The Read More Project

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.

If you’re interesting in submitting something to us, you can find more information here.

All Poems and Stories

Strongman by Rae Stringfield

Tommy lay draped over his mother’s protruding belly, her short fingernails massaging his scalp. The smell of salmon slowly saturated the air in the living room, wafting under the crack below the kitchen pocket door. They never used to close the door, but for weeks now any whiff of food sent his mother running for the bathroom.

An Evening’s Work by Shani Naylor

Tonight, I’m at the Bradford Hotel. It’s your typical seaside establishment, full of newlyweds, elderly widows. You know the type. The hotel has seen better days – purple carpet threadbare in places, gold paint rubbing off the stair rails showing dirty white underneath.

Windows on the World by Flora Jardine

Those who were home either waved at me—some ladies even sending flirtatious kisses)—or ignored me, eyes fixed on television screens or laptops. Many were out though, and each suite was a stage on which I imagined a life story playing out. The props were comic, sad, intriguing, revealing or puzzling. The stuff folks collect is surprising. Suggestive.

The Secret by Lea Emil Hollis

Hidden behind a row of seemingly unrelated hardcovers, a secret compartment of sorts. A secret place where his most precious tome could rest, unnoticed. Reverently, he withdrew it, drawing it close to him as I tried to inconspicuously take it in. Despite the worship he clearly held, someone had not been particularly kind to the book, a dozen dog-eared corners bulged the worn edges of the pages and made the cover warp unevenly.

Meet Me When Your Hair Is Shorter by Courtney Kerrigan-Bates

At least it wasn’t word-for-word long time no see. His eyes focus on my face. If he wasn’t already too drunk, he’d be analysing how each line of my face has changed, but he is already too drunk, so he’s simply trying his best to look like he’s analysing something, when in fact he can probably see two of me.

World Cup by Tom Morgan

Yes, he’s funny, and I can be funny when I want to be, but he’s the butt of the joke. He’s a complete and utter clown. Hannah’s not going to want to be with a clown, is she? She’s going to want to be with someone tough. I’m tough. At least, I can be – I’ve had four teeth out, and I didn’t even make a fuss. I’ve got them in a small red box in my bedroom.

3250 by D. R. Hill

Hannah feels my presence. She sits straight up in bed, alert, and she looks directly at me. I wonder if she has an image of me, of the real Miranda. I wish I could communicate with her. As she calms I stay and watch over her, as if I’m a carer tending to someone who is sick. She relaxes in bed. This is timeless for me.

Failures of the Heart by Chris Morey

Macavity, she thought, like the cat. As a birthday present, she’d splurged on a Versace bathrobe for him, with a design of a leaping tiger. Or rather, her allowance had, though to keep within budget she’d gone without a lovely little number that she was almost sure she could carry off. It hung in his wardrobe, worn only on the day she gave it to him. And he’d been such an elegant dresser.

The Brothers Callabaugh by J. David Thayer

Right now, before he opens his stupid mouth any wider, I’m feeling just fine. But I already know that’s all about to change. Any second now he’s gonna spill it. Can’t help himself. He’ll hand his burden off to me like a baton and it’ll be my leg to run in the anxiety relay. Well, I don’t want that baton!

House Clearance by D. R. Hill

The charged stillness of the house enveloped you even as you stepped into the open wooden porch. Piles of rotting leaves disguised the intricate floor tiling, and there was a shudder as the front door swung open to reveal evidence of activity abruptly abandoned.

‘Away from Mycenae, Or’ by Spencer Woollaston

The rain started on Olivia’s second round of houses, and reached its most torrential by her fifth. That day she walked more than she had ever done in her entire life, knocked on countless doors, spoke to hundreds of strangers.

Little Big Voice by Dave Henson

Freddie Fredrickson owns Car Cars Cars. His voice makes fingernails on a chalkboard sound like a Brahms lullaby. He used to do his own ads for awhile but finally accepted that his screech was a turn-off and hired me to dub him. The Cars Cars Cars gig has become my bread and butter.

Lights Off by L. Colm

She parked up on the side of the road. It was already dark – quarter after seven. The only things that lit the neighborhood were lampposts and windows from seemingly lively houses. She made sure the shadows camouflaged her car, certain nobody would remember seeing it there the next day.

