Friday 13 January 2012

short story: fuck tea. fuck toast

*i read a excerpt of this story at the 'Smile for London' launch this week and thought i would share it here, its a love story set in the London underground, a tale of yearning and wanting, a thoroughly modern Brief Encounter...


fuck tea. fuck toast 
a 'brief encounter' for the 21st century

Fuck being safe, fuck playing safe. in fact fuck playing. fuck being careful. fuck giving a fuck. fuck killing it and fuck damping it down. fuck blocking it and clocking in, fuck ticking the boxes and fuck the box. fuck the rehearsals and fuck the show. fuck fuck fuck. fuck doing what’s best and fuck being a good girl. fuck being a good boy. fuck routine. fuck the sysyem. fuck money and fuck the banks. fuck the power and fuck the mind fuck mind fuck mind the gap fuck. mind the fucking gap fuck. fuck control and fuck being controlled and fuck being controlling. fuck the dream and fuck the sleep. fuck food. fuck tea. fuck toast. fuck it. fuck being reasonable and fuck being sensible. fuck. fuck holding back and fuck fighting with one arm behind your fucking back. fuck. fuck holding it in and fuck sucking it up and fuck holding it back. fuck holding on to anything. fuck holding your breath. fuck wondering when its going to begin and fuck wondering if its over yet. fuck. fuck hoping its going to start and fuck hoping it will end. fuck. fuck home and fuck there is no such place as home. fuck playing safe. fuck playing at all. fuck being serious about anything and fuck not being serious enough. fuck faking. fuck taking. fuck making all that fucking carry on about some fucking shit you don’t even give enough of a fuck about to even give a minute of your fucking time to fucking remember to give a fuck about it, fuck, so why are you fucking cracking on about fuck it all now? fuck fucking fuck…he said.

He said, of course it fucking hurts that’s why its called fucking sun burn, clues in the fucking name for it right there…and when it hurts you just think, oh it hurts, and then you think so what if it hurts, get on with it, cos what else are you going to fucking do? waste of time that, saying oh it hurts, deal with it, that’s why its called fucking sun burn, cos its burnt for fucks sake. look at my sunburn, he said…

Does it hurt? I asked… 

Of course it hurts, it just pain and being alive has got pain in it. that’s life. life is hard and full of things that hurt. wear a fucking crash hat. deal with it. fucking cunts. not you, you are not a cunt…of course not cos you are a lady. are you laughing? why are you laughing? is it because I’m funny? do you think I'm funny? I like your laugh! it makes me laugh. can I ask you something? are you wearing contact lenses? am I wearing contact lenses? no, why did you ask if I am? because I asked if you were? they are blue. real blue. yours are kind of blue as well. look see no lenses, just eyeball, poke it if you like, if you don’t believe me, poke my fucking eye, it don’t hurt. gimme your finger and touch my eyeball, see no contact lens there, just me fucking eyeball. 

I am on the tube and the drunk boy on the train is pretty. his eyebrows are pale gold and his lips are loose. the back of his tan neck begs kissing and nibbling. he is convinced he is coming home with me. how come? lets go back one move, ten minutes ago, he got into the train carriage with me. go back another move, twenty minutes ago we talked at the ticket machine. go back further, he was outside the pub and he followed me into the tube station. rushing to catch the last tube to north london. hang on, now go back one more scene about forty five minutes ago, we were in the same pub. his friend spilt my drink. then insisted on buying me another. then they made us do a shot of something. 

 I laughed and said that was how they got to talk to pretty girls, spill their drinks on them and make them talk to them then? are you pretty girls then? he winked arrogantly. well I haven’t heard any complaints lately I volleyed back. well you seem to be talking to us anyway. yes I do now don’t I. 


Closing time. as I was leaving, he, that one, the one with the soft cheeks, flushed with alcohol, the one there, with that one freckle between the bristle and his top lip. imagine that soft cheek and that freckle against your inner thigh…but yes, he leaned over and said lady, take me home with you and I paused and then nodded and yesnoyesnomaybenoyesnoyno no no….he must have only heard the nodding part.

