Lucy Goldring

The Brian Blessed belch I once found hilarious is reverberating around my parents’ tiny dining room and I catch your expression which says ‘yes-I’m-burping-without-restraint-because-I-reject-society’s-arbitary-conventions-and-don’t-care-if-I-am-embarrassing-you-because-I-am-being-real’ and your forearm is crumpling my mum’s best napkin and it still bears the lyrics of adolescent rebellion and as the flabby bass note sustains the room shrinks and shrivels and it’s not my family’s revulsion I feel but my own despair curdling in the warm juice of your gob-hole and if you will never meet me halfway I may as well stay where I am and where are your principles now you’ll accept work from ‘any-posh-cunt-stupid-enough-to-fork-out’ and I hate you using women’s body parts as shorthand for vile people and you are powering the belch through to its foghorny climax and your moth-eaten Anarchy t-shirt is clinging to your second trimester beer-baby when I’m the one who should have a bump to nurture rather than a man-child who suckles himself nightly on homebrew and conspiracy theories and homebrewed conspiracy theories from the safety of a skip-dived swivel chair encrusted in crow shit which is the only thing you have contributed to our so-called home and your booming Brian bugle is diminuendoing and the ribbity undernote is moving to the fore and as your lungs finally empty I realise the burp is not the only thing to have tapered off and a foggy silence reclaims the air and I think about my cosy teenage bedroom and Mum’s spag bol and later I will tell you if you really want to live in an echo chamber how about an empty flat with dodgy wi-fi and a crap-stained plastic throne and then my once enchanting man you can sit on it and swivel down down down into the murky depths of your very own lonely rabbit hole.

Lucy Goldring is a Northerner hiding in Bristol. Lucy has a story in Best Microfiction 2022 and features in Dr Tania Hershman’s 2023 charity flash anthology. She’s been shortlisted by the National Flash Fiction Day three times and twice selected for their anthology. Find her on Twitter (@livingallover) and her website.

Two Stories

Lizzie Eldridge


I was a bonnie wee lassie growing up in Glasgow. My Dad taught me not to be sectarian when it came to football. Hatred doesn’t mix well with anything, he said, passing me the ball in a moment of shared joy. I was a bonnie wee lassie with a Dad who showed me how to live.


Bagpipes are traditional at a Scottish funeral, but I’d never buried my Dad before. Melodies aching of bleak hills and glens left me standing, alone, by a cold mountain, scanning the empty landscape to find him there again.

Lizzie Eldridge is a writer, actor and human rights activist from Glasgow. She has two published novels, as well as poems, CNF, stories and flash fiction, and she cares deeply about language, truth and social justice. 

Two Stories

Cathy Ulrich

Where They Found You 

That part of town where the snow never melts all winter. Cackle-crows chatter something that could be your name. Your body a prayer. Your body a comma, a hyphen, a dash. When I knew you, your hands were never colder than mine. 

Other Worlds Than This 

After their son dies, Helena’s husband becomes an astronaut. Finds a spacesuit online, buckles the helmet over his head. He sits on their rooftop and stares up at the stars, mumbles. Helena thinks he must see their son’s face there. She is in the quiet kitchen, holding an empty plate and a naked fork, listening to the scrabble of her husband’s hands digging into the rooftop tile. He is talking about building rockets, she thinks, he is talking about taking to the sky. 

Cathy Ulrich doesn’t know anybody with hands colder than hers. Her work has been published in various journals, including Black Fork Review, Wigleaf and Pithead Chapel.

N Judah St.

Lu Knight

When everything feels wrong, you try to fix it – or move on or even ask for help. They prepare you to problem solve all throughout your school years – trying is better than giving up and giving up is better than admitting that you need help – because who would want to help the little dirty girl that’s been on this bus for hours on end?

I’ve watched adults come and go and come and go. I’ve watched them drag their noisy families up the stairs of the bus as their children point fingers at me. I’ve counted the times we passed N Judah Street. Seven times I’ve thought about getting off this bus. Seven times I’ve remained on this bus, digging my nails into the skin of my hand.

Lu Knight is a creative writing student at Appalachian State University. 


Isaiah Duey

Dear Kuya,

Papa told me a story about sirenas last night. He said they wreaked havoc after setting foot on human land and should have just stayed on the sea. He said being with them is contagious, that I could get their fins and that’s bad because their very existence is a sin. Are fishes sinful, too? Is that why people eat them? I don’t think I’d fancy sirenas for dinner because I actually like the luster of their tail. I think they shine in the moonlight or when the moon pulls the tide, though I’m not sure. But I don’t tell Papa about this, Kuya. Because sometimes I’d hear him pray I don’t get fins. He said he can already see my skin having flecks of scales on them, and that I might have been infected so he’s started a treatment to get rid of them. He lets me take swigs of his beer, like a man he said. I’m guessing beer is some sort of medicine, but I’m not sure about this either, Kuya. I still like chocolate milk best. On days the sun accents my scales, Papa would scrape them off my face like prepping a tilapia to be fried on a skillet. My face, arms, and legs burn from all the scraping, Kuya. But Papa said we must do this to make sure I don’t leave for the sea, too.

Anyway, enough about me. What’s it like in the sea, Kuya? I hope you’re having fun.

Your brother,

Isaiah Duey loves mermaids and the stories they hold. Her work has appeared in Five Minutes, 101 Words, and Versification. She hails from a country in Southeast Asia where she lives with her calico cat named Anya.

