New Book Cover- Feeding the Ducks

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Hey guys, I am back with a new book cover!

The title of this new book is Feeding the Ducks, an anthology of poetry by Gillian Peall. Gillian is a good friend of Richard’s, who wanted to try her hand at self-publishing her first poetry collection and I am thrilled to have illustrated it for her.

I’ve recently gotten quite adept with my digital tablet and painting with Photoshop, so my illustrations are now of a much better quality so I can now offer much better designs for my clients! 🙂

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I highly recommend checking Gillians’ collection out when it becomes available, and I will update this post with the link to it when the book gets published.

Gillian is also a member of the Somerset writers, a group I have also collaborated with, so you can check out the rest of her creative writing over on their site!


 

Interested in having your own book cover illustrated, or something similar? Get in touch with me and we can talk ideas!

You can also check out the rest of my commissioned work here.

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King and the Kastle Version 2

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Hello all! I have another recently designed book cover to show you.

You may think this cover looks similar to a recent design created for Richard Kefford, and it is! Over the past few weeks I have been teaching myself how to use Photoshop and digital illustration tools, so that I was able to create an alternative version of Richard’s The King and the Kastle book, this time for his grandson rather than his granddaughter.

 

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Thanks to these new skills I have learnt, I am now adept at digital illustration, so my illustrations are now much more professional and high quality, so if you need your book designed, or are on the hunt for a freelance artist to help you out with a project, I’m your girl!

As I am now just finalising my master’s dissertation, I am more or less finished with education and am hoping to develop this business into a fully-fledged company. I already have several projects lined up, as well as some exciting news regarding a new series of books with a certain Mr Kefford, but I am also more than happy to take on any commissions anyone may have!

For now though, make sure to check out Richard’s Amazon page to see some of the books I have illustrated for him, along with plenty more. And stay tuned to this site for more updates!

Interested in having me illustrate your next project? Contact me!

Distance is Published!

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Some of you may remember me saying many months ago that I had recently completed a book cover design for Richard Kefford for his upcoming poetry anthology Distance and Other Poems.

Well, I am happy to say that Distance is now for sale on Kindle, available here!

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Please have a read of it, the poems inside are brilliant, and they are so relaxing to read- especially if you love your Romantic, Wordsworth-esque poetry.

if you are interested in me designing you a book cover or something similar, sadly I am temporarily not accepting commissions until June 1st due to a heavy workload, but feel free to view my Commissions page and contact me here for any questions or ideas you may have 🙂 I’m always happy to hear from you!

 

 

New Book Cover Designed!

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Hello everyone!

Sorry that (again) it has been a while. While I’m writing up my MA Dissertation and doing all my final exams, I’m now in a mad rush to get a job, get a car and get a house, all before my partner loses his university flat in July, so he doesn’t have to travel to the other side of the world to move back in with his parents! So there is a lot going on and everything is super hectic.

I’m hoping within 2 or 3 weeks to be done with all my uni work for good though, and then I will have plenty of time to keep updating this webpage, while I do some serious job and house-hunting! So please bear with me till then 🙂

Thankfully, alongside all these projects, I have still also managed to do more art commissions, and my old partner, Richard Kefford wanted another book cover designing.

So voila! Here is The King and the Kastle:

 

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I loved working on this project so much, especially designing the cute princess! 🙂

 

This book, sadly, is not on sale, however, Richard has also written many books which you can find for sale on his Amazon Page, some of which I have also illustrated, and make sure to check out his blog too.

Sadly, due to everything that is going on, I am closed for future art commissions temporarily. I will be closed until June 1st, but if you have ideas and just want to whizz them past me, either for a quote or just to see what I think, then still feel free to contact me here!

 

 

Copyright © 2018 Rebecca Sherratt

 

Is it Possible to Distinguish between the Human and the Technological?

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This essay was one I wrote in my final year of my undergraduate degree, for a module not centred on fictional literature, but instead rather on literary criticism and philosophical works, such as those of Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida and Deleuze and Guattari.

This essay was a big challenge, since it dealt with very complex and abstract ideas that I wasn’t used to really discussing in such depth. Questions of what make us human of course are only starting to get increasingly more and more complex, as our proficiency with technology and artificial intelligence is becoming even more terrifyingly advanced. Our ideas of what is human can no longer be distinguished simply by what has a consciousness, or by what can be defined as ‘alive’, as our robots are only continuing to become more and more human-like, with consciousnesses of their own.

This essay discusses all of these questions and ideas, in relation to Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent film, Metropolis, in relation to Deleuze and Guattari’s 1972 criticism Anti-Oedipus. Metropolis is a film concerning a humanity that is controlled largely by machines, and Freder’s reaction upon discovering his love interest has been replaced with a cyborg created by crazed scientist Rotwang.


 

In our modern-day society, technology is continually adapting and evolving to help assist and support humanity and its needs. However, in the past few hundred years especially, tensions have arose regarding the boundaries between humanity and the technological. The two have now become so co-dependent on one another, can we even be distinguished anymore? Rosi Bradiotti notes that ‘the relationship between the human and the technological other has shifted […] to reach unprecedented degrees of intimacy and intrusion’.[1] New problems surface in society which were before non-existent, prior to the technological innovations of the nineteenth and twentieth-centuries. Boundaries between what is human and machine have now blurred significantly. By the term ‘human’ I am referring to homo sapiens, creations of flesh and blood, whilst I assign the term ‘technology’ to machines created by humanity, not of flesh and blood; yet these terms will inevitably blur and blend together as my argument develops. I will evaluate and analyse the differences and similarities between the two, paying particular attention to Fritz Lang’s 1927 German film Metropolis, alongside Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s 1972 essay collection Anti-Oedipus, focussing on questions of free will, gender and the anatomy of hands. Here I will be arguing that, although at this moment in the twenty-first century, humans are still largely distinguishable from technology, I believe the boundaries will eventually blur, until humanity is so largely dependent on machinery that both are essentially indistinguishable.

Deleuze and Guattari argue that humans and machines are essentially the same for a multitude of reasons, one of the primary ways being in our lack of free will and control. Machines are frequently depicted in the media as being manufactured or machinic solely due to their status as the created, whilst humans, as their creators, remain in complete control of them. This places technology beneath the human, giving humanity the impression that we are thereby distinguishable and in command of the technical, as Derek Pereboom states, ‘we assume that human beings, but not machines, have this sort of free will’.[2] Yet, arguably, humans are also constrained by rules just as much as technology, making us similar and therefore indistinguishable. Deleuze and Guattari were greatly inspired by nineteenth-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzche, especially his 1895 essay ‘The Antichrist’. In this text Nietzche argues that humans have no free will, but, as our ultimate desires are selfish, our primary ambition is to gain free will and the ability to exercise control over others, through reaching a higher and more esteemed role in society, hereby granting us the illusion of maintaining control. Ultimately, however, we humans still remain controlled by others, akin to how technology is controlled by humanity. These ideas are expressed in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, via the capitalistic structure of the city, as created by Joh Frederson. As the boss of the dystopian city, Frederson controls the machines which keep the city running, yet in a unique chain of power, the machines control the lowly workers underground. The use of height in the film, with the ‘ruling elite living above the ground in towering skyscrapers, and the masses living underground, slaves to the machines that keep the city operating’, serves as a metaphor to illustrate the literal hierarchies at play here.[3] The workers are ‘reduced to their mechanical tasks’, in the way they are oppressed and left with no control over their own lives.[4] Their repetitive, robotic movements and blank expressions render them lifeless and heteronomous; the clockwork way they move about, in perfect synchronisation with one another, makes them seem just as robotic as the machines they work all day and night. This draws similarities to what Deleuze and Guattari termed as schizoanalysis, and their study of schizophrenics in relation to human machinery. Deleuze and Guattari note that the schizophrenic is left to rot with little mental stimulation in a mental institution, and this lack of self-control leaves them a broken, hollow machine which cannot think or act on its own, having lost all sense of its own free will. The workers in Metropolis fit this description perfectly, having lost all semblance of personality or individuality, due to the intense control they have been restrained under, as they ‘lubricate the machine joints with their own blood’.[5] This also grants an interesting Marxist reading of the film, where the corrupt bourgeoisie render the struggling proletariats powerless and defunct, in order to help themselves amass larger quantities of money. Robots in most forms of media similarly are characterised like the human workers in Metropolis, absent of any personality, acting out their orders without question. Robot rules differ slightly, in that they are not motivated by the need to earn money to stay alive and well, instead being constrained by different rules, depending entirely on what their creators decide. One famous set of rules is Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, in his 1950 short story collection, I, Robot, which declares that robots must on no accounts ever harm humans, rules which often end up being broken in popular films and novels. Questions of control and free will are also raised in E. M. Forster’s 1909 short story ‘The Machine Stops’, set in a similarly dystopian society to Metropolis, where the majority of citizens live in the lap of luxury, thanks to ‘the Machine.’[6] The capitalisation of ‘Machine’ highlights the reverence held for this particular form of technology which controls everything in society, as the protagonist, Vashti, ‘felt the delirium of acquiescence’ at the mere thought of the Machine.[7] Vashti is unable to imagine life without the Machine, and society is brainwashed by this technological invention, which they believe they are in control of, however they cannot live without it exercising control over every aspect of their lives. Vashti’s son is the voice of reason, as he states ‘you talk as if god had made the Machine […] Men made it, do not forget that’.[8] Forster’s novel also echoes Paul Virilio’s argument that soon we will all forget what life was like without technology, losing all ‘mnemonic consolidation’ until life without technology seems impossible.[9] Despite this, humanity still maintains control over technology, thereby making us still distinguishable, although it is debatable whether this will last. ‘The Machine Stops’ and Metropolis both reflect the fears of early twentieth-century society at the hands of industrialisation, and this topic continues to be widely discussed now as technology continues to infiltrate our lives in even more ways, with the advancement of computers, the internet and mobile phones. Joh Frederson may control the machines in Metropolis, however this isn’t a permanent arrangement. The Machine-Man’s Frankenstein complex causes it to revolt against its creators, as it declares ‘death to the machines!’[10] The city soon crumbles, leaving us to question whether humans really have the upper-hand in this wavering power struggle.

Moving on from the upper-hand to ideas of literal hands, the topic of anatomy and hands has been broadly discussed in relation to differentiating humans and machinery. Hands are a central motif in Metropolis, with frequent shots focussing on the hand, such as the films ending handshake and the use of Rotwang’s prosthetic hand. Sarah Jackson notes that ‘when Rotwang introduces the Machine-Man to Joh Frederson […] the first thing that moves is the hand’, the most significant and humanualist feature of the anatomy.[11] Many scholars and philosophers, such as Aristotle, believe hands are what make us human, but theorist Jacques Derrida opposes this argument, claiming hands to be ‘the monstrous sign’ and a form of technics or tool.[12] Derrida also notes that ‘the hand cannot be spoken about without speaking of technics’, as it serves as a blend of the human and the technological.[13] This is reflected in Charles Simic’s 1970s poem ‘Fork’, about the eponymous utensil we use for eating. In this free verse poem Simic subtly describes how ‘you stab with it into a piece of meat’.[14] Even technology as simple as a fork has some degree of control over the user and how one utilises it. Hands themselves are tools for picking up items, touching, evoking gestures, and they connect to other machines, such as forks, in ‘machinic connections’.[15] If Derrida states hands are monstrous, then machines are therefore a complex metaphor for monstrosity. The term monster, in the fourteenth-century, originally referred to a hybrid, part-animal, part-human creature. Rotwang, with his prosthetic hand, is an example of this hybridisation, ‘an embodiment of this central tension […] on the metonymic level of the hands’; he is a blend of humanualism; the human and the manual, or machinic.[16] He is also seen as monstrous due to his disability of having lost a hand, with his phantom limb of a hand constantly referred to throughout the film. Rotwang draws similarities to the schizophrenics Deleuze and Guattari discuss in Anti-Oedipus, who are deemed monstrous for refusing to align to social norms, who’s ‘soul and body ultimately perish… [causing them to] return to nothingness’.[17] They expand on this point, suggesting that monsters are merely species we do not understand and cannot categorise yet. Technology inevitably falls into this description, as it is continually developing and therefore cannot be fully understood, instead being seen as something alien, ‘prosthesis [being] necessarily a transfer into otherness’.[18] Monsters also can be defined as Bodies without Organs, a term introduced by nineteenth-century dramatist Antonin Artaud and adopted by Deleuze and Guattari, as they lack automatic reactions; this means that they do not repress desires based off of what is deemed socially acceptable, they are ‘the unproductive, the sterile, the unengendered’.[19] This subverts Freud’s popular ideas of psychoanalysis, which emphasises repression as a key mode of maintaining control over oneself. Deleuze and Guattari, training under fellow psychologist Jacques Lacan, subverted this mode of thought, emphasising the philosophy of uninhibited thought. If monsters are technological and do not repress forbidden desires, then Rotwang is inherently monstrous, and therefore more technological than he is human. His transgressive experiments with life and death, and the fusion of a Machine-Man into a woman, were considered extremely controversial at the time of the film’s production. The robot Maria is similarly monstrous, due to her hybridised status as a man and woman, she is unable to be categorised, and therefore technology in Metropolis is distinguishable from humanity, as it is something which cannot be categorised by humanity’s means of understanding the world. One interesting argument however is the consideration that it is perhaps beneficial to be considered technological, and therefore monstrous, even if one can’t integrate with society. Brian Massumi notes that ‘becoming-other’ is liberating, as you complicate rules and set binaries, giving yourself the choice to be whoever you wish to be, a ‘complication which is also a measure of success’.[20] In this light, whilst technology is ostracised and separable from humanity, being monstrous could allow you to achieve a greater degree of liberation, enabling one to embrace ‘infinite degrees of freedom’.[21]

