Tuesday 24 December 2013

DECEMBER 24 2013: A Christmas Story

DECEMBER 24 2013: 
A Christmas Story
David Deanshaw 

SHADOW


A Cup of Wine 


Dan Briggs heaved a sigh of relief as he reached up to release the heavy metal hooks which held open the large double doors of The Swan. Closing time at last!
The customers, in fact the whole world, seemed to be convinced that the Christmas trade made publicans laugh all the way to the bank.  If only they knew!  Tonight, Christmas Eve had been hectic. True, takings were high and that should be good for him, his business and his family. Family.  That word echoed round in his mind until his head was spinning.

Outwardly he enjoyed his role as the local publican, being at the centre of the village life along with the church. Inwardly his heart was aching. Still he had a public to serve and a position in the community to maintain. He had spent some of his profits to ensure that there was a room for families when necessary. He was also the sponsor of the village darts team.  There were a number of small rooms scattered round the old pub, often used by village organisations for their committee meetings; they all added to the takings. Everything one would require in a small village pub. Most of his regulars were local farmers but some were commuters who enjoyed the peace and quiet of the countryside and being away from their busy city lives. His North Country candour meant that he spoke his mind at all times and they appreciated him all the more for that.
He had delighted in the style that he had brought to the pub. There was a long bar of polished walnut. The brass beer pumps stood proud and highly polished, each with the name of the sponsoring brewery. Behind the bar there was a high mirror which enabled all the immaculately clean glasses and shorts bottles to shine brightly. Alongside the bar there were a few high stools made of beech. These too were polished and maintained regularly. After all, some of his farmer customers were broad in the beam!
As he stood in the doorway, the light from the porch cut a giant wedge in the snow.  With his arms akimbo and feet planted wide apart, his eyes followed his shadow as it stretched out across the snow and rose up the little hill in front of the pub. The sky was a speckled deep blue carpet and the cold night air caused him to breathe deeply. As he exhaled, his breath became a white mist. The security light behind him producing a searchlight effect.
Family!
            The ache in his heart weighed heavily as he recollected how life had changed for him over the last twelve months.
Christmas seemed to engender the notion that families should be together.

This year was going to be different. For the first time since the children had been born, he would be on his own. He honestly believed in the wisdom, perhaps nobility, by which he had gone without to ensure that their future could be more certain.
There the family had two rooms upstairs and two down with an additional scullery at the rear. It was in this room that he used to see his mother working away at not only the family’s washing, but piles of clothes from others in order to make ends meet. There too he had seen his father digging not only his own allotment, but tilling others so he could add to the subsistence life style in rural Yorkshire.
There he had been brought up to accept the old fashioned values of loyalty, respect and the sanctity of the family unit. He and his wife had had such great dreams as they started their family. Then tragedy struck them with his wife’s illness and her desperate fight for life through terrible pain. Eventually the cancer had won and relieved her of all her agony. She had died, leaving him to bring up two children in their early teenage years. He had grieved in private to shelter his children, but the pain was always just under the surface. Especially now, when he felt he had nothing.
Indeed, life had been tough ever since. He had scrimped to provide his children with the best education that he could afford. Most parents expected their teenage children to get part-time jobs, but not Dan.
“I will provide. Just use the time to study, gain real skills and create a better life for yourselves than your mother and I have had!”
That message was hammered home for years as they grew up.
When both Sarah and Peter went to university, Dan was fit to burst with pride. He should have been looking forward to them coming home for Christmas, but he had sent them into an exile he now desperately regretted. He was not a religious man in the normally accepted sense, he was not “spiritually certain” or anything like that but he had been brought up to believe that forgiveness was only possible with repentance.
His mind wandered back to that first blow.
Dan’s first inkling that trouble was brewing was when Sarah came home unexpectedly from the social services job she had started only a few months earlier. Whilst he missed his daughter being away from him, he knew she had a life of her own to live, so her sudden arrival meant that she was missing him or that she a real problem.
University had been a tough process for a girl leaving home for the first time, especially one whose mother had died when she was very young. But she had survived three years of study and her year out had been spent looking at how local councils provided support and care for people in need. With her degree in hand, she had applied to work in a town some distance away. She stayed in touch with her dad but had grown the wings of independence since she had left home. The director had set her some tough tasks and she was relishing the challenge. These tasks took her to situations she had never experienced before, including locations off the beaten track – gipsy encampments, transport cafes – children in those situations were often neglected or allowed to run wild.
“Oh, Dad, you would not believe some of the jobs I have to do. Some people don’t deserve to have children. Some of the places I’ve visited would make you shudder.” The poverty and deprivation she had seen reminded her of the stories her dad used to tell them about his own childhood. Her boss had thought she might be a bit posh due to the way she spoke, especially bearing in mind the kind of poor and sometime feckless families with whom she would be dealing. However he soon discovered that he was delighted with the insights she brought to her understanding of the problems and, more importantly, the solutions she proposed.
“Darling, please look after yourself. I worry about you. Yet, at the same time, I am so proud of you.”

