Saturday 31 December 2016

Dinner for One

Robin Wrigley


Glove between his teeth, James fumbled with his door key while trying not to lose his grip on the Tesco ‘Bag for Life’. The blasted key fought against going home. The phone continued to ring. He was very close to tears.

     By the time he managed to turn the key and squeeze past the artificial Christmas tree the phone had stopped ringing. He put the ‘special offer’ of champagne and truffles in the fridge, checked the turkey crown in the oven then switched on the answer machine.

      Angela’s voice crackled, “Sorry love ‘fraid I can’t make it.”

     Not another year!

About the author 

Robin is a member of the Wimborne Writers’ Group where he has been attending for the last three years. His background is that of topographical surveyor and oil exploration country manager working worldwide.

Friday 30 December 2016


Lisa Willams 

a cup of tea in bed

Geoff always woke promptly without an alarm clock and immediately mourned for the one he married. He rose and she stared up at him. Smiling. Not a care in the world. From their wedding photo, taken exactly forty years ago to the day. 
He washed, dressed. Thinking that they could be celebrating today. A big family party in a balloon filled hall.  
After a lifetime of shared bliss.
He sighed and took her up a cup of tea in bed. Hoping today would be a reasonable day for her.  And that she’d at least recognise who he was.
A cup of tea in bed
Thanks - Lisa X

About the author 

Thursday 29 December 2016

Clean Breaks

Roger Noons


a pint of brown and mild.

The nurse had left the curtain open so I watched Belinda talking to the doctor. He touched her arm as he explained the prognosis. Five minutes later, she was by my side.

    ‘He says it’s a clean break. It will mend and you’ll be able to play again.’

    Four days later, she collected me and drove me home. As soon as I was settled, she told me it was over. A clean break would be best for both of us.

    That was last season. I push myself in training, praying that Dr. Ruston also plays rugby for a local team.

Wednesday 28 December 2016

Green for Danger

Penny Rogers                       

 gin and angostura bitters                       


The atmosphere in Stephanie’s lounge crackled. The two women had never found each other’s company particularly easy, and now they scarcely tolerated each other. On her 60th birthday, Kayla decided it was time to bury the hatchet with Stephanie, who was after all, her only relation. 

            So Kayla emailed to ask if she could visit, and received a curt reply indicating that Stephanie would be available at 3.15 on the day suggested.

            The interior of her cousin’s house was just as she remembered it, tasteful and very dull. Kayla refused to take off her shoes as she sashayed into the lounge. Stephanie, muttering about heels ruining the solid oak floor, did not immediately notice the occupant of the shoes homing-in on the mantelpiece.

            ‘Darling, where did you get this beauty?’ Kayla’s eyes fell upon Stephanie’s treasure, a small green horse that she had found in a car boot sale. ‘It’s jade. I have one that matches exactly. A pair is worth so much more than just one. Can we do a deal?’ 

            ‘No. We can’t both own the pair, and I’m happy just having one,’ snapped Stephanie. Kayla shrugged her shoulders and left immediately after tea. Stephanie was suspicious, so in anticipation of a follow-up visit she hid the figurine and found a plastic imitation on eBay to replace it.

She never saw either horse again; neither did she see the green Audi that knocked her down. Kayla overcame her grief by organising the disposal of Stephanie’s belongings, though she gave up as soon as she found the jade horse.

About the author 

Penny Rogers writes short stories and flash fiction, though recently she has written some poetry. She has been published in anthologies including Henshaw Treats (2015), This Little World (2015) and Best of Café Lit 5 (2016) as well as in Bare Fiction, Writers’ Forum and South. She is an intermittent blogger and would like more people to follow her as she is sure this would encourage her to write more entries.

Tuesday 27 December 2016

Sport for Fun

Roger Noons


A pint of bitter shandy – to start with

I didn’t cry the first time my nose was broken on the rugby field, but when the Games Master pushed a finger up each nostril and squeezed, the tears began to flow. I was even more regretful in detention the following afternoon. ‘You shouldn’t have called Mr. Davies a bastard,’ my Form Teacher advised.
    When I played Old Boys’ rugby, the nose treatment became a not uncommon event. There was always at least one doctor in the team and often another watching. My worst experience of injury was holding a fellow player still while his ear was sewn back on.