Don’t Talk To Me Of Hiroshima by Kaustuv Ghosh

Do not talk to me of Hiroshima, he saidSurprising the nurse with one free hand. Not fourteen anymore and not quite forty,He had manned the pickets for over a weekWithin the tear gas amphitheatre.Briefly, the sea of khaki had partedFor an elderly teacher who, bewildered,Called them his children and urged surrender.I had taught you the […]

The Parrot by Eleanor Platt

As the afternoon deepens, and the shadows get longer, the Parrot watches as the chickens start to come out to peck at the dry ground of the courtyard and the near-baked grass in the garden. Signor Lucan watches too, ready to shoo any bird that tries to nibble at his prize tomatoes.

Where The Water Runs Clear by Stephen Brophy

I was in no condition to be driving an eighteen-wheeler. The medication kept me tethered to the world around me, but rendered heavy machinery out of the question. So when the dispatcher called me for an international run, I flushed the pills.

Albatross by Shannon Clinton-Copeland

Dad built Mom out of pipe cleaners when she died, sat her on the kitchen counter in fuzzy green dress and wire eyes. Took him days; barely three foot of her, starch-stiff ragdoll on the kitchen side but enough, big enough for you to press your head between her nylon bristle legs, small twin scars on your forehead where the wires catch.

Cross Training by Wm. Brett Hill

“He’s always late, Lord. Always!” he complained to The Man Upstairs. His complaints went unanswered, as they always did, but it still made him feel good to lodge them. “It shows a complete lack of respect for the process.”

Stereo-Typical by Brian Coughlan

My final memory of Let It Come Down is the four lads running onto the football field at St James’ Park in replica home jerseys, like over-excited magpies, to a bemused silence and then, when the backing-track finally kicked-in, incessant booing from every corner of the stadium, as the boys tried gamely to get their song and dance routine going.

Call Me Robert by Wm. Brett Hill

Robert Buckley looked around his bedroom for the last time. He thought he would feel sad, but everything inside him told him he was making the right decision. He latched his suitcase closed, annoyed that he couldn’t find one that stood out less, and set it by the door.

Jellyfish by Claire Hamlett

My mother bears the mark of the jellyfish. On the soft, pale inside of her right arm. It grows fainter as she grows older, but it is still just about discernible: a round stamp on the wrist and a single long tentacle, with a curl at the end, reaching almost to the elbow. It could be mistaken for a question mark or a fishing hook.

A Haunting by Jonathan Willmer

Michael was dozing on a bench. He opened his eyes and looked up. “A week last Tuesday.” He turned away from Ian, who was standing with one foot perched on a spade. He gazed out at his own garden. The seed pods hanging from the laburnum tree swayed in the wind. He was sorry that he had missed the yellow flowers this year. They were out so briefly, and he had been too ill.

Aliens by Neal Suit

One of my neighbours informed me she had had a dream about the aliens, but she termed it a prophecy. She held up her hands to the sky and asked them to transport her. “In the prophecy, they gave me the power to fly,” she said, smiling at me, revealing yellow and cracked teeth. She was wearing a white nightgown and it fluttered in the breeze, like a flag of surrender.

A Crumbling World by Victoria Passey

The world ends while she is sitting in a doctor’s office.
The smell of antiseptic and cheap plastic furniture singes her nostrils as she breathes it in. She hears the fish tank burble and a patient cough into a face mask. An outdated magazine sits abandoned in her lap; she rubs her thumb against the sharp edge of its peeling corner.

Relic by Jiye Lee

The next best thing to Santa Claus is the Tooth Fairy. As inconvenient as wobbly teeth go, a very shaky tooth means another visit from the Tooth Fairy, and that means extra money! Even better, the older you get, the more generous the Tooth Fairy seems to be. Last year, after you turned 10, she bumped up the value of your tooth from a pound to two.

Scott’s Burial by Brendan Shea

My mother was never the same after we buried Scott. When he died, soon after turning thirteen, she wept that it was too soon. Wept he was too young. Wept that no parent should have to bury their child. It was torture for us to watch him waste away, to know he would never again find peace in life. The cancer was in his bones.

Far Off Hives by David Hartley

Five, four, three, two, one, and a roar of guttural cheers and whoops and howls as the sky pulses and we glimpse our saviours again, our bug-eyed angels, in their ship which holds our planet. A copper skin of lines and lights that is, for that moment, a shell before it fades, becomes transparent, becomes the night sky again.