On that quiet afternoon, almost three months after Sarah had left home full of hopes and self-confidence, Dan was shocked to see her walk through his front door.
“Dad, I have something very important to tell you. I’ve met a nice chap named Fred, who wants to marry me. I met him at a transport cafe on one of my assignments.”
“So soon? Please at least develop your skills and get some experience under your belt.” Dan was aghast.
“Dad, I am sorry but I’m pregnant.”

Dan had a sharp intake of breath and could feel a lump the size of a cricket ball in his throat. He was close to tears, the slap of his hand on his forehead echoed round the small living area over the bar.
“So all that scrimping was for nothing! How could you?”
“Dad, I am really, really sorry, but I do love him!” Sarah too knew that tears were coming and soon.
“Dad, it is my life.” She was spluttering now.
Dan looked at her, shaking. He lifted his right hand to his face, his thumb in his right eye and his index finger in his left, to wipe the tears. Suddenly, he could find nothing to say.  The maelstrom of emotions was tearing him apart inside. There was disappointment – bitter, bitter disappointment, as well as shame. Sarah had been popular in the village, now what would be people say – the shame of it!
“Dad, I do love you, but it’s my life.”
“Alright, alright, you’ve already made that clear!”
“We are just having a quiet ceremony, no fuss.”
She left in tears. As she looked back, her father’s face was set like granite. She pondered whether perhaps this was the beginning of a new life for both of them.


The events which followed took both of them by surprise, bringing unhappiness as well as bitterness.
Less than two years after the modest registry office ceremony in front of just two witnesses from the transport cafe, Fred had found another woman and Sarah, destitute, had returned to her dad.
He turned her away.
Then he called her back.
"If you come back, you'll have to work. This place is too big for me as it is. That child will have to go – let that no-good father bring it up."
“Dad, do you know just how brutal that sounds? You know that I’d be grateful for a roof over my head. Look, soon it’ll be Christmas. When you see your grandson playing with his toys near the Christmas tree, I am sure you’ll think differently. I just hope you can forgive me. Especially at this time of year. Besides, Peter will be coming home for Christmas and that will help. Peter's presence always makes you happy.”
            But Dan was adamant and Sarah again left in tears. Dan too wanted to understand why he had been so harsh on his own flesh and blood. But Sarah had not considered his feelings in the matter, so why should he spare a thought for hers?
Some months later an unexpected letter arrived.

Dear Dad,

I am really sorry that you have decided that you want nothing to do with your grandson Daniel.  He is lovely boy with a cheerful manner and he is starting to talk and walk. He has a round face just like yours.

I am living in a social services hostel and being looked after and supported by the very team with which I worked. The Team Leader is very supportive and in some ways they see me and my situation as a good test case to see how well or otherwise the “system” is working.

Daniel seems to get on with the other babies in the nursery. I spend lots of time with him even though I am working part-time with the team. I have access to a laptop so when he is asleep I am able to earn something for my keep and ensure that Daniel has a safe base.

I really had thought that seeing Daniel crawling around the Christmas tree would have appealed to you.

Lots of love,

Sarah xx

***


Dan’s son Peter was in his final year at agricultural college. Every time he came home he would tell his dad how much he wanted to put all his new theories into practice. During his time at college, he had been sponsored to travel and work in various countries, some in Europe as well as Africa.
Dan's Christmas present for his son that year was a formidable one.
Alex Hughes, one of Dan's regular customers, owned the farm next door to the pub.  Alex was now well over seventy and had decided to retire. Having no children of his own to leave the farm to, he had offered it to Dan for Peter at a very favourable price. Alex only wanted his beer and his pipe now. He would of course be able to help and provide advice whenever it was needed.
Dan was still slowly coming to terms with the news from Sarah when another unexpected letter arrived.

Dear Dad,

I’m really looking fwd to seeing you at Christmas.

I’ve so much to tell you about Africa. I really have learned a great deal in these last four months. I’ve got all sorts of ideas to make things better for these wretched people.

They have suffered from droughts for years but the new desalination plant and the channels – just like our fens have made all the difference in the coastal regions.

I never thought I would learn the various dialects of Swahili out here but it seems that I can make myself understood with most people. Occasionally, I make a mistake. I told a story recently about seeing some ndovu swinging from branch to branch and they all burst out laughing. Later I learned that I should have used the word nyani for monkeys because ndovu are elephants!

The university is really pleased with progress and the sponsoring company have asked if I can return in the New Year and stay for at least three years! This is great news Dad so I hope you will be pleased for me.

