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Story of the Month:

Her heels crunched lightly on the frozen ground as we walked to the car; heavy fog muted all other sounds apart from, maybe, our breathing.

Trees glittered with frost.

She looked preoccupied, and I thought, she’s trying to make sense of this, still trying to put it right. Her hand brushed mine, so small and cold, and I looked down, ‘You’re not wearing your ring?’

‘It’s hardly appropriate, is it?’ she said.

‘Not right now,’ I said, adding, ‘we’re just a bit addicted to this, aren’t we?’

She smiled, tightly. ‘Just a bit.’

I nodded.

We paused at the ticket machine and I fed in a number of small coins, got my ticket and walked to the car. I clicked the key fob and the headlamps blipped for a second.

‘You still got a thing for big cars,’ she said.

‘It’s not that big.’

‘Powerful then. And black. Like always.’

We got in, the doors closing like soft airlocks, the smell of new leather comforting me, making me feel at home. I like a new car every year. She shifted in her seat, unbuttoned her coat, and I saw that she was wearing a woollen dress, scarf, boots, but nothing could hide her shape; the curve of her hip, the jutting breasts that described to me her underwear, the tiny pout of her belly.

‘You’ve lost weight,’ I said, and I realised she was watching me, watching her.

‘Most people gain weight,’ she said, ‘in winter. But I lose it.’

‘I know,’ I said, turning to fasten my seatbelt. I pressed the starter, watched as blue lights glowed across the dashboard. I glanced across to see her stretching out her legs as the steel horses coughed into life. I pushed the gear lever into first.

‘I think it’s because I shiver so much, in winter,’ she said, ‘I shake myself thin, with the cold.’

I nosed the car toward the barrier, wipers pushing away the mist.

‘But I’m always warm in your car. In whatever black car you’re driving this year. I’m always warm and cosy.’

The barrier rose and I indicated left, pulled out into the quiet street, the deserted buildings standing sentry to our misdeeds. She turned up the warm air vents, pulled her coat tight around herself and allowed her eyes to close, lips faintly parted, the gleam of perfect white teeth between feral lips.

‘How long you got?’ I asked.

‘Same as always,’ she said.

 

Persephone

by James Ross