Like the building he has seen better days. When he is outside, looking back from the beach, he examines the wide sweep of its deco walls, the planar immensity of it dirtied now by peeling paint, the yellow and brown stains of salt and gull shit miring the clean edges. It is then that he feels the call of the water again.
He is, he supposes, not the only one to find a second chance here. He observes the yellowing net curtains at unlit windows and wonders who lives inside, imagines pensioners and others, like himself, newly poor. His own window is now devoid of any barrier to the view, like a freshly capped tooth in a neglected mouth.
This is home now and he will make the best of it. He places pictures here, on his mantelpiece, of the children, bright faces smiling on a Greek beach, two years before. He likes his new view unimpeded, and switches a light on when he leaves, a guide on dark mornings.
The hut is a hidden boon, included in the rent, the agent told him when he had come, jittery and nervous, to view the flat. It is the only one in the row of brightly painted huts not boarded up for the winter. It sparked memories, that first time, of swimming as a child, beach holidays where his parents, too poor to go abroad, had piled them in to the car for days out from London, to the coast. Before sunscreen, he had fled the sun, playing all day in the sea.
Exercise, the counsellor at the Phoenix Centre said, was good. She’d urged him to go for interminable walks between group sessions, once the shaking in his hands receded. He spent his time trudging the fringe of a lake at the centre, past drab ducks sat idling in the water. He’d thought of swimming then, remembered those childhood beach days, remembered too his father, bone weary from roofing, sat in a deckchair, perpetually tanned in his shorts, drinking beer after beer while they played, part of the tide of memories that had crept up on him since he had stopped.
This beach is better in winter. The gulls are raucous of a morning and evening, wheeling loudly above his flat. The sound of them, the thought of the hut and the view from the window had let him imagine, that first night alone there, what it would be like to swim again, to be free from the cinching constraint of his clothes, to float free of himself in these waters. He imagined it as he sat there in his new armchair in the gloom of the late afternoon, watching the dog walkers along the shore and the ebb and flow of the tide, cradling the idea, like his fragile sobriety, close to him, nurturing it.
He wakes now without need of an alarm each winter morning from dreams of his wife, asleep elsewhere, alone he hopes, and his children. He lays a moment in the dark, scanning, by habit, the state of himself, surprised still to find his head clear, the voices of his children still ringing, in an echo from his dream. He anticipates the cold outside the duvet, holds himself inert a moment longer, joying in the potential for movement. Then he rises, stands in his shorts by the window, quiet, checking the sea, looking out from the flat’s darkness for the quiet pulse of the tide. Most days it is calm, a little chop on the water all there is to see. Others, it churns with heaving shore break and he knows that the visit will be brief and scary, a stepping into forces way beyond his own, a surrendering to the elements, the crash of water and susurration of stone.
He likes the flat days more, days when he can stay out, floating.
He turns the light on only when he leaves the room, goes to the bathroom and pulls on the wetsuit he has left to dry from the day before, in the bath. He stands a moment to admire how the taut stretch of neoprene pulls his gut in, smooths his lumpen, changing shape. He looks sleek, he thinks, and new in these smooth black curves, the stretch of the suit an extra layer, the retort of its elastic like a sheathing that snaps back with him, gives his movements control and urgency.
Then he is down the stairs from the flat, out into the cold air of an unheated corridor, the key to the hut in hand, past the blank doors of other residents, hearing the slap of his flip-flops on the echoing stairwell that curves around the outside of the building. He emerges from the stairwell’s shelter to the first gust of cold wind, the fresh reek of salt air and seaweed’s iodine rot.
He unlocks the hut, pulls the metal bar aside, lays its cold length down, gently, hearing the sound of its crunch on the pebbles, each sound a wrinkle in the cold quiet of the winter morning. He pulls the doors open, shakes the jerrycan of water he fills each week to bring down here, checking it has not frozen. He fills the kettle, glad for the hut’s gas stove, lifts the canister each morning, knowing that soon he will have to spend some of his dwindling savings to replace it. He readies the matches, places bag and sugar and milk in position for his return. Then he pulls on the hat, feels the crimp of rubber and neoprene against his temples, the crunch of his compressed, greying hair concealed beneath the tight shell. He pulls the goggles tight, prepares himself.
