Friday 29 April 2016

100 Worder: Cider and Chalk

100 Worder: Cider and Chalk

James Phillips

A glass of apple juice

It is hot walking up the hill, even in the shade.

The still air is thick with the scent of wild garlic.

We came here as kids.

‘Stay away from the chalk pit!’

Your mum.


The top is surrounded by gorse.

A barrier or a deterrent.

You emerge from trees into the sun.

Under your backpack, sweat runs.

You pass incurious sheep and over the style.

Once you wouldn’t have touched the sides.

Not any more.

You smile; open a bottle.

The gorse is long gone; there is a fence.

A barrier and a deterrent.

Cider arcs and falls.

About the Author
James P M Phillips is a writer, musician and live music promoter from North Wales. He blogs about all three of these activities at

Published April 29 2016

Thursday 28 April 2016

Poppy, a Puppy for Remembrance

Poppy, a Puppy for Remembrance
Linda Flynn
Tia Maria

She was not born on Remembrance Day, although I remember the day quite clearly. It was the day that Bill died.
            His six closest friends and family traipsed into his cottage in a mournful procession, but by that stage he could hardly speak. It had seemed strange to me that we weren’t greeted by his black Labrador, Tia. But then dogs have their own way of grieving. The two of them had been inseparable as she followed him like his sleek, silent shadow.
            I leant over Bill’s rasping body, wrapped in a crocheted bedspread. Shakily he gestured to his bedside table and I picked up a crumbling cardboard box. Gingerly I lifted the lid to reveal three war medals. He made some guttural sounds, mouthed repeatedly. I strained my ear towards him, but I could not decipher what it was that he was trying to say.
            I moved back and gave an anxious look to Simon, his son, but he just gave a bewildered shrug.
            It was his granddaughter who first heard them. A strange, high pitched yelping.
            As Bill drew his last breath the sound became louder, more insistent.
            We all stood still with our heads bowed in respect, too overwhelmed to register anything outside that moment.

 Outside a field of poppies stirred in the gentle June breeze. I imagined Bill’s soul slipping through the corn field, brushing against the crimson petals and then taking flight.
            I felt a small, insistent tug on my arm and I looked into the large olive eyes of Bill’s great granddaughter, Maria. “Come to the kitchen,” she whispered.
            We heard the little whimpers before even the door was open. There on the hearth lay Tia, surrounded by six sausage like puppies wriggling and writhing.
            So it was that we each received a puppy for remembrance, with Bill’s son also keeping Tia. I decided to call my lively little black puppy, with her twitching inquisitive nose, Poppy.
            Now a year on, I decide to walk through Bill’s field once again. I park my car in a nearby lay by, then we cautiously crossed the busy road. Bill used to complain at the road kill, when reckless drivers regularly ran over birds, rabbits, even a deer.

Poppy is tumbling ahead of me, twirling through the corn. I call her back and she hurtles towards me, her tail thumping.
            My fingers sink into her soft fur and I gently rub her chin. She nuzzles closer, her toffee eyes beseeching me for more.
            Then off she bounds again; leaping like a deer over strands of corn, sniffing unusual smells and jumping backwards at the whirring of a pheasant’s wings.
            I think of Bill’s rheumy grey eyes and soft smile. I used to listen for hours to his tales of endurance in battle, wrapped up as stories. Yet each time he heard an explosion: a car exhaust, a champagne cork or even the popping of some logs on his fire, and he would flinch, turning into himself. His eyes would stare intently forward, his body rigid. Tia would lean her wise head on his lap and wait patiently. I would creep away, afraid to disturb his silent reverie.
            Now he has given me a puppy to look after and who also cared for me. It was Poppy who helped me through when I dealt with the wrenching cramp like pain of divorce. As I felt the door slam on my past, she would nuzzle her damp nose on to my lap and lift her soft padded paws over me. I found comfort in leaning my head against her gentle warm fur, knowing that she would never desert me.
            Then there was the night of the burglary. Poppy had alerted me with her feverish barking, but they had still managed to steal all of Bill’s medals.
            I stood shivering in my nightie as the wind blew through the broken window. I clasped the empty battered box, turning it over in my hands. Poppy barked an angry tirade at the retreating figures and I felt Bill’s loss once more.
            Bill always used to say, “A dog’s loyalty will never falter.” I feel the watery June sun warming my arms. Poppy bounds around me in circles, keen to play. I try to hug her, but she wriggles free, keen to keep moving. She flits after a rabbit, then comes lolloping back, with her tongue hanging out.
            We clamber up a hill, relishing the warmth and our freedom to roam. Poppy sniffs the air and I drink in the moment, me with my dog.
            I run down the hill with my hair flying out behind me. Poppy jumps against my legs, barking excitedly and with her tail whirring.
            We are breathless with happiness as we wind our way back through the edge of the poppy field. And then it happens. Without warning. They are hunting pheasants. The gunshot echoes around the valley. Poppy’s eyes widen in horror.
            Then she bolts. Futilely I call out. But she can only hear the throbbing fear in her head.
            Blindly, recklessly she races through the field. Without a backward glance she slides between the hedgerow, hurtling straight towards the main road.
            I scream her name. I bolt after her, stumbling clumsily in her wake.
            The traffic noise booms louder, screeching nightmarishly and reverberating around the valley.
            “Poppy!” I scream. Yet I know it is too late. “Poppy!”
            I stand at the gate and stare.
            In the middle of the bend I see another road kill. Another death that would not be noted. A strangled scream is stuck in my throat.
            I creep towards the hunched over, matted fur. A scarlet rosette of blood encircles the body.
            Another rabbit. So where is Poppy? I look across the road.
            There she sits by my car. She looks up with liquid brown eyes that know she has done wrong.
            I kneel down and wrap her in my arms. A dog’s loyalty will never falter.

