Lost at Sea

I used to worry about

losing things at sea.

When I was small

I was taught:

“Keep your hands in the boat.”

“Hold on tight.”

“Don’t lean too far out.

You might fall.”


I fretted terribly;

I would pin my spectacles

to the bridge of my nose,

my fingers all crushed together.

I feared my glasses might

hop off

into the murky, midnight blue.


As I aged,

I grew nervous of

taking pictures near the edge:

my skin prickled,

my palms sweated;

I panicked

about the camera slipping

from my buttery grasp,

splashing into the roiling blanket below,

and being sucked beneath it,

gripped in a monster’s foaming jaws.


I feared the great sea beast

would steal it


so I pressed my fingers

heavily into the camera’s sides:

the plastic casing creaked

and cracked,

wincing and groaning

under the intense pressure.


I never did drop anything;

not even when I danced a

cold and jittery ‘Panda’

along the slick, rain-speckled rail,

on the top deck.


I learned another cruelty

that blustery August afternoon,

when the wind snatched

my pale straw hat,

whipped it from my skull,

exposing my fair blonde crown.

The gusting menace

tipped my cap

into the icy depths,

with that gleeful malice

worn by a cruel older brother.


I screamed;

I flapped my arms wildly,

like a bee-tormented bear.

Pathetically, I stretched

my short, chubby arms,

and waggled the five

Hula-Hoop-crowned cocktail sausages

crowded around

the outside of my hands.


my hat bobbed,

and jerked

along the water,

far below,

far beyond my grasp.


A hot ocean

welled between my lids,

sinking my eyeballs beneath

a fine salted mist.

An unstoppable current

broke free,

streaming down my

flaming pink cheeks.

The liquid writhed and twisted,

pinching my skin as it

seared its track down my face.


I watched miserably

as waves mercilessly licked

my hat’s frayed edges,

tossing the cap between them:

a vicious game of Pass.

They dragged my treasured headpiece

Far into the blue.


I gasped:

A sudden tautness

Pulled hard

Inside my chest;

a sensation of two sticky halves

peeling messily apart,

throbbed behind my ribs.

I gaped,


Air stolen from my lungs,

as two damp,

torn clumps of straw

sank into the sea.



The rich punch of freshly baked blackcurrants stewed on his palette; his tongue tingled as the flavour intoxicated his saliva. His heart sped like a tiny hammer beating a piano string; and his lips were slowly thawing blocks of ice, clumsy against her lips.  His mind swirled, like a straw drawn through a milkshake, his thoughts bursting to the surface suddenly, like air bubbles.  His fingers traced the smooth edges of her face, his fingertips kissed by the sunny warmth glowing from her cheeks.  He wrapped his thumb and forefinger around her jaw, cradling it, and then pressed the tip of his forefinger into her cheek, denting her skin the way he used to push his fingerprint into wet sand at the beach.  Her skin rippled like fabric beneath his touch, the surface a smooth satin with the warmth of velvet.  He pushed his hand up along her jawline and met the choppy edges of her long silken hair.  He split the long curtain framing her head into small sections between his fingers.  The fresh scent of chopped apple rose from her head as he moved the fine strands of her hair.  Each strand stroked the sides of his fingers with the softness of a new-born chick, their featheriness tickling his palm as they ran through it.  With his eyes closed, his lips curved upwards as he recalled the image of the moonlight shimmering and sparkling on her dark tresses, like twinkling stars burning in the night sky.


His closed eyelids blinked rapidly as a salty reservoir began to form silently around his eyeballs, threatening to wash the slippery white spheres from their sockets. His breath stuttered and caught, like cotton fibres plucked by a steel barb and his chest shuddered imitating the stilted flutter of an injured butterfly, vainly trying to regain flight.  Liam struggled to regain control of the sobs breaking over him in overpowering waves and they finally wrestled free of him through his quaking lips.  The fervent shaking broke the moment and their lips separated; he felt the release of pressure on his nose bridge as her warm face lifted away from his.


