“This story is influenced by my reading of Borges, whose works I’ve been researching for my dissertation. I’m interested in the idea of mirrors and repetition in Borges’s short stories and how repetition is indicative of the Eternal Return. This short story is about repetition and how the secrets that we keep hidden from the gaze and the mirror are still echoes of each other. One day, we’ll have to bury them and leave them behind.”
Ruth Padel, Professor of Poetry at King’s College London reads from her poem ‘Still Life with a Map of the World Outside the Window’ from the new anthology Staying Human: New poems for Staying Alive, edited by Neil Astley and published by Bloodaxe Books.
Freya is 19 and in their second year of undergraduate study in the English Department at King’s College London. They’re from London, but grew up between the UK, Lithuania and China.
I don’t cry until the valve cap on my bike’s front inner tube snaps off in my hand, at which point I stand in a deserted street next to a public bike pump and sob for about five minutes. I had been coping with a global pandemic very well, but now being an adult has crept up on me and I am unprepared. This bike is also my only way of getting to work, which I need to do in less than 24 hours. The chain is so rusted I’m not sure it’ll turn even if I get the inner tube fixed. I don’t have a new inner tube, or the equipment to replace it at home, or the skills, or the energy, the way an adult would.