Runner-up: Penelope Sandle-Keynes
It had been a long day, and he was hungry.
The crowds were heading home, laden with freshly-baked brioche and artisan cheeses, jute bags crammed with organic produce. It would be unpacked onto granite worktops, stuffed into American larder-fridges, stored in enamel bread-bins, the remains discarded once the hustle and bustle of a new week had begun. Consuming was no longer about eating; it was the buying that mattered.
He scoured the pavements, one eye on the dozy couples who stepped carelessly into the road. His hand reached over to the glove compartment and extracted the little dog, placing it carefully on the dashboard in plain sight.
The hunger gnawed at him.
He spotted her in one of the side streets, conspicuous in her lack of shopping bags. She was alone, looking lost, trying to work out which way to go. A tourist, caught in the middle-class melee.
‘Can I offer you a lift?’
He watched her eyes take in his clothing, then catch sight of the mascot smiling beguilingly at the back seat. The dog had to face inwards. He liked to watch.
Her hesitation was minimal – his outfit saw to that. He drove her away in silence, away from the crowds, away from the consumers with no idea what it meant to truly consume.
Finally, he stopped the car and turned to her. Putting his hand to his throat, he watched her eyes widen as he pulled away his dog collar.
Now he could eat.
Winner: Simon Higgs
Double parked I filled the boot with whatever I could grab and carry, no time to work out which one of us bought Back To Black or Parklife.
“They’ll tow you away.” A stallholder said, but one look silenced him. I did not care if they towed the car, they weren’t towing me away, I’d already been towed, my heart hitched to a heartlessbitch, a makemesick, a fickleshit and other creative compounds.
I scraped my knee on an edge of the upturned microwave and let it bleed down to my sockless shoes. I lifted too many boxes at once and she tried to stop me but I screamed that I could fucking manage then lost balance for a moment and I, an ass, a stupid ass, buckarooed the contents down the stairs and out into the busy street where the hazard lights blinked on the car that was still not towed.
I yanked things from the floor – books, birthday cards and photos from happier days. My knee-blood stained some, others my temper ripped. Nothing mattered.
I slammed doors – house and car, then sat in the motionless cabin. Blurred noises from contented shoppers passing, the tick tick tick of hazard lights, and my heartbeat echoing, still pounding.
Happy Harry sat stuffed and smiling at me as he always did on the dashboard, blissfully ignorant, unchanged token of changed love. I picked him up and squeezed him for all I was worth, so glad they had not towed him away.
Congratulations, Penelope and Simon! And thanks as ever to everyone for another haul of tip-top micro-fiction.
Happy weekends, happy writing!