Insomnia FM

Insomnia FM

Reed sighed as he rifled through the vinyl. Lucian was still outside smoking on deck. Reed never let him smoke inside, let alone in one of the booths. There was too much vital equipment to ruin. It had taken him years to collect it all. Most of it was obtained through legal means.

He put the record on. The needle made its comforting scratch telling him it was in place. It was a minute till half one, the time they began, the time they were needed. His colleague rushed in as Bob Dylan began singing from the record player as the time hit one thirty. ‘One Too Many Mornings’ summed everything up for Reed.

He had started this project once he had been discharged from hospital but he just didn’t know how much longer they could continue evading the police on their boat, ‘the Graveyard Shift’.

 

Reed leaned back in his chair and watched the vinyl changeover to the next song.

 

“How do we know it’s over yet?

When it’s barely begun”

 

***

 

Max stood on the ledge. His toes leaning slightly over it making his stomach jump uncomfortably. This was it. He was going to do it once and for all. He tried to remember if he had left his cat flap open so Molly could escape. He didn’t want her trapped alone in that rotting flat. Molly was all he had left after the divorce. He took one last look into the office that used to belong to him swallowed deeply. It hurt because his mouth was so dry.

 

“How do we know it’s over yet?

While we are still on the run.”

 

He smiled wryly at the words coming out from his radio as he looked at the street below. Traffic zoomed past hundreds of feet below him. Blurs of light zigzagged around pavements and roads but he couldn’t make anything out clearly. That was okay though, he was alone and no one could see him to try and stop him, he thought. But a part of him wondered whether he should go back inside, just to turn the radio off first.

 

“We are all restless creatures

Who can never find the balance”

 

“The truth!” Max shouted as he clung to the panels of the office window. He laughed out loud. The lyrics hit him but not like his usual hit did.

 

“How do you know it’s over yet?

When you’ve asked for a helping hand

And the world laughs back at you

And leaves you there to die”

 

This was a new high he’d never experienced before. His good friend MDMA could make him happy for a little while but the empty feeling would always crawl its way back into his stomach like a small wild animal. This was different.

.

“You’ll know it’s over, I’ll tell ya’

Because I’ll come to your side.”

 

Max unconsciously looked beside him. Down, by his foot was a small square of darker paint. It had been where his picture frame had stood. The rest of the window ledge had become discoloured from the bright light of the sun and all the atrocious man-made city lights that were outside his window. The picture frame had held the photo of him and his kids in it. His ex-wife had been the one to take it, the only good thing she’d ever done for him, he thought.

 

“But for now, we both have things to do

I’ll meet you that day…”

 

With the last words coming out of the radio, Max realised he was crying. The salty tears had covered his suit and tie leaving blossoming dark patches. The street below looked too blurred and too dark for him now. He had missed one too many mornings with his ex-wife and kids. He crooked his leg around the frame and ducked back inside the building leaving just wet tear stains smeared by his hands on the bricks.

The wet smudges would disappear by morning and the cleaner would wonder how scuff marks had gotten onto the highest window ledge of the building.

***

“But for now, we both have things to do

Because today is not the day.”

 

Reed watched the vinyl spin round until it stopped sharply. It was hypnotic. He read his papers detailing the quotes and speeches they’d use for the night coming as Lucian readied his next tapes.

It had always been a playful fight between Reed and Lucian. Tapes or vinyl. They settled for allowing the other to use whatever they liked in their own part of the set as long as they could use their preferred method.

Lucian had grown up taping his favourite songs when they came on the radio. He pirated music back then as well. It always annoyed him that someone would shout or drop something during the best few lines and the background noise would always pick up on the recording. Reed had always made fun of him, but when his eighteenth birthday came up and Lucian’s parents didn’t buy him the new tape deck he wanted, it was Reed who turned up the next day with one eyebrow raised and the tape deck in his arms.

As usual, halfway through his music set, Lucian took to the microphone to speak. “For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” He paused. “Wise words from the great Steve Jobs there. You know the guy who invented all of your fancy iPods and iMacs and iWhatevers. That guy knew what he was on about. Change. And he became one of the most successful people ever. He had his ups and downs. He got chucked out of his own company for god’s sake. But he fought back. And that’s what we are all going to do tonight. If you think you can’t change, just imagine it.”

The booth went quiet apart from the clicking and whirring sound of the tape. Lucian pressed play.

“Those dreams you dreamed as a little child

Are all dead and gone.”

