fiction, life


chris-r-0334 Image by Christine Renney

The day after his eldest brother had taken his own life the boy’s dad drove into work. The boy was eighteen, a man but watching his dad from the passenger seat he felt like a child. His dad, braving it in the faces of the speechless, made no demands that day. And the boy did what he did, which was nothing.
Over the next few days the boy’s dad heard from the others. They all said that nobody would have, that nobody could have, known.


Paper Defences

The moment he met her for ‘that drink’, he knew he would be fucked. Her eyes would burn away his paper defences, and in the floating motes of ash he would see the end of his life, a reveal of a future cast in black shadow, pain and intolerable pleasure. For now her only hooks in his flesh and soul were her words, but it was already too much. 

art, fiction

The Repenter

Mother and I got off the T at Fenway. The homeless roamed about outside 711. There was one, a bit off from the horde, sitting on the ground, eyes closed. Mother told me to go to that one. I did. The smell was thick and unpleasant.

“Excuse me, may I talk with you for a minute?” I said. He looked up. He was young. His beard was all patches, crowding his dirty face.

“Okay,” he said; his voice clear and pleasant.

“I have an assignment for school. I have to find someone less fortunate than myself and ask them how they ended up that way.”

The man frowned.

“So you think you are more fortunate than I?” he said, looking around himself and smiling. My cheeks burned, but I managed a half-nod.

“Hm. Well, good. If you must know, I am this way by choice. I am punishing myself.”

“For what?” I asked.

“For what my soul has done.”

He chuckled at the confused look on my face.

“I have the soul of Adolf Hitler,” he said without humor, “do you believe in reincarnation?”

I shrugged. “I think Mother does.”

“Smart lady. Well, I spent a long time exploring the idea of reincarnation. That led me to this festival, here in Boston. It was a sort of communal meditation to feed off of each other’s energy and see our past lives. And, as you might guess, I saw Adolf Hitler. I didn’t just see him. I felt him, all of his hate.

After that, I came right here to this spot, sat down, and here I will stay until the universe feels penance has been paid.” He smiled again, awkwardly.

“Penance?” I asked.

“Yes, payment for my sins. I thought about chopping off a limb or perhaps burning myself a little to speed up the process but, it seems Hitler was a coward as well.” He sighed.

“Oh, okay.” I couldn’t think of anything else to say.

“Is that what you needed?” He asked.

“I-I think so.”

“Lovely, well, have a nice day then.” The man who was Hitler laid down onto his side and began to snore. I turned around and found Mother standing next to the street. She saw me and quickly dropped her cigarette behind her back. I rolled my eyes and walked towards her.

“Get what you need?” She asked, chewing a bit of gum.

“I guess.”

“Great! What should we get for lunch?”

“You choose.”

“Sushi it is!”



Miraculous Mistake

In my dream there had been a terrible or rather brilliant mistake in which you were in fact still alive but had just been in hospital for a while and I said Oh dear, mother threw all your stuff away so your flat is empty but don’t worry we can buy you new stuff, it might even be fun, and you were asking about my brother and my writing and if I’d been going to therapy and then wanted to know if I’d got your money, keys, phone, glasses, medicines and well you were pretty pissed off at the whole thing to be honest and didn’t understand how or why we thought you were dead but I was so indescribably happy that you were okay that nothing mattered and I said Wait, so if you’re alive, who the fuck was inside that coffin we burnt? and we laughed and laughed and got a taxi down to your empty flat and when we got inside you looked around and lit a rollup and said Ahh it feels good to be home babes but I couldn’t quite believe you were really there so I held onto your arms because I thought maybe it was a trick but you were warm and alive and moving and breathing and talking and in your flat and you said you were Feeling a bit tired actually so we sat on the floor and I had my arms around you and I was saying You’re safe now Daddy, you’re safe, you’re safe now, you’re safe, you’re safe, you’re safe and then this morning I woke up to the sound of my voice saying “You’re safe” and I genuinely thought that you were alive until I saw the little shrine I made for you by the window and then I remembered that you’re not here anymore and my little heart broke all over again and my God I’ve never wanted a crazy miraculous mistake to happen as much as I do right now


1) Quit, 2) Shave, 3) Do Nothing

Step One: Quit

I quit today. Or at least I gave my intent to end my current job – my last day will be 31st January 2017. When I hit send on the notifying email I felt a surge of happiness. Sure Mr.Corporation, I need your money coming into my bank account, but I don’t need your shit. I smiled for the first time in weeks – I felt like a new man.

I have neglected myself of late, but handing in my notice was the first step to doing something I want to do with my life – trouble is, I have no idea what is that ‘thing’.

Step Two: Shave

I shaved today. This may sound a small step, but I always find that shaving my head is another indication of change within me; a reminder when I look in the mirror each morning; to stay determined, move forward and not tread water. I may get another tattoo.

