Lydia Rynne

Three minute thoughts

This city

This city doesn’t like space

I mean space with a capital S

The magnificent planets

The somehow dead but still burning stars

The ‘too big, too far, too confusing, to contemplate for longer than five minutes’

Space

 

This city likes to pretend it’s the only place that exists

Keeps its head down

In denial.

 

This city is greedy, attention seeking

A child too big for it’s boots.

It doesn’t like things it doesn’t understand

Things that make it feel small.

 

But I like to feel small.

So just at that moment before dusk turns to night

But not so dark the street lamps have yawned awake

In those few minutes

I search for stars.

 

So I come up here, to the seventeenth floor, and I look up.

That way, I can imagine that I’m up there too

Sat on the edge of one of those burning lights,

Looking down at you.

 

And I’m laughing.

 

You think you’re big and strong

From where I’m sat you’re a scribble

A mistake

A bullet point amongst a sea of ink

Eyes cast downwards.

In denial.

Blinkered.

 

Now and again I’ll find someone else looking up

A face turned upwards, eyes glinting

A pearl amongst seaweed.

But it’s rare and it’s getting rarer

 

When we first moved to London

I wouldn’t stop crying for all the noise.

I was used to the sound of the sea

To rock me to sleep

Not car horns and loud voices

A clamour of confusion.

 

So dad bought me glow in the dark stars and planets

Which I helped him put on my ceiling

Me at the bottom of the ladder

Foot on the base

Ready to catch him and his stars should they come

Falling down.

 

He looked like god up there.

The back of the packet said the light would never fade

But I can’t see those stars when I turn out the lights now.

I asked dad why

He said

I guess it’s only plastic.

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flake

At around this time every evening

He eats a Cadbury’s Flake chocolate bar

As he cycles (one-handed)

Somewhere above the district line.

I could probably shut my eyes

Cycle blind behind him

Chucking myself recklessly

Into that toxic river of his

(mmm)

Milkysweet trail

Forgetting what happened to Gretel

Not Hansel.

(Hansel was in on the plan the whole time FYI)

And sleep/joy ride all the way to nearly-home

(just before the red bridge perched somewhere above the central line)

Where I turn right and he turns left.

BUT.

Today he whips out a Cadbury’s cream egg.

Semi-Seasonal, I guess.

But a sturdy cream egg

Doesn’t lose itself to the wind

The way the the giving, com/passionate

And let’s face it

EASY

Cadbury’s Flake does.

With this detour in confectionary choice

He keeps me on my toes

I’m getting faster by the day.

My calf muscles hurt

But at least there’ll be a

chocolate

treat

at

the

end

of

the

road.

 

I think

another sea

Her feet slap the pavement

Rain fills her trainers

Three sizes too large

They’re like flippers to walk in

There’s a humming in her chest

And it’s not going to rest

Twelve hours from home

She’s out of her depth

Street light flickers

Through the night that thickens

There’s a fog that’s drifting

And it’s nowhere near

To lifting

With numb fingers she fumbles

With a lost tongue she mumbles

In the race for a space

Between Argos and Prezzos

Or Starbucks and Tesco

Morning is warmer

There’s light on her face

It’s not sun, its headlights

Blinding not shining

Trying to sweep her away

In blankets he wrapped her

In promises he trapped her

Told her it was worth it

That she was through the worst of it

That they’d drowned for a reason

She won’t be trialed for treason

She won’t be stripped of her freedom

Whatever that is

Is she a villain

For wanting the best for her children?

And now that they’ve gone

Is she a bad mom?

For treading water alone

Until the little lights found her

And brought her ashore

Where she wades through the streets

A sea of heads that don’t see her

Another journey to dread

Another water to tread

dormant

A young woman stands centre stage. She is dressed conservatively, as if she has come here straight from an office job ­- buttoned up shirt, suit skirt, a blazer, skin coloured tights, and smart shoes. There is a clothes rail next to her. She speaks out to the audience.

