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by Oscar Windsor-Smith

So there we are, skint and bored, like every summer evening back then. Jimmy Sullivan sidles over to me and Julie — you remember Julie, my best mate at school. Fancy goin’ down Southend? he says.

We’re like: Yeah, made of money, aren’t we? Exchanging those eye-roll looks, y’know. How we gonna get there?

Jimmy says, No worries, I’ll borrow the van from work.

He turns up with two mates. One’s Andy Briggs — remember “Handy Andy”? The other boy’s a stranger, but he reads Tarot and that’s cool. Tarot Boy sits in front, reading cards next to Jimmy, Julie and me in the back with Andy.

Course, we never get to Southend. Tarot Boy says the death card’s come up. Sure enough the engine dies in Mile End Road. The boys push the van into a backstreet and go for help.

It’s hot as a chippie inside the van. So Julie and me pop a few cans from their stash and lie in the dark whispering and giggling. Next thing I wake up in a panic thinking that dirty git Andy’s groping me.

That’s when I notice Julie’s perfume and understand the hands exploring me are soft. Her sweet breath caressing my ear, Julie whispers: He got it wrong. Transformation is what the death card means, new beginnings.

Mm … Didn’t it just.


Oscar Windsor-Smith began life on the Wirral, Merseyside (that’s the sticky-out bit below Liverpool) but now infests rural Hertfordshire. He has fiction, creative non-fiction and non-fiction published in diverse places, in print and online, and has occasionally been falsely accused of poetry. He was a finalist in the New York City Midnight Short Story Challenge 2012, shortlisted for the University of Plymouth’s Short Fiction competition 2013 and shortlisted for the Fish Flash Fiction Prize in 2014. He is, belatedly, making up for a misspent youth on a creative writing degree course at Birkbeck, University of London.

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