I drape my
on a cross made of
Winter’s berries melt on my
They pray a
A dandelion turns to
My fingertips hold on to the last word of
I drape my
on a cross made of
Winter’s berries melt on my
They pray a
A dandelion turns to
My fingertips hold on to the last word of
Listen to body
to eternal being –
the structure of your bones.
yourself a wish.
Collect your tears in a metal jar –
(Submission for Urban Time magazine)
Media has painted a picture of the perfect girl; and she’s body goals, or eyeliner goals, or nail art goals, but never intelligence goals or confidence goals.
Media portrays women as two stereotypes: the pretty one or the smart one and you have to make a choice straight out of the womb, the second you’re exposed to any media outlet. You can either be stupid with minimal amount of clothing and a maximum amount of make-up, or be smart with smeared glasses and hair that hasn’t seen a brush in weeks. There are no women represented in the media who are just as confident in their looks as they are confident in their intelligence. Most media outlets, whether it’s film, a TV show or a magazine article that use the stereotype of a beautiful, yet lacking in intelligence girl with a great friend who is crowned a ‘nerd’ and is generally void of any sense of self confidence. There are other instances where the ‘nerd’ overgoes a transformation where she puts on a coat of mascara and a mini skirt and becomes beautiful. The artificial beautiful, that is masked externally and not learned internally. The ‘smart girl’ then becomes a sub-genre of ‘geek’ girl and ‘lawyer’ girl. The geek girl is clumsy and wears an over-sized cardigan, but she would also go to gallery shows and draw beautiful pictures. The ‘lawyer’ girl would wear bulky pantsuits, smoke cigars, and have generally male-centric features which would imply that serious careers chosen by women should at least have some resemblance to a man (excluding, Legally Blonde, of course).
There was nobody to tell me that being a girl who likes make-up and fashion doesn’t equal to being a girl who cannot think for herself. Media makes me feel stupid. It makes me doubt myself and my hobbies, it makes me doubt my self worth and self awareness of the woman that I identify to be. I am a woman who’s head should be filled with with make up tips and seven-day diets. Not a woman who grows into herself through expanding her mind.
Growing up in the age where media quickly stepped up from fuzzy TV screens to millions of pictures and videos streamed at the touch of your fingers meant that with age my mentality of self worth decreased. I was brainwashed with images of beautiful women who advertised shaving foam and lace underwear, never a woman advertising universities or book fairs. Throughout history female authors wrote under male pseudonyms, as women were not seen clever enough to be taken seriously. Because they were women.
I wanted to be the smart girl, the geek girl and the lawyer girl, but I was also equally happy spending hours perfecting my eyeliner and shopping for lipstick. I am a woman who is beautiful and intelligent. Media made people to not take me seriously. Sitting in my English Literature degree lectures made me feel out of place. It made me feel like I don’t belong. It made me feel like I am trying too hard, like I look too stupid to be intelligent. Having fake nails and filled in eyebrows creates a stigma that I am not worth listening to. There have been times where people, particularly men, doubted my ability to perform simple tasks due to the way I dress or do my make-up. I have been patronised and questioned because I am a woman who looks or acts a certain way that does not correspond to how my mind is supposed work.
The mind is one thing that hasn’t been tainted by media yet. Intelligence is not something that is often associated with a woman and therefore it is not worth challenging. There are a million ways media shits all over a woman’s sense of self worth through beauty standards, yet intelligence is not something that can be concealed or faked. Mind is not something that is palpable and it cannot be altered in the extremely quick way that media works. Media refuses to pull women up and show the beauty of their minds, yet are quick to push women down by pointing out tangible, physical things that can always be fixed in ten easy-steps. In the twenty-first century media a smart, outspoken woman is too brash, too inquisitive and too challenging. However this is a woman who is significant. She is a woman who loves her mind the lets her mind love herself. She is a woman to look up to and learn from.
