fiction, photography

SHRUNKEN

Chris R-1-172 Image by Christine Renney

I am stopping more often, and for longer, and I have places where I take cover and can hide. I have fallen into a routine of sorts and I know when it is most likely these places will be deserted and when it is least likely I will be noticed.
I shelter in the doorway of an abandoned shop and watch the rain. The storm is raging overhead and, looking up, I step out into it. In just a few seconds I am soaked through and my clothes are sodden and heavy.
The street is busy. I have misjudged this particular place at this time and shoppers caught in the downpour are rushing to and fro.
I turn back to the empty shop but someone brushes past me and a woman is now standing where moments before I had been. She is smiling, apologising, ‘sorry’, and moving to one side she motions for me to join her. ‘no’ I shake my head, ‘no’ but reaching she takes my arm and pulls me back and together we stand in the doorway watching the busy street.
Suddenly I am tired, exhausted and I feel overwhelmed. But it is more than the fatigue; I am also elated. I hadn’t realised I could still need this, that I could feel it again.
I move back and leaning against the glass I sit. The woman is looking down at me and delving into her bag she pulls out a ten pound note ‘here, go on, take it’.

I open my eyes. It is still raining. The street is busy and shoppers still rush this way and that. Have I been sleeping? If so, for how long? Has it been just minutes or hours? Is it possible I have slept right through, around the clock or thereabouts?
I glance at my wrist, pointlessly because I no longer have my watch but it is an old, old habit and remembering it now I feel odd.
The woman has gone but I still have the ten pound note she gave me balled in my fist. Standing, I thrust my hands deep into my pockets.
The jeans are too big and my t-shirt is too loose and ragged. I feel shrunken inside them and I sense that it has been more than minutes, that I have been in this dank doorway for too long and I should move on.
I step onto the street and walk calmly amongst the shoppers. Everything is wet out here and my clothes, the t-shirt and my heavy sodden jeans cling to my skin. At least until I can get dry they have taken on my shape again and carefully I make my way. Although I don’t know to where I keep walking.

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fiction, photography

CATHEDRAL

Chris R-1-166 Image by Christine Renney

They say that familiarity breeds contempt. I’m not quite there yet but this place has begun to grate a little, to nag and gnaw at me. Feels as if I have conjured it up from out of nowhere and I’m not sure why or how.
A tiny square in a sprawling city, a city that can’t be contained. It is spreading and thriving despite the degradation, all the empty and dilapidated buildings.
I have settled here and I stay until I have the cash, enough for what I need. And in order to get it, I walk elsewhere, a little farther each time. And yet still I keep making my way back.

I awake in the grounds of the Cathedral. Hands in the short and wiry grass, I push myself up and gaze down at the City. I try to pick out the place from which I set out, the one to which I keep on making my way back. But it is so vast, a dense and cubist scrawl. For months now I have been walking further and further from this particular part of the City in order to find an off-licence with an unfamiliar face across the counter. Someone who won’t recognise me as I purchase the bottles and the cans I need. And this time I didn’t turn myself around. I kept on walking for longer than was necessary and eventually I settled down.

Glancing up at the Cathedral I shudder to think that I have slept here in the grass; in this carefully tended, this perfectly and painstakingly manicured graveyard and, that as I did, someone tidied around me, removing the strewn cans, even prizing the almost empty bottle from my hand. Taking it and the last few drops I hadn’t quite managed to drain.

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fiction, photography

MORE

Chris R-1-135 Image by Christine Renney

I have money now, just a few coins, and gripping them tightly, I delve deep into the lining of my coat as I walk. I work a coin between my thumb and forefinger. I take them out and move them from hand to hand. I thrust the coins deep into the pocket of my jeans only to take them out again and again. I can’t stop doing this, looking at them, checking.
I drop one of the coins and it rolls out into the road. I run after it, suddenly worried that someone will take it. I stamp down on it with my boot and, crouching down at the kerbside, I quickly snatch it back. I have wandered away from the centre and there is no-one around.
Rising I place the coin with the others in my pocket. I have an odd feeling inside. It is something like purpose and yet I haven’t any idea what it is I intend to do.
I reach a parade of shops and, stopping in front of the plate glass windows of the off-licence, I peer in at the bottles, at the wine and the spirits. I don’t have enough but then I see cans of lager in the cooler at the back of the shop.
Although I am still unsure that this is what I want or what I need, I am already pushing through the doors and I know how it works; I spend what I have and then I get more.

Can alcohol still take hold? Get inside and make its demands? Or am I too full of holes and will it seep through the scars?
I have separated the can from its companions, freed it from the plastic ring and set it down in front of where I am sitting. Leaning back I stretch my legs out across the pavement and I can’t reach the can between my feet.
The others, the passers by, are forced to step over me and many of them glare angrily and I am glad of it. I don’t want some good Samaritan crouching down beside me. But if I sit here for long enough and drink myself into a stupor I know, of course, that this will happen.
What I want is for one of them to knock the can over and I don’t care if it is intentional or not, as long as I can watch the lager pool onto the pavement, the damp patch spreading between my legs and soaking into my trousers.
But despite their impatience and the scowls, the passers by are graceful, balletic even, and they don’t touch me and they don’t knock the can.
If I were to draw in my legs and reach out, snatch the can and drink from it would I feel it? Can I still know it? Can a ghost carry that conflict and walk with it?

