The Read More Project features some of the best prose, poetry, and narrative non-fiction around. We regularly publish work from a variety of writers, with a special focus on new and emerging writers. These works will span genres, styles, forms, voice, and more – we want our corner of the literary world to be as varied, as eye-opening, as challenging as possible.
All Poems and Stories
In this way, Carl Trampler’s military career ended in a less than honourable discharge. And in those days a discharge like that could mark you for life. You would never get any decent kind of job, like at GE in Schenectady, or even with the Post Office.
The letter fae the agency is burnin a hole in ma poakit. Should ah huv telt her about it? Ah think mibbe ah should’ve, but then ah remember the way she’s been puttin me doon and how she’s been bang oot ay order. Nae chance.
Or what if your mother asks you for the hundredth time if you’ve looked into any new jobs related to your bachelor’s degree in philosophy? Do you tell her, No, Mother, I haven’t. I’m going to suck the teat of the government checks until the money runs dry and Avery eats her own tongue to survive? No.
I arrive at the party, ruddy cheeked and out of breath. I surprise myself by naturally joining in conversations. I have things to say! I confidently decline cocktails, wine and beer, but at this point in my recovery I have not yet put down the weed. I go ahead and smoke what’s offered. I tell myself, Why not? It’s a party…
Helen thought it was strange, but pre-emptive purchases couldn’t be right one hundred percent of the time. Though, they were right most of the time, which made it seem like they could predict the future, but they couldn’t. For one thing, she wasn’t at all certain how Amazon had known that she and Pete had lost the corkscrew they’d already had, but it was more likely that that wasn’t what had happened at all – most likely, they’d bought that one from Amazon and statistically they were right around the point that most people either lost or broke theirs. Maybe it was even designed to break after about two years.
I once put a suit that cost as much as your car in the bin. The jacket had a bleach splatter just below the breast pocket. It had been a […]
content warning: suicide This is not a cry for help. If it were, I’d be standing on the eastern edge of this multi-storey car park – directly above the busy […]
My eyes fly open. I look up. And up. And up. I cannot see the ceiling. There is no ceiling. There’s nothing above me but void and I grip at my sheets to hold on, suddenly sure that if I let go, I will fall upwards and into that looming, gaping emptiness–
First published in The Womb Department Anthology content warning: death Dressed in the cleanest clothes she has, Wendy shops at Grocery Giant on Mondays when selection is best, her pocket full of coins. […]
Originally published in the Red Skies anthology by Splintered Disorder Press. Every evening after midnight, summer of 2020, strangest summer of my life, I heard it: the sound of the […]
My plucking had gotten very bad by then and I was starting to wonder if my flesh was trying to speak to me. It would mutter to me, not only at night, but also in the day, when I was listening to customer’s voices. The tweezers were much too harsh to use on my eyelashes and so these I removed, gently, by pulling them out with my forefinger and thumb. I pulled up my jumper to look at my stomach, noting how my hips jutted out at sharp angles, how my breasts slumped, barely filling the cups of my bra. There was satisfaction in the harsh curve of my collar bone and the spareness of my skin.
content warning: physical child abuse I was 11 when I told my father to kill me. It was after midnight, I think. My younger brother Sammy and I had been […]
Originally published in Sky Island Journal. I. Arthur squinted into the tall, rectangular window of his eighth-floor office, then out at the horizon. The flood of fluorescent winter daylight on […]
The sight of her – there, then – was so extraordinary that he stumbled slightly, snagging the current of people moving along the pavement. That’s what made her glance over, recognising him immediately. He considered just hurrying on, pretending he hadn’t noticed her, but she was already waving, beckoning him to join her, so he had no choice.
mountain has an escarpment running round it at a tilt so it looks like a jawline and, on the summit, an indentation looks like puckered lips. The mountain is an upturned face kissing the empty sky. Without announcement, Hamad veers off the highway. This is how we come to all our stops: as if it’s an emergency. I turn to Hamad.