When he slides the sandals off, the first pebbles close to shore are still a shock on bare feet. He keeps his feet and hands exposed despite the weather, flexes them now as he stands and waits, drawing warming breaths into himself. He has considered boots and gloves, but this, he thinks, is cheating, the sacrifice of his skin part of the deal, a necessary baring. He bounces on the spot, waiting until the compulsion of the plunge frees him from thought.
The first bite of the grey waters always shocks, but he welcomes the slide of it creeping up his legs as he strides further, the resistance breaking as silver foam as he strides out past the shore break. And then, on the good days, when he does not have to contend with the surge and crash of waves, the sharp slap against the face, the windmilling of arms, darkness of water, slide and gasp for cold, bright air, the warming and falling to a rhythm, chop and beat of his legs fluttering. Those, he knows, are the magic moments, when he moves and glides, his body taut and buoyant, the suit working with him to bring his arms chopping down. It had been difficult at first, each stroke a struggle against burning lungs. Now he knows the rhythm of it, plays with the bob and rise of the water, the beating insistence of his kicks, the gradual warming of the air and water in the suit.
He stops, breaths heavy clouds when he reaches the final buoy half a mile from shore, and looks for the distant pin-prick glow of his flat, his light. Often, that far out, he can see other lights too, immense tankers gliding further out, the pinpricks of fishing boats hunting for the morning catch. But he turns always, looks for again for his building, thinks of the old chair sat in his new flat, there by the window, the pictures of the children. When he finds it—and it is not hard, white and immobile on the shore—he steadies his breath, releases himself from the bobbing of the yellow buoy. He sets off across the bay, tracking the coastline, his daily pattern now, returning home.
Afterwards, he struggles up the beach, shakes feeling back into numbed fingers, bounces on the spot again and dances on his frigid toes, bobbing and flexing, his limbs heavy without the forgiveness of salt water.
The hiss of gas, the sulphurous crack of a match sends a spurt of warmth into the cold air of the hut and, as he waits for the steel kettle to sing, he cups his hands around the flame, coaxing feeling back. Above him, on a shelf, his boys smile down at him, a single picture that he has brought there, one he wills himself, each morning, not to look at until his return. He nods a silent greeting, imagines them coming here in the summer, the crowd of beach toys in a corner and laughter.
The sweet tea is a blessing and as he drinks it, he feels the joyous ache of new muscle and enjoys the play of warmth and cold that comes with the sun’s first winter light, and the comfort of his hut against the wind.
JOHN HERBERT is a teacher from Brighton, UK, holds a PhD in modernist fiction from the University of Birmingham, and is an alumnus of New Writing South's Creative Writing Programme. He is a multiple winner of the AdHoc Fiction and Microcosms Fiction competitions, was highly commended in the 2017 Brighton Prize and appears in their print anthology this year. His short fiction is published in The Forge Literary Magazine and DNA Magazine in 2018.
He is elsewhere.
The rooms are much smaller without us in them. I move our chest of drawers away from the bedroom wall to check for fallen jewellery and find a huge brown spider last seen a month ago, nesting in the radiator pipes.
This is your room now, I whisper. You must pay the rent.
In the kitchen, I wrap the plates I want to take with me in newspaper and stack them on the worktop. I open the cupboards, thinking of washing-up that still has not been done, hair matted in the shower drain, all the pitiful tears and promises made… The mess will go mouldy and he will cough and gag as he deals with it. He will not have learned anything, despite listening. I think I am beyond anger, somewhere in the eerie realm of apathy.
There is not much I want from the living room. I stand at the fireplace, perusing our collection of found objects on the mantle. Behind an empty record sleeve I discover a stack of council tax bills, unopened. I turn the record over, appreciating the cover art. He bought this standing in the line waiting for another band, outside the venue, but he has never played it aloud. We do not own a record player.
I lift the limp head of a flower we have let die. I’m sorry, I say, we should have cared about you.
I regard our other ornaments of nostalgia. What use do either of us have for a rusty bicycle gear? Or two red flags, stolen under cover of night, from the eighteenth hole on the nice part of town? Or a shark’s delicate egg-pouch, black and salt-dusted, plucked from the pebbles under Brighton pier?
I bring the pouch to my nostrils and imagine I smell sea foam… I see the sky as it was then, making a great matchstick silhouette out of the pier. Our shoes crunching on the rocky dunes; the joint, fragrant on my glove fingers, and scarf pulled close.
