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Magpie Road

The bird was pinned to the oak tree across the road. A magpie, the nail driven into the base of its neck, head slumped to the side, its black beak pointing sorrowfully to the ground. Both black wings had been splayed over the thick, rough trunk.

Kerry spotted the grisly sight from the kitchen window and her hands flew to her mouth, dropping the breakfast dishes. Soapy water exploded from the washing-up bowl with a splosh, soaking her shirt.

Read the whole story in Bandit Fiction Presents, Issue Six

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After They Fall Alseep

Beautiful, that face, full of soft chub and rosy cheeks, lips slightly parted while silent breaths warm the pillow. I touch her hand – so warm. Probably like her cute little feet under the covers. I want to kiss her cheek, snuggle up for a cuddle, but if I did that she’d wake.

I take out the nail scissors from the inside pocket of my jacket. The denim feels harsh on my knuckles next to the soft curls between my other fingers in the cot. Gently, I cut a lock of her hair. Not a flutter from her sleeping lashes. There never is.

Read the whole story in Bandit Fiction Presents, Issue Six

Touching Strangers 

When the ship’s captain and the fat man who brought us all here stood together on the dock, talking low, I should have taken it as a sign. Their hands jabbed the night air in anger, and a murmur passed through me that my husband and I had made a mistake. The shuffling crowd propelled us forward. There was no choice but to move with them.

Glints of uncertainty passed among the crew as we all boarded. Instinct compelled me to step back, remain on land. I glanced at my husband for his agreement, but he set a grim smile, tugged my hand, and gave a subtle yet sharp nod of his head. We’ll risk it.

And so we squeezed in with all the others—backs, shoulders and knees touching. Touching strangers.

© C.Aylett 2017

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