The Shopkeeper – part I

Julie places cutlery, plates and a lighted candle onto the kitchen table. She looks at the clock. Ali will be home soon, after closing the shop and locking everything up for the night. It will be just the two of them for dinner tonight—the girls are already in bed.  She sits and closes her eyes for a moment. She stands when she hears him come in, and starts to spoon food onto the plates. He comes into the kitchen, tells her that he is going to wash his hands, change his clothes. It’s always been this way, with him washing … Continue reading The Shopkeeper – part I


He sat down, leaned back against the wall, and closed his eyes. His train wasn’t due for another eight minutes. Two trains, then his. Someone, a man at the end of the platform, was shouting about how he hadn’t said something, “…you’re wrong, I didn’t say that, that’s not the way it happened”. A voice poised at the edge of anger, but for the moment it was okay, and, if checked, its ambitions wouldn’t spill over into aggression. And then a woman’s voice, much quieter but audible even from here; not the words, just the mood. The two voices lifted … Continue reading Intervals

A Satisfying Arrangement

Steven was regarding his reflection in a battered old mirror which was fixed on the wall in the corner of the shop. He was holding an old rolling-tobacco tin filled with tarnished keys, and not so much feigning interest in the tin and its contents, but using them as props, to allow himself this opportunity to peruse his own face. He tuned into the saleswoman’s voice: ‘…she gets them from Indonesia. Oh, and have a look at the books over there. On that table.’ He turned. The woman was pointing a long finger, with an immaculately-manicured nail, lacquered in orange, … Continue reading A Satisfying Arrangement

“This is the House”

  Roscoe tells me he thinks I’m getting better. I don’t know why he brings it up like that, from nowhere. It starts me thinking. I don’t feel much better. I haven’t been comfortable going out after dark for months. I count back. Three months? Four? ‘It’s all ended well,’ he says. ‘Has it?’ ‘It’s ending well, then. At least, not badly.’ He sits back, and appraises me. ‘I can’t see it,’ I tell him. ‘Well you’re still with us, for one thing. Aren’t you?’ ‘Barely,’ I want to say, but I’m not quite sure how it’d be interpreted, and … Continue reading “This is the House”

Lemon Perfume

One time after school, I’d gone back to Yvonne’s place. We sat in the living room, watching television. Mrs Morelli brought us cups of tea and slices of fruit cake on a tray decorated with labels from Italian liquor bottles. After she’d put the tray onto the coffee table, she lit a cigarette with the golden flip-top lighter on the mantelpiece. She clamped the cigarette in her mouth, looked in the mirror over the mantel, and fixed her hair until she was satisfied. I watched her without turning my head, because I didn’t want her to know that I was … Continue reading Lemon Perfume