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 Muse for Elise – Tia Reed
5500 words Fantasy
A pianist eternally repeating the first bars of Für Elise. A dancer trapped in the first steps of a solo. And now a singer bound to repeat the first two lines of Greensleeves. It’s not medicine Dr William Oakes must employ to set these lost souls free.
Doctor William Oakes set his black bag down on the front step of the brick mansion. Ignoring the scruffy boy sitting against the wall, he took a deep breath and gave the frosty lion-headed knocker three sharp raps. The lad jumped up at the sound, the furrows in his brow deepening. “Ain’t no one answering,” he said, battered cap clutched tight in calloused hands. The flush in his hollow cheeks suggested he had been huddling against the wind for the best part of the day. William pulled a few pennies from the threadbare pocket of his tweed suit.
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 Part of Me – Iyana Jenna
4500 words Ghost Story
In the middle of the snow on their way to get home for Christmas, Connor Williams crashed his car into a tree. He was badly injured, but his boyfriend, who was also in the car, was barely alive. How then, that morning in Connor’s room, was Zach by his side, waiting for him to wake up?
Zach found Connor still awake in the middle of the night, eyes straining at the screen of his PowerBook; his forefinger never stopped clicking. He didn’t even realize when Zach entered the study and came to stand behind him. Zach yawned. “What are you doing?” He tried to peep into the screen. It looked like the website of a local airline. Zach got no reply until he repeated his question. This time he got a grunt. “Is something wrong? Hey, Connor?” He leaned over Connor’s shoulder. “Why are you checking a flight schedule? Don’t we have tickets?”
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 Place in the Sun – Colette McCormick
1150 words Feel Good Fiction
When Sara finds a discarded photograph in a second hand book she thinks there is something familiar about it. As though she has seen it before. Does this place hold the key to her future?
“Do you like her books?” “Sorry?” Sara looked up from her purse to see the assistant reading the back of the book she had just handed her. “I love her books,” the assistant said. “I’ve never read one before,” Sara admitted as she handed over the pound coin. “I just want a book to take on holiday with me and I like the title.” “I’m sure you’ll love it.” “Hope so.” As Sara left the shop the assistant called. “Hope you have a lovely holiday.” “Oh don’t worry. I will,” she giggled, and she meant it.
A Plague of Women – Bruce Costello
650 words Humour
A humorous tale about strong women in the life of a well-meaning minister, and revelations in Heaven.
The Reverend Reginald Marshall’s wife was an upright lady. Moira served on three Church committees and played the organ in morning service. She held firm views on matters of morality, which she liked to share, peppering her speech with dos, don’ts, shoulds and shouldn’ts.
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.
A Prickly Situation – Andrew Schenck
1400 words General Fiction
Getting married in Korea is no easy task! Tortured both mentally and physically, an American endures strange and scary encounters with his fiancée’s father to discover a close family bond that he has never known before.
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.