Rebecca

HELLO, MY NAME IS REBECCA.

 

I’m a writer and live in Lewes. Welcome to my online portfolio of creative writing.

 

By day, I write editorial for publications in London and Brighton, and am one half of You Make Me. The rest of the time I write stories, collaborate with friends and artists on creative projects and am also working on my first novel.

 

Feel free to contact me to talk ideas.

 

Declaration: All work on this website is copyright © 2014 I Find You Curious. All rights reserved.

*News*

2015_

 

March_

I am focussing on illustrations for a new project called Notes on Girlhood, final edits for A Tearful Young Woman and a Vegetable, and writing copy for Quarterly issue 3. Busy busy…

 

February 2nd_

Structo Issue 13 launched February 21st at The Albion Beatnik, Oxford, and features my short story, Ten Seconds.

 

2014_

 

October 29th_

Launch party for Nutshell magazine issue 4, featuring my short story, Beyond Woman.

 

October 21st_

First piece of writing submitted since the arrival of baby Bea. If you’re in Brighton in November pick up a copy of Viva Brighton magazine and read my sixteenth mini art column. It feels good to be writing again. And just before bed, a lovely acceptance email from Structo magazine for a short story.

 

September 26th_

I’m a mummy! Bea Thomasina born Tuesday 16th September. #BabyBea on Twitter.

I Find You Quarterly

I find you quarterly issue 1&2

I Find You Quarterly is my first printed publication, distributed to nice places in London, Brighton, Sheffield and Berlin. The Quarterly is an opportunity for me to share my creative writing with anyone who might be interested, and a way of documenting my journey as a writer. If you come across one, please do let me know what you think. Issue three will be coming early 2015.

 

The Quarterly is designed by Simon of You Make Me.

Betty

www.bettymagazine.org.uk/

I write editorial for the lovely Betty magazine. Articles include Sit Tight For a Little While Longer: a survival guide for “the creative lady who earns her pennies by ordinary means but dreams of more heartfelt endeavours”, and In an English Country Garden: a reflection on the “sobering calm of the cottage garden, with its butterflies, bees and carnival of natural beauty queens”.

Ten Seconds

structomagazine.co.uk/

My short story, Ten Seconds, published in Structo magazine, issue 13. My story was inspired by a visit to Tate Britain and Henry Moore’s sculptures. Extract:

 

We watched the clock, aware of the unremarkable pockets in our day the same as my granddad did in the home with the dead heads on living stems, crispy leaves on the windowsill and carpet below. The clock embarrassed us. We should have been outside, nibbling the foam from the belly of a jelly crocodile and self-harming black tights. Not sat in an empty classroom. My granddad befriended the clock. Its shaky hands amused him. They counted together and sometimes my granddad would get ahead and wait for the clock to catch back up. The old folk bored him.

 

Ten seconds changed everything.

 

I was preoccupied with a pomegranate, hands crimson. We ate fruit in public. Proper oranges and fiddly fruit that suggested a healthy girl with overlooked girlfriend potential and who just needed to do a bit more exercise. We took inspiration from a pretty university student who worked in the coolest café in town. She was plump but forgivably so because she ate shiny green apples. The Boy sucked each of my fingers in turn, one second per finger. I let them dry and sniffed them all afternoon.

 

Friends stood in line and had their hair playfully mussed. He said my hair was soft like he was surprised. The shampoo was yellow and came in a yellow bottle. It smelled like banana, only sweeter. The Lubricious were the first girls to use the banana shampoo. We copied them because we wanted to be them. We continued to copy them even when being them was no longer something. Even now, when buying shampoo, I think back to the yellow shampoo and how using it in the evening made tomorrow hopeful.

 

Our knees became the topic of conversation in the corridor, imperfect in knee socks. Our bodies had gotten lazy, recumbent with the buttered lid of a bread bap dangling above lips. We ate simple carbohydrates in private, legs heavy and ajar, like the sculptor’s bronze giants in the gallery we visited by coach on a Wednesday in June. We tugged down our skirts but this only heightened curiosity as to the mechanics of our thighs. Our hinges were stiff. The Boy silenced the other boys and listened to us creak as we walked.

Blue Blood Reins

www.bellevilleparkpages.com
Belleville Park Pages Issue 4

My poem, Blue Blood Reins, was published in Belleville Park Pages.

 

Let’s upstage the peacocks
Such privileged creatures
Bound by grace and
Garden
Like bored azures
Lapping.

 

Let’s strike the trees
Choke the thicket
Give us a reason to breathe
Heaven knows
We’re titled to it.

 

Let’s dress in rayon
And crinoline
Tuck into waistband and flee
With fire in our drift
Escape the crush of earthly brown.

