Life Forms (A Triptych) by Laura Besley


‘Elspeth,’ Granny says, ‘it’s time for lunch.’

‘Shh!’ I say, ‘Mummy Doll is having a little lie down.’

Granny pokes her head into the conservatory and whispers, ‘Five more minutes then,’ and goes back into the kitchen. Daddy built this conservatory because we needed more space, but the only thing that’s in it is my doll’s house.

Mummy Doll said she was sleeping, but her eyes are still open. Little Girl Doll tiptoes up to the bed. ‘Can you read me a story?’

‘No. Not now.’

Little Girl Doll kicks the empty cot as she stomps out of the bedroom.



She plonks herself onto a chair and starts eating cereal as if nothing’s changed. She thinks I don’t know, but she reeks of it (and not just literally): sex.

There’s dew on the grass outside and the morning sun is weak, but I get up and start opening all the windows.

‘Mum,’ she says, pulling her school blazer across her chest. ‘It’s freezing.’

She shouldn’t complain about being cold. Her young, lithe body still warm from his touch. He’s a nice boy, they’re in love, they’re legal (thank God). I don’t disapprove, not entirely, but I still can’t bear it.



Elspeth walks into the conservatory and the hot, thick air makes her nauseous. Like most things these days.

‘Mum,’ she says, slowly buttering some toast.

Her mother doesn’t look up from the newspaper. ‘Hmm?’

‘I’m…’ She lifts the toast, then lowers it again. ‘Pregnant.’

They both look up as a pigeon drops its waste onto the glass ceiling. ‘Shit,’ her mother says.

‘Quite,’ Elspeth says, laughing, and wonders if her mother actually heard her.

‘You’d better wipe that grin from your face, young lady, and explain to me how you got yourself into this mess.’

She shrugs. ‘The usual way.’

Laura Besley writes short fiction in the precious moments that her children are asleep. Her fiction has appeared online (Fictive Dream, Spelk, EllipsisZine) as well as in print (Flash: The International Short Story Magazine, vol.9 No.1) and in various anthologies (Adverbally Challenged Vol.1&2, Another Hong Kong, Story Cities). She tweets @laurabesley.