Wednesday, 31 December 2014

'Tis the Season...Three Pieces

 First Piece
‘It’s hard work being a pantomime prop,’ thought the two kidney beans, their three companions long since lost. ‘No-one appreciates the pressures you’re under as the stars of the show. The longeurs you have to endure between scenes, all the lapses into bored, becalmed quiet. We were expecting Jack and a Beanstalk,’ they mused, ‘but, confusingly, ended up with Red Riding Hood, carrying a knapsack bundle that clearly belongs to Dick Whittington!’

‘I thought it was free,’ said Red Riding Hood, ‘and as it was packed with bottles of mulled wine I decided a-wassailing we will go. Be of good cheer, you can come too.’ The old Christmas card read the riot act, demanding to come along as well. And Cheryl cut the cake so they’d have something to eat later.

The whole cast took off from the theatre roof, blazing pathways through the night sky. Only the old wishing well stayed behind, sulking and emanating an all-pervading smell of  damp and decay. The beans made a mental note to make friends with it later, against the day they needed a fresh start. Germination needed water - lots of it, and where better than a well that could make all their wishes come true?

The copyright of this post belongs to Clare Elstow 11/12/14

Second Piece

The disorganised confusion of the weather was offset by the charming, hopeful chaos within. As her new red boots took her towards the house, the young woman felt uplifting energy, a coracle of hopefulness floating her towards a settled resolution.
‘What if this was perfect?’ she thought, as the door swung open and sunshine appeared through the clouds, clearing away the wind and rain she’d battled so long.

‘Guess what’s in your stocking!’ said the bright apparition on the threshold. Was it an angel in disguise? Perhaps she thought, as she ran towards her mother, who was standing by the front door with its welcoming Christmas wreath.

The copyright of this post belongs to Clare Elstow 11/12/14

Third Piece
They could hear the boots marching down an empty street nearby. A relentless rhythm, transparent in its aggression. Utterly selfish, with no regard to the fears and lives of the occupied residents.

More sinned against than sinning, one family decide to retaliate. Absorbing the beat by osmosis, they do what they’ve always done at picnics by the riverside. A lone voice starts the song; a more highbrow member of the family adds a complex counterpoint, another a bass line. For a moment there is sweet harmony, a polyphonic heaven. Then joy is binned, happiness trimmed and the jackbooted beat predominates.

Everyone echoes the relentless beat, drumming on the floor, table, door – matching the aggression marching away. But one person fumbles again for melody, tries to ejaculate a burst of musical notes. The wistful sound of their harmonica drifts down the street, following the uncaring boots, blowing in the wind.

The copyright of this post belongs to Clare Elstow 20/11/14

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

All That We Wish Changed

It changed.
Yes, what changed, when?
What is 'it' and when did it change? Ponytail, aka Dr Whatshername, enunciates the words with frustration. I despair at my new ability; convoluted thoughts carouselling on the white noise in my brain. My thoughts are entropic, sliding into unmaking before they are made, before they are solid.

I stop gazing at the wall behind Ponytail. I look down at my knees, close my eyes and go hunting for what was 'It'. Come on Jo, you can do it I encourage myself, my own silent cheerleader. Go, Jo. Go...ahh, yes, It is, or should I say, She is Therese. It is all about her, isn't it? There 'it' is. There she is, Therese and her melting smile. I look up at Ponytail. She is waiting, impatience etches her face. Eyes like daggers and the thick rimmed glasses flimsy protection for me. If looks could change.
Yes - the room refocuses, settles around me again, white walls, metal chairs and table, recording device, straightjacket, all where they should be. Yes, I speak up, it changed, it all changes when Therese disappears.
Yes (is Ponytail obtuse or obfuscating?), disappeared, went missing.
How went missing?
(Jeez, she is dumb or I am, if I knew that, if I'd known that I wouldn't be here, would I? I want to shout. I don't, but I do shout for I am suddenly full of the blessing of Therese, can see her gentle, mocking eyes, her hands reaching for me) You SEE, It was a kind of reunion.
Reunion? Ponytail's voice is skeptical.
Well, I had not seen her for two weeks
Not long really, she maintains her tone
(Not long, not long, how dare she, it seemed like an age)
No, I guess not, I reply, becalmed.
But the thought of us being together lightened my load, that week.
(Yes, load. Load, you dumb bitch. Her snide interjections are exasperating me)
Yes, things had changed at work and not in a good way.

I remember Jean's gallic shrug when we returned to our desks after Anna's peptalk that Friday. I'd just checked my email for the confirmation. Sure enough, it was there, a little red flag next to the subject line indicating its utmost priority. Must be accepted. Must be read. 'Naught may endure but mutability Jo' quoted Jean, standing next to me, holding up my coffee mug in sympathy. I remember thinking that that was a bit rich, coming from someone who was a permanent member of staff. I remember wanting to take the mug and throw the hot liquid over him.

How, not in a good way?
I'd lost my job. I scowl at her. Ponytail ignores that.
So, Therese had been away.
Yes, in La Rochelle
Ponytail nods, hair swinging. And was coming back to Paris that day?
Yes, Friday.
The day you lost your job?
YES, I am shouting again, but that didn't matter, nothing, no other change mattered when I received her voicemail. You, YOU don't know.

I remember the voicemail. After I'd restrained myself from burning Jean with coffee, I'd sat back on my chair. I had a few hours to clear my desk but no inclination. I seemed to be floating on the
chair, in it but not. Light headed, disembodied, I was brought back to reality when my phone started vibrating across the desk. Click, electronic voice - you have one new message, press 2 to listen. Click. And then, her honeyed tones, and my heart is in the receiver.
'Ca va Jo? Listen I return to Paris tonight and I must see you. I have been thinking, thinking and making a decision. Meet me at the usual place, 6.30. Okay? I'll tell you all then. J't'aime cherie.' Her voice tilted with the endearment and, click, was gone.

You don't know what she is like!
Tell me, Ponytail is calm, mollifying with her hands.
She is the wind at your back, filling your sails with the beauty of promise, of change.
That word again?
Yes, but in the best, the most wonderful of ways.
So, you were excited at the prospect of seeing her again?
Err, yes! (She is dumb)

My face is hot with an image of Therese. The morning sun across rumpled bed sheets, framing her in sleep, highlighting an expression of contentment that ached my heart.

But that Friday?
All that we wish to stay?
Tempts and then flies, I finish the wounding quote.
She did not arrive at your rendezvous.
My flush fades, Therese's image has flown away. The room is at once cold.
No, I whisper.

Copyright 2014 Gabrielle Goldsmith

In the Grey

The harbour is empty in the grey of missing you.

Where are you Therese, I scream at the gulls, circling above me, above the cob. Last time I stood here, I stood with you. And we kissed. And we kissed the kiss of forever. Where are you? The birds, moving with a purpose on the wind, cry and caw in response. They consume my feelings, the wind takes my tears.

Changed futures, chanced futures. I had a chance of something new, something better. I don't want this future, I shout in silence, I'd give up all my possessions, my hopes, all I've promised others, my freedom for another moment. For another moment with you and the peace of mind....
'Your drink, Madam!' The waiter, dances it, chances it around my table, plonking the glass down and interrupting my lament. A leopard does not change its spots. The cliche leaks through my tired brain, as I look into his smarmy expression. 'Merci,' I reply, thinking I'd give him a piece of my mind though it might be murderous.

I don't. Instead, I search the faces of the passers-by. Search them for you. Nothing. Search them as I have done for days, hands to work, hearts to God, furiously searching and asking. Nothing. As one day has cheerfully undone the work of the last, I have uncovered...nothing. I have acquired a shadow. Plain dark suit but local gendarmie, no doubt. He sits a few tables away. He follows me discreetly. He has not said hello yet. It is a matter of time I suppose, perhaps he will give me another day before the police haul me in.

It is day three here trying to find you, to discover any sign of what has happened. Day thirty three since you did not return to Paris when you said you would. At night, alone in the room we shared, curled up tight on the bed, my dreams are addled by unfulfilled desire and wanton fear. I bumble around like a drunk staggering through painted bar doors, attempting to slake her thirst. Is she behind this blue one? No. Perhaps the red door? No!

Last night, I prayed to all the Gods before sleep. 'I promise to be good, to be better, next birthday, next funeral, next wedding, if only you'd give me a sign' repeating the prayer as long as the cold floorboards would allow. I woke with the watery dawn, no sign and my mouth dry. Chance would be a fine thing.

Now, at the quayside, the prayer haunts me. Wedding! I am playing constantly with the ring. Your ring Therese. Working a groove into my finger. Into my soul. Wedding?, I whisper to the cold sky, already running from the low sun. This change has undone me. A fairy child is inking malevolence around my heart. You were my one chance to stay the darkness. Without you Therese, I know it will overcome me.

The waiter brings me cold coffee, with added disdain. I lap it up.

In my pocket, chafing, a small box, circular imprint in empty velvet.

Copyright 2014 Gabrielle Goldsmith

Harbour Voir

Harbour voir

The harbour at La Rochelle, was my favourite spot,
A smarmy waiter did not detract,
A small box, Therese's hiding place.

The harbour stood the force of wind and rain,
A smarmy waiter took our orders, as we huddled,
A small box, upturned in Therese's palm.

The harbour, setting sun on watery diamonds,
A smarmy waiter brought a tray of pernod,
A small box, golden promise nestled inside.

The harbour at twilight, we walked arm in arm.
A smarmy waiter watched, framed by cafe window,
A small box in my pocket.

