Letters to Santa

 

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Dear Santa,

I’ve been a rather good boy this year, I think.

Last week I asked for cake before I had eaten all my food, and, of course, Mummy let me have it. I did have a bit of a meltdown but mummy reassured me I was still a good boy. I screamed and screamed the house down all while aunty Jay and uncle Eddie sat awkwardly in silence, not daring to encroach. Mummy kept saying things to me, though I wasn’t really listening, or rather couldn’t hear her over the sound of my own noise.

You’re just upset, Jimmy, it’s okay. Let it all out. Hush, darling, it’ll be okay. Mummy doesn’t want to give you cake now because you’ll get a tummy ache as you haven’t touched your quinoa yet! Be a good little boy, my prince, and eat some salmon. Then I’ll give you dessert. Just eat half of it. Oh no, Jimmy, we don’t say that word! Okay, a bite. Fine, will you promise to eat it tomorrow, darling? Mummy will be very upset if you don’t. Please don’t hit mummy, that’s not very nice! We don’t hit! Oh, again! Stop hitting mummy, darling. Here, have your dessert because I know you’re very upset right now and you’re going through so many emotions.

Then mummy gave me the cake.

Daddy sat in the corner not doing anything, of course, until he saw mummy ferociously dividing the cake between me and her so that there was only a sliver left for him. By that point I was really cross as my face was hot and swollen, and I couldn’t enjoy the dessert so daddy wolfed it all down. Mummy started shaking a little bit after that but didn’t say anything. She just went into the kitchen and I heard a loud crash! bang! Daddy was hoovering up the crumbs from his plate with his mouth, like a fish, and didn’t go to mummy, so I think it was okay.

Anyway, this year I want an iPad. I’m growing up fast and daddy’s phone screen is just too small for my fingers. All my older cousins have one already; Gemma got one just because she started university and she always says no when I ask to use it. I asked nicely, so that means I should really be allowed. Mummy said so.

From,

Jimmy (8)

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The Unread Odyssey: One Man’s World Record Pursuit for Untouched Books

In a world where achievements come in the form of fast racecars and senior citizen skydiving, there’s a lone wolf in West Yorkshire with his eyes set on a record that’s in the grasp of practically anybody who has walked past a bookshop. Meet Frodo Leatherbound, a literary iconoclast hell-bent on venturing where most of us haven’t intentionally dared to tread.

He hopes to break a world record with the largest collection of unread books on his bookshelf.

As we enter his cluttered, yet charmingly pretentious library (really, his living room, from what we can see of it), it’s a sight to behold. We are mesmerised by the towering shelves bulging at the seams, crammed with books Frodo can’t even remember the names of. Some of these volumes, we notice, are duplicated two, three, even four times, like they’re breeding more books in various editions and bindings.

A cursory glance will reveal an impressive mix of subjects; there is everything from biographies of long-forgotten pop stars to the collected wisdom of world leaders, Guinness World Record books dating back two decades, poetry anthologies, hundreds of classics, a smattering of contemporary tomes, and three signed Delia Smith books.

Aptly named, Frodo insists his genetic disposition to book hoarding is a legacy passed down through some bookish DNA, courtesy of parents who have refused to comment. In a wave of nostalgia, he recalls his youth, growing up amidst a world of picture-books, hefty journals, huge hardbacks, and even the charming pop-up books that characterised his formative years. Read more

Why you should be scheduling

I like to think there are other people like me. People who get ferociously, terribly, horribly angry whenever their time is wasted in any way whatsoever. A minute in the real world is an hour in the world of someone who meticulously plans each and every segment of their day, right down to fifteen-minute increments. At 05:30 I will wake up. At 08:15 I will read, at 17:45 I will change my bed sheets, at 21:00 I will be in bed with a candle flickering and Alexa playing Last Hope by Paramore… and so on, and so forth. Is this normal? I’m not sure.

