Creative Work: ‘Rising to the Surface’ by Ryane Nicole Granados

Creative WorksThis week we have a short story from repeat contributor Ryane Nicole Granados. Set in California, this piece takes a look at whether or not there is such a thing as neutral influences in our lives. 

The language of the prose is strong and moves the reader fluidly through to the end. We hope you will enjoy it. 

Rising to the Surface

“And after Miss Asher resisted arrest, is it true that she proceeded to kick from the back of the squad car until the heel of her shoe wedged into the right wheel floorboard?”

At this point I begin to tune out the ticker-tape of the prosecutor and police sergeant whose photographic memory rivals the accuracy of the world time clock. Adjacent to the witness stand hangs an American flag and on the other side of the judge is the State of California flag. The peculiar state bear always looks to me like he is walking off the edge of the fabric. I can relate. I want to walk out too. The alternating floor tiles of white and brown feel like a childhood game of hopscotch calling my name. Continue reading

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Creative Work: Short Story ‘Help Wanted’ Part 2, by Cais Jurgens

Creative WorksIn last week’s installment of Cais Jurgens‘ story ‘Help Wanted’ we found the protagonist, Fish, starting his new job at a gentleman’s club in Manhattan. We were immersed in a world of sensuous delights countered by the unglamorous reality that lies behind the scenes in such places. Cais’ work is richly textured, giving us both the glamour and flash as well as the alcoholism and despondency that pervades both sides of the bar. 

We return now to Fish and his upstream struggle to understand and belong.

Help Wanted, Part 2

By Cais Jurgens

Ja ja ja, drink it slow or you get no more. I tried my best and I took my time.  I picked up my pen and got to work.

A Degustation

How can you nurse like that
I drowned my own secret
Baby when you checked
The roast

I hoisted bitter sails
Wide mouthed
Courageous
Sunday measures

We know another on sight
Eyeing a polite bottle
Dreary longing
Eyes

How you cradle and warm it
Enjoying more the thought
Before you
Filling up floating
Dust

Your glass polished
A sundial
I’d rather see wasted than
Neglected

Knock it over
Rock it back
I’d hate to have to watch
You mop it up

Pablo was a time traveler.  He did so often and without hesitation.  I believe it was one of his only joys in life but I may be wrong.  For someone I spent up to eight hours with each day, I really knew very little about him.  What I did know was that his preferred time machine was made of Hennessy.  He’d get into his time machine sometime on Saturday evening and it would transport him to about three in the afternoon the following Tuesday.  It did this each week like clockwork.  Sometimes he would begin his time travel at work and then reappear again the following day, barely aware he’d ever been home.  He’d show up for work in low spirits but accepting of his personal hell.  Within a few minutes, out would come a stiff cup of coffee and the Baileys Irish Cream.  This would get him back to his higher function and a mindset capable of tolerating another 8-10 hours standing behind the bar.  I found Pablo to be amazing in this way.  He was living proof of the durability of the human body, a testament to what it can truly tolerate, at least in its general youth.  It’s true that he did look older than twenty-six but not a day over thirty.  

You have an order, Fish.  Off I went, food in hand.  A salmon roll, some French fries and a plate of lobster, a skirt steak, a tuna avocado roll and an order of miso soup.  It was an odd combination and therefore was going to a high roller with a couple of hungry ladies at his side.

The cashier pointed me in their direction.  The two girls were Russian.  They were tall, blonde, almost identical and spoke in a thick accent.  They flanked him on both sides at the bar in the club.  The man was middle aged, American, not a native New Yorker.  If you were in town on business you could request that the club print the name of a different restaurant on the receipt so that you could charge everything to your expense account without your company knowing you just spent several hundred dollars at a strip club.  I suspected that this was the scenario I was dealing with.

Can you bring me some ketchup? 

I brought you some ketchup, it’s right here.  I handed the man the plate of ketchup I’d prepared upstairs.

No, I need more.  It’s for the lobster.  

You want ketchup for the lobster?

Yes, please.  The lobster special that evening cost eighty dollars.  This man and his two escorts were going to cover it in generic brand ketchup.

Yes, sir.  That will be one hundred and forty-six dollars, please.  He looked at me in disbelief.  I handed him the bill, which he studied while the girls laid into their food.  Obviously this man was not aware that you shouldn’t give two exotic dancers free reign over the menu when you’re the one buying.  It was a lesson I’d seen many people learn the hard way. I saw one man escorted by two very large bouncers in black.  I over heard the cashier say that apparently he owed the house twenty-six grand.  Nobody ever saw him again.