“Chloe…” he whispered faintly “I’m so sorry…Chloe…” he gulped down another sob as it tried to wedge itself stubbornly in his throat and cut off his main air supply. The choking sensation caused him to pause and in that moment he stretched out his hand to feel her in his grasp again, as if holding her could keep her from leaving him, from disappearing, again.  He knew all too soon that the intimate moment would be ripped from him and already the separation of their lips was becoming an aching memory.


His splayed fingers wobbled through the air, expecting soon to reach into the pillow-like softness of her black hair. With a jolt he reached the end of his arm’s extension; his wavering fingers curled round as if to grasp something but instead slipped through intangible air particles; his fingertips glanced off his palm as the shock of meeting his own skin surprised him.  He blinked rapidly, trying to rouse his slumbering eyelids, but they refused to budge.  As he tried to stretch the tight skin flaps apart, a hot burning sensation picked at his eyes, like a crow feasting on the blind juicy tissue of its bleating victim.  The fiery heat trickled down his face, melting the skin on his nose and cheeks as if he were a waxwork.  Liam tried to open his lips to scream, but in the furnace, they too had suddenly become stitched together with the gluey seal of a gummed-over envelope.  Visions of a crisp white envelope smudged with heavily-bent wiry black scrawls – almost incomprehensible – flashed brightly in his mind.  He saw it gripped, like a vice, in his own palm and he saw his old suede teal-blue shoes, with grey laces, slapping the off-cream stone slabs in front of him as they marched forwards.  The whorls on his fingers rubbed over the minute roughs and bumps on the paper; usually, he barely noticed these tiny nodules but in his heightened anxiety, suddenly they became glaringly apparent.


A muted scream, more like a moan or a muffled bleat than a cry for help, struggled to escape his body; the sound reverberated off the sides of his cheeks and his tongue, like over-excited children bouncing up and down on an inflated castle.   He felt his eyes spin round in his head, like unceasing disco balls – their reflected sparkle dazzling him until he could only see a million bright spots flaring in front of him.  After a few moments, some of them began to fade, fizzling out into dying stars which spread gradually into tiny black patches pooling uncontrollably outwards, like a flood of ink, spilling out over his vision.

Trapped in Hell: Episode 2

A fist of flame seared through Liam’s right thigh, sending a hot knife of pain through his leg, and causing his toes to rattle violently at the end of his shaking foot. His spine felt as though it had been lined with pitch and a flaming torch set to one end of it as a wave of fiery agony raced along it.  Liam jolted awake, screaming.


A long beastly face the colour of a hot tomato with a squashed hooked nose and a wicked grin bore down on him from above.  Liam continued to scream.  The creature’s shimmering face just shook as a man’s gruff laughter rocked it like a baby’s rattle.  The burning scarlet swirled over his face like currents in a stream and slid down, like treacle off a hot knife, as he lowered the flickering lantern to his right.   The fiery light shuddered within its cold iron cage, as much a prisoner, behind the thick Arabian patterns, as the cast iron case, grasped by three long black pointed talons.  The bird-like claws fidgeted as they curled and unfurled loosely, in a serpent-like fashion, around the large metal hoop attached to the top of the swaying lantern. Something warm tickled the inside of Liam’s leg and he jerked, twisting his body to the side and wafting a hot sickly sweet scent into the air.  The heat spread down past his knee and down towards his ankle, where it met the end of his light grey trouser leg, and splashed mercilessly onto the floor.


The inhuman beast had stopped shaking and was now hovering over him, his broad shoulders transforming him into a hunchback gargoyle.  His body was inert, save for the steady sway in his thick-boned figure as the air lifted the wide expanse of his chest and his solid shoulders as it entered his body; and dropped them heavily as the air escaped his large frame, the way an athlete drops his weights at the end of a contest.  The exchange of air in and out of his lungs was laboured and there was a slight thunderous rumble under his breath as he respired. The sound transported Liam to the steaming barnyard full of damp, browning straw he had once stumbled into after a petty squabble with one of his friends.  There had been an equally inhuman huffing and puffing emanating from the corner.  His muddied trainers had slipped and slid on the clammy wooden stable gate, leaving large black marks, as he eagerly clambered up the splintering frame.


