Both these stories were published in separate issues of You Stumble Into A Room Full of Poets in 2012. It doesn’t have an online presence but it was reviewed by Structo magazine.
She used to have a husband and they would do all sorts of things like read poetry, contemplate their own mortality, and have sex in the missionary position.
When that marriage fizzled out she wondered why she had entered into it in the first place. She’d liked her husband’s companionship: he was a lovely man and always gave her dinner, but she wanted to go out alone at night and she wanted to be stroked by all kinds of different people.
After her husband moved out she quit her job because it made her too tired. Instead, she stayed at home and lounged, not eating anything and certainly not thinking about much. At night she’d eat lots of fatty food and leap around because she could do what she liked now.
She began seeing a man but he was difficult. He seemed to want attention at busy times such as when she was having a small afternoon nap. Also, he wanted them to have a shower together which was out of the question. She would have run away sooner but she liked his big warm hand on her thin back and the way his eyes creased at the side when he looked at her.
After him, she stopped washing in the usual way and in her carefree afternoons would fantasise about how delicious it would be to lick her own vagina. It was summer now and she liked the dusk which she spent walking up and down her road trying to rub on people. Now, in the days she’d bask in the sun outside her front door.
One day she was dozing in this way when a man came up her front path. He only had hair on his head and she recognised her husband.
“Hello pretty.” He said. “I’ve heard about your behaviour since I’ve been gone.” He smoothed her hair.
“Don’t be like that, I’ve brought some of your books which I took by accident.”
“I don’t think I read books.” She stretched out her body and knew she looked magnificent.
“You should probably re-read this one.”
It was Kafka’s Metamorphosis.
“What are you trying to imply” she hissed and scratched his stupid face.
People had warned her that a literature degree would lead to little serious consequence. She had believed them giggling and nodding earnestly. She thought herself an exception, however; there was something special about her that the realists didn’t know. Now she had finished with an unexceptional mark and had forgotten what the special thing was that had once calmed her. Perhaps something concerning the writing of brilliant poems bound for recognition, but there was less talk of that now and all her degree had perceivably caused her was a lack of imagination and a sense of intellectual inferiority. All she wrote about now was herself, badly and from different perspectives. There were not plots.
In an attempt to find some plots she went to the British Library. She researched ‘The Universe’ in the hope of writing the story of her from the point of view of a fictional astrophysician boyfriend. Wouldn’t he find her silly? Her research led to some conclusions.
Speaking to her boyfriend she said, “ I’ve decided I’m not going to bother learning about things because you can never know what’s the truth.”
“What, because all knowledge is caught up in power systems?”
“Yeah, maybe but also because all we have to go by is our own experience. So in the universe anything could happen because in order for anything to be anything it must be in the universe. So there’s no point worrying.”
He laughed. “How very Post-Modern of you.”
“Really? Is it? I’ve never bothered learning what Post-Modernism is.”
This was a lie, she’s tried and was unsure if she’s succeeded.
“Well”, he said, “That’s one of the criticisms of Post-Modernism if you take it to its logical conclusion, why bother even saying anything.”
He was very clever and she laughed, “I’m going to use this dialogue in a story I write.”
“Are you going to be a Post-Modern writer?”
“I don’t know.”
It’s set on a bridge.
In real life, they were leaving a cinema. The film was Soviet and the baddies were American. This confirmed a few things but she didn’t know what to do about it.
She re-reads Jean Rhys and decides her life is boring, so going to the pub she puts on a lot of make-up. She has decided to concentrate on her looks now. She’s pleased about this, she has nice lips. In the seat next to her, her boyfriend explains astrophysics or something to another man. He shuffles nervously in his seat whenever he makes some sort of concrete statement. She wishes she was him, clever and with a nice lipped girlfriend.