Wednesday, 30 March 2011

"Little Death" Extract 4: Haunted

Zach wakes in a cold sweat, unsure for a moment where he is.  He grips the cheap hotel sheets in each of his clenched fists, and remembers.  Bellevue.  He reaches for the glass of water he left on the nightstand, now disgustingly warm, and drinks it in one go.  The bedsheets cling to his legs uncomfortably, and he casts them to one side.  He gets up and strides naked over to the window, opening the window as wide as it will go.
“What am I doing here...?”  Talking to himself has become something of an annoying habit lately.  In another life he’d had a sounding board for every stray thought – William.  One of the most excruciating things following his brother’s death, the thing that had made his absence all the more immediate and real, was the silence.  It took months for Zach to become accustomed to having only himself for company, to no longer have William’s mind within reach.
Telepathy was a strong, not entirely accurate word for what they’d shared.  If one of them were injured, the other would not cry out.  And Zach had certainly not felt anything the day his brother took a bullet to the head.  But when it came to finishing each other’s sentences, and anticipating every single action, they had bordered on the uncanny.  And throughout their life together, neither had ever felt alone.  To suddenly not be one half of a whole, but simply one, had been almost too much to bear.
A cricket trills out there somewhere, and something flying over the hotel casts a fleeting shadow.  The night is alive, Zach thinks, buzzing and pulsing like one great dark body.  He dismisses this idea as the product of exhaustion, and turns back into the room.  His bag lies open on the floor; he pulls out his folder and empties it onto the floor, carefully spreading the various documents, photographs and newspaper clippings out over the carpet.  He hasn’t even bothered to justify to himself why he has brought these with him, when all he needs is the photograph and the phone records that Quentin Forrester gave him.
His own image, or rather, William’s, is plastered over the press articles, along with that of Georgina.  Zach’s name is often included at the end of the piece: Hall is survived by his parents, Miranda and Gregory, and twin brother Zachary.  Some of these are newspapers that Zach once dreamed of working for.  Reporters had always been his crusading, truth-seeking role models: permeated with the stench of black coffee and cigarette smoke, they let nothing get in the way of a story.  Right now, the idea of cannibalising somebody else’s misery and churning it out in the name of journalism makes him sick to his stomach.
He knows every piece of news coverage off by heart, but still Zach studies them, in the dull orange glow cast by the streetlamp outside, like the last light of a dying sun, until his eyes begin to sting.  The room is still incredibly warm, and so he leaves the window open when he goes back to bed.  He lies wide awake for a few moments, staring at the cracks in the ceiling, but is soon sleeping soundly with the sweet ignorance of somebody who doesn’t know he is being watched.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Top 5... Fantasy Novels

Here goes, my round-up of the best fantasy fiction. Ever. It might piss off a lot of people that The Lord of the Rings isn't on here. I apologise in advance, but I figure that Tolkien won't mind being benched just this once in order to put the spotlight on a few other deserving authors.

5. The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis
When I first read this book in primary school, the cover proclaimed it was the first instalment of C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia. It was only later that I realised it was written much, much later than its supposed sequel The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe.  What I love about this book is that it can be read as a part of the larger saga, as it explains such anomalies as the presence of a Victorian lamp-post in another world, or it can be read in total isolation.  Like any other Narnia book, The Magician's Nephew is a children's story first and foremost, and as such is a rollicking adventure, but it provides endless enjoyment into adulthood too.

For other youngsters discovering new worlds, you may also enjoy: Coraline by Neil Gaiman.

4. The Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice
The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice are often shelved as Horror or Romance, but I feel that they fit more into the genre of Fantasy, never more so than in the case of The Queen of the Damned.  While the central characters consist of vampires, witches, ghosts and paranormal experts, the novel's aim is not to deliver chills like a conventional horror novel.  Instead, Anne Rice uses these horror staple figures to spin an epic tale that begins with a curse in Ancient Egypt and climaxes at a rock concert in California.  The titular vampire, Queen Akasha, is awoken from her eternal slumber by the music of Lestat, the anti-hero of Rice's previous novels.  But this is only a small part of the plot.  An antiquated organisation, the Talamasca, have taken it upon themselves to record the activities of supernatural beings such as vampires, and their interference in events ends up being life-changing.  One of these investigators, a woman named Jesse, discovers just how closely she is connected to the vampire world.  Ancients begin to gather from around the globe, some to aid Akasha in her newest quest, others to stop her.  Told from multiple viewpoints (a rarity in this series), The Queen of the Damned is one of Rice's strongest, richest novels, with an engaging cast of supporting characters and fascinating historical detail.

