This month I wanted to do something a little bit different for the newsletter. I am posting a short story, piece of prose I wrote a few months ago, called ‘Sticky One’. To all my survivors: we got this. Enjoy.
“You gotta be careful wid dem typesa girls, blud.”
He burns the excess skin off the spout of his spliff.
“One minute they arksin’ you to rearrange their guts. One minute they kissing your neck, peck-peck, over and over. Lippsing you. Touching you.”
He puts the Zoot up to his lips, licking them, moistening them slightly, before balancing the roll between and barking it.
“Then they wake up next morning, stark-bollock, no scooby, no trust left. Blaming you, bruv.”
He sucks then smoulders then smokes. Then starts up again.
“You like da ones who don’t say no, init? The ones who are heading for an early grave. The ones who pile it down em and piss on train tracks and have bruises they don’t know the origins of. Init? You like dem.”
He extends his thumb and index fingers, pinched tenderly, to me. I receive his gift. His wisdom. I inhale.
“But deez girls get too fucked up fam. Then they want to get fucked. Then they beg you to fuck them. Then you do fuck them. Then they wake up, feeling fucked, still, looking for that poise they lost long ago. They feel so grubby, so dirty, so used, they need someone to blame. Gal who do that many drugs are always the victim. They think they are always the victim. You will never be equal to them. You’re just another cunt who had his way when they were off theirs.”
My finger burns. I’ve sucked and sucked and sucked on the spliff without pause, only panic, and it’s roared its fired breath all the way to the tips of my own thumb and index. I stub it out. I exhale.
I finally find words.
“I ain’t a rapist.”
“I didn’t say you was.”
“Sounded like you did.”
“Kind of. Basically.”
“So why you fucking care what I call you? I ain’t slept with you. Worry bout the trampy little ket fiends you keep around to play with your cock post-hole.”
“All I’m sayin’ is that if you fucked about wid sober gal, the only way you’d get accused of rape is if you found a nutter, or if you actually did it.”
“I’ve secured the first by the looks of things.”
“So tell a bruddah what happened.”
“What, last night?”
“No. On 9/11. Yes last night you fucking eedyat.”
I’d popped a pill on my way outta work. I dint have no plans but neither did I have nuff dough to go pub. I had a jack and jill left over from the weekend, and this Thursday night felt the right time to reintroduce myself to the rainbow. It took me ten minutes to get back to my yard from site, which gave me twenny minutes to get out my hi-vis, into my trackies, and bell every cunt I knew had no responsibilities Friday and invite them over. I had five minutes left once I’d completed that to-do. Then my eyes started vibrating. And my toes went all glittery.
She trotted in all limp and languid. Her blonde hair was in two piggytails, the dark roots crawling into the hair bands, tightening grip as one bunchy hung low with the other perched high. She had glitter smeared over her drooping eyes with tiny, drawn symbols half decayed under her lower lash line. She had a plastic choker wrapped round her hickeyed neck only emphasising the lack of fat atop her clavicle. A Primarni dress clung to her fidgety frame, outlining the rolls her belly folded over when she sat down in tiger stripes of fresh and fading sweat. Scabbed knees. Odd socks. Crinkled, crusted, crooked Air Max. Her ankles were whiter than her kicks. Her nose beat both in its dusting.
She sat on the sofa opposite me. Took out her phone. Dove acrylic fingers into her bra and bled the baggy in one go onto the cracked screen. She poked her pierced tongue into the plastic pouch, removing any evidence it has ever been filled with anything. She took a fiver from the phone case, lazily hoovered the messy mound then licked the note before locking into trance. She leant back, then looked directly at me.
Her body fizzed. It doubled then singled then split then merged then relaxed. Then it wobbled over to me. It slumped a thigh next to mine. It sprayed a five frayed fist over my belly. It ignored any question. It avoided any answer. It didn’t cough or splutter or sigh. I looked at it, coiled into itself, curled and edged. I rubbed some cocaine into its gums. I felt its hard teeth resist the flexibility of my entrance as I pushed pinky in. I sat back, then noticed a rumble of movement shake under closed, shadowed eyes. The body became hers again and she opened up, looking at me.
We spoke about the trip. We spoke about work; my lack of care for it and her lack of it full stop. We spoke about rave. About dancing. About parents and friends and dead and alive and sex and hatred. We spun in the shelter of each other as the room bounced behind. I kept offering uppers, hoping to capture the essence of her leaping heart totally, but she stopped the speak about abruptly once she clocked one of her mates at the kitchen table cutting up a collage of ketamine. I lost her. Or did I just give her back?
