A Bit of Faith

The whistle sounded we’d made it; this year’s Heineken Cup final would be featuring Munster! It all started way back sometime in mid-July when we first met up for pre-season training. After being introduced to our new head coach Ger Greene. We were put through our paces to be fit and ready for our first competitive match of the year. The training was finished it was now time to put into action all that Ger had taught us in the very little time he had to coach us. The first five games flew past and we were on a good winning streak, but my season was yet to kick into full-swing. Up until then I had played a combined 15 minutes for matches all coming after the end result had already been decided. Ger had noticed my lack of game time and handed me my first start as a senior Munster player in the following game. It was a massive game for the province as we were playing old rivals Leinster. I played out-half so naturally I got lots of touches and I had a steady start, finding touch, making all the right decisions and even kicking a 3 point penalty. Then, the worst thing that could possibly happen, a dropped ball. My first mistake in my first start. The next ball I received I got smashed by opposing fullback Rob Kearney. As time went on the mistake count rose and after just 2o minutes of my first game I had played the worst game that I could remember. I was substituted just before half time but oddly Ger kept his faith in me and had me once again on the bench for the next couple of league games, where once again he would...

Flash Fiction: Formula 409 Mar31

Flash Fiction: Formula 409...

On Tuesday, Margaret told me she liked the little oranges with the seeds better than the ones I bought. I hated her for that. She was so insistent that they were utterly delicious that every effort to convince me of their juiciness and taste was an added stab in the back. I told Dr Oekkert who asked me as usual, “How does that make you feel?” On Wednesday Claire rang and we played golf in the morning and had brunch at noon. She and Richard are planning another trip to France to see their wonderfully successful son Pierre. Why would you christen your son Pierre? Neither of them are French; it’s like Pierre’s French existence was foreseen. I wonder what Claire thinks of my oranges? I’d like to think that, even if she didn’t like them, she’d lie were I to buy her some, go out of my way like that. In the car I found a Bakelite ram pin, a real one too. It was under the passenger seat; I only saw it because I was reaching down there for the Andrea Bocelli CD I like to listen to. There’s one song in particular called L’Ultima Canzone that gives me goose pimples every time and especially when after a round of golf and when I’ve been listening to Claire’s treatise on her beautiful children for several long hours. The item, the bracelet was, as I’ve said, expensive. How did I know? Well, for a start I used some Formula 409 on it when I got home and it turned yellow. A Bakelite pin like this one is worth several thousand dollars. I know this because Amanda with amazing legs in that place next to the “Dressed to Kill” office on 162 East 70th...

Flash Fiction: The Boston T Mar27

Flash Fiction: The Boston T...

In the T station there was a bunch of au-pairs playing cards. Malory approached and stood a short way off and observed how the girls were throwing down cards on to a pile then looking at what they had left in their hands. The screen said the next train was due in two minutes. He was going to Harvard Square to the Coop where he intended on staying for most of the afternoon. Now that there was a coffee shop there too as well as the books he could entertain himself for hours and that was a good thing. The girls quietly played their game as a choreographed unit and yet once in a while one amongst them would look at Malory or another commuter and hold a gaze for a few moments and pop some gum or brush a lock of hair away from her eyes or push her spectacles further up her nose; one girl – the most engaging of them all – wore a hat and had thick-rimmed glasses a bit like Clark Kent. Malory watched her the way one might watch a tapir in the zoo: she was at once unfamiliar yet reminiscent of a feeling but which feeling precisely he couldn’t decide nor did he try too hard to discern. She had rouged cheeks and thick red lips and a dimple square in the middle of her chin. Her neck was unwrinkled and her loose sweater allowed a view of two emphatic collar bones that rose slightly from her throat to her shoulders at an attractively subtle angle. Malory watched and breathed and appreciated the focus of his attentions, happy to be so harmlessly entertained while waiting for the train. When he turned his gaze to observe the train...

