'Change', 'Revelation' and 'Ketamine': three pieces of flash fiction under 50 words


Closing her eyes tightly, she felt a chill run up her neck and into her cheeks. Then her eyes felt wet. Suddenly, she realised the moment was real and it was hers. It felt neither good nor bad, just different — a radically different way of viewing her life.


The moon cast a spidered glow on the wall next to the boy's head. Without even thinking about it, he reached out and touched it. It felt warm. Immediately, he sensed that he'd remember this moment in years to come.


Dawn's blue glow crept around the curtains as beads of condensation clung to the glass like warts. The drugs were wearing off. It was time to go. A few nights later, when he was bored, he decided it was worth doing again.


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Music preview: Kate Rusby 20 Year Celebration with Special Guests @ Royal Concert Halls, Glasgow

Published by Metro

Tonight (24 January), 7.30pm, £22-£25, Royal Concert Halls, Glasgow. Tel: 0141 353 8000.

VIDEO: Kate Rusby - Underneath the Stars on The Andrew Marr Show (BBC One, November 2012)

Underneath the Stars played on the radio as I lay on the bed with my then-girlfriend – spellbound, we were, in that dizzy excitement of a new relationship. Years later, I was alone on a bus in America. With the landscape of the Rocky Mountains rolling past the window, I listened to Fare Thee Well on my iPod, which made me feel homesick. Another time, a dinner party at a friend’s house kicked off with Awkward Annie, and I believe Withered & Died partly serenaded the subsequent hangover the next morning. On one of my first ever nights in a pub, a local female singer sang Let the Cold Wind Blow, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as she finished on those final few emotive chords. See, so many of this Yorkshire Rose’s songs have become reference points to various chapters in my life.

But this isn’t about me. It’s about an acoustic angel whose tender vocals and rootsy melodies work their way into your heart and remain there for when you really need them (and you will).

Kate Rusby’s two decades as a recording artist have seen her release 11 studio albums, embark on countless sell-out tours the length and breadth of the country, and become one of the only folk musicians not to be sneered at by the Mercury Music Prize panel. This side of the border, she’ll perhaps best be remembered as a staple of the Celtic Connections festival, which is coincidentally also celebrating its big 2-0 this month.

On Kate’s latest album 20, she re-recorded a number of old favourites such as I Courted a Sailor, The Goodman and Mocking Bird. While it serves as a fine introduction for those late to the party, and a novel ‘greatest hits’-type collection for ardent fans, the LP features banter between its various guests – including Paul Weller, Eddi Reader, Jerry Douglas, Chris Thile, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Radiohead’s Phil Selway. Some of these names will be appearing tonight at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall to perform at this very special anniversary concert.

If you don’t manage to make it along this evening, then you’ve truly missed out – but you can be sure the Barnsley Nightingale will be around for her next big milestone. Here’s to another 20 splendid years, Kate.


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Theatre preview: Into the New 2013 @ The Arches, Glasgow

Published by Metro

14-16 January, various times, Day passes £5-£7, The Arches, Glasgow. Tel: 0141 565 1000.

VIDEO: Into the New 2013 — meet the performers

So you can graze on popcorn at a cinema, sip a lattĂ© as you shuffle around an art gallery, force down some pork scratchings before a sweaty pub rock band – but what about when watching a play? As the new year holds so much mystery for all of us, it seems that the big question of 2013 so far is this: who out there is making the theatre, tastier?

The Arches is on to something. For the next three days, audiences in the Glasgow venue’s cafĂ© bar will be able to feast on a scrumptious three-course meal (for just £9.95) as they take in some exciting works by Contemporary Performance Practice students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (formerly RSAMD).

This particular event, entitled Language at the Edge of Sense, is one of the charms of Into the New 2013 – a festival in which these emerging artists introduce their own pieces that challenge and explore the world through physical theatre, new writing and solo performances.

A woman who enjoys “girly” things starts to question her feministic principles (What a Fanny by Leyla Coll-O’Reilly), while two young explorers require the audience’s help to find what they’re searching for (Rosie Reid and Peter Lannon’s Lookout: The Expedition) in just two of the nine innovative shows staged here, as Scotland’s most thrilling theatrical minds express themselves in bedazzling fashion.

So come on, why not begin the year doing something original? With day passes from a fiver, this won’t bother even the most traumatised post-festive wallets.


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She'd wet the bed the night before last, and knew she would again some time. She'd tried clenching certain muscles to prevent it from happening, but somehow it still did. Not every night — because that would mean it was a problem with her body. It was irregular, and for no obvious reason, so therefore her pathetic head was to blame. Her stupid brain. Of course it embarrassed her. She'd love to have an explanation for it happening, or at least some excuse, but she didn’t.

Usually, after it happened, she'd wake up in the night and hear nothing but her family sleeping — as she lay, ashamed, humiliated, terrified, in a damp patch. She never knew what to do in this situation. Her instinct was always to cover her actions up, but this wasn't easy. Even if she did manage to strip her bed without waking her brother, who slept in the bunk above hers and was always ready to poke fun — as siblings of their age often are — she didn't know how the washing machine downstairs worked. She knew how to run the bed sheets under the hot tap in the bath and scrub them with a soapy flannel, then hang them over her curtain rail and hope they'd be dry by morning, but it was very likely someone would notice and probably shout or laugh if she tried that.