You may also enjoy: Dracula by Bram Stoker, another rendition of the original vampire.

3. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
Fairy tales are big business in Hollywood right now. Hansel and Gretel are being reincarnated as witch hunters, Red Riding Hood is getting a sultry reimagining and there are two "dark, gritty" remakes of Snow White in the works.  Movie producers are obsessed with upping the sex and violence of old Grimm favourites and serving them up to teenagers on a platter.  And it's easy to see why.  Fairy tales are often about, at their core, the loss of innocence, the journey from a world of children to a world of adults.  John Connolly takes this as his cue in The Book of Lost Things.  The young hero, David, has recently lost his mother.  His father remarries, and soon David's stepmother gives birth to a baby boy.  Feeling pushed out, David takes refuge in his books.  One night, a series of bizarre events lead David into another world entirely, one which may or may not be of his own making.  He encounters knights, wolves, hunters and the sinister, ever-present Crooked Man.  At its heart, The Book of Lost Things is a coming of age tale, but it is also a reminder of the immense power of stories.

You may also enjoy: Pan's Labyrinth, a film by Guillermo del Toro, in which a young girl escapes her own brutal wartime life and goes on a magical quest.

2. Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
Published outside of the UK as The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman's vision of an alternative, steampunk Britain, populated by humans and their animal "daemon" counterparts, captured readers' imaginations the world over.  Young, feral, and relentlessly questioning of authority, Lyra finds herself at the centre of a plot involving missing children, a witch's prophecy, a journey to the North and a mysterious device that seems able to tell the truth and predict the future.  This is the first novel in Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, which evolves into an ambitious, controversial, Blakean masterpiece over the next two books, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.  I first read this trilogy when I was thirteen or fourteen, but like every other entry on this list, it is a hugely rewarding read at any age.

For other remarkable children growing up, you may also enjoy: The Harry Potter novels by JK Rowling.

1. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Shadow is released from prison, just in time to learn that his wife Laura has died.  Adrift in a world that he no longer understands, Shadow is employed by the mysterious Mr Wednesday to accompany him on a road trip across America.  Gaiman adeptly merges genres and creates a unique mythos here, by asserting that a country as new as America is built on the traditions and faiths of other lands - and as such, is inhabited by all of the gods, spirits and demons that true believers brought with them when they came to start a new life in the New World.  Mr Wednesday is an old soul, and he sees a war coming between the new wave of technology, media and science, and the gods who fear that without worship they will simply cease to exist.  The over-arching narrative is interspersed with tales of immigrant deities doing their best to make their way in the modern age (my personal favourite is the New York taxi driver who is also a Djinn).  American Gods is a hugely imaginative piece of fantasy, but it may also be the Great American Novel.

You may also enjoy: Neil Gaiman's loose sequel, Anansi Boys.

Some other fantasy titles that deserve an honourable mention: Wicked by Gregory Maguire, The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K. Hamilton (a well-executed piece of modern fairy folklore, sadly let down by its sexed up sequels).

Friday, 25 March 2011

The Devil & I

I've been reading a lot about good and evil lately.  Among my Christmas presents last December was a beautiful copy of Mikhail Bulgakov's masterpiece, The Master And Margarita.  In this decadent tale, the Devil himself visits Soviet Russia - land of atheists.  He is accompanied by a talking cat and a host of other phantasmagorical characters.

 Just this week I have been lent a copy of The Devil And Miss Prym by Paulo Coehlo.  The subject matter is very similar; a stranger arrives in a remote village, and takes it upon himself to tempt the locals into breaking the Ten Commandments.  He invites young, beautiful barmaid Chantal Prym to steal a gold bar, and sets the larger populace a much greater challenge: to kill one of their own.