In the shower I continued to other parts of my body. When the razor took away the last few hairs from my neglected scrotum, the feeling of the smooth, lickable skin of my ballsack and shaft made me smile – I was feeling a new man, in more ways than one.

Step Three: Do Nothing (for as long as possible)

I am taking February off from work, but I do not know what to do with myself; how best to use that time. I suspect I’ll shave again during this month, but other options are welcome – any suggestions for me and my smooth balls?




chris-r-0922 Image by Christine Renney

Dalton was not the first to arrive and if he hadn’t noticed the others (a handful of men standing at the edge of the road gazing out across the field) he wouldn’t have slowed, wouldn’t have pulled off and up onto the verge. Only then did he turn and see the smoke rising in the distance, a grey and dense column.
Dalton climbed from his car and, as he walked across to where the others stood, he looked toward the burning building. A mansion in flames, it was most certainly something that he wanted to see.
Joining the group he asked, ‘What happened?’
He regretted this instantly, wished that he could take the question back, realised just how inane it must have sounded but at last one of the men mumbled, ‘Don’t know.’
And Dalton was able to breathe again and along with these men he stood in silence watching the house burn and watching the fire fighters who from so far away appeared small and inadequate. They scurried about in front of the blaze and quite clearly weren’t up to the task at hand. They couldn’t get close enough, couldn’t touch it and attempting to contain it they set up cannons and fired water into the air. But it couldn’t be controlled and they hadn’t any choice but to let it run its course. All they could really do was stand back and wait for the fire to burn itself out.
Dalton was pleased by this, excited even, and furtively he glanced at the men standing beside him. They were all of them quietly engrossed and he quickly turned his attention back toward the burning edifice.
Behind him others had begun to arrive, he listened to them talk. They were questioning and speculative and Dalton realised that if he had arrived just a little later he would be in this group. But now he was part of something else entirely, something much more intense.
The man in front of him, the ‘don’t know’ man, stepped onto the grass verge and pushed through a gap in the hedge. Dalton followed and so did one of the others. Together all three of them then moved out onto the open field and away from the noisy, gathering rabble.
Dalton glanced back and was surprised to find the rest of the original group were still standing on the other side of the hedge, had decided not to follow and were already turning and, gesticulating, they joined the throng.
Dalton tried to concentrate on the fire but couldn’t, the moment was getting away from him. Awkward and uncomfortable, he wondered if they were talking about him, if they, the three who had foolishly and pointlessly ventured a little closer, were now a topic of conversation.
It struck Dalton, but just momentarily, that it was like watching a scene from a film but it was far too real and much too big and the camera didn’t cut away in order to reveal something else.
He looked up and watched the smoke spiralling into the sky. Looking down Dalton noticed, for the first time, the ambulances parked off to the far right. It was an enclave of activity, the paramedics moving purposefully back and forth and the dazed survivors wandering aimlessly.
Dalton realised that they couldn’t see, not from the road and he suddenly felt less self-conscious, was in fact decidedly buoyant and able to watch again.


2015 Ashley Lily Scarlett

art, photography



Dreary Garden Fun

There were a million people in the park that night and they were all walking into each other and yelling at each other periodically or at least muttering under their breaths God it was… Well it doesn’t matter I suppose it’s all in how you look at things some people I suppose were having a good time and I suppose others were having bad times and I suppose it all reflected more on the person having the time than the kind of time it actually was. I had been up for too long, in my opinion it was too long to be awake and then to go to such an event, I suppose I have a very bad understanding of energy and how much of it I need and how much of it I can pull out of the air.

We were made to park far away, although later on an acquaintance of mine would pull into the park and get offered preferred parking for no reason at all…I suppose there must have been some reason. We parked far away and we walked across the parking lot and across the road and past the ditches and across another road and the whole time we were dogged by a rolling train that they called a tram. It was full of people on the way out and empty on the way in and it rattled and the conductors passive-aggressively ran us off the pathways because didn’t we know we were supposed to take the tram and not walk the half a mile across no man’s land to the park entrance? Well no, we didn’t know, and anyway there was a mob around the boarding station of the tram that reminded me of the idea I have of the Soviet republic. God knows when you would have gotten on that tram.

And when we got there to the park it was a million degrees below zero and there were a million people all milling about and hitting each other and ramming into each other’s ankles with their strollers and I wanted them all dead and the Christmas music was nice but did it have to be so loud and tinny and yet many people managed to have a good time, I suppose because they had paid dearly for these tickets or because they were many of them simpletons or God knows maybe they were working too many hours during the week and had no time for leisure and so they thought this was fun…

My friend was wearing a jean jacket and jeans and a tshirt and expensive sneakers and nothing else and I was about to die how cold it was I couldn’t feel my feet and he just ran around buying Kahlua and hot chocolate mixed together by people who looked like they were half dead and he ran around back and forth I supppose he had an okay time, we didn’t talk about it. But I suppose it was my fault the whole thing I hope I never go back but I might I can’t say that I won’t since I always seem to find myself in these situations.