Short Stories and Poetry
All submissons by e-mail to:
Or send to Nerve Magazine: mail(at)catalystmedia.org.uk
'Fridge' by Alicia Esteban
My marriage wasn't going too well. My wife told me that I'd become too
predictable and that I never surprised her anymore.
So I went out and brought her a new state-of-the-art fridge. Ha! How's
that for spontaneity, eh? The shop assistant told me they were all the
rage in Hollywood.
"Whitney Houston has one. She swears by it!" He said.
"What are all these for?" I said pointing at the panel of buttons
on the door.
"The fridge has its own incorporated computer. Once it's programmed
it will be able to tell what you are running low on, then, via its Internet
connection, it will order it directly from the shop of your choice. It
can also tell you that the yoghurt you’re about to eat is about
to reach its sell-by-date and advise you to throw it away. It can even
detect salmonella during its early stages. Its latest addition is its
digitalised voice. “Trust me, your wife will love it," the
shop assistant said.
My wife was furious. She couldn't believe I'd spent so much money on a
new fridge when the old one still worked perfectly.
"When I said gifts I meant flowers, perfume, jewellery……
not a bloody fridge!" she said before storming out.
She soon came round, though. She was especially pleased with its digitalized
You could choose from up to fifty styles of voices, including Lorraine
Kelly, Richard Whiteley, Cilla Black and John McCririck.
She ended up choosing Princess Di.
"I've always thought she had a lovely voice, "she said, looking
fondly towards the fridge.
The fridge did a lot of things apart from telling us that we were running
low on food. You could programme it to have a conversation with you, to
play music, or simulate waves. But my wife didn't like that option. She
told me it made her sea-sick and much preferred conversation mode.
"You'll never guess what Princess Di gave me yesterday!" she
said, when I got back from work one day.
"A recipe for Lincolnshire Hotpot! She worked out what we had in
the fridge and told me. Isn't she clever!"
One day I walked through the front door and heard my wife talking. I found
her sitting at a table, drinking coffee and smoking a cigarette, happily
talking to the fridge. The conversation stopped the moment I walked in.
" What are you doing talking to the fridge again?" I said angrily.
"We're just chatting Jeff, nothing to get worked up about."
"Oh, just things," she said, checking her fingernails.
I must say the fridge did get on my nerves a bit. The door had a habit
of sticking when I wanted to get a beer and one day I'm sure I heard it
tut-tut. But my wife seemed a lot happier since I'd got her the fridge.
Was it a good buy? Well I wasn't too sure. Fair enough with its daily
recipe options, it's true to say that we hadn't eaten such a varied diet
before. And my wife was very pleased as it not only gave her ideas for
tea but also beauty hints.
"It's the best present you've ever given me!" she said one night.
I was still getting used to her new bedtime appearance. Tonight she had
a green paste plastered all over her face, made with cucumber and avocado,
and proven (according to what Princess Di told my wife) to reduce the
signs of stress. "I'm sorry I was so stroppy with you about her."
She ran her red finger-nails down my chest and did something to me that
I can only assume she learnt from Princess Di. But with my wife's new
strict beauty regime and her insistence on having what she called "me"
time, the house-work was beginning to slip. The meals had recently gone
down hill as well. My wife much preferred to hear Princess Di's exploits
with Paul Burrell and gossip about the Queen than talk about beef cuts
By this time I had given up on correcting her every time she referred
to "it" as "she."
"You'll be telling me it's bloody allergic to onions next!"
It might have been my imagination, but I'm sure I heard "arrogant
prick" coming from the fridge.
My wife no longer spent the evenings with me watching telly but in the
kitchen chatting to Princess Di.
I decided that the only way to get my wife back was to do an act of such
spontaneity that she'd forget about the fridge. I booked a weekend in
a romantic retreat. My wife refused to come. She said that Diana would
be lonely. She told me that the only way she'd come was if she could bring
"No way." I said.
"Fine!" She replied.
