Another Fighting Game by Rachel Fenton

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Another Fighting Game

Author: Rachel Fenton

Cover Photo by Annie Spratt


The kids don’t answer when I call them. Yann’s downloaded another fighting game onto the

i-pad and for once they’re happy to disobey me in unity.

I call again then go to the bedroom.

‘Sal, you can have the last choc-chip cookie after dinner if you come now.’

Josh looks at me like Cesar clocking Brutus. I shrug and say, ‘Sal’s not at the table yet.’

Sal lets the i-pad drop.

‘You can’t do that, mum.’

‘Divide and conquer.’

They stop bickering as soon as they see the tin full of cookies at the end of the table, next to Yann’s empty plate.

Their chewing reminds me of horses hoofing it through muddy battlefields in film scenes. I glance at the time on my phone. Outside, a sycamore leaf spins like a Flamenco skirt in one spot of low sun.

The door opens. Yann drops his bag on the door mat with the leaves that have blown in.

‘Sorry I’m late, did you get my text?’ He looks at the empty plate, Sal and Josh, and finally me.

‘I’ve already eaten.’

After dinner, Yann reads Josh a story about some kid in a boat with a bear, falls asleep beside him on the bed. I take the book from under his hand.

Sal says,

‘I don’t want to share my room anymore.’

I ruffle Sal’s hair and turn the lamp out. The i-Pad screen cracks.

Brushing my teeth, I wonder what kind of person would put a kid in a boat with a bear. Then I wonder how they got the bear in there in the first place. But I remember the book is only fiction and I don’t need to worry about it. I lick my teeth and say, ‘What clean teeth you have,’ and just like that, the bear is a wolf. A wolf in bear’s clothing. Perhaps the wolf ate the bear the way the wolf ate Little Red Riding Hood’s grandma. I pinch my belly fat.

I pick a book randomly from the pile heaped on the carpet next to Yann’s pyjamas, climb into bed and start to read. The wolf runs in and out of every sentence, carefully because his skin is very loose, he doesn’t want to knock the letters awry and make a nonsense of the story. Really, he is too cautious.

Sometime around dawn, Yann wakes me trying to spoon me. I have forgotten how to be with him. I think about the i-Pad until he stops trying. In between his breathing, I can hear book lice communicating through the tapping of their abdomens.





Rachel J Fenton is a working-class writer originally from South Yorkshire, UK, now living in Oamaru, Aotearoa New Zealand. Her fiction has won the University of Plymouth Short Fiction Prize, been shortlisted for the Strands International Flash Fiction Prize and nominated for Best Small Fictions. 


Submitted: January 19, 2020

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