SLM Meets Oasis – Installment 2 – The Oasis Boys’ Texan Adventure – by KATE JONES

The Oasis Boys’ Texan Adventure

 

‘Welcome to 2016, boys!’ Kelly says.

‘And Austin, Texas…?’ Kate says, eyes wide as saucers, looking around Kelly’s living room. ‘Hey, Kel, you got a real shot-gun?’

‘Kate, not everybody in Texas owns a shot-gun, you watch too much TV,’ Kelly says.

She starts fiddling around, re-arranging perfectly arranged cushions on the sofa, pushing her kids’ toys out of the way. She invites the Gallagher brothers to sit.

To be fair, they’d taken the change in time frame and location, from a dank Manchester evening into a bright fall day in Austin in their stride, bumpy landing into Kelly’s living room and all. They shrugged coolly and sat down on the sofa beside one another.

‘Make yourselves at home, guys!’ Kelly gushes, fussing around them.  She beams prettily.  She’s in her element here.  ‘Wow! I can’t believe I have the actual Gallagher brothers in my living room!’ she whispers.

Gee rolls her eyes at Kate and Jamie.

‘Huh, so, like what are we supposed to do with them now we have them here?’ Gee says, fidgeting with her handbag.

‘Gee, they’re people, not toys!’ Kelly chides.

The friends look at one another.  Liam is stroking the giant TV screen admiringly, like it’s a portal to another universe.  Noel is perfecting a nonchalant expression, black thick eyebrows knitted together.

‘Shoot some pool?’ Jamie offers helpfully. They look at him.

‘Jamie, you don’t bring the Gallagher brothers all the way to Texas in 2016 to play friggin’ pool with them,’ Kelly snaps.

‘So what do you do with them then?’ Gee asks.

‘Get them to play music, of course,’ Kelly says, dashing out of the room and returning seconds later with an old wooden guitar.  She hands it proudly to Noel, who takes it from her, turning it over, plucking at a couple of strings to test its sound.

‘You can jam, guys,’ Kelly says, ‘right here in my living room.  A private concert!’  She’s beaming.  Gee and Kate exchange looks.  They know how much this means to Kelly, she’s been, like, their biggest fan since forever.

The Gallagher brothers glance at one another.  ‘Got any beer, then? Wait, I thought you were from Manchester?’ Liam says to Kelly.

‘Oh, God, yeah, sorry. Where are my manners?  I’ll just go get you some,’ she says as she runs off toward the kitchen, ignoring the Manchester question.  The rest of them sit down on the floor.  Noel starts strumming the guitar strings and a familiar rift comes out.  Liam starts nodding his head to it, closing his eyes, losing himself in the rhythm.  The others tap their feet politely, trying to place the tune.  Wonderwall?  She’s Electric?  Champagne Supernova….?

Kelly comes back with two bottles of beer, hands them to the boys.  ‘Where’s ours, like?’  Jamie asks.  She just glares at him and sits down on the floor, staring back adoringly at the brothers.

‘What was that tune you were playing?’ Gee asks, frowning, ‘I kind of recognise it but…’

‘Oh, it’s one of our favourites, we always do it down the local on Saturdays at the karaoke night,’ Noel says enthusiastically.  ‘Sing it bro,’ he says to Liam.

Liam takes a swig of beer, then clears his throat and starts to sing.  The room goes quiet apart from those recognisable tones, singing….Waterloo???

‘For fuck’s sake…,’ Kate whispers, shaking her head.

‘Abba???’ Jamie says, out loud, before smacking his palm against his forehead.

The boys stop.  ‘What?  They wrote some great, happy songs, man,’ Noel says.

‘Cracking song writers,’ Liam agrees.

‘No no no no no….,’ Kelly says, pushing herself off the floor and crossing the room to the CD player.  She finds the right CD and before long, the first notes of Wonderwall are drifting melodically out of the speakers.  Pure Oasis.  The brothers look at one another, puzzled looks on their faces.

‘But it’s so…miserable,’ Liam says, taking another drink of beer.

‘Yeah, we like a happy beat,’ Liam says, ‘something you can dance to.’

The group exchange awkward looks as the strains of Wonderwall play out.

‘No, look,’ Kate says, ‘you’re supposed to hate each other, that’s where all your passion comes from.  You feed off of one another, and Liam, you hate all the fans, too.  You’re deliberately rude and deprecating to them.  You swear a lot.  It’s what makes you you.’

‘Hey, listen to her, guys,’ Jamie pipes up, ‘she writes some really serious stuff, she knows what she’s talking about here’.

Kate whacks him on the arm. Hard.

‘Ow!’

‘But…we don’t hate each other, we’re bro’s,’ Noel says, smiling sheepishly at Liam.  Liam nudges him playfully, smiling back.

‘Jesus Christ…,’ Gee says.  Kelly looks on the verge of tears, her childhood fantasies in tatters.

‘Hey, don’t I know you?’ Liam says suddenly to Kate.

She flushes.  ‘No, don’t think so, no.’  She shakes her head.

‘Yeah, I’m sure I seen you before.  Down the Hacienda, last New Year.  You were that bird what fell off the table, smashed that Diamond Blush bottle over a bouncer’s head and got thrown out,’ he says.

‘Me?? Ha! No, no, you have the wrong person,’ Kate says quickly, ‘a lot of people look like me, I’m often getting mistaken for other people…’

Gee, Jamie and Kelly are looking at her strangely.

‘Yeah, I’m sure it was you,’ Liam is banging on, ‘only…you look kinda….’

‘Older,’ Kate finished for him.  ‘Older is the word you’re groping for.’

