Sunday 28 January 2024

Diane Simmons, "A Tricky Dance"


Diane Simmons is Co-Director of National Flash Fiction Day UK, and a former director of Flash Fiction Festivals UK. She has been widely published in magazines such as New Flash Fiction Review, Mslexia, Splonk and FlashBack Fiction and placed in numerous writing competitions. Finding a Way (Ad Hoc Fiction), her flash collection on the theme of grief, was published in 2019 and shortlisted in the Saboteur Awards in the Best Short Story Collection category. Her historical novella-in-flash An Inheritance (V. Press) was published in 2020 and shortlisted in the Saboteur Awards Best Novella category. Her new novella-in-flash, A Tricky Dance, was published by Alien Buddha Press in January 2024. You can read more about Diane on her website here and connect with her on X @scooterwriter and Bluesky

About A Tricky Dance, by Diane Simmons
A Tricky Dance is a novella-in-flash. It is set in 1970s Scotland and follows spirited teenager Elspeth as she navigates the challenges of friendships, family life and ambition, discovering that even in the face of adversity, life can hold endless possibilities.

You can read more about A Tricky Dance on the author's website here. Below, you can read an excerpt from the novella-in-flash. 

From A Tricky Dance


Rory McMaster corners me after double geography.

‘You ken how we had a go at the Gay Gordons the other day?’

‘Aye, you were great.’

He does one of his wee bows. ‘I’ve been learning Scottish Country Dancing at the church hall every Thursday. We do Highland Dancing too. Do you want to come along?’

I hesitate and he goes bright red. 

‘No’ like that,’ he says. ‘I mean I’m no’ asking you out or anything …’

I smile, tell him I know what he meant, but I don’t answer his question. I’m fed up of having to make excuses for not doing things. And this is dancing. I bloody love dancing. I sigh. ‘How much is it?’  

‘It’s only 75p a week,’ he says.

I can’t imagine thinking 75p was nothing. I get £3 for doing my paper round and I’ve to pay for everything out of that. Maybe if I took on a Sunday paper round too? ‘What do the girls wear?’ I ask. 

‘Your gutties and a skirt would do.’

I picture myself turning up in my gym shoes and school skirt, imagine the looks. ‘I don’t think I can.’

When I get to school the next day, there’s a plastic bag on top of my locker. Expecting something gross, I peer inside – it’s a pair of dancing pumps. 

I hound Rory down at break. ‘I can’t take these,’ I say. ‘They must’ve cost a bomb.’

‘They were my sister’s,’ he says. ‘They don’t fit her anymore.’ 

I examine the pumps again. There’s no sign of any wear – there’s not a single mark on them. He must think I’m daft.

‘That’s nice of your sister,’ I say. I stare at the pumps, then at Rory’s worried face and grin at him. ‘See you there on Thursday,’ I say. 

‘Seven o’clock,’ he says, and grins back. 

Friday 26 January 2024

Ilaria Boffa, "Beginnings & Other Tragedies / Inizi e Altre Tragedie"

Ilaria Boffa is an Italian poet and sound recordist. She writes bilingual poetry and she has published four poetry collections to date. She is one of the eight authors included in the North East American Publication Writing in a Different Language, Vol. XL 2018. Her sono-poems, which combine poetry and field recording, have been played at international experimental sound art festivals and radio events (among others, Radiophrenia and Clyde Built Radio both in Glasgow). Audio-video installations, produced in collaboration with international video-artists, have been exhibited at the Mahalla Festival Murmuration 2021 in Turkey, the Nature & Culture Poetry Film Festival 2021 in Sweden, at the !Flick! 2023 International Film Festival in the US and MK Architektur Exhibition 2023 in Germany. She is a permanent member of EAPS international collective working with poetry and sound art and she is collaborating with the Swiss theatre group Collettivo Treppenwitz

About Beginnings & Other Tragedies / Inizi e Altre Tragedie
Beginnings & Other Tragedies / Inizi e Altre Tragedie is a bilingual book-length poem, with both texts written by the original poet, offering a choral experience of a present-future Venice where almost all hope seems lost – except for that offered by poetry itself, and the "beginners" who care about our planet and dream of making a change.

Drawing on nature poetry, dystopian fiction and Greek tragedy (three characters voice the verses: the chorus, "they" and "she"), the book reimagines scientific and ecological language as sites of beauty, with the power to change reality; seen here as something malleable and unstable, to be made and remade. 

