Lara Holmes is not a drunk.  She seriously objects to labels which reduce individuals to past participles. Lara would hardly be capable of saying “past participles” if she were drunk – ‘a drunk’. She never drinks on week nights- not since last week’s scare on the bypass; the blue lights jerking her out of early morning autopilot; the stares of rush-hour rubberneckers chugging smugly past as she pulled over, heart in her flexible-soled, mid-heeled courts, trying to assemble herself in the time it took her to arrange her freeze-dried strawberry mouth into a puzzled smile over her not-quite-ripe strawberry nose.  Not guilty. The gin-sweat armpit circles on Lara’s blazer may have suggested otherwise, but everyone knows you can’t say “officer” if you are still drunk.

Yes, Lara Holmes likes a glass of wine, every now and then, but purely to be sociable or to celebrate distant colleagues’ birthdays or if she’s had a pig of a day toadying to one of the students’ over-anxious parents or trying to educate ungrateful brats. Lara may like the kick of red- the way it rolls around your tongue like evil linctus – buts she sticks to white, because of her headaches. She drinks to forget her worries about brain tumours. Sometimes, even, Lara gets the teensiest bit tipsy. Drunk, even.  But a drunk is someone else entirely, thank you very much.

“Not Guilty.”

- Helen Victoria Anderson

Helen Victoria Anderson is a writer of poetry and prose based in the North East of England. She has an MA Creative Writing (with Distinction) from Teesside University and her work has been published in literary magazines such as Confingo, The Fat Damsel, Compass Literary Magazine, Material, Miracle and Alliterati. Helen won First Prize in the InkTears Flash Fiction Competition 2015.