Monday, 18 July 2011


The door slams shut as Ewan's mum leaves the house.

It takes him a few minutes to process the noise she made, the aggression with which she has closed the door.  For a brief moment he wonders if she was crying when she went.  He would never know, he hadn't looked her in the eye as she said goodbye, he couldn't look anyone in the eye at the moment, he was too frightened at seeing people's reaction to him, to it, the awful thing that had happened.

Left on his own, he unpacks his things, checking he has everything he will need.  He gets down on his knees in the living room  amongst his belongings and re-arranges, re-folds socks, makes sure his pills are there, wondering if he will need to use his Swiss army knife - after much thought, his hand hovering over the opening to his backpack - he shoves it down into the bottom of the bag, just in case.

Packing complete, he walks through every room in the flat, checking there is nothing of importance left behind.  In the bedroom he looks out of the window onto the communal garden and wonders, if he jumped, if the grass below would cushion his fall from the second floor or if he would die.  He decides that he would probably die and that it would hurt.

Ewan is imagining the feeling of the wind rushing past his face as he throws himself towards the earth when his mother returns laden with carrier bags.  He takes charge of what she is carrying and dumps the shopping on the kitchen floor.

"Mum, this isn't all for me is it?

"Well, I don't want you to go hungry.  Plus, the cupboards were looking bare.  She obviously wasn't keeping a good job of looking after you."

A sharp look crosses from Ewan to his mum.  She doesn't register it.

"When you're gone, do you want me to get rid of the rest of her things?"

"Mum, she's been gone a week, it's too soon."

For a few moments nothing is said, Ewan's mum busies herself by putting things in cupboards.  Once there is nothing left to be put away she breaks the silence.

"Will you be back for the funeral?"

"I don't know...  I don't think so...  I'm not sure."

"You'll regret not going."


The car is filled with its familiar fragrance, a mixture of the air freshener she'd bought to get rid of the odour of his football kit and her perfume.  He breathes it in, it is both comforting and nauseating.

Ewan focuses on the road as he moves further out of the city, the landscape is unfamiliar, less memories are attached to it, less things remind him of her.

There is no particular plan of where to go,  he is just hoping somewhere will seem right.  Eventually he does, a secluded spot with a view of green rolling hills and a clear blue lake.  It looks like a postcard, like an illustration in a book, like a fantasy, like something that can't possibly exist when all his thoughts are wretched.

The tent is taken from the car boot, he sticks the poles into the ground, concentrating on building a steady structure.  The irony is not lost on him that he is constructing a safe structure to protect him from the elements in the countryside while his real-life back in the city had fallen apart.

The tent is built and Ewan sits inside it, alone.

After a while, emptiness presents itself, his stomach rumbles in hunger.  Rooting  around in the tent through the packets and tins his mother bought a few hours ago, he eventually finds something that takes his fancy.  The tranquillity is punctured as Ewan noisily crunches and chews an entire packet of ready salted crisps.

There is nothing else to do but sit and look at the view.  He isn't sure how long he sits there.

The bottle of whisky Ewan bought before he got on the motorway sits in the corner of the tent, next to the pills he'd stashed at the bottom of his bag.   If he took the lot and drank the bottle he'd be able to join her.  The beauty of the scenery would be a nice juxtaposition to his untimely death.

It starts to rain, he gets inside the tent and listens to the pitter patter of the raindrops against the tent.  They pepper the canvas with polka dots, of where the rain has landed.  The noise transforms him to their bedroom, listening to the rain bouncing off the window, rattling on the roof while they were snuggled in bed together.  Ewan struggles to get into his sleeping bag to keep warm.

The first thing Ewan knows about having slept, is when he wakes up to the sun brightening the inside of his tent.  It was the first time he'd had a full night's sleep since the phone call with the news.  The sleep was what he had needed, he feels refreshed, healed.

He had been anxious that she would haunt his dreams, but she hadn't.  Ewan was pleased she had not visited, had not found him here, he had escaped.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


Matt gets onto bus, all the seats are taken apart from one next to Katy who has put her bag on the empty space.

Is this seat taken?

Oh sorry, it’s free, it’s yours if you want it.


You’re welcome... I always put my bag on the empty seat, I'm so petrified I’ll get trapped in by some obese, smelly, mentalist.

