Friday, 31 August 2012

Sudden Prose Reprints: "The First Cut" by Helen Pizzey

The First Cut

In the womb we sucked each other’s thumb. As toddlers we curled together like kittens and rubbed each other’s earlobes. Thirteen years later, she sits in front of me dressed in a hospital gown. Her body is still that of a child, and her hair, which has never been cut, is braided into one long plait and draped over her shoulder. Her emaciated arms are discoloured by lesions. “You brought the scissors?” She extends her palm with a cold solemnity. I hand over the scissors and hold taut the tail of her plait while she cuts, cuts, cuts thickly at its base, close beside her neck. I am stunned by its weight when it falls into my lap. There it lies, measuring the distance that has always been between us.

Helen Pizzey

"The First Cut" most recently appeared in Orange Coast Review. Pizzey is Assistant Editor at PURBECK! magazine and appears in the anthology, This Line Is Not for Turning: Contemporary British Prose Poetry (ed. Jane Monson, Cinnamon, 2011), among other journals and anthologies in the UK and US. She received her MA in creative writing from Bath Spa University in 2005. 

Friday, 24 August 2012

Sudden Prose Reprints: Vanessa Gebbie's "Chameleon"


Ed’s wife changes colour depending on her emotions. He’s learned to vary his behaviour accordingly. In bed however, these changes are becoming problematic. All Ed has to go on is the sound of her breath. 

At parties - which she does not enjoy, being a private person – her neck becomes mottled, like the egg of a wild bird.  Then, Ed crosses the room,

“Suze? Get you something?”

She always says no.

She’s recently started shedding her skin, and Ed finds them draped over the bed, papery, delicate as aphid’s wings. He folds them, keeps them in a drawer. But they never quite fold neatly, and try to escape, like shadows. 

One, the thinnest, he has torn inadvertently. He hasn’t told her. The thought is ever-present: What if she needs it later?


Vanessa Gebbie is a novelist and award-winning short fiction author. Author of two collections, Words from a Glass Bubble and Storm Warning (Salt Modern Fiction), her novel The Coward’s Tale (Bloomsbury) was selected as a Financial Times Book of the Year and Guardian readers’ book of the year. A collection of illustrated short-short fictions, Ed's Wife and Other Creatures, is forthcoming from Speechbubble Books later in 2012, in collaboration with poet and artist Lynn Roberts. You can learn more about her work at her website.
'Chameleon' was first published by the Australian journal, Etchings, and a version was Editor's Choice in The Binnacle Ultra Short Competition. It will appear in the collection Ed's Wife and Other Creatures

Friday, 17 August 2012

Sudden Prose Reprints: "The Objectless Place, an Ether Twist" by Jennifer Militello

The Objectless Place, an Ether Twist

The no one in my experience is the no one with a finger on the trigger, with a hand on the gun, the nothing that has happened since the cedar mill burned down and some places escaped within its sootblack source.  The lack of a village infects us.  The no one I envision could rip my heart out and does not suffer with organs himself.  The father I have never met but whose profile I recognize when it comes together in the cellar of my eye from the little pieces washed ashore of me bit by bit.  His ache in the algae, his mind the smashed syringe.  The strength of his jaw in the wash of sand.  The closed pores of his daily lack of speech gleam beautifully in any light.  The other side of a bottomless, teething lake is not impossible.  The geese are not already extinct.  It is not the bare trees that make me wish for the many avenues of music, but the knowing that they will grow leaves again until no longer double-jointed, until all the choices are no longer frightening, until they seem one green grasp when I imagine they exist.

Jennifer Militello
A Flinch of Song (Tupelo, 2009)

Jennifer Militello is the author of Flinch of Song, winner of the Tupelo Press First Book Award, Body Thesaurus, forthcoming from Tupelo Press, and the chapbook Anchor Chain, Open Sail. Her poems have appeared in The Kenyon Review, The New Republic, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, and Best New Poets 2008. She can be found online at You can purchase Flinch of Song from Amazon in the UK (I couldn't find it at any of the independents I tried) or Powell's in the US.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Sudden Prose Reprints: "Sweet Painted Ladies" by Helen Pizzey

Sweet Painted Ladies

A child sits at her mother’s fancy dressing table. She dabs thinly-scented cream behind her ears and at the pulse of her wrists, then paints her mouth with fat, greasy lipstick: red, the colour her mother wears when she screws up her face and yells “No!” Pressing her lips to tissue, the little girl is pleased with the mothy mark that they make – or is it, perhaps, like a pair of blood-streaked caterpillars? Downstairs, a familiar scratched record is slapped onto the stereogram: “Take these chains from my heart and let me go”. The child gets down and runs outside to the buddleia bush. There she stands with her ruby pout, pulling the wings from butterflies.

Helen Pizzey

"Sweet Painted Ladies" first appeared in Writing Your Self (ed. Myra Schneider and John Killick, Continuum Press, 2009). Pizzey is Assistant Editor at PURBECK! magazine and appears in the anthology This Line Is Not for Turning: Contemporary British Prose Poetry (ed. Jane Monson, Cinnamon, 2011), among other journals and anthologies in the UK and US. She received her MA in creative writing from Bath Spa University in 2005. 

Friday, 3 August 2012

Sudden Prose Reprints: "The Devil Got into Her" by Kathryn Maris

The Devil Got into Her

1 The woman appealed to the Doctor, for she could not be cured. The Doctor had the likeness of the Lord, and the Lord spoke through him: ‘You are overcome by a demon. When it is slain, it will harm you no longer.’
2 The woman asked how the demon should be slain, and the Doctor said there was a man but that she must be the one to find him.
3 The woman found a man who said he could slay the demon, but he did not, for he was a demon himself and full of trickery. So the woman slew the man and was not punished, for the King of the land was glad to be rid of him.
4 She returned to the Doctor and told of her failure. ‘Tell me the name of this demon that has made me its home.’ But this he would not reveal.
5 So again she set out. An angel took the form of a crone and said, ‘Find the man in the west whose name is “Slay”’.
6 So the woman found that man and he said to her ‘God hath forbidden me to rid you of this demon. But in the city to the east there is a man who can help you.’ And he told her where to find him.
7 The man in the east was kind, so the woman came to live with him. But he was kind to the demon too, for he did not kill it, but placed it in a box. And the woman was healed, but still she feared the demon and viewed the box askance.

Kathryn Maris

"The Devil Got into Her" first appeared in Poetry London.  Kathryn Maris was born in New York and moved to London in 1999. She received a BA from Columbia University and an MA in creative writing from Boston University. She has won a Pushcart Prize, an Academy of American Poets award and fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Yaddo and other artists’ residencies. The Book of Jobs, her first collection, was published by Four Way Books in 2006 and her second collection, God Loves You, will appear with Seren in 2013.