A Christmas Wish – Samantha Tonge
1400 words Feel Good Fiction
Alone in the house, with husband Tony at work, Janet hears a strange noise. She creeps downstairs to find Santa in her lounge. Either she’s dreaming or it’s a burglar, right…?
This story is included in the collection Sweet Talk
Janet turned over in bed and lazily persuaded herself that she hadn’t heard a noise. Perhaps, like the other night, she’d left the utility room open and her cat, Smudge, had escaped and was taking a tour of the house. Janet chuckled. He really was a scamp. Perhaps he had unrolled a ball of her best cashmere wool. With a yawn, she closed her eyes again. It was Christmas Eve. She really had to sleep. Tomorrow would be busy, what with Mum and Dad coming around for the day.
A Class Act- Peter Lingard
1500 words Women’s Fiction
A lad from the ‘wrong side of the tracks’ falls for a girl his mother warned him he can never have.
My mother was preserving the class system again. “Them folks as live up th’ill, live in a different world frum us. We’ll never be able to aspire tuh same ‘eights as them, you’ll see. Just wait ‘til ya get older and you’ll see the way of the world!” Unfortunately, one of the folks that lived on the hill was Penelope Armstrong-Sydeley and I took a shine to her from the day I saw her in the schoolyard. A gaggle of girls was doing handstands against a wall that ran the length of the girls’ play area.
A Clean Break – Samantha Tonge
1200 words Women’s Fiction
Worn down by the recession and daily grind, Ken and Linda take drastic measures. However, their new life in France isn’t all it appears to be…
“I asked for what?” Ken put down his glass of wine and skimmed a hand over his bald head. “Poison with chips. You’ve got to pronounce it right. The French word for fish is le poisson.” From the lounger Linda squinted across at him and grinned. The midday sun reflected off the yacht-shaped pendant lying on her tanned chest. He’d bought it from the local market the week before, bartering down the trader before blowing what he’d saved on a box of croissants.
A Coffee and A Rose – Peter Youell
I was once given the task of writing a story around the phrase. “The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose.” In thirty minutes, I managed to write it in my almost undecipherable long hand in the allotted time. Over the years, and having had many a lonely coffee in small cafés, on rainy nights in Britain long ago, this story evolved. Of a father and daughter who lost one another, only to find one another unknowingly, and too late.
He stared out of the window. He saw the colours of the rainbow, as the light from the street lamp shone through the raindrops running down the windowpane. He looked down, and surveyed the cold dregs of his empty coffee cup. It was warm inside the café and he was reluctant to leave. The young woman at the counter paused in her wiping, and looked over at the solitary figure by the window table. Would he never leave, she wondered. She could see he had long finished his coffee, and she really would like to close up and go home. He looked very lonely. An unexplained sadness came over her.
A Company of Boys – Peter Lingard
1500 words Feel Good / General Fiction
A young school cadet goes to a fairground looking for the kind of girl about whom he has heard other cadets talk. Camellia doesn’t exactly fit the description but she does provide him with a sought after opportunity.
I was the youngest of the school cadet force at the summer camp and socially unacceptable to my peers, so, on Saturday, I took a bus alone into town, intending, like the others, to meet one of the anticipated hordes of vacationing mill girls. As I strode into the pulsating fairground, Frankie Vaughan sang of secrets ‘Behind the Green Door’. Rides went round and round, up and down and in and out, allowing girls to scream out for attention, pretending excitement and manufacturing fear. Assorted music blared from a multitude of speakers.
A Cunning Plan – Susan Wright
2300 words Women’s Fiction
Lucy is having lunch with her grandmother in a local pub. She thinks they have gone out to lunch instead of having their usual sandwiches because her grandmother has run out of bread, but it turns out that Joan has a cunning plan.
This story is included in the collection Six Stupid Sheep and Other Yarns
Lucy had never been in The Red Lion before. She’d walked past it a few times in the past and concluded that it looked a bit of a dump, but it was actually quite nice inside, and there were loads of tempting dishes on the menu, but she was finding it very hard to decide what she should have to eat. She needed to concentrate, but her grandmother hadn’t stopped talking since they’d walked into the pub. First she’d gone on, in a very loud voice, about the landlord and his seedy past, then she’d moved on to her bunions and what the chiropodist had said, and for the last five minutes or so she’d been acting like a teenager and eyeing up all the single men!