I left my wife the other day. As far as I know I'm not missed. To be honest
I don't miss her either. Life is a lot better since I brought Marilyn
Monroe into my life.
'Antony Gormley, what the Hell do you Mean?' by Jan Sear
A full hundred of you hang out, iron-cast, naked, identikits,
straddling the strand as if you owned the place. Configured
by daylight in blackened formation, no communication,
silently spaced in distinct, arty patterns, gazing beyond,
growing in stature as waves fling back, and we watchers
blandly consider, try to intellectualise, about why the hell you're there
Yet, I'm told that at night the wild dancing begins,
and with the
partying in full swing, you jog out of the sea, abandon posts,
stuff yourself with home-produced jam butties, sup
Cain's ale, make mayhem on the beach 'til dawn, when
drunkedly double-shuffling you return to position, brains
addled by constant hangovers, and I seriously ask myself
is it any wonder you're all so silent by day?
'Weather (or not)' by Malcolm Rimmer
'Promises' by Malcolm Rimmer
"I don't want to fleece you,"
said the shearer to the sheep.
"Nor I to watch you fall,"
said the hangman, noose in hand.
"I'm from the Council and here to help,"
said the man in sober suit.
'Humane Being' by Val Walsh (Remembering John Hamilton, who died in
They called you benign
(as opposed to toxic).
Devoted (as opposed to
egoistic or treacherous).
Humble (neither arrogant
nor weak). Committed always
without doubt or hesitation
to improving the life chances
of the marginal, bypassed,
those counted out by
This was a noble man
who listened attentively
to those with and without
position and power,
who sought out and bridged
gaps in understanding
and justice. This quiet man
fought hard: always, as he said,
against the odds.
Education, education, education.
No mere slogan.
more than rhetoric.
Health and housing:
affordable not markets.
Quaker and socialist values
in harmony, driving social
and political action.
Reminders of what it takes
to build and maintain
human dignity, bearable lives,
Education, education, education.
His was a long life
devoted to the relentless
struggle against poverty,
abuse, corruption and
neglect. A life committed
to shifting power to the
power as service.
At meetings and in conversation
his 'killer comments' cut through
obfuscation and denial,
exposing the contortions and
distortions of those seduced
by power and celebrity.
He summarised with eloquence
the idiocies and irresponsibilities
of capitalism's apologists
and lackeys (left or right,
national or local) without
malice or anger. And with
children, neighbours and activists
alike, his eyes could twinkle wickedly
and you bathed in his warmth and
positive regard of you as a
fellow human being.
Against oppression and
social violation he interposed
love (not glamour), social duty
(not careerism) and compassion
Still cutting edge values
after all these years.
'The Hungry Mile' by Ernest Antony
They tramp there in their legions on the morning dark and cold
To beg the right to slave for bread from Sydney's lords of gold;
They toil and sweat in slavery, 'twould make the devil smile
To see the Sydney wharfies tramping down the hungry mile
On ships from all the seas they toil, that others of their kind
May never know the pinch of want or feel the misery blind
That make the lives of men a hell in those conditions vile
That are the hopeless lot of those who tramp the hungry mile.
The slaves of men who know no thought of anything but gain
Who wring their brutal profits from the blood and sweat and pain
Of all the disinherited who slave and starve the while
Upon the ships beside the wharves along the hungry mile
But every stroke of that grim lash that sears the souls of men
With interest due from years gone by shall be paid back again
To those who drive these wretched slaves to build the golden pile
And blood shall blot the memory out - of Sydney's hungry mile
The day will come, aye, come it must, when these same slaves shall rise
And through the revolution's smoke ascending to the skies,
The masters face shall show the fear he hides behind the smile
Of these his slaves who on that day shall storm the hungry mile.
And when the world grows wiser and all men at last are free
When none shall feel the hunger nor tramp in misery
To beg the right to slave for bread, the children then may smile
At those strange tales they tell of what was once the hungry mile.