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This story won first prize for the Cinnamon Press Mini Competition where the brief asked participants to write a short story response to the theme of ‘Fast’. This story will be published in their 2015 Anthology.

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A pressure at the head, and then released. Face first with slippery skin, the air cold in new lungs. A cradled thing, precious and soft with unseeing eyes. Making the sound of Mother’s Relief.

A garden in summer, ants marching through grass, watched with intent while the sun shines through cloud and the government changes in far away capitals. The intricacies of insects. So many legs!

The uniform ritual. Rise and shine. Curtains open. Buttons fasten. Sums and gold stars and bus rides and break times, television shows and walks along a beach with wellingtons. Shells in your pockets.

A red reflection, angry, acne. Mascara spread like black jam onto lashes. Slammed doors. Morning and night the same song on repeat, until lust arrives on a holiday to France and the hard to the touch flesh you could never imagine is there, in your hand.

A quiet room with papers. The clock ticks. Sentences read and re-read. A summer of days that blend, until destiny arrives in a brown paper envelope.

A goodbye in a room with boxes and pans. Heads resting on shoulders so you can’t see their tears. Fingers entwine. Let go.

The sound of rain on a marquee tent, the scent of hyacinths tied with twine and a promise; I do. A week spent in Venice getting used to your name. Naked nights with petals on pillows.

And soon, from the lip of a shell tumbles forth a crustacean, pink, coiled. A comma. Talc and bottles and nights wrung sore with fatigue.

Outgoings. Upcomings. Pen marks on the wall. Daniel’s getting so tall. Days spent driving to doctors, to shops. Scuffed scabs on soft skin and then, the whisper of curls, sprung on boyish legs.

A buttercup sun in a house near the sea, a fading love underneath pink sheets. A hollow opens within as dust is slipped onto sand. The office will welcome you back, when you’re ready.

You return. You type. And talk around tables.

And weep inside. No more talk of insects or shells.

Drive. Repeat. Eat. Sleep. Talk. Dream. Forget. Laugh. And that beautiful week in Devon! White bodies re-joined in the dark.

A house with echoes and grass that keeps growing. A ceiling with strip lights, helping hands in the shower, veins that protrude on paper white thighs. You lie back on the bed and reflect on it all.

by Ursula Dewey

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