Lots of love

Peter


Dan was sure that Peter would change his mind when he came home and heard what he had provided for him.
His chest had filled with pride as he explained with great pleasure his fantastic present to his son. He did not often stock champagne but Dan was convinced that the time was ripe for a celebration. He carefully opened the bottle and arranged the glasses on the coffee table in the small lounge upstairs from the bar. The horror on Peter’s face telegraphed more bad news for Dan.
“Dad, I didn’t ask you to do this for me,” Peter pleaded.
“I was so sure that you would be pleased.”
“Look, Dad, I’m sorry but I just can’t do this yet. I really hope you can forgive me and try to understand my point of view.”
“Peter, after all that has happened with your sister, the least I expected was some stability and common sense from you.”
“Look, Dad, please … I am begging you because I love you and I appreciate all you have done for me. But I have seen and done nothing outside my work. Before I settle down and have kids, I want to travel. For the last ten years my studies had to come first, just as you wanted. In this last year, I have visited several farms, some in Eastern Europe and recently in East Africa as you saw from my letter. I have realised how little I have travelled. And what is more how much help I could give them now I have this qualification. Besides, lots of graduates have a gap year, some even have two.”
“Oh Peter, how ungrateful can you be? You self-centred, inconsiderate, selfish boy!  Do you realise what you are throwing way? Don't you care what I want?”
Peter, obviously saddened by his father’s reaction, maintained a dignified but disappointed silence.
 “Get out and stay out! How can you expect me to forgive you? After all I've done for you.” Dan's anger boiled and boiled and had finally overflowed. He clenched his fists, fixing in his memory the end of his dreams for his son. He lashed out with his foot, spreading the champagne all over the floor. How could he forgive him? The peace of mind he was hoping for had been smashed by the two people he cared for most in the entire world. Yet he had sent them into an exile that had created deep distress for all of them.

                                               

The night air was making his eyes water. His breath turning to a white mist as his hot breath met the frosty air.
"Excuse me; do you have a room, please?  Forgive me for calling so late."
So intent had he been on reflecting on the events of the past year and on his own sense of emptiness that Dan had not noticed the stranger approaching.
The man stood in Dan's shadow, making his features difficult to see clearly. But he had hair on his face, not a long beard but enough to hide his chin. His eyes seemed to be dark pools and deep set, giving him a mildly Eastern look.
“Certainly not! What business can you have at this time of night? Shove off! Most decent folk are at home with their families!"
That word fizzed round in his mind again.
"Please forgive me for calling so late. You are not the first person to refuse me tonight! But I wish you peace."
The stranger turned and trudged away slowly through the snow towards the hill leading away from the pub.
Peace indeed!  As he reflected on what he had just said to the stranger the realisation hit him that he had treated his own children in that same brusque and indifferent way.  Answering ‘no’ to every question showed a failure in human sensibility, sensitivity and, above all, respect for another’s point of view. The way he had treated his children had not been the actions of a loving father. Was the road to redemption through forgiveness? Had they both been sorry and sought his forgiveness? Yes, they had! It was for him now to acknowledge that their apologies should be recognised. That old platitude about erring being human and forgiveness being divine and his failure to perform an act of goodwill at the season of goodwill, it all troubled him. They had both sought his forgiveness but he was still resisting.
In his eyes they had fallen from grace, but perhaps the greater fall could have been his own. He could no longer claim to be a loving father.


The church bell struck midnight. It was Christmas, the season of goodwill – and perhaps forgiveness? Dan pondered. Had he been too harsh because they had not done his will? He thrust his head into his hands, a large lump grew in his throat and he felt the tears dribbling through his fingers. What he had shown to his children had been pride? Stupid, stupid pride.
Should he forgive?
How could he find that peace of which the stranger had spoken?
Dan's eyes followed his own shadow across the snow towards the hill. In the distance he could see the stranger, quite clearly now, in the glare of the lights from the porch.
But His figure threw no shadow.




Happy Christmas Everyone! Be kind to one another!



About the Author

David Deanshaw has had a varied business career, firstly in banking, then as a management consultant and more recently involved in the regeneration of run down town centres. In addition he had a life in local politics, including dealings with Government Ministers. He has had several letters published in The Times, Sunday Times and Birmingham Post of a political and business nature.
He has been involved with every community in which he has lived for over sixty years.
When asked why he joined a writers group some years ago, he said “I have been writing business fiction for ages, so I thought I would try real fiction.”


He intends to use his experience in writing a mixture of short stories, whilst planning a couple of novels based on situations he saw in the of finance and politics.

Monday 23 December 2013

DECEMBER 23 2013: A Christmas Tradition?



DECEMBER 23 2013: A Christmas Tradition?