 

Beyond Woman

www.nutshellmagazine.com

My short story, Beyond Woman, published in Nutshell magazine issue #4. Extract:

 

He renamed her female bits. Nothing remotely erotic. Though occasionally he would forget, in an erotic moment, revert to a generic word. He said she was otherworldly and that such words did not do her justice. Who was she to argue? In his eyes she believed she had the biggest eyes in the world. He said they could exist out there. There: where it ends and starts again, walled and better. She bought into his vision as any girl would, picturing herself in a smock and headscarf, trampling for wild garlic on crispy chicken Sundays. Home would be a modest timber shelter, orange leaves dancing at the door etc.

 

One night, having escaped the ordinariness of her parents’ semi-detached, she climbed through his open window and into his arms. He marvelled at the candy shrimp caught between her teeth, mistaking it for a live cricket. Seeing the hunger in his eyes, she swallowed it, smacked her lips. Her throat croaked from the dry heat, and his skin prickled as the insect perished inside her.

Stargazing

www.centmagazine.co.uk/fantasy-stargazing/8922

My short story, Stargazing, was published in .Cent Magazine.

 

Organza was no ordinary girl. But none of us are ordinary, or so we are told by adoring mothers and grandmothers. They shine our noses and tell us we are special. And then we remove that shine with an angry sleeve.

But Organza’s freckles were not like the freckles of other little girls, but like dancing dots of violet, blue and green. And wherever Organza stood she appeared in spotlight, like the beautiful actresses of the world.

Organza believed that she must have been very special in her mother’s eyes to be named after the dreamiest of fabrics.

Joy, Organza’s mother, was adamant that the world had changed colour the day her darling daughter came into existence with a sneeze. Yes, a sneeze, as simple as that. Childbirth was just a spore of pollen in a nostril.

“What colour was the world before I was born, Mother?” Organza asked.

“Black,” her mother replied, before downing a tumbler of foul-smelling liquor. “As black as a night without stars,” she slurred.

“What colour was the world after I was born, Mother?”

“Off-white,” smiled Joy. “Like a wedding gown.” Organza watched as her mother’s cheeks turned from grey to pink, as if kissed by bitten berry lips.

As the daughter of the Queen of Stars, Ulyana had known only vapid home scholars and dim nursemaids. So when a white dwarf star named Patrick extended an honest and gentle hand, Ulyana was oscillating above his blazing body before she could say contraception. On her 1000th birthday Ulyana gave birth to a dinky bundle of pink nebula. The Queen of Stars was outraged by her daughter’s dalliance with a man more than a billion years her senior and declared the newborn a “dormant, incapable of an incandescence befitting royal service”. The tiny star was banished to Earth where upon descent she would dissolve to twinkle dust and be ingested by a reproductively challenged female. The estimated journey time from night sky to semi-detached was eighty years. During that time, the Queen of Stars suffered a fatal supernova. She would not be missed.

On a Tuesday evening in December, seven years ago, a young woman in her twenties prepared a slap-up meal of shepherd’s pie and buttered baguette, before announcing to her beloved the miraculous conception. That young woman was Joy.

Nine months later, and with Joy in the climax of labour, Organza travelled the length of the birthing canal.

 …

The wedding celebrations were commenced, with Ulyana, the celestial bride, resplendent in a trompe l’oeil tunic of off-white. Like many a forward-thinking star, she considered pure white an untrue reflection of her virginal state – and indeed of life itself. Patrick, never one to make a fuss, kept it classic in a haze of knitted maroon. Miles and miles of grosgrain ribbon snaked like runways between neighbouring galaxies, with an invitation to all. Guests vibrated to 80s power ballads. Meteors filled the sky with a shower of violet, blue and green. And with a final eruption of nuclear fusion, Ulyana and Patrick locked lips and vowed to watch over Organza for as long as they both shall live. And that was a very long time indeed.

 …

With a final sneeze from a hospital bed, a star was born.

Gracious Heights

My short story, Gracious Heights, was performed at New Venture Theatre as part of Brighton Fringe Festival 2012. Here is an extract:

 

In 1961, robots invaded Brighton. The exact date and time remains unknown, for there is no evidence of their arrival, only of their existence. Concrete evidence.

 

The robots did not crash the city upon a regular Tuesday morning in a reported “terror attack”. They did not morph from monster trucks or supercars or great vessels from the shipping docks. There was no tumbling display along the Kingsway with humans flipped like pancakes off the foot of a storming leader. No dreadful screaming ladies clutching a prized pooch. No modern young men leapfrogging railings in over-shined shoes. A Hollywood blockbuster it was not. It was more considered. Sophisticated, even.