I’m still not a woman who is confident with herself, nobody is. I struggle with loving my outer beauty, yet I have never struggled with loving my mind. Sometimes I doubt myself and I let others judge me. However, the first step that I’ve taken to loving myself is to start using my mind to love others. To start seeing beauty in everyone. That way, being surrounded by positivity there is nothing else left but being positive within yourself.
I’m learning to associate my internal mind with my external body. I’m learning to combine the two to find an infinite beauty in myself.
I stared at the body. She was propped up to a chair. Her ankles tied; rope gnawed at her pale skin. Tiny splashes of red raced down her legs. Her right knee, scraped. Her dress, torn across the thigh.
Her stomach was a mass of blood and tissue. Flesh and blue fabric stuck to her lap. Her arms hung, palms open. Half-moon fingernail marks glared against her translucent skin. Her chest was swollen, stuck with a last screaming plead for help. Her neck was grey. Blue veins shot out in slivers. Lips swollen. Purple. Black. Her eyes open. Staring up at the ceiling. Or God.
I shot her, because she’s too loud. Her wailing infiltrates the walls. She sobbed.
I pulled her up to a chair and tied her ankles. Tight. Her feet turned white. A white so pale it turned to silver, to sapphire.
Small squeaks escaped her crimson mouth. I opened up my bag and took out the Lino knife. It reminded me of pirates. She was my virginal sacrifice.
I dug the knife deep into her stomach. I heard the silent thud of a bullet falling to the floor. She whispered a scream. Blood bubbled around her mouth, mixed with saliva it dripped down her chin and formed a pool on her breasts.
I cut deeper and made an incision down to her pelvis. I pressed one hand against her thigh and buried the other one in the cut.
Her breathing slowed. She wanted to punch me, to push me away. At least protest. Revolt or object. I felt her body vibrate. That’s when you start to feel the pain. When the adrenaline escapes the body with the several pints of blood. She shook her fists. Her fingernails painted white soaked in small dribbles of blood. She pierced her palms. Stigmata.
*third year Writing Fiction, final submission (Chapters 1-3)
I want to die.
That’s my plan anyway.
The news anchor blurred. She talked about a dead woman, an empty apartment and a chair. I started packing. They call me in for work.
When they do, it’s after the police officers, chief investigators, mayors, paparazzi’s. I get in early and wait. No one wants a clean up rat stinking up their porcelain murder scenes. They don’t want rats chewing their colour coordinated files and folders. Sticky notes in neat hand writing and paper cups from coffee shops with sweetened coffee and shots of ‘you’d get fired for this’.
I get in early.
“Stabbing, mostly. A lot of blood. This wasn’t accidental, it was done on purpose. Very malicious, very dangerous. The splatter of blood here and here indicates stabbing from this direction. If you follow me, you can see the pool of blood here. Just underneath her. Yes. the stomach is wide open. From what I can detect, her uterus is missing.”
“What sick fuck?”
“From the little time we’ve had with her, we’re assuming she was alive during the dissection”
“Note her palms. The crescent marking indicates clenched fists. It is more than likely she felt the pain”
“It seems like this was the killers intent.”
“Do we have an ID yet?”
“Alice Jacobs. Prostitute. Escort. Hight class, very expensive.”
“Are we done with prints?”
“The clean up guy is here”
They cleared the room for me.
An empty chair stood, the blood smears exhibited the remains of its previous habitant. I breathed and the powdery smell of elastic gloves hung thickly in the air. Rubber made me nauseous. I stepped back. The shoe protectors I wore slid slightly against the damp, wooden floor. I turned on the air conditioning. I knew there were no viable finger prints. But just in case. I sprayed oxygen bleach and watched the blood marks dissolve, leaving matte marks on the laminate floor.
I knew Alice Jacobs.
I picked up the last of the florescent tape discarded on the floor.
She would start work at 11 p.m.
I finished late. The blood takes a while to dissolve. The stench of bleach, even longer.
