Cassie’s ghost walked through the front door and stepped into the hallway. As always, she dropped the phantom briefcase by the post at the foot of the stairs, and then carried on walking towards the kitchen.
Edward stepped out of the living room, an exercise book in one hand, a red pen in the other. He watched, transfixed, as the ghost walked past. Not scared, not fazed at all after seeing this scene play out so many times, but rapt at the sight of his wife’s ghost again. He followed her and stood just outside the kitchen, watching the ghost at the sink that overlooked the garden, seeing the cold tap dripping through the filter of her translucent body. The ghost turned around and smiled towards one of the chairs around the table, rolling her eyes, then turned to face him. She seemed to notice him and she smiled again. Edward smiled back. Continue reading “Cassie’s Ghost by Paul Nevin”
Penn was very special to his parents, very dear, as they used to say. By the time he entered his late childhood, he had been subject to more supervision, worry and love than most kids ever were. In the view of these other kids and some adult observers (like me), his had given him the demeanour of a little prince. During his first check-up after he turned ten, I noticed that he was perfect, and perhaps this was a problem.
“There’s nothing wrong with you at all,” I said. Continue reading “The Image of His Parents by Laurence Klavan”
The stovetop coffee pot whistled as the early morning seeped between the blinds, casting skeletal shadows across the floor. Toby shuffled into the kitchen stifling a yawn and wiped the remnants of sleep from his eye with the heel of his left hand. Picking up his World’s Best Dad mug he filled it with steaming, black, Nicaraguan gold and tried to hold onto the dream he had the night before. He could make out half remembered images of snarling tigers and thick, choking smoke, but even this fell through his memory like water through his hands. He shook his head and savoured the silence, the early stillness and the warmth of the the day’s first coffee. Continue reading “The Wheels on the Bus by Jack Banfield”
‘I’m not lost for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.’
A. A. Milne, Winnie The Pooh
Trevor watched as Chrissie went to make another cup of tea. Green tea with honey, always. He watched her squeak out a “Hhehh” when a colleague walked past, which he presumed was supposed to be the first syllable of “Hello”.
He scanned her over-crowded desk. Always too many pens. She regularly slowed down the pace of a meeting by not having a pen that worked – sucking on the nib, scribbling – but she had pots full of them. Was she clinging on to all those broken pens for sentimental reasons? Continue reading “Imagination by Hayleigh Sleigh”
‘You take all the time you like,’ he says. ‘Have a browse. Guaranteed we’ve got exactly what you’re looking for.’
His name is Ted. It’s displayed in large letters on the badge pinned to the left side of his blue polo shirt. Over his heart. Underneath, he’s stuck tiny smiley stickers. Three in a row. I try to smile back at his wide face with its blue eyes, big teeth, all bright and shiny.
‘Thanks,’ I say, and shuffle down the aisle. I thought I knew what I was looking for but now I’m not so sure. Continue reading “A Change of Heart by Hannah Tougher”
I walked along the offbeat path that led to our house; steeling myself. Even though it was yards away I could already hear the fighting going on. Mum and Kenny, husband number four, were screaming at each other loud enough for the whole neighbourhood to hear. My stepfather had probably come home late after his shift at the car factory. Mum was always volatile and incredibly violent. She’d probably had a shitty day working at the nursing home and was looking for an excuse to lay into someone.
I deliberately spent a few hours at the shopping centre after school in the hope I wouldn’t run into a row at home. No such luck. As I rounded the corner the yelling grew even louder. Mrs Slyde the obese woman who lived in the home opposite was smoking on her front porch. As usual she regarded me with a toothless leer. Still despite her unfriendliness the old woman never seemed particularly bothered by the constant fights going on next door. The whole Slyde family was weird. Continue reading “Home Sweet Home by Cordelia Harrison”
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”