Technology also symbolises a greater extent of freedom in relation to gender roles within society, as emphasised in Metropolis by the Machine-Man’s transition into womanhood by performing as Maria. Multiple boundaries are blurred through the Machine-Man’s performance, as he is not only a robot posing as a human, but also a man posing as a woman, rendering the robot a multi-layered hybrid with an extremely unstable identity, echoing back to how the film itself was frequently referred to as a ‘changeling […] mutilated or merely mutated’, brimming with themes of versatility and adaptability.[22] The film evokes a Post-Structuralist depiction of gender, with an emphasis on fluidity and non-essentialism, as the Machine-Man’s true identity is known only to Rotwang, and later to Freder Frederson. The Machine-Man, posing as Maria, seems to integrate almost perfectly with society in Metropolis, signifying the robot as indistinguishable from humanity. Deleuze and Guattari note that humanity can also undergo these fluid changes to identity, in connecting to other machines and orifices in an endless flow, which shapeshifts and changes continually the multiple forms of the individual. They note that ‘desiring-machines are binary machines, obeying a binary law’, however, machines need not to align with the binaries of human categorisation, and so, according to Deleuze and Guattari, can essentially be considered genderless.[23] This intermingling of bodies carries sexual and gendered connotations. As society grows increasingly more understanding and aware of bodies as ‘contingent construction[s] which assume multiple forms’, we arguably grow closer to machines in our abilities to be reshaped and altered.[24] Yet despite this, Peta Malins notes ‘the pressure to stratify and organise as a subject is strong’ in humans, and the need to categorise is difficult to escape from.[25] In Freder’s dreams of Maria dancing, sexual attraction is even displayed for the technological, as the scene focusses on men’s voyeuristic eyes, as robot Maria dances seductively for their enjoyment. This scene serves as a literal representation of what Laura Mulvey termed as the Male Gaze, as the eyes focus on the woman as the eroticised subject. Matthew Gandy argues that society holds great anxiety ‘towards the invasion of the body by strange technologies’, yet in this instance, the sexual, the human and the machine integrate without any ‘fear or trepidation’.[26] Desire, Deleuze and Guattari argue, is the primary machinic process; ‘desire causes the current to flow’ and machines to therefore function.[27] Reproduction has even entered into the realm of the technological, as computers have created other components for others computers, crossing the boundary which before was strictly non-technological. The Machine-Man so fluently adapts to any role, so well that the robot Maria is even subjected to the same sexist stereotyping of the human woman in the 1920s. Maria is expected to remain the traditionally submissive woman of the early nineteenth-century, frequently over sexualised but also serving as an object to be owned by the men of the film, reflected in Rotwang’s declaration of his creation as ‘the most perfect and most obedient tool that a man has ever possessed’.[28] In contrast however, Donna Haraway’s 1984 essay ‘A Cyborg Manifesto’ suggests robot Maria to in fact be a challenge to phallogocentrism, giving the female a voice in an otherwise male-dominated film. On the surface, the Machine-Man as Maria seems a perfect example of the integration of the human and the technological, however ‘the robot is not only a replacement for but a refinement of the human’.[29] One could also argue, however, the Machine-Man’s integration is not as successful as one might initially believe, when placed in relation to Julia Kristeva’s theory on gender and performativity. The robotic Maria may seem to integrate with society, but this is not without undergoing significant changes to its core essence and identity. Her entire robotic form must be disguised, and he/she must perform both as a human and as a woman. Rotwang aspires that ‘no man […] will be able to differentiate the Machine-Man from a mortal’, however, this façade must constantly be maintained or there is the threat of ostracism.[30] The performance could be compared to a form of drag, which ‘implicitly reveals the imitative structure of gender itself as well as its contingency’, relating to Kristeva’s theory of gender as a performance.[31] The robotic Maria needs to reinvent its own identity, relating to her theory that bodies are falsely naturalised by society, which is especially relevant in the 1920s, an era where gender roles were still exceedingly strict. Maria’s robotic form therefore has a liminality, it is constantly on the threshold, neither within society or outside; it cannot properly belong. This proves Kristeva’s theory of gender performativity, as the Machine-Man can so easily parody the human with some simple behavioural changes, thus supporting Deleuze and Guattari’s statement that gender itself is also a machinic process, which humans feel obliged to perform in their otherwise indefinite articles or bodies, in order to integrate with society. The Machine-Man cannot reveal his true machinic nature without it leading to utter destruction and anarchy, as it does when he/she urges the men to take up arms and destroy the machines. This concludes with the Machine-Man burnt at the stake, a violent act with witchlike connotations, symbolising that something with such an unstable identity is satanic and cannot be condoned amongst human society, where everything must be categorised. Jackson notes that the Machine-Man cannot fully integrate with society, as the real Maria still exists, which ‘arouses in us a suspicion that perhaps the human and the machine can never be quite so easily distinguished’.[32] In this view, humanity and machine are arguably indistinguishable, however this can never be a permanent situation, eventually humanity will discover the presence of the machines, and may or may not revolt as they did in Metropolis.

Overall, machines in society may seem at first to integrate and perform as a perfect refinement of the human, however this cannot last. Problems will always arise in relation to humanity and machines, as tensions between the two continue to reach an unprecedented level of anxiety. However, as time progresses, society is growing to accept the technological into its world with little question of its true nature or whether we really need it. A dystopian future where humanity is indistinguishable from the machine, much akin to Metropolis or The Machine Stops, does not seem unlikely. As time continues to pass, machinery will so perfectly imitate and integrate with humanity that soon we will truly be indistinguishable, and we ourselves as humans can be considered, much like Deleuze and Guattari state, to be machines ourselves.


 

When I read back over this essay, I remember just how horribly confusing all of these ideas were! It amazes me that I managed to get a first for this essay, since I still have no idea what Deleuze and Guattari were going on about in Anti-Oedipus 😀

What are your thoughts on AI and humanity? Have you seen Metropolis? If so what did you think? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments 🙂

You can check out my other essays here.


 

Footnotes

[1] Rosi, Braidotti, The Posthuman (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2013), p. 108.

[2] Derk, Pereboom, Living Without Free Will (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), p. xiv.

[3] Suzannah, Hagan, Taking Shape: A New Contract Between Architecture and Nature (London: Routledge, 2007), p. 56.

[4] Hagan, Taking Shape, p. 57.

[5] Metropolis, dir. by Fritz Lang (UFA Studies, 1927)

[6] E.M., Forster, The Machine Stops (London: Penguin, 2011), p. 4.

[7] Forster, The Machine Stops, p. 7.

[8] Forster, The Machine Stops, p. 4.

[9] Paul, Virilio, The Vision Machine: Perspectives (Chichester: John Wiley and Sons, 1994), p. 3.

[10] Metropolis, dir. by Fritz Lang

[11] Sarah, Jackson, ‘Digital Technologies and Prosthetic Possibilities’ in Tactile Poetics: Touch and Contemporary Writing (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015), p. 130.

[12] Jacques, Derrida, Deconstruction and Philosophy: The Texts of Jacques Derrida, ed. by John, Sallis (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989), p. 168.

[13] Derrida, Deconstruction and Philosophy, p. 169.

[14] Charles, Simic, ‘Fork’ in Charles Simic: Selected Early Poems (New York: George Braziller, 2013), p. 55.

[15] Giles, Deleuze and Félix, Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (London: Bloomsbury, 2013), p. 145.

[16] Alan, Williams, ‘Structures of Narrativity in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis’, Film Quarterly, 27:4: (1974), 32.

[17] Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, p. 5.

[18] Sarah, Jackson, ‘Digital Technologies and Prosthetic Possibilities’ in Tactile Poetics, p. 130.

[19] Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, p. 8.

[20]Brian, Massumi, ‘Normality is the Zero Degree of Monstrosity’ in A User’s Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Deviations from Deleuze and Guattari (Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1992), p. 107.

[21] Brian, Massumi, ‘Normality is the Zero Degree of Monstrosity’ in A User’s Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia, p. 102.

[22] Thomas, Elsaesser, Metropolis (London: British Film Institute, 2000), p. 12.

[23] Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, p. 5.

[24] Sara, Salih and Judith, Butler, The Judith Butler Reader (Oxfrord: Wiley-Blackwall, 2003), p. 24.

[25] Peta, Malins, ‘Machinic Assemblages: Deleuze, Guattari and an Ethico-Aesthetics of Drug Use’, Janus Head, 7:1: (2004), 87.

[26] Matthew, Gandy, ‘Cyborg Urbanisation: Complexity and Monstrosity in the Contemporary City’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 29:1: (2005), 35.

[27] Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, p. 5.

[28] Metropolis, dir. by Fritz Lang

[29] David, Wills, Prosthesis (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995), p. 45.

[30] Metropolis, dir. by Fritz Lang

[31] Julia, Kristeva, Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex (London: Routledge, 2011), p. 163.

[32] Sarah, Jackson, ‘Digital Technologies and Prosthetic Possibilities’ in Tactile Poetics, p. 128.

 

Bibliography

 

Aristotle, On the Parts of Animals, trans. by James, G. Lennox (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011)

Artaud, Antonin, Antonin Artaud: Selected Writings, ed. by Susan, Sontag (California: University of California Press, 1992)

Asimov, Isaac, I, Robot (New York: Harper, 2013)

Braidotti, Rosi, The Posthuman (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2013)

Butler, Judith, Gender Trouble (London: Routledge, 2006)

Colebrook, Clare, Gilles Deleuze: Essential Guides for Literary Studies (London: Routledge, 2001)

Deleuze, Giles and Guattari, Félix, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (London: Bloomsbury, 2013)

Deleuze, Giles and Guattari, Félix, A Thousand Plateaus (London: Bloomsbury, 2013)

Derrida, Jacques, Deconstruction and Philosophy: The Texts of Jacques Derrida, ed. by John, Sallis (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989), pp. 168 – 182

Elsaesser, Thomas, Metropolis (London: British Film Institute, 2000)

Fitzpatrick, Kathleen, Machine in the Anxiety of Obsolescence: The American Novel in the Age of Television (Vanderbilt: Vanderbilt University Press, 2006), pp. 54 – 57

Forster, E.M., The Machine Stops (London: Penguin, 2011), pp. 1 – 15

Gandy, Matthew, ‘Cyborg Urbanisation: Complexity and Monstrosity in the Contemporary City’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 29:1: (2005), p. 35

Goody, Alex, Technology, Literature and Culture in Writing Technology: Literature and Theory (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2011), p. 41

Haikonen, Pentti, The Cognitive Approach to Conscious Machines (Cambridge: Imprint Academic, 2003), p. 155

Haraway, Donna, ‘A Cyborg Manifesto’ in The Cybercultures Reader, ed. by David, Bell (London: Routledge, 2000)

Hardt, Michael and Negri, Antonio, Commonwealth (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2009)

Jackson, Sarah, ‘Digital Technologies and Prosthetic Possibilities’ in Tactile Poetics: Touch and Contemporary Writing (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015), pp. 127 – 130

Johnson, Christopher, Derrida and Technology in Derrida’s Legacies: Literature and Philosophy (London: Routledge, 2008)

Kristeva, Julia, Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex (London: Routledge, 2011)

Malins, Peta, ‘Machinic Assemblages: Félix Guattari and an Ethico-Aesthetics of Drug Use’, Janus Head, 7:1: (2004), p. 87

Massumi, Brian, ‘Normality is the Degree Zero of Monstrosity’ in A User’s Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Deviations from Deleuze and Guattari (Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1992), pp. 102 – 107

Metropolis, dir. by Fritz Lang (UFA Studios, 1927)

Mulvey, Laura, ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ in Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings, ed. by Leo, Braudy and Marshall, Cohen (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999)

Negroponte, Nicholas, Being Digital (London: Coronet Books, 1996), p. 66

Nietzche, Friedrich, The Antichrist (London: Penguin, 1988)

Pereboom, Derk, Living Without Free Will (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), p. xiv

Salih, Sara and Butler, Judith, The Judith Butler Reader (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwall, 2003)

Simic, Charles, ‘Fork’ in Charles Simic: Selected Early Poems (New York: George Braziller, 2013), p. 55

Williams, Alan, ‘Structures of Narrativity in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis’, Film Quarterly, 27:4: (1974)

Wills, David, Prosthesis (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995)

Virilio, Paul, The Vision Machine: Perspectives (Chichester: John Wiley and Sons, 1994), p. 3

 

My Christmas In Kenya! Part One

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I meant to post about this amazing trip a while ago, but somehow never got around to it. Going to live in Nanyuki, Kenya for a month was an amazing experience I was lucky enough to have over Christmas. It was my first time ever leaving the UK too, so the culture change, along with going on a plane and everything to do with going abroad to another country was all brand new to me!

Just the plane itself was quite a daunting experience, let alone landing in one of the most alien countries to me. Kenya wasn’t actually as scorching hot as I thought it would be – the sun was lovely!  – but it was rare that it reached overwhelming temperatures. It was probably the ideal sort of temperature in the high 20 (C)’s.

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The animals, of course, were amazing! In my time in Kenya I stayed at both Shaba and Samburu Lodge. Lodges on Kenya are sort of like fancy hotels, but these ones were very open and focused upon visitor interaction with animals. Waking up to monkeys climbing onto your roof, and going to sleep after sitting and watching the crocodiles getting fed was brilliant. Of course, back in the UK, to me witnessing a pigeon waddling along in the middle of town is the closest I’ve ever been to a wild animal, so to be right up close to all of these rare creatures, such as rhinos and giraffes (both reticulated and non-reticulated) was something that really took a while to sink in for me.

And immediately outside from the lodges were the actual wild African plains, where you could go out in a car and go on safari! The idea of doing this weirded me out a bit, since when I think of safari’s, I always associate them with super rich old people who have decided on a whim just to pop down to Africa for the weekend to try and adopt the odd lion or two that they see. But I managed to do quite a lot of safari’s and they was great! But when you get out of the car at the end, you WILL be very achy, it turns out that these wild, African plains are in fact very bumpy and irregular, so you get thrown around a lot in the name of exploration.

Also, on safari I would recommend wearing extremely thick shoes!! There are these lovely little plants, which are absolutely everywhere in the wilds, called bastard bushes. They certainly deserve this cruel name, since all they are is massive, hard, VERY sharp thorns. And they seemed, sometimes, to be the most common plant out there. At one point in the trip a group of us, escorted by some guards, took a hike out in the plains, and seeing my boyfriend’s pathetic flip flops (and feet) getting mutilated by these horrific spiky monstrosities was painful to watch. We ended up climbing to the top of what felt like a massive hill, and whilst the views were amazing, all of us were crying out from the pain in our feet.

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Just looking at them now makes my feet curl up…

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Not to mention how HUGE the cacti were!

But it was, of course, worth it to see all of the amazing animals! I was told I was extremely lucky, as in my time there I saw all three of the big cats: Lions, cheetahs and leopards, alongside hyena’s, absolutely loads of elephants and, my personal favourite, the cute little warthogs. Warthogs don;t run; they awkwardly waddle around. Also, they have very, VERY short memory spans. So they run from your car, assuming it to be a predator, and stop about 5 steps in because they have completely forgotten what they are even running from. It was adorable ❤

 

But my favourite friend I made there was undoubtedly Jefferson, the little lizard who was in my room at Shaba lodge all three nights that I stayed there. Every night, without fail, there he was, chilling out on the ceiling, by the window, just pondering his own little philosophical dilemmas.