Girls Like Ours by Ellen Dorrington

If I had to describe that time as a single image, I would tell it like this: the sun trapped in long golden hair, and us, the girls, submitting ourselves to it completely. Here’s the photo: school uniforms, standing with our arms around each other, me as the tallest in the middle, and a pair of girls each side of me. The parched grass beneath our feet. Our frozen laughs, a joke made perpetually funny.

Outside as a Balcony (Fuori come un Balcone) by Meredith Wadley

On our canal, in the absence of trade and the din of tourists, we’re left to listen to the slap of waves, the clicks of loose rooftiles, and for the stealth of a silent predator. Beyond the city, there’s only water and the horizon, no sailboats, fishing boats, powerboats, or cruise ships. No vapour trails scratch the glassy-blue sky. Hungry gulls and pigeons cry for cold crusts, cones and crisps. Night folds on us like a wartime blackout curtain.

Nice Pair by Jack Doherty

I started working in the shop a good 10 years ago. I’m not entirely sure why. It just seemed to happen one day. One week I was a taxi driver, and the next I just appeared behind the till at King Kebabs 2. Weird name, isn’t it? King Kebabs 2. I’ve never understood it. Was there a King Kebabs 1 somewhere? Was this shop some sort of fast food sequel? Who knows?

Prelest by George Aitch

The herring did not come. October brought damp weather and the salt barrels filled to the brim waiting for the hasty lads peering from the lookouts along the coast. The harvest time ordinarily meant the currents would be teeming with fish. None came this year. The boys kept watch atop the towers for the first signs of the fish. They kept watch through into Martinmas. Alas, the hissing flashes of the shoals thinned and died.

Girls as Home Movies on the Family Room Wall by L Mari Harris

She cradles her belly in front of department store mirrors, smooths her fingers over the soft cotton of her oversized blouse. Whispers, hello in there. A passing shopper smiles and their faces break open in wide smiles back. It’s our first. We never thought it would happen for us.

Cerebral and Contemptuous by Mike Hickman

Contemptuous looked over the top of Cerebral’s head at the entirely empty room. “If you can call it interesting.” He looked down. His steel-grey hair was parted and waved in precisely the way it might be if he didn’t want people to think he was vain. But didn’t mind if they said so, anyway.


The route C3 timetable still hangs in the bus shelter: charts of undistinguished places linked by obsolete departure times. Admirals Court, Bishops Rise. Six and forty-two minutes past every hour. Weekend services operated by Travels with Bonzo Ltd. Panes of aged glass filter the light sour yellow and the early autumn shadows seem weighted with damp.

All The Big Stuff by Scott Mitchel May

I look from the curtain-less window to the couch where she is lying and then back to the window again; I don’t know why she is still here. She did warn me this would happen. Not this, exactly, but something like this. She used to joke with me, she would say, “If I died, you’d be fine… you’d have some other woman here in no time.

Affected by Sarah M. Jasat

“It’s not like that,” Graham told his wife. Standing in the bedroom doorway, he watched her shoulders shudder along with her ragged sobs. Finally, she raised her face from her hands, grabbed the phone and flung it at him. It bounced off the doorframe and thudded to the carpet.

Life on the Line by Scott Mitchel May

When I come to, I am under the impression that I am having fun, or, at least, that I had been having fun at some previous point in the evening. She is underneath me and I am hard and an active participant. I don’t know what that means. I don’t even remember her coming back to my place. She is very skinny like she doesn’t eat at all; her hair is jawline short and she is only naked from the waist down. She is still wearing her tank-top and bra. I figure out what is happening and I am very confused. I just go with it.

Simulated Entrapment of Child and Adult by Sarah M. Jasat

“They would never do it now. It wouldn’t be allowed.”
The paper was delicate between the swollen joints of my mother’s fingers. She flipped the worn pages, and then her gaze caught on the photograph there. A small, tender smile lit her face.

Unpopular Opinions by Matthew Stanley

Strips of moonlight were trying to help me find my phone in the disorientating black, and my fingers managed only to disturb the ornamental steroid cream that now lives behind the bedside table.

History Lesson in 2237 by Nicola Ashbrook

II switch from leisure to education mode with my eye movement detection glasses, wondering what today’s topic might be. I still need thirty credits to finish the semester so I hope it’s interesting.

