Tag Archives: flash fiction

No. 84.


Because truth is often stranger than fiction….

This house, this little terraced house is no stranger to the gently gothic, the slightly strange, the oh so ever so mildly odd.
She, the woman in this story has lived next door at 82 for twenty years, seen 3 tenants in that time.

The old lady, hair stained defiantly with a nicotine stripe, died one day, as old women do, alone, neglecting to fill the dogs’ bowl before she went and lay undiscovered for an unremarkable amount of time.
Discovered by a neighbour, a better neighbour, lightly nibbled by her starving pet.
No headlines, no story, just an everyday tale of inner city folks.

And then there was Elizabeth
” I’m Elizabeth, from Londonderry”, head bobbing like a frenetic wren, face tight with something hungry, eyes clocking the sandpit, the push toys in our woman’s garden.
Londonderry told our woman everything she needed to know, meant she never mentioned her roots, her own surname, the ritual of the manager and the baby Jesus carefully placed in the cotton wool on Christmas Eve.
Elizabeth apologised over the fence. Consonants so sharp it seemed they flew, imbedded themselves in the struggling flower beds our woman tried to plant.
Elizabeth apologised for hoovering at 4pm.
Apologised for going upstairs too many times
Apologised for the thud, thud, thud of her tumble dryer.
Our woman took note, took to creeping around her own home, sushed the children, forbade drum and recorder practice. Tried to use domestic devices only between the hours of 10 and 3.

And then one day, Elizabeth was gone, house empty, truly silent.
Our woman ran up and downstairs 6 times, just to celebrate.

The one legged landlord called, said there would be a new tenant, invited her, again, to take a spin in his almost new jag, jingled the car keys against a thigh that sounded just slightly wrong.

The new tenant, she still doesn’t know his name, arrived, hung thick net curtains and closed all the windows.
She saw him once or twice, face unfinished, ugly, as if created by an inept, uninterested sculptor was unfailingly unsmiling and so she didn’t smile either.

So, far, in 3 years,he has complained about
The dog
The children
The branches of her tree touching his fence
The cat
The dog….again
The ivy on the front fence
The radio being on at 11pm, she wonders if he dislikes Book at bedtime
The children……again
The radio being on at 4pm

She tries, our woman, to not notice that his windows are never open, even in a heat wave.
She tries not to notice that there are never any visitors.
She tries not to notice that there are never, ever any sounds.

When they pass on the street, she tries not to notice him either.

Her friends laugh, call him the vampire, speculate about the number of bodies there must be under the floorboards, she finds it hard to join in the laughter.

” I reckon he just hangs from a branch, upside down in the dark, like a big lizard” says a friend
” Sush” she mutters “he’ll hear you” and the friends, replete with cold beer and hot curry laugh and shake their heads and change the subject, but later, left alone with the washing up,our woman, standing in the tiny garden, looking up at the moon, last cheeky vodka in hand, cannot help but look into his windows, no light on, no sound, no movement.
She shuts her door with more force than is really needed and goes to check sleeping children far too old to need this nightly check.

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White girls in burkahs…


Once he has noticed one, it seems as if they are everywhere….white girls in burkahs.
Often they are those fleshy girls,their faces made more moon like by the scarf that wraps around their hair, skin shiny, eyes almost downcast.
They look, to his eyes, almost totally wrong.
Their presence on the pavement derails him, causes him to look, to stare and then to try to look away before they notice his looking, his stare.
He steps to the side, his own eyes looking away, gaze dropping to the pavement and then they are gone, a flurry of fabric and buggies and blue plastic carrier bags from the halal butchers shop on the corner.
I’m not a racist he thinks, knowing, knowing for sure that what comes next should be, must be a comment of mind blowing ignorance.
I’m not a racist, he starts the thought again and then lets it drift.
Thinks back,feet making their automatic journey to the supermarket, a walk he has made day after week after month, the dog, his footwear changing over the years.
This dog, the latest dog, mostly black,mostly staff, mooches along, both of them a little stiffer, a little slower than they used to be.
Back in the day, his then dog would freestyle off lead, but these days, mindful that many of his neighbours children are frightened of dogs, he keeps the current one on a lead, has learnt to pull it back sharply if it shows a friendly interest in the passers by.
He has lived in this neighbourhood a long time, a room in that house,a flat share on this road, girlfriend, ex girlfriend living there and there and there, a meandering path of red dots, a journey to no-where really.
He has finished off almost where he started, but has , he supposes, gone up in the world, now has a housing association terraced house, front door painted a standardised red, windows cheap UPVC double glazing, but home all the same.
He remembers when he first moved here, skinny white boy, looked like a student, but wasn’t. Somehow had forgotten to do the whole college thing, just did the other bits, sans studying.
Late nights and cheap beers and huge pans of lentil stew and potato curry.
Went to student parties, didn’t remember to take a bottle of cheap wine, but drank everything in sight, sat on doorsteps at 4 am, wilted roll up at the corner of his mouth, talking about the novel he was going to write, the film he was going to make.
Sometimes, he convinced even himself, could see the finished manuscript, words uttered as the sun came up, became the reality of a finished project, but mostly he knew the truth, engaging bullshit.
Walking home, to whichever room was home then, 6,7 am, always meeting the big black guy, shiny bouncers suit, sheep on a lead and a nod
“Wha appen?”
Almost a whigger, but not quite, knew enough to keep it in check, knew enough to never try to coax his baby fine, mouse brown hair into inadequate dreadlocks.