No matter how hard I try, I cannot stop staring at her nipples. I mean, it’s not like it’s that weird, given the context. But it doesn’t look like anyone else in the room is having the same problem. The same obstacle. I’m sure they’re all watching me. Watching me, watching her. JESUS they’re hard.

She takes off her blazer and hangs it on the clothes rail, facing her.

I’m certain the tutor, at least, has noticed my trauma. Smirking at our attempts to take a piece of her home with us. A piece of her we never had and never will but he’s had several times over, on this very floor, against that very easel, smearing his charcoaled fingers across her perfect pink tits and making me want to SCREAM!

She takes off her shoes, and places them on the floor beneath the hung blazer.

I wonder who’s got a hard­-on right now… Twelve ­O’Clock’s easel is positioned unusually low. How convenient. Bet he’s wanking furiously back there, splattering all over that poor canvas, a Jackson Pollock in the making! HA! FUCK. I’m burning up.

She unbuttons her shirt and shows us her chest, which is painted bright red.

A red rash is flowering across my chest like I’ve been sneakily rubbing myself out with my 2B pencil under my sketch pad. And the tutor’s smiling at me from across the room. He reminds me of my old biology teacher. Squinty black eyes beneath a monobrow that’d blow Frida Kahlo’s right out the water. SHIT. Now I’m drawing a monobrow. Just as he’s heading my way. That’s it, a quick smudge here and now there, and tah­dah! Said monobrow is now ‘an expressionist interpretation of the model’s bountiful pubic region.’ He smirks and wriggles his own monobrow suggestively like an agitated caterpillar as he moves onto a NORMAL person who can sketch a live, naked woman as calmly as one decides between smoked or unsmoked bacon.

JESUS FUCK. My paper is still infested with half­sketched nipples. No wonder he’s laughing at me. A fleshly mountain range stretching across the horizon of my sketch pad. ‘Nippoli ­ every boobaholic’s favourite holiday destination’. What THE BALLSACK am I on about?! I think the bloke on my left has fallen asleep which is pretty rude. Oh no, he’s just concentrating. Loudly. In through the nose, out through the mouth, in through the nose, out through the ­ Wait a minute. It’s not him, it’s ME. Don’t. Breathe. Just don’t…. Feeling dizzy. Dizzy and hot.

She unbuttons the rest of her shirt, and hangs it up next to the blazer. She is in her bra, and we can see her torso is painted a multitude of swirling colours ­ reds, blues, greens, yellows.

Just look at something boring. That’s it, look at her toes. Nice, safe, unassuming toes. I bet everyone in this room has nibbled a million toes in their lifetime. And not in a cannibalistic way. Probably rushing straight home after this to douse their multiple lovers’ little piggies in Nutella. I can hear them salivating all around me. Wet tongues flicking this way and that in anticipation. ENOUGH! I’m starving.

I’m on the tube and she’s here. No­one’s looking at her, and why would they? They don’t know who she is. What she can be. I wonder if she’s wearing a bra. She doesn’t need to, they’re so fucking PERT. The man next to her is taking up way too much room, can he spread his legs any wider?! Must have a massive cock. Or he just wants people to think he does. She’s looking down. Pretending to look at her phone. But she’s definitely wondering the same as me. One hundred percent.

She wriggles out of her skirt, and hangs it up next to the blazer and the shirt ­all now facing her from the clothes rail.

I want to ask her if she noticed me tonight. If, in the room full of eyes, did she feel mine on her skin the most? Did her nipples burn as I traced and retraced their contours and crevices and wondered what they’d taste like dipped in balsamic vinegar?

She turns to face the clothes rail now.

I’m standing in front of my bedroom mirror and my nipples are harder than I ever thought possible. I’ve been pinching and twisting them like they’ve less nerve endings than marshmallows. FUCK they sting. They’re pretty ugly really. Nipples. Two mini, purple volcanoes, lying dormant until one day, they will erupt proteinous lava for one short burst, before they crust over for another thousand years. Maybe it was the lighting that did it for hers. I’ve turned off the main light and thrown a red T­-shirt over the bedside lamp. The shadows make my tits look bigger, which is worth remembering.