The Possible Outcomes of Sharing by Shreyonti Chakraborty

It was monsoon in Mumbai. I looked out the bus window and saw water hung like a sheet between the sky and the ground, too dense to discern its falling. I had a six-week internship with the design school at the Indian Institute of Technology, and it was my first day. Outside campus was Mumbai’s chaos—cars raring to go, trucks honking for dear life, vendors singing their commercial chants, and more ant-like human bodies milling about than the intersection could handle.

Backwards Feet by Shreyonti Chakraborty

There was one unspoken rule: don’t go beyond the gates. If we did go out and cross the main road, we’d find ourselves in the village that had been consumed by our locality. The one time when, consumed by adventure, we’d try to sneak past the sleeping security guard at the gate, Ma’d spotted me on the way back from the high school across the main road she taught at.

Upstanding Citizen by Suki Broad

They say cold air does you good when you’re drunk – a bit of outside to help right the senses. That’s what they say, right? It helps the buzz settle and the world stop spinning. Then, you fall into a blissful post-drunken sleep that even the most irritating alarm clock can’t wake you from.

Doomsday Davidson by David Rudd

It’s now almost twenty years since those headlines, following Charles Davidson’s strange disappearance in 1965. As someone who knew him well, it was to my door that the media initially came. At the time, I told them nothing, but as I now start to feel my years, I realise I ought to set down these biographical observations.

A Conversation by Stanton Yeakley

Eugene and Carol sat on their sagging porch outside the house they bought when they were young and oblivious to the tight grasp of this flyover country. Their land was hard, but Carol, at least, remembered when it had been harder. Hard in a way most had already forgotten.

Water by Lewis Blair

To Arthur’s eyes, speckled with dim cataracts, and to his mind that was slowly untethering itself from solid ground, the green tour boat drawing alongside the little wooden quay floated like an exotic dragonfly he’d once watched hovering and dipping amongst banana trees in Burma. As the boat drew closer, it disrobed from its hazy disguise and presented itself whole and ordinary, inviting in the way that only real things can be.

Tree by Lewis Blair

Randolph Minster woke up squint on Monday morning. Although his bed was straight on all three plains, and although he was relaxed and sunk flat when he awoke, it seemed his body was bent to the right and determined to stay that way. When Randolph stood at the toilet to void yesterday’s liquids, he stood askew. When he padded around his little kitchen making boiled eggs – five minutes for large soft boiled, toast notch three on the dial – he was undeniably squint, as if gravity’s pull had moved a little, but always to his right.

In Molina de Aragón by Caragh Medlicott

People faint now and then. Eva envies their respite – she’s been awake for nearly 26 hours, and Matt too. The night before, they stopped at a small lake surrounded by poorly assembled tents. The moonlit water shone like heaven. Yesterday’s driver had warned against bathing. Matt obeyed, Eva tried to, but others were scrambling in, cooling off.

Pigeon English by David Cook

Dom entered the shabby bus station and walked past a shabby pigeon, which said ‘Alright, mate?’

Paul’s Place by Bethany Wales

Colin knocks on my door at 6.56 pm.
I spot him through the window at least 10 minutes before our date is due to start. His too-big overcoat is drawn tightly around his skinny torso, and his hands are rooted in his pockets. I watch him through the blinds as he approaches my door, rocks on the balls of his feet for a moment, then leans in, as if scrutinizing a notch in the paintwork

A Horrible Trick by Amanda Stanley

Tawny just thought people had stopped noticing her. Perhaps the bus driver hadn’t seen her outstretched hand. She didn’t speak loud enough in the coffee shop. But standing in front of the bathroom mirror that night, she saw only the room reflected back. After staring at her toothbrush for some time, she picked it up, and it appeared to float unaccompanied.

A Letter to Catherine Middleton by Orla Schätzlein

Before getting underway with this little letter, we must ask you a rather pressing question. You see, it seems simply vital that we understand how to properly address you. “Dear Kate” – it just sounds ever so churlish to write to a lady as dignified as yourself and to commence in such a common manner. “Kate” does have something of a plebeian ring to it, wouldn’t you agree? Certainly, it doesn’t seem fit for a Duchess

Magun by Douglas K Currier

All high schools are pathetic, as are all high school students, high school existences, high school achievements. That your team beat anyone else’s, ever, you should forget two days after graduation. We’ve fabricated childhood – damn you, Locke, damn you, Rousseau – then built traps to keep young people in it – that comfortable space of “for your age” and “improving” and “participation.”

