Front of the house

Look at him working. The way he smiles at every customer. He’s impeccable. But when he goes to his room at the back, at the side of the kitchen, the smile is gone. He sips clear liquor from a teacup, swears under his breath, and watches everything through the small glass in the door. When he sees a new customer, he’s out to greet them, bounding over, showing them to a table. Then as he bows slightly, moving away, he nods to a waiter to bring menus, water. He returns to his room, sits down, stares through the glass, sips … Continue reading Front of the house

Gin and It

Gin drains her glass, and winces. ‘That was too sweet,’ she says. He’s standing an arm’s length away, polishing the bar. ‘You were smacking your lips earlier,’ he says. ‘Well I’m not smacking them now,’ she says. ‘You mixed it too sweet.’ ‘I always mix it the same,’ he says. He moves further down the bar. ‘Miserable old drunk,’ he says under his breath, but not low enough, and she catches a word. She raises her glass then bangs it down. He gives her a look. There are hundreds of bottles in front of her, so shiny and soothing, the … Continue reading Gin and It


‘None of this is real,’ he said. ‘Didn’t you know that? Did nobody ever tell you?’ ‘They told me other things,’ I said. ‘Stories and rules. But not that. These trees, and the sky: they’re real, aren’t they?’ ‘None of it. All of it doesn’t exist. It’s a confection; as real as a puff of dragon’s breath.’ ‘But dragon’s breathe,’ I said. ‘And I exist. My skin is warm.’ I took his hand, and placed it onto my bare chest. ‘ Where I touch myself, here. There’s life beneath my fingers. Can you feel it?’ ‘It’s illusory. All of it. … Continue reading NOTHING


It’s the usual cafe, every Saturday. Today, Aaron asks for a banana milkshake, and his brother says he’ll have one too. “He always has the same as me,” says Aaron. And it’s true, the brother always has exactly the same, whatever it is. “Why do you have to copy me?” says Aaron, riled by his brother’s smile. “I decided to have banana before we came in,” says his brother. “So maybe you copied me.” “I’ll have strawberry instead,” says Aaron. The waiter looks at Henry, who turns away. Henry tells the boys that he’s going to the toilet, and to behave … Continue reading HENRY


If I had a lion, I’d train it to eat anyone that wasn’t me. It would just be me and the lion. The lion would do his stuff, and I’d do mine. He’d hunt, because that’s what lions do. I’d harvest and eat wild plants and berries, because that’s what I’d do. I’d shed my clothes, and walk naked. The two of us naked. Afternoons I’d spend reading and writing, and he’d rest, drowsy, one eye half-open. Half-watchful, but half’s enough in the afternoon. At night, together we’d stir at noises from far away. Stirring, together, at these sounds in … Continue reading IF I HAD A LION