Terms and Conditions

Dying hadn’t been as painful as Mary expected it to be.


The moments just before she died had hurt, hurt beyond anything she had ever experienced – more than getting Malaria. More than when she got shot even. She didn’t think anything would be more painful than getting shot. Her mother had always told her she was risking her life “running around in warzones” – how banal to have died in a head on collision with lorry just outside Hemel Hempstead.


Mary had never been one for religion – which came as something of a surprise to a lot of people she met – she decided at an early age that what happened after death didn’t matter a jot, it was what you did before death that counted, and she’d not given it much of a thought after that.


What she definitely hadn’t expected was the plain white walled waiting room she found herself in now. One moment she was blinded by lights, spinning out of control, feeling the sickening crunch as her ribs folded in on themselves, puncturing her lungs, the stench of petrol hanging in the air, the next she was stood in her best dress and cardigan, handbag hooked over her arm, in front of a desk where a bored red-haired receptionist sat, idly flicking through a magazine.


After a moment, Mary gave a small, polite cough.


The woman at the desk licked her finger and turned the page of her magazine.


“Welcome to the afterlife,” she said in a bored voice, not bothering to look up. “Please take a seat while your paperwork is processed.”

Continue reading “Terms and Conditions”

Before Digital Dreams

Come sit on Nanna’s knee, little one, and I’ll tell you a story about when I was young.


Back in the old days, before even my parents were born , they didn’t have palm discs. They had no access to the HiveMind at all.


I mean, they thought their technology was cutting edge, they really did, but if they wanted to find out something, or speak to someone that was further away than you are from me now, they had to use a machine. The machines started off big and clunky, and were attached to the walls of the house with wires, you couldn’t take them with you anywhere. They were useless really, you had to read information off of a screen and everything, it must have taken ages to learn things. But without them we wouldn’t have the advantages we have today. Like the candle being the forerunner to the electric light.

Now, the more a person uses something, becomes accustomed to it, the more they tend to rely on it. It was that way with the forerunner of the palm disc. The mobile, I think they called it. People got fed up I suppose, having to get to their home or place of work to be able to find out a fact, or listen to a song, or talk to someone in another part of the world. They began to create smaller and smaller devices to do the job, tiny versions of their home machines, that ran on something called battery power, although don’t ask me how that works as I’ve no idea. All I know is that to keep the devices powered, they plundered the world’s natural resources, polluted the air, poisoned the water. There were many more people back then, in cities a bit like ours, and small settlements called villages, all over the globe. They were scattered across the entire planet, grouped into tribes and communities and peoples, not united into a few cities like we are. Imagine living so divided from people. Awful.

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Mid Week Flash Week 36 – Perfect Moments

Thanks to Miranda Kate  for this week’s prompt

The General Guidelines can be found here.

Perfect Moments

I was going to tell her.

Years I’d been building up to this. All the times I almost said something, all the times I nearly kissed her, all those times I should’ve told her I’m in love with her smile, her laugh, that her eyes are the colour of heaven. It had all built up to this mundane Monday morning. I woke up and decided yes, I was going to tell her.

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Mid Week Flash – Ocean Dreams

It’s week 25 of Miranda Kate’s Mid Week Flash challenge, and illness, work and general life chaos has meant I haven’t been able to participate as much as I’d have liked to, but this week’s image really spoke to me. Anyone is welcome to join in, the general guidelines can be found here.
This week’s prompt:

 Ocean Dreams
 
 

We dreamed of going to the ocean. She had this romantic ideal of walking on a moonlit beach, hand in hand, listening to the roar of the unseen sea. Our dream sustained us through the long, hard years we couldn’t be together, when our relationship was built of dreams and texts and snatched moments. We were going to go to the ocean.

They say life’s a bitch, but she’s got nothing on the twisted sense of humour Fate has. Finally together, finally able to touch instead of talk, to kiss instead of dream. We were finally going to the ocean. Packing up the car together, all excited.  She looked like a painting, the light on her face too perfect to be real. I kissed her, then turned away to load the last bag into the boot. When I turned back, she was on the floor, lifeless, hair sprawled in the mud.

Three months later, life is drained of colour. She smiles through the pain and the sickness and the exhaustion, brave little stoic smiles, drained of their warmth. Every time I walk down this disinfectant scented corridor I hear the doctor telling us “I’m very sorry, it is terminal. We can make her comfortable…” and I have to swallow my anger, my pain, my disappointment, push it all down into the pit of my stomach and try to have my smile ready for her. I can’t let her down.

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Mid Week Flash – In The Mirror

My next offering for Miranda‘s Mid Week Flash challenge. The General Guidelines can be found here.
This week’s prompt was taken in a former, now abandoned, TB sanatorium in Grabowsee, Oranienburg, Germany, which is a little north of Berlin. It was taken by someone over on Flicker called Michael.
In the Mirror

They say I’m mad, but I’m not. That woman in the mirror isn’t me.

