The Girls and The Fires

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The Moth is a beautiful creature,’ says David Mitchell of this quarterly arts & literature magazine. Edited by Rebecca O’Connor, it features poetry, short fiction and art by established and up-and-coming writers and artists.

The following is an extract from my short story, as published:



The Girls and The Fires

I’m fourteen and I’m too old for this bedroom. The walls are stencilled with tropical fish. Their cartoon eyes stare into my dreams, and the cheap, shrill paints have dried into scales. I’ve begged to get rid of them for ages, but now that I’m here, I don’t want them to burn at all.

The fires have been on TV for weeks. The blonde lady crosses over to the man on the scene, who films the men scampering across red tiled roofs with hoses, trying to keep their homes damp. But it’s impossible. They’re already crackling like a kiln. The people run away or get lifted by choppers. The blonde lady talks about how it’s such a terrible shame, their whole lives are burning in those houses. Look at them, taking a box of photographs. They don’t know what happened to the cat.

The fires are coming for us too, but we might be okay, because we live on a peninsula with beaches. That’s what they’re saying around here. But I know the fires can jump water, I’ve seen that on TV too, and anyway that’s what the people said in Dad’s science magazine. The fires can do anything, once they’re big enough. Like teenagers.