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Among Tigers Wild by Wolf Marloh
For a short moment, time seemed to stop and everything felt alien. Slowly, I turned in a circle, scrutinising the world around me. I saw the sunlight as substantial in itself, waves coming down on the world like a weightless, directional rain, bouncing off surfaces across space. Sirens in the distance, cars accelerating as lights changed, the chatter nearby—it all came to me as though I had put my head underwater: echoey, muffled, disembodied; a bald man with a slight limp, his suit creased; the harried clack of a heel; pigeons, cars, buildings, exhaust fumes—I recognised it all, but it felt hollow…
…I inhaled, feeling my chest cavity widen, my white shirt tightening, then exhaled slowly. Momofuku, it said on the window to my right in a confident, sans-serif font. Inside, people stood in line. For what? I am not these people, I thought. I am not momofuku. I am none of these people and none of these things.
Beyond Redemption by Jacqueline Byrne
Great excitement, because finally we would be getting it – chapter and verse on ‘reproduction’. In the event, Sister spent most of the lesson drawing unidentifiable objects on the blackboard, with an alarming screech of the chalk. Eventually the chalk broke and when she turned back to face us she seemed livid. She had labelled the drawings spermatozoa, ovum, urethra, uterus etc., and there were arrows leading from the sperm to the egg.
Fiona was not going to let her off lightly though. All innocent, she asked: “But Sister, how does the sperm get to the egg? Is it like a tadpole?”
I couldn’t help it. I giggled.
Sister fixed us both with a glare and then began The Lord’s Prayer. End of class.
Letter to Oliver by Ruth Livingstone
It was mid-July and a lovely evening, with that lazy thickness to the air that you get on some fine days in midsummer. We had eaten a tasty supper of boiled ham and sliced eggs in the small dining room. The Fleming’s home was a generous establishment, but a house of modest means nonetheless. Since the death of her mother, Agnes not only undertook most of the housekeeping duties, she also provided for the table with some simple cooking skills. As she laid out the dishes before us, I remember admiring her for the way she coped, with such good patience, with the domestic duties that had been thrust upon her. And I remember remarking how well she looked as she waited on the table and how her slim figure was filling out with early womanhood.
“My dear Agnes, I can see all the fresh air and exercise from your evening walks is doing your health a power of good.”
That remark brought a flush to her cheeks.
No One Teaches Anyone A Lesson Anymore
by Sharon Shaw
“Ah! Well this will be a nice challenge,” announced the Dame, cracking the faintest of smiles and settling into her chair.
“Yes, it will be,” said Caspian, smoothing down an imaginary deerstalker, eyes firmly fixed on the Japanese box.
“Good! That’s the spirit, boy,” she said, retrieving her cigarette case from the pocket of the cardigan that hung forlornly from her gaunt frame, and jamming a Gauloises Blondes into the golden telescopic cigarette holder held in a chain around her neck. Through a mirage of blue flames unleashed from her table lighter, Caspian watched as the Dame tugged on the amber mouthpiece until the other end was ablaze and burning symmetrically. It appeared to him as though she was preparing herself for battle. He watched as she leaned back in her chair and stroked the nameless cover, like a villain might his cat.
The Funambulist by Nydia Hetherington
When I am watching from my secret places I often see Gen holding my sobbing mother, her gigantic arms moving in ripples as she strokes Marina’s hair and coos comfort in a low voice. I like Gen’s voice. It is dark and grainy from smoking pipes and Woodbine cigarettes. She is a Yorkshire Lass, and although she left that county when still in her girlhood, probably the age I am now, her accent is as strong as anyone’s I’ve ever met, full of dull flat sounds which give the impression of infinite warmth. On the day she told me about my mother’s arrival at the circus, she obviously presumed I could not understand because I was too little. I was lying in my crate cot, busy playing with my toes and shitting out the llama milk which was deemed a fit enough (and free enough) replacement for the nourishment I needed from my mother.
