fiction and other writing

Posts tagged ‘Fiction’

Short Stories and Flash Fiction

I love writing and reading short stories. I also love reading and writing novels, but sometimes you just want to read something short before you go to sleep, and I always find if you’re travelling it’s harder to concentrate on a novel. With short stories you have to capture the people and places quickly and get on with the plot. Often magazines and competitions have word limits and that’s an added challenge but helps keep brain cells working.

The other day I realized I was working on my sixth book of short stories. My first book was Missing. It raised lots of money for Wateraid through the Soroptomists, when it was first published and will always have a special place in my heart.

My second book is Pebble on the Beach I enjoyed writing these stories and have been back to them and rewritten some of them and changed the cover so many times, but now I’m happy with it.

My third book, The Mermaid is special because it contains a prizewinning story and it was my first book with a professionally produced cover, by Sharon Brownlie of Aspire Books . I love the cover and have re-visited this book over the years.

My fourth book is The Lady in the Woods ( Picture at top of page.) This book is my best seller, so of course is important. Perhaps by the time I wrote this one I actually felt like a writer. Of course I was a writer before this one, but I feel now I have earned the title. I especially enjoyed writing about Inspector Winsford. It’s actually quite hard to write a detective short story and get enough detail to hint at reality.

My fifth book, The Child of Time is a little different. It’s a small book and only contains ghost and paranormal stories. Do I believe in ghosts? Perhaps not in the strictest sense, but when you visit a place that was special for you and someone you love, sometimes your memories can be strong, and what about dreams? My dad has visited me in dreams several times and they’ve seemed so real. Whether you believe or not, exploring, ‘the beyond’ in fiction is great fun. Why not take a look?

All my short story books are free on Kindle Unlimted and paperback versions are available. I’d love any feedback or reviews if you are kind enough to read them.

Perhaps this story will appear in my next book. Who knows! Let me know if you think it should. It first appeared in the March edition of Moms Favorite Reads – a free online magazine, available through Amazon (although sometimes Amazon add a price).


Liam stood at the top of the bridge and looked over the side. The question was, could he do it? Could he climb over the side and throw himself into the water?

It was dark and the light of a half moon, reflected into the water, indicating the height of the bridge. Liam wasn’t good with heights and to be honest, he felt that he wasn’t good at anything.

He’d been living with Rachel for five years and thought everything was going well, then out of the blue, she’d left him for a computer salesman. The man had been at school with Liam and had always been a selfish, know-it-all. He was devastated that Rachel had left, but even more so that she’d left for the likes of Dan. Nobody would miss him, he thought. His friends all had other friends and his parents had two other children. He needed to be strong for once and get on with it.

He shivered and started to climb out onto the rusty blue iron railings and took a deep breath and then he heard a whimper. For a second, he wondered if he’d made the noise himself, but there it was again. He peered deeply into the darkness and gradually made out the outline of a dog.

Now, he didn’t know what to do. The dog was on a ledge below him. Could he even reach him?

I suppose I’d better try and rescue him, he thought.

His fear of heights left him as he climbed over the structure and made his way downwards. When he reached the petrified animal, he carefully lifted him from the ledge and tucked him into his fleece, partly zipping it up to keep the dog safe. This meant that both his hands were free to climb back up, which was much harder than the climbing down had been.

The moon seemed higher in the sky and two jet black eyes peeped at him from his jacket. The smell of the dog wasn’t wonderful; a bit like the stench from a rubbish tip on a hot day. For a moment Liam thought about putting the dog on the ground and getting on with his plan, but he could feel the dog still trembling.

Liam set off for home with his little bundle, stopping off to get some dog food along the way. When he got indoors, he could see the answerphone was flashing, but ignored it and headed for the bathroom. He gave the dog a warm bath and wrapped him in a fluffy towel.

I’ll call him Chance, he thought. It was only by chance I was there tonight and he’s going to have a second chance at life.

When Chance was fed and warm, he settled down on the towel and went fast asleep, so Liam listened to his phone messages. The first was from his mum.

‘Come over for Sunday lunch, Liam. Your brother’s coming down from Liverpool and we’d all love to see you. Hope you can make it. Let me know.’

He thought of his family and how lucky it had been that he’d found Chance. They would have been devastated if he’d gone through with his plan. What had he been thinking? Of course his family loved him. He was sure they’d adore his new companion. The second message was from his friend Andy.

‘Hi Liam, I was thinking of going for a hike on Saturday, ending up at The Plough for lunch. Going to ask Wilf and Tom too. It’d be great to have a catchup. It’s been so hectic at work lately. Give us a call.’