We never saw a lot of people again, that was the nature of the business.   Our lives existed around alcohol and our livelihood because of it.  Anything and everything became an excuse to indulge heavily and it got to the point where Pablo and I drank to feel normal.  It was like coffee perking us up in the dead of night.  More than once I found myself waking up at east one hundred and fifth street in Brooklyn at five or six in the morning or maybe all the way down in the financial district.  I fell asleep on the train during my ride home many times.  It took the sanctity out of night and out of sleep for there’s nothing worse than heading home and hearing birds mock you at every turn.  I liked to imagine that morning commuters took pity on me but I didn’t mind, for you don’t really, truly know comfort until you can find happiness on a blow up mattress on a wooden floor in the center of Bushwick.   Continue reading

Creative Work: Short Story ‘Black Ocean’ by ReBecca Compton

Creative WorksAs deadlines approach for papers and submissions at Kingston University MA program a certain frenetic energy takes hold of us and changes simple words into stories that capture imaginations. This is the right time to take a breather and check out other people’s ideas and realisations.

This week on Words, Pauses, Noises, we have a new author, ReBecca Compton, and her short story ‘Black Ocean’. This first person narrative seeks to explore the hidden, true nature within her characters, as well as every one of us. Come join us for a while as we drift in the waves of discovery.

‘Black Ocean’ by ReBecca Compton

There he was with his friends and that woman, the one who never stopped touching him. Though it didn’t matter what she did, he never truly fell for her.

Not like he would for me.

I heard the clicking of my heels across the wood of the patio as I made my way to the drinks. I wrapped my hand slowly around the cup next to his.

“Hello.” I said it smooth and slow.

He met my eyes last. “I’m-I’m Brian.” He stuck his hand out. I smiled. Touch was key, and now he was asking to do the work for me.

My hand wrapped around his. “I’m Alix.” I ran my fingers down his palm as I released his hand, watched his pupils dilate. “I’m visiting from out of town. Tell me, if there’s one thing I need to see before I leave, what would that be?” I traced my finger along the rim of the glass and sucked off the salt.

“Oh that’s easy.” He pointed away from the party. “You need to see the ocean at dusk.” Continue reading

Creative Work: Short Story ‘Mechanical Sheep’ by Stephanie Dotto

Creative WorksThis week on Words, Pauses, Noises, the veil between reality and fantasy twists and tears in a beautiful slice of magical realism. ‘Mechanical Sheep’ pulls the adult imagination back to its origins, blurring memories of first loves, the wonder of desire and a fascination with death. Words, Pauses, Noises takes great pleasure in presenting MA student Stephanie Dotto and her short story, ‘Mechanical Sheep’ to our creative platform. 

‘Mechanical Sheep’

By Stephanie Dotto

You sit with a boy you once loved who tells you that in the future we would all be made of metal.  He buys you a drink in a dimly lit bar and recounts stories of the lives that he has led since you saw him all those years ago.  You can’t remember the last time you touched him so you smile shyly and pretend like this is the first time he has lured you into his bed.  He reminds you that his apartment is just around the corner so you grab your things and follow him home.  His room has far less furniture than you remember, housing only a desk and a tall lamp that flickers every time the train passes too close to the window.  You sit on the bare floor, wondering where his bed has gone and where he keeps all his clothes as he hands you a glass of red wine and tells you about the civilization of mechanical men.  He tells you how we will evolve beyond our fragile bodies and delicate skin. He tells you these things as he takes off your dress and runs his fingers along your temporal skin, tracing maps of where the circuit boards would replace your bloodstream.  You remember all the nights spent lying on the floor of his apartment, spinning stories while you fought the urge to sleep. Continue reading

Creative Work: Short Story ‘The Last Two People Left On The Night Bus’ by Tomek Dzido

Creative WorksLast week on Words, Pauses, Noises, we introduced Tomek Dzido as the founder of STORGY, an interactive short story platform. This week we’re featuring a story of Tomek’s, ‘The Last Two People On The Night Bus’. Genre fiction, especially short fiction, can be difficult to accomplish. The author must create an entire world within only a few paragraphs or pages, as well as wrap up that world with a satisfying ending. This work both builds and ends its world with a startling clarity that, while brief, is very descriptive and, in a manner of speaking, alive. Get ready for a chilling ride!