Flash Fiction: Pig Stencil Mar27

Flash Fiction: Pig Stencil...

As I was turning from the road into my drive I felt a blow from behind. Careening round and utterly helpless, I saw I’d been rear-ended by Stephanie McMullane, the silly woman living three doors down in the mobile home. Long past the point when she ought to have stopped driving into me, she looked deadpen into my frightened eyes and hers registered none of the panic the moment warranted. I thought, “The old bitch’s finally lost it; must have forgottent to take her meds.” But while I heard my car crumple and the tricycle approach on the footpath, a serenity gently descended on the scene, a mellowing I attribute mostly to my own benificence. I decided I wouldn’t emerge from my poor car wielding fists and punch her squarely on the jaw; I wasn’t into hitting women anyway – bad for business you might say but there was a moral urgency at play too. Instead, and only once the cars had come to a complete stop, I took the can of blue spray paint and the stencil of assorted farm animals and found the pig and approached Stephanie McMullane on her right flank. She was rolling down her driver door window when I blasted her with pig-shaped spray, getting her square on her blouse which housed her massive bossom. “What are you doing?” she cried, trying to prevent any further branding with her small, fleshy hands, her eyes scrunched up and her thin lips rolled back tightly like a wound. “This is my contribution to the mayhem you’re intent on engendering around here,” I asserted, “but as to why I chose this particular mode, I really can’t say. Call it convenience,” my finger firmly wedged down on the button. “My blouse, it’s totally...

A MYSTERIOVS TALE OF GVNPOWDER, AND THE COLOSSEVM by Cian Morey Mar26

A MYSTERIOVS TALE OF GVNPOWDER, AND THE COLOSSEVM by Cian Morey...

The lion jumped on the retiarius and tore off his head, helmet and all. Disappointed with the visor over the face, the lion tossed the head aside. Emperor Trajan watched from his box as the head rolled slowly across the sand and came to a stop against the wall, leaving a winding trail of stark red blood behind it. The crowd cheered and yelled, shaking their fists or clapping, some on their feet, others in their seats, others jumping up and down. The lion, having disposed of the head, proceeded to gnaw into the rest of the body. ‘More gladiators!’ Trajan commanded, to the lanista standing at the side of the arena. The man nodded and disappeared into the tunnel in the wall of the arena to fetch the requested gladiators. The last gladiator who remained came up behind the lion slowly, with a sword in one hand and a shield in the other. The lion, engrossed in the consumption of its victim’s torso, did not notice his approach until the gladiator stabbed down through the back of the beast’s neck. The lanista reappeared from the darkness of the tunnel and ushered out four more gladiators who immediately began hacking at each other. Emperor Trajan watched excitedly as one gladiator knocked another to his knees, drew back his sword and drove it straight through his throat. Something tapped Trajan on the shoulder. Trajan looked around. A man in a dark brown cloak stood behind him in the box with a hood pulled down over his forehead and eyes. ‘What is your name, and what are you doing here?’ Trajan asked sternly. The cloaked man did not reply to either of those questions but reached inside his cloak and drew out a small wooden box which he proffered to Trajan. Trajan stared at it then turned to the Praetorian Guards stationed at the corners of the box. ‘Dispose of this man,’ he commanded. But they did not respond. It was as if they hadn’t heard him. ‘Dispose of this man!’ Trajan ordered again, more firmly this time. But still his guards were not moving. Trajan turned back to the cloaked man. ‘What trickery have you done to cause this?’ ‘I have done no trickery,’ the cloaked man replied. ‘I have done something far more advanced than that.’ He proffered the box again. Trajan was struck by his unusual accent. He had not heard anybody speak with such an accent in all his life. He glanced down at the box then back up at the cloaked man then down at the box again. Cautiously, he took it and examined it from all sides. ‘You need not examine the box,’ said the cloaked man. ‘It is of no importance. Its contents are what you should be examining.’ Trajan narrowed his eyes at the man then opened the box with a creak. Inside was a small block of some heavy metallic substance, smaller than Trajan’s hand, along with three small boxes. Trajan lifted out the block of metal delicately and peered at it. There was a thin bar of metal curving from the front piece to the bottom piece and behind the bar was another metal protrusion. Trajan pressed it, and it slid back with a click. ‘What is this object?’ Trajan exclaimed, stupefied. ‘Allow me to demonstrate,’ said the cloaked man, snatching one of the small boxes, opening it and reaching inside, extracting a small golden cylinder. He plucked the block of metal from Trajan’s hand with long, tanned fingers, and loaded the cylinder into it. ‘You might want to block your ears,’ the man said, and Trajan, puzzled, did so. The cloaked man then held the object with both hands at arm’s length, aiming across the arena, and pulled the trigger. There was an explosion like nothing Trajan had ever heard before. A plume of smoke burst from the front of...

