A Red, Red, Rose – Samantha Tonge
Despite what their fellow students say, Alastair and Rose are just good friends – after all, a Scot and an English girl could never make the perfect couple… Or could they?
This story is included in the collection Sweet Talk
With a grin, Alistair lightly punched Rose on the shoulder, as if he were her brother – except that he wasn’t. Quite simply, they were the best of friends. Rose tired of explaining this to her housemates, Cheryl and Susie, who regularly winked and nudged, convinced that the Scotsman and English girl made the perfect couple. ‘Glad you chose to study French, then?’ said Alistair, as Rose gave another sigh. They’d just left the university buildings and were heading towards the library. ‘Did you keep up with everything, in that lecture?’
A Resting Place – Deborah Hawksley
13500 words Ghost Story
Marie Helmsley is a dog person. Returning to her native East Yorkshire she acquires ‘Ben’ from the local rescue centre – a large black mongrel with spooked brown eyes. Is it possible for a dog to carry the spirit of a dead person? Marie supposes not, but is about to discover.
Marie Helmsley was what you’d call a ‘dog person.’ She could look a dog in the eyes and guess what it might be thinking. She could talk to a dog and it would tilt its head, seeming to understand. The shared bond was fundamental; the abiding loyalty, deeply reassuring. Marie had mulled over having a dog of her own for several months, spending time at her computer studying photographs of rejected, abandoned, dogs in the rescue centre near to where she lived. She didn’t want a puppy. She wanted a dog that, otherwise, might not get a new home. As she pulled in to the North Cove rescue centre she had the uncanny feeling she was about to find exactly the dog that was meant for her.
A Rising Tide – Peter Youell
Over the last 3 Years Queensland Australia has suffered from severe floods. This story is woven around one the floods, and the people caught up in it.
“I’m not going!” Jenny said turning away from Cole, her red hair swirling around her shoulders. She liked him a lot but was not quite sure of her true feelings toward him; his English mannerisms clashed with her outback upbringing. How they managed to get along together was a mystery to her. “I am only thinking of your safety,” Cole said quietly. Jenny turned, “Are you?” “Yes, I am. At least your Mother and Father agreed it was safer to leave the farm. You know the weather bureau doesn’t issue storm and flood warnings for nothing.” His voice trailed away.
A Romance Long Age, But Not Forgotten – Peter Pitt
1500 words Romance
An open letter. An explanation, to a former girl-friend of over sixty years ago, of why I agreed to our break-up.
Dear G… We have not set eyes on each other for over sixty years. Yet, I have never forgotten you, and indeed, still feel love for you. All those years ago, I was really ‘in love’ with you. What was it that night, coming from the cinema, having had little conversation that prompted you to say ‘Perhaps we should stop seeing each other?’ Although, in my heart I did not want our relationship to end, I found myself saying ‘Maybe we should.’
A Roti at Dawn – Terence Brand
1700 words General / Adventure
Newton and Halliday’s seaside supper is spoilt by the sight of a man terrorising a small girl. Incensed by the horrifying scene —unusual, even in sixties Singapore— the airmen attempt to rescue the girl; a humanitarian act which leads them to a part of the city very few Europeans see.
This story is included in the collection On the Changi Beat – 1961-1962
Halliday stared over my shoulder, loaded chopsticks halfway to his mouth. ‘Hallo,’ he said. ‘What’s going off here?’ Pete Murphy and I followed his gaze. A small, ragged child was running across the road, making for the tables standing under the stars. I clicked my tongue in disapproval; even in Singapore City, little girls should be fast asleep in their beds at three in the morning. Ours was the nearest table to the road. Suddenly we had a fugitive hiding amongst our legs.
A Rough Game – Roger Noons
1140 words General Fiction
Set in the 1950s, an experience which changed the life of a teenage boy.
The dirt sat on the privet hedge like dark grey snow. There was enough lead in the dust on the window sill of the house to kill a dozen babies. A continuous presence of coal smoke meant that in the winter it was dark by three o clock in the afternoon. That was the way it was in the Black Country in the 1950s. People went out and left their doors unlocked .There was no fear of theft. No one owned anything worth stealing, except perhaps that week’s rent which was left either behind the clock, or in the biscuit barrel, on the sideboard. The rent collector usually came on a Friday teatime, after all Friday was pay day.
