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Hearts on a String

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Hearts on a String

1: Brunch at Milligans, anyone?



Franky Doyle squinted blearily as she felt her pocket vibrate. Her head was thumping, likely from the double whiskies she pounded last night- or was it this morning? Ffuucckk- and her limbs felt heavy as her arm reluctantly followed orders to find her damn phone. She squeezed her hand into her jeans pocket before letting out an audible grunt as she pulled out the small device- which felt like a fucking brick- and cracking an eye open to look at the screen.

1 Facebook notification.

Fucking great. Franky dropped the phone onto her body as she tried to take in her surroundings. A duvet was thrown over most of her body, though she could tell from shifting slightly that she was still fully clothed, even down to her boots. A squint at the ceiling, which was home to a rather decadent art deco ceiling fan, told her that she wasn’t in her own home, and a slow head turn to the left confirmed it as she was met by a very naked back.

Oh yeah. That happened.

Franky’s self-satisfied grin quickly turned to a grimace as the too many whiskies made themselves known once more and curbed her enthusiasm. Laying in bed, she tried to breathe deeply and evenly.

Concentrate on something.


Like… the girl’s name. Atta girl, concentrate on her name.

Fuck, what was her name again?

Franky knew it didn’t matter. It never mattered. This girl was just another notch on her bedpost, the product of alcohol and an overactive libido combined with a fear of commitment. Isn’t that what her last shrink said?

Feeling slightly less like she was on a ship in choppy water, Franky shifted and sat up slowly. She never undressed with these women as there was never any point. She always worked to get the girl off, securing herself a decent reputation in the process, but never accepted any of it on her. She preferred giving over receiving, always had, and this meant that she had the pleasure of seeing girls gloriously naked, their sweat soaked skin shuddering against her, while never having to even lose her shoes. Maybe it was out of disgust at the scars that littered her body, or maybe it was just the convenience of being able to escape their needy clutches as soon as they fell asleep… either way, Franky appreciated always remaining dressed for her casual encounters.

With the girl’s back still turned to her, her body rising and falling rhythmically in slumber, Franky slipped out of the bed and grabbed her phone as she went. She quickly went to new messages and typed:

Brunch at Milligans? 10:30am. Drinks are on me, fuckers x

It was still early, only 3am, but Franky didn’t care as she hit send to the multiple contacts. She pocketed the phone and stumbled as quietly as she could toward the bedroom door. She was congratulating herself on another satisfying night when she turned the doorknob and was greeted by-

Ah shit.

Thunderous eyes turned on her and a low growl emanated, making Franky blanch and take a small step back. A large dog- or was it a fucking wolf? Who knew?- stared at her, looking ready for a fight to protect the honour of its owner.

“Good… boy?”

An even louder growl.

“Shit… girl?”

This was not going as well as she thought and Franky could have slapped herself for being that smug so soon.

“Look, I’ve got an early start so I really have to go, yeah?”

Now she was trying to reason with the damn thing and this was not how she was meant to die. Mauled to death by a dog of indeterminate gender in the hallway of a casual fuck’s house, that was going to look fucking good on her tombstone. She imagined her friends crowding around laughing, because that’s what you do when you’re faced with a dog snarling. You imagine these things.

Franky sighed and with a muted “ffuucckk” she slowly moved forward, hoping to gently push past the dog without incident.

No such luck.

With a sudden bark, the dog lunged toward her feet, which Franky side-stepped quickly, but not before a sudden screech from the bed-

“What the fuck is going on!?”

Fight or flight kicked in and Franky ignored the naked woman scrambling from the bed as she hurried past the now snapping dog and raced down the hallway. This was certainly not how she wanted to start the day! Throwing herself bodily forward, Franky could only hope that she was running in the right direction. She certainly remembered the small table as she pelted past it, she thought she stumbled against it last night when nipping at the stranger’s breasts. Yeah, she definitely remembered that horse painting as she threw her hands out against the walls to propel her faster, she remembered pushing the girl into it as she fell to her knees and hiked her dress up.

There it was! The front door. It was plain, white, and pretty ugly as far as doors went but at this moment Franky had never seen a more beautiful front door as her hands reached out toward it. The snarling of the dog-beast thing behind her got louder as she slammed into the door and her hands tugged at the handle frantically.