She was going to meet with a potential client. Escorts look out for rich guys. Try them out, see their American Express cards. If he was rich enough, married and wasn’t into American Psycho type of sex they would pry him into their lives. They would see him on his work lunches, sneaking in as therapists, physicians or those bullshit Feng Shui ladies. They would build relationships and call on Christmas eve, patronise him, ask him about the kids. They would drink his whiskey and demand a new handbag, or a car, or a flat in Central London. They would suggest how good they’d be as step mothers and beg him to divorce his wife. They would cry. Sob. Bawl. He’d pay her just enough to shut up and afford not to work for a while. She wrecked his marriage anyway and now I’m cleaning up Alice Jacobs’ strings of fresh plasma dripping on the cold floor of a cheap corridor in expensive London.
*third year Writing Fiction, final submission (Chapters 1-3)
You want to die.
That’s your plan anyway.
It’s the last train to Epping. You sit and count the seconds between stations.
You couldn’t kill yourself. That was out of question.
And it’s not because you’re too scared.
The last time you were afraid was twenty years ago when you saw your mothers body submerged in a bath full of water. You first wonder who’s blood it is. You think it’s paint. She laid there. Limp. Her pale feet hung at the side of the bath. Her toes, painted red, blended with the water. He face was what scared you for the very last time. Her expression. Her parter lips. Her milky eyes. No irises. She’s a ghost. An empty shell of a body.
A man gets on the train. You’re the only two on the carriage.You wonder if he’s married. If he’s cheating on his wife. You guess he’s fucking his secretary. Or the illegal Puerto Rican man. His janitor.
To South Woodford.
You want to die because living doesn’t live up to your expectations. You fall asleep and see your mothers face and she’s asking you to help her. You see her tongue falling out of her mouth. Flopping on the grigio tiles of the bathroom floor. She swallows you and you become and embryo. You push. Push. Push. You rip her. Heart. Lungs. Kidneys. And you’re a lily and she’s dead.
He gets up and you do too. He leads the way and you follow. He walks away from the humid platform air of hot metal and yesterday’s sweat. You breathe in fresh air.
“Hey, you dropped your wallet.”
You punch him. In the stomach first. Then the face. You drag him away, muffle his screams.
You’re stronger than he thought.
He wriggles underneath your grip.
You’re stronger than you thought.
You take out a knife. You lick the blade, taste the iron. Sweet. Cold. His eyes scream.
You’re kneeling on him. You hold back his hand and push your body on his. His torso crushes underneath your knees.
You stab him.
You puncture the skin. Penetrate the bone. Stab the heart. Then lungs. Then kidneys.
His eyes scream.
You stab. Stab. Stab.
A puddle of blood forms underneath him and you manoeuvre yourself so that your trousers stay clean.
You stand and admire him.
You clap to your master piece and courtesy towards the crowd.
He’s too young to be married anyway.
*third year Writing Fiction, final submission (Chapters 1-3)
It felt as if there was no wind. The world stood still. It was usually like that; this day was no different to others. The same sickly sweet smell of metal. An infinite horizon of abandoned rail tracks. Sometimes, the workers whispered about what could’ve been; they made up stories of the before time. They wrote imaginary novels of lovers who were separated by vast lands and glorious decades. The sand around them was always too dry and too incompetent to be of an advantage. The pebbles were warriors, ready to fight magnificent battles – their sharp edges, a killer weapon for toddler feet. The air was polluted with mist, it was thick and dry.
The clock above was the only sound that never stopped. The mind numbing ticking was a sole reminder of the beating hearts and existing lives. Dirty children stood before it and admired the golden specks that shined in the heavy, summer sunlight. Their mouths would hang open, gasping the dusty air. They would squint and murmur prayers to the divinity before them. Smaller children would carry their sad, linen pouches and pick up sand fragments, fooling themselves they were treasure hunters.