The harbour, dark on the cob, we held hands,
A smarmy waiter, liquorice stick in quayside lights,
A small box, circular imprint in empty velvet.

The harbour, an upturned boat, you kissed me deeply.
A smarmy waiter, echo voice disdaining,
A small box, crushed in embrace, not needed,
Ring that will never leave my finger.

The harbour now, empty in the grey of missing you.

Copyright 2014 Gabrielle Goldsmith

Tuesday, 16 December 2014


Ashputel there is no need to sit among the cinders.
Grey dust comes when magic goes,
stealing joy away from the sacred place of laughter.
Silently it gathers in the extremities,
burrowing in, piling up on forgotten shelves
Beginning early, smouldering your days.

He came to lift you away,
lacing your fingers into his
together for the winding.
You open the door to his words.
Oh beautiful wordsmith!
Was it but the imprint of an illusion
Which breezed through your mind
Scattering the dust, allowing you choices?

The copyright of this post belongs to Moira Cormack

The Priest

The Priest

He had promised himself he would change, that the chasuble would restrain him, but as soon as he saw Miss Wilcox in his congregation, he had serious doubts. He had put so much hope in his new vocation, one he truly believed in, despite his inclinations. He was well aware that for him it had to be all or nothing. He would either need to be celibate or he would try to seduce every woman he met. If he allowed himself even one little bite, he would need to finish all the cake, no matter what. When he was training, he had envisaged himself as a priest as curmudgeonly, too devoted to even notice women as men are expected to. He now realised that this was too idealistic.

Since his move here he had done admirably, he had been here nearly a year and even the glittering Mrs Jenkins with her hand job red nails and probing hands, hadn’t tempted him enough. He hadn’t even allowed himself to fantasise about her, though occasionally the thought of her as a geisha flashed into his mind. Each time he would rush to his desk to write, or re-write his sermon.

He had been lucky that as far as he knew (and he was confident that he would) his reputation from Eggington hadn’t followed him at all. That had been his first job since qualifying and he had started badly. His housekeeper had been disappointingly pert and eager, and he had unintentionally make it his mission to bed her as soon as, and as often as, possible. It had escalated from there. Whenever a parishioner had come to see him on her own, he had made a subtle pass at her to assess her receptiveness, and if he saw potential there, he would proceed to pursue them with gentle, patient determination. Out of respect for his housekeeper, he had made sure none of the encounters were in his house, let along his bed. And out of respect for his vocation, none had been inside the church. Instead, they had been in their homes, their gardens, in the churchyard, anywhere really. One particular grave stone in the churchyard was at the perfect height and was now wobbly from so much use.

He had been surprised that he had managed to get away with it for so long, but finally the husbands became suspicious and he had been called to see the archdeacon. His indiscretions were never referred to directly, instead phrases like “a change will do you good” and “it could change everything if….” were floated around, like tinsel on a Christmas tree. Then the usual comment that priests should be “unexpected, foreign, feared and revered”. He hung his head in genuine shame and vowed to always remember that he was accepted through kindness. In that moment he had really meant it.

But now she was sat in front of him and he felt upside down, inside out, left footed. If he hadn’t known the words so well, he might have faltered. She looked up at him with doeful eyes, filled with admiration for a priest; but he could read the hiding passion in them. Despite her long skirt and buttoned up blouse, he could sense that she could be truly dirty if she wanted to. An image of her on her knees giving him a blow job made him nearly forget the words. It had felt incredibly real; he could almost feel her tongue on him still. And when she had finished he would ask her to “take off those mucky clothes” and do things with her that would definitely get him excommunicated. The change would do him good.

The copyright of this post belongs to Jenni Romero

Friday, 5 December 2014

Ranunculus for Holly

Ranunculus, glorious colourful flowers, blooming in the cottage garden of my soul. Shimmering and lustrous in the gentle heat of late Spring sunshine. Filling the air with reminiscent scents and lungfuls of happiness.
Dancing children, chanting in rings of joy, waving daisies, delphiniums and tulips in time to the sweetest breeze. Little Aunties dancing with golden ranunculus. Maypoles replete with beribboned satin streamers, Morris men jingling their bells on a soft Sunday morning.
Cottages thatched with straw haircuts, warm stones on churchyard walls. Honest rain pittering off warm orange pantiles, lush grassy meadows exuberant with woolly sheep. Gently rippling brooks arguing with mossy stones on their way downstream.

England, my England, at your very best, you can compete with the hot and exotic on your own terms.

The copyright of this post belongs to CH

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Dear Gloria

Dear Gloria,
I was lost until I found out for sure who you really are. I know you don’t want it all to come out -
what Dad did all those years ago - especially since we have both changed our names. I see that
you are now Gloria Badger (where did you get that name from?) and have somehow risen to the
illustrious heights of Detective Inspector. Well done, you.
I have thought about you often since the day they took you away from me - my beautiful little
sister - and I honestly believed I’d never see you again. But when we bumped into each other
that day when you came to my office, I knew I had to tell you who I was. I remember you looked
at me strangely, almost as if you already knew. Your blue eyes gazed into mine, perhaps not
quite as innocent as before.
I promise I won’t tell anyone. It will be our secret, my darling sister. It’s not the only secret we
share. I know about you and Ferdy. It was the last thing he told me before he died. He was an
old romantic, wasn’t he, writing all those love letters. I’ve spent most of the evening reading
them and they’re really very touching. I expect you’d like them back.
Well, my dear, come to see me - perhaps one evening this week - and we’ll read them together.
We shall both keep our secrets.
With love forever, Michael. xxx
Dear Michael,
I say ‘dear’, but you’re not really, are you? You’re just a stranger I bumped into while I was on
a case and you’ve got it into your strange, sick head that I’m your long lost sister. My name
is Gloria Badger - unfortunate but true - and always has been. We are not related. We are
You weren’t a stranger to Ferdy though, were you? What was that twist of ribbon you sent
me? Was it the murder weapon, or merely a lost decoration from your porcelain doll collection,
you twisted freak? And what was the envelope of poppy seeds all about? If they were meant
to scare me, you should have tried arsenic-laced chocolates, like every other self-respecting
And you’re quite wrong about Ferdy and me. There was never anything between us. He is the
murder victim and I am the police officer investigating that murder. It must be a different ‘Gloria’
in the love letters, which I will not be coming to your lock-up to read. I’m sure you must have a
I expect you’d like to know that your letter gave me a bad feeling. Well, it didn’t. It made me
sublimely happy to know that I could never be related to such a sad, lost individual.
With no regards, Gloria.
P.S: I will prove that you killed Ferdy.
Dear Diary,
I’m scared. Yes, Gloria Badger, D.I. Cool, Calm and Collected doesn’t admit this to anyone but
you, Diary. And you’d better keep your mouth shut.
I keep dreaming about Ferdy. I dream of his touch, his warm breath against my neck. His dark
eyes pulling me into the gravity of his love, the maelstrom of the his darkest, sweetest thoughts.
Then I open my eyes and see blood, brain matter like glue and wake with the sticky, cloying
stench of guilt in my nostrils. I knew I should have got rid of his love letters - no sloppy texts or
emails from him - but I just couldn’t stand to, even though they turned out to be lies, of course -
all that ‘you’re the only one I’ll ever love’ garbage. So I secreted them in odd places, filed behind
radiators, hidden away in the pasta jar, one in the toolbox in the garage. But, of course, they
could all be found. And were.
Those love letters... silent witnesses to his death, joining the dots, screaming out my name.
Most of all I regret that I didn’t have Ferdy’s baby. But I was too much of a coward to face the
morning sickness, the exhaustion, the mother-toddler groups. The loss of my all-important
career. This is what I can’t forgive myself for, even as I cold-bloodedly frame my brother for
Ferdy’s murder.
But his blood still soaks my dreams. I wake up drenched in it every morning; trail it around
behind me all day. Some time, sooner or later, that trail will lead back to me. Then the punisher
of crime will become the punished.
Good night, Diary.

The copyright of this post belongs to Alisha Bailie.