‘Yeah, older.  Much.’ He adds, helpfully. ‘Hey, you got a younger sister, maybe?’  He says.

‘Yeah, that must be it,’ Kate says, folding her arms huffily against her chest and looking away from the gaze of the others.

‘You were at the Hacienda?’ Gee says, a hint of awe in her voice.

‘Dancing on the tables….?’ Jamie says, ‘I thought you spent your youth wandering the moors, deconstructing the work of Emily Bronte?’

Kate thumps him again.

‘Ow! Will you stop doing that?!’ Jamie winces and frowns at Kate.

‘Shut the fuck up then!’  She says.  ‘Everybody has a past, you know.’

They stop arguing when they notice Kelly’s stricken face.  She looks totally crestfallen.

‘Hey, Kel, don’t worry.  I’m sure they’ll grow out of Abba, eventually…,’ Gee says doubtfully.

Kelly shrugs, her long red hair framing her delicate face.

‘Hey, I’ve got an idea,’ Kate says, getting to her feet.  ‘We need them to hate each other, right?  They need to fight and find all that passion to write their songs.  So, let’s give them a reason to fight.’

She walks across to the sofa, perches on the arm beside Liam, who is humming along to Noel’s strumming of Dancing Queen.  She leans in a bit, so only he can hear.  He looks at her from the corner of his eyes.

‘Hey Liam,’ she whispers, ‘you know that night at the Hacienda, when I….I mean, my younger sister, was dancing?  Well, she told me she saw Noel making out with your bird while you were out of it.   Just thought you ought to know.’

She walks back to the others, who stare at her quizzically.  Before they can ask what she said, Liam is on his feet, whacking Noel over the head with the guitar.  Insults start flying; Noel lays a punch on Liam’s chin.

Kate smiles.  ‘I don’t think it’ll be long ‘til they start writing some proper sweet music,’ she says.  The others laugh.

‘Just one question, guys,’ Kelly says, wincing as Liam knocks Noel into a lamp on the side table, ‘how we gonna get them back to Manchester 1990 before the kids get back from school?’

‘I think I’ve got yer answer, ladies. Oh, and Gallaghers,’ says Jamie, holding up his iPhone, which is flashing like mad as the house shakes rumbles.

‘Oh, no!’ Kelly cries.

‘Hold on tight, boys!’ Kate cries.

‘For what?’ the brothers Gallagher ask.

‘Who the fuck knows?’ Kate says, bracing herself against the wall and closing her eyes.

 

To be continued…

***

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Kate Jones is a frequent contributor to Sick Lit Magazine and a helpful time-travel companion when dealing with the brothers Gallagher. Though they aren’t speaking right now – and haven’t been for some time – we want to put our memories of their music into a bit of a “time capsule” if you will and have some bloody fun with it. (Sorry, Kate, I’m sort of speaking for you!) Kate is also one of Sick Lit Magazine’s Pushcart Prize nominees for 2017. GO KATE!! AND, STAY TUNED FOR OUR NEXT INSTALLMENT OF….SLM MEETS OASIS!

 

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SLM meets Oasis – a tale of time travel, nonsense, and Gee Charlie Middleton, Kate Jones, Jamie Andrews and me, Kelly Fitzharris Coody

Part I : Time Travel in Manchester

“Okay, Gee, we’re here – let’s get going – it’s about to get dark. My mum’s house is just ’round that bend,” I said, hugging my coat tight, pointing in the direction of my childhood home.

Gee took in a good huff of air. Then she coughed. “It smells rather bad here; it’s smelly, innit?”

“You and smells! Just ignore it, Gee – you’ll get used to it. Ugh, always so posh.”

Gee swung her designer handbag around as if on cue. I scoffed as we walked on, crunching over leaves and moss.

We trudged to my mum’s house, the sun setting above the trees.

“You know…Gee…the original Gallagher house is somewhere around here, remember?” My eyes lit up as I asked the question.

“Ah, shush! We’re too busy for that nonsense. Let’s get on with it — I’m tired.”

“Okay, geez. Don’t be a grouch.”

“You’re the grouch.”

Before we knew it, we were standing on the front steps of my house. As we walked in, the warmth and the smell of dinner in the stove usurped us. “‘Ey, Mum! Be down in a sec!” I called as Gee raced me up the stairs and into my childhood room.

“Well, this is it!” I said.

“You’ve got a lot of Oasis posters in here.”

“What? Who didn’t when they were a pre-teen?”

“I’m just saying – I mean – you’ve got more than anyone I’ve ever met. And I consider myself an Oasis fan, too. It’s like you’ve got bloody Liam wallpaper!” she said, breaking into a hearty laugh.

“Oh, judge away, Gee!” I scoffed.

“What’s this?” asked Gee as she poked around the bedroom’s corners and crevices. “Oh my God – I can’t believe this piece of crap is still here!” she said, gesturing to a 1980s MAC laptop that weighed about as much as the two of us put together.

“It’s like an antique!” Gee giggled. She slowly lifted the top of the laptop – mostly because it was so damn heavy – and as she did so, a loud crack of thunder startled the both of us, eliciting shrieks and making us jump before giggling nervously.

We turned around to look out the windows.

“Aaaaaah!!!” we screamed in unison as we jumped into each other’s arms.

“What in the bloody hell are the two of you doing here?” I asked.

“Yeah! You almost gave me a bloody conniption,” agreed Gee.

There sat Kate Jones and Jamie Andrews, bouncing around on my quilted, childhood bed, looking quite befuddled themselves.

“We dunno,” Jamie said. “It’s your story, Kelly. I was bout to go grab a pint meself – you, Kate?”

