by Harriet Gregory
On the driveway, he said “It’s funny to kiss you.” She looked at him and a tear left her eye, and took with it its blue colour. The blue ran down her face, thick syrup goo that dripped into a blob on the pavement. Then, with nothing left to keep it there, her eyeball popped out. Stark white and hollow like a ping-pong ball it bounced down the driveway and onto the road. He watched on in amazement, waiting for her to respond, to say something, to be horrified. But instead, in the silence of his astonishment there came a rustling from the hollow of her eye. Out pushed a bird; perched on the bridge of her nose it shook dry its wet feathers and flew away.
Harriet Gregory dabbles as a writer/performer and is currently studying Theatre Production. She loves bad jokes, good posture and is aggressively optimistic.
by Emma Salkild
“Stress is a killer of hair,” my hairdresser had said.
I bring my new shampoo into the bathroom. It’s supposed to put volume into thinning hair. As I massage the shampoo into my head, chunks of hair come loose. My scalp is so sensitive that the water makes my head sting.
The hair must be blocking the drain because foamy water is coming up in my shower, covering my toes. As I bend down to unclog it, I pull up some hair and scream. Blood drips from the ends. I touch my scalp and when I bring my fingers up to my face I see red liquid dripping down my hands. I turn off the tap but the frothy water continues to grow around me. Bits of red swim through it like blood clots. I try and sidestep it but I slip on the foam and my body hits the bathroom tiles. Pain pulses through me and I try and stand but I’m winded. The water has a life of its own. It swirls around the bathroom, covering the entire floor. Blood clots are crawling up my legs.
“Help,” I scream, trying to get to my feet but no one is home. A jolt of pain pierces through my leg; it might be broken. The water is now five inches deep. My legs are completely covered in red and the blood clots are moving up towards my belly.
I try to scream again as they fill my throat.
Emma Salkild is a freelance writer and editor. Her fiction work will be published in print later this year with the Australian Literature Review. She is also the contributing editor for Alternative Media Group and writes reviews on theatre, film and music for Sydney City News and City Hub.
by Angela Meyer
In a cold Baltimore church basement, a vile film flickered over faces. Is it a she? they wondered at the pudgy one, hair pulled back to make room for the skyscraper make-up. A middle-class man muttered, but his wife, who had been curious (flier tucked under her windscreen wiper) fingered the pearls on her neck and wondered how it would feel to have them, one by one, slipped into her anus.
Divine had to kneel, to pick up the turd. He was inspiring to the ‘gays and the heavy-set’, his mum told a documentary-maker, years later. Divine preferred to be called an actor, or a shim, not a female impersonator. Divine’s director, with his skinny mo, called her a he. Divine smiled when she ate the shit.
A raucous racket at the closing shot: laughter plus wiggles of discomfort, even from the stoned-out post-Beats and Hippies. The Priest thought: how creative he is. He’d never seen anything like it.
The censors crossed themselves. The theatre put it on after an ‘educational’ sex film.
Not so many years later, in 1988, Divine crashes after dinner in a hotel, and drops away. An enlarged heart. Someplace else, trash plays on VHS in the background at a party. One boy is going down on another for the first time. A stoned girl thinks nothing is new, but everything is lovely. On the screen, Divine drops to her knees again.
Angela Meyer is a Melbourne-based writer, reviewer, scholar, drinker, Bowie-fan, lover-not-a-fighter and literary blogger for Crikey.
by Rachael Blackwood
Your ribs expand yet your breath catches twice before you scream. As you scream, you close your eyes and all you see is blood.
Someone died today and the blood drips through your hands. Your face is wet and your lap is wet and the overhead light buzzes ‘I-know’. Your eyes know but your brain overheats as the fluttering flickers your pupils.
You’re frozen on the spot but a hinge creaks and your hands, they stutter and they shake. It’s okay, she says, and pats your back and you’re five years old hiding under the stairs.
You’re on the way to nowhere and yet now you’re here. You’re here and here is somewhere but Someone is not there. Not here. Nowhere. It’s a nightmare but it is not night.
Not right, but to your right she’s opening the door again and it squeaks again and you’re five again. Five perfect little hands, you think, and then realise that’s not right either.
