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fiction

Mother and Sven

Fiction

October 2020

Line Kallmayer

Fiction

October 2020

  1   Her mother calls. Sven is in hospital and he is not coming back. He will most likely be transferred to a...

Fiction

September 2020

Deep Brown, Verging on Black

Norman Erikson Pasaribu

TR. Tiffany Tsao

Fiction

September 2020

He turns around and stares straight at me.   We’re walking up the long road leading to his house....

Fiction

July 2020

Caspian Tiger

Judith Schalansky

TR. Jackie Smith

Fiction

July 2020

Ancient Rome CASPIAN TIGER Panthera tigris virgata, also known as Persian, Mazandaran, Hyrcanian and Turanian tiger   * It...

Fiction

June 2020

Bright Spaces

Vanessa Onwuemezi

Fiction

June 2020

The cat’s paws brush through the letterbox, looking for some jellied meat or an opening in the family. Cat...

My job during the war was to administer beatings This didn’t make me better than anyone else, particularly not the people I beat To ensure that I never forgot this, I was periodically beaten myself I, Laura Grimsey, a White, beaten quite roughly but within official boundaries by a Brown A team of Browns was retained expressly for this purpose: to beat the beaters   I celebrated my two-year work anniversary the week the war circus arrived This was by chance also the ten-year anniversary of the war effort itself The economy was soaring To celebrate in a traditional manner, the Bureau had received a shipment of commemorative tin helmets and tin flasks, and at the entrance to the war circus’s big top tent, spectators were handed tiny tin keyrings fashioned in the shape of a nuclear warhead with every circus programme Whites and Browns flocked to the war circus together, flush with anniversary bonuses and promotions In tribute to the unsinkable camaraderie of our army, the Whites and Browns bought each other pails of popcorn from the clown shuffling between the stands with a plastic tube of fluffy kernels braced like a sandbag across her shoulders   #   The War Machine Speaks with a Liquorice Tongue   Immigration, boy Can’t fault the Browns, far better off as they were loping through deserts and savannahs Hunting that big game under their own God-given sun Unafraid of what sails down from the sky But here we are Here we are We can only get on with it Come together, all of us patriots White Brown No matter We know our bombs the way we know our lovers The Annabelle The Betsy The Claudette In the armament factories we bellow out love songs Hands percuss metal shells We forget whose voice is White Whose Brown We’re lucky to have steady jobs What’s more, bonuses Britain Britain First Britain first  

Prize Entry

May 2020

Sweet Sting

Sara Saab

Prize Entry

May 2020

My job during the war was to administer beatings. This didn’t make me better than anyone else, particularly not...

The women in her family have always shown dogs They keep pictures of the dogs on the wall beside the staircase, a line-up in thick, bubble-like glass The pictures are hung in a series of black oval frames When she was a child she would look behind the sofa and through the hall door and see them there, hanging silently like a row of pinned beetles   The pictures go back to sepia prints from the start of the last century, the first being her great-grandmother’s prize-winning Pekingese, Cob In these the dogs look athletic, their eyes small dark buttons The pictures become gradually more detailed and colourful as they descend the stairs, ending in a series of young dogs that look like goblins, illustrations for a hallucinatory children’s book   Beneath each one her mother cuts out a small square of paper and pins it to the wallpaper with gold pins These squares document each dog’s achievements Damson’s best of breed Maggie’s best in show Deano, agility champion Ugly Maura who never won anything but did once rescue a mouse from drowning in a rain-filled bucket   The family’s usual photographer is dead by the time she wants pictures of her own dog, Marie She has to find a new one on the internet, one whose website is shaped like an unfurled scroll The cursor becomes a white quill and the photographer’s name is scrawled out in an animation at the top of the page   He has a studio above a stationary shop in the centre of her town, and wears double-lensed glasses that make his eyes spill across his face He calls the dogs things like ‘arrogant’ and ‘stately’, and chews the edges of his fingernails to scabs   He pulls down a screen over a metal set of drawers and the dogs sit in front of it The first screen depicts a pink sky and white clouds, and he tries others: a castle on a hill, a rainbow, plain colours, dark so that the subject stands out like in an oil painting She doesn’t get a say in Marie’s background: he gives her a Japanese garden
Woman with a White Pekingese

