:: Article


New fiction by Jay Merill, with art by Sam Vernon.




lookin for muMat the Crooked billet penge.  Heard she’s got a job there But I can’t see her.

Mymum she couldn’t COPe at ome.  I was sent away. No was Took. By SS they came an snatched me. She hadhid me away in the wardrobe but they dragged me out. Mumshe cried then very Bad, locking herself into the cupboard when we went, said as how it hurt so she couldn’t bear to watch. ‘TOlly,’ I heard her screamin, was in the hall. I screaming too. TheVan it was there to take me. They said I could come back soon but I never believed that.  Why would they take me if they would let me home again? I would’ve thought it was a game if they’d been friendly. But they were scary. I was eleven. Mumm shesaidShe was a Lancashire Lass. At one time said it laughing to me as she passed a biscuit or a cake, or a bit of bread evenSaid. as she’d come to London to seek her fortune. She used to laugh those times ago I can remember. But the days slipped and slid off and ran away and I cannot CaTch em. My head’s a turmoil. But I hatTe that bbitchvery. She DID for me. You could say, did she Hate me? But what’s the fuckinpoint?

Have still got to look. Going giddy cos I haven’t eaten. Am empty as the promise she made it wouldall be fine One day. When she came to the Home that time. At first I believed the shemum-devil. Not now, due to what I’ve suffered, have been made to I didn’t want that. But hardly knew what, had no time. Was all sudden, the SS came. They took me. Mumwas a GHost of tears. It frightened me to see her melting-swollen face. Makes me wAnt to hit-and-smashout.

well now the short is I have a bed of straw here a stableAt the City Farm. I sneak into a stall at the end that’s always empty pinch some straw and I spread it around to make things homey. There’s a smell of dried-grass, and this snorting iN the night from the horses. MOtheRshe brought me here once I remembered the place.  And so I come Back but I can’t picture the woman. Now I’m eighteen. What is she to me?  Time has cut into the gap and pushed us further. Her one side of it, me the other. The gap is life and what we’ve missed. It don’t do to cry because you’ll see then how that won’t change athing. Nobody wants to know that it’s too terrible. When they put me in the careHome I learned to biTe. They pressed me down against the floor, I bit till blood.

Well I’m on my way to BrockleY have heard mymUm she’ll be there as that’s the place she’s moved to now.  I have to go ask for CherylAt the Rivoli Ballroom and there muMWill be, she’s got a job. When I get there I stand on the steps look at the pictures of the dancers and a man says me what am I hanging about for and I tell him am looking for memum. He say then ‘Well she aint here, son so push off.’ Nuther man comes says to him ‘Who?’ They ask me, ‘Cheryl,’ I tell em and hope but they say no, she aint been seen here and how comes I’ve lost her anyway.  I say as I was took away by Socal serVices and she come  see me in the Care home but then I bit her, cos I didn’t know what else to do. My heart was bustin said.  And then the RivoliBallroom men says as how it’s no good thing to bite your muman what did I go and do a thing like that for? The first man he tell me again to push off and the next one. HE say if he see Cherill he’ll let her know her lad’s alookin for her and promises he won’t bite no more now he’s a bigun.  ‘So what’s your name Son?’  man he ask me.

‘TellMum TolLy,’ I answers back.


Jay Merill has fiction in recent or forthcoming issues of Anomalous Press, Crack the Spine, Corium, Night Train, SmokeLong Quarterly, Spork, Citron Review, Apeiron Review, Eunoia Review, The Legendary, Blue Lake Review, the Newer York and Vine Leaves Press. Her mini series of flash monologues of rough sleepers in London UK was published in the Big Issue in 2013.  Jay’s story ‘As Birds Fly’ won the Salt Short Story Prize and is included in the Salt Anthology of New Writing, 2013. She is the author of two short story collections: God of the Pigeons (Salt, 2010) and Astral Bodies (Salt, 2007), and has been nominated for the Frank O’Connor Award and Edge Hill Prize.  Jay has an Award from Arts Council England and is Writer in Residence at Women in Publishing.


Sam Vernon earned her MFA in Painting/Printmaking from Yale University in 2015 and her BFA from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in 2009. Her installations combine xeroxed drawings, photographs, paintings and sculptural components in an exploration of personal narrative and identity. She uses installation and performance to honor the past while revising historical memory. Vernon has most recently exhibited with the Seattle Art Museum, Ewing Gallery of Art & Architecture at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, the Emery Community Arts Center at the University of Maine, Farmington, MoCADA, or the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts in Brooklyn.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Friday, December 11th, 2015.