The Shadow by Cornelius McCarthy Mar11

The Shadow by Cornelius McCarthy...

Ever since Sparrow suggested that I should write this story I’ve wondered where I should begin it. The beginning is a very good place to start but the problem is that, because this is a true story about me and many others, the beginning isn’t so clear-cut. Do I begin with the moment that I was born? or the moment that my mother knew that she was going to give birth to me? What about the moment that the parents of the eldest person in this story knew that he was going to be born? See, the beginning of this story is just like the beginning of the universe: you can’t pinpoint exactly where it starts. You can come up with ideas, like Hawkins did with the Big Bang theory, but there’ll always be the question of what came before. With that said, I think I’ll begin this story with something that happened in the spring-time, two months after my eleventh birthday. School was over for the day. I was walking home, humming the theme-song to one of my favourite videogames. It had been a very interesting day. Mr Fagan had spent all of classtime talking about nothing but trains. I find this interesting because it was so different than the stuff that we normally talked about, like fractions and grammar. I don’t always like people changing the timetable because it makes me feel unprepared but I really liked this change. He knew so much about trains and, if I had had a chance to go to the Model Railway Village after this lecture, I’m sure that I would have been able to tell my foster parents a lot more about its trains than my twin could, despite the fact that it was his...

The story of Philip Maguire and his potato by Stephen Mellerick Mar11

The story of Philip Maguire and his potato by Stephen Mellerick...

It all started when our over-heralded star, Philip Maguire, woke up in a imaginary desert. It was the eight time it had happened. Feeling exceedingly angered, Philip Maguire hit a dull pencil, thinking it would make him feel better (but as usual, it did not). He then realized that his beloved Potato was missing!  Immediately he called his undeclared soulmate, Maguire Philip. Philip Maguire had known Maguire Philip for (plus or minus) 20 years, the majority of which were flamboyant ones.  Maguire Philip was unique. He was easy-going though sometimes a little… abrasive. Philip Maguire called him anyway for the situation was urgent. Maguire Philip picked up to a very mad Philip Maguire. Maguire Philip calmly assured him that most South American hissing sloths shudder before mating, yet spotted wolf hamsters usually explosively yawn after mating. He had no idea what that meant; he was only concerned with distracting Philip Maguire. Why was Maguire Philip trying to distract Philip Maguire?  Because he had snuck out from Philip Maguire’s with the Potato only three days prior.  It was a curious little Potato… how could he resist? It didn’t take long before Philip Maguire got back to the subject at hand: his Potato. Maguire Philip panicked. Relunctantly, Maguire Philip invited him over, assuring him they’d find the Potato. Philip Maguire grabbed his rhinocerus and disembarked immediately. After hanging up the phone, Maguire Philip realized that he was in trouble. He had to find a place to hide the Potato and he had to do it fast. He figured that if Philip Maguire took the noise-polluting import, it would take at least eight minutes before Philip Maguire would get there.  But if he took the Maserati then Maguire Philip would be ridiculously screwed. Before he could come...