Alicia put her head down, keeping to her course, fighting the impulse to sink to the ground. She
felt weak. Heavy but depleted.
Covent Garden was insanely busy, the crowds seemingly aiming for her, exocet missiles
keeping her from her destination. The bizarrely warm weather had brought everyone out into the
early evening darkness, clad in next to nothing, though it was late October. It heightened her
sense of walking through a dream, trapped in a waking hallucination. Her mind was dazed by
the motion of the crowds, her body crammed with the secret, pulsing life inside her.
Focus, she told herself sternly. You’ve got a job to do.
Ben had booked them a table at the Raymond Blanc restaurant overlooking the main square,
where various mad buskers vied for money and attention. A string quartet were playing a lively
Vivaldi piece, dancing as they played. A slinky girl sang in French under a waving Tricolor,
drawing a (largely male) crowd.
It was the auspicious occasion of their first anniversary and his wife had let him out to play. Ben
and Jessica had ‘an understanding’; what used to be called ‘an open marriage’. Alicia didn’t
quite know what to call it. She just took what she could get and tried not to ask for more.
But now, she would be asking for more. She wished she didn’t have to spoil their meal with the
news she was carrying. Literally.
He was waiting for her at the dimly lit table - so much the better for hiding the dark circles under
her eyes, the result of a series of sleepless nights as her hormones rioted around her exhausted
body. Her heart bungee-jumped at the sight of him, part fear, part pleasure. She felt the move of
baby joy within her.
He grinned at her. “You’re late. I was about to order coffee.”
She sat down carefully, smoothing her dress. “You got through the other three courses without
me, then?”
“I was hungry.”
“Charming.” She smiled back, her insides melting as she looked into those deep, dark, lightfilled
eyes, big and round as a child’s.
Seeing how happy and relaxed he looked tonight, she was tempted not to tell him at all. Or, at
least, to wait until desert. Or coffee. Or just after he’d paid the bill.
She was still looking into his dark, gypsy eyes, drawn in by their changing light, the secret, busy
life pulsing in that extraordinary brain of his. What thoughts were pinballing around as he looked
back at her? She reached out her hand across the table, wanting to touch his mystery, find
the combination, break the code that was Ben. Then perhaps she could prepare herself for his
He took her hand in his warm, firm grasp, lifting it to his lips. Their soft, moist pressure against
her skin sent mad flutters all through her, delicious shivers coursing through her blood. The new
life inside her stirred again.
“You’re looking especially radiant this evening, Sweetheart.” Said Ben, lacing his fingers into
That’s being pregnant for you, she thought. She’d noticed this morning, brushing her hair,
how strong and shiny it was, the pale gold falling in soft waves. Her lips were fuller, her eyes
brighter, her skin flushed. She looked... fruitful.
“Not bad for thirty-nine.” She replied. “You won’t have to trade me in for a younger model, yet.”
Or perhaps you will, she thought grimly. Her heart gave another dangerous leap.
Menus were handed to them by a heavily accented tired-looking woman with a warm, motherly
smile. She probably knows I’m pregnant. She’ll advise me against the caramelised brie and
onion tart and the moules marinieres…
While Ben studied his menu and she pretended to, she realized afresh that she had literally no
idea how he would react. He might be delighted - a genetic joy at the growing life he had helped
create. After all, he and Jessica didn’t have any kids. But perhaps this news would break the
spell of their impossible fantasy world, ushering in the ultimatum Ben had so far been spared,
his wife at last drawing the line, making him choose. Alicia thought she knew what his choice
would be.
He had told her from the first how much he loved Jessica, how he would never leave her. That
was his non-negotiable bottom-line. He seemed genuinely oblivious to how shabbily she often
seemed to treat him, invariably choosing her various boyfriends’ company over his, coming
home when she felt like it. Not that Alicia was complaining, exactly - except on principal, on
Ben’s behalf. The more his wife neglected him, the more he came running to her. Considering
the amount of sex he got from her, it was hardly surprising. Oh, boy, the sex… An electric shock
of desire passed through her ripened body.
There was one last possibility, though. A small miracle glimpsed, glowing on the far horizon,
somewhere in the land of happily-ever-after. That he would leave Jessica, come to her. Then
they could all be a family.
This was all very well, but she doubted this land existed. And if it did, it wasn’t a place she could
ever reach. Single mums and mistresses don’t have enough air miles.
Ben interrupted her far-flung thoughts by announcing that he would start with the Lobster
“Did you know that lobsters scream when you put them in the water?” She teased him.
“Actually, they don’t. That’s their shells cracking.”
She flicked his fingers in mild rebuke. “I bet they still feel pain, though. Even if they can’t yell
about it.”
“I doubt it.” He said, screwing up his face in concentration, as he considered this philosophical
question. He was fond of considering such things. “Not in the sense that you mean pain. They’re
barely even sentient.”
”I know the feeling.” She said.
He laughed, a delicious sound. She felt the undulating rapture of her baby dancing to her
daddy’s melody.
Alicia thought she must be only a month gone, her baby little more than a collection of cells;
but somehow she knew that it was a girl. A sister for her two boys - a dark-eyed, sweet-smiled,
strong-willed Emily with her father’s intelligence, her creativity and a temperament all of her
own. Her miracle baby. She herself had never had a sister. But Emily would be the gift of
femininity to her two very male, boisterous boys, a new tenderness in their lives.
She thought about the photograph on her mantelpiece, a triptych of Adam and Alex, three
consecutive years of sports days, big grins on their handsome, open faces as they crossed the
tape. And now there would be a third sports day photo, her pale-haired, determined daughter,
her face screwed up with the intent concentration so reminiscent of Ben, reaching for the
finishing tape.
Adam, Alex and Emily, a trilogy of stories beginning with her love, thrust out into the world.
Alicia’s mother had always wanted a granddaughter. It looked as if she’d get her wish. Not that
it wouldn’t also be a huge shock, of course; hopefully not one big enough to put her in her coffin.
Her mum thought Alicia had gone back to being a virgin since her husband had walked out on
her and the boys, nun-like in her state of untouched single-motherhood. She would probably
say: “But how did it happen?” Sarcastic responses would be hard to resist: “There was a special
offer on babies at Tesco, Mum. Lots of extra points on my Clubcard.”
Ben had been talking, but she hadn’t heard a word.
“What are you thinking about, love?” He said. “You were far away.”
“I was just considering your erudite thoughts on the nature of sentience.” She said, teasing him,
back on safe ground. “Or lack thereof, in my case.”
He stroked her hand, gently. “Stop putting yourself down. You are a beautiful, intelligent, rare
woman. I love having you in my life.”
Tears filled her eyes. She forced a laugh and blinked them away. She didn’t know how to say
the words that could put an end forever to such tenderness, the look of focused love in his eyes,
the gentle pressure of his hand as he stroked along her arm, his fingertips pulsing against the
soft flesh. To never feel that again. But, to protect her baby, she had to be prepared for that.
“I love you, Alicia.”
“I love you, too.” She said, sadly.
“Are you pregnant?”
She looked up, sharply. “How did you -?”
“I don’t know. I just did.” He closed his eyes. “Oh, sweetheart.”
They hadn’t even made it to the starters.
She whispered: “If you’re going to say it’s over, just say it now. Please.”
For the longest time, he said nothing. The hand that rested on her arm was trembling.
“Please.” She repeated.
The universe seemed to shudder to a halt, time frozen in a galactic crisis. Covent Garden was
silenced, waiting for his answer.
“Alicia.” He sighed, shaking his head. “ I just told you. I love you.”
She stared at him, not understanding.
“I’m not going anywhere, my darling.” He smiled, a slow-spreading wonder. “You’re going to
have our baby.”
“But - what about Jessica?”
“I doubt she’ll be at the birth.” He gave a shaky laugh. “I know it’s a dumb question, but are you
She smiled into his big, round worried child’s eyes. “Six positive pregnancy tests can’t all be
He nodded. “How long have you known?”
“Three weeks, give or take.”
A shadow of hurt passed across his light, open face. “Why didn’t you tell me straight away?”
She shrugged. “I was scared.”
“So, you haven’t had a scan, yet? I haven’t missed anything?”
“You and I will be the first to see our daughter. And the scan lady, of course. Ultrasound
technician, whatever.”
“Daughter -?”
She stroked her stomach tenderly. “I know it’s a girl. This is Emily.”
He resumed his familiar, sensible scientist expression. “You do know you can’t possibly tell,
don’t you? ‘If your wee smells like kippers it’s a girl, if you pass wind seven times before
breakfast, it’s a boy.’ All that stuff has precisely zero basis in scientific fact.”
She gave a loud laugh, making the couple on the next table turn and stare. “If my wee smells
like kippers, then I’ve got a urine infection.”
“You know what I mean.” He looked worried, again. “What if it’s a boy? What if Emily turns out
to be George?”
“Then I will be equally delighted. But she isn’t. She’s Emily.” And as she said it, she felt Emily
move, smiling in recognition of her name.
He laughed at her determination. “As long as it doesn’t turn out to be Emily and George.”
“Oh, dear. There are twins in my family.”
He lifted her hand to his lips. “Then we’ll get to name a baby each.”
He held her gaze for a long, long time. In the end, she had to lower her eyes, with a shy smile.
When she glanced back up, she found him looking worried, again.
When he said her name like that, she knew it was serious. In fact, he hardly ever used her
name. She sometimes teased him that it was because he couldn’t remember it. “I expect you
get mixed up, with all your other girlfriends.” He didn’t deny this nearly often enough.
She swallowed. “Say it.”
He said quietly: “You know this doesn’t mean I’m going to leave Jessica, don’t you.”
So, there it was. She had guessed, of course, but hearing it in simple words was rather
different. ‘Never’ sounded once again in her brain, that most terrible word, the one she was fond
of using, but didn’t fully believe.
“I know.”
“It’s just that… this is going to come as a shock to her. She never wanted kids herself, but still…
I can’t leave her, now. You do understand?”
“She needs me.”
“I know.”
There was a silence, almost as pregnant as she was.
“How do you feel about that?” He said carefully.
How did she feel? Under the disappointment, the familiar stab of resentment the she couldn’t be
his first - his only concern - somewhere under that lot was something else. A settled resignation,
a strange peace at his decision. If he left Jessica, he would be miserable with guilt, utterly
conflicted. It would be pitiful, like caging some wild, bright thing.
“It’s O.K, Sweetie.” She said, looking back up at him. “We’ll manage. The important thing is that
you want to be in our lives.”
He smiled with relief. “If you’ll have me.”
A thought occurred to her: “You know, Jessica doesn’t have to know. You don’t have to tell her.”
Ben frowned at her. “Of course I do. Lying - even by omission - I can’t do it. It doesn’t come
naturally to me. I couldn’t keep something like this from my wife.”
She jolted at the physical pain those two words delivered: my wife and the rebuke contained
within them. Shutting her out. Lying did come naturally to Alicia, a long-learnt defence against
relentlessly critical parents. And here she was again, trying to get herself - and him - out of
“Sorry, darling.” He said. “I didn’t put that very well.”
“We’ll manage.” She repeated, knowing as she said it that it was true. This child would be loved
by both her parents, welcomed into her new, chaotic, unconventional family. She reached out
once again for Ben’s hand, leaned across the table and kissed him, her lips tasting his. “We’ll
make this work.”
“I guess Jessica’s got about eight months to get used to the idea.”
“Till about late June, next year, if my calculations are correct.”
She watched the light dancing in his eyes, a slow smile melting across his face. He got up from
his chair, came to join her on her bench seat. He reached out his hand to her stomach.
“May I?”
“Say hello to your daughter.”
Leaning down - drawing further stares - he brushed his lips against the velvet of her skirt,
whispering: “Hello, baby.”
He stroked his soft, dark hair, just beginning to grey at the temples. She heard him sigh.
“Well, baby and I are both starving.” She said. “How about ordering those starters?”