Smoke by Josh King

I remember the day when Charles’ parents moved to town. They came from the city, which was an intimidating thing for us in our small slice of English countryside. They hadn’t had Charles yet, but they did have another baby, about two years old I think – I never learned its name.

For Your Own Good by Lina Carr

I pronounce the words as I scrub toilet bowls. The clerks are on their way back home. The lamps on the desks are off, but still warm. The sweat on the keypads drying. The trains murmur on a dark blue horizon.

Subha by Deeksha Verender

When Subha began working for us, I was twelve, and she said she was seventeen. It seemed a big age difference at the time, despite the fact that I was already taller than she was, and broader too. She was the latest in a long line of full-time housemaids that my mum had employed and subsequently fired for various reasons: stealing my old stuffed animals, taking extended holidays to their hometowns, and the most recent, moonlighting as a sex worker.

Human After All by William Kwasi

As any sensible person would be, Cylia was wary of long-distance relationships. Given the lack of options in her own vicinity however, she was inclined to look further afield, succumbing to the smorgasbord of electronic dating sites. Eventually, her search reached such sequestered spaces, the depths of some of the most seldom used applications, yet she had little to show for it except for some faded sparks, clumsy comments and innumerable unopened messages, each with a hint of potential, though probably promising disappointment.

Estrangement by Tomasz Gravil

He paid the man, got out of the car, and took off up the driveway. It was a long driveway. More like a dirt track, with various winding twists and turns. He could not see the house; the track was surrounded by large trees and high untrimmed hedges. When the driveway finally opened up, and he did see the house, he was taken aback.

Trees of Nature by Nicolas Ridley

I was visiting St Kilda. I’d come to see the colonies of gannets, when – for no reason I can think of – I found myself remembering Simon. Simon in his black jacket. The two of us in St James’s Park. But that’s the way with memories, isn’t it? They come to us in ripples. Then they’re gone.

My German Grandmother Was Totally a Bitch, and Also So Much Cooler than Yours by Shannon Frost Greenstein

Certain things are absolute, compulsory. There are universal experiences of a German grandchildhood that link so many of us in a complicated daisy chain across space and time: holiday cookies. Hiding an ornament shaped like a pickle on the Christmas tree. Church, specifically Lutheran church. Being early. Raggedy Ann dolls and Hummel figurines and Black Russians and, at the foundation of it all, resilience. Grit.

Chart Topper by Jack Doherty

I’ve been going through a bit of a rough patch recently, what with Sarah leaving and everything, and, well, I guess I’ve been looking for some sort of escape, a project to take my mind off the situation at hand. I never thought that project would be joining Hetton-Le-Hole’s Premier Lazer Tag League, but then life throws you a curveball every now and then, doesn’t it?

The Ashes Can Wait by Chris Pleasance

Nancy and Sean were sat outside Coco’s Cafe, at a cast iron table that was warming in the sun. Leftover foam was drying in their coffee cups and imprinting itself on the china. Pigeons waddled close by, eyeing up scraps of baguette that had fallen to the concrete, unsure whether to approach. Sean was cleaning the lenses of his tortoise-shell sunglasses on the corner of his blue linen shirt.

Anatomy of a Home by Zoë Wells

Sammy pronounces it more like “kit-hen” when he points to the upper right-hand part of the diagram. It’s a common problem for a lot of Somalians, that harsher “-ch” that doesn’t exist in all languages. We’ve done a sheet like this with cutesy drawings of architecturally unsound houses every week for the past month that I’ve been coming to the refugee centre. This week there are five rooms: a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, an empty living room, and a hallway.

The Infinite Woes of Being a Hero by David Johnston

I fantasise about quitting all the time. I storm into human resources, slam my notice down on Adam’s desk, say something witty and cutting, then spin on my heels and strut out of there like I’m King Arthur. On my way out of the office I sweep my colleague Megan off her feet and into my arms before heading to the stables, where I steal one of the company horses and ride off with my love into the sunset. I hear the staff applauding and cheering from the windows as we disappear over the horizon.

