Master of the Rolls

The groan that oozed from Amir’s throat pitched as horror, sadness and pity took turns to confront him. The barbeque was tomorrow. And now £95 worth of meat – the beef-burgers, the lamb-chops, the vegetarian sausages – was all gone; destroyed. And £20 of breads used as tennis balls? This could not be happening. Everyone in The Building had been invited: ten families; thirty two stomachs. He couldn’t cancel. He must think of a solution – one that didn’t involve shelling out money. Because all he had in his wallet was a maxed-out credit card and a £10 note. Nothing in the bank until the cheque he’d paid in for the Matheson’s loft job was cleared. It would be Wednesday, at the earliest, before that £200 was in his account. Amir heard his wife sniffling her sobs under control.

(Michael, Eastbourne)

Nice Light

One of those days in Brighton where the heat is thick. Everybody lying on the grass watching everybody else. Ice lolly sticks all over the playground. Dogs with their tongues out, dry. Max sleeping next to a crate of Foster’s. No clouds. A teenage boy in a grey t-shirt tapping me on the shoulder. Sweat patches, smiley. Tells me he’s looking for alcoholics. Making a short film for college. Just thought he’d ask around the park. Hot day, you know? Writes his mobile number on a rizla. Don’t have to decide now, just something to keep in mind. He’d appreciate it.

Put the rizla in my back pocket. Remember being seventeen, on a bus. Woman with a sandwich turned around in her seat to tell me to go easy on the drink. She’d seen me on this route before. Couldn’t even walk straight at eleven in the morning. Better kick it before it’s too late. Got a whole life ahead of me. Not a thing to waste, a life. I thanked her for the advice and got off at the next stop to buy four K Ciders. Guess I’ve got it written all over my face.

(Saba, Brighton)