No one ever talked a decibel too high. The stern guards kept watch. They stood still like rain drenched copper statues. Each time, breathing in a synchronised, wet gulp of air. Beads of sweat glistened on their cheeks. The droplets ran alongside the dents in their skin; the wrinkles and scars that formed over eternal stillness. Over time, the guards learned how to hypnotise their senses. They would count their breaths and blink on the seventh one. The fraction of a second in which the guards stood still, breathless and without sight was dumbfounding. They would gnaw at the little time they had to share between them. The ones who watched, could almost taste the satisfactory grins in the guards’ mouths. They were united in a single moment.
Saul couldn’t recall his before time name anymore. During the freer hours of the day, he thought about what it would be like to own a name. He imagined he was called John, or Francis. He would spend his time mouthing these alien names, sucking on their foreign deliciousness. Saul knew the implications of being caught off work, wasting time on thought; he found rebellion an electrifying pleasure. He often forgot of the punishments, only a distant wail would remind him of the consequences.
He wasn’t a man that looked rebellious. His dry, grey powdery hair was always matted around his face. He smelled like two pence coins, covered in rust. Saul would often stop still and drink in the sight of the horizon before him. He would watch the sand, dancing around like television static and describe the scenery in his head. Saul knew that without practice, he would forget what the colour of the sun was, or how the wind felt at night. Sometimes, he would stand still, with his arms slightly open and feel the sleeves of his work shirt brush against his skin.
“Sir?”, a faint whisper brought Saul back to reality. He looked down and saw a pair of blue eyes. Pale like the sky just after an afternoons rainfall. Saul’s mind raced with similes and he cracked a satisfactory smile. Just as his lips curled up, his features froze.
The little girl never saw a face like it. She tried to whimper something, to explain, but she couldn’t stop staring. The man’s face is wrong. She fixated on his dull eyes – the faded greyness of his sockets. She tried looking at the direction he was staring at, but couldn’t find it. It was like a shadow. His smile was crippled. His lips were covered in dust. The little teeth that were showing reminded her of the big dogs guards kept close by. Speak, please. She noticed a slight tremble in his hands. His fingertips looked blue. She stared at his chest and waited.
“Did I do something?”, said Saul, finally. He forgot his voice. Hearing it aloud reminded him of the time his grandmother bought him a train set for his birthday.
”Veritas.”, the little girl said. She bit her bottom lip. Her tongue curled at the last consonant. She became conscious of her own breathing, slowly exhaling, as if afraid to breathe too loud.
”How soon should I go to her?”
Saul looked on as the little girl wobbled back into nothingness. He felt his body in a trance. Saul looked down and watched his fingers. He curled them down and pressed onto his palms. The vibration travelled through his body. Saul felt a ticking bomb inside his heart, his lungs, his kidneys. He examined the half-moon scars that his fingernails tattooed on his skin. Veritas will get rid of me. She’ll punish me and burn me. I won’t see the sky and the wind and the sand and the rail tracks. Saul heard stories of Veritas. Children would scare each other before sleep. They would tell stories of the devils mistress who would cook your insides and eat them if you don’t behave.
Saul felt a sudden wetness on the back of his neck. Cold sweat ran in diamond beads down his back. The slight breeze made him shudder. Saul sat on the pebble dusted ground. His spine felt plastic, as if it could snap at any given moment. He closed his eyes and forgot what surrounded him. In his mind, he was far away. He saw a beach; he dipped his hands in the sea. Walking forth, he felt it absorb him. The cold water nibbled at his skin. He could hear himself breathe.
“Stand.” Saul opened his eyes and gazed up to the emerald uniform of a guard.
”But, I’m –“, said Saul. He locked his eyes with the guard, pleading for help. Conscious of his upcoming end, Saul wondered whether he’d be allowed to disobey.
