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Sunday, December 18, 2011


"I love the way she grabs my head and pulls me to her during sex."

"Yeah, me too."

"Your girlfriend does that too?"


Pause while he works it out in his head.


The girlfriend walks in. "Hi honey," she says.

"Hi honey," they both say automatically.

Pause while they take stock of the situation.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

how short a story is short enough

The pillow smells like you.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Airport: ten minutes

A girl is sitting at an airport cafe. She is waiting for someone. She is thinking about what she is going to say, what she should say, what she wants so say.

She should say, why isn't that girl you're hanging around with here to see you off?

She wants to say, i want you.

She is going to say, err hi.

She is watching him put his bags on the belt, make conversation with the other travellers, tuck the ticket into his pocket.

What am i going to say, she thinks.

He is coming over. He is popular, he is chatty, he is funny, he is going away.

This could be any airport, any cafe, any girl, any boy. But it isn't.

He is sitting down. Hey thanks for coming see me off, he says.

Err hi, she says.

They talk. She makes small talk, the kind of talk you have when you are on the cusp of something huge but you can't say so because you don't know or are not sure. How heavy are your bags, what do you think you'll do when you arrive, what is the exchange rate.

She wants so say something cool maybe. But it can't be cool. This could be the last time she sees him.

There's time before the flight leaves. She could say what she wants to before it leaves. It only takes a second. But it could be awkward silence after that. It would take hours. But if she doesn't say anything, it could be never before she'll get to try again.

She starts to talk. He answers a phone call. Other people are telling him to take care.

I should tell him to take care, she thinks. But who tells someone that until the moment before they leave?

He puts down the phone. Hey, he says. It's good to see you.

It's. . . good to see you too.

We still got a bit of time.

He doesn't want to go in too early cos there's nothing but waiting inside. But not too late that he'll miss it.

I wonder if i should hope he misses it, she thinks.

They talk some more. She doesn't tell him to take care. If there is too much time before shaking hands and departing, it loses urgency.

They start calling for boarding. I still have some time, he says. No need to get up.

She wants to tell him now. But she says, how are things.

If she waits too long, and tells him just before leaving, he will say let's talk when i get back. But a world lies between departure and coming back.

Come on, she says to herself. This is it.

The huge crowd of other travellers and well wishers with him descends upon him. She is lost in the tumult of jokey talk, catching up and quick references to his other life that doesn't include her. She wonders if she should leave, does she look like a lost puppy, sitting here doe-eyed. She might get up and go to the toilet and never come back. Then he introduces her to everyone, and she can't leave. It is nice to be introduced. I want to be introduced more. But does it mean i am important?

She keeps looking at the people introduced to her. It isn't easy to remember their names.

Can they see through me, she thinks. Can they tell what i am thinking? Do any of them feel the same way?

It is time. They are walking to the gate. It seems too much too soon.

He stops and lets the others go on ahead. He turns back, turns to her.

I think i need to run to the washroom, he says. Can you hold this for me?

Wait, she says, holding his bag. He looks at her.

I have something to tell you.

He wants to go but her tone stops him.

I see, he says. They just stand there. This is a strange time to tell me.

I couldn't wait any longer, she says.

Don't i need some time to absorb this?

Probably. She says.

He steps closer.

This is a big deal, he says.

I know, she says.

Someone is calling out to him. Later, he says, waving them off.

You know i have to go right?

She nods. She doesn't speak because she can't.

If i kissed you, would it be enough til i got back?

A pause.

I'll be really quick.

She shakes her head. Then she nods. Then she shakes her head again.

Kiss me and then we'll see.

In unfinished script form it starts thus:

1. Int airport cafe.

Wide of cafe. Unclear who is talking but it is two girls at a table.

Also, OS/ single of X.


... I don't think i should tell him. I couldnt do it. I dont dare to. What if he says --


If you dont say something now, you might not get the chance. A lot can happen inbetween now and then.


I want to. I should.

No, i just cant.


He is leaving. You cant wait any -- shit here he comes.


Hey you guys! Hey thanks for coming. I didnt expect you to come see me off.


Eh, hi. (to T) dont go anywhere.


Hey you know what, i see someone i know over there bye.


Hey the guys are all over

I have a garden that's burning and a sky that's so white i have to squint. The heat is hot, just sweltering. I can feel the sweat soaking the cloth on my back, sticking clammy to my skin. I got dry grass like a crackle, parched soil like a concrete desert. In my mind, all i see is a glass of cold cold water.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

songs to make you cry I

I tell people I taught you everything you know.

When you were young and ate the sour apples from the tree outside my house, and trimmed my hedge, did my odd jobs, and sold lemonade door to door, I watched over you and told you how to climb the tree to reach the higher, sweeter fruit, how to get the lemonade mix just right. You dawdled outside my house one afternoon with a bloody nose, you lost a fight in school. It was the hardest thing not to just go right up and punch that kid in return, and instead tell you something about punching back yourself.

