Ludicrous | Short Story

Illustration of cliffs and sea - "Ludicrous" short story

Thunder rumbles ominously in the distance. Polly suppresses a yawn. She glares at the night sky which is blanketed in clouds heavy with storm.

Rain already, she thinks. Get it over with.

Almost as though they are lending an ear, the heavens open. Fat raindrops make their rapid descent down to Earth and Polly quickly pulls up her hood and directs her camera at the Stormy Princess.

For decades the Stormy Princess has guarded this short, barren stretch of Yorkshire coastline. From the day she first appeared in 1959 — crafted from clay by an anonymous artist — the sculpture has been the source of superstition and rumour. She’s bewitched, say the residents of nearby towns and villages. She’s made of magic. Every time a storm passes over her, she moves.

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It All Disappears | Short Story

Closed eyes illustration - "It All Disappears" short story

His heart is pounding. He’s lost in her gaze. His lips are a hair’s breadth away from hers.

And then it all disappears.

He’s wide awake, staring up at the white ceiling, cursing himself again. Why does it always have to end there, right before the kiss? Why can’t he keep himself asleep for just long enough to feel her soft, full lips against his mouth? Continue reading “It All Disappears | Short Story”

Part of Something | Short Story

Mountain range illustration - "Part of Something" short story

Three strangers cling together, grubby, weak, and utterly terrified of the knives and guns and nail-ridden planks of wood that surround them.

“You’ll hand over everything you’ve got in exchange for safe passage through the valley.” Cain picks at his fingernails with the tip of his hunting knife. “Two of our own will escort you. They’ll leave you to continue your journey on the other side.”

One of the strangers shakes his head. “You can’t take everything. We need it to survive.” Continue reading “Part of Something | Short Story”

The Last Cig in the Packet | Short Story

The Humber Bridge at sunset - "The Last Cig in the Packet" short story

I wrote this story nine months ago and put off publishing it in case it was too morbid or doleful. It’s certainly a lot different to the silly, whimsy fiction I tend to post. I was also scared of sharing too much of myself. This story is fictional, but it is inspired by own experiences with depression, self-harm and suicidal ideation. It’s Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK right now. I figured that sharing fiction like this might help in one way or another.

Ask for help. Lean on your loved ones. Don’t be too proud to admit when things are getting too difficult.


‘What are things like at home?’

I think of the thick layer of dust that sits on every surface in my living room, the unopened mail which carpets my hallway and the stacks of dirty mugs in my kitchen sink.

I shrug. ‘Fine.’

‘Do you live alone?’

I nod.

Dr Taylor looks away from his computer screen. ‘And how do you find that?’

I shrug again. I’ve lost count of how many shrugs I’ve given him over the course of the past five minutes. ‘Fine.’

‘What about when you need support? Who can you turn to?’

Another shrug. ‘My mum, I guess.’

‘Does she live nearby?’

I nod.

‘You see her often?’

I nod.

‘Does she know about the self-harm?’

My hand automatically moves to my forearm so that my fingers can poke at the fresh wound which lives there. It’s just beginning to crust over. The stab of soreness calms me. I’m looking forward to the inevitable sting that will occur later when I peel away the fabric from sticky, angry flesh.

‘Yes,’ I say.

‘So if you were in crisis you could go to your Mum’s house?’

‘I s’pose.’

‘And do you?’

Course not. When I’m in crisis I wallow in it.

‘Sometimes,’ I say.

‘Good. So your mum is an important part of your support network. I’ll make a note of that.’ He turns back to his computer screen and taps away at his keyboard.

I look at the beige walls of the bland office and wonder how Dr Taylor himself isn’t stir fucking crazy.

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Sucker! | Short Story

Kids on seesaw illustration - "Sucker!" short story

Her chest heaves as she looks at the photograph of days long gone. Her and her big brother, eight and ten years old, throwing sand at each other on Brighton beach. A snapshot of childhood, back when summers seemed to stretch out for years rather than months, giving them hours upon hours of play and playfights to indulge in.

“Alright, love?”

She jumps at the sound of her husband’s voice and the photo frame slips from her hands and lands with a crack on the edge of the hearth.

“Fuck!”

“It’s alright, I’m sure it’s fine.”

She retrieves the frame, leaving chunks of smashed glass behind on the floor. “Fuck, fuck, fuck.” The tears fall fast.

“Hey, it’s okay. We can replace the frame easy enough, can’t we?” He takes the frame from her, swiftly removes the backing and hands her the photograph. “There’s something written on the back of that.”

The world seems to slow down around her. It’s like a spider has wandered across the page, its legs covered in ink. Her brother’s unmistakable scruffy handwriting.

Alright, knobhead! I KNEW you’d drop this frame. You’re so predictable. And stupidly clumsy.

Don’t feel too bad, the glass was already cracked. And it was 99p from Asda — you know me, I love a bargain.

Now, it’s time for a good old-fashioned TREASURE HUNT!

