Jack and Sal

Author: Anthony Cropper

Jack and Sal

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Jack and Sal are two people drifting in and out of love. Jack searches for clues, for a pattern, for an explanation to life’s events.

Anthony Cropper has created a delicately detailed account of a troubled relationship, with a series of micro-stories and incidents that recount the intimate lies, loves and lives of Jack and Sal and their close friend Paula.


Manuel Lafuente

Here we have some really beautiful pieces. It is remarkable how he has mixed happiness and bitterness, love and cruelty, sadness with some hilarious parts, just like life does.

Leeds Guide

A relationship described with poetry. This particular collection of words will stay with you for a long time.

Emily Penn

A very real and complex picture of contemporary relationships, of how life is lived for many of us – not poor, not rich, not sane, not crazy.

Michael Lyng

The underlying sadness of the doomed relationship is haunting. But that’s good. That’s the way it should be.

Schrodinger’s Wave Dynamic

In this extract from Jack and Sal, Jack comes home and feels like he's in the house of a stranger.

We haven’t had sex in two weeks. She says she’s tired, that she’s not in the mood, that her legs are sore, that she has this pain behind her right eye.

Feel my glands, says Sal, touching her neck.

I feel the lump that’s somewhere beneath her skin and nod in agreement, that she’s too ill to tumble.

So, we get into bed. She lies with her back to me and I look at a book which contains thirty or more short pieces of fiction. There’s one about the state of the mind and general lethargy. I glance at the words then toss the book to the floor.

Today, I came back into the house and it seemed as though I’d entered the house of a stranger. It was all my, our, mess, but it was only today that it really struck me with some force. The shelves had not been dusted for what seems like years. There was a glove on the floor, near the skirting board, that had been there since I could remember and there was an empty box of matches on top of the tv that’d been there since I smoked a cigar at Christmas.

Maybe something happened in the day and I came back here and saw the chaos that surrounded me. This was my, our, house. It had been for some time, and now it appeared all too clear.

Just before, I got up from bed, I went downstairs and switched on the tv. There was a programme on about waves and supertankers. I only caught the end but the programme had a professor from the US who talked about Schrodinger’s wave equation. Of course, I’d never heard of the thing, it was new to me, and they showed the professor making marks and squiggles all over a blackboard: visual proof that not many people would ever understand.

The professor had developed Schrodinger’s wave equation in the 60s, and he used it with a computer model to look into fluid dynamics. Initially, in the model, all the waves were equal in length, speed and height. After some time, though it wasn’t clear how long, one of the waves started to behave in an unusual way. It took energy from the waves in front and behind, and the wave became unstable, growing in size.

At the time, the professor paid little attention to the model as the system ended up in chaos, showing an abnormally large wave with deep troughs either side.

The whole screen became filled with these unpredictable waves, jiggling about, behaving unlike anything you’d see in reality. The professor thought that the computer model was no good, that he and the computer had generated something which could not exist. But, years later, thirty years later, someone sent him a reading of a wave that had hit and sunk a supertanker. The wave pattern exactly matched that from his 1960s research programme.

This wave, said the professor, would swallow anything.

Well, I got back from work today and what came before and what came after were different. I realised when I walked through the door that nothing would ever be the same.

Now, Sal’s lying next to me, breathing slowly, rubbing at her neck. Outside, it’s quiet. The day’s been hot and I’m sweating from drinking too much beer.

If I listened hard enough I could hear the blood pumping though my veins. Maybe it was in the back of my head, a pulse, maybe it was in my neck, an artery. The light was still on and I wanted to pick up that book and read but I kept thinking about that wave, coming from nowhere with no warning, with no reason. Out of nothing it grew, out of the everyday, out of the normal, out of the general days of the month, out of tiredness, growing in size and strength, taking from what came before and from what was due to come after. Ready to destroy everything in its path.

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Anthony Cropper

Anthony Cropper is the author of the short story collection Nature’s Magician and has published two novels, Jack and Sal and Weatherman and co-created the creative writing guide book The Accidental Memoir with Eve Makis. He has co-edited three collections of short stories, Next Stop Hope, Naked City and Wonderwall. In 2005 his play, I’ll Tell You About Love, won the BBC Alfred Bradley Award for Radio Drama. Anthony lives by the side of the Trent and is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent University.

Books: Jack and Sal, Weatherman.

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