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Bridge

10 Oct

I’m pretty sure I’m not a witch, though Mum tells me not to cross the bridge. Water runs fast below it; trees grow tall beyond it; birds fly overhead and nest there. We can find all we need here, Mum says, as she adds eye of newt to the cauldron.

 

This piece was inspired by the theme Bridge on the Scottish Book Trust’s 50 words section for September.

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Kentucky Derby

28 Jul

ross-findon-303091

 

Kentucky Derby

She handed me a crisp pound note, fresh from her pension. ‘Get five shillings and the rest in smash.’

At nine, I am already taller than my wee Granny, so I go up to the booth and translate the request into new money.

Diane likes the tupenny falls. The exact timing of dropping the coppers in, watching them fall, pushing other coins forward. Some drop onto the next level to be raked, moving others tantalisingly close to the win.

Granny stands at the one-arm bandit. She anticipates three cherries while building up the muscles in her right arm. We’ll get an ice-cream push-up if she wins big.

Both games are too sedentary for me. I am drawn to the Kentucky Derby. I play it every day, building up my winning tokens to be exchanged for a prize on the last day of the holidays. There’s a teddy bear for a hundred tokens, though Granny says it would be cheaper to buy. I really like it though, even if I just have fifteen tokens with six days to go.

I put my money in the slot, wait for my ball to roll to the front of my game area. I like to sit on the third seat, three being my lucky number, the date of my birth. The ball is yellow, which I like too, as are the coloured border of the target holes. I don’t mind if someone else is already in my seat, it doesn’t put me off, but gives an added challenge.

When the man running the stall figures that no one else is coming, he puts us under starters orders. The horses are all ready, waiting for our commands. And they’re off.

You need to be quick. Rolling your ball up the slope. Aiming for the three-point hole, but satisfied with a two. My horse moves forward ­ one, two.

Commentary blares over the speakers, filling the whole arcade. ‘And Number Six is leading by a head.’

There’s a fat man who plays all day, or at least all the times I’m here. He’s my main rival. But what he has in speed, I make up in accuracy. I’m ahead. The race is on. I can see his sideways glance, but I am under strict instructions not to talk to him.

Diane comes up behind me, wants to show me her handful of winnings, but I blank her out for a few more seconds to secure my win.

I’m handed my token, and pop it in the sparkly purse, which I wear diagonally across my body. I take out another coin to start again.

When we run out of money it means it’s time to go back to the flat that Mum’s friend lets us have. When it’s raining, we run ahead of Granny, while she braves the elements in her summer coat and rain mate. But if it’s dry, which it sometimes is, we shorten our steps to walk beside her, as she limps along with her rickety legs and bad hip.

I tell her about my races, and ask if we’ll get ice cream from Nardini’s later. And she tells me again, not to talk to the fat man, who sits all day at the Kentucky Derby, trying to get enough tokens for a giant teddy bear.

 

This piece was inspired by the CHANGE prompt at Creative Writing Ink

 

Catching up on my reading, and getting rewarded

28 Mar

I restarted a new subscription to Writing Magazine about a year ago and got second place in one of the first competitions I entered with them. Read it HERE So far so good, but my reading had slipped a bit, as the magazines are crammed full of articles, stories and various other info about outlets etc.

Anyway, I was sitting at my desk today reading January’s edition, and look:

Writing Magazine Jan2017

Bizarrely I was just working on that very story this afternoon to make it fit the word count of another competition. The Scottish Art Club’s short story competition has a hefty entrance fee, but feeling more confident after seeing this.

Away with the Fairies

3 Nov

When the children asked why Granny couldn’t remember their names, or talked to them like they were her childhood friends, I couldn’t bear to use the words – Dementia, Alzheimer’s. Their little tongues wouldn’t be able to wrap themselves around the syllables, so said she was away with the fairies. It made them giggle, satisfied their curious minds. It made me wonder how long I had accepted the same explanation when my mum used it for my little Nan. How long before I drummed up the courage to ask if it was really the fairies that were occupying her mind. From my reading of the Brownie Handbook, I would have thought it was more likely to be imps, making Nan leave the gas on to boil the electric kettle dry; making her strip to her girdle and knickers, and walk out to meet the postman.

It seemed appropriate that we took Mum out to the woods to scatter her. The roots of blown down trees looked like fairy skyscrapers, with nooks and crannies to hide precious memories. A ring of mushrooms under an oak. Stones neatly piled. Tinkling in the breeze.

‘What do we do now?’ Moya asked.

The rituals at the church and crematorium were for others to command, now it was my turn, and I struggled under the weight of expectation. A new tradition about to be born through this death.

‘Form a circle,’ I said, thinking back to my childhood’s Thursday nights. ‘Hold hands. Now we skip.’

John looked at me, and I knew he thought I’d gone too far.

‘Even Daddy?’

‘Especially Daddy.’

We skipped in a circle as I mumbled incantations from all the cultures that had brewed in my life. Then I broke the circle, stood in the middle, a tight little group, clasping hands around me. I took her from my pocket, and silently asked the fairies to look after her.

This story was written in response to this prompt at Creative Writing Ink

A photo by Robert Lukeman. unsplash.com/photos/_RBcxo9AU-U

A Good Way to Start the Day

8 Jul

With a yipee and a cheque for winning the Writing Magazine’s 750 word competition. You’ll be able to read my entry shortly online, but for the moment I’m just going to sit here with a smile on my face. 100_0791 - Copy

Oh, and in case you’ve forgotten, since I’ve only mentioned in 3 times – All the Places I’ve Ever Been is still on a Kindle Countdown deal, although it ends in exactly 1 day 13 hours, from time of writing – basically you need to get it by tomorrow!!!

And the Winner is…Me

27 Apr

It is a wonderful feeling to get an email with some good news, and here it is – another win in the Creative Writing Ink monthly short story competition. Read it here.

It was actually a story which I had written ages ago, and was sitting in a submissions pile for an anthology for about 18 months. I finally lost hope about hearing anything else about this publication, so I submitted it to Creative Writing Ink. Then, wouldn’t you know it, the anthology folk got back in touch – they wanted to use it. I had to hold them off, and when I got the nod from CWI I had to withdraw the story all together. I don’t like having to let people down, but it was a nice problem to have with two people wanting the same story, and in the end it went to the highest bid – £10 vs £0. Anyway, go and have a wee read at Forget-me-not, and let me know what you think.

 

Update: You can read all the winning stories from the website here

Ice Queen

22 Apr

There’s more to her than meets the eye, there’s got to be. That cold exterior must have some hidden depths. Maybe when she leaves here she helps out at a soup kitchen, or a food bank. Maybe she rescues dogs, or half-squashed hedgehogs.

She can’t possibly be this shallow – only worried about face creams and this month’s healthy eating craze. Surely her well-educated brain has space for the plight of refugees or how to combat global warming.

I look across the desk at her. She’s been trying to make me cry all day. Throwing reports at me, asking for figures she knows she has banjaxed, commenting on how her sister would never leave the house without full make-up, let alone turn up at work with dried baby-sick to be scratched off a jacket, and she had twins.

I do not rise to her bait. I have worries and joys and pains and delights that she cannot even image as she sails her solitary course. But one day she will approach me from the wrong angle, and find that I have hidden depths, and there is a fire raging within my ice.

 

 

This piece of flash fiction was inspired by the photo prompt at Creative Writing Ink – their copyright.

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