‘Is she dead?’ mouths Alice, between reluctant bites of a cherry-flavoured Pop-Tart. I shrug—so many empty spaces in this room are already occupied by the dead. Why shouldn’t Kara fill another?
I have no memories of my aunt Kara, although I know we met once, during a dry Arizonan summer almost two decades ago.
For the first time in decades, the British public have a clearly defined choice to make, one which involves a Labour party that is putting forward unashamedly left-of-centre policies. If we lived in a well-functioning democracy this would already have been common knowledge.
My old cat had been dead for seven or eight years, or possibly longer, or shorter, when I found him living on the lowest part of the bookshelf that was blocked by the couch. He was on a giant dictionary that I had inherited from my ancestors, who had carried it physically with or on them for generations.
I had never been involved in group sex. My curiosity was always overruled by the fear of entering into a twilight world, where bored swingers, back-rubs and Michael Fassbender’s character in Shame hung around twitching in a side-street sauna. But this felt different.
Turning oneself into a financial asset through the transformative power of a screen is little more than a simulacrum of past modes of accruing status; and yet increasingly, this is the sole method of operating within the modern media.
While some cities do better jobs than others of encouraging that salad to be fully mixed, in many cities we see fragmented communities segregated down lines of culture and interest, operating alone in the same space.
So, there we were, tearing round bends, wind clawing at our hair, shrieking like cats in heat, and after each turn we’d look at each other and laugh, like – that was a good one, right? Only then, after one of those turns, somebody’s gone. Just, gone.
A few years ago, I briefly dated a man whose recent ex-girlfriend was the stuff of nightmares: an ethereal giantess and beauty, an artist and musician. He was telling me about one of their arguments. “And then came the baby voice,” he finished. Wait. What? What?
At the edge of a ploughed field sits a burned-out Smart car. Its squat dimensions make it appear as if compacted in a Thames Estuary wrecker’s yard, prior to being set alight. The carcinogenic hulk against a pastoral backdrop is a particularly Essexian sight, as is the detritus scattered around it: a chalky, transparent baggie and a discarded Durex packet — Es and sex.
In this age of paradox around disability, how do disabled people juggle their internal desires for love, affection and yes, even sex, with external perceptions of desirability that actively ignore their existence and have remained unchanged for decades?