The Stretch | Short Story

Clink of bottle upon rock and cackle of teen laughter lie light upon the damp river air. It is cold. When hands are not cradling cheap cider they are thrust inside puffer jackets or, in the case of the boys, down jogging bottoms. Breath billows into the night along with swearing so thick it has become a tic rather than a conversational trait.

The boy pauses, crouched above the water. Six feet of rushing, peat-stained froth separate him from the drunken cheers of his classmates and glory. Six feet between him, the southern softie new to the area, and acceptance. The goading is loud in his ears, but both he and his fellow students know that the Stretch is no laughing matter.

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Hamnet | Book Review

Hamnet

Maggie O’Farrell

Tinder Press

ISBN: 9781472223821

£8.99

‘What is given may be taken away, at any time. Cruelty and devastation wait for you around corners, inside coffers, behind doors: they can leap out at you at any time, like a thief or brigand. The trick is never to let down your guard. Never think you are safe. Never take for granted that your children’s hearts beat, that they sup milk, that they draw breath, that they walk and speak and smile and argue and play. Never for a moment forget they may be gone, snatched from you, in the blink of an eye, borne away from you like thistledown.

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Best Microfiction 2021 | Writing

Back in December I was delighted when FlashBack Fiction nominated my ship wrecker tale ‘Foundering‘ for inclusion in the Best Microfiction 2021 anthology. I thought little more about it, but woke up a couple of days ago to a Twitter notification saying that I had made the cut!

Best Microfiction have published an anthology since 2019 and ‘provides recognition for outstanding literary stories of 400 words or fewer’. It’s always nice to be published, but to have my piece put forwards by a publisher and then in turn selected by editor Amber Sparks was particularly so. I’ll be looking forward to it being published and really proud when it is.


Matthew Richardson is a writer of short stories. His work has featured in Gold Dust magazine, Literally Stories, Near to the Knuckle, McStorytellers, Penny Shorts, Soft Cartel, Whatever Keeps the Lights On, Flashback Fiction, Cafelit, and Shooter magazine. He is a doctoral student at the University of Dundee, a lucky husband, and a proud father.

Not necessarily in that order.

Zenith | Short Story

The app notification took the edge off the vista, but it was nothing really. Tim shifted the vibration in his pocket to the back of his mind. It was important to stay in the moment, and what a moment it had been.

Tim had felt the seawater slapping against the wooden pier underneath his feet. He had smelled drying seaweed and salt and gritty sunscreen. The low-throttled thrum of a water-ski in the distance had mingled with the babble of his children playing in the sand, arguing softly about who was in charge of building the sandcastle. A wisp of cloud trailed across the sky, its presence only serving to illustrate the expanse of blue above it.

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A Storm-Topped Sky | Short Story

Eternal rest, my father told me when I was a bairn. The long sleep, he had soothed. It hasn’t proved that way for me – there is little rest for those lost at sea. It isn’t the spring tides or the curling undertow that trouble me – vagaries of current are no longer my concern. It is the yearning that keeps me from my rest.

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Traitors’ Gate | Short Story

Oars ease through the tan water. There is the occasional dull thunk as one of the wooden blades clips the side of the barge, but little else disturbs the foetid heat. The boat is not moving fast and the crowds on either side of the river are keeping pace. If one were unaccustomed to this ritual, an observer might mistake their shouts for cheers.

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Panning Out | Short Story

There is a fight on the pavement outside. Shouting, swearing, pushing, polo shirts stretched tight over beer guts, the full show. The confrontation is fuelled by alcohol, the participants’ attention on each other rather than the overlooking windows. The fisticuffs, however, are not where your attention should be. Take a step back from the window. What do you see? Frost creeping up in between the double glazing where the seal has blown. The dried husks of a few flies littering the windowsill.

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