Oh she looks like me, no doubt. Whenever someone is looking, she mimics me perfectly. Then when they turn away her blank expression twists into a malicious grin, she gives me a seductive little wink, and my blood runs cold.

I know she’s up to something. I don’t know what. They all think I’m mad, but I’m not. That woman in the mirror is not me.

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Mid Week Flash Challenge Week 5 – You Are My Heart

My next entry for Miranda Kate’s Mid Week Flash challenge, week 5 the General Guidelines for which are here.  
 
 
This week’s prompt photo was created by Marcela Bolivar, a digital artist from Columbia. You can check out some of her other wonderful creations on her website here.

You are my heart

 
Once, I am sure, I was complete. A whole, living, breathing being. I used to taste food, feel music. I used to be alive.
Then along he came. He filled me so completely, there was no room for anything else. Where once I held passion for art and dancing, good company and good movies, now there was only him.  I lived him, breathed him, he didn’t just hold my heart, he was my heart. I didn’t mind, I didn’t miss any of it. I didn’t need any of it, he fulfilled me completely.
And now he has gone, and I am a shell. I eat without tasting, I go through the motions of social interaction without engaging. I stare at screens without taking anything in.  I exist without living.
All that’s left of me is the ghost of him, as intangible as a rippling reflection on a midnight pool.

Mid Week Flash Week 3 – The Beat Goes on


My next entry for Miranda Kate’s mid week flash challenge, inspired by this guy:
 
 
 The picture prompt this week is by  Ekaterina Zakharova, a Russian photographer who named him ‘1Fairy’. You can find more on her Deviant Art page.

The General Guidelines for the mid-week flas challenge are here.  
 
 
The Beat Goes On
 
The trouble is, no one believes in fairy tales anymore.
Back when I was a kid, some people took them seriously. My Nan did, certainly – she left cream out for the little folk, touched wood, sprinkled salt, and always warned us to stay on the paths if we ventured into the woods. She even gave me a tiny iron horseshoe to keep me safe. I should have kept it.
But nowadays, with our lives so dominated by social media and selfies sticks and double shot mocha cappuccinos, we are lulled into a false sense of security. The woods are just somewhere I jog through, not an otherworld of mystery and magic.
I was panting along, well on course to beating my personal best, the only sound the slapping of my feet on the path, the thudding of my blood in my ears. I was totally in the zone. Then I noticed the annoying little stone in my shoe.
 
I tried to ignore it, but after a few steps I realised I couldn’t. Look after your feet, and they’ll look after you. If I ignored it, I’d get a blister, and that would totally mess up my training.
I reluctantly stopped,  and stepped off the path to sit on a convenient log and sort it out. As soon as I sat, it was like the volume had been turned up on the world. Suddenly I could hear the wind sighing through the canopy, the birds calling to each other. The sun was warm on my back and the air smelled so sweet. I lingered too long, breathing in the magic of the woods.
Then I heard it – or maybe felt it, I’m not sure. The steady beating of the drums, the low, intoxicating oboe, the high, infectious pipes that made my toes tap. I should have stayed on the path. Nan warned me. But I wanted to see where the music was coming from.

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Mid Week Flash Challenge Week 2 – Blue Sky

Blue Sky

I’m coming in to this party fashionably late , since it’s week 2, but this is my piece for Miranda Kate’s  Mid-Week Flash Challenge.

The picture is the prompt, and is by Kasia Derwinska, a polish art photographer.

It’s the picture that keeps me going.

Because fuck, it’s dark here. There’s no end to the desolate, barren emptiness. It stretches on and on forever, but at the same time it’s closing in so tight that if I stop and think about it for a second, falter even a moment, I won’t be able to breathe.

I focus on the picture.

It gets me through the screaming silence, keeps me going through the blackness, when all is dust. It is my talisman against the aching fatigue of battling on. It reminds me that smiling is possible, here where I have forgotten how.

I focus on the picture in my mind.  Nothing fancy – I don’t want much. Just one foot in front of the other, just like now. Only the sky is blue, and the air is sweet and I can breathe again. Smile again. See the world in colour again.

I focus on that picture – blue skies to temper my storms, a life lived in colour, with feeling – I hang it in the foreground of my mind, and I keep on walking.

I focus on the picture, and I refuse to give up, and curl up, and disappear.

One day I will have my blue sky.

2016: A Patch in Time

Those of you who have followed me for a while know that it has long been my dream to write an episode of Doctor Who. Well in 2016, with the help of multitalented political and philosophical poet and musician Steve McAuliffe, that dream (kind of!) became a reality when I wrote and performed in an unofficial mini-episode of Doctor Who for the Ungagged podcast. Grab yourself a cuppa and a blanket and curl up for a 12 minute adventure that should (hopefully!) leave you laughing.

