Creative Writing

  • Naomi Mulligan

Here are my best new works of writing, including Gravity, published in the Reading Room Café competition 2018 and published in anthology, ‘Mad Like Us’.

The Shed
You live in side-glances,
Questions and answers, hearts, flowers.
Your kindness hurdled all trauma
- That’s what makes this even harder.

Sometimes I think I see you,
Only panes between us.
I don’t know why you’d be there, of all places
But I know why it’s yours, of all the faces.

Why do you float so low, so close to the floor?
Between the mower and a spider curled like toes;
There’s plenty of space next to me on the sofa -
Can you see from there that I am floating, too?
The Lovely Man

The funeral will take place on Friday12th July 20191:30pm. Internment at 3pm followed by a buffet Lunch. We set off before 8am and are the involuntary congregation of a fatal collision:
Lorry played a one-man-band with a white fiat accordion.

My heart stops as we pass, spectral, mouth hanging open.
The southbound jam oozes;
We fly freely past, like the upper class.

We arrive two hours early, eat heartily.
Mary barely sees me but we all kiss nonetheless.
I sit, teacher’s pet, between boyfriend and the son.

Unschooled in religious rites I stumble, am clueless.
But the ritual seeps into me and wraps me like a shroud.
Dad is electric and makes me so proud.

I speak for Grandad in my heart.
Boyfriend is a shoulder, a hug and a hand.
I cry for the lovely man.

I’m lying on my bed, in my late twenties, trying to write a poem about love and fear for a strange man who has befriended me, hoping it’ll lead me to a non-retail working life. I’m facing the window and the sky is brilliantly coral and the clouds the colour of smoked fish. I think Massive Attack, with all its dreamy layers, is turning the world sub-aquatic.
There’s a crane next to some scaffolding which is slowly but surely blocking my view of a glorious church. The end of the day’s light creates silhouettes on each, standing religion and reason side by side. Watch the steady sway of the crane I am reminded of a Diplodocus. I have a headache from venturing out into the sunny but cold day, wearing a fluffy jumper sans beanie and now my head chastises me.
I watch as the crane’s neck lifts and goes beyond its usual trajectory and it reaches quarter to. The object it carries, probably a wrought-iron beam, is the size of a chocolate bar from here. At ten to, the maths stops working; the arm begins to bend the wrong way and the bar drops. As the limb of the crane gets to the top of the hour I realise the reason I haven’t heard the bar land is because it hasn’t.
I remain in the same position as logic floats off and, along with it, lightweight nouns such as people and cars. But I must be safe here, so used am I to watching horrors unfold inside a square – television replaced here by window. I check Facebook for something else to look at; as usual there’s nothing on the box.
I feel the sensation of myself rolling – as you do when you’re about to fall asleep but I’m very much awake, unfortunately. It’s darker outside now and I’m gladdened to be able to see the church again. My street is uprooting. The clouds have disappeared too; spooled into space, I imagine, like candyfloss.
That rolling sensation I mentioned in the last paragraph was actually reality entering the room. I’m not quite sure if it’s made it as far as me yet. I have a land-line and I wonder about using it. But my bed seems to be almost touching the ceiling and I’m the only thing inbetween. I think if I could get off the bed and out of my room I’d really struggle to make it downstairs as the ceilings are quite high. I look at my mobile but I’m on Pay As You Go so that’s not much help to anyone.
I decide not to text Mum.
There are people I’m desperate for and I imagine that if they were here, then everything would come crashing back down to earth. I think my Dad could make it here through anything – with or without gravity. I hope everyone I love is indoors today.
The pressure of being the meat between the bed and the ceiling is pretty strong now and for all my masochistic jokes, I actually have a very low pain threshold.
Now it’s properly dark. All the building lights have been crushed and there’s no moon. I can’t tell you what’s happened there, I was always better at English than Science.
I can hear grating and creaking so I assume the house is moving now, too. I wonder about finding my Doc Martens because they’re basically moon boots; getting outside and tying myself to something, anything that remains. I try and picture the nearest tree but it’s really hard to concentrate.
I’m crying. I think crying is a response babies learn for attention and I think I’m still hoping that someone will rescue me – whoever they are I’m marrying them, even if it’s my Dad.
I’m thinking about how cruel it all is and wondering about karma. Fear is incredibly painful, maybe more so than childbirth but I’ll never know. There wasn’t much I wanted, now I think about it, so the fact I haven’t got any of it is what’s causing the most pain in my chest.
I’m in so much pain that I’m no longer scared.
I blink really hard and clutch my palm, imagining there’s a hand holding mine.