The Seventh Challenge

He is met at the station by a bustle of worried-looking officials. Men in suits wring his hand, pat his back, dance around him in an anxious circle. “Thank goodness you’re here,” they say. “It’s just been sighted again. We’ve got a car waiting for you. Do you have everything you need?” He nods. Swallows. He hates the city. The… Read it

Charcoal

You had to look somewhere, after all. She let her gaze fall on his hands. His fingers curled around the charcoal, long and tapered; sensitive hands. Of course he’d be sensitive. What artist wasn’t? No wedding ring. His forearms were surprisingly muscular. A clock somewhere was ticking. Her legs were starting to numb. She couldn’t see much of his face… Read it

All’s Well that Ends Badly

I’d moved into Lavender Cottage on the 15th of April 2013.  Falling in love with its chocolate box looks, charmed by the inscription over the door ‘Built by Tom ~ Thatcher of this Parish in 1791’. In a moment of weakness, I invite my few remaining relatives still alive to celebrate the festive season in my picturesque idyll. My brother… Read it

The Lambeth Walk of Shame

It was that time of the morning. The commuters were making their way to work, shoppers were hitting the early morning January sales and I was just trying to make it home as fast as possible. My head was pounding and my cheeks flushed with the embarrassing recollection of last night. I had never even been to Lambeth before and… Read it

The Tenor of Love

When Giuseppe first sang to Elisaveta, her enchanting hazel eyes beguiled him. His heart beat in triple time. Don’t fall in love with your co-star, he thought. Her singing shimmered with emotion, but off-stage Elisaveta froze him out. Other cast members shared champagne in her dressing room, bedecked with camellias delivered under her superdiva contract. Giuseppe longed for a single… Read it

Wheels of Gold

I cheered on Chris Hoy; fell in love with Laura Trott; yearned again to be freewheeling on two wheels. But cash was tight. What to do? I popped into Mr Sharif’s corner shop on my way to work. What was this? Haldeman’s Chocolate were giving away ten golden bikes. Just check inside the wrapper for lucky tokens. I counted out… Read it

The Pick Up

The magician was lost in thought as he shuffled his cards, his hands machines, natural to the motions and the flow. It was a habit, I realised, one that revealed something more complex whirring beneath the grin and the wink. He fascinated me, had done for weeks. Quick glimpses, hurried catching of the eye, never stare directly, never commit; today… Read it

‘Only Connect’

Alighting at Russell Square for his appointment at Faber & Faber, Tom saw the advert for a new exhibit at the British Museum and changed course. An hour remained before his editor arrived, full of circumspect praise. Intersecting the square on the diagonal, he strode toward the scarabs, sphinxes and papyrus awaiting him, free for the viewing. In the United… Read it

Circus Folk

It’s not in Oxford – it’s not a circus. All those people dressed in bright tartan trousers, they’re not clowns. They’ve just been to the nearby Golf Sale. You know, the Golf Sale. No one seems to know exactly where it is, it’s there somewhere. There’s always this guy on the street outside the station holding a big signboard with… Read it

What would Louis Armstrong do?

She lugged the worn and battered case that protected her most valuable possession across the station, muttering a string of apologies as she went. This was the fourth time today she’d clobbered someone’s knees and sent them buckling to the ground. She knew she was late but a little bit of her just didn’t care, actually, that wasn’t true, none… Read it

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