’t possibly understand at that age. Fragments stay with me even now, my mother asking, “Do you love her?” and my father saying “no.” In my half sleeping state the fear that hit me after hearing that resounding “no” was absolute. At that age it seemed natural to me that the only people you could love were the ones in your family. It would be several years before I realised he was talking about another women and not my sister. Even now I still feel a twang of guilt that my concern didn’t go to Katy, but to myself. That if he didn’t love my sister what then, did that mean for me? In the morning all that remained was the nagging sense that something wasn’t right. Whenever I was in the same room as our parents the silence would hang thick like warm breath on a bitter breeze, fogging whatever mood I was in. I know now that the silence was meant as a protection against their fighting but at the time it only created confusion for me. Making me doubt if what I had heard during the night was a cruel trick of slumber or a real conversation.

I spent most of the first week there in the clearing at the front of the cabin building snow forts and throwing snowballs into the forest during a make-believe war with the trees. It was one morning while I was doing this that Katy came running out of the cabin with the door slamming behind her, she headed straight along the lane towards the pond. Shortly after my parents came running out too. Mum was in the lead and carrying Katy’s coat. When dad started to follow she shouted at him, “For God sake I’ll go get her, you just stay with him.”

Dad spent the afternoon helping me to expand and reinforce the snow fort. I would start by making a snowball and rolling it along the ground until it got too heavy for me to push, then dad would take over until we both thought it was big enough to be lifted to the top of the fort. We would then pack snow around the latest ball to be added, pushing it into the gaps like cement surrounding a brick. Dad had had to lift me so I could reach the higher points in the wall. We made a good team, he would instinctively swoop me down like a plane coming into land whenever I needed more snow. More times than none we would miss the snow all together and would have to try the landing again, but this was part of the fun. It was starting to get dark by the time Katy and mum got back. Katy was in the lead and, like she did so much of the time back then, had her earphones on her head. Dad was in the middle of lifting a new snowball on to the fort when she waked past. Perhaps it was something that she was listening to, or just the sound of dad’s voice, but what happen next is one of the few times I have ever genuinely been afraid of my sister. Mid stride she turned, started screaming and ran towards my father. He was able to catch her and contain the violent swings of her arms as she tried to connect her fists with his chest. From what I remember he tried to calm her as best he could, but she struggled against every effort he made, kicking wildly in protest. It was the snow fort that took the physical burden of her out lash. With each kick a new hole or crack would appear in the wall, until eventually the whole side crumbled. I know now that it was my own anger and confusion that made me say what I said next. I didn’t understand why she was destroying something I had spent so much time building. I knew that I hadn’t done anything wrong. The fact that she could damage something I had built left me feeling hurt and betrayed. So with the intention of hurting her I said the one thing in my life I’ve never really been able to take back. “It’s not my fault he doesn’t love you.” I hated myself the moment I said it. It was only after the words had escaped my lips, and Dad was dragging her towards the cabin that I realised she was crying, and that it wasn’t so much her anger that had scared me, but her fear. Later that night in our bedroom I tried to talk to her, but I was drown out the sound of Fast Car. I don’t think anyone in the cabin got much sleep that night; most of it was spent with my Mum shouting at my Dad until the sun came up.

After a long period of silence I made my way out to the main living area. Dad was lying on the couch as I tried to sneak past. I was worried that he’s going to shout at me like I heard during the night. Instead he just looked up, smiled and told me not to wonder far, and that he’d come keep me company soon. It was several hours before he came out. It was lightly snowing and a slight breeze carried the flurry gently along the ground. He was wearing his yellow winter coat and had the cuffs of his navy ski gloves tucked inside the sleeves. His bomber hat was pulled tightly over his head with the earflaps unbuttoned; the fur lining clinging to the hairs of his beard like worn Velcro. I had spent most of the morning rebuilding my snow fort and remember thinking that he was coming to help, but instead he just knelt down beside me and ran the edge of his hand back and forth along the surface of the snow. Right then I could tell he was searching for the words to say, lost in his own thoughts trying to find a way to explain or even justify what it was he was about to do. In reality we were probably only sat there for about a minute, but in my memory it feels like an eternity. It wasn’t until the taxi reached the top of the drive that he finally raised his head to look at me. He had a slight smile on his face that was meant to be reassuring and half jokingly he said, “you know none of this is real? It’s all just polystyrene.” With a sigh he pushed his hands deep into the snow and rose. I wasn’t able to look at him as he walked to the taxi all I could do was stare at the beads of snow that swirled in the prints left by his hands.