Lucy’s Phonecall and the Missing Boy by Darcy Isla

I am chasing glasses and licking lions, trying to tell someone without a tongue that this is a mistake; I was not supposed to be here, I had been banished from this fantasy two Marches ago, and had since dutifully grown to hate it. Hadn’t I done my part, and couldn’t I now be left in peace and not tossed like surplus kill from one overfed jaw to another? I could be put down now.

Needless to say, I don’t remember with any clarity what she said that night. It was 3am, the time of night when hot water was a distant future, and you were tiny in an endless space. She said a lot of things; namely that I was scum and waste, and that I had no right, and how dare I, how dare I, and who else knew? Of course, more lies were the only option now. I could see why he had been doing it like this. Why it had to be this way.

It came out of me months later, after more details had floated up in their insidious way, and had mingled and conspired to bring me to the floor. How it had been done by someone I had met, had found likeable, had automatically trusted. The worst thing I could possibly imagine, worse than death, and here it was inside my circle. A story told for caution, causing a summer of nightmares and killing my safe sex life forever.

I thought of her while listening to my friends trash her testimony; recall how she was drunk, and that she did mad things now like get naked and scream sometimes. I can’t imagine behaving any other way, given the circumstances.

All summer, though, when the horrific script we had been submitted replayed in the night and I crossed the road every time I passed a certain turn-off, my mind turned to the boy. That sudden missing boy and his crazy father barging into my phone and throat in Bradford as we packed up after a show. A senseless barrage of misfired aggression, appearing in chapters of broken verse, for me to savour in silence while they gradually noticed the colour draining from my face under the streetlights. Addressed only months later, in more private texts; an explanation of hurt and worry. The missing boy had returned after only a few hours; a teenager, a family argument, an overreaction.


Darcy Isla (she/they) is a queer, bisexual writer-performer of mixed British and Asian heritage, based in the UK. She is inspired by magic realism and domestic beauty; writers like Leilah Jane King and Angela Readman. Her existing works include LOVE, ALBERTA – love notes; WAYSIDE – memoir; 100 FRIGGIN’ POEMS – poetry; IT’S OK TO FALL FOR CAMP BOYS – non-fiction (self-published); LITTLE IRRITANTS – poetry (Analog Submission Press). Her work has also been featured on Alpha Female Society, Forever Endeavour, and 330 Words. She is active on social media at @darcyisla on Twitter and @darcyislaasyoufindher on Instagram and Facebook.

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, poetry, and creative nonfiction from marginalized creators.