Category: Fiction

Carrots by Phoebe Thomson

I was smoking in dad’s garden, pacing and stamping around. There were some seeds on Dad’s kitchen table and I had sprinkled them onto the soil. I might have fainted or tripped, the doctors say. I don’t know which.

Dad’s neighbour saw me, and she got me to the hospital. They didn’t want to send me home that night, so they kept me in a bed there. I listened to the same podcast over and over. It was about wild deer living on a housing estate on the edge of London. The deer peeped in the ground floor windows while people were doing their washing up. I must have listened to it five or six times. I kept forgetting parts, because of the concussion.

Compassionate Leave by Dan Brotzel

‘Hi Barry, it’s Tanya.’

‘Oh hi Tanya, thanks for taking my call. I know you must be busy with the pharma conference…’

‘Certainly am, Barry. We most certainly are! We’re missing your input! Anyway, what can I do for you? How’s it all going?’

‘Phrr, well it’s pretty tricky, I’m afraid. I’ve managed to pin down my daughter’s location…’

‘Right…’

Doing Better by Caragh Medlicott

The doctor fitted the silicone bracelet to my wrist on a Friday afternoon. Her silver-rimmed glasses slid down her nose as she sealed the clip with a foreign electronic device. It was new to her too, doing this, but the results were undeniable. That’s what she said.  

I walked out the building unusually alert to the sound of my footsteps, to the weight of my body pressing down in my rubber-soled shoes. There were birds chittering somewhere nearby, I thought in the bushes, and I smiled in their general direction. It was the kind of pacifying smile you give to a mother whose child is playing up, one which says: It’s okay, I understand.

Amy by Sheila Kinsella

The oars swish through the water, each stroke taking me further away from Mum and the baby. Brown and orange leaves float on the water around the boat. The baby’s screams echo around the valley from the canal bank; she didn’t want to get in – now she does, but it’s too late. My brother bickers with Dad, rocking the rowing boat from side to side. I cling to the seat; water splashes my face.

I scream and sit bolt upright. It’s as if there’s no air in my lungs; I let out a huge sigh and take shallow, fast breaths. My heart is palpitating, and I am soaked in sweat. It’s the same dream, always without an ending.

Ogres Among Us by Shelly Jones

Rose always admired the ogre’s house with its symmetrical shutters and tidy porch, swept clean even in the autumn when dry, curling leaves scuttled in the wind. Some neighbors’ porches were full of bric-a-brac, odds and ends that found no place within the house: an old, threadbare chair, a snow shovel despite a spring thaw. But the ogre’s house was immaculate, everything just so. Often, Rose stood in her dining room window staring across the street at the ogre’s house, sipping her morning coffee or clipping a final hair-roller in place before bed.  Its white pillars and low railing bolstered her dreams, and Rose would sometimes wake up, her pillowcases soaked in sweat, her body aching for the serenity of that porch.

Fury by Harvey Molloy

When Shaun gets home, he opens a cold one—and one for his flatmate Connor if he feels generous—then checks his updates on Instagram and Twitter.  At work he hides his phone in his backpack. Keep the good screen time for home. Well, that’s the plan. But since the start of the month he been checking the phone every half hour and when he’s not coding or reading work emails or at a meeting he’s hunched over his phone or thinking about tweets and posts. He even dreams Instagram dreams.

This evening he comes home, showers, and slumps onto a lounge chair, phone in hand. Here’s a photo of Chava, Auckland’s newly-elected youngest ever councillor, outside one of the flagship pharmacies piloting a safe drug zero-waste scheme, smiling as she holds a carton of almost expired paracetamol. Why let this drug go to waste because the companies made surplus drugs after the last pandemic wave? The new scheme will collect surplus drugs and donated food as part of the ongoing rebuild project.

Launderette by Thomas Morgan

We are sitting at the kitchen table, eating breakfast. My wife Linda is saying something about a dream she had last night. Here is what she says.

“I was sitting in my seat at the cinema when these two guys came in. They were dressed in black and wore masks that covered their entire faces. I couldn’t even see their eyes. They had guns and said they would kill someone if they didn’t get what they wanted. They followed through with that threat and shot me right in the head.”

The Woman with All the Answers by Sara Dobbie

She wakes up with the dawn each day to patrol the edges of the island like a sentinel. Secures the boundaries, checks the horizon for unwanted visitors. The waters are invariably still, the sky a cool blue stretching for miles. Here, in the center of this enchanted lake, Mona is alone, except for the lion. She relishes the solitude inside her soundproof cottage, but she must never forget why she came here, why she must keep watch against intruders.

She remembers the difficulties involved in building this sanctuary, gathering the supplies, cobbling it together over many days and nights. The necessity of escaping The Amazing Muldoni had given her the strength to do it. Just thinking of his handlebar mustache and the giant cage he kept her in, spray painted metallic gold, fueled her arms to swing the axe again and again. She cut down practically every tree on the island for timber. She lashed pieces of wood together with braided ropes made from branches, and she collected stones and rocks to cover the floor like the inside of a castle.

Moat by Subhravanu Das

When I was a child, Bear built a moat around my crib.

The poison ivies that Bear had coiled along the frame of my crib were not enough protection. A deer or a rabbit—with their Bear-like immunity to poison ivies—could have chewed through them, chewed through me. Hence, Bear, with Bear-claws wrapped around a shovel, carved up the plateau circling my crib and filled the steaming cavity with the tears of a Lotus Queen.