The Life and Times of Fabio

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You might see this picture floating around GU Creative Writing Society today. Its the prompt today for Flash Fiction February and the banner for our Romance & Erotica Workshop. This is of course because today is Valentine’s Day, a celebration of love and romance and this picture oozes sensuality. However this picture is far more than an ode to wine, good hair and adorable kittens, the man in this photo has played an integral role in Creative Writing Society’s special celebration of February the 14th for the last 4 years.

This is Fabio. Often dubbed ‘the original male model’, Fabio came to fame at the age of just 14 when two photographers approached him in a gym and told him he should become a model. Oozing with natural charisma and rippling good looks (not to mention his galloping abs) Fabio set a new standard for the ideal man. It was not long before he was approached by author’s of erotica fiction to feature on the covers of their novels.

That is why Fabio is so important to us, he is the face that launched a thousand fictions. The statuesque prowess and heroic demeanour inspired writers to mould their characters to  fit Fabio’s ample dimensions. This man is an idol, the living embodiment of the narrative muse in action. Without Fabio great epics of romance, fantasy and love would never have come to be. And without Fabio Creative Writing Society would not have such a glittering icon upon which to centre its best-loved workshop.

So if you like good hair and wine (lots and lots of wine) then come along to our Romance & Erotica Workshop but if you like Fabio, then please let him inspire you as he has inspired so many others and write us a story for Fabio. (Send us your work here.)

 

 

Source: Fabio in his own words.

 

 

Images of Fabio on the cover of Erotica Novels:

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Starlight Smoke

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Starlight Smoke

Six packs. He slips them neatly in his pockets, stubs a cigarette out on the concrete, orange tip entering a galaxy of gum and gravel. Stars are incongruous tonight, too much warmth in the air; there’s something about a star that suggests silvery shivers and winter. Pieces of ice, dead shards of light.

No less than ten minutes till the bus comes, but for whatever reason he lets it pass when it does, trundling by in hot dark smog.

He wanders all the way up the high street, cuts down two alleys, across the park and up to the close along near Tesco’s. Takes twice as long. Ash stains on the buttons where folk have stubbed out fags. He can feel the crinkle of their fingerprints as he pushes the buzzer for flat 6/3. There’s always a delay; he pictures her listening to music under the sheets with her legs swinging long in the air. Smell of burnt pizza and marijuana. Sweat. Such a walk up the stairs.

– Hey.

– Hey yourself.

They kiss so casual now. He’s perfected it on the stage of street corners; the quick nip before she twirls away.

The flat’s in total shadow. She hovers in the doorway like a moth, briefly attracted to the light in the hall, before ushering him in. This is the moment he’d like to melt his tongue in the heat of her throat, but they don’t do that anymore. The walls don’t bear their bodies like before. They’re fixed to the ground, a distance between them.

Some kind of lo-fi dub thrums from her room. The vibrations stir in his gut.

– Kitchen?

– Sure.

Whir of kettle steam. Dirt-rich grounds of coffee. He watches her fuss in the cupboards, looking for mugs. Pulls out Silk Cuts.

– Want one?

– I thought you were gonna quit.

– Six more. Packs that is. Jason bought them in duty-free, seemed a shame to waste.

– I wish you wouldn’t in here. The landlady…

He lights it anyway, then lights another one on the glow of the first. Passes it to her. Electric twitch as they brush fingertips. She takes the longer drag.

– Damn.

– It’s been some day.

– I’ll say.

He watches her float by the cooker. There’s a 27% chance she’ll cook rice and chilli if he sits tight long enough. The smoke swirls up in wispish clouds from her mouth as she fingers a bottle of wine in lieu of the forgotten coffee. In ten minutes, the lipstick will dry with a reddish stain and the soft skin will peel and crackle, plastic. She’s prettier that way, a bit of a bee-sting. Later, her hair will drape over the sheets, tobacco scent gleamed with grease. In the morning, by the window, she’ll comb out the aroma. The nicotine mist comes off her as he reads her aura. Under her nails, skin flakes and fridge crystals. Suddenly, he wants to kiss her.

Steam from the kettle. Shuffling of slippers; the flatmate practicing speeches next door.

– Can’t keep her grounded, that one.

– I’ll say.

Her mouth breathes out greyish vapours when she talks. Soon, he’s feeling his hand in her hair, its sticky rivulets. His vision slipping out of focus. Somehow she’s with him on the chair and the candlelight flickers. Tiny particles spill like glitter against the window. There’s a sign on the wine saying ‘Recipe for Lust’. Together, entwined like this, they can only combust.