Open fucking sesame you fucking-

Fresh air hit her as she threw the door open, but the snarling had now reached fever pitch. Coupled now with the screams of “Franky! Wait!”, the tattooed brunette made up her mind quickly to never visit that bar again. She also pondered how to put out a verbal ad of no pets allowed for future fucks-

“Shit!” she suddenly felt a pressure at her calf, as the dog’s mouth looked set to bite down. Fortunately, Franky was fractionally faster than the dog’s lunge and its teeth missed the target and instead caught her jeans. With an almighty rip that told her she needed to go clothes shopping as soon as humanly possible, Franky pushed through the front gate and slammed it closed behind her. She could still see the dog snarling and showing its very capable teeth, but the large metal gate allowed Franky a moment to collect herself and take a deep breath.

Standing at the door of the house was the woman, a duvet wrapped around her frame and an unimpressed frown on her face. The disappointment was palpable, but Franky could live with that look. She got it often enough.

“Thanks for the pick-me-up!” She called out with a relieved grin as she knew she was safe for another day. She ran her tongue across her teeth and winked, before pushing away from the gate and sidling down the street.

If only she remembered where the fuck she was.




Bea Smith was woken by the quick thud thud thud of a person hurrying down the stairs. She groaned and rolled over, not wanting to know the time. Just another hour and I’ll get up.


Just another hour and I’ll get up and research how to give my daughter up for adoption.

A loud clattering emanated from the kitchen and Bea knew that her wish for more sleep would not come true. It was her daughter Debbie’s last day before heading off to university and apparently that meant destroying the kitchen in preparation for cooking her own meals.

With a final indignant huff, Bea forced herself out of bed, her baggy pyjama top falling off her shoulder. Her vibrant red hair was a mess, sticking up all over the place, but she had nowhere to be today, so she didn’t feel the need to tame it the night before.

She sleepily pulled her phone off of the bedside table and turned off the alarms she had set, noticing as she did so that her screen was lit up with a new notification.

1 new message.

Bea clicked on it and groaned as she saw that it was from Franky… sent at 3am.

Bets on drunk text or just got up from a stranger’s bed text?

She hoped the former but figured it was the latter, knowing full well that a drunk Franky alone at 3am would have left a long rambling voicemail that involved many a ‘fuck, Red’ and ‘I don’t wanna pay $13 for a fucking pizza’.

She opened it:

Brunch at Milligans? 10:30am. Drinks are on me, fuckers x

Bea looked at the message once, twice, then looked up into her bedroom mirror. Her hair was quite possibly a top-rated nest for birds right now and she looked like she hadn’t slept in months.


This had better be fucking good. I’ll be there.

She hit send before she could second-guess her decision, and shuffled out of her room, cursing as she smelled pancakes burning.

She hoped the university accommodation had insurance.




“I just don’t see this working out in the long run, you know?”

Allie Novak sat on the edge of the sofa, fully dressed in a casual jeans and jumper and a coffee in her hand. She clutched at the mug desperately in a bid to look unaffected at the words coming out of her girlfriend’s mouth.

Her girlfriend of eight months. Her girlfriend who was fiddling with a box of her belongings as she ripped Allie’s heart out and stomped on it in front of her. Her girlfriend who-

Oh. Ex-girlfriend.

Her ex-girlfriend who apparently had access to a crystal ball and could tell her on no uncertain terms that she couldn’t see them working out, that their relationship would cause catastrophes, that being together would cause the tides to suddenly be out of sync and the moon would-

“Allie, are you even listening to a word I’m saying?”

“Huh?” Allie snapped her head up, her eyes moving from a blank spot on the wall to focus on the contrite look on Abigail’s face.

“You understand what I’m saying, yeah?”

“Uhhh,” Allie’s mouth was trying to form words, but what could she possibly say? It wasn’t that it was totally unexpected, Allie had suspected for a while that Abigail was planning on leaving her, she had just clung on to a desperate hope that she was being paranoid.

“Look, I know I sprung this on you but honestly you can’t tell me that what we had was marriage material!”

“I…” I am closing all those tabs on engagement rings, “I just don’t quite understand right now how we went from happy to… this… so quickly?”

Abigail sighed and dropped the box on the sofa opposite, and Allie felt a small degree of triumph that she had popped a hole in Abigail’s well-planned breakup.

Just as Abigail went to talk, Allie fumbled with her phone, bringing it out of her pocket. It was her last -ditch attempt to put off this horrendous turn of events: faking an emergency. Allie would pretend to take a call, she would ask Abigail to come back later so they could talk it over properly, she’d spend the day coming up with all the right reasons to make her see sense, to stay and-

There were no right reasons.

