April 23rd 2015 – Ballymena
Marissa Kirk-Epstein and Brian Stromberg
Everyday at five Margaret walked the hundred yards or so to the postbox on the corner and posted a letter addressed to herself. Every morning at ten past nine the postman knocked on Margaret’s door and handed her one of these letters.
“Nice bit of weather, we’re having,” he’d say, or, “shocking cold for April.” Often his was the only human voice Margaret would hear in a day, (aside, of course, from the television).
Inside each envelope was a folded paper with a smiley face printed on it. Held upside down this could also be a kind of sad face. It took two days for these letters to boomerang back to Margaret, three at the weekend.
April 24th 2015 – Ballymena
On the twentieth day of toothache my mother takes me out for coffee. She has tea and a croissant. Coffee does not always mean coffee in provincial market towns. I eat my croissant on the left side of my mouth avoiding the spot where the world is ending again and again inside my tooth.
“You gave me toothache for nine straight months,” my mother says. “You took all the calcium and left me with nothing to chew on.”
I am not sure whether to apologize or point to the tooth five from the right, just before my molars begin, and say, “penance,” or, “empathy,” or something equating to, “evens.”
April 25th 2015 – East Belfast
After some consideration she decides that it is not wrong to pray for the fictional characters from her favourite television shows to be well in life and love, to prosper financially, to be returned unto her, (should the BBC have seen fit to prematurely ax these characters). God is, after all, in the business of resurrection and one television doctor should prove less of a challenge than Lazarus or Jesus or any of the afflicted actuals. This, she concludes, should be something of a cakewalk, like that thing with the loaves and the fishes.
April 26th 2015 – Connswater Tesco, East Belfast
Trent and Marci DesChamps
Without so much as a ‘save the date’ nod Connswater Tesco has closed its automatic doors, (which only ever opened from the inside out), dropped its rusty shutter and, for the last time, cleared its shelves of bulk buy nappies and fluorescent-coloured alcopops. It now looks like the Communist bread line it has always aspired to.
You are sad. You feel like the day you realized the Queen Mother was four years dead and you hadn’t been told. You had memories you wished to share with other Connswater shoppers: the time you asked for hummus and were offered a blank stare and then, an avocado, the time you accidentally shoplifted sweets and that one time you had the audacity to enquire after fresh basil.
All the romance is being sucked out of East Belfast.
April 27th 2015 – East Belfast
I have become the sort of person who inserts emoticons into emails.
I have traditionally despised these sort of people. However, last week a good friend translated the classic W.B.Yeats poem, “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” into three dozen or more lined emoticons: bees and trees and little cartoon men caught in the act of arising and going.
“If this is now what’s considered poetry,” I said to myself, “then I would be wise to embrace it sooner rather than later.”
I was not to be disappointed.
There were things which could be communicated by a moon-faced smiler or a yawning cat, which sat outside the boundaries of the English language. Though, in Japanese, I suspected there might be found an equivalent.
April 28th 2015 – Ulster Hall, Belfast
His, ‘making things out of nothing,’ exam had been the most frightful disaster. ‘Seeing things that aren’t there,” hadn’t been much better. And, as for, ‘struggling to stand still in one place,’ well, he’d found his feet all too capable of holding themselves together like bricks or other permanent things.
He sat at his desk now, with three ordinary items lined on front of him –a spoon, a matchbox and a spool of cotton thread- and wondered if he wished to pass or fail.
“What are they?” asked the external examiner.
“A spoon, a matchbox and a spool of thread,” he replied.
“Yes, but what could they be,” continued the examiner, “if you used your imagination?”
The memory of a tiny spool-shaped table and tiny people seated around it passed behind his eyelids, loose as kettle steam and dispersed before he could catch it. Also the idea of a matchbox bed, but this too would not stand still.
“A spoon, a matchbox, a spool of thread,” he repeated.
“Failed,” said the external examiner and with this he passed on the next stage which would involve grammar and politics and things which could be proven with measuring devices.
April 29th 2015 – East Belfast
The last power ballad on the planet did not realize it was alone until it was too late. Behind its wet drums and its synthesizers and its particularly triumphant bass line it was impossible to hear anything else.
The last power ballad on the planet featured love and air punching and not giving up and everything being alright in the end. (In this, and other features, it was rather similar to all the other power ballads).
Listening to itself at high volume, in its own bedroom, the last power ballad on the planet began to feel its self-confidence return. It chanced a saxophone solo. This looked particularly good in the wardrobe mirror. It followed up with a key change.
“Nothing’s going stop us now,” thought the last power ballad on the planet and then remembered that there was no longer an ‘us’ in power balladry. This was too sad for synthesizers. There were not enough acoustic guitars in the world to compensate for its loss.