About the Author
Linda Flynn has had two humorous novels published: Hate at First Bite for 7 – 9 year olds and My Dad’s a Drag, for teenagers. Both won Best First Chapter in The Writers’ Billboard competition.

She has six educational books with the Heinemann Fiction Project. In addition she has written for a number of newspapers and magazines, including theatre reviews and several articles on dogs.

 Her short stories with Bridge House include: two adult stories, To Take Flight, in the Going Places anthology  and I knew it in the Bath in Something Hidden, as well as The Wild Ones, for teenagers in Devils, Demons and Werewolves. Two children’s short stories: The Secret Messenger and Timid Tim were included in Hippo-Dee-Doo-Dah.

Linda’s website is:

 Published April 28 2016

Wednesday 27 April 2016

100 Worder: Performance

100 Worder: Performance

Roger Noons

A glass of Rosé

 I watched it from inside

The unwanted McDonalds remains surely contained; a beacon, for within seconds of being casually dropped on the crossing, the scavengers homed in.
            A black-backed gull strutted from stage right: a rook catapulted in from the left and two magpies occupied centre stage. Undirected, seemingly unrehearsed, devoid of floodlights, watched by a select audience confined within a blue four by four Kia, the improvised black and white ballet unfolded.
            Accompanied by kyows, chak-chaks and kaws, monogrammed  paper was shredded, morsels of food tossed, juggled, grabbed and devoured until, the stage bare, the performers exited as if wired in audition for pantomime.

About the Author
Roger Noons is a regular contributor to CafeLit, wowing us with many 100 worders and some longer ones – and you can also read his stories in our Best of CafeLit series.

Published April 27 2016

Tuesday 26 April 2016

100 Worder: Sea Souls

100 Worder: Sea Souls

Helen Laycock


Like a giant palm, the wave capped my head and plunged me beneath its surface, intent on consuming me.
            I tumbled, salt- and sand-blinded.
            It churned and pummelled me until I was spent.
            The dappled light became my sky as I drifted down, relinquishing myself to the depths.
            Flashes of luminescence confirmed that I was passing – but, through barely-open eyes, I saw lanterns encircling me, caught flicks of rainbow shimmer. White faces lit with eyes of emerald and aqua loomed and retreated.
            A streak of energy fizzed through my body. I thrashed my tail and, as they disappeared, sped behind.

About the Author
Helen regularly enters writing competitions and has had around thirty wins/shortlistings for poetry and short stories. She has had work published in An Earthless Melting Pot, Vol. 2 (Quinn), the One Word Anthology by Talkback Writers (Alfie Dog Ltd), Songs of Angels (Thynks), Silver Lining by Poets Against Violence (Baer Books Press), the Aspiring Writers 2013 Winners Anthology (Blue Dragon Press), The Best of CafeLit 3 and 4 (Chapeltown) and A Quick Read (Aspen Press). She is a regular contributor of flash fiction to CafeLit and was featured in Issues 14 and 19 of Jotters United.

