Tag Archives: short stories

FF – Focus on the trees…

My story for J Hardy Carroll’s intriguing picture follows it. Jump straight there if you don’t want to read some of the musings that almost certainly fueled its creation.

This parenting lark isn’t easy. Sometimes it feels like a constant weighing between immediate gain and long-term gain – taking a toddler to the park is nice, but wrestling a toddler out of the door to go to the park, then out of the park and back home, means you spend roughly as long cajoling / arguing / negotiating (and therefore making him unhappy) as you do playing (and making him happy). Is it worth it? Equally, when a baby can’t sleep because his teeth hurt, or a preschooler can’t sleep because it’s so much more fun to recite endless stories / TV shows, you can spend as long, and as much energy, persuading them to lie down and rest their poor tied body as they get back from the eventual sleep. But if you don’t, you have a cranky child making both of you miserable for the rest of the day. Is it worth it?

So I’ve been thinking about the long-game and the medium game, and the immediate game, and I still have no idea, but when you read my story, I think you might get a sense for how I feel deep in the jungle!


Forget the wood, focus on the trees

Stepping onto the path, she looked ahead, then tightened her grip on the little hand that rested in each of hers. Beyond the trees, a thousand uncertainties away, their destination was invisible and unknown. Some said it was a restful place they would enjoy together; others that they would be separated; and still more that there was nothing there at all.

Whatever the truth, for now, she had only the path. The path, and two little boys clutching her hands in the sure and certain belief that she would guide them, help them, carry them through whatever it might hold.


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

Friday Fiction – Windows To The Soul

In haste … two boys asleep and a million things Mummy should be doing 😉

Sorry for my lack of involvement last week – I posted my story but I’m still getting to comments and haven’t read more than a couple of others. I’m hoping for better this week, but I’m still getting used to this new life, so bear with me.

Your thoughts on this week’s story are as welcome as ever. I read and appreciate all comments, even when it takes me a while to reply. Prompt courtesy of Madison Woods (it’s an old one – my previous response is here.)


Windows To The Soul

It looked at her: unblinking eyes, piercing through the heavy parcel of air between them. Patience stared back.

“I see you,” she whispered. She wanted to turn away, but another body at her back held her in place. All around her, the half-light heaved with hot, hungry breath. They had entered this ship so many individuals, but already they breathed as one – a single mass of despair.

Except the eyes that bored into her. Those eyes held none of the panic, none of the fear, none of the pain that had filled them minutes before. The eyes were at peace.



Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

Friday Fiction – All The Way Turnt Up

First day home alone with my two little balls of wonder – wish me luck!




Today’s FF prompt is from Kent Bonham. I wasn’t instantly inspired, but a google search for inspiration turned up this video and the story was born. Your comments and critique are welcome and encouraged.



All The Way Turnt Up

Sophie couldn’t remember how she’d gotten to the club. Did she know this boy grinding against her? Where was the entrance? And what was this music, pounding against her head like a jackhammer and making it hard to think or remember or see? The walls pulsed like they were breathing – rapid and ragged like she was.

His hand swept around her. It felt warm and sticky against her skin. What had happened to her favourite jacket? Had she put it down somewhere?

“Let’s clear out of here,” he said, in a voice like treacle. “I have a place for you.”


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

Friday Fiction – What’s In A Name?

Another week into my own personal challenge to move away from Illustration and follow more closely Inspiration for my FF stories. Rochelle leads the way; I’ve got a long way to go to catch her. This week’s photo is from Douglas MacIlroy. I recommend both their stories to you without having read either; and many of the others besides. If you read mine, I’d love to receive your comments, thoughts and critique. Thanks!


What’s in a name?

I could hear them playing – Matty’s laughter carried and I was proud of him for finally letting his little brother borrow his new plastic lightsaber.

“Use the force, Luke,” he intoned like a monastic chant. I daydreamed over our naming discussions – the jokes that we should have two more: John and Mark, or have them re-release “When Will I Be Famous?” when they were older.