 

The robots came in silence by night. Component parts were housed throughout the city exempt from waiting list officialdom; infant robots planted like seeds in an adequate space fit for purpose. No random distribution like wind pollination; the robots were not akin to dandelion parachutes reliant on a breeze to bring them to their knees. They did not operate like a bunch of marbles dropped from an open palm and sent rolling in faint lines of noise until snatched by a crevice, gutter, pock or ravine. Nor did they resemble a procession of glowing tea lights on tiptoes.

 

The robots settled like darkness itself, with a subtlety that slips the human eye at each close of day. At around the same time but at no time specific, you drop the blind or pull the curtains on the surprising lack of light.

 

The next morning, as alarm clocks dragged sleeping bodies from crumpled sheets, and the seagulls snapped open their origami wings, the residents of Brighton were none the wiser as to the silent invasion. For the infant robots were no more conspicuous than a discarded wheel trim or traffic cone.

Art Series

artseries.tumblr.com/

Art Series is a project I started in April 2013. Each month I visit Brighton Art Gallery to select a painting from the permanent collection for personal appraisal. My 200 (or thereabouts) words are published monthly in Viva Brighton magazine. My mini column is happily ongoing.

A Tearful Young Woman And A Vegetable

I am at work on a mildly sinister illustrated story. The idea was inspired by a visit to a supermarket in Brighton. I suppose you could say it’s a love story. I have something resembling a finished script. Here is a teaser:

 

“It is rare to meet a woman who cries with such sincerity,” he said, gathering his beard in his hand like a wizard.

 

She had not planned on falling in love in the vegetable aisle.

 

“Would you join me for afternoon tea?” he asked. “I would very much like to see you cry some more.”

 

“Yes please,” she said. “I would like that very much.”

Horizontal Transmission

www.3ammagazine.com/3am/horizontal-transmission/

My flash fiction, Horizontal Transmission, was published in 3:AM magazine.

 

Like lavender she is suited to extreme conditions, expert drainage and the appreciation of a romantic’s nose. She considers a rose to be a tentative gesture: petticoats of veiled ham to crispy blisters in approximately seven days. Sorry I can’t be more specific. She struggles to see the worth in a week of unrivaled beauty when sustained elegance is an option. Lavender is robust, imbued with centuries of sentiment and, most reassuringly, is not to everyone’s liking. Her mother, for example, thinks it so terribly old-fashioned.

 

He suggests a lamb dhansak, one eye surfing the crest of a goal-bound strike. She claps a hand to her mouth, repulsed by the image of the threads of her vascular system coated in lanolin. She acknowledges the coupling of lanolin and lavender oil in soap making – the compact block on the corner of an elegant basin, but the word emollient pervades, thick and white and unscented. (With a damp cloth, she removes the bird shit and generic grime from the plastic washing line; this is her equivalent of pinging an elastic band against a wrist as an aid to curbing destructive thoughts).

 

He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, interpreting her gesture as an indication of his need to cleanse his palette, and withdraws from the host (primary or intermediate – he remains undecided). She reaches for a stray vest and spreads her naked self with its insufficient spill. She deliberates the word parasite, but opts for pathogen, not wishing to appear unnecessarily hostile.

The Art Of Push And Pull

www.inksweatandtears.co.uk/pages/?p=4827

My short prose, The Art of Push and Pull, was published in Ink Sweat & Tears magazine.

 

“Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” Joseph despairs. “Do you ever just, shut up?”

Clomp. Clomp. Clomp. SLAM. His wife pulls away in the silver Audi.

 

From the basement flat below, Jenny perfects her wine-stained smile in a hand mirror. “Clever kitty,” she says, recalling the tabby cat’s purring consent.

 

Joseph wonders if the young woman downstairs has overheard their disagreement. Only once or twice has coincidence brought them together, in passing to their respective front doors, with awkward pleasantries about the relentless drizzle or the charismatic feline skilled in the art of acquiring cold meat scraps. Her recent compliment on his Breton stripe jersey had left him bumbling; she actually touched his arm, as if they were on familiar terms.

 

Joseph switches on the radio and selects a lively classical number. Remembering that his eldest daughter and her new boyfriend are joining them that evening for his legendary wild mushroom and taleggio pizza, he begins to whistle. A crisp apple tart will bring the affair to a fine conclusion.

 

Jenny drapes a sliver of cheese across a cracker. Then a single bite that occupies her cheeks for what seems longer than necessary.“How small I will appear, under the sheets of his bed,” she confides, softly.

 

Tonight, dressed in floral crepe de chine, Jenny will knock. Wrapped in a tea towel at her breast will be an ailing sourdough.