She can be followed at:
‘Helen Laycock, Author’ Facebook Page:

Published April 26 2016

Monday 25 April 2016

100 Worder: Nothing Like Temptation

100 Worder: Nothing Like Temptation

Lisa Williams

Frothy Coffee

It is a truth universally acknowledged that after a certain age you can get more pleasure from a short trip round M&S foodhall than you can from your own husband. It’s just the way life is. No one’s fault.

Even if you don’t buy anything, the tantalising glimpses of ready meals, forbidden pleasures of prepared veg – God! And the never before contemplated joys of buying ready plated sandwiches for a buffet is enough to make you drool.

I buy him a pie. Steak & Kidney. Knowing he’ll get a lot more pleasure from that than I could ever provide now.

About the Author
Lisa Williams. Domestic slattern. Obsessive reader. Writes a bit.      

Published April 25 2016

Thursday 21 April 2016



Hannah Constance
Red wine

I cannot complain, Lord. There's something so human about being inside here. Sightless, warm… a bit cramped, but nothing on earth is perfect. Just her voice ringing through the crack…
            But Lord, let this ordeal be short. Or at least shorter than the last time, when I was squatting in a puddle of my own urine. But we all have to endure this time on earth. The true reward lies in Heaven.
            But Lord… his voice does grind through me like a saw. I know Jesus commands that I must love, but some are more difficult to care for than others. Face like a strutting bull. A reckless, tatty way of dressing which would only be fit in a brothel, half way through a session with a courtesan. And that funny shade of purple his face turns as he yells ‘Where is he? Where is he, you devil woman?’ I have only the tiniest crack to see from, and I can still spy that blistering shade of purple on his cheeks.
            She says nothing. I spot the hem of her dress sliding across an ankle. She knows the Lord has blessed her with a calming silence and a level gaze, and now she uses these gifts to their fullest. She has always been so god-fearing, so obedient.
            ‘Do you think I am stupid, Anne? You think I can't smell him? A man like that… has a very distinctive stench.’ I hear the sound of thumping footsteps as he roams around the room, a heaving boar trying to smell out his rival.
            Finally, she speaks; a smooth, mild voice. ‘I don't know what you are talking about, John.’
            ‘Don't play your games with me! I know!’
            A crash. I flinch and scuttle back further into my darkness. Did he knock things off the mantelpiece? Flip the table? I bring a nervous eye back to the crack and see only her ankle again. She hasn't moved an inch.
            Her, once again: ‘I don't know what you're talking about, John.’
            A strange pause. Then his voice, quieter. ‘I can't believe this. You don't know what I'm talking about? Just look at yourself, Anne. You're covered in proof.’ A flash of an arm as he gestures at her. ‘I didn't get you that necklace, did I?’
            She is motionless.
            ‘Look at it… That gold. Those jewels… It's not a subtle crucifix, Anne! A mysterious, out of the blue object that says so much about you!’
            I try to angle myself to see her clearer, but I cannot see the necklace.          
            In her own time, she responds. ‘No John. You didn't get this for me—’
            ‘Because I got it for myself.’
            Another smash. I guess it to be a water jug.
            ‘Liar!’ he shouts. ‘He gave it to you! And with it a direct passage to hell!’
             People are taken in by the silliest things, Lord. To think Anne would go to hell for all this! People do not know real sin when they see it, Lord. Instead they thrust blame on the persecuted without a second thought. It keeps their own soul clean, they think. And as I sit here, Lord, in this humble darkness, I know true modesty. As I sit here in humble darkness, Lord, I peek out at the cruel, blinding beacon of his sin.
            Her tone changes suddenly. ‘I will not go to hell.’
            He thumps something hard, rage building. ‘Well then to jail, at least. You know the law, Anne. And you're a fool. We don't even need to find him. That crucifix can be evidence enough nowadays…’
            The ankle twitches and she stands. I tense, watching. Oh Lord, stop this. Stop this sickening persecutor. I place a hand on the dark wall of my hovel and pray for her safety.
             ‘Alright John,’ she says. ‘Would you like to know the truth? How I got this necklace? It was given to me by my lover.’
            This silence is not like the other silences. It is deep and asphyxiating.
            ‘Really, Anne?’ his voice now whimpers. ‘A lover? I didn't… I thought you had…’
            ‘I know what you thought I had,’ Anne is stern. ‘I know what you were insinuating, John. It was very clear. So let me make this clear. I got this from my lover. I did not get it from a Priest.’
            He stumbles. ‘But… a lover! What about us, Anne? Seven years! Anne… why? Why?’
            ‘Because you treat me like this.’
            Another silence. Then, tiny clattering noises – the apologetic sounds one makes when they are trying to tidy up the mess they have so recently made.
                        I see her arms crossed over her chest, crumpling the green material of her dress. Her voice grows in power. ‘Once you've picked them up, I'd like you to go.’
            His anger flares again and I see his body sidle up to hers. ‘So you weren't a Catholic after all, Anne. Turns out you were just a tart.’
            She doesn't move an inch. ‘Go.’
            The bull canters away. As soon as his footsteps disappear, she sinks back into her chair for a moment, head in her hands.
             ‘Knock knock,’ I say. ‘Safe now, I presume?’
             ‘Oh, yes.’ She jumps up, crouches into the empty fireplace and removes the fake panel from the back. I tumble out of the priest hole, covered in soot.
             ‘Thank you,’ I say, patting down my robes.
             ‘I take it you heard all of it,’ she says, going back to her chair. ‘My… marriage is over, Father.’
             I touch her crucifix gently. ‘But better than execution, my dear.’
            She lets me sit beside her as she brushes down my robes, wiping away the last of the soot. ‘Well,’ she murmurs. ‘It's a small price to pay really.’
             ‘Small indeed,’ I agree. ‘We both know our true reward lies in Heaven.’
            A pause. Anna leans over and squeezes my thigh.
             ‘Yes… Mostly,’ she says.
             ‘Mostly, Anne.’ I touch her breast.

