Boiling

By Anca Cojocaru

Anca likes traveling and experimenting with different cultures and languages. She loves reading books written by Japanese and Korean authors.

I was thinking about it and I was impatient about what was going to happen. I was scared that I would do something wrong but I was so happy to do something so extraordinary. My mum and cousins were there as well. I could just hear what they were saying, but I wasn’t able to respond or to think much about their chatter. My mind was too busy. I needed to make sure everything was perfect.  I loved my clothes that day, they were my fancy clothes I wore just for special occasions. My mom was extra careful telling me to not ruin the perfect white of the top or the trousers. I had to make sure it was perfect as well. It was a special day for me.  But my sister, well, she didn’t have a care in the world while I was stressing about every move. She was laughing, crying, fidgety, trying to get away.  As soon as we entered in the studio, my curious eyes went through everything, the lights, the décor, the people.  Everything was scanned. My sister, on the other hand, was a nightmare. She started crying and wanting to leave. And I was wondering why?! It’s such a great adventure we can have together.  The décor was set, the pose was set, my unruly hair was set but my sister was completely unset. So much annoyance. She was ruining my perfect day. My cousins distracted her, showed her shiny objects to make her stay still. After a long wait, everything was over. She stopped for a second and the photo was taken.  It looks like we’re happy but the inside of me is boiling.

I was thinking about it and I was impatient about what was going to happen. I was scared that I would do something wrong but I was so happy to do something so extraordinary. My mum and cousins were there as well. I could just hear what they were saying, but I wasn’t able to respond or to think much about their chatter. My mind was too busy. I needed to make sure everything was perfect.

I loved my clothes that day, they were my fancy clothes I wore just for special occasions. My mom was extra careful telling me to not ruin the perfect white of the top or the trousers. I had to make sure it was perfect as well. It was a special day for me.

But my sister, well, she didn’t have a care in the world while I was stressing about every move. She was laughing, crying, fidgety, trying to get away.

As soon as we entered in the studio, my curious eyes went through everything, the lights, the décor, the people.  Everything was scanned. My sister, on the other hand, was a nightmare. She started crying and wanting to leave. And I was wondering why?! It’s such a great adventure we can have together.

The décor was set, the pose was set, my unruly hair was set but my sister was completely unset. So much annoyance. She was ruining my perfect day. My cousins distracted her, showed her shiny objects to make her stay still. After a long wait, everything was over. She stopped for a second and the photo was taken.

It looks like we’re happy but the inside of me is boiling.

Only men come down chimneys

by Nadia Ranieri

Nadia is scientist with a strong passion for books. She writes for hobby.

It's the morning of the 6th of January and I just can't wait to go downstairs. I hope the old lady brought me lots of candies! I've been a good girl.

Yesterday, before going to bed, my sister and I left a dish with some cheese and bread near the fireplace. We left a glass of wine too as daddy said the old lady might appreciate it. It is very cold outside and she'll travel all night to visit all the kids of the world so she'll need some wine to warm her up. That's also what daddy said and I think it is true.

I still don't get how she can pass through the chimney though. I never saw the old lady but everybody talk about a large woman with a generous bottom. She must have some kind of magic power, like Santa Claus!

Since the fire was lit, my sister and I were afraid that the old lady might burn her bottom. If she does so she'll run away and never come back. She'll run away with all our candies!
Last night, I was so worried that I almost cried but mummy told us that the fire will be gone when the old lady comes and she'll be ok. I was not sure about that but mummy's always right so my sister and I went to bed without any worries.

Now it's morning, I wake up my sister and we run downstairs towards the fireplace.
Next to it we find two big filled socks, one has my name on it and the other one my sister's and are about the same size. The cheese and bread and the wine are gone! She was happy when she left our home. She'll be back next year, I'm sure!

Orange Juice

By Valerie Hutchinson

Nearly half a century’s reading later I am intrigued by life writing; what curious, sad, funny, shifting things families are - hurrah for the treasure trove of memory which yields tantalising clues to who we were and who we are.

One evening freedom reigned.
Parents out. But our TV viewing was
shattered.  My little sister Katie appeared
in her blue fuzzy hat worn for bed, to
ward off nocturnal tangles, (it didn’t work),
mournful, bubbles issuing from her mouth.  

Let’s ask the neighbours, we older sisters agreed.
My soft slippers spilled over the pebble path.  
I asked for help with the bubble storm, returning
with Fay and Mike and warm concern.
Katie sat on Fay’s knee as fat tears mingled with
bubbles in a bowl beneath Katie’s chin.

