Date Night

 

He says my flat is like the Tardis, loads bigger inside than it looks from the street. He’s right, too. It’s got a tiny doll house front door and a staircase that goes round and round and up in a barley sugar twist, my living room blooming high and wide as you go in. My rooms are pretty like a chocolate box, soft furnishings of quiet pastel; the porcelain figurines my Gran left me lined up in rows on the shelves and along the mantelpiece, and on the top of the telly.

He calls our Fridays date night, but we’ve never been on an actual date. No dinner in a candlelit restaurant, or necking in the back row in the pictures, no dancing hip on hip, and lip on lip. I’ve never put on a nice dress for him or painted my face, and gone walking into town holding hands. But, just look at him. Tall and lean, hair thick and clean and blond like the beach in holiday brochures; close my eyes and I smell the sea, same as when you hold an empty shell to your ear and the water laps on a shore, right there.

One Friday, I watch from the bedroom floor as he’s pulling his jeans back on. The belt buckle slaps against his thigh.

‘I love you.’ It’s a shock when he comes out with it.

‘What?’

He blinks. ‘I love you.’

My words whoosh out. ‘Me too.’

‘Really?’ More age slips from his face.

‘Of course.’ But my larynx sheds rust.

Air is snatched from my lungs as it hits me. I’m not in love, am I?  I don’t love him, not at all. I don’t even bloody well like him. Not as a person. This isn’t what I want. He isn’t what I want.

I want to be in love.

I want to be happy, the sort I read about in books. I want to die of summer, feel the sun kissing my face more surely than he ever could.  I need the feel of a firm hand curving my hip and pulling me close, lips resting softly on my temple, the small of my back moist and sticky, cheeks flushed and pink, my pulse racing in my wrists. I want it all, and more.

And yet instead, I gift him a shy smile. Coquettish and coy, I get up and walk over. He covers my mouth with his. As our tongues dance awkward and slow, bumping this way and that, moving out of time, the figurines around us, my figurines, curl their spines into round shells, strike a pose, and freeze frame. The pile carpet thickens under my feet and, the ceiling pressing the top of my head, it bends my neck crooked, the walls around me closing in.

(First published National Flash Fiction Day Flash Flood Journal, June 2017)

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You Promised

‘I’ll sing for you,’ you promise, but never do. Instead I get excuses and small talk, coy and cute in my ear.

‘Sing for me,’ I say. ‘You said you would.’

You blink and I wonder how your eyelashes manage to get so dark, your lips so dry, ones that peck me goodbye on the jaw, missing my mouth.

I roll on cooling bed sheets, damp flakes of skin sticking to me like static and take a sly lick of you from my leg. I suck each of my fingers, worming you out from under my nails. You are everywhere and I love it, I imagine you singing for me here and now. In my room, you, singing my song, and making it beautiful.

It doesn’t work. You’re not here. I sniff my arm. Your smell is gone and no crumbs of you garnish my bed. I have nothing of you, so I hum my song, and wish. I close my eyes and follow a ribbon of sound, hold onto it where it pulls me, over mountains and hills, round bends, down steep slopes and up. My calves hurt, stretched then shrinking as I climb, so I stop. I hear it, my song, faint and low. I sway under a navy sky. Night breezes brush my mouth. My lips swell.

I follow my song. I inch up a tree, your bark scratches my inner thighs raw but I shimmy up and up until I peer into a window. It’s you. You smile from behind thick glass, impenetrable, opaque, and sing my song, the one I love. You’re singing my song, as I asked, but you sing my song for her, and not for me, never me. Still, I settle and listen. It is beautiful, the song and you, exactly as I imagined.

First published in Landmarks, National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2015.

Read “Good Manchester Rain” over at Flash Flood Journal 2016 here.

Rants, and flashes

rants 2
I Hope You Like Feminist Rants issue 2

It’s been a messy old week, what with the EU referendum, but a couple of nice things have happened to me. We need to cling onto whatever lovely things there are, I think.

Issue 2 of indie publication/zine I Hope You Like Feminist Rants, edited by Golden Boy author Abigail Tarttelin, came out on Friday. The theme for this issue is motherhood. I have Baby Love, an essay on non-motherhood, in it. You can buy Rants online, but if you are fortunate enough to live in Liverpool you will find it for sale in the News From Nowhere bookshop on Bold St, which is wonderful news.

Also, yesterday was National Flash Fiction Day. The annual Flash Flood Journal carries my short story Good Manchester Rain.  I’m glad I submitted this story, it’s quite European in nature – romantic, smutty, and with lots of rain. Like a European short film! You can read Good Manchester Rain here.