Roger Noons

Evicted
A large glass of malt

What an embarrassment!
            I took my grandchildren to the Panto. Alice was a comely wench, but she ultimately led to my downfall. We were encouraged to participate, to call out; hiss and boo. That’s what you do; why you go.
    It was during the second half, we had enjoyed ice creams; made ourselves comfortable. I was as excited as the kids; made a spectacle of myself. When we were asked to call for the Cheshire Cat, I yelled. “We want pussy!”
            Two burly men marched me out of the Circle, made me wait for Ben and Jack in the foyer.


About the Author

Roger Noons has delighted us many times with his mixture of dark and light and this one will surely lift a smile. He is a regular contributor and his work is featured in the Best of CaféLit 2012.

Sunday 22 December 2013

DECEMBER 22 2013: Memories


DECEMBER 22 2013: Memories

Colin Wyatt

A Christmas Past

Glass of Milk and a Minced Pie

Mum and Dad had very little, but they still made Christmas special for my brother and I when we were young. They were happy times.
             Except for one year …
We knew, by then, there was no Santa, and our presents were hidden in a locked wardrobe.  My brother told my parents he had seen me find the key and open the wardrobe. It was totally untrue, and I was unfairly reprimanded. I think he was getting even for the time I buried his favourite toy in the garden.
That was a Christmas past.

It's why I prefer a Christmas present.


About the Author
Colin Wyatt is best known for his children’s books and his children’s stories. He co-created the Poddington Peas made into a BBC TV series and has worked on a variety of publications over the year including being Art Editor for 2000 AD. But most of his work has been as an artist for Disney. One of his latest projects is a series of children’s picture books to raise funds and awareness for the Born Free Foundation with his stories and illustrations for The Jet-Set.
Check out his website.

Saturday 21 December 2013

DECEMBER 21 2013: Fragments


DECEMBER 21 2013: Fragments
NATIONAL SHORT STORY DAY
Debz Hobbs-Wyatt
and others …
When The Wind Changes

Robert scoops snow into his glove. He shapes it, pats it down and presses it into the face of the snowman. I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be, a nose perhaps, but everyone knows a carrot is best for that. He’s been building the snowman for twenty minutes, working systematically, rolling the body, then the head, placing twigs where its fingers are supposed to be. He only looked up once when the cat ran along the fence, Bill Broad’s big black cat. He steps back and I see his face. He’s remembering me. He’s remembering the last time we built a snowman and Dad took a photograph of us. Robert has the photograph now. He took it from my room. They tell one another that they never go in there, they can’t go in there. But they do. I’ve seen Mum with her face pressed into my dressing gown, as if she thinks she can fold herself into it and disappear. I’ve seen her running her fingers across my things, so lightly she’s afraid if she presses too hard something will break. Or maybe she’s afraid she will break…


About the Author(s)

This is an extract of a story by Debz Hobbs-Wyatt published in the collection You, Me & Bit of We published this year by Chuffed Buff Books and one of the excerpts published with some of the others on their website today in celebration of National Short Story Day!

I wanted to include this and hope that you will all follow the links to read some of the other extracts. It celebrates writing in the first and second person and is available on Amazon: BUY HERE

Friday 20 December 2013

DECEMBER 20 2013: Christmas Spirit


DECEMBER 20 2013: Christmas Spirit

Roger Noons
High Finance
A pint of lager, extra strength



“You know that woman who lives opposite you?”
“Which …?”
“The one who looks like she’s got footballs up her jumper. Face like the back end of a bus though  …”
“Oh, Elaine?”
“That’s her. Do you know she works in the Stockbridge Building Society?”
“Yes, she’s …”
“One of the top ones in the Branch mate, when she speaks, they jump, I‘ll tell you. Well she’s fixed me up with a mortgage.”
“Oh yes, what’s the rate?”
“No idea mate, I couldn’t take my eyes off her tits. In fact, I don’t even remember signing the form.”


About the Author
Roger Noons has entertained us with lots of dark and witty tales and this one just made me laugh and is all dialogue! Some of his stories were selected for the Best of CaféLit 2012.

Thursday 19 December 2013

DECEMBER 19 2013: The Real Meaning

DECEMBER 19 2013: The Real Meaning

Debz Hobbs-Wyatt
Sick Note


A Cup of Medicine



“Is that a medical condition?”
            I imagine him standing there with the phone in his hand, eye brows raised, rolling his eyes at Santa. “The Elf is off sick again.”
            I hear children’s voices already waiting in line. Think about church, the vicar saying we all need to remember there is a Christ in Christmas.  
            I know what they think. It’s another excuse, it’s really a hangover, or too many mince pies. Come on? Stigmata?
            I hang up, root for a tissue. Remember there is a Christ in Christmas. I think it as I wipe the blood from the receiver.


