Up Here
(unedited) by Jodi Limerick

Don’t look at me like that. There you go shaking your fist at me. She is gone and I’m to blame. What happens now? I don’t care. My hands are sore. My hands are always sore and you never think about that.
    I don’t like the way you look at me these days. Sometimes you smile at me. Sometimes I think I make you happy.  I think we could be good friends. We could be good to each other. I’m giving you those grey wisps in your hair, those wrinkles near your eyes.  I have been good to you despite what you think.
    I’ve watched you since you held your mother’s hand and cried. Cried because she was angry at me. I ruined things again. You got to the seaside though. You came back, bucket and spade in hand. Your mother in a blue dress. You didn’t  look at me. You didn’t need to. You weren’t so aware of me back then.
    Tonight you sit and stare at me. Stare into my face. My face which hasn’t changed as much as yours has. I wish you wouldn’t look at me like that. I’m not going to change.
    From here I cant reach you, I cant help you. You pick up the flowers. Tulips I think. You’re crying.  Even the tulips are crying.  You’re walking away.
    I want to cry. You cant hear me. You’re not close enough to hear me. You never have been. 
    Inside me things are changing. For a moment I think I may fall.    
    I’ve stopped. My hands have stopped. I think of everyone who will also stop tomorrow and look at me like that.


Jodi Limerick
(as punctuated by author)

Anna felt warm after her first drink. A double. A double was needed. She felt that it might help dilute any awkward moments or feelings tonight. Despite the fact that she hadn’t slept well in a month, she was feeling strangely  perky tonight. It might have had something to do with vodka or that she had been complimented  excessively by friends. Compliments that may have been exaggerated to help her accumulate a little more confidence. She was fed up with sympathetic arm touches.
    He was in the corner, full in conversation with a man in a tweed jacket who towered over him. Didn’t take much. Anna herself was taller than him some nights. He clocked her straight away and gave her a smile. A smile he usually saved for those he never had much time for. A smile he gave his auntie Karen after failing to avoid her in the supermarket. She turned away and headed back to the bar. The bar now was crowded, by the time she got served 15 minutes had past. At least it was 15 minutes looking like she had a purpose, without having to talk to anyone. Between the sweaty liquor hungry  people, Anna felt comfortable and safe. Her friends were nowhere to be seen. She began to panic  about what her next move would be after she had her drink. At the front of the bar he managed to somehow appear beside her. Knowing fine well she was there, but instead pretending to read a beer mat.
     “Buy me a drink then” She said. She was shocked at herself for producing  such a forward opening line.
He turned to her looking a little shocked himself. “Okay” He stammered, “What you having?”
“Like you have to ask” Anna was pleased with her cockiness. It was a change of heart from earlier where she had decided to act shy and mysterious. He asked the barman for a pint and a vodka with bitter lemon.
    He was looking different. His hair had been cut a bit too short. He never suited it short. His face was paler and his clothes were new. He smelt the same however. Anna’s stomach turned. There was a moment where Anna felt like they both would burst into laughter. Like the uncomfortableness wasn’t real. Like it was just a little game.
    He pushed her drink toward her. Like handing it to her would have involved too much physical contact. The slippery condensation on the glass disallowed her to pick it up first time. Instead her initial attempt seemed to push the glass further back toward him. She couldn’t help but think someone ‘up there’ was trying to intervene.
    “Well, I better go.” He said   
    “alright, well thanks for the drink”
    Anna found it hard to believe that just four weeks ago the both of them had lay entwined , curtains closed and talking about what sort of dog they’d own together one day. “A Shih Tzu” Anna had giggled. “No way!” He replied “I’m more of an Alsatian sort of guy.” He was more of a shih Tzu now though.
    Anna, having eventually managed to scoop up her glass, escaped the bar and went outdoors to smoke. Something she did rarely.
    She smiled. A smile she usually saved for a friend’s compliment. A smile she could give herself.


 by Jodi Limerick
(unedited and as punctuated by author)

