Mailing List

fiction

Leo had stopped the car and sat talking at the dash He talked like he didn’t want to say any of it, but at the same time he seemed in a hurry to get it out, to reach the end of what he was telling her He was wired with excitement and shame, perched at the brink of a new life now, Jolanta understood as much   She sat in the back seat with her handbag Leo wouldn’t look at her, he kept his eyes straight on the street, the skip outside the neighbours’ house Jolanta looked at him in the rearview, looked hard at the black of his sunglasses   ‘I’ll help you,’ he said, finally   Where the mirror cut off his jaw hung the prayer beads that he had kept after his father died, smooth and dry like his voice, like cockroaches in the sun   Help her? she thought; a sock for the dismembered, and his help for her   She keeps her job at the campsite, beats dawn without an alarm clock now When the motion detector spots her, fluorescent lights suck the dark from the room The white tiles are glossed like wet teeth The floor is littered with paper towels and dragged in leaves The stalls smell of urine She opens the cupboard marked Private, plastic bottles rattling as she hoicks the cleaning cart over the threshold   There are different kinds of shit stains The darker the stain, the longer and harder she must rub with the toilet brush to get the porcelain shining like crockery again A drop flies up in her face, a cold mouche on her lip She wipes it off on the shoulder of her t-shirt and works her way down the stalls Sweat tickles her spine   She continues going into reception to sign off her shifts At the check-in desk, Eva is sitting with her head in her hand She is wearing a blouse with First Camp stitched on the back and a name tag pinned on the front A round office lamp hangs like an unlit gloria above her head   Behind Eva’s swivel chair is the shelf with the
Love & Accommodation

Prize Entry

April 2018

Jenny Karlsson

After sex that night, which was at best perfunctory, I lay on my back on top of the duvet with my knees drawn up to my chest, like I’d seen Maude do in The Big Lebowski Owen was in the bathroom and I could tell from the sporadic muffled yelps that he was tweezing his nose hair   ‘Gravity,’ I said aloud I’d read about gravity-assisted conception, how to give the swimmers a better chance Owen was the one who cooed over babies, so I assumed he would applaud my initiative   I was right Three weeks later, I waited nervously on a deckchair in our small garden, while Owen checked the pregnancy test One blue line meant no hCG hormone, no baby Two blue lines meant baby Of course it was two I knew even before Owen burst through the patio doors, holding the pee-stick triumphantly in the air, a wide grin on his face I just knew I stood up and we gripped each other tightly   ‘This moment,’ he said, to me, to the cluster of cells in my uterus, ‘this moment we will remember forever’   Owen knelt to kiss my stomach and when he raised his face to me there was a look in his eyes that I hadn’t seen before It may have been wonder Or excitement Or something else     Week 12   When I arrived home after work, Owen was in the narrow galley kitchen rinsing salad with filtered water and blackening two tuna steaks on a griddle   ‘To get rid of the bugs,’ he said, as he served up pieces of desiccated fish with a side of damp lettuce I was finally hungry again and could have murdered a rare steak with blue cheese sauce, but I guessed Owen would rather I went hungry than let me eat bloodied meat and unpasteurised cheese He poured a glass of wine and a glass of milk and we sat down at the small table   ‘I checked the book today,’ he said He’d spent the last few weeks reading What To Expect When You’re Expecting and regaling me with facts about the developments in my womb He

Prize Entry

April 2018

Foetus

Tabitha Siklos

Prize Entry

April 2018

After sex that night, which was at best perfunctory, I lay on my back on top of the duvet...

