Dead Calm

  He was sitting on a discarded millstone, a solid mass of grit half-swallowed by yielding grass. The early morning mist still hung above the fields in the stationary air. He was free to be just as idle because without the wind, the runner stone does not turn. When this strange weather had first taken…

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Caged

  Albert gave up trying to see through the fogged-up window, and moved back to the feeble warmth of the one-bar fire. Frank, wrapped in a blanket, was slouched on a threadbare sofa. He was picking at his toenails and farting. Albert couldn’t be so relaxed. He had a job to do. He’d got Frank…

Workmates

  He had turned up, after all. He was waiting for me next to the van. He was blowing on his hands, trying to keep warm. He said, “Bad luck. You’re lumbered with me today.” I could've told him that he didn't have to hang around outside at that time in the morning. Instead, I…

Rear Gunner

He tracks the fighter as it stoops towards him. It is a shadow in a dark sky. He must not fire too soon, or the muzzle-flash will give him away. Exposed and alone at the tail of the bomber, he holds his breath and waits. Every nerve is crackling. When he feels that he can…

The Shadow of Life

  “Drive fast,” she said. “Just keep going faster.” She knew that the car and the road were real, but she saw only shadows in a mist. She had always lived in a solid world; now she was trapped in the pain of the day that it ended. She is getting her daughter ready for…

Anastasia

    They needed to keep you and your family hidden, so they painted over the glass in the windows, and ordered you to keep them closed. You opened one, anyway. What did you think when you looked out into the courtyard, Nastya? Were you surprised to see that the promise of Spring had matured…

Early Harvest 1914

I grip the handles of the scythe and swing it right to left, right to left. I keep the blade low but away from the dulling stones. It slices through the stems and the wheat falls to my left, into a neat row. The scythe moves easily; I can work like this for hours. It…