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My winning story in Ad Hoc Fiction, December 2016

Different Strokes

The dried meat hung next to her. Speckles of brown and red pricked its surface. Had she been vegetarian, before this? She needed to get out of the room. Shiny floors stared up at her, daring her to try. On her plate sat three tired tomatoes. She rolled them around as if that might prompt her disobedient tongue to curl into the right shape for words.

Red-circle-no.

Close enough. She hated the things.

A girl in starched white leant over her. ‘In we pop, Alison’. One tomato was spooned into a space on her face. She tried to chew.

In the bed opposite, a man as old as her father smiled with one side of his mouth.  She glanced back at the meat to her right with its five familiar fingers.

I’m only half here.

‘Yes, lovely tomatoes,’ said the girl as she stroked away a trickle of escaping saliva.