/ Maria Sledmere

(FFF prompts: galaxy, cigarette)

 

Superlunary

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Superlunary 

“When we die,” he said, curling his fingers in mine, “we are wrapped in a shroud of light.” I thought: here it comes, a chunk of religion he’s kept thus far firmly hidden. I’d have to take it, eat it, accept it. Suffer later the indigestion.

“What d’you mean?” Magpies were clawing at the windowpane, eyeing us greedily as we lay in our bed.

“Imagine how blissful it is to feel every nerve in your body pulse with lights. For the silkiest muslin to cover your skin. No more pain, suffering, worry. Just softness and pleasure; a life past the prospect of death.”

The religion seemed to sweeten then. I didn’t know what it was, where the incantations were coming from; but it sounded beautiful, the way he said it.

Yesterday, in the garden, he was smoking from the glass pipe while I did my daily contortions. I can twist my body through numerous systems of geometry. I am a star, a polygon; a rhombus, parallelogram. Over time, my muscles have memorised the precise patterns, the necessary relations of limb upon limb. He often forgets I can do this, though yoga magazines litter the flat. I contort until my body is sore. I breathe and whimper in the manner of Bjork, imagining my skin stretching over thick ice.

Sometimes in the bath he helps me with the excoriations. We rub pink crystals of Himalayan salt over my arms and thighs, marvelling at the waxy flakes that drop off in the water. He won’t let me return the favour.

I come home late at night and half the time he’s still high, asking me for another performance. I can make my feet touch the ceiling. He sprinkles stardust on my breasts and there’s a moment when gravity ceases to matter.

Recently, he’s found this new spirituality. I watch him portion white powder for his lashes, flickering in the mirror. He is so pale I could sink into him, inhale his whole being, its celestial vapours of nicotine.

Sometimes, when I am a triangle, he says he wants to bite me like Toblerone. I break off for him, offering a choice piece of my life. We exist like this, my body and his mind. The magpies casting their beaks to the grass where we lay, pecking at the loam as if for treasure. We emanate treasure.

I give him a layer each year to convert into light. At night, we smooth out in circles, going over and over, trying to cheat time.

Eventually, all of this will be just one straight line.

/ Maria Sledmere

(FFF prompts: curtain, light)

The Muse

He was fleeting. He flitted. He never stayed still. He would appear on the subway and in the shop, in glimpses and lingering looks and every time he wore a different face. Scarved in december, hunched into his own coat with eyes you hoped were haunted. He had fallen out with his mother, or his brother was poorly or maybe he had lost his job. There was wine in your flat to soothe his sorrow but he is fleeting and had disappeared into the crawling beam of a headlamp. You see him in flashes in a nightclub, orange hair turning to flame under the strobe light and you know he is passionate. He would be quick to anger and quick to forgive, because quickness is in his nature. And when April comes, he is new like the spring, bearded and brunette and as gentle as dawn as he cycles past your bedroom. An artist, maybe, framed within your window panes for a fateful second before the film burns and he is gone, curling into the wind like ash. It is a soft summer evening and he has soft summer eyes, his hair golden and competing with the sun. His sleeve brushes against a bush in bloom and a flower sighs to the ground. You follow behind him and pick it from the path and pose it against the picture frame on your book shelf. But he is fleeting and winter bursts upon the city once more and the flower shrivels into the polaroid.

Prompt: ‘Fleeting’

By Louise McCue.

The Bluebell Cliffs

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The woods are very calm and still.

We used to come here at dusk, taking the car out after work, driving along the coast road. There were days when I could so easily give up my worries to nature. I thought I was a forest child; I thought at heart, like you, I was something free and wild.

As you walk, the sea is on your right, the woods on your left. The light comes down in gold cascades, catching the gold green filter of the leaves, casting dapples dancing on the path before you. In some memory it is June and the bluebells are out. They spread across the forest floor, tipped with pink and gold, swaying in the haze of a mystical dream. It is so easy to retreat into the trees, their sleepy sigh of imminent twilight. I took a picture of you once, with the bluebells behind you, the branches around you and a handful of leaves in your hair. So beautiful I could have left you there.