2016: A Patch In Time

Images by Debra Torrance. With a cameo from Red Raiph.


The Clock Strikes Christmas – An Alternative Christmas Tale

“You have to understand, we didn’t want this” said Berry nervously. “Every elf in the workshop chose this job because we are passionate about bring hope, joy and laughter to people all around the world-“
“Yet here you are, threatening to strike days before Christmas” said Santa, stroking his beard. Something about the movement made Berry nervous, reminding him of a Bond villain stroking a cat. “Happy to disappoint every child in the world, and for what? To make some kind of political point?”
Berry tried to swallow his nerves. He wished more than anything that it hadn’t been him that drew the short candy cane.
“With respect sir, it isn’t about the politics. Whether we agree with the expansion or not, things just aren’t workable as they are.” He scrambled around for the words to explain, words that would make him understand. Santa rarely visited the shop floor, preferring instead to sit in the grotto with his sexy secretary Mrs Claus and some of the perkier elves, counting out cookies and mince pies and basking in the adoration of the masses. He rarely saw the worker elves sobbing with exhaustion as they tried to work out how to craft the latest piece of gadgetry.

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We’ve Never Had It So Good.

Shit, my head is banging. I didn’t think I was that drunk last night, but it feels like someone came in the night and replaced my tongue with a sock full of sand. I can’t even remember the election result, let alone getting home and going to bed. Maybe I fell asleep before it was announced. That would be embarrassing at work thank God I’m on annual leave.
I never really should have agreed to go to the work’s election party night. I don’t know what Tim, our manager, was thinking when he organised it. He’d seen the divide in the coffee room whenever the conversation came around to the hot political topic of the day. Nick and I had almost come to blows on more than one occasion. The whole team in a confined space with alcohol and the live election results? Great idea. I tried to make an excuse about previous plans, but Tim pulled me aside when our break was over and strongly suggested I reconsider.

Continue reading “We’ve Never Had It So Good.”

Craving You

First published in my old notebook April 20, 2014

Craving you

I have been craving you for weeks. I know we are bad for each other, that’s why I have been so strict with myself, refused to see you. I have been so good, but I don’t know how much longer I can deny myself.

It has been building like a thunderstorm, the need for you, for so long now.  Your scent, your taste on my tongue, the two of us melting into each other, becoming one. You are all I think of at my desk at work, pounding the treadmill at the gym, sitting in traffic. I need you, I want you so much, every cell in my body is calling to you.

I see you with that girl on the bus and something inside me snaps. I can’t deny myself, deprive myself of you any longer. I need you. I want you. I’ll have you tonight. Oh, I can’t wait until tonight! I’ve got to have you now.

My heart is racing as I reach for you, my fingertips trembling as they caress your familiar contours. I pull you close to me, take a deep breath and inhale your delicious scent. My mouth waters in anticipation and I hold back just a moment more, knowing I am committed now. I will have you and I will hate myself for it tomorrow. It is too late to stop it. I don’t even care. I just want to devour you.

I rip off your wrapping and shovel you in. Sod the diet. You, Chocolate, are well worth it.

The Greatest Gift

I keep moving against the cold, never stopping my steady, ponderous progression. My body is warm – almost too warm actually, bundled as I am in heavy furs – but winter’s chill still bites at my nose, and my feet are tingly and numb.

It is rapidly becoming dark, and the snow is glittering with the reflected colours of Christmas lights that are just starting to come on. It might cheer the soul, if you were strolling along hand in hand with your lover, or heading home to your children. To me this day is always the saddest of the season.

They start to hang the lights earlier nowadays, though they have largely forgotten the reason. Some people have them up for the entire month of December, small points of cheer and defiance against the darkness. But today is December 27th, and soon they will all be gone. All the build up, all the belief, all the energy that built to wake me is slowly ebbing away. I feel myself weakening already. It is becoming harder and harder to maintain my stride, my breath wheezing now in asthmatic gasps. Continue reading “The Greatest Gift”

The Door

I have a jar full of story prompts and sometimes I pick one out at random to write a story about. This is one of those stories. The prompt that came out of the jar was – a new door appears in  your home. This is what I came up with…

The Door

It was a sleepy Sunday morning when I first noticed the new door. It could have appeared on the Saturday night – I had been out drinking with my boyfriend Robert that night and was pretty distracted at bedtime, I might not have noticed it. It definitely wasn’t there Saturday morning.

My house isn’t the biggest – just a living room with a small kitchen attached downstairs, a bedroom and small bathroom upstairs. It’s not like I have a huge old rambling house where a door might be overlooked. Continue reading “The Door”