(700 words) Three years after I’d watched the red kite circling above the graveyard, I once more stood at my father’s graveside in the quiet country churchyard. No sound, just a warm breeze on my face and white clouds moving silently in the blue September sky. The grey headstone was stained and the three years since I’d last remarked on it could have been ten. No gilding to the letters on the plain dull grey stone, worn by the rain, wind and ice in colder months, meant close examination was required to discover whose bones lay interred there.
(700 words) John Gamble looked at his son, Ian, with pride. He’d grown into a fine young man, just started at a prestigious architectural company after his degree, and here he was with Gloria, his charming new girlfriend. John admired Gloria’s long, chestnut hair, her perfect smile, appreciated her intelligent conversation, and, dare he admit … Continue reading The Listening
(700 words) So, I’d got into Judy’s silver convertible as she donned Ray Bans and drove us through narrow country roads, alternately overhung by green boughs then bordered by wide-open fields full of waving crops. I’d admired her sculpted profile. “You could slow down.” Of course, that was a signal for her to put her foot down even more. Judy was like that. Then we pulled up at an old church, much to my amazement. The windows had been knocked out and there was just the shell left. Inside were blackened areas on the stone flags where fires had been lit by persons unknown. It was cold and eerie. “It’s deconsecrated, looked after by the rural church commission, but they want to sell.” Judy’s voice echoed around the stone walls. “Who would buy a place like this?” I asked.
We approached across sandy concrete to the faded green panels of the kiosk. Behind the counter, bustling around, moving cups and plates and things, a lady with a thin face and grizzled curly hair, the Loreal-colour long since faded. She smiled, her teeth falsely white against her brown, wrinkled skin. “Hello.”
“Hello,” Joy said, “it’s been a long time since anyone’s been open on the beach. Me and Tony, er, my husband, we walk along here most days.”
The lady compressed her lips, “Well, it’s exactly a year today since my Fred died, I figured I should do something to mark his … passing.”
The Monkees would be on the radio.
Cheer up sleepy Jean
Oh, what can it mean to a
Daydream believer and a
We used to laugh, because grandma’s name was Jean. I never understood what a Homecoming Queen meant, I guess it’d have different connotations now.
It was never mentioned, but upstairs lay a terrible secret.
“Granny, tell me the story about Great Aunt Delilah’s Blanket!”
“I’ve already told you.”
“That was ages ago, I can’t remember!”
We both sat by the fireside in my farm cottage. “Well, my grandmother, that would be your great-great-grandmother, had a sister called Delilah. So that was my Great Aunt, you see. Anyway, it was said she had healing powers and many sick people would go to her house and come away feeling well again.”
"Could she have healed Daddy d’you think?”
(700 words) I start to go around my apartment, dumping papers and associated junk unceremoniously into the boxes. Box one, a stack of writing magazines that have been cluttering my desk for months. Why don’t I read them? Or write, for that matter? Oh, I don’t have time, of course. Well I guess I could quit watching endless re-runs of Seinfeld, but, well, I wouldn’t want to break the habit of a lifetime. Anyway, out of sight, out of mind!
“Life’s like a tube of toothpaste, Anthony,” that’s what my aunt Mary used to say. “It looks like there’s so much toothpaste in there, like it’ll never run out, but one day, no matter how hard you squeeze, no matter how hard you roll it up and crush it, nothing more will come out.”
Settlers followed pioneers, who followed scientists, who followed robots. Now, biodomes dotted the frozen red desert that stretched to the pink horizon. The settlers found the soil to be good and plants to grow quickly. Wells bored deep into the surface found aquifers to nourish the plants.
Soon – despite warnings – children were born. Children who grew imperially tall and thin, with brown skin, knowing smiles and, shining from green eyes, intelligence beyond their years. And strangest of all, many of them were born with an extra finger on the right hand.