Monday 26 December 2016

Schrödinger's Data Stick


Helen Combe

Caffè Corretto


 'Boil, damn you!'
Milo shook his fist at the kettle. He was gasping for a cup of coffee, especially now that he had the stress of a quantum entangled cat in a state of limbo, howling, snarling and rampaging around in the box on his kitchen table.
Milo liked to occupy himself by recreating experiments, and the simplicity of Schrödinger's had always appealed, combined with the complexity of getting his hands on a fragment of plutonium and a phial of cyanide. Knowing that the police were currently executing a countrywide hunt for him just added to the excitement. However the experiment itself was proving to be a lot less satisfying than the preparation.
'Boil you bastard!' He yelled at the kettle.
Schrödinger's experiment was actually theoretical, designed to illustrate the problem with the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. The cat is supposed to be simultaneously alive and dead, as a result of a quantum subatomic event that may or may not occur. Specifically, an atom of the plutonium may decay, causing the phial to shatter and so kill the cat. Alternatively, the atom may not decay, the phial will not shatter and the cat will live. However until the box is opened and the contents are observed, the cat will be simultaneously alive and dead, a state referred to as quantum superposition. Once the box is opened, reality collapses into one possibility or the other and the cat is only then definitely alive and kicking or sadly deceased.
Aiming another snarl at the obstinately humming kettle, Milo picked up his data stick in order to record his observation that the state of feline quantum superposition is a surprisingly noisy one. He inserted the data stick into the USB port. It didn't fit. He turned it over and reinserted it. It still didn't fit. He turned it over yet again and it still refused to fit.
'Christ, I need a coffee!' he howled.
        'Yarroogghh! Gah! Spit!' complained the superannuated (or not) cat.
Milo reversed the data stick and looked at it. The USB connector had until then been in a state of quantum superposition, neither up nor down, but now that Milo had observed it, reality collapsed into one possibility and the connector assumed the position of 'Up'.
'Bloody data stick, you do it to me every time,' he wailed.
It did do it every time, because the proof of the entanglement theory was there in front of him several times every day, without the need to murder a cat (or not).
In fact, the world is full of everyday truths that are known, yet completely ignored, and every rule is proved by its exception. Milo knew the old saying that a watched pot never boils, but he didn't believe it. In fact, the pot was the exception to the rule of quantum entanglement. While it was observed, it remained in a state of neither boiled nor unboiled.
'Yowowowwll!' cried the undead moggy.
'Oh for God's sake!'
Milo ripped the box open and the cat shot out over his shoulder. The cat had in fact never been in a state of quantum entanglement. Observation does not have to be visual, it can also be auditory. The plutonium however, had been caught between states, but upon being observed, reality collapsed into one of two possibilities. The plutonium atom decayed, the phial of cyanide shattered and released its poisonous vapour. Milo observed, breathed, gasped and crumpled to the floor.
The kettle, the exception to the rule, finding itself no longer observed, was released from its state of quantum entanglement and quickly came to a roiling boil.