The student friends moved on, back to suburbs, off to bigger cities, but he stayed, settled, comfortable.
Would stand some days outside the bookies, one heel just off the ground, resting on the sun warmed bricks, watching the world go by.

He became part of the street furniture, always on a float at carnival, learnt to drop the the, carnival, never the carnival, still danced like a white boy though.

Knew the Delroys and the Leroys and the Devons, peppered his conversation with rich, island language

” Ras Clout”

And 30 came and went and so did Leroy and Delroy, moved to semis with gardens, moved to where the schools were better, moved because that’s what people do.

But he stayed, took stock, hung out with the thin white girls, angry, defiant butts in tight jeans, beige and saffron coloured children running in and out of the under furnished terraced houses.
Different sorts of parties, angry edges, always on the tip of sliding into something nasty, but still he cooked big pans of lentil stew, sat on doorsteps, smoked and walked home, wondering what had happened to the big man and the sheep on a lead.

He fathers a couple of kids, thin white faces reflect their mothers’ anger. He is an absent dad, more absent minded than actually absent. After all he lives too near to really get away, but he forgets them, their names, ages slip away from him.

At first he likes the new changes, the streets are quieter, less boom bastic, the call to prayer reminds him of a short lived interest in meditation. He sits up in bed, skinny shoulders hunched against the cold, first cup of tea, first roll up of the day and rock in rythmn to the Imans’ chant.
It’s a good way as any to start the day.

The shops change, the bookies closes, another halal supermarket opens in it place. He likes to wander around its aisles, buys huge bags of rice, garam masala, fresh coriander.
One day it strikes him, his is the only white face in the store, in fact, given it’s 11am, his is, with the exception of the 2 men hefting cans of cooking oil, the only completely exposed face in the store. All the other customers are women and all cover some or all their face, hair, head.

He wonders, as he ambles home, hands deep in pockets against the November chill, head down, shoulders slumped with the weight of cut price groceries, when all of this happened, when exactly did his neighbourhood change to this extent.

He cannot shake the feeling of not belonging, even at home, feet up on the sofa, fag lit, cuppa brewed and the dog, the current dog, up on its back legs, staring out of the window, watchful for cats and buggies and dogs that don’t belong, even then, the feeling that this is not his place anymore persists.

He starts counting off the houses on his own street, using his fingers to help make the list.
He is the last white man on the street.

The angry, skinny white girls drifted away in twos and threes, with their angry children, railing against something, anything.
Lips like rat traps, defiant butts in too tight jeans, pushing this years’ baby in last years’ buggy to another meeting –
school
welfare
council
and so on and so on.
Their anger especially reserved for the next meeting, the next shrugged shoulders, the next hopeless outspread palms.

He realises he misses them, their untidy houses, their unruly hearts, the likelihood of cheap beer, cheap smokes and the nearest child sent to the chippy on evenings when not much was happening, not much to say.

The Hawkins got rehoused last year and everyone, odd and even numbers drew a collective sigh of relief,
” Good riddance to bad rubbish” said Mr Ashkir and he had nodded, glad to see the back of a family so feral that they gave feral a bad name.
But he hadn’t realised the significance, just him now, in a sea of women who hide their faces, their hair, their bodies in clouds of billowing black.