“Eh, was walkin’ round – saw the storm and thought I’d see what the two of them were up to,” she replied, bouncing on the bed. “But I’m not sure why I’m here either, now that you mention it, Jamie. And bloody hell, Kelly, what’s with the posters?”

“See? It’s so bad!” Gee said.

I huffed and crossed my arms.

“Oh, well. Wanna go grab a pint instead?” Jamie asked Kate, bouncing on the bed in return.

“I just need a break from being so bloody serious all the time,” Kate said.

Jamie scratched his head. “I know what you mean, Kate — ” he laid back on the bed and let out a long sigh. “Quite comfy, ain’t it? Would be better with a pint.”

“Would be,” said Kate. “I’m just so tired of all this bloody feminism on Sick Lit Magazine. BO-RING!”

Jamie replied by making an exaggerated gagging noise.

“Oh, shut up, Jamie,” I said.

“You’ve got a tape player!” Kate squealed, bouncing off the bed and over to it on my shelf, pressing play.

‘Rocking Chair’ by Oasis started playing.

“I like this one,” Jamie said.

“So do I!” Gee agreed.

“It’s okay,” Kate said.

“I love it!” I squealed.

We all started singing along. “It’s hard enough being alone, sitting here by the phone, waiting for my memories to come and play. it’s hard enough sitting there, rockin in your rockin chair!!”

I turned around to notice Gee fiddling with the laptop.

“Gee! No! Not in this storm!” I yelled.

“Why not? Also, just curious, how the hell does this thing still work? It’s 2016.”

“Nevermind that! Wait, how the hell do you know how to operate a computer in MS-DOS mode? You’re the youngest out of all of us!”

“Don’t mind that, Kelly! So many questions!” Gee rolled her eyes at me.

Thunder crashed again, this time louder, outside the windows, making all four of us jump.

Jamie screamed.

“Jamie, you sound like a little girl,” Kate whispered.

“Why are we all hugging?” I asked, realizing we’d all clung to each other at the sound of the thunder.

“Dunno – nothin’ – didn’t scream like a girl. That was clearly Kelly,” Jamie said, clearing his throat and brushing off his shirt as he straightened his posture. “I’m fine. Not scared.”

Another clap of thunder.

Jamie squealed.

“Oh, shut up!” Jamie huffed at no one in particular.

“Ugh! Gee, what’ve you done?” I asked. The computer screen flashed off and on like mad.

“I swear I didn’t do anything! I haven’t touched it!”

A particularly long flash of lightning started…and continued…while Jamie and I screamed. Gee and Kate just looked at one another and shrugged.

“Whoa, what the fuck is goin on?” Kate asked, as the computer shook and gurgled. “How the hell does a computer gurgle?”

The room spun and shook, Jamie cursing the city of Manchester and my bedroom alike, while Gee clutched her Gucci bag with a death grip, while I frantically whispered, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home!!”

In another flash of lightning, the room and sky settled.

“Jamie’s hair looks terrible,” whispered Gee.

“Gee! Shush!”

“My God, so does yours, Kelly!” she said.

“Well, what about Kate, huh?” I asked.

“She  looks amazing. Just look at ‘er! Perfect!”

Jamie rubbed his head and groaned. Kate found her way back to the bed and asked, “Dear Lord, what happened?”

I looked out of the window.

“Guys…I think…I think we…”

“My phone won’t work!” Jamie whined.

“Mine either,” Gee said. “I’ve got like negative bars or something. Strange.”

I gasped. “Oh my God! Look at the bedroom!” I shouted.

“Hm, looks quite nice,” Kate said.

“No, don’t you see? All the Oasis posters! They’re…they’re….gone!”

“Thank God,” Gee said under her breath.

“‘Ya got a decorator in here, finally – thank bloody hell,” Jamie muttered.

“No, wankers! We’ve gone back in time!” I shouted. “Take a smell out the window, will you? I bet it’s a lot less rancid.”

All three went to the window and cracked it open before pulling it open all the way and taking in a nice, long breath of air.

They smiled and nodded to one another.

“Right that is.”

“She’s right.”

“Much less rancid. You’re right.”

“Look at the calendar on the wall!!” I screamed.

“It’s a Garfield calendar. Am I supposed to like it or something?” asked Gee, still clutching her Gucci bag.

“No! Look at the date!”

“Oh, bloody hell, it’s October 4th, 1990! It’s all Kelly’s fault!” Jamie yelled, arms flailing in the air.

“It’s not! Gee was the one messing with the computer!” I yelled back.

“Gee…!!” said Jamie.

“Wait, wait a second…” Gee said, “We can use this to our advantage! Don’t you see?”

“No!” we all grumbled in unison.

“Shit. It’s back to landlines and video stores and..and…” Jamie stuttered, his lips turning white.

“It’ll be okay,” Kate said to him. “Snap out of it Jamie!”

He wouldn’t stop mumbling, “Video stores…bloody video stores…no internet..we’re fucked, we’re so fucked…”

Gee slapped him across the face.

He was startled, then quickly grateful as he shook his head around. “Right, then,” he began, “So, where to?”

Gee said, “The original Gallagher house is only a few blocks from here.”

I lit up.

Jamie and Kate both groaned.

“We can go and meet Liam and Noel and mum Gallagher!” I squealed.

“Must we…?” countered Kate.

“Yes!” we all yelled back in reply.

“Yes, we’ve got to meet them before they become famous!” I agreed.

“Famous pricks,” Jamie said dryly.

“Oh, Jamie, come now!” chided Kate.

“Shit, shit! We look out of place – see? Everyone’s got bad hair and they’re all wearing flannel!” I whined, gesturing out the window to all of he people milling about on the streets.