 

Joseph pulls on his gardening shoes and heads outside to sow cornflowers in time for his wife’s return. He scatters the seeds with uncharacteristic abandon, rakes the earth in a private display of tenderness. Still, the arrival of seedlings never fails to raise a smile, a hand slipped in hand.

 

Jenny reaches for the flour and sets to work on her ill-fated creation.

Novel(la)

I am currently at work on my first novel. Here is an extract:

 

Chapter, Pudding Toast

 

A satsuma would often lead to a sobbing mother. Think of the satsuma like a pebble in a trail leading me out of the wood and into the arms of my mother. Only the satsuma was not leading me out, but into the thicket. Each satsuma was sweetening me up for being the adult. Mother was lost. She was there but she wasn’t. Mother referred to it as her wire: a singular wire, disconnected. The notion of a singular wire was more worrying than a tangle of wires. I was patient enough to sit cross-legged and work methodically through a tangle; but a solitary, wavering wire was equally crucial and sinister. If only it had been as simple as plugging the wire back in. My teenage years were all about tests: paper-based, practical and others not so easy to grade with satisfactory ticks on paper.

 

I prescribed my mother marmalade on toast. I reasoned that my mother found a degree of reassurance in oranges and their related forms. In turn, I prescribed myself marmalade. We took our medication together – morning, noon and night. The nice lady doctor said I was likely predisposed in the egg. Talk of an egg got me thinking of a boiled egg as an occasional companion to toast and conserve. Mother took hers hard, whereas I preferred mine on the softer side. We tapped their heads in synchronisation, Mother calling: one, two, three – tap. I took this as a positive sign that she was responding to treatment and put the next two slices of bread into the toaster.

Root Ball Terror

dogear.co.uk/page/2/

My poem, Root Ball Terror, was published in Dog-Ear magazine.

 

Puddles of earth? More curious than an empty packet of crinkle cut or stray Tesco carrier bloated on sea breeze.

 

A trail of ericaceous led me to a boisterous four by four. Our infant tree tossed like a badger in accidental murder.

 

Displaced below street level, his outlook is uncertain.

 

Angry person, avert your gaze. You are not a postman so don’t open gates, grab plants like turkey necks and hurl them at private number plates.

Bring The Outside In

I wrote a poem called How To Defy The Rain for a collaborative project with photographer Fiona Essex. The fashion designer Lu Flux kindly lent us some of her fabulous clothes for the day.

 

How to defy the rain

 

Bring the outside in:

create a landscape interchangeable by fabric and pins;

shelter in a cape beneath a painted sunshine;

eat ice cream over hot pudding and pretend like time is

against you;

blow bubbles to the sky and catch their fall with an arm or a

cheek;

sing a song with roses at your heart, yellow, like the birds in the childhood book about a bridge and the angry men with

fists –

in the end they don’t quite kiss like the bees but patch the

brown with lost and found colour,

butterflies and beasts printed and stitched

in memory.

Undiluted

www.chester.ac.uk/flash.magazine

My flash fiction, Undiluted, published in Flash: The International Short Story Magazine.

 

He is entertaining a selection of ladies. They are entertaining him. The ladies are housed in a list on his computer. The ladies have between one and five stars beside their name, denoting how much of a favourite that particular lady is. He is undecided on one lady and is passing through her in an effort to decide.

 

Angela is sitting beside him with an unmade face. She does not require a made face, because she is real. Not like his celestial ladies. The stars make her uncomfortable: what does he hear in them? She could do with a drink of water, but he has politely asked her to not leave the bedroom. The secret, he tells her, is to drink just enough to function but never eight glasses a day.

 

His ladies have blistering voices. They score to acid lines, berate the sun for shining. Angela can’t see them, so can’t be sure, but she imagines they are undernourished. What use are brittle nails to a man’s back? She smiles to herself, reassured. They sing about the inevitable fade of precious in a black marble hearth, how eventually you just see scratches and dust. Change the record, girls. They should eat more red meat, his favourite. He wouldn’t last five minutes with a vegan. And again, she smiles. Both dinner plates are dirtied with a frill of fat in gravy from last night’s supper. There’s no hot water because they each had a morning bath in preparation for a day inside. They can use side plates for lunch. She sucks her cheeks, gathers moisture and swallows.

 

No milk? Angela can’t be bothered to pull on a coat and walk the minute to the corner shop. The antioxidants replicate, turn dark. A ring forms with no end and no amount of scouring will ever completely remove it. There’s no point turning out now.Not safe, he says. Pull the curtains, stay close and listen to the ladies wail about how much I love you. And she has to agree, they have a knack for words, his ladies.