Thursday 31 July 2014

Rolling Around the Park

Rolling Around the Park
Gill James

A couple of flat whites

Baz felt warm now despite the earlier frost. The sky was a cloudless blue and the sun was getting quite strong. It was warm for September, even for London. Besides they’d been round the park twice and had just spent twenty minutes practising slaloms between the brightly coloured mini-cones Carlo had given Baz for his birthday.
‘Shall we go and get a coffee?’ asked Carlo. 
‘In a bit,’ said Baz. ‘Let’s have a couple more goes first. Put them a bit closer together.’ It would have been a shame to gather them up now. They’d taken quite a while to put out.
Carlo nodded and started moving the cones. Baz started doing the same from his end. Then he felt someone grab his trouser leg.
He looked down to see a little boy with big brown eyes and soft black curls staring up at him. He’d noticed him earlier. He was wearing what looked like fairly new rollerblades. He’d kept falling over but every time he’d got up and tried again. The kid had got some courage. He was probably covered in bruises.
‘Will you teach me how to skate like you?’ the little boy asked.
I’d love to, thought Baz. But I’d probably be crucified if I did. He could just imagine the headline. ‘Two gays caught in Hyde Park attempting to abduct and corrupt a young boy.’ He just didn’t dare go there. Unless… if his parents were about and they said it was okay…
It struck him then that the boy might be lost. Oh, that would be good as well. Whatever they did then would be wrong. It wouldn’t be right if one of them went and reported it and the other stayed with him. Nor would it be right if they just left him on his own.
‘Aren’t you here with your mum or dad?’ said Baz.
The little boy shook his head. ‘Me big brother brought me. But he’s gone off to do a circus. He told me to wait here.’
A circus? thought Baz. What did he mean by that?
‘I think he means a circuit,’ said Carlo, putting his hand gently on Baz’s shoulder. 
Ah. ‘Well, can’t he teach you?’ said Baz.
The boy shook his head. ‘He’s too mean. Anyway, he’s not as good as you. He’s not even as good as him.’ The boy pointed at Carlo.
Carlo laughed. ‘See, those skate-dancing lessons weren’t so poncy after all. They did you some good.’
It was true, Baz supposed. He now had a really good sense of balance. It had taken him less than a couple of hours to get the roller-blades under control. It had seemed so natural, even though the movements he had to make were considerably different from the ones he’d used on the ice. 
‘Come on,’ Carlo whispered. ‘Best leave it. We shouldn’t even be talking to him.’
Baz nodded. ‘Sorry mate,’ he said. ‘We’ve got to go.’
‘You won’t teach me?’ The little boy looked as if he was going to cry.
Baz pursed his lips and shook his head. ‘Sorry,’ he whispered.
The boy stomped away towards a nearby bench, falling down a couple of times on the way. He pulled his roller-blades off and started rubbing his eyes.
The poor kid.

‘How old do you reckon he was? said Baz as they drank their coffee.
“Five? Six?” 
Baz nodded. ‘It’s a blooming shame.Why shouldn’t I teach him how to skate? It doesn’t look as if his parents or his brother care very much.’
Carlo sighed. ‘Baz, you know the answer to that one. You know what they’d do to us if we as much as touched him. And you couldn’t teach him without touching him, could you? It’s probably bad enough that we even stopped and talked to him.’
‘Nah! Guess not.’ Baz shook his head.
‘Come on then. Let’s go and do another circus.’ 
Baz smiled. ‘I just hope he’s not still sitting on that bench bawling his eyes out.’
‘If he is, we’ll go and report it to the Information Centre. But we don’t go near him, right?’
Baz nodded.

As they sped round the track later Baz was relieved to see that the boy was no longer there. He hoped he was safe with his brother and he hoped he’d stopped crying.    

About the Author
Gill James writes fiction for young and old and has published several novels for young adults alongside short stories and flash fiction for all ages. She lectures in creative writing at the University of Salford, where she is the Programme leader for English and Creative Practice. She is the founder of the Creative Cafe Project, CafeLit supports and is supported by the Creative Cafe Project.    
Visit her web site at
Her blog is found at
Read all about her latest book at         

Tuesday 29 July 2014

100 Worder The Uninvited

100 Worder

David Hook

The Uninvited

a chilled glass of Blood Orange Juice

The sky pink, hazy.
My eyes lower to the red plain before me.
Pirouetting dust devils captivate, their choreographer an alien mistral.
Mesas sentinel, majestically dominate the desolate horizon.
Sand rat-a-tat-tats against my visor synchronous with the bass drumming of my heart.
A sudden overwhelming epiphany, I do not belong here.
Words, so exhaustively rehearsed, escape me as my foot leaves the platform and makes its historic print.
Cyclonal spouts of grit and stone envelop me, shredding and slashing my suit, my flesh.
I scream as my very being becomes a red mist and blends with the landscape.
Mars unconquerable.