“Hey, I’m wearing flannel!” Jamie said.

“And his hair is terrible,” Gee whispered again.

“Enough with the hair, Gee!” I grumbled.

“I heard that, too!” Jamie said. “My girlfriend is going to kill me!”

“Your girlfriend? I’m bloody married!” I shouted back.

“And I haven’t even been born yet,” said Gee. “Shit.”

“Wait, wait, wait! We’ve gone 26 years back in time and you’re telling me that our only plan is to go to the bloody Gallagher house?” Kate asked.

“Yeah. What? Why? What did you have in mind?” I asked.

“Bloody hell. Something better than that,” she scoffed.

We shrugged. “Shall we be off, then?”

*

At the Gallagher House 

*

“Gee, you knock on the door!” I said.

“No, I’m too nervous! You do it!”

“You!”

“No, you!”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” said Kate, elbowing her way in between us and rapping loudly on the front door. “There. Cripes.”

“I can hear my heartbeat in my ears,” Gee whispered.

“I know. My hands are so sweaty it’s, like, embarrassing,” I whispered back.

“Oh, my beautiful, bloody girlfriend,” Jamie moaned in the background.

We all sighed.

“My beautiful, Norwegian girlfriend!” he sobbed.

“SSh!” Gee yelled.

“Just a moment!” a voice called to us from inside the house.

“Mum Gallagher!” Gee and I said in unison. We squealed.

Then, she opened the door. I wiped sweat from my forehead with my sleeve.

“‘ello there. What can I do for ‘ya?” she asked.

“Noel!” yelled Gee. “Noel!”

I cleared my throat and stepped in front of Gee. “Sorry, she’s um, she’s, well, you know – anyhow we’re here to see Noel.”

“Well, then, come on in! Noel! Guests!” she called.

“Liam!” Gee yelled.

“Shut up!” I said softly, poking her in the side with my elbow.

Liam mumbled in our direction.

“What the fuck did he say?” Kate asked.

“Yeah, he needs subtitles,” quipped Jamie.

Noel trotted down the stairs, a vision in jeans and red Adidas sneakers. Gee gasped.

“Will this bloke need subtitles too?” Jamie whispered.

“Sh!” Gee chided.

“We are in Manchester, guys,” I said.

They nodded in agreement to one another, saying, “Ah, yeah, right.”

“Who the fuck are these lot?” Noel asked, breezing past us.

“Just for the record, I don’t want to be here!” Jamie shouted, raising his hand from the back of the group.

“I, too, am against this!” said Kate.

“You – the really short one – ginger – what’s your deal? And your gorgeous friend?” asked Noel.

“Ginger? That’s all I get?” I asked.

“We’re here to warn you!” Gee said.

“Warn me? Sod off,” Noel said.

At that exact moment, Gee’s iPhone began buzzing before her ringtone went berserk.

“I thought your phone wasn’t working!” I yelled through gritted teeth.

“Fuck, it is now!” she whisper-yelled back at me through equally gritted teeth.

“Phone? What’s about a phone?” Liam asked from his place at the kitchen table.

“Nothing! Nothing at all! That’s just, um, Gee’s…umm….umm…pocket Atari!” I shouted.

Liam shrugged. “Pocket Atari – must be rich, you lot. How many quid did it set you back? Quite a few, I reckon.”

He and Noel laughed.

We laughed back nervously.

When Mum Gallagher had completely left the room and we knew she was out of earshot, Gee started talking to Noel. She grabbed him by both shoulders.

“Noel – you’re going to write a song called Wonderwall. Ya gotta like add more guitar stuff in it so it’s harder to play. I get so sick of hearing it when I’m at University. And Liam, you’re going to do some crystal meth. I think. It turns out fine, though.”

Jamie and Kate rolled their eyes.

“We’re from the future!” I whisper-screamed, hands cupped around my mouth. “From 2016! And there’s this app called Twitter – and — ” I was cut off by Noel.

“What the fuck is an app?” he asked.

“She’s telling the truth!” Gee interjected.

“Your first album, Definitely Maybe, is going to come out in 1994; and track six is called Supersonic. Okay, I’d be chuffed if you’d change that dog’s name from Elsa to Stella to avoid making me look stupid on Twitter. Please.”

Noel and Liam just looked at each other, dumbfounded. Incredulous.

“Yes, in 2016,” Gee said.

“Chuffed, eh?” asked Noel. “You sound like an American.”

“Nevermind that!” Gee cried. “You have to listen to us! So, Liam, you’re going to hit your brother here with a chair – or, is it the other way around? – no matter, you’re going to be beating the shit out of each other a lot. But it’s worth it! So worth it!”

They looked at one another and shrugged again.

“Don’t listen to the critics about Be Here Now!” I yelled. “It’s a damn good record!”

“Her accent sounds fake,” said Liam to Noel, “Right? If you’re really from the future, prove it.”

Gee pulled out her iPhone. Or pocket Atari. Whatever.

It began to blink just like the old laptop in my room had…then we heard the thunder.

“Quick! You’ve got to come with us!” Gee shouted.

“Where?” they asked in unison.

“Back to the future, boys!” I said, as the house rumbled and shook around us.

Kate asked, “Oh, is that why they end up looking so young in the future?!”

Jamie only shrugged.

TO BE CONTINUED….

