Gwil James Thomas

Five Finger Fillet.


The games had started innocently


with the radiators on maximum –

as the Christmas snow

twisted and turned outside.


I wasn’t even that competitive but

the explosive reaction

that I’d get from

my brother was always worth it.


I was button bashed 

at Rocket League,

thrashed at Ping Pong, 

but I smashed him at 

Shut The Box 

and after my brother 

then lost at Ker Plunk –

he vowed to beat me 

after he’d rolled 




Once, the twenty minute ceasefire

drew to an end my brother ran off

to the kitchen –

returning red eyed and grinning with

a chopping board, kitchen knife

and stopwatch.


“Five finger fillet!” he said.

“Really?” I replied.

“We’d play it all the time when I was

working out at sea –

those rough waves were

good teachers! Now, put your

hand on the chopping board!”

he demanded.

“Aren’t you supposed to use

your own hand?”

“That’s no fun!”

“The whole thing looks far from fun.”

“Fine, start with me.” my brother said

and put his hand on the chopping



My brother then set the stopwatch

for a minute stretched out his pinkie

and thumb, as he then counted







whilst I built up momentum before

the stopwatch sounded.


“48 stabs!” my brother shouted.

“It was more than that!” I argued.

“I was counting them.”

“Fine, now it’s my turn to count.”

I replied.


I got the stopwatch ready and

put my hand on the chopping board,

like some slab of meat

in front of a butcher.


“Go!” I said.


With a deep concentration I counted

the knife once –

before I felt a searing pain

as the blade pierced my finger

and saw blood on the chopping board.


“You got my fucking hand!

You did that on purpose!” I said.

“What?” he replied.


He put the knife back down,

before I pushed him onto the floor

as he performed some strange

wrestling manoeuvre and I flew back

onto the shelving unit,

taking him with me –

as a vase toppled off and landed

on his shoulder

shattering into a million pieces.


Then there was silence.


I had no idea if he’d just

lost five finger fillet –

or he’d secretly won by stabbing me,

but he looked over and grinned,

holding his shoulder

as I held my hand

knowing that the games were over

and that life wasn’t something won

it was something that you played,

or at least it played you.


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