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by Abi Hynes

“Do you want to play?” she asks, and he nods, feeling slightly sick. Mum’s voice is trickling down the corridor; she’s swearing down the phone to Auntie Claire. She thinks she’s being quiet.

Gran is sitting up in bed, her pink dressing gown slipping slightly off one shoulder, revealing the papery skin beneath.

“Go on,” Izzie says. “You first.”

One eye on the door, he rises slowly and creeps towards Gran. She doesn’t seem to notice him.

Hurry up, dickhead,” Izzie hisses. He reaches out, and roughly pinches the thin flesh between his thumb and forefinger, twisting. He darts back to his chair.

Gran doesn’t move, but there’s a satisfying purple mark emerging. Izzie giggles.

“Right,” he says. “Your turn.”

Izzie smirks. She’s been planning something — that’s why she wanted to play. She takes a cigarette out of her pocket, and lights it. They can still hear Mum’s quiet-not-quiet swearing.

Izzie …”

She leans forward, and blows a mouthful of smoke into Gran’s face. Gran blinks — her fingers trace the patterns on the bedspread.

Izzie lifts the sleeve of Gran’s dressing gown, revealing old and fresh bruises, mostly accidental. Shades of blue and green and yellow — murky, like paint water. Izzie smiles.

Abi Hynes is a drama, fiction and poetry writer. She is Artistic Director of theatre and film company Faro Productions, and runs Manchester-based cabaret collective First Draft. She has had her work performed at The Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Grosvenor Open Air Theatre, Chester, Bolton Octagon Theatre, Manchester Literature Festival, Manchester Histories Festival and as part of the 24:7 Theatre Festival. She also performs at live literature nights pretty much whenever anyone will give her any stage time.

Follow her on Twitter: @AbiFaro.