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This wacky story came from a string of tweets  between myself (Kelly) and Gee Charlie Middleton on Twitter this morning. I thought it would only be fitting if I used some SLM contributors as characters. Stay tuned for more! **Life is tough – we all see a lot of dark, bad things and have a lot of dark, bad days – writing something nonsensical and hilarious helps me to reset my brain and hopefully yours, too.**

Mansplaining – by KATE JONES

Mansplaining

 

I sit across from him at the restaurant table, my chin resting on my hand, trying to stifle the yawn that is desperate to escape. He has his elbows on the table (manners, I hear my mother say), and his palms are flapping around as he explains how it is.

I forget what point I’d raised several minutes ago. It feels so long since he began explaining it to me.

I watch his mouth move and catch odd words; the trouble with women…and I wonder how he gets his hair to hold in that quiff.  Hairspray?  Gel?  Semen?

He’s wearing a tight white t-shirt with a deep V that is just a nip too deep. It reveals a string of curled black hairs trying to crawl out. I can’t see his trousers from here, but saw enough when we arrived to get the gist. Tight. Black. Danny Zucko numbers. Possibly cutting his circulation, explaining why he’s talking such shit.

I drain the red wine from my glass and eye the bottle on the table between us. He hasn’t touched his. He hasn’t taken breath long enough. He’s already explained why men make better drivers than women; why women can’t always expect to earn as much as men; and some other bollocks I wasn’t paying attention to.

I’m trying to read the time on my watch without looking rude, wondering how long would be fair to give a first date.

To be frank, I could probably extract my tonsils with the cutlery and he probably wouldn’t bat an eye. Apart from to mention how a man would have done it neater.

He’s moved onto himself now, regaling me with how the term ‘Metrosexual’ has been misunderstood. I’m trying to work out if I’ve got time to get home before Masterchef starts, when I realise he’s stopped talking. He’s looking directly at me for the first time, like maybe he asked me a question and is waiting for a response.

I look back across the table. I have no idea what he just asked me. None. So I take a bold move.

I disregard the torturous mansplaining. I choose to ignore the quiffed hair (but, seriously, how does it hold like that?), and the escaping chest curls. I put his momentary lapse of reason down to nerves – or lack of blood supply from the tight trousers – and ask: Do you like Masterchef?

He looks blank for a second. To be honest, I think it’s a look that comes fairly naturally to him.  Then his face breaks into a smile. I notice he has dimples. And a scar running down the side of one cheek like a tiny snake.

A flaw.  A human-ness.

Sure, he says, but what about dinner?

I know a great take-out, I say, standing up, glad I wore my short red dress that flatters my legs.  Glad I let my long waves curl lusciously down my back. Hoping I might get the chance to show off my snake tattoo, coiled around the base of my back. Compare it to that scar that’s making him somehow more attractive in this light.

Or perhaps it’s just the wine.

Grab your jacket, then, I’ll drive, I say, pulling the keys from my bag, thinking, first impressions aren’t everything. I can always re-educate him, womansplain how things really are, if the sex is good. If the basic attraction is there.

Nobody’s perfect.  It’s all just a matter of education.

***

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Kate Jones is a freelance writer based in the UK.  A regular writer forSkirt Collective, she also writes features and reviews for The State of the Arts.  She has also published flash fiction and poetry in various literary magazines, including Sick Lit, Gold Dust, and 101words.  She has been long-listed for Flash 500, and won the weekly AdHoc Fiction contest, as well as being nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Find her on Twitter: @katejonespp

She also blogs at: writerinresidenceblog.wordpress.com

Brut – by KATE JONES

Brut

by

Kate Jones

I’m 14.  I’m in love.  I’m in love with the baddest boy in school.  He sits in front of me in French.  He seems so much older than the other boys.  He’s foreign.  Ok – Irish- but he seems foreign to me.  He talks with that lilting Irish accent that sounds intoxicating to my immature ears.  He’s different.  This is a definite part of his charm.

He wears different clothes to the other boys, despite the uniform.  Black trousers and white shirt, but with a worn denim jacket with patches; his tie is roguishly angled.  Wears a ring.  No other boys in my stuffy English school wear rings.  He has one ear pierced.  His hair in a cut that is long at the back and short on top – it shouts Rebel.  It says Don’t mess with me.  He walks with an arrogant step down the corridor, carrying a folded exercise book under his arm and a pen in his top pocket.

Nothing else.

He sits arrogantly at an angle, arm draped across the back of his neighbour’s chair.  He doesn’t pay attention to the teachers, but when they pick on him to answer, he knows all the answers.  He’s already done this before.  He’s way ahead of us.

This really pisses the teacher’s off.  He doesn’t study – just gets straight A’s.  This also pisses some of the kids off, who try to make fun of his hair, his body odour.  He cuts them dead with a smart remark they can’t come back from.

He has a band of followers, boys who hope his coolness will rub off on them.  One buys a denim jacket and grows his hair – it looks ridiculous.

He does boxing after school – not football or rugby, like the other boys.  He comes to school with a black eye.  He tells some people it’s from boxing; others that his dad gave it to him for his cheek.

He’s had a string of girlfriends with exotic sounding names, back in Ireland, he says.  He counts them off on his fingers.  I smile at him, trying to push out my flat chest.  I offer to share my Monster Munch, hoping he’ll choose me next.

I’m in love with the baddest boy in school.  The baddest and the cleverest.  He wears Brut.  Some whisper he wears it to cover his B.O.

I don’t care.

 ***

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Kate Jones is a writer based in the UK where she lives with her husband, two daughters and spoilt cat called George. She writes mainly flash and short fiction, though has also published non-fiction, poetry and reviews, and is a regular features contributor to Skirt Collective. She has been published in, amongst other places, SickLit, Gold Dust, Café Aphra, Spelk and The Real Story, and has recently placed first in Flash500’s quarterly competition

*Featured photo courtesy of Brian Michael Barbeito*

The Bus – by KATE JONES

The Bus

 

I stand among the groups of middle-aged parents lining the pavement beside the bus that contains their beloved offspring.  Excited faces scattered with acne and over-zealous make-up press against glass, or turn away, sharp haircuts bobbing as they talk fast and laugh with friends.

