Eve – A Short Story


After “launching” this blog, the reactions to my first post about Emma Watson’s UN speech were interesting; a good friend sent me an email straight after saying “I’M SORRY FOR BEING A MAN WILL”, which made me laugh, another sent me a link to a good Ted Talk, a girl whom I respect immensely (flattery will get you everywhere) told me how much she identified with the anonymous “tom boy”, and another one of the ‘boiz’ told me how good a pick up line having a feminist blog post was.  Thank you for trusting me with these confessions, and the banter.

Somewhat bizarrely, following the post on Mz Watson, the comment that has stuck with me the most over the last two weeks is the story my friend sent me below. They are trying to write a book and this is the opening few pages, I think it’s really great.

True to the supposed theme of this blog, if people enjoy Eve I will submit it on behalf of my friend (yes [insert name] that’s a Thing), to Unbound – an awesome platform where “authors pitch their ideas and you choose which books are written” – ie crowd funding publishing.

A short story about Eve

She didn’t have the same wide-eyed enthusiasm as Stephanie for European cities, having been taken on strolls through Pigalle with her mother when she was still an infant. And yet, on nights like this, with the air warm around her and the cigarette beginning to envelop her lungs, she could surrender herself to the din of her surroundings.  Her eyes would focus down the street, as the rush hour pulsation began to blur, and she would hear only the soundtrack of others’ dialogues – a cavalcade of accents and arguments and clinking glasses swarming around her.  She found peace among the clatter, and rather than making her feel lonelier or distant, she imagined herself part of the wider conversation.

It was always possible, thought Eve, to project onto others as being more self-assured in their conversations.  The crowd beside her, in a middle-class bar lacking the pretensions of her usual Soho hangouts, seemed intimidatingly comfortable on the smoky terrace, the intimidation enhanced by the fact they barely seemed to notice Eve.  She leant against the chipped paint of her apartment door, hoping one of the tenants wouldn’t step out and embark on small talk with her. She had done the same on her university campus if she found herself in between classes without a coffee date or need to head straight to the library. In those moments of stolen quiet, she was so content that she feared it was some manifestation of her becoming a recluse. Instead, she liked to think that as social an animal as we all are, privacy was still valuable as anything.  And yet, as her 20s lay before her, she saw how these moments of privacy would slowly develop into ones of solitude. Her habits of turning down social engagements in favour of escaping to an early evening film, a solo dinner and early night’s sleep, had become increasingly frequent, and Eve did not like to examine the reasons behind this habit. In person, she was always lively and could offer some precise turn of conversation.

Last week, though, she had seen Stephanie across the road from her as she was embarking on one of her solo shopping exhibitions. She did not signal to her, or text or yell across the street, but instead stared ahead and kept walking, preferring not to engage in the small talk which marked their middle-of-the-day interactions.  She viewed this as a form of politeness, rather than rudeness – surely it was always better to stop someone to talk if either of you had something meaningful to say? Her father had possessed the ability to turn the slightest of conversations into retelling of one of his charming anecdotes.  His daughters had become aware of this trait from a young age, yet Eve always succumbed to it.

Last time she had been home she awoke at 2am and found her father in the kitchen eating muesli and staring into a candle. Eve, still bleary-eyed and edgy from lack of sleep, ended up staying for two hours as her father described a three-day power outage his family had endured as children. They passed the time making their own candles and inventing horror stories, the same he had used to frighten Eve and Madeleine when they were children.  In the face of such charisma, Eve had thought, there was no choice but to succumb and listen to the direction the story was taking.

Which is why, as she dragged on the final, most potent draw of her Lucky Strike, she was so shocked when she heard Mathew’s voice.

“You little rebel.” A man’s voice said, seemingly in her ear. She looked up to see Mathew’s grinning features at a proximity she had not yet experienced.  It was not altogether disappointing, the roundness of his face appearing much more charming from up close, and the muddy brown of his eyes achieving a clarity that, she thought, were a fitting contrast to her piercing blue.

“You caught me!” She said, not referring only to his witnessing of her adolescent habit, and sounding vaguely disappointed.

“It seems like peer pressure, but seeing you smoke so expertly practically makes me want to take up the habit.” He replied, his grin unwavering.

“Here. YOLO.”  She said, pulling a death stick from the full packet, and immediately regretting her usage of the term You Only Live Once.

“YOLO? Really?”

“I regretted that immediately”

“Have a drink with me to compensate for sounding like my 8 year-old niece?”

Here it was, Eve thought to herself.  The offer which had seemed inevitable since the flirtatious resumé reading episode.  She was so caught off guard, and so fearful of not being at her best, that for a moment she was genuinely tempted to shut it down then and there, and slip back into the apartment, back to bed, and back to her Jeffrey Eugenides novel.

“If that’s what it’ll take.” She said, aware of her mother’s words in her ear.  “We can go just here, I’m sorry if the clientele makes you feel about 100 years old but I find it hard to find anyone over the age of 12 having a drink in my ‘hood’.”

“Sounds lovely.  We’ll have to instagram the occasion if we want to fit in, and I’m only buying a drink if they’re at least 15 pounds per milligram.”

“Sir, you have come to exactly the right place.”

Eve ushered her way towards the terrace, where Mathew, smiling still, spotted a space for two and beckoned her over. She stomped out her cigarette, and bashfully checked her breath while he was pulling out the chairs, concerned over how her nicotine daze must have looked to a passer-by, fearing it was more chaotic than composed.  She hit her canvas bag against the head of one of the teenagers as she sidled in, making Mathew chuckle, and earning a scornful look from the teen and her equally hipster friend.

“Where’s that cigarette?”

“Voila monsieur. You are tres chic with a death stick between your lips”

“Merci” he mumbled, with the cigarette now between his smile.

“I just sent my first piece off to the press. And by press I mean our early-onsent baldness suffering, sexually frustrated, generally patronising twat of an editor.”

“And?  Do I need to ring Pulitzer or has your agent gracefully submitted it on your behalf?

Mathew laughed, and, to Eve’s surprise, sighed (though with the smile still etched across his face).

“Not unless Pulitzer happen to possess a curious interest in the 21 main differences between the Kardashian siblings.”

Eve could not hold her snigger. “Wow. See, initially I liked to think these things were being written with a trace of irony, but… No. Like, we are being 100% earnest with these aren’t we?”

“Why not be earnest about 17. Kendall’s twitter is more entertaining than Kim’s?”

Eve laughed, and as she lit her second cigarette of the night, and of the decade, thought of how they both must look in that moment, filling the din she had just moments before been using as the backing track to her lonely evening.

End… let me know what you think of this short story, and whether or not you would like to hear more about Eve’s night (William.mahon.heap@gmail.com, @WillMHNZ, or comment below).


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