After a record-breaking 600 entries, we are delighted to announce the shortlist for this year’s Short Story Prize. The selected stories will be judged by Omar Robert Hamilton, Kishani Widyaratna, and...
Catherine Mitchell was born and brought up in Norfolk. She graduated from Norwich University of the Arts in 2014 with a degree in Illustration and currently works in a university library.
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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
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