 

***

The sound of a purring voice echoed through the room. This was the sixth night in a row Vicki hadn’t been able to sleep. She never had the best of sleep, being an insomniac, and she was familiar with the soft soothing sounds of Insomnia FM. Her radio was her favourite possession and constantly on the frequency of the Insomnia group’s pirate boat broadcast. She had always wanted to visit the ‘Graveyard Shift’ and tell them what good a job she thought they did.

“And they whirl their way

Through your brain

As if you haven’t had enough.”

 

However, tonight, she felt let down. It was just the lack of sleep, she said to herself. And the stomach cramps. They were keeping her awake. She deluded herself substituting food with fifty laxatives a day couldn’t possibly be the cause of her depressive mood. How could something meant to make her slimmer make her feel bad?

“And those little dreams

That became bigger dreams

Turn into nightmares

Even during the day.”

 

“What dreams?” She asked herself looking around her one room flat. “This dream.” She snorted. She hadn’t achieved anything she set out to achieve. Her relatives had been right. She was just another waitress with big ideas about being discovered. Maybe if she had blonde hair? Maybe if her teeth were whiter? Maybe if she was skinnier…

“Make them go away

Shout and scream, don’t stay

As if you haven’t had enough.”

 

She was so hungry. How long had it been since she’d eaten. Those laxatives contained nutrients didn’t they? They contained Magnesium, she knew that. It could make you vomit, she remembered from school chemistry lessons. She had enjoyed them before she got caught up in all this. Distracted they said she was. Magnesium.

“Let go of all those bad words

The playground kids would use.”

 

Magnesium was poison. Like food. But poison. Oh god, she thought before she vomited again.

“Let go of yourself

We all fail

Let go of your faults

And they’ll become dead and gone.”

 

“No, not yet. Not yet,” she whimpered, crawling over to her phone. Her hands shook as she dialled the number she pretended she had forgotten.

“Hello,” she croaked, getting weaker.

“Vicki?! Is that you, oh god tell me it’s you! Where are you?” her sister Sarah shouted.

“I’ve done something-”

“Oh fuck,” muffled shaking followed and she could hear her sister screaming at her boyfriend that she had found her and to call the police.

“Sar?” she whined.

“I’m here. You sound ill, Vic, where are you? Vic, Vicki!”

Vicki didn’t reply. She had passed out.

***

“Let go of yourself

And dream again.”

 

Lucian finished his last set of the night and handed it back over to Reed. Reed continued throughout the night until dawn while Lucian had a nap. The birds started chattering and he made his way down below the deck again and found Reed sobbing through the last song of the night. This happened every now and again. He was better now, since he was discharged from hospital.

“I don’t know if anyone can hear,” Reed sobbed.

He was still prone to emotional bursts, especially after hard weeks. This week had been brutal.

“Is- is anyone actually listening? Do we actually do anything?”

 

Reed slammed his hands down onto the desk, knocking all the papers onto the sticky floor. “How do we know we have changed anything, anything at all?”

Lucian knew the best way to deal with this was to let him get is out of his system. It was helping him, doing this project. And even if it wasn’t, it was keeping him busy, keeping his mind of other things. Lucian made his way back up to thedeck to watch the dawn sunrise, leaving Reed to rocking himself side to side, repeating his never ending worry.

“But- but, how do we know anyone is listening?”

by Kimberly Jamison

5 things to do to instantly improve your writing

1) Delete all instances of “quite,” “very,” and “really.”

If you feel the need to qualify what you are saying then yu aren’t using the right word. E.g change “really boring,” to “monotonous.”

2) Delete the clichés.

We all use them. They are as common as muck. Get it? Hehe. Sorry. Find another way to say what you want to say. It sounds original and won’t be as boring.

3) Delete adverbs.

For the same reason as the qualifiers, you can use a different and more effective word. Instead of “he shouted loudly,” try “he bellowed.”

4) Delete redundancies.

Using too many words can make text feel clogged up. Saying things like “the whole entire world,” is redundant. Use the word whole or entire.

5) Ignore these rules if you have to.

Sometimes adverbs are perfect.
Sometimes redunancies are effective.
Sometimes clichés are needed.
Sometimes qualifiers are really quite very good.
Use your head. Not every rule fits every piece. But this is a good place to start.

Kimberly Jamison

“What Can I Get You?”

Results of a 20 minute flash fiction exercise, by Kimberly Jamison

“What Can I Get You?”

I handed over the croissant and asked for £2.25. This was the time of day I liked, mid-morning. Just before lunch so it was still quiet but not completely empty. I scanned the tables to see if any needed cleaning. They didn’t and I silently hoped that the few people sitting here now would leave before the lunch rush so I could have time to wash down their tables.