He rolls another fag, ponders putting on the kettle, but settles for patting the dog, ears soft velvet between his fingers and stares out of the window, watching white girls in burkahs vanish into the house next door.

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Hunger 11 – hunger logic – part 1


Sometimes, she wakes convinced that somehow during the night, fast asleep, she has crept downstairs, raided the fridge, the biscuit tin, shoveled handfuls of raisins, dry cereals, lumps of cheese into her mouth.
She can almost feel the ghost of food in her mouth and has to run her tongue over her teeth, the roof of her mouth, not once, but many times to reassure herself that nothing has happened.
But, the feeling of unease remains, the seed of doubt, once planted, cannot be completely removed and so she does a triple set of crunches, sit ups and decides, just to be on the safe side, to skip breakfast anyway.

She worries that the fat from moisturiser, sun block, lip balm will be absorbed into her blood stream, she visualises the little blobs of fat travelling down veins, attaching themselves to organs, dimpling the skin.
She compromises, avoids lip balm, all too easy to lick, to chew, but allows herself a dab of cream on her face every other day.

She weighs herself 5 and 6 and 7 times a day, bows down to the absoloute tyranny of their rule , but chooses to ignore any weight but the heaviest each day. This is the true weight, the weight that must be acted upon, recorded in the notebook that she uses just for this purpose, pages upon pages of numbers, a mapping of desire versus control.

She hears the phrase ” I can put on weight just by looking at food” and despite a good degree, wonders if she should google to check the truth, the likelihood , the outside possibility of this being an actual, verifiable fact.
She knows that late one night,when logic vanishes and the walls crowd in and life comes down to numbers and bones that she will search the internet, just in case.

She loves to bake, loves to watch you eat, takes pleasure from your pleasure, your satedness, the dash of cupcake icing that remains on your chin, long after the cupcake is gone. She urges you to eat more, but when you balk, stomach full, all caked out, she leans forward and runs a finger over the top of the last remaining cake and after
wards, when you, replete, walk home, she carefully carries the cake in to the bin and then, quickly, while she still has control, pours vinegar over it.

She considers cutting off her hair, long, dark curls. The hair she hides behind when her face is simply too ugly to show to the world, the hair that keeps her neck warm, when the cold creeps into her bones and cannot be shifted.
But, the hair has weight, mass, presence. Cutting it off must make a difference, must influence the numbers.
It’s loss will feel like an offering, a sacrifice.
It will be worth it.

She is trying to make herself invisible, trying to become so much less than she used to be. She feels herself diminished.
Dreams of a time when she will be so tiny, so perfect that she will, finally, vanish, become just the ghost of the girl she used to be.

The thinner she becomes, the more people notice her.

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The eternal, ever-giving, fun loving clowns hit town……because we’re worth it


The child, lopes down the street, easy movement, box fresh trainers eating up the distance, pumped with righteous rage and just a tiny bit of fear.
Proud to be chosen, proud to be trusted, his chance to show that he can do this thing and afterwards, he knows that it will always be with him, his rep will be secure.
In LE2, he will be a legend, a man.
The man, the man who torched the house, sent a message, this is our place, this is our LE2,innit.

He’s carrying a Primark bag, nobody ever notices a Primark bag, just knows that it’s full of cheap shit clothes that will fall apart 2 days after you buy it.
He doesn’t buy his clothes there, got swagger, knows his labels, hangs his shirts, his jeans up carefully in the bedroom he shares with 3 smaller brothers, little dogz.

This bag is heavy with what he needs to do the job, just him on his own, walking past the mosque, behind the park, towards the address he’s stored in his phone.

The street is confusing, the numbers don’t make sense, he checks his phone, face twisted in concentration…
Fuck it, this must be the one.

The street is empty, no lights, he’s glad of the can of Red Bull he swigged down on the way, stoops, places the carrier bag on the floor and reaches in to pull out the little can of petrol, the rags, the lighter.

And at that point, from the alley between the terraced houses that snake down the hill to the park, steps the biggest clown and there is a pause…….

The boy, the man, the man/boy is like
WTF, eyes on stalks and they both stand, in front of the white, UPVC front door, as if, at any second, they will knock the door and somebody will come and let them in and offer over sweet chai and chocolate biscuits and then the clown, slowly, carefully, bends down and picks up the petrol can, unscrews the lid and pours the petrol into the gutter.