(700 words) “Mr. Donovan Jones, the court has heard how you, as Jaspar Harding-Heath, did on the fourth of November 1833, together with accomplices, Ned Barret and Harold Mutton, ambush the evening coach from Lincoln to Great Wenlock, and in the process of robbing the travellers therein did cause the death of Lady Sylvia Rossington, namely by slitting her throat with a Bowie knife. “You were later recognised by the deceased’s travelling companions and also identified by your accomplices, under interrogation. How do you plead?” “Not guilty, Your Honour.” “Do you have anything to add before I send the jury out?” “Yes, Your Honour. This is the year 2018. The robbery was one hundred and eighty-five years ago.”
I felt embarrassed. “Eavesdropper, moi?”
The girl looked at me accusatorily, but with humour behind her pale grey eyes. She wasn’t pretty, not even attractive really, but she had ‘something.’ Her skin was quite dark, healthy looking, and she wore silver-rimmed glasses. Maybe it was her generous shape. Perhaps it conformed to a subconscious template we males lust after?
“Well, what were you up to then?” She glanced back at her friend, a fat girl with bright blonde hair, presently shovelling spaghetti bolognese into her face, then looked me square in the eyes, raising her eyebrows.
“This is WKKZ, binging you the best music and the best discussion!” announced the smooth voice of DJ Kenny Bright, “and now we’ve time for one more caller before the news at 1 a.m. and we have Donny on the line, I believe. Donny, hello, can you hear me?”
“Hi, Kenny, yes, I can, how are you doing?”
“I’m great, Donny, how are you?”
“Well, Kenny, actually, not so great right now.”
“Oh, er, I’m sorry to hear that. I believe you wanted to speak about cover-ups. Is that right?”
“Yes, Kenny, that’s right. You know, I don’t believe we’re told the truth about anything anymore.”
“Well, I know there’s been a lot of talk about ‘fake news’.”
“Well, there’s fake and there’s fake, isn’t there?”
“How d’you mean?”
“Well, they tell us that plane, MH370 just disappeared off the radar. Damned pilot just flew off and murdered two hundred and fifty people!”
(700 words) Stanislav Kowalski replaced the cigarette between his lips, inhaling the smoke deeply. He held it in his lungs as long as he could, until dizzy from the nicotine, then exhaled slowly with pursed lips, forming smoke rings in the warm still air of the May evening. He didn’t know why he smoked, he … Continue reading Touché
(700 words) Cooee! Over here! I’m waiting and ready for you! Look! Don’t you admire my hourglass figure? True, not as slim as some, but then again, I’m not so young any more. But I think I’m wearing pretty well, wouldn’t you say? Don’t you admire the gold bands I wear on my neck? My … Continue reading Shameless!
(700 words) “Hard to imagine he’ll get away with it,” said my sister Donna. “Well, he says if we both stick to the story, they can’t prove anything.” Donna looked thin and pale, not surprising, considering the strain we’d all been living under. “I still can’t believe it, that poor woman!” “Look, I know it’s … Continue reading Keeping It in the Family
- (700 words) Impressive! A glance at his TomTom runner’s watch showed it had taken him just fifteen minutes to reach the kiosk. Smiling inwardly, he anticipated uploading the GPS data to Strava, and satisfaction at the thought of his running mate, Eric’s, face when he saw it. Ha! Who’s the better runner now?! It … Continue reading Incident on Putney Bridge
(700 words) Not wanting to dial, but wanting to dial, Jessica Sumner hesitated, her finger poised over her phone’s key pad. She felt nervous. This was silly, she could simply say she’d dialled a wrong number, no one would mind. Her brain commanded her finger to press but her muscles refused to cooperate. She’d upgraded … Continue reading Phoning a Friend
(700 words) “America killed us Sam.” “Don’t be ridiculous!” “They’ve written us off. It’s like we don’t exist any more.” I gazed out through the command room windows over the bow, at the uncountable millions of stars that surrounded us. “We’ll be back. Our kids’ll be all grown up!” Randy laughed. “Little Anita was just … Continue reading Out There
(700 words) “America comes first though, right?” said the president. Aides Don Daley and Victor ‘Day-Glo’ Rigby exchanged nervous glances. The president stood, facing a statue. A voice came into their minds, deep, educated. ‘No, we come first, then America.’ The president stuttered. “Oh, yes … of course … I meant, er.” Slits in the … Continue reading Statue at Liberty
(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 … Continue reading Gone Fishing