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Jefferson is my main man

I’ll also be posting a second part to this, where I discuss my trip to Mount Kenya National Park and the Mount Kenya Animal Orphanage, where I actually stroke and snuggle a cheetah! So look out for that 🙂

A Taste of Honey: Cruel Truths

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I thought I would start posting more of my old undergraduate and college literature essays on here, since they might be of interest to some of you 🙂

I actually really enjoy writing my critical essays, and I will greatly miss composing them once I finish my master’s degree, so at least posting them up here will mean there is still somewhere where I can talk about the various books I love and hopefully generate some discussion on them!

This is a second-year undergraduate essay, about Shelagh Delaney’s 1958 play A Taste of Honey. Following the popular ‘kitchen-sink drama’ genre of the fifties, this play shifts the stereotypical perspective of this form, by focusing upon a teenage girl who falls pregnant with her black partner, in a time of still very strong racial and sexual prejudice. Its gritty realism and honest portrayal of a under-privileged couple and their struggles to stay together placed this play under a great deal of harsh contemporary criticism, but also makes is a worthy read or watch, to help you understand the struggles of people of various minorities.


 

In researching the play A Taste of Honey by Shelagh Delaney I came across two interesting secondary resources, the first of which is ‘New Plays and Women’s Voices in the 1950s’ by Susan Bennett. A Taste of Honey is ‘often cited as an early example of a feminist text…in its focus upon women characters and the female condition’[1]. The central argument that this essay depicts is of the misogynistic subjugation of women playwrights of the fifties, and how they were ‘under-represented [in the] era of the angry young men’[2]. At a time which, as Bennett states, theatre thrived, plays such as Osborne’s Look Back in Anger were critical successes, yet ‘under the rubric of the ‘angry’ were just a very few women’[3]. That is, until Delaney published her 1959 play. For the first time, Bennett insinuates, women writers had a voice.

Bennett’s argument soon twists in the alternate direction however, as she suggests that Delaney received no ‘serious and critical attention’[4]. She proposes that A Taste of Honey was not discussed due to its ground-breaking depictions of race, gender and sexuality, but rather due to the authors sex and young age at the time of her writing; an example of this being Elsom’s review of the play as a ‘startling enough achievement from a nineteen year old girl’[5]. Bennett also notes that this fate befell other successful women of the era, such as Lesley Storm with her play Roar like a Dove in 1957. Despite the protagonist’s bold declarations of independence and having no ‘want [for] any man’[6], Delaney’s depictions of gender were overshadowed by her own situation. Bennett’s argument is brought to a resounding conclusion, with the statement that not much has changed since those times, and attitudes must alter if we hope to ever achieve equality.

I have a mixed response to Bennett’s article. Whilst I certainly support her point that the fifties were very patriarchal and women struggled to become successful in many occupations, I suspect her text is somewhat hyperbolic and lacks evidence to prove that the world has not changed over the past sixty years. Delaney received much positive praise focussed upon her play, which Bennett fails to mention. It could also be discussed how Delaney paved the way for other women writers, through her focus on female writing and experience, which Barry ‘felt to be one of the most important forms of socialisation’[7] at the time, as well as writing without conforming to the dominant male standard of writing. As well as this, she accuses ‘Delaney’s play [of] push[ing] the boundaries of socio-realism far further than Osborne’s Look Back in Anger[8], whilst giving no evidence of this. I feel that Bennett’s suggestion that we still now live in a patriarchal society to be somewhat excessive. Whilst equality is still unachieved, society, arguably, is much more accepting than that of the fifties; the evidence is in how many successful women writers we have now in the twenty-first century.

The second report I analysed was ‘Shelagh Delaney: The return of Britain’s Angry Young Woman’ by Rachel Cooke. In this newspaper article Cooke discusses the success of A Taste of Honey, as it is still in widespread circulation amongst theatres. Cooke’s main point of discussion however, is Delaney’s own opinion of her first publication. Cooke refers to Delaney’s young age and naivety, much like Jo who is described in the play as a ‘silly little whore [and] slut’[9] who is unaware of how harsh the outside world can be. Cooke draws this comparison between protagonist and author, suggesting that Delaney was unprepared for the outcry her play would cause in the outside world. When the play was first published, Delaney ‘was certainly proud of [it] and she enjoyed the material things it brought her’[10], but it also gave her a great deal of hate, to the extent that she was, in later years, considered anti-feminist, due to the language used within the text, such as Jo’s declaration that she doesn’t ‘want to be a mother… [doesn’t] want to be a woman’[11]. This eventually led to Delaney refusing for the play to be performed, instead opting for it to be solely a radio broadcast to limit its audience. This notably contrasts the previous article, which suggests Delaney got no attention from theatre productions, not that she was instead refusing their offers. Cooke’s analysis of the text concludes in saying that, whilst the text was a successful piece in developing the oncoming feminist storm of the sixties, Delaney herself struggled with how her text was received and it soon became ‘a cross she would have to bear. For disappointment was built into its success’[12]. This is reflected in the title of the article; the ‘Angry Young Woman’ who refuses to have her work referred to as a mere ‘kitchen-sink drama’, but instead on equal terms with the ‘Angry Young Men’ of the era, as Cooke suggests Delaney ‘knows what she is angry about’[13].

Overall I believe this article to be more thorough and concise than Bennett’s. It gives the mixed view of how Delaney’s text was ground-breaking, but in going against so many traditional values of the time, Delaney got overwhelmed with attention that cost her much of her mental health.

This article changed my perspective not on the text, but on Delaney herself. In much of the media surrounding her, Delaney is often described as a cold, uncaring seductress, yet Cooke makes it clear that Delaney tried to change the world, but, simply, ‘she just didn’t like the attention’[14]. The success of the text came at a cost to the author.


 

Like the essay? Feel free to comment below on what you think. Have you read the play? D you want to now?

You can also check out my other essays by clicking here!

 

 

Footnotes

[1] Lib, Taylor ‘Early Stages’ in The Cambridge Companion to Modern British Women Playwrights (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), p.19.

[2] Susan, Bennett, ‘New Plays and Women’s Voices in the 1950s’ in Modern British Women Playwrights, p.38.

[3] Susan, Bennett, ‘New Plays and Women’s Voices’ in Modern British Women Playwrights, p.40.

[4] Susan, Bennett, ‘New Plays and Women’s Voices’ in Modern British Women Playwrights, p.41.

[5] Susan, Bennett, ‘New Plays and Women’s Voices’ in Modern British Women Playwrights, p.41.

[6] Shelagh, Delaney, A Taste of Honey (New York: Grove Press, 1980), p.34.

[7] Peter, Barry, Beginning Theory (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009), p.117.

[8] Susan, Bennett, ‘New Plays and Women’s Voices’ in Modern British Women Playwrights, p.43.

[9] Delaney, A Taste in Honey, p.73.

[10] Rachel, Cooke, ‘Shelagh Delaney: The Return of Britain’s Angry Young Woman’, The Observer, 25th January 2014, p.17.

[11] Delaney, A Taste of Honey, p.66.

[12] Cooke, ‘Shelagh Delaney’, p.17.

[13] Cooke, ‘Shelagh Delaney’. P.17.

[14] Cooke, ‘Shelagh Delaney’. P.17.

Bibliography

Barry, Peter, Beginning Theory (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009), pp. 117-118

Bennett, Susan, ‘New Plays and Women’s Voices in the 1950s’ in The Cambridge Companion to Modern British Women Playwrights (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 38-52

Cooke, Rachel, ‘Shelagh Delaney: The Return of Britain’s Angry Young Woman’, The Observer, 25th January 2014, p. 17

Delaney, Shelagh, A Taste of Honey (New York: Grove Press, 1980)

Delaney, Shelagh, Sweetly Sings the Donkey (Whitefish: Literary Licensing, 2012)

Lewis, Peter, The Fifties (New York: William Heinemann, 1978), pp. 7-8

Osborne, John, Look Back in Anger (London: Faber and Faber, 1978)

Taylor, Lib, ‘Early Stages’ in The Cambridge Companion to Modern British Women Playwrights (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 18-23

Wandor, Michelene, ‘Women playwrights and the challenge of feminism in the 1970s’ in The Cambridge Companion to Modern British Women Playwrights (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 53-68

Where Have I Been?

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Hello everyone! 🙂

Its been a long time, about seven months in fact.

University got so hectic this year now that I’ve started my master’s degree. Its in Gothic literature, which I absolutely love, but its definitely proving to be more of a challenge when compared to my undergrad degree, its definitely a big jump up!

Additionally, I’m starting to get into the big, scary world of work and looking for a flat with my partner, so everything is very hectic as I transition into a proper adult- which is terrifying.

But I’m hoping now to start posting a lot more on my blog! Once I get settled in with a flat and a job, I’m hoping I will actually have more time and money to invest in my art, so I will be posting work more regularly. The same goes for writing, I’m hoping to get writing some stories and try trying to get them published.

So expect more sketches and stories coming up on here soon! Along with that, I really love all the literary criticism and the theoretical aspects of my literature degree, so I am considering maybe posting some of my essays from my undergraduate degree up on here for people to read, just to see if they generate any intriguing discussion or get people interested in some books 🙂

Look forward to it, and I’d love to hear from you all!

 

Rebecca

 

New Book Cover- Krakendraca!

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Thank you to Richard Kefford for another book cover commission, this time for Krakendraca: The Loch Naver Monster, the second story in his monster series of children’s books!

I’ve once again done another book cover and set of chapter illustrations for Richard’s novel, which was greatly enjoyable and I’m eagerly looking forward to reading the finished story.

 

Although this particular book of his won’t be available to purchase or read online, you can check out his Amazon page to view his other texts, as well as his Blogspot page.

Interested in having me design some artwork for you, be it a book cover or some other project? Check out my Commissions Page or just contact me! I’ve not updated this blog in a while, but I’m hoping now to get back into posting more regularly! 🙂

Beside Herself

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She wraps herself up

In his blankets.

Surrounded by his

Soft, familiar

Scent. The room

emblazoned with

gifts from every

time and place.

She sips his favourite

Drink, thoughtfully, the one

She herself learnt

To love.

Leafing open her book,

She peruses his

Most-treasured story,

His cherished words across

Heavy, smoke-stained pages.

Everything is him

And she knows

These happy tokens

Will soon become

A wanton curse

When he, one day,

Decides

To

Leave.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

Painting By Numbers 4

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#331

 

Your mother’s tears

Stain your cotton shirt

Trailing down

To rest

At

The

Bottom where

Your heart has

Fallen.

 

#347

 

It was my job

To look after her.

And yet,

I failed her,

Horrendously.

 

#388

 

Soon,

You know,

You won’t be

Welcome

Here

Anymore.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

Check out the rest of my ‘Painting By Numbers’ series in my poetry tag!

It Might Just Go Away

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She wished he wasn’t so far away.

Day by day,

As he felt further

And further

Apart

Something else

Crept up

Closer and closer.

 

An uneasy hand

Pressed down on her

Bony shoulder.

A grim reminder

Of what she had done

Years ago on that

Snowy, heavy-footed

Evening.

 

The misshapen, rotting

Corpse, slithering

Its way out

Of the fast-flowing

River. With broken arms

And shattered legs

It crawled its way,

Slowly, surely,

Into her room,

Sitting back down at the

Edge of her bed.

Making itself

Comfortable.

 

She was blissfully content,

The happiest girl

Compared to that previous

December night.

And yet,

Left alone,

It always

Came

Back.

 

Days, weeks flew past.

And she remained busy,

But that foul-smelling,

Festering carcass

Always remained in

The slimmest corner

Of her eyes.

Unrelenting and

Unforgiving, she felt

Cold, charcoal eyes

Analysing her every move.

 

She wakes up,

Looks at the calendar.

There is not long left,

She muses to herself,

Pulling up the bedcovers and

Choosing to ignore

That unwanted weight

At the end of the bed.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

A Lesson I Do Not Need to Learn

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The young boy

Wiped one

Crimson glove

Over the frosted panes

Pondering the scene

Outside.

 

The muted twilight

Held a solitary air

Of stony impermanence.

He held his breath

At the sight

Of one timid,

Tiresome robin,

Perched on his

Mother’s marble

Bird fountain.

 

It quivered amidst

The wintry breeze.

The sweet, weak chirps

Of the robin

Attracting the attentions

Of a ravenous chestnut

Fox.

 

Inside, the fireplace

Beside the boy,

Crackled and cajoled

At the robins

Gross misfortune.

And the boy could do nothing

But watch.

 

And so he did not.

He hid his eyes beneath

Still damp gloves,

Inhaling their clammy

Moisture amidst his

Own tears.

He did not want to see

Such a sight today.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

I’ve written a lot more poetry, which you can check out at my poetry tag

Heartless

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Heartless. How heartless it is to see the inevitable happen. To watch his soft, tawny eyes which once looked upon you with such adoration and pleasure, to slowly, but surely, shift into those displaying nothing but bitter contempt. Bitter contempt which pierces through your brittle, lifeless flesh, releasing dense, poison barbs deep into your core, the very essence of your filthy, dirty being.

And why does he feel so? Why, because he can now see into the depths of your mangled, rotten heart, and he knows you are something undesirable and dirty and downtrodden. Something you should find rotting in the street, something timid and festering, something which might reach out one solitary, wanting hand, fingers spread out in deepest desire and desperation. And any individual with half a logical thought in their brain would kick that grubby little hand away, crushing it into the dirt, refusing to rest until they hear each and every bone crack and crumble under their thick rubber soles. The screams of the heinous creature will serve to only aggravate one further, to render the punishment only irrefutably more barbaric, until it’s mangled wails and screams echo down the barely lit alleyway into the cloudless sky.

But, as it happens, you are not rotting in the street, reaching out one shaky, murky hand into the resolute silence of the twilight. No, you are here, in your study, with him. You have everything you could ever want, you are content and happy and he knows you have played the game so very persuasively, so cunningly. It is too late now, the second he placed the ring on your spindly finger, he was aware that it was simply too late. And, behind those makeshift tears of happiness, was the first real smile you had ever displayed in front of him. A cruel, cajoling scowl which permanently remained imprinted on your angular brows, as you stare at him with mocking, azure eyes. And the smile never ends, because you have won and he must now remain with you, through sickness and in health, until the day you die. And that day will be no time soon.