A Curious and Confounding Thing – Rebecca Marsh
2000 words Literary / General Fiction
Only child, teenaged Meg has always been fascinated by their neighbour, Julia Everett. The Everetts had been something of a bone of contention between her parents and a source of ongoing gossip among the neighbours, but canny Julia had kept them all at bay. In the throes of first love, Meg wonders whether the Everetts could ever have been in love and learns a surprising truth about adults, love and marriage.
‘She’s as nutty as a fruit cake,’ my father said, when Julia was arrested for stabbing her husband. ‘Oh, Jim, don’t!’ my mother pleaded. ‘She’s eccentric I’ll grant you, but she doesn’t mean any harm’. ‘Doesn’t mean any harm, Nancy! She’s as mad as a hatter. For all we know, that poor old bugger’s lying there fighting for his life and you think she doesn’t mean any harm!’ my father said, his face crimson. I listened to their arguing in a detached way, not sure which of the two had the better of it. At sixteen, I was not mature enough to have formulated a valid opinion of my own but I knew one thing; Julia Everett had always fascinated me.
A Cushy Number – Terence Brand
2000 words General Fiction
Tells how Senior Aircraftsman John Newton, an engine mechanic by trade, came to be working in RAF Changi’s Technical Wing Disciplinary Office and how he schemed to make his unofficial position permanent.
This story is included in the collection On the Changi Beat – 1961-1962
I flew into RAF Changi, Singapore on a moonlit April evening in 1961. After twenty-one hours cooped up with a score of squabbling RAF families, I desperately needed fresh air. Stepping eagerly onto the aircraft’s gangway, I took a deep breath – and choked. You can cut Singapore’s atmosphere with a knife. Even at nine in the evening humidity tops ninety percent. Having spent a restless night sharing a hut with a tribe of lively cockroaches, I reported to the Station Warrant Officer’s headquarters to collect my blue ticket. Still itching with revulsion, I bent the admin sergeant’s ear. “That vermin infested transit billet should be condemned, Sarge. It’s bloody disgusting.”
A Dangerous Crossing – Anita Louise Jay
1160 word General Fiction
Where is Amila going on this misty, cold evening with a full basket and a heavy load on her back? Why is the crossing so dangerous?
A freezing wind howls across the track on the steep hillside. Amila slips frequently in the mud as she climbs. She stops, drops the basket she carries to the ground to pull her anorak hood further forward over her headscarf. She then shifts the weight of the bundle on her back until it sits in a relatively more comfortable position. She claps her gloved hands together to warm them before picking up the basket once more. Looking up, she notices that the mountain top which yesterday had been iced with snow, is hidden by the low grey clouds and the misty curtain of drizzle.
A Dark / Sunny Day – Peter Pitt
2200 words General / Historical Fiction
Usually, if you want to vote, you go to a polling station set up in a school or church hall, but in 1938, Stefan journeyed to Tilbury and boarded a German Cruise Ship, to be able to cast his vote outside British Territorial Waters. Janet, his young wife, is worried when he doesn’t return home on time.
‘Surely this trip is a waste of time?’ Janet said as she placed a plate of bacon and egg on the kitchen table. ‘Hitler marched into Austria a month ago, didn’t he?’ ‘I know,’ Stefan said excitedly, ‘That doesn’t mean all Austrians want the Germans there.’ Stefan spoke English with only a slight accent, but when annoyed or excited, as now, his accent become more pronounced. ‘I have been lucky to be given the chance to vote, many other subjects over here haven’t had that chance as there’s only so many the ship can carry.
A Different Kind of Enemy – Patsy Collins
1500 words Women’s Fiction
You can’t expect others to keep rules you break or to win battles you have no intention of fighting.
My name is Matthew King; no one calls me that though. My parent’s called me Mattie right from the start. That’s what my wife, God rest her, called me too. The lads, when I joined up called me ‘Super’ on account of the super king sized cigarettes I’d smoke whenever I got hold of them. Usually it was just roll ups, but you know the military, never let the truth get in the way of a good story. Most often these days I’m called Gramps. That suits me just fine; I’m pleased that my daughter’s boy spends so much time with me.
A Dog Called Cat – Tracey Glasspool
1040 words Children 3 – 7 years
Digger is in the doghouse. He has eaten the sausages, chewed dad’s slippers and tiddled on the kitchen floor. Digger decides that being a dog isn’t much fun anymore – but what should he be instead?
Digger the dog sat in the garden. His ears drooped, his tail drooped, even his whiskers drooped. “Outside!” Mum had shouted. “You are a very naughty dog!” Digger hadn’t meant to eat the sausages that had been left out for tea. He hadn’t meant to chew Dad’s favourite slippers. And he really hadn’t meant to tiddle on Mum’s clean kitchen floor. “I don’t want to be a dog anymore,” he said. He padded off, thinking about what he could be instead.
