I’d like to introduce you to collaboration #53 with the gorgeous babe, Coco. The card made me chuckle but of course when I sat down and started writing a story about being topless on the beach I didn’t exactly end up with a summertime romp. Oh well, hopefully that’s why you like me…. maybe even love me?
Yeah, you love me.
But not as much as I love you.
but i want to
The sweat drips down her ribcage and she puts a hand under one breast and flicks the moisture into the sand. She lies back on her towel and parts her legs slightly so they are no longer touching. Her bikini bottoms stretch and the elastic irritates her bronzed skin.
She lights a cigarette and looks down the beach while the stale taste of tobacco swirls around her tongue. No-one was around and she takes a deep drag before extinguishing the remainder into the sand. It sticks up beside the other three she’d already smoked like little tombstones of her time here.
The beach house she was renting had hundreds of them scattered through the yard. Sometimes it was the only way she could tell how long she’d been here. The first thing she’d done when she’d arrived was to pull out the telephone and turn off her mobile. He would have to find out where she’d gone before he could convince someone to drive him down and confront her. His license had been revoked after he totalled his car high on someone else’s meds.
She lights another cigarette and pulls the string of her bikini, tossing the sodden lycra in the sand.
She turns at the masculine shout. A small, tanned man was awkwardly stomping towards her.
LADY YOU CAN’T SMOKE OR BE NAKED HERE
She sits up and squints at him making no move for her bathers as he approaches.
This seems to enrage him further and he shouts that it’s against the rules. There are signs with the rules on them. He shouts for a while before he abruptly stops, his face crumpling, and leaves with slumped shoulders.
When she puts her hand to her face it comes away wet not from sweat but from tears.
The ‘You and Me’ postcard project is back after a long, lame hiatus… which to be fair was mostly spent writing a novella that’s hopefully to be published around June to hopefully blow your socks and jocks off.
But back to ‘You and Me’. For anyone that is new or needs a refresher, the deal is this….
A project between you and me. 100 postcards. 100 stories. You send them. I write them. Each one in less than 300 words.
If you’d like to be involved please send me a postcard with a word or phrase written on it. It can be bought, found, made, stolen in any shape you like. Shoot me an email in the contact tab if you have any questions or you’re just the friendly type.
Send postcards to
you and me
PO Box 92
Thank you to Sheamus for sending in such a beautiful card and also for being so patient about seeing it up here with its story.
Sometimes he remembers everything.
The sun forces another hairline crack down his spine and hewould smile if he could. His frozen arms grip the edge of the world and he watches the specks below him move with the city around them. Once water rushed through his throat and poured like vomit away from the masonry he perched atop. He would vomit and watch lovers embrace under umbrellas in the rain, their shoes spraying small fountains as they ran. He watched them grow older, their steps less sure, sometimes slipping and breaking a brittle bone, growing into smaller specks until they were gone entirely.
Sometimes they climb and stand behind him, catching their breath at his view, their hearts beating hard from the height, their blood hot in their throat as if they too would lean over and open their mouths wide. Small and great specks lean behind him and have their photograph taken as their decomposing skin flakes onto the ledge beside him. As their skin gathers in funeral piles beside him the specks laugh and clutch his likeness in their hands. They take their proof home and take it out from time to time as they grow smaller and remember how the world looked back then. As the city burns around them. As buildings collapse. As the new specks devour everything and grow large.
Sometimes he knows nothing. Not why the dryness of his throat causes particles of powder to crumble from his empty mouth. Not the ravaged city below as his insides float to the surface. Not that he smiled for the first time as the church shuddered with an explosion and he tilted over the edge. He only knew he would have opened his arms wide as the ground rushed to meet him if he could.
And so we tip over the halfway mark into the abyss with #51 ‘Found In An Old Man’s Belongings’.
Thank you, M from USA.
Found In An Old Man’s Belongings
You know those days where your cat won’t curl up with you? Where it sits close enough to touch, but with it’s back to you. That’s how Celie was. Her languid body sprawled beside mine but her mind elsewhere. If I ignored experience and attempted to embrace her she would silently endure. Then leap from the bed. I’d watch her saunter down the hallway with an understanding of what all those cat-haters were on about.
