Hunted by Meagan Spooner

24485589– We always know before the change comes – but we never know what the change will bring. –

– The snow is a canvas, her father would say, upon which the beast paints his past, his home, his intentions, his future. Learn to see the picture and you will know him as you know yourself. –

– And yet she tells us stories. –

– In every fairy tale there were rules. Even the monsters could not break them. –

– She whispers to us of what we could be. –

http://www.meaganspooner.com/

Here Comes Trouble by Simon Wroe

32705910– This was the summer people began to speak of purity and tradition and taking things back…–

– The billionaire up close: midget ears, delicate eyes and nose, hair thin and neatly combed, a pursed mouth and the faintest sketch of a moustache, all encased in a great slab of face, a slab that correctly employed could have made at least three such faces. Whatever creator one believed in, it was indulgent work. The effect was not so much good or bad as expensive. –

– Happiness writes white, as they say. –

– The stunned journalists watched as real, uncut news swallowed them. –

– Sometimes, he thought, you lived with a person for years and years, questioning nothing, and one day you realised you’d been living with a different person all along. They hadn’t changed, you were just wrong the first time…He didn’t know what the hell she was going to do next. It wasn’t necessarily bad – he sort of liked this new dynamic mother he’d got. In a funny way not completely trusting her made him trust her more. –

– It was often said that print is dead. Those who said it no doubt knew better than them, but they hoped these naysayers were wrong. For by this act of printing they had handcuffed themselves to the same fate. If no one read them, no one would save them. If print was dead then so were they. –

http://thelondonnobodyknows.tumblr.com/

Review for the Sunday Times: http://bit.ly/2tbQXzB

Auntie Jax by Tiah Marie Beautement

The good folks at FunDza have published my short story, “Auntie Jax.”

Chapter 1

“Honey, I’ve met stupid. I’ve worked with stupid. Lord knows I’ve even dated stupid. But your kids ain’t stupid. So, let’s just give it to ’em straight, okay?”

“Jax…”

Jacqueline turned to the three faces looking balefully at her and their mother. This was the first time they’d seen their Auntie Jax, from the American state of Tennessee, in three years. The woman defied their memories.

“Now children, you listen to your Auntie Jax. Your daddy loves you, but he did something stupid, okay? Being stupid isn’t a crime, but unfortunately, your daddy was so stupid he let himself be talked into doing something incredibly stupid, and the government is a little mad at him right now. So, me and your mama are gonna sort things out. Okay? And everything’s gonna be alright. Auntie Jax promises.”

Three pairs of eyes blinked. They took in the wild, reddish-black curls. “Big hair,” their mother had said. They took in the slim fingers, decorated with numerous rings and ending in long, red nails. “Impractical,” their mother had said. They took in her earrings, so large that little Ida could have used them as her doll’s hula hoops. “Can tell she doesn’t have children,” their mother had said. They took in the shoes, with heels so high and pointy they could have doubled as knitting needles. “Asking for bunions,” their mother had said.

Not that Auntie Jax gave “a flying fig” what their mother said. “Maddy’s confused. I ask you, what kind of black American gal goes all the way to Africa and ends up married to a white man?” she asked.

You can read the second chapter by Clicking HERE

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

31143800– People just wanted to open their mouths and talk, and they didn’t mind what came out. –

– The wild fennel came up ferny bright in the shelter of the old quarry, and when Winnie went to pick some she found knotted condoms lying around yet again. It was the knotting that surprised her. –

– The girl had been looked for; in the beech wood, in the river, in the hollows at Black Bull Rocks. She had been looked for at the abandoned quarry, the storage containers broken open and the rotting freight wagons broken open and the doors left hanging as people moved on down the road. They had wanted to find her. They had wanted to know she was safe. They had felt involved, although they barely knew her. –

– He had another go at being mindful but mostly he minded a drink. –

– Martin was thinking of selling his [laptop], he said, but he wanted to be sure the memory was wiped. Passwords, bank details, all that. You’ll get a more or less clean drive if you reformat it, Cooper told him. But the only way to be sure is to physically destroy it. A hammer works well. A hammer? Martin asked. Won’t that affect the resale value? It will tend to, Martin, yes. There is that. –

http://www.jonmcgregor.com/

Review for the Sunday Times: http://bit.ly/2un2QXG

Season of Crimson Blossoms by Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

30151412.jpeg– Hajiya Binta Zubairu was finally born at fifty-five when a dark-lipped rogue with short, spiky hair, like a field of minuscule anthills, scaled her fence and landed, boots and all, in the puddle that was her heart. –

– Binta envied [this mother’s] liberty she enjoyed, this luxury of calling her first child by its name and holding it and treating it like one’s beloved. Such affection she, Bita, had never experienced from her mother, nor dispensed to her late son Yaro. –

– She dreamt in sepia. –

– After growing wings through indiscretion, Hajiya Binta, contrary to her expectation, did not transform into an eagle, but an owl that thrived in the darkness. –

– For the loss of a loved one, tragic as it is, dose not, in any way, compare to the loss of the memory of who they were. –

– When surrounded by vultures, try not to die. –

https://moonchild09.wordpress.com/

Sting Like a Bee by Tiah Marie Beautement

The good folks at FunDza have published my story, “Sting Like A Bee.” This is Justine’s story, the missing sister from “Surfing & Shakespeare.” The tale begins in a dark place and fights its way to better times. I hope you enjoy.

