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Mary-Jane Holmes

Eithne was spiking mole runs with hawthorn stakes when the postman arrived with a package.

‘Addressed to Eros’ he said, aiming the scanner at the barcode.

‘Like the god?’ she asked, watching the wink of the laser’s red eye.

The postman shrugged.

‘Only me here now, Tom.’ They both looked at the house, its cracked gutters, the bluebottle carcasses lining the windowsills.

‘I can return it to the depot’ Tom said as a ripple of soil erupted by the back tyre of his van. A pink snout sniffed the air then disappeared.

She took the box. No weight to it or return address, no rattle or slide of contents when shook.

She put it in the pantry between the Oxo cubes and baking soda; the only place in the building dry and vermin-free.

She picked up the cuttings again, crouched by the fresh mound of earth. She chose a stem with the thickest thorns, noticing then the buds still intact, the rose-flush of the petals just showing. She ran her index finger over them, smooth as fur. She went back to the pantry, picked out a pickle jar, filled it with water. She dusted the windowsill and set the stems on the ledge. The water caught the pale flash of spring sunlight. Time I spruced the place up a bit, she thought pulling each stake from where she’d placed it that morning, scanning the road for a quivering glint of a vehicle, hope lighting the dark runnels of her heart.

Mary-Jane has won the Bath Novella-in-Flash Prize, the Bridport Poetry prize, Dromineer, Reflex Fiction and Mslexia Flash Prize. In 2020, she was shortlisted for the Beverley International Prize. Mary-Jane’s debut poetry collection Heliotrope with Matches and Magnifying Glass is published by Pindrop Press. Her Novella-in Flash Don’t Tell the Bees will be published shortly by Ad Hoc Fiction. Her poetry pamphlet Dihedral is published by Live Canon in November. She was listed in the Biffy top fifty writers 2020.

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