He has the egg-pouch in his hand. He is yelling something along the lines of: ‘That is utter bullshit! You’re absolutely lying, there’s no way this thing came out of a shark!’ He is waving the pouch around like it’s an outrage. He shouts to a woman walking her dog, ‘A shark egg?’ She flinches as he gets close. ‘How is a shark supposed to fit in this?’
And I can barely stand for laughing. Later he, outside the car, emptying sand from his boots, me in the passenger seat, jotting down a few lines about strong wind coming off the surf, and car doors slamming; the pink clouds comparable to a bar at closing time when no one wants to leave, and something about love in the distance, like thunder, oncoming.
I put down the egg pouch and have a smoke break out front. Children have left their shoes in the street and they’re playing on the grass. I count four cats perched on four different garden walls. A neighbour calls out in greeting and I smile back without really looking. Hoping she cannot remember the week we moved in, when she offered to spare us a few recycling bags and we declined. Hoping she cannot smell the alley down the side of our house where the blocked drain floods, and all the food scraps we fail to catch in the sink come spilling out to turn rancid on the path.
I flick my filter over the fence, onto next door’s lawn. I close our door on the cul-de-sac and the house vanishes with me inside it. We should never have lived here, among such nice families. We have hurt this place. Trodden our dirt into the carpets; greasy pizza box stains; turned the pristine bathroom tiles orange. In his study, in the desk drawer, there is a crystal ashtray overflowing with roach ends. He thinks his indoor smoking is a well-kept secret but he is careless. I have known all along.
I move to the back door and take the heavy green curtains in my hands. The rail is loose in the wall; one strong tug and they could fall. I realise mine will be a botched disappearance, a paradox of vanishing. I want it to be like I was never here at all. At the same time, I want him aware of my absence like a deep bruise aching on the bone. In the calm of a hollow house, in the privacy of a closed mouth, I can admit that I want him hurting.
Movement. I turn; outside on the patio sits a cat with patchy fur, no collar, whiskers drooping at the tip. We are not strangers. She is waiting for an invitation. He never lets her inside—he kicks his slippers to shoo her away. He is adamant we will never leave food out for her. ‘It’ll just come to expect it.’
I open the back door and the sound of it scares her—she scurries under the bushes. I kneel and hold out my hand, waiting for the tiny, wet press of her nose investigating my fingers.
Nice to meet you.
When she trusts me, I step back inside, and a moment later she follows.
We go room to room, exploring. She, sniffing everything at nose height; I, presenting from the doorways, as if this is an open house and the cat is interested in buying.
And this is the bathroom… The cat finds an empty toilet roll and bats it into a corner. She emerges with spider webs draped across her back. No bath, I’m afraid, but you’ll manage, I’m sure.
At the top of the stairs, we pause to inspect the skirting board. I sit cross-legged on the carpet like a child. This is where his sister got sick. The cat doesn’t say anything. She is enjoying the carpet, kneading it with her claws. Where we found out, I mean. His mum called. His mum never calls. The cat accepts a gentle scratch under her chin.
He was fine at first, but then he said he couldn’t breathe. I told him, It’s all right, darling, it’s going to be all right, and went to make him a cup of tea. I heard him yell and, when I returned, found him clutching his hand to his chest, slumped beneath the hole he’d just made in the wall. I called him a stupid bastard and rolled him into my arms. He wouldn’t cry in front of me.
The cat allows me to stroke the length of her body. With her yellow eyes on me I feel we have known each other our whole lives. There is something beautiful about not having to find the words. It is acceptable for me to abandon her here, with no explanation. I will never have to say out loud what she means to me. I am not expected to explain that of course I still love her, but it’s not what it used to be, we both know it; and she will never call me a coward for leaving like this, and it won’t end in me screaming, ‘I just can’t stand the sight of you anymore!’ knowing I have no real reason for feeling this, it being just one of those terrible things.
She bores quickly of our bonding and totters down the stairs. Now I am the one who follows. In the living room, she settles on the worn sofa cushions, and I know by the sight of her there—a detail from the life we should have had, but out of place in this one—that it’s time for me to go.
She watches me gather myself; fetching the plates in newspaper, my case for contact lenses, a house plant. I take the unheard record off the mantel and tuck it under my arm. These songs will be a comfort to me, in this new time. They are the only ones left untainted.
