‘California Here I Come’
I was a shy teenager with a handful of bookish friends, but when I turned 14 I latched onto a girl who was very different to me. She loved talking about boys and make-up and the kind of lives we’d have as adults, all things I hadn’t contemplated at that age. Her defining feature was her long blonde hair, which she’d spend hours straightening until it laid flat down her back in a silvery wave. Our friendship was built around MSN messenger conversations and popular TV. In 2004, that was The O.C.
The O.C is an American teen drama series created by Josh Schwartz that first aired in the UK on Channel 4. It follows the story of brooding teen Ryan Atwood as he’s adopted by a wealthy family in Newport Beach. His step-brother Seth is nerdy and verbose with a hopeless crush on popular girl Summer. Ryan is attracted to Marissa, Summer’s best friend, who is as troubled as she is beautiful and just happens to live next door. The improbability of it all is part of its appeal. Growing up in a small city in the northeast corner of England, the golden sands of California felt far away. Anything was possible in Orange County.
Read the rest of my essay in The Bi-ble, an anthology of personal essays and narratives about bisexuality, which you can purchase via the Monstrous Regiment website.
Monstrous Regiment are an indie publishing collective based in Edinburgh.
‘so altered & infinitely more’
At that time desiring and being desired was all I needed. I could feed on those moments of physical intimacy forever. I spent my teenage years trying to reconcile with the way I looked. I wanted to be lithe and pinched and for clothes to drape in the way they did on my friends with angular frames. My body next to theirs was cumbersome and unruly, my facial features arranged clumsily. My mind and body felt so far apart and bridging the gap was exhausting but when he pulled me close in the dark I was somehow realigned.
Read my essay published in The Real Story.
‘poem in which she unfolded’
Read my poem in Poems In Which.
Published in Popshot Magazine.
Baking is a loose term for what we do. I wake up at five in the morning. I go to the freezer, bring out the goods and put them in the oven on a pre-set programme. When this is done, I clean the displays. Mostly I work alone although sometimes I’m joined Gary who is small and gaunt with an aversion to desserts. I wonder if his means of employment is a cry for help, a way to express his self-loathing. I’m too polite to ask. After we exchange morning pleasantries, an awkward conversation about how irritating it is to wake up so early, he will hold a baguette against his crotch, gyrating his hips and mimic sexual ecstasy. This is a ritual I’ve grown to accept. It’s possible to predict how the rest of our shift will pan out by the theatrical contortions of his face. A soft, resigned orgasm means he’s in the throes of depression. On these days we bake in silence. But if he comes with a comedic force we talk about all manner of things, usually his failed marriage and repugnance to tiramisu.
A voice over the tannoy announces a spillage in fresh foods.
Read Leftovers, originally published on Hobart.