Category Archives: Shorts and Stuff

Another Drabble drip

Into the Light

Kirsty flew down the alley behind Mr Khan’s convenience store. There was a doorway down here she could hide in. She’d used it before when the bloody gang with Pansy at the head and the baying bitches behind her, chased her into the dark. She couldn’t face it, the spitting, the hair pulling. She pushed in, leaning against the old door, blinked away tears. Someone had tagged the wall, Stevo.

Steve. Her hero brother, dead in Afghanistan. Steve who never ran from anything, who died saving his mates. She felt him there beside her and stepped out into the light.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Serials, Shorts and Stuff, Shorts and Stuff

Holly and the Mistletoe

It was over, Holly reached up and took down the last piece of Mistletoe, it was the great bunch that she had hung over the entrance.  In the days before Christmas she had dreamed of how it would be, she would hear him, the taxi door, and she would fling back the door.  In the light that flooded the path he would be highlighted, his uniform dark against the background light of the street lamps, his medals glinting and his smile, his beautiful smile lighting the night and warming her world.

When the phone rang, a whole week ago now and she heard the voice she had known straight away that it wasn’t good news.  They had agreed you see, when he first went away that they wouldn’t fall into the trap of regular calls.  On the surface it appeared a good idea and many of the troops committed to it but often and often she had seen what it did.  When the call was delayed, the trauma, the fear and anguish until news came through, either the lines were down or there had been an extra patrol but it was too hard, harrowing and wearing.  So they agreed, he would ring often but always unexpectedly, unlooked for.  The surprise was a thrill and though she lived, all the time in the hope of the call she didn’t experience the fear when there wasn’t one.

That last call though, she had known immediately that it was bad news, his voice, subdued and careful, and he told her. “I’m sorry love, I don’t think we’ll make it home now for Christmas, I can’t tell you more than that.”  She had been stoic, understanding, a soldier’s wife through and through and as her heart broke she made jokes and told him stories, what the family had done, the silly dog chasing a squirrel, the car passing its MOT.  When the call finished he was reassured and happy, she put down the receiver and let the tears flow, the hot angry, sorry, self-indulgent tears.  She gave them their time, from long experience she knew that not to do it would leave her irritated and depressed for weeks and so she indulged herself in the cleansing grief and so as before, carried on.

This time though her soul wouldn’t accept what her head was telling her, surely he would come, this would be their last Christmas as a couple, next year there would be three of them, a pile of baby toys under the tree, the silly pretence of Santa and the tiny new life which would demand a share of the fun and the affection.  This Christmas should have been the last on their own and now it wasn’t to be.

She had waited all day, Christmas Eve, jumping and starting at each car door slamming, peering through the curtains into the damp night and then when the phone had trilled she had answered it with a traitorous heart knowing that it was the end of hope.  They had tried to be upbeat and cheerful but they were devastated and she had spent Christmas day alone and sad…

She was glad it was over, the fire in the big metal drum was warming as she flung the tree into the conflagration and the cards and tinsel.  Yes thank goodness, it was over and now there was the New Year to look forward to, the baby and Steve, soon now he would come.

She raised the sprig of greenery gathering the trailing branches and lifting them high, “Don’t you have a better use for that?”

She turned, the mistletoe gripped tight, her eyes already flooded and there he was, his eyes alight with love as he reached and took the branch from her, held it high and lowered his head, his lips seeking hers, his arms folding her, her and their baby, and their future. Christmas might be over but the rest of their life was just starting.

 

3 Comments

Filed under Serials, Shorts and Stuff, Shorts and Stuff

Arrangements

“Hello Mum, it’s Martin.”

“Hello love.  You alright.”

“Yeah, you?”

“Oh aye not too bad.  Knees have been givin’ me a bit of jip but the doctor gave me some pretty good pills.”

“Oh right.  Well good.  Listen, reason I’m ringing. Well, Christmas.”

“Oh yes love.  Yes, Christmas.”

“Yeah.  Thing is I wonder if you’d mind if I come and get you on Boxing Day.  That’d be the Friday, bring you for dinner on the Friday?”

“Oh not Thursday then, not on Christmas Day?”

“No, thing is Melanie was thinking that maybe it’d be a bit noisy for you.  With all the kids here and her mum and dad and Stella and Paul she thought you’d find it tiring. After all you will see the kids at New Year when you baby sit.  Tell you what we could have a glass of bubbly then before Me and Mel go out, that’d be nice wouldn’t it.”

“Hmmm.”

“Mum, are you there?”

“Yes love I’m here.”

