Wednesday, February 27

The Iscariot Beetle

by Adham Smart

tunnels nooses from loose earth
and finds discarded coins, bearing the face of an emperor
whose rule came to be regretted.

Adham Smart is a writer from South-East London who likes to pretend he is a foreigner in his spare time.

Monday, February 25

A Fresh Start

by Ingrid Best

In the seconds after his head hit the wall at the bottom of the stairs, narrowly missing her neatly folded pile of clean washing, there were no angry accusations. Instead she heard only silence. An aeroplane passed over the house and the cat flap flipped open and shut in the wind. His eyes stared forwards, neck bent, long thin legs stretched out.

Feeling the draught upstairs, she climbed the ladder and swung the loft door shut before edging her way downstairs. He had already taken the boxes down, but never was one for finishing a job.

In the kitchen she reflected on her husband’s sad accident while she sipped white wine and varnished her nails. They had been separated for over a year, and he had lived with his mother until she died a few months ago, leaving the inheritance to be shared amongst her three sons. After her death they had decided to make a fresh start. He agreed to pay off the mortgage and put the house in joint names, while she finished her relationship with the Welsh actor and stopped reading The Guardian and writing to the Death Row prisoner.

You just never know what a day holds, she mused, as she removed her wedding ring and poured herself another glass of wine.

Ingrid Best lives in Hounslow.

Saturday, February 23


by Ruth Jones

Holding his hand out, he smiled.

“When I tell you, run!"

“But why?”

“Just run.”

The wind whipped through her hair, the sea air filling her lungs. The gentle rustle of leaves in the trees and the seagulls soaring overhead, the warm sun bathing her skin; life was perfect. Gripping his hand she grinned back, her heart filling with joy.



He took off, running through the grass. She started running too, as she was half dragged along. They ran closer and closer to the edge of the cliff until he swerved off course, narrowly missing the drop.

Collapsing on the floor, he pulled her down with him.

“Never forget how you felt today. Never forget how happy you are at this moment. When things get tough, remember this!”

Without warning, he jumped up and ran off into the field, before doubling back towards the edge. He built up speed, head down.

“Paul? What are you doing?”

He didn’t reply and just kept running, pushing towards the edge, getting closer and closer until…

“Paul? Noooo!”

Sarah jumped up, went to the edge of the cliff and looked down, down to where the body of the man she loved was lying. Or at least should have been.

Looking down at the rocks, Sarah gasped. There was nothing, just rocks. So where had he gone? And why did he tell her to remember this moment?

* * *

The sun filtered through the blinds, filling the room with a warm glow. Gradually Sarah stirred, blinking as she opened her eyes. The memory of her dreams came flooding back, the same dream she had every night. The meaning of the dream always remained unclear, the exhilaration felt as she ran towards the cliff, the heartbreak as she watched Paul disappear down and the confusion as she realised that he was gone, not dead, just gone.

Her phone started to ring, the screen flashing on her bedside table. The lit display read ‘Paul’; she smiled, happiness filling her heart.

“Hey sweetheart!”

“Hey Paul, you all right?”

“I’m great, you?”

“I’ve only just woken up! What you up to?”

“Not much, wondering if you were free tonight. I’m thinking we go to the cinema, maybe grab some food first. Sound like a plan?”

That was the last time she spoke to him.

* * *
A shadow passed overhead, steadily circling. Sarah looked up, curious as to what it could be. Paul was there above her.

“Come join me.”

“Paul, what are you doing? How did you get up there?”

“I’m free, I’m happy.”

* * *

She clutched onto the flowers, her heart in pain, not wanting to let them go, just as she hadn’t wanted to let Paul go.

In reality, he hadn’t flow into the sky, but had gone into the ground. He died young, but was free from the pain. She knew that the only place she would be with him was in the silent hours of her sleep. But she also knew that one day she would join him, and fly. Until that day, she would stare at the sky, watching for every shadow, knowing that one of them would be Paul, watching over her.

Ruth Jones is a second year Biochemistry student, originally from Bristol, now living in sunny Portsmouth, who writes for fun, instead of revising…

Thursday, February 21

Yet to be Seen

by Daniel Hill

You didn't know how your love would affect me, you didn't know how I'd react,
But now I think the results are plain to see, almost as matter of fact.
It has me thinking of you night and day, and any other time between,
I think I love you more than you realise, but that is yet to be seen.

