A Lesson to Remember – Patsy Collins
Adam’s granddad showed him a way to get the bicycle he wanted. PC Marks instructed him in riding it safely. Looking after it was a lesson Adam had to learn for himself.
Adam had almost forgotten about his rush to get to school on time. He often forgot things and sometimes this got him into trouble. “Mum, I’ve just remembered, my tyre was slightly soft yesterday,” he’d said at breakfast. “Did you pump it up?” she’d asked him. “No, I forgot.” “You’d better do it now, hurry up or you’ll be late,” Mum said as she helped him with his tie. Adam cycled extra fast all the way. He just got to assembly on time.
A Letter to Barbara – Roger Noons
1150 words General Fiction
A man writes of his infidelity in a letter to his wife.
It was just after four o’ clock in the afternoon when I went into the study. A shaft of sunlight slanted through the French windows, missing the desk, but highlighting my favoured leather armchair. I switched on the CD player and selected Elgar, the Cello Concerto played by Casals. The melody always consoled me when I was feeling sad. I sat at the desk, selected a sheet of ivory notepaper and picked up my favourite pen. After gazing briefly through the window and relishing the shimmer of the flowering Magnolia stellata, I began to write.
A Life of Riley – Joan Zambelli
825 words Children 6 – 10 years
Since the cats moved out, the mice down in the palace cellar lived ‘a life of Riley’ – which is more than can be said for lazy King Casper and kind Queen Veronica! Astonishingly, it took Ricardo and his ‘special pizzas’ to change the situation.
King Casper and Queen Veronica lived in a grand palace at the top of a very steep hill. Lazy King Casper was so bad tempered, that all the palace staff had left years ago. Even the palace cats had moved out, so the mice down in the cellar lived a ‘life of Riley’! Poor Queen Veronica had to clean all the one-hundred-and-one rooms, including the very large State Rooms, Banqueting Hall and Ballroom. By evening, she was tired out!
A Likely Story – Paul Peppers
1500 words General Fiction
When Granddaddy started to reminisce about his younger years, I couldn’t help but wonder how much was built from the sands of time and how much was what really happened.
My granddaddy was an original. I can picture him now in his liberty coveralls, shiny black shoes, and old felt hat. The grandfather stereotype was probably modeled after him. I will go so far as to say that if you saw another old man dressed similarly you would be reminded of my granddaddy. He always had an old flyswatter handy like a scepter of office. And like Solomon sitting in judgment over the Israelites; he would occasionally administer justice to a wayward fly, but only when it was absolutely necessary.
A Little Christmas Magic – Lynda Franklin
2170 words Christmas Story
Debra is definitely not happy. Called at short notice to help out in the Store’s Grotto, dressed in a ridiculous fairy costume that scarcely fits, Debra is counting the days until it’s over. To make matters worse, things are not going well in her love life. Can a little girl visiting the Grotto, and her simple belief in magic, change all that? It is Christmas after all.
Debra kicked off the sparkly shoes and gently rubbed her feet. Did anyone really have feet that narrow she wondered. She wiggled her toes, imagining the pleasure they must be feeling at being released. That’s how crazy this job was making her. She knew the wings strapped to her back would have to stay, but somehow managed to lift the glittery crown up slightly and give her head a good scratch. Then, and not for the first time, asked herself what she was doing dressed like this. Debra would be thirty three next birthday. Not old in human years maybe, but surely middle aged in fairy years, and positively elderly when it came to a position in Santa’s Grotto.
A Little Grey Lie – Cath Delaney
2000 words Women’s Fiction
Teenager Josh is at loggerheads with his father, Max and his mother, Anna, feels like the pig in the middle, trying to keep the peace. Then she finds Josh’s English homework book and discovers how Josh really feels. But what can she do to improve things?
A herd of elephants stampeded down the stairs and burst into the kitchen. “You’ve been in my room and I can’t find my One Direction CD,” Josh screamed. “Please calm down. I had to clean it, what a filthy mess. And I haven’t touched your CDs.” “It’s my room and you shouldn’t go in. I’m entitled to some privacy.” Josh’s contorted face was not a pleasant sight. “And I’m entitled to have dirty dishes washed and in the kitchen where they belong, not under the bed. They were a health risk. And while I’m at it, how many times do I have to tell you to put dirty washing in the basket….?”