The copyright of this post belongs to Alisha Bailey


Have I not made myself clear? Travel dreams race through my repeated hours if insomnia...train, airplane, bus, van. I am exhausted with queues, galloping for entrances, never reaching the appointed seat. A maelstrom of frustration that shatters any chance if deep sleep. Head chatter with galloping whispers. Reminders of the coming holiday bad the lists of Christmas cards to send. Instead I toss and turn around in a spinning spirograph of anxious dreams, sending postcards from the edge. Written snapshots of places I have never seen. Eagles sitar through the sheets. I hear their wings accompany my spurious cries. I watch the badger want for they eat fish? Would they love river trout or anglers bait? I feel insane. My night gown sticks to my skin, and I aware in the dawn darkness crying out as though I have already disappeared in a luddite's nightmare. Royal mail in news again. Letters. Post office lucky if you can. Who writes anymore? She made herself get up.

The copyright of this post belongs to Claudia Anne


Train is-a-coming, oh, yeah! On tracks snaking up the mountains, and down into the valley renown for its emerald-green pond. The journey is like a game of snakes and ladders. The journey is as intricate as a six-part marital, sung with seduction in mind. Oh, speedy seduction of scenery, melting by in shades of pink and amber earth. Icing like icicles drippingodripping mountains bearded in snow. The engine pulses and steams rivets of tears, which frost the passenger windows. The light is a beacon in the dark, a floodlit consciousness where once you could only see the whites of his eyes. Christmas paper lanterns sway from the ceiling in the dining car, bad the child pushes your finger into the icing of sticky marzipan. You stroke your husband's cheek, soft and silky like cat's fur. A beard is-a-coming you think with longing. You rope your hand through the crook in his suited arm, and wish he was your life raft. Sweet as cake.

The copyright of this post belongs to Claudia Anne

On Reflection

Her sightless gaze stared at the mirror. The face of a man took shape in front of her. The reflection had a vague watery look about it, as if it was not quite real. Yet it was definitely a man’s face. A handsome face, confident and self assured. The lips disdainful, moved to a full sneer. His eyes were black with contempt, and she felt the fear. Then something moved.
The whole face turned into disbelief and shocked surprise. The smooth forehead was flawed. The flaw a perfect circle. The circle grew in size and colour right in the centre. She was transfixed by the symmetry. The back of his head exploded in an arc of grey and red mist as he went down. He had been a big man, that had been part of his problem, and now in slow motion he spread his length upon the pavement. He fell like an old factory chimney, and lay unmoving upon the ground. She knelt beside him shaking, she could feel herself shaking. Then feet arriving, many feet came from nowhere. Always feet, she never looked above the feet. Hands gently lifted her away, but still her eyes remained on his grey face, taking in the crimson puddle, then again the feet. More and more feet. The further she backed away, the more she melted into the gathering crowd. Then he was out of sight and she was walking.
She knew the mirror had been there, but all the time she stared the events continued to unfold in a perpetual loop. How long had she been there?
Now his face was back just as before. This time she was aware that another face, that of a woman, was superimposed onto the sneering lips. She was aware of a desire to identify this woman. Somehow she was important. The loop continued as before with the scarlet hole central to his forehead, but the woman’s reflection intruded further and further into her consciousness. The more she tried to identify the reflection the more ‘ he’ faded into the background. Once again she reached the point where she left the feet behind and began to walk. She was aware of the walk. She remembered walking. She had walked here.
Then the woman in the mirror stared right back at her as clear as day. She was grey and drawn, even under heavy make up and her eyes were black. The black had cut a swathe through the peach foundation, skirted tight lips and was dripping off her jaw line.
The soaking wet mascara began to smart quite painfully, and to her horror she saw the face in the mirror make the connection. Once again in slow motion she watched as the woman’s reflection came to the realisation she was staring at herself.
The pain in her eyes and the release from shock galvanised her into action. The full peril of her situation hit her hard and fast.
Grabbing a handful of tissue she wiped away the errant mascara, taking the heavy peach foundation as she went. Methodically and efficiently she worked until her face was naked. She raised her eyes once more to the mirror to survey her handiwork. The vulnerable reflection eyed her back. No more black streaks, only red rimmed eyes where the chemical had been. However, in its nakedness, her skin revealed a mass of small scars and evidence of recent bruising. He had always aimed for her face. He enjoyed her pain and liked to admire his handiwork. He knew he controlled her completely and it gave him such a buzz. Always so very sure, the final surprise had been total.
The tinny voice of the tannoy crackled into life announcing the imminent arrival of the London train. Gathering up the large pile of damp tissue, she deposited it into the bin with something akin to aplomb. She opened the clasp of her handbag and placed the leather gloves on the top of the gun. She closed it firmly. In the mirror her reflection raised an eyebrow in acknowledgement of a job well done. Closing the door of the Ladies waiting room, she crossed the platform and entered the anonymity of the train.

The copyright of this post belongs to Geneva Grey

Dear Julia

"Dear Julia,

You have given me much happiness.  As I play form the gift of the music sheet for Bohemian Rhapsody you gave me I picture you choosing the pink fluffy bed socks.  I fear our association must end as my health has suffered with palpitations since you gave news of the positive pregnancy test.  The caster oil has been no help, and I fear I will soon have need of the definite place in the church crypt.

I have the key to the castle on the isolated Scottish island you gave me, and I will retreat there with the map and phial of dirty water you inexplicably provided for such an occasion.  Chairman Mao's little red book goes with me, as do enduring memories of our frolics in the apple pie bed.

I remain your devoted Reverend Green."

The copyright of this post belongs to Jaine Currier

Monday, 17 November 2014

Train is A' Comin'

'Train is a coming, oh yeah'
They sang as the cakes baked in the sun.
The hot iron tracks burnt their bottoms
But who cared?
It was time for a celebration.
Mercy was going. On her way.

Better get your ticket, Mercy, oh yeah
Me, Faith, Honesty and Joy have had enough.
Enough of hands folded on knees begging and praying
Who needs a Being to act as Judge?

Devils on the train, oh yeah
Escape that fire in hell, Oh Mercy!
Your magical transformative days are over.
There is no hope of escape, Mercy.
A nightmare rolls towards you
Couched as dreaded reality.

Train is in the tunnel, oh yeah
Bliss it will be when we escape Mercy.
The light searches for her.
Bliss comes our way.
Oh mercy me, how sweet it is,
Revenge and betrayal are true and due.
Bite the hot cake, feel it sear your mouth.

Come Faith, Honesty and Joy.
Come with me.
This insanity is over.
Chuff, chuff, choo, choo
Goodbye Mercy
Coming in the station Oh Yeah!
Taste that cake.

The copyright of this post belongs to Moira Cormack

The Husband

The husband submerged his square, strong hands in the blue light of the cosmos. Stars winked like burnished silver lockers cavorting out of his reach. It was his fault that the days had drawn in and darkness reigned. Nowadays she stayed indoors wrapped in a cloak of memories. Only the cat occasionally courted her when he stirred his ginger limbs from the rag rug hearth where he lay curled. Her heart was a huge, cavernous building strewn with faded poppies. The war was over and emptiness remained. Deep in the woods the hatchet lay buried. Buzzards flew overhead chasing crows downwards. 'Honey,' he murmured, 'honey?' But his words were no longer drops of golden sweetness dredged from her pure teenage dreams but hollow with overuse. She hummed a tune from eons ago, 'little willie, willie won't come home.'
His square strong hands had shod her in a shoddy way. The genie was out of the bottle and there was no going back. She clicked her fingers for her first wish longing to feel life's warmth infiltrate her days.

The copyright of this post belongs to Moira Cormack

Monday, 10 November 2014


Whispering white clouds floated across a blue sky, oblivious to this auspicious day of history piling itself into the air. Sons of God, all, gathered in a trench filled with mud and mice and men, depleted of energy and purpose.
One task. Carry out orders. The wire has been cut.
Six rungs to go over the top in a puerile attempt to claim a bit of bloodied mud. One job to do before they died. And they knew they were to die; hadn't they all been home on leave to say their goodbyes?
Six rungs. Fix bayonets. Focus.

Whispering white clouds scud across the horizon behind lines of white crosses, standing proud. 'Remember the dead' they say. Remember the fallen. Remember the sacrifice.
Are they at peace?
Wind blows into her face and stops the tears from sliding down to wet her collar.
My beloved.
So many beloved fathers, sons, brothers. All gone. Only the lucky few ones found a coffin at all. The wind will always blow across this open space of remembrance. There will be no quiet at all for those at peace. Something rustles unseen in the tall grass. is it a mouse or a memory?