Over the next week Liam was busy. He took Chance to the vet to check if he had a microchip and if anyone had reported him missing. The vet gave the dog a check-up and apart from being a bit underweight, pronounced him healthy. He thought of Rachel a couple of times but Chance kept him busy with walks and snuggles. The pair enjoyed rambling along the river and Liam was surprised how many people stopped for a chat, particularly other dog walkers.

Liam phoned back both his mum and his friend, accepting their invitations and explaining that Chance would be coming along too. Both were excited to meet his new companion.

On Thursday evening, Liam was surprised when he heard a key in the door. Rachel entered the room as if she’d never been away.

‘Hi Liam, I’ve decided to come back. Dan was a bit of a jerk, actually and he always wanted me to pay for everything.’

She put her bag down on the sofa. Chance looked up hopefully, wagging his tail as he approached her. Rachel took a step back.

‘Good grief, what have you brought home? I’m sorry but I’m really not living with a hairy, smelly mutt. I can’t go round covered in dog hair. I’m afraid it’s either the dog or me. You’ll have to make a choice.’

‘There is no choice,’ said Liam and Rachel smiled, until he held out his hand. ‘I’ll have my front door key back. The lease is in my name and I’ve always paid the rent.’

In one movement, Rachel slung the key on the floor, picked up her bag and left, slamming the door behind her.

Liam expected to feel the sadness overwhelm him again, but instead he felt relief. He sat back down on the sofa and patted the space beside him for Chance to hop up. Chance snuggled in and looked up to Liam with adoring jet-black eyes.

‘Thank you for saving me, Chance. You’re such a good boy, and Chance thumped his tail repeatedly on the sofa cushions.


Ways Green – a murder mystery. (Work-in-progress)

Winifred heard a noise in the post office. She was just having a quiet cup of tea in the tearoom at the back of the shop.

‘That’s funny,’ she thought, ‘everyone’s on the walk. It must be someone travelling through the village.’ She eased herself slowly out of the chair and limped awkwardly to the front part of her premises. There was no one there. ‘How very strange!’

And that was Winifred Fletcher’s very last thought.
Annabelle tottered back into the post office, wearing four inch heels. They had proved to be totally unsuitable for the ramble, but how was a girl to look sexy in walking boots? Somehow she needed to get Ivor to propose. She sighed. Here she was again, last out of the tearooms and first back. That stupid woman Fletcher had put ham next to uncooked chicken in the fridge. It had taken her ages to explain the dangers of bacteria contamination to the old bat and she’d only left when Ivor had called out he was leaving.

‘I detest this pesky rambling,’ she thought as her feet ached. ‘What’s the point of it? Bloody waste of time.’ She was so wound up that she didn’t see the body lying on the floor at first. She was heading straight for the tiny tearoom, where Ivor had promised to meet up with her when he’d finished the tiresome walk. As she walked towards the tearoom she saw a foot sticking out from behind the counter.

‘Oh lore,’ she thought, ‘old Ma Fletcher’s finally croaked it. What shall I do?’ She pulled out her mobile, intending to call Ivor, but as her fingers touched the keys she felt herself tap out 999.

‘Can I have an ambulance, to the Post office at Ways Green? Miss Fletcher is lying dead on the floor.’

The police arrived within five minutes and the ambulance pulled up seconds later. Annabelle had wandered into the tearoom and surprised herself by noticing that the ham plate was empty. The short time period seemed an age but she felt proud of herself, that she’d acted in an adult way and called the authorities. Her self assurance was knocked by Inspector Blake’s question as he knelt down and checked for a pulse in Winifred’s neck.

“Have you touched anything Miss?”

“No, I don’t think I have. Well I opened the door. Nothing else. I just wandered around until you got here. The ham’s gone you know. The ham that was in the fridge.”

Inspector Blake raised his eyebrows. “So you didn’t check whether she was alive?”

“No, she looked dead to me. You don’t lie face down the floor for a kip do you? Anyways she’s about a hundred and eighty. It’s not exactly a surprise, is it?”

“She’s running a post office, Miss. I doubt if she’s more than sixty five. What’s your name?”

“Annabelle Fitzhugh. Miss Fletcher limped and everything. She’s got grey hair and couldn’t be bothered to dye it. I bet she’s older than sixty five.”

“Thank you for your help Miss Fitzhugh. Could I ask you to wait outside? My sergeant will come and take your statement.

Annabelle stepped outside the shop and saw the walkers were beginning to arrive back in twos and threes. Ivor was walking at the front with his cousin Charlene. They looked the perfect couple, with their tall lean bodies and matching blond hair. Charlene looked the picture of health and still managed to look good in those dreadful clumpy boots. Annabelle tottered towards them and seemingly burst into tears, although she was careful not to mess up her make-up.

“Old ma Fletcher’s croaked it and I was the one who found the body,” she said. “It was horrible.”

