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The Dream Getaway by Nea Heathfield

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She had spent the week before packing. Each item carefully selected and folded as she dreamed of what they would do as she wore it, of him helping her out of it. The romantic country walk, the candlelit dinner, the drinks by the fireside, the night in the luxury four poster bed. She dared to dream of the proposal:

‘Does it matter that we’ve only just met? I know you’re the one!’ He dropped to one knee beneath the large copper beech she had seen on the cover of the hotel brochure.

‘Sophie, I want this for always, marry me.’ Taking her hand across the table.

Placing his hands gently on her shoulders as she smiled up at him, her face softly lit by the dancing firelight: ‘Marry me, Sophie.’

‘Darling! Marry me!’, as he pressed his face into her tousled hair and they rolled amongst the luxury bedding.

The dream faded a little when he scoffed at the size of her suitcase and a little more as he drove too fast and derided the ‘total bunch of tossers’ they worked with. Shocked, she couldn’t find the…

A Growed Up Man by Harry Husbands

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I return to school a growed up man, And stand in halls where words were thick.

I’m seeking Paul, who gobs in the hair Of girls he craves affection from. But he’s not here. Instead, he scaffolds, drinks, and tries Women with whistles, not phlegm.

I look for Claire, who keeps to herself; Who cries at lunch on toilet seats. But she’s not here. She’s trying to stay happy for the man Who gave her kids and took the rest.

I search for myself, who tries to learn; Who ruins books by using them As paper shields instead of swords; Who spends time running from others Instead of finding himself. But he’s not here either. He’s back at school again, hoping To find what he lost.


by Harry Husbands

A Lady Calls by S. P. Stevens

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3 a.m.

She was at her loudest now, a black wall of wind and rain testing the house to destruction. Another chunk of masonry fell and the walls sighed. I holstered the Glock. There had been no sign of looters for two hours.

A branch crashed through the kitchen window, showering me with glass, and the wind smashed plates and ornaments like a rowdy teenager. I staggered backwards into the hallway, unable to believe the storm’s fury, and turned for the creaking front door. As I lifted the latch, the door bulleted inwards, slamming against my face. I tasted blood, but pulled myself up in the opening, bracing myself between door jamb and frame.

I hesitated. Then, a tearing sound ripped the air as the tempest decapitated the building, lifting roof from walls like some demonic executioner swiping head from torso. Inside now outside, a torrent of wind, rain, wood and plaster fired down. I had no choice, I ran, out into the mighty lady’s buffeting power, as she fought to push me back with ang…

I Meet Your Mother for the First Time by John Grey

She is in exile here.
your mother, the gray-haired female Napoleon, bestriding this St Helena of a kitchen. We find her on a rock between the wall cupboards, stove and table.
Your father moved out years ago, she does not recreate him,
merely nods towards the
remnants of his empire,
the walls, the ceilings,
honored by her choice
of curtain, paper, linoleum,
and this liberating cooking range.
Her eyes peck at me for
signs of constancy. I grip your hand tight. I’m aligning with her hopes

Thanks for Calling by Robert Madden

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Brian's father made some final touches with his pocket knife. He would have much preferred a piece of basswood, or even some pine. But due to the way things were, he had to make do with a lump of MDF scavenged from a skip.
It was painful for Brian to watch. The old man scratching away at a piece of scrap, in a futile attempt to win back his life's worth.
'Dad, will you put it down,' said Brian. 'You know there's no point?'
'Now son, none of that.' He continued to work his knife. 'When this is complete, you'll see. Things will be back on track.'
'But dad, it's . . . over. Forever. It's never coming back.'
When the crash came, it was so ruinous - so finite - that they didn't bother to reopen the markets. All stockholders were abandoned. Total and permanent wipe-out.
'Dad, are you listening? Your holdings were -.'
'Here we go,' said Brian's father. He held up his creation.
In fairness, he had done a decent jo…

A Music Never So Sweet by Anne Britting Oleson

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At the base of a wind-fallen cedar,
roots lifted into the damp air,
a small pond ripples softly, dappled
by this afternoon's sifting sunlight.
Listen, you whisper, leaning close.
Listen to the world turning.

In the time before we stood beneath
this breathing canopy, in the time
before I knew your voice,
I didn't know how to hear this.
The trill of the waxwing which
tumbles down, so many gold coins,
I could not then count among my riches. Nor the hollow fall into water
of the tiny wood frog, now only two eyes
like bubbles in the muddy pool.

And those songs, the ones you sing
under your breath, without thought,
as we step carefully among the ferns.
It's a blessing, you murmur
on the faint movement of air. Listen.





by Anne Britting Oleson

The Rules of Commuting by Janelle Hardacre

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Layla prepped herself to fit into one of the small spaces under the armpits of suited businessmen and hipsters. Her fourth day in her new job and she already understood the unwritten rules of tram travel. No eye contact. No huge rucksacks. No smelly food.

She’d timed the journey exactly. 12 minutes in the crush. So packed you could hear the squeak of uncleared sinuses. It was all worth it to be a Store Team Member in her favourite ever shop. Her new status was advertised on her lanyard, despite her not being allowed to wear it outside work. For Layla there’d be no more clearing trays for people who thought they were better than her because they didn’t wear a hairnet and rubber shoes.

Toes tapped inside her platform trainers as she turned on her playlist. She gripped the yellow pole and tried not to think of all the unwashed hands that had done so before her. The doors slid open and yet more commuters negotiated their way into the horde.

Layla felt moist breath on her neck and saw a stub…