Sep 24

Counting Magpies

By anita goveas

You can say it’s just a scrape but these are my favourite purple cowhide leather shoes, and do you think purple shoes grow on trees, or you probably do because I saw you kick a beech tree after our second date and it echoed and I should have known then but there were two magpies when we first met in Hyde Park and I just loved your earlobes and eyes might be the window to the soul but ears have to deal with the weather and I guessed you didn’t have to suffer warm olive oil every Sunday because your earwax grew like mushrooms, I bet your mother made your lunch and no-one laughed that you brought in leftover rotis every day and you never had to iron your own school uniform and she tucked your scarf in your duffel coat as if you were precious and I wanted that for our children and you weren’t even with me when I bought those shoes, you were sitting in the Winchester Royal café holding hands with Susan Anderson and a magpie shat on me and I should have known then but the next day you rang and called me darling and everyone was just expecting it to go wrong and I could never explain about the ears but it’s really about heredity which is a word I could read when I was 6 but didn’t understand until I was 46 and there were no children, and you kissed me as soon as I got off the train with your softest lips so I pretended I’d spend the whole week answering phones and I’d never tried to visit you before, and you can say we can fix it and you can say we could cover it up but a scrape that deep means something and did you never count magpies and I’ll always know it’s there.



Anita Goveas is British-Asian, London-based, and fueled by strong coffee and paneer jalfrezi. She was first published in the 2016 London Short Story Prize anthology, most recently in X-Ray lit, Flash Frontier and Bending Genres. She’s on the editorial team at Flashback Fiction, an editor at Mythic Picnic’s Twitter zine, and tweets erratically @coffeeandpaneer. Her debut flash collection is forthcoming from Reflex Press, and links to her stories are at


Art by Michelle Johnsen, art editor

Michelle Johnsen is a nature and portrait photographer in Lancaster, PA, as well as an amateur herbalist and naturalist. Her work has been featured by It’s Modern Art, Susquehanna Style magazine, Permaculture Activist magazine,, EarthFirst! Journal, Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, and used as album art for Grandma Shake!, Anna & Elizabeth, and Liz Fulmer Music. Michelle’s photos have also been stolen by, The Daily Mail, and Lancaster Newspapers. You can contact her at mjphoto717 [at]