Together We Sleep

Written by Rivers of Tarmac


There’s a lot they don’t tell you about sleeping with someone. Not sex (although I’m sure there is plenty they don’t tell you about that, too) and not snuggling – just sleeping. Sleeping next to someone, with their arms wrapped around you and their body pressed against yours. They tell you all the good stuff – how intimate it is, how it feels like you belong there. And how safe and warm it makes you feel. They even tell you some of the bad stuff – the fights for blankets, the lack of bed space. But there’s a lot they don’t tell you.

They don’t tell you about those moments when your head is trapped in the crook of their elbow, which is sweaty, and you feel sticky and warm and a bit uncomfortable. They don’t tell you about elbows pressing into your back, or the rough scratch of stubble on your neck. Or how when they cough, you will feel it – warm and tickling – on your ear.

They don’t tell you how warm and damp and sweaty you will feel, with hot naked flesh pressed up against you and pressure in all the wrong places. They don’t tell you how your hips will ache from lying at an unnatural angle, that every time you shift your weight you will hear them sigh as you disturb them. They don’t tell you about limbs trapped beneath you, hands roaming awkwardly in search of a resting place, or arms that have nowhere to go. They don’t tell you about the vague sense of unease that comes from sharing all of this with another human being.

And yet, as I lay there – blankets awry, joints aching, limbs tangled, warm and uncomfortable, he whispered “I love you” into my ear. And I fell asleep smiling.


Together We Sleep was written as part of a sleepless night for Rivers of Tarmac, whilst lying next to her partner. In a stream-of-consciousness setting, these were the thoughts that ran through her head that night, rather than sheep counting. And we couldn’t agree more with her opinion. A dead arm, a dead shoulder, the sticky sweat. Yet despite all the bad points, the comfort of having that special someone next to you is just worth it. If you enjoyed Rivers of Tarmac’s work, you can view more short stories such as, ‘This is not an Eloquent Post‘ and ‘A Boy Who Fell In Love‘.

Featured Image CC // Art Brom

Thoughts of Copious Beer

Written by Eruantien

I am who I am
No one else
My thoughts are my own
as are my emotions

To think she would feel the same as I
is arrogance indeed
For each has their own mind
not to be moved by any

some may shout and scream
when they think they are short-changed
but who am I to disagree with her heart

I can still be there for her
to be her friend is my reward
and enough that must be
for I dedicate myself to her

and her happiness
shall I give myself for.


Smack, bang in the middle of the friend zone, Eruantien’s poem certainly hits the mark. Unrequited love may be difficult at first, but we learn to move on and cope in our own time. Rejection is cruel, but it’s something we all must deal with, whether it be through love, work or friendships. Thoughts of Copious Beer concludes our love-themed content for this month, but if you’ve enjoyed Eruantien’s work make sure you check out his other work such as, ‘The Art of Swordplay‘ and ‘An Address to the Coconut‘. 

Featured Image CC // Zach Dischner

Lift Girl – Part 2

Written by Fantasy Girl

She must have left work slightly earlier than usual as I didn’t see her in the lift. But our cars were the only two left in the car park as I stepped from the double glass doors of reception – her red MR2 parked next to my silver Nissan just like every day. She was struggling to start the car as I approached, so I stuck my head through the open passenger window.

“Need a hand?” I asked with a slight smile on my face.

“My stupid bloody car won’t start!” she growled back through gritted teeth as she tried again.

“Which way are you heading? I could give you a lift home, get a mechanic to look over it tomorrow morning?”

“I’m heading back to Colchester, if you know the area, just off Tufnell way?” she seemed hopeful.

I lived about a ten minute walk away from the street she mentioned. “Jump in,” I said. “Let’s get you home.”

The journey home was quiet, pleasurable rather than awkward. We both enjoyed the peaceful silence after a stressful day at work.

“Which road is it?” I asked as we turned on to Tufnell way.

“This one just here,” she pointed to the road sign that said ‘Axel Way’. “But I’ll get out here. Thanks for the lift, I really appreciate it!” And before I could protest, she was out of the car and jogging down the road.