Whispering white clouds hover above in a holographic sky. Free Earth is but a dream gone by. We escaped from the old wars, the Great war, into galactic ones.
Nothing ever changes however hard the wind blows. Men will always fight one another.
There is only one escape left.
The hosepipe will do its part attached to the belching exhaust.
I am exhausted!... will they understand the irony?
I will shut the door now.

The copyright of this post belongs to Holly Khan

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Four posts from Istanbul

The Persian carpet

You leave your unique pattern on my heart

Woven through with intricate care

Threads of gold, sienna and cerulean

Repeating your consistency.

Outside stark winter marks out its lines with geometric precision.

Ice cobalt and umber.

Bleakness has its own appeal

Still, unfettered loneliness

Tranquil moors flowing to the horizon

Flattened with usage, worn thin in parts.

You touch the burnished lamp on your return

Diffused light spreads. Rose ochre hues. Warm and familiar ease

The missing piece revealed.


Kybele Roof Terrace.

A variation on ‘Lewis’

 Should we care what the model of the car was? What was hidden in the glove box?

It could be many things; a hummingbird waiting to be set free, a rusty Victorian key, a lotus blossom.

I haven’t a hope of understanding the situation.  Is the murder an open and shut case?

It is not straightforward. Someone trying to equal the division of wealth?

Back to the quest.

I wonder what was in the boot.  It could be a micro light, my turquoise suitcase, or our other car? (It’s a big boot). The remote hides its locking system and I can’t work out which button to press to open the boot. The darkness of the boot hides the pride of pain.

I wish I had less of a desire for order and neat solution. I wish I didn’t have to give the ending and the answer. What bleak spec is in my eye?  My eyelids close on the openness of anguish

I reopen my eyes and decide to forget about opening the boot.. I see a pristine turquoise padlock and turn the tiny key. The lock springs open. I’ll leave it dangling on the gate as a memento.

I’ll give up trying to solve this pointless mystery.  I break the passenger window with a rock; I break into the glove box with a chisel and release the hummingbird.  It flitters across the valley like a shiny thread of fizzing joy.


Shall we make a plan? No, not today. I have the desire to reach the zenith on the charabanc covered in the rose perfume of the East.

Shall we go straight? No not today. I want to wander through decrepit alleyways strewn with decadence and festooned with ivy.

The path forks. Shall we choose which one to take?  No, not today.  Let’s toss a coin into the fountain.

Shall we take the iron road? A base metal but practical. The charabanc would have argument with this path. Let’s follow the yellow brick road that winds round and round.

Shall we pass the pool? The reflections show harems strewn with concubines languishing on lace cushions. Overflowing with fruitfulness.

Prim and proper Alice looking through the glass is confused. The reflections make her woozy. She prefers the portrait of Arnolfini and his wife constrained endlessly within their mirror.

On return I look in the my oval mirror which reflects the sixty four lamps suspended above the bed. Travelling forward with repetition and  illumination.

Two Haiku

Rose Opal Harem

Ivy Alley

Splintered winsomeness

rose opal veil

cushioned winsomeness

parakeet in alley

The copyright of these posts belongs to Rachel Morrell

Monday, 20 October 2014



Hal, as so often happened, lamented his parent's lack of foresight. For, not only had Mr and Mrs Itosis called him Henry, but they had insisted that everyone call him Hal. In his teenage years he had tried to get people to call him Henry, but it just hadn't worked. And besides, he actually liked the name Hal.
And people definitely reacted to his name. He had believed that adults tried to hold their breath while talking to children, until he went to school and saw that they only did it with him.
He sighed and took a deep breath before he introduced himself to his blind date.

The ebullient parchment function

Eventually I decided on a soup despite the frightful menu. Paul chose a hotdog which we all acknowledged require some bottle. But nothing could dampen his ebullient mood. He had been looking forward to this function for so long, he kept reminding us. The unveiling of the parchment was to be done at 8 o'clock on the dot and before then we would dine and no doubt hear many times how much he had looked forward to this event. He enthused about everything, including the whole decor of the room, even commenting on the inspiring idea of using opal tables. He chatted to everyone who came even close to his vicinity, especially women though his optimism seemed a little misplaced there. He was overall so buoyant that I quickly grew tired and ended up sleeping through the whole presentation, which meant I had to improvise with my glowing comments about his speech. 

The copyright of this post belongs to Jenni Crowe

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Magical Journeys Blog: Your Writing Under a New Name

From today the Turret Writers' Blog will henceforth be known as the Magical Journeys blog, which will be the new site for anyone who submits writing from any of the Magical Journeys retreats or workshops, including the Turret Writers' workshops. The format and principle remains the same, a site for your writing, advertised on twitter and facebook via and @mjourneys claire on twitter.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The Song From Holly


Admiring her pure white laced kindred spirit
As she sings from the heart from her playhouse pink
Plain and simple sepia words which touch me
Delivering notes like falling russet leaves

As she sings from her heart from her playhouse pink
Singing through windchimes as I don’t care who else is listening
Delivering notes like falling russet leaves
Yes, I listen to you child, most precious in her time

We don’t care who else is listening
No, the cold is not biting me with ice teeth
Yes, I listen to you Holly, most precious in her time
With everything sparkling up my deadened senses

No, the cold is not biting me with ice teeth
Above and beneath, the world is now a beautiful place
With everything sparkling up my deadened senses
I can see, hear feel, smell and taste her perfume

Above and beneath, the world is now a beautiful place
Singing through windchimes as we don’t care who else is listening
I can see, hear, feel, smell and taste her perfume
Admiring her pure white laced kindred spirit

As she sings from the heart from her playhouse pink
Delivering notes like falling russet leaves
With everything sparkling up my deadened senses
|Plain and simple sepia words which touch me
Above and beneath the world is a beautiful place

Singing through windchimes, as we don’t care who else is listening
No, the cold is not biting me with ice teeth
I can see, hear, feel, smell and taste your perfume
Yes, I listen to you, granddaughter , more precious than time itself