Next thing I know…he’s adorable. 

I mean, the next thing I know, he is following me down the escalators and every few steps he drops his money, pound coins roll across the polished tube station floor. I bend down and pick them up and give them to him and each time after time, he says thank you. thank you. thank you. I laugh and he laughs too. then he puts them back into his trouser pockets full of holes, again and again. 

 He says, fucking holes. should sew them holes up. you are right, he repeats himself, I fucking should sew them up. do you know I have seven pairs of trousers and do you know all of them have no pockets that work, all got holes, he says. 

Oh let me sew your trouser pockets, make you pies, soap your back into a lather and gently pet your sleeping head. I think and I smile at him. I like him, I like people with broken teeth, ripped pockets and worn down heels. I love him. I love you and your damaged goods. you are a chink in the china and a tarnished tea spoon. I know that you and me, we could hold onto the torn sails together of a sinking ship and weather a storm and I know we’d find dry land. 

We could smash up the furniture and throw the splinters on a fire to keep warm. we could blag it, rinse them all and get away with murder. you’d repair some of my fractures. but still match my broken parts. but you could never damage me any more than I already am or my ill repaired patchwork head would already allow. we’d be good as new. we’d be held together with saftey pins and the bitterness of disparage and sour experience would force us to work together, to get along and get on with it. We’d peel the eyes off potatoes and make them chips all good again, eat them on the grand sofa of this journey. and we may as well get comfortable since we are here, we chose the path, we’ll find our way eventually, the long way around. 

 Darling, I keep picking up stray cats and underdogs, I never learn, I have no umbrella and in London it is raining cats and dogs. 

He thinks I will take him home with me. In fact he is sure of it. I am thinking I might take him home too. and for a few stops, I am convinced of it as clapham bleeds into waterloo and chunders into charing cross. we are in central london now. the halfway point, no turning back or is there? he is beside me, engaged, engrossed in chatting to me about anything and everything. is it too late to turn back?

His eyes are a blue fire, lively as life itself, self assured and his nature is true to form, a drunk and plucky young man. now there’s a truth. I wonder what I will do with him at my house anyway. I picture him in my kitchen and then I imagine him in my bed. then even worse than that, I begin to wonder how old he might be. and once I start thinking that it’s a downward spiral. I realise now that he must be much, much younger than me. and worst  of all for once it bothers me. that he is so young and wasted. and I don’t know his name. I fast forward to tomorrow morning. daylight ripping open the darkness, morningness screaming onto twisted sheets. sweat and spunk. spit and exchange. tea and toast. headaches and mess. deadlines and socks. conscience and guilt. condoms and awkwardness. emails and phones ringing. lips and eyes. 

But what eyes he has, what eyes he has indeed, so blue. they are so blue. it always begins with the eyes and ends, ends with the eyes too remember. lashes fluttering, battering down the doors and walls of my give a fuck. fuck. fuck. tottenham court road. where do you live? I ask him, where do you live? again I ask him, where do you live? that was tottenham court road. he mumbles, sydenham. where? sydenham. where is sydenham? he laughs. I ask him again. eventually he replies south east london. then you are on the wrong train. but I am coming home with you. no. you cannot come home with me. yes I can. no you can’t. I can. no. I thought I was coming home with you. oh go on. no. oh. oh. oh ok am I not coming home with you then? no. if you get off here you can catch the last train back south just cross the platform and…

Gone. the eyes. goodbye blue eyes. goodbye freckle. gone away now. 

Just me and my own reflection and my fucking head going home alone. fuck being sensible. fuck being careful. fuck deadlines. fuck giving a fuck. fuck getting an early night and fucking fuck fuck fuck….fuck tea. fuck toast.

© 2009. Salena Godden / NEW EDIT 2012

Smile For London launches on January 16th - 
Here's a teaser trailer:

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