Wednesday 31 October 2018

Let's Not Pretend

by Iris Green

hot Earl Grey

"I get to be the hostess this time," the sister whined. "My name shall be Euphraise, but you will be my guest, so you can call me Euphy."

"Oh you sly one," the other sister scolded. "You have managed to steal the good name again, and here I sit, not being able to think of a thing."

Euphy finished brushing her long dark hair and checked herself in the bathroom mirror. Her reflection was slightly distorted where she had brushed away the condensation from the steam. She looked younger than she felt. Her baby face looked back at her like an impish child looking through a window.

"Well then you just stay here until something comes to mind," Euphy said. "I'll go tend to my hostess duties." Euphy left her sister in the bedroom. She went downstairs to prepare tea. She wore an old,
long, cotton, summer dress that had once belonged to her mother. It was white and loose and flowed around her as she descended the stairs. In the kitchen, Euphy began to prepare the tea. She opened a small box of cookies while the tea was brewing, and brought out her mother's old china.

When she left her sister upstairs, the girl was wearing only a long thick terry cloth robe. And her hair was still drying from the shower. Euphy lit a candelabra the decorated the dining room table. It was a
nice added touch to the table setting. Plus, the sun was going down soon, and they would need the light.

"My name is Natasha," Euphy's Sister announced as she entered the room. "I'm so grateful to have you invite me to tea." Natasha was still wearing her bathrobe, but she decorated it with a string of her
mother's pearls, and a huge, straw, wide brimmed, gardening hat. The last, and most noticeable part of her ensemble, was the dark pair of Raybans covering her eyes. Her face was framed with the same color of damp dark hair as Euphy’s

"Oooohhhh!" Euphy exclaimed, "it's so good to have you here for tea. You just sit yourself down at the table. It's almost ready." She exited the dining room, but Natasha could still hear her carrying on
as she readied the tea.

"You know," she said loudly, to be heard in the next room, "my electricity has been shut off. I still have gas though. I just lost my electric bill, and it never got paid."

"Perhaps you could call them," Natasha offered.

"Perhaps I could," Euphy said, sounding a bit winded as she entered the dining room. She carried a large silver tea set. Natasha could smell the tea in the pot. It smelled of an exotic blend of herbs and
teas. "I have candles though, and the gas is still on. They won't shutthat off because it's so cold outside, what with it being winter and all. But those pesky health agents keep coming to the door. I talked to them before. All they kept saying was silly stuff about mental health and sanitariums. I don't answer the door anymore. I just get too afraid that it's going to be one of them."

"So you don't mind the darkness?" Natasha just had to know.

"It's kind of fun actually," Euphy said in her best mischievous, little girl voice. "I like the shadows, and the eerie way the candle light dances around the room. It's almost like living in a haunted house."

"I'm afraid that I would miss television too much. I love television.I would rather have the gas shut off. I can always wrap myself up in blankets and watch television."

Euphy poured the tea thoughtfully. Natasha help herself to a cookie. She placed it on her plate and waited for the tea to be served.

"You have such a lovely tea service," Natasha observed.

"I hope you can see all right. The sun is starting to go down you know."

"I love the candle light," Natasha reassured. "Everything is just so lovely."

"I too miss television," Euphy admitted. "I miss my shows. The nights seem so empty, and it's hard to read by the oil lamps."

"And those lamps give off such a horrid smell. I think we should go downtown tomorrow morning and see about getting your electricity back."

"A sleepover?" Euphy asked excitedly.

Natasha took off her sunglasses due to the ever increasing darkness in the dining room. She took a sip of the tea. "Scrummy."

"It will be so cozy having you here tonight," Euphy said.

"I'll tell you what, let's think up a television show of our own, and act it out tonight."

"Like a play?" Euphy asked, excited again. "Oh yes Miss Natasha! That sounds so fun. I'm so lucky that you stopped by today. And a sleepover. Why, I haven't had a sleepover since my mother and father went away. Seems like no one comes to my door anymore, except those pesky health people."

"That's it!" Natasha exclaimed wide-eyed. "That's our show!"

"What! What! Oh, do tell me!"

"Okay," Natasha began, "you know how your basement is. There's the dirt floor and all. What we'll do is get a shovel from your garage, and then we will lure the health agents to the basement. Let them in the house and kinda make noises and stuff so they will come down the stairs. And then..."

Just then came a knock on the door.

"Health department!" a voice shouted from the other side.

"Oh pooh!" Euphy whispered with exasperation. She blew out the candelabra. "Just when we were about to play such a nice game!"

"We can still play," Natasha whispered excitedly in the darkness."Sneak out to the garage and get the shovel. I'll meet you downstairs."

