Small Incendiary

Small Incendiary
Photo by Michael Coghlan via FLickr

Photo by Michael Coghlan via FLickr


On Sunday morning the girl is still there, on the corner of our street: red leather miniskirt, sleeveless jacket, teetering heels.

She stamps her feet, hugs her stomach with pimpled arms. It might be years since a car slowed.

In the garden of the last house stands a man clipping hedgerows with green-gloved hands.

He has white hair under a grey bobble hat and a red-veined, indignant face.

To the right of the hedge is the driveway where his car is parked, but this morning it is also occupied by the girl’s pimp.

The pimp leans on the bonnet of the car, one hand in the pocket of checked trousers, his leather cap pulled tight and low, smoking.

He watches the girl the way a farmer watches a sheepdog. The hedgerow clipper raises his shears. The blades scrape and snip. Thin limbs topple from their perch and land like gauntlets at the pimp’s feet.

The pimp takes another drag. At the corner a blue Audi slows. The girl totters over to the window, bends double, lays a frozen hand on the roof. The pimp watches her slide into the car, flicks his cigarette – small incendiary – into the hedge, and strolls away.


Alistair Daniel’s short stories have appeared in publications such as Narrative, Stand, Willesden Herald’s New Short Stories 7, SNReview, The Stinging Fly, Untitled Books and The Irish Times. He was shortlisted for Salt Publishing’s Scott Prize in 2013 and he has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and longlisted for the Fish International Short Story Prize. He holds an MA in Creative Writing from Goldsmiths and teaches creative writing for the Open University. He has just completed his first novel, supported by an Arts Council award and a fellowship from the University of East Anglia.

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