Making it better

Tim Love

When she cuts her knee in her grandad’s garden and cries, he carries her in and sits her on the settee, rubbing her leg.

“It’s a strange thing, crying,” he says, “Some people cry because they’re happy. Some people watch sad movies to make themselves cry.”

Confused, she stops crying and twists her hair like her mother does.

“When I’m sad,” he says, bringing his laptop over and sitting next to her, “I type ‘lollipop'”. He slides the laptop over. “Go on,” he says, “Try it.”

She wants to show off. She knows it has a double L.

“See how easy it is? Try it again.”

She types it three times, faster and faster.

“I like raspberry ones,” she says, “They’re blue, because red ones are strawberry. Blue’s my favourite colour.”

He remembers the lollies in the freezer and brings her a blue one, taking the laptop away because he doesn’t want it to get sticky.

“That was the last one,” he says. “Your gran used to keep an assortment in the freezer. I’d better buy some more. Maybe they do packs of blue ones.”

She makes the lolly last, watching him as he types faster and faster.

Tim Love’s publications are a poetry pamphlet, ‘Moving Parts’ (HappenStance) and a story collection, ‘By all means’ (Nine Arches Press). He lives in Cambridge, UK. His poetry and prose have appeared in Stand, Rialto, Magma, Unthology, etc. He blogs.

Circular Orphans

Gina Twardosz

I think she might’ve whipped it at him in the street once, or more likely, he asked for it back, but somehow, I have come to possess my mother’s engagement ring. It has a modest red stone, possibly garnet, shaped into a heart, placed onto a sleek gold plated band. It didn’t cost a lot and was bought so far after their engagement that I remember its selection and purchase. I don’t think my father proposed with any ring, they just shook hands like a business proposition. It was a marriage of convenience, mostly, which is not to say there wasn’t any love ever, but mostly the certificate was signed because it made sense (love, to me, has never made much sense) and I feel odd owning it now so I’ve stuffed it away in a box. I think about wearing it sometimes but I can’t detach it from its symbolism. Garnet is also my father’s birthstone. I almost pawned it once, but I hated the thought of someone else having it. I don’t think the ring will ever be worn again. I don’t think it’s something to be passed down. I think, maybe I should give it back to my mother, but then what would I even say? Here’s this love back.

Gina Twardosz (she/her) has had work published in Thimble Literary Magazine, Gotham’s The Razor, and Querencia Press. She has work forthcoming in Allium, A Journal of Poetry & Prose and Cobra Milk Magazine.

She’ll be a Writer

Ellis Jamieson

Two tiny tottering feet imagine they can fly with the gulls. Two blue eyes see mermaids’ worlds inside the rockpools. Her hand-me-down, red coat – a viking sail. Driftwood swords. Sandcastle kingdoms. She and the sea speak a secret language. 

Mum says,
“She’ll be a writer when she grows up.”

Ellis Jamieson is a queer, non-binary writer, based in the north of Scotland. They write prose as well as plays, and enjoy working next to their fire while the winds howl outside. Their work has previously been published in Shoreline of Infinity and on Yorick Radio Productions.

The Space Between Us

Alison Wassell 

Snail slow, we pass neighbours stiff as sentries lining the crescent they call a waiting room for the graveyard. On the main road a bus queue of pensioners pays its respects in what looks like a choreographed routine. When the lights at the bridge are against us you drum the seat as I twist Mum’s ring, the one you said I had no right to, round my too-fat-for-it finger. We stare straight ahead, The Favourite and The Other One, although we never could agree which was which. I ask if you remember the time Grandad’s trilby blew off here, in a blizzard, on his way to wait in for the man coming to mend the telly and we found it, days later, sad and soggy in the thaw. Your lips twitch, but just in time you remember we’re officially not speaking. In silence we pass the school where I fulfilled my potential and you failed to live up to expectations, and the park where you hung out with the rest of the cool kids while I sat in my bedroom watching Top of the Pops on a black and white portable, writing poems that read like suicide notes. We crawl past the pub where we had our first underage drink, me part of your gang for once, stumbling home, arm in arm, to Dad on the doorstep, half-pissed himself and doing his best not to laugh as he read us the riot act. I give you a shy sideways glance and know, somehow, that you’re thinking of the same thing. By the time the car turns into the driveway up to the crematorium our hands have breached the space between us, and our little fingers are entwined.

Alison Wassell is a flash fiction and short story writer, published by Bath Flash Fiction Award, Retreat West, Reflex Fiction, The Cabinet of Heed, NFFD and other random places. She lives in the North West of England with her elderly cat and has no desire whatsoever to write a novel. She wishes people would value short fiction more highly.


Tom Frazer

“Green is the most misunderstood colour. There must be more shades of green in the world than stars outside of it. And yet we call it all green.”

He sighs.

The old man is somewhere in a forest, lying on his back.

His sight is starting to fail. He can barely see the canopy above.

Still, he can remember.

He remembers trees he saw once. Remembers the dancing strangled light and the shifting greenness and the blood-black soothing shade and the crashing, seductive whisper of their melody.

He can still hear the melody, even if the rest is hidden. The song hasn’t changed; nor then, he reasons to himself, have the myriad of greens that sing it.

“Did you hear what I said?” he calls out.

No one answers.

There’s no one with him.

He smiles. The melody is just for him.

Tom Frazer is 28 years old and writes in London. He is studying a part-time masters in English Literature alongside work as a barrister.