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Stress Relief | Short Story

Octopus illustration - "Stress Relief" short story

She coloured in a final patch of deep blue sea, capped her pen, and gave herself a satisfied nod. She had to admit she felt calmer. The worries that had plagued her all day long were now distant thoughts buzzing around softly at the back of her mind. Maybe there was something in this stress-relief colouring book, after all.

She admired her work. It was an underwater scene filled with colourful coral, snazzy-looking tropical fish, a long-tentacled octopus and a treasure chest spilling over with gold coins and ruby jewels. She was proud of how she’d coloured in the ocean water; she’d layered a variety of blues and greens to create a sense of dimension. It looked impressively real. She could almost see the undercurrents of water move before her very eyes.

No. Not almost. They were moving. The water was ebbing and flowing, she was sure of it. She screwed up her eyes for a few seconds and then opened them again. The fish were swimming, flitting back and forth across the page. The fine tendrils of the coral quivered against the movement of the ocean. The octopus waved its tentacles at her.

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She’s Nine, She’s Not an Idiot | Short Story

Crying girl comforted by mother illustration - "She's Nine, She's Not an Idiot" short story

“There’ll be hell to pay.”

“Looks like it.”

“She had it last when we were at the supermarket. You’ll have to go out and look for it.”

Dad groans. “Have you seen the time?”

“She won’t sleep without it. Which means we won’t sleep without it.”

“She’s far too old for a blankie, anyway. Maybe it’s an opportunity for her to give it up. We could tell her that now she’s nine years old, her blankie knows she’s far too grown up to need it anymore. And that it’s gone out into the world to find a new little baby to comfort instead.”

Mum snorts. “She’s nine, she’s not an idiot. Look, she can give up the blanket in her own time, but I will not be having a tantrum on a Saturday night just because you were too lazy to go out and find it.”

“Why can’t you go out and find it?”

“Because there’s a bottle of wine in the fridge with my name on it.”

“Have you got blankie yet?” comes a forlorn call from the bedroom upstairs.

Dad sighs. “I think it’s in the car, sweetie,” he shouts back. “I’ll go out and get it. Hold tight.”

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Wild Things My Grandma Told Me | Short Story

Woman sitting illustration - "Wild Things My Grandma Told Me" short story

Grandparents have secrets. And trust me — you don’t want to know what they are.

My Grandma was 87 years old when she revealed her secrets, but nobody would have pegged her anything beyond 75. She had a few lines and wrinkles here and there, sure, but you’d never guess she was pushing 90. And if you spoke to her without seeing her, you’d think her in her 30s. She could talk a mile a minute and she swore like a trooper. She knew her stuff when it came to modern music and the latest blockbusters. She had an iPhone and a Snapchat account and thousands of followers on Instagram.

So when pneumonia took her down we were all surprised. None more than her, mind.

“I’m too young for pneumonia.”

“You’re 87,” my Mum told her.

“People like me shouldn’t get pneumonia. Haven’t had so much as a cold in decades. Only time I get sick is when I overdo the whiskey sours and that doesn’t count — that’s self-inflicted. Are they sure it’s pneumonia? I don’t believe it.”

“It’s true. So you’ve to keep quiet, be on your best behaviour and cooperate with the doctors.”

“Yes, dear. I will. Best behaviour.” And then she saw me clock her crossed fingers and threw me a sly smirk.

I visited her as often as I could. I got the bus from the hospital straight after college every weekday, and I went in the morning and again in the afternoon on Saturdays and Sundays. She’d always have a tale to tell about the time that passed during my absence. How she initiated a group singalong of Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic throughout the ward. How she invited the charming 28-year-old hospital porter out for drinks. How she’d given one of the specialist doctors a lesson on achieving the ultimate orgasm. How she’d sneaked into the hospital kitchen to add chilli powder to the meatloaf mixture. On and on it went — miniature adventures which transformed a drab old stay in the hospital into a thriving chapter of her life.

But after the second week on the ward, the adventures became less frequent, less exciting. Her retelling of the few escapades she did manage — having a cheeky squeeze of a handsome nurse’s bum, for example — became less animated. Her cheeks grew paler. Her voice grew weaker. The wheezing and rattling in her chest grew stronger. Her skin was almost translucent.

“Not long for this mortal coil,” she croaked at me one day.

“Don’t say that, Grandma. You’ll be alright. Keep your chin up.”

“It is up, it is. But we’ve all got to go someday. My time’s coming up and that’s alright. Just promise me one thing.”

“What?”

“Invite Michael Bublé to my funeral. His number’s saved in my phone. He might not come, but I’d like for him to have the opportunity to say his goodbyes. He only knew me briefly but… well, he knew me rather intimately.”

I didn’t ask for details. “I’ll invite him,” I said, though at that stage I didn’t mean it. I didn’t believe she’d ever even met him.

“Thank you, dear.” She sighed, shook her head slightly. “There’s a lot you don’t know, young lady. A lot that nobody knows.”

“What do you mean?”

“My life. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but it was bloody colourful.”

“So tell me about it.” That was my first big mistake.

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