Jane Eaton Hamilton

"It was her mouth that had a hand over it, not her eyes." -Jane Eaton Hamilton

Tag: story

Autostraddle, and Room

Imagine my good luck to appear in the Bad Behaviour series at Autrostraddle, and in Canada’s oldest feminist journal, Room, in their queer issue, all in one month, alongside the grooviest writers (people I’ve admired far and near for years), and, might I add, the most amazing visual artist, Ness Lee. (Their cover is above.) The former magazine is online, and the latter is available at your favorite independent bookstore or from Room, link below.

My essay about being non-binary, ‘The Nothing Between Your Legs,’ appears here, but check out the awesomeness of the entire series at Autostraddle here.

And a link to my short story, ‘Phosphorescence,’ in Room.

The WEEKEND Curve

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Julie R Enszer generously reviews WEEKEND for Curve Magazine:

‘Weekend’ By Jane Eaton Hamilton

“Stunningly beautiful.”

“This is a book I have been waiting to read. It is a book I enjoyed every single minute of reading. It is a book I want to share with everyone. I commend Weekend. This is a story of how we live our queer lesbian lives now. Do not miss it.”

The Great Christmas Tree Heist

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“No one has ever become poor by giving.”—Anne Frank

“There is a wonderful mythical law of nature that the three things we crave most in life – happiness, freedom, and peace of mind – are always attained by giving them to someone else.” —Peyton Conway March

Sarah rattles the chain link fence and breaking icicles shatter like bells. I look back at J in the driver’s seat of the Micra, drumming mittened fingers on the steering wheel while the car puffs determined smoke rings into a swirl of snow. This is not going to work. The tree lot still has lights on, but it’s late Christmas Eve, the roads are skating rinks, we’re in the middle of a white-out, there are no people around and the place is locked up tight. Except, maybe, for police trolling up and down Hastings Street eyes peeled for burglars.

I blow on my hands and say we can keep driving, check somewhere else.

Sarah scouts the perimeter. It’s so cold the inside of my nostrils freeze.  We’ve just come from delivering a hamper to a sole support mom and her kiddos. When Marsha said that she couldn’t find a single Vancouver taxi willing to deliver a tree to her, and her kids held up strings of homemade popcorn and cranberries, their eyes blinking, well, we were goners.

Sarah finds a spot where the chain doesn’t meet and manages to slide inside, elfin and thin. I’m a hundred pounds bigger and 23 years older, and when she holds open the gap, for a minute I just pray for a cop, anyone who’ll bring this illegal foray to an end just in order to stop me from getting stuck. At least I’m charged up with holiday spirit and reckless, but breaking and entering, me? But it’s Christmas eve, our motives are altruistic, so kind of it seems like we could never get caught. Sure enough, yup, I get stuck as if the fence is size 10 pants. Can’t go forward, can’t go back. Just for a second, I despise J safe in the warmth of the getaway car.

Sarah says, “Mom, come on,” and yanks my coat.

Like that will work.

Suck it in, I tell myself and surprise myself by popping out like an overgrown ping pong ball. Now, at least, I am the most graceful thief in all of Vancouver, betcha.

Green boughs beat in the wind like weird angel wings, but we soon discover there aren’t actually any real trees left. I think, Why lock the place up then? There are needles and wood chips and chunks littering the ground, heaps of string, dangling ropes that once anchored trees. I’m cold, shivering. Around Vancouver, no one dresses for the weather, and I’m in a spring jacket. Sarah finds tops that have been cut off other people’s trees, woebegone trees, and holds them up for my appraisal (which surely I could have offered from the legal side of the fence, so she could go to jail while I provide bail). Finally, I just nod, because really, they all look the same—like not real trees, just like Charlie Brown trees that no one could love.

The tree cries sap as we drag it back to the opening. I tell Sarah we should leave a twenty stuck in the door of the shed, but she says I’m insane, so I reassure myself the tree-top was going to be pulped. Sarah slides out. She tugs the tree out. I, on the other hand, heave and ho and suck in my gut and finally stumble free ripping the back out of my coat. J lifts the sorry little mess into the back of the car. We skid out on the slippery roads with the tree shushing out the hatch-back like some clear-cut’s Paul Bunyan wanna-be.

But little kids are happy.  Little kids are very happy.

 

Do You Want Whiskey? Sudden Fiction

Do You Want Whiskey?

“What I hate to say is that sleeping with you isn’t a meaningful experience to me.  Do you understand that?  I’d rather eat an egg salad sandwich.”

Who was she to me anyway?  I didn’t get her.  If she thought I did she was mistaken.  I was tired.  I wished she’d leave me be.  But she’d only started, I could tell, a kind of wind-up.

“There’s more important things in life,” she said.  “Gerry, you must realize?  You’re not the be-all and end-all, Gerry.  You’re hardly in the photograph.  That’s you, a leg over in one corner.”

That’s not what she really thought.

“You know what I think, Gerry?  I think it’s a game, a damn game.  I don’t know the rules.  I don’t know the parameters.  But I know you’re playing.”

She was an older woman, older considerably than me.  She had adolescent sons.  She had books.  She had female lovers.

I didn’t know how I felt.  She was a dervish, is what I felt.  She was outrageous.  She had a mouth the size of a windfall apple.  She had a lot of talk, she talked like a man.  The honest to God truth is she could make me blush.  That was the truth.  She was capable of anything.  Her mouth drove diesels.