He always comes in wearing a towel, the two edges tucked into themselves to stay up, just below his chest. Water slides down his body, drips onto the floor. I feel he does this on purpose, attempting somehow to make me feel ashamed of my pudginess, my post-sleep sweatiness, contrasting his gym-bought body with my own.
He tries to remember their time at the allotment. The crack of dawn. Spring. Clear blue sky, sunshine, fresh. He was ready, spade in hand, to help her turn some soil. Along the edge of the path, she crouched down to show him something: a clump of spreading green foliage, webbed fingers covered with tiny droplets of water like glass beads. Lady’s Mantle, she had called it. What a strange name for a plant, he had thought.
I saw myself shrug off a cardigan, Alec’s t-shirt and the floaty trouser things I substituted for pyjama bottoms – grimacing slightly at the state of myself – and when I took off my underwear, my skin came off with it.
Helen’s room fuzzed into focus as my eyes adjusted to the painfully bright lights. A water glass on a bedside table, a monitor whirring gently on top of a trolley, Aunt Janet sitting in position; Helen lying in a propped up hospital bed, her breaths ragged and rasping; and an empty chair waiting for the next sentry.
Jack’s home since finishing his master’s was a two-bedroom apartment in a red brick building with quiet tenants. For one week last August he’d enjoyed waking up early, listening to NPR while he ate breakfast, and walking the two miles to Trinity; a zigzag of streets led him by well-tended homes and houses turned into offices and salons. His route was thick with trees and their blessed shade. Then his sixteen-year-old niece, Leigh-Anne, moved in.
Another woman comes up to me, shaking my hand. This one has wispy hair, a dark dress, she’s old – and, before you ask, I don’t know how old, Granny. Just old. Anyway, she says she’s called Susan, and Susan is telling me that you were in London together in your early twenties, during the war. Apparently when the air raid warning went off you would run to the shelter together, and when you were there, huddled underground with strangers in the dark, she would play guitar and you would sing, and people knew the two of you as the musical girls from Mayfield Street.
I’m a Selkie searching for the skinyou buried to bind my body to yours.Or maybe you were the Selkie and I’veforgotten the tragedy of digging in the knife,tightly twisting until […]
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
The hills of Torridon rise up and are no more or less than that.They are sandstone, gneiss and quartzite,not sleeping giants or rock eruptions until we name them so. Yet […]
In the summer my friends and I would bike along the canal path, industrial architecture of red brick reflecting on the water’s surface, all the way to the House of the Beatnik.
It was a decrepit old place, with rotting wood and missing tiles; something out of a Stephen King novel. But to us it was one big toy. We’d throw stones through its windows, listening for breakages inside. We’d knock on the door and scream when it swung open at our touch. We risked rusty nails and tetanus by hanging from the protruding planks in the porch roof. And yes, despite our parents’ warnings to avoid him, we wouldn’t run when the beatnik came out to speak with us.
November’s cold enough to make melinger in the hothouse, eyeing an okapibucking its extinction in the Congohere, in a deserted zoo in Hampshire. Braving the chill, I come close enoughto […]
A stone through glass, breaking time,shards falling, leave me in my teens again:bending to the ruined greenhouse panewhose stained wood frame could standanother coat, the few tomato plants behindnot thriving […]
Here was the wolf stalking a young girl as she skipped with a basket in hand along a lonely trail. Here was the wolf bursting through a cabin door to devour an old woman cowering in her bed. Here was the wolf attacking a huntsman, eviscerating a lamb, tricking seven little goats into coming outside their house. In another series of drawings, an elderly sorceress, with the wave of her magic wand, transformed a handsome prince into a slavering wolf. The librarian had read them a story like this once, and he used a low, raspy voice when it came time for the wolf to speak. They remembered how the librarian’s breath was warm against their soft skin and smelled like cherry medicine.
I killed my parents’ beloved Golden Retriever. I didn’t murder her, but simply wore her down, did her in. That’s what they tell me.
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.