The child, all 6’2 of legs and headphones and anger that has no words, just innit and safe and bro and bloodz just stands and stares and then the clown reaches across and wraps his arms around this child and it should feel bare gay, but it doesn’t.

It feels safe, proper safe and the child rests his head on the biggest clowns shoulder and then they turn and walk down the hill, towards the park and from nowhere the clown dog appears, trots at their heels and when, without words, they pass into the park, through the metal gates, he runs ahead, scuffingly in the early autumn leaves as they make their way towards the little kids play area.

They sit, clown and boy on the wooden roundabout, the wood splintered, covered in layer upon layer of tagging.
Somewhere, amongst the layers, the boy knows that his tag is part of this almost art work,from back in the day, when he was 12 or 13, somewhere if you look carefully, you can see his name.

They sit, waiting for the sun to come up, for the night to end.

And then, across the grass, come the other two clowns.
Smaller.
Smallest.
The clown dog sees them, hurls himself towards them and the biggest clown stands,nods and gently, lovingly, gives the roundabout one last push.

The clowns process.
Bigger.
Smaller.
Smallest
And at their side, the clown dog, mouth opened in a joyous bark to greet the morning.

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DIY fairy tale


Sometimes, driving, you hear a tiny part of a news story, just enough to jolt your mind, but, you never hear the resolution, so, a half story, a partial image stays with you and sometimes becomes a piece of fiction.
Yesterday, I heard such a piece, a woman in the North of England, on trial for possibly, allegedly, starving her child to death and the body, almost mummified, still in the cot 2 years after his death.

This is almost a fairy story, but, you, the reader, make decisons, set the path, choose your route at each fork.

Once upon a time,
far far away or in the kingdom of long ago or in a town of dark satanic mills or round the corner where the poor people live or in the house next to yours where the curtains are never drawn
there lived
a sad princess or an evil witch or a woman in league with the devil or a victim of the legacy of Thatchers’ Britian or someone who should have known better
her home was
the darkest tower in the darkest corner of the dark. dark castle or a cottage where briars and brambles grew, engulfed the windows or the attic of a home where everyone ignored the noises that came creeping downwards or that house, the house with a fridge in the garden, the dog at the gate, barking and barking and barking
and she was blessed or cursed with
a golden haired son or a noble little princeling or a secubus, suckling or a changeling, lying blank-eye in the crib or a baby who cried and cried or something, something else, that she forgot to take care of
and she
rose with the larks or lay under a spell, eyes too heavy to lift or shouted out at the voices in her head, when it all got too loud or measured her days in spliff and rock and cheap, cheap wine or moved the piles of paper, the rotting bin bags, backwards and forward, trying to make a space
the baby or changeling or seccubus
lit up the world with his smile or judged and cursed her with his dark reptillian eyes or lolled in the cot, too small, too weak to make any noise but a mewling, but even that felt too loud
and then one day
he kissed his mother and went out into the world to slay or one dark night the faries came and stole him away or finally sated, on leather wings, stomach heavy with her milk, he flew, slowly, unsteadily into the dark or face presed against the bars of the cot , that cot, his cries grew so faint that finally they made only a sound memory, unremembered
and then
the beautiful princess stood at the top of the tower, waving her silken handerkerchief or the evil witch laughed and in the woods the wolves joined in or the woman, released from her secubus’s hunger fell, drained onto a nest of rags or tugging her hair tighter into a scrunchie, face pulled straight, she sat wishing she had money for the meter or closing the bedroom door, skirting the lpiles of clothes and bags and something worse that filled the stairs, she picked up her mobile and ordered a pizza, extra hot, no anchovies
time passed or time passed or time passed
then one bright day, there came a knocking on the door
a wandering peddlar, laden with a sack of gaudy treasures or a woodcutter, carrying a tiny wooden boy or a neighbour, complaining again about the barking dog, the smell, oh that smell or an almost proper police woman – hi viz marking her out before she even enters the street
and then it all falls apart
the princess falls from the tower, head smashes on rock, golden hair fanning behind her or the dragon, tiring of the games of maidens and warriors, opens his mouth and devours, teeth splintering on bones or a doctor, afraid to put her bag down, clutches it to her chest, tries to step over the piles and heaps and holds her hand over her nose to mask the stench or a husband stands, rabbit in the headlights, keeps saying.. I knew nothing, I knew nothing
and finally, the big finish
The princess is buried in a glass coffin, hard to see where coffin ends and tears begin or the villagers, pitchfork armed, torches blazing drag the witch towards the pond or facing the mirror for the last time, truth outed, empty glass smashes images into smithereens or at the end of a search, the tiny bundle, bones and bear, actually unbearable is carried from the home.

