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March 15, 2012


I live alone and keep all the doors locked. Before I enter a room I first knock politely, then slide a key in the lock, twist until the click, and then turn the knob. I received my first shock in twenty-three years when, while sitting at the kitchen table, I heard a door slam. I double checked every room. Knock, keys, lock, click, turn. Nothing peculiar in any of the rooms, beds made, carpets spotless, curtains drawn.

Next morning I did the rounds. Knock, keys, lock, click, turn. I was satisfied that nothing was amiss and sat down to eat. Then with the second shock in as many days, I heard a creaking sound as if someone was treading on the stairs leading to the top floor. I ran up, no one there. I did the rounds: knock, keys, lock, click, turn, knock, keys, click, turn. All the rooms were empty and silent. I had a headache and my mouth was dry. I spent the rest of the day in bed.

I did not do the rounds next morning. I stayed in my bedroom with the door and windows locked. The ticking sound made my head hurt so I took the clock off the wall and smashed it to pieces. I closed the curtains. I suppose a long time had passed before I heard voices coming from the living room directly below. I rushed down, my hands shivering violently as I tried to find the appropriate key. Knock, keys, lock, click turn. The room was empty. While I was closing the curtains I heard whispers in the kitchen, and more coming from upstairs, and I saw shadows in the garden. Knock, keys, lock, click, turn, knock, keys, lock, click, turn, knock, keys, lock, click, turn, knock, lock, click, keys, turn, knock, keys, lock, click, turn, empty.

February 02, 2012


How can one explain why yet again I find myself here, agitated, waiting on the edge of potential humiliation and that walk home, a feeling worse than shame? Once again, this stretch of gravel outside the pub becomes an arena of dismay, and how can one express the trepidation which rises with every minute which hastily crawls beyond our prearranged meeting time? Does my watch lie? I check my phone to confirm, and wonder how one can relate the weight of expectation that a girl’s heart can place on a date arranged through a few drunkenly misspelled text messages? And can one really reproduce that sense of stupidity, that self-condemning burn of embarrassment when the sound of footsteps over the dark gravel cause a leap of giddy hope in the stomach, only to turn to some hideous bespeckled post-grad’s high pitched voice?

And then it comes, the relief, the deep exhale, the outward nonchalance, the casual flick of the hair and cheerful ‘Hi’ through a half-smile, not revealing too much teeth- what better way could one describe the sensation of his arrival eight minutes and forty-three seconds late? He offers no apology but who cares? I don’t like his shoes and there is a stain on the back of his jeans but who cares? How can one be so fickle on a first date, when the swish of the pub’s double doors heralds not only our entrance into the pub’s warmth, but also the potential baby steps of a timid romance? So I overlook the lack of punctuality and pristine clothing, only to be swamped by a new fear. What poet can aptly convey the rising dread which drips down your spine as you rummage through make-up, stolen pens, scraps of paper in your handbag search for your ID? The queue disperses, he orders his pint, glass of wine for the lady, but how do I critique that look of knowing condemnation from the barmaid as I desperately try to prove my age?

What words give justice to ascending cacophony of cackles and hisses of the audience behind me, as the barmaid pulls back the glass of house white? And what diminutive could ever aptly portray the voice which came forth from my quivering lips, as I desperately tried to avoid the catching eyes with the boy chuckling beside me, ‘half-pint Diet Coke please’?

January 19, 2012


Meeting like this under the secluded disused bus shelter immediately evoked some sort of secret spy rendezvous. Jessie looked the part; I saw her long before I was within earshot, her back turned in a short tight leather jacket, dark brown resting neatly over black leggings and black ankle high boots. I saw her in the distance framed by the elements like some thriller from the 1970s, I saw each individual drop of rain running courses down her back. I walked in time to the soundtrack humming through my headphones.

It was at this point when I realised with bitter disappointment that my costume was totally inappropriate for the matter in hand. My trainers were beat up and the sticky mud which had been left unchecked in this abandoned part of campus did nothing to help. These were old jeans, and the rest of my clothes will do nothing to imprint my character on anyone’s memory. But this meeting was hastily arranged and by the time I reached her beneath the shelter thoughts of movies and clothing had long left my head. It suddenly struck me that although we had known each other for some months now, this would be our first direct conversation. Simultaneously, the illusion of importance I had slowly erected around this event was abruptly and conclusively shattered. I was here to be humiliated, to appeal to a sense of decency which I hoped would preserve my own.

I cleared my throat.

Jessie turned nonchalantly, and it was a few seconds before she looked up from her phone to acknowledge my presence. Not for the first time, I was taken aback by how extraordinarily beautiful she was, with her short cropped brown hair and small dark cherubic face. It was a lazy beauty, a casual adherence to the dictates of the trendsetters and I wanted to think something spectacular about her eyes but how can you do that nowadays? She had nice hair and nice clothes and nice skin and that’s it- this is no film.