I turn to my old friend. She does not look hurt. She does not look happy. Something is stuck in my chest—as if I have tried to swallow an entire potato without chewing it. This is an image he coined in a bout of man-flu last year, but I won’t allow this thought to carry me off to happier memories. Perhaps hating me will make it easier for them, the cat and him.
I say, I’ll leave the door unlocked. Don’t feel you have to stay. The front door completes its full swing closed, the lock clicks, and the cat, with my whole life around her, vanishes.
(This story was first published in Issue 11.)
VIVIENNE BURGESS is based in London/North East and holds a First Class Honours in English with Creative Writing. Her short fiction has been published online by LossLit and 356tomorrows, and in print by Cuckoo Press and Brunel University London Press.
‘It’s a game-changer, that’s for sure. Science is changing the way we view things. Physically altering our view. Tadpoles. Blind tadpoles with eyes transplanted into their tails. There’s this miracle drug that allows the eyes to grow into their nervous systems…’ The man’s eyes are full-moon-wide, his hands gyrating helicopter blades of excitement.
‘Does that mean they would swim backwards?’ The woman is ponderous and slow from her fourth gin and tonic. The syllables fall out of her mouth—dense and clunky—like the ice cubes bashing around dodgem-car-style in her glass.
‘If you were a tadpole with transplanted eyes…’
He stops. Sighs.
‘You know what I mean,’ he continues. ‘If you were blind and had the option of getting yourself some new eyes… where would you put them? You couldn’t have them on your feet. Too much danger of a shopping trolley running over them. That could be messy. You couldn’t have them on your coccyx. Because your arse would crush them. You really wouldn’t want them on your hands. Think of all of the things you wouldn’t want to get an up-close-and-personal visual of, if your eyes were on your hands. No, that’s me stumped. How about you?’
The woman drains her gin and tonic, fingers the slice of lemon before putting it to her lips and seducing the bitter moisture out. The man’s gaze is drawn to a few droplets that cascade onto her chest.
‘I’d have them on my tits,’ replies the woman. ‘I’m pretty sure it would improve a direct line of eye contact with a lot of men.’
And then the man wishes he has no eyes. Wishes he were a tadpole. Wishes he didn’t all of a sudden feel so very much like a frog.
(This story was first published in Issue 11.)
JANE ROBERTS’ fiction has featured in a variety of anthologies and journals including: Litro, Bare Fiction Magazine, The Lonely Crowd, Wales Arts Review, LossLit Magazine, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, NFFD Anthologies, and Unthology 9. She has been a participant in the Writing West Midlands’ Room 204 Writer Development Programme 2017/18, shortlisted for Bridport and Fish Prizes, longlisted for a Saboteur Award for Best Anthology as part of Literary Salmon, and won Bloomsbury Writers' and Artists' Flash Fiction 2013. You can follow her on Twitter @JaneEHRoberts or visit her website at janeehroberts.wordpress.com
I get home from work early. It’s around two and the street is decluttered of cars. It’s cloudy, of course, but still warm enough for open windows and short sleeves. The newspaper is on the mat so I pick it up and carry it through to the kitchen. The kettle is warm against the back of my hand. Good. She’s up.
I take two mugs from the tree. More ginger tea for her. Green for me. The taste was a little bitter at first, but she was right. It got better.
The house is cool. I imagine she’ll be curled up in the window seat of our bedroom with a book and a blanket.
I imagine wrong.
As I reach the top of the stairs, I hear noises coming from the study. ‘Michelle?’
No answer. The norm these days, so it tells me nothing.
Pausing in the doorway, I set her mug down on the desk loudly enough to announce my presence. Again.
She doesn’t look up.
Boxes occupy most of the floor space. When did she get them?
‘I thought you were supposed to be taking it easy, love?’
‘Yes, because these are so heavy.’ She’s tossing items into what is no doubt organised chaos.
I bite back a sigh. I’m not supposed to get annoyed. I promised myself.
She carries on, ignoring the subtle implications of my silence. I take the opportunity to observe. The boxes are labelled. Charity is scrawled on all of them but one: Keep.
It’s too soon for her to be doing this. I voice the concern.
‘What are we supposed to do? Keep this stuff forever?’
I don’t have an answer. I haven’t thought about it. It’s too soon for me.
Michelle huffs. And stops. I pass her her tea, half-expecting to end up wearing it. She takes it and holds it in both hands, bending to inhale the spicy scent. The ritual soothes her.