Can I see, you squeak, and wish you hadn’t. Your brain is catching up with your eyes. She doesn’t answer just pushes the door wider and he shuffles in. His eyes are catching up too so you squeeze yours tight and black him out.
And then you laugh abrupt and hollow, bah, as that’s kind of how you slew Someone. So you squeeze your eyes tighter and wish him dead too. Instead, he slips his fingers between yours and the blood fills the gaps like mortar.
Rachael Blackwood writes, reads, loves, and laughs. Her current internet home is here.
by Tristan Foster
He went to these places, one day standing in the shadows at the back of the hall and breathing its old book smell, sitting in hard chairs with his fists on his knees the next, in the hope that he, simply by being here, could participate in some miracle.
Size was not a concern. What he wanted was something he could walk home with, shoes scratching on the footpath, hold in the dark and think about, and that his thinking about would have no effect on. Something impenetrable. He planned to take it and carry it around with him afterward, to wear it around his neck and under his shirt, kept close to be held between fingers whenever he needed to remember. A thing that was beyond and apart from what he knew, and to question it would make him become aware of the extremities of his skull.
One time he was there and a storm was at the door, an angry wind, which shook the trees and roof beams and sent leaves tapping at the coloured windows like rain. He thought maybe this was it; others leaned away suspiciously, and he knew they thought it was too. But it was only leaves, thrown at the window out of a grey sky.
So he went and listened, mouthing a response like the others, and he waited, eyes wide.
Tristan Foster is a writer from Sydney, Australia. His work has appeared in print and in code. He blogs things of varying obscurity at http://leadigloo.com/.
by Sarasi Peiris
She smiled when he arrived at the restaurant carrying flowers.
“Sorry, I’m late,” he muttered sheepishly.
She opened the door and froze, like a deer in the headlights.
“That’s alright. You should’ve called. I’ve ordered my second helping of cake – been craving dessert lately,” she patted her stomach.
He made no comment and checked his phone.
The boy who had promised he loved her yesterday was locking lips with the girl she believed to be her best friend.
“Expecting a message?”
Deeply indulging in their passions, they stayed blissfully unaware when she closed the door.
Now she noticed: the tapping of the foot, the glances at the watch, the restless fingers. She had been played for a fool. The saddest thing – she had loved him.
Two choices: revelation or revenge.
“Well…” he began awkwardly, “I have some bad news. Don’t take it ha-“.
“I’m pregnant.” She linked her hand in his and lied to his face. “It’s yours. That’s why I wanted to see you… in private.”
His face went pale with shock. Desired reaction.
“How do you know?” he asked, searching her face.
It was clear her news had big implications and he was getting serious. She could play him just fine.
“I want you to take a pregnancy test. I’ll come with you.”
She got a test kit from the pharmacy. He waited outside for her. But she stayed inside, muted in horror, seeing the test turn pink.
Sarasi Peiris is a manipulator of words that admires ingenuity and innovation and strives to use creativity in writing. Having graduated with a M.A. in Publishing and Communications from the University of Melbourne, currently she’s an editor of two publications and works on her blog writing and taking photos during her spare time.
by Emily Lazar
I know you. You were the boy I sat 3 chairs behind in physics… the beautiful one with the dark hair. All the girls giggled at you as you passed them by. Your jeans rested low on your hips. Scuffed Converse, a small hole on the left heel; you used to mark them up with a black sharpie. You were shy. You would doodle sketches of warriors from other planets on the covers of your notebooks. I would stare at the back of your neck and memorize the way it curved and study the way your hair fell as it gently grazed your shoulders… and that tiny mole on the left side, near your clavicle. Sometimes it hid from me, covered by one of your faded concert tees.
I remember you. I would wait in my chair fiddling with papers, buying time at the end of class, in hopes you would pass my desk and I could catch the conflicting scents of baby powder and cigarettes you left in your wake. Ink covered your entire left arm, multi-dimensional drawings of abstract ideas that you had created. They belonged to you alone. All in black and white, you were more beautiful than any color I had ever seen.
That was the first time for me. My insides willfully plundered, my throat exposed waiting to be cut like the neck of a rose. Again and again, I revisit that feeling… so precious in its vulnerability, a taste so sweet to each involved.