We always sat, out of breath, on our favourite bench overlooking the ocean. You used to joke, “this is where I want my ashes scattered,” and god how I thought you were so morbid! There were stories you told me, about the faeries that lived in the forest, that kept watch over the ocean, guarding sailors and smugglers from a terrible fate on the rocks.

“The cliffs here are deceiving,” is what you told me. You grew up here; you knew this place like the inside of your own mind. I wanted to explore every turn of the path, every flower and whorl of wood. I never had the chance. I’m still trying.

I am bitter about the irony – the cliffs are deceiving. So you should have known their depth, their statuesque peril. You, who knew everything.

But not the cloak of nettles and the drop beyond.

And who knows what you were doing, that autumn evening with conkers shining on the ground and the last of summer fading with you, like the daylight giving way to cold, sweet stars?

I walk here now and the sea is on my left, the trees on my right. I could count all the steps, the traces of all the times we came here before. Still I smell the wild garlic, the salt breeze lifting and cooling my skin. I sit on our bench and look out to the ocean, and who knows where you are, faerie that you are, flying to distant islands, silent and thin?

–Maria Sledmere

(flash fiction February prompts: flower, desolate, “Of it’s own beauty is the mind diseased” – Lord Byron quote)

Abrasions

He has left his knife behind.

This is not the kind of mistake he makes. Normally, he would pick up his things with such precision it was as if he were articulating some private symphony. Everything in order: gloves, coat, scarf, rope, knife. The rules of his hunt are simple enough. He always said that tools were crucial to a man’s success. We are not human without our tools; without our tools, we are no better than animals.

He likes his statements strong, like his liquor.

I suppose he would not think twice about leaving me with his knife. Maybe something distracted him this morning; maybe the chickens were scrapping in the yard, or he did not like the way I slept as he stood over me, brooding. I like when he does that. I feel small but powerful, because he does not know that I am actually awake. He sees me in my smallness alone, a fragile animal. So I like to sleep for him; it is a performance.

He does not know the way I think sometimes. I think about my body and what it can do for him, what it can do without him. I know all the places where I have scratched and scratched, where my nails have abraded the skin, worn it to a raw red patch. Places he does not see: the bone of my ankles, the back of my knees.

I am to prepare a marvellous lunch for him. He will return to some hearty casserole, heavy with beef and laced with star anise. I will lure him back to me with that strange, sweet fragrance.

I curl the peelings from the vegetables with his knife. It is a treat to use, so sharp. The shavings fall away from me, down onto the floor, dropping, dropping. I cut the tip of my finger accidentally, and a bright bead of blood forms on my skin like a blob of fresh dew. I lick it clean off. It gathers again and some of it splashes into the stew. Inevitable, I suppose. It is tempting, of course, to make another elision – to practice this art upon my body, to reestablish the terms of my own possession.

But I don’t. I leave the food to cook and go to the window, where I will watch for him in the raw morning, the hanging cabbage untouched, swaying behind me mysteriously. I have not used this cabbage in the stew; I prefer its abstract presence, just as I prefer the scratch and itch of my fingers, so much stronger than any tool.

— Maria Sledmere

(Flash Fiction February prompts: waiting, still life of fruit & vegetables)

 

cherry melancholia

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Photo by Manuela Hoffman

cherry melancholia
Maria Sledmere

rain on the lawn; the greenness
dark and deep. a handful of shells
clotted in the mud with the blossoms,
the pink ones
from the cherry tree.

she walks out slowly,
snow petals swirling round her,
silent.

in the garden she will lie
where the grass is softest. she will lie
staring at the glass sky,
a sleepful of memory.

just love, the garden will say,
just love.
she forgot the place where he kissed her once—
it wasn’t here

but she returns anyway,
the grass feels sweet underneath her,
the air tastes golden, the first taste
of crab apples in autumn. love
set her going in spring, a silk cut
from a willow tree.

smoke rises in the distance
to the smell of cherry pie.
once he kissed her eyes, her cheeks;
he told her she was cinnamon.

in the garden now she is older,
older as the trees are, ring after ring
in each year, each reel of string
that she unwinds.

they come to bind
the sweet peas with twine.
bitter berries,
summer wine.

she is older
and the pie in her mouth now
is cloying; she is older
and the leaves are dying,
falling with the raindrops, the poor branches.

The garden speaks
now she is older, the rings round her eyes—
old pools of light, cherry pie,
speaking
of melancholia.

