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Symmetry of Provocation

Fiction

October 2019

Vi Khi Nao

Fiction

October 2019

She saw her father at Smith’s. By accident. She was paying the heat bill. After paying the heat bill, she deposited some of the...

Fiction

July 2019

Exquisite Mariposa

FIONA ALISON DUNCAN

Fiction

July 2019

I broke three contracts in 2016. The first was verbal, a monogamy clause. But he was fucking around too,...

Fiction

Issue No. 25

Thursday

Patrícia Portela

TR. Rahul Bery

Fiction

Issue No. 25

‘Not my name. I live on the streets of an era in which saying one’s name is a cause...

Fiction

May 2019

The Collection

Nina Leger

TR. Laura Francis

Fiction

May 2019

She slides it into her mouth.   She lets it grow heavy, take on warmth, breadth and shape, push...

Elia was going to be posted to Iraq next month to work for Doctors Without Borders and this evening had turned partly into his Goodbye Party Currently he was talking about a murder by ‘defenestration’ – there was the murder and then there was the word His way of telling the story was staled with rehearsal, I suspected it was his latest silence filler and we were not witnessing the debut performance John recalling enough of his lone semester at Institut Francais cut in with, ‘oh of course la fenetre! It makes parfait sense’ while swirling his wine glass – a parody of himself It was hard to believe that I had once had a crush on him A while back he told me that he was ‘so jealous’ of me being ‘SO unencumbered by the history of art’, of my ‘authentic atavism’ in relation to my short videos The more time passed the more grating I found that comment His paintings made me think that he was just another person stuck in competition with Rembrandt, propelled by ego and a love of sepia Under his leadership the conversation moved on to the origin of the word ‘essay’ and the current state of the form Sibs walked in with June He had a moustache and a goatee but his wiry pube-beard was better suited to a close stubble or to being clean-shaven He said that he was ignoring us for the past couple of weeks because he had been on a ‘mental health break’ He was freshly out of rehab where he had been sent after spending three days high and drunk and excited The morass of apparent laziness and irresponsibility that rose to the surface suppressed any real concern that anyone but his long-suffering mother could muster for him Elia and John started playing chess on an ornamental set I was thinking of leaving Earlier in the evening this party and my life had seemed full of possibility Now, neither did I’d felt on the verge of something momentous, a vague invincibility but it was fast dissipating along

Prize Entry

April 2019

Manholes

Salma Ahmad

Prize Entry

April 2019

Elia was going to be posted to Iraq next month to work for Doctors Without Borders and this evening...

Prize Winner

Issue No. 26

At the Heart of Things

Vanessa Onwuemezi

Prize Winner

Issue No. 26

there is no meaning. Hanging a picture on the wall I           give           a little too much force to my...

‘I’m sorry,’ I say, looking straight into the gold flecked eyes, ‘I can’t see another way’ The round eyes blink brightly back I turn on the hot tap above the small white bath, hygienic and functional like everything else in here There’s a red sign above the taps, with a warning about the scorching water Steam rises instantly from the bath, and I move to the toilet to wait I wonder, briefly, if I can hide her in my little room down the corridor But no, she’d be found straight away: they mop the rooms every day Besides, there would be nowhere to hide: bare lino under the single bed, and then there’s just the little lockable set of drawers, pine-veneer desk, plastic chair The walls are painted magnolia: there’s not even wallpaper to hide behind And even if I could squeeze her into one of the drawers, she’d probably suffocate I know they do their best to make it homely in here, but it’s nowhere near Bile rises in my throat when I think of the thick carpets and rugs I left behind Laying as still as I could on the luxury pile, not daring to move, hoping this would make him stop Sometimes it worked, but usually he won: got me moving again, a kick in the soft belly fat, a boiling spoon to the flabby upper arm   I inhale the steam deeply now, looking down at the exceptional pigeon cradled in my palms She’s a stunner, a certain win I feel the quality of her down against my skin, she is oiled all over I gently test the fineness of the bones, the strength of the frame, the vibrating breast muscles, the deep throat Perfect balance She was always my favourite and he knew it He said it wasn’t right to have preferences: that the birds would pick up on it and stop coming home Back then, he was still teaching me: he’d take me to all the shows, even the big one with the starry midnight carpet, crimson drapes and dazzling stage My crushed velvet dress
Homing

