Last Week of Jean
A man sat by the road weeping
It was the last week of Jean. Cards, flowers, presents. Her computer sighed its last. She stared at her blank reflection on the empty screen. Her eyes frightened her. Her body made her sick. 5pm Friday but she couldn’t move from her desk, into a thousand years of retirement, alone.
Runner-Up Prize: Derby Book Festival 2018
I hate you
A man sat by the road weeping.
A passer-by asked him why he cried.
‘My friends and family are all dead.’
‘That’s awful! When did this happen?’
‘It hasn’t but I know that one day they’ll all die.’
The passerby sat down with the man and began his grieving.
He smeared up the phones glass with the steam from the fresh coffee and drew a smiling face in the sheen.
I hate you
It flashed its second reminder
He wiped away the smile.
Bombs were dropping on half the planet but only two mattered. The one in front, that meant I’d never win back that card money from my best friend, and the one behind that meant we couldn’t retreat. I waited for a third. Years later, I still feel like I’m waiting.
Wrong Kind of Demon
The giggling old ladies helped us with our tiny snowman, then one of them put it in a plastic bag and without a word of English waved and pointed at our car.
“They want us to take it home.” I said.
“No silly,” my wife replied. “It’s for our car. Locals drive down from the mountains with snowmen on the bonnet to show how high they’ve been.”
Everyone stared as we took the hairpins out of the village.
The Russian woman with the gothic hair
I thought I’d followed the instructions. Keep it warm, under a blanket. But it tore it to shreds. Feed it sweets. It spat them at me. Gets too wild shout “Crundilfieditusohmagikasterholsonian!” It left by the hole it made in my roof.
I think it was the wrong kind of demon.
The Russian woman with the gothic hair and seething eyes, fixed me hard against the wall with fingers wedged into my collar.
I waited for the kiss, the slap, some love, some hate. Instead her eyes dropped through me. I wasn’t who she thought I was. I’m left empty by her unfinished passion.
2016 lay puddled on an ancient mattress in a dismal, filthy room, surrounded by needles and smelling of his own vomit. 2017 broke down the door and pirouetted to a stop, looking down on last year: ‘We need to hose this place and start afresh!’
2016, with a final effort, offered to cook up the heroine.
Sad Santa took up his sleigh, flipped Rudolph’s reigns and flew away into memory. The ten year-old boy listened to the Hoover suck up the last of the talc snow by the fire place, couldn’t hear a page turn, a chapter end, a door close.