A moth to a flame

5,240 words – approx. 18 minutes

Harry Dent waited until he was in the doorway of the ground floor of Bellway House before taking his coat from where it had been draped heavily over his arm, and swinging it onto his shoulders in a single, practiced movement. Although the weather outside was furious, the third-floor flat he shared with Caroline was hemmed in on all sides, and so rarely got cold. While he imagined the other occupants of B-way, as they had taken to calling it, to be shivering in their kitchens’ morning chill, the warmth stayed with him until he reached the front door. There were only one such flat on each floor of the block, and Harry was proud of his foresight in having chosen one of them. After two years it was no longer an active pride, but something deeper that pulsed through him, heavy and warm.

The door of the block was solid and old, and Harry had to strain to open it – an effort not helped by the force of the wind pushing in the opposite direction. No-one else came to the door as he struggled, but eventually, by wedging his foot against its lower edge and pivoting his body out of the small gap he created, he was out, and could start his morning walk to work.

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Sweet tooth

5,320 words – approx. 18 minutes

The small, bare bedroom above the shop that Bernard Higgins owned was dark and cramped, but it didn’t need to be anything else. Its ceiling was sloped, with the lowest part directly over the pillow. When he had first moved in Bernard had several times cracked his head on it in the morning, but now he was well-practiced at sliding from the bed and moving, hunched, to the window, where the ceiling was highest and he could almost stand upright.

The room’s oppressive character meant that Bernard was quick to leave it upon waking. Each morning he dressed with speed, descended the steep, narrow stairs that smelt of moths, and walked through the rows of stoppered jars and heaving shelves to the front of the shop where, when he turned the heavy metal key, the corrugated shutters would slowly, gratingly lift and bring an advancing tide of light.

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A matter of perspective

5,985 words – approx. 20 minutes

Mr Baxter was not like any teacher we’d ever had before. That much was clear from the start.

It was the first day of the new school year, warm with autumn, and we poured into the last room on the right in the Humanities block. Our blazers were slung over our shoulders and our mouths laden with the summer’s exploits. We were Year 10s now, ready to take our rightful place at the front of the dinner queue, aware of the threshold we had crossed in those last six weeks and the exalted position in the school we now held.

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