by Maureen Bowden

Vintage 70s Serbin Lime Floral Maxi Dress

Justine Carroll via Creative Commons

I regain consciousness in a room that smells of bleach. I’m lost, with no name, remembering Geraldine, needing only her. Behind my closed eyes, she stands with her back to me. Her dress is green. Geraldine in green: it sounds like a song, in archive footage of the Soul Music days. Synchronised guys with Afros and satin suits, sway and swirl, click their fingers, and sing of Nadine, Renee, and Geraldine.

“Turn around,” I call to her. “Let me see you, and the world will reassemble.”

A voice speaks. “The procedure is complete. Open your eyes.”  I obey. A white-coated figure holds a mirror, and says, “See for yourself.”

I blink to clear my vision. My heartbeat pounds in my ears, and I feel my ribs expand to accommodate air-filled lungs. The mirror holds a reflection of Geraldine’s face. I remember her image in the Body Catalogue. She had long auburn hair. Now her head is shaven. A row or stitches encircles her skull, indicating where it was lifted like a toffee tin lid. I know the stitches must run down her neck and her back. She would have been opened, so that my brain and spinal cord could be inserted.

The cut will heal. I’ll grow my hair long, and I shall wear green.


Maureen BowdenMaureen Bowden is a Liverpudlian, living with her musician husband in North Wales, where they try in vain to evade the onslaught of their children and grandchildren. She has had seventy-two stories and poems accepted for publication by paying markets, including ‘Grievous Angel’, ‘Third Flatiron’, Alban Lake’, ‘Mad Scientists Journal’, and ‘Unsettling Wonder’, among others. Silver Pen publishers nominated one of her stories for the 2015 international Pushcart Prize.

She also writes song lyrics, mostly comic political satire, set to traditional melodies. Her husband has performed these in Folk clubs throughout England and Wales.

She recently retired from a long career with HMRC, and in 2013 she obtained a First Class Honours Degree from the Open University. As well as Literature and History, the Degree included modules in Creative Writing and Advanced Creative Writing. She achieved a distinction in both.

She loves her family and friends, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Shakespeare, and cats.

by Tara Bradford

4 U Leonard Cohen

Ex-InTransit via Creative Commons

She bent over, examining herself in the mirror, splayed in folds. She pulled her legs apart and saw the pink recede into darkness, becoming indistinguishable. It disappeared into her, silent, and she thought, no, this will never do. So she rubbed her finger and thumb together until it held onto the leathery tip between her legs. When she pulled, she felt a falling, a lengthening of herself into another place. It rounded in her palm and she let it drop powerfully between her legs. Yes, she said, better.

She felt it swing between her thighs and her confidence expanded with its girth. There were comments on the sway of her hips or the taste of her lips or the fall of her hair long and low down the curve of her back. She could not tell if these voices were echoes in her head or said a moment ago, a week ago, now. The extra girth gave her confidence, though. It bulged in front of her like a light leading her to this instance—this time. She knew, with this thing between her legs, that she would finally be taken seriously.


Tara BradfordTara is an international teacher with itchy feet and busy fingers. Having found inspiration in Japan, England and Kuwait, she is now venturing to Ukraine to see what new stories the ‘Old Country’ will reveal to her. Find Tara on instagram @tarajeana or her website www.tarajeana.com.

by Natalia Theodoridou

It’s a small world, people used to say while I was growing up. It’s what they always say. The small world is made to look larger by the mirror at the end of it—the way you stick a large mirror on the wall of your tiny living room to make it look more comfortable, more spacious, more like you could actually live in it.

I never believed them. I knew that the world couldn’t be this small, that they only said that because it made them feel safe. So I set out to find the mirror at the end of the small world.

The beautiful north.

Runar Eilertsen via Creative Commons

I crossed the tiny cities, the tiny deserts, the tiny seas. I sailed through calm and waves until my boat was greeted by another boat, sailing towards me from the horizon.

We met in the middle of the world, the other man and I. We said hello with a wave of the hand and a nod of the head, a tight, identical smile. Then we turned around and went back where we came from.

Back home, everyone was eager to know the truth. “Well?” they asked. “What happened?”

“It’s a vast, endless world,” I told them. “You were wrong.”


Natalia TheodoridouNatalia Theodoridou is a UK-based media & cultural studies scholar and a writer of strange stories. Her fiction has appeared in KROnline, Clarkesworld, Interfictions, Litro, and elsewhere. Her website is www.natalia-theodoridou.com. Occasionally, she tweets @natalia_theodor.