Ivor put his arms round her and she felt the satisfied sensation that she’d taken him away from Charlene.

Inspector Blake chose that moment to come up to them. “Could I ask you all to wait in ‘The Green Man’ opposite? We’ll need to interview everyone. I’m afraid Miss Fletcher was murdered.”

There was a gasp of horror from the walkers and then they made their way over to the pub. Willy Dunt, the village playboy was walking at the back of the group with Alice Roundbottom. Her two children had slowed them down on the walk, but were very excited at going to the pub, where they were never allowed to go.

“I’ll buy you a meal, “Willy said to the children “I haven’t had a proper meal today and we can all sit together.”

Ivor laughed openly, “I see Willy is trying it on with Alice. He’ll be lucky. She’s Miss Ice knickers.”

“And how do you know?” asked Annabelle.

“Believe me, everyone knows,” he said walking into the pub.

Alice, Willy and the children settled into a corner table and were eating plates of food heaped up with chips. Inspector Blake had set up a temporary office in the back of the pub, enabling the SOCO team to get on with their work.

“Excuse me Inspector. I don’t want to push in, but I’d like to get my children out of the pub. Is it possible for someone to interview me first? Not that I’ve got anything of interest to say.”

“This way then,” said Inspector Blake and showed her to a seat in the back room.

“Tell me what you thought of Miss Fletcher,” he said sitting down opposite her.

“Well, she was always very pleasant to your face, but I can’t say that I really liked her. She gossiped dreadfully and sometimes told you things that you just knew should not have been repeated.”

“I see. Could you give me an example?”

“Well she told me that Sidney and Charlene were at it at the Summer Fete. They’re both single but Sidney is engaged to Felicity. She said Sidney was just after Felicity’s money but that he lusted after Charlene. I didn’t believe it at all. Sidney is a dry old stick; local school teacher. I doubt he’s got it in him.”

“I see what you mean. Thank you for being so open. Can you tell me your movements, and those of anyone else’s, on the walk?”

“Well I left with the main party. Keeping an eye on my two keeps me occupied, so I don’t really notice what other people are doing. Only Willy Dunt – he walked with us all the way round.”

“So he started the walk with you.”

Alice paused. “No, he didn’t actually start with us. I think he started at the front, where he usually walks, but he must have joined us within the first ten minutes.”

“So he doesn’t walk with you every time?”

“No. I was a bit surprised that he joined us. I always end up at the back, but he has been perfectly pleasant. To be quite honest he’s a bit of a lothario He was probably going to try it on.”

“And would he have been successful, Mrs Roundbottom?”

“Just because I’m a single mum, doesn’t mean I’m easy. My nickname is Ice Knickers.” She laughed.

Inspector Blake smiled.

“Would you send in Willy Dunt on your way out please?” said Inspector Blake.

And so the interviews continued.

“Miss Fletcher was a charming old lady. She always had time for everyone,” said Willy…Yes I was walking with Alice and the kids.

“Oh Lore. I don’t know what she was like. She was old and always going on about, ‘you young things’ said Annabelle… “I was wearing these heels. I had to give up on the walk. That’s why I was back early.”

“She was a positive old crow,” said Ivor. “Always telling tales about people. Didn’t matter if they were true or not…At the beginning I walked with Annabelle, but not for long. Then I linked up with Charlene. She was wearing proper boots, not like that silly bitch Annabelle.”

“Well darling, actually she was a wicked old witch,” said Charlene. “Very malicious about people, but of course that’s what made her interesting. People do so love a bit of scandal…No she never said anything nasty about me… I started at the front with mother, but she couldn’t keep up. I ended up walking with Ivor, after the ditzy Annabelle had teetered off in her fashion shoes.”

Eventually the interviews were all done. Inspector Blake came out to talk to the walking party.

He rubbed his brow. “I’ve a good idea where you all were on the walk. Now that you’ve all been interviewed I can tell you that Miss Fletcher was struck on the head, probably by a walking pole, so I would like you to hand your poles over to the Sergeant before you leave. We’ll label them and you should have them back in a few days. There was nothing missing from the Post Office, so the crime was not a robbery, gone wrong.”

“Oh it’s all so terrible,” said Annabelle. Ivor smiled at her indulgently and Charlene shot her a look of irritation.

“Strangely the only thing that seems to be missing is some ham. Annabelle Fitzhugh took it out of Miss Fletcher’s fridge before the walk, when she brought in the milk that was still outside the post office. The ham was sitting on the same shelf as an uncooked chicken so she removed it from the fridge and left it on the side and explained to Miss Fletcher that she mustn’t eat it in case it had been contaminated. She left Miss Fletcher having a cup of tea in the tearoom and the plate of ham was on the side. When we looked there was an empty plate but no ham, so it would seem the killer…”

At that moment Willy Dunt grasped his stomach and threw up all over the maroon pattered carpet. His eyes looked huge in his ashen face as everyone turned to look at him.

