Revision

Sine over cosine equals tangent. A fly is hitting the window, over and over, by his ear. The square on the hypotenuse is equal ... Every time it hits, the buzz-drone jumps. He is staring at the pattern of its tiny marks, and imagining Charlie, naked. Want to smell my cheese? It's his mate, this fly. Trapped, like him; cruel, really. He bends back his clear plastic ruler to give it a good, hard whack into oblivion, and misses. The fly fizzes up the pane to do its business further off and Miss looks straight at him, sideways, as always. His eyes drop to the notes on his desk. Eat it and find out. Two desks to his left, Charlie shimmers: perfect, engrossing, red cheeks glowing under eyes as blue as this summer afternoon. But those eyes are not on him. They are on Miss. An equailateral triangle. Always.
by
Andrea Bennett
@andreawiderword

505 Streetcar

On Sumach, blinking strings of Christmas lights hung with old twist ties light the cracks in broken windows and split veneer, a half-moon is on its back rocking in the severe cold warning at the edge of the tenements near the misplaced Mercedes Benz dealership marking the cross into civilized territory and we still avoid eye contact, the look of disgust on one guy’s face is palpable while he stares at a sex worker who’s staring at me because I’m an easy target for her amusement, white-knuckling my purse, sweating though it’s cold, until the streetcar shakes and screeches into a turn on Broadview, out of the projects, to the station where we burst from the doors and start breathing once our feet touch ground and we part with a secret we can’t tell, like drunk strangers who fuck and wake up hungover, pull on our clothes and slink away.
by
Trasie Sands
@trasiesands

Great White Shark

Sharks rarely attack people. But, when they do, you don't want a top-of-the-food-chain great white. The great white will sever your leg in the blink of a cold, black eye. Probably swim off when she realizes her mistake, but life leaps away with the bloom of your blood if the medics don't get to you quick. Victims say they feel nothing. Just look back and their leg is gone. Can't imagine being so numb. Most sharks are cold-blooded, but great whites are endotherms: they can raise their temperature for sudden bursts of speed. I throb for you all of the time. People think great whites are ugly because they're scary. But – beginning with Jaws – it's the music that renders them monstrous. If you extinguish the noise, they're majestic: their beauty literally awesome. Like yours. If only you came with a soundtrack that would teach me not to love you.
by
Michelle Christophorou
@MAChristophorou

The Ocular Precision of the Photography Teacher

His finger caresses the shutter button of the Nikon like the lips of a lover. When he’s captured enough life, he takes the camera and retreats into the dark room like a hermit. I follow on the whisper of hope. As he dips and swirls, rinses and hangs, I watch the miracles appear. He spreads his images on the table and points to the tiny details he’s picked up, things he says are not discernible to the human eye: The sun feathering the wing tip of a red kite. The glint of white fear beading the blackness of a vole’s eyeball. The wind sweeping the whiskers of wild barley. But there are things he doesn’t pick up. The red glow highlighting the swirling steam of my coffee cup. The quiver of my blouse covering my beating heart. The pheromones of longing keeping me close to his side.
by
Louise Mangos
@LouiseMangos

Falling in Love with Vinnie Sparrow Inside and Out

Vinnie Sparrow regularly turns his eyelids inside out on the playground at break time. We squeal with grossed-out delight as he chases us with his sherbet-furred tongue sticking out and those pale pink slivers of skin half covering his sky-blue irises. It snows for four whole days in February, and a group of us goes to the top field to slide down with bin liners borrowed from the custodian’s cleaning cupboard. Vinnie loses control of his stolen canteen tray half way down and tumbles into the wire fence at the back of the football pitch. The packed snow drift behind the goal is splattered with crimson. I clutch him, and stare into the chasm of his gashed cheek, past the shiny amber jewels of fat globules, to the blank white smoothness of his jaw bone. Until Mrs Smithfield says they really need to get him to the hospital.
by
Louise Mangos
@LouiseMangos

This Is Why Grown-ups Buy Torches

I was a child once, pretty good at it too; laughed too loud, wriggled in chairs, lifted my toes when trying on new shoes. My father spent his days amongst wires and dials, had little time for wriggles and laughter and knew he was a size 10 without lifting a single toe. He gave me a switch for my birthday, 11th or 12th, can’t remember exactly. He told me when it was time to become a man, when I’d grown tired of youth and weary of hope, when my feet were a size 10 and I knew it, I could flick it and turn on the light of adulthood. The day arrived. The world smelled of wet paint and tasted of salt and I bought new shoes without trying them on. I flicked the switch. No light came on but, one went out.
by
Richard Kemp
@boredwizard