My skin is a sort of yellow red. I look warm. I look like fire. I wish they could draw me, right now.

I wish I could feel their eyes on my skin. Peeling me away like wet wallpaper. Wanting to take me home.

She reaches behind her back to unclasp her bra. Cut to black

It’s Fristmas Time… There’s EVERY need to be afraid.

As an agnostic fence-sitter, the ‘true meaning of Christmas’ has long lost its potently pious effect on ma soul. But at some point during my hedonistic teenage years, while Faith slipped out the back door unnoticed, Distraction, in the form of pastry miniatures, fortified wine and the new pink ghds quickly slipped inside, high-fiving Faith on the way. And has kept the foot-tapping, flag waving, glitter spraying jig up for far too long.

Now that I am a fully-fledged-adult, however, living the life I always dreamed of, sharing a glass cage with smiley happy people tapping their ditties into their desks, the Christmas spirit has yet to break through the walls of my increasingly hardened heart. And it’s 16th December ffs.

I work next to Oxford Circus. And a circus it most certainly is. A glitzy, rainbowed, all singing all dancing display of the worst of western consumerism.

So it is, to me, beginning to feel increasingly like Fristmas. (Fristmas, for the (blissfully, trust me) ignorant amongst you, is a predominantly uni-days tradition which allows student households the opportunity to drink and eat more than they already do, with the added bonus of not having to see each other again for four whole weeks. Oh yeah, and it is an amalgamation of the words ‘Fake’ and ‘Christmas’. As if Christmas isn’t fake enough. Bring on threadworms of Tesco tinsel, draped over a pre-pubescent Christmas tree, straddled by a hand-made cardboard angel with breasts the size of Yorkshire puddings.)

I am no longer a student and thus have survived on one measly Christmas dinner per annum for the past three years. Pitiful, I know. And without four weeks off, to attend second-cousins school nativities, to join mum on the never-ending-but-when-it-does-it-ends-in-tears big Christmas food shop, and, of course, without the regretfully-gluttonous Fristmas of uni-years, the Christmas spirit (WHATEVER THAT IS) isn’t likely to be felt until, well, quite possibly Christmas morn, given the expected delays at Waterloo.

Thus, I have begun to question, what this time of year means, to me. I think most brain-owning humans have pondered ‘the meaning of…’ at least once in their lives and for whatever reason, possibly one I’m soon to find out, have promptly taken the elevator straight back up to the seventh floor and shut themselves back inside their glass box, to get screwed over by Amazon Prime until they pluck up the courage to arm themselves with shopping bags and plough through Waterloo in time to hop on-board stress-express homebound. Cos when you stick to the rules, things make sense. Or at least more sense than a Christmas without presents.

I am a normal human female and of course would love my rents to buy me a laptop that doesn’t need shaking every ten minutes to keep working, I’d positively fit with glee if my bf surprised me with tickets to Paris he’s spent weeks checking Eurostar for to find the deal that won’t require a small loan, and obvs I’d want my home friends to search high and low to find gifts that vaguely point to a decade old in-joke that will, convolutedly, reassure me that we are as close now as we were back then.

Reading this back (because yes, you might’ve guessed, I don’t write with a plan…) I think the meaning of Christmas might actually be, to me anyway, something to do with Reassurance. We are addicted to reassurance that we are loved enough to warrant the money and effort of another human being. When that person who always gave you a gift, no longer does, then that friggin’ means something, doesn’t it? But it shouldn’t. Maybe the reason they haven’t remembered you is cos we’re spending so much time and energy standing in shop queues buying bath bombs (cos that’s a generic, inoffensive gift that Paula (who I haven’t had time to see this year, so don’t really know what she digs anymore) will like) that we forget to actually spend the most important currency, TIME, with these so called loved ones.