‘The Last Two People Left On The Night Bus’

By Tomek Dzido

It’s been three years since my mother ate Bruce. Three years since I heard him whimper and was forced to drive a cleaver deep into the back of her head. I remember watching her fall to the ground and feeling nothing as I buried the blade further into her skull, the inactive brain matter disintegrating and spreading out all over the abandoned pavement. Eventually she stopped moving, by which point it was Bruce’s turn to die, again. As I looked back towards my mum and stood over her ravaged and rotten body, I tried to recall the good times. The mornings in the garden with dad and Jenny, the warm croissants and fresh coffee, the laughter and long summer days, but they were lost to me now. I felt nothing. The only thing I experienced was hunger and exhaustion, and occasionally fear, but even that was rare, especially since there was nothing left to fear. There was no point in being scared. They would get you soon enough. It was only a matter of time. Continue reading

Creative Work: Short Story “Window Gazing” by Michael Fleming

Creative WorksTime is subjective. There are occasions when we want it to slow down or speed up. ‘Window Gazing’ explores one such instance. The story happens in just a few seconds but it unveils slowly through the magnifying glass of the narrator’s eyes in his ultimate moment. Words, Pauses, Noises is delighted to present  MA student, Michael J Fleming, and his short story, ‘Window Gazing’, a part of The Fish On My Ear, a short story collection Michael published in 2012.

 

‘Window Gazing’

By Michael J Fleming

I could not have guessed, that so soon after slipping out of my apartment on that bright Autumn day, I would become something of a celebrity. Indeed, my first feeling was one of irresponsibility as I passed the Holt apartment, knowing at that moment the family would be sitting down to a healthy avocado salad. The Holt Saturday lunch was a confection that Grechen recommended every time she saw me creeping out  to the pub. Of the four of them, Bob, Grechen and the two kids, it was only the eight year old boy who looked my way as I passed. I locked eyes with Kyle for a moment, as he was about to take a bite from his celery stick. He held it there in front of his open mouth, like a microphone. Strangely enough, years later I went to see Kyle in concert, in Brighton. By that time, Bob and Gretchen had come to terms with his career and life-style choices. It helped that Emma had qualified as a doctor and produced their two grandchildren. But it would be Kyle who cared for his parents in their declining years.

I moved on from the Holt’s place and passed the apartment where old Brendan Ladd lived. Although we were long-term neighbours, I had never actually been in Brendan’s home. Initially, I was surprised to see that my reclusive acquaintance had guests. But as I took in the scene, I realised that Brendan, who sat facing the window, had placed four mannequins around him. The two male mannequins were dressed in open neck shirts and jeans whilst the two females had each been adorned with dresses and wigs, one blonde, the other brunette. The party-goers appeared to be chatting with each other, giving the impression of a lively reception. Throughout the gaiety, Brendan slept peacefully, missing all the fun.

I looked up to see a lazy plane passing overhead, like a tiny brooch on a faded blue shawl. I took in the smell of coffee and warm bread from where I was heading, Mr Pannelli’s delicatessen. I liked Pannelli. He was a family man and he worked hard at holding on to his regulars. I heard a woman scream and a car screech to a halt. I wanted to turn and look in their direction but found myself unable to warrant the effort. I kept moving.

As I passed Rhea’s apartment I thought, Rhea my dear, why won’t you give me a chance? Why do you see other men when it is me that should be sharing that glass of wine? These thoughts were passing through my head as Rhea lifted hers. She caught my eye like a paparazzo catches his subject – unprepared and wanting.

And then I was away and approaching the Milton place, the blinds on the beautiful living room raised, permitting those passing to see the carefully chosen furniture and the tasteful decorations. I saw the Hockney and the elegant display cabinet with the pewter figurines that Maggie Milton lived only to dust. And the baby grand piano that Freddy used to play with such sensitivity. On the far wall, I saw the huge mirror. And there was me looking back at myself, eyes widened, hair streaming.

I thought how strange it was that my own face should be the final one that I would ever see. But I had forgotten that, on the front of his delicatessen, Mr Pannelli had an awning which he opened on very sunny Autumn days such as this. It was into that beautiful blue and white striped cradle that I fell, the chamois leather flying from my hand and landing with a splat at the feet of the screaming woman.

As you can see, some moments seem endless even when they’re so brief, a dichotomy that Michael captures in a wonderful manner. Though it may seem a bit grisly, this story embraces one of the wonders of the short story: to capture a moment of time and to create within that moment a narrative. Without the brevity of the short form this story would not work, nor would its wonderfully twisted ending have so much impact. 

We hope you enjoyed this week’s installment of Words, Pauses, Noises. Return next week for the conclusion of our interview with Adam Baron. He’s got plenty to say on the subjects of publishing, grading, and the state of writing as an art. Tune in next week!

