Tag Archives: flash fiction

My Little Bulldozer

There’s a bulldozer that follows me around. The eras of my life in pieces at his feet. The smash and crash and vibrations through the earth as memories fall, crumble, disintegrate. Are trodden down into the soil ready for new foundations. For someone else’s memories to smother the land and chase through freshly made corridors.

The long corridors of my youth stretch out before me with bleached histories fading with the echo of laughter. The rooms where I made friends are all gone. Good friends and bad friends. Those I still exchange birthday cards with and gossip over coffee once in a while. We know each other like two backwards hands that can nonetheless find each other in the dark. But our memories have been smashed into the soil. The benches we sat on in the schoolyard, sharing music through earphones on old walkmans. The tuck shop snacks of iced buns and chip cobs. The places where we witnessed fights and fires, young energy and destruction in minute forms. Spreading through the concrete yard and squeaky classrooms with a furious futility that would soon dissipate to nothing. Another identikit housing estate and my memories bulldozed.

My 6th form college. More concrete yards and playing fields with hidden smokers’ corners. Stone age teens talk of blazing and we laugh afterwards, mimicking demented enthusiasm. More classrooms with new friends made. Bonding over hatred of Tony Fennec. Watching horror films at 9am for Media Studies. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre burned onto my early morning retinas, while other memories fade. Trampled down by the bulldozers which eventually demolished it all. Another identikit housing estate and my memories bulldozed.

My university campus out in the leafy suburbs. Light passing dreamlike through foliage and Victorian houses with curved glass windows. And the building which housed us a Brutalist shadow against blue-grey skies. More long corridors and endless stairwells splattered with paint, the legacy of careless art students. Climbing to better views and brighter rooms, cold with single glazing and the pinch of morning frost. More friendships formed and funny stories exchanged. Bonding over hatred of pretentious classmates who would no doubt succeed in the art word while we were still shopkeeping and bartending. The echo of those high, bright rooms towering above a northern city remind me of a special time. Maybe the best of times in my rose-tinted nostalgia. An age where the possibilities were endless and friendships would last beyond the final bell. Before the endless possibilities became mounds of impossibilities. Before the hills became too steep and slippery in the pinch of the morning frost. Before the bulldozers came and knocked down my Brutalist dreamscape. Another memory smudged into the soil ready for someone else’s foundations. No identikit housing estate to replace my bulldozed memories, just luxury apartments adding insult to injury. The paint splattered stairwells with ascending views fall away. It’s someone else’s view now. Smug above the city in fancy boxes.

And there’s a bulldozer that follows me around.

© Kirsty Fox 2017

 

Note: This particular prose poem is memoirish. The true weird fact about me is that my comprehensive school, my 6th form college and the university campus where I studied art have all been knocked down. I may be jinxed.

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It’s too early for it to not be dystopian

I was born in the back end of paradise at the foot of a wall. Now I’m old enough and ugly enough to fend for myself. But I don’t. This morning I’m attending a conference on survival. Not survival in the wild, but survival in the arts. It’s much the same. It’s the end of the world as we know it right in this moment here and also the one you’re in now. So in the post-apocalyptic landscape, all forms of survivalism are valid. Dystopia is handed to you in the pages of the morning Metro as you hurry for your first coffee of the day. A man in a woolly hat stands still amid the human traffic of morning commuters. He studies the ground in a hazed oblivion searching for stray cigarette butts. He looks pleased and surprised when he spots one. As though just realising the answer to a puzzle. Automated voices announce train times and reality fades to a veil of early morning hysteria. Crisp packets rustle and work acquaintances make polite conversation. Struggling with weak smiles that seem heavy and irrelevant given the state of things. We have become like coral or a yeast. A living thing en masse teeming with anxiety unable to separate our consciousness from one another. The survivalists try to predict which apocalyptic scenario will get us first. Stocking their bunkers with tinned food but also learning to hunt and forage. But the apocalypse is here. It is this slow death. A slow death of knowing that it is all so subtly wrong but being powerless to change a thing. In the distance, a boat with a broken sail floats idly on flood lake in the midst of chaos. The scene fades out.