Fay calmly relayed their phone number as Mike,
Napoleon aficionado, recalled ancient battle dates
but not personal details when questioned by 999.
With shaky voice, his trembling hand replaced the
receiver.  The cavalry was on its way.
‘Want one?’ he offered my big sister a cigarette.

The door-bell severed rattling nerves.  
Mike, grinning, jumped to answer.  
Strange blue lights blinked in the hall.
Aliens invaded in black boots and silver
buttoned jackets, carrying strange shiny cases
containing what?   

Mum and Dad returned.
‘Why’s Katie sucking a lollipop?’ Mum whispered.
‘Watch where you keep your shampoo love,’ the
aliens chided Mum, snapping their cases shut.
They ruffled Katie’s blue head, then blue lights,
boots and silver cases vanished.

‘Take that muck off your toe nails and that bloody
thing out of your mouth!’ Dad thundered at my older sister.      
Mike grinned nervously white teeth flashing.
The egg cup, containing Mum’s orange hair
thickening lotion, (It didn’t work) or orange juice,
Katie thought, disappeared as swiftly as the aliens,

Katie clutched two more lollipops, the aliens’
departing gifts.  We sisters sat stunned not by
the medical alert but ‘bloody’, never before heard
from my father’s lips.

Confession

By Lexi Griffiths

Lexi writes stories about real events with a fictional twist.

Anna pulled her crisp, freshly starched dress over her head and placed the flowery head piece onto her thin, blonde hair. She smoothed down her new dress, well, third, fourth or maybe fifth hand dress. It arrived last week in a parcel from Scotland; a few cousins had bore its worth before her.

“Why do you get the nice silky dress?” Anna asked sulkily, her eyes throwing daggers at her younger sister.

Her Step-Mother interjected and stated: “Be happy that you’ve got a new dress”

She watched as her little sister twirled and the sun glimmered of each silk trimmed flower.

Anna took her sister’s hand and stepped into a beam of sunlight, the sun shone off the imitation silk. Her dad said if you wore a shell suit and stood in the sun, it would catch fire.

 “Five minutes until confession begins,” announced Father Thomas.

Anna was excited; she’d always wanted to go to a real confession. After years of watching people go into the big brown box and reveal their deepest secrets, she couldn’t wait to reveal hers. Shortly after starting secondary school she started going into town, and left with one or two unpaid for goods. Most things didn’t have security tags then, so it was almost too easy. She realised if you wanted new things, this was one way to get what you wanted. However she was feeling a bit guilty so she was going to confess. Father Thomas walked over and led them all to an open room.

Anna stared like a deer in headlights “where’s the box?” she exclaimed.

Father Thomas chuckled “This is a modern church; we don’t have those any more. So what do you have to confess today?”

She thought for a moment, looked up at the sky and sighed. “I was mean to my sister earlier”.

DON'T KNOW WHY I SAID THAT

By Michael O'Neill

It was my sister’s first helium balloon. A small thing, a simple thing, but no-one apart from me and her realised that she’d never had one before. And for a little time, she loved it. She took it round the house with her, an increasingly scratty bracelet of cheap ribbon hooped around her wrist. She tied it to her bed at night. She refused to go outside for its safety. She played with it in the lounge, trying to balance the buoyancy perfectly with little weights of plastic jewellery and paper. If she got it wrong and it floated to the ceiling, she would scramble up the couch to claw it back.

My parents were on holiday and our grandparents had come to look after us. Perhaps I gave an impression of mischief. I had learned in school that a day had twenty-four hours in it, and didn’t quite believe it. As a test I set the microwave to run for 24:00, resolving to check back tomorrow. I was told off for that, and of course a brother should be scolded for popping his sister’s balloon. Except I didn’t do it.

I was in the room, yes. I saw it happen, yes. Heard the pop, the silence, and the wail which only the truly heartbroken can summon. I went over to comfort her. We fought all the time, but there wasn’t much true ill-will in that; siblings just fight. My grandma came in then, seeing the poor popped husk, the crying girl, and her son’s son who had set the microwave going for hours. Perhaps she had made her conclusion already, but then through the blubbering: “He b-b-burst my balloon.”

It was, I think, the first lie that hurt me. Not because I was sent to my room, or because my grandma and then parents thought I did it. It was because, that time, I was trying to help. Perhaps she thought I did pop it, or just wanted this senseless sadness to be someone’s fault. I asked her about it last Christmas, eighteen years after the fact. “Oh yeah – sorry. Don’t know why I said that.”