About the author 


Saturday 24 December 2016

An Affair in A-Z

Lisa Williams

an illicit coffee when you should be working

A child full of Autumn sun, not peturbed by the gathering storm, makes them with giggle tinged breath and an urgently dipped stick .
Gliding magical mirrored globes. 
Float towards a fuscous sky.
They rise. Drift.
Reflecting a violet wing over a chalk hill. Remains of an impromptu picnic. A hand held, just a little too long, on the tartan check. They see the glance. The colouring of that cheek that he slides his against. To whisper in her ear. They see the beginning of something but keep their secrets safe as with a quick liquid burst they are gone.
 Beginnings often catch us unaware.
The whisper almost lost in the folding of the picnic blanket. Trapped in its tartan folds and packed away for winter.
But she catches it with a gasp before it creeps along her spine. Turns to check she's heard it right as an obsidian curtain drops, the rain starts and the ground sighs at its touch.
With arms outstretched the child flies down the hill. Leaving them in the rain. Holding a blanket. A decision hanging in the air. Thunder then, rumbles its approach as a flutter of beating wings rise from a distant tree.
 Crisp leaves carpet the path as they stroll. Just the two of them although decorum walks between them as they both battle the inner need to be so much closer.
Midas had run on ahead touching the few leaves that still stubbornly clung to bare branches before heading home to write summer's eulogy.
Moments ago this day had stretched out endlessly before them but now the streetlights come on and draw it to an unwelcome close. They kiss then in the glowing embers of their first shared day.
A kiss tinged with coffee.
And a promise of so much more
 December didn't bring the expected chill to their trysts. It sent them inside and as they left uncharted waters and made for land a fear of discovery silently crept behind them. Detection by those that shouldn't ever know of those broken promises, the stolen happiness they'd shared together.
Their heartbeats quickened by more than simply desire. They met with pockets full of excuses for the questions that never came. Deleted messages, plans not on any calendar; until they met it was as if they didn't even exist.
They became an ephemeral whisper of broken vows on winter's sharp easterly wind.
Each passing day they spoke. Surreptitiously. Shared the time when they could, hidden from prying eyes. And from this, deep within them it grew. An all encompassing build of desire. A need. Not felt before. Nurtured it seemed from nothing.
Hopes, held together with gossamer thin strands. They tiptoed to keep them tied tight, tried not to rock their boat, neither wanting their tenuous bond to break whilst on their trip.
They fed each other's hunger with this fresh found joy. With the thrill of excitement they wanted to shout from the rooftops but which was too secret to share..  
 Firelit curves only give a glimpse of the picture on the fur rug. It's a Tuesday afternoon early in December. The air is breath catchingly cold.
There's a trail of recklessly discarded clothes from the hall. Edges define then in the warming glow after a frenzied undressing. As two shapes lean together, reach forward and the curves meet to join as one. That fireside kiss needs both hands to still her shiver of delight.
Firelit curves that move gently, rocking to a backdrop of gasped breath and the smell of cedar and red wine are perhaps easier to make out.
 Grey skies are hidden by a curtain pulled closed in the daytime. He becomes her sunshine on brumous days. They draw closer. In embraces longed for since their last meet. She flicks the Christmas tree lights on with a bare toe, the only illumination in the room.
This closed door togetherness, one they can't share in public provides a frisson that they don't really need.
A turn.
A look.
A coming together until they're so close a marriage certificate couldn't come between them.
And then.
Their kisses.
That feed their aches of desire and seemingly erase all time before them.
 Have you ever longed for escape?
For something new and exciting to take hold?
They hadn’t courted this. But there it was. Found when they hadn't been searching. They didn't feel they could control this need, urgency almost, to be together.
Over Christmas assignations were harder to arrange with a surfeit of family filling the house. A shared afternoon before, he unwrapped her, they had their celebration then. Then used the time to try and halt things. Hoping commonsense would take over.
Tell tale footprints led to his door though, when the year ended covered in a blanket of snow.
 Icicles like frosted alabaster outside the upstairs window mirror the honey drip of pleasure from within as the New Year starts with a warming fervour. Forced apart over Yule their aches desperately need sating. With a wife visiting relatives they take advantage on a neatly made marital bed.
So very wrong.
But from the guttural groan from behind the bedroom door followed by a tremulous 'YES' they have found solace in each other’s arms. Needs met. That dull pain of desire gratifyingly quelled. The year continues as they grasp fleeting moments of joy together in an otherwise calamitous world.
Unbridled joy.
Rippling through life is a rarity. And when it's found it needs to be nurtured, kept safe. Lest it rise on the wind and fly to warmer shores. And so they look after their bliss as Spring brings with it pendulous clumps of blossom that falls on their heads like confetti.
Confetti. Like at the weddings they'd both had but not to each other. The words unspoken, they shared that though. They'd both married the wrong person.
Fresh hope burst from the ground beneath where they sat. Fingers entwined. Susurrations of nothings between them, peppered with kisses.
Endless kisses. That both feed the ache and sate in one delicious mouth aching paradox. Concealed usually from view for no one to know. Stolen on a busy street. Risky, but necessary. Caught up in the kilig, a bounce in steps. The monotony of life suddenly easier to bear with this secret burst of bliss tucked away in their hearts.