“If you really want to come on the Christmas Day, I’m sure it’s fine you know.  It’s just that well Melanie thought eleven is a funny number to seat at the table, odd you know.”

“Hmm, now that dad’s gone you mean?”

“Oh, well I suppose.”

“Look tell you what love.”

“Yeah.”

“Tell Melanie I’m really grateful, she’s so thoughtful isn’t she.  Thing is though I don’t think you need to worry about it.”

“Oh.”

“I don’t expect I’ll be here by then.”

“Oh now come on Mum don’t talk like that.”

“No, I didn’t want to upset you but I really don’t think I’ll be around.”

“Mum, what’s up. Look, tell you what I’ll come round and we can talk about it.  Not tonight, well I can’t make it until next week but well can you tell me now?”

“Alright then, you see I just don’t think I’ll be back from my trip to Spain with Colin.  I must introduce you to Colin one of these days, maybe when you’re not so busy.  Bye love, best to Melanie.”

 

3 Comments

Filed under Serials, Shorts and Stuff, Shorts and Stuff

The First Christmas

It was a gold one, with some glittery stuff around the top, you know round the bit where the metal wire goes. We’d had it since I was a kid.  I’d had no idea where it came from, none at all.  It never occurred to me to ask it just – was.

Every year we’d take out the box of decorations, trim the tree and round the fireplace.  I liked it best when it was really cold.  It’s strange isn’t it, when we think of  Christmas we think of snow, cards have snow on them, we even stick cotton wool on the windows to pretend it’s snow.  Well actually we don’t do that so much anymore nowadays it’s all spray and stuff.  The thing is though it doesn’t does it? – snow I mean.  I can’t actually remember any Christmas when it’s snowed and we’ve had to wear hats and gloves and carry hot potatoes, oh the hot potatoes thing was from that book – Little Women, they used to carry hot potatoes to keep their hands warm.  Now that I think about it that was a Christmas present.  I loved that book, read it over and over when I was a kid.

Anyway, usually Christmas is warmer than you’d think and that’s disappointing – to me anyway.  Mind, that’s not all that’s disappointing, is it.  Take the turkey, it’s such a big deal, should it be farm reared or free range, definitely not frozen and how big and even nowadays what colour feathers it had.  I mean I ask you, when the darned thing’s cooked and carved and slathered with gravy it doesn’t make a ha’pporth of difference what colour feathers the poor thing had does it.  Still and all though there’s all the fuss and then blow me down, nine times out of ten we’d start eating it and Mum’d say, “Oh this is disappointing it’s dry – don’t you think it’s dry father, it is isn’t it.  It’s dry.”

So, we had this bauble, every year it just got stuck on the tree in amongst all the others and then blow me down this year we took it out and it was cracked.  It had been wrapped up in tissue same as always and nestled in an old egg box but something had happened to it up in the loft and the darned thing was cracked.

Now, I’m not a perfectionist, I haven’t got one of those conditions – I don’t know what you call them, they’re a modern thing Compulsive Obsessions or something but I do like things nice, especially at Christmas, well if you can’t have it nice then when can you?  So I said to Dad, “I’ll just chuck this one shall I? Put it out with the rubbish like.”  Well, you’d have thought I’d offered to fry the goldfish.  He grabbed it out of my hand, snatched it away and carried it off into his room.  I found him later, sat on his bed he was and d’ya know he had great big tears rolling down his cheeks.

He’s been stoic, up to now I mean.  I will say that, he’s been a brick, right up until the bauble incident and for some reason that was the thing that finished him off.  Apparently, it was the first one they ever bought, when they were first married.  They were so short of money and couldn’t afford any real presents but Mum had managed somehow to scrape some together and she had given it to him on Christmas Eve tied on to a tree branch that she’d painted red and that had been their Christmas tree that year.  All this time and I never knew, I never understood.  All the stuff that they went through together, four kids, the war, him out of work.  Then the happy stuff when they both worked and we all grew up and did okay.  And now she’s gone and he’d been so brave and that was the thing that finished him off, that bloody Christmas bauble.

“It’s her.” he said, “We had this all our married lives and it’s always been there, a reminder of all she’s ever done for me,  all we worked for, she’s here in this, her hands have polished it hung it on the tree and then wrapped it and packed it and put it away. Even last year, she put it away.”

Well I couldn’t bear it, seeing him all torn up like that, I mean she’s been gone since May and this is our first Christmas without her but I thought we were doing okay and then it all fell apart all over a blinking Christmas decoration.  Well, what could I do, we got the glue out and it’s there now, up at the top, I did put it a bit to the back ‘cos the crack shows but the look on his face when I tied it to the branch.  Well – so okay it’s not perfect but  as I say nothing ever is really, I’ll bet the turkey’ll be dry and it’s one of those that used to have black feathers – apparently.

