Saturday 15 June 2019

'This is How Love Works' by Tracy Fells

She is trapped, turned to stone by a fairy tale witch. Outside the half-dream her arm is simply wedged under her body, heavy and numb. She could turn over, but that would wake him. And he’d been awake for so long, his silence hanging like morning mist above their bed.

The day before they had planned to share the driving there and back. For the return journey she was in no fit state – his words – so he’d driven home. The empty house waited for them, holding its breath. She ran a bath. He brought her a glass of wine, found her weeping into the lavender scented foam. She had cried for days when their daughter left and their son joked about building an ark. Now her little boy had also left to join the first year freshers, along with sprouting bristles on his chin and the teasing threat of finally getting that tattoo. Children should claim their own lives, learn that the world is more than a well-stocked fridge. That meant leaving home. Letting them go. They would never be safe from anything. Ever.

He twitches. She smiles into his skin. Curling like torpid dormice their breathing synchronises as she slips back under the witch’s spell. Unknowingly, they share a dream: a woodland where the air is ripe with garlic and bluebells past their best. The kids are little, not babies but still small enough to be carried. They each hold a child, staying on the narrow path together, close enough for their bare arms to touch.


First published at Reflex Fiction on 5 February 2019.


  1. Wonderful, Tracy. Absolutely love the shared dream.

  2. Beautiful - how many of us here know this inside out?


Congratulations to our 2023 Best Small Fictions Nominees!

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