And so it begins. I smiled and tried to set a friendly tone. I must be casual, I must be cool, I must not sound desperate.

“Hey Jess you alright”

“You asked me to come here, I didn’t even know this place existed I had to ask a fucking security guard. I’m cold, I’m wet, I have mud up to my fucking knees. Start talking, why are we here?”

“Sorry about that, I wanted somewhere we wouldn’t be disturbed.”

“Don’t fuck with me Tyson. Speak or I’ll bail.”

I nearly gave up right then. I peered over her shoulder into the distance at the students walking out of the Central Building. It was already getting dark and the cold was settling in, and here I was about to get on my knees and prostrate at her feet.

“Last night, you saw me in a compromising position, and I would appreciate your future discretion in the matter.”

“Well I would appreciate you not talking like an absolute tool.”

“Fuck. Ok, last night you saw something I wouldn’t want anyone to know about ok?” I tried to find the tonal balance which could convey a sense of desperation without coming across totally pathetic.

She laughed: “The worst part is that I’d never have expected anything like that from you, of all people. Like I know people hide stuff but shit, that’s a hell of a contrast. You’ve got a whole double life going on don’t you?”

This was not going to plan, I wasn’t here for a psychiatric examination, I was here to make a demand and have it obeyed.

“Look, I don’t know or care what you were doing there but it’s very important to me that what you saw is not repeated to anyone. You know it could ruin a lot of what I have going on here, it’s a part of my private life I do not wish to share.”

Her eyes widened and I knew the intensity of my appeal must have started to show on my face. Then she smiled a thin tight-lipped smile and I knew I had not won this battle yet.

“The problem is, I’m not exactly sure what I saw. I mean, I was there out of pure curiosity. Me and the girls thought it would be quite funny, something different. I had no idea people actually did that stuff seriously, like I know weirdos do but fuck, not people I know. Not people I fucking go to uni with. I mean, do you think about that stuff all the time, do you do it all the time?”

She was fascinated, that’s why she came. I saw now that this was not about my plea for her discretion. She’d come because she wanted to see more, she wanted me to perform. My fetish was her entertainment. This was a girl who had never spoken to me before, now slobbering over the prospect of me opening up, over me divulging. It was at this moment that I realised there was no way I would be able to buy her silence. I saw the excitement in her eyes, her features had widened and I could almost see the thoughts running across her mind behind her smooth brown forehead. Her cigarette burned away, ignored between her chipped fingernails and she wasn’t shivering anymore.

My voice came out small. The script had been torn apart and a grim conclusion was already forming in my mind. The wind orchestrated the words so they stood in front of her cinematically, she edged closer, mouth open, hands still, breath held, the perfect voyeur.

“I suffer from asphyxiophilia. Being strangled creates certain stirrings within me. I can’t explain it, nor can I control it. But this is my sex, that is how I fuck.”

I said it without passion, and looked directly in her eyes.

I thought I’d give her one last chance, “I’m asking you to keep this to yourself. I’m begging you not to share this with anyone. It’s something which I’m sure you understand will ruin me. Please.”

My pleas were futile; she was looking at me without hearing the words. A mixture of disgust and sickened excitement distorted her features to create a mask I did not recognise. She had rediscovered her cigarette now, and turned her back to me to as if to disguise her intentions.

I believe she was about to say something at the moment my hands tightly gripped her neck. And as I threw her to the ground and pressed my weight onto her midriff, I did have a brief moment of doubt when I considered she may have been about to utter some convincing oath swearing secrecy. But I couldn’t get that look from my mind, that look of pure disgusted ecstasy. A look which knew no reason or argument, but blindly pursues indulgence for its sustenance. It was the same look which possessed all the members of the Ceremony, and Jessie herself had seen it on my face the day she stumbled into the private room. I knew then, that she could not keep this within. Such fascination, such pleasure could not be contained or forgotten. I had chosen this secluded location for a reason, and I allowed myself another small glimpse at the thinning crowds which milled round the central building. The sky had grown dark and the wind outperformed beautiful Jessie’s cries as I exerted pressure on her throat. She had a disappointingly low amount of fight in her, and disgust quickly superseded guilt as I pushed her soft face deeper into the mud.

Her body went still, and I turned to the spade I had brought in my sports bag. With headphones on the soundtrack recommenced, and I imagined the power of this image: the lone silhouette digging, and the corpse sleeping peacefully as the credits roll.

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  • i really like this, especially the effect of the repetition of 'knock, keys, lock, click' etc. it re… by on this entry

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