My Mother and Her Cat (Part 3) | Short Story

Tabby cat on a white pillow

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.’

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My Mother and Her Cat (Part 2) | Short Story

Tabby cat in a wicker basket

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 and Her Cat (Part 1) | Short Story

Tabby cat sat on kitchen table

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”

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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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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Photo by Silvestri Matteo on Unsplash

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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Bank Holiday Misery | Short Story

Mouse illustration - "Bank Holiday Misery" Short Story
11:16 AM

“There was no lamb left, love,” said Frank, as he dumped his shopping bags on the kitchen floor.

“What do you mean?” said Rita, a small flutter of panic running through her.

“No lamb joints,” Frank said with a shrug. “No pork, either, as I thought that would be second best. All they had was chicken, and all the big ones had already gone. Supermarket was jam-packed.”

“But you went early. How could they run out of lamb and pork when you went first thing? You did go first thing, didn’t you? You didn’t sneak off somewhere else first?” Continue reading “Bank Holiday Misery | Short Story”