Slim Volume book launch

My flash fiction Good Times is included in the new book Slim Volume : No Love Lost (Pankhearst). The launch/celebration of No Love Lost took place in Sheffield – known as Jarvis Cockerland in our house – last Thursday and it saw my first visit to the city.

aka by some as Richard Hawley-land.
I found this chap in the corner of the cafe, on his bill.

No Love Lost contributors gathered in Harland Café in Sheffield to read and enjoy flash and poetry. A great night, with lots of laughs. You can buy the book here, should you wish to.

Slim Volume : No Love Lost editor Kate Garrett and myself, grinning happily at the launch last week.
Slim Volume : No Love Lost editor Kate Garrett and myself, grinning giddily at the launch last week.

I was made at home by such warm and friendly people, but the Sheffield Interchange in January on the other hand is the coldest place on earth, I am convinced. I waited for my coach home the next morning and my word, what a chill blasts through that place. Thermals next time, I think.

I also have a new flash fiction published in The Fem this week, which you can read here.

@cathbore

The Short Goodbye | Cath Bore

cath:

I have a new flash fiction out today, published in The Fem.

Originally posted on THE FEM :

I want to say goodbye properly and in my own way but the chance is stolen from me, his eyes dimming to opaque glass the millisecond mine choose to blink. I feel cheated as my eyelids open back up while his lips slack apart in a final sour gasp. His bowels void silently, the stench an unexpected punch. I sit on the floor, the cold kitchen tiles chilling the back of my legs and watch the clock’s metal hand jerking from second to second until five full minutes go by. No calling the police, no pulling in the paramedics. Either will be useless; there is nothing they can do for him now.

View original 297 more words

OPPOSITES DETRACT

buttercup

Last winter was a long one, the only colour outside offered up by balding grass or an evergreen bush overplaying its hand, plastic privet leaves perfect and even shaped, factory line fodder. Winter smells of nothing, but in summer warm murmurs of flowers, soft and malty, puff out the gentle scent of pollen. Bees flit from flower to flower like the rest of us aren’t here, they carry on whether we watch them or not; it’s reassuring like meat sizzling on barbecues firming from raw pink to brown. Something’s always burning during summer, our neighbour’s brazier coughs out smoke after dark like he doesn’t expect anyone to notice.  He chucks in all sorts. I reckon he goes around collecting bits of rubbish from people’s bins just so he has something to burn.

‘If he didn’t burn stuff every night I’d worry about him, wonder if he’s alright.’ I believe this even though the smoke dirties our windows something terrible.

‘It stinks,’ you say.

You roll your eyes and I do the same back. I’m conceding the point because this summer you’ve made the effort, we’ve turned feral for the first time, taking lazy strides and dozing instead of sleeping. Every movement brings out beads of sweat like bubble wrap on your upper lip and trickles into your mouth but I don’t hear you complain. Thick salt water burns my eyes, hair stiff and sticking to the scalp, but shoving one’s hot head under a cold tap full on is one of life’s great unspoken pleasures.

‘Do you know what, it is,’ you agree, shaking your head from side to side like an enthusiastic puppy and showering me with droplets.

Everything is messy this summer and I love it; buttercups spread bright yellow chaos across the lawn. ‘They’re only weeds if they’re growing somewhere you don’t want them to,’ you say. I smile at your joke because it was funny when you said it two days ago and because the weeds out back are out of control, golden dandelions a foot high. We marvel at the size of them.

‘It’s like the Day of the Triffids.’ I laugh as I come up with the comparison.

‘Dandelions the size of your face,’ you say.

Yesterday you compared them to a plate. You’re learning not to love summer exactly but not mind it too much. You’ve let go this year as much as you ever do, it gives me hope when you turn up on time at the restaurant instead of being twenty long minutes early. This August is hot and clammy, thick grey cloud like a giant duvet in the sky holding the heat in, so you leave your jacket at home.

You enjoy cold meats for your starter, claim they soothe the way a spicy curry works the opposite way in winter. Opposites attracting, cool on hot, both extremes coaxed towards a happy medium. I yearn for ice cream, but you complain it freezes your teeth and face. Cold meats it is, then. We amble on with slices of ham and you run out of things to compare the dandelions to, still reflecting on my face.

‘I yearn for the structure of term time and knitted jumpers,’ you say, in an unguarded moment on the way home.

As your words spill out, loose and careless, we both know it’s the end. Without me saying anything you sniff an acknowledgement and I mirror your sniff, a relief to us both you don’t have to pretend anymore. The winter comes soon after, its chilled tart air snapping and scratching at me but I cope well enough and anticipate the spring.

@cathbore

When The Dogs Don’t Bark

“Burn him.”

“Kill him.”

“Kill him then bring him back to life and kill him again!”

Dave pleads he’s been set up. Anyone can take a picture of an innocent man then put it on Facebook and claim that person cut a dog. It’s cyberbullying and harassment, some people have killed themselves over less, just think about that. Consciences duly pricked, people un-click and un-share and some even apologise but Dave calls his social experiment a triumph anyway, because he still gets one hundred thousand people to share his picture. Even after chucking in such obvious blindsiding variables, if you press the right buttons people still turn into keyboard warriors, he laughs.