The anticipation that escalates with each passing day apart, for the next time. Snatched seconds of a call. A text. A chance meeting.
Making do with memories of a lip brushing softly against flesh until the inevitable next time.
 Lost loves can always be found if they want to be.
The deep plummeting sadness of being apart, without contact feels like it could kill. The hurt, the sadness takes over and eats into the day with a heavy dark bite.
She sits alone at her table. Marmalade on toast catching in her throat as the memories rise to the surface with a sparkle that fades as soon as they surface. There's no escape from them. Her skin tingles with the remembrance of his kisses and the tears almost rust her heart.
He hopes she knows he's thinking of her.
 Magic, like lightning can strike the same place more than once, and so it did in her heart as spring turned to summer and he returned. She'd mourned for what they'd shared in the week he was away. Tried to tell herself he wasn't hers to lose. But as he came back from foreign shores. A little tanned. He had a deeper hunger in his eyes.
They kissed in the street.
Discovery would stop them having to hide.
And with the door barely closed they came together like a battle. Fighting away the week apart with an almost spellbinding fury.
 No one knowing about something can feel strange. The more it goes on. Ethereal and dreamlike can become just plain weird. But it was hard to reveal something that was just for them. And so many others would be hurt by the pleasure they shared.

So they chose to keep it safe for now, although it meant there was so much they couldn't do together. The simple normalities. A morning. Brushing teeth. Even a supermarket shop somehow held a tantalising tug of desire.
We always want what we haven't got, they had each other, but neither liked having to share.
 Only when you’ve had an affair can you know that heart clutch, lurch of panic when you're at last discovered.
A telltale receipt left in the car, singing in the shower, vestiges of scent on a dress. Being spotted walking out of the cinema on a Thursday afternoon by a friend. The pocketful of excuses had tumbled unnoticed under the seat with the popcorn as they kissed.
Both blinking in the light, questions hit them unaware. Their kiss flushed faces give them away. Prompting a phonecall later. A third degree. Hurt that this huge secret hadn't been a shared one.
 Paris. A balcony. A bare shoulder.
Bubbles of excitement rise inside them like in a flute of champagne. A secret shared meant they could spread their wings. Cover stories provide a night away, a whole night together.
They are bowled over by possibilities of the enchanted evening ahead. More time than they've ever known before. And a romantic new city to explore.
They choose the nearest supermarket.
And a trolley. To make it seem more real.
Later as stars sparkle burning their last through the window they sit up in bed with biscuits and marshmallows. Giggling with adventure and delights.
Quelled feelings build. Good or bad. The feeling between them had built and built and had to explode. In a Paris hotel room they saw the future. This was it. Now. It wasn’t going to get better.
Neither would leave their partner. Children. Complications. The house. There was a tower of reasons hovering over them. But, as they slid down the bed to spend their first night together, on a layer of biscuit crumbs it didn't matter.
Their happiness was here. Was on a hill. Was wherever they could be, regardless of who they shared the rest of life with.
 Rising early the next morning because of open curtains they do try to make it seem normal. But just having the head on the next pillow to wake up to seemed strange. They both sat up, as reality sank in. Thoughts naturally going those they usually woke up next to with a swift lurch of guilt.
They reassure each other.
And then slip into each others arms and reassure each other without words.
It was a one off. To be enjoyed but possibly never to be repeated.
But a little bit of wanting it to be forever had crept in.

 She wakes with an emptiness the next morning. Looks across at a pillow without him on it and heads straight for the shower, unable to face her husband. Needing to wash her flesh that had been so kissed and loved
The emptiness grows as the day goes on. Niggles. Arguments. Little life battles that her other life didn't have. She knew it was too good to be true that it was a dream not reality.
Could never be.
As the argument continues into the afternoon she feels lucky to be able to visit that alternate hedonistic universe, share some pleasure.
 The problem he had was that he just wanted her. That was it.
Needed to have her, completely. Her way of seeing things, the delight of the new. He couldn't see the solution though and he didn't like that. He was a man for which solutions came easily.
His wife was away.
And the house seemed no emptier than usual. Her not being here didn't matter, it was missing some laughter. It needed the warmth and fun that he’d found away from his marriage.
He reached for a drink as he sat down to think about all the options.