 The Devil And Miss Prym has a clear, concise narrative style, making it ideal for readers of practically any age, and it got me to thinking that it would make an ideal set text for schools and colleges.  When I was seventeen, we read Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe.  As expanded reading, the teacher suggested we delve into The Master And Margarita for more insight into the concepts of good and evil, angels and demons, heaven and hell. It strikes me that Paulo Coehlo's short novel would have been a much more appropriate read: the language is of this era, the storyline is unclogged by history and politics.  It is, essentially, a tale of humanity undiluted and put under a microscope.  The village setting ensures that the outside world cannot intrude upon the week-long story; the villagers must make their own choices.

 Of course, this kind of story is hardly unique.  John Updike gave us a devil in the form of Darryl Van Horn, the villainous seducer of The Witches Of Eastwick.  Stephen King's Needful Things explored how a small community can be poisoned when somebody appears to give them exactly what they want.  Religious allegory turns up time and time again in literature, throwing characters into the path of temptation.  And evil isn't always an external, evident force.  The base and cruel Edward Hyde is born from within Dr Jekyll.  James Hogg's Justified Sinner commits evil acts willingly.  More recently, the hero (or anti-hero, depending on how you look at it) in Joe Hill's novel Horns wakes up one morning to realise he has literally transformed into a devil.

 As human beings, we tend to root for the angel on the shoulder of the protagonist, hoping that they will do the right thing.  But as readers, deep down we want the devil to win, at least at first.  Because otherwise, it would be a very short story - and quite a dull one at that.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Book Review: The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

The blurb on the back of this novel is brief, and gives away almost nothing of the plot. This could be considered a risky move on the part of the publisher, as revealing so little to a potential reader might put them off buying, but I for one am glad that they chose this approach, as everything that followed was wholly unexpected.
The unnamed narrator of The Gargoyle is a patient in a burns unit, having been transformed by a car accident from a hedonistic, handsome young man into a crippled monster.  Into his room walks Marianne Engel, a stranger to the narrator.  She claims to have known him, and loved him, for a long time, despite the fact that he has no memory of her.  She also claims to be over seven hundred years old.
The author attaches some unfortunate literary cliches to the character of Marianne; presented as a sculptress of gargoyles and intensely spiritual with a self-destructive devotion to her craft, she fulfils every aspect of the "troubled artist" figure.  However, once the reader gets past this, they will find Marianne to be an incredibly rewarding character, whether they choose to view her as an immortal being or as a mentally ill outcast.
Luckily, the narrator escapes such typecasting, as he alternates between being a defensive cynic, hardened by his scars, and a man who wishes he were able to take the smallest leap of faith.
The Gargoyle is rich in allusion and allegory, with Marianne naturally assuming the role of Scheherezade, spinning yarns for the patient in his bed, while the entire car accident and recovery process play out in parallel with Dante's Inferno.
The Gargoyle is a love story with a difference, a stunning debut novel, a truly divine comedy, and the most absorbing book I have read in a very long time.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Top 5... Mystery Novels

Whenever somebody asks me what my favourite book is, I find myself unable to answer.  What, exactly, is meant by "favourite"?  Is it the book that made me laugh the most, or the story that stayed me with longest after I turned the last page?

I love reading books of every genre, and I bloody love writing about them too.  So this is my first post in a series on my favourite five books in any given genre.  Sorry, but I can't pick one.  Not even a top three.  Five is my number.

Philip's Top 5 Mysteries

The Brutal Art by Jesse Kellerman

An engrossing thriller set against the backdrop of the New York art world, The Brutal Art is the story of Ethan Muller, a flawed but successful art dealer who stumbles across a vast work of unparalleled genius.  When he attempts to locate the artist who created this oeuvre, he is drawn into a world of violence and deception.