It can’t be perfect can it, but we’ll make it the best that we can and she can watch us from wherever she is, heh, maybe from inside that blasted cracked bauble.

Leave a comment

Filed under Serials, Shorts and Stuff, Shorts and Stuff

Heroes

“This bloody coat isn’t any use, mind how could a coat be any use, poor coat, dripping, muddy and mouldy.  I’ve put a coupla extra layers on but still I’m shivering.  I tried to put some more socks on earlier but my boots are too small, one sock boots these.

I think we’re okay in here mate, we’re okay, safe now for a bit anyway.  God I’m cold, are you cold, well of course you are.  I wish I had a blanket for you Jack, I wish I had a blanket and a dose of morphine I’m sorry mate. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Serials, Shorts and Stuff, Shorts and Stuff

A Darker Moon

It was a full moon last night. I went to lock the doors and moon shadows painted on the grass caught my attention. The trees at the bottom of the garden are pines, dark coloured in the summer and black in the winter moonlight. Between them is darkness, pits in the fabric of reality. I watched the shadows deepen as they took on a quality richer than before. The moonglow tumbled into the void, silver sliding into a black hole.

It seemed to me then that the blackness crept forward; a treacly slithering across the dark lawns. At first I believed it to be nothing more than just the reaching branches casting shadows in a new direction.  It advanced beyond the reach of the greatest limbs. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Serials, Shorts and Stuff, Shorts and Stuff

The Dilemma

Just another Sunday afternoon.  It isn’t though is it? This is to be THE Sunday afternoon.

Dancing rays of dust shimmer before the window, the clock ticks quietly in the corner and from the road outside come faint sounds of life.

I glance around the room, not moving my head but taking it all in.  I love this room, this house, it’s not smart but it’s clean, the furniture is an eclectic mix and so many of the pieces have memories  seeped into them.  The sideboard that belonged to Granny, the old chair that I had used to nurse the babies, back in the days when we were young and life was golden.

The dining furniture gleams and in the air is the faint scent of polish, brought out as the wood warms under the window.

I look at Bill, his head nods, eyes already closed.  The newspaper has slipped from his hands and will soon slide to the floor as it always does.  When he wakes and stands the pages will scrunch and tear and he’ll look down in surprise.  Surprise every week, and he will tut and spend the next minutes folding and flapping but it won’t work the paper will be spoiled.

I look into my heart, at what I am about to do.  I am about to tread all over the smooth pages of our lives, crease and tear at the story of our marriage and make them irreparable.  I should speak now, before he starts snoring.  I’ve delayed long enough.  I’ve promised Jim that it will be this week.  He nagged and nagged, told me that if I really love him I won’t wait any longer, I’ll tell Bill, then I will “Go Public” with our relationship, our great sin and I will pick up and pack up and go with him into an uncertain future taking my guilt and sorrow with me.

The clock chimes quietly in the corner.  The slender gold fingers glint in the sunshine, counting off the hours, the minutes until I speak and change things forever.  Beside the clock is our wedding photograph, dated now, my sparkling lace dress looking slightly ludicrous beside the one of Susan in her heavy satin bridal gown.  Just last year, one year ago this next week, the wedding where Jim touched my fingers as he passed me a glass of wine.  The warmth in his hands burning through the thin fabric of my blue, mother of the bride suit, as we danced and his whisper, his treacherous whisper slithering into my brain.

“Meet me tomorrow.  You know I’ve always fancied you, meet me by the river – please.”  And I had met him, and we had started our shameful deception and now he wants me to go and start anew with him.

Bill settles further into his chair, the cat is on his lap already sleeping.  His hair is a little dishevelled, his sweater creasing behind his back.  He sighs, a great expellation of air.  The sun slides from behind a cloud, the sudden glow lights his face.  The brightness gentles out the wrinkles for a moment he is the man in the wedding photograph, the man who carried me from the reception in his strong arms and ran to the waiting taxi, the man who was as inexperienced as I on our wedding night.  Here is the man who held my hand through the hours of labour and let the tears of joy flow unheeded when the babies were born, pink and furious and gorgeous.  Here was the man whose arms were my arbour when my sister died and whose hands held mine in the church just hours before Jim’s words crept into my head.

How strange is life.

How hard is living.

I push to the front of the chair, lean towards him.  “Bill, Bill, are you asleep?”

“Hmm, hmm what, what’s matter?”

“I just wanted to..  I needed to…”

“What’s the matter, why are you crying?”

