The corridor

When we arrived we were given cakes wrapped in soft paper, toothbrushes, fresh milk and lemon-scented towels.
Father spoke quietly and mother fussed with the sheets while my sister and I quarrelled over beds. There was a football; Father said I could kick it against the wall if I promised to be good, which I did for a while before my sister took a pair of scissors to it. Then a man wearing a raincoat came to drop off a box of wet books and oil paintings. “The milk’s out,” he said, like he was reading the weather. Continue reading “The corridor”

One thing at a time

Pluck your eyebrows, reduce your calorie intake, choose the more expensive moisturisers, hold in that fart until the elevator empties, let your boss take you out for lunch but wear better shoes and don’t give an inch, download that song your friend said was a good soundtrack for sex, theme your iPhone and leave it on your desk unlocked so people will notice that you are an individual, BOING! an ex-colleague wrote on your wall.
Continue reading “One thing at a time”

Too Good for People like Us

Millicent was about to leave for golf when they called asking for Terence Browning’s next of kin. ‘Mrs Browning’, she assured the nurse, had not existed for years.

“I have the records here in front of me,” the nurse replied.

In the antique cabinet she kept in the sitting room, Millicent had records of her own—records which proved she owed no debt to one Mr Terence Browning, nor had any obligation to get into her BMW and drive three hours down to Romford on the first sunny day in a month. But for reasons she could not explain, she cancelled her game and did exactly that. Continue reading “Too Good for People like Us”

Make up sex

Donald hopped out of the taxi, the long flight still heavy in his ankles. “Keep it,” he mumbled handing over a hundred.

“Merry Christmas,” the driver said before skidding off down the oak-lined road.

In the street lamp’s yellow wash, Donald thought he could see his father-in-law’s frowning face in the the two-story Victorian’s facade – his white eyebrows in the eaves, his brick jaw resting squarely against the trimmed grass – and he was suddenly thankful he’d been delayed. Continue reading “Make up sex”

The Everday Prince’s travel guide

Rapunzel (2013 Edition)

From the Forest to the Enchanted Castle on a shoestring

Mesmerising, delightful and impossibly unpredictable – with its ancient traditions, supernatural fauna and innumerable castles, Rapunzel’s Forest is all this and more. Once the exclusive playground of wealthy heirs and hapless heroines, the Forest has relaxed its restrictive narrative conventions in recent years, attracting travelling royals and assertive maidens of all persuasions. The real adventure however, lies in the Enchanted Castle and, of course, its most famous resident, Rapunzel. Continue reading “The Everday Prince’s travel guide”

What happened in Paris? (Part 1)

And so the stage was set. Despite all his dreams, the waking hours of longing, and the conflict in his brain, he had committed himself to life elsewhere.

But it was not he who had made the commitment: it was if some mighty hand had flexed its fist and thrashed him into submission, and his consciousness had witnessed the entire event from outside his body. Getting married had happened so fast – he had no memory of having organised anything. Prue and her family, from a foundation of whispers and unheard phone calls, had conjured the entire event: the conceptual design of the invitation, the colour of the duck gravy, post event logistics and the rice confetti’s country of origin. Vietnamese rice was cheaper, but the working conditions of those poor people! The only thing he had to do was wear something nice and turn up sober. Continue reading “What happened in Paris? (Part 1)”

A Brief Encounter on Fleet Street

It was just past five o’clock when Leonard Ward strutted into the “Lion and Byline” and slammed his briefcase on the counter.

“Scotch,” he said to no one in particular and rapped on the bar. As he waited, he studied the faces around him; the suits, shoes, the hair (and lack of it), until his gaze fell on a man hunched over the pages of a broadsheet newspaper. His eyes narrowed. “McCubbin!” he said and slapped his thigh. “I thought that was your head wrapped in that commie rag. Still drinking in halves I see.” Continue reading “A Brief Encounter on Fleet Street”

A Robbery at Big Mike’s

I’m right next to the protein shakes when he comes in.

Or they might be vitamin supplements—the jars look the same (I’m only here to browse product names anyway since everything is at least twenty per cent cheaper online). Dressed in full denim and wearing gumboots, the guy snakes in through the side entrance, knocks down a couple of cross trainers, jumps up at Big Mike and shoves a shotgun right in his face. The first thing Big Mike does is slam the register shut, but the guy screams and prods Mike’s nose with the barrel of his gun. He must be on something heavy—chems or the like—since he doesn’t seem to care that Mike looks meaner than a shed-full of landmines and could probably snap that gun like a toothpick. Continue reading “A Robbery at Big Mike’s”

Across the border

It is not simple line on a map, or a fence that pinches against our wispy plains like a monk’s belt.

No, our border is a wall: as high and thick as a mountain. It strangles, silences, mutes the cracks of truncheon on bone. No one knows what lays beyond; only that the clouds and birds that pass over head fly somewhere, and we cannot. Continue reading “Across the border”