"I expect you’ll be becoming a schoolmaster, sir. That’s what most of the gentlemen does, sir, that gets sent down for indecent behaviour.” Evelyn Waugh, Decline and Fall
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India

India

The obvious irony was that she wasn’t from India. She didn’t know where she was from, ethnically speaking, but she could pretty much count on not being Indian. Why her adoptive parents named her India was not a story she liked to tell. She bore the burden of being beautiful. A burden few others could...
Young vanish

Young vanish

Standing in my garden, smoking too quickly and slightly drunk, it came to me that I should write to you. It’s funny how certain smells can make a person nostalgic – just cigarette smoke and night time made me think of you. Those smells don’t remind me of you, exactly, because nothing really does (and...
Friday in the park

Friday in the park

On the third Friday in June, Stephen decided it would be as good as time as any to leave the house. See, Stephen had been inside for nearly a month. That’s what happens after guys like Stephen lose their jobs. Get fired. Go home. Stay there. Indefinitely. Stephen had gained, I don’t know, maybe twenty...
Visiting hour

Visiting hour

The hospital room smelled of antiseptic cleaner, but it could not mask the odor of sickness. It was Michael’s eighty-fourth birthday. He did not feel like celebrating. He had just survived a week in the Intensive Care Unit after his kidneys, heart and lungs had failed. When he was moved out of the ICU, the...
Kitsune

Kitsune

“Goblin foxes are peculiarly dreaded in Izumo for three evil habits attributed to them… The third and worst is that of entering into people and taking diabolical possession of them and tormenting them into madness. This affliction is called kitsune-tsuki. “The favourite shape assumed by the goblin fox for the purpose of deluding mankind is that...
It was the books in his head that killed Michael

It was the books in his head that killed Michael

I knew I had a sickness, knew something wasn’t right, took me years to figure it out. And then, it was too late. Always too late. A head full of words all queuing up to get out, stories fighting among themselves, dreaming of the white page and me taking to the drink for solace because...
No subject

No subject

It was only a couple of months ago. She was at the office settling in at her desk when she noticed ‘No Subject’ waiting in her email. It seemed strange for her aunt, a notorious perfectionist, to have left the subject line blank. She guessed it had something to do with her father, whose sixtieth birthday...
Not Etgar Keret

Not Etgar Keret

“We laughed so much we cried,” they said. The funniest guy ever, they said. You missed a great film, and watching it on DVD will only add to your misery. You missed the chance of a lifetime to visually assess his wife, to admire him, her, him, even from a distance. You could have felt...
Gyromancy

Gyromancy

My best friend was swallowed by the earth when I was ten years old. Eleven years later and I don’t remember much about him. His name was Jake Delong and I think his parents were separated. He lived with his mother. I always liked how she said my name: To-om, pronouncing Tom as if it...
Human terrain

Human terrain

A latecomer slides into the middle row. “War Studies?” he asks the brunette next to him. She nods. I tell the students to put away their texts. “History isn’t in those books,” I say. “Where is it then?” the latecomer asks. A girl in the front runs a finger over her iPhone. “Bomb in Pakistan...