Prize Entry

April 2019

Rachel Bower

  Hydnellum Peckii   I used to own the sweetest, smallest compact mirror It was barely bigger than my thumbnail, which meant you could digest your face in pieces: an iris, a nostril, one freckle alone in a sea of skin, the corner of your mouth I found it in an antique shop, buried in a cardboard box full of old rings, chipped enamel, lockets with their mouths firmly shut, battered gold plate spoons, and semi-precious gems clouded with age My hands came away smelling of metal It was silver, round, and on the top sat a tiny solid silver rose The compact mirror was the only thing I owned that I truly cherished My sister-in-law broke it She said she was just looking for something, a brush or whatever, even though my hair is too thick for brushing and therefore I do not own one Seven years bad luck to break a mirror, especially if the mirror was mine I took the glass pieces and ground them up using the pestle and mortar we had in the kitchen until the glass was quite fine and then I sprinkled it in my sister-in-law’s tuna sandwich that lunchtime I liked to picture the insides of her all cut up and bleeding with a hundred tiny incisions     Agaricus Bohusii   The trees look as if they are growing small pale green shrivelled hands There’s a bite on my arm: the soft part just up from my wrist, when I turn my hands so that my palms face the sky A red bud, pink blossoming outwards I scratch it until I bleed I like the sound bites and spots make when you pop their pus-filled heads Yesterday I helped cook chili con carne, which was always my husband’s favourite meal, although here the chili isn’t real Neither is the carne The meat, in fact, comes in metal containers with thick foil lids You peel them back like opening tins of cat food It is a weird hybrid of actual animal and meat substitute It tastes like nothing at all, for which we are all truly thankful If they were

Prize Entry

April 2019

Our Lady of Perpetuity

Catherine Mitchell

Prize Entry

April 2019

  Hydnellum Peckii   I used to own the sweetest, smallest compact mirror. It was barely bigger than my...

They seek out the confused, the timid, the lazy   Are you still feeling frightened? they ask, mock concern on their faces After all this time? Really! How can that be?   Get a grip, they cry If only you could just make up your mind! This indecision can’t go on forever, you know   Channel that introspection into strategy, is our advice Your goals will be your stepping stones to greatness   There’s no room for uncertainty now Just pick an objective Follow the necessary path to realise your ambition We will be here to guide you   The lost ones scour their bedrooms, their cupboards, their gardens, for an idea or a clue: anything that might have weight, have longevity   That? That’s your ambition? You can’t be serious!   The lost ones bow their heads in shame and recognition   *   I cross the city to see my mentor in the area where he lives I have to travel east to west, going past the institute and taking another bus out further still It is an ordeal I once queried this arrangement, but it was not possible to change what we had agreed in the past   Today we are meeting in a park It is an unreal summer day, hazy at the edges so that the appearance of things cannot be trusted I can’t shake the feeling that the children who hang off the climbing frame are fakes The racket of their voices is like a cloud that casts a quick shadow over a garden, appearing near and far away at the same time Their noise seems to waver in the air, like it is unconnected to their bodies, a time delay between the movement of their mouths and the release of their garbled words The parents who sit on the benches observing, hands spread defensively on their laps, are probably fakes too   The banners don’t help Around the perimeter of the park, they are strung up, sagging in places, showing the warped faces of familiar-looking children and parents, but more attractive, more ecstatic They play tennis, run and hug They laugh, mouths open to show substantial white teeth The foliage they pose in

Prize Entry

April 2019

Career Advice

Sarah Trounce

Prize Entry

April 2019

They seek out the confused, the timid, the lazy.   Are you still feeling frightened? they ask, mock concern...

Ok late I know was supposed to be home at 12 to pick him up and do this thing and now gone 2 and just getting out of office In my defence busy and if honest quite challenging morning/afternoon so not full ready to step into surrounding season as parting words from James still in ears re Quarter 4 full 14% off target and deep concerns These justifiable as variance from target pronounced and compounded by Quarter 3 variance and need now to address issues Fully understand I said and committed will get out there today and shake the tree But have also made counter-commitment at home Texted Nicki running late lots on any chance could push tree thing with Charlie into tomorrow?   No He’s been waiting since 12   Ok on way X     Stop saying on way when nowhere near This a problem in Quarter 4 too Have assured will come good but nowhere near Have texted Nicki again outside can you send Charlie out as have to do quick call in car Do not need to do call just do not want to go in Should make call Should let James know working on making Q4 good But not actually doing Already called best prospects all saying check in after Christmas let’s see in Jan enjoy break etc Enjoy unlikely given 14% adrift and 2 days at best remaining before closeout Also nice just sit in car take moment As house has full feeling Full of kids Kids fine Generally fine Just one thing would say and not critique of any specific individual but three is a lot no? House weather moves between extreme screaming and extreme tired Piles of things everywhere Piles of clothes in hall and on stairs Piles of twins on floor eating crayons or similar Nicki mainly asleep on couch when not actually correctly asleep in bed Charlie often left to own devices as in literal just face lit by screen and seems content but that not active parenting So nice perhaps if indulgent to stay in car and not step into just yet Plus enormous amount
Shine / Variance

Prize Entry

April 2019

Stephen Walsh


 

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