He had envisioned a giant green dragon with a pink belly, a goofy smile and big watery eyes, waiting for him, like in Pete’s Dragon; but he had been in for a shock:  His small, child-like nose had poked over the top of the wooden wall and his playfully sparkling blue eyes had widened into large pools of fear; his thin brown eyebrows had leapt up on his peeping forehead.  The sound of air being sucked into the vacuum his mouth had created had rung loudly in his ears; he remembered his fingers slipping against the moist surface of the dirty pine.


His incredible dream of a beautiful dragon had been shattered by a dark shaggy mass with fierce pink eyes.  The creature had been huge and his unkempt matted fur had given him a spiky outline.  The greying horns on either side of his head had been stained with yellow marks; they both curved accusatorily upwards and ended in a terrible point.  Behind his horns, his hairy triangulated ears had flicked irritably back and forth – the same way his mother’s lips twitched when she was angry with his father, about what Liam could never understand.  The beast had growled or he thought it had growled as the air reverberated darkly and the gate rumbled threateningly beneath his grasp.  The beast had lifted a long leg, thick with strong muscles beneath his wild hair, and stamped a solid blackened shoe with a resounding thump, on the ground.  His forefingers had slid suddenly from the edge of the gate as Liam had battled to maintain his slipping grasp.


The last Liam had seen was the fearsome beast opening his mouth wide; from within the dark red cavern, a cacophonous trumpeting of an untuned horn erupted; at that moment, Liam’s weak hold was finally shaken from the gate and he crashed painfully into the stone floor beneath, his fall barely cushioned by the meagre scattering of dead straw on the ground.  He had lain there stunned and without breath, panicking that these were his last moments and he would die alone, until his breath had slowly returned, and he instead had to worry about how to explain to his mother the terrible state of his dirt stained polo shirt, and the torn knee in his new grey trousers.


For a moment, Liam was still lying on that cold stone floor, choking, as he desperately sought to suck in the air that refused to enter his lungs; his heart hammered in his chest and the blood pumped fiercely under his skin as his mind saw the menacing pink eyes staring into his skull and the dark red gullet that glowed angrily back at him, just like the fluttering red lamp now searing through his eyeballs.


Liam blinked rapidly, a wet residue leaking over the edges of his eyelids.  He coughed and spluttered, spraying saliva over his chin.  Shamefully aware of his lack of composure, he weakly croaked as he vainly sought to catch his breath:


“Who…What…Where am I…?”


The figure towering over him jerked back slightly as a small chuckle escaped from his eerily unmoving lips.  He snorted, not unlike a hog asserting his dominion.


“Want to talk?” He snorted again.  All the muscles in Liam’s body tensed as he tried to decipher whether his comment had caused disgust or amusement.


“Where…am I?” Liam continued to stumble over his words, still a little breathless and uncertain of whether to continue.  He turned his head around the room, repeatedly, but failed to pick any sensible shape out of the gloom.  He turned back towards his assailant who had now crouched down beside him. Liam recoiled as their noses almost touched.  This close-up, he could see that the creature’s face was made entirely of reflective glass which picked up any colour or image close by and bounced it back at the viewer.  It was smooth – there was not a single crack or break in the surface so it must be all one piece, Liam thought as he stared at it;  where there should have eyes, there were a neatly etched pair of closed eyelids glimmering eerily in their place; it was disconcerting, almost as disturbing as the image of Liam’s own face thrown back at him as his eyes struggled to understand the picture of his own pale and frozen features: the boiled-egg whites of his eyes flashed wildly around the outside of his huge black pupils, swollen like a pig’s bladder, in the centre; in the hot glowing lamplight, he could even make out the streaks of indigo underlining his bottom lids.


