Category: Modern Fiction

Sea Urchin By Julie Dawn

Sea UrchinHe thought she was a rock. Smothered in seaweed, motionless, her skin encrusted with salt. But then she moved, and he leapt back so fast that he fell over and landed on the sand, which was not as soft and accommodating as you might think.

She uncurled herself, her hair a tangled web of darkness, twisted with mermaid’s necklace and several pale starfish. Her face was darkened by sun and reddened by wind. She was tiny, a waif of a thing, with kelp wrapped around her body like a second skin, and she reeked of rotting weed.   She looked like an urchin, a waif.

She hissed at him, baring tiny white teeth like oyster shells. Behind her, the sea breathed softly and rhythmically, whispering to itself, vast and impenetrable.

Ben drew back, but he didn’t run. He was seven years old, and he was not afraid of anything. (Except the dark, and climbing frames, and flying beetles.) He stared at her, and she watched him with dark eyes, lustrous and deep as the ocean. He glanced around. His mum was a long way down the beach, hand in hand with her boyfriend Darren, following the lacy edge of surf and leaning down to pick up a shell or a piece of crusty pumice. There was nobody else. The sun had nearly dipped below the horizon; the sea was glowing with that strange fiery light that comes when there are stormclouds looming, and the sky was streaked with gold and pink like candyfloss.

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Apollo XI By Julie Hayman

Apollo XIJuly 1969. Everyone’s making rockets. Kev’s made one, Bobby’s made one, Nick Cruikshank has made one. Kev’s is a Fairy Liquid bottle covered with white sticky-back plastic and the words Apollo XI written in permanent marker along the side, like he’s seen Val make on Blue Peter, with wooden forks, the kind you get at the chip shop, glued low-down to make it aerodynamic. Bobby’s is an Airfix kit he bought at the model shop on Fisherton Street, with transfers of the American flag and NASA up near the snout, while Nick Cruikshank’s is a fab one, built with Meccano, complete with a launching gantry on wheels. They’re going to have a competition in the park on Saturday afternoon, to see which one’s best. Kev asks if I’m going to bring a rocket too: I nod and race home.

I’ve already got an empty Cornflakes box, some crow’s feathers from the garden, a square of corrugated cardboard and some cocktail sticks in my bedroom drawer – they might be useful for it. I ask Mum if I can have the washing-up liquid bottle, and she says I can when it’s empty, but it’s still half-full so won’t be ready in time – I’ll have to think of something else for the body of the rocket.

By teatime, I haven’t come up with anything. By bathtime, nothing too.

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Meeting Fran By Jennifer Thompson

Meeting FranMeeting One

“So we have the veg covered; on to poultry, then there’s just ingredients for desserts and hmm, anything else?”

“Wine, lots of wine.”

Copious amounts of alcohol would be the only way of getting through yet another dinner party with the awful couple from across the road Angela was so bloody obsessed with. She pretended she hadn’t heard my comment, as usual. The joys of Tescos.

“So you still O.K to take the kids out later?” She asked, whilst trying to select the best from a bunch of identical apples.

“Yeah sure, I’m a bit jealous of them actually.” I remarked.

She lifted her head briefly from apple duties to give me a disapproving look.

“Why on earth would you be jealous of a bunch of teenagers thrashing around to rock music and spilling drinks all over one another?”

“Because that sounds incredible.” I replied honestly. God, I couldn’t even remember the last time I was out past midnight. I’m sure I used to have fun. Angela tutted in response,

“Right, these should do fine. Let’s head over to the baking stuff.”

“Sounds absolutely thrilling, darling.”

“You go and get the wine then, make yourself useful.” Angela ordered, in a tone that reminded me of my mother.

“Rightio.”

I trudged over to the vast alcohol isle, passing a group of lads debating whether or not they would get served for their four litre bottle of cider. Those were the days.

So did the Wilson-Jones’ prefer Italian or French red? Who cares, I thought, grabbing a decent looking £5.99 bottle. Suddenly there was a loud clunk from behind me, followed by the unmistakeable sound of glass shattering. I looked around to survey the damage.

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