Samuel Wright: Simple Present, Short Fiction Finalist in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Competition 2012

Samuel Wright: Simple Present, Short Fiction Finalist in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Competition 2012

Shortlisted for the Aesthetica Creative Writing Competition 2012, Samuel Wright is an English teacher. His stories have appeared in a variety of collections and magazines, including the 2011 Bristol Short Story Prize anthologies, and have been performed on stage at Liar’s League events in London. He is currently working on a collaborative story and image project on Hackney Marshes. Themed around daily habitual life, Samuel Wright’s short story Simple Present is a captivating read seeking to address the routine and unchanging events occurring in a day. The introductory paragraphs are captured here in an extract; the full story was published in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual 2013, along with other finalists and the winning entries. The deadline for this years competition is 31 August.

Simple Present by Samuel Wright

I walk on the left. I stand on the right. I mind the gap. I offer exact change. I drive
in the bus lane Sundays only, or 7pm to 7am weekdays. Match-days I don’t park,
and leaving the pub I mind the neighbours as this is a residential area. I only take
three items into the dressing room. I keep my ID visible at all times. I floss, brush
and don’t sit on radiators.
I use linseed oil on the wooden worktop of my kitchen. I wear matching socks,
sometimes. I stand up for the old lady on the bus, and intentionally sit next to the
Muslim, because I’m no bigot. I wear my wedding ring on the third finger of my
left hand. When watching football, I clench my fists. I do jury duty, or I would if
they ever called me. I have a stack of payslips, because you should keep them for
two years. When I throw away my bills, I tear out the pieces with any personal
information on and burn them.
I say sorry to strangers I pass on the street.
I make coffee first, then toast. If I eat blueberries I always remind myself that they
are a superfood. I monitor my blood pressure. On Saturdays, I buy The Guardian,
and turn to the scrabble puzzle first. I never raise the toilet seat when I piss, but I
always wipe it after.
Sometimes I rate my friends according to how happy they are. I place myself in
varying positions on the scale, but never at the top. In any given situation I will at
one point think the worst of it, and at another think the best. When my wife was ill,
I reassured her until she was reassured, at which point I panicked. I was right to.
When I have a cold, I say “I’m coming down with something”. When other
people have a cold, I use the phrase “the dreaded lurgy” and discreetly hold my
I go to the cinema when I remember to. I mostly watch films that are second on
the list of things I want to see. I eat out alone sometimes, and when I do I bring a
book, which at first I hold, and then when the food comes I prop under the edge of
the plate until it becomes impractical or I get sauce on the page.
Unbroken egg yolks give me a lot of satisfaction.
In the last few years, I find myself often having this conversation: Someone asks
how I am; I reply fine, but with the added nuance of varying tones of voice and
expression; we say some things; and they touch some part of me and say, “you
know where I am.”
I always think, yes I do, you’re right there. […]

The Aesthetica Creative Writing Anthology can be downloaded at:

1. Saudade, 120x100cm, oil on linen, 2012, Esther Nienhuis. Courtesy of the artist and Aesthetica.