The knocking increased at the door.

"What are we going to do?" Euphy whispered with a scared frown. Natasha put her Raybans back on and smiled sweetly.

"You just get that shovel downstairs. I'll handle the rest."

"Oh Natasha." Euphy said before leaving the room, "I love you. I just adore you. Sleeping over is such fun."

About the author

Iris' history of publications includes Slice Magazine, Foliate Oak  Literary Magazine, Birmingham Arts Journal, Downstate Story, Bluffs Literary Magazine, and CafeLit. She is an English/Literature major at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois and hopes to use her learned skills to enhance her writing ability. Iris lives in an empty nest in the same town as her university with wife Bonz, five dogs, and three exotic, though unwieldy, birds. Her novel “Redemption Story” Published by Czykmate Productions is currently available at Amazon.

Tuesday 30 October 2018

The Haunted House

by Mark Kodama  

ruby port

I needed a job to pay for my last year in nursing school.  So I searched the want ads in the local newspaper for work a nursing assistant.  That how I got a job at the haunted house.
            The white three-story Victorian mansion was in the best part of town in a neighborhood with other Victorian mansions.  In front a large oak tree with a swing dominated the well manicured front lawn.  But who knew what lay beyond the door.
            The mansion housed or should I say warehoused fifty mental patients. But what did I know those days?  I was a 20-year-old nursing student.  My father told me a woman should pursue the same career that a man would.  But I tried business school and hated it.  I always wanted to be a veterinarian but veterinarian school was largely closed to women then.  So I decided to become a nurse.
            I thought there was something strange from the moment I started there.  The place smelled of old diapers and urine.  The kitchen was infested with cockroaches. You could not walk in the kitchen without feeling them crunch underneath your feet.  An old woman on the first floor forever threatened to hit me with a cane.
            I worked the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift.  I was the only non-patient there.  The cook was a patient there himself.  The first two floors housed the women but the third floor housed the men psych patients.  I was warned never to go up there.
            Everyday I would hand out the Thorazine, anti-psychotic medication, to the female patients, then prepared eight women for bed.  We took this creepy elevator with bars up to the second floor each night after dinner.
            If you did not line up the bars just right, that old elevator did not work.  I always feared that the elevator would break down with me and my eight wards.
            One night one lady pooped all over herself and her room.  I had to clean her and her room in addition to attending all my other duties.
            One night, they brought down a dying man to the first floor.  I attended him, helping comfort him as he lay drowning in his own phlegm and secretions.
            The place was strange.  In the six months, I was there I never saw a visitor and sometimes I worked weekends.  The patients walked around drooling with a blank face and stare and doing the zombie shuffle.
            The nurses assistant on the next shift warned me about a male patient who would occasionally sneak down the curved stairway in the back of the house and suddenly appear. He had murdered his wife.
            On Halloween night I had finished my duties early so I was watching a really creepy horror movie “The Sentinel” on television.  It was about a priest who kept the lost souls from hell from entering back to earth through a portal.
            Suddenly, I heard a man coming down the banister.  I looked up and it was the man who had murdered his wife.  He was about 40 with brown hair and sunken eyes and an emaciated face.
            He seemed to look through me as he approached me.  “Can I walk you to your car?” he asked.  No, and no and more no.
            After that I quit.  A month later, I read in the newspaper that a man had fell out of the third floor window to his death.  The state closed the haunted house.

Monday 29 October 2018


by Peppy Barlow


lemonade with ice

There was a woman who made carpets.  She sat by the side of the road all day, everyday, weaving.  And she sold her carpets to the people passing on the road.   But there was one carpet she wove only for herself, threading the bright colours a stitch or two everyday.  It took her twenty years to make her carpet and when she had finished she took it inside and put it on the floor of her house.  Her family walked on it, sat on it, slept and ate off it for another twenty years and then the woman died, leaving all she had to her two sons.

“Let’s get rid of that old carpet,” was the first thing they said and threw it out onto the roadside where their children played in the dust.  

“Look,” cried the youngest girl, “Its grandmother’s carpet,” and she turned a corner of the warn cloth to see the colours still bright on the other side.

So the children turned the carpet over and sat on blue and green and fiery red and found a thousand games to play on the pattern the old woman had made when her life was new.

