1. Stories


They told us stories. We didn’t believe them. They told us that was to be expected. We said the stories weren’t true to life. They asked what we meant by that. We explained that the stories didn’t resemble our own lives. They said that didn’t make them untrue. We asked them what the point of the stories was. They asked why there needed to be a point.


2. A tree


It was a tree. The light fell on it strangely. He said it looked like a mass of snakes. She said it was a monster. They both laughed and looked at each other. It looks alive! she enthused. Of course it’s alive, he laughed, it’s a tree! No, I mean alive like it’s watching us. We’re watching it, not the other way around. They fell quiet and kissed, briefly, then walked on down the lane.


3. An old building


Being an old building, and in a state of ruin, it had a story to tell, he explained. What is its story? she asked. So he told her. Later, as they sat by the pond, she couldn’t stop thinking about the story he had told her. It didn’t sound like the building’s story. It sounded like his story. She tried to imagine what the building’s story might actually be. But the silence of the stones had given nothing away.


4. A tower


Having smashed down the door, they surged inside and up the spiral staircase, hungry for the prize lying prone in the mirrored room at the top of the tower. Decades later, they still bragged about the part they’d played, the violence of their youth, the wounds they’d suffered. But none of them could agree on who the enemy was or the nature of the prize so treasured and so hard won.


5. The end


You found yourself in a theatrical Hell, where the melodramatic torments of the damned brought out the critic in you. You started writing. Every word was a stake through the heart. Satan straightened his tie and made his exit, pursued by a bear. An ersatz angel tore the curtains into shreds with his claws and the audience booed with delight.

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