You tenderly remember the way he looked at you when you were first introduced, at the Musee d’Orsay, if your memory serves you correctly. It usually does. From across the gallery, you see him shift from foot to foot with intense trepidation, his sweltering gaze taking in every twist and turn of your feline form as you pretend to examine the latest Matisse, with its incandescent hues and gaudy paintwork. It was miserably boring. You pick at your lapis necklace absentmindedly, daring to let one slender, confident smile rest upon your narrow lips and you turn to gaze at him, in the first of many grim-faced smiles. The blush spreading over his cheeks looked delicious, and you remember gearing the footfalls of his nervous steps, feeling the warm, shaky hand on your shoulder. And just like that, you knew he was the one.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

You can check out more of my flash fiction here!

Home is Where the Heart Is

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She knew they loved her very much, and so none of these things should really matter. It shouldn’t matter that the second she walks through that front door, the overwhelming pressure of the house causes her chest to heave and breathing to turn laboured. She feels her body heat up immensely, the tightness in her throat making her eyes water, as they mechanically brought her bags through to her long-empty room. Their shoulders knocked past her, sending her stumbling into the clumsily positioned coat rack, decade’s old moth-eaten coats falling onto the beige carpet. A mildly annoyed grunt is directed at her, and she hastily put the coats back in place. She has to remember to act quickly and efficiently here, it doesn’t take much for things here to turn sour. She must remain the perfect trophy daughter, silent and submissive, doing no wrong.

The bags are all moved inside, and the door closes behind her with a monotonous creak. She utters a shaky breath. Stooping down to get briskly to work, she sifts through her belongings. She immediately sees multiple items she wouldn’t be permitted to have on display here, items which would need hiding, which would need long, well-thought out explanations as to why she would ever dare have one casual bottle of wine with her, bought as a simple gift from her friend saying goodbye, or the tops which were ever so slightly low-cut, but just enough to create a unwanted level of tension at the dinner table. Her nose twitches absentmindedly as she tries to think of something other than the past arguments held at the table, but it was inevitably unsuccessful.

It would always start with the one, blunt comment directed at something ever so slightly controversial. In the few seconds of silence after it was said, everyone around the table would sit silently, hearts racing, wondering ‘Is that it? Please, say that that is it. Not another problem, not tonight.’ But it would never end so easily.

‘I don’t spend every last penny of my hard-earned cash on your education for you to be a dirty whore, parading around the town making a fool out of me.’

It would not be a quiet night tonight. It would be a night of staring down at her dinner plate of gristly, lukewarm beef and cold potatoes intently, so intently, as if keeping your eyes permanently fixed to that one, limp leaf of soggy cabbage would somehow keep you safe, so when the raised voices got louder and louder and the arguing got worse and worse, she was somehow magically exempt from the inevitable first rule of the house, that you should not and would not make a fool of him in his house. And the girl knew all too well what came next after this.

So no, for all who were wondering, staring intently at that one, limp leaf of soggy cabbage and choking back the nervous squeals in  her throat was not a successful way to avoid the fist that came speeding towards her cheek in the upcoming few seconds. If she were especially unlucky, (and she was) then the shock and force would hurtle her head downwards, smacking her quivering nose into the very leaf of soggy cabbage she had been so dearly watching. The food would slide down her cheeks and the smooth, cheap plastic of the plate would scrape against her teeth as she opened her mouth in an exclamation of shock. The girls head lies there for several seconds, taking in what has just happened, whilst her parents continue to argue over what a waste of good food that all was.

‘Those potatoes were a good £3 from Lidl!’

‘Well then teach your daughter not to be such a god damn disrespectful bitch! I get no respect in this house.’

Then the moment would be over as soon as it had begun. He would climb out of his chair, not as quickly as he used to do in his younger years, and leave the room. The slamming of the door echoed through the tiny house for several seconds, the moth-eaten coats once again inevitably falling of their flimsy rack, and the remaining members at the table would listen to the heavy footfalls ascending the creaky staircase.

No words were exchanged between them. The younger brother nervously traced his fork along the edge of his plate, the scrape of the cheap metal against the porcelain ringing in the empty room. The china figures spilling from the mantelpiece stole accusing looks at the three. The mother would take one woollen mouthful, then sit there with it in her mouth, as if afraid the swallowing noise would awaken him once more. They sat there in silence, and in that moment the young girl knew she would never be freed of this place, for she would always come back to this moment.

 

 

 

Read more of my short stories here!

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

One Lovely Blog Award

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I’ve been nominated for the One Lovely Blog award! 🙂

Thanks to Peter for the nomination, and you should go check his blog out, it’s full of all sorts of interesting writings on his different views on a whole range of intriguing topics 🙂

 

Seven Facts About Myself:

1. I’ve just finished my degree in English Literature and am in the process of starting my master’s degree in Gothic literature,

2.  The most fabulous Pokemon to ever walk the planet is undoubtedly Goomy,

3. I’m reading Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy at the moment, which is great, but I think I still prefer Tess of the d’Urbervilles,

4. I have two anime figures; Noel from BlazBlue and Kyoko from Madoka Magika,

5. My favourite holiday event is Halloween,

6. I’m trying to learn how to draw and colour on my digital tablet with Photoshop, but am finding it nigh impossible to understand D:

7. I spend an ungodly amount of money on Pokemon cards,

 

Nominations!

DeanJean (As always)

Auri!

The Olive Tree

Transcribing Memory

MythsoftheMirror

Aabby

Yu-Gi-Oh! Illustrations

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What with uni and a million other things to do I haven’t had much time for drawing recently >,< so when I dug up my old Yu-Gi-Oh cards, I thought I’d draw my favorite cards; the elemental charmers!

 

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They’re all so cute, but I think Lyna the Light Charmer is my favorite:

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You can check out more of my artwork here!

I also offer a commissions service, designing book covers and illustrations, which you can read more about on my Commissions page, or alternatively, you can contact me if you have any burning questions 🙂

 

Copyright © 1996 Yu-Gi-Oh! by Kazuki Takahashi, fan art 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

Wishing For Forsythias

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She sits by the window

Staring out at the couples

Dancing beneath the pale sunshine

Typewriter to hand

Gazing listlessly at what

She will never

Have.

The soft hum of

Her father’s

cream radio bringing

Restless heartbeats

Still.

The world outside,

She ponders,

Will never join

Her inside.

She has a

Unique

Liminality.

Always upon

The

Threshold.

And so, she

Continues to type.

Her fingers

Dancing at

Immeasurable speed.

Waiting for her time

To shine

Like the couple

Outside

Kissing under the forsythias.

 

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

Somebody That I Used to Know

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Gotye – Somebody That I Used to Know

She extends her arms out for his tender embrace, and he holds her, tight and compact.

The sun sets over the bridge where they come to dance together. The one place where they can finally be together, be true to themselves. The place where they sing and dance and try to forget everything and everyone that has ever and ever will hurt them.

The place where they both know they will end their pitiful, frightened lives and jump off together, falling into the indeterminably cold waters beneath, into that blissful silence below ground.

But that will not happen quite yet. No, they still have a small, slight hope in their decrepit, moth-eaten hearts. And so they continue to meet each night, as the scarlet sky illuminates their swaying bodies dancing along to the music, they need to keep them going.

The music is slowly fading for them both. It’s harder to hear it, to lose themselves within the haunting melodies and ominously upbeat voices. But they can’t give up just yet. Give it a few more days, they urge, just a few days longer.

And so the two lovers, rotten from the inside out, continue this haunting masquerade for another evening, fingers entwined and hips shaking to and fro, until they decide they’ve, finally, had enough and commit to the depths below.

Read more musically inspired stories of mine here!

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

Shadowwalker

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She sits adorned

Upon porcelain bones

Donned in frayed silk

And worm-eaten frills.

Sculpted nails

Tip-tapping

Across shattered skulls

Leaving her mark

On lifeless lips.

Her left hand

Runs dainty fingers

Through charcoal hair

Delicate, fairylike tousled

Pigtails.

Trailing down

The cobwebbed throne

A spiders web through

Molten catacombs.

The pitter pattering

Of trembling feet

Approaching her tomb

A man, enchained

Pitiful eyes weeping

Crystallised tears

Begging for the mercy

Of the girl with

Harlequin eyes.

He begs his case

Voice pleading and

Sobbing for sweet release

And so

She gives it to him.

 

 

The past few months I’ve been playing Shadowverse a lot, and this poem is loosely based off the Shadowcraft character Luna, just a lot more badass and evil.

I’ve written loads more Gothic work, which you can check out at my Gothic tag!

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

I Beg Caution

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She laid herself back on the grass and sighed a happy sigh. Her work was done.

The Shepard’s garden looked beautiful, it was the pride of Mrs Shepard, the pride of everyone on Sampson Drive. As she sat outside, sunbathing on the balcony, she would close her eyes and feign ignorance at the masses of couples, dog-walkers and elderly women who would saunter past and pause to look at the sheer beauty of the Shepard garden.

‘What a superb collection of alstroemeria’s!’ they would cheer.

‘I’ve never seen such gorgeous catmint and coneflowers!’ another would exclaim, clutching her heart in a rhapsody of wonder.

‘This has got to be the most beautiful garden in the universe!’ Mrs Shepard envisioned them crying out. She would imagine them weeping ugly, snot-nosed tears, wiping them up haphazardly to avoid staining her oh so pristine garden, the most beautiful garden anybody would ever see. She sat there on her balcony, eyes closed and waiting for the sweet comments to flood upwards between the sweet serenades of the wind chimes. And it would make her feel glorious. It would make her feel the most desirable woman in the world, the most desirable wife one could ever want. And those oleanders! My, those were her very favourites. The oleanders were absolutely wonderful. The way their silken, rosewood petals danced in the sunshine made Mrs Shepard feel giddy with glee.

She was abruptly brought out of her reverie, back onto the spotless grass of number 37 Sampson Drive, by the giddy laughter of a young female.

So why in God’s name did he want that stubborn little bitch so?

She knew what the scene would be, before she even dared turn her head around. The sight she abhorred more than any in the world, the sight of her fool of a husband, there once again, chatting it up with the first bubbling, big-breasted slut to jiggle down the road. And of course, women like that always made sure to stop by the garden and exclaim just how very perfect it was.

And there he would be, at the end of the drive, going on and on and on to her about how very hard he had looked after it! The intolerable prig! She was the one who worked so hard, day and night, ensuring that they were the talk of the town, they were the ones everyone envied and gazed at adoringly through their greying blinds and William Morris curtains. She was the one who made all this possible, and yet he was more than happy to take all the credit when it came to the women like that coming round to visit the garden.

Mr Shepard was laughing at something the unpleasant woman had said, laughing in that way he never laughed at his wife. When he spoke to his wife this grin she saw now was never spread across his face; instead there was always that same look of derision, of ever so subtle distaste. As if she were a slightly gone off rhubarb custard, that he wanted to enjoy, but was ever so slightly unpleasant. But it was too late for him to extract it from his very person, so he simply just had to put up with it until it was gone. But she knew she was considered something abject; something to be removed at the earliest convenience.

Mrs Shepard hated that look more than anything. The way he rested a wrinkly hand on that dirty whores shoulder, looking into her eyes with the same admiration that people would gaze with at her garden.

Now old Mrs Campbell and Mrs Riordan were peering through there curtains again, but not at her garden this time. Oh no, they were all looking at this brilliant, half-naked brunette sat on the street corner, giggling and cooing like a pathetic baby at her husband. They were making Mrs Shepard look like a fool.

She furiously glared back down at her garden. All of a sudden the oleanders seemed to have lost their beauty; in fact, they were almost wilting. The hung their distended heads down, like children waiting to be punished, waiting for a belt to the bottom from the hand of a violent drunkard father after a long night at the pub down the road. They sickened Mrs Shepard.

What did this pathetic garden even matter? What did it all matter? No matter what she did, it was never good enough for that bastard of a husband. There was simply no point to it all.

‘Get off my property!’ she screamed at the woman, her voice echoing all the way down Sampson Drive, ‘We don’t want you here. Just go! Just go! Just go!’

Silence. The two in front of her were speechless. Even the muted whisperings of the wind chimes grew silent.

The young woman was taken aback, moving back away from the tender embrace of the man who still held a firm grip on her shoulder. Slowly, but surely, she jogged off in the opposite direction.

Mrs Shepard turned to Mr Shepard. His mouth was still hanging open, till she raised her eyebrows and he shut it. He looked side to side for a few seconds, remembering his surroundings, then paced back indoors, shutting the front door firmly behind him.

Mrs Campbell and Mrs Riordan weren’t the only ones staring now. The whole village seemed to be watching Mrs Shepard with intense anticipation, waiting to see what she would do next. And this made her angry.

‘Oh just fuck off, all of you!’ she screamed at the top of her lungs. She looked down. Those deplorable oleanders were now positively withered. They hung there like bodies hanging from a noose, the most obsolete and useless features of the entire garden.

She grabbed them forcefully by the stems, tearing them out by the roots, salmon petals raining from the sky as she ripped them from their beds. Mrs Shepard didn’t stop until nothing was left.

 

 

 

Check out more of my prose here!

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

Painting By Numbers

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#49

 

The decaying stool has one

Wonky

Leg.

She teeters and

Totters

Left          to          right

Staring d

o

w

n

At the razor in her hand.

 

 

#81

 

The marrow leaks out

Seeping between bony fingers

The broken rib

Still held up high

Something to examine

In solemn disquietude.

 

 

#99

 

In a classroom devoid

Of all life.

She carves abhorrent words

Into the crucified desk.

It’s simply too late

To realise

The marks are ingrained

On her bloody thighs.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

The View Outside

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Gazing out of the window

Her solitary, lethargic gaze

Drops upon a quivering

Frightened grey squirrel

Scampering through the trees.

The sound of laughter;

Children running through the fields

playing catch with cherry cheeks

and joyful hearts.

Bursting dandelion rays of sunshine

Through juniper and emerald leaves

Trace their way through the stained window

But she can no longer

Feel their warmth

On her palms.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

I’ve written loads more poetry which you can see at my poetry tag!

And I Just Want to Say How Thankful I Am

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When she sat with friends, debating what movie to watch and his favourite came on, the very one he showed her with such joy in his laughter. She didn’t close her eyes, or direct herself away. She no longer directed her attention so fixedly upon the first the thing she saw, whether it was Samantha’s so very red nails, or the fraying threads pulling apart, piece by piece, on her mother’s silken cushions, and the way their stupid, frizzy tassels would bounce from left to right, getting caught in the zip.

When her friends asked how she was doing, whether she was still upset, for the first time she wasn’t fighting the urge to cry when answered. It didn’t matter whether that particular day her answer was a yes or no. For the first time her voice never faltered, never broke. She maintained eye-contact and said, in her usual bouncy voice, plump cheeks grinning, that she felt good. It felt good to feel good.

