I’m scrubbing the word SCUM off the front door of our house. I wipe so hard that my wrists start to ache, but the red letters remain bold and bright, their edges dripping as if they’re bleeding.
The whipbirds are going mad in the fig tree by the fence, the way they always do before a storm. I turn and look at the dark clouds collecting over the buildings ... More
Alex is watching his wife as she stands at the pale stone bench and raises her canister of Chinese herbal tonic to her shoulder to give it a quick shake. She gives him a game, faintly ...More
Before the ceremony began, the woman with hairy legs and an air of having just abandoned a cigarette wandered as though at a party to the coffin where – though it was impossible and not so – Clelia’s mother, Margaret, was. Three days ago, four days ago, Clelia had said to her mother, ‘Come and see the blossom I’ve brought back.’ She had just returned to ... More
One by one the Shetlands had emptied. Father said we had to make ourselves known or we were next. He was trying to get into the Scottish Stud Book and Elector was his answer. I didn’t care. I just wanted to ride Chicken.
Father said the ponies h ... More
It takes more than half an hour to put on all the layers of the dry suit. First the woollen thermals, then the thick undersuit and the neoprene seals around the neck and wrists. Finally, the membrane shell. All this before we even look for the hole in the ice. By the time we hit the water we are as plump and blubber-thick as the more cold-adapted creatures: se ... More
Georgie heard it too. On the very first morning of this story, though so much had gone beforehand. The usual warbling of the typical magpies, if anything so mysteriously complex as a magpie’s song can be called typical. There she’d lie, day after day, alongside Muir in their countless beds, in cramped corner flats and large creaking homesteads, in cold fi ... More
He was a man with a pinboard, and that boosted him a hundred points in her nervy evaluation, the first night she saw his room. On the pinboard were tickets, a laminated backstage pass, a wrapper from a Swiss chocolate, all those things that could wait for drowsy burbling nocturnal stories in the dark, the recounting of Times Before Her recited off like threaded bead ... More