The Dead End | Debut Novel

The Dead End - Would Your Life's Memories Be Enough to Build an Afterlife?

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.

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Thistles | Flash Fiction

Thistles in bloom

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.

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Feeding The Kids | Flash Fiction

Fox

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.

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All Fixed | Short Story

smashed ceramic plate

Constellate Literary Journal recently published my short story, All Fixed. Read it here.


The pub smelled of stale lager and pork scratchings, but that’s just the way Dad liked it. One of the last good, proper pubs left, so he used to say. A shithole, in other words. But at least it was friendly. I watched Mum as she wandered across the dingy maroon carpet. Her nose crinkled as she noted the soles of her shoes clinging to the sticky pile with each step. I sipped my large white wine and hoped its effects would wash over me quickly.

Gavin nudged me. ‘One drink and we’ll be off.’

I took in the clusters of mourners which filled the room. ‘I haven’t spoken to anyone yet.’

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Maths | Flash Fiction

Multicoloured abacus

Little Timmy sat at the kitchen table with his head in his hands, his tears blotting the ink of the homework that tortured him.

“Oh ‘eck, lad,” said Grandpa. “Wotsmatter?”

“My homework,” whimpered Timmy. “I can’t do it. I need help with my 3 times tables.”

“Times tables, ey? Ba gum, that does sound ‘ard for a bairn like you. Only seven, aren’t you lad? I ‘ad trouble at school at your age an’ all. Tell ya what—you go up to bed and I’ll sort this out for you. Don’t tell t’teachers, mind. It’ll be done by morning and that’s a promise.”

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Bubblegum | Flash Fiction

Wall covered in colourful bubblegum

We always used to buy bubblegum from the ice cream man when he came around in summer. We weren’t interested in 99s and Mr Whippies and ice lollies – the sweets was where it was at, and bubblegum was the crème de la crème of ice cream man goodies.

There was this game we used to play where we’d all try and see how many pieces of gum we could chew at once. We’d hang about on the street corner chomping away like cows, chewing through the jaw ache until our mouths seized up and we had to admit defeat. I was the record-holder – twelve pieces of gum I did, once!

We all got a kick out of it – it was dangerous, according to our parents. Bubblegum’s a choking hazard, see, ‘specially when you’re shoving a handful of gumballs into your mouth at once. There was this rumour that went round about a kid that died from chewing on two many pieces of gum. This big, sticky mass of strawberry Hubba Bubba got stuck in his throat and none of his mates knew how to do the Heimlich manoeuvre and he turned all blue and his eyes bulged out and he pegged it.

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Hate Notes | Flash Fiction

Three yellow sticky notes and a blue marker - "Hate Notes" flash fiction

It’s a yellow sticky note today. Blue ink. Just the one line: “Your hair is shit and so are you.”

Bit lacklustre. Not witty, not clever, not even particularly brutal. Perhaps the culprit’s losing his knack. After all, this is sticky note number 398. They’re bound to run out of insults to throw at me eventually. They can’t all be fierce doozies like number 187 (“Mr. Blobby called. He wants his body back.”) or number 249 (“Do something for the greater good. Kill yourself.”). They’ll probably stop soon.

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He Looks Old | Creative Nonfiction

Photo of pink, wilting roses

Lit Up published my short creative nonfiction piece about losing my dad. It’s not the most cheerful thing I’ve ever written but we can’t write fun stories all the time, I guess!

His skin is too thin. Not papery — not that frail— but like the corners of a paperback that have been crumpled up and smoothed out one time too many. Each crease seems to be etched deeper than it was just twenty minutes ago. When the blood was still going round.

It’s my first foray into creative nonfiction and I’m really happy with how it turned out. Read it here.


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