She wanders out of the study and down the stairs, and after collecting the four mugs decorating the windowsill, I follow.
The dishwasher is full, but I’m determined to fit them in there before turning it on. It takes me a couple of minutes to figure out where Michelle’s gone. The patio door’s open. I find her at the bottom of the garden, staring at the ground. It isn’t until I’m right beside her that I see it.
Laid out with one of our hexagonal stones as a backdrop, tiny drops of blood leading off to one side. It’s a blackbird, I think. Or it was.
‘That ginger cat, I’d wager. Two doors down.’ Michelle’s voice doesn’t waver.
Feathers border the fence. The poor thing made good feline entertainment. There’s a nasty tear along its chest. I feel the urge to press it shut.
Michelle shrugs in my peripheral vision. ‘We’ll have to bury it. God knows what that cat’ll do if it comes back.’
I’ll have to get a shoebox from her wardrobe. My eyes sting and I blink the unexpected tears back. Michelle rubs my back.
I don’t want her to watch this. I ask her to fetch me a box, then send her inside. The cardboard coffin is far too large for the deceased. You could fit half a dozen blackbirds inside. I shake that thought away and seal the lid with masking tape. I don’t want to have to do this twice.
When all’s secure I set about the grim burial, but I can feel Michelle watching me from the window seat upstairs. I keep my back to her, sheltering her from the worst of it. Hiding the tears that accompany the task.
‘It’s keen-wah.’ She’s laughing at me.
I snatch the package out of her hands. ‘No! That can’t be how you pronounce it because that’s… no.’
Michelle gently prises my fingers off the plastic and takes the keen-wah over to the sink. To my wide eyes, she explains, ‘You have to rinse it first.’
This seems like an abnormal amount of effort for a dinner party. She opens a cupboard and pulls out—the tea strainer?
‘Don’t you want the sieve?’ It’s not supposed to sound condescending.
A hand finds one of her hips. ‘It’s too small for that. I’ll do it in batches.’
Bonkers. The world has gone bonkers.
I ask her if I can help.
Michelle puts the tea strainer down and walks over to me. Her lips are warm on my cheek. ‘Stay out of the way.’
At her suggestion, I sit on the sofa with the book I’m reading. It’s set in the Elizabethan court and political tensions are running high. There’s this Duke, of Anjou, and he’s trying to woo Elizabeth, but… well, it’s obvious how that will turn out. I found the novel on one of Michelle’s shelves. I just wish Elizabeth would get her happy ending. They seem all too rare these days.
I can’t focus on the book today. I walk through to the dining room, thinking I’ll set the table. But it’s already done. Our wedding china adorns the linen-covered table. Freshly cut peonies form the centrepiece. I didn’t know it was a centrepiece kind of dinner.
The wood is cool under my feet as I pad back to the kitchen. It’s somehow immaculate, but Michelle isn’t here. She never cooks in the same clothes she eats in—something about the smells. She’s more sensitive lately. I’m under strict orders to avoid aftershave.
She descends the stairs in what looks suspiciously like an oversized t-shirt. I’m hit with flashes from this morning’s shower. Soap suds trickling down her still-flat stomach. She’s tiny. But I understand why she wants to be careful this time.
She stops two steps up from me and plants a hand on my chest. ‘We’re not saying anything.’
We’re not. We won’t. Not after last time. The never-ending chain of lasagnes and apple crumbles was bad enough, but coupled with the early morning phone calls and unannounced visits?
I tuck her hair behind her ear. She’s still the most beautiful woman in the world. But there are blue-grey circles under both eyes. She used to fall asleep the minute her head hit the pillow, dead to the world. Now she lies there, rigid, until she thinks I’m asleep. Sometimes I am. I wake up at three and find her sitting in the rocking chair in the study, knees up, an oversized teddy bear tucked under her chin.
The doorbell rings and I step back so she can jump the final two steps. They want to see her, not me. Old Jill and Greg. They cross the threshold, bringing wine and smiles.
Once we’re seated I discover keen-wah is a dish best served cold. The four of us push it around on the wedding plates until Michelle decides to have mercy and whisk them away. She catches my eye and gives a wry grin. I follow her to fetch the stoneware baking dish. When I set it down on the table, her parents sit back in their chairs, relieved to see pasta, not polenta.
Their smiles are tight today, and after everyone has a plateful of puttanesca we find out why. Michelle’s sister has a German Shepherd, Sophie. She’s just had a litter.