I'm desperate to prove myself, because I've not had a chance yet,
Everytime I speak to you I feel better, and after we finish I feel in debt.
It hurts to know that you aren't mine, and that he can hold you tight,
I wish you were here by my side, and that you were in my arms tonight.

I can't change the past, otherwise so much would be different,
Those we love would last, and my crying would not be imminent.
Into the future my love and I go, I love you forever and anytime between,
I think I love you more than you realise, but that is yet to be seen.

Daniel Hill is a writer from Bristol who is currently exploring different types of writing. He started writing poetry in 2004 after reading The Rose That Grew From Concrete and has won the only competition he has entered so far. Would probably be famous already if he weren't such a procrastinator...

Tuesday, February 19

Gap Years

by Sian Cummins

For whatever reason, the Accommodation Office have put me in a flat with people who are a year older than me. That is, they finished their A-Levels over a year ago, not a few surreal, short weeks like me. That is, they have all had 'gap years'. All seven girls that I share with (sure I put down 'mixed flat', but hey) are twenty, or nearly. I just wanted to get on with it after college; the leaving home, the degree, the drinking and the sexual lunacy, enough of an adventure I would have thought. But clearly this lot didn't think so.

It's been fine so far. Enjoying the course and the people. The place is OK as well, considering it's the cheapest self-catering and the room's really small. They're mostly nice girls, not really my type of people, but inoffensive and I've got friends on the course. It's just the way they bang on and on about their years 'out'. Not Linda the girl from Belfast, she just worked in the civil service, though she does treat me like I'm a lot more than a year younger, which is laughable really. It's mostly the two with the identical pictures on their pinboards, Cathy and Louise. The flat below me, all boys, one of the mums gave one of them enough frozen dinners to last every night of term, anyway, one of them told me there's one the same in his flat. All smug and tanned, just because they went time travelling on their gap years. Both have the same pictures, posed in exactly the same way, same shots of themselves in front of the half-built Empire State Building, same gang of gormless backpackers at Victoria's coronation. If you ask me it's a cliché and they only ever go to English speaking eras anyway, but they think it makes them deadly experienced and serious. Isn't it a bit sick, going to poke around London in the Blitz? But they're like, it's humbling and it gives you a real sense of your own mortality and how lucky you are, etcetera. Anyway, the tourist trails don't take you within five days of an actual raid and nowhere where there's dead bodies. Oh well, whatever does it for you I guess. We get on OK when they concentrate on the present for five minutes. We had a great piss-up the other night. It could be worse - this guy I know from the Met lives in a private house and it's haunted, I mean OVERRUN with ghosts and the landlord refuses to do anything about it.

Sian Cummins lives in Manchester, in a writers' haven with a blocked toilet.

Sunday, February 17

Ode to the guy I always see on my way to work

by Mel George

I trail you to work every day,
Then back again all of the way,
But we’ve never broken

The barriers and spoken;

I rather think we never may.

I’m used to the back of your hair,

And that brown coat that you always wear.

Do you go to work?

Or just hang out and lurk?

If you live here, I’ve not worked out where.

I see you more often than friends

Whom I only meet at the weekends,

So it seems quite a shame
That I don't know your name

And I feel like we should make amends.

I wonder if you passed me by,

Would you nod to me or catch my eye?

The truth is, you're British -

You’d just become skittish

If one day I stopped to say ‘hi’.

Mel George has changed jobs and now no longer stalks this guy every morning. They retained a British silence until the very end.

Wednesday, February 13

Quiet Time

by Emma J. Lannie

I have never been that great at Maths. Everyone thinks I’m in here listening to music, which is partly true. But I am also not here at all. I am somewhere else entirely. Mine is the only door that has a lock, apart from the bathroom and the toilet. The toilet definitely used to be a cupboard. It has one of those locks that would have taken a key way back when. Now it is just a slide lock, a metal one, although it’s pretty much unnecessary. There’s no way anyone could burst in on you. The space is so small that you have to sit on the toilet sideways, with your knees against the door. There would have been an outhouse. The toilet would have been a cupboard.