It feels like the night they first met, ten years ago, at this very bar. When she last saw Théo in person, he was twenty-nine and she was eighteen. He was a businessman and she was an au pair. The lines on his forehead and cheeks have deepened, and there is grey at his temples. Emma wonders how different she looks to him. The emerald nose stud has gone. She has lost the roundness of her cheeks. The thin skin around her eyes has started to crinkle when she laughs. But she can apply makeup better now, almost as compensation.
The passions we have are not the passions we own.Where the captured soul has been hardly won,and the beating life we live finds rapture in the cause.To search and to […]
If I could, I would bottle the soundof a Game Boy startup, the way safetyscissors glide through construction paper,the shutter of a Polaroid camera,the kshhh of a spinning yoyo,and create […]
Suddenly, we had arrived at the stage of the night where the sexual tension had lost what little subtlety it had to begin with. We leave at twenty to one. The minute we’re outside, he pulls me into him and growls, “I’ve wanted to do this for ages.” He holds the back of my neck. The kissing is the good kind. After trying and failing to get me to listen to records and drink tea at his apartment, I kiss him goodbye. He pays for my taxi.
Capital punishment was abolished in the UK in 1969 (except in Northern Ireland, which experienced a legislative delay of four years). The last execution had taken place in 1964. The majority of executions in modern British history were conducted by hanging, but decapitation remained on the books as a punishment for treason until 1973.
Suddenly, your bike is heading toward the rice field. The tour guide led you down cracked, narrow path between a duck pond and a rice terrace. You’re flying over your handlebars. You land face first in the mud. The rest of the group panics, but you stand and bend over in laughter. Your guide pulls you out of the field and hands you tissues. You think it’s all very funny, until you see your crash has killed two field mice. The guide yells to the men working in the fields and assures you that the mice’s death won’t be in vain. You think about what that actually means.
They stood beneath an ancient oak tree in a little park. Known as Lovers’ Tree, it was the one thing in their average town that could be called a landmark, aside from the huge fiberglass waffle sticking out from the roof of Carol’s Waffle Palace.
A childish excitement, which had been brewing since the podcast began, stirred by thoughts of unprecedented social media exposure and a revitalised public image, swirled deep inside Frank’s belly, and he tried his best to stifle any visible appearance of its existence. But god, it was hard not to smile. So much had depended on this interview going well.
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.
“Yeah, you fucked up,” Kyle, his foreman, said as water squirted out of the copper pipe. “You’re practically forty and you can’t solder a joint?”
That’s not much better.”
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.
The water beckons; I launch my body into waves. Below my feet, sharp rocks and sea urchins, in every nook, glow purple. Salt coats my arms. I slice through the […]
This piece was previously published in Daruma. recipe for eternal suppressionof free speech (9.2 million ratings)1 by joseph stalin, 1929 ingredients ½ cup of journalists 2 cups of censorship (disguise as cleansing […]
My life seemed fairly settled at that point, and, as I was well into my thirties, I felt that I had to have a family. I thus started dating Cristina, a secretary who worked for our company. She was timid and soft-spoken. Her green eyes were vastly uncomprehending. Her fake blond hair made her indistinct and obscured all that might have had been special about her face. Yet, she had a nice figure. Her breasts were large and inviting, and she had marvelous, long legs.
That was the very first rule of the harvestmen. You could not just take. That was stealing. That was theft. There had to be payment first. Not cold coin, a cheap and worthless currency, but older treasures from when the world was still blood-smattered from its birth. Fear. Grief. Anger. The only things worth keeping.
Every day the dabbawallas ferry about 170,000 dabbas across the island city. Their accuracy in delivering the right lunchbox to the right person with only a colour coded symbol on the dabba is a subject of research in many business schools across the globe. For most of the dabbawallas are illiterate, yet their accuracy is rated as a sigma six or at 99.99%, which means one error in six million, on par with some of the world’s best organisations.
Apples lie rotting in their cottage garden as she falls asleep upstairs. Sweetbabes torn prematurely from the arms of their mother, now battlecorpses buried in shallow graves. Theirdead flesh and […]
For a brief period, it seemed my parents’ marriage might survive my dad’s fling with the Yugoslavian manicurist from the salon above his shop.