YE OLDE TAVERN  by Cian Morey Feb14

YE OLDE TAVERN by Cian Morey...

YE OLDE TAVERN BEING A SHORTE STORY TO MAKE YE THINKE, CONCERNING SOME CURIOUS GOINGS-ON It was raining. Heavily. The rain bounced off the uneven cobblestones of the narrow street, and gathered in murky puddles where cobblestones were missing. Slightly tilted stone and timber buildings loomed up on either side of the street, their upper stories protruding out and almost touching each other. The street was empty, except for one dark figure who was striding purposefully down it, but keeping to the shadows at the side of the street beneath the overhanging upper stories of buildings. He wore a saturated dark brown cloak. He had pulled the hood of this cloak up over his head, but not because he needed shelter from the rain. The wooden sign of the tavern, on a pole above the door, swung gently in the wind. The paint on the sign was flaking, but could still be seen – it displayed a brightly-clothed dancing man holding a tankard of ale, and the writing beneath the flagons went thusly: THE DRUNKEN JESTER The figure in the dark brown cloak stared at the wooden sign. He had come to the right place. The figure stopped outside the door to the tavern. He placed a tanned hand on the door and it opened with a creak; he then stepped inside swiftly to escape the rain, and shut the door behind him again. The tavern was dimly lit by candles on the low, wooden tables. The cold stone floor was rough and bumpy. A bar was situated by the left wall, behind which a man with long, scraggly hair and a stubbly chin was cleaning very grimy tankards with an even grimier cloth. On the wall behind the bar, a head of a deer was...

Pedro the Tree by Cian Morey Jan16

Pedro the Tree by Cian Morey...

Pedro was a tree, and he didn’t like it. The costume had taken him five hours to produce and perfect, but Pedro realised now that it had been a waste of time. He stood as a tree on the side of the Ramblas, watching the crowds pass by, and earning no money at all. He had put a small shoebox at his feet for coins from pedestrians. It was empty. Pedro stared glumly at it. He had gone to a lot of trouble to make his tree costume as realistic as possible, with his arms outstretched into two sleeves painted meticulously to resemble branches, his eyes peering out from knots in the bark and his nose painted greenish-brown to resemble a small twig protruding from the front of the tree. Pedro had planned to draw people over to him with his amazing tree costume and when they would put coins in his shoebox he would perform a little dance.Unfortunately, passersby saw him not as a street performer, but simply as a tree, and they walked right past him. The only thing to come right over and investigate him was a scruffy little dog which, once he had sniffed at the trunk a few times, proceeded to urinate on Pedro before ambling off to rejoin its master. Pedro began to think deeply, a skill he wasn’t quite sure he had mastered. He forgot about keeping his arms up, and his branches sagged. A gust of wind blew over the shoebox. Another dog came over to relieve itself on his trunk. Pedro continued to think deeply. And at last he had an idea. His tree costume obviously wasn’t catching anybody’s attention so he needed something else that would. On the opposite side of the Ramblas he...

The Wormhole by Cian Morey Dec03

The Wormhole by Cian Morey...

JULY 5th, 2031 – 12:51 PM The space shuttle Washington glided slowly through the space, a vast dark void peppered with distant stars, an amazing sight for any new astronaut. But Bob and Mike had seen it all before – they had been on the shuttle for a week and half – and now took more pleasure in their lunch than in the mind-blowing infinity of blackness all around them. They had been sent on the trip with the intention of discovering the source and meaning of some very vague signals being relayed to Earth from a little beyond the Moon. However, there had been no further signals for the last eight days. Space, despite its immensity and all the stunning things within it, can get a little boring, and Bob and Mike wanted to go home. But NASA had insisted that they stay on course and conduct their investigation as planned, so Bob and Mike were due to spend another two days going forward before they could start the return journey to Earth. They’d  had not found any evidence of anything out there beyond the Moon, and had almost completely stopped checking. For example, on July 5th 2031, lunch had dragged on for an extra quarter of an hour as each tried to amuse the other with the small number of jokes they knew. They had been telling the same jokes for a while now: ‘And the barman said, “Keep the change!” ’ murmured Bob. Mike chuckled very briefly and very quietly. ‘Bob, could you pass me that packet of M&Ms?’ he asked. ‘Sure thing.’ Bob reached down and picked up the packet. Then there was an almost deafening noise, an almost blinding flash, and the space shuttle Washington entered the wormhole. The...