There are no great calculations. I know where I want to go. That’s enough. Whenever I come by a new possession, I get rid of an old one. Sometimes, if I’m feeling generous, I will give a thing away. Most of the time I sell my things, though. I am on the purple star on ebay. I have 99.9% positive feedback.

I like to listen to jazz, the drum kind. It’s the kind of sound I can get right inside of. But it has to be loud. Sometimes I feel like I am in the film Rumblefish. Sometimes I can be up here and hours pass without me realising, and then I have to go downstairs and apologise to my girlfriend who has been waiting for me in the living room. I don’t feel so bad if my housemates are in. At least then she will have had company. My housemates are usually in. They haven’t got a clue about all this.

I don’t have a wardrobe. This isn’t Narnia. It’s good when it happens, but I couldn’t explain the equations. Sometimes I see them in chalk on a blackboard, but it’s always right in the back of my mind, somewhere near learning to ride my bike, and when I try to think about it clearly I just get rows of x’s and tiny number 3’s. None of it makes sense. But it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t make it not happen.

The first time it was just about sounds. It was about the beats getting so loud that the room no longer existed. Later, I would turn my key in the lock and step out onto the landing, not really believing in the floorboards anymore. But it would all be unaltered. The weight of me still creaked the wood on the first step, the bannister still wobbled.

After that it was easy. Music is such an explanation. If people think you are sitting in your room alone, they let all kinds of thoughts get into their heads. But if they think you are listening to music, well, that is perfectly normal. It is acceptable behaviour. The time is always about two hours. If you put a CD lasting roughly an hour on repeat, no one will notice after just two listens. It doesn’t begin to sound familiar till at least the third go. And even then, who questions that anyway? Pick something unfamiliar, something without choruses and actual recognisable structure and you’re laughing. Jazz.

They think I am listening to jazz. They smirk about it and call it my Quiet Time. I think they are part-smirking at their cleverness at calling it the opposite of what it is, and part-smirking because they think it’s hilarious that I require this time on my own. My housemates don’t think I know about any of this. They think I am just in my room. They don’t even wonder where the things come from. They assume money has changed hands and everything belongs exactly where it is now.

All I do is broker the deals. I set them up. I write the notes. They are things that I want. And sometimes when I get them, I decide I don’t want them after all, and then I pass them on. But the ownership scratches an itch in me in a place that tries to be just feathers. Even if the thing is just mine for one minute, it still counts.

The best thing of mine is this watch. I’d wanted it since last week. When I wrote the note it was ten years ago, although the watch is a lot older than that. It’s been through wars. The note finally became an idea at the start of this month: three-day auction. It didn’t matter about the money. The money is always just a formality. What matters is it belongs to me. It is mine.

Emma J. Lannie is a librarian with a penchant for bourbon creams and fizzy pop. You can read her blog here.

Monday, February 11

The Errorist

by Adham Smart

sprawled in the bad air of
his creation.
He left his alarm-clock
spitting irregularly, left
his walls dripping
with blind fear, left his
bed broken in two halves.

He left in a blunder
of apparition, of flying
paper cranes
that opened paper wings
over his streaming face,
and made nests of
car-crash relics;
hubcaps and broken glass.

Adham Smart is a writer from South-East London who likes to pretend he is a foreigner in his spare time. He also thinks this website is well cool.

Friday, February 8

I am awake

by Sam Oborne

I am laying on my side in bed. I am on my right side. I am leaning on my elbow. My face is pressed against my palm. It is early in the morning and I can hear people moving around in the house. Behind me in the bed is my wife. She is laying on her back and her mouth is a little open. She is snoring.

The bed is actually an airbed. It was hard last night, but now it has sagged, so the bed is really the floor. The floor is hard, in a different way to how the bed should be hard. Not a good hard.
I hear my wife roll onto her side. She stops snoring.

The people moving around in the house are our friends. They are married too. One of them is half Portugese, or something. The other one is from Surrey. The hard floor we are on is their hard floor.

I hear my wife moving a little. Her lips make a sticky sound when she opens her mouth. Outside, a bus goes past. I move onto my front and lean on both my elbows. I press my face into the mattress, which is really the carpet.