Next thing I’m carrying her stoney body into my room. I place her on the right side of the bed; the spot I never occupy. The spot that ain’t got no yob residue; no sweat, no spunk, no slobber. Who said romance is brown bread? I sit on the left and flip off each shoe before letting my back roll down beside her. The only thing I point to her is my head, watching her breathing rise to the surface; turn deep to shallow. She opens her eyes and looks at me. She reaches for my face, and before much motion is mentioned or direction is dispensed, we’re going at it like meth heads. Then I shimmy off her, into the spot she started, she in my swapped origin. We drifted into dreamland; she in the left, me in the right.
I cleared blur into consciousness from the sound of zipped zips and clipped clips and fits of hissing spit foaming around my party pit. My lips were swollen. My index and middle fingers thick with yellow skin. My mouth so dry the air feared floating into that inferno. I saw a skip of tangled blonde flit around. I saw red cheeks and pure black iris. I saw tears tripping over cheekbones. I asked wagwan. The blonde sprayed throughout the room as the body’s head circled viscously round. I sprung hands over eyes as a trainer darted into my face. When I put my hands away, back down to level with my waist, I was in an empty room. Just me and the space.
“I text her init, cos I was juss baffed, man. Look.”
- Y u leave like tht
- R u joking?
- Duck off
- Wht is acc ur problem
- Do u remember all of last night?
- I don’t so
- Yeh U was fucked
- An yu think it’s ok to have sex like tht
- Answer the phone
“Sticky one man.”
“Do you think I’m in the wrong?”
“…sticky one man.”
“You had bare to say earlier and now you’re schtum?”
“Play with fire get fucking burnt bruv. Maybe it’s a wake up call to stop shovelling all this shit down you still. Fuck, fam, we nearly thirty. Ain’t eighteen no more.”
He rips out a Rizla, chucks a nug and starts grinding.
“I ain’t a rapist.”
“Never said you-“
“She was up for it man, she was kissing my neck, peck-peck, over and over, like you said. Lippsing me. Touching me.”
“Who ain’t woke up next day in a place they never been with a body they never seen and an anxiety that screams in their face as they escape dreams with the schemes reality seems to think is okay?”
He don’t look at me. He just rolls. Just rolls.
“My body count is mostly beats I don’t remember.”
He licks the sticky bit.
“I gotta go chat to her man.”
He holds roach end in thick lips pouted, touches flame to paper and keeps eyes away from me.
I take the spliff out his zipped gob and head out.
1 missed call.
2 missed calls.
3 missed calls.
4 missed calls.
5 missed calls.
“Just put it on do not disturb.”
“I thought he’d have given up by now.”
“Three sugars, init?”
“Make it four. You got any Paracetamol?”
She roots then chucks the packet at me.
“Who even is he?”
“How did you meet him?”
She tilts her head to the left, serpent scan unravelling and surrendering me.
“I met him at rave.”
“There we go.”
“It was his motive last night.”
“It’s a blur.”
“If it’s a blur why you so fucking torn up by it?”
I go for one of her straights. It’s the last in the pack, turned upside down to be smoked last for luck’s dying wish. I light it at lip-end, closing my eyes before looking up to God to secure my bid.
“If you were so messed up you can’t even remember a Thursday night maybe there’s bigger issues at hand.”
“Fucking hell, man, I’ll just tell you what I can make out.”
We was circled round a bench, the usual bench, by the athletics track. Dark as a chicken’s arsehole that time of night but we was used to it. We all had our phone torches on. A tiny JBL bumbled to the bass of a jungle mix, constantly interrupted by the YouTube ads and the giggled grumbles of “skip it blud”. One torch attacked the epileptics of us as it started ringing. We collected our backy, our baggies, our bumbags. We did bumps on the bus. We bustled in through a blue door and bounced about a blurry living room.
I sunk into a fag burnt sofa to top up. I could feel a stare turning me into fantasy. I got nervous. I accidentally shook all the powder onto my phone. I was too embarrassed to shovel it back in so I just lapped it all up. I finally found the culprit of the scrutiny. His curly sweep branched across his sweating forehead, mingling with lashes and bushy slugs that reached out to each other over his third eye. His starved torso sunk and rose in staccato under a plain, tent-sized shirt that was made blacker with briny damp. Loose, scarred jeans hung deep as his knees avoided each other. Air Max 95s dug into the ash soaked carpet. His skin so pale I can see the sofa fabric through him. I stumbled over to rude-gal a reason out of the galling gaze.