“You’re in Hell.” His unfriendly companion spat out, somewhat unexpectedly, after several moments had passed while Liam had been studying his reflection. Liam caught the bitter and stagnant flavour of sour ale spiced with the overpowering stench of over-peppered meat as the monstrous creature’s breath punched the sensitive hairs in his nostrils.  Liam’s stomach gurgled, even though he was usually a vegetarian by choice, and preferred rich wines, with fruity notes, to malted barley drinks; his tongue cried out to lick the salt from a smoked rasher of bacon.  He couldn’t recall how long exactly it had been since he had last eaten.  Time had become twisted and warped, and completely unfathomable, in this endless night.  Slowly, the groans of his empty stomach quietened, allowing his weakened mind to process his imprisoner’s words; Liam’s brow furrowed as he struggled to find a logical conclusion from it.




“Yes, you’re dead.” There was a smugness to the short statement and the wavering candlelight glinted minaciously over the fixed grimace on his imprisoner’s face.  He seemed enjoy the initial dismay he had caused and the later distress that would evidently chew at his victim once this conversation was over.


For a moment, Liam was breathless and he babbled soundlessly, patting air with his lips as he opened and closed them, as if he were a fish breathing underwater for the first time.  His eyes, wide with horror, blurred over as puddles of water spread like an ocean of confusion over their surface.  He remembered, with agony, watching the beloved paper yacht that he had spent many hours designing and creating, under his grandfather’s watchful supervision, being rapidly sucked under by the merciless currents of the fast-flowing river in the park.  He had screamed as the water had rushed over the sides of the delicate craft and pressed it down heavily beneath the surface.  He had rushed in to save his dying vessel, splashing into the deep, icy water; he had toppled and nearly been dragged away by the strong current himself, until his grandfather had waded in and heaved him out of the rushing water.


He had scolded his grandson rather harshly and told him not to be so foolish over a silly paper boat – probably so afraid of the nearly-realised loss of his grandson that his sympathy for the boy’s distress had been somewhat lacking.  Liam had bawled his eyes out all the way home, not even consoled by the prospect of a Mr. Whippy cone with a flake.  His grandfather had frowned with concern but Liam had barely noticed it or even bothered about his dripping beige shorts (by then a grey elephant skin colour) and the soaked edges of his bright red “I heart dragons” T-shirt – until, of course, his mother had paled and screamed at him and his grandfather upon opening the door.  His “escapade” had cost him dinner as well as further trips to the park with Grandad.  His grandfather had been rushed to hospital the following week and he had always blamed himself for his grandfather’s death, telling himself that, had he been a better grandson, his dear Grandad would have lived.  The same old feelings of guilt and pain bubbled to the surface, chewing agonisingly at his gut; his cheeks began to be worn by the miserable path of tiny estuaries dribbling down from his eyes.


Liam yelped as a sharp sensation bit into his kidney and he looked up to see a crackling line of turquoise flashing between two silver pincers attached to a long metal pole; His imprisoner, now standing, loomed in the background behind this strange device, the darkness having once again swallowed up the shape of his body.  Only able to watch the jiggling rouge face of his oppressor, he listened to his attacker’s laugh – the same rough throaty cachinnation as at the start of their conversation:


“You’re in Hell – to be punished.”  There was a slight pause between the word Hell and the next comment, as if it were an after-thought, something Liam’s imprisoner had added to give his statement more weight; but it was hardly needed for the torturous crack that echoed through Liam’s eardrums, followed by his own high-pitched scream, relayed the message with perfect clarity.  Liam told himself that it was the smoke and the foul stench of seared cloth and flesh that pinched at his eyeballs, but he stopped caring as his face sunk beneath a wave of tears.