Theme: Writing from a visual Nov14

Theme: Writing from a visual...

We’re inviting writers to submit short stories inspired by the picture you see here. Please send in your entry on or before Thursday 21st of November 2013. We look forward to reading all entries and choosing our favourite which will be posted on the site.

Innsbruck by Daniel Dilworth McCarthy Fiction Prize Winner May24

Innsbruck by Daniel Dilworth McCarthy Fiction Prize Winner...

It was two days after the due check-out date that the hotel staff realised the British tourist was still officially a guest of the hotel. The maid gained access to the bedroom shortly before midday. The drapes were fluttering, the window thrown open. The bed sheets had been overturned and a bedside lamp in pieces on the floor. Inside the en suite there were splatters of blood on the wall by the bath and, inside it, lay the cold, motionless body. The tourist arrived on the flight from Gatwick in the morning and made his way to the hotel in the Altstadt. It was grand, a remnant from the days of the Hapsburgs. He moved to the desk, put his case down on the marble floor and picked up a brochure on the countertop. Flicked through it. Put it down. Picked up another one. Glanced briefly at it, put it back. The receptionist noticed him. ‘Wie geht’s?’ How are you? ‘Gut, danke.’ He smiled. ‘I have booked a room.’ ‘What is the name?’ The tourist told her. She went searching on the computer. ‘Yes, sir, room 212 is waiting. Dirk will bring you up.’ ‘Vielen dank.’ Dirk came up behind him. ‘I’ll take your bag.’ ‘Thanks.’ As they walked to the lift the tourist started gazing up at the vast ceiling. The artwork was sublime, the plasterwork beautifully surrounded it, the walls were- ‘Watch where you’re walking!’ The tourist was brought back to earth. ‘I’m terribly sorry. The man, in his forties, looked hard at him with his bright blue  eyes. ‘This isn’t a museum, so please stop having your head in the clouds.’ ‘I am so sorry.’ The man with the blue eyes pointed to a bundle on the ground. ‘Look what you...

“It’ll Do” by Joseph Dilworth: McCarthy Fiction Prize Runner-up May24

“It’ll Do” by Joseph Dilworth: McCarthy Fiction Prize Runner-up...

Blankness. A mental void. Emptiness. Where to start? A look around the site yields, in order: pretty blond; muscular sportsman; pretty blonde; pretty blonde; muscular sportsman; muscular sportsman. I fly through the rest of the site. Something catches my eye – two blondes have the same picture. My face wrinkles. Liars. Like all of their kind. I look at the fakes  again. Not the best agency. It’ll do I start where I always do: “Hi, my name is Dave.” Delete, “It’s James.” Delete. “How’re things going? My name is Francis.” Delete. “The name’s David.” It’ll do. “I’m forty-seven.” I look around the site again. A pack of lies. Delete. “I’m twenty-seven.” It’ll do. I’ve a criminal record. I shot five cops and knifed two more.” Delete. “I’ve a criminal record- of picking up chicks.” It’ll do. “I’m a serial killer who lures whore to their deaths.” Delete. “I’m a serial satisfier who lures women to their beds.” It’ll do. “My wife was unfaithful and I blame the world.” Delete. “I’m faithful.” It’ll do. A picture of a muscular young guy. Delete. A picture of a fit – but not overly so – man. I click post. It’s probably the most honest thing on this site. It’ll do. “N.Y.P.D! Open up you motherfucking bitch!” I grab a loaded gun and point it at the door. It’ll...