The copyright of this post belongs to Marion Brown 13 October 2014

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

A Story from Three Viewpoints

I discover Emily in the garden, looking mournfully down at a silky floral brooch. A single tear traces its sad way along her plump, peach cheek, glistening in the early morning radiance. “What’s up, Sweetie?” I ask, and my heart gives a perfect flutter of despair at the sight of such innocent misery. Of course, I recognize the brooch.
Tentatively, she offers it to me.
“It’s broken.” She says. And all the horrors of the universe are contained in that one statement. The wolf in the shadows. The secret decay of a wood passing from Summer to Autumn. The sound of glass breaking. A stopped clock, a dying star, a last breath. The merciless dark matter of life that a child shouldn’t know.
But Emily did. The rich damask silk lay gently in my hand, its hardened centre prickly to my touch. Her mother had given it to her, just before she left.
There was nothing I could have done to stop it. I was just the nanny. I remember the doorbell’s portentous chime, the thud of the front door slamming its devastating passion as she left forever. The sight of her lover, William Morris, enfolding her in his waiting embrace to give her a final, ruthless courage in her most terrible choice. Then the backdrop of suspicious whispers all over the house - which I realized then I’d been hearing for days. And the dinner gong, an hour later, as if everything was normal. Emily, who hadn’t been told, cluttering down the stairs, her excited, hungry chatter immediately hushed. And Emily’s father George, standing bewildered in the doorway, shadowy with sudden loss.
I look again at the brooch, stroking its sensual softness, before offering it back. Emily had admired the brooch just a few days before her mother left.
“It’s my favourite colour, Mummy.” she told her, with great dignity. “It’s elegant.”
Her mother had laughed. “It’s only from a craft fair. You can keep it, if you like.”
And Emily had. That small, careless goodbye. The now broken memory of her mother.
I put my arms around her, cooing softly. Her tears are warm against my neck. “It’s alright, Sweetie.” I whisper, knowing it isn’t.
* * * *
Rebecca stared at herself in the dressing table mirror, trying to trace signs of a hardening in her eyes, a new line of determination in her jaw, a courage that was enough to do what she
must do. Emily had gone to bed, ushered swiftly away by the nanny, with her usual ruthless efficiency. Rebecca had wanted to hold onto her tightly, imprinting the smell and touch of her into her flesh, to carry her baby with her. Her throat tightened painfully at the memory of her daughter’s careful, dignified pronunciation of her current favourite grown-up word: elegant. She had thought she could stick it out, for Emily’s sake, for however many years was required of her to be the dutiful wife of nobility. But just lately she had seen the end of her tether and it wasn’t pretty. Neither was it very far away.
She shifted her gaze to the photograph on her dressing table, the wild-eyed, beautiful young woman smiling into the camera. The woman that used to be her. She was Becca, socialite and party girl, never far from the pages of ‘Tatler’. Ten years later she found herself married to George, to an unknowable stranger who professed to love her, but who clearly didn’t even like her. He didn’t hit her or tell her she was worthless; to all onlookers he was an attentive, considerate husband. But his gigantic will, his vast, implacable pride bore down on her, until she no longer knew what she thought or wanted, or had ever hoped for. She learned to have no opinion.
Not that it would have made any difference if she had. It meant nothing to anyone. Almost as soon as Emily was born (and the name wasn’t even her choice - George had insisted), in moved Nanny Sophie. She ruled the roost. Even George did as he was told. Emily adored her, rushing from her mother’s presence, in which she sat shyly, into Nanny Sophie’s arms the second she entered the room.
Then Rebecca met him. At one of George’s dull parties, billionaires and smug Hedge Fund bankers, fat-cat, bad-breathed old-school-tie boys and their jewel-dripping wives. She was surprised they’d let him in. People stared as he walked past and no wonder, as she regarded his disheveled state, his scruffy cords and rugby shirt, the long raven dark hair messily tied back, the careless stubble of a few days. He saw her looking and crossed the room, while she stiffened with embarrassment.
“You must be Lady Penhalighan.” He said. She took the hand he held out, a warm, intimate grip. She found herself looking into his bright, odd eyes, of a colour she couldn’t quite determine. “And you are -?” “William Morris.”
“Oh - like the painter. The designer.”
He raised his eyebrows with amused surprize, as if he had never heard this before. “I am, in fact, his great, great grandson.”
“Oh, really?” She said, with genuine interest.
“No.” He smiled, a gentle uplift of his generous mouth that worked its way up, opening his whole face to her gaze. “I just wanted to see you looking a little less bored.” He stepped closer. She thought she could smell him, his warm skin under his clothes. She traced the line of his strong jaw, to his neck and the gentle pulse that quivered the flesh of his throat.
He leaned closer and whispered: “If I were a painter, I’d paint you.”
She dismissed this as pure arrogance, of course, excusing herself politely. But as she walked away, she realized that she was trembling all over with desire.
George told her things about William Morris, after the party.
“He’s an architect. The flavour of the month, apparently. I was obliged to invite him.” “Well, he could have made a bit of an effort.” She said.
“Quite.” George looked her up and down, his eyes cold. “I hope you’re not thinking of wearing that outfit again. It does nothing for you.”
She couldn’t help looking out for William Morris at the next gathering. Something about the young architect with the romantic name and the scruffy ponytail had caught her imagination. This time, she approached him.
“Hello, again.” She said, shyly.
“Lady Penhalighan.” He gave a low, solemn bow, with a mocking smile. “Nice dress. I prefer the one you were wearing last time we met, though. You looked stunning in red.”
She didn’t know what to say. A deep flush, rising upwards, burned through her. She looked up into those strange eyes and saw the light of tenderness.
“You’re rather unhappy, Rebecca, aren’t you.” He said.
And that was it. She was lost. Free-falling in love’s mad, deep gravity, every hand-hold gone, she forgot everything but him. William pursued her with a tenacity that shocked her. To be so adored was intoxicating, enthralling, terrifying; she knew she should put a stop to it, but it all felt too late. The touch of his hand had unlocked something deep in her, that couldn’t now be contained.
He only had to say her name: Rebecca, to look at her with those eyes - were they brown? No… more green… but with amber glints… Big, round eyes, fringed with dark, precise lashes, in which she lost herself again.
Keeping this secret life from George and anyone who might inform on her was, of course, exhausting. Her lips stung with each fresh lie, the accumulation of every day’s deception weighing heavy on her heart. She especially hated lying to Emily.
“Where have you been today, Mummy?”
“Oh - just shopping, darling.”
“Why didn’t you buy anything, then?”
Nanny Sophie stepped in. “Leave Mummy alone, now. It’s time for your tea.”
Rebecca met Nanny Sophie’s cool gaze and felt herself blush. Perhaps it was true that a woman can always detect another woman’s lies.
It didn’t matter if she did know. Rebecca couldn’t stop. Adrenalin pumped around her body like some relentless Class A drug. She lurched from risk to risk, high as a kite, surviving each day by the skin of her teeth. Just to see William - even for a few moments.
Once a week, they got a whole afternoon together. The curtains fluttered at the window, the shadows fell dreamily across the bed. The sounds of life outside in all it normality did nothing to disturb their rare, secret world, as the hours ticked past.
She began to think the unthinkable.
“Leave him.” Said William. “Come with me.”
“I don’t know -”
“Why not?”
And Emily was the reason why not. Beyond fear, loss of reputation, the end of her comfortable life, there was Emily.
She would take Emily with her - she would stand up against George’s wrath and fight him in the courts, if she had to.
Then one afternoon she was in the drawing room, flicking through a magazine, her restless body pulsing with frustration that today was one of those terrible days when she couldn’t see
William. She looked up and out of the window. Emily and Nanny Sophie were chasing around the garden laughing, tumbling in a heap on the grass. As she watched, Nanny Sophie got to her feet, holding out her arms. Emily jumped up into them, wrapping her arms and legs tightly around Nanny Sophie’s deceptively fragile frame, covering her in kisses.
She couldn’t take Emily from Nanny Sophie. If she loved her child - and she did - she would leave her undisturbed. Leave her with her father, her beautiful house, her assured future. And the mother she really loved.
But she herself had to go. This was her last, her only chance to save herself. She was dying; perhaps she was dead already - dead and buried, with the tombstone of respectable nobility rolled in front of her grave. But then, like Lazurus, a voice had roused her back to life. And so it was arranged. In two days time he would come for her and she would leave this vile place forever.
She lifted her trembling fingers to her face, drawing in the faint scent left from the brooch she had given Emily. A mother’s perfume would linger beyond the memory of her face. One day, Emily might breath in the ancient scent of that brooch and remember her.
* * * *
I don’t want Nanny Sophie to see. I don’t want anybody to see. I broke Mummy’s brooch and no-one can fix it. Nanny Sophie will be cross with me. Perhaps she’ll tell Mummy and then she’ll never come back because she gave it to me to look after.
It’s broken. Everything’s broken.
I know she left because of me, because I wasn’t a good girl when she was tired and had a headache. I know sometimes she was sad. I saw her crying in her bedroom when she didn’t know I was there. She had to leave, to get away from me.
Not even Nanny Sophie can fix the brooch.
I know I shouldn’t cry but I can’t help it. Nanny Sophie is hugging me and I like it, but the brooch is still broken and I don’t know what to do. Nanny Sophie’s hugs aren’t as good as Mummy’s. I remember Mummy’s smell, like flowers, like sunshine. The brooch smells of her, but now they will make me throw it away. Mummy’s smell.
Mummy. Mummy.

The copyright of this post belongs to Alison Stickings

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Stone 2

How far had he travelled?
The open umbrella stands in the far corner of his loft apartment, always unfurled to remind him.
Will he ever go back home? This intrigued others more than him. Stone liked to keep his own counsel and he knew the enigma drew the women to him. For this he often endured a slap in the face.
Will he ever go back home? Where is home anyway, the place where you can retreat to lick your wounds, where the kiss of betrayal can be washed away like silvered cobwebs from hornbeam trees.
Will he ever go back home? Stone turns the ring on his finger and opens up the secret compartment. The sand is still there, tiny grains of Palestine. A memory of a fishing village, now all but destroyed; thoughts of swimming in cool waters at the end of long hot days.
Will he ever go back home? The upheaval the letter brought all those years ago, the tang of lemonade on his tongue, memories, memories, further back, further back. The miles of running, of escaping, of fleeing with pockets full of coins, all of unknown denominations, the currency as foreign to him as the chorus of voices.
Will he ever go back home? Home now to Stone is like a baby hidden in a field, abandoned and unknown bringing freedom and respite. His red front door is like a gateway on fire: full of entrances and exits, excitement and disappointment linger there.

The copyright of this post belongs to Valerie Rule

Stone 1

Two of a kind, the birds fluttered in the tamarind tree, disturbing the sultry afternoon. The sky, low and filled with tattoos of clouds, hung like a vale of cumulus cloth, jewelled and almost ominous.
The dandelion clocks shimmered in the field like feathers, puffy and silver, their parts dispersing like rockets, disentangling, disengaging.
Soon the storm would shatter the quiet brooding of the late afternoon. Stone would find himself sheltering under a tree no doubt, as he had lingered on the heath too long. His mask of indifference to the weather could never slip, his resilience to such vagaries of climate a cause of much teasing with his fellow migrant workers.
The joy of lying undisturbed amidst the rosebay willow herbs, with kind birds singing to him was as an aphrodisiac. His weary musculature eased like a baby’s bottom, and his frantic mind calmed as the blowing dandelion mountain flowed past his prone body.
This vale, like a partner to his brain, brings him respite and joy.

The copyright of this post belongs to Valerie Rule

Thursday, 31 July 2014

To Be or Not?

Stirring the air,
to make them fizz,
broken tiles forming mosaics
rooms with saloon doors,
windows with no glass,
slack jawed men gaping
sloping over the edge
better than before.

Not stirring the air
to not make them fizz
broken tiles not forming mosaics
not rooms with saloon doors
windows with no not glass
slack-jawed not men gaping
sloping over the edge not
not better than before.

