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Big Spoon

by Russ

I played big spoon until they went to sleep, it was the easiest thing to do.

As soon as I felt their breathing shallow I rolled away and made some distance.

We lay back-to-back, disconnected.

They snored gently. I stared into the darkness, lonelier now than I’d ever been.

I thought back over tonight’s altercation and tried to work out if it was my fault, as they’d told me. There was no use. It just merged with older arguments compounding the confusion, so I gave up and went back to staring blankly, waiting for unconsciousness.

It didn’t come, and I felt sick. Not ill, and not the sort of sick you get from eating the wrong thing at the wrong time. I felt sick at my core. A grating, tectonic pressure, as if I were trying to fold in on myself.

I wasn’t going to sleep tonight, again. I needed to get out.

I knew they wouldn’t wake, they were used to me getting up in the night. Still, I moved carefully. I took an age to slide to the edge of the bed, where I pulled back the sheets as if I were a surgeon peeling skin from skull. Once out, I tip-toed around gathering my clothes then eased myself from the room to dress in the corridor.

The next part was like ripping off a plaster. I slipped down the stairs and let myself through the front door in what felt like a single fluid movement, skipping over the creaky fourth step as I went. Gently, I clicked the door closed behind me, fished my car key from my pocket, and swapped the silence of their house for the silence of my own metal box.

Looking out at the empty street I made the mistake of letting emotions seep in, now they were no longer held away by the adrenaline of escape. I heard my breaths quicken, felt a fizz in my heart, and moisture around my eyes. It was only when I heard the creak of a door I realised I’d sat for several minutes and made no attempt to put my key in the ignition.

A figure had appeared in the doorway, washed with the yellow of streetlights. It was them. I squinted through the darkness expecting to see a vile and wizened crone, but I did not. Despite everything, they still looked beautiful to me.

What they saw in my distorted frame, I’d never known.

The body took one step out, put an arm forward, and beckoned me with a folding of their fingers. That was the extent of their seduction and I offered no resistance. It took no time to move back to the doorstep from my car, repocketing the key as its lights flashed once behind me.

Outside the house they kissed me once, drawing an immediate apology from my lips. I couldn’t tell you if they offered one too.

They turned and led me back upstairs. Sadness poured into me in waves with every step I climbed.

Not tonight.

The spirit of his youth

by Dan

“Baby can’t you see I’m calling”

Last number at the school reunion disco. Was supposed to be 80s but never mind.

She looked over at him, eyes as big as saucers and mouthed the words.

“A guy like you should wear a warning”

Paul had fancied Debbie since school and now, forty years on and after 6 pints of lager sipped from his “devil’s cup” of Dutch courage, his moment had arrived. Time to show the spirit of his youth!

He had only come to the school reunion because she’d be there. Facebook had told him she was free and single again.

He stepped creakily on to the dance floor.

He arrived near her with his best “Dad dance through the crowd” moves just in time for her to point at him and say “You’re dangerous I’m loving it” in time to the music.

Same blonde hair, could pass for forty.

He held his belly in.

Didn’t he deserve some fun after all these years with Laura, “Her indoors”.

“My head spinning round and round” said Britney. Debbie made a sexy face.

At that moment Paul felt another presence dancing beside him on the dance floor. Muscling in!

He looked round and was suddenly face to face with what appeared to be his younger self, dressed in his wedding suit. This apparition, invisible to Debbie, was not leering at her but looking sternly at Paul, who averted his gaze.

And instantly he spooled back 36 years to his own wedding day, he and Laura sneaking up to the wedding suite to consummate the marriage.

Opening the door and discovering Uncle Derek, naked except for a string vest, with lipstick on his cheek and his toupee hanging limply below his chin. Then seeing Laura’s mum’s old friend Pam, who was unsuccessfully trying to squash herself beneath the bed.

“With a taste of a poison Paradise”, Debbie was moving in closer, arms around his neck.

The thoughts jumbled his drunken mind. Uncle Derek’s gratitude that he never told Auntie Jean had been embarrassing. He’d liked Uncle Derek, his jolliest relative. But that day he had reduced instantly in Paul’s mind’s eye from great guy to pathetic old creep. Debbie’s face got closer

“Too high can’t come down it’s in the air and it’s all around” panted Britney breathlessly.

Uncle Derek with his trousers round his knees.

He looked back at Debbie and saw her through the eyes of the young Paul, and of course instead of the sexiest girl at Barnfield High, she now appeared to be a wizened, over-processed, old crone, like Laura’s mum’s mate Pam.

And that made him Uncle Derek!

He mouthed an apology at her and sadly but firmly, the slightly smug ghost of young Paul led him back to his plastic chair beside the monkey bars while Debbie stood in the middle of the dancefloor looking understandably confused. Britney, warming to her theme, declared “I’m addicted to you, don’t you know that you’re toxic!” to no one in particular.

Paul put on his coat and looked around the room as the lights came on and the song ended. “I’m ready now!” he said echoing it’s last line before looking his own youthful spirit firmly in the eye and watching it dissolve into the dispersing reunion crowd.

Donald on dating

by James

Stan took another deep breath. His round honest face was beginning to adopt a look of a fat ripe tomato. Richard told him to breathe, laughed at himself, and then told him to breathe again, because what other advice did he have to offer?

Get the hell out of there, that was one thing.