Now We Wait: Competition Runner-up by SwagDaggy May24

Now We Wait: Competition Runner-up by SwagDaggy...

“Okay, let’s do this”. Andrew pressed the 10 second timer on his sister’s DSLR then sprinted over to the other side of the room. He stood, clad in an ill-fitting tuxedo, with his back to a book case filled with leather-bound books. With hair perfectly coifed, he bared his teeth in a grin and looked at the lens of the camera with a hungry look in his eye. The camera beeped in a countdown. Six. Andrew’s jaw started quivering, his cheeks aching. Five. His eyelid started to twitch. Four. A drop of spit hung on the edge of his lip. Three. A bead of sweat rolled down his forehead. Two. Andrew’s weight bearing leg jerked. One. A fly bounced off the uncovered light bulb. With the flash of the camera, Andrew dropped his shoulders into a relaxed hunch and retrieved the camera. The photo was processing on the monitor, having transferred straight through the USB cable. As the photo uploaded onto beautifulpeople.com, Andrew retrieved the sheet of paper his mother gave him. He had tasked her with listing his best qualities. It was a painfully short list. As he stroked the beard that was confined to his neck, Andrew scrutinised the page in a vain attempt to come up with some more. Filling out the basic information, he reached the personal questions. Yes, he was single. No he didn’t smoke or take recreational drugs. The most private thing he was willing to admit? He had a midget fetish. Why should you message him? Because please. He spends a lot of time thinking about? Fedoras. He’s really good at? Turning invisible when nobody is watching. Something he has never told anyone? When he was young, his father used to dress him up in his sister’s...

Wall Calendar Blues by Darragh Walsh May06

Wall Calendar Blues by Darragh Walsh...

  Michael sat in the carver facing towards the door. The rays of sunlight came into the principal’s office onto the back of his neck. He finished off his teacher evaluations just before the bell commenced the first lesson of the day. He leaned back on his chair with his hands linked on the back of his head and let out a long sigh. He looked over to the picture at the calendar hung on his wall. The sun setting, the water rippling on the surface, the white sand…… “Good morning Mr. Hyde,” interrupted Noreen. She had been the secretary for the last six years and was still going strong. “Morning Noreen,” replied Hyde as he returned all four legs to the floor. “You have a meeting with the new substitutes coming into the school today, please try to make them feel welcome.” She finished in a tired voice, and left. He groaned at the thought of the coming day: punishing students, making announcements and now introducing substitutes to the school. He let out another long sigh and rose from the upholstery. He made it a step out the door to be greeted by the sound of a principal’s worst nightmare. The fire alarm started to blare out of its deteriorating speakers. Its high pitch made his stomach turn. He hurried around the corner and into the cramped intercom room. “Can everyone please make their way to the appropriate fire exits please, this is not a drill,” he announced in the calmest voice possible in order not to panic students. This was followed by the sound of doors opening and classes following teachers like ducks following their mother out of the luminous green doors. Hyde followed the closest group out the doors and to...

Derek Rive by Aaron McCarthy May01

Derek Rive by Aaron McCarthy...

