#writing dare – 99 words starting “The baby was screaming again”

The baby was screaming again.

Every day. Pretty much all day, the baby screamed.

Truth was if she’d known about all this, then she might had changed her mind about it all. But no-one asked her. Even if they had, they wouldn’t have understood her. She spoke a language that had few interpreters in this place. Someone, somewhere needed to get the message before it was too late.

Carefully opening her eyes, she glanced around to see if she could attract some attention. Nobody around.

Her baby sister was hungry again. She knew that even if her mom didn’t.

#writing dare 499 word story starting with “The letter was from my father. I threw it away”

The letter was from my father. I threw it away.

How dare he put pen to paper after all this time? He knew how I felt about the situation. Yet here he was, trying to weasel his way back into my affections. Trying to make me feel bad about ignoring him.

Well it just wasn’t going to work. Years of not speaking about it. Years of me not sleeping well, of memories haunting me, keeping me awake. Broken dreams, lying on the floor like broken glass that had fallen off a high shelf, pieces scattered, some in open view, others hiding waiting to catch fingers unaware.

How I wished I hadn’t opened that envelope. I should have known by the post mark: I picked up the envelope again to check where it was from. Yes it was from – there.

When you are a child you put your trust in the adults in your life. You have no choice, you believe everything that they say, even if it is a joke. My father was the ultimate joker. Practical pranks every day of the year that casually and carefully undermined my trust in him. “I’ll take you to the shops” he’d say, raising my hopes. Then drag me down to car showrooms or DIY stores to get the latest gadget. Well it was all about him, wasn’t it? Buying stuff for him. Goodness knows what he did with the things he got, he never seemed to keep it, probably sold it in some pub.

Toy shops were the worst. Dolls, prams, trains, jigsaws, stuffed animals, bricks to make buildings or cars or anything you desired. He got all of that. I began to hate him and his excuses as to where he stashed the stuff. Sometimes he made things as well, all delicate arty things. All this stuff and I never saw any of it, certainly not to play with.

I don’t remember my mum being around very much. I have no memory of her face, just his with that silly smile and another joke about more shopping. Spring, summer, autumn – even into winter, that’s all he thought about.

Frankly, I think he had a disorder of some kind. You know, compulsive shopper. Oniomania is the term for it. Can have dreadful effects on families. It certainly did mine! I even began to think he was stealing some of the things as well, as he never seemed to have money. I ended up getting a Saturday job, then leaving school early to become an apprentice joiner. Funny. It appeared I was as clever as he was with his hands. Never did stick at much for long mind you, always those dreams haunting me.

Fragments of my father’s letter floated into my mind. “I need you to take over. I’m tired and need to rest. Please come home”.

Pah! What was there for me? Why me?


The last thing I wanted was to turn into my dad – Father Christmas.


“It is soup” he whispered in her ear, clutching her close to his chest.

“No. That is not soup. I’m telling you, that is not soup.” she said. It was a struggle to breathe he was holding her so tight. “You need something else in it – to – to beef it up …”


 Lydia had been out Christmas shopping for a present for her boyfriend, Useph. It was almost a cliché but he really was rich, tall,  dark and handsome with a dazzling smile that would melt a glacier. Lydia had to pinch herself every time she was with him: she couldn’t believe what he saw in her. The truth was she’d never really had a boyfriend before and Lydia was truly smitten.

Erring on the far side of fat (despite her mother’s protestations that she was merely plump) she was just chuffed to have a boyfriend. She’s always been fond of her food, but Useph introduced her to so many different cuisines as each date involved a restaurant. Some of her clothes were beginning to feel rather (very) tight, but Lydia thought she’d wait until the sales began before shopping for the next size up.

What do you get for the man who has everything? Socks? Knickers? Aftershave?

Useph had invited her to stay for Christmas, hinting that there would be a lovely surprise for her when she got there. Lydia blushed as she imagined Useph and her… well… you know… Scolding herself silently, she wracked her brains to think of something that he would really want.  Time was running out: the shops would shut at 5, assistants rushing out the door so they too could spend some time with their loved ones over Christmas. Finally, she spotted a tie pin, dark and elegant and so him. Hang the expense – he really was worth it.


 Lydia arrived at his house slightly later than she intended. Useph opened the door, smiled and kissed her gently, leaving her feeling rather faint.

“Oh Lydia, you look absolutely delicious. Come into the kitchen, I need your help.”

Intrigued, she followed him into the kitchen of her dreams. Dark elegant fittings & surfaces and on a huge range cooker the most enormous pot.

“What are you making?” she asked.

“Well every year I help to feed the homeless that live on the edge of the city. I provide the soup.” he replied. “Here, can you help me stir it?”

She ambled over to have a look.

“That’s not soup” she gasped, as Useph grabbed and hugged her from behind. “It’s just vegetable peelings”

“It is soup” he whispered in her ear, clutching her close to his chest.

“No. That is not soup. I’m telling you, that is not soup.” she said. It was a struggle to breathe as he was holding her so tight. “You need something else in it – to – to beef it up …”



“Oh it will be soup, once I’ve dropped you in it”

#writing dare: 99 words starting with “These blueprints are wrong” she said

“These blueprints are wrong” she said, tapping the paper lying on the table.

“You sure?” I replied.

“Yup. See… here and here… and that bit… doesn’t match what we’ve got on our hands.”


“I asked you to get the ones for the high performance vehicle, did I not?” she queried, one eyebrow raising slightly. “That is not what I’m looking at”

I could feel my face redden as the realisation sunk in that I was looking at something that was really not what I had been asked for. Some master-thief, me.


Santa’s sledge secret was safe. For now.

#Writing Dare – 299 words

“Was she stalking me?” he asked, leaning across the table.