It wasn’t until I stood up that I saw the young padawan blindfolded and cowering as tennis balls pelted through the air at him from Stuart’s stupid serving machine, the coveted lightsaber prone beside him.


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

Friday Fiction – Car shopping

As for previous weeks, please accept my apologies for not having much time this week to read and comment on other stories. We’re over halfway there, folks, and December is on the horizon! I have so many things I’m putting off till then, I fear it will still be a busy month, but hopefully a little less crazy!

As for this week’s story I know I shouldn’t prejudice you with my thoughts, but I’m not sure about this one. I had a lot more to say and perhaps with more time and effort, I could have fitted it in better, but see what you think. The picture is from Claire Fuller, other stories can be found through Rochelle.


Car Shopping

“What do you call a Skoda with two exhaust pipes?”

It was Matty’s favourite joke, and I knew the answer, but I scratched my head anyway.

“A wheelbarrow!” He ran off through the showroom, cackling wildly.

“He’ll be mortified,” said my husband, Jack, leaning on our first choice. “But that joke’s anachronistic; they’re good cars.”

“I know, but you’re not the one who’ll have to persuade him to get in it every time.”

“Hey, Mum! How do you double the value of a Skoda?”

“I blame your brother,” grumbled Jack.

“Me too,” I sighed. “Fill up the petrol tank, Matty.”


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

Friday Fiction – Just Friends

I know I said on Monday I wouldn’t be posting FF every week, but this week isn’t one of them! I hope you enjoy the story that sprang from Barbara’s evocative photograph. As ever, others can be found through FF HQ.

My Mum’s arriving today, the third in a recent spate of family visits – all very much enjoyed. Family is unique and special, but as they say “Friends are the family you choose” and I’ve been thinking recently about some of the wonderful friends I’ve made along the way. Last night, I was reminiscing about an old friend I’ve sadly lost touch with – I must have another go at looking her up, surely that’s what social media is for. In happier news, my best friend and I are planning a trip for the autumn and I’m at least as excited about spending a week away with her as I am about the prospect of seeing polar bears (!) up close. And this year I’ve started writing more letters (yes, real, paper ones) to the friends who had dropped down to “Christmas cards and Facebook” … it feels good to make real contact, even from 3000 miles away.

Maybe somewhere among all that is where this story came from.


Just Friends

From the island where Jennie was born, everything seemed distant. Her father’s talk of stores and churches seemed as mystical as the aliens and magic in her books, and she often wanted to stop and ask him, “Are there unicorns on the mainland?” “Cows?” “Centaurs?”

When at last he let her board the boat, she devoured the sights, sounds and smells. Rounding a corner, she saw something truly incredible. Two girls, both about her age, leaning in over a magazine and giggling together.

“It must be nice to have a twin,” she said quietly.

“Sisters?” said one, “We’re just friends.”


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

Some excuses are more equal than others?

Last week, I asked my fellow writers not to use the “doesn’t fit the word limit” excuse, and many of you agreed. Then, FF came around and I wrote a story that a lot of readers didn’t get and felt could have been clearer if it were longer. Which it could, but I don’t think it needed to be longer to be clear enough, and I certainly don’t offer that as an excuse for confusing anyone!

I will admit that when I posted Behind the Scenes, I didn’t think it was my best work ever. I thought it was OK, I thought it was clear enough, but I didn’t think it was great. Why, then, did I go ahead and post?

The answer is that I didn’t want to skip a week. I didn’t want to post nothing, or just a place-holder saying there’d be no story that week. I thought the story was good enough, and I knew I wouldn’t have time to write anything better. My excuses for last week are threefold – I was short of time, I had guests staying (which is lovely, and helpful in many ways, but not conducive to the lonely pursuit of writing), and I had the flu.

Are those excuses better than “doesn’t fit the word limit”? I don’t know. I’d say yes, in the sense that I literally didn’t have chance to do any better. And yes, because I posted something that in my opinion stood as a story, had enough clues to make the story clear to those who looked etc. As it turned out, that latter point is debatable, but that wasn’t what worried me at that time – I just thought it was a bit of a frivolous plot.

