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In Lockdown One he’d snorted at loafers on furlough baking - what sponges! Lockdown Two, he was still working in the depot and still snorting. By Lockdown Three, there was no depot and he’d bought yeast and flour.
Hal followed the instructions to the letter, tongue extended. He mixed, kneaded, proved, baked, waited, paced. Out of the oven came the most fragrant, most scrumptious, crispiest, goldenest bread boy imaginable.
‘Hello son,’ Hal said, smiling through tears.
Hal’s boy clambered off the cooling rack and put his hollow paw into his father’s hand. Hal touched his lips to the top of the lad’s glossy head and swallowed. Then he stood back and looked at him. ‘There’s my boy.’
Evenings - when Hal had felt most alone - were now the jewel of the day. Hal sat in one armchair, his son in the other, the gas fire hiccupped. They listened to astronomy podcasts, or discussed pedalos or played ludo. The boy would indicate a square and his father moved the counter and didn’t dream of cheating. At night, the lad crept into Hal’s bed, warm as toast, and Hal would wake with him tucked under his chin, snoring softly.
On Valentine’s Day Hal ripped the boy’s head off and ate it. He ate the legs, then the arms and crumbled the body for sparrows.
After that Hal climbed into the oven, which wasn’t pre-warmed. He was too full to bend easily. A squeeze more though and he’d closed the door.
Zusana Storrier’s short stories often centre on unobtrusively disadvantaged and rebellious characters, and span the genres of realism, magical realism and speculative fiction. Her work has been published in Gutter Voices, The Writers Cafe Magazine and Pushing Out the Boat and recently she worked in collaboration with Pitlochry Festival Theatre. She lives near the Cairngorm Mountains.
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