About the Author
David lives on the edge of Epping Forest having been raised on a council estate in South London. Recently resigned from a stressful job after twenty years he finds that his mind is decluttering and is now able to concentrate on hobbies and interests. He hopes, despite a crippling fear of grammar and punctuation, that writing will become one of them.

Friday 25 July 2014

A Small White Envelope

David Deanshaw
A Small White Envelope
 (Inspired by Ketty Lester’s song “Love letters”)
 A small sherry for old time’s sake

It was just an ordinary square white envelope. The address had been typed onto a label – so I was one of many to receive them. It was stiff; it obviously contained a small card – an invitation perhaps? Was I expecting anything? I recognised the postmark; it came from where she lived when last we had been in touch.
Love letters straight from your heart; keep us so near while apart
The memories came flooding back…
For the first time in our lives, we had begun to understand the term “soul-mates.” Somehow we just seemed to click. Our values coincided as did our emotions. We could smile and know what the other was thinking. A special look would pass between us and the other would say, “I love you too!”
Then I recalled that together we had made a shameful decision many years earlier. We could have returned and undone the wrong, but we both blamed each other. Honesty and decency allied with candour had been part of our lives. To have committed what might have been seen as a minor but wrong action was a grievous memory to us; but the consequences of a confession would be damaging to our “Sunday School” reputations.
Perhaps it was the enormity of that decision, or the fact that we would have difficulty in facing each other, knowing what we had done, that had blown us apart. We had seemed to be so much in love. This could have been the great love of our lives and we had made such a major decision so quickly and without thinking of the consequences.
Then my job took me 200 miles away, but we stayed in touch – on paper. But I was a man away from home, in a big city with all its temptations.
After that, we had gone our separate ways, despite attempts by me to restore what was lost. So deep was this loss that I had started to write about it. Would it be a novel, laced with creative licence? Or would it be autobiographical? So strong had my feelings been for her that locked away in the loft in an old cardboard shoe box, I had kept all her letters. Here were photographs too, as well as one truly poignant feature – a receipt for a dozen red roses with the message “Please come back.” All of this was to no avail.
Now, after over thirty years of heartache I had the time and capacity to mount a search for her. But was it really to be? Three firms of private detectives had drawn blanks. Had they tried hard enough? Or was the old adage, if you want something done properly, do it yourself!
Eventually, I found her, then like Pandora’s Box, I opened it without thinking, to find that only hope remained.
I learned to my dismay that her past few years had been spent living in a tied cottage with second hand furniture, working for an old folk’s charity. That’s where she’d met Ted. Her job had been to stimulate the minds of these old people; he had been one of them. She tried to help them to remember the good times and support them when the sad memories got the better of them. She was a kind woman. She too had loved and lost many times in her life. Most of all, she said, with me all those years ago; so she told me. When briefly I’d arrived back in her life she was overjoyed at first, then realised that my marriage was solid – she complained with some sadness that I was just clearing my conscience. Perhaps we could have been happy if she had not driven me away. She also said that she had loved me all those years ago, but she had made the decision to send me away. Why? Because I could not be faithful and I just could not resist temptation.
Now it looked like she was going to get married again – and once again not to me.
It was probably to Ted. I had met Ted, a widower, a couple of times. Ted was dour man with a north Lancashire accent which seemed a strangely foreign sound – even in west Merseyside where the scouse dialect is so strong.
Why had she chosen Ted? Security probably – not the emotional type of course, but probably financial. Of course I hoped she would be happy, secure, comfortable and content
Was it to be a big do? Did I really want to go?
I fingered the envelope almost not wishing to open it, turning it over and over again, thinking and remembering. Perhaps I should just send a cheque with best wishes and then forget about her completely – again. Just as I had had been forced to do, forty years earlier. What would be the point of being there in the church listening to her being given away, again? But not to me.
I reached for the silver letter opener – a gift from her all those years ago. It was still in pristine condition, in its original box, in my desk. The notelet, covered with roses, that said “with love” had been lost – it was only a scrap of paper and my desk had been moved many times over forty years. But the letter opener had come from her so it would remain with me forever.
I turned the envelope over so as not to face the address and stamp. I inserted the silver blade slowly and with trepidation. Could she really be marrying Ted of all people?
I was right it was a card carrying an invitation.
I read the contents. A lump rose in my throat. The tears that I had expected burned in the back of my eyes before cascading down my cheek.
Yes I would send a cheque.
I could not bear the thought of her lying there in her coffin.
But I still have all her letters.
DD July 2014
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.