A Second Chance – Geraldine Ryan
2480 words Women’s Fiction
Becky and Brenda are worlds apart, but they have one thing in common. They’re both desperate to be given a second chance.
BECKY Why do they give out hospital appointments for such ridiculous times? I’m not a morning person, me. I did try to tell her over the phone but she thought I was just making small talk. Tell me about it, she said. I have to be in work at eight thirty. Then something about how things would be different when she won the lottery. Don’t be late, she said then, or you’ll have to wait another fortnight for the next available time. I felt like I used to feel at school when she said that. When I got off the phone I told Zak she could stick it. I wasn’t going. Please, he said. Go. Do it for me. This was after he’d put up with twenty minutes of me ranting.
A Second Life – Merran Jones
7300 word Historical Fiction
Asha, a young woman, is struggling with her lot in life when she meets an elderly woman named Mary. Mary recounts the story of her husband’s battles during and after the second world war. Through her words, Asha learns that her past and her circumstances don’t have to hold sway.
“Why do you pluck one eyebrow thinner than the other?” Betty asked. Asha gave a tepid smile and helped her sit. It’d taken a senile, elderly woman to say what her friends should have ages ago. She didn’t have time for this. They had to get Rebecca in bed, and Roma on the toilet before Roma decided a five minute delay was sufficient enough time to ring the emergency bell. The kitchen had been late with lunch, delaying the afternoon round. Then, they’d found Valma defecating in the ficus beside reception. “I have something for you dear.” Asha turned. Una stood behind her, smiling, offering a fragrant package. “Uh, thanks.”
A Secret Place – Rebecca Holmes
2000 words Feel Good Fiction
The tarn, hidden away behind the trees, is a magical place of Jen and Richard. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that it’s still there in between their visits, with its own life, season after season, and year after year.
Not many people visited the tarn, tucked away as it was behind the trees. After all, it was hardly the most scenic in the Lake District, especially compared to those surrounded by dramatic mountains and the wild beauty of the fells. It also didn’t help that reaching it involved several miles’ walk along a stony track, through line after line of tall, ruler-straight pines and, even then, found only by those who spotted the faint path branching off, following it over a small rise, to be rewarded by the water opening out before them like a dream.
A Shade of Gray – J. Douglas Sparer
7800 words Literary Fiction
“A Shade of Gray” features an alienated, isolated protagonist through his seventy years of life, his dealing with imaginary friends, and his acquaintance with real and semi-spectral dogs. A cinerous shade of fog, a brindled dog, and an imposing argentite building all share a shade of gray the protagonist is drawn to in life and beyond.
Shades are disembodied spirits whose presence can often be felt by living mortals. Shades are thought to leave an emotional imprint on those who perceive them.
I’ve always been alone, at least as far as being human is concerned. A very brief family snapshot. Father Jewish, Mother Catholic, New York, 1938, eloped, fled to Michigan, bought a suburban home and presented me to the world seven years later. An only child, raised without a religion, (thank god,) and brought up without any wider family, friends, or primal beliefs, my world was unique. My mother was a housewife who drank beer at night and smoked cigarettes like she had seen stars smoke them in the movies. My father made a living playing piano in bars, adored my mother, and seemed happy just to have her in his life.
A Shaggy Dog Tail – Pat Boulton
975 words Children 8 – 11 / Teens
Mikey didn’t have any friends at school, they all laughed at him for being a SWOT, and a NERD. However, a visitor arrived at his back door, and they soon became best friends. The first time he saw the boys from school, with his new friend, they became jealous.
Mikey turned off the computer, threw all his textbooks on the floor, and flopped heavily onto his bed. ‘SWOT’, that’s what they all called him. He hated the way his friends made fun of him, Soon, they would be sitting their GCSE’S, but – did that worry his friends, NO –WAY, (friends -that’s a laugh). They never included him when they went out. The only time they wanted to know him, was if they needed help with their homework, because they were too lazy to do it.
A Sheep For Christmas – Gill McKinlay
900 words Humour / Christmas Story
Marilyn is not amused when her daughter announces she needs a sheeps’ costume for the school Nativity play. It wouldn’t have been so bad but Juliette, with her long blonde hair, would surely be better cast as an angel – and she already has the perfect outfit. How on Earth is Marilyn going to dress Juliette without it costing a fortune? The school note might have held some answers but Juliette has lost it…
This story is included in the collection A Wish for Christmas
“I’m going to be a sheep in the school play,” Juliette yelled as she bounded through the school gates at a hundred miles an hour. “A sheep?” Marilyn said. “Really? Have you got a note?” “Yes, somewhere,” the little girl muttered rummaging in her bag. “It tells you all about making the costume.” Carla, one of the mums hanging around the gate, gazed at Juliette’s long blonde hair and frowned. “I’d have put money on Juliette being the angel in the Nativity,” she said.