This writing task was to write a short story that could be adapted for a soap.

Two sentence story challenge

One of the challenges set at the writing group I attend, was to write a story in two sentences. Below are my attempts. Why don’t you have a go?

The summer sun’s light revealed the deathly secret beneath the river’s surface. Upstream, Marcus Dubois hurled the solitaire ring and blood splattered rock as far as he could, into the fast flowing waters.
Marcia Edwards smirked as she passed the mill pond. Her brother was on detention for not doing his homework, and only she knew where it lay, in its watery grave.
For the seventh time ‘Princess’ Agnes tied the marriage knot.
Like a butterfly she flittered, but divorces she forgot.

The End and the Beginning

In the week my aunt died I experienced both intense sadness and joy. She was my favourite aunt; always interested in other people, caring, kind and non judgemental. Her death came quite quickly. In the last three weeks of her life I visited her for one day a week, which as she lived two hundred and fifty miles away, was not easy. I’m glad I had that time. She was my confidant and my friend. We always spoke for more than an hour on the phone each week. There was a space in my life after she died. I longed to talk to her.

A few days after she died, my first granddaughter was born. I was overwhelmed. To look at her brought such wonder into my heart. She was so tiny and beautiful. My son and his wife were radiant with love for this little bundle, although they shared my sadness too. My aunt had been looking forward to the new arrival and it made me sad that she never saw her great-great niece.

The funeral came and was a surreal experience. It’s strange how you can know someone so well and find out new things at their funeral. All her art class turned up. I knew she attended these as she often spoke about the people there in our long telephone conversations, but each one came, talked to us and told us a little snippet about their knowledge of her. It was obvious that they were very fond of her.

I had the privilege of doing her eulogy. At first I didn’t think I’d be able to speak. Then I looked across at my new granddaughter. Her first outing was to my Aunt’s funeral. I started to speak. I told the congregation about my Aunt’s achievements, her kindness and mentioned some occasions which many of us shared. It was obvious that she was loved and held dear by all the many people at the service.

For the first two years after she died, every time I thought of her I was engulfed in waves of sadness, but now six years have passed and when I think of her now I just feel her love. Of course I still wish she was here and I’m so glad she was my Aunt. I will always love her.

As for my granddaughter, she and my newer grandchildren are the apples of my eye. They bring all of us laughter, love and happiness. Something tells me that somewhere my Aunt sees and knows them too. I hope so.


Della gulped down her too hot coffee as she made her way to the front door. Shoving her feet in high heeled shoes, she grabbed her coat and slammed the door. Every morning was the same. There was no-one about as she speeded off towards Bigwood Station. She could hear the train coming as she pulled into the car park.

Diving through the doors she headed for the only empty seat. It was an aisle seat so she knew she needed to get her make-up on quickly as the train would fill up at the next stop. With an expertise, that she didn’t appreciate, she shadowed and lined her eyes and added black mascara. She glossed her lips in a subtle shade of pink and with a few flicks of her comb her hair fell into its neat bob. Other passengers watched fascinated at the transformation.

By the next station Della was sitting with one elegant leg crossed over the other and was calmly reading her book. The doors opened and passengers piled in. One lady leaned over Della’s seat. Della gave her a cool look and then sneezed loudly in her direction. The lady shuffled away. The gentleman sitting opposite noticed a hint of a smile hover on Della’s lips.


Alice poured herself another cup of freshly brewed coffee and sat down at the kitchen table with The Times. Absentmindedly she stroked Albert, her Scottish terrier. She waited until the coffee was lukewarm before finishing it and then padded upstairs to the shower.

Although it was a bright day, there was a chill in the air, so Alice slipped on a cashmere jumper over her blouse. She took time and care putting on her make-up in the special magnifying mirror that her daughter had bought her for Christmas. She applied a thin eyeliner to her eyelids and then a layer of mascara to her lashes.

‘Not too bad,’ she thought to herself as she checked the mirror one last time. Pulling on sensible flat boots she slipped a lead on Albert and left the house.

Arriving at the club, she settled Albert in the corner of the room and went to join her friends at the bar. Mary Entwhistle carried Alice’s drink back to the table for her and made a fuss of Albert. Soon a number of other women joined them. Alice knew she was lucky to be part of the Bigwood Ladies group and she settled back to hear all their latest news. Nobody mentioned the lipstick that was too wide for her mouth, the eyes with thick smudged liner or that she was wearing one brown and one blue boot.


