I boycott American Apparel

By Jenn Ashworth

Location: Bus stop outside Piccadilly Train Station

9 bottles of Carlsberg
1 pint Heineken
1 Vodka and Red Bull
1 SFC dinner
6 codeine
0 fags
£8.10 train fare
£5.00 taxi

I don’t even live here, and I don’t want to live here either. But not living here means getting the train in, and, after midnight, the bus home. There’s a cloud of people waiting, jangling jewellery and stinking up my lungs with perfume and fags and kebabs.

I’m going to push right to the front of the queue. There are loads of policemen about. If anyone complains, I will shout out and cry and say ‘grab’ and ‘frotting’.

I am going to sit at the front of the bus and not close my eyes once on the way home. I am going to sit on my feet until the pins and needles go numb.

If you’re northern, it means you’re from Manchester, doesn’t it? I don’t correct them anymore. Which means I’m lying in an attempt to be… what would it be? Metropolitan? I don’t think I’ve ever said that word out loud before.

I make a vow. I will not blink all the way home. I will not sleep. I will make myself travel sick, concentrate on Carlsberg sloshing in my stomach, and never, ever say the word ‘metropolitan’ out loud.

When the bus comes, there’s a shuffle that ripples through the queuing crowd. No-one shouts, no-one pushes, but there is determined edging and some accidental elbows. I want to throw up on someone. It’s not the beer. I think vomiting, in this situation, would be an aggressive action – the first move in a war.

I get on the bus before I can ask a policeman if vomiting on someone’s Roxy trousers and slip-on Vans counts as assault. There would be no way to prove I did it on purpose.

There’s something about the water here. You can tell by the lather on the soap, and the ‘bored’ and ‘ironic’ expressions pasted on wasted faces. I sit down. My shoes hurt. My shoes are in the bottom of my bag and they are still hurting. My shoes are throbbing so much I pull the hinged flap at the top of the window open and throw them out.

I want to watch them bounce along the motorway, but we’re away on the M61 now, ploughing through ‘characteristic’ rain and on the way home.

There are some other words I am not going to say. Some more rules. I’m not going to wear American Apparel or invest in prescription shades. Never allow myself to flirt with emo boys or a wheat/dairy intolerance. I’m not going to say ‘Northern Quarter’ and I’ll pretend not to know where you mean when you tell me you’ll meet me in Cornerhouse.

The bus heads towards Bolton.

Jenn Ashworth is a blogger, short story writer and novelist. Her debut novel, A Kind of Intimacy, will be published by Arcadia in spring 2009.



8 Responses to “I boycott American Apparel”

  1. October 29, 2008 at 6:11 pm, Rachel said:

    A bit scary actually but I loved reading it. Sounds like something James Herbert would write. Exciting.

  2. October 31, 2008 at 12:38 pm, rob said:

    made me smile!
    ill take a look @ ur book when it comes out!

    liked the northern quarter line… i live there and i ‘try’ and say ancoats as often as possible… but sumtimes northern quarter just slips out – must be my pretentious side coming out and my desire to impress people!

  3. November 25, 2008 at 1:44 pm, Matthew Britton said:

    the final paragraph made me so hapy and sad because it’s so true. Awesome.

  4. November 28, 2008 at 3:09 pm, Yvonne said:

    the threat of puke just a little bit scary..loved the story though.

  5. July 20, 2009 at 12:31 pm, James Roome said:

    Sorry I’m not a fan of this story, it’s po-faced and lacks humility. It’s not enough to simply whinge about your surroundings – where’s the glimmer of hope/satire/solution/your world-view?

  6. August 16, 2009 at 5:51 pm, Kev Stronach said:

    This is one of my favourite stories on here so far.

  7. January 05, 2010 at 10:29 pm, socrates adams said:

    I totally disagree with James Roome.

  8. October 02, 2010 at 5:27 pm, Harry J. Green said:

    I’ll go “out on a limb” here and say your mind must be a complex thing. I have been browsing your site and find your prose extremely interesting. Nice to find there are still “Thinking” people in this crazy world.


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