Is there magic here by Angelita Bradney

I take Sindy and Barbie to the woods. They ride plastic horses and wear cloaks like the princesses in my book. I glimpse fairies in the root-caves and around the toadstools, feel their touch in the leaves that stroke us as we pass. Bluebells, says Mummy, I love bluebells.

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Saucers clash, the staff yell orders and the coffee machine flashes chrome. Is there a discount for bringing your own cup, she asks, placing her loyalty card on the counter. The server wears a striped waistcoat and has an eastern European accent. She takes her coffee and eats breakfast on the train, holding the paper bag under her mouth to catch the crumbs. It’s doing her figure no good, all this pastry.

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Daddy has a telescope. He sets it up so I can see the moon from my bedroom window. It fills my vision, glowing like a goddess. I can see every shadow on its surface, its craters full of secrets. I write with my finger in the condensation on the glass: The moon is beautiful. I can think of no other way to express how I feel.

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She points at the graph on the screen. We are on track to meet the key milestones, she says. Around the table, people nod. She tries not to stare at the blinding light of the projector. Her jacket is tight over her shoulders; she imagines strings rising from the arms, like a marionette. Her boss says, can we move on to the risk and issue log?

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Madonna blasts out from the cassette player. We curl our hair with Babyliss tongs and spray Dewberry Body Shop perfume over our necks and arms. My friend’s little brother wants to join in so we give him lipstick and eyeshadow, then take pictures as he poses in a green dress. Click, click, click. Get that stuff off now, says his father.

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All she’s drunk today is coffee. When she closes her eyes she sees the flickering of the computer. She sits on the train and moves her sore feet out of their pointed shoes. Her hand dives into her bag, curls around her phone with an addict’s grip. No. She turns to the window. The city slides by in a jumble of concrete and traffic. There is graffiti beside the tracks. Then, on a litter-strewn embankment, she sees a haze of purple. Bluebells.


Angelita Bradney’s fiction has been published in literary magazines and three anthologies. She won the 2017 National Memory Day short story competition and has been shortlisted for the Fish Prize, amongst others. Angelita graduated from the Faber Academy in 2018 and is working on a novel called Saint Michael. Her website is here and she tweets here.

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