First try

Flic says I can’t borrow the car: she’s got her evening seminar and one more missed attendance will land her in it deep. Seriously, what are the chances? She never goes to that class. I have got to get that car. I play it light, keeping my eyes fixed on the TV: sure, driving 10 miles in the snow for a discussion on financial forecasting does sound a lot more fun than couch and a box set. The reply’s whipped back: not going to happen, if I want to go anywhere tonight I’m going to have to walk – which reminds her she’s got to prepare notes. The remote lands in my lap and she’s already off the couch and almost to the door.
“Flic, wait!”
She turns and stares at me, eyebrows arched, lips pursed.
“Please let me borrow the car, please.”
She asks me where I’m going.
My mind serves up a big far blank and I end up just staring back at her. She sighs and slumps against the doorframe, arms crossed. I know what she’s thinking, that Sam wants to hang out with his little friends and play video games until early morning and return the car late in the afternoon and smelling of drive-through burgers. And on any other occasion she’s be right too. How is she to know how important this evening is for me?


A creature

Clio’s eyes widened as the man placed a creature on the table in front of her. A stick-slim, silver fish, but flawlessly smooth and stiff and arched in one direction before the tail curved up into a beautifully perfect quartet of spines. It didn’t move.

“A fork”, the man said.

“Affork”, Clio murmured, eyes still fixed on it. She reached out to touch it.

Morning pages

“A proximity to dreams.” Alex Graceland or someone. An online writing course he’d taken back in his 30s. Couldn’t remember a thing from it now, but the phrase had always stuck in his mind. He eased into his chair, shuffling slightly to find the grooves. “There is something about writing early morning, a kind of proximity to dreams, to the unconscious.” Yes, that was it, a rabbit hole, straight down into the unconscious. He leaned back, shut his eyes, tried to recall the dream. A child’s glove clutched in his hand, the fabric soft and limp. He’d wanted to return it. A sense of loss, heavy and at the same time empty. Eyes still shut, he sat with the feeling, tried to occupy it, tried to enter into its space. From the open window slipped a current of cool air which he now pulled in through his nose in a long breath and held it. He thought about his character, Marsha. What had she lost? He let out the breath and opened his eyes. Fingers hovered over the keyboard, he waited a moment for his mind to order the words and to enjoy the moment, the slipping into familiar routine. He started typing.

Fact. Fiction.

ONE fact. THREE fiction.

There are exactly eleven steps leading to the front door. The door opens from the left and you have to do it very slowly or it makes a loud squeak. When you enter the room it’s like going into a maze. Furniture, piles of books and clothes racks spill out to cover every inch, allowing only the tiniest path to traverse the room. If you walk the correct path through the detritus you come to the hallway door on the other side of the room. If you go off course, you’ll crash into something. I do that now and this is what wakes her up. I hear a low moan.

THREE fact. ONE fiction.

There are exactly three steps leading to the front door. The door opens from the right and it’s stiff; you have to nudge it with your shoulder. When you enter the room it’s like going into a cave. The gap in the skylight allows only the tiniest illumination, enough to see bare contours. The wooden floors creak with each step. If you walk in a straight line you come to the hallway door on the other side of the room. If you go off course it’s easy to crash into the glass table. I do that now and this is what wakes it up. I hear a low growl.