Della arrived at the office calm and relaxed having finished another chapter of the novel she was reading. Before she hung up her coat Mr Arnold said he wanted to see her. She raised an eyebrow, but followed him out of the room.

Without preamble he said, “We want to offer you the position of junior partner, here at Arnold and Griffith. Initially you will take over two of my high profile cases, but in the longer term, you will become a senior partner and I’ll retire. What d’you say Della?”

She took a deep breath and held out her hand. “I’m delighted to accept,” she said. Inside she wanted to jump up and down and scream. This was what she’d been working towards for five years. It had all paid off. Now her mum would be proud of her. In fact she’d pop in on the way home tonight.


Alice walked back from the club with Albert, stopping to chat with people along the way. The sun warmed her face. Still there was the rest of the afternoon and evening to get through on her own, so she decided to buy herself a little treat. Popping into the corner shop she picked up a bottle of sherry and three packets of jammy dodgers. She liked these biscuits and so did Albert.

When she got home she couldn’t be bothered to cook. She’d had a proper meal at lunch time so she opened the sherry and the biscuits and settled down to watch Floggit. That Paul Martin was such a nice man. As the sun went down so did the biscuits.

Then she heard a key in the lock. It could only be one person.

“Hello mum,” said Della. “Oh my goodness, what are you doing? Drinking in the afternoon and there’s crumbs everywhere.”

“Hello Della dear, it’s good to see you,” Alice smiled.

“Have you had your evening meal yet? Don’t tell me you’re not eating properly and living on biscuits. You’ll have to go in a home if you can’t look after yourself.”

“Sit down Della. I’ve been out with my club today and had a proper meal and I’ll go into a home if and when I want to.”

“Sorry mum. I worry about you.”

“When it suits you, but in the weeks in between I get on with my life. Now can I get you something?”

Della sat down and brushed some crumbs from the chair. “I wish you wouldn’t let that dog sit on the chairs and if you stopped feeding him biscuits there wouldn’t be crumbs everywhere.”

“That’s true, but I don’t mind if Albert makes a few crumbs. Now have you just come round to nag me?”
Della paused and then smiled. “I’ve been made a junior partner mum. Isn’t that fantastic? Not many women my age are made partners.”

“That’s very nice dear. I’m glad you’re pleased.” Alice stroked Albert’s ears. ‘Poor girl,’ she thought, ‘on her own at thirty-five. There’s enough time to be on your own at seventy two.’ She poured herself another sherry and caught a look of disappointment on Della’s face.

Raising her glass she said, “Well done Della. I’m very proud of you.”

“Are you mum? You didn’t look it.”

“Of course I am, it’s just that I worry about you too.”

“Me? Why on earth would you worry about me? I’m young, fit and healthy and have a well-paid job.”

“You never seem to have time to savour the good things in life. When did you last have a day off?”

“Mum, you don’t understand. I’m in a very competitive business. I have to be sharp and keep working to stay ahead. I’m achieving more than most. Can’t you be proud?”

“I am proud, but just remember you’re not that young and time’s marching if you’re planning to do the married and baby thing.”

“Oh mother! I’m off home. Early start tomorrow.” She paused by the door and looked back. Her mother was ferreting in a drawer.

“Here, Della. Take this. It’s your father’s ring. He would have been so proud of you becoming a partner.”

Della smiled and hugged her mother.

A Hard Day’s Night

Hilary stood outside the Odeon, wearing her Mary Quant style dress. It was a very short tent dress, black and gold check and made of light corduroy material. She shivered. There was no point in having a fashionable dress and covering it with a thick coat. Her stomach was churning over. Nick was due any minute. He was older than her by two years and if her dad had known she was meeting him, she would have been grounded for ten years. Nick was very tall, over six foot and he had the bluest eyes she had ever seen.

Her dad thought she was going to see ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ for the third time. He was happy to accept her obsession with the Beatles, but couldn’t cope with the idea that his little girl might be interested in boys of the real variety. If he’d known that she was not with her friend, Christine, tonight, he’d have forbidden her leaving the house. As it was he’d not been happy with the length of her skirt and she’d had to put her make-up on after he’d dropped her off.

Then she saw Nick as he turned the corner into the main high street. He waved at her but she noticed he didn’t speed up. He was smart in a leather jacket and tight jeans that had been specially faded to give a casual look. He greeted her with a kiss on the cheek and suggested that they go to this party he knew about in a nearby hall. She felt the warmth of her hand in his and forgot how cold she’d been feeling. It was amazing how being in love changed physical feelings.

The hall looked beautiful to Hilary; it was bright and decorated. Music was blaring out and people were dancing the twist. She felt very awkward and gauche. She had thought she looked fashionable but this crowd were sophisticated, older and she knew nobody but Nick.