About the Author
Debz Hobbs-Wyatt as well as being the editor for CaféLit, works as a full time writer. Her short story The Theory of Circles was nominated for the US Pushcart Prize last year, she was one of only two UK writers short listed in the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2013, won the Bath Short Story Award 2013 and her debut novel While No One Was Watching has just been published by Parthian Books. Special Amazon offer on Paperback and Kindle version only 99p now!
Twitter @DebzHobbs-Wyatt

DECEMBER 18 2013: FAIRIES



DECEMBER 18 2013: FAIRIES

Janet Bunce

The ‘Essex’ Fairy

Green Fairy cocktail

Joel stood at the school gates watching the vehicles collecting his classmates. Not one vehicle more than a year old and each big enough to transport a dozen kids. He fidgets from foot to foot thinking about his mum’s unpredictability. They will laugh at me tomorrow he thinks straightening his tie.
‘I wish I had the most amazing school pick up ever.’
Suddenly he hears a screech.
His mum dressed in a white dress with glittering wings and a wand steps out from a stretch limo. ‘I’ve come to collect you Joel babe’ she says. ‘Now let’s go walk Rudolf.’


About the Author

Janet Bunce lives in Epping Forest, Essex with her husband and enjoys writing.

Tuesday 17 December 2013

DECEMBER 17 2013: A FESTIVE PHONE CALL?


DECEMBER 17 2013: A FESTIVE PHONE CALL?

Jo Fino

Blue Angel

Blue Angel Drink
  • 1 oz brandy
  • 1/2 oz blue curacao
  • 1/2 oz liqueur (vanilla)
  • 1/2 oz half and half (cream)
  • 1 dash lemon juice
  • 1 slice lemon (garnish)

‘Hi Richard, it’s me…
Sorry Richard, you’ll have to shout, the line’s really bad…
Christmas? Yes, that’s why I’m ringing...
Richard, please just stop babbling about trees and lights...
Yes, silver and blue sounds nice but listen....
Yes, buy a new angel if you want....
 Blue? Well if you can find one, I really don’t care...
What? No, I’m in India....
Tinsel? It’s in the box in the attic...
Yes I did say India…
No Richard, I have no idea what your mother wants for Christmas, in fact…
Turkey? Stuff the turkey. Richard, I’ve left you.’


About the Author
Jo Fino says:
I am a dreamer, an optimist, a worrier too. I started writing again to deal with a stressful situation and gradually rediscovered my passion. Now I battle to try to produce something of worth and to have the guts to get it 'out there'. I have a new passion: my daughter. I want to leave her a legacy, make her proud. I am working on short stories and a couple of novel ideas, dabble with poetry and have just started blogging …again.  http://twcrumpet.blogspot.co.uk


Since CafeLit published Jo’s first short story here, her story A Tale of A Smuggler and His Girl was shortlisted by Honno in their call for ghost stories and her short story Cruel Summer won the Writer's Forum monthly competition and was published in issue 146.

Monday 16 December 2013

DECEMBER 16 2013: UPS & DOWNS


DECEMBER 16 2013: UPS & DOWNS

Sarah Barry

On the Elevator Going Down

Cappuccino

Familiar Monday morning faces greet me. Nostrils fill with cappuccino fumes. The elevator flies upwards. My painted smile combines with glazed eyes concealing despair. Bright colours encircle, yet cannot revive cheer.
He’s looking, evil intentions camouflaged by the gorgeous smile. One predictable, weather conversation last week and his hand had swarmed all over my back. Breathless, I press into a corner of sanctuary. The elevator scurries towards scary, successful heights; hours until I can retrieve street level anonymity.           
The elevator pings, I smooth my jacket, confidently striding to my door. Opening it, I glance at the sign, “Angela Mayhew. MD”.


About the Author


Sarah Barry lives in Co. Kildare, Ireland. She currently enjoys writing Flash Fiction and Short Stories in rapid bursts between caring for her four children. Sarah’s first published work was included in the flash fiction anthology, “Once Upon A Time: A Collection of Unexpected Fairytales” (ed. SJI Holliday and Anna Meade). Sarah has also been published online at paragraphplanet.com and during the various Flash Floods hosted by National Flash Fiction Day 2012 and 2013, as well as on cafelit.co.uk previously. Follow her on Twitter @saraheebarry

Sunday 15 December 2013

DECEMBER 15 2013: PATIENCE


DECEMBER 15 2013: PATIENCE
Susan Eames
Persistence
Fruit Smoothie


The old man sat in the smoke-choked bar listening to ‘Jingle Bells’.
Amparo rattled through the beaded curtain. She handed him a bag of leftovers.
'Thanks.' He hesitated, balanced on a razor edge of desire. 'When can I see you?'
'You're a fool to keep asking.'
'And you're a beautiful coward.'
She snorted.
At home his dogs jostled him, toenails tap-dancing on the flagstones. He tipped Amparo's leftovers into grubby bowls. An elderly moped belched up the drive.
He blinked. 'You came?' Stupid, stupid question.
Amparo appraised him. 'I must be mad.'
He took her hand. 'Happy Christmas,' he said.