A Dog For All Reasons – Peter Lingard
2200 words Women’s Fiction / Feel Good / Humour
A man is left with a dog his wife brought into their lives. The animal helps him readjust and eventually find happiness.
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I laughed at her outrageous statement and made wagers with her to win my prize. I got her inebriated. I challenged her to nude wrestling matches and other transparent games and she laughed at me. When I said it was time to stop the games, she said, “Not until we get a dog.” The dog was a Welsh corgi and he was the right size for our garden flat. He was farm-born, a few weeks old and nameless when he came into our lives.
A Dog Story – Carolyn Cordon
900 words Crime
Stuart isn’t enjoying his working life, not enjoying it at all. His boss treats him like rubbish, and Stuart doesn’t like it, not one bit. But Stuart has a plan . . . A Dog Story is a short piece of crime fiction, with sharp bite at the end.
He looked at me with that smug sneer on his smarmy face. ‘If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong,’ he said, and shrugged his shoulders. What could I do? Ralph was my manager, the man who I wanted to sign my leave form. If he didn’t sign the form, I’d be stuck in Adelaide while my family holidayed in Europe. I could agree with the idiot and suck up to him, anything to get what I wanted. ‘All right, Ralph, I guess you know more about dogs than I do.’
A Dog’s Death – Dan Delehant
680 words General Fiction
There are those rare times in life when by choice or chance we come across exceptional individuals. One mundane late afternoon on the way home from work Mr. Delehant experienced one of those rare encounters. “People like this, like him, redeem my faith in the goodness of humanity. But I must add that in all my years I have been exposed to much more cruelty than kindness. Still, one can hope.” (Dan Delehant)
I was driving home from work early one evening. It was already dark, since it was December. The traffic was heavy but moving fast on a familiar avenue. I was in the right lane doing about forty or forty-five. The car in the left lane beside me suddenly veered towards me so that its right fender nearly clipped my driver door.
A Dog’s Life – Linda Louisa Dell
700 words Women’s Fiction
Life can be very hard living with an ‘alpha’ male and when that man gets himself a tough-looking dog to match his image it can be a recipe for trouble, but not necessarily the trouble you expect!
He didn’t need much of an excuse; if there wasn’t a beer waiting for him or his dinner on the table, he’d had a bad day at work or just had too much to drink; I was always the one that bore the brunt of it.
A Dollop of Mother – Chloe Banks
2000 words General Fiction
Melanie’s attempts to charm her village neighbours by entering the Victoria Sponge Cake competition have only succeeded in proving she is not the culinary queen her mother was. This year, she’s determined to do better. Can she avoid scorn? Will her sponge be light enough? And will she ever learn to be like her mother?
I never wanted to be like my mother. Not until I realised I didn’t know how to be. The gene for perfectly-coiffed hair and superb scrap-booking abilities must skip generations, for I am as clumsy and inelegant as my mother was graceful and regal. Heaven knows, the woman tried to instil some Women’s Institute values into me, but it was no use. I was – and have remained – hopelessly inadequate. And now I’ve gone and done something stupid, and Mum will be turning in her grave. I’ve entered a Victoria Sponge Cake in the Village Show. Again.
A Done Deal – Cath Delaney
780 words Feel Good
Sally views a television programme on arranged marriages with horror. But her mother, Kate, had visited India and met a woman who gave her a different perspective on the practice. It was to change more than one life…
Sally rolls her eyes as the credits roll up the television screen. “Thank goodness I was born here,” she says. “Imagine not choosing your own husband.” The documentary about arranged marriages had been fascinating stuff. “Just think who I could have ended up with if you had arranged my marriage.” Sally laughs. “Some boring nerd with a steady job, no doubt. It doesn’t bear thinking about.”
A Fairy Godmother Calls – Cath Delaney
1540 words Fairytale
Jean firmly does not believe in Fairies, Ghosts or anything supernatural. But when a disembodied voice visits her and reminds her of past events, she is thrown into confusion. A long walk with her dog, Sam, is required to clear her head. But the voice has other ideas…
“Lovely day, isn’t it?” Jean almost dropped the plates she was putting in the sink. Who on earth could that be? A quick glance at the glass kitchen door confirmed there was no unexpected visitor. As she looked round, Jean frowned. She could have sworn she’d heard a voice. But she was quite alone in the house and the lane at the end of the garden path was quiet this early on a Sunday morning. ‘I’m hearing things, I must be getting old and daft,’ Jean decided, shaking her head. And she had indeed just been thinking what a lovely day it was. Winter had come early but it was sunny and crisp, with frost on the branches and hedgerows.