But that night the dogs up his street stay silent and bark out no warning as other variables come for Dave, all wet teeth and grimacing mouths. The soles of his shoes whine against the footpath like a kicked hound. A camera flashes the pavement bright and white, swollen flecks of dust floodlit and prancing, before it switches back to the black.

(c) Cath Bore January 2015

 @cathbore

Baby Love

I wrote a flash fiction GOOD TIMES last year about a woman in her forties who has a relationship with Daniel a seventeen year old boy, an exploration of what things shock and disgust people. Everyone is eager to be appalled these days,  kicking off over any slight, real or imagined, intended barbs or careless words falling from loose lips. Sure enough when I told people about my story, much of the response was an automatic screwing up of the mouth into the “cat’s bottom” look accompanied by a shake of the head, like I was a sorry pervert.

I was going to modify the story, make my protagonist younger to soothe things, make the age gap narrower but I was stopped my inner editor. Sod it, I thought. My protagonist is staying forty four. What a massive contradiction or hypocrisy it is, for people might be repelled; the  objectification of young men is now an acceptable past time.

A well known swimmer was the cover star of a newspaper supplement at age 15, wearing swimming trunks and smiling boldly into the camera. This fifteen year old, this boy, garnered “wearing nothing but skimpies and a smile” responses. He was two years younger than my fictional Daniel.

The actor who plays Bruce Wayne on the new Gotham series (an imagined account of Batman’s younger days, it’s very good – I recommend it) has been the recipient of cat calls from adults on social media. The actor is thirteen. Daniel would think him a kid, and he’d be right too.

I found this article on the increased objectification of boys and young men here. I also found these 1970s albums in a charity shop at the weekend. Objectification of girls/boys/men/women; what larks, eh?

"Oh well, at least the model got paid for it"
“Oh well, at least the model got paid for it”

 

"I can't see any harm, it's only a bit of fun"
“I can’t see any harm, it’s only a bit of fun”

GOOD TIMES features in a new book Slim Volume: No Love Lost (Pankhearst, Jan 2015).  More details of published work here.

@cathbore

 

Don’t mention the Quorn

CONTROVERSIAL
CONTROVERSIAL

I’m with two women I don’t know too well.  We go for a  pub lunch. It’s not a pub of gastric delights or hipster gentrification, instead the sort where nothing on the menu costs over a tenner. One of my companions asks what I’m having. I pick up the wipe-clean menu.

I’ll see what veggie stuff they’ve got, let’s have a look see…

Why?

I don’t eat meat.

What! You don’t eat meat!

No, I don’t eat meat.

I can’t BELIEVE you don’t eat meat! Who doesn’t eat meat?

Me.

I hope you’re not one of those who goes on and on about it when someone eats meat in front of you…

Oh no, I’m live and let live, me.

Because if you are, you’ll HATE me!

You’re grand.

Because I love meat, me.

Do you.

Yeah, I do. Lovely, dead animal (rubs belly)

That’s..erm…nice.

There’s nothing I like more than a day out in an abattoir!

 

It goes on like a Monty Python sketch, I’m waiting for a goose-stepping John Cleese to appear and Michael Palin to tell me I’m lucky to live in a hole in the road (or something) but there’s no one to rescue me. My jaw hurts with all the grinning and bearing and I’m tempted to escape through the toilet window just to get away.

An hour later it’s over, they’ve run out of steam or so it seems but I don’t trust anything anymore, it’s all too weird. I make a run for it.  As the quiet air outside soothes my nerves I start to think maybe the 21st century isn’t quite ready for me and my controversial lifestyle as yet. It will be soon, though. Soon.

 

I have a flash fiction GOOD TIMES in a new book Slim Volume: No Love Lost (Pankhearst, Jan 2015).  More details of published work here.

@cathbore

Stolen

 

dance 50

STOLEN

In the dance hall he takes Helen into his arms, her hair smelling of apricots and soft against his cheek. Such sweet grey eyes, they make his wits quicken and sharpen like morning frost. He knows he should mention that the top button of her cotton print dress is undone but sneeks a peek instead, humming into her hair as they dance. The lights come up. That’s a shame. He prefers the lights dimmed, low and gentle.

Feet trot on tiles. Heels click out of time. The mashed potato, the shag, he knows all the dances, wants to do each with Helen but she murmurs his name and adds ‘you’ll have to leave.’ Helen’s grey eyes are stern now, turned blue, icy not sweet.  ‘I’m sorry,’ she says to the people watching. ‘This gentleman is known to us.’ He blinks. He’s not in the dance hall anymore, and this mardy cold woman, she is not Helen.

He is marched out of the supermarket but pushes an apricot into his pocket first. Walk it off, he’s told.

What, walk off the apricot? He slouches, legs as heavy as wet sand but in his head he waltzes home, both feet in a percussive shuffle, arms full of warm as the stolen fruit bumps against his hip.

Cath Bore January 2014

I have a flash fiction GOOD TIMES in a new book Slim Volume: No Love Lost (Pankhearst, Jan 2015).  

@cathbore