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Bunraku Doll

Bunraku Doll

Susan May James

Matcha tea:
beautiful powdered green tea with robust tones that linger on the palate

The girl’s feet strike the pavement as she darts around pedestrians and traffic. She veers into a subway station and only catches her breath when she stops to buy a ticket. She squeezes onto a packed train.
The girl jumps at the sound of her name and looks up in time to see the doors close and her pursuer’s head shake. A hand raps the carriage window as the train pulls away.
Two tourists sit near her, a map between them. The woman stares for a moment before turning to her husband.
‘Shouldn’t she be in school?’
He shrugs, engrossed in the map.
Guilty, Saika keeps her gaze lowered and quietly counts off the stations. It doesn’t take long to reach Namba where she exits and wanders along the streets, wending her way through Dotonbori before heading towards Nipponbashi. Neon signs that pulse and light up the night seem muted during the day. Overhead, a large mechanical crab beckons and a blow-fish lantern taunts. Her stomach rumbles at the smell of food. Kuidaore. Saika recalls her grandmother’s firm teachings. Hailing from the north, obaasan steadfastly believes that overindulgence in Osaka’s culinary delights leads to ruin. Luckily for Saika her father had not inherited his mother’s austere nature. He had often treated his daughter to decadent meals.
Tears fill Saika’s eyes as her mouth waters. The thought of returning home overwhelms her. If only her father were there, he’d know what to do. Instead, she knows she must face obaasan’s wrath, and her mother’s shame, without him.

As she walks along a canal and looks out over the bridge, Saika thinks about what her teacher will say this time. A knot clenches in her stomach. The bullying and teasing were out of control. She didn’t fit in at school and now, with the gossip about her father’s death, her lessons had become unbearable. At first her teacher understood, but with each new incident her patience waned.
Lost in thought, Saika finds herself in front of the National Bunraku Theatre. After a moment’s hesitation she crosses the street and enters the large, grey, block-like building. The morning show was over and the hall is empty. A woman standing behind a counter calls out the price of a ticket for the next performance. Saika shakes her head. The woman nods towards the entrance to the exhibition.
‘The display is free,’ she says.

Awed by the dolls and their ornate costumes, Saika remembers learning about the ancient art in school, but she has never before seen the puppets up close so she takes her time looking at the display. Once, she asked her father to take her to a performance but he refused. He told her the plays were too old for her; she would be bored during the four hour show.
After a second walk round the exhibit she thanks the woman and steps back outside. The afternoon sun has shifted and, still not ready to return home, Saika makes her way to the back of the building where she sits down on a step, her head resting on her knees.
With her eyes closed, she recalls the layers of silk robes, brightly coloured sashes and the pale faces of the dolls’ heads, detached from their bodies, their hair shimmering and pinned in place with delicate ornaments. For a moment she is lost in thought but then realises she can hear a shamisen playing in the distance. Saika looks up. The music and melodic voice of the joruri drift from an open backdoor.
Making sure no-one is around to see her, she stands up and darts inside. The lights are dim but she follows the music to the performance area where the three puppet masters, concealed in black garments, glide seamlessly across the stage. Mesmerised, she watches the rehearsal from a shadowed corner. A few moments later she is startled when an old man approaches her. Bowing her head she waits, expecting him to scold her. Instead, he nudges her arm and points at the almost life-sized puppets. He is one of the costume masters and, once the dolls are dressed, he stays on hand in case of any unforeseen problems. The man is kind and explains the role of the joruri, the three puppet movers and the shamisen player. He points out the change in tempo as one doll shakes an angry fist, eyes rolling in indignation as another quivers and moves with apprehension.
‘It’s all in the knees,’ the old man instructs.
Saika looks at him, puzzled.
‘The walk,’ he says, nodding towards the stage. ‘See how they move. Like real people. The knees bend first when they walk. Same with Bunraku dolls.’
They watch in silence for a moment before he tells her that the female dolls are without legs. The puppeteers use their knuckles to resemble knees, pushing out the dolls’ robes to imitate strides.

