Competition One Shortlisted: The lists this woman could write if her scoundrel dad hadn’t smoked away all her money for pencils by

Shopping (if only)

Soap that smells of lavender and patchouli, makes skin creamy

A satin dress, matching gloves. The colour of crabapple jelly

New bedsheets – NOT WHITE!

Coal (for burning old sheets, hah)

Bread, pillowy soft with crusts so crunchy and chewy your jaw gets stronger from eating it. Fancy crabapple jelly now…

Potatoes, enough to stretch a tummy until bursting. Desperate to try mash, a golden river oozing


Eggs, all double yolkers. Make the boy eat them for breakfast, serve him right

Meat, crispy glistening goose already roasted. Warm grease sticking to the inside of cheeks, taste lasts for days. Comes with a tidy-upper

Fizzy cider, doesn’t matter so much what it tastes like, just want to feel dizzy and numb

One chocolate bar, no need to share. Shiny ticket tucked inside, no need to tell anyone


Shopping (actual)

Red cabbage

White cabbage

Tobacco Tobacco

Tap shoes for Dad now he’s miraculously able to dance a fucking jig


To do (tomorrow)

Scrub floors, double scrub by bed

Boil tobacco stains out of sheets

Boil the grandads’ pants

Boil cabbages

Boil head

Shift 12-6

Darn boy’s socks

Sew hole in his coat elbow

Sew mouth shut if Dad mentions trip one more time

Find scarf, in case factory’s chilly

Weekly long john rotation

Grandmas first in bath this week

Clear gutters

Sweep step

Mournful musical number that thrusts everyone else’s story forward


To do (maybe one day)

Sit down

Try hot chocolate, want a whipped cream moustache

Find first name

See the sea

Breathe deeply, smell grass

Be touched without expectation. A foot rub, long strong fingers. A palm cradling a cheek

Fly like a bird – maybe grow feathers

Stop tending

Have a magical experience

Or just a magical invite

Or a regular invite


To anywhere





Martha Lane is a writer by the sea. Her work has appeared in Perhappened Mag, Northern Gravy, Free Flash Fiction, Ellipsis Zine, and Reflex Press among others. Balancing too many projects is her natural state. 



Photo – Smoke by Centophobia







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