Fiction Master Class


Today was the first part of a master class about fiction with Michèle Roberts organized by the Geneva Writers Group. This gave rise to a number of pieces which I publish here.

Automatic writing: I want

I want a basket of fruit so that I can squash the bananas and peaches and grapes between my toes and listen to the squelching sound as I squeal with pleasure….

Names and us: What’s in a name?

My name is Peter McCloud. Peter like in Peter Pan; the boy who never got old. I love the name, but I wish it were Anne. At least I can dream. As for McCloud, it’s a beautiful name, so light and full of inspiration. Though when teachers call me that, it rings so formal. And it ties me to the McClouds. I don’t want that. My father died when I was very young and my mother and sister became so beastly. No. Just Peter, that’s me.

Peter is the main character in Boy & Girl and in In Search of Lost Girls.

Food from childhood: Beans on toast

Mum is not home and Dad is at work, so I have to cook. Beans on toast. I love the smell. I could gulp down the whole tin, but I have to share with my two young sisters. The reek of the burnt match and the hiss of the gas flame make me sick. God knows why. I try to close my nose to it, but the stink hangs on. Pre-cut bread under the grill, one slice each, done on one side only. I lay out three plates, melt marg on the toast and dish out the beans. One spoon for each girl and two for me, till there is no more in the pan. And I get to lick the spoon. Now’s the key time. As I turn my back to cut the gas, the plates whip round till my whopper serving stands in front of sis.

A hundred words of one syllable: Sigh

Help. Not here. Not now. I sink to the floor. As the pain hits me hard in the gut, my lips move but no words come out lest it be a moan that I can’t hold back. I close my eyes and lie stiff with dread, sweat on my brow. I might once have been smart, yet I find no way out. So few words are left me now, all the rest lay lost by the way. My time is over, the end has come. Help.

A sex scene like we’ve never lived it: Please

“Please don’t touch,” I whisper, my voice uncertain, as she rests her hand lightly on my knee and squeezes.

It’s not that I don’t want her to, I tremble with desire at the thought if it, but I’m afraid if she does, I will no longer be able to keep a hold on myself, I will dissolve and flow into her till there’s nothing left of me but a shiver of pleasure.

I close my eyes but that only heightens my senses. I see her face in my mind. I love the way she smiles as if her smile were a familiar presence in the pit of my stomach. I love the wrinkles that form around her eyes, the fullness of her lips. How often have I dreamt of kissing them, sweet and soft and succulent? I’ve spent hours watching her from the far reaches of the class, till her face was almost a part of me, warming my insides. And yet I hesitate.

When I open my eyes, I steal a glance at her face. She is looking off into the distance, but feeling my gaze she turns and smiles.

“Please,” I plead, unsure if I am beseeching her to go on or to let me be.

She leans ever closer till I can feel the warmth of her breath on my face and her lips touch mine, at last. I can’t help sighing. How could I possibly have been so afraid? This feels so right, so good. Then when she pulls back I feel so cold and bereft that I grab her blouse in my fist and jerk her into my arms. She lets herself be held for a while before responding, then she pulls me in an eager embrace, her hands snaking down my back as she presses her breasts against mine.

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