A Proper Big Top Wedding – Clair Wright
1000 words Women’s Fiction
High Wire artists Lena and Claude are getting married and everyone in the circus wants to get in on the act.
It was inevitable that Lena and Claude would fall in love. How could they not? What could be more romantic than risking certain death together on the tightrope, falling together, plunging through the air into the net below? The tension, the elation, the adoration and gasps from the crowd as they performed high in the circus tent, were intoxicating. Though watched by hundreds of eager eyes, yet they were alone, isolated on the high wire. It had to be a proper big top wedding. There was some discussion as to whether the Circus Master should perform the role of best man.
A Proper Holiday – Patsy Collins
2000 words Women’s Fiction
It wasn’t as though Julia thought she wouldn’t enjoy two weeks in Lanzarote, it was just that with Tim and the kids to look after it wouldn’t be that much of a holiday for her.
“I’d like to have a proper holiday, just once,” I told staff nurse Linda Baines. “Well you deserve it, Julia. You’re the hardest working porter this hospital has. But I thought you were all going to Lanzarote next week?” “We are. Self-catering. By the time I’ve packed for all five of us, organised tickets, passports, cooked and cleaned for the whole fortnight, entertained the kids, then unpacked and done all the washing when we’ve got back I’m exhausted.” “You’re not looking forward to it then?” “I am really, it’s just not my idea of a real holiday. I even do all the driving because Tim likes to take a complete rest from all responsibility.”
A Question of Conscience – Peter Pitt
1300 word General Fiction
Many of us harbour a secret from our past. Yet, at some time or other in our life, we feel we have to tell someone about it. For Bernice, she felt this was the time to tell Miles, her solicitor, about hers.
Bernice, an attractive middle aged lady, was watching the ball she had just struck speed down the fairway, when suddenly, a sharp pain gripped her chest. She gasped, her body stiffened before dropping her golf club. ‘What is it?’ Anne, her golfing partner cried. Before Bernice could reply, she collapsed. Anne rushed to her side, but her friend was unconscious. Bernice Nicholson was a popular member of the club, as her husband had been until his death. She was also a successful business woman, running a chain of Stationery shops. But not many people knew that she was also, a writer.
A Question of Identity – Patsy Collins
1300 words Women’s Fiction
Panic gripped Tracey. If she wasn’t really there in the kitchen where was she? In the hell she deserved?
I can’t remember much about last night. I hear voices coming from the kitchen; my adoptive mother’s and another, deeper, voice snapping out questions. Flashes of last night’s activity burst into my skull. Brightly coloured drinks sipped from the bottle. Kissing and angry words. The blaze of headlights. Strident car horns claiming attention. Speed too. I remember incredible speed. Tyres squealing as rubber was left behind. It was loud, frantic, dangerously exciting. Then nothing. No noise, no movement, no thought. I don’t want to remember what the nothing was, best just to forget. And not drink. Not so much, not for a while at least.
A Raggedy Hound – Chris Heyward
1000 words Feel Good Story
Four years away from retirement and now Bev was about to be made redundant. She knew it was time to rethink her future. Is it too late for her to choose a new path? Sometimes our dreams are closer than we think.
‘We’re letting Beverley go.’ I heard the words as I was poised to knock on the General Manager’s door. ‘Really?’ Another voice now, the Regional Director. ‘It’s the right decision. I’ll be speaking to her and the others first thing Monday.’ Let me go? So, I was to be the first. The expected redundancies had started and I was top of the list. I found myself thinking about what I fancied for supper and whether I’d meet much traffic going home. Anything except that I was about to lose my job.
A Real Upanddowner – Joel Kaye
2800 words Fairytale
A severe man’s dilemma is resolved by the urgings of a mysterious voice, while an innkeeper has a lucky escape courtesy of the same. Meanwhile, a chauffeur comes to know his master better and a seaman tells tales for money. But what of the woman who hides indoors?
Very soon the motorcar would appear in the village street. Now it was gliding through the trees which led down from the Grange. In the front compartment, gloved and uniformed, sat the Chauffeur, Burwill. The passenger, Mr Jonswain, was certainly not looking out from the deep and shady rear of the long-bonneted vehicle. If the Embarrassment was in his thoughts he showed no sign. Unlike everyone else, he had not been there to see it. Mr Jonswain never took up invitations to village affairs. Out of deference to his mother’s sense of their elevated status, he honoured the family’s position at village occasions only in absentia.
A Real Winner – Patsy Collins
950 words Women’s Fiction
Julia Colgan had been a loser from thirty-seven seconds after her birthday. That didn’t mean she intended to stay that way forever.
Julia Colgan had always been a loser. It started thirty-seven seconds before her birth; Julia had the newspaper cuttings to prove it. ‘Local girl loses out,’ it said. Her mum had been expected to deliver the first baby at the newly opened maternity hospital. Local businesses had promised all kinds of birthday gifts for the first child; photographs by the portrait photographer, clothes, shoes and nappies from children’s shops; bottles, sterilising fluid and rusks.
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 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 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 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.