“I’ve never seen her before today” I replied. A half lie that lay between us.   He knew it, I knew it.

The other police man handed me a cup of tea, smiling, trying to re-assure me.

“Did you want sugar with that?” he asked.

“No… no… I’m actually fine” I said, my shaking hands giving lie to that statement.

My thoughts blurred as I tried to remember if and where I’d seen that woman before. She’d come to the front desk yesterday and asked for him by name, a large package in her hands. Well, I think it was her, the clothes looked familiar. Who would forget a real Gucci bag? The quality stood out, none of this knock-off stuff you get down the market, this was real class. Had I seen her before? Perhaps… Maybe.

“I’m sorry… did you say something?” I came back to the room with a jolt.

“I asked if you wanted anything else.”

Trying to focus and now feeling slightly sick, the world started spinning, my ears filling with a roaring sound, I felt hot and cold.

“I’m sorry. I don’t feel too good….” With a thump, I fainted and slid onto the floor.

I came round to find that a doctor standing over me, checking my pulse. They took me home in an unmarked car, not saying much.

It was a relief to get inside the house and lock the door. I sat for hours, running through the questions they’d asked me, over and over. Who would have thought the woman would have died in his office? I really didn’t know who she was, nor did I care.

Was that bitch stalking him? No idea, none at all. Honest.



But I certainly am.









Creaky Friday

old hand

So age creeps up on you?
Another of life’s great lies.

No, it creaks, pops and grates
As sinews toughen
Muscles slacken
Resilience & tone give way
Swelling joints
Aching limbs and twinges
In hinges
that ne’er youth noticed

The slow arc of spine
Hands strategically placed
To aid the upward bend
Of limb and mind
That nimbleness has forsaken

It comes to us all in
One way or another
Deafening and deadening
Our responses
Losing the speed of yore
And leaves us despairing
That this is all there is
Until death claims us

Writing Dare #7

“I never liked that woman”

I heard her say.

“She’s far too stuck up.”

“Oh,” chimed another, “And her hair. Have you seen what she’s done to her hair?”

“Oh yes” replied the first voice. “Mutton dressed as lamb if ever I saw it. Your nails look nice – goes with your dress lovely.”

“And another thing” said a third voice “Have you seen who she’s with? I nearly fainted when I saw him with her.”

Standing up, I flushed the toilet and opened the door. Shocked faces. You know what they say, eavesdroppers never hear good things about themselves.

The final goodbye – a self indulgent offering to a very special cat.


Shona – the one on the left of the photo.

Saturday night.

An out of hours visit to the vet. Knowing that this time, I wouldn’t be bringing home a dopey cat. Trying to get hold of my son who was working as I knew that this time, it was it.  That sick feeling inside that all pet owners get when you come to the end.

One small cat.

One pretty little girl who has been in our lives for 16 years. Who has been one of the gentlest, most loving little sweetheart (unless you were wildlife of course). The one who was the most adventurous of the litter she came from: the first one to jump into the loo.

The runt of the litter.

She who had run round the room when I went to look at them. Run round the room, then jumped up onto my knee, up on my chest, curled up and went to sleep. The one who chose me.

As I type this, her brother who appears lost without her, is wrapping himself round my legs, as he did on that summer’s day 16 years ago. They always slept wrapped up closely together. Chased each other round the house in that way that cats do when they’re imitating small elephants.

She had lost 2 lives – once when a car hit her, once when she somehow had her stomach badly cut. Yet she survived those issues. So delicate and perfect, she only started getting a bit rickety with arthritis recently as cats do. A bit unable to jump as high, bunny-hopping down stairs, but able to terrorise us at the dinner table with her shark impression, especially when it was chicken.

Her speciality was the morning wash. Not of her, but of us. I think it was a (not so) subtle hint to get up and feed her and her brother. She was also a bit of a trollop with any men who came round, who might have been slightly sweaty or wearing strong aftershave. Boy, did she like them. And they liked her – she would enchant them with her size and demeanour. Cute, but sassy.

All of these things wrapped up in one very small, very loving bundle.

The prettiest girl in the world, who is no longer with us. Her brother is patting me now as the tears flow once again.

Please, raise your glass, or cup, or mug or whatever you have to had to my Shona.

My pretty girl. My beloved little one. Who has gone.


Last week two – no three – things happened that are writing related that put a big smile on my face.  This may sound like blowing my own trumpet and that is not something I’m particularly comfortable with, so bear with me.

First: I got a rejection from an online magazine for a piece of poetry I’d submitted.  Fair comment, it probably didn’t work for that particular magazine.  It may for the next one.  At least I’d heard back very quickly which was nice.  Did it sting?  No, not really.  I guess it’s always the chance you take when you put your work out there.  Did the piece suck?  I’ve no idea, but I’m putting it to one side for the moment.  The important thing was that I had tried.

Second: I submitted a short piece as part of the #geowriting September-long writing-fest in response to a geographical prompt.  See here http://www.geo-writing.com/ for more information.  It was really nice to be accepted and featured online.  Even nicer was someone contacted me on Twitter to say they had liked the piece.

Third: I felt encouraged by the acceptance to try out a short horror story I’d submitted elsewhere and been knocked back about.  I popped it on here and publicised it on Twitter a couple of times.  Some “favourited” the piece, some re-tweeted, and some said they liked it.  What a lovely boost to my writing confidence.

So why am I blogging about it now?

Well, if I read a book that I really like, I now try to find the author, whether on Facebook or (more likely) on Twitter to say thank you.  It doesn’t take much to do and I know how happy I felt last week on receiving the positive feedback.

Please, if you really like a book or a blog or something literary (like a poem), say thank you.  It makes the author/writer/scribbler so very, very happy.