On Coming to Despise a Literary Hero by John Higgins

Charles Bukowski always comes to see me at my lowest points. He never comes when I’ve received some constructive criticism in a rejection— we enjoyed your story, especially its imaginative sweeps— or when I’ve dreamed up some clever title— Major Transgressions, Corporal Punishment, for example Continue reading On Coming to Despise a Literary Hero by John Higgins

Summer Ghosts by Abigail Seltzer

In the village of Santa Maria de los Duendos, Leonora Sabia, the eighth daughter of an eighth daughter, hangs out washing. She has never understood how she managed to produce three strapping sons whose t-shirts, jeans and underpants take all day to dry in this steamy heat. Leonora rubs her aching back, a legacy of pushing these man-babies into the world. Girls would have been a comfort to her. Men simply create work for women to do. Continue reading Summer Ghosts by Abigail Seltzer

Chrysalis by Piers Pennington

When she was little, a birthday tea preceded the unveiling, but ever since her early teenage years it has been a fine dinner with a single glass of rare vintage wine from a crystal goblet. At the end of the meal her father blindfolds her with her linen napkin and leads her to her new domain. He opens the door, takes her in his arms, kisses her on the lips and whispers “Together. Forever.” Then he uncovers her pale blue eyes and gently wipes away the tears of wonder and delight with which she greets each new creation in her honour. Continue reading Chrysalis by Piers Pennington

Big Cat by Jo Robson

How is it twenty years since… all that? Twenty years since we buried you. Twenty years since I’d seen him, or even heard of him. Not that he doesn’t cross my mind often; he’s always hanging out there in the back of it somewhere. 
Cat, I says ­­– I use Cat these days instead of Kitty. Sorry. 
He doesn’t recognise me, of course, with my blonde bob. Never grew it long again. And he’s gone from wavy blond to wispy bald. Some nice sense of karma in there, I thinks. Looks like he’s put on all the weight I lost. Jeans too small. Flab kamikazeing over the edges. He’s all blotchy round the nose and cheeks. Piggy little holes for eyes. Blue. Never forget those eyes. Continue reading Big Cat by Jo Robson

December 14th, 1922 by Natascha Graham

Vita is caught up unexpectedly by EM Forster, who encompasses Vita and her attention halfway through a sentence. And then she is laughing, charming, taking the floor, immediately the highlight of the evening, her being, in short, (what Virginia had never been) a real woman. Virginia is left to push her wine glass half an inch further away, leaving a half-moon of condensation on the table, a puddle reflecting the fluttering caprices of the fire’s waxes and wanes. Continue reading December 14th, 1922 by Natascha Graham

Swedish Death Clean by Mike Hickman

Phillip had suggested that, seeing as Guy was struggling to see the wood from the trees – so to cliché – perhaps he needed someone who wasn’t so used to what he had lying about the apartment and would thus be able to swiftly identify those things that would stand out most to any visitor who thought perhaps they knew Guy and would be disturbed by the evidence that they didn’t. Continue reading Swedish Death Clean by Mike Hickman

Unsent Letters Found in Time Machines by Sara Magdy Amin

I know now why the idea of you always seemed like an afterthought written on the back of holy paper, scrunched, thrown into a mist and never retrieved. But maybe there is a version of you somewhere that was retrieved, maybe, below a rusting copper roof, the past and the future uncoil at your feet. Continue reading Unsent Letters Found in Time Machines by Sara Magdy Amin

Into July by Tanner Lee

We believed ourselves the monsters of North Dallas, curly-headed and leaning on trees. We painted our faces green and black, and we wore second-hand fatigues from thrift stores and family attics. We buttoned up and were war-ready, swaggering with ammo and plastic rifles tipped with orange. Airsoft gave us the thrill of war without the warring. We talked like we killed, and we found ways to best each other. In the forest with our guns, our mothers didn’t exist. Continue reading Into July by Tanner Lee