About the Author

Susan Eames left England over twenty years ago to explore the world and dive its oceans. She has had travel articles and short fiction published on three continents. She lived in Fiji until recently and is currently vagabonding around Europe with her husband in a Motorhome.

DECEMBER 14 2013: MUSIC


DECEMBER 14 2013: MUSIC
Janet Bunce
Another Key
                                                     Cuppa char

Everyday Nadine wakes and practises on her make believe piano.
Her magic fingers make the white and black keys dance with her commands.
Perfect keys playing at a concert.
The music come alive.
Every night she sleeps another key close to her.
The key locks the door on a darker world.
A world where 15 means 18 in order to fulfil dreams.
A world where pianists have no place but keys do.
Keys to secret rooms and secret desires.
Let me find a key which unlocks my dreams she thinks
Unlocking the door she sees today’s first client.

About the Author
Janet Bunce is a director in financial services with a latent creative side. Lives in Epping Forest with husband and tortoise and would like to write full time

Friday 13 December 2013

DECEMBER 13 2013: PROCRASTINATION


DECEMBER 13 2013: PROCRASTINATION

Mike Olley

Having a Rubbish Time

A stiff Brandy

Alex lay in bed, apprehensive. He'd done all he could in preparation. Tomorrow was just another day. Right?
After what seemed like an eternity of twitching, tossing and turning, he drifted off to sleep.
But in his mind he was running. Trying to reach a door that got further away. His feet were leaden. He heard a monstrous commotion in the distance. Unintelligible shouting. Growing louder. A fetid odour lingering. It was close.
With a scream, Alex kicked off the duvet and leaped out of bed. The beast departed with a voluminous roar.
Damn! He'd missed the bin men again.


About the Author
Mike Olley made pop videos but gave it all up to live next to a Spanish castle, where he grew cactuses, practised carpentry and wrote strange funny stories. Unable to take the heat any longer, he returned to England with his sense of humour and a half-baked novel. His first collection of short stories is Better.


Thursday 12 December 2013

DECEMBER 12 2013: INJUSTICE


DECEMBER 12 2013: INJUSTICE

Susan Eames
Runnin'

Single shot Jack Daniels

They saying I done rape Maisie. They coming after me.
            I didn't touch her. No Sir. I nobut fishin'. Maisie dropped her bonnet in the creek. While I wades for it, darned if she aint took off her dress. Buck naked creamy white. My knees start shakin' like a pig about to be skinned.
            'Git here, boy, or I'll holla,' she threatened.
            I turned and ran blind. Left ever'thing. Even my shoes. Figure they got proof enough. Man they catch me they gonna have a lynch party and I be the guest of honour.
            Gotta keep runnin', shoes or no.


About the Author
Susan Eames left England over twenty years ago to explore the world and dive its oceans. She has had travel articles and short fiction published on three continents. Until recently, Susan lived in Fiji, but is now currently exploring new possibilities.


Wednesday 11 December 2013

DECEMBER 11 2013: A TOUCH OF THE CARIBBEAN

DECEMBER 11 2013: A TOUCH  OF THE CARIBBEAN

Janet Bunce

Sex on the Beach

Vodka, peach snapps, orange juice and cranberry juice (also known as Sex on the Beach)

He moves out of the water slowly testing the sand to ensure that its firm. He looks up and sees his favoured one and heads in her direction dancing with the calypso music to attract her attention.
            She is attempting that move that drives him wild. An erotic sideways shuffle dancing with the waves.
            Is tonight my night he thinks?
 She sees him just as a huge wave hits the shore.
            It catches him taking him back out to sea.
            Further up the beach his crustacean partner continues her love moves but with another crab who has taken his place.


About the Author
Janet is a director in financial services with a latent creative side. She lives in Epping Forest with her husband and tortoise and would like to write full  time.

DECEMBER 10 2013: BITTER SWEETNESS


DECEMBER 10 2013: BITTER SWEETNESS

Betty Taylor

New Shoes

Americano

“New shoes today,” the carer said. “Your daughter’s bringing them.”
Ellen remembered the blue kid shoes she’d worn as a child, the button fastener bright as a bird’s eye. Snapshots showed her wearing ballet shoes with satin ribbons. Then came high-heels, the photographs were of Ellen in the front row of a West End chorus line. She sighed, thinking of the shoes she had worn on her wedding day, oyster brocade with tiny pearls.
Later, the carer said, “Here we are dear, nice and roomy for your poor feet.”
The harsh rasp of Velcro tore at Ellen’s her heart.



