Paula Wilson in Conversation with Frankie Barnet

Giant Lizard King [Excerpt]
Outside it’s windy. I wonder about how long it’s going to be before the sickness gets here. It could be this breeze or the next one. It could be already here and we’re all already dead. Because I feel like my skin is peeling off most of the time. I feel like my head is going to explode and my flesh is on fire and if someone doesn’t touch me soon and use their fingers to remind me of the outline of my body I’m not going to exist anymore. This breeze or the next one. It could come at the end of this sentence, it could come in the middle of a vowel. I start to think about the letters in Pete’s name, that e that dips in the middle and stretches him into two syllables. What I want is to get fucked so hard my whole body is a bruise. What I want is to run into Pete afterwards, reeking of semen. I want to ask him why he never calls me, and what the fuck he was thinking leaving his underwear underneath the bed. It’s not your bed anymore. I want to tell him his tattoo is stupid. Who are you to ask me how I’ve been? Who are you to ask me anything?

Not that if you asked me a question again sometime I wouldn’t answer and I wouldn’t try to be funny and charming and cute. Not that if you told me a joke I wouldn’t laugh, even if I didn’t think it was funny.

What I want is for Liam to tell me I’m pretty. He says, you’re pretty and our legs are tangled in the green fleece blanket. He says, you’re so pretty it makes me nervous. You’re the prettiest purple in the world. That’s why I lost my hard on. Not because you’re too hairy or you’re not flexible enough or you have too much cellulite, but because you’re so so pretty. Jeeze Louise you’re gorgeous. I saw God and he told me so. So pretty I can’t even touch you.

How pretty?

Holy mackerel it’s crazy. You’re as pretty as the page in The Great Gatsby where Jay kisses Daisy on a sidewalk in the moonlight. You’re as pretty as a drive through the mountains and the big horned sheep we pull over the car to admire. You’re as pretty as apricot chutney on focaccia bread. The lamb is roasted and the cheese is melted. Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ. I look at you and it feels like a Tyrannosaurus Rex is ripping my torso in two, so pretty it hurts, it aches and I think about all the ways in the world I will never deserve you. So pretty the aliens will take one look at you and they’ll take you to their planet and they’ll line up around the block just to catch a glimpse of you. So pretty the sickness can’t even touch you.


Paula Wilson: Your forthcoming story in Soliloquies 15 is titled Decarie. How do you feel your move from Edmonton to Montréal has affected your writing?
Frankie Barnet: Probably the most obvious difference between living in Edmonton and Montréal is that I'm going to school here. I guess what is kind of interesting is that for a long time most of my stories were about Edmonton, even after I moved here. Decarie is probably the first story I wrote that is actually set in Montréal, written half way through my second year living in Montréal.

PW: How do you feel you've grown or changed as a writer since living here and entering Concordia's Creative Writing program? Where would you like to go from here?
FB: I think that the program has been great in that it really immerses you in writing, which can be really inspiring. My friends and I have this joke that goes, "I'm in creative writing. Living is my homework." It is kind of a funny joke and kind of true in that I think there's a lot that goes into good writing that doesn't happen in a workshop. That being said, the criticisms and encouragements I've gotten from my classmates and professors have been really great. I'm a little sad to be graduating next year and hope to continue on to grad school.

PW: What topics do you find yourself coming back to repeatedly in your writing? What topics would you like to tackle in the future?
FB: I got a lot of flack in class for always talking about sex and being pervy, so I'm trying to move away from that stuff for now. Lately I've been interested in the role of setting in a piece, and the dynamics between mental and physical escape. It's weird, the themes you become fixated on sometimes, most everything I've been working on lately deals with the wilderness and the idealistic visions characters project onto such landscapes. Mostly this has been inspired by the documentary Grizzly Man, as Timothy Treadwell struggles to reconcile his romanticized notions of the Alaskan landscape with the dangerous and brutal reality of his surroundings. While such a fantasy is crucial for Treadwell--his relationship with the grizzly bears offers his life meaning--it is ultimately through this necessity that Treadwell meets his death (spoiler alert).

Frankie Barnet is a new contributor, her short story Decarie is forthcoming in Soliloquies 15. Hailing from Edmonton, Alberta, Frankie is a young writer living in Montréal. She studies English Literature and Creative Writing at Concordia University.