Ultimately you may judge our couple.
Their indiscretions.
Their selfish need to squirrel away seeking pleasure, lack of concern for other’s feelings in the quest to satisfy their uncontrollable urges.
You may cloud the story with a tale of your own. It's inevitable. It's the nature of narrative, but this one's mine, or theirs that I'm telling for them.
And if I can confide a secret here, now that we've bonded, it's not just the tale of two, a single couple. It's their partners too, unified in their scandalous encounters. So they deserve each other despite not wanting each other.

Vestige of a distant scent. Perfume. A strange sillage on the air. Just enough to jangle nerves but she wonders if it’s in her mind. Sullied by her own misdemeanours
A trepidation to mention, less it prompts a barrage of questions. Where were you? (With him) and she doesn’t want that to spoil the joy he’s built up earlier for her.

So she ignores it. Like the other little suggestions that her husband's cheating on her. Although deep down she’s beginning to realise she’s coming second best in both relationships. A truth that hurts more than anything else ever could.

When wishes come true.
What’s left then?
What happens to our dreams, a tumble of reveries redundant as we reach tranquillity, our Arcadia on those serene lapis seas.
That bumble bee buzz of contentment.
Can it last forever? Or will we seek new idylls?
She wonders if he said he’d leave his wife. Would that be it? Or is it a never ending circle. And in a decade or so do we begin again with a new brittle litany. Slip into yet another dreamworld.
Will he repeat and in turn leave her.
And so continue into a perpetual ammonites spiral.

A single kiss at the end of a text. That in itself wasn't unusual but she stared at it longer than she normally would. Before it plummeted into the chasm of deleted texts.
Evidence erased. Often before the message has sunk in. But this. A small flickering screen in a shaking hand.
Tomorrow The Zoo Meet you in the carpark. Bring C X
Another carpark. But to take Charlie? It seemed strange. She couldn't know the depth of the meaning but with a tremor in her heart she mulled before a call took her away and back to reality.
 'You know I'll never leave her.' It was murmured into her neck almost like another whisper long ago. Another couple. Another affair. Almost went unheard because of the huge crack of her heart breaking.
A magpie landed in the park, followed by another.
Two for joy.

'I know,' she said hiding her sadness.
I hoped I was wrong. I wanted to be more. I needed you to be mine. Please leave her. I thought we made each other happy. She didn't say, swallowed the words down deeper below her aching heart as one magpie disappeared with an iridescent green flash.
 Zoos are the perfect places to visit when you’ve got to keep a secret; full of school trips and tired parents of toddlers.
No one there to hover over you, over hear you saying that you're leaving her. No pressure, but it should make things easier.
And as an excited toddler watches a tiger pace up and down in his corroded cage, a burst ball in his mouth they hold each other tight.
And she rests a cheek on his. Knowing that from this inevitably sad ending something good has definitely just begun for them.
Maybe for all of them.

About the author 

Drablr author profile for Lisa Williams (scribblingwren). Domestic Slattern. Avid reader. Writes a bit. A flash-fiction self-publishing social network.  

Friday 23 December 2016

Let it Snow

Alan Cadman


JD and Coke

Henry usually hated the white stuff, bad for business, but not if it fell on Christmas Eve. Last minute shoppers drifted in and out of the tube station as he strapped on his guitar. He knew if he played seasonal songs, with added snow as a bonus, more money would be gifted to him. He glanced towards the leaden sky. Bring it on. This could be pay day.

            Not everyone was full of good cheer. An elderly man, in a well-worn overcoat, jabbed at him with a walking stick. ‘You bloody scrounger, why don’t you get a proper job like I had to?’

            Henry ignored him, rubbed the palms of his hands together, sang something about the weather outside being so frightful. He carried on with a few more cheesy tunes before switching to an old rock ballad. 

‘Oh, I love this song. It takes me right back to when I was a teenager,’

            Shocked by the enthusiastic voice, Henry nearly fell off his fold-up stool. At any other time of the year, commuters didn’t normally stop to make complimentary comments. Most of them hurried past, turned their heads, or dropped some loose change. This one remained in the same position, with a puzzled look spreading across her face.

            In front of him stood a middle-aged woman; laden with bags of various colours. She moved closer to him. ‘You sing it well. Your voice is so like the original, just a little deeper perhaps.’

            Henry gave her his best smile; this one should be good for a couple of quid. 