When the bus passed over the bridge on a pleasant Tuesday afternoon, she didn’t think anything of it. It was just a bridge, it held no special significance anymore. There was nobody lain underneath it anymore, no haphazardly placed bouquets of lilies strung up beside the post, slowly but surely withering away, collapsing under the weight of the fresh rainfall.

When the two year anniversary of that day came round, it wasn’t like the one year anniversary. She didn’t wake up alone in bed, sitting up and quietly contemplating what she had done. What she would never be able to undo, like she had that very same day a year ago. No. On December Ninth two years later she awoke next to her favourite person, in their snuggly bed, just as she did every morning. She sat up, just as before. She had a few seconds to think, to once again contemplate the very event on that bridge which took place two years ago.

But those few seconds were all she needed. She climbed up, out of bed, turning round to lovingly gaze at the man sleeping beside her.

Then she went and fixed up breakfast. And the moment was gone.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

Beguiling Book Lover

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Leaving the house she

Takes one big deep

Breath.

Pacing herself, she

Begins.

The familiar route down

to where he

Belongs.

Down the village storefronts

Blushing.

Past antique dealers, knock-

Off convenience stores

Boundlessly.

Reaching the empty

Bookstore.

Gazing through a dusty

Window at the

Bewitching

Man inside, his smile illuminating

Beautifully.

Today, she whispers to herself,

Will be the day of

Blissfulness.

Clutching her bag anxiously,

Bravely,

She opens the door

Bodaciously.

 

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

Check out more of my poetry here!

Dakota

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Stereophonics – Dakota

 

London – November 1939

 

Dakota’s train is running late.

She sighs deeply, furrowing her brows in a way which would render her great-grandmother quivering in her grave. She hated the thought of Dakota being anything but the most refined lady, one who sips chamomile tea with her perfectly manicured pinky sticking out into the air with perfect grace; one whom perhaps collects delicate, porcelain thimbles, on occasion painting them with her oil-based watercolours alongside her gay old classmates and discussing how she does so adore the strapping young man working behind the counter at Lloyds Bank and she so wished he would notice the way she’s changed the parting of her hair to so resemble the delicious Katharine Hepburn, who all those charming young boys do so love.

Yes, Dakota’s great-grandmother would so hate the way she sighs and furrows her perfectly pointed brows at the sight of a delayed train in the middle of Bibury station. She even, god forbid, stamps her foot down with the slightest bit of pressure, crushing a stray corn chip into the dirt. It crumbles with a resounding crackle, but it simply isn’t enough to eradicate Dakota’s intense (and oh so unladylike) fury.

‘Twenty minutes’, declares the conductor, pacing up and down the platform, ‘until the train will arrive at the station’.

His gluttonous eyes linger on Dakota’s legs in that sumptuous skirt. Dakota wants to furrow her brows at the lecherous boar, but she knows that would land her in trouble, so she walks away, deciding by pure chance to sit beside a young man on the wooden bench at the end of the station.

He is reading. She leans forward to take a, also very unladylike, nosy at his book. Ulysses by James Joyce. What a bore, she muses. Or rather, she assumes it is. She has heard of James Joyce in passing by some of the high-rise fancy men who pass through the café she works at. Those snobby literature students who think they known how the universe works just because they’ve read some books by some old Greek fools. It looked boring, either way. Nobody cares a toss about overly-complicated drivel by old men.

Oh bother, he has noticed her staring. Looking over at her, he gives her a quizzical stare, furrowing his brows not unlike her own. She falters, speaking gibberish for some seconds before commenting on how very delightful his book appears to be.

‘Oh I’m dreadfully sorry. James Joyce I see? I do so love James Joyce.’

He smiles at her, and his cheeks spread upwards jovially, a most pleasant shade of salmon pink. ‘Why yes, I do so love his prose. A brilliant modernist innovator, he deserves every bit of praise he gets!’

Dakota isn’t too sure where to go from here.

‘Ah yes, the way he just… writes.’ Pause. ‘The way he utilises those… words.’

His eyes burn into hers, and she hides herself behind her faux leather handbag nervously. Talking was never her strong suit, as you might have already guessed, she struggles with being ladylike. She feels a sudden desire to be able to talk of all the brilliant writers in the world with perfect eloquence, thinking frantically back to the snobby café-goers. Whoever did they mention? What stuck-up men did they talk about?

‘Oh yes, but the true modernist innovator could only be Wordsridge’ she chuckles nervously.

He laughs, causing her heart to unexpectedly flutter about in her tightening chest. ‘Yes, I suppose a good bit of Wordsworth and Coleridge can be preferable to those arrogant futurists of the twenties.’

Oh lord. She got it wrong. Dakota laughs nervously, something the well-read man notices she is very prone to doing in his presence. But then again, he sighs, she is a woman after all. Woman can’t be expected to understand these things. They don’t go to school, they can’t get properly educated. It wasn’t her fault, not really. But that didn’t mean he couldn’t get slightly frustrated at her.

‘Well, doll, you’re sweet’ he coos at her. A mocking grin traces its way up his face, eyes winking at her. ‘A real standup gal, you know?’

Dakota recognises his face, the familiar face. The one those sinister, gloating students at the coffee shop always give her, especially when she turns her back to get the semi-skimmed milk from the fridge to pour into their coffees. The same smug grins she receives when these heartless, arrogant men believe themselves to be so much better, just because they were born differently. They were born with access to the world, a world Dakota could never be a part of. A world in which she doesn’t belong. A world of education and experience and travelling and careers and success. A world where you are given a choice.

Dakota has never had a choice. Of course, she would like to believe she does, that is the very reason why she furrows her brows in such a way that would make her great-grandmother quiver. Because she wants to believe she doesn’t need to be the Angel of the House. The angel everyone expects the woman to be, a perfect, pristine housewife. Dakota wants nothing less than to be a well-educated, successful businesswoman. But nobody had ever heard of such a thing. It simply wasn’t done.

But she put on a brave face. She was above all that rage and anger, for now.

‘Why thank you’ she smiles, putting on her sugary sweet face. She can’t stop staring at the book. ‘Perhaps I could maybe borrow your book to read some time?’ she asks inquisitively, tilting her head to the left in that endearing way her great-grandmother does so love, as it makes her look oh so lovely and innocent.

The man chortles, choking back an exclamation of surprise. ‘Oh- oh this one?’ He lifts up the book.

‘Yes, that one’, Dakota replies, her smile struggling to remain plastered on her powdered face.

‘Honey, you don’t want to read this sort of work. It’s simple too… difficult. Too complicated for someone of your…’ He fades off, motioning towards her generally physique in a way which Dakota finds extremely disrespectful. He brandishes the book up into her face, too harshly for Dakota’s liking. She feels her face grow a startlingly unbecoming shade of crimson. She obtains a sudden desire to take his stupid, childish book and crush it into the dirt. But instead she tells him, in a set of words that would make her great-grandmother explode in her mahogany coffin, that he can keep his special, oh-so-unwomanly book and shove it somewhere where he can truly ingest its contents and regurgitate it whenever he chooses.

*

When the train reaches its destination, Dakota enters the bookstore and peruses the contents of the shelves. The shop is surrounded solely by men in fancy suits, talking to other men in similarly fancy suits. They tighten their neckties and fiddle with their cufflinks as she walks through the shop and picks up a copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses, alongside a plethora of similar, complicated and manly books.

That night she turns to Virginia Woolf’s latest essay collection, Three Guineas, and sets herself to work. One page at a time.

 

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

Check out more musically inspired stories in my series A Tendency for Bitterness!

Polarize

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Twenty-One Pilots – Polarize

I hated going home. I hated coming back and seeing the bruises on my brothers and mother’s arms and cheeks and leaving them unspoken and ignored. I hated going away to do exciting things and studying for a great degree, loving every minute of it, and leaving them to suffer in silence at home, all because of a monstrous father who believed he was the epitome of pity and selflessness when really he was a disgusting, contemptible creature who I just wanted to take a knife to and wrench from existence. When I saw my little brothers watery eyes and my mother’s nervous laughter, as she watched me gage the situation, I wanted to lose the makeshift halo above my head and go to the man who I hated more than life itself and do unspeakable things to the him, my father who I wish had never met my mother. Who I wish had never brought me into this mangled world.

I would be in the midst of unpacking, setting my comics and mementos out lovingly, and there he would be, coming in unannounced and unwelcome. And without so much as a smile or nod of recognition, there he would be, sitting and complaining about how very much worse his life had become in the past four months since I had last seen him. How the people at work were so very villainous and cruel and everyone loathed him although he had done nothing wrong. How he knew the last time my grandparent visited that they had looked at him with shame and disgust, when all he had done had been a perfect gentleman and treated them with the utmost respect by completely ignoring them and acting with complete ignorant indifference.

This would go one for hours, and every time I would try to join in on the conversation, no matter how meaningful or mundane, his booming, self-important voice would gloat and smother mine, as he continued to talk because he was oh so important, oh so important, didn’t you know? Didn’t you know this? You should know this, while you’re under his house they are his rules and his rules are that he is the only one who matters. And you must pity him, oh you must feel sorry for him. He is growing so old after all, he is so frail. It does so tire him out to throw plates at your mother and to violently strike your siblings. It is so exhausting, you don’t understand what it takes out of him. You must pity the poor creature, he tries so very hard and all you do is gaze at him with a look of utmost contempt. You render him unwanted and abject, and you’re just as nefarious as all those other people who regard him with utter disgust.

I wanted to be a better brother, better son. I wanted to keep these dear people to me safe, so they never had to see him ever again. He was rendered repulsive, the mere sight of him made me gag, like when I was a child and poured rotten milk over my cereal, taking one big, sour mouthful, only to spit it out over the stone tiles. Only to be beaten and whipped for making such a horrifying mess. I wanted to take everything he had ever done and do those tenfold to him. He would pay for hurting my precious family so, and I would be the one to enact this punishment upon him.

But for now, I had to remain calm. I would hide these problems, these urges, deep down. Down those stairs is where I will be hiding all my problems.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

I’ve written more stuff based off of Twenty One Pilots! You can check them all out here

High at the Beach

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Lana Del Rey – High at the Beach

 

She emerges out of the glistening ocean, the silver moon illuminating the perfect opal water drops, as they trail down her smooth stomach, down her bellybutton and between her tanned legs. The wind sends her ebony hair into a frenzy, stray curls getting caught in her mouth; a warm, pink tongue lapping at them, before dainty, porcelain hands elegantly trail them away. With her other hand, she lifts one finger and beckons you forward, emerald eyes gazing after you alluringly.

The blonde girl on the beach stares after her longingly, feeling herself tighten and then loosen like a coy spring, at the sight of the other woman coaxing her closer into the depths. They are both completely and utterly intoxicated, stubbing cigarette after gritty cigarette in the mustard sand, reaching for one another’s hands, simply wanting to be touched by one another in that way only two women can know how to touch. There is a special form of intuition between women that no man can ever succeed, and so it is pleasurable even to just trail a finger down another’s back, hearing heavy breaths and sweet nothings whispered into the salty air.

There are no stars tonight, they want nothing to bear witness to their carnal desires. Tripping and stumbling over stray sandcastles, the blonde woman runs erratically into the ocean, stunned by the oppressive chill of the water as it hits her thick thighs. She pauses for a moment, unsure of whether to intrude further upon the water. Her partner dives underneath the perfect stillness of the water, disappearing into a spotless ocean.

The blonde glides deeper through the water, reaching forward underneath for her partner’s hand. They touch, and the electric current trails down through the depths, the water pulsating and throbbing, their intensity roaring and aching as they sink lower and lower. Lower into a place where they can never be seen and never be watched. Free from watchful stares and voyeuristic glares.

They relax and let the water swallow them up. The bright, aquiline blue turns cerulean, then an inky jet black, as they hold one another, slipping down into the darkness.

 

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

Habits

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Our Last Night – Habits (Stay High)

 

The filthy smoke cascades upwards and dances amongst the smoke rings he forms so effortlessly with bitten, pale lips unaccustomed to the sunlight. In a dishevelled, ash-caked bedroom this is where she goes to hide and remember she doesn’t always have to be placed under so much pressure.

The need to conform, to be a straight – A student, a motivated worker, a kind, generous, ladylike individual. A budding teacher, loving children and reading educational articles with an intense, eager expression of joy painted on her blossoming cheeks. The way she would have to smile and laugh along when people spoke of what a perfect, sweet and organised young woman she had grown up to be. No mess ups, no embarrassing imperfections. She was a perfect, pristine chandelier, glistening in a world of dilapidated, shattered lightbulbs. Failures who tried their best to shine bright, holding themselves together with hastily prepared cello tape, who seemed just as pristine from afar. But deep down they were filthy, downtrodden things, and they resented her for her spotless, beautiful ways. They all hated her for the way she shone without a crack in her frail, glass casing.

Charcoal hands ruffled her greasy hair, familiar lips kissing her head thoughtfully. He knew she was frustrated, that was the only reason she ever came here. Pounding on the door, raising her voice ever so slightly, the perfect façade falling down before she even entered the dismal shelter of his cramped flat. She barged through the door, kicking stray cans and food parcels out of her way, stamping her feet and making her way to the kitchen. Beside festering plates of rotting pizza and noodles, she reached into the alcove behind the broken, barely-used washing machine and pulled out the large bottle of whiskey, chugging half the bottle down before turning to look at him.

Then she did something she had never done before; she slowly paced towards him, bottle still in hand, eyes watering, and hugged him. No one had hugged this unpleasant man in many years, since his self-inflicted confinement. This startled him, the way she held him so tightly, breathing in his musty, sweaty scent and letting her own untainted, glowing skin smear and stain under his smoke-stained, unwashed clothes and skin. He slowly, nervously, reached up and held her. She was so soft and sweet. He hadn’t been so near to anyone or anything so beautiful before, she was simply blinding. She didn’t belong in a heinous place such as this. It hurt to look at her, it made him ashamed of the route he had chosen for himself, no matter how happy he felt with the decisions he had made. She made him want to change, but he knew he could never confide in her these forbidden feelings. He was here for the exact opposite purpose, to make her feel unimportant, unwanted, a unpleasant, imperfect being that was anything but the object of admiration to all those around her.

And so, as much as it made his chest heave and crumble within his timid, anorexic chest, he pulled her away and let her go. Walking away, he ran his hands through endless yellowing papers on the broken coffee table, till he found his lighter, offering it out to the silently weeping woman.

