My wife, the cat by Anna Rivers

My wife turns into a cat sometimes when she thinks she is alone. She thinks I don’t know, but I do.

I’ll leave her washing up our breakfast things, shout a hearty, extravagant goodbye, get into the car and slam the door loudly, rev the engine so she knows I’m going, and roar off down the road. I’ll park round the corner and jog back in my suit and tie. It’s only worth doing this on days when she isn’t going in to work: she’s a part-time teaching assistant at the local primary, specialising in working with SEN kids, but two days out of five, plus weekends, she works from home as a freelance copy-editor. That’s when it happens. I suppose she must be bored. Continue reading “My wife, the cat by Anna Rivers”

The Great British Break-Off by Jake Kendall

Derek Pryce hated the cold.

He pulled his thick, double-hooded coat tight as the angry wind and lacerating rain pelted his back. The constant thudding of the torrid weather and the sheer misery of it all drowned out the self-preserving voice of reason that tried its best to warn him: turn back; you shouldn’t be out here.

He forced himself forward, slowly, cautiously. The footpath wet and treacherous. Continue reading “The Great British Break-Off by Jake Kendall”

Plato’s Never Heard of Us by Lorenza Shabe

“Do you remember-”

“Probably not.” A veiny, wrinkled hand smacks a veiny, wrinkled forearm, causing the speaker to cackle at his friend’s expense. His eyes crinkle further, eyes turning into small crescent moons, crows-feet becoming more pronounced.

“Shut up, you. I’m trying to be sentimental.” His friend adjusts her glasses, puffing out little bursts of air to show her disapproval. She tightens the shawl around her. He knew he’d never stop being in awe of her, even after all these years, so he just smiles and motions for her to continue. Continue reading “Plato’s Never Heard of Us by Lorenza Shabe”

Selling Caramel Turtles at the Concessions is Only Going to Confuse Visitors as to the Intended Use of the Reptile Ones in the Tanks by David S. Atkinson

Gary hadn’t visited the zoo in many years. He’d been a child the last time, six or seven perhaps. The sense of wonder was still there for him, love of the penguins and the lions. He was glad he came, eager to revisit that sensation.

Finding his plastic blue elephant key was what did it. Coming across the souvenir in an old desk drawer, pleasant memories sprung forth. Inscribed with the zoo’s name and instructions on the side, it used to be for setting off metal recording boxes by enclosures that would tell people all about the respective animals housed within. He’d loved those. Continue reading “Selling Caramel Turtles at the Concessions is Only Going to Confuse Visitors as to the Intended Use of the Reptile Ones in the Tanks by David S. Atkinson”

Iron Harvest by Joseph Surtees

He noticed the jagged pieces of metal in the dirt before she did. They looked like shark fins, poking up from the tilled field and gleaming in the sunlight.

“What are they?” she asked.

“Armaments from World War One,” he said, “shell casing, shrapnel.”

Her long dark hair lay across her shoulders and sometimes a gust of wind pushed a strand across her face. He always wanted to stroke it away but never asked if he could. On the far side of the field a rabbit lolled in the heat. Continue reading “Iron Harvest by Joseph Surtees”

Lavender by Amy Slack

Elise held a candle in one hand and a knife in the other. The panic that had simmered in her skin subsided, and she could breathe easily again.

The candle was one of Maxine’s. She collected them the way some women collected cats. When Jonathan first introduced Elise to his older sister, he brought up the candle thing within five minutes, as if it were a defining trait. Later, when he took Elise to Maxine’s flat for dinner, Elise noted the malformed skylines of half-melted candles on the mantelpiece and in the windowsills, the spaces where other people would display family photos. Teardrops of solid wax ran down their sides. Charred wicks bowed to the room. Elise pressed her fingers into the hollows the flames had left behind. Continue reading “Lavender by Amy Slack”