I’m alright, thanks – although now you ask I do feel a bit,you know,skinned –like the last layertougher than the reststretched tight over my drumhas ripped – and out comeall […]
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.
The bushy eyebrows flexed and the great toucan-like nose, having been tickled by a wandering moustache hair, wrinkled as Gherardo looked around the town square as the prospering sun slowly peeled back the early morning’s inactivity. The townspeople emerged from their shaded domains and into its ceaseless glare as they went about their daily routines. He peered through the golden rays of sunlight that had crept around the sides of the crumbling buildings and blessed the cobblestones with its amber gaze.
After several attempts, I realized that it’s impossible to describe an experience one hasn’t lived through. The third line was contained within the experience itself; it was enveloped in numbness, and the poetry would only be revealed when the experience was described.
Wine-careless, you try to wipetacky, viscous stuff off our soiled floor.Still my feet stick. I can bear no more.I begged you to take more care when spillingnourishing meals, everythingI’ve ever […]
He wasn’t sure if the damage to his body would remain with him for the rest of his life, but he knew, unequivocally, that the hospital bill would.
I wasn’t trying to get into anything serious when I responded to the ad. I mean – I was serious, but I was serious about not being serious.
I’ve screwed up before. God knows I haven’t been a saint, done things I ain’t proud of, said things to my poor wife that I shouldn’t have, but this… this will ruin me.
The sound I am thinking of describes me, exactly, the sound is exactly how I am, now. It’s the hum of a jack when it’s half-way into the aux but not quite. Not quite the grunge-growl of feedback, but it sits between the pops and crackles. Rice Krispie music. It’s not the death spiral of Stereophonics out of a neighbour’s window either, but it has aspects of that melancholy. It contains within it the last note of the fire alarms we had in primary school, the note which fades slow into deflated-expectations. But above all it’s joyful. I could dance forever to this sound.
Our father had a mantra he used to deliver with the zeal of a revivalist preacher: My Daughters Will Become Educated Women.
I tell them about Shackleton and the struggle on the ice, how they rowed eight hundred miles to Elephant Island and endured their way home to face the horrors of a war. The children are quietly spellbound by the story of brave explorers risking their lives in a frozen world. Any young lives I can save from what’s coming – to give them the spark I never had, that was crushed out of me on that floor, to save even one life – will make my seventy years worthwhile.
How many times had they been here? Every third Saturday of the month since the beginning of time. It used to be called the Golden Dragon, now it’s the Happy Buddha. It’ll be something else next year. It’s the only thing that changes. Family Night, he calls it.
The things dehydration does with you. It prevents you from forgetting, maintaining the lust for water at the centre of your field of vision every second of your waking hours. And then when you put your head down on the sandy rough ground beneath your feet and sense your mind drifting away somewhere to a place of sweet rest and blissful emptiness, after barely two minutes have passed you find yourself dreaming of water again, of vast oceans and seas and lakes and bountiful life-giving rivers and you’re awake once more, dry and solitary.
The canal tapered away from us, dappled with light in the hazy afternoon sun, relentlessly straight and level. I’d developed the habit of gazing at it, hoping the sense of distance it created could take my mind somewhere else.
An hour after my mother’s funeral, I stepped into her bedroom and found a message on her answering machine. The message was from my mother’s psychic, a woman who spoke with a fake Cajun accent and who referred to herself in the third person as Madame Clara.
The bar, Hops with the White Rabbit, was also not within his purview. It was located on the outskirts of Honolulu’s Chinatown, in what Daniel could only describe as an industrial park. The façade was spray-painted brick, while the inside was dimly lit and covered in tawdry tapestries. It smelled of incense and cigarettes despite the city’s smoking ban, but the owners brewed their own beer and kombucha, so it had that going for it.