She knew how he felt, and she was extremely relieved he never said anything to her, respecting the boundaries they had set for themselves all those months ago. The last thing she wanted was this unsightly, tarnished man announcing his undying love for her. That would mean she would have to find somewhere else to relax and be herself, and there would be nowhere else. Nobody else could ever know how she really felt, really wanted to act. It would be shameful and the gossip would soon fly. She blew out another thick puff of smoke, choosing to ignore how he was gazing at her so lovingly from the corner of his grey eyes. His lips were twitching into a wary smile beneath ratty, unkempt hairs.

As they fell asleep together, resting on the peeling leather sofa, she seemed to recall his mulled, soothing whispers in her ear, serenading sweet nothings of how he would care for her, if only he had taken a route not unlike hers, instead of the one he himself had chosen. But alas, that would never happen. And so instead of kissing her on those glistening, cherry lips, he willed himself pull the one clean, soft blanket over her sleeping form, turning his back to her and returning to the world of dreams, where everything would be oh so different for them both.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

Read more music based writing here!

A Year and Four Months Later

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For the first time she wakes up and doesn’t envision a mangled body, limp and lifeless beneath a bridge.

The arm around her in the hard bed is the ultimate comfort, she nuzzles into the smooth chest and closes her eyes.

No, nothing.

The crisp, sharp flashbacks are gone. Or rather, they still remain, will always remain, but they’re different. The familiar, frequent visions of a bridge, cordoned off by police tape and the sullen face of the moustached investigator passing her a book in which to haphazardly scribble her farewells, the starry night of December the Ninth where she was sat, absentmindedly reading a book, unaware of what was happening mere moments away from her by someone she used to care so much for.

It still remained, but those memories were no longer carnivorous roses, barbed and thorned, which plucked and pecked at her fingers, piercing her skin. Letting it slowly, but surely, seep out her blood, one drop at a time, rendering her continually fatigued and weak. Emotional but too frail to dare contemplate what was happening or whether it would ever stop. She didn’t believe it would ever stop. The visions would never leave her, of that she was sure.

She raised her hand up above her face. Her fingers weren’t swollen or sore. They were fine. She was fine.

For the first time, she felt like she could finally move forward with the man laid beside her.

This was a new feeling, and for the first time she awoke with the sunlight streaming through the curtains, and felt overjoyed to begin a new day.

 

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

Happy Valentines

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She felt relieved

And disgusted.

No longer would

She need to hide

Cowering, like a

Startled fawn.

Afraid of unwanted hands

Probing and dissecting her

From the inside out.

 

She felt proud

And repulsed.

She was happy now

Blissfully radiant

Until the phone calls

Reminded her in the

Dead of night

That he still wasn’t

Okay.

And she just left him

To suffer in silence.

 

Four A.M. she lay

In bed beside

Another. The phone

Began to ring

And she wondered

If he would really

Hurt himself

The way he said

He would. And she

Would be responsible

For another

Abhorrent butchery

Once again.

 

She retched and heaved

Feeling the familiar

Knawing sensation

Building up

In her throat.

Both men would

Watch her

From wherever they went to

When life escaped

Their decaying bodies

And they would

Push

Her serrated fingernails

Into her untainted flesh

Mangling and

Mutilating

Till nothing

Was left.

 

 

 

Click here if you want to see more of my poetry!

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

Carnival

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Melanie Martinez – Carnival

Come see our carnivorously captivating carnival!

Look at the loathsomely luscious lights!

Marvel at our magnificently macabre monsters!

 

Freakish fiends looking fearfully thirsty?

Hateful eyes seeming hideously hungry?

Feed them your fragile, candyfloss heart, fine friend.

 

Explore our eccentric, ethereal estate!

The freak show thrills all!

Yes young man, yes you must join us!

 

Melody the Mermaid, from the malevolent Mediterranean,

Pouts her lips, parting to reveal pointy, protruding fangs.

 

Waeryn Wolf, wandering wailfully in her woebegone cage,

Bruised and broken, bewitching all with her biracial bellows.

 

Golnnar Gorgon, given to us gratuitously from ghoulish Gods,

Beneath bulging bandages, blistering eyes bleeding.

 

Yet who is over yonder? You seem yet still yearning,

Sylvana Succubus, serenading you slowly towards supple breasts

And arousing arse. As she arches her back, allowing you an entrance.

 

Be vigilant, virtuous virgin. Voluptuous vixens are very violent,

Nicotine lips nestle in the nape of your neck, nuzzling, nursing,

Teeth tearing through tender tendons.

 

The Carnivorous Carnival’s cacophonous clapping

Whistles on whispering, wistful winds,

Foolish boy, first of many, foraging for freakish affection.

Lustful life-blood lingering on lavender lips,

She does so desire stupid, dim-witted simpletons such as him.

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

Check out more creepy stories in my Gothic series, For I Am No Lover of Lilies

Or if you’d rather read more stories based off of music, check out A Tendency for Bitterness!

I Didn’t Think So

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Her legs opened freely. They wouldn’t close. Her entire body blossomed longingly, only wanting one thing; him. Him within her. Him part of her. Her body shook with the relentless current, twitching her fingers to and fro in an attempt to discharge the current from her naked form. Dainty fingers traced the shape of his lips, as he bit them slowly, his eyes lingering over her small, ivory breasts.

She led his fingers down the nape of her bruised neck, tracing down her slim stomach, down to the wetness below. He complied and she was melting into him, her mouth forming a perfect ‘O’ as never before heard noises escaped her scarlet lips. He kissed her forehead tenderly, whispering how he loved her, he loved her so very much. He loved her so much and she could feel it, it made her heart want to burst. She reached out her arm for him, guiding him inside her.

They came together perfectly. She whispered back to him sweet nothings, euphoric melodies of how much he meant to her. The paper-thin walls and unlocked door meant nothing, they were in a desolate void, together and therefore ignorantly unafraid of anything else. They made sweet music, slowly, relentlessly, reaching the crescendo, their all-obliterating moans drowning out everything else.

Exhausted, broken, he collapsed beside her. They both attempted to control their heavy breaths, and she swiped a solitary tear away from her left eye. It was always the left one that betrayed her. It had been so long since she had felt this way, so long since she had let herself open up willingly for a man. The past years of unwanted hands, repugnant fingers probing her, left her feeling sick and dirty. The endless tirade, the choking breaths and hidden tears she kept to herself, curled up in the bathroom, hunched over the pungent toilet, taking deep breaths and whispering to herself in shaky murmurs to calm down. Quietly, oh so quietly, she would piece herself back together, take those fractured remains and tape them up again and again, once every three days like clockwork.

No, she thought, looking to the man who now rested his head on her shoulder, caressing her head, this is what it’s meant to feel like. And it felt good.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

I’d love it if you’d check out more of my flash fiction here!

Disenchanted

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My Chemical Romance – Disenchanted

It was December again. Hail pelted at the windows, a thousand spindly fingers knocking on her windows in the empty flat. But whoever was so desperate to come inside was invisible, submerged in the wintry darkness which enveloped her house and hers alone. She motioned towards her wardrobe, putting on a black jumper to combat the ominous chill surrounding her, choosing to ignore the familiar figure, stood silently behind her in the full-length mirror. The man who came back every December and would never leave her side. Even as she wrote this tale, she could feel his breath at the nape of her neck, willing her to continue writing and breaking down the layers bit by bit, until the tears irrevocably came spilling down her front and her feelings poured out, uninhibited, rotten and festered from remaining deep down inside her chest for so many years.

But no, not now. She was fine. She continued writing. She continued with her evening, closing the wardrobe door, ensuring to close her eyes ever so briefly, as soon as she passed the hallway mirror, before sitting herself silently down in the living room. Relax. She had to relax. But it was December Ninth, and this was the one day a year she could never relax. December Ninth was not a day she could ever sit and relax, and act like everything was fine as she did all other 364 days of the year.

Her body slumped low in the leather sofa, trembling fingers picking at the peeling fabric. Anything to distract her. The multitude of hands continued to pelt at the windows, the tirade of unwanted memories trying their very best to claw themselves back inside and take whatever they could from her. It pleased them so, to see her break down and realise that she wasn’t over his death just yet. Oh no, and she knew she never would be. And this made them squeal and cackle with glee. Their laughter rang in her ears, her fingers reached for her neck instinctively, as the spirits willed her to claw and scratch at her already-broken flesh.

It was no use. They came every time, every night. Every December Ninth was the very same and she knew it was better to get it over with and embrace it, rather than let them grow even more furious with her. It would only hurt more later. With shaky breaths and frozen hands, she opened the window and let them in.

There was a resounding crackle; the lights all went out. A projector illuminated the bare wall beside her, and they watched their lives on the screen. It started with an alright scene, a morbidly nervous girl on her first evening at a new college. She hid her beetroot face with messy, auburn hair and bit her nails for want of something to do. He wanted to play pool, and her hyperaware body rendered her electric fingers incapable and clumsy. The reel switched, she was in his room, splayed out onto his bed, absentmindedly trailing her feet up the lemon walls and wondering what her partner would think of this if he knew. But she didn’t really care. This man was her only friend, and she would do anything to keep him.

Her body ached the next morning, covered in carpet burns and sugar-coated bruises. And she liked it. It made her feel good. But the throbbing in the back of her head would never cease, and didn’t cease until that fateful December Ninth. That night she felt an abrupt release of pain, the sudden blissful silence in her head that she hadn’t felt in months.

Perhaps, she mused wishfully, I can finally move on.

She was on the phone with her partner, walking home when she first noticed it. Police tape cordoned off the flat, officers surrounding the entire accomodation complex. Students stood around in clusters, high-pitched voices and harsh whispers muttering about a man who had hurt himself. A man who’s lemon-coloured walls were now permanently stained crimson with his own blood. A man who was so miserably, unbearably alone, and had decided there was no point to anything anymore.

The video played over and over on repeat. The one she had imagined for herself, the one of him hurting herself.

How did he do it?

When did he do it?

Did he use a knife?

And if so, did he slice his wrist?

His throat? Which way did he slice?

Left or right?

Was he left or right handed? It was so long ago, she couldn’t remember. It occurred to her for the first time that she could barely remember his voice, his face. It was all, slowly, ever so slowly, becoming a blur. He was disappearing from her memory, the carpet burns and sugar-coated bruises long healed and replaced by new ones, from newer lovers that made her feel so loved she could never forgive herself if something similar were to happen to them.

The film stopped, the projector tick-ticked and turned off, leaving her in darkness. She didn’t want to remember anymore.

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

Check out more of my musically-inspired writing, A Tendency for Bitternesshere!

Black and Gold

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Sam Sparro – Black and Gold

She perched on the edge of the leather sofa, his reassuring hands pulling her cream dress down.

‘You’ve practically got it up at your waist’ he said smiling, as she nuzzled into his shoulder.

Situations like this made her feel uncomfortable; parties were never enjoyable. Like that time when that talk, bulky hulk of a man cornered that poor young girl, rummaging between her legs, and her terrified cries echoed through the entire house, drowning out Sam Sparro on the speakers. That was it, party over.

She shook the thought of that girls’ tear-stained face out of her head.

No, for once she was comfortable.

The floor was resoundingly dry and stable. Nothing was seeping in, dripping down from the ceiling in that slow, but sure, unrelenting manner. With him she felt safe and secure. And that had never happened before.

Everyone here seemed so lovely. The drinking games weren’t like that time. That time in the empty house, with the blistering wind bustling through the collapsing walls, when those frustrated, virginal boys said truth or dare would be fun and light-hearted. That night where she didn’t know any better and had to do some horrible things in front of that camera she never knew was there. The way those two girls kissed, and for some reason, she felt like running home and crying afterwards, because she really hadn’t liked the way those boys looked at her, drool trailing down their lapping tongues and dirty chins.

Again, she shook the thought of that distant, teenage memory from her head. Tonight would be a good night. She glanced to her right. He was still there, he wouldn’t be going anywhere. He thought the world of her, and she secretly knew she was falling in love with him, although she wouldn’t dare say it. Not yet.

Somebody spilt a bottle over, the bubbling drink soaked a small portion of the carpet. It stained her ivory heels, and she jumped.

No, no, it was fine. It was nothing.

Nothing was oozing up from the ground, she was perfectly safe.

She hadn’t noticed the water starting to trickle in from behind her. It was sneaking forwards, waiting to gather itself up and sweep her off her feet when she least expected it.

A few spots of the fallen drink had smeared her dress. She covered it nonchalantly, but he noticed and fingered at the folds of her outfit. She trusted him not to do anything, just to caution her to rinse it off in the bathroom on the top floor.

But it had happened like that last time. It was how they got themselves alone with you. Get you on the top floor of the tallest building, where nobody else would ever go, and then to shove their sandpaper tongue down your throat and pull your tights down to your knees, tearing them into frayed splinters between their rough fingers. Beer-drenched lips would curse beer-drenched accusations, reproaching her for being such a filthy slut, and she felt the bile rising in her throat.

The water-logged carpet was now forming a full puddle on the ground. It swamped the table and chairs, but nobody else seemed to notice as the cold water rose up and reached everyone’s ankles. No, she was the only one who felt it, her throat closing up as she knew the sensation was approaching, inevitably as it always would.

Please don’t, she cried to herself silently, taking as deep a breath as she could. Don’t. I’m happy and fulfilled here and I don’t want it to happen again.

But it would. She reached for the man to her right and he was gone. Everyone was gone.

Water peltered down from the ceiling, flooding in through the cracks in the windows and doors. The music’s familiar, throbbing beat was drowned out, and she knew she would have to take the deepest breath she could, once again, and hope the water would vanish again.

It never worked that way.

The liquid was murky and dirty. It wasn’t brown, but a filthy red. She knew he was on his way, and, yes, there he was.

The corpse which had jumped off the bridge that December night, into the fast-flowing river beneath, was back. It always came whenever she felt the water filling her lungs up. He floated towards her in the claustrophobic container, one crushed, mangled hand reaching towards her throat.

He was angry. What remained of his face was indeterminably hateful. If his arm wasn’t utterly disfigured from the fall, he would have ripped her throat out, rendering the water an even deeper red. But he couldn’t; instead he just floated in front of her, letting her know just how much he hated every core of his being that thought she was worth anything. Worth jumping off that bridge for.

She was glad the man on her right had disappeared. If the ghost in front of her had seen him, he would have done something unspeakable. She swallowed and choked, water flooding her throat and burning her lungs.

This was all her fault. If she hadn’t let him jump, then he would still be here. The room would slowly but surely empty of the blood-stained water, the people here would have never known her, and she would never again have to deal with the familiar, uneasy sensation of drowning.

Then the water was gone; the body was gone. Somebody was calling her name.

It was him.

Sat to her right, rubbing her shoulder with such love in his eyes. And it made her want to cry. It made her want to cry because she knew one day the puddle would form once again beneath her, and swallow her up. She didn’t love that mangled man anymore, but he was at the very core of her being, and he would always be there to drown her when she was shown a chance of fleeting happiness. To remind her of what she had done.