When the rehearsal ends, Saika leaves the theatre and catches a train home. Her stomach churns with worry and her feet grow heavy as she approaches the house. They are standing in the front garden and, recognising obaasan’s angry stance, Saika freezes in her tracks. There are tears of shame in her mother’s eyes. Saika’s teacher stops speaking and turns to stare. Her expression is stern as she pulls a young girl forward.
Nanami looks down, scuffing her shoes, her face is swollen from crying and Saika is ashamed. She had mistreated the girl; pushing and calling her names at every opportunity. Nanami’s sister, who had chased Saika to the train station, stands nearby. Bully, her eyes accuse.
          ‘Apologise!’ Saika’s mother barks. Quivering, Saika is unable to step forward. Her mother repeats the demand and Saika suddenly imagines herself as a doll, swathed in green silk, delicate trinkets dangling from her hair. She visualises the three puppeteers guiding her.           
          The omozukai lowers her head, relaxing her right hand, the hidarizukai unfurls her left hand while the ashizukai manoeuvres her feet, giving her strength.
‘Knees first,’ Saika whispers, edging forward.
If only she had a joruri to voice the apology forming on her lips.

About the Author
Susan May James lives and writes in London. She is currently working on a collection of short stories and writing her first novel. You can find her scribbling and tweeting about her various projects on twitter @yamnasus or on her blog Scribble & Scatter.

Tuesday 22 July 2014

100 Worder Butterfly

100 Worder


Angela Haffenden

Pink Lemonade

You see me flutter by, elegance and vulnerability. My fleeting time on earth marred with transformation no human could endure. When you see me, remember I’m a symbol of faith, my short time on this earth is not wasted. My humble beginnings aren’t much different from yours. I take many forms until I finally reach my ultimate goal. Fluttering past, I’m on a journey, touching those who see me briefly with beauty. No life is insignificant, no matter how small. I am happy. I am Psyche, on my journey to an eternity with Eros. Not just a creature, a soul.

About the Author

Angela Haffenden is a mother of four children. She is also responsible for a husband, a dog and an ageing father. She writes mainly to stay sane. She lives by the sea and writes in a cabin in the garden.

Tuesday 15 July 2014

100 Worder I Just Met A Girl Named Maria

100 Worder

I Just Met A Girl Named Maria

Rich Spalding
Gin and Tonic in a water bottle

At 8:59 am, Maria put a friendly bullet in her brain.
It pierced a neat hole in her skull; taking with it the rare smile she’d thrown at a stranger ten days earlier, as the train rattled in to Euston.
It burrowed on, through soft, yielding tissue, taking the memory of each of her sisters, and the kiss on the corner of Park Street, in the dancing sparks of rain.
It took with it seven years of loneliness.
The bullet burst from the back of her head, and flew on, all that was Maria clinging to it for dear life.

About the Author
Rich Spalding is only eight years old. He's just incredibly talented. You can read the work of this boy genius at

Editor’s Note: Someone might not be revealing their true age? I will leave this for you to ponder

Tuesday 8 July 2014

100 Worder Beth

100 Worder

James Phillips


The last half inch of a black Americano

Beth sat and watched. She always seemed to be sitting and watching, while the boys in the band set up their gear in another grubby nightclub. There was a stink of last night’s beer and of bleach, fighting its losing battle in the toilets. Later she would put on the wedding dress and the veil and stand on stage while the crowd hurtled into each other. In the seventies the veil had kept the phlegm of appreciation from her eyes, but now it was a mask. With it on, she was a punk goddess; with it off she was gone.

About the Author
James Phillips lives in Bangor in North Wales, where he spends his days as a house husband and his evenings promoting and performing live music.

He has been writing stories, poems and song lyrics for thirty years. HisTwitter name is @JamesPMPhillips

Friday 4 July 2014

100 Worder Doubles or Singles?

100 Worder

Janet Bunce

Doubles or Singles?

Lemon barley water

Love All. Strange but that’s not how I feel.
15 Love. Great I have scored that point.
15 All. That hurt. How does he do it?
15 30. Oh no where is he getting all that from?
15 40. I can’t believe he has remembered that. Must think fast.
30 40. Bet he wasn’t expecting that!!
Deuce. Such a cunning move by me to pull level. Always take the opponent by surprise.
My Advantage. I have him on the run now. I am serving all the winning aces.
My Game. Argument won but not the match.

Time for new tactics.

About the Author

About the author: Janet Bunce is enjoying writing short pieces. When not writing she works in financial services, runs in the forest and travels as much as possible with her husband.