When Dear Damsels first told us about their crowdfunding campaign to publish a debut paperback publication, we knew we had to help. For those of you who haven’t come across DD before, it’s a platform that’s been sharing women’s stories since 2016, and each month has a different content theme.
After opening submissions on the subject of female friendship and being overwhelmed by the response, they have now officially launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for Let Me Know When You’re Home: Stories of Female Friendship.
We have an exclusive extract from LMKWYH, and if you enjoy it as much as we expect, please donate here to make this book a reality.
Her Name Was Forte, by Alexandra Burton
“I have never seen eyebrows raise more quickly than when I declared I was moving abroad to be with you, or heard so many whispers of hidden romantic agendas, like it’s madness only if it’s platonic. Traverse the globe after just two months of passionate fucking and it’s a whirlwind romance, but pack your bags for a fourteen-year friendship and you can hear the pity in their speculation. It wasn’t just for you, of course, but you were the North my internal compass pointed me towards. Back then, I needed you more than you ever needed me. The Universal se was pushing me so firmly towards a new start that I swear sometimes when I dawdled I could feel a hand at my back.
We lived together in a flat just outside the city, an ugly yellow building with carpeted stairs run threadbare and smeared with the grey remnants of old chewing gum. On that Saturday, we hauled my over-stuffed suitcases up four flights because a sign on the lift deemed it ‘Temporarily Out of Order’, and I felt in my stomach the same giddiness that accompanies buoyant pre-holiday mornings. I couldn’t smell the fish curry scent escaping under the door of Flat 7 — I smelled coconut oil and Factor 50 and fresh sea air.
I stayed for fourteen months and so did the sign on the lift.
My bags dominated the floor space of the box bedroom I’d get to call mine, and the walls, painted an aggressive pink, had a shrinking effect so drastic I wondered whether I’d have to curl myself into it like a hedgehog in hibernation.
“I’ve cleared you space in my wardrobe,” you said in a hurry as I appraised the room, “and I’ll buy you storage for the living room, I promise.” A pause. A smile. “But only if you agree we can repaint those fucking walls.”
“It won’t be like the movies,” someone warned me.
“It could ruin your friendship” said another.
My darling, we stuck up our middle fingers to them all. Together, we spread ourselves until no corner of the place offered any doubt as to who lived there. It was a haven of wayward plants and thrift store art and the paraphernalia of new hobbies, passionately loved yet quickly forgotten. We tore up the scuffed laminate and lay floorboards, and in the evenings we would lie on a big old rug and write: me, poetry, and you, the children’s book you spoke so animatedly about. This — you, words, our little sanctuary — was the tonic I needed, and we had never been closer.
I prepared us breakfast each morning, stirring sugar into coffee and buttering toast. You had a flimsy coffee maker that whirred and chugged, and sometimes the noise of it would summon you into the kitchen, sliding half-awake into a seat at the kitchen table. I always made your coffee in the same oversized mug that you could wrap your hands around, palms hidden beneath an enormous sweatshirt. In the daytime, you were so loud and bright, but mornings painted you pastel-hued piano, all pale skin and gentle words. It was the only time I ever played the ‘big sister’ role, when you were unguarded and youthful in your softness.”