Prize Entry

May 2020

Elizabeth O’Connor

Dear Sir,   I think about that smile you gave me in the sun and I wanted to explain why I had dirt on my face   The night before at 11 pm my husband, sitting on the sofa, had said there was a bird in the chimney and/but/and he wasn’t going to do anything about it   (When I say the chimney we live in a rented house and instead of a fireplace we have a thick piece of board which is painted over and stuck down with gloss paint)   I looked it up on my computer and it gave the two obvious choices: get the bird out or leave it to die The option of leaving it to die was gone into in some detail and how long it would take to decompose and the specifics of the smell I went to bed and immediately fell asleep   In the morning the children woke up and I took them down for breakfast (I should say the house is very small so breakfast is right by the boarded-up fireplace which contained this bird) By this point I could hear sounds like a person’s coat when they stop right outside your front door, before they knock   shwww shwww   Or if they’ve stopped there for another reason and aren’t going to knock   I put on the radio and got the children ready, and then we walked to school   On the way back I did think that if I saw you I might just confess the whole thing But what could I say to make it sound appealing? Watch me smash something then perhaps we could have a little walk   sir   When I got home the bird was moving in the still house, living in the wall, my husband having already left for work In the basement I found a broad flat tool like a metal version of an ice- scraper for a car windscreen and I used this and a hammer to slowly break in the edges of the board   While I was doing this I thought of a book I had read in which the writer remembered her mother rescuing

Prize Entry

May 2020

20 Metres

Olivia Smith

Prize Entry

May 2020

Dear Sir,   I think about that smile you gave me in the sun and I wanted to explain...

Professor Lock-up straightens behind his security screens as I push my detergent cart into the lobby The drop in temperature shocks me The lobby is like a refrigerator   ‘Good evening’ Professor Lock-up inclines his head ‘How is The Great Dr Clean-up today?’   ‘I am well, thank you’   We ask after each other’s wives and children and, throughout the exchange, his gaze roams beyond me and down over his screens   ‘God is good,’ I say ‘Regrettably, I must hurry tonight’   I cannot waste another minute here with him; I am no longer looking for a security man’s stories, ordinary tales such as:   Professor Li has flown home already The heat was too much for him His ankles swelled red and he shuffled about his lab in ordinary slippers The next week, he did not sign in at all His replacement will come on Tuesday   or:   You have probably heard, but Dr Huang is flying his parents out for this ‘New Year’ celebration they do Imagine   ‘We will talk soon’ I fish my pass from my bag ‘Another time’   Professor Lock-up squints at his screens His screens are divided into grids that show every empty corridor and laboratory in the Loop’s vast campus He straightens, looks back to the glass doors and rubs his thick neck   ‘I don’t know if you have – ’   ‘Oh, I have heard’   Truly, the thrill of Professor Lock-up’s ability to translate the scientists’ abrupt language has faded; more so now that I am learning to understand it for myself To hear one of their stories is to hear them all   I no longer collect tales of decorated professors, of technicians and student researchers returning to Beijing   I have wrung the last juice from rumours of small families and thin wives who wait indoors, afraid of how the sun might greet their skin   These stories are everywhere My children – even little Kofi, whose mouth is always open, who clings to his sisters’ legs to stand – are no longer satisfied by them My little ones have realised the scientists are, under their differences, like us No children want to hear tales about people like their parents   ‘I will clean Conference Suite Three

Prize Entry

May 2020

Maintenance

Sussie Anie

Prize Entry

May 2020

Professor Lock-up straightens behind his security screens as I push my detergent cart into the lobby. The drop in...

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Rockets and Blue Lights

Prize Entry

May 2020

Gabriel Flynn


 

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