Some might call it obsessive, some might call it insane. Some might say it’s perfectly normal to want to squeeze as much from your day as possible, considering how fast time is slipping us all by. I am obviously of the latter; planning my days so carefully allows me to feel like I have control over my life. I never, ever go to bed lamenting over having wasted the day or week, and it’s simply because I have done everything with purpose. Even the useless things. Maybe it’s boring or too grown-up, maybe it leaves little room for spontaneity — but I do consider last-minute plans. I am definitely down for an impromptu trip to Franco Manca, I just need to consult Outlook and move my Sims block elsewhere.

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The Artist’s Dilemma


I sat down to start this post in my usual fashion; with misery, cynicism, and a little self-loathing. But then I remembered that negativity begets negativity, and the last thing I need is another reason to beat myself up. So, I’ve picked the next closest thing: honesty.

I took yet another break from writing in general. People have told me and continue to tell me they love my blog posts, my copy, my short stories — whatever it may be — but I just… don’t believe them. Imposter syndrome, I believe they call it. Feelings of inadequacy that block us from ever proving to ourselves that we are better than we think we are. It’s a vicious cycle that I often struggle to break out of.
We create art to express ourselves and resonate with people, so when they tell us they want to see us or hear us, why can’t we deliver? Why do we feel like frauds in our field –surely I’m not meant to be in this club? You’ll find that this club is filled almost exclusively with people who are, in fact, very good at what they do. Conversely, there are a lot of people who produce ridiculously sub-par work, but because they believe they can get to the top with it, they soar. Right to the very top. Read more

Adam’s seats (Bolted, part 3)

 

 

Explain this to me. What the fuck happened?’

It’s 03:32am and we’re doing sixty down a forty. The roads are mostly empty, but I know this means we’ll be hearing police sirens any second now, and I don’t know how shady it’ll look when they open the door of a blacked out A3 to see two brown twenty-somethings with blood on the passenger seat. But I don’t tell Adam about the last part, because I want him to make it to the hospital alive without flipping the car.

I wouldn’t normally see a doctor for a cut, but I haven’t been able to move my hand for a while without fear of painting his seats red. I can’t feel my arm anymore and I think my fingers are about to fall off.

‘I don’t know, man,’ I sigh, too exhausted to even try to think about what happened. These days I just give myself a migraine trying to fill in the gaps; I can’t remember something I wasn’t there for. But I saw the marks on her neck, and what I do know is I did it again. I don’t know what else happened; we made up and fell asleep, we had sex, I think. She fell asleep again. I stayed up. Everything was fine. Then there was blood.

The lights outside are a blur.

Adam quickly looks down at the blood-soaked cloth I’m holding against my left palm, and his eyes keep darting to his seats, occasionally checking that I haven’t spilled any. I have.

‘Why the fuck…’ he mutters under his breath as he pushes his foot down on the accelerator, the engine growling. Read more

The Voices (Bolted, part 2)

 

Earlier. Around 8pm.

 

‘Please, just fucking let me go,’ she said slowly, trembling, and making sure I heard every single word.

‘No.’

I didn’t want her to go and she knew it wasn’t me, I just wanted to calm her down. I – whoever that was – probably hurt her, but that wasn’t me. It was not me.

Still, she could’ve screamed. She could have shouted, banged on the walls so people heard her; she knew how thin these walls were. She could have had someone running to rescue the damsel in distress, but she didn’t want to be saved. Because she enjoyed this. She would always come back to me because she loves me. I barricaded the door and that was the last thing I remembered when I was there.

‘Please,’ I heard her whimpering. I blinked and I was no longer by the front door; I looked down and saw myself holding her against the wall by the bathroom, my hand wrapped around her throat. Her eyes were bloodshot and her face looked slightly swollen. Her body was stiff and unmoving, the way it is when you’ve given up fighting and you’re bracing yourself for the worst. It took me four seconds to register what my hands were doing and I immediately removed them from her neck, allowing her to scurry to the corner of the bed.

‘Fuck,’ I whispered, looking down at my hands.

‘Tell me what just happened, what did I do to you?’

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