How to be a Cornish Genius – Veronica Bright
Runner Up in the Alfie Dog FIction Short Story Competition
1500 words Women’s Fiction
Petroc Tremayne. Intelligent, smart, aspiring genius. Well, he would be if he had a few more brains and he didn’t have to worry about the fox getting his chickens, and then there’s his dear old Gran… I mean, what chance has he got?
Petroc Tremayne is a genius. Well, that’s what he tells himself, although he knows it’s not true. Every day he walks confidently out of the small wooden building he calls the shop, carrying a bucket of high-quality feed. Only the best for his beauties, fifty of them. It’s a start, and besides, he likes working for himself. He goes to the henhouse, where he’s locked the birds in for the night, safe from thieves, safe from foxes. He turns the key. ‘Here, chickie, chickie.’
Lavender Fields – Veronica Bright
2100 word Feel Good Story
Ben sits in his shed with its familiar cobwebs and earthy smells. Margaret, always kind, joyful. Yet he had refused to take her to the lavender fields of Provence. Their daughter, Harriet, arrives to give him a gentle lesson in risotto-making. Can she also help him to stop blaming himself?
Rain beats down on the old shed roof, and it’s the sound of a thousand hard peas poured from a bucket. Ben used to love the rain, the exuberance of it. He loved the way it soaked into his vegetable plot, the way the flowers perked up after a downpour, their leaves glistening and refreshed. The shed doesn’t feel the same any more, and it should, shouldn’t it? It’s always been a sort of sanctuary from the world. He looks around. The same cobwebs cover part of the window panes; he shares the air with the same smells – damp sacking, the earthiness that reminds him of worms at work in the soil; the sweet autumn scent of stored apples.
Miss Swanson’s Dog – Veronica Bright
1900 word Ghost Story
Miss Swanson has never forgotten Marina, the spiteful but gifted pupil who humiliated her in art lessons and tormented her dog. The change of name doesn’t fool her. Oh no. Miss Swanson has lived for this moment, and she knows just what to do.
I tracked her down on the internet. Miss Swanson. My art teacher all those years ago. I found her via Friends Reunited, where Marina West reported that Erica Swanson had been a pretty good teacher in spite of her eccentricities. She then listed these – the pooch in the classroom, those long drapey skirts, that black shawl. ‘And why,’ Marina wrote boldly, ‘why was she always surrounded by a cloud of perfume that was vaguely reminiscent of an elderly dog? It was as if she was being followed around by a seedy canine ghost.’ ‘And do you remember,’ she went on, ‘those commands, “Fetch” or “Stay”? I don’t know about anyone else, but she made me feel as if I was that precious Rottweiler she claimed she kept at home.’