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…

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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…

The Corridor

  Coming down here seemed like a good idea, at the time. Now I’m not so sure. My problem is I just can’t resist a dare. You’d think I’d have learned by now. This corridor started behind an ordinary-looking door. The walls at that end are painted plaster, with no decoration. The floor’s tiled. There’re…

Chasing Memories

As I stand here, with my hand resting on your coffin, breathing in the scent of lilies and of wood-polish, the congregation is watching and waiting. I’m taking these few minutes to prepare myself, before I deliver your eulogy. There’s no shortage of memories; strolling together in the sunshine; running away from the rain; getting…