I pick out your window.  You sit politely, neatly, long curls hanging round your shoulders.  Your father’s nose side-on to my view.  You do that thing you do with your glasses, where you push them up your face with the back of your hand.  I have never seen anyone else do this, apart from my mother.

I tell myself that you are not leaving forever.  You are not my mother.  You are just going off to adventures, and experiences.  You will come back.  Yet, my insides feel the same way as they did when I lost her.

Your long lashes loll like fronds as you bend down to retrieve a paperback from your holdall.  I wonder if you have packed the bunny that has sat on your bed since I brought you home from the hospital, the yellow blanket wrapped tightly around you.  My grasp onto your perfect form even tighter.

Your friend taps you on the shoulder and you stretch your arms to hug her.  She bounces down beside you.  Your face is hidden from me now as you turn to talk to her.

Other parents are milling around in groups, talking to one another, shouting to their offspring if they have their this, their that.  I don’t shout messages to you.  I just watch, this last, lingering, private moment.

The engine starts, rumbling loudly and spitting out cancerous fumes from its large exhaust.  You face back toward the front and pop a red sweet into your mouth, making your cheek plump.  A faint cheer goes up from inside the bus, and some of the still malingering parents’ cheer, too.

You turn your head at last.  Look surprised that I am still standing there, alone and apart from the crowd.

And you smile.  Genuine, happy, relaxed.  You raise your slender arm to wave.

I raise mine too, mechanically, try to smile back as honestly as I can.

And then the bus pulls away from the curb and you turn back to your friend.  You have already dropped your hand.  You are already miles away.

And though I tell myself you will return, you are not gone forever, I walk back towards my car knowing that my home will be quiet, and things will be as I left them.  I know that there will be no smell of body spray clogging the bathroom; no dirty underwear on the floor; nobody playing loud pop-songs into the night.

And I know that the world – my world – has shifted slightly, into the unknown.

Kate Jones©

 ***

KATEJONES

***Kate is a freelance writer based in the UK who writes articles, including regular contributions to online women’s magazine Skirt Collective, as well as publishing life writing and poetry both in print and online.  She has a passion for flash fiction and short stories, and is usually found lurking around coffee shops, writing and listening to other people’s conversations. Jones has also become a regular contributor to Sick Lit Magazine, and is a 2016 nominee for the Pushcart Prize through Sick Lit Magazine.***

She blogs at www.writerinresidenceblog.wordpress.com.

Find Kate on Twitter at:  https://twitter.com/katejonespp

*Photography courtesy of Brian Michael Barbeito*

My Name Is…Kate Jones – by KATE JONES

My Name Is…Kate Jones

If you ask the majority of nine year olds, (and often many adults), what superhero power they’d like to have, I’ll place a bet that a lot of them will say invisibility.

An invisibility cloak. It’s a fun idea, right?

I always wanted an invisibility cloak as a kid. I was a bit of a loner at times – I think a lot of writer’s are.  I would wish that I could disappear into my own imaginary world, unaffected by knocks at the door asking me to come and play.

As an adult, think of all the annoying people you could avoid if you could turn yourself invisible. The times you could edge out of a boring meeting or banal party and slip away into the night…

Anyway, when Kelly put out a call for themes for the magazine recently, I knew I wanted to write about invisibility.  I still disappear into my own imaginary world when I’m writing, but my reason for suggesting this theme was much more relevant and urgent than that.

You see, I have discovered, after 42 years on this planet, that I actually am becoming invisible.  More so as time passes, it seems.

I’d been stewing on this issue that has been bugging me for some time now, the past few years actually, and like many writers, the best way I could think of tackling it was by writing a story about it. That was where my idea for ‘My Name Is’ came from.  I ‘wrote’ that story in almost complete form in my head one night, seething in bed because I had been ignored one too many times.  It is totally fictional, of course, but the reasoning behind it is very much non-fiction, unfortunately.

You see, I could be forgiven for thinking I have actually got the invisibility cloak I dreamed of as a kid.

Many, many, (trust me MANY) times, I will be out with my family, and we will bump into somebody we know. They will stop to exchange pleasantries. They will ask my husband how his job is going. We will chat for a few minutes, during which time, they will not once think to ask how my work is going. How I’m doing. Nothing.

We used to run a successful business together, and, despite us having equal roles, I had countless incidents of customers insisting get your husband to call me and discuss it if I refused to agree to a demand. Friends and family always saw him as being the owner of the business, whilst I ‘worked’ there.  This, despite the fact that we had created the business together from scratch.  We were both involved in every aspect of the success of that business, yet I felt that I got no credit for the success of it.

When recently, at a party, I dared to climb out of the shell for a few minutes and join the conversation, mentioning my writing, somebody turned back to my husband and asked: And are you happy with her sitting at home and writing while you’re out working?

What the fuck?

Now, I know this might sound like I’m paranoid or bitter. I’m honestly neither. But the truth is, last year, I lost count of the amount of times this happened. Even more bizarrely, I have lost count of the amount of times I have attended events alone, and people have stopped me to ask how my husband’s career is going. After our eldest daughter did exceptionally well in her exams, I had one woman tell me you must be so proud of your daughter – she obviously gets her brains from her father.

WTF IS THIS ABOUT??