Light Before Day by Christopher Rice
After his first two novels, A Density of Souls and The Snow Garden, Christopher Rice took a step away from the modern Gothic genre and into noir with Light Before Day.  The first-person narrator, Adam Murphy, is a Los Angeles-based journalist, looking for his one time boyfriend who has seemingly vanished off the face of the earth.  His search takes him into the city's seedy underbelly, and Rice proves himself highly skilled at creating detestable figures in the drug dealers and sexual predators that Adam crosses paths with.
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

Less of a conventional crime story than Dennis Lehane's other novels, Shutter Island toys with the reader's perceptions throughout.  The hero is Teddy Daniels, a Federal marshall called to Ashcliffe hospital on Shutter Island to investigate the disappearance of a mental patient.  As a hurricane descends on the island and his migraines become more unbearable, Teddy becomes less certain of who he can trust.  I can't say much more without giving the game away - suffice to say it's well worth a read.  And much more rewarding than the film adaptation.

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

In this, the first of Private Eye Jackson Brodie's adventures, Kate Atkinson playfully entwines the genres of crime and literary fiction.  Detective and divorcee Jackson is contacted by Julia and Amelia Land to find out what happened to their little sister Olivia years before.  At the same time, he is harrassed by an old man who needs answers about his daughter's death.  Seemingly unrelated events propel the story's narrative, and while the conclusion is not necessarily climactic, it provides the reader with a huge sense of satisfaction.

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
This is it.  The big one, the daddy of noir.  Philip Marlowe is the original hard-boiled detective.  What else is there to say?  Considered by many (myself included) to be Chandler's magnum opus, The Big Sleep features pornographers, killers, femme fatales and one reluctant hero.  Classic.  Just classic.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. Do you think I've missed an important mystery novel off the list?  What are your suggestions for the next genre to be featured in the Top 5 series?  Let me know!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Judge A Book By Its Cover

When it comes to books, I am a magpie.  I am drawn to covers that are bold and beautifully designed, often falling in love with the story before I have a clue what it is about.  And I don't think I'm the only one. 
The current trend of self-publishing is allowing authors to retain creative control of the entire process, including cover design.  But designing a book cover is an art, and while the author might be the best authority on the theme and content of their novel, they are not necessarily the best candidate to express these ideas visually.
Below are a few of my personal favourites from the world of books.

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
Not only is this a beautiful cover image, but when closed the book's pages appear entirely black.  Another great story that I discovered only through the book's aesthetic appeal.
Atonement by Ian McEwan
The design may be stark, but the image is a perfect representation of the story - Briony's bored solitude in the early stages of the novel are a key part of every event that follows.
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
I must admit, I am not a fan of the Twilight saga at all. But there's no denying the evocative imagery in this cover; bringing the themes of temptation, seduction and sin to the forefront of your mind, it has since become iconic.
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
This novel is part fantasy, part coming of age tale, part homage to the storytelling tradition.  The book's cover creates a world much like that of fairytales, a wood in which the reader can easily become lost... and fall prey to the Crooked Man.
The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
Levithan's love story is told through a series of non-chronological definitions, all of which are pertinent to a relationship between two unnamed parties.  This experimentation with the form of the novel is reflected in the simple but effective cover.
Strangeland by Tracey Emin
Taken in a photo booth, this cover image could not be more telling of the book's contents.  Raw, unembellished, and unflinching in its honesty.  Much like the artist herself.
Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland
This is a prime example of a book that I would never have picked up had it not been for the instantly engaging cover.  Fortunately, the story lived up to it.
Out by Natsuo Kirino
Visceral, cold and disturbing. An excellent indicator as to what you can expect from this novel.
The Passion by Jeanette Winterson
I first came upon this when studying Winterson's novel at university.  The lushness of her prose and ambition of her story are perfectly summed up in this artful, almost seductive cover.
Persepolis by Marjane Strapani
As a graphic novel, this cover image is a perfect representation of the author's work.
Which of these do you like best?  And what are your own favourites?  Let me know in the comments below, I'd like to make this a regular thing.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Book Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

This post is going to be brief and biased.  Brief, because I don't want to talk too much about the plot or characters of The Graveyard Book, I simply want you to discover them for yourselves.  And biased, because ever since I picked up American Gods six or seven years ago, I have been a huge fan of just about everything Neil Gaiman has created, from its sequel Anansi Boys (an excellent marriage of fantasy and comedy) to his collaboration with Terry Pratchett, Good Omens, and his endlessly entertaining short stories.