The End

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Hunger 1 – version 2


After a terrible accidental delete debacle, sadly Hunger 1 has vanished into the Internet ether.
So, it’s a opportunity to have a rewrite of the first piece that started the hunger category.

HUNGER 1 – EATING/NOT EATING/ALMOST EATING

The routine, the ritual is fixed, set, cannot be ignored, changed. The routine sets the day, imposes a decision, moves her towards the kitchen or away.

So, alarm goes off and immediately, before eyes are properly open, hands run down ribs, count and then onto hip bones.
Check….has fat crept up the stairs, oozed under the door, sneaked through the floor boards, is she bigger than when she went to sleep.

Sometimes, at night, she dreams of eating, her mouth crammed, stomach bloated, hands greasy, sticky, with chicken and pizza and ice cream and chocolate and cheese and full fat cola.

These dreams have woken her up, panicking, heart racing, terrified that this has actually happened, that somehow she has walked, still asleep into the kitchen and stood, hands grabbing into open cupboards, her gluttony lit by the light of the fridge.

So, the ritual, this counting of bones guards against night time weight gain and allows that secret pleasure, the grating of bones against skin.

After ribs and hips comes collar bones, breast bones and the newest discovery, the jutting of her shoulder blades, tiny promises of wings, of flight, of actual weightlessness.

And then, properly awake now, she sits up, runs her fingers down her spine, fingers counting each nodule and then hands swoop down, slip naturally into the dents where her butt used to be.

This is only the first check, the first inspection. Throughout the day, she will allow her hands to seek out bones, take comfort from their presence, a casual glance to monitor for random weight gain, particularly important on eating days.

Time to get out of bed, time for the full visual inspection.
Harshest light, least forgiving mirror, a slow, careful look, front on, sideways and then, head peering over shoulder, inspecting what is happening behind.

Keeping on top of it, keeping a tag on it, staying in control.

The ritual is followed by the decision, the deciding, what kind of day today will be and this can only be decided once the inspections are complete.

There are 3 types of days;
Eating
Not eating
Almost eating

Not eating is the easiest, the purest, no grey area, no choices to be made.
Not eating means black coffee, cigarettes, diet cola.
It means imagining bones ready to poke through skin, it means that joyous emptiness, stomach flat,empty, pure.

But, she knows that not eating days have to be rationed, kept in control, the siren call of hunger needs to be kept in check other wise, the vision, the dream of night time eating, the out of control gluttony, the terrible rhythms of hand, mouth, fridge, hand, mouth, fridge will become a reality.

Almost eating days have their own rules, their own structures, a pleasure of control.
Each piece of fruit must be cut into the correct number of slices, each slice savoured, eaten slowly, put back onto the plate between each bite.
Almost eating days allow her to be with others, her apple placed casually on the lunch break table, see it says ” I eat, here I am, eating lunch with everybody else”
Almost eating days allow her into the kitchen, chopping, slicing, making tiny dishes of berries so dark, so shiny, the fridge fill with bowls full of jewelled fruits.

Eating days are dark days, days to dread, their rules so complicated that really she prefers to pretend they never happen.
Eating days perform a function, tell her that there is no problem, no issues .
Eating days are proof, reassurance, here’s me eating pizza ( half a slice, crust crumbled, cheese picked off ), here’s me eating chocolate ( the guilt remains long after the flavour has gone).

Eating days can only happen if the ritual has gone well, the inspection, the routine completed.

There are further rules, once a decision about the day has been made, the day can only be altered to be less, a non eating day cannot become an eating day.
Rules are there to be kept after all.

And then at night, final inspection, final measurement, final tally and then a possible decision, an indication of how tomorrow will go.

Eating
Not eating
Almost eating

But the final decision, the marking of tomorrow, today can only happen after the morning, the routine of vigilance.

Tomorrow may be

Eating,
Not eating
Almost eating.

She falls asleep, gently stroking her ribs, counting herself to sleep.

