Category: Fiction

Under the Gooseberry Bush by Michael Bloor

April 8th, 1974. I’m setting this down on paper and placing it in a tin that I’ll be burying under one of the gooseberry bushes. If things don’t work out, I’d like there to be a proper record of what happened…

Strangely, the root cause of the fatality can be traced back to the fact that, back in the 1950s, there were two Rodger Ackroyds in Chapel Street Primary School. There was me, generally known as ‘Rodge.’ And there was him, generally known as ‘Big Ackie,’ a nasty piece of work, even when he was an eight year-old. Ackroyd isn’t an uncommon a name in the town – I remember another Rodger Ackroyd used to be the Clydesdale Bank manager in Sadlergate. But the teachers used to make lame, irritating jokes about us, and I expect that’s why Big Ackie took a particular dislike to me. All kids hate being singled (doubled in this case) out for attention, and Ackie mysteriously decided it was all my fault.

Love is Hard by Michael Chin

Music teaches us that love can be a lot of things. Love is a battlefield. Love is all around. Love is what I got. Love is my religion.  Love is hard—but I’m getting ahead of myself.

In 2007, Rob Sheffield published a book called Love Is A Mixtape and it was the worst. It’s not that the writing was bad or the story was tough to understand, but he appropriated a concept we all knew to be true and used it in the most dismal way imaginable. Love is a mixtape, all careful ordering and appropriating other people’s words and dissonant chords to make your own Frankenstein monster of kissing-in-thunderstorms and racing-through-airports and sex-in-dimly-lit-rooms. Even truer, a mixtape is love. It’s assembling the most personal collage of sound in the world, distilling the feelings from your head into some semblance of order so they can communicate a coherent idea, and maybe even a conception of love.

Bullet by Lina Carr

When the police call, you know it failed. You were the one to call, the one to cry, to scream, beg them to come. You’ve rehearsed the shock in the tone of your voice, exercised face muscles to sculpt a perfect panic expression. She told you the words you should use, what not to say; she told you what the police would be asking about. Instead, the detective tells you to rush. 

Fingers curled around the steering wheel tremble when you navigate through the evening streets of New York. You should be rushing but you drive slow. Tonight you’re grateful for jammed intersections, streets packed with pedestrians, red traffic lights. They impose on you the time you need to think and you’ll use them as an excuse that it took you so long. Tonight, they work in your favour. 

The Lep by Pat J. Mullan

People think nurses get a special calling, like nuns’ or priests’ vocations. That wasn’t the case with me. After five years at boarding school in the convent, I knew I didn’t want to be a nun. I didn’t make the grade for teacher training college like my older sister, and I didn’t like the thought of working in a bank or at a desk in the civil service. There wasn’t much else for a girl to do in the late sixties, was there? I mean, I was never going to the factory. God no. Being a factory girl’d be even worse than being a nun. My mother would never have lived that down.

How to Curate the Perfect Life by Kate M Tyte

When I was little, I lived in the big tank, an enormous empty space with hundreds of other fish. The girls told me how to attract the customers. ‘Make yourself look pretty,’ they said. ‘You want to be chosen.’ I groomed my scales and fluffed up my tail. I perfected the art of flitting this way and that to show how streamlined I was. There was a particular place about halfway along the tank, where a spotlight hit it. That’s where I turned. I folded gracefully over myself, let my tail fan out and trail behind me, paused for a moment, gave a quick, shimmering pulse and darted away. I practised that move again and again. It worked. I was hired by a modelling agency. It was the happiest day of my life.

The Accidental Squatter by Sara Garland

I.

I don’t believe that things necessarily happen for a reason. I mean, I believe in cause and effect, which usually boils down to basic science. You know, equal and opposite reactions? I think that things should be “rewarded” with a resolution befitting of the action. It doesn’t always happen, though. I know it hasn’t been that way with me. I just keep taking what the universe keeps throwing at me with the wrath of a three-year-old who missed nap time.

The Hollering by Matt Stephenson

Jess sat on the front porch rocker between her dad and Uncle Jimmy. The fall evening air was thick and sticky, almost as if summer hadn’t ended. All three members of the Honeycutt family were sweating as their chairs moved back and forth, back and forth. It was closing in on midnight and the thirteen-year-old felt lucky that she was being allowed to stay up. Her mama and two younger brothers had been asleep for hours. But it wasn’t a school night and the more her daddy and uncle sipped from their mason jars, the less she worried that she would be told to run off to bed.

Buddy’s New Friend by Jared Cappel

Where are they? They’ve been gone forever. Wait, I know that sound. Oh my gosh, they’re home!

The door opens. Melody bends down to pat me. “Who’s a good boy?” She rolls me over and scratches my belly. She knows just the spot.

I’m too excited to lay still. I struggle to my feet and run over to Ash. I sniff at his cuffs. He’s been in the park. I jump on his thighs. Say hi to me! I’ve been waiting all day!

It Isn’t Safe to Fool Around with a Skeleton by Emily Harrison

Between half-filled composition books, dust bunnies and balled up socks, the skeleton eases its way out from the space beneath Rosie’s bed and asks: ‘Are you gonna tell him?’

Rosie tugs her baseball tee at the neck and pulls the paisley-patterned comforter higher. She’s can’t count how many times they’ve done this. Maybe sixteen, since summer started. It’s the first time the skeleton has had to hide under her bed, though.   

‘I can’t tell him,’ Rosie sighs.