Read

Some of my favourites from the last couple of years. Follow the links below to read full short stories, all for free.

 

The Grip of the Octopus

‘Fine, if you insist on it. The answer is ‘strangulation’.’

First published by City Academy, June 2021.

*

The Burden of Legacy

‘I felt like he was speaking to me through history, over the angry din with which my father had covered his memory. I read the final lines of the interview over and over: “The burden of legacy is not how to undo what’s already been done, but to remember it and surpass it.”‘

First published in Structo, pp.88-95, September 2020.

*

The House Always Wins

‘A genuine, newly-printed £50 note: the ink freshly-pink, the Queen’s face staring out from light cotton, the Cashier’s signature, the crest of the Bank of England.’

First published in Cranked Anvil, March 2020.

*

First Look

‘Ellis Island rising from a river of brass. Circled in the porthole of a ship – as Gershwin’s ancestors must have seen it. All waistcoats and shawls under the Mother of Exlies, her copper torch and tablet. I was processed eagerly…’

First published in Lunate, February 2020.

*

A Fire in Drimnagh

‘I follow the smears of sooty black running across the brickwork. The same ran up the edges of Finn’s face where the nurses were yet to clean. He looked so much like a child tonight I cried in front of everybody.’

First published in Retreat West, May 2019.

*

Switzerland in the Rain

‘He just laughed when I told him the risk was pointless. I told him if he didn’t value his own life – if he really didn’t care about anything – then he could go on along without me. I marked my ballot openly, and made sure he understood.’

First published in Tales from the Forest, May 2019.

*

The Portrait

‘The portrait, left in absence of a note, was little evidence. When they found her in the bathtub, she had been holding photographs of them both.’

First published in Fictive Dream, March 2019.

*

Le Petit Robert

‘Richard concluded his argument, after an hour’s kind condescension in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe, with a sincere ‘C’est la vie’ that Robert would just have to accept. A flash of Napoleonic fury followed, a chase, and Richard sped away, at a brisk but even walk, down the Champs-Élysées.’

First published in The Mechanics’ Institute Review, July 2017.

*

Shesh Besh

‘It was only the desire to ignore the fear of death that cemented him to the valley: the death of knife-jacking buses; the death of border capture; death under torture; death in the unknown. Death lit him under spotlight in the belly of the boat. Everywhere was death.’

First published in Litro, January 2017.

*

A Letter

‘Gilbert (the object of my spite, my idiot spouse) is hunched over his typewriter, scribbling in the open novel beside him, muttering indistinctly something like “bollocks, bollocks, bollocks”…’

First published in The Ham Free Press, pp.63-65, December 2016.

*

The Roadblock

‘The orchestra is tuned, the portraiteers are crowded around their canvases, the thespians are already wittering their monologues – this will be Zakopane’s greatest performance and here, crowning its peak with a final pot of Mikado-yellow, the set-designer is descending from his ladder to timid applause.’

First published in The Jellyfish Review, November 2016.

*

Architecture in Reverse

‘It might be any other objet-d’art of typical kibbutz trash, but it cannot be. It is the epicentre of this space, a crack of colour amongst the grey. In it she finds an image from a nightmare she has already forgotten, shining ambiguously from a chink in herself.’

First published in New Critique, July 2015.

*

The Tomb of Lebeau

‘It is still unclear as to how Monsieur Lebeau came to hate the building at 33 rue de Nostalgie. It has crouched innocently at the edge of the harbour square for at least three hundred years, squatting there in the coastal sunlight with its timber sagging slowly towards the water: a simple structure, inoffensive to its neighbours, even betraying a little humble flair.’

First published in Spontaneity, 2015.

*

Stack of Uncles

‘…there would be no toy cars, no pyjamas or pogo-sticks. What I wanted was a stack of uncles — more precisely Uncle Bobby, Uncle Jack and Uncle Nicholas in ascending order. I was about to turn six. My mother tried to appease me with a trip to Scarborough. It would have to be the uncles.’

First published in Spelk, April 2015.

*

The Birdcage (A Study)

‘Most nightclubs are marked by a grand opening, flyered, noticed as the doors are first unlocked. Not the Birdcage. By the time it reached the desk of Lonely Planet, a disaster report had already landed in the Prime Minister’s lap (a little known story: he spilt an entire bowl of cereal onto his favourite pyjamas the morning that he heard a Tel Aviv nightclub was responsible for the disappearance of twenty-six Jews, seven Arabs and an entire squadron of the Mishteret Yisrael).’

First published in Storgy, December 2014.