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Hunger 9- the fat woman’s lament


She is hungry, constantly hungry, engulfed with appetite.
Nothing satisfies her, even as she fills her mouth, she is searching out the next spoonful, the next plate full, the next meal.
Even when she sleeps, she dreams of food, a line of plates stretching as far as the eye can see on snowy white sheets.
The plates are heaped with food, fruits and breads and cakes tumbling to the floor.
In her dreams, she sees herself fall upon freshly baked bread, can taste it’s warm doughy mass against her teeth and lips, her fingers pull at grilled meat, become greasy, shiny with warm fat, pale cooked blood.
She licks them, sighs in pleasure and wakes herself up, pillow damp with licking or chewing or salivating, she cannot tell which.
In supermarkets she peers into other people’s baskets, other people’s lives, remains unconvinced that they are satisfied with their low fat yogurts, their pitta breads,their one lonely chocolate flapjack, half hidden under a bag of salad leaves.

Her hunger rules her, in quiet meetings she cannot believe that the others cannot hear her stomach growl and complain, she makes excuses, flees to the nearest bathroom, storeroom, quiet corner and placates it with bags of smarties, packets of wine gums, loose biscuits crumbling to dust at the bottom of her handbag.

When she eats with others, colleagues, friends, family, she is forced to sit, actually sit on her hands to stop herself reaching out, reaching over and across people to grab at left over food, barely touched plates, ignored side dishes.
Friends who know her well simply pass over their plates when they have finished.
Then watch as she eats one, two, three meals, but it’s never enough, never, ever enough.

Sometimes at night, when she lies, warm, drowsy, body scented from the expensive oils she drops into her bath, hands resting on her rounded, almost full tummy, she wishes she could hold onto this feeling, this peace forever, but she knows, knows full well, that in three, four hours, she will wake, ravenous and will pad on soft night time feet into the kitchen and stand at the open fridge door, hands squishing cheese, soft, cheap bread into an approximation of a sandwich.

The cat will wind around her legs, eyes on the look out for dropped crumbs of cheese, bread, a litany of miaows to tell her that he too is starving and she will reach down and share the final bite of her late night snack with him.

She is big, of course she is big, but with a joyous glamour that means that men stare at her, at her breasts, her full behind, when she walks down the street and other women suddenly feel all angles, too small for their place in the world when they stand next to her.

No-body knows about the hunger that drives her on, the emptiness, the longing for enough.

The hunger has its compensations, she is a baker of cakes, a sharer of sweets, the go to girl when pre-menstural pangs strike her lean, controlled friends.

The many men in her life find that she is the source of un-acknowledged, never aired fantasies in which they imagine themselves buried, enveloped in soft giving flesh, feeding their own hungers, their own needs, mouths full, busy, stuffed.

Her world is full of people who want to feed her,who unknowingly worship at the alter of her hunger, market traders who throw extra aubergines, their shiny flesh almost as seductive as her own, waiters who bring her extra portions, sly slices of pudding, tiny coloured glasses of sweet liqueurs, other people’s parents, who despairing of their own daughters’ bird like appetites, turn cheerfully to her, heap her plate, fathers’ using the excuse of serving another dish of trifle to pat her arm, the curve of her shoulder.

Sometimes, she wonders what it would take to fill her, wonders if her body would actually explode before she reached that moment of satedness, wonders if she would, could actually die of happiness at that moment.

And then one day, quite out of the blue, something magical, something wonderful happens.

It is Thursday, grocery shopping day and she is standing, overwhelmed by the beauty of the piled, pyramided perfection of the soft fruit display in Waitrose.
She stretches out a finger, the nail currently painted a deep purple, perfect counter point to the orange of the tiny clementines, strokes their rough skin and sighs with pleasure.

She hasn’t really noticed the man, standing quietly, perhaps deep in thought as he stares at the wine purple grapes.

And suddenly,he leans towards her and with no warning, pops a grape into her mouth, she is so surprised that she bites down, feels the grape explode with juice and skin and sweetness in her mouth and then she has swallowed it and the pleasure is such that her eyes close, just for a second, but when she re-opens them, he is gone, a bunch of tissue wrapped grapes placed carefully in her basket.

She stands for a moment, the after taste of sweetness in her mouth,her throat and then she understands, that for the first time in memory, that she is not hungry, not hungry at all.

Slowly, thoughtfully, she heads towards the checkouts, but stops to leave her basket, abandoned in the ready meals isle.

She heads out, into the darkness, suddenly knowing exactly what she has been hungering for.

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