Through confronting the most painful, discomforting parts of the world and ourselves, this long poem reminds us why "it's good to think difficult things," and why it may be time to repurpose ourselves and start again. 

A soundscape for the book has been recorded and produced by the author. Listen here. You can read more about Beginnings & Other Tragedies / Inizi e Altre Tragedie on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read excerpts from the book. 

From Beginnings & Other Tragedies / Inizi e Altre Tragedie, by Ilaria Boffa


Because of necessity it happens to live
because of belongingness it happens to become

Ode for the Beginners

Whatever comes to pass
time will file the time
and this extraordinary wait.
The drama and the epic
the events that befall
the beginners
invoke glory and rage.
Because of necessity
they happen to live
because of belongingness
they happen to become.
There’s no difference between
starting and starting over for
what was or wasn’t done
cycles with the stringency
of a climate loop.
And the silence of hesitation
saturates the air condensing
inside the mask
accelerating the dew point.
It muffles this new normal.
Beginners challenge
the so called tragedy
of the time horizon
in which people can’t imagine
the suffering of the humans
of the future and
nothing much gets done
on their behalf.
Beginners are seamless
and they care.
Some of them give in.

Tintoretto paintings
at Scuola Grande di San Rocco
also suffer, hung and apart
from a fallen world.
They survive dazed
in their rooms.
And so St Mary of Egypt
sits contemplative
her book on her lap
her gaze upon the bush.
The mesh of humans, in-humans and post-humans
all their devices, languages and frequencies
crossing halls
up and down the stairs
next of kin and familiar strangers.
When did we lose
our sense of marvel?

Daylight saving time is finally over.
As the rain pours and spatters
the dogs with mud
magpies seek shelter and give way
to snails and earthworms
to their composure.
A cumulonimbus above the hills
we start running.
The real issue is rhythm.
On the leash they pull asynchronous
and the rubbery noise of the wellies
is not promising.
I might crash to the ground
and be dragged by these two furies or
the river in flood could overflow and
have a memorable ending in store.


Per necessità succede di vivere
per appartenenza succede di divenire

Ode a Coloro che Iniziano
Qualunque cosa accada
il tempo archivierà il tempo
e questa straordinaria attesa.
Il dramma e l’epopea
gli eventi che accadono
a chi comincia
suscitano gloria e rabbia.
Per necessità
succede di vivere
per appartenenza
succede di divenire.
Non c’è differenza tra
iniziare e ricominciare perché
ciò che è stato o non è stato fatto
si ripete con l’intransigenza
dei cicli climatici.
E il silenzio dell’esitazione
satura l’aria che condensa
all’interno della mascherina
accelerando il punto di rugiada.
Attutisce questa nuova normalità.
Coloro che iniziano sfidano
la cosiddetta tragedia
dell’orizzonte temporale
per cui le persone non riescono
a immaginare la sofferenza
degli esseri umani del futuro e
poco viene speso a loro favore.
Coloro che iniziano sono senza soluzione
di continuità e a loro importa.
Alcuni si arrendono.

Anche i dipinti del Tintoretto
alla Scuola Grande di San Rocco
soffrono, appesi e lontani
da un mondo in decadimento.
Sopravvivono disorientati
nelle loro stanze.
E così siede contemplativa
Santa Maria Egiziaca
il libro sulle ginocchia
lo sguardo al bosco.
La rete di umani, non umani, post umani
i loro device, linguaggi e frequenze
quel passare attraverso i saloni
su e giù per le scalinate
parenti prossimi e familiari estranei.
Quand’è che abbiamo perso
il senso della meraviglia?

È terminata l’ora legale finalmente.
Mentre la pioggia scroscia e
schizza di fango i cani
le gazze cercano rifugio e lasciano
il passo a lumache e lombrichi
al loro contegno.
Un cumulonembo sopra i colli
cominciamo a correre.
Il vero problema è il ritmo.
Al guinzaglio tirano in modo asincrono
e il rumore gommoso degli stivali
non promette nulla di buono.
Potrei schiantarmi al suolo
e venir trascinata da queste due furie o
il fiume in piena potrebbe
riservarci un finale memorabile.