A Little Less Self-Restraint – Patsy Collins
1000 words Women’s Fiction
Grace couldn’t see anything special about New Year’s Eve, or why people bothered with resolutions, or the point of quite a lot of things … even if they did look like fun.
Grace watched the starlings splashing around in the birdbath. She knew they only did it because they needed to keep their plumage in good condition or risk perishing on frosty nights, but it looked as if they were having fun. If she’d dared think of Simon, she’d have imagined him laughing at the sight. Once the starlings flew away, she went out to replenish the water. “They’ve never drunk it all?” her neighbour Ruth called. Grace explained why the water had so quickly been used up.
A Little Piece of Fiction – Dorothy Davies
1240 words Science Fiction / Feel Good
A grandmother prepares her last gift to her grandson, who is about to take off for distant planets and stars.
Her hand trembled a little as she reached for the flour jar. She told herself to stop being stupid, there was a loaf to be made and very little time in which to make it. She tipped the flour into the bowl and added the fat; her wrinkled fingers began the process of rubbing it in. If Gary were to walk in now, she thought, he’d say, as he always did: “You need a mixer, Gran, one with a dough hook. It’ll do all that hard work for you. Go on, let me bring you Mother’s.” But she’d always made her bread this way and she always told him she was too told to change her ways.
A Little Revenge – Alan Garth
1730 word Humour
The serious business of insulting fellow guests at a cocktail party takes on a greater significance as Iain Lanton is made an offer he can hardly refuse and his career path takes an unexpected turn.
The drinks party had already started when Iain Cuthbert Lanton walked into the reception room. He collected a glass of white wine from the bar and decided to plunge right in. The first unattached person he found was a tall, bulky man in a tweedy sports jacket taking receipt of a large scotch from the bartender. “Hello, I’m Iain Lanton. You here for the do?” “Lantern, eh. So, you light the way, ha ha.” Not a good start. Iain had heard this one too many times. “Not exactly, no. It’s Lanton, not Lantern.” “Ah. I see. Lanton.” “Yes, I. C. Lanton.” “Pardon?” “Iain Cuthbert Lanton.”
A Lonely Place – Dorothy Davies
1060 words Ghost Story
A morgue is not the place you expect to find someone wandering around at night, but it is a refuge from the world outside, perhaps …
It’s an odd fact that the morgue can be a lonely place at times. I mean, empty lonely, desperate empty, that kind of lonely. Don’t quite know why that should be, it’s just a place like anywhere else. Ain’t it? Well yes, I mean I know there’s bodies there, course I do.
A Losing Battle – Patsy Collins
Sally knew leaving stuff at Tim’s house was the way to get him to notice her – if only she could find something really interesting …
“A pumpkin?” Linda asks. “Yes,” Sally replies. “The enormous orange things you have at Halloween?” “Yes, but smaller obviously.” “Oh yes obviously. We can’t have the terrific Tim thinking you’re odd!” Linda makes a face at her friend from behind one of the display boards. The tourist information office is always quiet for the first half an hour or so in the mornings. The girls have time to chat as they replenish leaflets and check that posters are still in date.
A Loss of Identity – Terence Brand
2700 words General / Mystery
A worried airman makes a confession to Newton. He has lost his RAF Identity Card, known as a ‘1250’. It turns out he is not alone. Joining in the investigation, Halliday falls foul of the people who are stealing the cards which could gain saboteurs access to British service establishments.
This story is included in the collection On the Changi Beat – 1961-1962
I was chuckling over an advert for a magic potion in Singapore’s Straits Times —“Are you Listless; Do You Suffer from the Early Morning Blues”— when, for the first time in days, Flight Sergeant Ellison came into the office. Despite his rest, Chiefy still looked decidedly pasty-faced. I vacated his desk but left the paper. ‘Morning, Chief. How are your kidneys?’ I pointed to the advert. ‘You should try a spot of Wang’s Elixir.’ Chiefy pulled a face as he sat in his chair. ‘All right, Newton, one sarky remark, but only one, yes?’
A Lost Cause – Samantha Tonge
1700 words Feel Good / Animal Story
A home-less kitten makes house-proud Juliet realize just how much she has changed, since having children.