Creative Work: Short Story “Insomnimaniacal” by Ashley Nicholson

Creative WorksWords, Pauses, Noises is entranced, yet again, by the impalpable workings of Ashley Nicholson. Her writing carries an elusive vibe of knowing but not letting you know and ‘Insomnimaniacal’ epitomises the evasive aura of her style. As Neil Gaiman put it:  “You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.” Ashley’s ‘Insomnimaniacal’ found its first home with Synaesthesia Magazine’s September issue, ‘Cities’and we are fortunate to showcase it on Words, Pauses, Noises

‘Insomnimaniacal’

By Ashley Nicholson 

I love the point in the night where the world goes grey and tastes of tin. Everything goes sideways a few degrees and makes sense. Less, some times; more in others. I can see, can trace the lines forward, backward. I reach through the past, pulling handfuls of painful memories to be parsed before morning. Sometimes, these feature in dreams. Wild, unpleasant things that trap me within the confines of my own head, knowing. Always, I know it for the untruth it is, the blatant falsehood of dreams.

Why, then, does it feel on these nights like the waking times and the dreams are reversed? I feel my feet leave the top floor of an old school building at the same time as the pounding of my heart jolts me into the world of sodium light lamps and the rumble-static of traffic. I feel myself drowsing, drowning in these London nighttime noises, its shouts and sirens. London is never quiet, never. The blinds are useless, my eyes open at each headlamp’s streak. The harsh white of morning comes too early in summer. In the winter, it never comes at all.

In these tin-flavoured moments I lie with my eyes closed, always pressed together because opening them will break the endless spell of half-waking. If I don’t open my eyes, sleep will come creeping across my pillows like some wild, wary creature. Instead I evaluate my life and criticise myself in ways that, in the daylight, seem insubstantial and somehow still too harsh. I construct elaborate scenarios that chip away at insecure walls. Waiting inside the ambiguous world of twilight hours, suspended between morning and evening. That place of too late and too early, unable to decide which side of the spectrum I’m on. Compelled into movement until I’ve hopelessly twisted the bedclothes. Always writhing to get away from the unpleasant thoughts, the truths and untruths, dreams both nascent and broken, burnt beyond repair or recognition.

All I want is to sleep; perchance not to dream. Aye, there’s the rub.

Writers are always inspired by their surroundings. Here, Ashley has taken two tangible ideas: insomnia and how it interacts with her physical backdrop as a Londoner. Next time you read look out for special, geographical influences in the story or poem and get a feel for how the writer was influenced by place and time.

We hope you enjoyed ‘Insomnimaniacal’ and that it inspires you to write your own piece about the simple (or not so simple) things in life.

Creative Work: Short Story “Thirty Years in London” by Krishna Anaberi

Creative WorksToday Words, Pauses, Noises is delighted to present another of our international students and screenplay writer Krishna Anaberi

Think of an awkward social situation, mental health issues, political (in)correctness, and then put them in a bus in north London. This is exactly what Krishna does in this short story, Thirty Years in London, a story that brings to the foreground comfort, fear, xenophobia, and the many faces of ‘national identity’.

‘Thirty Years in London’

By Krishna Anaberi 

The first page of The Guardian was all pictures about the last week’s riots and stories of how the shops were coping and getting back to life.  I turned the pages, not wanting to read any more of this. It was blown out of proportion by the media. Only the rain has been one hundred percent real. Not the best time to have my friends from Brazil over.

Murillo opened the curtains and smiled. “Look who’s out,” he said. It was sunny and almost looked like it had never rained. Rachel sighed, “English weather.”

We first walked to Hampstead Heath, the same park where George Michael was caught rubbing his torso against a truck driver. An ultimate tourist destination. Murillo was hoping he would run into a celebrity. No matter how much you walk, the green never ends in the Heath. Untouched by the riots, it was so peaceful. The park was deserted as we headed to Camden Town.

Rachel despised cigarettes but always wanted to smoke shisha so we sat around the table of a shisha shop. Murillo dragged a chair closer to the pipe placed in the center of the table.

“Camden is so empty, I think it’s the riots,” he said.

Rachel put the pipe down. “Can we please not talk about riots, we have been at it all week.”  The three of us went silent. It wasn’t like we were hurt in the riots or anything, but somehow the air in London seemed tense. We all just wanted to go back home.

“When I find time, I will go to East Ham and pick some Rotis for us,” I said. I thought of the infinite kebab shops, Saree-clad mannequins, and every second store with a name of an Indian God. With its neon rectangles and arrows flashing “Open”, East Ham is the only place which comes close to home. I didn’t like anything about East Ham. The Indians living there cling so desperately to their roots that they’re more “Indian” than people back home. They wanted the “Queen’s” money but not to eat the scones, it seemed. For me, East Ham was a place where Rotis could be bought in bulk for dirt-cheap.