When you were grown I asked you to come and work with me. You wanted to be a pilot or a farmer, but I convinced you. We put on the overralls together, walked the halls together, ate in the cafeteria often. I always said that the company was there to provide, and not just the electricity to the punters in the faraway city, but to all of us living in the area, working our twelve hour shifts. I wanted it to provide for us all. I never listened to a bad word about the company. I never would accept anything but the company way.

Our schedules rotated out of sync, but we still met at break times and change over times. You exceeded me in every respect. Amongst my friends, my shift mates, and our seniors, you were no longer the protege, you were yourself. I was never prouder but on two occasions: the day you replaced me, and the day you took over my department. You married your high school sweetheart after years of waiting. I attended the wedding, and nearly cried when you said, he was like a father to me.

I'm so proud of you and I always say I taught you everything you know, but what I never say is the truth, that it is you who taught me everything. You are my whole family. I was a lonely shrivelled up old man till you fell from the low branch trying to reach those apples and I comforted you. I ate meals at my desk at work and never knew how to be proud of another person's success. I was a no better than a robot, thanks to you I learned how to have a heart. I knew this when we sipped tea in your new house and your son rested his head in the crook of my arm and mistook me for his grandfather.

And if this were a movie, this is where the music starts. I am old, but not useless. I retired not long after your wedding, but I have forgotten nothing. I am walking down the old hallway, I am opening the old familiar doors, and I will, for only the seventh time, put on the radiation suit and seal the helmet.

I heard that you are going into the sealed off zone. I heard that you were called and did not refuse. You are going to go in, leaving behind your wife and son and the small tidy house which amazingly survived the disastrous crash, and follow orders, maybe sort out this stricken mess. And maybe never come back.

I can't let you do that. I can't let you go and risk everything for a plot of earth and a letter of thanks to your familiy, or cancer over twenty years. I got you into this. I can't let your whole future disappear in a plume of smoke that already erupted on the day of the meltdown.

I am going to walk down the hallway, I have it all planned. I am going to the space in front of the metal airlocked door where you all have gathered. When the bell rings for standing up and calling numbers and entering through the door, I am going to pull you aside. Our colleagues are ready to change your name to mine on the register. They will pull you back, as I go in. The entry supervisor will call your number, but my name, to enter. I can do your job, which was mine before, still. I will make sure the door closes behind the last man, and seal it tight so that you can't enter.

Death is not a stranger to an old man, and I am even older now. It is correct that I am here in the airlock, not you. My life was empty anyway, until you came along. You should still be around to give to others, like you unknowingly gave to me.

I can't let your future disappear. It'll be my future too.




Thursday, March 24, 2011


We put the chips on the bonnet of the pick-up truck. The heat from the engine kept it warmer, as we stood, leaned and ate. The air was cold, the oily potatoes were steamy hot. The sunshine and wind coming off the sea were bright and frozen. I leaned on the metal to feel more warmth.

She said, between bites, I have something in my pocket which I carry around. It is miniscule but it weighs a ton.

I said I have something I carry with me. It is tiny, vast and empty.

She said, I want to be happy. But it costs.

I said, everything costs.

She said, aren't we supposed to be having a conversation?

I had no reply.

When you can see through me I understand nothing anymore. How do people see through me so easily. When did you start seeing through me.

Do you feel dead inside, when you think about costs? Or do you feel urgent - a gaping hole yawning up to eat you from the inside of your heart? Do you dream of warmth or of pain? Is everything huge and great and unmoveable, as we cry ourselves to sleep, alone even though we are surrounded by people sprawled in the same room?

If you have something good in your hand, you want more of it. Sweets, tokens, love, success. But what if it isn't good. Desire, longing, ambition, thirst. Does thirst beget thirst?

We sat there on the bonnet of the truck with the oily chip paper, in the carpark on the cliff looking out to sea, wondering if the other person even understood what the one was saying.

You know, I said, without looking up, if you're thirsty and you drink saltwater you'll become dehydrated. And after a pause: you'll get thirstier.

If you drink it while you're still well-hydrated you can use it to survive, she said, looking straight ahead. Bombard. It quenches the thirst of the healthy.

It's weird to be really cold, and to be sitting on something really warm, I said.

She just kept looking away.


Friday, October 22, 2010



as i get older, though i am ever more disdainful of emo kids, i continue to be as emo as i was when i was a teenager.


i still suffer from existential angst, the kind you get when looking up into the huge starry night sky and realise how small and fleeting you are, or when you switch off the tv or lie awake at night and wonder about your mortality and that of those around you and how time passes so inexorably, and what it'll feel like when you no longer exist. (and fill yourself with noise to avoid thinking about it).