M Lazar is the creative force behind the musical art project, September Mourning, as well as a model. Although she resides in Los Angeles, you are more than likely to find her out on tour in the United States or Europe, or gracing the pages of some of your favourite magazines.
by Gerard Elson
Two pigs in mud:
‘Isn’t this mud lovely and warm?’
‘I’ve felt warmer.’
‘Than this? When?’
‘Just have. This isn’t so warm.’
‘I don’t think I’ve ever felt warmer mud than this.’
‘’Course you have.’
‘You’ve felt mud warmer than this in your lifetime.’
‘And how do you know?’
‘Just do. Don’t spoil a nice moment with hyperbole.’
‘I’m not. It’s genuinely the warmest mud I’ve ever known. Hog heaven, I believe, is the term.’
‘Just say it.’
‘Look: we’re pigs. In mud. Be content with that. Enjoyment needn’t always outshine itself. You’ll supernova.’
‘You know, like a star. When it keeps expanding.’
‘Is that what a supernova is?’
‘You can be happy by just being happy, you know – you don’t have to be the happiest you’ve ever been every single time, lest you feel unfulfilled. You’ve grown dependent on emotional escalation. Only yesterday you said, “this is the most satisfying slop I’ve ever eaten.’”
‘It was hearty slop!’
‘So just say that!’
‘Look: I was “happy just being happy” back in the old pen. But here… I can’t open my snout without you negating me. You’re so self-dissatisfied that you can’t stand seeing me content. It’s pathetic.’
‘The most pathetic thing you’ve ever seen?’
‘Maybe I’ll sprout wings and learn how to fly. That way, I could shit on you for once.’
by Regina Bresler
Ears are funny things. Funneling in the rest of the world, trapping information. Hanging from our faces, like weather vanes on faulty architecture. Mine hold on to sounds like jars do fireflies. Buzzing about and hitting the sides until the light runs out. Most of last night was flapping its wings the next morning. A single song hung so heavy over my memory that as I sat on the cold porcelain I swore it was blaring through the vents from my neighbor’s apartment. Flicking the light switch down and silencing the fan made the rhythm quit, but up it went, and that voice returned. She must’ve been trying to tell me something about the way I live. About the lack of sleep and smoker’s cough, hitching a ride since the weekend. And here we are, a breath away from the Sabbath.
It is more then sound that lingers. The reverb in my throat seems to be gathering speed. A bit more of my borough is hanging out the hems and drifting into view. But please, don’t point it out. You’ll only make me blush. Throat tickled and hissing out memories, dueling with the bathroom-pipes for airtime, trickling down the dew of the chilled windowpanes we’ve drawn our hearts on. All of me is at attention despite the hour. I am a bass amp with a broken knob. I am the feedback on a frayed copper wire.
by Rebecca Dempsey
It was always like this, night after night for a whole dark season… him and her. She backed away, her dark eyes large with fear, her face unnatural, pale. He stepped forward, tense, expectant. He clutched at her back and held onto her belt and pulled her close. She could feel his heart beat. He took a step back and she followed – a puppy on a lead. With her hand, he grabbed and flung her with sudden force away from him. She spun, but, at the last moment before her collapse, his support was there; his arms around her. He dropped her and she stretched out, arms taut over her head. Tears traced down her face as she leant back. He folded her back and rocked her. She took up his hand and stepped back – he was still there. They were two people. She dropped her hand away; he held his out to her. She took another step back, then another, head held high. She leant forward. Alert, he waited, coiled. With quick light steps she leapt past him, suddenly he was before her. He caught her up, tightening his clasp and lifted her without effort up above his head, for a second, for two, then let her float down. There was no space between them. They were one. Silence. They turned and stood side-by-side, breathing. Music faded. Light flooded their faces. There came a rush of applause. The dancers bowed and retreated, hand in hand, into the dark.
Rebecca Dempsey lives in Melbourne and is a published book reviewer and award winning short story writer. Amongst her qualifications is a La Trobe University Honours Degree in Humanities. Rebecca can be found at her website or on Twitter, musing about writing, reading, pop culture and occasionally, cricket.