“I just wanted to say Bill, I love you.  I love you.”

“And I love you too you silly kipper.  Oh look at the paper, look what happened.”  He glances up at me.  “Are you alright Steph? Is there something wrong?”

“No love, nothing’s wrong.  Shall I put the kettle on.”

“Yeah, go on.  I’ll just sort this paper and then later shall we walk round to Susan’s see if she’ll give her old mum and dad tea.”

“Yes, let’s, let’s do that.”

The pain is gone.  I will call Jim tomorrow and tell him, tell him that our story, Bills and mine isn’t finished yet.  I’ll tell him that I’m going to smooth out the creases.  He won’t understand but it doesn’t matter, it will stay our secret, locked away out of sight where it belongs in the darkness.

 

3 Comments

Filed under Shorts and Stuff

A Shot in the Dark

He isn’t sure, doesn’t want to be actually, he’s been ignoring the hints and the signs, no that’s not accurate, he’s been looking for hints and signs and then ignoring them.  Well the truth, the absolute truth is that he doesn’t want to know, doesn’t have any desire to examine the thing. 

It’s like when you think you feel a lump, on your neck, on your balls whatever.  First of all there’s the cold water in your face shock, then you fiddle a bit more and convince yourself it’s getting bigger, then you try and be logical and convince yourself it’s getting smaller.  Then you go to bed and worry about it for hours in the dark and next morning you get up and the blamed thing has gone, or was never there in the first place.

That’s what it’s like, he found her phone and there was a message, he had no idea what made him open it, that’s just wrong of course it is, decent people don’t do that.  It’s kind of immaterial now anyway, but he shouldn’t have done it.  Perhaps that’s it; maybe this is a punishment of some sort.  Maybe he didn’t fulfil some sort of cosmic criteria, didn’t reach some score set by the universe and so blam! The cold water moment.

Well for a while he convinced himself it wasn’t anything, like the lump that wasn’t a lump on his left testicle.  Okay, it looked suspicious.  Karen, can’t wait for Friday.  Longing to see you again.  Hugs xx Charlie.  So he’s done the whole gamut of emotions, anger, fear, sadness, more anger.  Surely after all they’ve been through together she’s not having an affair, not his Karen, not his girl.  She can’t be.

Turning to her in the early light, while she’s still sleeping, her mouth slightly open and her hair awry, but beautiful to him, gorgeous, he feels the tears welling up.  No God, if you exist, don’t let this happen, not to me and Karen.

She stirs, mumbles slightly in her sleep, to his shame he tries to listen without disturbing her, is she muttering a name.  Is she seeing someone else there behind her fluttering eyelids, there in his bed, their bed?  Is someone else holding her invisibly, virtually beside him?

She opens her eyes, smiles at him, the sun comes out. His heart is breaking, shattering, splintering, it is actually painful, the lump in his throat is the size of an orange. 

 It’s Friday and he has to act, to do something, say something.  What? how can he ask her, what can he say that won’t devastate their relationship, what words can he use that won’t explode a grammatical grenade, fragmenting the trust and lacerating the love.  

 A shot in the dark, that’s all it can be.  “D’ya want to go out tonight, after work, a drink, dinner?”  His breath is stilled, stunned with fear he waits. 

 “Yeah, great, lovely.  Only thing is.”

 Finger nails draw blood in his palms, “What? problem? You have something else on?”

 “Well, yes, d’ya remember Charlotte, from Uni, blonde, from Aus.  She’s in UK and I said I’d meet her, doesn’t matter though, we can all three go.  It’ll be fun, you always fancied her.”

 The End

Leave a comment

Filed under Serials, Shorts and Stuff

Villanelle – Blimey that was hard.

so the Flash poetry thread I am currently enjoying gives us a challenge each week.  Hence the Sonnet a while ago.   This week the challenge was to write a Villanelle.  

I had never heard of one.  Sorry Stephen I know it’ll be in your book The Ode less Travelled but I haven’t got to it yet.  The form is very very specific.

 

 

This is the instruction we were given.

Five stanzas of three lines
One stanza of four lines.

The first stanza sets up the refrain – with a non rhyming line between.

This refrain is repeated – as the last line of stanza two 

And as the last line of stanza three so they skip to the bottom of the following stanzas in turn and then in the final stanza of four lines, they make up the last two lines.  The middle lines of each verse rhyme with each other. 

If you have read that you see my problem – in fairness to lovely Cariad who runs the thread she gave us an example. 

I love poetry.  I love my computer.  I almost ended up throwing the thing out of the window. I just couldn’t get it, it made no sense to me at all.  And yet, it had to be possible and the work that people were posting was lovely but I just couldn’t do it. 