Trapped in Hell – Episode 1

He stretched his numb fingers forward eagerly towards the faint outline he recognised, feeling a flaming ache tear up his arm as his muscles strained to hold onto his shoulder.  His eyes watered as he twisted his face with the exertion.  His skin felt clammy and sweat streamed relentlessly from his brow.  His normally bouncy russet curls had dampened to a dark pine and were now plastered to his crown. He tried to step forward to bring himself closer to the rust-varnished oak door before him but the soles of his feet were glued to the concrete beneath him.  An invisible iron hand squeezed his ankles, forbidding their movement.  Liam dropped his gaze to his feet but failed to visualise the restrictive manacles apparently binding his legs to the ground.  He made one last attempt to push his weight forwards and lift his leaden ankles forward; his face began to puce over as hot blood pushed its way into his cheeks and nose, like dark wine spilling over a pale cloth. His breath broke and he spluttered as a spray of saliva burst like a fountain from his cracked lips.  Liam’s kneecaps cracked into the smooth marble-like concrete and he panted heavily, his slimy forehead leaning against the icy cold floor as struggled to catch his breath.


A sharp stab of pain shot through his lungs every time he inhaled as if a long icicle had been thrust through them.  The pungent smell of caramelised acid ripped at the skin at the back of his throat and his lungs felt wet and heavy as if being slowly flooded by a viscous liquid.  Liam looked up at the blurring vision of the thick wooden door ahead of him.  The muscles in his arms and legs spasmed uncontrollably and his eyes felt stretched and worn.  The gleaming brass doorknob leered at him like the festering crown in a pirate’s smile.  The four square-cut panels, like windows in the door, pulled away from him dizzyingly, giving the door a depth that made no sense.  As he squinted at the distorting shapes, the colour of the door began to flow like a river; The previously robust door became a melting waxwork: a stream of coagulating blood dripping readily towards the floor.  Bit by bit the dark wood was licked away by droplets of muddied rain, leaving only the shimmering doorknob which now resembled a curled-up silverfish as the metal whitened and deformed.  The bug-like door handle wriggled furiously like a beast aggravated to madness; abruptly, it exploded with the loud crack of a bullet hitting a mirror and the tremendous crash as the hot metal rips the sheet of glass into a thousand jagged shards.  A blinding white light flooded out from where the doorknob had been.  Liam barely had time to recover as he blinked and squinted, lifting his hand up instinctively to shield his eyes.  Just as quickly as it had arrived, the light shrank back on itself, like juice being sucked up through a straw.


Liam wrapped his arms around his soggy and shuddering frame, drawing his knees close into his chest.  Once again, he was abandoned to the cold and silent blackness that hung around him with dark and hungry eyes.  He twitched and jerked his head round from left to right, desperately squinting to see the predator through the opaque fog of shadows that crowded around him.  He buried his face between his knees and began to rock forwards and backwards, the way his grandmother used to swing in her old wooden rocking chair.  He tried to shake off his unease and paranoia but like a gazelle in the middle of a long-grass prairie, he could only abide the discomfort of their unseen presence until they made their form apparent.

Behind the Carousel

Ding, ding!
The short stocky figure

yanks the knotted rope

with his fist.

The peal of copper against copper

rings through the glade,


It cuts through the

slumbering silence

and drags his

shut-eyed passengers into

unexpected animation.




Grey spots flicker

and dance,

never certain of their own presence,

forever arriving and


in quick succession.

They gather,

like thick blizzards of dust,

displaying a simulated


with a wild frenetic

of activity.

They cloud an obscurity to the

real world beneath, until,

without warning,

a great blackness


swallowing these tiny dust mites,

leaving only an unwavering

pool of tar in their place.




An army of pins


and bounce onto

the shiny black earth


I watch,


as these tiny glass beads

drop from the heavens above.

I marvel as they

split the light

into seven parts,

for my eyes to perceive,

like different days of the week.

I wonder

about the world inside

these life-giving bubbles.




A grumble of thunder

tickles my ears;

a battalion of needles prick

the skin on my arms.