Celie didn’t care for pets. That’s how she said it, with her slight accent and proper English. I told her that was an interesting turn of phrase because that was the whole point – you cared for them. She shrugged and replied that French was far more interesting a language. I stared out the window until Celie sidled up and stroked my face.
Let’s go for coffee, she says, and I could try to resist and make a point but there wasn’t one.
Her eyes soften at an old man sitting with his dog in the café. She sips on her coffee and tells me she will take me to Côte d’Ivoire one day. She’ll show me the markets where her Grandmother used to sell bread and biscuits. My heartbeat thunders in my ears at how casually she says this but before I can answer there is a crash. The old man has dropped his cup and the dog is yapping and Celie is kneeling gracefully beside him collecting broken ceramic and handing him the contents of his spilled wallet. She winces but doesn’t recoil as the dog leaps and licks at her face while the man thanks her.
She sits back beside me and I’ve never wanted to touch her more but I don’t because I understand. Because I’m more of a cat person anyway.
Well here we are! Nearly one year later and officially halfway! I’ll try and save the teary Oscar speech for #100 but I would like to thank everyone who’s been kind enough to get on board and play with me. Oh and the Academy of course.
#50 was sent in by a mystery donor from Australia and I think it may have inspired a prologue to #48 featuring poor Henri with an i.
What do you think?
The flier could’ve been sitting in the mailbox for days. The edges were curled and water damaged making the words hard to read. The only reason she’d been getting her mail was because of man in the apartment across the courtyard. He kept collecting it and sliding it under her door.
She watched the flier slide onto her floorboards from where she sat in the living room with the drapes closed. It twitched for a moment as if alive and she ran and locked herself in the bathroom, climbing into the tub.
When she emerged, she padded down the hallway on her toes, leaving small wet marks on the floor like animal tracks.
She approached the flier and snatched it up quickly, along with the rest of the mail that had built up beside it, then sat and examined the flier, letting the bills and last notices slide from her lap.
Decide what you want… Develop a new vision… Accuracy guaran…
She pushed a piece of lank hair behind her ear as she turned the page. There were handwritten words scribbled in between the brochure’s information. Underneath the picture of the grinning woman who’d completed the course and changed her life.
…your sperm for toothpaste.
…all over the table…came in little blo…her breasts
She blinked before scanning lower where the red words weren’t smudged.
I know you’re inside.
She pulled her dressing gown tighter as the front doorknob rattled. She ran through the back door as she heard the key click and turn in the front lock, and stumbled through the darkness of her backyard, disappearing down the alley behind.
The man from the apartment across the courtyard opened his own mail at his kitchen table disappointed there had been no mail to collect for his neighbour today.
My thanks to Rebecca from the U.S Detroit-area for sending in Postcard #49. Such a cute card, I really wanted to have fun with this one.
I guess I should also thank David Bowie… you know, for everything.
One more card to go until we’re officially at the halfway mark!
Green Apple Wine
Ground Control to Major Tom.
It’s hard not getting the song stuck in your head when we contact him like that. But since the incident it’s best to play safe.
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Dennis scans the sheet of lyrics before him and I roll my eyes. An IQ of 235 and he can’t remember a pop song.
Ground Control, did you know the stars look very different today?
Tom’s voice comes through our headsets and we lean forward and type furiously, adding data, removing.
DJ Dr. Bones just started a set. I gotta go dance. This is Panda Tom, signing off.
The smell of sour sweat hangs in the air.
Operations have been in lockdown since Tom went crazy. Dennis keeps muttering that robots aren’t supposed to go crazy and kill their crew and think they’re space pandas.
Well Tom did before he even left the station. The ship is still in the hangar but Tom is in deep space.
The program had been simple. Get Tom to make contact. Once contact was established,***Classified***. Then we bring him back.
It’s gotta be a dream.
I roll my eyes again.
Dennis, just focus on your lyrics.
He throws the sheet.
What’s the point?
Because it’s the only way he will answer us.
Tom suddenly screams and we all clasp our headsets.