I’m positive this didn’t happen before I had children. I think that, once you take your husband’s name and become a mother, you often lose your own, individual identity. I bet most of the other mother’s at my daughters’ schools don’t know my first name – and to be honest, I don’t know their names either. We simply refer to one another as ‘so-and-so’s Mum’.

I find this so strange.  I love talking to other people about what they do, I find people fascinating. But I know it isn’t just me. I’ve spoken to other women and they have similar experiences, including the fabulous editor of Sick Lit herself, which was one of the reasons why I wanted to write for the magazine in the first place – in response to her rallying cry to women.

I have to add here that I am happily married to a man who is a total feminist.  I mean it.  He is nothing but supportive to any venture I undertake; he never made me feel anything less than an equal partner in the business, as we are in our family life.  Sometimes, I take care of the domestic and childcare more as he is working.  At other times, he has stepped in and been the one to attend doctor’s appointments and school events.  We are supportive of one another – and the benefit is that our two daughters’ thrive in an environment where their opinions and views are listened to, and where they know they can become anything they put their mind to.

The only response I can think of to combat this culture of invisibility is to stand up and stand out.  Say what you think and feel; make sure you get people’s attention (in a positive way), ask questions of other women and make the path clear for the next generation of feisty females to feel confident speaking out.

Oh, and when I asked MY nine year old what superpower she would choose, she said, without missing a beat, shapeshifter. So, there you go – invisibility is out, shape-shifting is the new power to have.

My Name is Kate Jones, and I am a Writer, a Woman, A Feminist, a Wife, a Mother, a Dreamer….and then some.

***

KATEJONES

***Kate is a freelance writer based in the UK who writes articles, including regular contributions to online women’s magazine Skirt Collective, as well as publishing life writing and poetry both in print and online.  She has a passion for flash fiction and short stories, and is usually found lurking around coffee shops, writing and listening to other people’s conversations. Jones has also become a regular contributor to Sick Lit Magazine, and is a 2016 nominee for the Pushcart Prize through Sick Lit Magazine.***

She blogs at www.writerinresidenceblog.wordpress.com.

Find Kate on Twitter at:  https://twitter.com/katejonespp

 

They Wait – by JOANNE SPENCER

They Wait

 

In line, they wait. Their souls offered up for money that has touched the lining of too many unwashed trousers. Desperate, they trade favors with a god they don’t believe in and compose promises they never intend to keep. Biting filthy nails, picking at half-healed sores or chewing on their darkly painted lips, they wait, marking time with the song on the stage that provides their next meal.  Adjusting what little material covers their oiled skin, they shift from stiletto to stiletto making an effort to forget a family they no longer know.

The music stops, the microphone booms. Collectively they inhale and lift their chins. Unlike cattle headed for slaughter, they know their fate, their unexpected destiny. The next girl goes on as the other descends the rattled stairs, bare, belittled and destitute as the owner extends his grimy hand before allowing her to pass. Head bowed like a child she delivers the bills to him, wrinkled and damp.

He slaps her and the surprise sends her reeling against the metal stage.

She crumbles to the floor.

“Next time do better,” he says and steps over her naked body without pause.

The girls dissolve into themselves, blind to their reality for the sake of self-preservation, and they wait.

 ***

picture for sick lit

Joanne Spencer, who once had her life saved by a naked man, has had work published in Fresh! Magazine, Woman’s World  and will soon have a poem published in Mother’s Always Write. She is a published author of one novel, The Letter Keeper, and is currently working as a contributing journalist for her local publication, The Creekline,  as well as writing reviews for The Review Review. She resides in Northwest Florida where she pretends to cook, clean and do laundry all while secretly writing on a notepad she keeps in her back pocket or her bra, depending on her outfit that day.

Local Band Frontman – by PREWITT SCOTT-JACKSON

Local Band Frontman

 

Lead singer

self-described “Chupacabra Screamo” band

collects abandoned Band-Aids at local playgrounds

 

Day-jobbing RV salesman,

meticulously catalogued desk drawer housing awaits

his morning return

 

/M. Mouse

/Sponge B.

/Pixar paladins

/Faded neon colors

 

Huffing Play-Doh only gets him high on nostalgia

so he

drinks alone at Chili’s in Bedford, TX after long days of frownin’ and dialin’

 

Handmade concert fliers forced upon co-worker after co-worker

in the break room

as microwaves spin the latest 2-minute meal

 

Crushed out on June, the Alpha unit pusher,

he stealthily deposits pink post-it stanzas dedicated to her beauty

in

and

around

her desk…

born a jester, trying to be a prince

 

On most days he surfs the Screamo forums,

drowning in the undertow

crashing against virtual jagged reefs

 

Still riding the pine for the company softball team,

his only upside?

A distant possibility of reincarnating as a trade show throwaway tchotchke

 

When his band “makes it”

everyone will “know it”

 

especially June

 

July never waits

 

***

PSJ Bio Pic

***Prewitt Scott-Jackson’s work is a mutation of sorts, a ménage à trois of poetry, prose and flash fiction. The University of California Santa Barbara alum grew up on Southern storytelling prior to achieving degrees in Native American Studies and Religious Studies. Find Scott-Jackson on Twitter, at: @allsalinitylost ***

*Photo courtesy of Something You Whisper – to find out about them or their music, check out Sick Lit Magazine’s Interview with them, “Scream Along with Something You Whisper.” *

Let’s Not Go Outside – by RUSS BICKERSTAFF

 

Let’s Not Go Outside

By Russ Bickerstaff

Let’s say that there IS a world out there.

Let’s say it’s actually resting out there beyond that door with everything we would expect out of a big, wide world outside. Let’s say that there’s a sun that sets and a moon that rises. Let’s say that there is an ocean, a beach and some tides and things. Let’s say that it’s pounding and breathing with life of every single kind imaginable. Let’s say that it’s all full of the restless everything we would expect in a world beyond the front doors.

