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The Things He Says

by Ross McCleary

He says the sun only shines because a globe in his house is pointing out of the window. Sunbeams fracture against it, lighting up the sky.

He says he joined the indie rock scene so he could one day rise above it.

He says he scores his songs by measuring the tonal fluctuations in interviews given by Tony Blair.

He says the harmonies on his band’s first album were sung by the ghosts in the studio.

He says he would describe writing as using your fingers to hollow out your skull.

He says he has written a ballet in Braille.

He says he believes everyone would cheat on their partner; it’s just a matter of finding the right motivation to make it happen.

He says he imagines tackling these people to the ground as they walk past. These are visions of parallel worlds, he says, worlds in which he is more reckless, more liberated. It’s only moral obligation that prevents him from acting, he says.

He says he doesn’t believe the rich get cancer.

He says that, contrary to appearances, everyone in the City of London wearing a business suit is homeless.

He says he is curious about how long he could hide a dead body in his flat, in the bath or in the cupboards or under the floor, before his flatmate would definitely notice.

He says he has a cousin in California who designs prisons. The layouts are based on the schools in classic American coming-of-age movies. He says in one the guards are dressed up like the cast from The Breakfast Club; in another, they pump the soundtrack to Heathers through the walls.

He says this internalizes a sense of regret, a longing to return to the time when things went wrong, to repent. He says, in areas where these prisons are located, recidivism is down 40%.

He says he lives under the constant fear that when it’s been longer than a week since he’s seen a friend, he’ll no longer recognize them when he sees them next.

He says he doesn’t agree with the aphorism “write drunk, edit sober.” He says he prefers to work to his self-penned idiom “write horny, edit hornier.”

He says he can only get off whilst reading Crash By JG Ballard. He doesn’t have symphorophilia, he isn’t aroused by car crashes, but rather by the act of someone writing about the subject.

He says he won’t die in a hit-and-run. If you familiarise yourself with the law, he says, you’ll realize they’re not allowed to hit you.

He says in order for a dream to become reality, something has to die.

He says he is always restless. The urge is to be anywhere else.

He says he loves airports, and as the plane ascends he looks down at bodies of water and thinks about how people have drowned in them.

He says he isn’t convinced he’s breathing when he’s asleep.

He says he wants his friends to emigrate so he has a chance to miss them.

He says the rain brings light pollution down with it. He says you should stub out your cigarette, tilt your head back, roll out your tongue, and ingest the light.

Ross McCleary was named an emerging writer by Edinburgh City of Literature in 2013. His work has appeared this year in Valve, The Grind, and The Menteur.

Lead image: “Santa’s Ghetto” (via Flickr user su-lin)


  1. clayfulghum clayfulghum

    At first I thought: This is truly nuts. But I kept reading anyway. Why was that? I think because the writer captures the essential craziness underlying what we like to think of as our reason. Reason finally prevails, of course—and we impose reasonable interpretations on our world. But what’s really out there–and inside us, as well? You know, what is the nature of reality? I think this story is posing that question.

  2. I would agree, he says most of the true things.

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