A raindrop trickles


the nape of my neck,

crawling down from my shoulder

on the rings of my spine.




Strips of light

wave in eerily

at the shadows:

A thin ribbon of yellow

stretches thinly into a long


which morphs and broadens into

a thick, short arc –

a round-bottomed cone

pointing out of the darkness

into a blinding realm

out with.




A tumble weed of air

tosses itself

into my gullet and catches

like a thick hair

hooked on Velcro.

The moisture on my tongue

evaporates into

cloud-like rock above.

My taste-buds cling

with tight fists

to the dark red sky.




A gummy pair of

deep pink lips

become sealed

with a waxy finality.

The heavy pressure

of crushing tectonic plates

squeeze lively pink

into jaundiced yellow.





two tiny black creatures

stand face-to-face.

A flash of silver swings

through the air:

An iron kiss?

A steel slap?

Both sides draw away rapidly,

only to lean back

in for a further assault.




Inky words fly

around the room

on paper wings-

a painful experience

as the airborne creatures


to navigate round my head;

but plunge their path

through my torso,

knocking unwanted skin, bones, and


forcefully, out of their way,

as they career

around the crowded air space.




A bright white whip

of fierce luminosity

rockets through the midnight-navy blanket:

Hot scissors

slicing through cloth.

It leaves a

momentary scar:

a white pitch fork with

two legs;

amongst a rapid flutter of

eyelashes, the mark

pixelates and

dissolves into

the dark space beneath.




A crash of drums

smashes through the air,

reaching into my ear lobes,

and grabbing at my

ear drums, and attempting to

tear them from their sockets.

Puddles of lava well up

from a hidden cave,

and gather like a

fearful mob, both

left and right of

the long wall


the top of my face.





Bared steel teeth

spin, shake, and

scuff on one another,

like shuffling captives,

bashing shoulders and hips,

as they swing about in a



ferile-stenching room,

where planks rot

with sweet and sour

odious liquids

seeping through their

splintering skin.




Spirits scream and cry through

chaotic, distressed air gaps,

clawing at panes of glass,

begging to be let in.

I visualise squares

within squares,


small squares being shoved

outwards by an unseen hand;

then, stretched and drawn

out, like a monster forming from





Large squares being

crushed and

belittled by oppressive

air particles squashing and

engulfing them,

cramping their souls with

leas, dragging their external points

inwards, like a deflating balloon:

The powerful body of air –

once a supporting force –

now squeaks out of the

shrinking frame;

the air escapes out

in one final breath;

the atoms spread out and

bounce invisibly between particles.

Then, the freshly grown cube

sucks in the air around it,

like a flea nourishing itself with

living victuals.


Dear Victor


You’ve broken me.

I’m obeying your rules.

I’m playing your game.


Is this what you wanted:

To break me,

and remould me as your own?


Was I not good enough before?

Was ‘being me’ not right?

Did it put your nose out of joint?

Did I sit just out of place?


Is your mind at ease now?

Can you sleep easier at night,

now you have bent, twisted,

and distorted me,

to fit your warped expectation?


I’m glad I match your collection

of battered, bruised, and

dismembered toys.

It’s a freak show over here –

A freak show you have made.


As belongings we are inferior to you;

but we are possessions that don’t belong:

You claimed our ownership,

Without first owning the right to possess us.


Why put us in your great glass cage?

You examine us like bugs,

Mocking our every move

– Each and every one.


Who do you think you are?

The great pretender who

pretends to be

our noble deity:

The judge of all our sins,

and a fine example of how to lead

a model life.


One day, you will realise,

it’s not a glass jar of weirdish pets

you need,

simply a sharp silver pane of glass

to hold up

and reveal yourself in the light:


A shimmering shard to reflect your scars,

and the merciless crinkles in your skin.

Then, will you see

the strange and beastly creature

creeping behind the glass.


Yours sincerely,


A lost butterfly in your caterpillar collection

Not so ‘LOL’ after all…


As a child, I was weird.