The lady dug around in her purse for a few minutes before giving me a £50 note. This happened too often. I gave her change with the corporate smile I had been trained to give. She smiled back, crinkling the foundation around her eyes. She had used too much and her eyeliner and lipstick had both started bleeding into it.

The lady I had just served had gone to sit in the far corner. She was mid-forties and I reckon she was very pretty when she was younger and didn’t have heavy bags under her eyes. She pushed up the sleeves on her heavy fur coat. I think I was fake fur but it could have been real. It was very silky and soft and was a smooth caramel colour. The movement of her sleeves revealed her arms which were startlingly scrawny. Her wrist bones looked all out of proportion, bulging just before her pale hands. She started picking at the croissant, flaking it in her fingers. She slowly managed to pull apart the croissant into tiny flakes and had piled them up on the plate. She sipped her tap water slowly with her eyes closed. She opened her eyes and dug out a book from her bag. It looked far too heavy for her hands. The title was “Pride and Prejudice.”

I turned to watch the two boys in the other far corner. They had also chosen to sit furthest away from the counter and other people. They wore grey hoodies, one light grey and one dark grey. Their hoods were pulled up but the boy on the left was leaning back on his chair and his hood slowly etched its way down his head to reveal a shock of red hair. The other was bent over on his phone and glared whenever anyone walked past their table. They looked like they were fifteen or sixteen but they could have easily been younger. They had both ordered the chocolate pecan cake, my personal favourite and ready salted crisps.

What had captured his attention on his phone? He kept looking around him. Some people would call it shifty but I knew they weren’t up to anything. They were regulars here, this time of day every Monday. What lesson are they missing right now? I bet myself it something boring. I wished that they would still go to school though. I looked down at my apron, the apron I seem to have swapped good grades for. Many of my colleagues were students, getting degrees. I just smiled when they talked of their future plans.

Another boy outside walked past the coffee shop window. He banged on the glass, making the boys jump. He proceeded to laugh and smirked menacingly at them. He looked at me at the counter and then walked away. The one with the red hair flipped him off but the one with the phone just slumped lower in his seat. I smiled sadly at them only to receive a glare.

The only other person left at a table by now was the woman sitting right by the door. I’d seen her in here before, with her boyfriend. They always surprised me as a couple because she was so small. He was at least a foot taller than her. Today, she was perched on her seat sideways, as if she was about to get up at any minute. She was wearing a tracksuit, pale blue and sparkly. She had her hair scraped back into a high pony tail. It was died bright blonde, like Marilyn Monroe’s colour, but her natural roots were starting to show. She held her right hand up to her face, playing with a tendril of hair that had come loose. I think she was just playing with it so she could use her hand to hide the bruise on her face. Looking closely, she had a necklace of bruises around her shoulders and collar bones. They were weird shapes and reminded me talismans.

A man walked in, making the bell above the door dance. The tracksuit woman gripped the table, startled. He strolled up to the counter with large strides. He was wearing a smart suit, obviously tailored, probably designer. He frowned slightly, just enough to emphasise that he was obviously in a rush but not enough to appear rude. He tapped his black leather shoes impatiently.

I took a last look around the shop, at the people occupying their tables, and turned back to the man with my practiced smile.

“Hello, what can I get you?”

By Kimberly Jamison

For those interested in my course and my writing…

…check out my blog I had to do for my coursework. I submitted it today, it was very fun and extremely useful to think about editing in this way. You can read some of my writing as well!

http://kimberlyswritersworkshopandeditingskills.wordpress.com/

K

Independent Publishing… Help!

One of my modules on the BA Creative and Professional Writing course requires me to write a research essay about publishing on the topic of my choice. I have chosen to do the advantages and disadvantages of independent publishing in the current publishing environment. I chose to do this topic because I really prefer the independent publishing market, and am interested in pursuing a career there one day, so thought as I have to research something I’ll do the thing I am passionate about!

I would like to hear about experiences of publishers, so if anyone happens to be one, or knows one, then please feel free to come have a chat!
These were my questions.to begin with.
Now, my readers by now know how much I value their opinion so even if you are not a publisher, if you have an opinion that is strong enough to want to share, please do so in my comments or email me at k.e.jamison@hotmail.co.uk

1) What do you think the advantages are for you being an independent publisher rather than traditional?

and 2) Have you faced any major challenges being independent ? For example, maybe with competition with traditional publishers, marketing books, or staying afloat in the economic climate.

Feel free to think and debate and write. I need the opinions for my research.

Thank you my lovely readers!

Kimberly