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‘The Sea and Everything In It’ by Kirby Wright

‘The Sea and Everything In It’ by Kirby Wright

The boy stood at the fence line watching Valdez stack wood. The ranch hand was burning the horse. The stink of scorched flesh made the boy feel sick. He watched a hand of black smoke reach through the pasture and wondered if it would grab Flash’s spirit and carry it up to Heaven. He...

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“Shoe Sale” by Sile Mannion

“Shoe Sale” by Sile Mannion

His wife died unexpectedly. She dropped dead in the shower. He found her. She hardly drank, never smoked, was forever at the gym. A healthy corpse. She had great shoes, my size. She hated waste, so he puts on a sale. I go to the sale, but not the funeral. (I didn’t know her...

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“The Absent Bride and Other Guests” by Victoria Briggs

“The Absent Bride and Other Guests” by Victoria Briggs

In leafy, liberal Providence – capital of Rhode Island, America’s smallest state – the talk at dinner is of Donald Trump: will he get elected, if he gets elected. In the event of a possible Trump administration, most Rhode Islanders seem to be hatching an escape. One dinner guest has plans to jet across...

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‘Badminton in Threes’ by Fiona Hughes

‘Badminton in Threes’ by Fiona Hughes

Lucy Lucy Lucy Lucy Lucy Lucy Lucy Lucy Lucy, we wrote, on the squares in our maths books, in between neatly drawn triangles and beautiful algebra Xs. We sat in maths, our heads held in concentration over desks as we drew lines with rulers and worked out equations, but, when there were gaps in...

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‘All Cut Up’ by Mel Fawcett

‘All Cut Up’ by Mel Fawcett

With its massive lion-claw feet and its huge bulk covered in worn brown leather, my mother’s old chair was like a mythological beast, hunkering down on the floor.  Despite its springs, the webbing drooping underneath like bulging haemorrhoids, and the way it leaked dusty horsehair everywhere, she loved that chair. She was sitting in...

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‘Night’ by Eli Regan

‘Night’ by Eli Regan

And I walk with abandonment, want to walk it off. Needing to distract myself. I anaesthetise myself with my child. I feed her. I change her. I play with her. I comfort her in the night. This night is different. She’s not here. I can’t anaesthetise myself from life. I can’t distract myself. I...

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‘Hero’ by Sophie Parkes

‘Hero’ by Sophie Parkes

Today’s date had been circled on my calendar for weeks. It would be my first solo drive, my first drive to Oxford, and, most importantly, the first time I’d attend a gig by myself. I had printed out the ticket and placed it on the passenger seat next to me as, checking mirrors for...

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‘Architecture and Absorbing Sounds’ by Laura Tansley

‘Architecture and Absorbing Sounds’ by Laura Tansley

My mother needs an exorcism. That’s what she said to me one evening. Because she wakes up screaming sometimes, seeing people when sleep suddenly leaves her, strangers slinking round the room she’s trying to get rest in. She thinks it’s her, believes there’s some internal work needed on her soul, some patch that needs...

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‘Mr Moore’ by Ebba Brooks

‘Mr Moore’ by Ebba Brooks

When I was eight I loved wandering around the shore near the village where I lived. When the tide was out the rocks and seaweed went on for miles. One day, I was climbing over boulders covered in bladderwrack when I met a man crouching beside a rock pool. He wore shorts, walking boots...

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‘Psychiatric Ward, December 24th, 1985’ by Kate Jones

‘Psychiatric Ward, December 24th, 1985’ by Kate Jones

The room is filled with elderly women sitting in two rows of chairs facing one another. Silver and gold foil garlands are strung haphazardly in each corner. A cover version of I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas plays loudly from small speakers hung on the wall. The ward stinks like the toilets down at...

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