So here is a brief synopsis.  Nobody Owens is a 21st Century Mowgli, orphaned as a toddler and taken in by the kindly spirits that inhabit a cemetery atop a hill that looks down over the Old Town.  At first, Nobody (or "Bod" as he is known) grows up blissfully unaware that his life is any different to that of other children.  But the outside world soon begins to creep in, first in the form of Scarlett, a childhood sweetheart, and later on Bod becomes curious as to the circumstances that brought him to the graveyard.  Why doesn't he go to school like other children?  What happened to his birth parents?  And who is the man Jack, that everybody seems so afraid of?

Anybody familiar with Gaiman's work will appreciate the skill with which he writes the sinister dialogue of the villains and the quirky but earnest voices of characters like Mrs Owens, Bod's adoptive mother, and Liza, the young witch buried just outside consecrated ground.  And the novel's climax, while giving nothing away, provides the reader with a huge sense of satisfaction as Bod makes use of the otherworldly education he has received.

The Graveyard Book gets a whopping 5 out of 5, A++, 100%.  And now I just have to sit and wait for Gaiman to write something else.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

The Power of Prophecy in Fiction

Mitchell, played by Aiden Turner
For the last eight weeks, I have been gripped (like much of Britain) by the unfolding mysteries, dilemmas and gutwrenching emotional decisions of BBC drama Being Human.  This third series has revolved largely around the complete and utter character assassination of core figure Mitchell, who has been driven to the edge of madness by a prophecy uttered in the first episode.  He's going to die at the hands (or claws) of a werewolf.  Not something that most of us would be too worried about, but of course our dear friend Mitchell happens to share a house with two such creatures.  The phrase "a werewolf-shaped bullet" has appeared, like a coda or the words of a Greek chorus, in every subsequent instalment, and has reduced a much-loved character into a manic, paranoid and ultimately violent wreck.
The prophecy, in a genre such as fantasy, science fiction or horror, is as delicious a plot device as a fingerprint, smoking gun or any other such clue that might turn up in a work of crime fiction.  But writers have to know how to use it effectively.  Joss Whedon employs the conceit a number of times in Buffy The Vampire Slayer
The First Slayer
In the fifth season, Buffy is told by the spirit of the First Slayer that "death is your gift".  Buffy misunderstands this, thinking that her destiny lies in being a killer.  Finally, she realises that her gift to the world is her own death, as it is only through self-sacrifice that she can save her family and friends.  This second death is used to highlight the growth of the character (Buffy also died briefly in the first series), showing the heroine embrace death in order to protect her loved ones, in direct contrast to the frightened teenage girl she had once been.  Whedon's use of prophecy in this instance not only propels the plot, but also provides much-needed emotional closure during what was initially thought to be a series finale.
The crack in the wall (and the universe)
The writers of Doctor Who also employ prophecy and symbols as an ongoing motif in the show's mythology.  The ubiquitous phrase "bad wolf" hangs over the Doctor and Rose for much of the first series before they discover its true meaning, while Amy Pond is mystified when the crack from her bedroom wall keeps appearing all over the universe.  Being a show about time travel, both of these mysteries are somewhat circular - Amy and Rose are eventually revealed to be at the centre of their respective symbols.
In Stephen King's The Shining, young Danny chants "redrum" over and over throughout the novel, until finally the word is reflected in the mirror, revealing his potential fate: murder.  In her debut novel The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger provides the reader with images of danger, taken out of chronological order, to create a sense of impending doom for time traveler Henry.
A glimpse of the future, devoid of context or explanation, can drive a character mad as they struggle to piece the puzzle together.  It also fills the viewer/reader with an immediate need for answers, something which makes it the ideal plot device to churn out time and time again in serialised storytelling, as it guarantees people will tune in next week or buy the next issue/instalment.
Some more cryptic themes that baffled and beguiled me in TV, film and literature:
"Every prophet in his house." Carnivale
(I gave up after the first season so never discovered the meaning of this.)
"Save the cheerleader, save the world." Heroes
(Not as cryptic as the others, referred to Claire's role in a future disaster.)
"From beneath you it devours." Buffy
(A reference to the hellmouth, but also to the potential for evil just under the surface of every human being.)
"He will knock four times." Doctor Who
(A foreshadowing of the Time Lord's death and regeneration in a new body.)
Seth and Apryl's dreams in Apartment 16 by Adam Nevill.
The words of warning uttered by various trusted but mysterious figures, and almost never heeded by the protagonist, in a million suspense novels (Dick Halloran in The Shining, Silas in The Graveyard Book).
Just about everything in any given David Lynch film. I'm thinking specifically of the blue box and key, and the implications of "silencio" in Mulholland Drive.
What I love most about the role of omens and portents in the world of fiction is how it encourages the reader/viewer to use their imaginations and come up with theories or explanations of their own.  The blogosphere has been rife with ideas about which werewolf will be the one to take down Mitchell in this Sunday's final episode of Being Human.  Among fans, prophecy promotes discussion.  Among writers, it offers an off-the-wall manner in which to grab your reader and not let them go until the prediction is either foiled or fulfilled.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Book Review: Apartment 16 by Adam Nevill

