i just woke up from the worst night of my life. i am twenty years old. i live in a city called Riverside, another city in the west. i am not from here. i come from Africa, the eastern part of Ethiopia, if you must know. i am here for school, attending college. and last night, last night was the darkest of nights for me. i am most certain the devil visited me. it hugged, kissed and did not let me sleep until my whole self gave up to its unsolicited caress. somethings are true. fear, anxiety, devil, evil, these things are true. they are for everyone in some ways, but until they happen to you, it is easy to believe they are not true. some crazed minds made them up to scare others. because until they happen to you for real, the idea of thinking about them is fun, enjoyable, giggly. but not last night. not when my lonely room shrunk to six inches, and in the midst of gasping for breath, in the midst of my extreme exhaustion, i was still keeping a tab on my eyes not to close themselves – because i did not trust them anymore. that i would not wake up if i let them shut. that the devil, in its grotesque gaze, was waiting for me to make this mistake for a split second, so it manifests itself all over my naked body in winter – sweating in winter, in a cold room.
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First Date Stories: “This is the Moment You’ve Been Waiting For”

*Trigger Warning: unwanted sexual advances*

I distinctly remember getting ready for my first (and worst) date, dispelling any nerves by blaring out Katy Perry’s ‘Teenage Dream’ and heavily applying Maybelline’s Baby Lips! We had decided to go and see The Great Gatsby at our local cinema and after insisting that he paid for our tickets and snacks, brandishing two £20 notes (flashing that cash) that his Dad had given him to “treat” me with we found our seats and the adverts began. As the lights started to dim, I felt his hand on my knee – I thought nothing more of this until he started moving higher and higher up my leg and becoming increasingly more uncomfortable, my 14-year-old self suddenly rushed into action, slapping his hand and quickly hurrying out of the cinema. Naturally, he came speeding after me and as I quickly SOS messaged my Dad to come and collect me, he insisted on waiting. We proceeded to engage in a deeply awkward silence as I glared at him, too cross to speak, until he leaned in towards me with the grotesquely cliché line, “This is the moment you’ve been waiting for”, to which I instantly sprung back and his kiss caught the edge of my ear!!! Fortunately, my Dad’s car emerged around the corner several seconds later. I made my lucky escape and never spoke to Mr ‘Handsy’ again. Continue reading First Date Stories: “This is the Moment You’ve Been Waiting For”

Poisoned

Two days after the Queen died, they sent for me. I was sixteen. Barely more than a child. Father and Mother could do nothing. News of my supposed beauty had reached the capitol, so they came, they saw me, and they took me. Dressed in a great fur coat and a long, velvet dress trimmed with white ermine, I was bundled into a carriage and never saw home again. Mother and Father’s faces grew distant, like clouds, until they were as indistinct as clouds, and then they were gone. Continue reading Poisoned

The Life Chronicles: The Therapist’s Wife

He sculpts characters out of them. The people who dig money out their pockets to sit on the sofa opposite and spill out the contents of their tiny minds. Listening to expansive life stories. The he-said, she-said of adult life. Branches spilling out like tributaries, he gets lost in a spiral for an hour before the timer goes off so he wraps it up and stuffs the fresh narrative in a file for next week. Continue reading The Life Chronicles: The Therapist’s Wife

The Life Chronicles: Never Ask A Stranger On A Coach Why They’re Crying

He is travelling from home to a weekend with his girlfriend. Crammed in a window seat on the coach after running for his London connection. In a pair of jeans and a pale green shirt. Thirty-eight with flecks of grey hair rising in the arches of his hairline like new rot. He holds a copy of a Sunday Times Bestseller in one hand, and in the other, his phone. He sips a coffee from the fold out tray in front of him. Alert to the goings on out of the coach window, he turns to face inwards for one moment; and in that moment catches the eye of the girl sat next to him on the aisle seat, pressed up to her sports bag as though it were a life source. In the moment they make eye contact he sees that she is crying. Crystal tears building like soap suds in her eyes. She looks away and stares at the blue lights on the ceiling of the coach. And he wonders why she is crying. It’s unusual to cry on public transport, he thinks to himself. Continue reading The Life Chronicles: Never Ask A Stranger On A Coach Why They’re Crying