Hoar Frost by Dave Gregory

Outside, heavy, wet snow falls on this serene little city and clings to trees, hedges, power lines and parked cars. Inside the classroom, Mr Khatri disrupts the idyll by dimming the lights and introducing a Holocaust film to his twelfth grade, world history students. For the next forty-five minutes, Tanner and the others are deluged with eviscerating images.

Nadine by Linda McMullen

Though female, I never knew how to keep my peace. And I knew feminine docility wouldn’t help me make my way – especially after my father died, and his will became known.

Juliet by Linda McMullen

A name like Juliet was a burden, especially when your father had wasted the last of the family fortune on drink and your mother had pretended to endure migraines for two decades. My assets were: an expensive education, one fine gown not yet pawned, and a reasonably pleasing person.

Willow by Linda McMullen

My name was Jill, once upon a time, but I altered it after my brother’s infamous tangle. He told a slanted tale to disguise the fact that he was nothing but a common thief – and a murderer to boot.

Three Poems by Hibah Shabkhez

Born of melted bone-stew, my first forbears
Were conjured to bind and to sustain. Poured
Into the cracks and creases of your wares,
They sealed flaws forever. Then you soured
On such strength, and so

I Did Not Write This Story by Zac Copeland-Greene

Somewhere, dear Reader, there exists an imaginary handbook on how writers must write their stories. The first chapter of this imaginary handbook dictates to writers how they can and cannot start their stories. There is a list of the ways in which one must not begin the plot under any circumstances. One of these rules mandates that the story must not open with its hero in bed.

The Colours of Time by Gemma Ghelardi

“The thing is, it was difficult to get anything done when there was constantly so much to see. Because it’s not like you could simply choose not to look – whether you liked it or not, your eyes would still rest on the bed, on Auntie May’s ridiculous night robes, on your big toe or on the tomato splash on the kitchen wall.

Mark’s Journey by Michael Bird

As I unscrewed a pipe from below the sink and pulled out a knot of clogged hair, ground coffee and potato peel, he told me of his latest plan: he was going on a trip to a small caucasian republic called Kirkazstan.

Saddleworth by R.J. Gardham

“Not haunted. Alive. I read about it, once. This professor said that these moors change – the topsoil, the heather, the scrub – it constantly renews itself in a never-ending cycle. Reason why they never found that poor boy, and probably never will. These moors are shifting, changing. The very landscape is just as alive as you and me.”

Pigeon by Harriet Terrill

The man with the long black umbrella which was shut and dry because it hadn’t rained all day, he might’ve been thinking about stabbing the pigeon with the silver pointed end. I know you shouldn’t make assumptions, but the guy looked pretty intense, and you can’t help but imagine lugging an umbrella around on a sunny day would leave you pretty angry.

Rep by Gwenda Major

I can’t deny I got a bit of a shock when I first saw her lying there. Right next to the bins. The rep had been wrapped loosely in an old tarpaulin, but somehow it had fallen open. I pulled the tarp aside a little more and saw that she had one leg bent underneath her body, eyes closed, her uniform intact but smudged with dirt.

Unfinished Business by Hannah Hulbert

When I see you now, it’s tiny glimpses. You’re at the office, where I’m supposed to be working, but instead am mostly twitching my eyes about the room, trying to catch you. You follow me on the bus, where I can almost see your reflection in the misty windows.

Away by Joe Butler

She could only watch him, silently noting that she should be doing something to help him, ease his suffering somehow, but she couldn’t. All she could do was feel shades of some sort of compression. Time passed. All those moments and days and everything in between seemed to just press together, bound with dreamless sleep.

The Hanged Man by Hazem Shekho

But he didn’t. He kept looking at the hanged man. I glanced about; no one seemed interested in doing something. I thought to myself, perhaps I should act. Yes, I should. Well, I did nothing too. I kept looking at the dead for a while then continued walking, aware of the music that started to fade behind me.

Karen’s Art by Chris Lee

Karen was a brilliant woman, effervescent with ambition and energy. She could see through all fakery and pretention and she could prize from you your deepest thoughts just by opening her eyes and giving you a quizzical look. I became her lover, because I wanted to, oh how I wanted to, but also because it was impossible to deny her. It was as if there was some kind of destiny that drew me towards her.