But that was a worry for another time.

She took a deep breath of good old-fashioned air, and practiced her best, award-winning smile.

 

Check out the rest of my musically-inspired stories here!

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

Don’t Blame Yourself

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You

feel

heavy.

Crawling

out of bed

only brings

the gravity

of the situation

to a head;

Crushing you

to the

floor.

 

Dragging

yourself

to the shower

submerged in

steam.

A sorry,

naked thing.

The water

turns off but

you still rain

hot tears

down your

front.

 

A deep breath:

You pace yourself

accordingly.

Step out

of the

crowded

asylum.

‘’Today’’, you

muse

to yourself.

‘’Today will

Be a

better day.’’

 

But it

Won’t be.

 

 

Check out more of my poetry here!

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

 

 

Art Deco

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Lana Del Rey – Art Deco

 

The Théâtre des Champs-Élysées is brimming with life.

In the centre of Paris, in the year 1913, a notably ravenous woman is on the way to meet a very special lady. Lady Renderghast, at twenty six years of age, in a silken, ivory dress with simply bursting, ripe breasts to match, trails her way down the aisles into the seat right at the front, right in the middle of the audience. She descends into the seat with a special form of refinement. Others stand around confused, waving their glasses of Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque around with reckless abandon, as they cry meek protestations.

Why oh why has that darling lady taken the seat right at the front in the middle?

Oh, she will strain her neck so, it cannot do to be a lady with improper posture.

Whatever could be her reason to sit so far away from everybody else? Does she assume with her blonde, buxom locks and porcelain features, that she is simply better than the rest of us?

But she does not care for these insignificant, lifeless corpses. She is here for one reason only. Her lover will be here, and she wants a front row seat to the show.

The lights begin to die down, the remaining audience members taking their seats. Lady Renderghast drowns out the monotonous announcements over the intercom, staring at the marble rose gracing the dome of the theatre. It stares back at her, the centre of the rose one iridescent, all-knowing eye. It knows what she is about to do, and it is waiting to be entertained.

Then the show begins.

Luscious ladies donned in fluorescent feathers and glittering beads prance up and down the stage, waving their feathered boas along sleek shoulders. Smooth, juicy thighs rub together under sweltering stage lights whilst powdered breasts sweat and sag as they bounce left and right.

Lady Renderghast is disgusted by the masculine chuckles and chortles ringing in her ears from the audience behind her. She cares not for this trivial, selfish display. She wants something more private, more personal. This macabre, fake camaraderie is a mere ploy, a performance which benefits nobody, leaving the dancers sweat-soaked and violated, whilst the audience are rendered aroused, and yet wholly unfulfilled, to return home and argue with their misshapen whores of wives.

Lady Renderghast knows that when those beautiful women return backstage, there will always be that one, timid young child, who is overwhelmed by the intensity of those blistering eyes upon her, and will break down in frightened tears, feeling their fat, bulging fingers spreading over her virgin body.

The acts keep appearing, over the period of an hour. More dancers, magicians, a dazzling opera singer. But Lady Renderghast is here for the final act, the most pure, beautiful young girl she has ever seen. The reason she has booked the middle seat in the front row in every performance of this show every day in Paris.

Lady Renderghast was hopelessly overwhelmed by the fragile, innocent and all-consuming Adelisa Andre.

As the lights dimmed and the slender, shaking form stumbled its way on stage, cello in hand, Lady Renderghast took a sharp intake of breath, her misshapen heart taking in misshapen, crooked heartbeats.

Adelisa was a sweet girl of seventeen, with a pale complexion the same lifeless ivory as Lady Renderghast’s dress. Her knobbly knees and bruised knuckles simply yearned to be kissed, the way you’d nurse a child’s scraped knee in the back garden. Her hand me down, cerulean dress dragging down to her ankles contrasted the lifelessness of her tawny eyes.

Lady Renderghast squeezed her legs together as Adelisa spread her legs apart to accommodate the cello between them. The cold, hard wood against her legs made her shiver for a split second, and Lady Renderghast’s eyes ate up the sight, as the young girl gave a small intake of breath, her cheeks blushing a gentle, rosen pink.

And she began to play.

Deep, dulcet tones rocked the theatre in a way words could not describe. The once cackling audience were rendered speechless, as they were every week, every time this young soul stumbled her way across the stage like a nervous fawn caught in the headlights.

Lady Renderghast loved the soft, thoughtful impression on the girls’ face as she played; closed eyes and puckered lips a deep, rosy red. She loved the lacy, blue ribbon in her hair, which would sometimes work its way loose, tracing its way down her bare shoulder and down into her dress. But most of all, Lady Renderghast loved those beautiful hands of Adelisa’s; those long, dainty fingers that she imagined touching and kissing, sucking on them and hearing the sweet girl’s surprised moans at this before unexperienced contact.

Yes, Lady Renderghast was simply besotted. She consumed the entire scene, devoted it to memory and would never let it leave her.

The cello quickened its pace, the familiar appassionato tune bringing itself to a close.

This was the time, Lady Renderghast mused, the last time.

Her eyes never left the girls’ face, the beads of sweat dripping down her forehead, tracing down her nose and dripping with a silent thud onto the cello, reverberating down the silken wood as she plucked at the silver strings. Her fingers were a blur, the intricate motions with those bruised knuckles and dainty fingers looked so very sweet and kissable. Lady Renderghast was quite beside herself. Sat alone, in the middle of the front row, she felt this was a moment between the two women and those two only. Nobody else could infringe on this precious moment.

Then it was over. With one final strum of her fingers, Adelisa brought herself to a stand, her legs scarcely holding her weight. She quivered side to side nervously, picking at the frayed blue ribbon, some of which had worked its way into her mouth. Her pink tongue lapped it away hastily, but the damage was done. Lady Renderghast was trying her very best to control herself, but with little success.

The applause rocked the theatre for several minutes, cries for an encore seeming to never cease. The girl was so happy, her plump cheeks spread out into a pristine smile. As she looked out, she met the eyes of the lady in the middle of the front row.

Adelisa stared at Lady Renderghast quizzically, wondering just why this beautiful woman was sat all on her lonesome, her body so tight and twisted as if she were afraid that opening herself up would cause her to spill out, like a split fountain about to burst.

Adelisa pondered this odd scene for some moments, until a voice brought her to her senses, and she returned backstage.

One of the dancers from earlier was still sat, red-eyed, clutching her ostrich feather fan to her exposed chest. Her laboured breathing mirrored that of the woman in the front row. Adelisa was not sure how to feel, she knew that deep down she had been exposed to the same morbid, cannibalistic sensation as that dancer sat a few steps away from her, staining her cheeks sore.

And yet she didn’t feel anything but intrigue. Something new and exciting had awoken inside of her.

Taking a few more steps aside, she discovered a stage assistant, stood moving props back to their assorted bags. She gently tapped him on the shoulder, and he started. Turning around, she smiled at him. That pure, innocent smile that she knew how to do so well.

‘Excuse me sir, please may you ask the lady in the ivory dress on the first row to come see me in my room backstage, room 34? Its quire urgent, thank you.’

 


Want to read more creepily sexual stories? Check out my Gothic series, For I Am No Lover of Lilies

Alternatively, if you want to read more stories based off of music, check out my other series, A Tendency For Bitterness

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

New Book Cover – Hydraca!

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I’ve created another book cover with Richard Kefford!

After working together on covers for his two texts Two Boys from Brighton and Distance, Richard approached me with his idea for a story in a similar style to the Beast Quest novels that are so popular with young children today.

Richard created a brilliant monster, called the Hydraca and asked me to bring it to life. And whats better than a fluffy dragon residing in the mountains?

Final

 

Although this book won’t be available on Amazon, you can check out Richard’s other novels on his Official Amazon Page.

Check out his blog, as well as his group blog, The Moving Dragon Writes. I’ve also written some work on there, it’s full of all sorts of different writing!

Interested in your own book cover? Want some illustrations done? Check out my Commissions page for more information, or drop me an email at: rebeccasherratt@hotmail.com

Check out more of my artwork here!

 

Mystery Blogger Award!

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I’m a little late here, but thank you to Brandy for nominating me for the Mystery Blogger Award!   🙂 This is my second award, and they always make me feel super happy to receive them! ^^

 

The ‘Mystery Blogger Award’ is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts.Their blog not only captivates, it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging and they do it with so much love and passion. – by the creator of this award Okoto.

Rules:

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog
  2. List the rules
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their  blog
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  6. You have to nominate 10-20 people
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  8. Ask your nominees any five questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  9. Share a link to your best post(s)

 

3 Things About Myself:

  • I’m currently finishing up my undergraduate degree in ‘English Literature and Creative Writing’, and am excited to soon start a Masters Degree in ‘Gothic Literature’
  • Alongside writing and illustrating, another job I’d love to find out more about is animation, particularly animating music videos. I think that could be really interesting. I love anime music videos, like Madeon and Robinson’s Shelter or Daoko’s GIRL
  • I love my video games, and can’t wait for The Last of Us Part Two and Borderlands 3. Claptrap is my baby  ❤

 

The Answers to the Questions I Was Asked:

  1. What is your favorite social media platform?

I’m not a huge social media hog. I use them to be nosy, but rarely post stuff. I guess Facebook is what I use most, but I like Tumblr too.

2. If you could go back in time to any era, what would it be?

I think the 1920s would be interesting, with the whole Art Deco, Gatsby-esque aesthetics. But my first choice would still be the early 1800s, just to visit some spooky castles and creepy old back alleys, very Gothic and snazzy indeed.

3. What is your favorite book and why?

I have a few different ones. I love Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, cause that’s the book that got me into feminist theory and Gothic literature back at college. But before that the Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot was my favorite. The narrative voice is so informal and humorous, and the stories are so heartwarming. As soon as I finish my degree I’m re-reading all of them books again.

4. If you could fly, where would you go first?

Probably Akibahara in Japan, since that’s considered the city for anime and manga fans. I’ve never been abroad, so anywhere would be amazing. But Akibahara, and Japan as a whole, would be great to visit!

5. Why did you choose the blog title you chose?

I wanted something vaguely Gothic sounding, and elegant. I’d had this name in my head for a few years, so I thought I might as well use it. I like overly long names for pieces of fiction, but not for brand names or blog titles. They’re better short and sweet, I think.

 

My Top 3 Blog Posts:

Lavender

Goodbye to a World

Do Not Think of It

 

Who Am I Nominating?

I’m gonna try and nominate different people, so I’m not cursing the same unfortunate souls every time.

1. KindaDotWrite

2. CrumpledPaperPlanes

3. MaryLandPoetBlog

4. VikasChandra

5. EmotionsofLife2016

6. EmmaBaird

7. ForrestPasky

8. TheHerdlessWitch

9. TheSarahDougty

10. RavensRoad

 

My Questions for Those Nominated:

1. Who is your favorite literary author and why?

2. What do you do to relax after a stressful day?

3. Why and when did you start your blog?

4.What musicians have you seen in concert?

5.What is your favourite animated film or television show?

 

Thanks again to Brandy for my nomination!    🙂

Goodbye to a World

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Porter Robinson – Goodbye to a World

You trip and stumble, cutting your one fleshy hand on a jagged piece of machinery. Blood spurts down onto your jumpsuit, labelled R-3417. Your original name was lost so long ago, you can’t remember it.

The R, you presume, must have meant something to you once.

It stings. Your bandage barely covers the wound, as it seeps down your arm a strange green colour. It’s been so long since you’d last seen blood. Since the invasion, since the Solaars arrived, the machinery grew so vast and endless, nobody ever retained enough humanity to bleed. Not blood anyway, a fluid instead; an oozing, pulsating green fluid what corroded away through your very core, slowly ebbing away the last of your humanity.

But I am still human, you declare to the silent world around you, as the smoke makes your eyes water and stomach churn, even if I am the last one.

I’m still human. They cannot take it away from me.

You say that, but you can already hear the cogs winding in your chest. The process has already started to take shape, as it did with everyone. Once your heart stops, the machinery takes over. Fusing bone with bits, you awaken, revitalised and reprogrammed.

You do not want this to happen. Not while you are still searching for her. You know she is still here, waiting for you. She won’t give up, because she is the most kind and loving person you know and she will never succumb to them.

So you press onwards.

*

You reach the city, blinded by the lifeless, sterile whites and greys of the senphine walls. Patrollers fly to and fro, red lights traipsing between the shadowy buildings. Any intruder will be shot immediately through the skull, left to bleed to death on the fibreglass pavement. Then mere seconds later, they would be reconfigured, and would traipse across the land once more. Sargasso eyes and flooded machinery merely masquerading as their former selves.

The fenced-off building on the left must be where she is, you muse. But how will you get in there, past the patrollers?

They had increased the security since the last incident in the city. When floods of humans escaped, they had to resort to drastic measures to keep the remainders in line and subdue the riots. There was simply no way of stealing your way inside.

You sigh, staring at your hand. Not the one still bleeding, but your right hand. The one that doesn’t bleed anymore. The hand who’s flesh was eaten away by the cannibalistic circuitry over years and years of exposure to the xixine rays. It was heinous and disfigured, but it had its perks.

The throbbing display in the back of your hand lit up, with a list of binary code you used to be unable to decipher, until your brain fell to the same predator as your arm, and you felt the code beginning to make sense, with its eerie, wavering numbers shifting into familiar letters and symbols. So slowly and subtly, you barely even noticed it.

The screen displayed a variety of useful functions, from grenades to flashbangs, you could even alter your own genetic code and render yourself invisible for a limited time.

This would be the only way inside, you think, but it must be done.

Every time the display is used, your body alters that much more, accelerating the process by, well, who knows how long? The first few humans who got their implants used them so much, it took mere months for their vulnerable, fleshy hearts to stop and for starving circuitry to replace them. The rest of humanity soon took the hint and considered them curses, to be hidden away and used only in the direst situations.

But this was dire, you had to get to her. To check she was alright, was still… human. She had to be. Without her…

You get as close as is safe to be, the relentless humming of the patrollers making your frail, human heart race. A machines heart would never race like this. The patrollers would sense this, and recognise the threat approaching.

But there’s no choice. You can feel it as you press the button on your display and mutate just that extra inch further. You don’t have long left. You must see her. Know that she’s safe.

The pain surges through your every cell, as they receive the influx of chemicals.

Fuck it, you think.