“I’ll get you a drink,” Nick said.
“Just an orange juice,”
“Yeah right,” he said, leaving her on her own.

She felt panic rising. She shouldn’t have come. There were none of her friends here and her dress, which she’d spent all her Saturday job money on, was decidedly frumpy.

“Fancy coming out the back, love,” a boy leaned over her.
“No thanks. I’m with Nick.”
The boy, Gary, laughed, “Oh well you’ll be out the back soon enough then.”
“What d’you mean?”
“Oh c’mon love, you must know his reputation.”
“No, I don’t. Anyway we’ve only just met.”
The boy laughed again. “Huh, that won’t make any difference.” He wandered off as Nick returned with the drinks.
“Who were you talking to? Nick asked, handing her a drink.
“Don’t know. He er wanted to dance, but I said I was with you.”
She took a sip. “What’s this? It’s not orange juice.”
“They didn’t have any, so I got you an orange drink instead. If you don’t like it leave it.”
Now she’d annoyed him. “No, I’m sure it’ll be fine,” she said taking a sip.”
“Wanna dance?” Nick said, leading her on to the floor. They did the twist and then a smooch dance.
“You read Lady Chatterley?” Nick asked.
“Not exactly. It’s been round school and I’ve read excerpts, but I couldn’t take it home. My dad would kill me if he found it. ”
“You frightened of him then?”
“Well, I don’t deliberately annoy him. He’s quite strict and my mother’s even more so.”
“I’m surprised they let you come out without meeting me then.”
“They don’t actually know. I’m not allowed boyfriends.” said Hilary.

She finished her drink and Nick went off to get her another one. This time she felt fine about being on her own and was swaying to the music when he came back. He smiled at her and she took a big thirsty swig. They danced some more. The lights dimmed and she was aware that Nick was very close and his hands were all over her. She tried to keep standing, but felt unsteady on her feet and then without warning she had to push him away. With her hand over her mouth she ran to the ladies and threw up. There was no-one about to help her and then the door opened. She turned round and saw Nick was there.

“Yuck, now that’s not very enticing. I don’t fancy you in that state. You’d best get yourself home to daddy, love.”

Hilary couldn’t reply as another wave of nausea hit her. She heard the door slam. Tears ran down her cheek and as she finally looked up the sight in the mirror was horrendous. Nick didn’t want to be with her. She had to get back to the Odeon before her dad picked her up and she looked a total mess.

Quietly the door opened again and Gary stood there with a pint glass of water. “I thought you might be needing this, as I saw Nick dancing with Pam and I can guess how much Vodka he put in your drink.”
“Vodka? No wonder I was so ill.”
“Look I know I tried it on earlier, but I don’t get girls smashed and then take advantage. Just drink the water slowly. The best thing you can do now is wash your face, clean yourself up, put some make-up back on and then walk out of this party with your head held high.”

Hilary looked at him carefully and then back at her image in the mirror. He made sense. She washed her face and reapplied her make -up, in between sipping the water. Once she’d brushed her hair and backcombed it again she looked much better.

“My stomach feels rough,” she said.
“Have some toast when you get in,” Gary said. “It’s probably a good job you threw up. At least you won’t be so drunk.”
Hilary glanced at her watch. “I must hurry. My dad’s picking me up from the Odeon in twenty minutes.”
“C’mon then. Head high and smile as if you’re happy. Hold onto my arm,” said Gary
Hilary walked back out into the main hall. The music was too loud and as she looked closely she saw what a tatty place it was.
“Night Nick,” she called as she sauntered out of the door. She turned to Gary when they were outside. “I’m going to run as I daren’t be late.”
“OK, I’ll run with you,” said Gerald.

It was cold, but the fresh air made her feel better. They arrived before her dad. “I’ll stand over there until you get into your dad’s car, just to make sure you’re safe. By the way Psycho is coming back to this cinema next Saturday. D’you fancy going? ”
“If I can bring my friend Christine,” Hilary said.
Gary smiled and started to walk away. “It’s a date” he called.
“Thank you for helping me tonight,” she shouted back as her dad’s car drew up at the curb.

This story is written to support a group of people with Alzheimer’s and was a task set at the writing class I attend. It is based on the sixties.

A Christmas Star

Rosie smiled at her daughter as she entered the nursery. Star, came running towards her, with arms raised ready to be picked up. She lifted Star in the air, twirling her around so that Star giggled in the way only a two year old can.