If missing out on presents means mum can spend time playing scrabble without a post-Primark eye twitch then that is FINE BY ME. So this year I asked my family not to buy me presents but, if they insisted on parting with money to reassure me of their love could they instead give the money they were going to spend to a charity of their choice. I can tell they have found this difficult. The eye-twitching has actually increased.

Perhaps this will be the saddest Christmas I’ve ever had and everyone will say ‘told you so’ as I weep into my empty stocking. But on the flip side, maybe I’ll realise reassurance doesn’t come in the form of another bath bomb.

Urine for it…

When people take the piss, they know they’re taking the piss.

I have probably / definitely taken the piss on countless occasions but, there are different levels of taking the piss. Am I using the word piss a little too much? Maybe that’s cos I’m feeling a little pissy.

I hate people who take the piss. Not the little pissers. We all take little pisses every now and again when we’re grumpy, when we know the person on whom we piss extraordinarily well, the friend or loved one whom we would-piss-off-the-ends-of-the-earth-and-back-for.

Nah, I’m talking about the perpetrators of the great, big, waterfall of a slosh that wakes the whole house, if not the neighbourhood, spraying the walls and leaking through the floorboards in the process. Staining and stinking it’s surrounding so it leaves a sort of yellow-honey mould in its wake. A Jackson Pollock painting featuring only putrid yellow paint. That kind of piss. Pissed by the Big Pissers.

Today, a Big Pisser has taken a piss too many. And I’m not taking their piss lying down. I will gargle and spit their piss right back so they can taste the grapes of their own pissyards. The Big Pissers need to start realising that there’s plenty of piss flying about already in this universe without the need for their daily detritus downpour .

Big Pissers. Please take it outside. Like the rest of us.

Yours.

Juniper

x

Empty pen

She likes to buy miniature shampoos and conditioners from the travel section in Boots, not because she’s going on holiday but because she enjoys pretending she is a giant when she showers. The same excitement is drawn from eating broccoli. Fairy trees, as her mum used to call them.

When she passes elderly folk she slows her walk or holds back altogether, even if she is running late. She does this because if she were old, or rather, when she is old, she doubts that she will take pleasure seeing the young flitting by in their cloud of limb-functioning, narcissistic naivety.

She can be jealous often. And forgiving rarely. Once bitten she forever shies from the offender, often altering her daily life course in order to avoid potentially awkward situations. For this reason, she shops at a grocers twice the distance from her local and with arguably inferior and limited stock, only to avoid Steve Mongin who lives above the closer establishment.

She hates it when the only pen she’s carrying runs out of ink. She loves the man who offered her his own pen when the above situation occurred on her monthly train ride to Manchester last Easter. She still fantasises that he will one day leap through sliding doors, onto her carriage and tell her, perhaps via written notes, with several near-demised pens, that he had bought a ticket for every 11.26am train to Manchester for the past 6 months in the hope of one day meeting her again. And then take her boldly but gently by the hand and lead her to his blood-orange Volkswagen van (which he iro-ffectionately names Van Morrison, in memory of his late father, who was not Van Morrison, but an avid fan) waiting illegally in the taxi rank with a fluttering £50 fine slipped almost seductively beneath the, also orange, wipers. And he would laugh at the law and push the pink paper into his black jean pocket, suggesting they use it to roll a cigarette later on. And he would drive her all the way to Manchester, through rain so heavy it would remind her of driving through a never-ending carwash (her favourite outing as a child). Power ballads would be playing on the car radio, not his choice, but the only music station they could find, so they would laugh at themselves, as they sing along half in irony half in earnest, the way a teenager secretly still makes a wish when blowing out the candles on their birthday cake.

But she has never seen this man or his pen again, and instead finds she attracts the world’s weirdos as train companions, e.g. the bloke who spends his 1.5hr commutes watching the same nineties video clip of a red-haired, angered woman, wearing a lime-green Kappa track suit, sweating it out on a rowing machine. He would watch this on repeat and blush with anger when the train’s Wifi failed him, which was often and every day, but always seemed to take him by surprise.