Backstage at the beauty pageant

Chrissie tugged the comb through Alice’s thicket of hair. “Would you stay still.” Next year she’d be with the five- to eight-year-olds, competing against Lucy Porter and the DeSouza twins; this was, realistically, her last chance. Did she not want to win?

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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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