About the Author
Betty lives and writes in Wolverhampton

Monday 9 December 2013

DECEMBER 9 2013: EXCESS


DECEMBER 9 2013: EXCESS

Jacki Donnellan

Jump

Redcurrant Juice



“Jump!” they shouted.

He’d made it when he jumped off the flat roof of his garage. He’d landed okay when he’d launched himself off his balcony. Now he stood poised atop his house, wearing a red cape for effect, his mates throwing beery encouragement up from below.

He jumped.

His red cape billowed behind him. He soared through the air.

He was-flying! He sailed peacefully, higher and lighter, towards the clouds.

He looked down. He could see his friends, swarming like panicking ants around something that lay on the ground. From his celestial height, it looked like a squashed redcurrant.



About the Author

Jacki Donnellan currently lives in the Netherlands with her husband and two children. She first started to write while the rest of her family were off skiing but it's now become an all- year sport. Follow her on Twitter @DonnellanJacki

Sunday 8 December 2013

DECEMBER 8 2013: CREATION

DECEMBER 8 2013: CREATION

Alan Cadman

Ménage à Trois

A satisfying cup of Earl Grey; no milk or sugar

I am intrigued about who is concealed under a white blanket in front of me. I close the bedroom window, to shut out damp laden air. An earthy aroma still clings to my nostrils as I wipe condensation from panes of glass. Yesterday couldn’t have been more different. A Kingfisher streaked past slender branches of willow that dripped down into the canal. 
                Today, winter sunshine is burning off thick veils of fog. A sorrel is first to appear; then a roan looms silently into view. When an albino emerges from patchy shadows, three handsome horses roam loose around the ménage.

About the Author
Alan has been writing short stories for six years. Before that, he was the editor of a civic society newsletter for seven years. When he first started writing fiction, his published work was rewarded with complimentary copies from magazines. His first cheque arrived on Christmas Eve 2009.
In 2011 he made the short list for one story and became a prize winner for flash fiction. Alan also won first prize, of £100, in a poetry competition in 2013. The last three accolades were awarded by the same best-selling UK magazine for writers. Alan’s work has been read out on Internet radio and his stories are now published in hard copy magazines and e-zines.


DECEMBER 7 2013: FAMILY


DECEMBER 7 2013: FAMILY

Patsy Collins

Keep it in the Family

A glass of champagne

My brother fidgeting with his silk cravat looks understandably nervous. I am marrying him today so I’m nervous too.
We’re wearing new outfits, in honour of this mutually important occasion. Our suits are crafted from the same material, but I have a long tulip skirt in place of tailored trousers. My smile belies my nerves.
An unusual situation but we’ve always been very close; we’ve done everything together throughout our childhood why should we stop now we are adults? Our family are delighted for us. Glad my brother eventually found the perfect woman; happy for me beginning work as Registrar.


About the Author
To learn more about Patsy, and get details of free to enter writing competitions, please visit her blog. http://patsy-collins.blogspot.co.uk/

Friday 6 December 2013

DECEMBER 6 2013: NOSTALGIA


DECEMBER 6 2013: NOSTALGIA
Gill James

Remembering Trivia

Fizzy cola

“I’ve got some bad news,” said Dad. We were sitting in his old Ford Popular outside the Wesley Methodist church hall. He’d picked me up from Guides.
My heart started thumping and my mouth went dry. Had something happened to Mum? Or Grandma? Or Gran?
“What?”
“President Kennedy’s been shot.”
Was that it? Everybody I knew was all right?
“Shot?”
“Yes. He’s dead.”
“Oh.”
He’d seemed a nice man to me. Young as well. His wife was very glamorous. Fancy getting shot. But America was like that, wasn’t it?
“Do you want to get some chips?”
“Yes please. With batters.” 


About the Author
Gill James writes fiction for children, young adults and grown-up adults, and teaches Creative Writing in Higher Education. Recently she has developed a keen interest in flash fiction. She is fascinated by how we always remember exactly what we were doing when big news breaks and she wrote Remembering Trivia to celebrate the release of her friend Debz-Hobbs Wyatt’s While No One Was Watching that has J.F. Kennedy’s assassination as the setting.


Thanks Gill! Debz J Ps my novel is only 99p on Kindle for December! Spread the nostalgia! KINDLE

Thursday 5 December 2013

DECEMBER 5 2013: FESTIVE CLEANING? Or HUMBUG?

DECEMBER 5 2013: FESTIVE CLEANING? Or HUMBUG?