To read the rest of this story, go to (14th November)

A Night To Remember

Storm could feel that the house was bitterly cold. Not unsurprising as it was November, tomorrow. She had nowhere else to go. She shivered. The. silence seemed to be holding its breath. Dumping her bags on to the over patterned carpet, she flicked the light switch but nothing happened, so she went in search of the fuse box.
Her Great Aunt had left her the house and the solicitor had sent her the keys . She hadn’t been going to move straight in but her mother’s new boyfriend, Jim, had been quite threatening this morning and it seemed the safest thing to do to move out quickly. The journey hadn’t been too long but she could only bring as much as she could carry.
What was that noise? A thin screeching yelping sound. She must be imagining things.
Once the lights were working she went to the kitchen to see if a cup of tea would lift her spirits. The water seemed to struggle from the tap protesting and making a knocking sound. She looked around and found the kettle and heard a scuttling of tiny feet. But she could see no sign of mice. Storm was glad she was still wearing tall boots with her jeans tucked into them. Her phone rang.
“What’s the point of leaving if you leave all your rotten stuff here? “shouted Jim.
“I couldn’t carry it,” Storm replied. “I’ve packed it all up and I’ll come back a couple of times tomorrow and pick it up.”
“No you won’t, I’ll bring it to you now,” said Jim and the phone went dead.
Rubbing her arms to try to get warmer she looked around the old fashioned kitchen. It needed a good clean, but that was a job for tomorrow. She took her tea and started to climb the stairs. When she had nearly reached the top she glanced through the banisters and saw a door close. Somebody was in the house!
She thought quickly. If she left the house she’d be out in the night with nowhere to go. She’d have to investigate. Slowly she climbed the last few stairs. She opened the door. She could hear the blood rushing round her head. Flicking the light switch, the room looked empty, and searching under the bed, in the cupboards revealed nothing.
Storm heard the thin screech again.
“Who’s there?” she called but there was no reply. Quickly she searched the other rooms and then finding nothing she sat down on one of the beds. At first she thought she was seeing things as smoky images of four teenagers wafted away from the wall, but as she looked more closely they became more solid looking. Her heart was thumping and she couldn’t move. She tried to speak but no words came out.
“You’ve gate crashed our party,” said the tallest being. “If you want to leave we’ll let you go. NOW.”
She nodded. “I haven’t got anywhere I can go,” she muttered but she stood up and was sidling past them when there was a loud banging on the door.
“Well you’d better answer it,” said the tall ghost. We can’t.” And then he laughed his shrill laugh and Storm shivered.
She ran downstairs and threw open the door.
“So this is where you’re hiding out,” Jim said, walking into the house with two large bin liners. Not a bad place; much nicer than I expected. You all on your own?”
“Not exactly,” she muttered.
“Oh but I think you are. I quite fancy having a mother and daughter,” he said as he grabbed her and pushed her into the main living room.
“If you touch me, I’ll tell mother and then you’ll be out on your ear. Do you want to risk that?” she shouted.
“Ohhh, you’ll tell mummy, will you? I doubt if she’ll believe you, will she? She hasn’t believed any of the other poison you’ve been telling her about me, has she?”
She could feel his grip digging into her arms and then she felt his breath on her face. Just at that moment she heard the shrill, yelping sound. It grew louder as it came nearer and nearer. She saw a brief look of terror in Jim’s eyes and then blackness closed over her like a protective cloak and she knew no more.

When she woke it was morning. She was lying on the carpet with her head resting on her tapestry bag and her sleeping bag had been pulled over her. There was no sign of Jim and as she was fully clothed she felt sure he hadn’t done anything to her. She called to the ghosts but there was no sign of them anywhere. There was no response.

Storm made herself a cup of tea and pondered over the previous night’s events. She certainly hadn’t imagined Jim because there were her bags in the hallway. She couldn’t have imagined the ghosts either or Jim wouldn’t have left. They had saved her. She’d spoilt their party but they had stopped her being hurt. Lifted by this thought she set about cleaning the house. She put the heating on and scrubbed and polished until the place looked spotless. As she went along she packed away most of her Great Aunts nick knacks and some of the furniture into the smallest bedroom. Soon her new home was looking a lot less cluttered. When she had finished it was evening and she went to the main room and sat on the bed.
“I don’t know whether you can hear me but I want to say ‘Thank You’ for saving me. Surely we could share the house.”
She waited and waited but there was no reply but then she noticed a smoky form emerging from the wallpaper. It was the tallest ghost. As he started to take a more solid form she heard him speak.
“I had to get special permission to talk to you tonight. We only come back to earth on one night of the year. We should’ve listened to you when you said you’d no place to go. We chased the man off and stayed with you until we had to leave. I’m glad you’re alright.”
“You didn’t get much of a party then?”
“No but for the first time in years we actually helped someone and that felt fantastic.”
“I’ll always be grateful. In fact come back next year and I’ll leave the house empty for the night and you can have your party.”
“No, stay in next year and we’ll pop in and say hello. We might see if we can work out a way to help someone else. I have to go. “
“What’s your name,” she called as his image faded.
“Thomas Driver” whispered a faint voice as he disappeared.