Thursday 25 January 2024

Laurie Bolger, "Makeover"


Laurie Bolger is a London-based writer and founder of The Creative Writing Breakfast Club. Her debut pamphlet Box Rooms (Burning Eye) has been featured at Glastonbury, TATE, RA & Sky Arts. Laurie’s writing has appeared in The Poetry Review, The London Magazine, Magma, Stand, and Trinity College Icarus. Her poems and short stories have been shortlisted for The Bridport Prize, Live Canon, Winchester and Sylvia Plath Prizes. In 2023, Laurie’s poem ‘Parkland Walk’ was awarded The Moth Prize, judged by Louise Glück, and Highly Commended in the Forward Prize for Poetry. It features in Makeover (The Emma Press, 2024). Her website is here

About Makeover, by Laurie Bolger
Makeover is a book dripping with nostalgia, cigarette ash and sour cream dip. Lit by too-close TV screens and too-bright calorie counters, Bolger's poems explore growing up, differing bodies and societal expectations. Writing in praise of mums, nans and sisterhood, this is a work bursting with strength, anger, love and, ultimately, hope. In a celebration of girls shaped by swimming baths and Working Men’s Clubs, friendship and family, Makeover contends with what we inherit and what we ought to pass on. 

You can read more about Makeover on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read a sample poem from the collection. 

From Makeover

Stand Together Nicely, Girls

On a stranger’s front steps
you tell me to hold on 
while you sort your hair out,
and to make sure I get the bridge in the background.

I feel like our Mum 
when we were small, 
that one of us two 
stood on our front porch 
in new school uniforms, 
matching grey jumpers
on top of little girl vests, 
or that one of us on Halloween,
you holding out a cauldron 
in plastic witch’s fingers
me dressed as the Phantom of the Opera 
in a bin bag and wonky mask,
or us in the pink bath 
with bubbles on our heads
or matching hats at weddings 
or on the top deck of ferries 
all foreheads and frowns 
or in my graduation gown 
or matching fringes and wigs 
us two dressed as clowns,
or in the beach bar red-faced,
our hair braided like snakes,
or at the Christmas table
in our best clothes,
or you on long car journeys,
mouth open against the window.

On the plane home
I want to wake you up,
tell you that the view is magic,
all those little lights —
rows of humans lean over 
to get a photo out the window.

I take one to show you
I take one for my screensaver
I take one to show our Nan — 
who’s never seen the earth from here.

Tuesday 23 January 2024

Stephanie Carty, "The Writing Mirror: Analyse Your Writing for Self-Discovery"


Dr Stephanie Carty is a writer and clinical psychologist in the U.K. Her short fiction has been published widely and been shortlisted or won prizes in Bath Short Story Award, Bridport Prize, Bristol Short Story Prize, Aesthetica Creative Writing Award and Bath Flash Fiction Award. Her novella Three Sisters of Stone won a Saboteur Award and her short fiction collection The Peculiarities of Yearning won best published collection in the Eyelands Book Prize. She has published a psychological thriller Shattered and a workbook for writers on the psychology of characters Inside Fictional Minds.

About The Writing Mirror, by Dr Stephanie Carty
The Writing Mirror is a workbook designed to investigate what, how and why you write in order to better understand yourself. It uses psychological theory and methods, through structured tasks, to aid self-discovery both related to and wider than your writing life.

Below, you can read two excerpts from the book. 

From The Writing Mirror

Distraction and procrastination

It may be that working in bite-size chunks works well for you, to slowly but surely build a whole. However, there may be some examples of this pattern that are not about slow, steady progression of the tortoise versus the chaotic hare, but that in fact boil down to avoidance.

Watch out if your history tries to get you to label avoidance as laziness! Avoidance and procrastination are often an attempt at self-protection. That can be hard to understand when part of you is desperate to finish your writing. But think about all the potential risks that your mind may invent – will your writing disappoint you, will it disappoint others, is it too personal to share, have you felt pushed into writing something that isn’t what your heart sings in order to increase the chance of publication? And quietly, oh, so quietly, you may have a mind that whispers, you don’t deserve success.