            The woman snapped her fingers as if she had discovered something remarkable. ‘You are him. Those blue eyes of yours will always have the same twinkle.’ 

            He stopped playing and scratched three days of white stubble on his chin. ‘You’re getting me mixed up with someone else, love, and no I’m not Santa Claus.’ 

            ‘I remember seeing you on Top of the Pops in the nineteen seventies. You came on last after Rod Stewart and David Essex. Number one in the charts for two weeks you were.’

            He remained silent, twisted a tuning peg.

            ‘I had pictures of you on my bedroom wall. I bought all your records until you vanished off the radar, so to speak.’ She paused to catch her breath. ‘I remember that Christmas concert you did. I’d loved to have gone. I never got to see you in the flesh . . . well, not until now of course.’

            Henry stuffed his hands into his pockets.

            ‘I’ve always wanted your autograph.’ She found one of her till receipts then fished around in her pockets for a pen. ‘Can you sign this for me, please?’

            He sighed, took them from her, and scribbled something down.

            ‘That’s your real name. When I watched you on the telly, you weren’t called that.’ She gave him another scrap of paper.

            He tried again. 

            ‘I knew it. You’re the one and only, Bobby Balsamo.’ While pressing a ten pound note into his hand, she frowned and peered closely at his face. ‘What happened, Bobby?’ 

            He shrugged his shoulders. ‘I just got caught up in a rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. Some can handle it, others . . . well, you know.’ When she pulled out her phone, he added, ‘Please, no selfies.’

            ‘OK, no problem, but will you do me a favour?’

            He raised his eyebrows. Even though he hadn’t started playing his guitar again, a few more coins rattled by his feet. He mouthed a ‘thank you’ towards a man who had made the donation; grateful he had more compassion than that miserable one earlier.   
            ‘Bobby,’ the woman said, ‘will you play your number one single again just for me?’

            ‘Haven’t you got any more shopping to do?’

            ‘Please, it will be the best Christmas present ever.’ 

            He shifted in his seat; avoided looking at her. A few flakes of snow descended; sticking on anything in their way. The grimy cityscape was about to turn white.


            For the first time in nearly forty years, he no longer felt like Henry Smith. Snow began falling heavier. Umbrellas were raised; scarves wrapped tighter. Bobby Balsamo stood up and looked straight at his audience of one. He hesitated then strummed the opening bars of his most famous song.

* * *

About the author: 

Alan has been writing short stories for ten years. In 2011 he made the short list for one story and a prize winner for flash fiction. He also won first prize, of £100, in a poetry competition in 2013. The three accolades were awarded by the best-selling UK magazine for writers. His work has been read out on Internet radio and published in hard copy magazines and e-zines.

Thursday 22 December 2016


Roger Noons


a Christmas Cocktail, based on vodka, lemon juice and crushed white ice.

Third of December and Antonia was already sick of hearing it. Radio One DJs were tipping it to be the Christmas Number One, but it bored her. In July, waiting at Pisa airport, her bag, containing the manuscript, clutched to her chest, she was tingling. She couldn’t wait to taxi from Heathrow to Rob’s mansion in Sussex. Never certain, but sure she had not lost her touch, she prayed it would grab him.
    After she had played it for the third time, he rose from the chesterfield. ‘Yes … yes, I’m sure that will,’ and he fell back, eyes closed before he splayed across the jade leather.
    Peaches ran into the room. ‘Sorry Toni, he’s not been well, but I’ll get him clean. We’re recording next week and he’ll be okay by then. I think it’s terrific. It’s all recorded and on video, so I think it will be fine. Don’t worry.’
    The two women hugged and Rob’s wife again consoled her, before handing over keys to one of Rob‘s cars. 
    ‘Ring Jacko when you get home, he’ll come and pick it up, and … well done, it’s a great song.’
That afternoon seemed years ago. She had since written more songs, submitted them to other artists and their agents. As she turned the key to fire up her Ferrari, the song blared from her speakers, filling the cabin with tinkling bells, strings and Rob’s mezzo snow flakes. She touched the steering wheel and the sound disappeared. She sighed, but then grinned. The previous day her bank statement had confirmed that the first of the song’s earnings had flooded her account. Snuggling into the seat and engaging first gear, she was looking forward to her trip and shopping for gifts at Fortnum’s.