I had to go down the road to turn around anyway, so I drove down, and sped back up the street to the house she was approaching.

“Who the hell is he?” shouted the man who was waiting at the door for her – a partner, I presume. She didn’t answer. Was he on about me? “Who is he? You stupid slut!” He back-handed her across the face, and dragged her into the house by a handful of her hair. He slammed the door behind him, but it bounced back open.

I scrambled out of the car, not knowing quite what I was planning on doing, but knowing I should be doing something. I heard screaming as I approached the door, she was begging him to stop. He didn’t. I crouched down by the door for what seemed like a lifetime, listening to his rhythmic grunts, and her constant pleas for him to stop.

I was in hysterics by the time it finally ended. I had let him do that to her, and I could do nothing about it… I let him rape her, this girl that I barely knew, and it was because of… it was because of me!

I heard her sobs as he moved around the room. Then a gunshot, footsteps. The door swung open and he spat in my direction.

“Enjoy the show did you? She’s a screamer!”, he said, with a sadistic smile on his face. “Well,” he continued after a minute of silence, “you’re welcome to the slut now. A right lot of good she’s going to do you though.” And he walked off, without looking back.

I couldn’t bring myself to move until he was out of sight – I was frozen to the spot like a statue, but then I rushed in, and followed where I thought the commotion had come from. All I could see was blood, a lot of it, akin to a horror film I’d watched the other week.

Lamps, paper, and other household items were scattered all over the floor. There was smashed glass on the kitchen floor tiles and the curtains had been pulled down. And her naked body laid there, in a pool of blood on her cream carpet. The body of the girl I had seen every morning for the last three years, so helpless, so vulnerable. Until today, we had never truly spoken, just a polite ‘hello’ in the lift or a meek wave, on my part.

It was a gunshot to the heart that killed her. Her body was covered in bruises, some old, greening as they faded; some new, purples and blues blossoming like flowers on her ivory skin.

She didn’t even know my name, I thought as I fell to my knees and cradled her head in my lap. I’m the only person here, and it’s because of me that this happened. I should have invited her for coffee, I should have taken her to my place to look over finance plans for the company. She wouldn’t be here – she wouldn’t be like this if I had… – this would never have happened, and it’s all my fault.

“I’m sorry!” I cried, stroking her dark hair away from her beautiful face. “Shiv, I’m so sorry!” And then was when I felt a very faint pulse through her neck.

“Dan,” she whispered as her eyes fluttered open. “Thank you.” And she went limp – her breathing stopped.

I checked for her neck pulse again and confirmed what I already knew.

She was dead.

Fantasy Girl’s second and final part concludes Siobhan and Dan’s tragic story. It’s heartbreaking, and we can’t help but feel a little stab of pain when she mentions his name at the end. Oh dear, better pass us some tissues! If you enjoyed the finale of Lift Girl, make sure you check out the first part which we published last month for the complete package. 

Featured Image CC // Peter Almay

The Game – Part 2

Written by Dice

The Game is never really won. The man may think he has succeeded if he and the woman are currently ‘dating’, or ‘going out.’ This is when the opponents are together in such a way that, traditionally, the battle is now concentrated to the two players. Opponents may also be ‘going steady’, ‘engaged’, or even ‘married’, these occur later in the battle; it is a time when the quiet moments are the most numbing, but the battles are fought even harder.

When opponents are together, other opposition is generally silenced when they are informed of the player’s situation with another. There are, however, times when an outside opponent does enter the ring. This is considered as bad form and bad gamesmanship but – in actuality – gives the Game a whole new level. And it’s also becoming an increasing trend in the modern Game.

Battles become more complex during the ‘together’ period, usually more so for the man. The man must now be on guard for a ‘question move.’ As such, this can be a cruel move but is very common. It’s the woman’s way of twisting words so that the man must think on his feet to avoid defeat. Delaying tactics are available but they do not buy a lot of time.