Punch your brother in his fat face, and then get the hell out of there.

Or, punch your brother in his fat face, and hang about and clock him again when he could feel it.

Mark was sitting in the driver’s seat smoking a blunt with his eyes closed and a hazy smile.

‘Telling you, man. ‘s gonna work…’

Stan took another deep, deep breath. He had his hands curled into fists, pressing his knuckles against his temples, eyes screwed tight as he tried to psyche himself up.

Richard said, ‘Buddy. Bunch of flowers, box of chocolates…’

Mark snorted. ‘Fuck that shit! Be bold, my man. Be bold!’

Stan punched the roof of the car with both fists. He gritted his teeth together, whooped and then hurled himself out of the car before any sane part of his brain managed to stop him.

Mark sucked on his blunt, then giggled.

Richard twisted back around to the front and looked at Mark. ‘You are king of the dicks.’


‘Your own brother.’

Mark opened one eye to squint at him. ‘It might work.’

‘Total dick move. One hundred percent.’

‘It worked for The Donald.’

Richard rolled his eyes. ‘Guy’s a billionaire. Things are a little different for a guy who splits one half of a motorhome with his brother.’

Mark looked at him sharply. ‘Hey.’ He wagged a finger in Richard’s face. ‘Get it right, will you? It’s mine own fucking motorhome. Stan lives with me. Pays rent, he does.’

‘Your own brother.’

Mark showed a crooked grin. ‘Teaching him monetary cognizance, ain’t I. God knows, dude needs it.’

‘What a sweetheart.’ Richard turned his attention to the leafy seclusion of the Grishom’s long drive. ‘I can’t believe it – Julie Grishom. Eight years since we left high school, and Stan still has his crush.’

Mark giggled. ‘Want to know a secret? Banged her, I did.’


‘No shit. God’s honest. Third step on the stoop creaks like a bitch. How’d I know that otherwise?’

It was Richard’s turn to laugh. ‘I dunno. Maybe you paid a visit to her grandmother. You always did have a bit of a wizened crone fetish…’

Mark scowled and Richard grinned. He turned lazily at the sound of one of the rear doors opening. The car rocked as Stan hurtled inside. ‘Dudes! I’ve done it, I’ve done it!’

Richard stared. Stan was red faced and out of breath, and he was not alone. Squirming in his lap was a cat with long grey hair and a shocked expression. Mark turned slowly and gaped at the sight. ‘Is that…?’

‘A cat,’ Richard said.

Stan stared at them. ‘Dudes, let’s go! How the hell am I supposed to return Julie’s missing cat if someone sees me steal the thing?’

Mark began to giggle shrilly.

Richard closed his eyes. ‘Stan. Donald Trump wasn’t talking about that kind of pussy…’


by Jenny

Henry’s head is pounding so hard he’s worried his eyes are going to start bleeding. It’s the kind of pain that disorients him so much that he can hardly tell up from down. He tries to prise open an eye, but that does not go well. He throws himself back onto the pillow and tries to think.

Pillow. A good sign. He made it to bed at least. And before that? He remembers laughing in the pub. Vodka shots, a pretty girl. A phone number scribbled on a serviette. He remembers a brief jolting taxi ride and trying not to vomit, but vomiting anyway out of the open window. The splatter of sick down the cab door. He grins.

He remembers how the keyhole kept moving when he tried to push the key in and how the door eventually clattered open. He remembered the very real terror of realising that he might wake old Mrs Bagshaw and be dragged inside for a cup of hellbrew with his ancient landlady. This must be avoided at all costs.

He tiptoed slowly, swaying and swallowing, carefully avoiding the creaky third step that had betrayed him so often in the past. Four steps to go now. Two, one. And he had made it. Victory!

He inched his way past her door. Just five more paces to his own door, the goal was in sight. He thought of his bed and ached for it.

Was that it? It didn’t feel like it. Was there more? Ye-e-es…

Just as he’d thought he’d made it, he’d heard the familiar rattle of Mrs Bagshaw’s front door. Fuck. The landing had filled with orange light, the smell of cat piss, and the long, crooked silhouette of his landlady. There was no escape.

He’d been ushered inside to a violently orange and purple sofa and found a large glass of creme de menthe in his hand. The smell in the room is incredible; a mixture of too many cats and boiled cabbage and dirty linen. And something sweeter, more sickly and cloying that he couldn’t place.

She was talking to him in that gravelly workman’s voice of hers, showing him photos and smoking fag after fag after fag, the front of her terrycloth robe slowly slipping further and further open as she talked to reveal yellowing lacy underthings and grey flesh.

That’s when his memory cut out completely. The next thing he knows he’s sick as a dog and wishing for death. Light seeps in through the cracks of Henry’s eyes, though it’s too bright for him to make out anything distinctive. How had he gotten out of there? How had he managed to drag his wretched, inebriated carcass back to his own flat, his own bed? He deserved a medal.

But even as he wonders this, a sickening sensation blossoms in the pit of his agonised guts and he suddenly realises that he is surrounded by a strong and very distinctive smell, something sickly that he can almost taste. A grope under the bedclothes reveals that he is stark bollock naked. Horror now, panic and nausea. Henry sits bolt upright and forces his eyes to open to the blinding pain and the strains of a gravelly voice singing tunelessly drifts in, just as the kettle begins to whistle.