Burnt Down – Rosemary Johnson

1000 words General Fiction

The café, where Susan was eating pink ice cream just a fortnight ago, is now a dense blackened shell, the roof caving in around a jagged charred hole.  After glimpsing It once, she can’t bear to look again but It follows into her own bedroom.  There’re no such things as ghosts… are there?

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I can’t look. A little dog is chasing two boys in grey school shorts, barking sharp yaps of excitement. As if It’s not there, not casting its shadow over the very grass where they’re playing. Beyond I can hear squeals, shouts and splashing from the outdoor pool. Under my arm is my elasticated bathing costume, rolled up in my towel. All week, I’ve begged to come here, even though it’s only May and still a bit cold. Its blackness looms over us like a bully’s fist. I turn my back on It. In fact, I don’t look again all afternoon.

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Tomatoes and Their Part in Brexit – Rosemary Johnson

1700 words Women’s Fiction

Julie, recently retired, is overwhelmed at finding love ‘at her age’, but being with Vincent is affecting her ability to make decisions, about what sort of tomatoes to buy and how to vote in Brexit.

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I’m standing by the tomatoes counter in Waitrose. Cherry tomatoes, plum tomatoes, beef tomatoes, organic tomatoes, tomatoes in packets, tomatoes loose, a collage of round lumps, different sizes and every possible shade of red. Which ones did Vincent say he liked? The overhead lights, reflected in their glistening scarlet skins, blink back in derision. Come on, come on. Don’t dither, Julie. Pick me. Me, me, me. A young woman in very tight jeans reaches across to grab a packet of vine tomatoes, muttering “Sorry,” without even looking up. In the old days, I could do my supermarket shop in ten minutes.

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