Making do

If perfectionism doesn’t chime for you, perhaps your pattern of thinking tells you what you’ve just completed ‘will do’ and you quickly move on from it before it is polished. You may tell yourself that it’s better to keep trying different things rather than get bogged down on one idea, or that the chances of publication are low, so you don’t want to overinvest in one project, or that the writing is only for your own satisfaction. ‘I threw my hat in the ring at the last minute,’ ‘this isn’t my best,’ ‘I’m just practising what it feels like to submit’ and so on. The act of avoiding ‘aiming high’ brings its own protection: if the work isn’t accepted, shortlisted, read or published or doesn’t sell well, you can tell yourself that it didn’t matter anyway, it wasn’t your full effort. This way, your brain is cocooned to some extent from the sense of rejection it dreads. But is it worth the price of missing out on the satisfaction and possibilities that your best work could bring?

Sunday 21 January 2024

Simon Maddrell, "The Whole Island"

Simon Maddrell writes as a queer Manx man, thriving with HIV in Brighton & Hove. Since 2019, over a hundred of his poems have appeared in numerous publications including Acumen, Ambit, Butcher’s Dog, Poetry Wales, Propel, Stand, The Gay & Lesbian Review, The Moth, The Rialto, Under the RadarIn 2020, Simon’s debut chapbook, Throatbone, was published by UnCollected Press, and Queerfella jointly-won The Rialto Open Pamphlet Competition. In 2023, The Whole Island and Isle of Sin were both Poetry Book Society Selections. In Feb 2024, a finger in derek jarman's mouth marks 30 years after Jarman's death. Find his books and social media here.

About The Whole Island    
The Whole Island explores the poet's relationship with the Isle of Man, in poems which touch on family and folklore, history and politics, nature and wildlife, as well as their tangled connections. Through lines that charm and blaze, Simon Maddrell considers what it means to be endemic: the island navigated as a body, the body as an island. Here, the poet calls upon his cherished Isle as an allegory for the nature of his own queerness, the queerness of nature, and the threat of extinction more broadly: linguistic, cultural, physical, environmental.

Liberally scattered with Manx dialect and Manx Gaelic – a language that was pronounced extinct by UNESCO in 2009 but is now undergoing rapid revitalisation and restoration – The Whole Island constantly teeters on the fringe of its own peripheries. Here, history ‘repeats itself like a kippered burp,’ and freedom ‘is an oxymoron.’ Throughout, the images are slick, taut, and multi-sensory. We move swiftly from sea, sugar, smoke – licked rock and the sweet-lipped tip of melting ice-cream – to barbed wire, broken branches, and ingested plastic. 

Celebratory, lamenting, but also hopeful, The Whole Island ultimately resists definition, seeking, instead, to weave personal and communal narratives and examine their complex interactions through time. Meanwhile, a chorus of characters – Vikings and Puffins, fairies and drag queens – introduce us to the histories of this conflicted Isle. As the poet notes: ‘whose island is this anyway?’

You can read more about The Whole Island on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read three sample poems from the collection.

From The Whole Island, by Simon Maddrell

our language drips

in the dark   I am afraid   of meeting 
my emptiness   but I must
return   to the isle of my birth
before I become   my own extinction.
Our native   Yn Ghaelg  
was nearly silenced
from what   only it   can express. 

I nearly zipped   my own lips
in a black-bagged lack   of understanding 
that it is language   that restores our place
that speaks louder than any plinth
that   when it cries   deepens the sea.

It is near impossible   to describe the sun 
rising   but it is possible   to feel 
the language   of the sun   
setting   on darkness.    

Manannan mac y Leir

Nothing has changed. Mourning 
a ruined family, his lost humanity 
inflicting wounds on the Otherworld. 

His tears, pearls that fled the sea 
turn into that single mountain island 
where I was raised from my mother’s 

womb, gasping for life in a tent 
for seven days, seven years or seventy 
score months, I now forget. When      

I cried it was on the inside, growing 
a cardiac rock with lichen cracks 
and moss where I weep. 


He asks if I yearn for it,
if we have a word for it, like Hiraeth,

how he feels when away from his Celtic 
home, and I brush it off

like a speck of fluff, as if it’s obvious
a queer would hate being kept

in a beautifully busy cottage, tucked away
in a private bay below Milner’s Tower —  

it’s a folly, to think I want to be
where he is, to think I could 

add anything to this, like my pride 
in having scuba-dived the world over,

in the marine biology station here at Port Erin.
How it’s now closed. 

