Friday, 23 July 2010

Dragon 2009

I am the girl that draws dragons at work. Including this one.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Now included in:

with three poems and of course some great writing by other writers too.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Skin Sin

-This short story was originally published on The Cadaverine Magazine website in 2008 ( and then featured in The Cadaverine Anthology in 2009 which used to be sold in Borders, and now... I'm not sure where it's sold.

“Are you sure you want to do this?”

I nodded knowing that I wasn’t. Next to my lavender and geranium oils were the pills, massive white things, little corpses asking me to join them. Geranium did not make me any happier, lavender didn’t settle my mind. Jonny stared at me and I found myself simply blinking in response, as if that was the only thing I could do, as if every single sinking and rising movement of my eyelids was a great achievement, like it was the only thing I needed in the world. And at that precise moment I suppose it was.

I would prolong the feeling of hunger by not eating because I wanted to see how thin I could get. I wanted to see my skin stretch over my bones, the traitor and liar of a skin I had, pale and useless. I enjoyed feeling my muscles struggle, screaming for nourishment. Nobody cared at work. They had their own anorexia to deal with amongst other more consumer driven dilemmas. Big brand coffee and designer purses.

Most of the customers coming in assumed I was gay for being a skinny white boy working in a natural cosmetics shop. They didn’t use that word but delved into their minimal vocabularies to find better and harsher replacements. They never said anything.

But I could still hear them.

And I assume that’s how it happened. The depression came seeping through my skin and made it my enemy, the false shelter against exterior dangers. Because the real danger was inside me. I could tell because Christina kept snapping at me, for almost anything I did. Bought the wrong bread. Chewed too loudly. Changed the channel in the middle of the ad she found interesting to analyse. Christina thrived on picking adverts apart and explaining conscious and unconscious goals within them. It was as if the Holy Grail was somewhere inside them, or an explanation for the meaning of life. I knew nothing could explain the meaning of life, and Christina hated me for my scepticism. I just thought I was being realistic.

“I don’t think I want to do this anymore,” she said one evening, licking the spoon clean of chocolate pudding.

“What do you mean?” I said, foolishly thinking that she was talking about late night desserts or the art of spoon licking. There was metal shining through, and for a moment her tongue looked absurd. The reflection in the spoon made her tongue look like a cow’s tongue, but for a second I thought that distorted red thing was attached to hers. I wondered why the spoon and the real world had merged, or how I had been able to perceive it so. Not knowing what was an exaggerated mirror image for what was really there. I knew Christina’s tongue so well.

“Us,” she added. So it had finally happened. My heart shattered when she said it, but I had to agree. I loved her for everything she was, her smooth dark skin was perfection against my pale enemy. But it would never work between us, we both knew it when we first got together yet we defied it; moving in together and being a couple for seven years. Slowly her things began to disappear from our flat, along with her presence. I was supposed to move too; there was not a chance that I could afford our flat on my own but I couldn’t bring myself to get started.

The stench of old food kept spreading. I found it difficult to locate the source, but I guessed it was between the grease stained bags somewhere, scattered over the floor. All I thought about was Christina. She was everywhere in the flat, her body had left an imprint only I could see on everything I owned. It strained my lungs, brought fire to my throat. And my skin seemed to devour me, the white ghost crawling over me, clawing for my bones. My twig fingers could only dig so deep into my skull. And my skin wouldn’t relax, my chest felt like it would explode. The next moment I was alright but hollow, empty and useless. I felt guilty for everything. I felt bad for keeping her for as long as I did. When I could motivate myself to move I thought I had to do something about my anxiety attacks.

First solution: self harm. How many times had I read or watched films about poor anxiety-filled youths that cut themselves to ease their inner pain? Not perhaps the most efficient method but it saved me from pouring my heart out to some shrink. I rushed into the bathroom and grabbed my razor. I had to stare at it for a while to really contemplate what I was going to do, and then, very frightened, I let it glide over my arm. The adrenaline wouldn’t allow much me to take notice of pain and as I looked down I saw that there was no mark. Braver, though I felt more scared now than before, I did it again, forcing it down and when I felt that it cut through skin I swished it quickly across my arm. It stung like a right bastard, but left only two minor caverns. Nothing to brag about and nothing worth hiding. It began to burn quite ferociously but my inner angst was still there. Only now instead of being miserable I was miserable and in pain.

Second solution: Shrink. I saw a nurse a week after booking a spot in their busy schedule and she let me know, quite patiently, that it was only my GP who could refer me to a counsellor, and that this counsellor only allowed six visits before deciding if psychiatric treatment was necessary or not. I booked an appointment for the following week, repeating what to say inside my head, writing a whole script. The idea was to convince him I was not another lovesick guy, yet maintain my problems inside me. There was a lot of history that I didn’t wish to share so quickly.