I hope there is no god and judgement day so that all my closely cradled secrets do not have to be known to others, but if there is none, i regret that my story will die with me in the grave.

I already had my either quarter or mid life crisis five years ago. It was too early to be the second and too late to be the first, unless my final age is rather below or above average.

I have a wife, family, struggling business in a medium i like and a social circle of kind friends. so why is Pure still harbouring emptiness?

It is because I have achieved nothing. I have made no progress in the things I desired most, and done nothing to advance the causes I believe in. There is nothing I can point to years later and write a commentary on that other people would care for. Or even comment on. I have brought neither emotion nor enlightenment to anyone through my words or works.

my life so far is a meaningless cipher.

I want to make you cry. I promised you I would. Yet I haven't done it yet.

Friday, September 10, 2010

who are you

I ask myself that every now and again, and creep up to the mirror to check the answer. the answers are getting more and more dissembled.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

men in the evening

I wonder if you see me. Surely you must.

That's me, sitting alone in front of my meal of rice and beans, things soft enough for me to eat, cheap enough to eat a lot of, cheap enough so I can afford a cigarette or a beer as well. Simple enough so that they will always have it, so that I don't have to go somewhere else to find it. It's not that tasty that I would like to eat it everyday. But that's the least of my considerations.

That's me, sitting in front of my rice and beans in the coffee shop, eyes darting around looking at the other customers, the other tables full of noise and conversation, the laughter. Not the other laughter, because I haven't got any laughter at my table, because there's no one to talk to or laugh with. My eyes dart up at every noise, every chair pulled back or every greeting. I'm hoping to see someone I know, I suppose. Someone from the past, distant or otherwise, who remembers me fondly, who'll grin and have a conversation with me. It doesn't even have to be a pleasant conversation. It can be awkward words. I am awkward with words, maybe I always have been, I can't remember. It's been a while since I would have done such a thing. It can be a bad conversation. They can remember me unfondly, angrily; maybe I was such a person. Any conversation. If only someone remembers me.

My eyes dart all over the people at the coffee shop as I sit alone; I have no book or newspaper or tv to hide behind, I am plainly looking at the others here. I am hoping to start a conversation with a stranger too, I suppose. You feel it when I look at you.

You know me, you know you see yourself looking at me, looking at you, wondering if we'll start a conversation and if i'll start rambling on disconnectedly because I can't remember how conversations go and am afraid to let a conversation stop and be let go - because who knows how long it will be till I can have another. Who knows how long it has been since I had one before.

But frankly, when rice or gravy sticks to my shirt, I don't pick it off or wipe it. If grains or beans get onto the corner of my mouth or nose I don't remove it. Why would I. Those are manners for people who talk to people, who meet people. I don't talk to anyone. Not that I don't want to. I just, don't get to. So these things don't matter.

I come here early in the evening before the sun sets, order the same dinner every time, and sit down. I drag it out, eating slowly, looking around, pausing often, hoping for someone to clap me on the back too heartily and say hi. But that never happens. Yet I still pause often, hoping something will happen. The minutes stretch too slowly then, as the strangers laugh, order, eat, joke, laugh and leave, and I pausing, look around, waiting for something, or the time to pass. I finish only after night has come on, and then go back upstairs to my room. It'll be the same as when I left it. There's no one to move anything but me. Coming back to the dim room after the lights and bustle of downstairs makes the room seem more terrible than when I left it. Still, I come down to pass the sundown time so that it seems like I've been away longer; it breaks up the day, like I've done something. Somehow it's worse to watch the twilight coming on in the room, to feel the certainty of having done nothing but let the time pass.

Sometimes you'll see me in there though, eating dinner in the chair under the bulb. That's when the coffee shop is too crowded to let me have a seat or when I attempt to break free from the addiction to downstairs. I can't cook, so I still go downstairs then bring it up. But every sound is amplified, every grain, every taste, every second of every fading light ray. I never do it more than once in a row. Even if you look at me strange, I'll be down there with my beans and rice the next day.

I suppose I come here to see people, even if I can't talk to them. It's better than being alone up there, but going back up there after the noise and crowd makes it seem even more alone.

I am the man in the evening, I wonder if you see me.

I guess it's alright if you don't say anything, as long as you notice, askance, that I am here. That I am still here. But how would I ever know.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

men in the afternoon

Slow slow slow

walk with me, listen to me talk about thebes, fathers and tiresias. help me when i am frail, guide me when i am blind.

when the day is oppressively hot, and the seconds slow to minutes, and the minutes to the bus stop are hours, hear my image, breathing laboriously, movements like moving through treacle. I'll come to a stop on the bench, on the chair, on the kerb, on the floor. if i hear a click i won't move, by the time i turn to see the click will have gone.