Soot Covered – By Jenn Blair
Short Stories Of The Week / January 30, 2011

That blue house in Somerset has twenty five rooms. I counted them once. When I was young, I spent many afternoons playing with the little girl my age that lived there. Sometimes, we would go to the attic where her mother kept a trunk full of clothes. We’d put old dresses and shawls on, and parade about in hats with ostrich feathers.  I also loved how her mother kept lemon drops in a glass jar shaped like an egg. I don’t remember ever seeing my friend’s father. But his absence hung like a breath all over that house—on tabletops and overstuffed pillows, and on rugs, and in the portraits in the hall. Many of them were old sepia pictures of men in suits with collars that covered their necks—men wearing cold ambitious eyes, all the whiskey they drank condensed into cold stones of fierce amber rings wrung around their fingers. Childhood is a haze interrupted by nothing, save a few punctures of startling clarity. The first tear came when my father cut the grass for the first time one spring. As I walked on the lawn, I noticed the pieces lay like fallen soldiers all over the ground. So rich…

The Last Waltz – By Annie Edge
Flash Fiction / January 9, 2011

Mrs Murchison met the man from Vienna on a train. She was leaving the city where she had spent the day at her granddaughter’s fourth birthday party, and the train had just pulled away from the station. She hadn’t said anything to her daughter, but she wasn’t comfortable on trains. It wasn’t a physical thing – the jolting motion she rather liked – it was the sense of being trapped there, hurtling along at a terrific speed, but held still, at the mercy of anything that came along. And to be on a foreign train, too.  She and Arthur had driven everywhere, never relied on public transport, and she would always help by map-reading, or unwrapping  Murray mints,  but now that he was dead, she had no one to take the lead. She left her compartment and walked out into the corridor for fresh air and almost bumped into the little man. He started back, away from the outer door which had just slammed shut, and was clutching a small, battered suitcase to his chest. They span, their shoulders leaning away from each other, and he fell back through the open door of her compartment, and into her seat. “Oh, I’m…

Passing – By Guy Cranswick
Short Stories Of The Week / January 9, 2011

The day Evan Miller stopped smoking, he wept. For several years he had promised himself he would, but he never gave an exact date: there was no reason to, not yet, he told himself. When he reached a certain age, which he also never articulated, he would stop. It would be a time around the next corner when he would throw the last packet away. It had been a bargain Evan had made with himself and hoped he would not have to fulfill, though in his deepest thoughts he knew it would happen, eventually. To continue smoking would have been stupid, and though Evan knew it was bad, and increasingly expensive, he had persisted because he had enjoyed it; perhaps it was what it represented: a carefree pleasure, which was not his normal habit. When the day came and he tacitly accepted that he must stop, his tears were quiet and manly. His tears were for some unknown object: perhaps it might be called the passing of time and his own measure of life. He had smoked since college, it was a part of him; it was part of who he was, as he thought of himself as a person….