Arrivals, Departures The creative chain reaction has begun! Writers, artists and musicians share their superb responses to previous pieces in Spontaneity with you here. Each piece is coupled with another, dancing partners on the page, sometimes mirroring, sometimes contrasting, while at heart playing out the same idea. Go back to see what inspired their contribution, follow the reaction of ideas, get lost in the pictures, and if the idea strikes you – respond and be part of it.

—Ruth McKee,

An apple, a knife by Claire Simpson You are missing again. I know as soon as my mobile hums on the desk. “I left him in a deckchair on the drive, just for a bit.” Mum’s voice crackles out of the speaker. “I can’t keep him inside all the time, not when it’s hot. I told him to stay there, but he doesn’t listen. He was asking for his pearl penknife, swears he’s lost it and you’ll be cross at him.” “I’ll look for him. Just stay there in case he comes back to the house.” “When has he ever come back? He’s gone to see you. … Continued Read more

I killed chatbots by Cal Ashton Chatbots: in a nutshell, fake artificial intelligence, ‘robots’ that imitate real conversation based on questions asked; you type a question, they answer. The conversations are meant to be as authentic as possible – there is even a competition where the ‘bots try to pass the Turing Test, convincing participants that they are actually a living, sentient being. The winner gets the Loebner Prize. If they are alive, they can die. Lacking a cyber dagger or online arsenic, I tried to convince chatbots to commit suicide. First I tried convincing Elizabot, the oldest chatbot around that she was a fake and she should end her life. … Continued Read more

Intruding by Evelyn D'Arcy Follow me through his beautiful eye, from the sun shining into the darkness and back into the light again. Here, in the shimmering depths of his mind we’ll sit a while. Let’s hold hands and look up through the shivering boughs of his thoughts and see how they stream, connect, weave, chase and tease each other. Look at that one! It grasps another in a struggle, glows brightly and fuses into one single piece. Its end flailing free, whipping through this space (just missing your elbow by the way) in search of a new strand to grapple with. Some of … Continued Read more

Hadley’s Loss by Dominic Stevenson Henri skipped as he so often did, with someone else’s belongings, off a departing train and out of the station. He always ran west down Rue de Lyon and then north towards Bastille before hammering on the large wooden door that led to his bed, a few floors up on Rue des Tournelles. In his arms, as he entered the front door that led to the rooms he shared with his older brother Jacob, was a large brown cardboard suitcase. The kind of luggage you’d only normally use to deposit clothes at the pawn shop when you knew you hadn’t … Continued Read more

Le visage perdu by Yolaine Maillet The lost face Holds in the eyes Oblivion Its blue lips Tend towards Silence And its spasm Returns again And again To the bright abyss Of desolate days Le visage perdu A dans les yeux L’oubli du monde Il tend au silence Ses lèvres bleuies Et son sursaut Revient sans cesse A l’abîme clair Des jours déserts. Read more

A Rebours by Adam Steiner Logic’s brusque abrasion Wears away at beauty’s gaze Naturalised terrors, The suspected sublime Idle on, A crept-for smile. Afternoon regress is swallowed up by guarded swoon The penile colony Who dwell in spite And suspended applause. Sham pain bubbling over Deeper platitudes and acidic smiles If only they could see themselves The harrowed discontents Eagerly satisfied. But still my flesh is yours To swim deep Against other tides Between brutish waves Of jealous tongue To our cradled cave of scapula. Each thing must be made to look unlike itself Love comes second best Better the neglected shadow lies Struck at … Continued Read more

The Diaphragm Dancer by David Hartley The diaphragm dancer breathed her last upon a synapse leap. Teeth crashed together in applause, glands wept, cried encore. Twisting nerve strings fused in from rib-wings, scooped her small body up, held it aloft. The raptured collective thrashed louder, shuddering alveoli. Her disintegration began as the cheers softened. It felt perverse to watch. An organ from above hummed a sonorous peal in eulogy, beckoned for her full consumption back into the body politik. The nerve-hands obliged, and the gathered allowed a suitable silence to fall. Somewhere, a bone creaked, in mourning perhaps, but it seemed fitting. And then she was … Continued Read more

Because I am not… by Pauline Masurel Not going bloody quietly.  I want to go out with bells and cymbals and plenty of rat-a-tat-tat. I told him when we first got the diagnosis. None of your Clanad or Enya for me, thank you very much. Nothing humble. Play me out with bagpipes or Def Leppard. Something loud and unholy. So he planned it and even started paying by instalments. He showed me the order of service one day when I started getting maudlin. No wig, no lippy, still in my pyjamas. I even managed a smile and a dunked biscuit after that. Now it’s all over I don’t … Continued Read more

I sat there among the young ones by Simon Williams I sat there among the young ones, my house and hope gone. The photographer must have thought I’d make a moving picture as I hunched forward, face in my hands, my daughter looking away from me. He must have knelt on the muddy torn grass to place the clever metaphoric clouds in my background. He must have made a noise to make me look round. But I did not look at him when I turned round, I looked at the man with the gun and the knife, who left only me to tell the story. And the camera he took … Continued Read more

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