Look Now


It is the fifth instance of the third month of the year two thousand and nineteen, or so they say.  Measures of time bemuse me.  Sometimes it feels like I am living in many times simultaneously as my roguish mind is wont to wander.  It ruminates upon tannin-rich memories, swilling them around my head, clouding my days with powdery sediment.  The past is too real, it intrudes upon my present too frequently, too vividly.  My body lives through it, over and over again.

Plain sight eludes me.  I search feverishly through a tangle of words spoken and deeds done long ago, for safe passage through the unknown.  Although, on occasion, I hear the faint voice of a found woman.  She calls to me everyday but the noise, the before and the to come, pound on the side of my skull till I cannot hear her any longer.  But, today, she emerges from a dusty blackness.  A solid, whole being of curved flesh, peppered hair and weathered face sits before me.  Her back is straight.   She opens her hands and holds my cold fingers in her warm, rough skin and her firmness, her truth cradles my entire being.  She fixes me with her level gaze that sees the essence of me and she says: ‘Don’t look back.  Don’t look forward. Look now.  I dare you.’

And she is gone.




Open window


Saturday 2nd March

On a dark and still night I went to the bathroom, upstairs.  I left the window open.  I weed which was accompanied by the usual sound of water hitting porcelain and I heard a voice outside and it said: ‘Classy.’  I was ashamed.

My neighbour is a man of perhaps 18 years old, who lives with his parents and spends an inordinate amount of time in the driveway tinkering with his car.  But as all was deadly quiet and very, very dark, I had thrown caution to the wind-ow.  My decision was, in part, influenced by my frustration at having to close the window every time I wanted to use my own toilet in my own bathroom for fear that the young man would be outside in the driveway as he is most days, as he has every right to be.

When these new build estates were planned, little space was spared between houses.  So little, that even the daintiest, most elegant wee, can be heard by someone one floor down in the neighbouring property.  The windows on my house open and close, yet I do not feel free to open them whenever I like.  I find my right to invite fresh air into my home is inhibited by my fear of being heard; a liberty, a freedom is infringed.  ‘What will the neighbours think?’  I say to my husband and he replies ‘Fuck the neighbours.’  If only I had his disposition to not care what people think; it’s a work in slow progress.

What would I think if I overheard the sound of urine hitting porcelain from the neighbour’s bathroom window?  I would like to think I would conclude that the neighbour is a human being, like me.  I would like to think that these are the sounds of life.  But then, perhaps he thought he was alone in his driveway enjoying the solitude of a black and quiet night and my toilet music sullied his automotive tranquillity.

Windows release the sounds of private lives into the communal sphere.  They give us glimpses beneath the veneer that we may see what others are really made of.  When I lived in my London flat, I could hear the old Asian man playing his violin.  I could hear the little blond girl screaming at her Mummy across the way.  I could hear the man exclaiming ‘I love you’ in the throes of ecstasy.  I could hear the woman in the neighbouring block shouting from her bathroom throne: ‘Who finished the loo roll and didn’t replace it?!’  I could hear the muffled voices, the click of a light switch, the snore from next door, the rumble of cars, the turbulent sounds of humanity.

In the suburbs, neighbourly relations are more restrained.  The politeness is a barrier to the truth of who we are.  And here in the suburbs, my moment of freedom, to urinate in the night with the window open is a display of my low class.

Am I: a) Wrong to leave the window open when I perform my ablutions in the middle of  the night? or b) Is my neighbour wrong to deem me a woman absent of class due to my performing an audible bodily function or c) Was the building company wrong to situate one house’s bathroom so close to the neighbouring property’s driveway? or d) All of the above or e) None of the above?

I am undecided.  But I do know that all these closed windows will magnify my urge to scream until every pane of glass in every window in this treeless, orange-brick cul-de sac, shatters into a trillion tiny pieces so infinitesimally small that the gentlest, Spring breeze will blow that which conceals our humanness far, far away.





Less of a woman

Wolverine, man-crone

Sometimes I feel less than a woman.  My relative smallness in size means I am less of a person and less of a female person, therefore, less of a woman.  The smallness of my breasts makes me less of a woman.  My inability to sate my baby’s appetite made me less of a woman.  I envied women their larger breasts that overflowed with milky abundance.  The narrowness of my hips makes me more of a man.  I envied women their wide, child-bearing hips.  My elusive fertility makes makes me less of a woman.

