Shortlisted for the White Review Short Story Prize 2017 They think we’ll crack, tell them about boys from different high schools, boys with drainpipe jeans and empty houses, biology teachers, swim coaches, maybe; being drunk, being promiscuous; being secret table dancers; agreeing to carry the baby of a gay couple — their list of theories goes on.
Excerpt from the first chapter of a novel, Joplin, published on UEA’s New Writing website The summer I was twenty-one I figured I’d marry Art Carson. I settled on it in the double parlour at Verna Hobbes’ house, the day she married Alden Shirley, when the dance music treacled and I got stuck against the wallpaper with Art’s sister. It was late and the wedding party had sprawled past its welcome—from the lawn and into the house, straggled in toppled glasses and shoeless girls across Mrs. Hobbes’ new rugs. The bride and groom had left hours before, bundled into Alden’s automobile. We’d heard the cans on their bumper chattering all the way to the Connor on Fourth. The hired band played romantic tunes, to keep our minds turned that way, to the honeymoon suite: “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” with strings like a sick cat. “Keep the love-light glowing in your eyes so true.”
Published by Writers’ Centre Norwich as part of their 2014-15 Inspires mentorship scheme with IdeasTap The new tar road edges past our house the summer after my sister buried our momma near the back fence, laying her head past the slats to keep her feet out of the beans. It was the lion half of March when she died and high July when the road lolls in, a river of stinking tar nosing through the low ground and scrub. We watch it for a week, first from the roof and then from the beans, Zora and I both squint – pinching its black neck in our fingers and counting the thumbs between its roll and our momma’s head.