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life, poetry, Uncategorized

Night becomes us

pexels-photo-240174 - Copy

I push people away

as they pushed away from me when I first learned

that’s what people do

so run ahead and do it first

you might tell them your real age, or show them the scars in your skin, that usually does it

with online trolls who really only want a

mirror little narcissist

you might show them your face and all the welts that

lay invisible and divisible like trails of tears

finding only drought

you might reveal your defeats and play join the dots

with stories for each one and then you may

know me just a little

except I don’t want to be known and even as I write

I remain anonymous to myself

the perpetuation of a dream instead

where we dance sweaty and disordered with our hair

collapsed like flamenco skirts in rivers of ruffles

two people with thick manes and thin skin

I taste blood on your lower lip and the depth of it

makes a vampire of me

your pulsing neck is salty from your keening

we interlace our hands like church mice and bad girls and best friends and artful dodgers

I feel your fingers pulsing within me as together we cleave

so much comes from a body who wants and so little from one who does not

when I see you, I want to close my eyes and hold onto the image

how you stand, the light caressing your flawless skin as

oil might run her rivets down your elongation

If choice were a bird, I’d choose you again

And once more, with the release of my lips from yours

A song passed between mouths like a key

Open my heart, keep yourself there

If choice were a thought, I’d choose you again

And once more, with the capture of your ebony and ivory

You, who is seamstress to my soul, play your flute

I hear it behind my eyes in the vault of my trust

If you were a dream I should better wish to wake

Our drowsy love may keep us drugged by its tempest

Sleeping in the passion of your touch

As sun sets and night becomes us

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life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Untitled #39

I forget

What I lived for back then

Maybe just hope

That indefinable future stretching unknown

It always baffled me how the young

Could give up and try to die

When there was always hope

And some sympathy for their tender years

I want to say to them

Wait until you get here

Then the going gets quiet

People don’t check on you

There is no sympathy for your failing

We’re supposed to be stronger

What doesn’t kill us, right?

Not true

Everything that’s destroyed me did not

Make me more resilient

That’s a lie we tell ourselves and our friends

Or maybe for some it’s a truth

Not for me

I feel with every battering less and less

Less willing to stand and fight

For why?

The illusion things will change?

The care that rarely solidifies

I am so good at lifting others up

So poor at building my house

Because I gave my faith to them

And made nothing for myself

Instead I hear, the voices of the past

Telling me why I’m worthless

And it isn’t just the past

It’s recent and the scar

Never heals

I am

Broken

I survived only to

Fall

I am hurt beyond description

I ache and feel pain every hour

Nothing I do seems to change

The sorrow of every day

It’s too easy to dismiss it away as

Clinical depression

It is not

I simply wish I could safely die

I wouldn’t even feel guilty anymore

I’m too tired to care

Maybe when you’re not cared about that’s what happens

I find it hard to understand why more don’t share my sentiment

I don’t enjoy life

I have no purpose

I have been left by those I loved

I stand alone

Not blaming anyone

Just seeing through

The bullshit

I wish right now

Life were a dream and death reality

An external sleep

No trespass no hope

It has long been gone

And I have tried for ages to hide my belief

There is no point

For whom?

There is a crack in my heart that runs so deep

Maybe it was all a mistake

I wish I could rewind until

I ceased and never had been

It is hard to want to undo yourself

As you continue to flourish

I am tired of trying

I feel that’s all I’ve ever done

It’s a bit of a delusion

Trying and being in pain

Why try? For whom?

If there is no one

I hear the bus

Letting off children

I remember

Being a child

I wasn’t happy then

It’s not who I am

My mother was right though she was wrong

Maybe I’m a lesson from which others learn

There isn’t as much meaning in everything

As we are told

Sometimes we just exist without meaning

And it’s ugly and long

Too long

I wish I didn’t know

How most books

End

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fiction

THE KNIGHT PERHAPS

chris r-1-56 Illustration by Christine Renney

Cocooned in my parka, head down, I walk. I keep to the edges of the pavement and I follow the cracks between the slabs and in this way I cover my patch. I tug at my hood just to be sure; a habit I can’t, or won’t, break, and I scan the ground at my feet. When I spot a cigarette butt, a good one, I reach down and snatch it and place it in my pocket along with the others.
I must appear erratic, resemble a chess piece, the rook, or the knight perhaps, my movements awkward and jerky. Any progress I make is difficult to determine as I trek the board, seeming to endlessly fail at making my way across.
But I don’t raise my head and I don’t know if anyone is watching. I suspect that when I am noticed it is fleetingly and that they steer clear. I am just somebody scuffling, a scavenger.
There are plenty of cigarette butts but I only collect the good ones. The best are those that have been pinched or stubbed out before being dropped and not stamped upon. But I’ll take any that might still contain a little tobacco rather than just dry dust and ash. And I have become adept at spotting these and I know when to reach down and which ones to gather. Throughout the day I fill my pockets and when they are full I leave, I abandon the board.
I never stray far from the Centre now and I settle behind the bins at the back of Pound Saver. I empty my pockets and set to work, rubbing with my thumb and forefinger I remove the burnt tips. Stripping the paper away, I pull out all the good tobacco and without wasting a single stringy strand I drop it, one pinch at a time, into the tin. When it is full and the tobacco is tightly packed, as I roll the first cigarette, just fleetingly I am content.

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