(prompts: eloquent, garden)

Rowan Berry

Rowan Berry
Maria Sledmere

That moment was young love and cocaine.
On the sofa the afternoon was stirring around us
And you were passing over in glazed irises
Through which I saw the other world.
School took us from 9 till 2 but still we knew
That time had frozen.

The sofa where we lay is full of moth holes.
You used to come over and pull them apart,
Like you were searching for something:
Your fingers flaking the flaps of fabric;
You tugged till your nails bled.
We lay there, day after day
On the sofa in my daddy’s shed.

There was your smile and your cigarette burns.
I thought my mother would kill me
When she saw the scorches on my neck. Instead
She said you were a bastard, that I
Was forbidden to see you.

She didn’t know about the shed and the sofa,
Our afternoons with the dust motes
And the steady clunk of the lawnmower. The rowan tree
Whose branches poked through the broken glass.
You climbed in the window and it was cold – autumn
Almost. The blanket barely covered the whiteness of our legs.

By winter my freedom was still forbidden.
I loved the frost on the lawn, even when you stopped calling.
My mother wrote letters to the school
That were never answered
And I helped her cook supper while she read the Ten Commandments.
Your burns left a tiny scar on my neck.

One day in December I went
Down to the shed again, looking for something
Though not sure what. Just slightly, I thought I could smell you;
The skin of you masked in the musk of the sofa,
That smell of mothballs in the attic.
I plunged my fingers deep into the fabric
And pulled out a tiny object, hard as the stone of a peach.

In the candlelight I saw it was a rowan berry,
Its swollenness complete.
Here it is: this memory. In pain
I thought of you again, holding the rowan berry:
Plucked from nothing, raw red, rolled on my palm,
Coating itself in a snow of cocaine.

(prompts: berries, forbidden)

Bittersweet

Remember the day we went for pancakes, on that place on Byres Road? One of our long afternoons, those drops in the ocean that ripple out towards the edge of the world. I’m here at Granny’s thinking about it, like I always do. But today it feels different; sharper, somehow.

You know, Granny is sick; she won’t say it but I know she is. Whenever I’m round her house she always asks about you, and I haven’t the heart to tell her. I’m watching her knit by the fire right now, and we’re listening to the dulcet tones of a Radio 4 presenter talk about some conflict abroad.

“You know, you should have some more biscuits,” is all she says, “you’re getting thin as a rake!”

I remember it so clearly, sitting across from you as you poured syrup over your pancake, watching it ooze over the mushed banana and sprinkled cinnamon. You took so long to eat it, neatly cutting the tiniest forkfuls. There was no reason why it shouldn’t have been the perfect day. We even agreed to split the bill. After the food we walked along the river, all dappled by the afternoon sun, the green water dripping in the bridges we passed under. I liked the way our voices echoed in that close darkness; the way that down here where the Kelvin flows alongside bracken and trees you could be anywhere, anywhere but the city.

You were working yourself up to something, I could see it in your face.

I wonder now if I was worried; before it happened, I mean. Sometimes, sure, there were things you did that I couldn’t make sense of. A way that you used your silences. It was as if you wanted to erase yourself when I spoke to you, but it wasn’t like this all the time. We were great in the starry nights back home where we could walk around the village and sit on benches in the graveyard pretending we were old folks, nattering all sorts of nonsense and talking of war and ghost stories.

We were great, too, in the rare days out in the city; days like this. I swear.

You waited till dark to do it. It must have been a comfort to you. We were in Botanic Gardens, and all the children had been driven home, the dogs gone, the air itself seeming a stranger. I didn’t recognise such quietness in the city; even the busy road outside was oddly depleted. You were still talking to me when the man was driving about in his van trying to get people to leave so he could lock the gates. I don’t know why you did it but you held my hand the whole way through, telling me what I suppose I should have already knew.

But I didn’t and I didn’t want to and I still don’t.

You got the clockwork orange to take you back to the station and I watched you descend the escalator as if I wouldn’t see you again, not ever. I sat at the bar in The Curler’s Rest and drank whisky for the first time, not noticing the way it scalded my throat. I slept in a hostel that night in a room with a bunch of teenagers discussing their sex lives; when I woke up my pillow was sodden with tears and I felt purged and hollow as a weather-beaten dream.

I suppose you remember that day differently.

Granny always said you were lovely, and I wish that loveliness would stop haunting me.

“Johnny, would you like me to make you some pancakes?” she asks. She is a darling, the only person in the world that would remember that it’s Shrove Tuesday.