Greg tries first. ‘They’re trying to find homes for all of them. Should have spayed her when they first brought her home.’
Jill takes over. ‘We thought maybe the two of you would like to take one.’
They know I’m terrified of dogs.
Michelle puts her fork down. ‘Why?’
‘Well they’re lovely dogs, don’t you think? Sophie’s so playful.’ Jill’s skating on thin ice.
Michelle sighs. ‘But we don’t want a dog. And Chris doesn’t feel comfortable around them, remember?’
Greg’s focused on his dinner, but Jill persists. ‘It would suit your lifestyle very well. You could take it with you when you go on your walks. Would give you a good reason to get out and about.’
Michelle is frosty for the rest of the meal. She presents a Tupperware box of tiramisu for dessert.
That night, for the first time, she doesn’t come to bed with me.
I first meet Michelle at an adult education class. We’re learning French—or trying to. The teacher is outragé that not one of us can list all of the ingredients in a traditional onion soup and I’ve changed my place of birth because I can remember how to say east but not west. Michelle comes off as haughty. I later find out that I exude arrogance. We don’t chat in the coffee break and I quit French class shortly after because it’s a waste of argent. I’ll keep meaning to pick it back up for the next thirty years.
The next time I meet Michelle, we’re both more than a little drunk. I can’t believe how giggly and smiley she is. She can’t believe she doesn’t hate me. We make plans to meet at a book launch the following afternoon and both turn up. By the time I realise how deep her love of fitness and health foods runs, it’s too late.
One morning that June she calls me at eight to invite me on a hike. She picks me up in her battered blue Polo and drives for a good half an hour. We’re the only car parked on the ring of gravel she pulls into. Stepping out, I shudder despite the warm air. We’re on the edge of woodland, shadowy oaks towering overhead. Michelle’s practically bouncing.
The path is on an incline and after we’ve walked for an hour, my t-shirt is stuck to my back. Michelle isn’t even out of breath, but she leads me to a stone bench.
If we just walk for another twenty minutes, she promises it’ll be worth it.
The pay-off is an abandoned house at the head of a clearing. Michelle heads for the front door with purpose. She’s done this before.
It’s more shell than house; the inside is devoid of furniture. We enter what was probably once the living room. The window is smashed and a fox has left an unwelcome present on the floor. Michelle grabs my hand and tugs me onwards to the back of the house.
The garden fence is intact, but the outside is as run down as the interior. Weeds climb to knee-height and overgrown trees cast us in shadow. I follow her to the bottom of the garden and stop abruptly.
She stands right on the edge of a sheer drop. The land has simply disappeared. Michelle laughs. She’s looking at my face. Slowly, ever so slowly, I inch forward until my feet are level with hers.
Together, we stand in near-silence, broken only by the occasional invisible bird. Heart in my stomach, we stare down that drop together.
It could be seconds or minutes, then Michelle is eager to get moving again, pausing to retie her shoelaces before our next adventure.
When we get back to civilisation, I ask her if she has time for a coffee. She doesn’t drink coffee. But she always has time for tea.
In the café, I watch her add two sugars to her tea. Sweet tea always makes me think of car accidents and long waits in hospitals, but it makes Michelle think of--
—‘My mum. When I was seven she took me to Hannover to visit my aunt and we sat in the train station drinking apple tea and honey. I don’t know, it’s just comforting.’
Her lips are a pale pink. They stand out against her milk-coloured skin. Her features are slight. Precise. She’d make a rather convincing porcelain doll. I’m admiring her nose when she coughs.
‘Are you okay?’ She’s frowning. I laugh, caught out. The salt shaker on the table suddenly becomes interesting.
I ask her if we should go. She looks out of the window and smiles. There’s somewhere she wants to take me.
I squint as we exit the building. The sun is lower in the sky, though it’s still warm enough for us with our bare legs. I climb into her car, ready to see where she’ll take me next.
(This story was first published in Issue 11.)
KATHY CHAMBERLAIN moved to Swansea in 2011 when she embarked on her postgraduate studies. Her doctoral thesis consisted of short stories characterised by isolation and anomalousness, reflecting her interest in all things quirky. She's a fan of circular narratives and plain style prose. Kathy teaches undergraduate classes in Creative Writing and English Literature. You can follow her on Twitter @KathyChmberlain