fiction, photography

THE EMPTY STATION

Chris R-1-78 Image by Christine Renney

The reception area is so vast that it easily engulfs all of those waiting. Each has found a space for themselves, somewhere to sit, to stand or to lean, even to pace, unhindered. Only he is unencumbered – he hasn’t a briefcase, no portfolio, no evidence of his brilliance. He has nothing to declare.
He watches the girl behind the desk and awaits his chance, the opportune moment to approach. Unlike the others, he hasn’t an appointment but instead a little insider info and a name and his plan is simply to wing it.
He isn’t sure if he is ready for what might be possible here and, standing in front of her, is suddenly aware of his ambivalence and casually he begins to improvise.
‘I don’t have an appointment.’
‘Oh,’ she looks up at him.
‘I know this is a little unorthodox but about eighteen months ago I worked with one of the employees here, freelance of course. He said that I should keep in touch, that I could contact him at any time. Well, I’ve been trying to reach him for days now, on the number I have for him, but keep hitting a wall and so I decided to come down here myself.’
This little speech rings in his ears, echoes in his head and sounds like utter bollocks. Even if it were true it couldn’t possible convince, could it? Surely not. But, yes, she asks it, the loaded question.
‘If you let me have your name,’ she says, ‘and the name of the employee I’ll see what I can do.’
And so he tells her and watches as she scrolls down the screen of her computer, searching for the name and number, for someone to call. He doesn’t bother to act incredulous, doesn’t pretend to be surprised when she tells him his colleague is no longer there. But although he isn’t really listening to the answers he already knows, when she asks him to go sit and wait he obeys.

It has all gone swimmingly and now that he is safely parked in lay-by a mile or so from there, he can give it some thought. It had worked like a charm; the name and his supposed association with a long since departed maverick. But his complacency had played its part, he had been impressive. They had repackaged their offer again and again. Coaxed him with the finer detail and all he had done was act aloof, as if he was about to get up and go.
Yes, without a doubt it had been the most auspicious of beginnings and eager to talk with his wife he reaches for his phone in the glove box, waiting impatiently for her reply.
‘It worked like a charm.’ It feels good saying it out loud but he now almost incoherent and the complete antithesis of his earlier self. Excitedly he blathers on, trying to tell it all at once, just what it will mean for them. A regular salary and the proposed bonus scheme, the health cover, the pension plan and the projected trajectory of promotion after promotion.
‘Are you sure about this?’ his wife sounds doubtful.
‘What do you mean?’
‘I mean are you absolutely sure about this?’
‘But we discussed this already, we decided together.’
‘Yes, I know, but aren’t you doing okay on your own? We’re all right aren’t we?’
‘Is it the deception? Because I lied?’
‘No, it isn’t that, well, yes maybe. I don’t know, I’m not sure. I know that you’re good at what you do and of course you will be good at it there and I know that it doesn’t matter, that we’ll forget but, I’m sorry, can we talk about it when you get home?’
‘Isn’t it a little late for that now?’
At her end she presses the red button and for a moment or so he sits with the phone clamped tightly against his ear to listen to the silence, to the highly charged static.

He is being led to his work station, not by one of the guys who last week conducted the impromptu interview. No, this is a fresh face, although following behind he hasn’t seen much of it.
The office is scarily large and he is reminded of a news room in one of those old black and white films, the chaos and the clamour. But he is mistaken, overwhelmed by the sheer scale and number of employees, all of whom are quietly engrossed at their screens. No, there is no chaos, no clamour here.
Up ahead, his guide is talking but he has fallen back and can’t hear. He can see the windows at the far end and hopes his desk will be in that area. At least then he will be able to look out.
And there it is at last – the empty station, his allotted space. He doesn’t stop but instead, forging forward, he pushes through the fire exit and wonders if it is alarmed.

Advertisements
Standard
art, fiction, life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Pure & broken

Emily-DiDonato-Nude-Narcisse-Magazine-Spring-Summer-2017-Cover-Editorial03Lie in bed

Child

Lest what stands beyond threshold

Threatens calm

Waking to the sound of winter silence

Clutching at inanimate objects

The seen friends who do not reply

Delve deeper into the mind

Where disturbance is held away

By merciful imagination

How long can a child

Pretend

And make-believe?

