prosetry

RudeTube

The day after the November 2015 Paris attacks

I was standing on the platform with my eyes shut, listening for the familiar rumble of the northbound train. As the train was pulling up I saw how busy it was and thought, Saturday night, last tube out of town, of course it’s packed, I definitely won’t get a seat, bugger. But then the carriage that stopped in front of me had an empty bit where nobody was sitting or standing, an uncharacteristic gap in the sardines. I gathered that somebody’s obviously thrown up everywhere or that perhaps there’s an unconscious drunkard lying on the floor. Wincing at the prospect of the smell of piss and/or vomit accompanying me all the way to the last stop, I got on the train. But there was nothing there. Only a young man, dressed in traditional Islamic clothing, sitting quietly with two bags of groceries at his Adidas-clad feet. I was baffled. All of the seats around him were free and clean and dry and yet everyone else was standing by the doors and acting shifty. I looked at the other passengers for an explanation, thinking I must have missed something, but they all looked away or looked down or inspected their fingernails, so I said What the fuck? and sat down opposite the young man. I gave him a brief nod, took my book from my handbag and began to read, and then the man said to me, Thank you, and I said, I’m sorry

 

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fiction

PET NAMES

chris-r-0694 Image by Christine Renney

The boy’s dad took to calling the boy’s mum a shit-faced whore. He bandied these words without malice, it was just a nickname, a term of endearment and one of many but this was the one he had settled on, that had won out over the others.

‘Where is she? What’s she doing, the shit-faced whore?’ ‘Fetch my keys and make some tea, you shit-faced whore?’
‘Go and get me this and then do that, you shit-faced whore’
‘Oh, look at her, look at her face, the shit-faced whore’

The words tripped so lightly from his dad’s mouth that the boy didn’t really hear them, they hardly registered. But when his girlfriend heard his dad talking like this she had been stunned. The boy was shocked at the level of her anger, by just how indignant she became, although later his dad made her laugh and she began not to accept but to tolerate it. She even told him off ‘You shouldn’t call her that,’ she told him, ‘you really shouldn’t.’
And eventually he did stop, it had run its course and he started to call her by a different name.

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