Together by the fireside we sit and eat. I bite through the crunch of sugared lemon, feel the slipperiness on my tongue. Bittersweet.

(Prompts: pancake, sun, knitting)

by Maria Rose Sledmere

Dear Sweetheart

You think: maybe this is it. The moon shines through the skylight and you sigh and rip up the page; the page made painfully white by the unwanted brightness. All the words that had only moments ago bubbled up in your chest now sink down again, forming a rock in your stomach. Another day now wasted.

What is it about these cool autumn nights that drive you to the silence of the attic? It is the children, who exhaust you with their endless longing. You love them really, but your love is a kind of virus, something that spreads and eats away inside of you; that mutates and morphs into a hard and enduring endlessness. You can rely on it, its certain dwelling. Sometimes you forget about it, but it will come back to you when you are not expecting it. That drawing on the wall: the crayon is fading but the shape is the same. Seeing yourself in your son’s image; you never thought it would turn everything inside out the way it has.

No, it is something more than the virus that drives you here. As you climb the ladder with your wearied limbs, you feel the thread again; you feel the thread pick up and you can visualise it, clear as the dark clot of leaves in the bottom of a teapot, clear as your first day at school and the image of his face. You are at work stacking shelves and suddenly you feel it all unravelling, as if you were having a panic attack or going into labour. You see the threads spiral out from the coiled knot, loosening and flailing like snakes. It leaves an empty feeling for days.

A summer evening of long ago; it happens on you by chance, as it always does. You click the keys of your typewriter, eking out words like it might kill you. You rely on the words to make things solid again: you need the feel of their tangibility. Crisp scent of grass and starlight in the air; he leans his head on my lap, he tells me about the time his cat died when he was five. You bite your lip. Everything seems fickle and silly against the cleanness of the page. It is a shame to spoil the whiteness. We bought strawberries; we whispered our thoughts about the future. He would buy a camper-van and travel America, and I would go with him after my degree. We would end up clever intellectuals on a lovely salary, then we would be free. Was it even true? Even once? The letters flash back at you and seem hollow and false. You light a cigarette and painstakingly stab a smouldering hole through every word. The smoke fills your lungs and you are calm. But still the thread unravels, and still you cannot weave it tight again.

The sound of crying downstairs. It will be your little girl. You do not go to her, though she is still a baby. You feed a new page into the machine.

In August you got ill. The typewriter echoes round the room, sounding loud and somehow alien, as if another person were typing it. You feel as if the moon could hear you, and the effect is uncomfortable, a conscious voyeurism. They took you to hospital and for months we could not speak; nobody would let me see you. I clung to alcoholic nights by the river with friends, the daydreams charred from the dull glow of so many winter fires. I let anyone kiss me, anything to take me away from you and your memory. You feel something rise up inside of you: the image clarifies. You hear it stronger despite the loudening sound of your daughter’s wailing cry. We only met once again; you probably don’t remember. A cold day in December, the streets powdered with snow, Christmas shoppers clogging the space between us. But I stopped and called for you. You talked of the weather and your mother and you did not look in my eye. You are addressing him directly now, imagining the glitter of his green irises gazing back at the text as you fire it out upon the paper. Electricity simmers through you, shuddering to the pulse of the typebars clicking upon the ribbon. I have thought about it for so long – that awful vacant day. I think about you now, where you are and what you are doing. All the letdowns, the disappointments. I gather up all the gossip I can, try to lace the threads together; you see, no matter what happens I still feel connected to you. I have two beautiful children and I wish they could meet you. I cannot explain it, but I know that if you wrote to me I would travel anywhere in the world to get to you. It streams out of you now and you are not thinking about what you are writing. When you are finished you release the paper from the machine and you do not read over it because it is no longer anything to do with this moment, this cataclysmic silence. The moon disappears behind thick sooty cloud. Now you are truly alone.

You lay the letter on the desk and take up your pen to sign the bottom. It has been so long that your signature seems odd and impersonal. You hover over it, hesitant.

The fountain pen bursts and its ink sprays out across the page. There is a fold in time when all sense slips away. But still you see the words underneath, enduring like the love you feel for your children. Enduring like the memories of that enchanted journey, the future promise of each sparkling place. You close your eyes and look again at the paper, and every speckle of ink reminds you of the freckles on his face.

(Prompts: journey, soulmate, ink)

by Maria Rose Sledmere