My pubescent upper lip hair. That made me less of a woman, more of a wolf or so the boys said as they howled in the playground.  And now, that sneaky black hair that sprouts from the underside of my chin.  It makes me less of a woman, more of a crone.

Yet the fineness of my fingers makes me more of a woman.  And some find smallness to be a greatly feminine thing.  And perhaps, I am a misogynist to define my own womanhood and worth as a woman, in purely physical and reproductive terms.  I feel less of a woman, according to what I think society wants a woman to be because my inner world is, in large part, constructed by my outer world.  I am the beast and the beast is me.  Perhaps, then, a wolverine, man-hipped crone is just as valuable to this life as any other being could ever possibly be.


‘Forgive Yourself. And Forgive Me.’


Alice Driver | Longreads | March 2018 | 10 minutes (2,574 words)

“I didn’t choose. I walked backwards till it came around front.” — Uncle Lee

I sipped my Uncle Lee’s favorite gin martini made bitter with the taste of three pearly onions at The Alley Cantina in Taos, New Mexico. The mother of my long-lost cousin Julianne stepped up to the microphone in front of the gathered crowd and told the story of their brief love affair and how Lee “loved women.” I’ve never been to a funeral like the ones on TV where you go to a cemetery and cry while watching a casket go into the ground. My family does these storytelling gatherings with food and drink, and we bask in the memory of the ones we loved in sharp and detailed pain and glory.

I didn’t know that Julianne existed until I was in my 20s…

View original post 2,622 more words

The Nothingness Beyond


Lily was scaling the metal cage while her siblings slept soundly.  A man with an East Asian accent smiled and said ‘Ah, she like spider man.’  I laughed and agreed.  She was eight weeks old.  Lily was petite and kitten like, even as a senior lady. She would have been fifteen years old in May.  Three weeks ago the vet said she had a large tumour under her tongue and that she may only have a few days to live.

At nine o’clock on her last living morning, she was lying over my shoulder and purring loudly as I lightly rested my ear on her side to listen to her heartbeat. I sighed as I felt the warmth of her strawberry fur on my cheek. At ten o’clock she was devouring blended prawns. At eleven o’clock she was sitting on the roof of the garden shed, watching a black and white cat skulk across a driveway. At twelve o’clock she was sleeping in her bed by the sofa. At one o’clock she was chattering gaily in the passenger seat next to me as I drove her to the vets.  At two o’clock, she was lying on her fluffy blanket, upon a steel table in a windowless room. She purred as the vet injected her front leg. Her body became limp in my hands within ten seconds. Her eyes were large black discs. She cooled quickly and I took my hand away, what I wanted to remember was her warmth. All that remained was her absence.

‘I’m just happy she is at peace.’ said the vet. ‘At peace’ I thought, she does not have the awareness to be at peace. She is dead. When living things die, they simply die and their consciousness goes with them. To be at peace, one must be sentient. There is nothing. And it is this nothingness that fills my mind with a gnawing black hole where Lily once was. When I think of her, there is a hollow, pulling sensation inside me and I long for her trilling mews. In private, I weep at the loss of her. I apologise for my tears, because I am embarrassed to be bereft at the loss of a cat.

She didn’t know she was going to die that day.  If Lily could talk, when asked the question, ‘Would you like to be killed today?’, what would she have said? Would she have said ‘Yes please; I am in too much pain and I do not want to live another day.’ Or would she have said: ‘Living hurts. My mouth won’t close. My tongue is agony. I drool because it hurts to swallow. I cannot eat without pain but I am so hungry. I cannot clean myself. I am tired and I do not think I will be here long. But I like to feel the air in my whiskers and the sun on my back. I like the smells of spring and the grass blades on my scent glands. I like the taste of mashed prawns. I like the sounds of the garden and I am excited by the sight of the Dunnocks alighting on the bird table. I like your fingers stroking my head and I still want to sit across the back of your neck, like I did when I was young and I am not ready to let go of life just yet. Let me live a little longer.’

No one knows.  No one knows what animals really want at this time.  Perhaps, the survival instinct is stronger than the agony.  The vets think they know but they can only know the human response to pain and apply that to other species. No one really knows if Lily wanted to live or die on that day.  I can only hope that I am wrong about the nothingness beyond.