A black raven perched on the stone, white building while the rain pelted against a ligneous sign which read: “Suzanne Hopper’s Convenience Store”. The raven turned its head to the left and watched as an azure Volkswagen sped past the city library and came to a halt outside the grey two-football-pitches–long warehouse which was located to the right of Hopper’s. Inside the automobile, a lanky man with gelled black hair and a pinstripe suit sat in the driver’s seat drumming his fingers along the steering wheel. This is it, Derek Rive thought as he stared dismally at his silver ring, If I fail in this job I can kiss Winnie goodbye. With that cheerful notion planted firmly in his head, Derek prevented the radio from singing any more of Bruno Mars’ “When I was Your Man” and opened the door to his left. With one glum look at the bird on the convenience store, Derek opened the door leading into Jacob Eep’s Landrover Factory and closed his eyes. There was no turning back from this imminent doom. Derek stepped inside the warehouse and the raven flew away. Derek looked instinctively at the giant, Land Rover-sized gate to his left as he entered, before he stepped forward, past the metallic stairs leading to the PR and Board offices on the “second” floor and made his way through a swarm of white uniform–clad employees. While only the ceiling’s central spotlights shone, Derek strangely felt that the spotlights were on him as he filed through the employees and came to a rest alongside his friend, the hunched, balding Chace Hara.        ‘Where’s Wally?’ Derek asked. He glanced around and frowned: the needle was not in the haystack.        ‘I d’no,’ Chace said, scratching his nose. ‘Prob’ly off...

Rhubarb by SwagDaddy Apr29

Rhubarb by SwagDaddy

Walter Winchester took a step behind the yellow line and into the safety booth, donning his safety goggles. The Range Rover had been prepped and it was currently reversing into position via remote control. Ahmadinejad, the crash test dummy, leered out the window at Walter. As the jeep reached the 200m mark of the pristine white hangar, the room was bathed in blood red light as the warning light automatically flicked on. With a roar, the Range Rover took off towards the solid steel-reinforced concrete crash wall at the end of the cavernous room. As the vehicle built up speed, so did Walter’s heart rate. They achieved synchronicity just as the vehicle entered the 20 meter danger zone. This marvel of modern engineering smashed into the wall with an ear-rending screech. As the beam of the sensory lasers was broken by the jeep, the 1,000,000 frame-per-second high speed cameras came to life, documenting the impact in hyper slow-motion. Walt, watching this unfold, felt that same shiver, that release, as the Range Rover submitted to the wall, not flinching when deadly shards of metal spitefully attacked the safety booth. Stepping out of the room, he approached the car with a tablet in his hand, making marks with his stylus as he examined the jeep. He nodded appreciatively as he inspected the interior of the car. The president of Iran peered out the window at him, the dummy mercifully unharmed albeit with the equivalent of broken legs. Not bad for 140 mph. Susan Winchester stood with her back to the open boot of a 2013 Range Rover as she smiled at customers, trying to will them over to her stall. Farmer’s markets were always the toughest to crack, especially in the organic rhubarb business. Her pleading...

“When I was eighteen, I couldn’t wait to get out of that town,” by Conor McCarthy Apr14

“When I was eighteen, I couldn’t wait to get out of that town,” by Conor McCarthy...

            “You’ve got to be kidding me.”           “No, mother, I am not.”           “But why? James-Rainbow Drop, honey-why are you-?” The emaciated woman looked at her son in concern. He looked a lot like she did, she thought with pride: he had the same colour eyes, the same shade of brown in his messy hair, the same slimness in his body and a pointed face but his hair was a lot shorter than hers and his skin was far less sallow-looking. Sunlight shone into the kitchen from the open window. It was reflected in the woman’s drinking goblet, which lay waiting on the countertop. Catherina had been hoping for a quiet and peaceful afternoon but her wish had not come true. James bitterly cut across her, his light voice more akin to his father’s than Cathy’s deep, cut-throat rasping.           “Why?! I’ll tell you why,’ he snapped, standing firmly. A frown emerged on his tanned and handsome face; he could sense the fist of his right hand clenching. “I can no longer live here. I will no longer live here, not with you and your repulsive smell and your … issues.’           “Excuse me?!”           “Yeah, that’s right,” James verified his comment with a snort: “issues. Do you think I like living here in this house, watching it fall apart, watching the family fall apart?”           His voice got weaker as he spoke and his bottom lip shuddered. Cathy listened to the words, which seemed to be forcing themselves out of his throat like water trying to break past a particularly large boulder. Her green eyes fearfully searched his pair as if she were looking afresh at a challenging...