Death of a Pelican in St James’s Park

I would recommend your sign be more firm. ‘Please do not feed’ implies the action to be optional. A sans-serif font would be considerably more off-putting. There have been pelicans here on the lake since 1664, a gift from the Russian ambassador. In South Australia, a woman named Judy communicated with pelicans as a way to heal lung disease. I… Read it

And Sons

Whenever I put up tiles now, I think of George from the potworks. George with his thick white beard. George with his big spiky eyebrows. I’m looking at the tiling in Caledonian Road station and thinking of George. I can’t get over the craftsmanship. The “Way Out” and “No Exit” signs. The arrow flourish after “To Hammersmith”. That’s where I’m… Read it

Three Stops to Greenwich

Each time she passes through the station, the same flow of thoughts: that film, the character saying that it was three stops from Charing Cross to Greenwich, Mike letting it bother him, Mike showing her the map in the back of his diary, her not caring, them arguing anyway. But today she isn’t passing through. Today Charing Cross is her… Read it

Call of the Wild

Madness, perhaps, to rent a flat sight unseen, though it couldn’t be all that uncommon. Aberdeenshire was too far for her to have come down flat-hunting at weekends. Madness for sure to rent one she couldn’t afford on her salary. More than a lifetime of beans on toast, it would demand a second job. A view of the freshwater lake in the… Read it

Pan’s Final Victim

She crouches on the cold, steel chair, eyes scanning every inch of the grey room. From mirror to door. Door to mirror. Just as He taught her. A door slams in the building and her ears prick. Footsteps. She knows them before they reach the door, before he steps into the room. He looks her up and down, taking in… Read it

Leaving Home

The warm breeze plays xylophone along his exposed ribcage. He stretches, finally able to roll his back in one long motion, sinuous without sinew, the vertebrae clicking to the tip of his tail. Ahead, the neon glow of the tube station and London’s boulevards beckon. Behind, the grand Victorian façade of the museum he has called home. He’s been upstaged.… Read it

Water Wings

She ducks under the water, a pair of goggles revealing the rippling bodies beneath it. Rise, suck, duck, she bubbles along the bottom of the pool, propelled from the edge she pushed from, undulating like a stingray. She forces herself lower, as close to the tiles as possible, even though every atom of air in her body wills her to… Read it

Prick

It was the first time Katy was going to Florian’s place and he had promised to cook dinner. The ominous third date. They’d bantered by text about steak tartar and snails. Frogs legs too. Forced jokes and eager, over-worked replies. She thought he was charming. Katy felt giddy as she ascended the escalator, then nervous as she searched for the… Read it

Blood-orange

Your latest orchestral piece is a limestone cliff that you want me to throw myself off. Instead I jumpstart the Cortina and drive it slap bang into the space between notation and stave, but not before taking your Zippo out of the glove box and setting fire to the house. Later you’ll pull back your cuff like some inky conjuror,… Read it

Countdown

The thing she had, the syndrome, was like nothing the best minds in medical science had seen before. In the foyer of A&E they lifted her like cloth sacking, triaged her; no she hadn’t fallen, or vomited. Her temperature was pushing fever point, that was the most they could say. “Do we have her notes?” the nurse wanted to know.… Read it

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