Then I was in a white room. Four walls. Hexagonal, twisting vision. Nothing. Nothing for no time and all time and nothing became everything then nothing again.
I come back to my hand on a snail trailed tummy and a bellyache. Still being stared at. Smile. Then a smile. Safety. Maybe. Smile back. Do it.
Wake up. Knickers off. Body used. Hair entwined. Body used. Head fucked. Body used. Clothes back on. Body used. Voice heard. Body used. Scuttle out. Body used. Travel home. Body used. Wash. Scrub. Clean. Used. Inhale. Body. Exhale. Used.
6 missed calls.
7 missed calls.
8 missed calls.
9 missed calls.
10 missed calls.
My sister wraps her arms around me as I pool salt and sadness and sickness into her fast paced neck.
The doorbell’s serenade breaks her vines away from my concrete.
The stare stands in my doorway.
She looks different. Her hair is near dry, pin straight, face clean, skin clear, eyes bright, yet red.
He looks exactly the same as last night. Same clothes, same bravado, same belly that looks unfed.
She doesn’t look scared. She doesn’t look angry. She just stares at me, waiting for words.
He starts to apologise, then stops, then begins alibis and plots, and I don’t even know what I’ve heard.
She just stares at me. Glares. She swears, then stands, then asks me if I’m dumb.
I’m going at him, too near to bodies merged, as I hold how close I am to losing it between index finger and thumb.
Hit me then, fucking hit me. I beg for explanations, get none, then turn to run, but catch myself in her hand.
Don’t fucking leave, sit down with me, as I tell you something you have to at least try to understand.
“I hate my body. I hate the way the fat curdles and turns craters to cushion, collecting in every cranny my figure claims as collateral. I hate the way I look. I’m hooked on the sharp talons of insecurity’s bear traps, wrapped in snapping yaps every time I try to bridge the gap between hating myself when I’m sober and loving myself when I’m yakked. When I was fourteen I’d been kissing this boy all night. Then I went to sleep in my mate’s house, in my mate’s bed, with my mate. He broke in through the backdoor and started fucking me while I was still dreaming. I woke up to my friend’s mum kicking him out like a stray, where he had a breakdown in the alleyway. I didn’t feel bad for myself. I felt bad for him. I didn’t feel bad for myself. I hated myself. I hate myself. I drank and fucked then drank more to forget getting fucked. They all got me when I’d lost myself. I started it blacked out. I didn’t know how to finish it being blacked out. This morning I woke up and looked down at the worn skin that has worked it’s way to weathered, and it had been wormed into by someone who will never want it the way it needs to be wanted. If I could give it to you I would. But now that you took it, I have lost more fibres, more figments, more feelings. I’ve been frazzled in the fires of fermentation for my whole fashioned figment of fucking existence. I die every time I’m taken without my own temptations being tentatively tickled, without honey trickling over hot skin, without my ticking time bomb of terrified touch being sweetly sucked in and let total control. I hate my body. I hate it because it don’t belong to me. And I don’t know how to claim it back, when boys like you sign wills with me in for your kin, instead of giving up the squatters rights and returning it back to me.”
The stare. That’s all.
“You gonna do me like that really?”
“I dunno what to say.”
“Seems the trend.”
“You ain’t the only one been through it.”
“Go on then.”
“I dunno man.”
“You really think you don’t owe me that?”
Dad. Drunk. Mum. Abused. Life. Cliché. Brother. Individual. Me. Nothing.
Screaming. Foaming. Spitting. Beating. Pleading. Crying. Begging. Hating. Easy. Loving. Trying.
Ignored. Again. Ignored. Again.
Fighting. Losing. Repetition. Winning. Fucking. Snorting. Taking. Giving. Wanting. Needing.
Disgusting. Loser. Idiot.
Not. Good. Enough. Never. Good. Enough.
The stare. That’s all.
“Fine. Don’t say nuffink then.”
She gets up. Replenished by the outpour. Changed attitude to the chafing thighs, the jutting stomach, the flexing muscles in her feminine frame. She catches her reflection in the telly. She sees herself standing there, strong, despite. She sees his silhouette slumped behind her. She keeps him there.