”Stand. Now.”, the guard said. There wasn’t any sense of sympathy in his eyes. What a stupid man, he’ll get in trouble. He looked around and fixated on the group of children, looking at their naked feet. Apart from one girl; a pair of stern, blue eyes couldn’t stop watching.
Saul stood. His knees felt rusted, mechanical. With his head bent, he heard the guard walk away. His head filled with anxiety. I’m not going to see the stars. Saul kicked the pebbles scattered by his feet. Unable to move, he began examining the ground. He bit his tongue, until he felt the sharp edges pierce the skin. His mouth filled with the bitter, sweet taste. He inhaled with satisfaction, as his mind concentrated on something else now.
Saul spat out blood. The tiny, maroon puddle fascinated him. He bent down again, and examined the tiny bubbles around the liquid. And then his eyes fixed on something else. The sun reflection burned his vision; something was shining too bright. The pebble was too yellow, too small. He held his breath as he picked up a tiny spec off the ground. Afraid of who’s looking, he put it in his pocket and walked on. He didn’t know in which direction he was walking, he forgot to look up. The tiny treasure weighed his whole body down. Saul crouched by the remains of a tree trunk and turned out his pocket.
A gold covered tooth. Must be from the people before, must be someone elses. Saul fingered the jewel like a prayer bead. His heart felt heavy. He looked around to see if anyone’s watching. There was nobody. He panicked. Having a treasure was dangerous. Even for a man in his position. Maybe it’s a test. Veritas sent this. Veritas is testing me. She’s giving me a last piece of happiness. Last piece of happiness. He mumbled, sucking on the pretty word. The possibility of happiness. He forgot Veritas. He wasn’t scared anymore. He knew a way out. Saul always knew. There was a portal. A secret passageway. All you needed was a treasure. Saul had treasure. His body shook with anticipation. He stood and walked. He knew where it was. The happiness. The walk to the old bunkers weren’t long. I’ll get out of here. He stepped over the rail tracks, losing them in sight. I won’t get eaten. He walked into a road. I won’t get burned. He forced his body to slow. Walking fast was suspicious. He gnawed at his lip. His toes danced with every step. Saul couldn’t contain himself from smiling. He forced the corners of his lips down. He could his reflection in a window. He didn’t recognise this man.
The bunker was always filled with smoke, even though no one had a cigarette. The constant bitter smell kept its inhabitants drowsy. They were slow and unforgiving. The people who lived here pushed the grey food on their trays and never quite finished their cups of tea. Amos sat in his usual chair. The rolls of fat seemed to be stuck to the wooden planks. His eyes were never fully opened. His vision was blurred with the sight of his own socket. He rocked his chair and nodded to the sound of someone’s humming. He wanted to join in, but the lazy sunlight drained all his energy. Amos knitted his fingers together and sang along in his mind. Into His hands I entrust my spirit, when I sleep and when I wake up. And with my soul, my body too, the Lord is with me, I shall not fear.
Saul watched on as the woman chanted alien music. He felt the heat of a white candle on his skin. Saul touched the heat and felt the flame lick his fingertips. It reminded him of the neighbourhood cat that would lick the jam off his fingers. He looked up to see the man he was searching for. Amos sat in his usual chair, rocking. His eyes hidden in his bushy eyebrows. Saul looked on with fascination. He felt his heart beat in his whole body. The buzz calmed him a little. He stepped forward and tapped the man on his shoulder.
“Who are you?”, Amos said.
”I need your portal key.”, said Saul. Forgetting what he really wanted, he messed up his words; his mind was in knots.
”What key? I’ve got no time.” Amos was dazed with this man’s expression. The boy is in midst of deliverance.
”To escape. People talked, I heard them. They said that, you have a key. A way out, rather. To leave this. I’m in trouble, and I need to go.”, Saul felt his tongue swell, he couldn’t get his words out. “I have gold.”
Amos perked up, he haven’t heard that word in a long time. Gold. He tasted the word in his mouth. People would often come, with pieces of coloured glass or fragments of old coins. But no one has ever offered him gold.