This story is included in the collection Sweet Talk
‘It’s such a cliché.’ Juliet groaned. ‘Everyone told me it would happen. I insisted it wouldn’t.’ ‘What?’ asked her sister, Susan, who had called in after spending the morning on the phone to tradesmen. Her washing machine had leaked the previous evening and her laminate floor was ruined. ‘Getting broody – now that Emily is in reception year.’ Juliet placed two coffees on the kitchen table. She offered Susan a biscuit and sat down opposite her. ‘Other mums warned me that’s how I’d feel, when my youngest started school full-time.’
A Matter of Routine – Patsy Collins
2100 word Women’s Fiction
There’s not much scope for spontaneity in Philipa’s life. Carl’s meticulous planning and the children see to that, but the man in the coat offers an opportunity.
Philipa sighed. She was ready to take the kids swimming and as usual Carl was fussing. He checked opening times online, sorted the right coins for the parking meter and lockers. He’d already chosen where they’d eat afterwards and booked a table. It was a good choice of restaurant; Philipa could have a classy salad while the kids gorged on pepperoni pizza. It would be a fun day out and nothing was likely to go wrong, she should be grateful for her reliable husband and his meticulous planning. Should be.
A Move Too Far – Valerie Holmes
1000 word Ghost story
Marie finally has her dream home in sight – a beautiful Georgian terrace house that as a child she used to admire from the park opposite. After years of working and saving her time to make the move is now – or is it?
Marie had always dreamed of moving into one of the Georgian terrace houses opposite the park and now the time to realise that life-long ambition had arrived. She climbed the stone steps, noticing a few cracks that would need seeing to, and lifted the heavy old doorknocker in anticipation, admiring it – a direct link to the past. The door slowly opened, snapping her back to reality. A little old lady, no taller than five feet, peeped round the large green door.
A Moving Story – Peter Lingard
3675 word Fantasy
Geoff knew his murdered friend had been unconventional but he was about to learn of another peculiarity.
At breakfast my mother handed me The Herald Sun folded to expose the story of a man killed by the person he had rescued from the Yarra. The rescuer’s name was Michael Dodge. “Think that’s your friend, Gene Simmons didn’t he change his name to Michael Dodge?” she asked. “He was a troubled lad.” “Could be. Do you have a number for him?” “I think so. Somewhere. I heard neither hide nor hair of them since you joined up.”
A New Home and a New Friend – Joan Zambelli
660 words Children aged 3 – 7
Susie loves her cat, Rusty. Sadly, cats aren’t allowed in the flat they are moving to. If Rusty goes to live miles away with Auntie Laura, Susie will hardly ever see her. One day, on her way to school, Susie reads a notice on a tree-trunk, but how can this help her?
This story is available in the collection Home Sweet Home
Susie could hear her mummy and daddy talking about the new flat. “Susie will love having a bigger bedroom,” Daddy said. “She’ll be nearer her school, too,” Mummy said. All Susie could think about, was the fact that they couldn’t take Rusty, her cat, with them.
A Nice Cup of Tea – Patsy Collins
After George died, Gladys stopped drinking tea. She didn’t want to make it if her husband wasn’t going to drink it. So why is she waiting for the kettle to boil?
Gladys waited for the kettle to boil and wished she were making tea for George. How many times had she boiled a kettle for him? Over sixty years ago she’d started doing it. At just seventeen, she’d been so noticeable and pretty, with long red hair, green eyes and freckles. She saw her reflection, distorted in the kettle’s round metal surface, distorted too by age. Her hair was all anonymous neat grey curls now, her freckles hidden amongst the age spots and wrinkles, her once bright eyes faded and cloudy. No one noticed her now.
A Passing Quiet Cloud – Gerard Taylor Wallace
1500 words General Fiction
All things can change in a moment; in a blink of the Devil’s eyes or the whisper of Angels always near.
Jen was still sleeping; their dog wasn’t though; he opened one eye from the foot of their bed and watched Mark as he was leaving the bedroom too quietly. Jinx closed his eye and Mark quietly, closed the bedroom door. From a dream, Jen reached to Mark, and gently touched his pillow. The small cottage that had recently become Mark and Jen’s home was viewed by neighbors as something strange and misplaced; it was one third the size of the other homes on their block and had no garage or lawn. Somehow though, it had passed the laws and the codes, and a builder with a vision of his own had smiled when the last shutter was in place.