An example of when a question move can occur is when the woman is trying on clothes and inquiring the man’s opinion. Generally the questions can be innocent and calm, such as ‘What do you think of this dress?’ This example is a relatively easy answer, where the man must, in all cases, give positive yet constructive feedback. These are also opportunities for the man to gain bonus points, with comments such as: ‘This one [ie: the dress] goes with your beautiful eyes.’ A comment that would sound ‘cheesy’ to the man, of course, but one that women will love and may concede points in the Game further down the line. This move can also end the question move before it becomes too dangerous.

A question move that turns dangerous can have serious consequences on the man, particularly if he is not alert. If the couple have spent a long day shopping together, for example, the man may become mentally tired which could cause him to be caught off guard. Variations of the question: ‘Does my bum look big in this?’ must always be answered with a firm ‘No.’ A reply that can in any way be linked to: ‘Yes’ is a textbook error on the man’s behalf.

The move and counter sounds trivial to avoid, but a woman can be craftier in applying this move. Continuing on the same theme, a man must be at the top of his form if faced with the ‘Does my bum look bigger in this dress, or the last dress?’ Note the negative state this question takes. The obvious reply would be ‘the last dress’ but this move is a mistake. In fact, it implies that her bum looks big in the current dress and even bigger in the previous dress. No, a man has to be smart and chose his words wisely; his reply must ensure the woman that her bum looks big in neither dress and that he has given an opinion on the current dress. A very well constructed move will result in both the woman being satisfied in the answer, and the woman choosing the dress that the man preferred.

As Valentine’s Day is now well and truly over, Dice’s second part of The Game might just make men question what women really want. No, not the Mel Gibson film, or the one with Colin Firth and Amanda Bynes, either, but one of the man’s own choosing. That niggle of a question, “Does my bum look big in this?” is probably one that only women can answer themselves. Besides, us women prefer to go shopping either alone or with our girl friends, we only drag men along when we don’t want to pay! If you enjoyed Dice’s piece, why not check out the first part of The Game, which we published last month. 

Featured Image CC // Charles Rodstrom

Lift Girl – Part 1

Written by Fantasy Girl

My white shirt was stained crimson as I held her dying body in my arms. I didn’t know her – not directly anyway. She worked in the same office block as me. We would pull up in our cars at 8.45 every morning. We would park our cars next to each other every morning. We would walk in and get the lift together every morning; I was on the third floor, she was on the fifth. We would see each other in the lift down as we left at 17.05 every evening, and so on.

Her name was Shiv, short for Siobhan, or whatever variation of the spelling she used. I didn’t know this because I’d spoken to her, I’d never spoken to her apart from a polite ‘hello’ on a morning other than today, I knew it because I saw it on the front of one of her birthday cards one Monday morning a few months after I started working there. Did she know my name? I guess not. How would she? It’d never come up in our ‘hello’s’ on a morning.

She doesn’t even know my name, and I sat there, cradling her head in my lap as she lay dying on the floor before me.

The day stated as any other did: my alarm went off at six am (I snoozed until half past) and dragged my arse out of bed. I brushed my teeth and stumbled downstairs to the back door to have a cigarette. I ironed my shirt and trousers, got changed, wolfed a bowl of Rice Crispies down, and strode out of the door at 8.15.

Chris Moyles was doing his last breakfast show on Radio 1 as I climbed into the car, and ‘Star-boy’ was playing – the remake of the McFly song ‘Star-girl’ that the band did to say bye to Chris. And by the end of it, both Chris and the boys from McFly were in tears. It was a painful half hour drive; just listening to the goodbyes, the celebrities’ goodbyes, as well as the fans. I was sick of the whole charade by the time I pulled up to work. Yeah, I get it, he was a good DJ, but he didn’t deserve that much of a send-off.

I wondered where Shiv was as I walked into the office reception, but heard her shout, “Hold the lift!” as I stepped inside. As she slid in beside me, I noticed her dark hair, usually pulled back into a neat bun, was falling elegantly about her shoulders. And I soon saw why; as she pulled the sleeve of her shirt up to scratch her shoulder, I saw a bruise blossoming on her collar-bone – the purples and the blues of hurt and anguish.

