‘Jam’ by Dan Rhodes

The night before our wedding day, my fiancée and I had a romantic meal. She held my hand. ‘Thank you,’ she said. ‘Thank you so much for marrying me. You’re just so wonderful taking me on. Me and my three ugly children.’ I was horrified. It was the first I’d heard of these three ugly children, and I wanted to know more. She explained that she hadn’t told me about them in case they put me off her. ‘Come and meet your new daddy,’ she called, and they ran into the room. Their faces were covered in jam. They were horrible.

First published in Anthropology and a Hundred Other Stories, Fourth Estate, 2000)