So she'd just lay there in bed. Lay there in her wet pyjamas, and wait for the wee to dry around her legs and back. It made her feel very cold and sent shivers down her spine, so she'd hold her duvet to her body tightly, even though that was wet too. Eventually, the wee would dry completely before she’d have to start getting ready for school. When it dried, it seemed like the whole bed-wetting thing had never happened. But of course it had, and it left traces — physical traces — behind. She would smell strange at school, and her mum or dad would find out what happened the next time one of them changed the bed and uncovered the faded yellow smear on her crumpled bed sheets. And whichever one of them found out first would tell the other, and then tell other parents when they hosted dinner parties or went to church. She didn’t like the thought of her parents telling anyone, but she literally prayed they’d never tell the parents of her friends.

It seemed a mystery to her — her wetting the bed all the time. She was a fit and healthy young girl who spent time with her friends, went through books at an impressive rate, and played a lot of sports — extremely well in some cases. She had a positive attitude, a competitive spirit, and largely succeeded in things she drove herself towards.

Her friends could’ve probably been more supportive. She’d never admit that they appeared closer with each another than with her. Or that she often felt lonelier in their company than she did in her own. Or that they’d isolate her with their language, sometimes even using the F or C words. They’d never actually attacked her or caused any bodily harm — apart from this one time, when some rusty goal frame came crashing down on her shoulders while she played football with some boys at school. Two of her friends had pushed them over from behind her — a joke that she took tragically well. And then this other time when they threw snowballs, with stones in them, right at her face, from point blank range, after she uncharacteristically yelled at them for ruining the snowman she’d made. She’d woken up extra early and walked to school while it was still dark to roll the snowman’s body around the playing field — the February cold biting her small, determined hands for two hours. It had taken her friends about fifteen minutes to kick it to death while she stayed behind and talked to her favourite teacher about books she liked — completely oblivious.

But her friends weren’t mean to her all the time. She’d spent two nights at this other girl’s house, where they played video games, watched TV and exchanged their thoughts and feelings on people and things. They’d even slept in the same bed, and she didn’t worry about wetting it for a second, because, in that time, she felt like a normal girl. Those two nights were the most accepted she’d felt in her entire life. But that was a long time ago — while the other girl’s best friend was away on a family holiday, it later transpired. The other girl rarely spoke to her after that.

For some peculiar reason, she tended to think about things in shapes. If the situation with her friends could be visualised, then she would be a dot outside a closed circle with spikes protecting it. She never felt that the ties she shared with them were permanent, and feared they could be terminated at any time — without notice. That thought absolutely terrified her. People have got to have friends, however you define them. And if they knew about her wetting the bed, they'd leave her, she was sure of that.

Her friends had problems of their own, of course. But they were body problems — nut allergies and stuff like that — and those problems were fine, because they were things that people generally understood there could be nothing done about, that weren’t that person’s fault. Unlike hers. Some of her friends also had more understated problems to do with their families — problems she noticed when she very occasionally went round their houses after school and saw doey-eyed fathers on oxygen machines while mothers drank dark liquids and anxiously read triple-folded letters. But again, those problems were fine, because that stuff was probably perfectly normal to them.

Wetting the bed was just embarrassing. There was nothing remotely okay about it. People who had problems like hers were disgusting — there was something wrong with them. She thought she’d have grown out of it by now. Her parents sure expected her to. She felt horrible for letting them down, on top of everything else — forcing them to change the bed sheets, with heavy sighs, each time it happened. How dare she deny them the right to have a normal child, that they could show off and be proud of? She only had herself to blame.

Over the previous few months, her parents had been going through a tough time that involved them shouting at one another a lot. She was aware of this, but didn't like to acknowledge it. She thought that somehow it wasn’t real — that they were just being dramatic when they argued, or pushed one another around the place, usually in the kitchen, which was small, or onto the bannisters – breaking one of them on one occasion. She could never tell who was pushing who. She was always out of the room. Her brother told her he saw mum pin dad down on the floor the night after they’d got back from Sunday lunch at grandma’s a few weeks back, but she didn’t believe him. It couldn’t be happening to her family — it only happened on TV.

So she lay in bed, listening to them, forgetting about the bed-wetting for a moment. Through the floor of her and her brother’s bedroom, her dad’s voice sounded more like a groan when he spoke. In this case, he was shouting. Her mum was wailing, loudly, and shouting back. There were loud footsteps and slamming doors when there wasn’t shouting. Why? She thought. Why to her? Burying her head between two pillows, she pulled her duvet right up to her chin and curled her toes. She wondered if she was the only girl still awake at this time of night. Was there someone else out there experiencing this? Or, of all the girls living in the world, could it be only her going through this exact experience right here, right now? And would things change when she went to the bigger school, or if her dad stopped getting angry? Her heart was racing as questioned herself.