there is no doubt, here it is, on the sign:                Prawn chowder   prawn                                    chowder   (words already unfamiliar but growing more distant as I say them in my head for a third time)   prawn ?           chowder ?   on reflection        cream of cauliflower doesn’t seem so bad which is why I’m ladling (eyebrows peaking, just a little, at how the soup matches the sides of the takeaway container) And now I’m paying                                                               tap your card darling and tapping (darling)          and     walking and my hand!, container too hot, palm softening, losing lines, switching hands (surprisingly pink!), round to the lifts, sound chiming, me picking up pace, just fast enough to make it, stepping in someone else asking                                                             what floor   One ‘One’? Christ, should’ve said ‘first’ rubbing my leg against the side   Intercom, now,                                                                      First Floor Out, doors wide, down into the corridor (averting my eyes, upwards, away from the red and orange concentric circles across the carpet), upper arm preparing to negotiate the swing doors, nudging myself and the soup carefully slowly slowly through   I must walk as if I am not checking whether the sofa and table are free, I have no purpose, nonchalantly wandering, with my soup that is not too hot and my spoon that is just in my hand for whenever I fancy using it, purely making a casual parade of the office, bearing to the left, towards the kitchen area where a certain sofa resides, not that I’m hoping to get that exact sofa and table I use most days, just after the fridge, hidden behind the coffee station, and which may or may not be occupied, no no, just walking, just scheming at how, if someone has their lunchbox firmly on the table, how I can walk (not dejected, not me!) as if I am only passing by, not turning around,   (approaching now, scanning for a foot sticking out, a coat draped on the side) I will keep walking, I decide, walking, and just go

Prize Entry

April 2018

Little Scratch

Rebecca Watson

Prize Entry

April 2018

there is no doubt, here it is, on the sign:                Prawn chowder   prawn                                    chowder   (words already unfamiliar...

This, titled ‘Mouth’ in my father’s fading hand, found by my sister on a half-concealed shelf in his house after he had died…:   The last time I posted a letter I came home unable to speak   The postbox looked as it had looked for the last decade, red, solid and satisfyingly leaden, as if indeed it were made of lead, like one of the soldiers in bright regimental uniform I inherited from my father, and liked secretly to lick, and used to dispose in elaborate battalions on the linoleum floor of my mother’s kitchen, a floor that, when I stretched myself out on my stomach in order to imagine the armies I’d arranged around me, resembled a desert battlefield, especially when I half closed my eyes and mimicked the sound of bombs falling, making soft crepitations with my lips, a battlefield even though the kitchen floor was flat and smelled of the dust ingrained in its surface, a surface that, up close, appeared to be slightly porous, faintly cratered, like the scars on my father’s cheeks, which I associated with his habit of smoking for some reason, a dust so embedded in its surface that it emitted an almost imperceptible atmosphere, distinct from the carpeted or upholstered parts of the house, which were also landscapes to me, an atmosphere more like that of the moon, which has a mist, I’d assumed, that tastes of fine grit, from the fragments of rock that lie scattered on it like bones and teeth, boulders like the round ends of ball-and-socket joints   The red postbox looked as it had done then ever since I’d first encountered it, solid and dependable and smiling, an old friend, a Chelsea pensioner marooned on the side of the road on a tentative trip to the shops, or so I thought when I shuffled round it from the side, momentarily catching my left slipper, I was wearing battered felt slippers, and scraping it with a soft, rasping sound I liked on a piece of paving that protruded slightly, as if a creature I didn’t know existed had cautiously lifted it, like

Prize Entry

April 2018

Mouth

Matthew Beaumont

Prize Entry

April 2018

This, titled ‘Mouth’ in my father’s fading hand, found by my sister on a half-concealed shelf in his house...

Fiction

March 2018

When We Were Nothing But Motion

Julie Reverb

Fiction

March 2018

Owen’s room was clean and his laugh genuine and he’d roll you a smoke. He was thirty-three, and had...

Fiction

Issue No. 21

Jonah

Johanna Hedva

Fiction

Issue No. 21

After The Eliza Battle, I went to Berlin to recuperate, to nurse my pride. I had been there many...

Tribute

Fiction

February 2018

Jennifer Atkins

Fiction

February 2018

Sometimes you think about Atlas and you cry. Poor thing. A lot of the time you can’t get over it. A fossil of a...

Fiction

January 2018

Flood

Seno Gumira Ajidarma

TR. Michael Bodden

Fiction

January 2018

Ten minutes before the floodwaters arrived, Pak Prawiro died. Who knows to where his soul sped off. Now only...

Fiction

November 2017

The Necessary Changes Have Been Made

Nafissa Thompson-Spires

Fiction

November 2017

Though he had theretofore resisted the diminutive form of his name, in his new office, Randolph felt, for the...

Cookouts

Fiction

October 2017

J.M. Holmes

Fiction

October 2017

My auntie Sammy had real red-velvet cake — not that she had the time to make it, bread-winning at Glaxo-Smith-Kline while my uncle Eddy...

 

Get our newsletter

 

* indicates required