The Dress Code

‘Don’t be on that all night,’ Dad says as he passes through the kitchen. ‘You’re costing me a fortune.’ I’m sat on the kitchen counter (our phone is hung to the wall just above it).

‘So, what are you wearing?’ I ask Michaela who’s on the other end. She’s wearing her new white stilettoes, her new navy pencil skirt and a shiny white blouse that she’s worn before. I’m supposed to wear the exact same or something very similar. This is me trying to fit in.

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Best friends

”What did you do at school today, pet?”

Angela flopped down on the chair, legs dangling, a frown spread across her face. Her mother put a glass of milk on the table in front of her. Angela looked at the glass, scowling.


Angela’s mother looked at her daughter. Ever since she had started school, she had loved it. Today was different. Angela wouldn’t look at her mum, instead staring intently at the glass on the table.

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Soul Olympics '88

We blazed through the neighbourhood like our afterlives depended on it. Ten events in an hour and the winners got to The Promised Land. They’d been hammering us with bible stories at school and punctuating them with updates from the games that were taking place after our bedtimes in South Korea. The two unrelated strands fused our imaginations into one robust and graceful movement, as ingeniously natural and revelatory as a Fosbury Flop.

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Margaret was a tall, dark, attractive girl. We became friends in the last year of primary school. She had a sense of adventure and a rebellious streak meaning she didn't always obey authority. Our teacher, Mrs Irvine, often produced the tawse and punished you, even for as little as not knowing an answer. I was intimidated by the belt and very seldom found myself in the humiliating position of standing in front of the class to be belted. But Margaret didn't give a toss if she was given the belt. She thought it was one huge joke.

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Jenny's Well

I didn’t have room. Not with my sandwiches, fruit gums, bag of Salt ‘N' Shake and bottle of orange squash.

The new jersey was all thick and scratchy, knitted with sickly green Arran wool. Night after night Mam’s needles kept clicking. Every now and then, she would measure it against my back. She sewed it up, the chunky needle flying back and forth, back and forth as she watched Coronation Street.

Sunbeams were bouncing off the pavements. It would weigh me down.

But nobody argued with Mam.

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To Where?

for Roween

Jayne found herself inexorably irritated by words that, when written down, didn’t offer a clear indication of how they should be pronounced. Sometimes, she simply read a word so wrongly, it bore no resemblance to its meaning.

Her friend, Cinnamon, never stopped ribbing her for mispronouncing the name of a famous painting.

“How can you get ‘Van Gogh’ right,” she teased: “Yet be so convinced that he had a ‘ban-dagged’ ear!”

“Stop it, Cinn – anyone could have read ‘bandaged’ that way.”

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Scissor Sisters

People say objects live somewhere, as in ‘the cups live in the cupboard’ but Lucy felt that her dolls could never ‘live’ anywhere, not even as objects. Four dolls, each an unwelcome gift, but still she kept on being given them. 

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Spiralling down in paradise

Warning: this piece contains strong language

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For Better, or Worse?

Willing expedition of the approaching sirens, I knelt by Ellie’s bruised, bleeding body. 

“You’re next, if you don’t disappear,” Karl growled at me, fists clenched. I was going nowhere; I knew he would finish the job if I did.

“Please,” Ellie moaned, “just go. He’s been inside for manslaughter before. He will kill you.”

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defiance, bravery, friendship

Cooking, Rebel Style

Please note: this piece contains strong language

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