Sunday 28 October 2018

A Walk in the Woods

By Jo Dearden

Damson Wine

 Crisp sun, clear skies. Leaves crunching underfoot. A myriad of oranges, reds and yellows. A bright autumn day. That was then. Now, the leaves seem muted and the sky is leaden with a dreary greyness. Trees are being stripped, their bareness a painful reality like mine. I am no longer wanted.
We are walking in the woods above Acorn Hill. Thick bracken clings to my muddy boots making me stumble. Brambles entangle themselves in my hair and graze my coat as I blindly follow Nick. Fallen twigs crackle, disturbing the suffocating silence that has descended upon us like a thick fog.
Nick is slightly ahead of me, shoulders hunched, hands thrust into his pockets. He looks as though he would rather be anywhere else than here with me. I had no idea that anything was wrong. I suppose I should have seen it coming, but love is blind. I still love him. I think I always will. I can feel the rain falling softly on to my tear-stained face as we walk like strangers through the shadowy woods.
Dusk is rapidly approaching. A cold wind rustles the remaining leaves on the half-naked trees.  Branches above my head have formed a hostile canopy. The rain is more persistent, echoing our escalating misery. My boots sink deeper into the mud. Nick trudges on ahead of me. He seems to be oblivious of the pervading gloom.
‘I think we should go back now before it gets dark,’ I call feebly, but he doesn’t seem to hear me. After a few moments he turns around and walks towards me.
‘Look Jen, I’m really sorry. I’m not sure what I want yet. I just need some space’. His words pierce like a sword into my soul. Nick and I have loved each other for what seems forever. We met at Edinburgh University, both reading English. We clicked from the start and it wasn’t long before we were living together.  Our friends said we were made for each other. Anna said she expected to be a bridesmaid. But now the dream is over, dashed to pieces by a few painful words.
The woods appear much darker than before. The twilight envelops us like a shroud. A twig snaps loudly making me jump. It is only a rabbit, but in the gloom my imagination is running riot.
‘You’re right, we’d better get back. I really want us to stay friends’, Nick says. We both know that will be impossible, too painful after all we’ve been through together. It is raining heavily now. Dead leaves swirl at my feet. Everything seems dead. My new jeans are spattered with mud. I feel cold and tired.
We emerge from the oppressive woods into a large open field. The hills on the horizon merge with the colourless sky. Below is a tiny hamlet. Smoke is curling from some of the cottage chimneys. We stop for a moment catching our breath.
‘We’ll be ok Jen,’ Nick says squeezing my hand. A last ray of sun appears in the watery sky. 

About the author

Jo Dearden trained as a journalist with the Oxford Mail and Times.  She did a degree in English Literature with creative writing as a mature student. She co-edited her local village newsletter for about ten years. She also worked for a number of years for the Citizens’ Advice Bureau. She is currently attending a creative writing class, which is stimulating her writing again. Jo lives in Suffolk.

Saturday 27 October 2018

Jack of All Trades

by Allison Symes

chocolate milkshake

Nothing was said about this in the manual. Jack blinked. He hadn't been mistaken. The purple dinosaur was there and it didn't look happy. Still, Jack knew he had to report these things so he tapped his supervisor's number out on his mobile.

It took several minutes for Jack to stop repeating his description of the beast and longer still for the supervisor to stop swearing. The purple dinosaur was munching its way through what had been the supermarket.

At least demolishing the contents of the butcher's counter was keeping the creature occupied and its attention away from Jack. He felt this was good news. Jack's supervisor felt differently - his cousin was the butcher at that supermarket. It was made clear Jack was disposable.

Jack hung up. If he didn't resolve this, he'd be eaten or, if he survived, sacked. If he did resolve it, the supervisor wouldn't mind having the call cut off.

He saw the dinosaur had finished the meat. The next aisle contained the veg.

It won’t want that, Jack thought. I never do. Still, if a creature comes through from the next world, it can jolly well go back there again and at speed. We don't want his sort here.

 ‘Come here, boy,’ Jack did a quick check, ‘sorry, girl. This world is no place for you.’

Jack took a flare out from his tool belt and fired it above the dinosaur. It roared and ran back through the gaping hole in dimensions its body had blocked from Jack's view.

Jack sighed. He'd have to fix that too.

About the author

Allison Symes is published by Chapeltown Books, Cafe Lit, and Bridge House Publishing amongst others.  She is a member of the Society of Authors and Association of Christian Writers.  Her website is and she blogs for Chandler’s Ford Today -

Friday 26 October 2018

Life Begins at the 250 Bus Stop

by Jacqueline Ewers 

sweet tea

Autumn 2014

I push the key in the door.  Kicking off my shoes, I head for the kitchen.  Most nights I can’t be bothered to make the effort to cook a proper meal. The microwave pings as my toast pops out of the toaster.  I pour baked beans over brown bread.  The smell is comforting.  I settle down in front of the telly.  The evening passes as I watch several episodes of Say Yes to the Dress.  Getting ready for bed, I pull a long satin nightdress out of a drawer full of negligees.  After slipping it on, I bundle up in a cardigan.  I wouldn’t be this cold if I had a husband to snuggle up to.  I put socks on and slump beside my bed to pray.  God, have you forgotten me?  