“In respect to fucking, Gerry, that’s what I’m saying.”  She leaned towards me.  She smelled of cigarettes and chocolate.  She ate a finger of a Kit Kat bar and licked her skin, long and slow.  She could dazzle me.  She was a slip of a thing, that woman.  When I’d hugged her she’d risen on her toes to reach me.  “I could have taken it or left it, did you know?  You thought you had me running.”

Without thinking I said, “Dancing.”  She danced like she’d fall through you, saucy.  Let me say persuasively.  When you watched a long time you started to notice the control, the years of lessons, but at first it was just a spill of hips and breasts.  I said, “This doesn’t make any sense.”

I said, “Can’t we just go back?”

I said, “I’m lost, Susan, I’m truly lost.”

I said, “Never in my life did I imagine this.”

“I was prepared to do it,” she said, “you know that.  I thought about running my tongue up the inside of your thigh.  I thought about taking you in my mouth.  I had lots of thoughts.  But it was a big mistake.  I’m saying it was a big mistake, Gerry.  One of the largest.  But it was just a brain burp.  I burped and you’re gone.  Vanished.”

I didn’t believe her.  Not for a second.  She was just trying to take her face back.  I could hand it to her but I didn’t see why I should.  But any moment she could say something – something in her repertoire from her long-ago years with men – and I’d be stuck like a pig, a goner.  I had everything but she could take it back.  That woman could say Strip and I’d say How fast?  Her carnality was hot lightning.

I said, “I don’t want to sleep with you.”

She said, “You just want to flirt around the edges.   This is formal notice, Gerry.  Fuck or get off the dyke.”

There was nothing I could do about it, about her.  I could see the future.

“It never occurs to you to look at this, does it, Gerry?  You remind me about what I dislike in men.  Men won’t let themselves be touched.  If men can’t handle something, they just don’t handle it.  Am I right or am I right?  Pop!  They’re gone.  Do you want some more whiskey?”

She poured more, three neat fingers into my glass.

“You have to create walls for women.  You say there’s doors in women you can’t pass through.  Maybe you yourself are the reason, did you consider that?  Maybe you’re the guy with the mortar.  Maybe you build the walls because you can’t tolerate what might happen.”

Maybe I did.  So what?  Watching her whiskey glass touch her lips, liking her lips, how they moved, how I had flashes of my body under them, I thought how maybe she was right.  Once the going got tough, the tough got going.  I was going somewhere else, away, and maybe I was tough.

“I’ve lost a lot of my admiration for you,” she said.  “Because of how you’ve handled this.  You’ve avoided me.  Don’t think I don’t know it.  Don’t think you go over my head.  Once we’d said, Yeah, there’s sexual tension, once we acknowledged that, it was cat and mouse.  Sexy looks, you fucker.  Or how you tweaked my toe.”

Leave me alone, I was thinking.  I’d heard her read from her work now four times.  She’d move to the podium like a million dollars, dressed in silk and a black fedora, and her voice would be as soft as skin.  She’d make it crawl over you, the text like a snake, no theatrics, just that voice.  Her territory was family and she knew family, how families talked to each other, the recriminations and sorrows, the words of it all.  She knew families.  She’d be sweet like a double fudge sundae and you’d be holding your breath and not know it.  And then she’d slip in the knife.  You sat in the audience and tried to reconcile that she made love with women but you couldn’t.  You couldn’t make the pictures.  I walked in on her giving another woman a neck-rub and I looked and it was just a neck-rub over clothes, over a purple sweatshirt, a neck-rub like a thousand other neck-rubs a guy could walk in on, but I couldn’t say a thing for the pictures it made.  It made pictures so risky and terrifying for a moment I was dead on my feet, absolutely dead.  Before this, this scene, how today she’d cornered me and mainlined me whiskey neat, a week or so ago, she’d told me dykes – she used that word, no jangle on her tongue – fuck like the wind.  She said, Dykes are women’s fuck fantasy come true.  She said, There’s no better sex in the world.  She said, I wouldn’t mind boinking Lisa Meyers.

“The lucky fuck lottery,” she said now.  “Who gets to fuck me?”  She sat back and stared out the window, over the city streets below.  “Gerry, you shithead.”

“I love you,” I said.  I didn’t mean to say it, it fell out of my mouth like marbles.  She could sit on my lap and waggle her breasts – she had great breasts – in my face.  So I knew it.  So what did it mean?

She didn’t say a word.  Right at that moment, that woman didn’t say a word.  She didn’t look at me either.

Bird Nights

What a pleasure it is, on my birthday, to appear on Douglas Glover’s online magazine Numéro Cinq.  I have such a fondness for this piece, in which I love the writing, and in which I first brought to fiction my adoration of all things avian.
Doug and I met years and years ago in Saratoga Springs–I had, I think, published maybe three books then.  His writing advice was the best I had ever received, and I will plug again his new book, “Attack of the Copula Spiders.”  If you do one thing for yourself as a writer during this hot summer of bbqs and sunbathing, make it reading Doug’s book.  September will be so much easier…

http://numerocinqmagazine.com/2012/07/19/bird-nights-fiction-jane-eaton-hamilton/

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