The seats are usually all gone by the time I get on, I'm always frightened the ones that are left are next to some weirdo who wants to make awkward small talk with strangers.

Is that my cue to shut up?

Oh shit, that sounded really rude didn't it? Oh God I’ve sworn now! I'm so sorry, I'm not really a morning chat kind of person... Although I guess that’s obvious.

You’re not doing a particularly good job of hiding it if I'm honest.

I’ll tell you what, I’m going to get my book out, have a read at that, and when it’s my stop we’ll have an awkward goodbye and if I see you on the bus again we’ll pretend this never happened.

I'm looking forward to it already.

They both get books from their bags and begin to read.

A few moments pass.

This is my stop, bye.


Katy gets up and stands at the front of bus to get off, as she gets off Matt realises this is his stop too and
scrambles for his things.

On the street Katy walks away from the bus, Matt is a few steps behind and is unsure of his steps, knowing he looks as if he is following her. Katy is aware that someone is behind her and turns around to see who is there.

Should I be looking out my rape alarm?!

I know this does look a bit odd but I am genuinely walking this way.

Really?! Well if you keep your hands where I can see them, you can walk with me if you like.

Maybe you can help improve my morning conversation skills.

Hmmm, maybe... So where are you off to this morning then?

I'm starting a new job.

Oh, good luck, you looking forward to it?

Yeah. Well, I guess so. It’s just a bit daunting isn't it? All those new people, trying to make sure people like you and don’t think you’re a dick.

Seeing as I don’t even know your name yet but we’re talking like old friends, I'm guessing you won’t have any trouble fitting in.

Matt offers his hand.

How rude of me, I’m Matt.

Katy takes his hand and shakes it.

Katy, nice to meet you. This is my office building. The way this morning is going I don’t suppose this is where you’re going too?

Actually, yes, yes it is.

If I believed in a greater power I’d say fate was pushing us together.

They walk into the reception together.

I'm going into my office, have a lovely day.

I guess I’ll see you around.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Repetition: Part One

The silence lets Greg know that, for a few moments at least, it is over.

He rests his head in his hands and focuses all of his energy on not throwing up.  The nausea is just beginning to subside when another call beeps through to his headset.  Greg cannot bear the thought of regurgitating his script yet again and so hangs up on whoever it is that waits at the other end of the line - he hopes no-one is listening into his calls right now.

With bleary eyes he stares into the computer screen in front of him, his head is filled with half-remembered glimpses of what happened last night.  His skull aches attempting to retrieve the missing pieces from his evening, the events which led to Ally leaving that message this morning.  'What the fuck did I do?' he thinks to himself, but before he can contemplate the issue further he has to battle the urge to vomit.

Greg had read Ally's text message as he lay in bed, still drunk, this morning.  He groaned in shame before finding it strangely pleasing for the first thing he read in the day to be 'You are not a cunt x'.  It was just a pity such a positive statement could only be delivered to him after drunkenly harassing the man he is in love with.

It had been the strong pulsating vibrations of his mobile - alerting him to the existence of the message - which had roused Greg from his semi-comatose state.  There were still hours before he needed to get up for work but he only managed to doze off for a few more stolen minutes, the alcohol coursing around his body preventing him from gaining any more rest.  And now, the lack of sleep is telling on Greg's face; the stubble, the dark rings around his eyes, the red, boozy flush of his cheeks, all outwardly portray that he is tired and feels like shit.

Another call buzzes through.  Repeating the sales pitch his computer throws up at him, Greg realises several minutes into the conversation that he has not registered a single thing that he has said or done since it began.  Panic hits him and he attempts to zone in on what functions his body has performed whilst his mind has been pondering the many possible forgotten actions preluding Ally’s message being sent.  

After reading and re-reading the words Ally sent to him, Greg threw his mobile to the other side of his double bed filled with a sense of repulsion.  He turned his back on it as if it were a lover he was spurning.  Since then, he has not been in the mood to read the details of the calls he made, the catalogue of messages he sent and received whilst under the influence.  His stomach is not strong enough to deal with the reality of what is contained within the memory chips encased in the plastic box of his phone.  Greg does not want to access what secrets it holds and so it is switched off, in his pocket, burning into his skin - he is constantly aware of its presence.

