If Only They Could Speak (excerpts)


It’s been over two and a half years since I last published a post containing excerpts of stories from my blog, so now seemed a good time for another one! As before, I’m posting short extracts from twenty stories, but this time with a strong animal connection: there are dogs and cats aplenty plus the odd duck, red kite and puma!

As always, I state the word count, to give an idea how much time it would take to read the full story. There are tales old and new here, so I’m confident you’ll find something to enjoy!

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A Flying Visit (1300 words)
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A lady in a purple cloak was situated on the far side of the stream, bending over with her hands in the water, presumably searching for something. On my side of the stream stood a young girl, perhaps six years old, holding the lead of a beautiful honey-coloured rough collie. The girl had a pretty face, bright blue eyes and mid-length blonde hair, held back in a pony tail with a blue band.
The lady seemed startled by my appearance and stood up, looking flustered. The little girl simply turned to me and smiled. “Hello, I’m Esmerelda, this is Solomon, and that’s my mummy.”
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I spotted an old rubber ball and hurled it into the sea for Fred. He ran to the water’s edge and looked out to where the ball was bobbing. He barked at it a few times, as if commanding it to come back to the beach, then turned and ran back. Presumably he didn’t want to spoil his freshly groomed coat with nasty cold, salty water.
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Blind Hope (500 words)
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The doorbell rang, and she heard Flossie stir in her basket. Normally she never answered the door, but she felt confident and curious. She felt the dog rubbing her leg, and reached down, holding its tail and letting the animal guide her through the door and down the corridor. There wasn’t time to find and attach the harness. The bell rang again. “Just coming!”
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Clarissa’s Missives parts 1-3 (3200 words)
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Memories of Boris and Henry came back. “A bit big” was an understatement. They were huge. Hurriedly, Clarissa had shown me their leads and directed me to a nearby park. In fact, they’d trotted along quite obediently, drawing admiring comments from the few passersby. By the time we got to the park I felt like an authority on Anatolian Shepherd Dogs.
With embarrassment I remembered Boris squatting to deposit a huge steaming turd on a path. What to do? Well, it was growing dark and who would know it was ‘my’ dogs? Suddenly a woman dressed in green tweed and grey leggings appeared. She was about sixty, had grey hair and waved a stick in my general direction. “Hello young man, I hope you’re not thinking of leaving that dog poo there!”
“Oh, of course not,” I replied, “it’s just I don’t have anything to pick it up with.”
“Well you could always use your hands!” she exclaimed.
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Come on Pete, wakey wakey!” Julie shook her boyfriend’s shoulder, looking with affection at his unshaven face. She wore just a shirt, lemon yellow with white stripes, and her shoulder-length blonde hair was tipped over her face.
Peter’s closed eyes blinked half-open. “Huh, wha’ the time?”
“It’s gone ten thirty. Come on, you said we could go to the park. We can get coffee at the kiosk.”
“I was dreaming of walking Lexie.”
“I’ve got her lead ready. Come on sweetheart, get up!”
Just then, three things happened. Someone started shouting down in the street below, a siren sounded somewhere and the phone rang.
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Dog Story (850 words)
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“Ah, he wants me to throw it for him,” laughed Paul, taking the bean bag from Tyson’s mouth and hurling it across the pen. Tyson obliged by racing to pick it up, then returned to jump up again. Paul went to take the toy but this time Tyson kept his jaw clamped shut. “C’mon, boy, don’t you want me to throw it for you?” They began a tug of war, the dog stubbornly refusing to let go of the toy.
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“Balthazar, here Balthazar!” A small white dog scampered past my dune, pausing just long enough to spray a stream of foul-smelling urine onto the sand near my feet.
What a stupid name for a dog! Maybe it was trained to find myrrh, whatever that was!
It ran back to join an approaching woman, presumably its owner, fat and red-faced. As she passed, she looked right through me as if I didn’t exist. My cheery greeting stalled in my throat.
I felt tired and the sea still looked a long way off. But when would I come here again?
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Duck Surprise (200 words)
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Sheldon paddled nonchalantly, maintaining his favoured position in the middle of the pool. He watched the other ducks near the bank scrabbling for bread with disdain – his mother had always told him he had superior intelligence.
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Flip Side (600 words)
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It’s no use though. I know I’m not ‘me’ if you see what I mean. Sometimes in dreams I’ll see a young woman with high cheekbones, long wavy hair, brown as chestnuts, and two kids, teenagers with tousled hair and braces on their teeth. Jake and Jenny are their names. Then there’s a dog, a black Labrador called Rusty who likes to roll in autumn leaves and jump in the snow.
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“Rudyard, here Rudyard!”
Rudyard’s ginger face appeared in the doorway. He hesitated, seeing a stranger in the room.
“Here kitty, good kitty!” called William Wilde, professor William Wilde as he now was.
Gingerly, Rudyard came into the study, studiously ignoring Willy and jumped onto my lap, purring. His huge yellow eyes looked up at me quizzically.
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Killer on the Road (500 words)
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He’d been lying on the road, his nose full of summer, the pads of his paws soaking in the warmth of the tarmac. Then his sensitive ears had detected a new sound. Something distant, metallic, rushing unevenly. It came closer. He felt no fear, he could be away in a split second. Then round the bend came something he’d not seen before. In an instant the feline brain scanned countless past impressions for a match. Understanding now, his eyes narrowed ….
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Marley’s Spirit (200 words)
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A little white dog ran towards me, its tail wagging furiously.
“Marley!”
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Memories of Oscar (750 words approx.)
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So, as a ‘tribute’ to Oscar I’ve listed some happy memories of him, in no particular order.
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  • Oscar had relatively recently discovered a taste for sandwiches and toast. He liked cheese and/or ham sandwiches with mayo and wholemeal bread and butter. And he was very fond of pâté on toast, Ardennes and chicken liver especially.

