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"I Feel for You" • Chaka Khan (by Tim Frank)

Jasmine is homeschooled by her mum but it’s hardly what you’d call education—most of the time Jasmine is ordered to do press-ups, burpees and stomach crunches instead of, say, physics. 

Ever since Jasmine’s dad left for a millionaire octogenarian with webbed feet and a smoker’s cough, Jasmine’s mum has lashed out at her daughter. 

She taunts Jasmine during knitting class by pretending to suffocate herself with a Neverfull Louis Vuitton handbag. Sometimes her mum carves shivs from wooden spoons in home economics and holds it to Jasmine’s wrists—Jasmine is nine by the way.

When the authorities pay a visit to assess the mother’s teaching standards, they drop some acid like they do every Wednesday, shed their business suits and don purple polyester tracksuits that crackle when they move. Then they take out an eighties-style boombox and breakdance on the kitchen table to Chaka Khan’s I Feel for You. But once they’ve gobbled down heaped tablespoons of Jasmine’s mum’s seedless raspberry conserve that she bought from Aldi six years ago, they give her a resounding stamp of approval, print out an official certificate, slip off their shoes and socks and play like they’re at the beach on a summer’s day. Before they switch off their tunes and return to the office, they take turns to vomit in Jasmine’s mum’s Louis Vuitton handbag. Jasmine can’t help but smile.

Tim Frank’s short stories have been published in Bending Genres, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Maudlin House, Rejection Letters and elsewhere. He was runner-up in The Forge Literary Flash Fiction competition. He has been nominated for Best Small Fictions.


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