A Fellow Named Garbage – Clayton Elliott
8000 words Literary Fiction
In the world of the itinerant of New York City, anonymity is a way of life, and practically guaranteed. Until your past catches up to remind you of who you were, and the costs you left unpaid. In 1963 the world Garbage left behind, in shame and cowardice, comes rushing back, and entangles his new family in debts of blood and life.
1963 – In the alleys of New York City the desperate and the disparaged make their homes. Some are there of their own volition, but most are not. Some think that life on the street is better than living under the watchful and intrusive eye of Big Brother, but most are too destitute to do anything otherwise. In the time of this story there is a band of the homeless that rules the alleys. They have, in their time, become too influential to be bothered with the likes of the police (who believe it is better that they occupy those paths, rather than something much worse), or ‘the bosses’ (whose men have suffered so many beatings at their hands that they find it easier to peddle their disservices elsewhere).
A Fine Big Chick – Vivienne Holmes
900 words Children 5 – 8 years
Mrs Wagtail loves to boast. When her only son Ciaran is born she bores all the other birds with details of how big and advanced he is. She is in for a shock when she discovers her fine son is in fact a cuckoo.
“Mrs Wagtail is a very silly bird,” Rosie the Robin complained to her husband. “What has she done now?” asked Henry Robin. “She is such a snob. She is always boasting. She thinks she is better than the other birds. She says her nest is bigger. It is better built than ours. Now, she says her chick has hatched already, before everyone else.”
A Fishy Father’s Day – Maria Deitrick
500 words Children 4 – 6 years
When Molly gives her dad a homemade coupon book for Father’s Day, she can’t wait for him to use the Buddy For a Day coupon. The problem is Molly hates fishing, which is exactly what her dad wants to use his coupon for. Molly’s attitude and events make the day horrible, until she realizes how her behavior affects her dad.
“Come on, Dad, just open it,” Molly squeaked. She couldn’t wait for him to open the Father’s Day present she made him. “I’m trying, but you wrapped it too good, Molly,” Dad teased. When he finally got it open, Molly dove right in to show him everything.
A Flower for Skalla – Alpha Writers Group
The City has become a bleak place since the Patreen invasion. Patreen stewards patrol the streets, while the original inhabitants, the Nasoots, are forced into exile or live as outlaws in the labyrinthine tunnels under the City. Only a handful of Nasoots remain in the City, where their superior technological skills are required by the Patreens. When the Nasoots invent a humoid far superior to the standard android, their plans to liberate the City from Patreen dominance take off with surprising results. Skalla, a young Nasoot girl, sparks off the liberation as she gradually discovers things that were outlawed in the oppressive City.
‘A Flower for Skalla’ is a collaborative writing project from Alpha Writers Group – it’s a science fiction story where each writer developed a new and exciting twist in the evolving plot.
All royalties go to Macmillan Cancer Support.
For paperback sales please use your local Amazon store HERE.
A Forgotten Key – Gerard Taylor Wallace
5490 words General Fiction
A young child’s heart; a punk looking squirrel; an old rusted key; lead a broken family to a journey that promises more. Little Pete takes them to the quiet sea of the hidden heart.
This story is included in the collection This Land is My Land
Surely there are promises and joys that wait unknown to us in days and years, and even the moments ahead. With this assurance of something more, the knowing of a need or hope soon to be realized, it is just and natural that more often than not, our eyes and hearts are cast there: in these tomorrows we’ve yet to know. How boldly and beautifully this is portrayed in the color and want of children’s dreams, how safely their eyes are turned to the morrow. Still, amidst this simple truth, it is at times not only necessary, but also wise that we turn and find what was lost, in the moments and years now hidden.
A Fresh Start – Michele Dunn
1600 words Romance
It’s never too late to change the direction of your life. David wasn’t happy with his job, his love life, or his living situation and that’s exactly what he decided to do. The results were certainly life changing.
Everything in my life had become a merry-go-round of nothingness. No girlfriend, no car, no home. Living with my mum once again at the age of twenty-nine was not how I pictured my life. The only thing that saved me from total depression was my degree in Architecture. It was the one thing that allowed me to keep following my dreams despite all the setbacks that have plagued me for the last three years, leading me to this point. I hated my job. Yes, I was working in my chosen field, but I was under-utilised and had no control over any project that I worked on. I was merely a pencil-pusher, drawing the visions of somebody else’s design.