I’ve been praying for a husband for years.  I’m fed up of the repeated chorus ‘I am praying God will send you a husband, Sister Maxine. Wait on the Lord and be of good courage.’ Today was the worst.  After Pastor Kendal’s sermon: Don’t Worry Your Boaz is Around the Corner, everyone came to encourage me. I wanted to tell them to bog off. God, why haven’t you sent someone for me?  It is so unfair.  Disappointment climbs into bed with me.  As I fill the empty space on my right with pillows, tears fall on the duvet cover.

We were a tight-knit church youth group until members started getting married.  It was great to begin with. Sometimes I was bridesmaid two or three times a year.  But by twenty-eight, I was in the group of women no one chose to marry.  By forty, friends stopped looking out for guys for me saying ‘I was too picky’.  Others said my ‘lack of faith’ was the reason I was still single.

            I sit with Amanda in Tuesday night Prayer Meeting expecting the same routine; a few songs followed by prayer.  Pastor Amy gives an exhortation entitled Trust God, Your Ram is in the Thicket with great animation and enthusiasm.  Voices mingle as members respond to the message.

‘Praise the Lord!’


Suddenly, Pastor Amy calls me to the altar.  Sweat beads form on my upper lip as I try to avoid the glances of the others. Terrified, I make my way wondering what she’s going to say.  Pastor Amy shouts from the podium,

‘The Lord says you will be married within eighteen months.’

Stunned, I lift my hands in praise.  ‘Thank you God, finally you’ve heard my prayer.’ 

The next evening while scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, a notification pops up.  Shiloh Church is holding a speed dating evening tomorrow. God, will I find him there?  I register for the event.

The small church hall is decorated with clusters of red and white balloons with tables covered in contrasting red and white paper table covers.  There’s a low buzz of excited voices.  I feel as if I have arrived late even though I am ten minutes early.  Ten smartly dressed men casually discuss sport amongst themselves.  I see nine impeccably presented women clustered in groups of three. They seem to know each other.  I note their smiles fixed in place to catch the eye of a potential mate.  I approach one group saying ‘hello’.  Heat rises to my face as I sense their scrutiny.  I’m so glad I changed into something smart before leaving work. A bell rings.  The room becomes quiet.  A fifty something woman introduces herself as Sister Yvonne.  Her hair is swept back in a simple pony tail and her face make up free. She prays to open the evening asking for God’s direction.

            ‘Ladies and gentlemen, when you came in you were given a number.  Please sit at that table. The bell will ring after 10 minutes. Gentlemen, you will then move onto the next table in a clockwise direction.’

I am quickly bored with number one.  He only speaks about his Lexus car.  On close inspection number two has pencilled in his eyebrows.  A definite no.  Number three just quotes scripture the whole time.  Number four, doesn’t make eye contact.  I think he’s a bit shifty rather than shy.  The fleshy gaps between the straining buttons of Number five’s shirt put me off.  Six makes it clear that he is the centre of his world.  Seven is looking for a woman to replace his mother.  Eight becomes uninterested when I say I don’t like football.  Nine is Pete.  Our conversation flows with ease.  He’s a Pentecostal. Tick.  Working. Tick.  Funny. Tick.  Looking for a wife. Huge tick.  God is this him? I don’t really engage with Number ten because I’m thinking about Pete.  The final bell rings.  Some men duck for the door, while others linger.  I quickly look at my phone pretending not to notice Pete coming towards me.

            ‘Hey Maxine, you fancy grabbing something to eat tomorrow evening?’

            ‘Yeah, why not?’ I say, trying to mask my excitement. He gives me his number and we arrange to meet at Tooting Bec Station at 8pm. “Thank you Jesus, I didn’t expect to meet my husband so soon.” I sing “God my provider” all the way home, fantasising about my wedding.

 It takes me all day to get ready.  I choose an outfit to show off my figure.  Hair freshly styled, flawless Mac face, I head out for Tooting.  The thrill of dating bubbles away feeding my excitement.  ‘I can’t believe I’ve found him already.  Thank you Lord’.

            ‘Hey Maxi, you look great.’

            ‘Thanks, where are we are we going?’

            ‘Oh, it’s not far.’