The sounds of fighting through the walls

Even the deaf hear

The crack in plaster grows wider

Each day carpet higher

Till jungle swallows child

Alone

Her own words ingrowing

Dance when no one is looking

For nobody did

Turned faces absentees

Hunger for attention

At first an annoying shame-faced thing

Then the end of longing

Acceptance

You placed me in a room of my own and said

Thrive

I did not

Instead

Half of me turned into plaster and chipboard and carpet fibers

And half climbed out windows and got lost

Letting her feathers be plucked early

By stranger fondling hands and false words

Prophet’s without prophecy

Girls born without reason

Growing in one ache

The silence their lover and their torment

Sliced in half

One, a creature straining to survive herself

One the albatross of finely dressed humans

Absenting themselves from responsibility

She says

You damned me

You shut me up

You expected me to thrive and grow in darkness and coal

As you closed the door and said entertain yourself

She switched the camera on and let them come one by one

Watch her fall beneath the lights

Mayhap dancer, mayhap pornographer

No words escape her

She moves her pain

Above you like light streaming down

Pure and broken into prisms

Standard
Uncategorized

Live again

The day I stopped feeling

It wasn’t a tap turned all the way to halt any drip

or wet socks left on radiator until cardboard stiff

through muslin sheet I felt a wistfulness

like poignant ending of a film

or sad story of someone else’s life

but you did not feel part of me anymore

when I touched your hand, it was flesh and blood

not a girl I was connected to

neither stranger, but some

distance stood solid like forging tree limbs

seeking electric charge from rain after storm has passed

I had moved beyond you without

marking the spot, I put down my heartache

this is surely the most human thing about us

our ability to keep going, not fall down and wither

knowing we are finite and fallen

watch a child lose a friend on Friday

gain another come Monday

grief is a litmus test

a sorrow we shrug on and eventually off

I convinced myself of devastation

when Tuesday brings change even as we don’t seek

it comes drawing out like elongated stretch

I never thought

I’d feel nothing

looking into your eyes

but you closed yourself off

In time, I began to look away

Into the distance

where the unknown glistened

like a mirage

of things bidden

by places within us

that say

O please

live again

Standard
prosetry

Every Mirror Holds Different News For Me

For a good twenty-five minutes she some young unknown sits in a blue Camaro parked with the engine running on the street in front of my house putting on makeup in the sun visor mirror while I contemplate the tree leaves and the idiosyncrasies of conversational American diction—they are changing color, the leaves, imperceptibly, as if each night deep in the middle under dark and cover yesterday’s foliage is replaced by today’s, fickle as interests and grammar. It’s the second time this has happened, this curbside dolling by this same someone on the way to someplace from somewhere else, once on a Saturday night, now on a Sunday morning, the only immediate difference being that I am no longer consumed by the small problems of sanity as I try to imagine what possessed her and for whose benefit these last-minute preparations are made.

Eventually she drives off—“in a small town everything is quickly over” yet some of us like to wrestle with incidental eternity as if it’s the converse though I usually wear Vans to front on the fact that I’m a poor hustler because I don’t know why, don’t know why there must be such fear in me, such small town awareness, here, made up, then gone, the intoxicating thrill of necromancy wafting superfluous like bad analogies and perfume on careless breezes before the maddening ice cream truck jingle monotony of ease, comfort, and simplicity snuff out these little conquests of attention. Let’s start this story over. Welcome to the city, to the refuge and the pulpit, where whatever gets rid of the terror will get rid of the wonder as well and, well, it’s fair field and no favour to suggest we here are tethered to the past by knowledge like anywhere else though the future grows up through cracks in the concrete like imagination and young women in blue Camaros who stop on side streets to put their faces on. But that’s just so much distraction. Where did you go, normalcy, and what will you be wearing when you read this, I wonder, superficialities of attitude and style subverting any comprehension of why honesty full and brutal is so hard to imagine out on the town without rejection while a life of sufficiently partitioned duplicity is well within reach. Yes, let’s start this story over, this time without the constraints of contradiction, each part and every to its fullest free and ready to embrace the impermanence of some great singularity.

Standard
life, poetry, prosetry

Fantasy girl

37945898_225058491668746_2704218410081845248_nShe

has a fantasy girl

her fantasy girl

who is not hers at all

doesn’t know she exists

because existence is

overrated

like a star struck teen

or perhaps not at all like that

more a wreckage that has refused

to completely destroy

that last ember that says

please have some hope

things can be different

she climbs outside of the

mistrust and inability to believe

all the lies people have told her

in such a short life OH how many there were

she puts aside this giant reality

which of course in the real world she never could

because it’s proven itself too many times

to be the most real thing she knows

in this fantasy land

she trusts and believes words people tell

which of course would be suicide

if she wasn’t making it up

but here she is untouched

by the horror of trusting a promise

having it burn through your skin

into your oily marrow

as a lie

here, she controls the fluted outcome

and it is golden

her fantasy girl

you may not look at twice

walking down the street

she isn’t the beauty some of those

she shared a bed with were

she doesn’t have the tawny hair of girl 2

or the azure eyes of girl 5

or the coltish legs of girl 3

she doesn’t even possess

a particularly pleasing shape

or long neck or soft bottom lip

but she is incapable of deception

won’t lie even under pressure

isn’t going to tell you what you want to hear

or feel pressured to appease your query

she will

take you in her arms

and honestly give a damn

if she had scars

missing hair

ingrowing toe nails

threadbare clothes

faded underwear with stretched out elastic

and an unflattering sag

she’d be the best girl she ever let inside

where once there was only bleach and scouring brushes

from cleaning out heartache

now, she can open

the latched window to the garden

smell the chasing breeze of fresh air

knowing she’s not going to be burned in some

unguarded moment

like you feel when

you put everything into a bag

give it to someone and say

here, here I am, TAKE ALL OF ME

but be gentle, I am breakable

the person nods and promises eagerly

because they have yet to

try you out

but once they do and it becomes

an old thing, a worn thing, something

already accomplished

you are the yellowed paper

of yesterday’s fish and chips

tossed into a cold fast running river

sinking … sinking … sinking

she will take anything

even a sharp knife or a thick rope

or two fistfuls of pills and a warm oven

over that kind of destruction

where you feel scouged and robbed

of any ability whatsoever to

believe a single WORD

about love and forever and promises

they are the sticky gooey false

stomach sickening lies

that close your wind pipe

keep you vomiting over a dirty toilet seat

in your pretty dress you stupidly bought

thinking it would be such a lovely day

no let’s not return to that place again

even if it means giving up on

all of it

living instead

in the barrel of a gun

when you fire

you turn to

silver

 

Standard