LAURA TANSLEY’s writing has appeared in Butcher’s Dog, Cosmonaut’s Avenue, Gutter, Lighthouse, Litro, New Writing Scotland, The Real Story, The Rialto, Southword, Tears in the Fence and is forthcoming in Stand. She is also co-editor of the collection Writing Creative Non-Fiction: Determining the Form. She lives in Glasgow and is shy on Twitter @laura_tans.
Sex / Air travel
I want it as smooth as a pen on the first page of a notepad, with enough space to stretch out like the quarter seam of a new paperback, and if anyone makes any announcements they had damn sure better sound calm and confident and never end a sentence with god bless us all
Empty responses never existed
We made a Ouija board one night, a Smash Hits cover cut-up, because I’d heard proof they worked. One had told my mum she’d fail her eleven plus, which she duly did it being her destiny, and we wanted the same kind of chance to have something known for sure so we asked questions that we knew deep-down were self-fulfilling prophecies. What will we become? *Nothing* What’s after this? *Nothing* What’s better than Paul Rudd’s tongue when they kiss in Clueless? *Nothing* Then Lisa Downs’ dad drummed her bedroom floor from the kitchen below with the end of a broom and we screamed as if he’d scared the shit out of us because, after confirming with the dead, we knew fiction was as true as fact.
Reassure me with pressure
He’s never been happy to see me cry, especially in public.
Pinch-gripping the back of my neck he holds me open, puppets me like a snap dragon, pours me out
like milking a snake and I need it:
drain me, do it quickly. Squeeze the life out of me and bring me back from the dead.
Like a scared dad whispering words to a son, he brings my ear closer to parched consonant clicks,
gives stern advice, grit that has to be heard and heals under a graze mingling my history with his own.
Head up, he says, mark up, knees up.
I can’t help but; body responds.
So for balance I’ve been drinking like a man even though all those units hurt my head and my heart
and carrying boxes with the weight I deserve not what I can cope with
is a disc-rupturing way to catch up with or compete.
It’s a lot of responsibility for us both, a lot of tradition to resist,
but he knows if in bed I choose not to bend, and stay stone-still in erotic thrill, it’s because all day I have to pretend.
Maybe if I could curl my back like a cat everything would crick in to place. My shoulder blade jut would sink, ceasing to be a wing case, that future hunch erased.
If we could make the shape of question marks maybe we wouldn’t be such contradictions.
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