Ten Minute Reads

Fire Coral by David Oakley

Stripped to the waist, he checked his mask, placed the weights in his trouser pockets, cracked the ‘Spare Air’ and dived down through the weed. He breathed slowly and economically, swimming with the minimum of effort.

The Lone Twin by David Micklem

They had done everything together. Erica has never been able to fathom why her sister wasn’t with her then. Sat on her knees, a spade in hand, gathering fistfuls of sand to make the feet, the hair.

No Particular Place to Go by Bonnie Meekums

Stella feels a pang of guilt, remembering her carer. Did she say she had recently lost a brother to the virus? It’s hard to recall details like that, these days. She didn’t mean to be unkind, about the wages. Poor woman is only doing her job, and compassionately at that. She’s the one that gives Stella a kiss goodnight and tucks her in bed before she goes off shift.

Seven Cups by Katy Naylor

I settle for Earl Grey. At home it was the tea that sat in the other caddy, the one we saved for a treat. A cup still feels like a little bit of luxury. A rock I can anchor myself to.

Straight Expectations by Anna Ross

As always, he looked over as if startled by its existence and the possibility that he could have taken more than a few moments of my time. “But there’s more, these arms-”

Leave No Trace by Nora Thurkle

It looked like someone had poured concrete on top of the roots of this tree to try and hold them in place. There was a rutted, pocked mound like the caldera of a volcano, from which the tree’s belligerent trunk erupted upwards. It looked like at any moment it could pull itself upwards and take a step. 

Eagle by Thomas Morgan

Statistically, there’s about a one in 11,000,000 chance that you’ll be involved in a plane crash, while there’s a one in 5000 chance that you’ll be involved in a car accident. So on paper, I had nothing to worry about.

Kindness, of a Sort by Jacqui Pack

Marfa rises to her feet. This is no time to wallow in the past. One child has turned to dust within its grave and the other did not know her from a stranger.

Isolated by Rick Houghton

‘I’m young enough to be President of America.’ 
Tracey shook her head and her bun wobbled like the stumped tail of a cheery bulldog. ‘That may be, John, but right now, you’re in my care.’ 

The Weekend by Katie Swabb

here was only one desk chair, but we were both small enough to fit, and we tried to spin ourselves round as many times as we could while the internet dial-tone played.

Home Under Review by Joshua Potts

“Never in my whole life. I am so ready for peas rent-free.”
“We’re happy to go the extra mile for our tenants,” she says brightly. “Consider, for instance, the ocelot.”

Playing for Keeps by Rachael Grant

There’s a stand-off, gunslinger style. Mari’s at one end of the sitting room, next to the man-tel. Tim’s at the other, filling the space underneath the archway leading into the kitchen. He scrapes his hand through his hair, and Mari wonders if he’s looking for answers amongst the dandruff.

The Orange Berry by Douglas J. Ogurek

When he finished, he shut the door, then sat on his throne and admired his work. He opened the window and watched the birds, the neighbour’s children playing on their jungle gym, the passing cars. He also studied a tall tree that grew next to the window. Clusters of bright orange berries burst from the tree’s branches. 

The Burial by Hazem Shekho

Someone stopped me in the street. He was obviously a homeless man, surrounded and mounted by many pigeons; two on his shoulders, one on his head and others circling him, and, by and by, circling me with him.

Juniper by Nicholas John Greenfield

Maybe that was why Franny liked Dot. He had roughly cut hair and used to smoke rolled cigarettes that smelled like damp leaves and thunderstorms. He called me Topper, which I didn’t like very much, and never made eye contact with anyone other than bus drivers, which Fran thought was quirky but Jack and I strange.

Rise and Shine! by Hannah Miodrag

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Know Thy Neighbours by Slawka G. Scarso

You bump into them on the stairs, in the lift, while picking your post from the letterbox. Some you’ve known for years. You say hello, ask about their grandchildren, or their pets. Some still avoid your gaze but they will keep the door open for you if they see you carrying groceries. 

Gargantua by Justin Bryant

The first time I saw the spider, I was two bites into a midnight bowl of store-brand generic Cheerios.  Movement caught my eye, something fast and primal, flashing behind years-old jars of pasta Lisa had left behind.

Missing by Amy Elizabeth Doherty

I stop dead, startled. Her image catches my eye, small and desolate, staring out from the laminated paper. A monochrome photograph with a screaming pink border – it’s hard to miss. Someone has neatly attached the poster to a street light opposite the river, so that anyone walking toward Stratford centre will see it.

The Lemon Grove by Maria Clark

For a country that prides itself on lemons, we only have three groves in the town. One is perched high above the cliff road, the tree roots sprawling over the brick wall. The other is a private residence, and you can only glimpse it from the right side of the house, the lemons flashing like orbs of light.

They Told My Friend by Amita Basu

Voices rasping, eyebrows beetling, they declared: “This is it. Your lives shall be ever foul. You think yourselves valuable. Cogs in the machine. But when one of you falls, ten spring from the dirt in your place. What They owe you, They shall never give you.”