I’m smoking again. If there’s a silver lining to all this, it’s the sweet burn of tobacco in my lungs after eleven years of abstinence. I wonder what my accusers would say if they found out I’m not so much a sadist as my wife is a masochist. Nora has always been wild. I was afraid I’d lose her if she didn’t get what she needed. And you know what, I started liking it.
But Venice is different.
You want to be jostled among the crowds, jump on and off the waterbuses, amble down alleyways, over footbridges, take a turn too many and get lost only to have the delight of finding your way back.
Mama is a tornado, a storm. She strolls into the house, heels pounding into the wood floors, singing Bon Jovi and swinging her purse. She cries to you, using your chest as a pillow, her tears raindrops watering you – but you do not bloom, you drown. She smells like she did when she would return from the doctor’s office, rubbing alcohol and sweat.
Its seven pairs of legs scuttle soundlessly across the tiled floor, moving in a purposeful line before pausing in front of her foot, antennae caressing the air. With a sniff of irritation, Heather plucks a tissue from her pocket and reaches down to clasp the woodlouse, the segments of its hard body putting up slight resistance.
Age shall not wither her I think someone said. Well, that was a bloody lie for starters; I wither like a plant in a winter bed. Now gnarly hands twist like roots […]
There’s a firefly warmth to your wry eyesthat I want to capture in mason jars,to make string lights out of them,out of memories better left behind. 3am is the bewitching […]
In the summer, when school was over, we picked mulberries in the yardand spun in circles on the grass.It was soft and living, warm on our bare feet,and every day […]
Growing stripes.Vertical like the feelings that never left leavewater-sized marks on the hills of my cheeks. Growing in vain.Still reminiscing on yesterday, please somebody come lie with me.There are no […]
Black is the colour of my velvet suit Grandmother dressed me in for baptism,Black is the colour of carbonado, a natural diamond in its purest form,Black is the colour of […]
At the Arizona market, I perusean array of crafts and relics in booths.My hand reaches for a Sacred Hoop of willow wrapped in rose coloured leather:a frame for a woven […]
Luminosity among the pine needles; silken-sided peers. They fell him with twelve flannel shirts sewn into wings, feed him his own wolf whistle until his teeth blubber. Good boy: cubbed […]
Bar the regulars, I don’t remember many of the customers I served in The Horse & Hound.
Stood terraced in this limited Lowrylandscape, monochrome-matchstick lads liddedvermilion and blue. Like the bruise from yourdad, when he’s seven pints bittered on anil-one score. Blunt swipe of your fringe, blank […]
The darkening started small, like turning down the brightness on your phone screen a notch. Nate thought he was imagining it.
El Matador, shadowy stairs up to a darkened room crowded with oases of rosy lamplight. Wine red walls, posters of matadors in tight scarlet trousers and black ballet pumps flourished blood-red capes to taunt monstrous black bulls. Waiters glided between tables, whilst the crockery clinked and private conversations syncopated with a lazy trickle of jazz.
You would like to die today, if convenient. You check your diary and note that it isn’t because you agreed, what feels like years ago, to a Saturday evening Hinge date and it would be unforgivably rude to stand him up on account of killing yourself.
Spin is a whisper,a quiet collusiondressed up as fact, paraded as truth. Bias murmursabout the wayyou look or walkor think or talk. Prejudice shouts,behind your back,in your face,inside your head. Tyranny […]
After this routine had been established, she began stressing the dangers of the world to Tommy: Don’t run, we could slip and crack our head open! Careful in the bath, we could drown. Make sure we chew our food properly or it’ll get wedged in our throat and we’ll choke.
Stephanie and Trinity sat alongside one another but rarely spoke. Since their shift now lasted fifty weeks out of every year, they no longer made the effort to socialise outside of work. They led insular, bone-wearying lives and although this suited Trinity – she was never quite able to recall accurately how she’d even come to be a check-in girl – her colleague Stephanie wanted so much more from life than to process people for Go Missing Airlines.
ed’s the color of my imagination. Red must’ve been the cottage and red the candy store to which—in the hour between beer and supper, or sun and none—they took me.
