Milltown by Martyn Clayton

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They call it the valley creep. A mire of mist slithers down the river bottom then seeps its way through the narrow terraced streets, climbing as far up the hillsides as it can travel before gravity calls time. Those who live at the top keep their distance. Their view of the valley is always from on high. Any problems up there are easily resolved. Those at the bottom bought in when they were in search of something that the cities could no longer offer. Some came to find themselves in this old mill town, industry given way to dreams of creativity and reinvention. Some fall between the gaps, others slide into the canal after a drunken night out. In the little bunting bound park the bewildered born and bred meet those who’ve blown in to tighten their arms and pierce their veins. Once a film-maker raised in the valley came back with his camera to meet them. He called out all the suicides, the blame getting put on the steep valley sides that hide the sun for months of the year. When it snows the roads in and out become impassable. The sun shines too though, and when it does the place comes alive with trippers from the nearby towns. People sit on the low old bridge and eat ice cream. Today it’s neither sunny nor cold, just a grey valley day.

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The Starling Fashion by Todd Levin

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For years after I retired I couldn’t change out of the freshly pressed suit that I always relied on to get me through the day, looking and feeling the best I could be. The only things that changed were the fit and the age of my hands when I looked down on them. Theresa had died a few years after I left the company and as such that left no-one but our sons Samuel and Beckett to tell me if my trousers were too long over the tops of my shoes. I was always indecisive about things and other people’s opinions mattered to me more than they should. Back when I was younger it was okay if you could feel the drag of the cotton of a tailor-made trouser leg way longer than it ever should have been behind you as you walked those long, glass framed, shimmering hallways looking over all of that success. I missed looking over it.

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