This Burning World

by Alexis Penney

There is no summer in the Bay. I keep waiting and it never comes. There are warm days, or really just warm hours, when the sun subtly reveals herself and I wonder why I’m dragging my winter coat around, my oft slept-in olive green carapace. It smells like my punk friends from high school, and sage and weed and funky yoga studio, sweat and feet – all in a way that I like, because it is mine.

Laura

There are so many kinds of nights in this world. Nights when it thunderstorms. Nights when sleep will not come, because you can’t stop counting all the ways you’re not good enough yet. Pass-out-in-a-cab nights. One-night-stand nights. Nights you can’t remember. Nights you do not want to remember.

Cruising

The Sunday afternoon Bloomsbury Group tour drifted past, their guide waxing posh and poetic about Mrs Dalloway. Floral summer dresses caught the sunlight through the leaves; bright, surreal and kaleidoscopic. I felt his hand on my hip and reached behind to guide him inside me, biting my T-shirt so as not to cry out and give us away. 

Manifestation

The girl is in hospital, and the doctor tells her a story about a man who died in his bed at home, an old man. At the moment of death, he appeared to his estranged daughter. He was suddenly in the cafe where she worked, stood by a table for a moment with his hand resting on a bottle of ketchup. Before she could ask what he was doing there, he flickered out, like someone had thrown a switch.

Make I Here

I wonder what my ledger looks like, karma-wise. I imagine it to be squarely in the black before my move to America. On the debit side, some minor things like nicking a rose apple from my neighbour’s tree. On the credit side the charge I led at my first job when I found out all the girls were paid less than the boys.

Broke Politics: Freelance Survival Tactics

If there is anything millennials will be known for (besides avocados and flat whites,) it will be our unhealthy fixation with The Side Hustle—turning what should be hobbies into income. So, do you stay on the Titanic, because the Titanic has free eye tests and statutory sick pay, or do you risk floating to safety on a door while documenting it on Instagram video?

The Sex Column #5: Body Count

Bisexuality and promiscuity are often discussed simultaneously, as if one were simply a symptom of the other. It is a worn-out trope, that of the promiscuous bisexual. Being ‘just greedy’ was a joke that I played along with from my teens to my early twenties, because, Yes, I thought, I am a greedy person. I am touch-sensitive, extroverted, impulse driven. But these traits are inherent to me—not my sexuality.

Pleasantly Surprised

Since being told, at the age of fourteen, that I should expect to grow up to be a manic depressive schizophrenic, I have been hyperaware of the schism that can occur when expectations are placed on a person based on nothing more than preconceptions, stereotypes and assumptions – of how they stay with you for life.

Essex, an Island off London

Essex’s marshlands are a damp reminder of a break-up that the British are yet to come to terms with. Around 8,000 years ago, the landmass that connected the UK to the European mainland, was submerged under newly melted waters creating what is now the eighth largest island in the world.

The Red Maiden

My matchmaker is a man. A man in a crisp, white shirt and trousers. ‘Shouldn’t you be an old lady?’ I ask. He bridles. ‘That’s kind of a cliché.’ I’m two weeks into my first trip to China. As a kid living in pre-Handover Hong Kong, China was a terrifying, monolithic presence. Now, it is a place I long to understand.