August Spotlight: Maxine Meixner
Updated: Jan 6
This August we are spotlighting a short story 'Appetite' by Maxine Meixner.
Charlotte met Maxine whilst watching their first show out of lockdown. During some chats over a drink and a sneaky look at her most recent published work - 'Forgetting Ophelia Deane' in Goat's Milk Magazine - we knew we had our next month's spotlight!
Maxine is a writer and actor currently based in Kent. Born in the USA, she lived in London for a short while before spending the rest of her childhood and most of her teenage years in South Africa. She moved back to the UK as soon as she could in order to return to its vibrant creative scene, where she became a member of the National Youth Theatre and trained on their Epic Stages Course.
Acting credits include: Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (Canterbury Shakespeare Festival), Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Canterbury Shakespeare Festival), Tamora in Titus Andronicus (T24 Drama), Hope/Gloria in Almost, Maine (T24 Drama), April in Company (MTS), Ophelia Rouge in Love and the Lipless Count (Big Swan Theatre), and voiceover work for WoodSalt productions.
Nurturing a deep passion for writing which was borne out of being a very lonely only child, Maxine is first and foremost a prose writer but occasionally writes and (when she has the nerve) performs spoken word poetry. She has self-published a novella titled A Shade of Meaning, and her work has also appeared in small leaf press, Analogies and Allegories Literary Magazine, Goat’s Milk Magazine and Second Chance Lit, with the latter piece nominated for Best of the Net 2021.
When not treading the boards or fervently dreaming up falsities to escape life for a while, she works in communications for a not-for-profit environmental organisation.
Appetite is a stream-of-consciousness narrative, a fractured exploration of one woman’s experience of something that, heartbreakingly, is familiar to many.
It also hopefully serves as a reminder that in time, it will be ok.
CW: distressing themes (sexual assault)
He looks hungry.
- Er hi, sorry I’m late…
- No bother.
Brain is egg. Which one is he? James Josh Jack John something. Too late to check app. Mask off. Sit down. Smile. Look at me, let me impress, please.
- It’s nice we get to do this.
- Yes, yeah been a while. Ja – J.
- Aha, that’s what my friends call me.
- And I’m a friend?
J winks. Sips from a pint he’s already ordered. – Drink?
Nod. Shimmy in my seat. I pull my slippery skirt down below my thighs so the cold wood of the chair doesn’t splinter into my flesh.
I stare at the menu.
- You’re not usually my type.
- My type. On paper. Not you.
Blink. Wobbly smile. Uncertain, I say – Oh.
Not good enough again.
He doesn’t know me yet.
Wait and see.
Wait till you see me.
He picks at his nails. Drink arrives, I’m grateful. Gee and Tee. He winks at the waitress as she floats away.
Wait and see.
I wait for his eyes to settle on me.
- So tell me about yourself.
He leans forward and smiles, perfect shiny sharp teeth. – Well, I prefer DC over Marvel any day. I manage a small team of people at Office. I’m big on American Football, both watching and actually playing.
Tease, play. – Gosh all that padding, it’s not as raw as rugby is it…?
- Actually. You can get severely injured. People really charge at you and you can go flying. It’s incredibly serious. People don’t appreciate that.
- Oh. I’m sorry.
Clink of ice against my glass.
- So which office do you work at?
- Um. The shoe shop.
He cuts me with his eyes. Stupid stupid stupid. Sip sip sip. – Oh, COOL.
So cool, I’m cool I promise just wait and see.
We order. I crunch ice. He winces at the sound.
- So what did you think of Wandavision?
- Pfft. I told you. I like DC.
- Oh. I don’t know which is which.
- Typical, most girls don’t.
- Oh, I don’t think that’s true.
- I’m joking. Obviously.
- Oh, ahaha.
- You’re cute when you’re being dumb.
He has a dimple on one cheek, and I see it now when he smiles at me. Melting.
We finish our food.
- Would you like to go for a few more drinks? I know a bar around the corner.
Yes yes yes yes.
Masks on. Head out. Walk together, close, paths coiling around each other like DNA. Alive. Electric. My heels make little clip-clop noises on the pavement. Clip clop clip clop giggle. He is smiling at me, look at that dimple oh -.
He thinks I’m cute! He’s with me. Wow.
We get to the bar.
I must pee.
Find toilets. Squat. Piddle. Piss. Wipe. Dribble. Wipe. Flush.
Wash hands. Meet eyes with myself in mirror. Oh. Oh oh oh why. Me. Lumpy face, small eyes. Small tits. Pouch tum. Fat calves. Razor burn pits. Why is this me why am I me – no stunning stop it shhh voice. Evil voice, not true. Shuffle skirt down properly, shimmering silver in the lights like scales of fish. Like I’m a fish, no, a mermaid – because I am such a catch HA. Woman with wit. Am a Catch. Remember.
Go back to J – should have checked app! He’s laughing with man behind bar, he knows him. He has my drink. He’s paid attention to what I like! Wow! He’s interested in ME.
Still looks hungry. We get a bag of crisps. Munch. Crunch. Playful, in our little padded-cushion corner. Fingers tangle together on the lip of the bag.
I am laughing, he is smiling. Yes yes yes yes. Sip sip giggle sip sip.
Talking about himself. Widen my eyes, lower my chin, listen. Eyelashes are butterfly’s wings. Flit flit flit.
Do you see me now?
Walking me home, my hand snared in his. Lifted by the air, bouncing, laughing. This is what it feels like when a heart starts to heal.
He still looks hungry.
We stop, get chips with waxy cheese.
Walk through the winding streets shadowed with trees. One hand in his one hand on my chips, trailing slowly. Feel my skirt creeping up with each step, clutching my cheeks.
Quiet. Us two.
He spins me, yanking my arm, into a side street. – Wha-?
He is laughing, so I do, unsure but am laughing like he is.
– Look at you. His eyes catch dim light and glint.
I blink, mind scrambled egg. – Wha-? On a carousel as the world spins too fast, too too fast.
– Look at you, J says, closer. I stumble back, thick-footed, against the brick wall. Scratchy. Move to step away but he steps in. Hands up beside my body
open my mouth to say
nnhhhm turn head
cheek on brick and cheeks on brick
he is laughing my skull is shaking
polystyrene box crushed between us
say it one word
breath hoppy and hot on my ear
lump against me
thoughts can’t catch
how much have i
poor little fish
can’t swim away
thick thick tongue
he stands. looks. laughs.
there is cheese on his shirt.
want wall to swallow me.
he moves in.
crush box in fist and SMACK
can’t have hurt
cheese on his face
chips scatter like beads
he still looks hungry
he looks angry
– loosen up
swallow me, wall
– just a kiss
he leaves. pull skirt down.
get home. gripping crushed box. handful chips in.
that’s ok. i am not hungry.
just a kiss?
ringing in head. me?
sick sticky guilt. wrong?
kaleidoscope of colour room s
he is not.
hug my body my skin all of it mine mine mine beautifully mine.
I will be ok.