In response to these troubled times, The Oxford Blue culture team has started a new creative writing project: ‘CREATIVITY IN CRISIS: a writing collective’.
Here are some of our favourites of the work we received, illustrated by Liv Fugger.
Extract from play – Reya Muller
EDDY: Do you not remember that day on the beach? Near the end of summer? We went out late, it was already dark when we got there but nobody minded. I remember Michael running around looking for wood to make a fire, I got scared we would get into trouble but there was something electric in the air and I didn’t mind, really. I can still smell the smoke. The way the fire crackled and how Mai got so gassed that she managed to start the fire so much more successfully than the boys. I remember we sat in silence for a while, I think someone had a speaker. Jon Martyn came on, I remember that. I remember looking at the reflective glow of the sea shifting in the distance, the coldness of the sand but the warmth of the flames and I felt so lucky – so lucky to be there with you all. And still, nobody was speaking and the air whistled between us quietly and I looked at all of your faces lit up by the light of the fire and I could feel that this was the end of something, but I didn’t know what yet. I just felt like the thing tethering us together in this moment, in this place, was beginning to wear thin, that if one of us spoke, or got up, or did anything, that it would break. I felt like that snap would shudder through all of us, I don’t even know if anyone else felt it, but I sat there almost holding my breath just the same. Waiting for impact. I can’t even remember now who spoke first or who moved but there’s still some part of me that still feels like I’m just sat on that beach. And I don’t think I ever got up, and maybe all of the rest of you did and, fuck, maybe it is just me still sat there waiting for the first word. But I don’t know what it is.
Calloused – Bianca Pasca
As I searched to know
what I lost,
nothing answered -
I didn’t expect
anything to do.
My eyes searched empty
in the trees in my yard
I hadn’t seen in so long -
almost like a loss,
When do you call
When you can no longer reach
stretched hands to branches,
when you no longer wish
to climb, to cling
to your own bark
and forget it like that,
in foreign yards miles away,
too far to recall.
The Daffodils – Klara Zhao
It is funny to think that times like these seem to encourage nature to show off all its splendour. Amongst the grey of the coming rain and shadows of impending solitude, the magnolias are opening up to the world. They were too shy to do so beforehand, and must have watched in anticipation as the town emptied, as the vehicles left the roads, as the echoes of footsteps became the only sounds to populate the streets. The shy branches spot the gardens now like little clouds, a white so delicate, somehow paler than usual, tenderer than most, touched by a blush of the pink of a new season.
And alongside these newborn, happy members of the town, the daffodils are also standing taller than ever. Perhaps it is in the silence that they thrive, left to their own devices, to grow tall and proud with faces of the most shocking, dazzling yellow staring the sun in the eyes. Even in the evenings, as their shadows stretch across the darkened grass, their heads only tilt in their own peculiar way, as though asking the weeds some curious question about the nature of the earthworm’s life…
And somewhere in the shadows of the old oak, sitting on an ageing wooden bench, are two pairs of eyes that watch as the scene goes by, blown by a gentle breeze, and washed away into the notes of the blackbird’s first spring song.
Fairy Liquid – Georgie Dettmer
One side of a conversation over the telephone:
I can hear you breathing Andrew.
I know you said –
Well actually you didn’t say anything.
What am I supposed to do with a note? Andy? A note! On a post-it.
That was the most offensive thing of all, you couldn’t even get yourself some decent paper and a pen that wasn’t a green felt tip, you just scribbled your excuses down on a sticky note that wasn’t even sticky any more.
Was that your first draft?
Because I checked the bins to see if you’d written anything before the one you gifted me but I couldn’t find any.
I even checked the shredder. Nearly forgot to make sure it was turned off. Could’ve been a right mess, all because you’ve left me a note which you hadn’t even drafted. The most important thing you got down in your whole entire life and you didn’t even need to think about it? Not even a spelling mistake? Not even a bullet list to make sure you covered every godforsaken reason you think it’s appropriate to up and leave in the night?
Oh, the early morning!
Well I feel a lot better about the whole thing now I know you waited until the neighbours could see you up and leave.
You left your clothes in the washing machine by the way.
When did you put them on?
They weren’t on last night and I certainly didn’t put them in so when did you decide to wash your clothes? Before or after you decided to leave?
Clean clothes for a clean start for a clean new life, whoopdidoo to be you Andy. Use the last of my Fairy Liquid before you up and at ‘em.
Did you –
Are you –
You know what Andrew, why don’t you write me a note about it. Write me a note and why not try drafting it this time- if we’re all suddenly up for trying something new? And when you drop it off you can bring the car back too, once you’ve got over this disposition of yours.
A leaving disposition, yes Andrew. How very dramatic of you. How very on-brand.
How do you think I’m supposed to get more fucking Fairy Liquid when you’ve stolen the fucking car?
Missing you – Sarah Lewis
With a window open to memory
I look back on something called
You and me
Where I see no golden afternoons
Just hard words urged by unstable moods
And yet stormy days fade beneath
Laughing with you
And doing all the living we used to do
A life unreached by recollecting
Yet touched by the echo of a final parting
Aching with the murmur of a new-pressed bruise
The sting that comes with
I dreamt I was in a paparazzi crowd – Lily Rachel
I dreamt I was in a paparazzi crowd
When I woke, there was lightning in the storm outside.
It was strange lightning, though. there
was no rain to accompany it. the sky
just flashed silently.
If you wish to be published in next week’s edition, submit your work to the link below. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScjN2VQtMq6l4Ytq5bnMs2mNSEilQl3znxPei3tJOLVdqzNsg/viewform?usp=sf_link