”Let me see.”, said Amos. He examined the little jewel. Feeling the gap in his mouth, he hoped that this might fit. It was his, undoubtedly. “You want a way out then? People come here begging for escape without knowing that it really is. There are women dragging their children, praying to let them wander off, asking for salvation. And then they hate themselves. They realise what they have to do to escape, and Lord doesn’t forgive sinners. He forgives me though, I do not sin.”
”I don’t understand”, Saul said, finally. He was hypnotised by the sound of Amos voice, it was almost delirious, a voice of a madman.
”To escape you need to commit a sin. You need to insult Lord and then pray He forgives out and allows you eternal bliss. You need to remind him of the hardship and the absolute dedication. Never will you leave if you’re not committed. Do not forget.” Amos felt shivers on the tips of his toes, sermons reminded him of home.
”I’ll do what you tell me to. Please, let me go. I need to leave.”, said Saul. He felt the desperation clog up his throat. He had no time to hear about the Lord and about dedication. He can do that later, leaving was what he only wanted.
”If you’re ready.”
Amos took out a wooden box from under his chair. It was ornamented with lines that no one understood. Bless them, cleanse them; bestow upon them forever Your merciful righteousness. He took out a shiny object. Not bigger than the little finger on Saul’s hand. Powerful, Holy one, in your abounding goodness, guide Your congregation. Amos handed Saul the little object and took out a much bigger, much complicated one. Saul watched as Amos fiddled with the metal mass that reminded him of a letter that he forgot how to spell. Only and Exalted One, turn to Your people who are mindful of Your holiness. Amos dropped the shiny bullet into the L shaped metal case. Saul wondered whether it would zap him into another dimension. He recalled the old comic books that his mother banned him from reading. He remembered pictures of superheroes with tools that helped them clean out the city from the dangerous men. Accept our supplication and hear our cry, You Who knows secret thoughts. Amos fiddled with the gun and pointed it. Saul felt the heat. He had hope. Blessed be the name – Saul breathed out a smile. He held his life. Of the glory of His kingdom – Saul looked into the deep buried Amos’ eyes and nodded. He was ready. Forever and ever.
The sound vibrated through the sand, and the pebbles and the sky. The flock of children looked up to see nothingness. The little blue-eyed girl was the only one not looking up. She told them to stop distracting her. They were building a sand castle.
The guard closed his eyes, and for a while, was reluctant to open them up again. The lines around his eyes smoothed for a second and he remembered what it was like to be young again. He felt a pang of sadness in his throat. Seventh breath, close your eyes.
The sky was still blue, a dull shade of sapphire. It was probably going to rain. Below, the pebbles stood untouched. Just a puddle of blood remained, staining the smooth, pale surface below. The soft wind was almost invisible. Like a child, just learning how to walk, it could barely pick up the stray mound of fallen leaves. The naked trees danced in unison, and the branches intertwined, creating a cot for nobody. Somewhere a child cried, its scream absorbed by the absolute nothingness.
*short story submitted for second year, fiction course, creative writing degree
365 words on my body
thirty on my arms
thirty on my stomach
thirty on my lungs; blackening a void – letter by letter
thirty on my fingers
thirty on my kidneys
thirty on my eyes; blurring them with each comma, full-stop, question mark
thirty on my toes
thirty on my elbows
thirty on my palms, dotted i’s and crossed t’s piercing through the skin
thirty on my wrists
thirty on my knees
thirty on my heart, ripping vessels and letting the blood run through the blue black bruise
five words on my forehead
in invisible, crystal ink
written with a second-hand fountain pen;
silver plated paint
chipping with every finished sentence.
no one reads a language that doesn’t exist.
When you punctured my body with your kisses and your words
I stood by and watched,
over myself and you.
to have found someone to love me as I love myself.
And I poured honey on your face