A Cup Please



Some things are difficult to write about. They either seem overstated or petty.  This account to the reader may sound trivial but it is fundamental to being treated fairly; to being treated like a human being.  The setting is in a psychiatric hospital in London. Which itself conjures up a wealth of descriptions about abuse or failings in psychiatry. It was a locked ward which means you couldn’t go out without permission.  Permission is given in normal situations only after 24 hrs and only when accompanied by a staff member.  So, no nipping to the shops.

This story short as it is, discusses not just fair mindedness, but justice. My right to be treated as my neighbour, to be respected as a human being.

I sat on the torn couch.  It was a dirty shade of green leather with a large tear across the middle; which went well with the “murky” green curtains and the green linoleum, which I didn’t think they sold anymore.  He was an agency nurse.  I stood up and asked him for a cup as there were none left on the trolley and the kitchen was locked.  If I didn’t get a cup of coffee; I wouldn’t have a drink until the next morning at breakfast. This evening's drink at 8pm was the last.  No water was left at our bedside. no luxuries as you would today find in a general ward as I recently discovered on a visit with my osteoarthritis!  The nurse didn’t look at me.  He just stared ahead.  I asked again clearly, but he continued to stare.  I was then asked to sit down.  Well no coffee tonight!

What difference does it make in the big scheme of things if you don’t have a cup of tea or in my case a coffee.  With famine, abuse and whole myriad of disasters in the world, is it that important? Well I think it is.  It feels a little less petty when its written down, because you can embellish it with the action of the nurse or the consequences if you don’t have a cup i.e. you don’t have a drink for twelve, maybe fourteen hours, if they are late with the breakfast. Things are sometimes not as simple as they seem.

I need the loo

by Miranda

It’s 7.51 on a Monday morning. 

Already I’ve been awake four hours groping around for erudite things I might say on Start the Week if asked.  Since we’re supposed to be talking about selves I’m thinking of Robert le Page’s ever changing shirts.

The only self-shirt I have in this empty hotel cupboard is threadbare.  It reads simply: ‘Someone’s going to find me out.’

I manhandle the ironing board over to the window with its view of Broadcasting House.  I wonder if the BBC is the reason why this is the first hotel room I’ve ever stayed in to house an iron.  

An iron, but no wifi. I am bonkers with myself, and without distraction the bonkers is worsening each second that ticks past.

It’s 7.59 and I begin to iron.

It’s 8.27 when I find the first guest in the foyer and am all over him like a dog.  Does he know how much I loved his show?  Does he?  Smelling panic the man keeps well back.

Green Room reached the second guest arrives, in red dress, looking as marvellous as she always did.  Gratefully she has no idea who I am.  My once being her student seems to have passed her by.

Then the presenter, more stroke struck than expected makes his way up the corridor.  As he enters his mouth clenches against our shock. Then his eyes find mine.  He says something about his childhood, which I am too panicked to catch, a swallowed sentence, no detail and no allusion.  This grown man has read me I realise, and his empathy reaches out. 

Finally the fourth guest strides in.  He is complaining that Hay Festival is a bloody nightmare to get to, motoring for hours across grass, whole weekend shot.

It’s 8.49.

A smiley female producer arrives.  Two million listeners she announces, and please on air DO NOT to be nice about anyone else’s book.  Irritates the listeners no end.

I need the loo. 

In the cubicle, pants down, there is no relief.  None.  I don’t want to pee, I realise but flee.  Ironed, or not, the found-out-shirt is fitting.  I will get utterly found out.  This is a live show.

Seattle Triptych

by Michelle Foster

Michelle is a novelist, screenwriter and founding editor of Inclement Poetry Magazine (est. 2000). Her work has been published in Neon Highways, Still, Iota, Exile, First Impressions, Poetic Licence, Breathe, Candelabrum and Amber Silhouettes and she has contributed to Female First and Listverse online. A poetry collection, The Night is Behind Me, is available as an e-book from Amazon.  Her short story, 'The Willow' was shortlisted for the Myslexia Women's Short Fiction Prize 2012 and was published online with The View From Here. Another short story, ‘Mysterious Hymns’ was published by Female First. She graduated with a First Class BA (Hons) in Writing from Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge.  She is often mistaken for Beyoncé by absolutely no-one and has a long-running battle with a squirrel with a grudge.



It’s coming.  Crawling along the blank grey sidewalks, hiking up the hills of this city.  This thing I cannot name, cannot face.  It’s in the burst of conversation from the open door of the coffee shop, the spatter of drizzle on the back of my neck.  The smell of fried seafood, chowder and fresh pumpernickel. I am here.  I am not ready.  Our front door, ours.  From here, you can see over Seattle, see the streetlights blinking on in the dusk. One, two, three, infinitum.

How do I do this?

How can I do this? 


Dark had fallen in all its inevitability and you – you were laughing at some dumb TV show and I knew we had broken.  You took me up to the Paramount, Ninth & Pine. Vaudeville and soda pops, a sop, a please-don’t-say-the-words, a please-don’t-leave-me. After, we went down to the waterfront and you kissed me and it was good and we sang and it was good and we laughed and it was good and you got down on your knees. Please.  Don’t.

I will break.  We are breaking. 

We have broken.

(near dawn)

Under the rain-washed globes on Pier 59, the 3-am bench-jockey hobos are sung out.  Trash-bag tenors with their Thunderbird arias.  Fog sneaks in from the Bay like a ghost and I am grateful for it. I will it to sink into my bones, to slough the pain, the guilt, as cruel and malevolent as it wishes, a flaying, a scouring.

Oh, my love. 

How I wish I could have loved you well, how I wish I could have loved you better.

The city names me Jezebel.