Thinking back on it, I could have stopped this from happening – maybe I should have invited her out for coffee, asked her to come over to my place and look over some of the finance stuff I’ve been working on for the company, or something. It’s my fault it happened. I’d seen the signs. Most of all, I’d seen the bruises and the low self-esteem. Her seemingly irrational fear of most of the men we worked with. I should have stopped it. I could have stopped it. I could have stopped her going home… but hindsight is a wonderful thing. How was I supposed to know how that night was going to end? But somehow, I can still only blame myself.

Written on behalf of the Fiction Frenzy with the theme ‘Just One Day’, Fantasy Girl’s short story fits perfectly into the theme of beginnings. Starting at the end and gradually hooking us with a dark tale, reeling in all the raw emotion from a sudden death. It’s gut-wrenching but, still, a wonderfully told story – and this is just the first part! If you enjoyed Fantasy Girl’s short fiction, why not consider reading some of her other fine pieces including, ‘Commune‘ and ‘I’m a Slug, Get Over It‘. 

Featured Image CC / Chris Chabot

The Game – Part 1

Written by Dice

Both opponents have met and are in place. The stage is set. One side sets up the trap to lure his or her opponent in. But the Game is never completed so easily.

The newest weapon in the Game is SMS. Opponents can make challenges or counter their opponent by sending text messages or ‘texts.’

A ‘text’ bout is dependent on the player’s wit and composure. The player must be able to think quickly – a text takes seconds to reach its destination so delaying tactics are not available to the player.

The man is on the offensive, the woman on the defence. The man thinks he’s being social with his text chat with the typical, ‘How are you?’ and ‘What are you up to?’. This is all very friendly, a neutral stage of the Game if you like. But the Game cannot stay quiet for too long. The woman is most likely to make the first move, since they are known to want to test their opponent. One of the strongest moves a woman has is the ‘Suggestion Tactic.’ Women are experts at applying the ‘Why don’t you do this?’ move.

In this turn of events the man can have a selfish attitude, but to win he must appear as the ‘Gentleman’ and so if faced with this attack, a man has got to think fast. Through wishing to win over the woman, he must admit that he is under the mercy of her needs and must comply or counter with an excuse. Excuses for not complying with the Suggestion Tactic are difficult to design and, with the lack of time between moves in a text war, the man has little time to plan his next move, usually admitting defeat within the current battle.

This move is quick and decisive and, though it is considered the woman’s victory, it comes at a cost. The man does receive a form of point that is mentally recorded by the woman. These can be cashed in by the man, usually at the woman’s leisure in order to win the Game.

Every time we read this short satirical piece, we can’t help but chuckle. Dice’s matter-of-fact storytelling gives it such depth despite its surface context. Texting is such an intricate part of our lives now that we can’t help but be influenced by certain emoticons, the amount of kisses to pop on the end of a text, and so on. The relationship between men and women has never been so complicated. If you enjoyed Dice’s satire, check out some of his other pieces including, ‘The Writer’s Block‘ and ‘The Paper is a Stage‘.

Featured Image CC, woohoo_megoo

We Listen To The Song

Written by X3naurus

pink_lillies

Remember the pink petals, too? Image // Gazeronly

I’d never play music too loud,
just loud enough for us to sing along.
I’d never speak of praise or hatred,
only when my thoughts are held alone.
A girl who sat by me once said she’d
heard the music.

She’d never wish in the night
until a star was born, her eyes closed.
She’d always give a glowing smile
to any dawned and dusked to fear.
A man who passed her by once had
saw the smile.

He’d sometimes stop to think,
just before he’d drown in wonders.
He’d come home to collect his thoughts,
and leave for thoughts to collect.
You looked at him and asked to
share just one.

You remembered a dying light,
but forgot the pink petals underneath.
You always screamed inside your head
when anything you loved was lost.
But I could only play the music for us to
sing along.

 
Though written a few years back, X3naurus’s lyrics are still a beauty to behold today. Stripped back and subtle, ‘We Listen to the Song’ flourishes on paper, and we can only wonder what it would be like to hear with music. Twinned perfectly with our theme this month, Light, we hope you enjoyed reading it as much as we did. If you liked X3naurus’s work, you can check out other pieces such as, ‘Minor Wounds‘ and ‘Tame‘.