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Warrior Pose

by Russ

‘Ok, let’s start in table-top,’ said the impossibly firm woman on the tablet rested against an upturned plant pot. Bryony tried not to notice the spider skirting around the edge of her mat and instead focused on the colours of the freshly bloomed rosebush at the end of her garden.

‘Push the earth away, let the energy flow up through your arms and legs.’

Bryony was pretty sure the only energy beneath her came from a screaming microscopic hellscape where all living matter was being relentlessly devoured by nematodes, but she did as she was asked anyway. Over the fence, neighbour Seth casually coughed as he pottered about his garden filtering every breath through the pipe which seemed to be surgically attached to his mouth. Between that and the unmistakable smell of cat shit, Bryony was beginning to regret bringing her yoga session outside.

The woman on the screen moved seamlessly through positions until she ended up bent neatly in what she described as a ‘forward fold’. Bryony forced herself into a teetering teapot shape and grimaced. She could hear Seth humming indistinctly as he moved around and offered up a prayer he wouldn’t come too near the fence. Looking through her legs, Bryony could see the upside-down figure of a cat she didn’t own staring critically at her backside.

‘Reach for the sky.’

‘Climb every mountain high!’ Bryony responded involuntarily, causing Seth to spin around just as she lifted her reddened face into view. Bryony turned and gave a flustered wave. Seth offered a curt nod as he applied a fresh match to the end of his pipe.

‘Bend your left leg and place the foot against your right thigh as we go into tree position.’

Bryony tried to do as instructed but was pretty sure what she arrived at was closer to drunken pigeon position.

Feeling herself wobble, and unable to tell if Seth was still watching, Bryony desperately tried to find a point to focus on to help her balance. Thankfully, a man had just decided to take a wild piss through the railings which joined the pub car park to the dandelion covered alley behind Bryony’s house. There was probably a yoga name for that sort of fortuity thought Bryony as she locked eyes with him.

‘Push your foot to the back of the mat and turn into warrior pose.’

Having two feet on the ground was a relief, as was turning away from the rogue urinator. The judgemental cat mewed a brisk review of its observations and sloped away. Bryony took a deep breath of the lavender now in front of her and forgot about the smoking neighbour at her back. Finally, she felt relaxed.

‘And back to forward fold.’

The rip Bryony heard as her head approached her ankles was unmistakable and unarrestable. The lycra which had once held around her backside peeled away like petals on a blooming flower. The sunlight rushed into its place and the breeze tickled as it passed.

Between her shins, Bryony saw a pipe fall to the lawn on her side of the fence.

Teapot V Pigeon

by James

Tommy risked another slow peek over the edge of the windowsill. His blood simmered briefly at the sight of his nemesis, downstairs on the path below. Tommy hated him with a vengeance – coming into the family’s lives. Usurping his rightful position as the one and only.

Tommy edged himself forward a little more. Slow and steady, that’s what was needed, like the teapot, in that race against the pigeon. Down below, his nemesis took another lolloping step, and then another. Almost there.

The aroma of the petunias in full bloom was intoxicating, the smell of them coursing through his senses, warming his blood. For a moment or three, he wavered. Why go to all this trouble, all this stress? Why not stay up here with the petunias and-

His nemesis was looking up, showing him that stupid face, and Tommy surged forward slowly, but firmly, and nudged the pot of petunias from its precarious resting point on the edge of the sill and out into fresh air. He sensed something, as though a billion nematodes living in the pot’s soil suddenly cried out as their world shifted from sun warmth and breeze and become instead one of falling terror.

Tommy hauled himself forward and was just in time to see that stupid white face of his nemesis turned skyward before the pot of petunias took him right between the eyes with a pleasing crunch. Legs quivered and flinched, then were still. It was done.

And now was the really hard part: he had to get downstairs and eat the petunias before the corpse of his nemesis was discovered. This way, when they did find the body, all they would find was a mysterious mound of earth and broken – no sign of the incriminating flowers that were Tommy’s favourite.

God, it’s hard life being a sodding tortoise. Steps? You can’t go down head-first, even with head safely in shell, because there’s a sixty forty chance you’ll catch the edge of the stair tread, flip to the next and turn turtle. And isn’t that the worst? How species-ist is that? Turn turtle? It’s fucking turn tortoise, if it’s anything.

To make it down, Tommy had to eight point turn it, then carefully lower himself backwards, legs straining for the carpet below. He had made it down three steps before his world suddenly became a much faster rocking one as Alice scooped him up and carried him back to their room. She kissed the top of his head and then put him back in his box on top of the chest of drawers.

Tommy’s world became one of lettuce that he set himself about with a philosophical shrug. His nemesis was done with, and though he had not eaten petunias off his face, the task was done.

Mummy entered Alice’s room. Her face was sad, her movements dignified. She quietened the little girl then sat on the bed.

‘Alice. I have some bad news. It’s about your brother.’ She paused to compose herself. ‘It’s about your brother’s bunny. He. Well. I know how you loved to play with him, but, there’s been an accident.’

‘Oh,’ Alice said. ‘Can we get another?’

In his box, Tommy heard and he listened. He munched his lettuce, and he began to scheme.


by Jenny

I had tried everything I could think of to make the business work, but when the second hand bookshop across the road shut up shop, I had to concede it was a heavy blow.

The once vibrant street became a vague cluster of boarded-up shops fronts, gaggles of squalid pigeons and a handful of convenience stores selling cheap pornography and cigaretttes. My gleaming, colourful window displays looked odd and out of place in the encroaching greyness.

When my mother had run Full Bloom it had nestled happily among bookshops and cafes and pretty boutiques. These days people went into town or bought everything online. I had tried all sorts to entice the customers inside, from interesting flower arrangements - roses in teapots and geraniums in top hats, that sort of thing - to full -on garden supplies, stocking rakes and nematodes and even dried herbs. Nothing worked.

I was about to give up hope entirely when the vape shop opened next door. Their posters of cars and busty ladies did not really go with my carefully contrived cottagecore aesthetic, and the clouds of sticky sweet vapour wafting out of their doors all day was more than off-putting.

Still, it was nice to have some company. And the lads who ran it were nice enough. Joe and Adam were in their late twenties and had pooled their savings to make a go of the vape shop. They would come out and say hello when I was washing the windows, or they’d help me shift some of the heavier stock. They never convinced me to take up the vaping, but I did pop in for a cup of tea and a chat every now and then.

But a vape shop and a florist-cum-garden shop were not enough to save our ailing high street and, unless something changed soon, we’d both go under.

It was Adam who put the idea in my head first. He’d made us a pot of tea and was talking to me about his raving days back in the nineties. Of course, I was far too old to have been a part of that. He talked about how everyone would be so happy, dancing and hugging, how he wished that a little bit of that happiness could creep into everyone’s life all the time.

And then it struck me. A vape shop and a florist-cum-garden shop were not enough to save the high street - unless they combined forces somehow and made something for the greater good...

It’s been eighteen months now since we launched Bloomin’ Lovely, our herbal high cafe and we have quite the mix of clientele. Everyone is usually happy and very relaxed and you get people chatting who’d never normally cross paths. It’s really lovely to watch. It’s even started to breathe some life back into the high street - I think a new bookshop is opening soon across the road. I will enjoy that.

Full Bloom is not the quaint little florists my mother started in the forties, but it’s certainly evolved and blossomed into something a little bit different and maybe, this way, it will survive to see the next big change.