A Short Solution – Margaret Pearce
Children 11 – 14
Sean had to face school with a shaved head – like a freak – like an idiot. He was odd man out and the other kids made his life a misery until his two best friends found a short solution to his problem.
It happened so quickly that it was hard to say whose fault it was. The horses at the riding school were getting their winter coats clipped. Sean, John, and Steve were mucking around. As the last horse was led out of the yard, Steve pounced on the clippers. Somehow, as John grabbed them off Steve, his finger pressed the button that started them and Sean’s head was in the way. Almost before he straightened up the clippers had nicked his head and cut a bare path through his hair.
A Sister’s Diary – Linda Lewis
3000 words Romance / Humour / Fairytale
This light-hearted story is a modern retelling of the classic fairy tale, Cinderella, told through diary entries written by one of the ugly sisters.
Monday 24th June The day Mother told us she was getting married again, I was very upset, especially when it meant gaining another sister, but it’s actually worked out rather well. In our old house, I had to share a bedroom with Gloria. We don’t exactly see eye to eye, so that wasn’t much fun. My step father already had a daughter, Lucinda her name is, so when we moved in with them, I assumed she’d be keeping her room. After all, this has been her home for twenty years, AND she was here first, but Mother had other ideas.
A Spoonful of Happiness and Ashes – Travis Michael Chapman
13400 words Teen / General Fiction
After the death of his mother, Curtis’ abusive father takes him aboard his fishing vessel where they live in discordance. Armed only with a mysterious diary page written by his mother, Curtis accosts love and disaster and is forced to confront loss, search for happiness, and ponder the meaning of coincidence.
Whatever piece of furniture father heaved into the hall assured me there would be no sleeping tonight. I lay under my blanket holding my breath as my father’s drunken rampage echoed down the hall. The clamor of wood, plates and profanities filled my room like thunder. The upheaval comforted me because it was familiar. It had reminded me countless times that my nightmares were fantasy, but it never protected me from father’s drunken wrath. The cacophony ceased. I held my breath in fear. Moments ticked past, and I refused to blink knowing he’d hear it. What was he doing? Why did he stop? A rustle. A footstep. A cough. Nothing. Only the pounding of my heart against my rigid lungs. Download to read more
A Spy in our Midst – Patsy Collins
2100 words Women’s Fiction
Luke’s a wannabe spy and unwilling schoolboy. He knows Mrs Burton, a neighbour, was a spy. He suspected Old Ted Holmes was too. What he hadn’t considered was that while he was keeping an eye on them, they were conducting a new mission of their own.
I can’t remember who first told me Mrs Burton was a spy. I don’t suppose anyone came right out and said it; I wouldn’t have believed them if they had. She didn’t look like a spy, but then you wouldn’t be much of a spy if you did, would you? I didn’t look like one either, but at fourteen I knew that’s what I was destined for. I’d never missed an episode of Spooks and I’d watched every 007 dvd. I’d even read some of the books.
A Star is Born – Brian Long
500 words General Fiction
A young performer grasps his big chance for success.
As Danny waited in the wings he experienced the all-too familiar surge of panic; his stomach felt as if he were travelling in a high speed lift, and his heart thumped so loudly that he feared the audience might hear it. He had powdered just before leaving the dressing room…
A Sticky Situation – Tina K Burton
2000 words Mystery
Chard and Jones are called in to investigate a rather sticky situation.
Harry Boggle – who’d worked in a jam-making factory – came to a very sticky end, quite literally, when he was found dead in a vat of strawberry conserve. Miss Hawe found him. She screamed when she saw a pair of legs sticking out of the top of the vat, and everyone knew it was Harry because he always wore a different colour sock on each foot. The question now was, did he fall in, or was he pushed?
A Sting in the Tail – Samantha Tonge
1200 words Women’s Fiction
Devious Ruby is determined that colleague, Maria, will not get together with the new office hunk, Jack. However, a trip to the beach, where Ruby hopes to romantically ensnare him, doesn’t quite go to plan.