He gets up. He just sees. Sees what he always does. His perspective as it always is. His thundering troubles zigzagging his whole being, trembling to escape, frantic with frenetic frenzy. But stilled by his incapability to see it. To understand it. To approach it. To plunge his fist into its chops and make it his bitch. His bitch. His miseducation on his self. His acceptance of what he’s always been told he is. His laziness to escape the expectations. His fear of even being scared. His disregard. His hedonism in place of effort.
“What now?” He asks.
“Now? Now you get the fuck out of my house.” She replies.
“I ain’t never done this before.”
“You a virgin?”
“No. I’m sober.”
She lets him circle her sloping hip bones with his soft tongue. She lets him bundle her up in his long, brave fingers, gripping onto her like he don’t want to lose her in the bedsheets. She lets him kiss all the places that were only ever previously ignored. Places she didn’t even know got kissed, like her rapidly rising and falling rib cage, her outer thigh as it wriggled, her feet’s soles as they wrinkled then smoothed out under the pouted, poetic pecks. He never flipped her over without warning, held her down with more force than she needed to stay put. He never made a move without confirming her reciprocity in the lusts that pursued. He never wrapped whitening knuckles round her neck or pinched her cheeks to part her lips and spit in her mouth. He never slapped her to scar as she bent over before him with dribble spilling onto the bedsheets and the flattened side of her face bubbling crimson as she smeared herself into the bedsheets, too weak to even try and enjoy it. He just touched her and let her touch him back, in whatever capacity she was capable of. He was careful with her. But not timid. Confident. Yet seductively tentative and tender. He made her cum before he even fucked her. Her eyes rolling to her hairline for a different reason this time. They laid backs on steamed sheets and chatted afterwards. He said he wants to worship her. Asked if there will be a next time? She said, no. He said, that’s absolutely fine. Then he stayed and chatted some more. Then he left, without trying to change her mind about the future, without forcing a wet, unreturned kiss on her zipped lips. Without making her feel guilty for just getting something out of her system.
I just stare. I just sit on the sofa and stare. Twenty-odd people fill my living room like boiling water rising and rising and rising but me the only one with skin peeling, teeth exposing, blood piping. Whatever. I stare. My brother sits next to me, skunking in grey plumes. He hands me the king size. I smoke until it’s just jack.
A girl slinks over to me but I tell her to fuck off.
I don’t know half the people here. I don’t know the cunt sat in my spot, staring and swearing and screaming but silent. I don’t know. I don’t.
A girl slinks over to me but I tell her to fuck off.
I’m handed the Bible with white slashes bleeding the cover. I help heal the wounds. The oozing stripes help heal mine.
A girl slinks over to me but I tell her to fuck off.
Then I’m in a white room. Four walls. Hexagonal, twisting vision. Nothing. Nothing for no time and all time and nothing became everything then nothing again.
But I can’t escape. I have to face it even though I’m off mine. I see her, twirling in vibrant rage. Twisting and fissuring as she burns sage to cleanse me, sat in my cage, monkey man, funky stank, dark and dank. The tank is spilling over the edges, I float then I’m sank. Totally emerged.
“Bruh, wake up fam.”
He grips thick fingers over my shoulders and rocks me like a seizure.
My eyes open. The room’s empty except him. There’s sunshine roaring through the curtains, flashing third legs into my red, squinted eyes.
“Shit needs to change.”
“Hello? Anyone in der?”
“Shit needs to change.”
“Are you fucking brain dead bruv?”
“I need to change. Can’t do this no more.”
“Stop staring at me, g. Say summink.”
“Can’t do this no more.”
“Whatever. You got work in an hour. Fix up.”
“I will. I’ll fix up. I will.”
“Are you ok bro?”
“Ah, fuck it. Stay as you are then.”
Impossible, now. Now that I know. Now that I’ve listened. Now that I’ve heard. Now that I’ve seen.
WIAEA (What I Am Excited About):
Song: Girl Goin’ Nowhere by Ashley McBryde – It’s no secret I love my country music. This song tells the empowering story of a woman being told she won’t succeed but defying those knock-downs, something I am really excited by and told in that country storytelling way that is just raw, gorgeous and perfect.
Book: Grits by Niall Griffiths – This man is just a powerhouse of talent. The way he captures lives, thoughts, feeling, realities, addiction, partying and more in the most honest exploration is captivating. You can tell he has lived, and thus his characters do the same in his writing. It’s really fucking exciting reading his work. I urge anyone looking to find their voice with their work or just searching for a piece that does whatever it wants to pick this one up. It’s magic and really one of a kind.