‘Tomorrow I’m going to find out all about you, Thomas Driver,’ she thought.

Then her phone went. It was her mother.
“What did you do to poor Jim last night? He’s been a jabbering wreck all day. I want to know what went on.”
Storm paused. What was the point in saying anything to her mother? Jim was right; she wouldn’t be believed.
“Nothing of any substance happened while he was here mum. He met a few of my friends. It was so useful that he brought all my clobber round. Saved me a lot of time today.”

When she put the phone down, she smiled to herself. She had a safe place to live and she hadn’t even lied to her mother.

What are friends for?

This weekend
Hi Jen,
You busy this weekend? Going to the beach with the kids. Thought we’d take a picnic and swimming gear and then they can all do their own thing. Got a really good book I want to read.
Love and stuff

Re This weekend
Hi El,
Sorry, I can’t make it. Mother-in-law coming. Do I need to say more? Giving the house a deep clean – so busy.

Re This weekend
Bring her along too. A problem shared is a problem you’re not dealing with on your own.

Re This weekend
Sorry, rather not. We’ve got plans.

Re This weekend
Anything interesting? Can I come with the kids? I don’t mind mucking in with whatever you’re up to and I can keep the old witch off your back.

Re This weekend
Sorry El. We’re just not free.

Re This weekend
Have I done something to annoy you? I thought we were friends.

Re This weekend
You tell me!

Re This weekend
Look, if I’ve done something to offend you could you just tell me what? I don’t like all this mysterious stuff.

Re This weekend
Tried to sleep with anyone’s husband recently?

Re This weekend
My dearest Jen,
I’m so sorry about that. I was feeling particularly low. Don had been gone for a year when you sent Rob round with the snorkel for Keith to borrow. Rob was just so kind and I was crying. We didn’t really do anything before I stopped it. You’re my best friend and I wouldn’t hurt you for the world.
Love El

Re This weekend
Rob is kind. He felt sorry for you and you played the ‘I need comfort’ card. You’ve needed a lot of support in the last year and I’ve always been there for you and the kids. Not any more. Best friends don’t try and nick your husband. KEEP AWAY FROM US.

Re This weekend
I know you’ll find this hard to believe but I really am sorry. It’s just I was a bit jealous of you and Rob and I’m lonely.
El xx

Re This weekend
Please speak to me.
El xx

Re This weekend
Oh sod you Jen! I wasn’t going to tell you but Rob and I have been having an affair for months. He said compared to me you’re frigid.

Re This weekend
And where do you think he’ll be tonight?

Mail delivery service – failed.

Mail delivery service – failed.

Mail delivery service – failed.

The Sting

Katie slipped her sandals off and ran along the beach. She could feel wet sand on her feet and smell the freshness of the sea. There was no one about, but she could hear the sound of the waves gently tapping the shore.

She walked at the edge of the water until she’d almost reached the end of the cove. A few people were beginning to come onto the beach. Suddenly a sharp pain shot through her foot. Looking down she saw a purple blue jellyfish, which seemed to be panting. Hobbling to the wooden breakwater she sat down. She was almost crying with pain.

A young man, followed by a black and white Collie called Patch, was running towards her.

“Are you hurt?” he called.

“Yes I’ve been stung by a jellyfish, although it feels like I’ve been stabbed.”

“Was it a blue one with purple splodges?” he asked.

She nodded.

“Hmmmm they can be a bit nasty. We don’t usually get those here, but I noticed a few yesterday. I’m going to take you to the hospital.”

Within seconds strong arms had scooped her up and she could feel the warmth of him as he carried her to his car.

“By the way, I’m Steve.”

“Katie,” she replied.

Her foot throbbed. She vaguely thought about being in a car with a stranger. That wasn’t very sensible, but she could feel herself sweating and cold at the same time. Patch looked at her with interest, but she couldn’t respond.

By the time they reached A & E her foot had swollen and she was feeling faint. Steve spoke to the triage nurse and she was taken straight to the doctor who gave her a steroid jab. While she rested n the narrow bed Steve kept her company, popping out to the car now and again to check that Patch was alright. When the swelling eased a little, Katie was allowed to go home. The danger of a further reaction had passed.

As they approached Steve’s car he smiled at her and said, “Did I save your life? Does that get me a date?”

She looked at him and took in what an attractive man he was. Sitting in the car she looked at him with interest.

But it was Patch who took the first kiss by giving Katie a big lick on her face.

The writing task was to write a story which included a jellyfish and was a romance. The restriction was having ten to fifteen minutes.

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