Those Little Words

Soft blonde curls lay on their pillows. Two near-mirror images face each other with only a nightlight to see them, somehow making more of them, in that angelic light.

Every evening, Julia always feels a little choked when she walks in and looks at them. It would be ten years tomorrow she brought them home and she can never make sense of where the time has gone. She tip-toes over and pulls the cover up a little on Isabelle and pushes teddy back into bed with Melissa. She stops and smiles once more as she leaves them.

All is well. Continue reading

Closing In

You see a flash of orange across the square, just for a moment.

It’s the first time that you’ve actually seen him, but you know there have been other times recently when you sensed him as well.

It was a him back then. Always a him. For that’s how you know they do it. Every time.

He’s gone now, after he knows you saw him. Not that he was anyone you actually knew.


But you did know of him, from the other times.

That one time in the back street in Siena. And the other time way up in Ravello, way across the valley from the restaurant. The pizza was the best you’d ever had and Michel was with you. He almost threw you off guard for a while. Those beguiling eyes that he used so much to his advantage, peering deep into your soul.

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Self Control

She tugged the elastic on her wrist once again as she stopped the car. A deep sigh as she focussed and made her decision. Her coat felt tight even as she released the seat belt and that caused a frown.

They said it was always worst at the start, but from experience, she knew every day was the worst until the new habits bedded in. She flipped the band again, this time so hard she winced. Like it was the penance she had to serve already. The punishment before the fact, she laughed.

She felt the neon drawing her in through the half-empty lot in the late afternoon gloom. As her hand touched the door handle, she questioned herself again. She reflected that even such awareness was a small positive.

He recognised her with a smile to put her at her ease as she pulled out her money. She looked around to make sure no one was looking and satisfied that the rain was keeping her secret, smiled a little nervous smile back at him.

“The usual?”

For a moment there, she might have chosen differently. She had that split second of control that might change her life.


She missed her opportunity in that knee-jerk response. For just a moment, she had her buyer’s remorse.

“No can do.”

She looked at him in puzzlement. How could he do this to her?

“I’m right out.”

She scanned him closely and was met with two upturned palms of apology.

“Nothing showed up this morning.”

As she turned to leave, she reflected. The rain; the half-empty parking lot; the drive from home. They were all signs. She had been saved by out-of-stock pain au raisin.

She never wanted it anyway. Twang that elastic. Run from the coffee shop.

Diet back on.

So Many Goodbyes

“Goodbye darling. I love you.”

My little red legs are running to keep up with her as we scurry along, on that misty, cold morning. It’s a grey and brooding Victorian stone-built school and I’m feeling bad as we make our way through the crowd of bigger children and their parents. We walk up the steps, where a blonde, cheery woman speaks with my mother, sharing encouraging, sympathetic words. As she touches my mother’s arm, one last time, I look up at that face I love and she smiles a nervous smile and turns and leaves through the half-glazed door. I’m rooted to the floor in disbelief. My new red St James’ blazer is stained with bitter tears. “Come along Reggie, let’s hang your coat up here.” Continue reading

His Father’s Son

The ring of empty seats that surrounded him was an indication not only of the nits he was supposed to have in his wild red hair, but of how they all shunned everything about him. He had gotten used to being ignored by the others. It wasn’t the first time he’d experienced ridicule and loneliness in a classroom.

As the fire alarm bells rang, Miss Dufour put in motion the well-rehearsed drill. It was not Friday at 11 am after all, it was Tuesday.

They didn’t do drills on Tuesdays.

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Blood Bank

As I left the donor centre, annoyance rose inside me. So many people had told me that a white car was not going to work and how I’d argued. But here I was, spitting on a clean handkerchief and wiping another mark off the door panel. As I stood, I sawthe something under my windshield wiper. A shiny white card, with writing on it.

Like all bits of advertising that get stuck on my car in car parks, my first instinct was to throw it away. For some reason this time I didn’t, but placed it on the passenger seat.

As I would find out later, it was one of those decisions where your life shifts in an instant.



Thank you for giving blood today.
As a regular donor,
we want to specially honour you.
Come along here at 10 tonight,
and go to the first floor

I’d always been very proud that I committed to donating, so this was wonderful. I would be recognised for my contributions at last. I had no doubts that I would be there.

Over the rest of my day, I forgot about the date I had that evening. Work was busy and it was not until I packed my bag and saw the card that I thought about it again.

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Pastrami Days

Michael saw the meat fall as he bit into the thick sandwich. He’d thought he wouldn’t be able to get it in his mouth. The pastrami on rye, wasn’t quite. It was more pastrami on table.

The sandwich was huge and it was the size of it that took him back all those years.


They’d been on a last-minute trip of a lifetime to see the sights of the Big Apple. For Jess, though, it was more than that, for she was starting her new life as well. The New York office job at Cantor Fitzgerald was an opportunity she could never pass up on, he knew that, but he worried he would lose her when she started there, across the wide Atlantic.

It had happened to him before. When Helen went to university a year before him, he realised that there would be strains, but he never thought she would end it with him. Girlfriends in far off places would always cause him some anxiety.

Their last meal at Carnegie Deli on 7th Avenue was a treat they’d waited for. A New York icon for visitors and locals alike, the kitsch entrance lobby was full of pictures of the stars past and present who had eaten there and it only precluded the glass cases of huge desserts they both drooled over in anticipation.

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Last Writes

I position myself to shoot. The target bobbles into vision in the scope and I’m ready. I suck air in deeply and slowly, then squeeze on the last out breath. That’s how I always did it back in the old days.

Never failed me. Gently does it.

I once heard that lunacy was defined as ‘a population of one, believing themselves right’. I don’t know where I heard that – or even if I did. Maybe I made it up. My thinking around this little situation is perfectly sound – to me – and that’s all that matters. Maybe it’s a little selfish, but I am doing a service to so many. The fallen. The innocent. The unprotected.

And looking after myself as well, of course. In this case, everyone’s a winner, in the biggest sense, except him, of course. Even his family and friends loathe him behind the scenes, so I’ve heard. So they can be on my side and, in their quiet moments, raise thanks to their God above, too, now that it’s done.

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Home is Where My Heart Is

He heard the van at six. The time they always came. He was ready and waiting and eager to get on his way.

Before they had time to knock, he was at the door and took his place in the informal procession to his place in the back. Through the darkness, the overhead neon lights provided an institutionalized backdrop to exaggerate the intensity of the rain that hammered on the roof.

“Ready Albert?” He knew the guards well enough for them to call him by his first name.

“All buckled up? We don’t want any accidents now, do we?” Roberts chuckled lairily as he looked across to his mate who was driving.

“Going home then, are we?”

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Full Circle

“How’s she doing, lad?”

“All right I think.” Nathan looked down to see if she was breathing. He shook her a little and she coughed and, after a few moments bleated, much to his relief.

“Aye, she’s fine.”

He jumped as another icy blast rattled the battered window-shutters. His attention had only been on the little one. With no prompting, the mother came over and began to lick her baby.
As she did, he realised she wasn’t done.

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