Allie knew this really. She knew this, because the smallest part of her subconscious was preoccupied with vibrant red hair and a raspy, god- sexy, voice. She knew that no relationship would work whilst she still had these visions dancing in her head of those beautiful red curls brushing against her bare skin, brown eyes glued to hers as lips travelled down her stomach to-


Allie looked up once more, startled, before realising she had been staring blankly at her phone. She cursed herself for missing the opportunity to take an ‘emergency call’. Instead, she stared at her screen to see a large flashing letter symbol.

1 new message.

She clicked on it, ignoring Abigail who sighed loudly, and her eyes scanned it briefly.

Brunch at Milligans? 10:30am. Drinks are on me, fuckers x

Allie smiled suddenly.

Fuck yes, you’ll want to hear this one! See you then! x

With a deep breath, she looked up at Abigail.

“So, do you want the wine glasses or the patterned bowls?”




Brunch at Milligans? 10:30am. Drinks are on me, fuckers x

Maxine Conway looked down at the text on her phone for perhaps the millionth time, debating whether to ignore it and later feign ignorance (“Sorry, love, it must not have sent to me”), to reply saying she couldn’t make it, or to just go for it.

Truth was she’d received the message immediately. Lying awake at 3am, Maxine had heard the gentle vibration of her phone and had picked it up, knowing it was from Franky.

The girl had a habit of texting in the early hours, no doubt after a successful conquest that she just needed to share with the rest of her group.

Maxine smiled when she saw the text, her eyes watery as she tried not to think about the day ahead of her, and the reason why sleep was so elusive. Tears had tracked down her cheeks anyway, ignoring her willing them to go away.

If I could will anything of course it wouldn’t be that, it would be-

“Maxine Conway?”

Maxine was startled back to the present and looked up from her phone as the kind-eyed nurse standing at the far end of the waiting room called her name.

“H-here,” Maxine responded, her voice breaking slightly as she stood up. She knew she needed to see her girls. She needed to either commiserate or celebrate. Truthfully, she just needed them right now, more than she would ever admit.

She clicked on the message.

Sounds good, hon, see you there. Xxx

“Maxine, you’ll be seeing Dr Jerome in room 4, this way.”




“Ya fucking what!?”

Susan ‘Boomer’ Jenkins roared as she picked up the closest thing she could find, a packet of biscuits, and threw them at the retreating back of her sister, Trina.

Fuck! Me Monte Carlos are gonna be smashed now, for fuck sake!

“Don’t you fucking throw things at me!” Trina yelled back weakly, as she moved towards Boomer’s front door, “You’re the one who ain’t treating Daz right! S’no wonder he didn’t shack up with the first girl he saw, yeah!”

“Ya fucking cow!” Boomer screamed, her face beet red as she clenched her fists and bulldozed toward her sister, “ya nothin’ but a slut, eh!? Ya shit!”

“I came because I wanted to talk to you face to face, to get it all in the open!” Trina tried again, raising her voice above Boomer’s agonised wheezing, “we’re in love! We’re gonna get married and have kids and-“

“GET. THE. FUCK. OUT!” Boomer threw everything she could find, from an ash tray to her latest CD, tears running down her heated face as she lobbed every nearby object at Trina. Trina for her part looked contrite at what she had done- what her and fucking Daz had done, the fucking prick deserved that slag- but to bring up kids? And marriage? The future that Boomer herself had wanted with the very man that her sister had just told her she was running off with?

“Ya both deserve each other, yeah!” Boomer screamed out as Trina hurriedly pulled open the front door, “I hope… I-I hope ya catch every fucking STD from him ‘cos he’s a fucking filthy dick!”

The front door slammed and Boomer stumbled through the mess she’d created in her anger, muttering to herself as she swiped her tears away. She collapsed on her worn sofa and let out huge heaving sobs, wiping her face and nose on her hoodie sleeve.

“Di-didn’t want fucking kids or any of that shit anyway,” she cried out to herself, knowing how untrue those words were even as she said them aloud.

Think of puppies in jelly, Booms, the Franky voice in her head said calmly, think of all those puppies running around and rolling in the jelly.

Boomer let out a watery chuckle as her breathing slowed. Puppies in jelly.

She pulled her phone out of her hoodie, glad that she didn’t have that on hand to throw at fucking Trina’s head, and as she did so, saw a notification on the cracked screen.

1 new message.

Brunch at Milligans? 10:30am. Drinks are on me, fuckers x


Franky would listen to this bullshit. All of them girls would. They’d understand and they’d help her beat the shit out of Trina. She just knew they would.

She fumbled with the buttons as she responded:

Aces. Trina fucked Daz. Need to kill the bitch. Xx