The copyright of these posts belongs to Moira Cormack

Silver Linings

Silver Linings.
The paper crossword lay incomplete on the table. Edward sighed, lifting his glass to his lips with melancholy pleasure. The crossword had defeated him, tonight. Reluctantly, he gave it up, pushing it away from him, disgusted. Now there was another two hours to ill before he could conceivably give up on another day and go to bed. This was now his monochrome life. Fooling himself with activities, dividing his day into manageable time slots.
It was Jane who had got him into crosswords, when she first retired. She loved to play with words, loved the challenge of hidden patterns, things fitting together as they never did in life. Even in those last days in the hospice, she still loved to help him with one. She would lie back, a smile on her grey, shrunken face.
He considered it a certain achievement when he got to the end of another day without her. But the truth was, the night was the beginning of another long day. He lay on top of hard sleep, unable to sink into it, hour after hour exhuming buried memories, stretching his thoughts out on a rack. A slow execution.
He thought there was nothing to be done. He looked for silver linings - one of her sayings - lifting up every dark cloud of Jane’s absence and looking underneath, gazing from all angles, but finding none.
He closed his eyes, remembering their wedding day. Illuminated in the oxy acetylene light of memory, his shy treasure in her Sunday best, silk impossible to come by in those early post-war years. Her eyes were full of secrets, her skin flushed and soft to his touch. He looked at her and knew he didn’t deserve her. He stood beside her, whispering a silent prayer to an invisible confessional. All the shame, the mistakes, the horrors of his life before her fell away from him as he held her small, warm hand in his.
With her, he was the good man he could have been, should have been, if it hadn’t been for the war. Her life lay open before him, ready for the full story they would write together. His was a book already written from cover to cover, in blood. Her secrets waited for his unravelling, her riddles teased him, said to him: Solve me! He already knew that his own questions had no answers. His secrets must stay secret.
Reaching for a tissue, he rubbed away the tears that had begun to spill from his tired eyes.
“I know, Jane. I know.” He whispered. “I’ve got to count my blessings.” Another of her sayings.
She had said it when the boiler broke, when he lost his job, when it rained the whole week of
their long awaited holiday in Scarborough. She had murmured it with a shaky smile and a sad lift of her eyes, when their beautiful boy died after a few hours.
He sighed, thinking that he would struggle to find any blessings to count, under all the junk. Jane would cluck impatiently, surveying the piles of newspapers, the unread mail, the abandoned Jack Higgins on the settee. Not to mention the crusty meals-on-wheels containers on the table and the socks that hadn’t made it to the washing basket. He meant to keep on top of it all, but it had quickly gained the upper hand. At first he had looked at the layers of dust on Jane’s prized oak furniture through her eyes, ashamed, determined to do something about it.
Tomorrow. After a good night’s sleep. When I’m feeling a bit better.
But those times hadn’t come and now he hardly noticed. Since there was only him, who was there to care if the sink was clogged up with limescale?
The uncompleted crossword mocked him from its place on the table. Jane would never have given up on it.
He remembered that day in the botanical gardens, a favourite place of Jane’s. It was a hot, grey day, the sullen skies oppressive. The flies buzzed in their faces as they walked. They breathed the stormy air deep into their lungs, not speaking.
Somehow he knew what she was going to sat before she said it. It was the aggressive type, apparently - already spread to the lymph nodes. Surgery no longer an option. They’d try radiation, of course, but…
He swallowed hard, staring at the wild, bright growth of roses all around him, mocking them with their vibrant life.
“How long?” He said at last.
“They’re not sure, darling…”
“Tell me, Jane.”
She lifted his hand to her dry, fevered lips. “A few months.”
And there it was. The words to transect his life, neat, clean, swift. Sitting quietly together on their favourite bench, the wound to finish him off - as no war ever could - had been inflicted by his dearest love. The one who had healed him.
It’s shocking how selfish we can be, he thought now. On hearing those words, he had been angry. Furiously, blindingly angry with her, for getting it, for not telling him, for leaving him so soon. For her crass ‘count your blessings’ mentality, which had stopped her ‘bothering’ the doctor sooner. Sitting on that park bench, she had clung to him and cried, but he had remained rigid.
And that memory was what stopped him sleeping every night.
It was still only half past eight, the summer sky outside relentlessly light. He thought about all the evening barbeques that would be going on, the lazy, contented laughter, the children still out playing, the couples walking in the softened evening air. Life going on without him.
Of course, everyone had had something to suggest. Their daughter Ruth wanted to drag him to a pottery class. He could take up origami, golf, sky-diving… Whatever it was that lonely widowers did with themselves when their reason for living had gone.
Sighing, he switched on the television, flicking through the channels. Reality T.V, sport, a depressing documentary about abuse in old people’s homes and the obligatory episode of ‘Inspector Morse’. Something unspeakable on Channel 4 - whatever happened to the nine o’clock watershed? He switched off.
He could, of course, just go to bed now. Walking into the hall, he gazed up the narrow, darkened staircase with a sense of defeat. If he started climbing those stairs, he would have to admit that it was all over. He returned to the crossword.
“Arch enemy, seven words, second letter ‘E’.” He muttered to himself. “what the hell is that?” “Nemesis.” A whisper, a soft stirring of warm breath against his cheek. He turned.
Jane was smiling at him.
He gasped, reaching for her. “Darling…”
“You are hopeless, Ed.” She pointed at his crossed out attempt at 4 across. “Tyrone? Juliet’s cousin was Tybalt.”
“Well, you always knew your Shakespeare, Jane. What about 7 down? ‘Short of cash’, second letter ‘m’, last letter ‘s’.”
She touched his hand, a glow on his cold skin that travelled to his heart. “Impercunious.” She said.
“How the hell was I supposed to know that? Who uses words like that?” He smiled into her gentle blue eyes. “Apart from you, old girl.”
Jane looked around her, shaking her head. “Look at the state of this place. Honestly, Edward - can’t you do anything without me?”
“There didn’t seem much point.” He said ruefully. “There’s only me here.” She leaned towards him, cupping his face in her small, soft hands.
“I was right to worry about you, my darling.” She said.
He sighed. “Things are a bit sticky at the moment, love. I’ll get on top of it.”
“I’m worried about you.” She repeated, her gaze burning into him. Smiling gently, she released him.
“Don’t go yet -”
He looked at her with helpless, beseeching hunger. She was fading away, a trick of the light as he tried to hold her in his gaze. He leaned back and moaned. Jane…
Everything was still. Silent.
Then warm breath against his cheek, the stirring of a whisper in his ear: “You are a brave man,
Edward. Don’t give up, my darling. Work out the clues, find the answers. Look for your life.” And then she really was gone, the air empty, clear, the smells around him familiar again. He found he was smiling.
There was only one more clue to complete the crossword. He frowned, muttering:
“‘Metallic underside of cumulus nimbus.’ Five and seven letters, first letter ‘S’. What the hell -?” He heard Jane’s voice in his head, the laughter as she said:
“Silver linings, of course!”

The copyright of this post belongs to Alison Stickings

Friday, 13 June 2014

The Paper

The Paper

That's all I was yesterday. Newspaper lining the recycling box in the vestry. Insignificant. Discarded. Buried beneath an empty tea bag box, a toilet roll core and several ignored claims that you too could be a lucky winner. I was waiting. Waiting for my new beginning, for someone to see my rich potential. My chances were flimsy, I knew that, but hope was bubbling in me.
I could help in so many ways. There are so many possibilities.
I could be stuffed inside a wet welly boot to soak up the fun of puddle jumping days, twisted to kindle the warmth at the heart of your home, torn into shopping lists, made into seedling pots, placed on the floor to soak up the damp patch that always seems to fan out from the umbrella stand.
Make me a new creation of Origami.
With love, patience and glue, paper mâché could give me new life.
Couldn't I be allowed a stay of execution from the recycling plant?
But that was yesterday.
Now you notice me and with a sudden gleam of inspiration there is clarity and vision and purpose in you,like an oxyacetylene burst. The lime scale crust that had dulled your imagination has crumbled away.
I am stripped and torn and placed layer upon layer with thought and care
and as I am formed in your hands I imagine the journey and the destination.
Not only have you given me form but you have made me more than I was, adding hessian plumage and a lacy crown (I love my lacy crown).I can no longer fly up like newspaper, insubstantial as tissue, as activity goes on around me. There is more to me now, I am enriched. And as I gain substance I know you will love me in the same way as the creator of heaven loves such things as the sky has made, because they are born of love.
Finally I am whole, complete. You honour me by carrying me through the transept and up the secret staircase passed the jewel-like window so that I can look out through the clear glass panel and see the earth spread out in patterns below, the spring wild flowers on the ragged moors, the trees all at once pushing down and reaching skyward, the rich soil and the promise of new life all around and I know that I am blessed.
And then you bestow your final gift to me. A sense of such purpose and value.
You tell me that I can be an inspiration to all men because I prove what can be achieved with only simple materials and a little love care and imagination.
So welcome and share the celebration of my birth.

The copyright of this post belongs to Holly Khan

Jo Stripped White

Jo stripped white

(An extract from my novel 'Unmasked')

Circuitous sounds, noises of the past return. The tentacles of dreams shoved, hoarded in a dark recess, reaching out.

Though I don't regret it.

The moment I 'flipped', the shrinks say, was my superid manipulating my ego. Did I hear right? Over the noise?

Though I don't regret it.

A crystallizing of loss, they say together, nodding and smirking at each other. Chiming. Charming!
They write something on a piece of paper, push it over, black spider on white. I make out only one word 'Others'. I eat the paper.

I remember doing that.

I am standing. The table between us has been tipped over.

Did I do that?

I am standing. They are sitting. I am standing and screaming 'the others, the others? The others are not my fault'.

I am lying on the floor, 'are they?' I whisper.

'Yes' they chime in unison, white coat expressions.
'Your behaviour crystallized in a moment of loss,' says the woman, eyebrows contracting.
'A clear case of displacement leading to dissent,' nods the man's glasses.
'Total loss of any loci of external satisfaction which produced the inevitable fall from grace'
'Inevitable?' The man glances towards her
'Inevitable!' Her pony tail sways in emphasis.
'Inevitable' he echoes, looking down at me.

Did I do that?

I want to curl my finger around a knife, something sharp at least and plunge into the heart of their cruelty but the drugs have deleted that thought before it happens.

Had they?

The table, the chairs are gone. When did that happen? The snowflakes of awareness are melting. The white coats have merged into the white walls.

They did, did they?