About the Author
Hannah Constance studies Drama and Creative Writing at Salford University. Her prose can be found in The Askance 2014 Short Story Collection, Homes.

Published April 21 2016

Wednesday 20 April 2016

100 Worder: The Queen’s Labour

100 Worder: The Queen’s Labour

Dawn Knox


‘The head is visible, your majesty.’
            No one breathed as she paused to summon sufficient strength for the final push. Unspoken questions hung in the suffocating air of the lying-in chamber.
            Was the baby alive?
            A boy?
            Her destiny depended on this child. A healthy son would guarantee her status and, if not the king’s love, then at least his respect. But if not…
            She prayed to the Virgin Mary as she pushed, and the infant slithered, screaming into eager hands.
            It was done.
            Eyes avoided her gaze and expressions froze.
            ‘Congratulations, your majesty, you have a fine daughter.’

About the Author
Dawn's first book Daffodil and the Thin Place was published in 2014. She enjoys a writing challenge and has had stories published in various anthologies, including horror and speculative fiction, as well as romances in several women's magazines. Dawn has written a script for a play to commemorate World War One, which has been performed in her home town in Essex, in Germany and will be performed this year in France. Married with one son, she lives in Essex.

Published April 20 2016

Tuesday 19 April 2016

100 Worder: On Target

100 Worder: On Target

Polly Sinclair

Bitter lemon, served cold

The bullseye taunted her as the bow swayed. She pulled back the string, her heart beating loudly.
            Thud, thud, thud…

She ached but knew she had to hold on for moments more. Trembling, the tension ran through her body. Trying to remember everything he had told her. Focus on the draw.
            Thud, thud, thud…

The whistle blew; she tightened her grip before swinging around towards him. The smug look of control across his face.
            Thud, thud, thud…

The arrow sailed through the air and headed directly towards him. He had no idea that he had always been her target. 

About the Author
Polly is a busy lady with lots of jobs, a couple of children and a dog called Jelly! Usually a short story writer, she’s diversifying with really short stories and a novel just to mix it up!

Published April 19 2016

Monday 18 April 2016

100 Worder: It’s Impossible To Spell

100 Worder: It’s Impossible To Spell

Mike Olley

Water with soluble aspirin

I invented a new swear word, I'd used up all the others whilst putting up these shelves. It happened at the moment I hit my thumbnail with a hammer for the second time. My voice just spurted out something different. Unusual. I didn't know what I'd said and there was no one else around to verify; the new swear word was simply lost in the ether. But sometime and somewhere in the future when all is quiet, there may be a faint echo heard that will make mothers blush and schoolchildren giggle. In the meantime, I'm hanging up my tools.

About the Author
Mike Olley writes short fiction. His work has been published in several anthologies. A designer by trade, he's also quite a good carpenter and grower of cactus plants. Originally from London, he spent a few years in Spain before a quirk of fate brought him back to live in an English seaside town. He can be found at

Published April 18 2016

Monday 4 April 2016



Athol Henry


The jilted lover dug all night with a pick and spade until splintering the coffin lid. Although he was dead, her scorn was just beginning.

About the Author
Athol Henry lives in Australia and has a number of short stories published in various anthologies.

Published 4 April 2016