From Small Beginnings (Part 1)

Issue 11 of The Mechanics’ Institute Review is launched next Thursday, and I’m proud to be one of the included authors – and of the anthology’s commitment not just to new writing but to new writers, some of whom are being published for the first time. Just like their writers, stories have beginnings too, and here are a selection of those from Issue 11. To read on, of course, you will need to buy a copy – a small price to pay for such riches.

The first thing that irritated Alan when he woke up on this particular Saturday morning was not that his left arm had turned into some kind of mushroom overnight, but that he’d forgotten to unset his alarm.

Jennifer Whitehead, This guy woke up to find his arm had turned into a mushroom overnight. What happened next will amaze you.

“Damn fool question,” thought Virginia, turning the radio off. “How would he feel if he’d just lost his whole family. Where are the facts and the analysis? I despair.”

Sara Keene, Foreign Territory

“I’ll give you ten for the day, but no lunch,” she says.
You nod. “Yes ma’am.”

Walter Jones, Son of an Honest Man

I drain the cup and split in two.
At first I don’t notice. I enjoy the warmth of my head.

Melanie Jones, Sowing Seeds

Outside, snow mounts on frozen skills, each window thickly underlined in white. Inside, Judy and I huddle in the kitchen’s warmth as teenagers swarm and disperse, soggy sockprints leaving animal trails across the quarry tiles.

Dave Wakely, Switzerland

I pull up to the kerb opposite the jeweller’s. It’s easy to park in Miami again. The college kids and rich families that annex South Beach all March have gone back to their woollen winter up north.

Angela Shoosmith, Grand Theft

Instead of being twenty-three years old, having a dad, $43.94, and no car, Anthony is twenty-four, drives his dead dad’s Volkswagen Jetta and has $81,70.94 in his bank account.

Martyn Bryant, Dad Is Not Equal to $81,750

“And where do you see yourself in five years’ time?”
“Either dead, a medical drugs zombie or in a mental hospital,” I reply flatly and without hesitation, fixing my gaze on the off-white floor.

Len Lukowski, Ça Plane Pour Moi

Only yards from the seal, Inna heard a groan from beneath his feet then a creaking that grew louder. It was too late. The sea ice cracked, parted, and swallowed him whole.

Talim Arab, Polynya

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