I am lying in triumph on the velvet floor. My head in a pool of red. Sticky velvet red. Comforting warm noises reach out from somewhere. A radio off beam. Along the padded wall, near where it meets the door, empty eyes stare back at me from the floor. Black rimmed, one is cracked.

They did.

Wait, don't go, the radio is tuning in...

'Christ, Rourke, we are dead meat'
'Not our fault if the shrinks put themselves in danger Mallory.'
'But she was under our care Rourke, and look what happened, fuck...'
'Shut up, listen Jenkins and his mob will be here at any moment, we need...bugger, too late'

Is it?

'Gentlemen, I think we all know each other, now what mess have you created this time, the officer reporting the incident tells me we have two of our best psychiatrists laid down in the basement with their throats cut. Care to explain how Miss nutcase in there got loose....'

I don't regret it.

Copyright Gabrielle Goldsmith 2014

Tuesday, 3 June 2014


She thought about him now, sitting on the train passing through the increasingly bleak and time-haunted landscape on his journey to the alien North. He was a Southern man, used to oceans and warmer climes. She pictured him smiling, satisfied, anticipating. He loved an adventure. And it was that wild, adventuring heart that she loved in him, the restless pulse that drove her swashbuckling hero on and sometimes took him away from her. She had learned to let him go. There was always more for him to see, questions to get answers to, experiences to be had. He was chasing purpose, running hard from the mundane horror of a life like so many other lives that, in the final analysis, would count for nothing. That was not to be his life. His world was a stage and he was being watched.
“Do you know what you’re like?” She told him once.
He had smiled indulgently, stroking her hair. “What am I like?”
“You’re a high speed train. Every day, you have a different destination - figuratively speaking, obviously. I mean, some days it’s a work day, some a tidy-up day, others a - well, you know. Wherever it is, you’re going there fast. I have to read that destination - it’s always written somewhere - and jump on board. If I don’t read it in time, or if I try to get you to go somewhere else, I miss the train.”
His face fell. “Oh, dear. That makes me sound really selfish.”
“Not selfish. Just needing to get to your destination. To achieve what you need to achieve. It’s my choice whether or not I board the train.”
“I’m glad you do.” He said, gazing at her with fierce, focused tenderness. He pulled her into a close, solid embrace, breathing his warmth into her neck. She sighed.
The first time she saw him, walking across the school playground holding his little girl’s hand on her first day at school, the only thing she had really noticed - with a certain relief - was that he was a man. She was surrounded by school gate mums, permanently set in their cliques from playgroup onward, insecure, gossiping, moaning mums. Their husbands were useless, their kids ran them ragged, the weather was crap and they had to go to bloody Tesco, again. Then followed a conversation about why some of them preferred Morrisons, or even Aldi. Out of sheer loneliness, she sometimes joined in. Not that they ever let her be part of the club; she didn’t have a husband to moan about. She didn’t have anyone.
Then he appeared. His daughter was transferring from another school half way through the term. She was the new girl and her dad was the new boy. The other mums eyed him with amused suspicion as he said a friendly hello, casting glances at his patchwork hippy trousers and then returning to their whispering groups. He seemed undeterred.
And there he was every morning, strolling in, crumpled tee-shirt half untucked, oblivious smile on his face. The other mums continued to ignore him, closing ranks, suspicious of this full-blooded, sanguine personality. So she dredged up courage as a fellow outsider and struck up a
conversation. She couldn’t remember what she said. Probably something dumb. After years of being stuck inside four walls with the ‘Teletubbies’, she didn’t have much to say for herself. She found herself looking into a rounded, gentle, almost bland face, apple cheeks like a happy child, a full smile lifting his tender mouth. Just a nice guy.
But then she looked up and into his eyes. They were a curious sludgy brown - like the colour her daughter made when she mixed all her paints together - but so full of a dancing light, a vibrant intelligence, that she couldn’t draw her gaze away. She glimpsed a different kind of life, like the sun through swaying branches. Even his computer geek glasses twinkled at her. He laughed readily, an endearing chuckle. He didn’t feel the need to discuss the virtues of different supermarkets. And as he walked away, strolling in the sun that seemed to shine especially on him and chatting on his phone, her first thought was: There’s a man without a care in the world.
Her second thought was far more shocking: I think I’m in love with him.
Her first thought was wrong.
Slowly, slowly, as the years slipped past, both their girls growing, she saw just how wrong. He was not the man she thought she had seen, strolling through life without a care in the world. Just as she was not the self-possessed woman she appeared to be, single mother always in control. So, they let each other in, found each other out.
Chatting outside the school gate until long after the other parents had gone home, lead to coffees at his house. Then lunch, days out, evenings out (when babysitters could be found), declarations and the tentative first kiss. The impossible joy of discovering that he loved her as she loved him. By the time their daughters were in their final year at junior school, they were a couple. The other mums looked vaguely disapproving and ignored them both.
For the first time in her life, she discovered what it was to be in a truly symbiotic relationship. She had been used to being the one who did all the giving, but in him she found someone who gave as much back.They flowed into each other’s empty places, borrowed one another’s strength. Each of their naked selves were safe in the other’s adoring gaze.
He let her see that he was a man in constant conflict, pulled one way by that adventurous spirit - the need to be more than what he was - and relentlessly the other way by his many, many doubts. There were days when he collapsed under the weight of his guilt-blighted obligations, dragged into inertia and ultimately back under the duvet by his inner mantra of failure. His I.T work piled up as he lay in bed or zoned out on with a computer game, his client’s messages ignored. His mum’s calls weren’t returned. Then he would open the door to her with a relieved smile.
On these occasions she sat with him as he forced himself back in front of his computer. She massaged his tense shoulders, kissed his neck, made him cups of tea. With the reassurance of her touch, he could face the terror of those obligations. He could make the phone calls, untangle the coding knots, meet the deadlines; begin to see himself again as the brilliant, gifted man he was. She lent him her vision of himself.
And he let her be weak. He gave her permission to stop pretending, to drop the official party line: I’m fine, it’s all good, no worries… Everything she had pushed down for so long, kept tightly packaged and under control, began to seep out. All the disappointments and failures of the years, the angry protest against circumstances she had been powerless to prevent and that had left her here, a single mum on benefits at thirty-one; all the emotions that terrified her, found a safe outlet in his embrace. And he made her feel beautiful again - a woman, not just a mum.
She remembered the interesting, fun, spontaneous person she used to be, lost for so long in the shadows of regret and duty. She realized now, as he drew out this forgotten self, that she had been bored almost to death.
Where she had been flatlining, he restarted her heart. He e.c.t-ed her fatally dulled brain and pulsed his love through her constricted veins. Her vision, narrowed by years of isolating motherhood, sleepless nights, baby-sick and C.Beebies, was forced wide, made panoramic by his adventurous, questioning mind; the many conversational topics of his supple intellect. He talked to her about the nature of dark matter, provoked her to question or defend long-held, unquestioned habits and beliefs and listened attentively to her responses. They discussed God and death, science and politics, love, ethics and their favourite Monty Python sketches. (He was a die-hard ‘Holy Grail’ man, where she held that ‘The Spanish Inquisition’ couldn’t be bettered.) They lustfully explored the depths of one another’s very different minds, never quite getting enough. He spoke to her as an equal, an adult. He made her laugh, as she hadn’t laughed for years.
And when she saw him with his little girl, patiently calming her many anxieties and holding her close when she cried, her heart twisted with painful pride.
“Well done for trying, Sweetie.” He would whisper into her frustration, as she failed again to get to the top bar of the climbing frame. “You’re a brave girl.” Then he would cuddle her until she said:
“Can I try again, Daddy?”
And when she succeeded, laughing with pleasure as she clung on to the top bar, he stood up from the bench and shouted: “Yay! Well done, darling!” And she gazed at her Daddy as if she was in the presence of a god.
She made a mental promise to be more patient with her little girl.
Of course, they had their moments; days when their bad moods coincided, misunderstandings clogged up the air between them and the man/woman divide seemed unbreachable. Those days when they felt the huge distance between Mars and Venus. But every wound they inflicted on one another, they also healed. They talked, until all their words had run out. Then they continued their understanding with touch, the slow worship of kisses, the soporific delight of skin on skin, limbs entwined, drifting together into sleep. Tenderness, like a dreamy opiate, pulsed through their shared bloodstream.
He was her cure for the every day with all its frustrations, its perversity, its disappointments and boredom. And she was his. Companions on the uneven path of what they were pleased to call single parent life.
Not that he was some paragon of shining human perfection. But he was warm and real in his flaws and those aggravating, puzzling habits, the strange ways his mind worked; all the things that made up the whole man she loved. And she knew he had plenty to forgive in her over-sensitivity, her high maintenance moods and insecurities. But, amazed, she saw that something in her constant and adoring company flowed into his damaged self-esteem, reminding him who he really was and how large was the world around him. Sometimes she would be talking to him and realize that he was no longer with her. A dreamy, distant look had come into her eyes as he gazed at what she couldn’t see. He was looking into a future that might not have room for her. As his confidence in her love grew, he went to places in his dreams she couldn’t follow - missing that high speed train - and she knew she had to let him go there. It was the whole man
she loved and she must let him be that whole man.
One who needed her less.
So, when the interview for his ideal job came up in Scarborough, she was ready to be glad for him. Almost. She pictured him again, sitting on the train through the changing landscape. She thought about his restless heart, thrilling to new adventures and allowed herself a smile. After all, he would be coming back. This time.

The copyright of this post belongs to Alison Stickings 12.5.14.