Sally Jubb October 2023 Third Prize


by Sally Jubb

It was the way she gave him chocolate. Fed him, I should say, as if he was still a baby. Not that you’d give a baby chocolate. Then she sort of played with it in front of his face, him with his lips parted, as she waved it about. The way a cat’s head follows left to right, right to left, if you taunt it with a bit of chicken, that’s what she did to him. I watched her in the mirror, as I put on my necklace before leaving the house.

Later, from the window, I watched them in the garden, deep in lupines. She put a straw between his lips. The liquid was pink, the glass bottle flashing in the sun between her fingers. I imagined her saying the word suck, and remembered a stranger’s fingers dragging my nipple over his face, him rooting blindly as the milk came in spurts, the stab as he latched on, the crying, him sucking on and on, the hopelessness of it.

She’s carrying him now between the trees, lifting him high in the air, him reaching down with his fingers touching her face. Now she takes his fingers into her mouth and shakes her head about like some daft dog. He’s laughing. I only know her name. I don’t know who she really is. These agencies make stuff up. Joy is very loving and caring. Joy is endlessly patient and loves nothing more than to play.

They’re holding hands now and pointing at something on the lawn. A blackbird, or maybe a starling. Sturnus vulgaris. Whatever it is she’ll have to go.

About the Author

Sally Jubb lives in North Yorkshire. She received the Andrea Badenoch Award (Northern Writers Awards) in 2015. Since then, her work has appeared in various anthologies, including The Bristol Short Story Prize, The London Magazine, Best British Short Stories (Salt). She won the Colm Toibin Short Story Prize in 2017. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck College, London. She recently completed a horror novel.

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