STASH and Other Stories by L M Payne by L M Payne - Read Online



STASH is a collection of four short stories each portraying a woman’s experience at a pivotal stage in her life.

In STASH, the story the collection is named after, we meet Valerie. A girl on the cusp of her womanhood, who sneaks nips of her alcoholic mother’s vodka, steals away her fags and pills, and stashes porn magazines in a hollowed out tree in the farmer’s fields next door. One day her collection goes missing. As her world falls apart she gets the one thing she’s been hankering after - only to find its not at all what she expected.

We also hear the stories of a woman who looses her body at the end of a Pilates class, another who turns an absence into a presence, and we find out that Love is in fact a dangerous virus, but thankfully there’s a vaccine.

Published: L M Payne on


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STASH and Other Stories - L M Payne

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Love Sick

The name space on my clinical trial notes says: LB0072415. I rather like that, the random letters and numbers that signify 'me'. Hello, I'm LB0072415. It makes me sound like a spy. Further down the notes I see myself referred to as 'Patient A'. Does that mean that I am the first? Is there a long line of letters of the alphabet stretched out behind me? I'm reading all this upside-down while the receptionist checks on her screen for when I'm next due in. We're not meant to see our notes, I'm not sure why, but they're always kept just out of sight.

The spot on my upper arm throbs a little where they put the injection in. It doesn't help that they used the crook of my other arm to take the blood tests from, now both arms are out of action. They usually do the tests in the same arm so that only one arm is affected, but they couldn't get a vein in it today.

Happens sometimes, when it's cold outside. The nurse had said. Always try and wrap up warm when you're coming in for these tests. Makes it a bit easier.

She had looked up then for the first time from her business around the notes, the form filling, the tourniquet around my forearm, the little tray of swabs and injection needles all lined up with my number on them: LB0072415. She smiled kindly at me for a moment, then picked up the first syringe to fill up with my blood, pre-injection.

I looked away outside of the window while she trilled Just a little scratch! I don't know why they always say that, it doesn't exactly feel like a little scratch when the needle pierces the vein and sucks out the blood.

There was nothing much going on outside of the window; it overlooks a brick wall at the back of the facility. I could see my reflection and that of the nurse absorbed in preparing my next injection faintly revealed in the window like figures in a television medical drama.

I guess we will be part of a medical drama after today, but a real-life one, not a fictional TV special. The press release has been issued and the research team have got interviews lined up all day with all the major news channels. I've taken the day off work, although I usually do anyway after the treatment – sometimes it can make you feel a bit funny. I've worked out that I can get back home just in time for Dr. Klugsherz's interview on Radio 4 as long as the tubes are running OK.

I take the envelope and the appointment card that the receptionist slides across the desk to me and turn to leave. I get the lift from the basement offices to the ground floor entrance and exit through the revolving doors out into the chilly November wind. The envelope will have my 'reimbursement' for my 'time', as they like to call it. That will cover the mortgage for another month. I don't do it for the money though – although it is nice – I do it because I really want the research to work. I really need the research to work.


Radio Presenter: ...And finally,