Malcolm's coo became a cry.

The child peeked into the cardboard box, vexation clearly etched etched upon his face. "What's the matter, little bird?" he asked, reaching down to stroke the wounded pigeon. His mother had warned him to stay away, that sometimes birds would bite and a wild bird like Malcolm could carry diseases. He didn't care. He wanted to stroke his back feathers, far enough back that the bird's beak couldn't reach his pudgey fingers... just in case.

"David! Stay away from that bird!" his mother called.

The boy yanked his finger back just as the pigeon lunged...

Read more

It was a surpise to discover that grandad's home disappeared down the sink hole. The ground literally swallowed him up, not a trace for over ten years.

Now I was grown up, I was allowed to stand around with the paramedics and police and watch the removal of the body. I didn't avert my eyes like Mrs Wozniak standing next to me, one moment excited and chattering, eating ham and mustard sandwiches, spitting crumbs, next moment for once in her life she was quiet. The reality of life versus CSI on tv. Soon after turning her thick neck away she...

Read more

The sky was blue, the grass was green and the little clouds were as fluffy as the picture in a child's reading book. All was well with the world. And on her swing, she could see above the park, above the neat hedges and the flowering bushes. She could, as she swung higher still, see over the row of terraced houses and into the street beyond. Over the flowering cherry trees and the neat gardens with their blossoming plants, over the heads of the middle class and middle aged gardeners and housewives and shoppers and busy bodies of the suburban...

Read more

The spies met at the corner of Drake Street just past the stained glass windows I always liked as a child. It seemed a shame this location would soon be linked with something so unpleasant, but killing is no game.

Unlucky passers bye, parked cars and the old masonry from the toy shop all crumbled under the impact of the explosion.

The morning newspapers were under orders not to disclose any details of the actual targets.

By that time I was on my next assignment, busy with details and transport routes.

Catching sight of a tv show in the hotel,...

Read more


Kept in the cellar in a woven sack. My pillow for the last three weeks since Grandpa decided I was too bad to live with the rest of them.

Not that I did anything wrong by normal people's standards.

Grandpa was funny in the head. Grandma was scared of him so went along with his punishments for us kids, and took a beating herself too.

Life was hard for her. Grandpa had a way that could make himself look like a regular person when he met other folks. No-one knew what was really going on in our home.


Read more

She had made her bed and she now had to lie in it: that was what her mother had told her and what she now believed. So she was lying in it, like a good little girl – meek and mild, silent and compliant: behaviour that had got her to where she was now – unhappy, stuck, unravelling. Because old habits die hard, you see, and it is difficult to change. How does one forget three decades of learned behaviour? How does one peel off and discard the labels people attach? They don’t, that’s how, because they can’t – not...

Read more

Two rows of terrified youth, each plastered, clingingly, to the fences on opposite sides of the tennis court. 16 bouncing 4-square balls. 16 times times 20 opponents per side: the numbers were staggering. The odds of being struck by lightning paled in comparison. You could win lotto 35 goddamn times before you'd escape a barrage like this.

And someone said "GO!"

They raced to the balls, grabbing all the resources they could muster for their side, hoarding the ammunition. When one side has only 3 balls, it's much easier to keep track of who's hunting you.

Her side had 11...

Read more

The wires passed from hand to hand in the complex trading ritual. THe boy watched raptly, taking his training with the serious concentration of surgeons and chess-masters.

"You wrapped the wrong red and pulled the wrong green," he noted to his papa in mixed Spanish. The wires were then braided into his hair, the auburn hues mixing with the artificial Christmas tones.

"The day your hair grows out of these strands, you will have all there is to desire in this world. On that day, you may cut these colors and move on to the next."

The tea kettle screamed...

Read more

Only four days were left until the end of camp, and he'd resigned himself to his fate. He wasn't going to talk to the girl with the ponytail. He had run through the reasons why she would never see anything in common with him, and could almost recite it like a creed of self-defeat.

He saw her at the ridge, looking out over the farms in the valley below. Her headphones were plugged into her walkman, and she seemed completely at peace.

The tape player clunked to a stop. She sighed, took off the headphones and looked around. He realized...

Read more

Once, in Beijing, a young girl in a red gown huddled in a doorway. Like it had been ever since the Chinese industrial 'revolution', it was smoggy and grey. She stared off into the limited distance, trying to peer beyond all the smog.

"Where's mother?" A voice came from behind her.

"Oh, you know the answer to that, Chang'e," she replied. "Go ask dad. I'm sure that he'll say what he's always said."

"What's that?" she asked.

"You're so forgetful..." the girl mumbled.

"But you are too!" said Chang'e. "I bet you don't even remember what father said to you...

Read more


We like you. Say "Hi."