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Thanks for joining us today Please, take some time to catch your breath Had you been running to get where you now are?   Just give me a minute I’m such an idiot, I came this close to missing my flight You can’t see, I’m marking a sliver with my index and thumb I arrived at the airport well in advance, strolled towards the departure lounge, telling myself I could take my time They’ve redone that bit when you get through the security checks, to make it just like all the other airports around the world The long snaking path forces you to walk by all the boutiques, where shop attendants hold out trays with perfume samples or plastic cups with shots of whisky It was 10 am, my stomach felt sick at the thought I remember looking up at the sign marked ESCAPE LOUNGE, thinking to myself, escape, yes please, that’s what I’d like to do I was drifting slowly, zoning out, under the glare of the artificial light, the clashing rhythms of the different pop songs as
Questionnaire

Prize Entry

May 2020

Ewan Gass

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

Prize Entry

May 2020

Woman with a White Pekingese

Elizabeth O’Connor

Prize Entry

May 2020

The women in her family have always shown dogs. They keep pictures of the dogs on the wall beside...

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...

This is not a story, this is a sequence The sequence describes human indignity, indifference, callousness… weary subjects, to be sure, and I feel weariness The sequence is about the distance between good and evil, which is a short distance, but steep Not in the way you might hope, either; to do evil is simpler than ever It is a downhill motion This concept has long been theorised, but this is not about theory   This is about feeling   When E was asked to describe her first five years ‘as a refugee’ in Sweden, she responded with weariness She told her interrogator that her experience taught her, like nothing before had taught her, the laws of gravity It was the first time she understood that the world was not flat She saw the earth clearly as a sphere, where the abyss above was the same as the abyss below Some bend some break at the sight of this, but none forget it No surprise that, in the stillness, her body ached as her mind did The mind and the body exist, not in opposition, but in parallel   I am not E, the husband I loved did not become a soldier, a soldier who by definition could only be my enemy That is not my story But I know the distance between a man and a soldier, and it is a short one I have seen the distance on trains, I have seen the distance in night clubs I woke up to the distance this morning I woke up to the sound of screaming I do not mean this is a metaphor: this morning I woke up to the noise of a woman screaming   Maybe there is no world without cruelty, maybe there is no world without power Our bias towards a cure leaves out this kind of data   Fireflies existed for the generation before mine but they are long gone now Like language All corrupted   At this point the narrator begins to speak in tongues The subtitles read: Mania & Mimesis   1 I watched a young man be hypnotised, as a performance The instructions were in
Topsy-Turvy World

Prize Entry

May 2020

Sanja Grozdanić

This all happened in Barcelona, in the spring of 2017 I haven’t spoken to him ever since, we never got back in touch for some reason, and plus after I went back to Buenos Aires I met Agustín and soon we got together and I believe we were happy for a while, so I forgot about him and my brother and Barcelona and all of that And yet sometimes I still think about him, I don’t know why I remember I used to look at him, my head on the pillow, trying to make out his body moving through the semidarkness of the room, picking some clothes and then gradually coming into view at the foot of the bed, where he would sit and get dressed I remember I used to watch him walking out onto the balcony for the first cigarette of the day (stiza or stizza, that’s how he used to call it in Italian) and then stepping back in and leaving the windows and the white shutters ajar so that the sounds and the smells and the light of the city might pour into the room once the sun rose, once the city rose, because before that, as I quietly, almost secretly watched him getting ready for work, I would often find myself under the impression that he was the only human being alive in the whole of Barcelona, that I was spying on him, that I shouldn’t have been there, in his flat, in the flat of a man I barely knew, and in fact I never got used to that impression, to Cesare’s silent figure groping his way through the obscurity in the early minutes of the day, go on yes please don’t stop and this is the more surprising the more I consider that on the other hand I did get used, during those twelve days we spent together in Barcelona, in the spring of 2017, to the basic rhythms and patterns of his routine I

Prize Entry

May 2020

Mária

Lorenzo Mandelli

Prize Entry

May 2020

This all happened in Barcelona, in the spring of 2017. I haven’t spoken to him ever since, we never...

Fiction

Issue No. 18

At the Clinic

Sally Rooney

Fiction

Issue No. 18

This story featured in The White Review 18, published in 2016.       On the way to the...

A Vicious Cycle

Fiction

Issue No. 11

Evan Lavender-Smith

Fiction

Issue No. 11

I have seen the bumper stickers on the bumper of your Toyota Prius therefore I have induced that you believe you are working here to make...

 

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