Lou is reading The Mill on the Floss for school. It’s hot, and the crook of her knee is sweaty where it’s bent up and pressed against the edge of table. She has cold lime cordial from the fridge in a glass. Bob has milk. She tries not to notice the row of ants following a drip of honey across the table top. Bob is scraping up the honey into a dam, drowning the foremost of them. She should clean it up, and wipe Bob’s smeary hands, and his face with its mixture honey and dirt, rub it with the dishcloth quick and firm, the way her mother does. She turns a page of the story. Bob starts to push his matchbox car through the black trail of ants. Newcastle Short Story Award Anthology 2019
Nadine was out in the sun, the fresh air. Of course, it was no different from the other side of the high fence, but the wideness of the horizon made it feel new. She tried to push down the feeling, the excitement and tension. She retrieved the key from Cassie’s handbag and found the red Honda. The remote, when pressed, beeped and unlocked the doors.
Nadine was half anxious and half relived to see an ambulance arrive and slow to a crawl to get through the security gate. They would treat Cassie here or take her to outpatients. She might be kept in hospital and would certainly be on some strong analgesics. Nadine stood there, unmoving, thinking. It had happened without warning. The Tenth Cut, Clandestine Press
‘On Either Side’
Lana sat on the cane couch on the veranda, the way she often did when she came on her three-day visits to her mother, squeezed in between stints at her part-time job. At these times she needed a break from Bev, the blaring TV, constantly being asked do things. Now she wanted to get away from the empty chair, the half-done crossword, the magnifying glass nearby. Morse, the cat, stared at her from behind the screen door, every now and then standing up and flicking his tail. She sipped her gin and tonic, the last of her mother’s gin, and watched the sunset burn in an arc across the horizon.
Pigface & Other Stories Ryan o’Neill (ed) Margaret River Press
The black, writhing scales look fleshy against the flaccid skin. Jamille imagines him once young, well built, when the snake that wraps around his arm was a symbol of his virility. Now the arm is shrunken with a purple hue: a sign the atrophy is advanced. Mostly, the men come to her in the later stages after they’ve tried the official channels; when the cost and the waiting lists prove too much. The women come earlier. They’ve seen the results the medical services have meted out to their friends – radical treatments of massive skin grafts, even amputations. – The Big Issue Fiction Edition 2017
The group of students crowded around the ground floor entrance to department chanting and clapping and holding up placards—the sunny quietude of well-watered lawns at odds with their noise. Elizabeth had to push past them to get in; the whooping surged around her then receded as she made it in to the relative safety of the foyer. Some of the other academics had come down the stairs to observe the proceedings. – Little Fictions, Dire Straits
The day Lucy finally agreed to drive her daughters to the factory outlet shop was the day she came face to face with her own demise. She sat in the car in the driveway reading a book, waiting out the last-minute fussing in the house. Her youngest daughter, May, came out and climbed into the back seat, a waft of a tropical scent, maybe jasmine, accompanying her. ‘Bree’s texting someone,’ she announced before Lucy could ask. ‘Great,’ Lucy said under her breath, trying to catch May’s eye in the rear-view mirror to share her exasperation, but May stared resolutely out the window. Lately, May had moved over to the Bree camp. Lucy pressed the horn in three short barks and fired up the sat nav, clipping it into its holder. – The Great Unknown, Angela Meyer ed, Spineless Wonders
They are the kings of the air. The cockatoos come arcing in on their great white wings, their screeching ripping the air above the trees. It is piercing, tears through him like a thrill. He spreads out the bread on the balcony, kneeling down as the birds swoop in, perching on the railing or dropping down to the deck, strutting over the boards, eyes on him. He holds out his hand, palm up. Come on, you know me. The bird takes the square of bread in its great claw and nibbles. The others rush in with a clamour, the morning alive with their movement. – Sleepers Almanac No. 6, Sleepers Publishing
A row of almond trees separated the two lots, Skink’s and Lily’s; they met there to take a rest in the shade from digging and weeding their patches. But why did there have to be weeds? The City controlled everything, so why did they allow them? To keep the lotters occupied, Skink supposed, keep them out of trouble. She tried to say this in her head to Lily. They often practised being quiet like this to see if they could thought-trans to one another, just like the cubers, but now Lily merely looked at Skink blankly. – Shortlisted, The World to Come, Spineless Wonders