Who left the flowers?


It was some days after the funeral, when all the flowers had been gathered up and put on the compost heap that I noticed a new wreath had appeared with a card next to the simple grave marker. It said “with all my love”. I didn’t recognise the writing, but then it might have some florist’s careless scrawl, hastily done with the phone in one hand, scribbling a quick message to fulfil an order.

Still, I was intrigued. I had been to the graveyard every day and had seen nobody. Then again, I was too busy feeling sorry for myself, focusing only on my own grief. The truth was that I… the truth was that I was devastated by my own loss. I didn’t care about anyone else and how they might be feeling.

The flowers withered and died so I carefully tidied up the grave. The next day another fresh wreath appeared with the same cryptic message. Again, I had seen nobody approach. The funny thing was the flowers were some of my favourites, in the colours I love. Someone had impeccable taste.

I started appearing earlier and earlier to see if I could catch the mystery donor. I sat on the bench from dawn till dusk, in rain and shine but still didn’t find out who it was. The flowers were regularly replaced and the message never varied: a veritable lesson in constancy. I would have liked to meet the person who cared so much and yet, our paths never seemed to cross.

It was only after a year that I finally found out the truth. The gravestone was replaced on a cold, damp morning. I had forgotten that you have to leave the earth to settle before doing this. On this day a yearning had come over me, a yearning to be close so I hung around, hoping against hope that I would finally find out who was leaving the flowers.

Yes! Someone was coming along the path. A man who looked very familiar, very familiar indeed. He was carrying a wreath which he placed carefully on the grave, touching the headstone gently. He looked unbearably sad, then he spoke.

“Well darling, it’s a year to the day that I buried you. I brought the flowers like I said I would. You know, I miss you so much. Even though we spoke about this when you were in the hospice, I still can’t get over how hard each day has been. If only you were here, so I could hold you once more.”

I wanted to comfort this man and reached for him. Stretching my hands out, they passed right through him. I turned and looked at the headstone in a state of shock. There, in solid black letters was my name and the date of my death.

He shivered, wiping his eyes, turned and walked away. Now it was my turn to cry.

Lies #short story

“You’ll always be beautiful” Momma said when we talked on the phone. How she knew that, I don’t know, for she hadn’t seen me for a while. She didn’t see the bruises that distorted my face where he’d hit me.

“You’re so clever” she said. How could I be clever when I stayed with him after he broke another promise not to hit me again? I wish I had her belief in me, so I can break free. I wish I had the courage to stop this once and for all.

“I love you” she said.

“I know, Momma, I know. I love you too. It’s all good.” I whisper back.

That’s the hardest thing to bear when I end the call and drag myself back into the house where it starts all over again.

That I have to pretend that all is well with me, when really it’s not.

Missing you day

Today is one of those days when I have become unmanned by the very fact of his absence. It gets easier after a while, and then along comes something that trips you up and makes you realise that there is a hole in your life that someone pretty damn important used to occupy. The grief you think you’ve worked through suddenly throws you a curved ball.

So I sit here, with memories trickling down my cheeks as I find myself missing the wisdom, love and caring that my father brought to my life. And it hurts that I can’t have that chat about work and how to approach things, that the years of experience have gone and I can’t get access to that one thing that might make sense of complicated issues. That I used to resent (mightily) having to go and help him out with things that had just become too much in the later stages of his life now shames me and I wish it didn’t. I know he felt he was a burden and hated how his frailty stopped him from maintaining independence, yet he never once complained. Maybe he did, in the quiet hours, but never to me.

It’s a different country now when you’ve lost that person forever. Treasure those hours where you are on call. Once they are gone, you’ll never have that problem again. One day, you’ll be sitting as I am now, just wanting one more hug, feeling very sorry for yourself.

Missing you days are the hardest.

#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.