We got on the 214 and headed home. Continue reading

Creative Work: Short Fiction “Paleomammalian” by Leon Shoesmith

Creative WorksThe Words, Pauses, Noises team is ecstatic to welcome one of the new KUCWMA writers to the blog scene. Leon Shoesmith’s debut is a piece of eldritch flash fiction. In previous posts we’ve talked about the stunning effect that an author can engender through the use of flash fiction. Short, vivid bursts of emotion and sensation that draw the reader to a moment in time. The key to any short fiction, is to carefully choose each word of text to lay before the reader, and allow them to see in between those lines of text. With writing of this length, a reader can take the time to re-read, to delve into the stream-line narrative and explore the avenues the author has laid out. We hope you enjoy this mysterious snippet and be on the look out for more of Leon’s flash fiction in future Words, Pauses, Noises posts. 

‘Paleomammalian’ 

By Leon Shoesmith 

No, I wasn’t trying to steal anything!  Why was I in the couple’s room…?

It’s totally harmless.  See, everything in the universe is connected.  Two parts of a split particle, even when separated to a distance of the theoretical furthest edges of the universe, still affect each other.  I feel my actions have some effect on the sleepers, not one that you could measure, but some affect deep down in the animal, non verbal part of them.

I walk into a room and check that the person or people are sleeping.  I make no sudden movements.  I visit one room per night where somebody is sleeping and perform one unique act that does not yet have a name.  It could take seconds, it might take minutes, no, not sexual.  Maybe a handstand while pulling a face I saw on a Samurai mask, maybe I’ll put a pair of socks in my mouth and do twenty pushups, maybe I’ll perform a mime of a person playing a hand in a poker game or having lunch with my ex wife.

I savour the intimacy of being there whilst they sleep unaware of this unique event happening.  I never plan the act beforehand or anticipate how I might feel, that would ruin the purity of it. Continue reading

Creative Work: Short Fiction “Statues & Love” by Lauren Weymouth

Creative WorksBrevity in fiction can have the power and intensity of the most elaborate prose (i.e. Nobakov’s Lolita).  Succinct and simple language pervades Sandra Cisneros House on Mango Street. A clear narrative voice and distinct characters piloted David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary to popularity worldwide. In the spirit of compactness the Words, Pauses, Noises team were fortunate enough to share this beautiful, short yet expansive flash-fiction piece by Lauren Weymouth

‘Statues & Love’

By Lauren Weymouth 

There was too much liquid love thrusting against my skin – pecking at the follicles, begging to escape. I wanted someone to drain it out of me like sucking cranberry juice through a straw until there is nothing but ice. No liquid lies between the crevices, just a cluster of cold, soulless solidity, like a statue. I wished I were a statue because statues don’t feel any pain. Hercules stands headless in Athens, Rhodes, Lefkada, Parga – he doesn’t feel a thing. Soldiers that died in a battle for our country stand in the British Museum without their manhood -the one body part that empowers them more than any other. Where is their hurt? They feel no shame, or embarrassment or ache. Do we have to fight a war to deserve such gratitude? What if this is the war of my life? What if this struggle, this kind of fight causes my death? The pride used to gush through my body, entwined in my liquid love, like my hair with yours on our pillow. If I were a statue – a statue for us – I’d want to be placed next to our lake. Everything was beautiful there, each leaf, stone, the protruding weed -showed some kind of existence. Everything was beautiful because I was in love. Love has that kind of ability; it makes us look at things as though we’ve never seen a more perfect version of that leaf, stone or weed. If I stood there now, statuesque with all my blood gone, I’d watch over the lake. I’d wait for you to come and take a picture beside me and hope that the leaves had fallen and the stones had been washed away, just so you could see how damaged beautiful things are without you. I’d place myself where we parked our bikes and loved one another beside the tree. I’d have shown you how much life there was against that tree at one point. How much blood seeped down my thighs leaving nothing but a tingle of desperation in my toes.

If you are struggling with Writer’s Block or need to expand or revamp a segment in your novel or short story try your hand at flash-fiction. Give stream-of-consciousness a go and free write. Playing with words may just lead you to your own creative genius and brighten your writing. Take a look at Miranda July’s wacky, innovative Oranges for a fresh take on form. And for some examples of experimental poetry, Emily Berry‘s Dear Boy is a gravitating first collection – a must read. Words, Pauses, Noises will return next week with another round of creative joy. Until next time!