I’m not saying as an adult (whoa, I’m an adult) that I’m not weird. But there were particular things that I did as a child that weren’t considered normal.

One of these particular things was brought to the attention of my parents by one of my teachers in the very early days of my schooling. It was apparently such a milestone that it is even recorded in my baby book:

“At play time, Sarah walks around on her own and picks up the litter in the playground.”

I don’t think my parents were shocked at this revelation. They already knew. I came home with my duffle coat pockets brimming with ‘BN’ wrappers and the orange caps off ‘Sunny D’.

Now, I was five. I’m not going to pretend I was a budding global citizen. I just didn’t have any friends and thought I’d make…

View original post 848 more words


A wispy snow-white mist

swirls beneath my feet.

My soles sense solid ground,


fluffy layers of snow

are not strong enough

to grasp or

uphold my form.


I float on air,


my weight presses heavily

on my chair.


I am inside,


I am above

all the houses.


I am static,


I swing about,

left to right.


I go up

and down,

feeling the wind’s motion,


never feeling

its cold breath

on my skin.


A polar snow drift

sweeps across the scene

beneath me,

yet, I see

no land mass hiding

below its peaks and waves

A Tipped-Up World

‘Was this picture of Sharon always upside down…?’ A woman in a wine-coloured parkin barged past a row of shelves lined with eye-shadows and BB concealer creams.  The corner of her jacket caught behind a stick of mascara and her solid metal zip combined with her forceful haste knocked it to the floor.  The red-faced woman seemed oblivious to the incident as she puffed air in and out of her cheeks with a horrendous sucking noise between her teeth.  She squinted, her brow furrowed, at a small, hand-held device snuggled in her palm, as she shuffled towards the photo-printing machine.

A gentleman in a bulky black Fred Hanson jacket, shadowed a pair of glazed eyes with a bent neck, kicking his trainers through  an alley of vitamins and healthcare products, half an aisle behind the woman. He scuffed his toes heavily on the weary mud-streaked lino with each foot he placed forwards.

‘Keep up, Ed!’ she tutted.  ‘Look at this.’  She pressed a straight wrinkled forefinger hard against the small LCD screen in her palm and paused.  She rolled her eyes and tutted again as she waited for her slovenly companion to reach her.  Before he was close enough to even recognise the image she was pointing at, she rattled on: ‘Was Sharon always upside down in this photo?’  but she didn’t give her companion the time to respond, or to even process the request, as she motored on while he finally reached her side: ‘Or was the photo taken upside down?’. She turned the phone round in her hand, hindering the analysis process further by twisting her head round at the same time.  The gentleman glanced down quickly at the screen, not giving his full energy to the question.  The new Joop! “Don’t see the forest, be the forest.” aftershave advert, on the far wall to his right, caught his eye and his attention became heavily engaged in creating viable excuses to bring him closer to the poster.

‘Ed…Ed!’. The woman raised her voice and bumped her shoulder into his arm as he continued to ignore her.  He non-chalantly swung his head back round to look at her and he sighed and rolled his eyes as she thrust her phone towards him.  ‘I’m sure Sharon wasn’t upside down before…’. The woman untwisted her head and broke her focused gaze away from the black device.  She looked up to notice that the previous customer was moving away from the printer and she snapped a few short steps forwards before Ed had the chance to reply   He tutted and hissed and finally muttered:

‘I think you’re upside down, Mel!’. He looked off wistfully to his right, at the jungle scene which now seemed further away from him than ever. He wished desperately that he could be in that Amazonian paradise surrounded by a divine pool of Artemisian babes rather than trapped in this pharmaceutical necropolis on the first day of his holidays.

‘I heard that!’ she called back sharply, flicking her gaze over her shoulder, momentarily and silently signalling for him to keep up.  She lifted her free hand up towards her head and began fluffing her hair back into shape.  Ed just shook his head, gazing down towards the floor, and chuckled quietly, before stepping forwards slowly to match her position.