Suddenly, it clicked into place.  It’s like everything else, once I had it I couldn’t see why I had been so dumb.  

Anyway.  This is the result.  I was quite proud of it to be honest. 

Flight

The geese are leaving in the evening light
I want to hold them and not have it so
Beat on beat on into the endless night

My life goes with them as they take to flight
Skeins and ribbons in the fading glow
The geese are leaving in the evening light

The stars are glimmering like diamonds bright
The moon will soon put on its magic show
Beat on beat on into the endless night

I watch them now until they’re out of sight
My eyes are streaming as I see them go
The geese are leaving in the evening light

I won’t be here to greet the new spring flight
I feel my heart now as it starts to slow
Beat on beat on into the endless night

I watched them soaring in the shadowed height
I feel the life force cease its vibrant flow
The geese are leaving in the evening light
Beat on beat on into the endless night

12 Comments

Filed under Poetry, Shorts and Stuff, thought for the day (or the week or maybe even the year)

Poker Winner – a daft bit of fantasy – as you will see fantasy is not my strong point but it’s fun to read I reckon.

Poker Winner

Dust motes sparkled and danced in the muted beams of sunlight spearing across the tiny room. The budgie hopped and chittered in his little blue cage as the fire crackled and muttered in the cast iron grate.

Bennie pushed through the front door and lowered his aging bulk onto the threadbare easy chair. Sighing with effort he bent to unlace heavy boots.

Something in the atmosphere tickled at the back of his senses, something in the air porcupined the hairs on the back of his neck. Without raising his head he swivelled his eyes upwards under the bushy brows. Something was off, something was here.

He had waited long for this day, he had always known it would come.

The door at the bottom of the tiny staircase moved, it creaked and began to swing slowly, slowly inwards. She was coming, she was here.

Breath suspended, heart thundering Bennie gave everything over to instinct, he needed his weapon. In the hearth the brass Knight in Armour glinted pinkly in the fire light, inside the flip top helmet was a pair of tongs, a tiny shovel and the poker. He needed the poker.

The staircase door and the vestibule beyond were closer to the fireplace than he was, the door gap was widening, the dark maw gaping wider, as he watched.

His fingers flexed, his legs tensed, he had to reach it before she did, there was no time, he must move now.

He straightened in the chair and at the same moment threw himself forward, arms grabbing for the mock military figure. The door was flung wide and the tall, gracile figure floated free of the stairway. It moved with incredible speed across the floor, seconds became years as Bennie fumbled in the hearth. The figure blocked his path, wavering and shimmering, an ominous wraith, unchanged since the last time he had seen it so many years past now.

It had slain his brother, it had slain his father, slain and shredded and left to bleed like so much human chiffonade on the bright green grass of the Highland meadow and now it was come for him, come to finish the job, to kill him the last of his line and the last bastion in defence of the globe.

NO! with a visceral scream he pushed forward, through the veil of being, through the evil cloud of existence. He knocked the brass ornament flat on the green tiles of the hearth, in a desperate flurry of arms, hands, fingers and unearthly cloying vapour battle was joined. To lose now was death not just for Bennie but for every creature on the planet. The brass of the little poker was the only thing chance of victory, the metal of the small rod the only thing that could destroy the being. For this reason and this alone the Knight at Arms had waited over the years in front of the spitting coals and crackling embers.

The air in his lungs was thickening, the blood in his veins cloying and congealing, the room spun as clouds fugged his brain. He felt the vapour sliding into his nostrils, once inside his body the destruction would be fast and total. His fingers touched the fire warmed handle he clawed and grabbed, with the last vestiges of strength and lucidity he took it.

Like a sword he wielded it, jabbing and sweeping and slicing. The screams were unearthly the fury unspeakable and evil filled the world. Still he jabbed and gouged, The battle joined seemed to last for eons, they twisted, rolled and wrestled on the old red carpet in the tiny ordinary room, Bennie fought for the world and the being fought for domination and then suddenly it was done.

He lay, spent and battered on the hearthrug, his breath was laboured, eyes streamed and blood dribbled from his damaged nostrils but he had won, he had beaten it again. His last sight of the creature was a wisp of smoke as it fled through the flames and into the chimney but he knew, he knew it would come back, stronger and more determined and he had to be ready because once he was defeated it would be free to roam the world. He righted the brass cavalier and slipped the fire irons back into the slots, such an innocent looking household appliance but the only thing between “The Thing” and total world domination.

2 Comments

Filed under Serials, Shorts and Stuff