The moon cast a spidered glow on the wall next to her head. Without even thinking about it, she reached out and touched it. It felt warm. Immediately, she sensed that she'd remember this moment in years to come, even if in that moment itself, she felt she was being just a touch dramatic. It wasn't a moment that should belong in real life, let alone to her, she thought, as she tried to imagine what her life might be like in the future. Friends who would never leave her. Boys who would find her attractive. Normal things she could do to make her family proud. Children of her own, who she wouldn’t attack for wetting the bed — she swore herself to that one.

She kept her hand there as she imagined all this. Closing her eyes tightly, she felt a chill run up her neck and into her cheeks. Then her eyes felt wet. Suddenly, she realised the moment was real and it was hers. Something had clicked in her head. It felt neither good nor bad, just different — a radically different way of viewing her life, which had started right there and then.

There was some pushing downstairs between her mum and dad. She thought she heard the sound of cutlery clattering. A pillow brushed against the wall above, making her jump. She felt her bottom bunk shake as her brother shuffled around on his mattress. She took her hand off the wall and remained perfectly still. A few moments passed. Then a few more.

"Are you scared?" her brother asked.


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Films on TV: This Means War,
The Tempest, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close | Sky Movies Premiere

Coming soon to Sky Movies Premiere...

This Means War
(26% on Rotten Tomatoes)

Nothing banishes those winter blues more effectively than a bit of shameless fun. This Means War is precisely that, starring Chris Pine and our own Tom Hardy as CIA agents and best buddies who discover they're dating the same girl — product testing executive Lauren Scott (Reese Witherspoon). The alluring Scott, who feels guilty about her two-timing, has no idea these two alpha-males are aware of it — or that they're trying to sabotage each other's dates at every opportunity. Cue a hundred minutes of laughs and thrills, featuring a talented cast that's also easy on the eye. The most enjoyable thing about this action romantic comedy, though, is that it doesn't take itself at all seriously.

The Tempest
(29% on Rotten Tomatoes)

Acclaimed Broadway director Julie Taymor takes a huge gamble in this ambitious adaptation of one of Shakespeare's lesser-known plays, changing the gender of its principal character, Prospero, from male to female. It pays off, thanks to the magnificent Helen Mirren. Britain's golden lady continues to light up the silver screen here, setting the bar for her supporting cast, which includes Felicity Jones, Djimon Hounsou and Russell Brand. The Bard's tale of magic and the human soul centres on Taymor's feminised Prospero, Duchess of Milan, who, after being exiled to a remote island by her brother Antonio, acquires control of her little colony and sets about taking revenge on her betrayers — played here by Chris Cooper, Alfred Molina and Alan Cumming.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
(47% on Rotten Tomatoes)

There's bad news — as this film focuses on a boy whose dad died in the September 11 terrorist attacks, your seasonal depression isn't going anywhere. But there's also good news — it's an impeccably acted, emotionally powerful, life-affirming drama you'll be pleased you've taken the time to cry through.

Adapted from the award-winning novel of the same name by Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close goes like this: one year after his father's death, a young Oskar Schell discovers a mysterious key and embarks upon an adventure around New York City in search of the matching lock. Along his achingly sombre journey, Oskar learns a lot about himself and his family, meeting kindly figures who guide him on his way. Yes, it may sound Extremely Cheesy & Incredibly Manipulative on paper, but, despite its tragic premise, it never seems overwrought.

The film features assured performances from Hollywood A-listers Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, but it's the little guy who shines. Thomas Horn is hugely impressive in the lead role — extraordinary, considering he was only thirteen years old at the time of filming, and had no prior acting experience aside from as the old Grasshopper in a school production of James and the Giant Peach. Make no mistake, this is worth the tears.


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Art preview: Turner in January @ Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh

Published by Metro

1−31 January 2013, Daily 10am-5pm, FREE, Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh.

Broke? Sick? Depressed? January’s bound to become a month to forget – unless art’s your thing. Displaying until the 31st, Edinburgh’s National Gallery promises to brighten up your New Year with its annual Turner exhibition. Thirty-eight works by the 19th-century Romantic artist will hang triumphantly for art followers nationwide to admire, all day long and free of charge.

Turner was a controversial figure in his day, his abstract style criticised by many contemporaries. Today he’s regarded as one of the masters of watercolour landscapes, and British art’s greatest accolade – the Turner Prize – is named in his honour.

From early topographical wash drawings, to vivid sketches of continental Europe – Turner in January spans the career of an artist with a unique ability to capture the atmosphere of a rich geographical range. His impressions of St Mark’s Basilica in Venice and our own Loch Coruisk on Skye are among the stunning backdrops you’ll be able to appreciate in the capital this month.

More than a century ago, these works were donated to the Gallery by distinguished collector Henry Vaughan – on two conditions. First, that the public would never have to pay to see them, and, second, that the pieces would only be displayed during the month of January, so as not to become damaged by their exposure to light. Such terms became a tradition that continues to this day, and Vaughan’s foresight is credited with the watercolours remaining in remarkably fine condition.

You might not be the most sensitive soul in the world, or even in your family – but if art’s glory will ever manifest itself to you, it might just be here.


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