Helen Laycock

Dead Silence

Cappuccino, effusive with froth, from a permanently gurgling machine


He was such a grouch.
            Sitting in that wing-back with his broadsheet whilst she padded around in slippers… shushing her as she struggled to emit the tiniest spritz of Pledge… tutting as she slapped the cushion she wished was Harry. Those grooves between his eyebrows like sunken staples…
            The corners of his mouth looked as though they had been caught on fishing line.
 Agnes brandished the duster feverishly across the mantelpiece and sang. Loudly.
            Whoops!
            Once she had picked up the pieces of the urn, Agnes watched Harry swirl inside the drum of the vacuum cleaner.
            ‘Bloody racket!’ she mimicked.

About the Author
Helen Laycock has written two contrasting collections of short stories: Peace and Disquiet and Light Bites she is working towards compiling three more. She also has work included in: One Word Anthology.
One of her stories recently reached the shortlist of the final three at The Ryedale Book Festival and she has enjoyed success in many other writing competitions, both for short stories and poetry. Helen also writes children’s fiction and has completed eight mystery/adventure books for 7 – 12-year olds. These and books of humorous poetry for both adults and children can be found on her Author Page. Helen Laycock has had several pieces featured on CafeLit.

Author Page: LINK
Facebook: LINK
Twitter: LINK

Wednesday 4 December 2013

DECEMBER 4 2013: COLOUR

DECEMBER 4 2013: COLOUR



Roger Noons
Butterfly Ballet
A tiny cup of the sweetest nectar

A trio of Whites perform a complicated country dance against a shaded fence. A yard away, Peacocks binge on a Buddleia Black Knight bush, on the periphery of which, trips a Comma; low profile, feeding on emerging blooms. A Speckled Wood skips into the garden; nonchalant, ignoring his cousins. If he had the organs, he would surely whistle as he goes along. A Common Blue darts hither and thither, the epitome of fast feeding. Stillness, as the Red Admiral arrives to carry out an inspection, take the salute of the parade. Satisfied, he eventually departs, and normality returns.

About the Author
Roger is a regular contributor to the CaféLit site and a couple of his stories have been selected for the Best of CaféLit 2012.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

DECEMBER 3 2013: GIFT IN DISGUISE


DECEMBER 3 2013: GIFT IN DISGUISE

Sharon Alder

The Bug

Sex On The Beach


I am beginning to wonder what is wrong with me as I kneel with my head over the toilet seat and wretch for the umpteenth time. I have mentally gone through everything I had to eat or drink yesterday and the previous two and nothing springs to mind that could have upset me like this. It must be a confounded bug I conclude. Four weeks later my bug is confirmed, it will reach full gestation in nine months and probably bug me for the rest of my life but that said I am deliriously happy to finally become a Mom.




About the Author

Sharon lives in Staffordshire
She writes purely for fun and from life experiences, it’s a great way of letting things go she says!She would love to have a novel published one day


Monday 2 December 2013

DECEMBER 2 2013: SURPRISE


DECEMBER 2 2013: SURPRISE

Susan Eames

Blind Date

Singapore Sling

Norman checked his watch. He jiggled his buttocks on the bar stool. The bar mirror gave him a view of the door. He'd see her first and have time to ditch his magazine if necessary.
She walked in. What a babe! Should he wave? No! Not cool, not cool.
He looked down: controlled a giggle and discreetly flapped his sweaty hands. Don't show your nerves, Norman. Don't look up yet. Make her wait.
He took a breath and looked up to meet her gaze. Her magazine lay on an empty table. 
What the bloody hell? Norman smoothed his comb-over, incredulous.

About the author
Susan Eames left England over twenty years ago to explore the world and dive its oceans. She has had travel articles and short fiction published on three continents. Until recently, Susan lived in Fiji, but is currently exploring new possibilities.

Sunday 1 December 2013

DECEMBER 1 2013: MAGIC





DECEMBER 1 2013: MAGIC

Allison Symes

A Study In Magic

Black Coffee


She expertly extracts revenge, dispatching man and beast where necessary. She dresses well though despises fashion slaves. Her long brunette hair, gleaming in sunlight, is her vanity. She doesn’t get jokes. Humour gets in the way for the Fairy Queen’s exterminator of evil. 
Only fools cross Deamadrell. She uses her own adaptations to her world’s ancient spells. Her favourite is to turn an offender into a frog, ensuring they stay fully aware of what happened, before dumping them in a heron colony. Nobody complains. 
The Kingdom’s herons have never been so well fed.



About the Author
Allison Symes writes fairytales with bite. Her first loves are novels and short stories but has flirted with poems and the odd script. She is part of the Association of Christian Writers, the Society of Authors and adores P.G.Wodehouse, Jane Austen and Terry Pratchett.
Websites: