That’s How I Got to Manchester

When I wake up he’s putting his clothes on, and I pretend I’m still sleeping. Out of the corner of my eye I watch him. It’s pretty undignified, for both of us. Me peeking from under the covers, and him squirming to fit into a pair of jeans. Why the hell am I doing this? Big capital letters – HARD TO SAY.

When I make my way out of the bedroom, he’s got a kettle on, and he’s making something that smells like burning. Probably toast. His kitchen and lounge merge together in the middle of the room, and I don’t know whether to sit on the sofa, or on a stool on the breakfast bar. I sit on the stool, this curved modern arty stool, not comfy. He drops a plate of fried food in front of me, along with a cup of tea.

‘You sleep alright?’ he asks.


‘You got anywhere you need to be today?’

‘No, don’t think so.’

‘Right, well, I got work in a bit.’

‘Where’s that?’

‘It’s not very interesting.’

‘Where is it?’

‘Just an office job.’

‘What kind of office?’

‘You know, you didn’t ask so many questions last night.’

‘Wine answered them for me.’

‘And what was the answer then?’

‘Didn’t matter,’

‘And it does now?’

‘I’m interested.’

‘It’s an office, an office is an office, does it matter?’

‘Guess not.’

He goes quiet, and heads over to the window, pulling the blind up to reveal the whole city. About a mile away, I see the towering building I started off in, the red light dimmed in the morning sunshine. Beyond that, a canal stretching into the distance, and little dots of people, beyond that, mountains and hills of valleys the people probably never went to. I imagine, just for a moment that I live there, in the valley, alone and happy, set my tent up wherever the hell I want, and for just a moment I imagine Steve’s there with me, and I almost hear him whisper that he loves me. ‘Fuckin’ trippy,’ I say under my breath.

‘Do I know you?’ he asks, still holding on to the blind cord. He looks worried, and strangely scared. ‘Do I know you?’ I look at his face and I think about Harry, and Mitch and Steve and the Cornerhouse and Steve’s drug dealers and all of them and I look out at the valley and I think to myself …

I think to myself…

Big capital letters.

Daniel Carpenter is a Mancunian with two novels and a whole bunch of unpublished short stories. He currently lives in Derby, but will be heading home very soon.

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3 Responses to “That’s How I Got to Manchester”

  1. May 13, 2009 at 11:41 am, Shirley Friedman said:

    Read your story. Did I like it? BIG CAPITAL LETTERS. No, just kidding. I really enjoyed it.

  2. May 20, 2009 at 1:26 pm, Chris B said:

    very nice Dan, i really like your writing style- great flow!

  3. September 17, 2010 at 10:48 am, CB said:

    So did she know him? Who IS he?


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