Some books you love.  Some books you hate.  And then, there are some books that you struggle with.  For me, Adam Nevill's Apartment 16, a tale of otherworldly suspense, began as a joy, then became a labour to finish.  And here's why:
The story is told from two perspectives; that of Seth, the nightwatchman at Barrington House, and Apryl, the girl just off the plane from America, here in London to claim her late aunt's estate.  The opening is promising, with both narrators providing a compelling account of their experiences in Barrington House - Apryl discovers that her aunt banished all picture frames and mirrors from her walls, while Seth is at first drawn to, and then obsessed by the sounds coming from behind the door of the abandoned Apartment 16.
Then events move from the sinister to the more explicitly unnerving.  Seth is approached by a young boy who nobody else can see, who seems to know a lot about Seth's life and the apartment.  Apryl becomes convinced somebody is watching her while she sleeps, and decides to research the history of the building.
Without giving too much of the plot away, the second half of the novel is almost unbearably tense as the author slowly reveals layer upon layer of detail.  The former occupant of the apartment was a troubled genius, the building may or may not house an ancient consciousness, and both Apryl and Seth are more constantly plagued by horrific, Lovecraftian visions.
Minor Spoilers Ahead!
My main problem with this novel (apart from the occasionally clunky dialogue on Apryl's part) is the denouement.  I had begun the story rooting for all of the characters, only to find that one of them has been transformed into a villain.  Also, following the climactic scenes in Apartment 16, I was left with the feeling that nothing had been resolved.  This could well be Adam Nevill's plan, either setting the scene for a sequel or simply leaving the reader with a bleak sense of terror, as good has not triumphed over evil, but merely retreated.
This is definitely a book for lovers of the horror genre, with several moments of genuine suspense and mostly excellent prose that never descends into hokum or cliche.  Its city setting, and often depressing depictions of central London as an urban hell, ground the story in reality and make it all the more affecting.
I'll give this one 4 out of 5, as I really liked Nevill's writing style, but felt that he made too obvious an effort to get the reader to empathise with Apryl, when Seth was by far the more interesting character.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Flash Fiction #4: Chocolate

I remember a sweetness.

The very first time we did it, on the pile of coats at someone else’s party, you never quite let go of my hand. Somehow I stayed nervous even afterwards, so you kept your hand in mine, reaching with your left first for your cigarettes, then a lighter, then chocolate.
I was young, and so I loved every little weird thing about you. The weirdest, littlest thing being what I loved the most. The way you'd write your name on random objects, claiming ownership. Your finger traces in the dust, sand, steam, seemed almost flirtatious.
Memories are like Polaroids; easily smudged, creased, bereft of prologue or context.  You, giving me a mint in a cafĂ© by means of a kiss. You, pulling the duvet to your side, telling me to fuck off. You, looking back at me before getting in your battered Mini. The last Polaroid.
Time runs away with itself, and it seems like I never leave this room. I light the occasional cigarette and gorge on sweet things, but it's empty pleasure and if I ever get the urge to phone you, I stop myself because by now it’s years too late.
Instead, I throw away your pictures, and the smokes, and the chocolate.  I try my best to forget every weird little thing about you, but still I remember a sweetness. It sticks, cloying in my mind, an unmoving trace, like a name written on a mirror in lipstick.