(1300 words) “Mummy’s got a magic carpet,” Esmeralda said. I laughed. “Well, I’d like to fly to Iceland, they’ve got some pretty big waterfalls there!” Tameka perked up. “Actually, I do have one. It was left to me by my great-uncle, Henri Baq. He wrote a history of the flying carpet.” “I thought it was just fairy tale nonsense,” I said. Tameka’s face became serious. “Fairy tales are usually based on fact.”
(850 words) Windsor Great Park was my destination, somewhere I’d never been before. I drove my little silver Toyota through the busy streets of Windsor, noticing in the distance a red flag flying above the famous Round Tower of ‘the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world,’ signifying that the Queen was in residence. I followed the signs and found myself on less manic roads, finally pulling up at an impressive lodge, beyond which lay green fields and trees. A manservant in an antiquated purple robe came out. “Hello, Madam, may I help you?” “I’m Sylvia Williamson, I’ve come to look at your ghost.” His aged face betrayed no surprise. “Ah, yes, come this way please.”
(1000 words) Monastic-style beers were her favourite. Heavy, sweet, and above all, high alcohol! She peered through the small opaque panes of Oliver’s Beer and Books. No sign of anyone in the small cafe behind the faded yellow door. She pushed it open and a bell rang. Inside was a counter, and behind, shelves upon which stood perhaps twenty dusty brown bottles. Bold fonts on cream and blue labels displayed odd foreign names - Zundert, Achel, Gregorius, Westmalle, all ones that she was now familiar with. Perhaps too familiar? A coffee machine, all shiny bright steel and red levers stood at one end of the counter. The enticing odour of coffee was noticeable by its absence.
(1300 words) “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, it's Sunday. 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.
(850 words) With a heavy heart, I’ve decided to set down here an event from my distant youth, one that’s been troubling me for many a year. I’m now five years short of my century, not long for this Earthly plane and I need to get it off my chest. Well, it would have been back in about 1933, those inter-war years I so fondly remember, when hope burned in all our breasts, and optimism exuded from every pore. We’d gone on a school trip to South Wales and were staying in a youth hostel, a converted lifeboat house.
(1200 words) Say what you like about Charles – and plenty of people had plenty to say – but before Charles came into my life Dominic had been a nightmare, fighting all the other kids at school, ranting and raving at home, and refusing to help out or tidy his room; in short, a real devil child. But he looked up to Charles, saw him as a kind of hero, which he was in a way I suppose. Charles would give Dominic little jobs to do – cleaning his crampons, coiling his ropes, helping to sort out the mountaineering gear he’d stowed in my shed, all those bits and pieces that had names I suppose, but looked like junk to me.
(1000 words) I was sitting at a bar with Tom, my ex-husband. He was being pleasant, that’s why I should’ve known it was a dream. “I think Toni should go back to art school,” he was saying, as an alarm shattered the illusion. I fumbled for my phone under the pillow as the clouds of sleep reluctantly rolled away. Any messages? Just one, a destination alert. ‘9 miles to The Silent Woman.’ What the hell?!
(1000 words) “Be polite and listen carefully,” said the old man to his four daughters, “and don’t speak unless you’re spoken to!” Their names were Anshula, Bakula, Chandhini and Darshini. By the grace of God, they had been born exactly three years apart so that all four shared the same birthday – that very day, the first of November – unique in all the land. Anshula was sixteen, Bakula thirteen, Chandhini ten, and little Darshini just seven. Now they waited, dressed in splendid saris, Anshula in maroon, Bakula in ruby red, Chandhini in royal blue and finally, little Darshini in emerald green.
(800 words) “Be quite sure to follow all instructions,” ‘Missileer’ Thomas Papineau reminded us, “to the letter.” Our white Dodge Durango turned off Interstate 80 just short of Sidney, Nebraska, heading north across the featureless Great Plains.
(625 words) It was incredible and completely unexpected. The sensation as our fingers touched was electric, my heart skipped a beat and I momentarily forgot to breathe. Her fingers intertwined with mine and she twitched her lips in that funny way she used to, before kissing me tenderly. I gazed into her dark round eyes and knew it was love - deep, sacred love.
(950 words) “Oh, look, darling, we simply must get rid of this ghastly furniture!” Reginald Wright rolled his eyes. “What’s wrong with it?” “Well, it doesn’t match for starters! And this green – thing – is ancient! Look, let’s order a new suite from McIntyre’s. They can do us a custom job. Top-of-the-range leather and how about a deep ruby-red? It’d suit this room to a tee!” Reginald held his tongue. Melissa was always right. Why argue? Her mother had died and left them a respectable sum. Now Melissa had her eyes on this old pile, Dalefern Manor, along with its almost-equally-old furniture. He replaced the dusty white sheets over the suite.
(700 words) Persistence was wearing us down. “Hey, guys, let me come fishing with you, I promise I won’t muck about again.” Jeff must have said that twenty times. Martin and I exchanged glances. Jeff had come on an early morning trip to Hertford Canal with us once. We’d cycled along empty lanes, the sun sparkling in the green canopy overhanging the road, past the infamous Clibbon’s post, marking a highwayman’s grave, and down to the deserted canal, where mist rose, steaming and ethereal. After an hour of catching nothing more substantial than minnows, Jeff had spent his time throwing stones at ducks and carving his name into a memorial bench. Never again! we’d agreed.