blackmail press 30 Bipolarisation
Rachel J Fenton
New Zealand

In Your Enigma - Ilinca Höpfner
Alone - Simon Williams
Rachel J Fenton is a writer who paints and lives in Auckland. She has poetry, fiction, art, photography, journalism and criticism housed in diverse journals and zines, including: Otoliths; Horizon Review; The Literary Burlesque; Camroc Press Review; Ramshackle Review; Ink, Sweat & Tears; Melusine; Eclectic Flash; Tom's Voice; Camel Saloon; South Yorkshire Times; Eye of the Needle; Writer's Eye Magazine; and Airflow Magazine. She was shortlisted for the "Fish 2010 One Page Prize" and longlisted for the 2010 "Sean O'Faolain International Short Story Prize". Links to published works can be found at: 

She would never say she was Irish:
always Greek when anyone asked.
Queueing for chips at the Battered Wife
she told the slick black haired serving lad
she was a tourist, passing time till
her ship came in. As surely as his
father would be missing him, so would

hers. Already he'd be watching from
the high cleaver edge of her homeland.
She would raise a flag on her return.
He gave her extra bits. She saw him
a week later outside the butcher's,
his fists, gristle white, tight clasped, bulging
with economy fat sausages.

He asked her out that time. She didn't
recognise him not smelling of fish,
besides, she wasn't buying, only
passing to smell the sharp iron tang
of bloody meat, not wishing to touch
the jointing blade for fear of getting
cut: she doesn't live here after all,

was an overseas student, working
out a thesis on the ancient Greeks.
Later she puts the two halves of him
together and cannot wash the blood
or the smell from her hands. Opening
her mouth to scream she finds her tongue locked,
encased in batter, her clothes paper.

The Reading

I take him with me when I go for my reading
and Clara's waiting for us, when we get there
she's standing at the gate, filling the gap in the
privet like a fire in the grate, and he whispers
in my ear as I turn off the ignition that he
could tell her a thing or two about her future

just from her colour: last seen in his mother's
kitchen on a pack of Angel Delight, past
its sell by date. I remind him, she's not allowed
to tell us things like that, the dark stuff, how
or when we'll wander off into that last
and longest night. He looks disappointed,

the way he looked after our big fight after a row
with his dad ended in me calling him a cunt
for staring at my tits and smashing the glasses
to bits, and other stuff but that's enough
remembering for now I think, and I give
Clara a wave. She smiles, knowingly, well,

she would, and I excuse my bringing him
but she said she knew he'd be coming and to show
him into the best lounge. We go by the front
door, it's more like business this way, whereas round back
is full of scrap and where next door's dog goes -
literally full of business and Clara's skills aren't needed

to predict that what goes in comes out as, you guessed
it. He gives my hand a little squeeze as we walk
in and I daren't look at him in case he sets me off
laughing, like he did the time we went to see
his cousin at the chapel of rest, when they took
us to the wrong coffin. Something about the set up:

a couple of black polyurethane tunnels
like scaled down aircraft hangers or allotment
bunkers, unsuccessful for life on account of
the low light and the sight of a local councillor's
Great Dane where his cousin Tosh should have been.
The funeral director was most apologetic,

confusing tears of laughter with an apoplectic
fit. So, anyway, back to Clara's; she's made tea
by now, brings it in on a battered silver tray,
unceremoniously elbows three cats out the way
and we all sit on the settee. For a second
I think he's going to tell her he doesn't drink

tea but then he remembers why we're here and says,
after some considerable time stuck on affirmative, thanks.
She smiles like a nurse while we're sipping the tea,
like a mental health professional, like we're in therapy.
He finishes his first and holds his teacup out
and if it had been pills instead of leaves you think

you'd see him stash them down the arm of the settee
along with the half a bread cake, twenty rollies
a ball of string and change. He grins like an idiot, artificial
goon, the whole time she's scanning his dregs, playing
the appropriate part, but the smile falls off his face
when she tilts the cup and says, you have a dark

and mysterious past: a significant
event when you were thirty-four, and you're looking
to exchange your mine for a slice of pliant
colonial shore. Then she looks at me and says,
now dear, let's see what your future has in store for
you, and I apologise, I say, I had to

drink it, I couldn't run the risk of it coming true.
And I leave you there, with an empty cup, Clara
with her pink face and orange hair, and in the flushed,
swollen starfish of her hand is a small silver
spoon that rattles when she puts it on the tarnished
moon of a useless tea tray.