You press the display once more, triggering the enhanced speed button. In this state it takes mere seconds to bypass the security and jump over the fences to the front door. Getting closer, the pristine ivory city has grown murky and dismal. Frayed wires, pumping crimson smoke through the atmosphere, lay tangled on the floor. The sooner you are inside the better.

The doors open with utmost silence. Not a creak or squeak. In fact, as they close and leave you in the dark, you realise just how very silent the entire facility is. Nobody is left. Broken machinery and flesh blend together in heaped masses on the floor, you traipse over them with haste.

It hurts still, the mutations are taking longer and longer to recover from.

You start to panic. This feels different. There isn’t much time left. You call her name, your voice breaking. It echoes in the abandoned facility. Running through the empty halls, you cry out for that special person you have spent so long searching for.

Hello?

You hear her voice. Down the hallway. Those sweet, sultry tones from the tender lips you remember kissing as the sky grew dark and the invasion came.

Your eyes blur, then suddenly sharpen. Human tears fall from your robotic eyes as you zoom in to see her down the hallway. She turns around, mousy hair swinging behind porcelain skin. The same two scars running down her cheek. You could never notice it before with your human eyes, but there is in fact a third scar. It trails down her nose to her upper lip, and it’s beautiful. It’s her. You desire to rain little kisses all over her perfect face.

The tears won’t stop. But they aren’t clear, salty raindrops anymore. They are oozing and green and they blur your vision and corrode away at your polished skin. You try to run to her, but your legs collapse under your weight. Flesh burns away, sticking to the filthy floor, resulting in a foul burning smell. You know it should hurt, but everything has stopped hurting. You can’t even remember why you were crying anymore. But you keep looking at her. You gaze at the figure running towards you and you can’t stop. If you close your eyes they won’t open again, and you want to see her one last time.

She is with you. Motioning her arms around you, but as you choke up more oozing bile you wrench yourself away. Spitting it out onto the melting ground, you try to call out to her. But your larynx is no longer there. It is all burnt out.

She moves close to you, crying real, human tears. Human snot running down her nose and into her mouth along with human spit and drool trailing down her chin. She is human.

Your last mortal sensation is that of utmost happiness and contentment, as your vulnerable, fleshy heart gives off one last beat, and the machinery works its way through your system.


This is one of my first real sci-fi stories, and I’m pleased with it! I’ll have to try writing more of these later ^_^

This story is based off Madeon’s song Goodbye to a World. You can check out the rest of my musically inspired stories here!

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

A Casual Observer

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The green light across the bay illuminates the putrid, smoky sky.

‘The sky does look so very putrid and smoky’, she says to the man upon the balcony, over the clamorous cacophony inside, ‘I really must go out and see this glorious sight.’

But he seems bored already by her lack of attention in him, his arm already around a buxom blonde in a tight, red dress.

‘What is that dear? Oh. Oh yes, absolutely. A glorious sight.’ And he is gone.

The mansion, with all its luxurious excess, bores her. The golden stairwells and diamond chandeliers reek of sweat and overindulgence. Pulsating jazz music pelters out of saxophones and trombones, making her ears bleed. But, regardless, the audience are enthralled.

‘Mr Jay Gatsby’, they coo over the screams and squeals of delight, ‘what a delightful young fellow Mister Gatsby must be!’

They say nobody has ever even seen him, she muses. He must be an irrevocably dull man to throw such splendid parties for all the nobodies of West Egg.

She descends the glittering balcony, out of the arms of drunk, slovenly men with quivering moustaches and drooling lips. With a domineering authority, she parades past the singing gentleman on the piano, past a gorgeous brunette talking of golfing with a remarkably ordinary looking man.

A casual observer at the best, he seems. But he stares at the brunette with such a look of intense wonderment, she supposes he might have his own story one day.

Outside the air is cool, the sky still putrid and smoky. In the courtyard she hears the sweet sound of laughter. A man as golden as the gaudy mansion stands under the patio, with a similarly golden woman. Her platinum locks trail down her shoulders, as they whisper in each other’s ears and he caresses her shoulders. His eyes seem rooted firmly in the past and it is clear he can’t fully comprehend what is happening, as his lips touch those of the miserly woman’s beside him.

The dock is calm and quiet. At the very end resides a wrought-iron bench, perched atop it a pair of binoculars and a writing pad. Over the bay, you can perfectly see yet another glorious estate. Beautiful, lush green gardens twinkle over the water. The rippling waves give the illusion of progress, like you are almost floating towards this beautiful home.

Which home is the best? She wonders. I suppose it is difficult to tell. The sky is so putrid and smoky after all. Maybe on a clearer day, it would be easier to decide.

She suddenly feels immensely tired, laying down onto the bench, feet splayed up. The sound of waves, ceaselessly borne back, lull her to sleep.

 


 

As you probably noticed, this story is based off of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby! I was listening to the soundtrack to the Baz Luhrmann film, and it got me writing the story of another soul at one of Gatsby’s illustrious parties.

I hope you liked it! More of my flash fiction can be read here!

 

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt, (adapted from ‘The Great Gatsby’; copyright © 1925 F. Scott Fitzgerald).

For Want of a Brother

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Part OnePart Two

As part of a challenge with Auri, we’ve both sent each other three photos and are going to write three pieces of creative writing based off each photo! All of my stories are connected, and here is my final piece, based off of the following photo:

street dogs in a city.jpg

Simon was a trusting child. He had always been that way. A blissful childhood full of strawberry kisses and warm, sun-showered hugs tended to do that to children.

He was so trusting, that when the strange woman asked him to take her hand and follow her someplace fun and exciting, he didn’t even question it for a second.

Simon remembered how very warm and strong that woman’s greasy grip was. The way she forced him forwards, with not-so-tender pushes towards a very scary, very dangerous alleyway what Simon had never gone down before.

Wayward needles, bin bags and rotting rubbish littered the street, leaving an unpleasant smell Simon couldn’t pinpoint, spreading through the smoke and ash. His brand new red trainers, which he had so pestered his mother to buy, were already filthy from the caked mud spread over them. He had tripped twice, his grazed knee burning. But the woman wouldn’t stop, no matter how much Simon now began to plea.

Please, missus, please. I’m hurt miss, I’ve hurt ma’ leg real bad and I think I need a plaster on it.

His cries for help were silenced by the howling of the sharp-toothed dogs in the street. They raced round, growling in a way that reminded Simon why he was so scared of dogs. Connor had always made fun of him for it, but as he watched the two feral creatures reach for each other’s necks, fighting over the last remainder of a rats carcass, he realised his fears weren’t so stupid after all. At least he wasn’t scared of frogs, like Austin was.

Now that was a stupid fear, Simon thought to himself, I wonder where Connor and Austin are, right now.

By this point, the woman was practically dragging Simon along the floor. A shred of thin plastic had gotten caught in the knots of his shoes, making an uneasy scraping noise as it danced above the ground. But she wouldn’t stop. She still kept pulling Simon along, the urgency growing only greater as her breaths deepened and the sweat dripped from her brow.

Simon decided in that moment that he didn’t trust this lady anymore.

Excuse me missus, he began, trying to pry her fingers from his arm one by one. I really need to go. My brothers are probably wondering where I am. We were busy playin-

The woman snapped her head around, her watery eyes and bulging cheeks made Simon feel sick. She never even said anything. With one fatal swoop, she picked him up into her arms, and dashed to the dilapidated, black Honda in the shadows of a closed off motel.

Simon, his parents would later find out, never came out of that car alive. Simon was not given strawberry kisses or sun-showered hugs in that dismal, blood-stained car. No amount of strawberry kisses or sun-showered hugs could make up for the monstrous things that took place in that claustrophobic torture chamber. What happened to Simon is unrepeatable.

And Connor and Austin would not find out the exact details of what happened for a long time, not until they were well into their adult years, and thought together on one sad, grey day, when the rain hung listlessly in the sky:

What exactly happened to our favourite little brother?

Thanks again to Auri for the challenge! I really enjoyed doing this ^_^

Auri’s also wrote some brilliant work based off of my photos: Part OnePart Two

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

For Want of a Distraction

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Part One!

As part of a challenge with Auri, we’ve both sent each other three photos and are going to write three pieces of creative writing based off each photo! All of my stories are connected, and here is my second one, based off of the following photo:

Read Auri’s work too: Part OnePart Two

All of my stories are connected, and here is my second one, based off of the following photo:

through the trees.jpg

Straying from the path usually led to exciting discoveries.

Austen did not think this would be the case today.

Everything in the forest had a resounding

stillness.

Even the harvesting cicadas

hung listlessly

like the rain

t

h

a

t

f

e

l

l

On that sorry day

When Connor told him

that Simon was no more.

The clementine that day tasted

bitter.

It tasted like the                    rotten flesh            drowned in the rotten river

Where he was found

broken

 and

 mangled.

His very

Favourite

Brother.

Read the final part here!

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

For Want of a Clementine

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As part of a challenge with Auri, we’ve both sent each other three photos and are going to write three pieces of creative writing based off each photo! All of my stories are connected, and here is my first one, based off of the following photo:

shoe on tree.png

It fell onto his face with a resounding thud, knocking him back into the dirt.

Connor wiped the cold mud off his chin, staring up at the trees.

The perpetrators filthy pair was still hoisted up above, nestled in the trees. Waving to and fro, as a mother rocks her baby to sleep.

It whistled to him with a surprising stillness.

Bet’cha can’t reach me. Bet’cha can’t reach me.

It reminded him of the way Austen would tease him, in their back-garden every summer, as he clambered his way clumsily up the coarse branches into his makeshift treehouse.

I want to come up too, Austen! Help me up, help me up!

But Austen would merely smile, pick a bruised clementine off the nearest branch, then slowly peel off its skin and bite down on what Connor could only assume was the juiciest, most delectable fruit in existence.

Connor would grow indeterminably angry, kicking the tree trunk and crying exclamations about what a cruel big brother he was, what a very cruel person he was to treat his sibling this way. His fists scrambled at the grass, tearing it apart and throwing it up into the air, only for it to slowly trail back down into his mouth.

I’m your only brother, you should be nicer to me! He bawled, crumpled down into the dirt, ripping the fallen leaves into bite-size pieces.

He shouldn’t have said that. He really should not have said that.

The fragmented leaves ascended into the air with a resounding flourish, as Austen jumped down to the ground, grabbing Connor by the scruff of his neck.

Don’t you talk like that, he roared into Connor’s ear, don’t you talk like he’s gone and never coming back!

A violent push shoved Connor to the ground, the sound of heavy footfalls growing quieter and quieter. His last brother, gone.

The rain hung listlessly in the sky.

Read part two here! And part three here!

Don’t forget to check out Auri’s writing, based off of the photos I sent her!  Here is her first poem! And her second part, a story,

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt

Unravel

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Tokyo Ghoul OP – Unravel

In the familiar coffee shop

He recollects her

Slim pianist fingers

Tracing down

Ivory keys.

 

Pause.

 

Don’t

Be afraid.

Don’t crack

Your fingers that

Way he used to do.

 

Pause.

 

Mournful, swollen eyes

Smudge crimson

Mask donned

Tongue lolling

Down.

 

Pause.

 

Spittle

Raining down

Forming a juicy puddle

You feed relentlessly now

As bones crunch between your teeth.

 


 

Thanks Auri for this request!   🙂 I love Tokyo Ghoul‘s opening, but this got me really into the acoustic version *^*

This reminds me that I still need to finish watching series two of the anime…

You can read the rest of my musically inspired series, A Tendency for Bitternesshere!

Auri’s 100 Follower Challenge!

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Well done to Auri for reaching 100 followers and 1000 blog views!   🙂 It’s an awesome achievement, and I’m sure her blog will only continue to grow!

She also set up a cool challenge for her followers, so here’s my mine!   🙂


 

  1. Start with the first post you ever wrote. Talk about how it felt writing it and your feelings about it now.

My first post was And we Begin! which was a sort of general introduction to what I’d be doing on my blog., My first real piece was rather my short story Lavender, which I think suitably set the tone for my monstrous standards of writing and heinous morals.

2.Give a shout out for your first follower. Are you still in touch with them? Do you have something to say to them? Here’s your chance!

My very first follower was Kent at DirtySciFiBuddha. I don’t contact him all that much, but generally, whenever I see his posts, he always looks very professional; he seems very much into the self-publishing game, which I always find impressive! I wish I could create a large enough project to create a full book and be able to publish it, that’s definitely a goal I’d like to complete one day!

3. Your first like. How did you feel?

Awesome! It always feels nice to see how my posts are gradually getting more and more popular. For the last interview I was tagged in by R L Tierney I went back to my past posts and remembered being so happy when they got about 5 or 6 likes on them. Now I’m averaging between 30 and 40, which isn’t much to some but it makes me feel so accomplished that I keep improving!

4.The day you felt it was a terrible idea to start blogging.

I’ve never really felt that way, to be honest. It’s led to me starting my art commissions company and I’ve met some great friends online. Admittedly, when I’m drowning in commissions, uni work, and then I have to keep writing and drawing to keep the blog updated, it can get quite stressful, but I’m a workaholic, so generally its a nice feeling! I suspect this exam season I will be struggling though…

5. The blog you felt was your inspiration to write.

There wasn’t really any particular blog which inspired me… I was just sat around all summer and thought that I don’t want to be sat around doing nothing like I do every other holiday! But I suppose all the millions of little blogs that post regular comics like PDL and EatMoreBikes were an inspiration. I’d love to do some short comic strips like that, alongside my writing!

6. How you designed and formatted your blog.

That was horrific. I’m still very much getting used to WordPress, and I remember almost giving up after a week or two because I just couldn’t work out how to get anything working. I still don’t know how the ‘Blog’ button works. What’s the difference between a blog post and normal post? Help me. >,< If anyone knows, please comment and tell me!

I basically just messed around and hoped for the best! I keep meaning to draw up a new header for the site too, cause I have much better pens and materials now. Over time I just added new stuff in, like Projects and widgets etc, but it all takes time to get used to. I should really learn how to use HTML codes…

7. The first comment on your site.

ffg

8. First blogger who became a friend.

That would probably be DeanJean, its a really nice feeling when you read each other’s work and learn from it. Her poetry is great, I wish I could write like that!

9. The very last follower until today.

My latest follower was Faithless Paladin. I’ve just had a nosy at their blog and they seem to write some great poetry!    🙂

10. A blog that made you feel your site needs serious improvements.

All of them. Every blog ever. Hmm… probably just those blogs that post a new article literally every two seconds, it’s like, how?? One post every 3-4 days is about the best I can manage!

 

There will be no nominations except for your first follower.

Ok then, looks like you’re up, Dirty SciFi Buddha!
And thanks again for the challenge Auri!    🙂