London Planes by Louisa Bello
When I was a boy I would divert through this park on the way home from school, following the other boys, fuelled with hope of being invited to climb these trees or pick the chestnuts to play conkers. Instead, I would play against my own shadow or go to the riverbank to look for treasure, getting covered in the sludgy mud and finding nothing but flotsam and a slap when I returned home late or dirty. When we grew older, we would meet here under the trees, after dark with our bottles of brew and our latest catch, or, in truth, they would meet with their latest catches and I would watch them from the shadow of the trees, just along the path. They would hear my wheeze, perhaps, and the chase would begin – bottles and burning cigarette butts whistling past my ears, freak, dirty piss pants, mummy’s boy, loony following me all the way home.
Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolás Obregón
The alarm went off at 5am. Iwata drank a cup of black coffee and looked through the blinds at the drizzly dawn. He showered, shaved quickly, then dressed in a dark suit. He looped an old black tie around his neck and left his apartment. On the 51 Bus, he spent the journey watching commuters play games on their phones. One stop before Shibuya Station, Iwata got off. He passed a nameless canal, which hid behind cramped, overpriced apartment blocks. In these backstreets, dirty restaurants lived on the lonely lunch hours of salary men. Rotting billboards advertised vague concepts:
DVD SET-MENU REMEDY
Iwata emerged on to Meiji-dori and the immense police station came into view. TMPD Shibuya was a 15-storey beige block set in a V-shape. It looked more like the headquarters of an insurance multinational than a police station. Inside, expressionless Tokyoites sat blinking in the filthy waiting area.
Such Dreadful Lies by Timothy Gibbon
Stephen had three suits. Two of these he’d bought using his staff discount. He had discovered, hidden behind the department that sold school uniforms, “Young Gentleman’s Suiting”. The ready-made suits here were identical to those sold in the Men’s Shop but in smaller sizes. Stephen was a perfect fit for the largest size. It was in these he became part of the blue-grey tide that swept in and out of London, twice a day, six days a week servicing her commerce. Stephen wore his suits seven days a week. It was like being invisible. Some evenings, instead of the theatre or the cinema, he would seek out the busiest streets and joining the crowd, allow himself to be swept along. It really didn’t matter where he went. He, who recoiled at thought of a friendly touch didn’t mind the anonymous press of unseeing and uncaring strangers.
Tombstoning by Darren Rackham
We’re at the White Lion in Newcastle. I’m on my third drink, Lucy’s on her first. An hour ago I was at Our Price, in the shopping centre, watching Adam Ant murder Prince Charming as part of his comeback tour. Before that I roamed the markets on my own, looking at tat, at girls with orange skin in hardly any clothes, killing time while Lucy sat an interview at the university.
“Aren’t you going to ask how it went?” she says.
“Thought we were coming for a party, not an interview.”
“Yeah, well,” she says. “Two birds, one stone.”
“You could have mentioned it.”
She tuts, downs her drink. Bangs the empty on the table.
“You don’t own me,” she says. “No-one owns me.”
By seven we’re upstairs in the room I’m paying for. A cramped little cupboard with brown walls, threadbare carpet. There’s a broken kettle, chipped cups. Damp walls, like back in Slough. Lucy puts on a sparkly dress. I fail to tune a radio.
Idle Hands by Lindsey Jenkinson
‘We could give it a go,’ I suggested. ‘Just to see what happens. We’re not doing anything for the rest of today anyway.’
We all looked at each other and there was a mutual shrugging of shoulders.
‘May as well, eh?’ Jonny seconded.
We all nodded our agreement. It was decided. We would…
…Once back at Raymond Square we got straight down to the nitty gritty. It was quickly discovered that Tassos’s mum had thrown the science kit away. Apparently she didn’t want Tassos to get his hands on their tabby cat, Demis Roussos, so she’d got rid of the tools of his trade soon after Terry’s demise. We would have to think again. We sat outside in Jonny and Ricky’s front garden and knocked ideas about. How did you kill someone? None of us really knew. Sure, we’d all seen films and TV programmes where people died by getting shot or being eaten by vampires, but how did you end somebody’s life without those things?