It was raining, but I refused to erect the nursery coloured umbrella my mother thrust under my arm before I stepped out the door this morning. It looked like a circus prop and would have been an unwanted clownish contrast on the smart blacks and whites I was sporting that day.
    Today was the day I was gonna change things. Get out of this town. The interview was in the city. Maybe it wouldn’t be raining in the city. As I walked the six minute walk to the bus stop, I quickly admitted defeat and  hoisted the only protection from the monsoon I had.
    I was relieved to be under the bus shelter and even more relieved not to have the laughable apparatus raised above me. As I closed the umbrella, my skin was caught. The horrible part of skin between your finger and thumb. Maybe I deserved that.
    I was early, so I took the time to read some of the scrawl that by the look of it, had been burned into the plastic of the shelter. “DAZ B IS A GAY”, “NYB ‘04”, and “CARLIE IS A FAT SLUT” Lovely, I thought.  What would Carlie’s mother think about that?
    The 39 bus showed itself  eventually and I got on  to find that my regular happy, moon-faced driver had been replaced by a grimacing Fred West look-alike.  I paid my £6.30 (a ridiculous amount to get to the city, if you ask me) and Fred said something inaudible as I walked to my seat.
    Now I believed that choosing your seat on the bus was the most important part of your day. It could make or break the 12 hours ahead of you. I shall talk you through the rules. Firstly, by all means, never sit at the very back. These are not individual seats, this is one carpeted bench designed for young men with puffa jackets and poor hygiene. I once made the mistake of perching myself in the middle of this grot spot and regretted it very much. The thing is, the Puffa’s don’t care if you’re in the middle of their regular perch, they will squeeze in around you. The air in their outerwear inhaling and painfully exhaling  as they sit down. Then you are trapped between what feels like four inflated penguins.
    Another tip is to not sit in the middle seats of the bus as you never know who will sit in front, behind, or beside you. Usually in front, it’s someone with unkempt hair and severe dandruff and behind it’s most likely to be someone coughing into your own scalp.
    I choose to sit at the front beside the pensioners. The lesser of many public transport evils believe it or not. The elderly never travel too far, usually just down to the post office or to buy some ‘lovely pork chops from Brian’s’. Their banter is mostly about the post office or again the ‘lovely pork chops from Brian’s’. Their choice of outerwear doesn’t offend me and they usually smell of  Werther’s originals and Astral cream. Also if you sit at the front, you’re the first one off and that the most important reason of all.
    So as I tried to get comfortable, ignoring the cuppa soup coloured interior that always made me quite nauseous, I couldn’t help thinking about Moon face. It wasn’t like him to be off sick. He was always whistling and saying ‘take care now!’ when he dropped you at your stop. Maybe Fred killed him. Wanted his job so strangled him and hid him in the lockers at the depot. Imagine that.
    I did my best to conceal the umbrella and also my briefcase with my unfortunate initials etched on to it.  Patrick Oliver Premming. Or a member of the Rice Krispies trio most people tend to presume. My mother’s gifts weren’t always the most unshameful.
    Out the window, through the sheet of rain, I could see we were passing through the part of town which was usually made up of graffiti  and a police tape scarf. Children stood outside the shops holding leads with dogs as ugly as them at the end. One presented me with a middle finger (a child, not a dog, although I wouldn’t be surprised)
    The bus stopped and on bundled three school girls. I glanced at my watch, it was 9.35am. Bet their mothers didn’t know that they weren’t at school. I had never seen such unsightly  creatures in my life. The rain from outside had clearly melted off their faces. Greasy orange drops were sliding down their necks and into their gold chains. I couldn’t help but notice that the slightly over weight one of the group’s chain had a pendant at the end saying ‘GORGEOUS’. I stifled a laugh. They chose to stand at the front whilst ‘Gorgeous’ wedged herself into the baggage compartment. I did my best to ignore their astronomical amount of ‘likes’ and ‘buts’ until I appeared to be the new victim of their sniggering and cackling. Had they seen the briefcase?  I shuffled around my seat hoping my legs would veil the initials on my ‘handbag’ as they were now referring It to. Just then the girls all burst into laughter. Laughter resembling seagulls around spilt chips on the street. The umbrella had fallen out from behind the briefcase, displaying itself and all its childish form. ‘I had one like that when I was five!’ squawked  the one with the ears that could not contain her earrings. I turned my crimson face toward the window. The girls got off at the next stop. I watched them outside, struggling to light cigarettes. I should phone their mothers. That would show them.
    The rain was so bad now, that every time the bus doors would open, everyone would get a little bit wet. People were getting on looking like they had had a fully clothed bath. The bus now smelt of damp dog, except there wasn’t a canine to be found on the 39.
    I slid myself down in my seat and closed my eyes.
    Just then I was thrown from the seat and into the gangway. My head cracking against the seat beside. My body flooded with an intense heat. I became aware that the bus was now on its side. A woman in a lilac waterproof  was lying on my arm. I couldn’t move. The lilac waterproof didn’t move.  Others screamed, and scrambled. Some scrambled over me. Their  knees on my spine. Wet knees and shoes. My suit ruined.
    I then thought about paramedics coming on to the bus. Trying to get the soggy people out. Trying to get the lilac lady off me. Then I thought of my briefcase. I thought of that goddamned umbrella. The paramedics holding their sides laughing. I just closed my eyes.