On Greg's desk, the cup he filled from the water cooler as he entered the office is empty bar a few remaining drops of liquid.  If he had the energy he would go and get some more, but he does not, so he sits staring at his screen and feeling like he is dying.  Someone walks past his cubicle but his gaze does not avert from the computer.  He cannot look anyone in the eye through fear of what he said or did to them last night being mentioned.  The last thing Greg wants is to be reminded of his indiscretions.

With no warning things suddenly flash back to him, he can feel one of many glasses of wine in his hand, he is telling someone not to let him get too drunk - a comment which was clearly ignored, he angrily mutters "bastards" under his breath.

Memories of other nights where he has been the drunkest person at the party roll through his head.  Always unintentionally, Greg finds himself unable to realise when his body is saturated with alcohol and continues to funnel booze into his mouth, he resolves there and then that he is giving up drink for good.

Last night followed the standard routine of a night out for Greg, he had intended to have a few drinks then stick to water to stay fresh for work today.  Instead, as soon as he was standing at the bar all he wanted was to feel a bit out of himself, to distance his mind from his body which had spent the previous eight hours performing the most mundane and soulless of tasks.

From the brief comments thrown at him as he passed through the office on his way to his desk, Greg is certain of which pub they had stayed in for the evening.  Jumping back a few hours he can see himself sitting there, gulping down his third glass of wine, marvelling that he was starting to feel slightly worse for wear and enjoying the sensation.  Not that he tasted what he was drinking, swigging down the rich burgundy liquid it held no taste, he gasped between mouthfuls waiting for its effects to kick in.

Almost every shift at the call centre finishes with a few drinks, they are now an extension of Greg's working hours.  He and his workmates troop off to the pub en masse just as they do on their lunch hour and their speedy fag breaks before they have to log back onto their computers.

Greg hates working here.  During his shifts he can feel his brain slowly rotting as he performs actions which could just as easily be performed by an emotionally stunted robot.  He is the lead singer in a band, he has an Honours degree, he works the odd shift in a cool, arty pub - this was only supposed to be a stop gap until better things arose.  Better things have not appeared, and so Greg is reduced to drinking as much as is needed to help him cope with how let down he feels with life.

Although he does not even like the taste of wine, it is Greg's drink of choice as it gets him inebriated quickest.  At first he cannot stand the taste and takes only very small, measured sips.  Then, after a certain quantity - which he cannot quite pinpoint - he finds himself yearning for more of it and it begins to disappear quickly from his glass.  The warm feeling that it gives him in his belly spreads to his head and his groin.  He becomes emotional, yearning for love and affection - desperate to share his inner-most thoughts with those around him.  He is overly sensitive, beginning to feel rejected by those that he loves, all he desires is human contact.  This combination of sensations leads to one of two things, he either ends up crying that no-one cares about him, or he attempts to hump whoever is close-by.  Knowing this, Greg makes the reasonably safe bet that he cried down the phone to Ally, telling him he loved him and asking why Ally didn't love him back.  That or he invited him round to the flat for a fuck.  It is difficult to determine which scenario is more humiliating.

The fog in Greg's head is cleared by someone leaning over the side of his cubicle and attempting to discuss last night.  "...That was some good time we had, eh?  You ever get eating your chips, you were holding them while you spoke on the phone outside the club for fucking ages..." Greg does not look up, from the voice he deduces it is Dave but he has no interest in contributing to a conversation, he begins to talk on an imaginary call and only stops the pretence once he is sure Dave has wandered back to his own desk.

Greg's headache becomes more intense, aggravated by the chatter of people around about him and Dave's words ringing in his ears.  The smell of chips jumps to the forefront of his mind, he feels the gentle swaying of his body as he attempted to eat them.  Speech slowly filters through his brain, Greg hears himself speaking in a whiney voice as he tells Ally, "I am so sorry I'm calling you so late, I'm sorry I'm telling you all this but I really love you, I really do.  I am such a cunt I shouldn't have said anything, I'm sorry.  I'm such a cunt."  Greg squirms from utter, desperate embarrassment in his seat, he slams his head down on the desk and shuts his eyes as tight as he can, hoping somehow this will enable the memories to disappear back into the depths of his brain.