A Past Life – Susan Wright
2400 words Women’s Fiction
Jenny is intrigued when her young son, Christopher, tells her that he remembers a past life. After asking him lots of questions, she finds out that he lived in Brighton before and suggests that they should go there to try and find the house where he once lived.
This story is available in the collection Came as ‘Me’ Left as ‘We’
Christopher didn’t choose the best time to tell me he’d lived before. I was dashing around getting the living room ready for an angel party when he came downstairs in his cute doggy pyjamas and blurted out the words. I stared at him in astonishment as he told me he could remember a woman who had been his mother before, and a tingle ran down my spine as he recalled living in a big red brick house, but there was furniture to move and nibbles to put out in the few minutes before Cassandra and my friends were due to arrive, so unfortunately I just didn’t have the time to ask him any questions or listen any more.
A Peach Offering – Tamara Jones
775 words Romance
Violet and Peter are preparing for a summer holiday, but their marriage seems unhappy and close to breaking. How will the enforced intimacy of the holiday affect their relationship?
He was outside again, tending to his precious peach tree. Violet watched him from the upstairs bedroom window, he was oblivious to everything, including her. No, especially her. Absently she continued folding the shirt she held in her arms, and wondered how they were going to get through the two weeks of their approaching summer holiday without the routines and distractions into which he seemed to escape from her every moment he could here at home.
A Perfect Day? – Rebecca Holmes
2400 words Humour / Romance
Heather eagerly anticipates a day out in the Lakes, visiting her sister and brother-in-law. Her best clothes have nothing to do with the fact that Edward will be there. They meet her at the station, equipped for fell-walking. From there, it’s downhill. Or should that be ‘up mountain’?
“You, Heather, are the original hopeless romantic.” My sister’s words ran through my mind as I checked my appearance in a handbag mirror on the final stage of my journey. I’m not normally vain, but today I wanted to look my best. Luckily the other passengers had disembarked at a previous station, so that I had the compartment to myself, as the train puffed towards Westmorland and the scenery became more hilly with each passing mile. I was used to hills, of course, coming as I did from a Lancashire town surrounded by moors. But, much as I loved them, they couldn’t compare to proper mountains, especially on a day like this, with a clear blue sky. At least my sister wouldn’t be able to joke about me having my head in the clouds.
A Pick Me Up – Paul Warnes
2000 words Humour
A woman joins a gym to lose weight and finds love there. She finds a novel way of coping with eventual rejection.
Derek’s upstairs having a kip bless him. He’s never going to desert me because he needs me as much as I need him. How did we get together? Well, I suppose looking back, it’s Dr. Richards I’ve got to thank. Dr. Richards was a real treasure. I swear he used to look forward to our weekly chats and there was never any fuss about prescribing my pills. “So, Mrs Jones, some more of your little pick-me-ups then?”
A Piece of Pink Ribbon – Patsy Collins
Elle Meadows was used to the needs of the farm coming before anything she might want for herself so didn’t get her hopes up when a florist’s van pulled into their driveway. Lack of flowers she could cope with, but did the driver really need to call her ‘mate’?
This story is included in the collection Up The Garden Path
Elle Meadows limped back towards the warmth of the farmhouse, clutching the piece of pink ribbon and trying not to cry. Was she being unreasonably selfish to hope for one small touch of luxury or comfort in her life? Normally she didn’t mind the hard work, the dirt or the early mornings; she liked working on the farm. The sight of their cows grazing happily, a new litter of piglets being brought into the world or the hens roosting safely for the night always made her smile. She loved the scent of freshly made hay, fresh warm milk and the wood smoke from the range in the kitchen. Today though she felt that if she were to see one more muddy animal or smell the sweaty aroma from its damp back then she’d be ready to head for the city and apply for an office job.
A Present for Joe – Margaret Pearce
1700 words Women’s Fiction
The promise of peace on earth to all men of good will is often at its most stressed and fragile during the Christmas period. Yet the right present can still work the age old miracle of wonder and acceptance and bring contentment to the most unlikely recipients.
Over the laden table Joe met his wife’s eyes; red rimmed from their last fight.He felt the familiar prickle of irritation. Too many screaming kids, too many people, and too much food. It didn’t need to be Christmas for his mother?in?law’s household to slop over so abundantly with chaotic disorder. It wasn’t just family, but all the people who boarded, or had boarded under the shabby roof of the rambling house and their friends as well.