by Dan Holloway
I chose this piece, because of everything I read in 2010, including blogposts, newspaper articles, novels, and published short stories, it was among the few that stopped me in my tracks, made me catch my breath, and somehow changed how I felt. (There was also Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood, and Dan Holloway’s story in Sex Scene Anthology: ‘Tight’, and a few pieces by Mark Simpson and of course Remittance Girl. Her story, written before 2010 or it might be the winner here, ‘click’ haunts me to this day). Anyway, here it is:
A while back Elly suggested I might start to put something together for a project she was working on about objectification. It sounded like a great idea, so close to the subjects I’ve worked on for so long, but when it came to the actual writing of it, I realised I didn’t have the first clue how to get something sensible down on paper in less than a gazillion words. I played around, started things that got deleted, bounced things on twitter, e-mailed friends who might point me in the right direction – Penny, maybe, or Kirsty, or even Marc who might have some bonzo wheeze about how I could make it all about typography.
So in the end I swallowed my nerves and my pride and called Sadie.
When I was a primary school kid I’d always been a prodigious dreamer, a composer of scenarios about the girls in my class, or women I saw on the TV, at the cinema, in my mum’s home shopping catalogues.
But, in the summer between primary and secondary school (for some weird reason that had to do with long division I was 10 rather than 11, which may or may not have anything to do with anything) Sadie was the first time I stepped the line between daydream and fantasy.
When she answered the phone her voice was kind of echoy. I told her why I was calling and asked if she minded me calling her about something so personal. She asked me why on earth I thought she would mind, and I told her she was the first girl I’d had those kind of thoughts about, that two years after the summer we’d spent hanging out, after a few dry runs with some topless playing cards someone had brought back from a field trip to France I’d closed my eyes in the bath and it was her face I saw the first time I came for real. I told her I’d stored up some of the best tits I’d seen on late night movies and pasted them onto her, just below her face, and I said I wasn’t sure if me saying that kind of thing to her after all this time might make her feel weird.
She said she had no idea why I’d think something so ridiculous, what were the fantasies of some hormonal twelve year-old to her now she was in her 30s and that summer – and me – was so many lives away it might as well be an agony letter in a magazine I was reading to her. And besides, she’d cut her wrists open just before I called and the blood was swirling in the bathwater over her tits, and yes they were rather perky still, probably just like something from a late night film, and she found it rather amusing as she watched to imagine her blood was my cum.
I asked her if she had Skype or anything else like that so I could take a look and see if they’d turned out the way I’d imagined them, and she said I’d made do with my imagination till now, and I agreed, and she was right, what did I need a camera for when the picture was so clear.
Then she said she had something to ask me, so I told her to go ahead, and she said that after all the help she thought she’d given me getting off over the years, maybe I could do something for her. I said sure, and she said thank you, though by now it was getting hard to hear the exact words. I asked her what she wanted, and she said once she was gone if I was going to call the police or the hospital or whatever then before I did could I go round there don’t worry the door’s open and take a knife it’s OK there are some really sharp ones in the kitchen drawer and find her and wash her down with cold water and take her out of the bath she hopes I’ve been working out but she’s looked after herself and even if she’s a dead weight she’s not that much of a weight and lay her on the floor and open her legs and put the knife in the tender part of her groin and peel back some skin and any fat there might be though she’s sure there won’t be much because of the exercise and take out the thinnest sliver of muscle and put one hand on her tits and feed myself her flesh with the other.
I told her I didn’t know, that was a lot to land on someone.
There was a noise, like coughing, or like paper tearing, and I asked her what it was and she said she was laughing, only by then she wasn’t. She wasn’t anything.
I sat with the phone to my ear listening to the not anyhing and wondering if I had enough for my piece and I could put it down yet
By Dan Holloway
Image: Blue Thing, painting by Penny Goring