Friday 19 January 2024

Catherine Cole, "Slipstream: On Memory and Migration"

Catherine Cole is Professor of Creative Writing at Liverpool John Moores University in Liverpool, Merseyside. She is an Honorary Professorial Fellow at the University of Wollongong in Australia. She has published ten books including novels, a collection of short stories, memoir, academic monographs and edited collections. She has been a visiting fellow in the UK at UEA and in China at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou. She also has been a writer-in-residence at the Cite International des Arts, Paris, and in Hanoi, China, UK and Australia. She has peer reviewed for the Australian Research Council and the Literature Board of the Australia Council. She was twice a member of the Professorial Committee for the Australian Research Council’s Excellence in Research Assessment process (REF) in the Humanities and Creative Arts. She has reviewed research and curriculum in the Creative Arts and Humanities in the UK, China, New Zealand and Australia. She has published with University presses, major publishing houses and small press publishers. She also has judged leading writing awards in Australia. She is currently on the Board of University of Cambridge Press (Crime series).


About Slipstream: On Memory and Migration

Slipstream explores the ways in which migration changes the lives of those who migrate. It draws on the experiences of Catherine’s family who migrated from Yorkshire to Sydney after World War Two as ‘Ten Pound Poms,’ also called ‘Australia’s hidden migrants.’ The memoir examines the impact of migration on the children of migrants, especially those born in the new place. ‘As happens in so many migrant narratives,’ she noted, ‘the drive for a better life for their children became a kind of family mantra, a way of confirming my parents had done the right thing, however painful. In many ways Slipstream was my way of expressing my gratitude to my parents for the sacrifices they made when they left their homes and families behind.’

What made their journey as Ten Pound Poms of great interest, she noted, was how the family transplanted Yorkshire into Sydney’s south-western suburbs. ‘When you think about it, their journey was remarkable. They came from large families in a mining village not far from Barnsley and had never travelled much beyond it. Yet they travelled up to Glasgow to embark The Empire Brent and sailed for 5 weeks to a new life in Australia. Twelve thousand miles is quite an adventure when you’d never left Yorkshire.’ 

Catherine’s research also drew on a range of resources in the UK. She spent time in a number of museums and archives, most notably the Maritime Museum in Liverpool, the Central Library in Glasgow – the city from which her family sailed - and the Barnsley Town Hall archives. Field research involved trips to Royston and Barnsley, exploring the towns and landmarks of her parents’ lives before they left for Australia. Catherine remains fascinated by the ways in which the experience of migration spreads from generation to generation, affecting those born in the new place as potently as it affected those who left home. ‘My childhood in Sydney was spent listening to stories about my parents’ former lives in the UK and I felt very torn between my two different identities. I wasn’t unique in this. My school friends were Lithuanian, Italian, Polish, Finnish, Dutch, Scottish – all of us watched as our parents adjusted to their new lives, torn just as they were between the old world and the new one.’

You can read more about Slipstream on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read a short excerpt from the memoir. 


From Slipstream: On Memory and Migration, by Catherine Cole

Any aspirations our parents might have had for themselves seemed to have burned out with their migration and the establishment of a new home – surely their great trip across the oceans, their building of a house and garden, two new Australian children and a new job were enough? The house lingers in us all, though. It aspired to roses and the thrift of making do, those perversities of expectation where a house became the inanimate representation of what our parents’ long sea voyage really had been about – a nice home on a quarter acre block halfway across the world, the mortgage paid off as quickly as possible. Thus, we return to our childhood home through memory, our world shrinking, receding as nostalgia claims us. We return to Bachelard’s world of ‘motionless childhood … motionless in the way all Immemorial things are.’ Our childhood homes gone, all the hopes and struggles of building a new home in a new place are replaced with a middle-aged nostalgia for the childhood homes we left. ‘Memories of the outside world will never have the same tonality of those at home,’ Bachelard said, ‘and by recalling these memories we add to our store of dreams; we are never real historians, but always near poets, and our emotion is perhaps nothing but an expression of a poetry that was lost.’

Our family home in Bankstown also retains a tyranny of memory. Now both parents are dead, my siblings and I rarely talk about the house, nor about those unsettled early years when we became Australians, in theory at least. The house might rise before us when a memory needs verification. Was it then? Where was that? Waiting for older siblings’ memories to act as the binding agent for something not quite formed. Our parents can’t be asked at all. But the dead speak through photographs and tape recordings, in a flickering family home movie of us all standing self-consciously in front of the flowering jacaranda opposite the back door, its bell flowers drifting above us like purple snow.