This week the flu is a bit better, but I’m otherwise equally engaged with guests and stuff to do. I’ll try to do better though, and thanks for bearing with me.

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Inspiration Monday – Through the Windshield

This week’s InMon prompt, Difficulty Swallowing, came just too close to the mark. I’ve had a viciously sore throat for over a week now and I’m quite sick of it! So I’ve chosen another one for my story: through the windshield. I welcome your thoughts and comments.


Night Drive

It’s dark and raining. It’s been dark and raining for hours, and I don’t know when it will ever stop. The road is louder now, and I wonder if that means we are in a different state, or on a bridge, or something else, but it is too dark outside to make out anything except the headlights of the cars coming towards us, and the taillights of the ones leading us on.

Does each one of those cars hold a girl? Behind the headlights, should I be able to see frightened eyes – tired but sleepless – staring back at me, hoping for answers in the beams shining on them?

I feel like a little girl, and a big girl all at once. I’ve never been allowed up so late before, but now we are awake and driving and there is no sign of a hotel or a house or anywhere to stop.

We filled up a while ago, at a gas station next to a stop light. There was nothing else around and Daddy didn’t want me to get out, but I had to pee, so he let me go into the store. Above the counter it said “Queenston Gas”, but I never heard of Queenston, so I still don’t know where we are.

I close my eyes and for a second I can see Mummy’s face, thick and red. Her eyes are open and staring straight at me, but they are not smiling like normally; they are frightening, maybe frightened.


I open my eyes and Mummy is gone.

“Don’t fall asleep.” Daddy sounds strange. His voice is quiet but it feels like he’s shouting. “I need you to be brave.”

I wonder if it would be easier to be brave if I was asleep, but I know I would see Mummy like that again, and I am glad to keep my eyes open.

“Do you want to talk about it?” he asks after another million miles of darkness.

I shake my head, even though I know he can’t see me.

“You’re safe now,” he says into the night. It sounds like he’s talking to me, but he’s using the voice he uses when he’s all on his own in the bathroom and I think perhaps he’s talking to himself. “It’s all going to be OK.”

The headlights shine on his face for a moment and I can see he’s crying. I want to hold his hand, then, but I daren’t touch him. I wind my fingers into my skirt and stare out at the rain.



Filed under Inspiration Monday, Writing

Friday Fiction – The Fallen Hero

It’s happened again. The story I thought I was going to write isn’t the one that came out onto the page (screen). Still, the muse knows best. Perhaps she, like me, read this interesting article last week. Rochelle posted our prompt (John Nixon’s photo) a day early this week, but I decided to stick to the schedule and respond today.


The Fallen Hero

As a child, I ran through this forest with my brothers. I played in its branches, battling demons and spiders with only a wooden sword, made-up spells and what Grandfather called my ‘pluck’. I was hero and conqueror.

Now the wisdom of age has descended and I am the damsel in distress I never was then. I creep past the writhing trees, afraid of their shadows and my own. I fear the men who might lurk here, and their intentions. And I keep my own children on a leash: stay in sight, don’t wander off.

Where did the hero go?


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

Friday Fiction – Sangria

Well, I’m back in Canada and wondering whether I should have left! -14 feels a lot worse when you were in +5 just a few hours before! We had a great time though and really enjoyed seeing so many friends and family back in Blighty.

And I enjoyed getting early on the roster for Friday Fiction last week. This week’s picture comes from one of FF’s heavyweights – Janet Webb. I hope you enjoy my story and stop by Rochelle’s site to read others.



“Is anything more beautiful than sangria?” Julie swirled the drink to let it soak up the Spanish sun.

Don tore his gaze from the harbour. “You’re expecting me to say ‘you’?”

“Expecting? Never. The wine and spirits are bitter, but do you know what really makes it perfect?” She didn’t wait for a reply. “Fruit and sugar. Sweetness is what makes the recipe work.”

“I brought you here, didn’t I? Sangria on the Main, you wanted, Sangria on the Main you got. See? I listen.” And he was back to his yachts, leaving Julie alone beside him, contemplating bittersweet perfection.


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing