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This very short story was accepted for publication recently in From Inside, an anthology of writings from lockdown. This is the first writing I have had published since a BMJ filler piece I wrote over twenty years ago.


“A man was stabbed today, Daddy.” “Oh? That’s good, Billy.” His Dad, still in his dressing gown, didn’t look up from the phone. “Yes! C’mon! C’mon! Yes! No! No! Oh no! No! Dammit! Stupid nag! Ten quid that cost me!” He was already looking at the next race. It would soon be time for him to get ready for work. Billy tried his Mum. He found her in the kitchen, shopping half-unpacked, sitting on the grey, checked worktop. Her brown booted legs were dangling over the front of the fridge. “Billy, don’t interrupt, me – sorry, Sandra, Billy’s just home from school, I know what you mean, though, there’s never enough. And did you ever hear the likes of what she said? That woman!” He tried again. “A man got stabbed at school today, Mum.” Billy looked at his Mum proudly, expectantly. “There were police cars, and two ambulances —” “Billy! I’m busy! Put your school things away.” His bag was on the floor just inside the blue front door, where he had dumped it in his haste to share the news. Billy trudged towards it, and as he passed Sarah’s room she emerged, her phone at her ear. “I didn’t hear it, Steph, I’m sorry! I was trying to listen but just as I got off the main road loads of sirens went past. Fire engines. I couldn’t hear it! For the racket they were making, I mean.” Sarah paused, listening to her friend, and then gasped. “Oh, I wish I had heard it Steph! Amazing! Radio One! They read yours out! Oh my god, Steph!” They weren’t fire engines, thought Billy. “Sarah, did you know a man was stabbed at my school?” 20 Sarah paused in between gushes, and rolled her eyes. “Oh, Billy! You’re at it again. You know the trouble you have been in with your lies.” To the phone she said, “My stupid little brother with more fake news! Sorry, Steph, he’s just a blether—” She pushed past him, retrieving the tin of Irn Bru she had left on the hall table. It left a sticky ring on the polished surface. Billy was pleased; that’d teach her. He picked up his school bag and slung it in the bottom of the cupboard, on top of a pile of shoes. In his bedroom, Billy lifted his pillow and took out his Big Boys’ Diary. On the front was written in big capitals: BILLY CLARK. P3. BLACKWELL PRIMARY. Opening it by pulling its red ribbon marker, he wrote an entry: “Tuesday 3rd May – MAN STABBED!!!” After his spaghetti hoops… Tuesdays are the best! he thought… he was watching Newsround, expecting to hear about the man with the blood on his chest. His Mum burst into the living room and switched the TV off. “Billy! Why didn’t you say anything? Danny’s Mum just told me there was trouble at the school. In the P3 Class! Your class! Are you OK? Oh, Billy, my poor wee lamb!” Before he could say anything, Sarah rushed in. “Facebook! Now! A man ran away from a fight in the street and he went into Billy’s school! He’d been stabbed! He’s dead! Stabbed!” Mum and Sarah went off to tell Dad. Billy turned the TV back on.

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