What are we going to do about it?

Are we going to open the doors, look up at the sun and simply walk out into the world like we belong there or something?

Are we going to walk out there like we own the place simply because we have finally decided to walk out the front doors?

See–I don’t think that’s a good idea because the world out there isn’t going to move like it does in here. We understand that things are a certain way and we’re okay with it, but once we walk out those front doors, it all changes, doesn’t it?

I’m not saying that we’re not going to leave at some point, but let’s leave when we have a reason to do so. Make no mistake about it, the moment we leave here, the world outside is going to recognize us as refugees from somewhere else. We’ll be outsiders with no definite place out there. They’re going to take one look at us and know this before we even open our mouths to speak. We’re not from around there. We’re not from anywhere near there and it’s not a good idea to try to pretend like we are.

Naturally, the best among them will simply avoid us.

Those who don’t might condescendingly say hello.

If they do, they’re probably not going to be thinking in terms of actually trying to help us out. It’s the ones that will be trying to help us out that are likely to be the worst. They’ll be looking for some kind of angle to work to try to take advantage of us in some way. It may not become apparent at first.

Those who welcome us the most are most likely to be the ones that will be looking to cause us the greatest amount of harm because they will probably be the least concerned about us. They’ll be looking to use us to satisfy their own twisted desires. We are, after all, capable of great things. They will have decided that we could be of some sinister use to them and we’ll be enslaved.

Just like that.

I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking that if we really ARE better than them we’ll be able to avoid any kind of enslavement; but believe me when I say that enslavement isn’t always so obvious. There are sneaky ways of ensnaring someone through casual requests or worse–friendship. They’ll find some way to get us to bend to their will without us even realizing that we are working for them, but believe me–we will be. There’s no doubting that. It would be the most totally awful thing imaginable.

I know what I’m talking about because I’ve stood at the door. I have guarded that huge gate and watched day turn into night.

Yes, it IS beautiful but they chose me to guard because they knew that I wouldn’t lose my head over how beautiful it was out there. They knew that I wasn’t going to get all weird about it just because it was a million more times beautiful out there than it is in here. I know it’s dangerous out there. I know that without the gleaming, black battle armor that is sealed with its own oxygen source and without the huge semiautomatic rifle and a total respect for the danger out there the world outside will destroy us all without a second glance.

It’s not worth trying to persuade me otherwise.

I’ve already caved-in once this week and I won’t do it again. Actually I guess that was twice . . . see . . . one of those on the outside walked up to me (quite nicely I thought) and asked me for a cup of sugar. Strangest thing I could imagine asking a total stranger with a semiautomatic rifle  pointed at you and everything, but he asked me anyway.

I couldn’t see what harm it would do, so I went ahead and gave him a cup of sugar. There wasn’t any issue there. I had no problem with it or anything like that. I handed over the cup of sugar. A couple of days passed and there wasn’t anything that came of it. It was perfectly normal and everything. Then out of nowhere he came back and really casually asked me if I could open the door for him. This kind of took me off my guard. I mean . . . it really didn’t make any sense them wanting to come in.

I didn’t see any harm in letting the outside in, but see: that’s my whole point. Those on the outside want to come in. It can’t be that great a place out there if they’re trying to come in, can it? Why bother opening those doors again to go out? They clearly don’t even like being out there all that much otherwise, why come in here in the first place?

Where are they? They could be anywhere. They’re crawling around inside here somewhere. No…no…I’m afraid I can’t believe that you’re one of the ones we let in. No I don’t want half a cup of sugar. I’m sorry, I can’t let you out.

***

Bickerstaff headshot

 

Russ Bickerstaff is a professional theatre critic and aspiring author living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with his wife and two daughters. His short fictions have appeared in over 30 different publications including Hypertext Magazine, Pulp Metal Magazine, Sein und Werden, and Beyond Imagination. His Internarrational Where Port can be found at: http://ru3935.wix.com/russ-bickerstaff.

*Photography courtesy of Brian Michael Barbeito.*

Untitled – by Buffy the Writer

[Untitled]

by Buffy the Writer

 

“You don’t know me,

I can be anything.”

Unfortunately, you can’t see how brilliant I am.

The words I sling,

The taboos I kill,

The frailty of a poetess with the coy heart of a gei-.*

 

Man, you were always right about me.

You know way more than you let on.

Tracking my pattern, our flamboyant correlations

The odd sameness of the queer and the weird.

 

The wyrd* sisters who cursed your thane,

The wyrd mother who fathered Grendel,

Yet, still made in your image and stronger than us men.

You feared my magic, his future, my blood.

T’was thine own sins, not my ruby elixir, which made us sick.

 

When the unseen seeps into your world,

When you accept the truth in the unexplained,

I’ll stop crossing your stars.

Our world(s) will still turn,

Your terms will still push us (see above),

But my spells will start to work.

 

And, for a split second

You’ll see me in a mirror,

Not to brag, but I’ve always been right

There behind you.

 

*Geisha

*Anglo-Saxon spelling wyrd insinuating predestination.

***

selfie

Buffy the Writer is an art history major and part-time writer extraordinaire. Well, she’s actually new to the writing scene but learning. When she’s not tackling medieval manuscripts or writing, Buffy enjoys painting, knitting, and sleeping in. It was her dream since the age of six to rule the world, but when confronted by the loneliness of absolute power she settled for creating her own. Her blog, buffythewriter.wordpress.com, is a collection of these colorful worlds. You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram @buffythewriter