Monday morning at the call centre was Ruby’s worst time of the week – until a fortnight ago, when Jack joined her team. Now she was the first into work every day, clothes carefully ironed and an extra layer of mascara applied. That particular morning, sunlight had flooded across their desk, highlighting his tousled, blonde hair. She smiled at him, but he was too busy to notice. ‘Coffee?’ she asked and stood up with her empty mug. ‘Cheers,’ said Jack and averted his gaze from the screen for a moment.
A Stinky Encounter – Brenda Havens
690 words Children 4 – 7 years
What does a dog do when a furry, stripy critter tries to enter his yard? He attacks, of course. This didn’t go well for Sunny. Come on into the yard, to see what happened.
A Stitch in Time – Neil MacDonald
1400 words Science Fiction
You can’t go back in time, because you might accidentally change things like killing your own grandfather, and so, the “grandfather paradox” forbids it. Or does it?
It was on June 29 that Mark began to flicker. It wasn’t so much that you could see the flicker as that it resonated in your head, like an ultra-sound vibration. It was below the level of consciousness. People just found something disturbing about being around him, without being able to put their fingers on it. Mark flickered. He felt it as something like a tidal pull, a sense of being in motion while standing completely still. He didn’t really think much about it, or the constant feeling of a lurking headache. He’d always felt this way. As far as he knew everyone else felt like this from the inside too. It was just part of life, like a heartbeat, or the pump and suck of his lungs. He’d always flickered.
A Tale of Two Tails – Pat Boulton
500 words Children 2 – 5 years
Sue and Sam were twin cats, who lived with Mrs Bumble. They were usually well behaved, but one day they decided to go on an adventure through a hole in the fence to explore the next door neighbour’s garden.
This story is included in the collection Bedtime Stories to Remember
Sue and Sam, the twin cats, lived with their owner Mrs Bumble, in a lovely country cottage. They had very thick white fur, with a few black blobs dotted over their backs. The only way anyone could tell them apart was by their tails.
A Test of Friendship – Rosemary J. Kind
1800 words Humour
Annie’s body clock is ticking and she still wants to have children of her own. Advertising in the paper to find a lifelong partner is all very well, but these things take time and time is the one thing she doesn’t have. Maybe she could skip the lifelong part, but that still leaves her with advertising…
This story is included in the Essence of Humour collection
“Do you have a better suggestion?” Annie poured another glass of chardonnay and sat back on the settee. Her lustrous brown bob framed her grinning face. She angled the fluffy white teddy to wave his paw at her friend. “You’re bonkers. You could adopt.” Karen shook her head in disbelief. “And telling me that Bear needs a pair of little arms to hold him is no justification. You could have left him in the store.” “It’s all right for you. You have men queuing up, with your blonde hair and blue eyes. I’ve tried internet dating and where did that get me? And you know I can’t walk past a Mothercare store without going in.” Annie threw the newspaper down on the table. The page was folded so that the advert was uppermost.
A Thief is Caught – Holly Stevens
2580 words Children 6 – 8 years
Trevor and his friends return to the farm determined to catch the egg thief who is stealing from Mr. Digger.
Some boys hide around the farm watching the various visitors whilst others search for clues.
They soon decide on their suspect, but how do they catch him in the act?
The six boys all huddled together in the barn and listened out for adults. Joshua Drey, who was on lookout, ran over to join them. “It’s all clear. Jack’s just driven into the wheat field. He’ll be at least an hour before he returns.” “Right role call!” said Trevor importantly, as the whole meeting and plan was his idea “There’s me, Trevor Sharp representing the hedgehogs, Billy Digger for the badgers, Batty Hill moles, Freddy Rivet frogs, Tommy Twitcher field mice, and Joshua and Joe Drey squirrels.
A Time for Sharing – Fay Wentworth
1750 words Romance
When two children share a swing, romance follows; and history repeats itself.
“Granddad, it’s my swing!” Luke’s dark eyes flashed up at me and his bottom lip protruded obstinately. Sturdy legs apart, my four year old grandson waited for me to resolve his problem. Glancing over his head I saw the swing swaying to and fro beneath the old apple tree. Hands circling both ropes and feet kicking the ground defiantly, Susie stared at us. “She’s on my swing!” Luke repeated and I sighed, preparing to convince my precious grandchild that sharing was a good thing.