Nice Pair | Microfiction

“Nice pair,” said the checkout boy.

The customer gasped. “How dare you? That’s completely inappropriate. I came here to shop; I don’t expect to be drooled over by an employee who is at least half my age. Disgusting. I want to speak to your manager immediately. What a rude young man.”

The checkout boy pointed to the produce in her basket. “I meant your fruit. The pear? Looks good. They’ve just come into season, right?”

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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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Blame the Parents | Microfiction

It was with sheer desperation that Ally called the Life Coach.

“I can’t make friends,” she blurted down the phone as soon as her call was answered.

“You can’t make friends?”

“No matter how hard I try, no matter how many times I strike up conversation, no matter how kind or funny or interesting I try to be, I simply can’t make friends. People can’t get away from me quick enough.”

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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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Questions for Kids | Flash Fiction

“…so the pig offered a piece of his meat for the bloke to use as a muscle in his leg. That’s why they call it a hamstring.”

“Cool! Thanks, Dad.”

Kids are inquisitive. Too inquisitive, for Jez’s liking. They ask a lot of questions to which nobody really knows the answers, but if you try to fob them off with an “I don’t know, pet,” they’ll witter on and on and on until you’re about ready to lose your mind.

Jez came up with a solution to this problem. Just make shit up. Easy…

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Apples and Oranges | Flash Fiction

“Ally is quieter than Annie, wouldn’t you say? Annie’s got a touch more confidence. She’s a smidge taller, too. Other than that, they’re exactly the same.”

Ally and Annie’s mother glowered at her friend. “They’re completely different. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. They’re each totally unique.”

Her friend laughed. “They’re identical twins.”

“And they have some similarities, of course. But they’re each unique in their own ways. I don’t want my daughters’ identities to be dismissed as one and the same.”

“Fair enough. Sorry I spoke.”

Ally and Annie pulled their ears away from the wall of the next room.

“That bitch,” Annie said.

Ally nodded. “Yeah. Absolute bitch.”

“We’re identical twins. Of course we’re identical in every way. How could she say we’re not?”

Ally’s eyebrows twitched. “Yeah. How could she?”

“And I’m not taller than you. We’re exactly the same height. You just have a habit of slouching. Stand up straight, raise your shoulders.”

Ally obeyed.

“I’m sick of that old cow always insisting we’re different. Being twins is our thing. It’s our novelty factor. It’s our… our…”

“Hook.”

“Right, exactly. But we’ll put a stop to it. Won’t we?”

Ally mimicked her sister’s vicious smile and crossed her fingers behind her back .“We’ll put a stop to it…”

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Future Fitness | Flash Fiction

“Ten quid’s a real bargain for a treadmill. There something wrong with it?”

“We just want rid of it really — not bothered about the money. I mean, it’s a bit temperamental, but it works on the whole.”

“What do you mean?”

“Sometimes the speed setting gets stuck. You have to have someone switch it off at the plug, or just jump off it. No big deal. You could probably get someone to have a look at it, get it fixed.”

“Right. I dunno, mate.”

“Go on. You drove all this way to look at it. Tell you what, I’ll let it go for a fiver. How about it?”

At home he donned his tracksuit bottoms and his trainers and he psyched himself up for his January journey to fitness.

He began with a stroll, speed set to minimum, and it wasn’t long until his heart was pounding and sweat was beading on his forehead.

“Power through,” he told himself, and he mashed at the control pad to increase the speed.

He made it up to a jog. His throat grew dry and his legs burned. He thought about the ice cold beers in his fridge and the pizza place menu on the kitchen counter.

“Power through,” he told himself, and he hiked up the speed once more, just to prove to himself that he could do it.

He hadn’t run anywhere in years. He couldn’t even remember the last time his legs had moved so fast. His heart hammered and his lungs wheezed and the sweat began to pour from every inch of his skin.

“Can’t power through. Don’t want a heart attack,” he told himself, as his tacky fingers pressed desperately at the control pad.

Nothing happened. The speed wouldn’t drop…

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2019 Will Be My Year | Microfiction

31st December, 2018

Dear Diary,

2019 will be my year.

I’m keeping myself accountable. I’m making every single day count. Every resolution will be achieved this year. It has to. I need to move on.

1. Lose 10 lbs. I need to be healthier and there’s no harm in looking hotter. That’ll show him.

2. Eat right. Plenty of protein. Healthy fats. Limited sugar. More water, less coffee. I need this body in good nick if I’m gonna do this right.

3. Exercise, exercise, exercise. EVERY DAY. Cardio. Kick-boxing classes. Weight-lifting. I have to be able to lift 200 lbs. Nothing less. If I can’t do that, the whole plan is fucked…

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A Swim in the Nuddy | Flash Fiction

“Come on, pal — get your kit off.”

Dale shivered and looked up at the night sky from which the first flakes of snow were beginning to fall. “I can’t believe you’re serious about this.”

Ryan clapped him on the back. “A swim in the sea in the nuddy — it’s a tradition. You’ve had ten pints, you shouldn’t be able to feel the cold.”

“You really do it every year?”

Gareth laughed. “Every year, just past midnight on Christmas Eve. So get your bloody kit off.”

Dale eyed the black waves. It wasn’t a choppy night out at sea, but it wasn’t as calm as he’d like. He wasn’t the strongest of swimmers, and he wondered if the ten pints would improve on his doggy-paddling or make it worse. “Why do I have to go first?”

“New guy always goes first,” Ryan said. “Them’s the rules.”

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Day 358 | Flash Fiction

By day 358 on the island I was shitting through the eye of a needle.

I didn’t know if the coconuts were rancid or I’d simply eaten so many that my body was finally starting to reject them. But what choice did I have? I could shit myself silly or I could starve to death. I was seriously considering the latter.

And then I saw the boat on the horizon. I thought it was coconut-induced delirium at first, but I blinked and I blinked and it wouldn’t go away. I stoked the fire and piled it high with every flammable thing I could find until thick plumes of grey smoke rose high up into the azure sky.

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