The Royal Ballet Presents Kafka’s The Metamorphosis

Jack hates the ballet. It reminds him of avoiding mirrors and growing his hair.

Muscles pulse over the male lead’s ribs, skin smeared like an oil-spill creature.

Halfway to the Tube, Jack’s mother says: “Sleeping Beauty would’ve been better.”

“Mum, I…”

“Spit it out, Elizabeth.”

Jack shakes his birth name from his ears. “I want my exam results in my real name.”

She frowns then sighs. “What are you learning in maths?”

“I dunno. Integration.”

“I did maths at university.”

“Yeah, I know, Mum.”

“I’m just saying, I know things too.”

They talk about Kafka and calculus, languages of change.

Kinneson Lalor followed a PhD in Physics from the University of Cambridge with an MSt in Creative Writing from the same institution. She is Australian but lives in the UK. Her work has appeared in various places including Tiny Molecules, Reflex Press, and Janus Literary, and on various shortlists including the BFFA. She was the 2021 winner of TL;DR Press’s The 1,000 Word Herd Competition. She writes a regular blog about sustainable gardening for edibles and wildlife and is currently querying for her novel about time-traveling botanists and beasts in castles. You can find her on Twitter (@KinnesonLalor), Instagram (@kinneson.lalor), or via