If Rex walked with any urgency at all, it was because the evening was getting on and, should he fail in his quest to locate his son (and he was nearly certain he would), he wanted to get back to his own lonely existence before it got too late. There wasn’t the urgency of the father who fears his child is in danger; Paul was risk-averse to a fault.
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.
But he wouldn’t answer me then. He was still panting from nausea, like a dog in heat. The absence within him filled my belly, plunging me down into a borderless uncertainty. When there was no more room for silence, he instructed me to collect the wheelbarrow and supplies from the shed down by the cattle grid. I ran back towards the house, my boots slipping against the wet grass. It had been raining hard that morning, and the night had a heavy dankness about it, the air plump with its lingering residue.
If you seek ghosts, winter is best. Choirokoitia when the sun shines enough to warm, not heat the air, and tourists with their many tongues cursing the climb and climate have not yet begun their pilgrimages. Here you need your imagination.
Rose knows that even the happiest golden leaves grow weary when they catch the first gust of winter’s harsh might. Rose knows that if the sun ever decides to go away for good she’ll try to make it promise to come back. Rose knows that if she had her life together, her adopted boy Frankie would still talk to her.
Most people have left, but a few stragglers remain. The party began to dissipate maybe an hour ago – Kylie isn’t sure. She checks her watch: four thirty-five. She vaguely remembers Doug leaving. It didn’t seem to matter by then that she didn’t know anybody here. They were drinking and talking and everybody was friends. Doug had introduced her to his friend and then soon she was talking to somebody else, and then somebody else again. And the drinks were coming and the cocaine was being shared and it was just fun.
The heavy door closed with a thud. This was his moment. He moved across the fence to a spot hidden by their shed, and a tree behind would block him from being spotted by park witnesses. After a swift glance, he climbed the fence beneath the pointed roof and dropped into a crevice. He moved out sideways, crept within the flapping washing, and entered through the open back door.
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.
Yesterday it rained from lunchtime. The whole of the previous fortnight, we’d been sweating in the mid-thirties and so we were dressed only in light clothes for the journey. The sky didn’t seem to take any enjoyment from its performance. By the time we got to the hotel, we were shrunken with cold.
The television set sizzles with static while the world burns at your feet – a war that’s been seen before is teetering on the precipice of unhinged jaws and fingers […]
The man behind the desk had introduced himself as Albert Ryman the first time he and Haytham met, and Haytham hadn’t believed it for a second. He was tall and thin, with white hair and black glasses that framed his face. He always wore impeccable suits. But it was all a little too perfect: the hair too well-maintained, the jacket and shirt too complimentary, and the tie knot always impossibly symmetrical. His glasses weren’t crooked in the slightest. Everything about him seemed cultivated, right down to the pretence of humanity.
10.36pm. They’re not just late now; they’re Amy Winehouse late. The blips and wub-wubs of the Never Gonna Give You Up cover version are barely audible over the audience’s detached impatience and theatrical sighs. The song’s ironic. I think. I hope. The crowd, however, are being more vocal at this one moment than during the entirety of the support slots. I guess clapping is out again this season.
He was the only child; they always listened and made sure he got everything he wanted. Sometimes life was too comfortable for his own liking, but it was a privilege and he enjoyed it. They sat in the parlour and listened to all his fears and dreams, before they burst into laughter. It was something they had never done before.
Mr K. was unhappy. He felt entirely alone. Mrs B., sitting just a few meters away, typing at her desk was no comfort. And since sitting down, a dread feeling had come over him; he felt his life would soon be ending.
Let’s talk about the newness of it all, of thebeginnings that followed me homethe entire hour drive back from your housethe morning you heard me throw upfrom last night’s wine […]
He wants to be the beating blood beneath her skin, he thinks, as he drops his new gym bag next to her canvas backpack. The skin of our lips is a hundred times more sensitive than our fingertips; he wonders if she knows this. She must be knowledgeable since she’s always reading. White veins have developed on the buckled corners of her War and Peace, which, he sees, is sitting ready by her neat white trainers.
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