After Work Drinks by Ian Inglis

When Clive saw Erica standing at the bar, he was uncertain whether to approach her. He watched as she ordered a large glass of white wine – pinot grigio? Sauvignon blanc? – and deftly wove a path through the knots of early evening drinkers, to a solitary table in a quiet corner of the room. She hooked her handbag over the back of the chair and started to read the newspaper that had been tucked under her left arm.

Carp in a Bathtub by Tom Guy

The day, ten months ago, when his parents had told him and his brother, Filip, they were moving to England, had started in peculiar fashion. It was a Saturday and both his parents were at home when Jakub woke up. Mama and Tata should have been at work for at least two hours.

Sealed with a Kiss by Michael Handrick

He sits next to me staring ahead, his eyes shaded by the cap’s peak. He doesn’t hold my hand. I look at him through the rearview mirror and I swallow that image of him. My eyes dilate to take in more until my own reflection is merely a fragment.

Bury the Box by Letitia Payne

Your daughter sits crosslegged on the living room floor with a shoebox resting on her lap. Tiny clusters of mould creep up its sides. You stand there, keys dangling from your fingers, the mud from your shoes seeping into the welcome mat.

The Good Mother by Amy Barnes

I wanted to be a good mother, one that sniffed my baby’s head with deep breaths to inhale the newborn smell. After dutifully reading parenting books and baby naming books, I felt doubly cheated again: still no baby and still no name and no nostrils full of new life scent.

Swings and Roundabouts by Jemma Stewart

I wrestle a pack of tissues from my bra – the only place to put them, as my funeral garments are short on pockets and my bag is so tiny it barely fits my phone – and pass them to Willow, then Nai. Willow’s been clutching my hand since we left her parents’ house this morning, as though she’s afraid of losing me too.

The Kashmiri and the Romanian by Sufiyaan Salam

She had been a student of history, three years his senior. He worked at a tyre factory though he was, in his spare time, an avid reader. They were to elope four years later, in the autumn of 1968, though the exact details of this ceremony remain unknown.

Mother by Lily Hawkes

My brother and I liked words, he would always use the ones I didn’t really understand. I made a mental note to find out what rustic meant. Perhaps it was something like ‘rusty’, in which case he was right, it was almost the right colour for rust. In fact, if that’s what the word meant, everything looked pretty rustic at the moment.

Heavy Air by Jowell Tan

I could never tell if it was a robot, or a microphone, or an actual person standing on the other side. I would say her name, and just like that, she would appear.

Homecoming by Thomas Redjeb

He could not help but recall his earliest childhood memory, when they had both been no more than 6-years-old and had only just met at primary school. At this time she looked boyish and revelled in this look, proudly displaying her scrawny, ragged ginger hair.

Plane by Alicia Davies

He took everything away when she passed. Shoved into boxes in the garage. There was only one thing left, a painting of a smiling, rosy lady holding a chocolate bar to her lips. Quite hideous, Mariella, he had often said. They could see it from their bed, where they would lie like two curled up watchdogs.

Pacific Littoral by Geoffrey Heptonstall

They had expected warm, white sand and high waves. They had seen themselves in the southern heat, in cotton clothes and shaded glass. They were sitting beneath enormous parasols where iced drinks were served at welcome intervals. The surfers were young and skilled.

Archangel Robin by Erez Majerantz

For all these actions he alone has been given credit, and from the whole gang he alone became an angel, while his friends have been sent to burn in hell’s thieves section.

Dice by Bertie Beeching

Most people never literally roll their die. You might knock it off the bar as you reach for your drink too quickly, only just making out the etched number through the suds before both bubbles and die pop and disappear into nothing.

Bonobot by Robert Levett-Millett

However not every bot is built equal. We have a few that just aren’t up to the high standards of our prize-winning entrants. They might have a few bugs, they might be a bit aesthetically displeasing, or they simply might be a bit dull. This year saw the creation of the least equal bot ever sent to in to our humble tech magazine.

The Yellow Caps by Talia Maggs-Rapport

After about an hour, the bus deposits us on the side of a road marked ‘Laoshan’. Green and imposing, the mountain looms ahead of us as we follow signs for the visitor’s centre. Walking up the long, open drive, we’re surprised to see a race set-up, complete with banners, a podium, and a finish line.

Lost Time by Patience Mackarness

“Truthfully,” she said, “I’m not sure where I’ve been. There was a lot of alcohol involved, you see. But I know what I was trying to do. Make up for lost time.”

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