Photo by Prateek Gautam on Unsplash

Absence accumulates so quickly.
That a quarter century should go by since she was last here is preposterous to me,
and yet not having her here has been my normality for the majority of my existence.
And still, after all this time, not a day goes by when she doesn’t find her way into my thoughts.
I doubt there will ever come such a day.

A quarter century since she was here, in the physical sense at least.
A loss that will never cease to pain me, but it’s a pain I’ve learned to live with, so habitual I can…

Photo by Sage Friedman on Unsplash

I dodged a hail of bullets once,
I wept as I watched them go by,
I wished I could snatch them out of the air
But knew better than to try.

You see back then I mistook them
For something else altogether:
A soaring flock of pretty birds
With iridescent feathers.

But bullets can look beautiful,
I realised that after,
And when I did the tears dried
And slowly learned to laughter.

I laughed because they missed me,
Speeding off on paths unknown,
To slam into another body
Other than my own.

Maybe my near miss was their bullseye,

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

Kirsty and I were the first. It was our idea, concocted late on a Friday night when she was staying over mine. We were sitting facing each other on my sofa in our pyjamas, our knees so close the were almost touching, and our second bottle of pinot noir was all but spent. We got onto the subject of marriage, or more specifically, the fact everyone we knew was getting married while we were perpetually single. That’s when Kirsty said, ‘If only you could marry your friends.’

She said it as a joke, but the more we discussed it, the…

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

On Wednesday this week, something remarkable happened. I experienced a moment of genuine human connection with one of the children I teach. Such moments are rare, especially in secondary education. We have so much content to get through that it leaves little time for anything else. It’s an awful shame, but I don’t see that changing any time soon.

It was after break, and my Year 8 class were arriving in dribs and drabs. One of the first to arrive was a lovely girl who, for the purposes of this story, shall be called Molly. She looked a little flustered…

Photo by kilarov zaneit on Unsplash

Friendships are like houseplants-
Some sustain themselves for years,
Requiring minimal care and input,
Wilting just a little as time goes on,
Then perking back up the moment
You show them some attention,
Resilient little wonders with sturdy roots
And an endless capacity for survival.

Others lie dormant for years on end,
Alive but in stasis like resting orchids,
Only to one day burst into bloom,
Their flowers outstripping all others in beauty,
You marvel at them as you wonder,
Why couldn’t you have done this before?
But once those blossoms open,
They will never wither or fade.

Some are…

Photo by Aidan Cheung on Unsplash

I am terrible at letting go of things. It’s no secret. I’ve known it for years, but it’s only recently that I’ve allowed myself to fully acknowledge it. By letting go I don’t mean moving on and continuing with my life; I’ve had plenty of practice at that. I mean full emotional and mental extrication. That’s the bit I struggle with. I thought it was just my lot-an ingrained part of my personality that meant I was destined to go through life constantly looking backwards. It never occurred to me to question why, or that there might be a tangible…

Photo by Zohre Nemati on Unsplash

Zoe heaved a sigh like a punctured balloon and collapsed onto her bed. The navy cocktail dress she had worn for her date with Jack lay crumpled and discarded on the floor, cast off in favour of her comfiest pyjamas. It had taken all her self-control not to raid the fridge the moment she got in. The idea of eating strawberry jam with a spoon was an undeniably appealing one given what had just transpired, but she knew from experience that the subsequent sugar crash would only make her feel worse. So instead she made herself a hot chocolate and…

Lauren Phillips

Lauren Phillips is a language teacher and writer with a deep love of words in all their forms. She uses writing to help her process her own tangled thoughts.

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