I don’t like walking alone in the dark. Murky shapes shift and move: human, animal, ghost – I don’t know. Noises from shadowy corners: shattering glass, a scream, a groan, a whisper – “Psst, over here” – mix with the sound of passing cars, their tyres rolling over the streets with a hiss. The law says the bar must provide transport for employees at this time of night. But I’m working ‘under the table’ for cash stuffed in a pocket, a pat on the butt.

You’re such a screw up, Justine.

Footsteps approach. My shoulders tighten, weight shifts to my toes. Look ’em in the eye, make then know – I see you. I thrust my chin up. Two heads nod in reply. Step, step, step – the two men pass. Blue jeans. Sketchers. Fitted button downs.

Get it together, Justine.

I turn the corner, into the alley, suppressing a shiver. Creepy. I’m caught between high brick walls and locked metal doors guarded by bars. But if I don’t go through here, cutting via the parking lot, then it is an extra ten minutes in the dark to home, and the lighting isn’t much better that way.

Not that I have a home, exactly. Romario’s got himself a new girl now, and his sister wants me off her crappy futon mattress. Like, yesterday, if not sooner.

Almost there, keep going.

Footsteps arrive in staccato – tat-tat-tat.

“Wha–!” Air leaves my lungs as a heavy weight slams against my back, arm tightens around my neck, yanking me backwards. Another guy comes forward at me, and I’m kicking, pushing hard. He goes flying that way; we’re falling this way.

“Shi–” whoofs the body underneath me, while the other slams into the wall. My body is still moving, legs curling over my head, elbow jamming into the gravel, flipping those feet over, and then I’m rising, standing, fists raised.

This isn’t going to be any girly hair-pulling fight.

And in the dim light are two sets of eyes, aglow, looking at me in rage. Like I’m misbehaving, like I am the one doing wrong. Both creep closer, crowding in, as my eyes dart between them. The right one lunges – my leg lashes out. He dodges, as his buddy on the left moves in, catching my shirt and I twist and scream and yell, “Oh Lord, help me now!”

But deep down I know not a damn soul is listening, even in heaven. It’s all you, or they win. I throw that punch and hit target.

He smashes against the wall. As if somebody threw him. But I didn’t touch him.

I glance to my right, and my other attacker is gone too, running fast, as if a rabid dog is after him. Somebody is after him, running hard, and fast, and yelling, “Hey, get back here. I’ll fight you. Come on, I’ll give you a fight!”

A voice to my left: “She alright?”

I snap my head around, and there is a huge man in the shadows, looking alert and ferocious.

“I think so,” says a voice. Softer.

My eyes whip over to a woman, same height as me, approaching me slowly. She looks strong and fierce in her weird white pyjama-suit, yet kind. Softly-softly, she keeps saying, “It’s OK. You’re OK. Safe now. You’re OK.”

And that’s when I notice the object at my feet. A knife. A sharp, jagged, evil looking thing. And before I can stop myself, I’m quoting Shakespeare like an idiot, “Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle of my hand?”

Proving you can leave home, but its claws are embedded into your soul.

Read the rest of the story HERE

The Returning Tide by Liz Fenwick

Tide.jpeg– I looked forward to not thinking in dots and dashes. I’d only realised recently that I was selected for telegraphy because of my fluency in French and Italian. I’d had no idea that Morse was taught as a language or that it would push other languages out of my head…Dit dit dah…But unlike having a lovely song in my head my nights would be filled with SOS – did did did dah dah dah dit dit dit… –

– He should have been focusing on living, but he wouldn’t be told. –

– It was almost too much and that was the problem with Americans. Too much smile, too much teeth, too much good humour and, finally, too much here. –

– People did things they never would have considered before the war. –

– If I died, would these letters tell the story? –

http://lizfenwick.com/

Review for the Sunday Times: http://bit.ly/2rvKWN3

Marlena by Julie Buntin

34726829– Tell me what you can’t forget and I’ll tell you who you are. –

– Why do they say ghosts are cold? Mine are warm, a breath dampening your cheek, a voice when you thought you were alone. –

– Marlena called me naive, but what I really think she meant is privileged, a word people use like an insult in New York, but that I’ve always taken to mean safe. Privilege is something to be aware of, to fight to see beyond, but ultimately to be grateful for. It’s like a bulletproof vest; it makes you harder to kill. –

– For so many women, the process of becoming requires two. It’s not hard to make out the marks the other one left. –

– I didn’t steal from the houses Mom cleaned, from the very, very rich, is because I was afraid of getting caught. Marlena didn’t steal because she didn’t see the point. You can’t steal a whole new life. –

– Who can recognize the ending as it’s happening? What we live, it seems to me, is pretty much always a surprise. –

– An ending that happens again and again no matter how much I don’t want it to. Maybe that’s all loss is. What happens, whether you like it or not. What won’t let you go.
Marlean – look. I didn’t forget.
I wrote it down. –

http://www.juliebuntin.com/

Review for the Sunday Times: http://bit.ly/2teMz5p

A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys

32966408– You can’t get away with anything on a ship, you know. Someone always finds out. –

– Lily is confused. It’s as if the wind has blown the pages of a book and she has jumped ahead of where she thought she was. –

– On a boat like this, everyone is running away from something. –

– The really marvellous thing about them – shipboard romances, I mean – is that they don’t count. You can do what you want on a boat, behave as badly as you like, and when you get to wherever you’re going it’s as if it never happened. When the ship sails away your sins go with it. –

– All lines are blurred, all truth becomes, by the act of retelling it, a fiction. –

https://www.penguin.co.uk/authors/rachel-rhys/1080167/

Review for the Sunday Times: http://bit.ly/2teMz5p