Space Raiders by Jess Moody

Go right back. The first and most resilient -that wincing virility of pickled onion on the tongue. 10p a packet at the tuck shop, well worth it, get two [Girls are mingin’]

Vodka – later and too early. The kind that roughly numbs our throats, insensible to the sophisticated grape and trendy gins for years [Leaves for uni up north]

The twang of that band that still strikes a chord despite the knowledge of the Things the Bass Player Did [He dislikes your moods]

Buttercups under the chin [She actually likes this guy in class too, so]

And never leaving a lecture without raising a fist in Breakfast-Club salute [They forgot about me]

Korean New Wave replays in tube window reflections with a punch [He’s happy you’re such a Fun Friend]

The one literary detective. The empathy for alcoholism in cities of rain-greyed stone [No. Not any more.] 

A stubborn weave, that neatness of tweed on redheaded women [She’s absolutely had it with bi girls]

Basalmic dropped in oil, blotting slowly across your mind in difficult times [This isn’t what you think it is]

And now here, to end loneliness, a cursor blinks a cheerful demand:

Tell your potential Matches all your Favourite Things! 

But I sit, untyping.  

Forever wary of the loves my lovers left behind.

 


About the author: Jess Moody is a Wulfrunian in London, who likes her words and worlds on the weird side. Fiction in Lunate, Reflex, Storgy and Ellipsis.

It Was the Horse That Killed Her by Matt Kendrick

Ambulance outside Old Lady’s house. Its blue light whirligigs round. Paramedics in and out. Old Lady on a stretcher covered by a crocheted blanket; squares of colour her knotted fingers stitched together that’ll no longer keep her warm.

Second time in a month we’ve had the sirens down here. Before, it was the rozzers. Old Lady twitched her living room curtains as they nee-nawed past. She didn’t get out much so it must have been nice when a slice of excitement came to her. The rozzers were headed for Mr MacDonald’s farm. Gossip afterwards – a cattle rustler was on the prowl.

As the ambulance drives off, Ma shakes her head and says she hopes Old Lady had a peaceful death. Wouldn’t hurt a fly, that one. Asks if we should have done more to keep an eye on her since she was always keeping an eye on us.

I remember sitting out front catching spiders in a jar. Six of them in there when Old Lady wheezed towards me, snatched away my prize. Another time, I shot a spuggie out a tree and she took it in her hands like it was a piece of rarest china.

Didn’t speak much. Perhaps, she’d forgotten how since she was always by herself. Ma says she had a husband once, children who’d moved away, friends turned to dust. A couple of months back, we saw her outside and Ma said hello. Old Lady choked on her words. The way she doubled over reminded me of a fur-balling cat.

When the dog escaped, me and Ma went out, yelling for that little scamp with his long tail and stub ears. Returned to find Old Lady standing with the collar in her hands. I took it from her, tried to say thank you. She backed away as if she couldn’t stand my sadness bundled up with her own.

I wonder what’ll happen now, says Ma. She didn’t have any relatives left. No friends. No-one apart from that God-damned goat.

The goat is a surly slobberer, tethered in the back garden, slowly chewing the grass in that way goats do. I tell Ma someone should go check he’s all right and Ma agrees so I head across the road. I see Mr MacDonald outside who tells me the rustler is back. A horse this time. The ruddy face of him as he spits his anger on the ground.

The garden, when I get there, doesn’t look like it has seen a goat for weeks. There’s a cowpat flattening a tuft of knee-high grass; and a horseshoe; and a fox has been at the bins, scattered bones and feathers in an arc.

I peer in through Old Lady’s kitchen window like I did the day she filched my jam jar spiders. I shiver as I remember how she pinched one by its feathery, stiletto leg and lowered it into her waiting mouth.

 


About the author: Matt Kendrick is a writer based in the East Midlands, UK. His stories have been published in Bending Genres, Fictive Dream, Lucent Dreaming, Reflex Fiction, Spelk, Storgy, FlashBack Fiction and the BFFA Anthology.

17 Albert Street by Kathryn Aldridge-Morris

I used to imagine revenge tasting like a Zoom lolly. Or the icing peeled off a bun in one go. Like a big plaster. But it doesn’t. It tastes of gum chewed too long and gone hard.

Knock and wait. My arms want to stretch out. Straight. Where he can see them. But I’ve learnt habits can break just as easy as bones.

He opens the door. I see the belt, restrained in denim loops, his ring binder knuckles, the blood in my eyes, the grain of his desk.

‘Volunteer buddy,’ I smile. He hesitates, steps back.

Lets me in.

 


About the author: Kathryn Aldridge-Morris is a freelance writer in the field of educational publishing. Her creative writing appears in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual 2020, the Bath Flash Fiction anthology (TBP 2020), Retreat West, Paris Lit Up, and the anthology ‘From Syria with Love’ (Indie Books).

Walls by Amy O’Neil

Walls

Amy O’Neil 

I press an ear to the protruding wall in my bathroom and listen for a bird, a cough, anything.

Once I heard an old man singing. Another time, a mother read bedtime stories.

I heard New Year celebrations in spring, chatter from an Italian barber shop, the whirring machines of a commercial gym.

For weeks now the little wall has been silent.

I knock loudly and wait.

Then, I recognise her raspy chuckle.

‘Babička?’

It’s been years since I heard the voice of my Czech grandmother, telling me not to worry. It would all be over soon.

***

About the author: Amy O’Neil is an emerging writer living in Brighton with her partner and two children, currently working on her first novel. Her stories have been shortlisted for the Fish Short Story Prize, highly commended in Glimmer Train’s Family Matters competition, recommended in LISP flash fiction competition, won Curtis Brown’s #WriteCBC flash competition, and shortlisted for Retreat West’s ‘Fire’ themed competition and won Mslexia’s Little Ms microfiction competition.

Dinosaurs and the Weary by Sarah Kings

Dinosaurs and the Weary

Sarah Kings

Giant dinosaurs sleep on their bellies. Spiked armor on display to ward off enemies. I stand back and admire the great beasts that hide from the world to rest. They persist in their existence, despite a whole people who would call them extinct. I see their magnitude and gargantuan invisibility.

But why do they sleep, when they know we are afraid? Why do they let us say what we say about the asteroids and the great winter? Don’t they know that we fear something lonely, something beyond us. I beg them awake, to rub our heads in this dark night.

 

***

About the author: Sarah is a writer, a teacher, and a mother. She has a B.A in English and is currently enrolled in Drexel University’s MFA program in Creative Writing. Sarah has been writing stories, poems, and books for as long as she can remember. Her latest fiction publication can be found in the March issue of La Piccioletta Barca’s Literary Magazine.

When Coffee is in Your DNA by Anne Howkins

When Coffee is in Your DNA

Anne Howkins

  

Java was his idea.

Find your roots.

I don’t need to.

Aren’t you curious?

No.

The sari was his idea.

You’ll look like a native.

I don’t need to.

It’ll keep beggars away.

It won’t.

The temple was his idea.

Explore your heritage.

I don’t need to.

You do, really.

I don’t.

Being alone was my idea.

Can’t I come?

I don’t want you to.

You do really.

I don’t.

Staying was my idea.

You know I can’t.

I’ve found my roots, it’s what you wanted.

It’s not.

He doesn’t drink coffee now, he says its taste is too bitter.

 

 

***

About the author: Anne writes short fiction when she’s not working for a charity or messing about with her horse. Her work has appeared in Reflex Fiction, Retreat West, Flash 500, Lunate, Bath Flash Anthology and in Shrimps, Gobstoppers and Sour Monkeys, an anthology released by Fosseway Writers, who are an amazingly supportive group.