Thursday 18 January 2024

"Nature, the Environment & Sustainability" Short Story Competition: The Shortlist


Photo: cocoparisienne @ Pixabay

Over the last few months, the University of Leicester’s Centre for New Writing and Centre for Environmental Health and Sustainability have been jointly running a writing competition for East Midlands writers on the theme of "Nature, Environment, Sustainability." The competition was open for entries of fiction or creative non-fiction. You can read the original brief about the competition here

We are now delighted to announce the competition shortlist. These ten works will now be considered by our judge, Mark Cocker, and the winner and four runners-up will be announced on the 21st of February.

The competition team want to especially commend all who entered. There were so many very high quality submissions and it was a difficult choice.

Congratulations to our shortlistees:

Emma-Louise Howell, "I Wanted to Write a Poem About Climate Change"
Samuel Parr, "An Anthology of the Months when Nature Refused to Heal Me"
Lee Wright, "The Fog Harvesters"
Rae Toonery, "Cernunnos and the Girl Who Chased the Wind"
Sam Dawson, "Cetiosaurus"  
Asha Krishna, "Lost and Found"
Alice Newitt, "Before The Grasses, Or The Musings Of An Immortal Being Waiting For The World To End"
Molly Desorgher, "Silverlands"
Sophie Sparkhan, "Flood"
Carol Rowntree Jones, "If a Forest"

Friday 5 January 2024

Angel Dionne, "Sardines"


Angel T. Dionne is an Associate Professor of English literature at the University of Moncton Edmundston campus. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Pretoria, and she is the founder/head editor of Vroom Lit Magazine. Her writing has been featured in several journals and anthologies. She is the author of a full-length collection of short fiction, Sardines (ClarionLit, 2023) and two chapbooks, Inanimate Objects (Bottlecap Press, 2022) and Mormyridae (LJMcD Communications, forthcoming). She also served as co-editor for Rape Culture 101: Programming Change (Demeter Press, 2020). She currently lives in Canada with her wife and cats. 

About Sardines
It is a universal enough truth that human beings are social by nature. There is space within us which normally fills up with relationships and rich experiences. When we are rendered solitary by circumstance or temperament, however, that space fills instead with the symptoms of loneliness. Angel Dionne’s dry, observant short stories pull back the lid of that claustrophobic way of life, giving us a vantage on the minor existential pains of people talking most often to themselves.

In this, the author’s first collection, readers will find twelve tinned tales of a world both familiar and disquietingly austere. For all of her economy of expression, Dionne’s investigations into the scenes - hair salon, butcher’s, library, zoo, café - and occurrences - a read-through of the paper, a conversation at the cash-out, an inquiry into the open job - of everyday life are meticulously observed.

Dionne’s story-telling is a kind of narrative atomic theory, in the same philosophical school as the writing of Nancy Huston, Édouard Louis, Valeria Luiselli, Thomas Bernhard, I. L. Peretz. Life, Dionne shows, is not so abstract or so complex that it cannot be made sense of. With sympathy, wit, and a relentless eye for detail, she demonstrates how to discern the commonplace minutiae of human existence, and how to see the ways they interact and compound until the mundane begins to resonate with human meaning.

You can read more about Sardines on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read an excerpt from one of the stories in the collection. 

From Sardines, by Angel Dionne

Sardines (excerpt)

Antoine had always marveled at the way the concrete walls and darkened windows of city buildings were transformed at night. By day, they stood benign, but at night they rose and became towering giants looming high over narrow streets. The tenement buildings and brick storefronts, in crowded desperation, attempted to blot out the moon, and the city sank into a tepid darkness from which Antoine wasn’t certain it would ever rise.

Antoine had been born in this city, had grown up in this city, had toiled and agonized and would, as far as he was concerned, die in this city. At sixty-two years of age, he awaited death like one awaits a long-departed lover. He occupied a little ground-floor apartment in a tenement building, facing neither the sunlight by day or the damp luminescence of moonlight by evening — the perfect place for a forgotten pensioner burdened with arthritis and a stubborn cough.

Although thin-walled, the apartment was good enough to suit him. It wasn’t quite home. In fact, the city never really had been despite the fact that he’d never left it. The oppressive air and colourless pavement made up the sum total of his life. Sometimes, he wished things had been different for him ...