Books versus Vignettes

I wonder how long I drag out the self-referential fox jokes for. Until they’re as frayed and meatless as scraps of dried up kebab dragged from a 6am takeaway by hungry urban vermin. I light a fire which consumes discarded snot rags and street wood. My housemate pours me a glug of Laphroaig whisky and puts a Tom Waits record on. It is raining outside but also not raining. Water cascades off the roof and dries mid-air as though it had never been. Never reaching the ground which is dry cold and aches with a sadness belonging to more troubled souls than you and I. The lights inside flicker but don’t quite go out. The bulbs uncertain as to whether their time is up and they should take a long walk into the darkness. I read a book because it seems like the right thing to do with the music and the fire and the whisky. There was a TV scene I watched the night before in which a teenager explores his estranged father’s house for the first time. The first few rooms are typical Californian beach bum novelty, but when he enters the final room there is an entire floor to ceiling wall of vinyl records and on the opposite wall facing it a floor to ceiling wall of beautiful books. Life goals, I think. We gradually build up a pattern, one healthy glug of whisky per side of a record. Chapters of books fall out of sync with this, however. Disappearing into a broth of eloquent prose and non-existent plot. Time passes and pages turn. Tom Waits becomes Neil Young and books become cigarettes rolled up and smoked beneath the spotlight of a winter moon. Wild flames turn to hot coals emitting white heat and heavy thoughts. Cigarettes become books once more. Unraveled, unsmoked. Words return faithfully  to the page, climbing inside eyes which transmit them into language for a wet warm brain of pink. The fire and the vinyl crackle briefly and fade as one. We fall seamlessly into the sleep of winter, born away on soft dreams with the promise of spring.

© Kirsty Fox 2016

Ghost Ship

The ship creaks beneath my feet, a loud aching creak like the bones of an old whale turning in his watery sleep. We drift on the dark ocean, yet it is the sea which seems to move only while we stay still. A solid steady weight afloat on fluid dreams and an imagination drawn to whirlpools. Spiralling down to an ocean bed of starfish and sea horses and beautiful ugly incredible things that man has never seen.

The ship drifts towards the whirlpool or rather the whirlpool drifts towards a still ship. A lonely creaking entity weighed down with history. War, fishing, rum, piracy – all in a day’s work. Claustrophobia and agoraphobia all at once. How do you survive in this tiny place amid so much space? How do you tell the stars from the sea? The clouds from the white wash? Are we moving or is the world moving us? Will it suck us down spinning with bubbles and deceptive light. Down into a purgatory not unlike the one we’ve left…

© Kirsty Fox 2015

Two Awkward Mannequins

The grass was green where we stepped. Changing underfoot from the straw of midsummer’s empty gasp to the green of hesitant optimism. We laughed and talked of things bigger than us. Bigger than the world. But however small and meaningless we were, it was meaningful to me. Tentative steps towards a joint future. A something. I really wanted that something. I still do.

But the grass stopped turning green underfoot. The silences grew longer. For all our talk of worldly things and existence, we couldn’t talk about you. About why you’d never meet an admiring gaze. About why you didn’t want this in solid form. The initial sketch of us was fine. It was just pints and sex and music and TV. But I couldn’t flesh us out. I couldn’t add shadow or definition. I couldn’t harden those outlines to a couple. Rather than the vague suggestion of a couple.

We stood on the corner in the cold. Awkwardly. Two awkward mannequins not knowing what to say. I was dizzy & light-headed from a lack of sugar or a sense of fatigue. Eventually, I hugged you and you hugged back like the world was about to end. The grass is concrete and the picture begins to fade. First to monochrome, then to mere lines. Finally a blank page.

© Kirsty Fox 2015

Train Ride North

The looming belly of purple clouds poised in juxtaposition to their fluffy, flossy, white scalps all set against a blank blue backdrop stolen from the Truman Show. They shuffle along the horizon in constant transience between bright light and doom. The sun is gloating. Slipping sly glances through the gaps it allows in the bi-polar clouds.

All is well in the world when oblivion and soft shy happiness walk shoulder to shoulder. I am loved and in love. I am alone and in loneliness. I am tragic and in tragedy. I’m in between the dreams of troubled clouds.

* * * * * * *

He takes a deep thoughtful breath. As though the truth might be found at the bottom of his lungs.

Pyro

Tangled sinews twist up beyond the ether. A match strikes & a flame gasps into life. The dripping rag takes the flame, becoming alive in deep orange light. The gleam of an oil painting in which he is both the viewer & the subject. His body is for a moment suspended in a crouch, eyes shining faintly in the contemplative light. Then his arm stretches, reaching through the broken panel of the doorway. In through his sweater the edges of stubborn glass shards graze his arms, marking him as the culprit if forensics were ever to bother looking. But they won’t. The heat on his outstretched hand is now unbearable. He drops the flaming rag & retracts. He is shaking his hand & licking the skin between sweater & glove where it is scorched. Another mark that only the bathroom mirror will find. Private crimes that climb into his own eyes & settle. They’re promises to the fiend inside. He has been true to the flames. Flames which now lick the edges of the laboratory, searching persistently for fuel & oxygen, to feed their need to destroy.