Living With the Enemy

We've skirmished for the last twenty years. Our scripted gunshots are programmed into every hour, of every day and so on. We know each others irritated retorts even before we spit them out. It drives me mad (him too). Sometimes I'm so frustrated, I could scream. I feel I'm being smothered by toxic gas and I'm tempted to leave to save my life. Then I look at him and can't actually make it to the door. Yesterday, we found we were on new ground. I didn't want him to come with me, but he came anyway. I'd hoped to be free of his lectures about politicians, the economy, the appalling driving habits of everyone else on the road. I'd wanted peace to face whatever was coming, a clear head. What came was a gigantic truck. After the oncologist had finished explaining, my sparring partner said, 'I'm here, lean on me.'
by
Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon
@CeinwenHaydon

Useful objects and fabulous creatures

It wasn't my fault. I just wanted to keep the cats off the lawn. The Catalogue of Useful Objects described it as a harmless deterrent. A local tabby arrived, halted, slunk away. 'It's magic,' said Poppy. 'It's the noise.' I explained how some creatures can hear sounds we can't. 'They've got magic ears,' said Poppy, dismissing ultrasound. Next door's dog came out, bounded towards her, then halted as if at an invisible fence. 'Will it stop unicorns?' Poppy asked, mouth turned down. 'I'm sure it won't.' She doesn't differentiate between real and imaginary. The daylight faded. Poppy dashed down the garden. I thought she had grown three feet till I realised she was mounted on a white, horned animal. 'Come on,' she told it. 'Mum has sugar lumps.' The unicorn moved towards me, hit the barrier. It bucked, turned and trotted off, taking my daughter with it.
by
Jenny Woodhouse
@piratejenny3

The Night the Fishmonger's Van Reverses into the Youth Club Pop-up Disco and Shifts Debbi's World

She is spinning when it happens, a big bang, pilchards slithering in an ever-increasing arc, spilled from a giant blue bucket on the back of the fish truck, ice cubes scattering like stars on the shiny black universe of a portable dance floor, spinning, spinning in the centre, Debbi is a brightly-coloured planet wobbling on her axis, thrusting her hips to keep everything suspended in the vacuum, a single mirrored ball sending out filaments from its solar corona, as she sucks the caipirinha from her plastic beaker, bursts of lime juice vesicles stinging her tongue like scales, but she can’t stop spinning, mesmerised as the fish approach in the perfect synchrony of an expanding super nova, as the closing bars of “Discotheque” fade, Bono is the king of the heavens, the Neptune of the deep, and Debbi’s hula hoop clatters to the floor with the last of her determination.
by
Louise Mangos
@LouiseMangos

A new life

There were no street names to help her orient herself so she followed scents of rosewater and cardamom. Stumbled through cobbled streets and lines of washing, dragging her battered red suitcase to a tiny, yellow rose-filled tea shop. She clutched the key round her neck, the one that unlocked a house that no longer existed, as she drank tea and ate sweet pastries like her mother made, felt the ridges of her neck relax.
by
Anita Goveas
@coffeeandpaneer

Dislodge

The cough near lifts him off the ground. Dislodges a deep chunk of something. Like an ice shelf dropping into the sea, much faster than expected. Tries to spit but it's all strings. Between his fingers. A child's game that tells a story if he could only remember the correct shapes. Wiped on his leg. There's a town below the window and he can't remember when he last stepped out. If he's allowed to. If he could make it down the stairs. It's all he can do to catch the pigeon feathers that sink from the rafters and to dream of the ocean beyond the buildings. All this gunk inside him, but never enough wax. He still works away. There's sun out there. Open sky. He could take it in both hands. See his boy again.
by
Charlie Hill
@farleighchill

Only About Love

When I shave him he moves his mouth and face around like he's chewing an invisible sweet. He offers up his neck with absolute trust; I glide the blade down beneath his chin and over his Adam's apple. It's massive, like he's swallowed a rock.     I hear the rasp of his stubble and it's almost like the noise is coming from me, because there is sandpaper inside me. My stomach is made if it. My heart is made of it. My throat. My insides have been transformed into a million tiny pieces of rock.     He can no longer speak, but words are unnecessary. Life is now simple in its cruelty; he once cared for me and now I am caring for him.     Each touch of my fingers on his skin reminds him that love still exists. I want all his waking thoughts from now on to be only about love.
by
Debbi Voisey
@DublinWriter

Highway 349

His Plymouth Valiant, the car he'd had since he was sixteen, lay overturned in the ditch. After he had crawled out from under it, Tom sat by the road. It was completely dark, save the headlights pointing, cockeyed and aimless, out into a field. Tom lit a cigarette and inhaled. Some blood had dried on his cheek and he could feel it crack and flake. Jesus Christ, he thought. Jesus. What a mess. After three cigarettes Tom stood up. He felt weak and nauseous. He thought for a moment about turning the headlights off, to save the battery. He laughed. The battery? He had three or four hours of walking ahead of him. He was in the absolute middle of nowhere. But the stars were bright, inspiring, ancient. The car was just a hunk of metal after all. Nothing but a pile of steel and wires.
by
Travis Cravey
@traviscravey

