I was walking along the street with my mum one day a couple of years ago, both of us with our faithful hounds by our side, when a man stopped in front of us and cooed at my mum’s dog.
“Look at you!” he said. “Aren’t you beautiful?”
My mother’s pooch looked at him expressionlessly. She’s used to these types of compliments. They come her way all the time. Meanwhile, my little dog pattered towards the bloke hopefully, wagging her tail and looking for some praise of her own.
He glanced at her. “And you’re okay,” he said.
‘Okay’, sir? Just ‘okay’? I was silently seething. My dog is the most precious and perfect four-legged, fur-covered creature to ever walk this Earth. How dare he reduce her to a mere ‘okay’?
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There was once a time I flexed my creative writing skills on the daily and now my ability to sit down and put pen to paper is so rusty that I think I can hear my knuckles squeaking as I type. So how did I go from a daily writer to a never writer? Allow me to share my wisdom.
Step 1: Question your ability
Think about all the rejections you’ve had. Don’t be shy, there are plenty of them! Remember the sinking, squirming, burning, aching sensations in your stomach and chest when those rejection emails came through. Concentrate on them. Concentrate hard.
Feels awful, doesn’t it? It makes you want to curl into a ball like a hedgehog and peek your nose out only when someone proffers you food.
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And so the ritual begins. Small humans roam the streets, all hyped up on the kinds of treats that big humans typically ration for the purpose of bribery. Humiliating outfits are abound, comprised of old rags, plastic sacks, enormous white sheets, obnoxiously large, wide-brimmed hats, and an array of peculiar masks which make humans look a smidgeon uglier than they already are. Vegetables are carved to look like ghoulish grinning faces and plonked outside doorways and in windows to give us poor felines a fright as we go about our night-time exploits. (Felines other than myself, of course. Nothing frightens me, I can assure you.) Then there’s all the noise—the yells and screams and cries from humans of all sizes, even the ones large enough and old enough to know better. The entire palaver makes my tail itch.
Continue reading “A Lockout | Short Story (Excerpt from ‘All Hallows’ Hell’)”
Missed Part 1? Read it here
Missed Part 2? Read it here
I remember the first visit to the specialist hospital for treatment. That building, a giant grey block of concrete, was like a great tombstone towering over us. I had visions of it careening over and crushing us as we walked through its doors. And it did, in its way. It snuffed out our spirit.
She grew sick of hospitals, sick of doctors, sick of me telling her to cooperate. And I was sick of her too.
‘I’m not going back again, Sharon. All they do is prod and poke me and then tell me its more doom and gloom.’
‘They’re trying to help.’
‘They all know I’m a dead woman walking.’
‘They’re trying to keep you walking for as long as possible.’
‘What if I don’t want to?’
‘You’re ready to die, are you?’
‘I think I am, yes. You should just shoot me rather than keep dragging me down that hospital.’
‘Alright, Mum. I’ll see if the bloke at Holme Farm’ll lend me his shotgun and we’ll put you out of your misery, eh?’
‘You’d love that, wouldn’t you?’
‘Absolutely. Would give me a great deal of satisfaction to blow your old brains out.’
Continue reading “My Mother and Her Cat (Part 3) | Short Story”
Missed Part 1? Read it here
The wee thing didn’t stay wee for very long. It grew at a rate of knots on a diet of sardines, mackerel, salmon, steak—bloody steak!—and anything my mother left on her plate after each meal. That sodding cat was better fed than Mark and I had ever been as kids.
It wasn’t fat, necessarily, but by heck was it big. Solid. Strong and burly like a furry, whiskered wrestler. It would strut up and down the street like a panther, intimidating anyone who dared to approach it with vicious hisses and snippy flicks of its tail.
Arrogant, it was. It would lay out in the middle of the road on its back, sunning its belly and getting its coat blathered in dust and flecks of gooey tar that had melted in the summer heat. When a car came along it wouldn’t move. Brakes would screech and cars would lurch to a halt, and the damn cat would merely peer up at the vehicle before it and blink at the driver, as though they were doing it an inconvenience. A pip of the horn or rev of the engine was the only thing that got it to shift, and even then it moved at half-speed, luxuriously stretching out each of its limbs as it got to its feet and wandered over to the pavement to find a new sunbathing spot.
And it was this sheer bloody arrogance that killed it. Eventually a driver came along that couldn’t give a cat’s arse for the wee thing and its ego.
Continue reading “My Mother and Her Cat (Part 2) | Short Story”
My mother always said that cats choose their owners. I always said that my mother talked a lot of old shite.
It wasn’t just when she was old that she talked nonsense. It started when I was young. Scratch that; it probably started when she was young. She insisted that eating my crusts would make my hair curl, but I ended up begging for a perm by the time I was fourteen because all the sodding crusts in the world wouldn’t put a single kink in my limp locks. She said apples were as good as toothpaste for brushing our pegs, but that theory was disproved when our Mark insisted on eating two apples a day instead of using a toothbrush and spent more time in the dentist’s office than he did in school. She insisted that leaving shoes on the table brings bad luck, but I don’t think I’m any unluckier than the next poor git despite going against this titbit of motherly advice more times than I can count over the last forty-nine years.
And she said for decades that she’d be dead by eighty. Said she could feel it in her bones. Said it was written into her fate. She got that wrong. No, she stubbornly hung on for as long as she could. Shame, really, because if she hadn’t, we wouldn’t have had to put ourselves through the shambles that was her eightieth birthday party.
Continue reading “My Mother and Her Cat (Part 1) | Short Story”
I guess you could say I went out with a bang. There was certainly a sickening thud as my body made contact with the car bonnet. But actually, other than those final few seconds before everything went black, the last day of my life was unbearably dull.
I ate a cheese and pickle sandwich for lunch. Cheese and bloody pickle, couldn’t be more boring. Even the car accident was a cliché; I was lost in thought when I stepped out into the road. Forgot to check for traffic. And those thoughts weren’t about anything interesting. I was wondering whether I should order ham and pineapple or pepperoni pizza for my dinner.
But the bit that happened directly after my death was significantly more interesting.
Continue reading “The Dead End | Debut Novel”
There’s nowt but thistles that live on the empty plot at the end of the street. It was home to a house once upon a time, but that place burned to the ground many moons ago. All that remains is a labyrinth of thistles, the only plants vicious and spiky and determined enough to sprout from the scorched ground.
Nobody knows who started the fire, but there’s always been murmurings and pointed fingers. Some say it was a cigarette, still smouldering, left carelessly on the arm of a chair. Others say it was a dodgy extension cable or a dodgy toaster or a dodgy electric heater. More still say it was something much more sinister.
Continue reading “Thistles | Flash Fiction”
It was that fox again—the one with the limp. It stared in through the patio doors, swaying a little from side to side as if on the verge of collapse, brown stains running from eyes to muzzle like tears. I wanted to let it into the warmth, or at the very east to throw it some scraps from the kitchen. But I couldn’t. That’s how they got you, if the news stories were to be believed. And I believed them.
I pictured the poor thing limping across field after field, squirming through hedgerow after hedgerow, desperately searching for food despite its twisted limb. It had left its babies back home in its den, small and pink and blind and growing skinnier by the hour, bleating forlornly for milk. Milk that would only flow if their mother could eat. And she hadn’t eaten for days. I could see it in her eyes while she stood there gazing at me through the patio doors, a silent communication from one mother to another.
Continue reading “Feeding The Kids | Flash Fiction”