One of our friends is in the kitchen. I think it is the one who is a little Portugese. It sounds like he is putting cereal into a bowl and then putting milk onto the cereal. I lift my head up and move onto my left side. Now I am facing my wife. She has her eyes closed but I don't think she is asleep. I lift my hand and poke her in the stomach. She doesn't move. I poke her again.

The person moving around the house who could be our friend who is a little Portugese is now eating the cereal. I can hear the crunch.

I poke my wife again. She opens her eyes. She tells me to stop it. I ask her if she thinks we should get up. She just looks at me. I say that our friends are up. She shuts her eyes. I move onto my back and look at the ceiling. The ceiling is white. Our friend who is a little Portugese opens the front door of the house. Our friend who is from Surrey kisses him goodbye. He leaves the house.

Outside, a car alarm goes off. My wife is snoring again. I close my eyes.

Sam Oborne is from Kent. His blog is here.

Tuesday, February 5

Rhododaktulos Eose: A Digital Dawn

by Sammy Jay

That rosy fingered dawn of ancient times,
- When bold Achilles lived and killed and died,
And was and is remembered, - now rises
As Argive Helen charmed the world and drew
Forth the superlative from air and bound-
ing sea and bounding hills of fire - the top-
less towers! Ah how they felt the touch of that
Bright dawn of rosy fingered beauty which
Would be their ruin and their keenest joy.

She drew the hearts of men to jump themselves,
Burning to burst into blue vaulted vacancies
And yelp a cry of mystical desire,
Of hope, of love for each high mountaintop
Which swung a swathe of sweeping light
So beautiful it made the very sands
Upon the blooded strands flow of own
Mysterious accord, and whisper 'yes',
and dancing move into the moving sea.

But now the dawn is fingerless and dead,
The steel cold mind of man has plucked the rose,
And I must dream a dream of joy, and sigh
For those, who, dreamless, slumber in their beds.

Sammy Jay is a 1st Year English Student at Christ Church, Oxford, and is (wrongly) convinced that he is Shelley.

Sunday, February 3

Eternal Eleven

by Sophie Playle

-- eleven and the bell rings. Everyone shoves their things into their bags, ignoring the teacher struggling to talk over the noise. Paul cries out and runs from the classroom. He jumps over a tripped kid, and skims past the technician who storms round the corner with trays of glass beakers stacked in her arms. He rushes through the doors before the wave of students arrive on the way to their next class.

A girl with short blonde hair is waiting by the lockers and just as she opens her mouth to speak Paul gives her a quick kiss but doesn’t stop, calling back, ‘No I didn’t finish the science project and I can’t come over tonight!’

He makes his way outside and runs across the playing field. A rugby lesson is just beginning. Paul splatters through the mud, ducks to avoid a ball. ‘Clarkson!’ yells Mr. Jacks. But Paul doesn’t stop.

His lungs are burning and the irrational panic is bringing tears to his eyes. He clambers over a fence and into the churchyard. Perhaps if he gets far enough away, if he could just get away – anywhere! Quickly! But no – he can hear the grinding in the belfry and the church clock strikes --

Sophie Playle is a student at UEA trying to learn a little about literature and creative writing, in between sleeping and taking long naps. The voices told her to start a blog, because they were tired of listening to her rambles.

Friday, February 1

A ramble through February without a compass

Well folks, a little Happy February. It's possible nobody else has wished you that today. I feel they should have done.

Another big thank you to all our new readers and all our new writers, and to the talented individuals who have sent in wonderful new pieces in their droves.

You really should drop by here as often as you can in February. If you do, you will get to read some brand new short fiction ranging from the true-to-life to the surreal; the observational to the fantastical, from authors Sam Oborne, Emma J. Lannie, and Ruth Jones amongst others. You will also be able to enjoy some more of Sammy Jay's absorbing poetry, alongside new stuff from poet Adham Smart.

Apart from that, you will have to wait and see; we like to be able to publish something new every other day, which makes TPG a little like my bank account. What comes in just about manages to cover what goes out, usually. Actually, it's doing quite a bit better than my bank account on that front. But if your fabulous work thus far is anything to go by, the end of February here at our little home should be every bit as enjoyable as January has been.

Taking off my tiny but respect-filled hat to you,

P.S. Ah yes, look up "The Pygmy Giant" on Facebook. I'm sure it'll come in handy one of these days.