@cathbore

New stuff

I have work coming out in some really nice places over the coming weeks. This blog post reads a bit like a list, so I apologise in advance for that!

An essay on sisterhood will be in the A Room of Our Own anthology, the book is raising money to keep the organisation’s website going so they can continue their valuable work.

Another essay, about my non-motherhood and choice to not become a parent, is in issue 2 of I Hope You Like Feminist Rants later in the summer. My writing on housework is in issue 1 of Rants, which you can purchase here.

My flash fiction Good Times, originally published in Slim Volume 1 : No Love Lost (2015), is published in CRUSHED, a book of writing and art on the subject of heartbreak is out this month (May 2016). Editor Charlotte Apsin is producing a zine to go with it.

I’ve got work in the University of Liverpool Centre For New & International Writing’s journal, on  page 18, published last week.

I was made up to have a flash fiction, The Other Woman, included as part of Hayley Webster’s All The Words book festival also last week, you can read it here.

I wrote about LightNight here, and Liverpool Biennial here, for Getintothis.

52% starts its summer break next month, I make my final appearance in this series in a fortnight. The next series starts in the Autumn!

That’s it, I think. For now…

@cathbore

Wondrous Place

billy_fury

It is early morning and Liverpool is opening its eyes, ready to wake up, stretch, yawn, and welcome the day.

There’s a tune, a breathy bass riff. A voice, smooth and clear, high but not too much.

I found a place full of charms.

I hear the voice singing, and I know who it is. Billy Fury. I know the song, Wondrous Place.

I know the singer and I know the song but what I don’t know is where it is coming from at ten to eight on a Tuesday morning in Liverpool city centre. I follow the song. It takes me to a pub, the old boozer type, doors flung wide open. I near and hear singing, a voice on top of Billy’s. It is thin, slightly shrill, out of tune and time. I peer inside.

The pub’s cleaner in her apron is dancing with her mop, humming. Billy Fury sings to her from the jukebox. She’s seventy-odd with crab-apple skin, turned girlish. She’s smiling, eyes closed, slow dancing. It’s beautiful.

I wanna stay and never go away –

Wondrous place.

She dances with Billy Fury every morning, I think. I hope.

 

(First published by Silver Birch Press 2015)

@cathbore

Fiction and Fact

I have two flash fiction short stories out this week. The first over on Paragraph Planet on Monday last, it was up for 24 hours only (a true flash!). It’s a case of screen grab or I’d miss it:

paragraph planet 11th April 2016

The second, Train In Vain  is living at 101 Words more permanently.

The title….yeah, I know…but I’m not sorry; it suited the story.

train-in-vain

Also this week I have a feature published by GetIntoThis on the upsurge in housegigs , artists coming to play private shows in people’s homes…sounds a bit freaky, but they usually go quite well, or so I’m told. You can read my feature here.

@cathbore

Telly appearance, feminist rants, busy busy.

It’s only Tuesday and already this week is turning into a busy one for me.

In November last year I wrote a personal essay on the politics of cleaning, and housework. It’s not part of the “why don’t men and women do their equal share of household chores” debate because I think that’s discussed enough already, and very well. I wanted to explore our attitude to cleaners as paid employees, and how we view what is essentially physical labour, but from a feminist perspective. It was inspired by a Facebook conversation about memes like this:

housework

The essay is published this week in new feminist publication Rants, edited by the fabulous Abigail Tarttelin, author of the award winning YA novel Golden Boy. I’m so pleased to have my work alongside top class writers such as Shelley Harris and Kit de Waal in this zine, and I feel privileged to have my opinion in a publication that offers writers the opportunity to express a wide range of views. I find the current trend of no platforming dissenting voices very disturbing, and akin to censorship. Bravo Abigail for allowing us the opportunity to speak so freely and honestly.

rantz
Issue #1 of Rants.

(I spent my lunch hour today working out which of these bottoms most resembles my own)

You can buy Rants here.

Yesterday I was invited onto the sofa of 52%, a TV show here in Liverpool, hosted by the brilliant Claire Simmo.

52 photo

It’s a programme presented by women and it’s ace. We talked about women and food, entrepreneurism and home baking plus what’s trending, news wise. We spoke about the north west band Viola Beach (I wrote about them for The Guide) ; their deaths over the weekend marked a very sad day for the local music scene.

52% will be broadcast on Saturday in the Merseyside area on Bay TV, Freeview channel 8 at 7pm.

Today, a teeny snippet of the crime novel I’ve working on, is published over at Paragraph Planet:

Low

In addition to that, my interview with The Trouble with Goats and Sheep author Joanna Cannon is now online over at Urbanista, a preview to her appearance here in Liverpool next week.

@cathbore