It was a young doctor. I mentioned my problems and why I was there. I told him about the fear of my skin eating me alive but fearing for it to break so anyone would be allowed to see me for what I really was. He thought I was joking and asked me to specify why I needed to see a counsellor. Like it was a test. Then he suggested going to the gym. I squirmed in my chair, feeling my nails pressing into the palms of my hands. The pain now, was good.

“Working up a sweat releases endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. There’s an eight week queue to see Margaret, our counsellor. You may want to think about exercise first and if that doesn’t help maybe we can put you onto the list.”

I felt shamed, and panicky. I murmured something about hating the gym. That it was a place I could see the anxiety return ten-fold. But he wasn’t taking me seriously.

“How ‘bout aerobics? A lot of men do it, it gives a great trim.”

But I knew what he meant.

“You’ll feel happier and perhaps shed some calories.”

Apparently my starvation didn’t show. So I felt further shamed. He named gyms and lessons, and prices. Asked about my availability, and snorted at my reluctance and part time job. I could see his biceps perfect under the white coat. I answered him but I wasn’t really listening. All I could think of was my skin. The way I wanted to rip it off, the way I’ve seen it done to snakes in documentaries. A slash in the middle and the skin pulled off. Tenderises the meat. I wanted to do that to his biceps. See the muscles well out. He thanked me for coming, and said to return if the gym failed.

Solution three: Suicide. Endorphins could not solve any of my inner dilemmas. If I had taken up sports, every morning before work, I would be the happiest miserable man in the world. And I would eventually have killed myself. I decided to skip the middle section and just go for death.

Deciding on the method became my reason to get up in the morning. My life mattered very little to the world when I was alive. I wanted my death to be meaningful. I wanted to be remembered, not only as statistic. I did research. I read books about the science of death, the religion in death, the philosophy and psychology of death. It was like an obsession, to die. I searched the internet, and stumbled into some odd sites and they proved to be exactly what I was looking for.

Meeting Jonny I kept thinking of that German man who ate his friend. Jonny showed his camera proudly, a new one with better frame quality than the last.

“Have you done this before?” I asked.

“Nothing so extreme. But it’ll sell well. I’ll see to it that your name will be remembered in certain circles. Wasn’t that what you wanted?”

He spoke of me as if I was already dead.

“And about the method, are you scared of any kind of pain? I don’t mind at all if you want to bring your own stuff, you know. I ain’t paying you any, so you should choose how to go.”

I kept wondering what kind of snuff films this man had done before. I hope it had nothing to do with rape or animal torture. I felt disgusted being near him, his yellow grin was greedy and mean. And it reminded me of why I was doing it in the first place.

“I wouldn’t know what to take.” I was so shit at cutting my arm with a razor, I wouldn’t even want to know what would happen with heavier methods.

“I feel quite creative. How ‘bout a mixture? Drugs. Sedatives. Poisons. I wonder what happens when you do a mix of things. Might make the film more interesting.”

I shrugged. He spoke of it like the GP had talked about exercise.

“One condition,” I said. “There must be a gun there. I’ll take whatever you want, but if I can’t handle it, if you give me something to prolong my death, I want the quick option next to me.”

I realised that it wouldn’t offer me much security. I might not be able to control my hands and I had a feeling that Jonny wouldn’t exactly be the type to finish me off at the request. He would film it and rejoice if I pleaded for mercy.

I said my name into the camera and promised that I had fully agreed to kill myself and be filmed doing it, allowing the film to be distributed in whichever underground societies it would find its way into. I stared at those pills, they all looked the same but I knew that this was the experiment he was after, making sure I had no idea what I was taking. Huge white soulless things. They kind of looked like enemas.

Without much thinking my skin settled nicely over my bones and I felt at home with myself. My hair smelled of naturally scented soap, honey and vanilla. I rose and thanked Jonny.

“Where the fuck do you think you’re going?”

“I have decided against death and for life,” I said humbly, proud of myself for finally being able to make a decision.

“We had a contract!”

“We had a verbal agreement, and as you aren’t paying me I think that I should be able to choose life over death if I so wish. Don’t worry man, I won’t give you up or anything. Let’s see it as if we haven’t met ever before.”

But Jonny resembled a bull more than a man, his red cheeks swallowing his glistening eyes.

I walked away and found that my happiest moment in life, was a second before I heard the gun blast and felt a bullet punch through my skull.