James Holden: The Magic 8-Ball

I should be getting ready, putting on my wedding dress, but doubts are beginning to gnaw at me. I’m sat in my childhood bedroom, which Mum and Dad have only half redecorated. Detritus from my youth remains: a dog-eared copy of Cold Mountain, a photo of me and the girls at our sixth-form leavers’ ball, a cheap model of the Eiffel Tower I bought on a school trip to Boulogne. A Magic 8-Ball lightly covered in dust.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, I drum my hands on the wooden base. I took a long draft of the tea that my Mum had made me, and then I pick up the Magic 8-Ball.

I wipe it clean with my dressing-gown sleeve, the dust leaving a grey smear on the pink towelling. The 8 bores into my eyes. Have you ever told me the truth? I shook it and turned it over. Without a doubt.

I think back to the answers it had previously given me. I had asked whether Waterworld was worth going to see at the cinema (My reply is no). Fortunately it didn’t warn me I’d fail my first driving test (Better not tell you now) – meaning I only picked up one “major” rather than being reduced a jabbering wreck. And its prediction that I would have a good time at Manchester University (It is certain) came true – I spent three years going to great parties, met life-long friends, walking away with a good degree and into my dream job.

I decide to ask one last question. Eight. I need you to be really clear. Should I go through with the wedding today?

Outlook not so good.


Concentrate and ask again.

I place it in my lap, tears forming in my eyes. I think of how wonderful my time with John has been so far. And then I think of the jealousy that he brings to the table. The overwhelming mistrust, and the sense that I sometimes have that he’s crushing me with his suspicion.

What’s the matter with him?

I turn it over, waiting for the little triangular message to appear in the window. It slowly appears through the inky liquid.

He’s a tosser.


The biggest.

What should I do?

Call it off.

I throw it down on the bed and run downstairs, shouting for my Mum and Dad. I need to change my plans.


About James Holden

Brought up in Yorkshire, James has washed up on the shores of London. He spends his days working as a political geek. His short stories have previously been read by the Liars League.
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