Aftertaste

She dresses in white, like a bride, or a sacrifice. A virgin, an angel, a slick-skinned plastic mannequin in the window of the defunct Kohl's in Peoria, where she used to live with Brent, but that was a long time ago, wasn't it Now she lives in New York City. She has left the past behind. The self help books say that is the right thing to do. Move along girl, you are growing and going and doing your thing and toning your butt and drinking kale in a glass! In the restaurant she sears wagyu, pounds duck so thin it melts to nothing. She lashes coconut milk over bittersweet custard, punches rosemary into sourdough, bruises the sweetness out of honeycomb. She sears, pounds, lashes, punches, bruises, she, she, she. Brent is an aftertaste. In the newspapers she is little white hands full of watercress, truffles, saffron strands, michelin stars.
by
Grace Cahill

Ritual

It's our Sunday tradition to drive into the Peak District, strap on our water packs, and start our GPS watches. The world brightens during the uphill slog. Ascent defeated, our reward is to share a pack of Jelly Babies as we soak in the view. Today, fog shrouds the summit. Freezing rain drives into my face. I don't stop at the top, but push on, slipping and sliding down the muddy slope. You were always in better shape than me: racing to the top and then looping back, nimble as the sheep that skittered out of your path, to run the steepest sections a second time. I said you had the heart of a man twenty years younger, and you laughed and said you hoped he wouldn't want it back. Driving home alone is the hardest part.
by
Hannah Whiteoak
@HannahWhiteoak

I, and my lovers

My mother’s first love broke his neck for the Weimar Republic; her second was exiled after Hitler’s demise. Long before the Velvet Revolution, we fucked in the firing line of cameras and tanks. But then a wall broken for freedom turned our passion to whimpers and drowned them in cards of sex business and videos. Is this what you wanted? cried the young man from Chemnitz. Now an old woman, I remember the peace years, the decades when we let love unravel and opted instead for online shopping. Outside, they are sharpening their axes, and striking about in word and deed. We shall rise from your ash, they scream as they tear down each post and lintel, and throw leather-bound books onto the bonfire of the frustration I, and my lovers, have sown.
by
Sylvia Petter
@SylviaAPetter

Probably Nothing

On the road to Waddington we pass a woman climbing out of a ditch. We pull up after 100 yards and turn to watch her through the TV of our rear window. She brushes something from her pink sweat crops, glances all around. Traipses off in the other direction. "We should’ve gone back," I say, after a while. "Well, we didn’t," says Pete. He leans across to the glove box. It gapes open onto my lap with a clatter of CDs. "Choose something upbeat, for Chrissake." I grab the nearest CD. "She could’ve been mugged and left for dead," I hazard. "Been dumped by an ego-ridden boyfriend. Hit and run. Date rape. Alien abduction." I turn to stare back at the empty stretch of horizon. "It could have been anything." Pete winds his window and sticks a palm out, resisting the breeze. "Yeah," he says, "but it was probably nothing."
by
Linda Grierson-Irish
@lamgiart

The Herd

The steam rose in silent clouds from the large backs of the animals as they ate. Maybe twenty or so in the herd were packed in the courtyard for the early feed as the light rose gently behind the far trees and seeped silk into the inked sky by the milking parlour. Only the small shuffles of hooves in the hay and their heavy exhales lifted out over the air. The calves remained in the straw-warmed barn, blinking a slow morning prayer. Apricot down licked up in tufts by the rough tongues of their mothers. I stood still as a reed, casting a shadow through the doorway longer than the walk there. I watched their stomachs rise and fall in steady peace. I know what I have to do.
by
Louise Cato

@pretendcato

A Life Deconstructed

In the days following her death he walked around the house gathering her things into small piles. Flat items were stacked – papers, cards; other belongings were stowed neatly into bags – unfinished knitting, toiletries. He cleared her side of the wardrobe, and seeing the clean space, emptied his side too. Despite his age, he managed to drag most of the furniture into the garden; and eventually it became easier to knock down the walls, rather than trying to heave the bulkier pieces out. He surprised himself at his own strength. Dismantling was not unlike constructing, it brought a certain purposeful satisfaction, and he arranged everything into tidy piles outside, until there was no 'outside'. A week later all that remained standing was a single front door frame, and he stood at its threshold, uncertain of where it might lead.
by
Laura Adams

Conscious Decisions Never Taken

The detective sergeant never had a pram in the hallway of the flat she lives alone in. At the end of her shift she takes the day’s criminals to her bed. Her lover does too. She doesn’t think there ever was a questionnaire. She can’t recall ticking a box that said No, it just never felt right to kill time chatting to mothers at school gates or in play parks. On weekends, she doesn’t have to drive her teenager, so she can take her car, that has no scuff marks on the back of the driver’s seat, out of the city, to practice the words to break it off with the criminals, telling them it’s not about you it’s just me, but she concedes that at least they’re dependable in their deceit and anyway when her lover won’t divorce his wife, who else is she going to spend Christmas with?
by
Marissa Hoffmann
@Hoffmannwriter