We Still Don’t Use The Garage by SJ Townend

We have our happy routines: Job Centre on a Monday, Wetherspoon’s on a Thursday, kebabs on a Friday at the start of the month, then beans with a flipped egg to garnish when the giro runs dry. The boys keep the kitchen clean and I do the lounge. The bathroom is no man’s land – it’s functional, but you wouldn’t want to be trapped there for longer than needs be. 

Where Have All the Flowers Gone? by Robert Lumsden

Though the Outcasts were apprehensive of The Towers, few could resist the strange longing they compelled. Nobody should hold themselves to blame for this, the Ultras taught. Lusting after the cold and distant reminders of their loss of paradise was no sin provided each Outcast understood the shining obelisks for the harbingers of hell they truly were. 

Hammer and Sickle by Michael Cooney

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.

One Green Bottle by Gerald Green

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. 

Greedy Bird by Julian Harvard

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 really unique shade of blue. Kind of like my mother’s eyes I would tell people, even though I couldn’t remember what colour eyes she’d had. […]

A Sense of Grandeur by Maud Woolf

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–

Birdie by Rebekah McDermott

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.

It Hurts Me Too (Modern Love) by John Higgins

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.

On My Spooky Shit by Lauren Lewis

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.

The Word for Salt by Cathy Browne

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.

The Long Hop by Rebecca Lawn

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.

Flat Tire by DJ Pileggi

“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?”
“I’m thirty-five.”
That’s not much better.”

The Lunchbox by Susmita Bhattacharya

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.

Experimenting with the Vigenère Cypher by Zuhra Abakarova

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. 

The Hypnotists by Genevieve Jagger

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.

Something In The Water by Jędrzej Kierys

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.

On the Outside of Everything by Mike Fox

 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.

To Grow A Contradiction by Nicholas Elliott

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.

Son and Heir by Patrick Nevins

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.

The Sunken Man by Eleanor Johnson

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.

The Ghosts of Choirokoitia by Shannon Savvas

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.

After Party by Hannah Stevens

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.

Visibility by Zoë Green

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 Pact House by Isaac D. Williams

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.

Swan Song of a Failed Composer by Warren J. Cox

As the overwhelming underdog, and the American, the crowd was rallying for him. Now approaching four hours, the match had matured, building like tantric sex or ostinato music composition. Twice a woman had legit screamed out prior to the conclusion of a point, prematurely anticipating its end; once just before a phenomenal backhand stroke from Rodrigo which went crosscourt zipping right past Tristan’s eyes seeming to emit heat and hum like a missile. Tristan was right to let it fly, it had landed just out.

Gloves Off by Bryn Chamberlain

I’m not sure, but I think the phrase “Gloves Off” may have originated in hockey. In a demonstration of perverse chivalry, the first step in the all-too-common hockey brawl is that the opposing players will throw down their gloves prior to trying to cold-cock one another. This may have been due to the fact that early hockey gloves had stiff little edges that could possibly poke an eye out and clearly, beating the shit out of someone does not include poking out an eye.

The Air; It’s Alive! by Joseph Darlington

The Earth was beset by a great psychic panic. We have seen them before. The dancing plagues. The birth of Christianity. Suddenly, the things we knew were uncertain. Worse, in fact; what we knew, we knew to be false. But what new things we needed to know, those things we call the truth; we didn’t know those yet.

Both Sides of the River by J.B. Polk

Through the open door he can hear the clutter of cutlery being pushed into the dishwater basket – forcefully, with annoyance, just as everything Wanda does. In the background, KLW3 and Dolly Parton’s nasal drawl praises ‘The Coat of Many Colors’ her mama made for her. He can hardly picture Miss Big Boobs Parton in any coat, never mind in one of many colours, but Wanda likes the sentimental stuff.

Loving Uncle Tim by J.B. Polk

Although they never met in person, I often spoke to Alex about my austere Presbyterian upbringing, the type of ideals that the family pursued and how hard it was for an outsider, not born and bred in Middlebury, population 513, to be accepted by the local community. You were either in or out – there was no middle point. According to an unspoken agreement, the Middlebury community held monopoly on moral values and any other lifestyle was sinful and condemnable. Rooted in traditions and immutable ways, life seemed to move in circles there and no one expected any changes.

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.

‘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.

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.

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.”

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 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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Infinite Woes of Being a Hero by David Christopher 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Forever by Linda Daunter

As soon as the words formed in Arthur’s mind he corrected them. The bench was not his. It belonged to the council or some such faceless body. It was just one of a number of identical wooden benches spaced alongside the path that meandered round the edge of the park.

The Great Sales Races by Josh Oldridge

“Is she going to get us out of this hole?” Gary asks, though not seriously. If he was asking a serious question he’d stare at his duty manager to press for a serious answer, but instead he continues sorting paperwork.

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