Leave my wife alone I said. No he said I will not leave your wife alone, I love her. And so saying he went from the doorstep and taking a small green tent he set it up in the garden and every morning thereafter I was irritated awake by the smell of his infernal little cookstove and a bit later tortured by that of his squalid fried breakfast. He hired a small boy to bring love letters to the front door 16 times a day, hourly. My wife gave the boy 5p every time; this angered me but as she said it is not the boy’s fault. Besides he is from a poor family. But at 5p x 16 hrs = 80p per diem might I not end up in the poorhouse myself? But it was not the money. It was the situation. And the smell every morning. My wife’s one pronouncement was It is just a phase. But a phase for who? I said And how long? She, lovely, went to the other side of the garden and planted leeks in silence. While she planted the leeks I was left to answer the door and pay the boy the 5p every hour. Can’t you see she’s just over there by the hedge? I said after he had handed me the third letter. He smiled at me mutely. So he was retarded as well as poor! Darling, I love you, I can’t live without you, be mine. Your worshipper. I stopped reading the letters, they were all the same. And the envelopes were all the same, addressed merely to She. In the morning the letters were often stained with cooking fat or some kind of jam. The letters that came at midday were relatively clean (I think he ate only salads for lunch, made from herbs and flowers growing on the cat’s grave by the tent). The evening letters often smelled of whisky or canned beer and potato crisps. I left the letters in a neat pile on my wife’s table.
‘When I think of menopause I don’t think of hot flashes; I am not here to talk about hot flashes.’ Mary Ruefle on menopause.
Urvashi Butalia on the life of transgender Mona Ahmed and her search for a feminine identity.
The Weak Spot
‘Murder class was the new thing, but of course they didn’t call it that. They called it Specialised Life Skills for Girls.’ – Sophie Mackintosh
woman is a construct
‘woman is basically meant / to be a residential complex’ – A poem by Angélica Freitas, translated from the Portuguese by Hilary Kaplan.
Rachel Cusk on motherhood, marriage and separation.
Americans, speaking of foreign lands, often say, 'It's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.'
Story of a Heel
‘ My stunningly crummy apartment–there were big holes in the walls and I lay awake nights worrying about how they got there’.
Now A Major Motion Picture
‘None of these high-falutin pansy-ass would-be 'technologies' are going to save literature.’