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Poor Rose (1100 words)
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In a neat bedroom there was a double bed with a lemon-coloured bedspread featuring a design of small pink rosebuds. A little table stood in an alcove. On it were an upright wooden crucifix and a pair of plaster hands, held in a praying position and holding a small tea light. On either side were pink candles, about a quarter burnt down, and on the wall in front of the table, a large framed photograph of a dog, a border collie – brown and white – looking up with huge eyes. A small vase of smoked glass held a single red rose.
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Salmon and Soul (1200 words)
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He missed Shiva, his black Labrador and companion of the last twelve years. She’d developed stomach cancer and had to be put to sleep six weeks earlier. Ruth had made sympathetic noises, but she didn’t really care. He’d been devastated. He realised he still was, as tears came to his eyes at the thought.
A gentle cool breeze ruffled the stubby coarse grass. It was warm and he felt sweaty, even though he’d not walked fast. Out there he knew appearances could be deceptive. Salt water lurked beneath the soil, always eager for a victim, perhaps an overzealous dog, or even a careless walker.
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Salvador (850 words)
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Waves lap at his toes. Gentle, quiet, rippling waves. Benny Saris stares out over the undulating blueness. Here goes. He begins to wade out. The water is freezing and goosebumps cover his body like a rash. Muscles cramp agonisingly in his groin. He looks back at the desolate beach and the empty guesthouses on the front. It’s no good, suicide’s the only option.
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From a tiny helpless fledgling he’d grown, his mother’s life dominated by her offspring’s constant cacophonous demand. Finally, her work over, he’d flown the nest and managed to forage on his own, firstly on carrion and worms, then as he’d grown, able to catch mice and voles, to taste warm blood and to feel the pleasure of the kill.
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Sycamore the Wise (950 words)
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The sun was setting over the field and Sycamore made his way to a small spinney in one corner, stopping on occasion to perk his long, furry ears up, and to feel the warm summer air playing on his long whiskers, whilst he sniffed the evening breeze. All clear! He entered the trees and heard the quiet guttural calls of his mother. He found her in a depression in a bed of moss with his two brothers and sister in attendance.
“Sycamore, what took you so long?”
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Leah glances anxiously around the waiting room. Everyone looks so calm. How the hell can that be? The waiting room is dim, perhaps a dozen men and women of all ages sit, staring ahead as though unseeing. The door opens and a bright light behind him silhouettes the towering figure of Dr. Chansette, a huge cockroach, six feet high. His antennae wave. “Miss Leah Hope?”
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The Fabled Fox (400 words)
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“Handsome fox, I couldn’t let you be killed by those nasty vicious dogs,” she said.
“Thank you, dear lady, you are most kind,” said the fox opening his long jaws, showing rows of pointed teeth.
“I was with friends at a dinner party recently,” she said, panting a bit as she ran. The fox pricked his ears up.
“One said a fox had dug under her fence and killed every one of her chickens!”
“Oh, that wasn’t me madam,” said the fox, his yellow eyes glinting.
“You won’t bite me, will you Mr. Fox?”
“No madam, why would I?”
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The Rump of Midas (700 words)
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I heard a ‘miaow’ and saw Midas, a semi-feral cat who had hung around for the last couple of years. He would venture into the kitchen on occasion to feed from a bowl of scraps I’d sometimes put down for him. ‘Goodbye Midas, I’ll miss you,” I said, surprised to find that I meant it. Unexpectedly, he followed me to the car. I opened a rear door. He took a long, lingering sniff at the sill, then suddenly jumped onto the back seat and curled up. Hmm!
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Other posts of excerpts:
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To purchase the stories on To Cut a Short Story Short up to December 2018 in paperback, Kindle, eBook, and audio-book form, and for news on new titles, please see Shop.

If you are interested in joining a fortnightly 600 word story group please contact me and I’ll send details.

Don’t forget to check out some of the other stories on this blog. There are over 300!

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