Grease Monkey just reported from the engine room that there’s a serious problem with this tin can.
His voice lowered
Also, planet earth is blue.
A charge of static cuts into his pause and the Company announces,
Code Challenger. All staff to safety positions. Code Challenger.
Dennis runs for the door as we crawl under our tables and Tom whispers,
Ground Control, planet earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do.
This year is starting slowly, friends and loved ones.
You ever get those decades you just want to kick in the teeth?
Luckily my words and determination have returned before anyone had to get hurt.
Fresh start >>>>>>>> HERE.
Thank you LMB for sending in this photograph that’s haunted me since it arrived.
Have You Been Here Before?
The knock on her door is loud.
She turns down the radio and doesn’t move until it sounds again. This time with a hesitant triple tap.
She shoves her cigarette in an ashtray resting on an unpacked box and answers the door.
He is her neighbour in the little cul de sac of apartments. He sticks out his hand and offers his name.
Henri with an i is wearing a woollen vest over a crisp shirt.
Aren’t you warm?
She asks and colour floods his cheeks as he looks at the cream slip she’s wearing.
She asks him inside for a cool drink and cracks a tray of ice cubes over the kitchen bench. He lowers his gaze as her breasts move inside the lace of her slip.
She looks down and shrugs.
It’s hot, she says, and passes him an iced tea.
He asks how she’s settling in while looking at all the boxes piled around the room.
The same as always.
She says that she moves around a lot.
You haven’t been out of the house since you moved in.
She asks if he’s been watching her.
He looks trapped but answers that the woman that lived here before her didn’t leave the house the whole time she was here.
She just sat at those curtains and watched everything.
He looks at the yellowing lace and his eyes shine.
She tells him she has left her house. That she works nights at a brothel and usually avoids her neighbours.
They finish their tea in silence and she sees him to the door and watches him cross the courtyard back to his apartment.
Do you know where she went?
She calls out with real concern in her voice.
But he closes his apartment door behind him without answering.
“Man seeks to escape himself in myth, and does so by any means at his disposal. Drugs, alcohol, or lies. Unable to withdraw into himself, he disguises himself. Lies and inaccuracy give him a few moments of comfort.”
My teeth are falling out. They crumble into my hands in shards. I spit handfuls of them out and sob in between heaves. They’re sharp. Brittle. Black.
I run my tongue over the teeth remaining and realise it’s not over. More are loose. I cough and a large molar falls into my palm. It’s not discoloured. There are no holes. This tooth shouldn’t be in my palm.
The rest are my fault. I know they were inevitable. The rotting, broken teeth. But this one isn’t fair. I shove the pointy edges back into my mouth, but my gums have already smoothed. Hardened. My tongue runs along the edge, worrying the delicious itch. I press harder and pain overwhelms the itch as a satisfying burst of blood fills my mouth. I swallow the metallic taste and am reminded of your come. The new teeth break through and I try to remember the exact taste of you but the fresh blood running down my throat and chin swamps the memory. I look into the bathroom mirror and laugh at the shadow standing before me. I look at the sink filled with my rotten teeth as new ones emerge and imagine this would be the kind of dream that would disturb you.
I decide when I wake up and roll into your arms, I won’t tell you. I’ll kiss your ribs and remember I shouldn’t tell. If I do I’ll be disappointed by your silence. Your lack of courage. I smile into the mirror, exposing my new bloody teeth and wake with a gasp. My back is covered with a thin film of sweat and I reach through the pillows already deciding to tell you everything before I realise you’re not there.
Postcard Jim is from the UK and has a thing for postcards too. Check out his site where he does a bunch of fun stuff. It took me a while to come up with a piece for his phrase ‘How much is that doggy in the window?’ It’s one of those songs that creeps me out worse than clowns.
How much is that doggy in the window?
Dr Anderson wants me to talk about the white house with Mum. But I can be quite stubborn so I’m going to talk to you instead. Remember the bathtub in the backyard? I could see it from the window in my room and at night it bubbled with dark shapes. I held on tightly to my little dog and he yelped. You came in and took him away. He wasn’t supposed to sleep in my room. Do you remember his name? Isn’t it silly of me to forget? He was such a darling. All black with little white socks. But he cried when he was locked outside with that terrible bathtub. My allergies have gotten much better. I think it’s the fresh air down here. The second floor was so dusty. Remember when I thought it was haunted? I was quite a sensitive child. Was his name Billy? He was such a sweetheart. Mum preferred cats. Cats are no use against robbers. A little dog could protect me. Do you think you could sneak one in? Just in case the sounds are not ghosts. I put my head under my pillow every night but I still hear the glass breaking upstairs. I hear the little dog barking. Buster? I wait for Mum to come back downstairs. Thud. I wait under the pillow for the sound to stop. I hum her favourite song. The one I sang at my school concert the day before. The one you missed. I forgive you even though I should hold a grudge. It’s just not in my character. That sweet little dog. I wonder what happened to him. I hope he went to a good home. Dr. Anderson says of course but he can say anything he likes. I do wish I remembered his name.
This beautiful postcard was sent in by one of my favourite word nerds, Ryan Werner, who has the Our Band Could Be Your Lit project. I collaborated with Ryan back in July by sending The Cramps song ‘Some New Kind of Kick’ as a writing prompt and he produced the following story Follow The Water.
It’s a great project – and one I’ll be guest writing for soon.
Ryan wrote that he found #45 amongst a bunch of old postcards while visiting a friend in Grand Rapids, Michigan and that it yelled at him to be sent to me. I love a pair of bossy girls.
Since Dad left my sister talks in her sleep.
Han goes red when I tell her stuff she says but I don’t tell anyone else. She never told that time I wet the bed.
Han plays in the woods behind our house with the boys. Sometimes she lets me come. The trees are tall and pine needles make the ground spongy. It feels like woods that witches and wolves live in. Han says we don’t get wolves here and the witchiest thing would be the homeless guy. Sometimes we see where he’s been. Empty spaghetti cans. Shopping bags stretched into a tarp. The boys want to hunt him and use me as bait.
Han calls them dickheads when they talk like that and I’m glad when we leave.
Mum screams when we get home. She says things that make me cry but Han’s face goes blank. Like she’s asleep with her eyes open.
Like when she talks in her sleep.
You can have the gold. You use it to find Dad.
She’s sitting up in bed and staring at me but I can tell from her deep voice she’s asleep.
When our school went to Sovereign Hill she was the one that found gold. When I cried because there was only grit in my pan she gave me hers. We got dressed up like the olden days and took a picture. She said not to smile because photos were serious things back then. They were the only chance people had to remember their family forever.
Where’s Dad, Han?
She giggles behind her hand.
In the woods, Silly. You need to take him some spaghetti.
I wait until Han lies down before I go out to the yard and stare at the woods. Then I climb over the back fence.
#44 was sent all the way from Deutschland. Thank you, Megan, for thinking of you and me when you saw this little treasure.
It was the first day they’d ever met on a Sunday. She’d sounded surprised on the telephone. She waited at the coffee shop for a long time. He watched from the station wagon because he knew she’d be looking out for his BMW. She was wearing her thick horn-rimmed glasses he found so inexplicably arousing. He asked her one morning as he trailed his hand over her stomach why she didn’t wear contacts. She replied with her thick accent that she’d worn them since she was a plain little girl with a boys’ haircut in Berlin. Why not now?
She didn’t reach for her bag to check her phone once in the whole hour she waited. He was proud of her. She paid the waiter for her coffees and stood to leave. He noticed she swayed a little as if gaining her land legs back. He gripped the steering wheel as she passed his wife’s car and her scent drifted through the open window. All she had to do was turn slightly and he would get out of the car. He would apologise and make it right. But her face was set into a mask. She looked like a stranger as she turned the corner.
He picked up his second mobile phone and made arrangements to have his number changed. When he arrived home his dinner plate was covered and still warm in the oven.
How were your parents?
He called from the kitchen.
Fine, she replied from the living room where she watched TV, how was your meeting?
He picked up his fork and stabbed a withered roasted potato on the end. It was warm but the crunch had softened. He swallowed the aftertaste of starch and told her it had gone fine.