We chat chirpily as we walk down the road. ‘We’re here,’ he announces.  My breath catches in my throat.  As we go inside, the Chicken Cottage menu looms over me.  He throws the words ‘Dutch yeah?’ over his shoulder at me, and then places his order.  Not wanting to look as if I can’t pay for my meal, I order a wrap and a drink.  I watch him shovel a handful of chips in his mouth.  As he talks about himself, bits of chips fall to the table.  He absentmindedly picks them up putting them in his mouth.  ‘This cannot be the one, no bloody way.’  I try to be pleasant but when the chicken fat runs down his chin dripping onto the table, I get up mumbling something about feeling sick and leave.  Deflated, wondering about the promise of a husband, I make my way home, blocking his number.

Spring 2015

As I brown the meat, the spicy curry powder, mingled with ginger and garlic waft throughout my flat promising a tasty meal.  Rice simmers away releasing its buttery aroma.  It’s been so long since I cooked a proper meal.  Amanda chops cucumber.

‘Did you hear? Marj is pregnant.’  

            ‘No way.’  

            ‘Because she’s single she’ll have to give up her post as Sunday School Superintendent. Such a shame, she loves those kids.’

            ‘Now she’ll finally have one of her own. I know what it’s like to be sick of being the godmother and never the mother. Do you think she did it on purpose?’

            ‘Who knows?... I blame our church rules; no sex before marriage; no co-habitation; no marrying non-Christians. I feel smothered.’

            ‘This purity thing ain’t easy.’

            ‘Well, I got myself a rubber friend to keep me company.’ Amanda confesses as she sips her wine.

            ‘What you saying to me?  You know that’s a no-no.’ 

            ‘What’s a girl to do?’

            ‘I’m keeping myself pure for my husband.’  I say, not mentioning crying many nights wondering where he is. 

            ‘You do just that.  God is faithful.  The prophecy will come to pass.’ 

              We continue chatting during our meal.  I savour every mouthful.  I had forgotten how much I love my own cooking and eating with company.  After Amanda leaves I wash up the dishes mulling over my secret encounter with Brother Barry. 

Winter 2014

I first noticed him visiting in a Sunday morning service three months ago. His smooth baritone voice caught my attention. I admired his dapper look and fudge-coloured skin. ‘God, is this him?’  I approached him striking up a conversation. His Paul Smith aftershave gently tickled my nostrils.  He became a regular visitor.  ‘Can I have your number?’ he asked one day. ‘I just want to check you get home safely.’  No guy had ever bothered about my safety before.

          ‘Yes of course.’

He was charming.  I felt special and valued.

‘That colour on your nails accentuates your beautiful long fingers.’

          ‘That scarf you’re wearing looks fantastic.  It compliments your eyes.’

Our dates were incredible.  Tea at The Shard and Cocktails at Maxwell’s.  A far cry from Chicken Cottage.  I loved being a couple.  Please God let this be the one.’  I subscribe to Wedding Magazine.

‘Let’s not tell anyone we’re dating just yet.  It’s much more exciting.’

            ‘Ok,’ I said wondering why.

After a while, he asked if he could spend the night at my flat.  When I said no, he ignored my calls and messages.  A week later I decided to go to his house.  I rang the doorbell.  When he opened the door I confronted him. 

            ‘Why are you ignoring me?’.

            ‘As you’re here, come in.  I know what you need.’ he said reaching for my breasts.

            ‘For God’s sake B.  Stop it.’  I knock his hand away.

‘Max, I don’t know why you’re carrying on like your fanny is paved with gold and lined with diamonds.  I should be able get me some sex anytime, I’ve earned it.  Those dates were investments, it’s payback time.’

            ‘If it wasn’t for the grace of God, I would cuss out your backside.’ He slams the door in my face.  I kick the door shouting ‘Arsehole.’ 

I was furious, mostly at myself.  I can’t believe I imagined us walking down the aisle.  I found out later that Barry had slept with a couple of my single friends at church.  Now, I’m glad it was only my temper I lost with the bugger.  Drying the dishes I ask ‘God, was the prophecy really a word from you?

Spring 2015

On my way to buy hard dough bread and bun, this guy walks up to the 250 bus stop, T-shirt exposing toned muscles.  His eyes are a striking caramel against his rich chestnut skin.  I fancy him straight away.

‘You been waiting long?’ he says smiling.

‘Only a few minutes.’

‘Happy Easter. I’m on my way to Brixton for bun and bread.  I can imagine the queue when I get there. I hope the bus comes soon.’

‘I’m going to the bakery too… sorry for being forward but you sound Jamaican.’  The bus arrives, I get on first.

‘Yes, I grew up there but came back to London a while ago.  Have you been?’

‘My parents used to take me when I was younger.  Beautiful island.’  I’m chuffed when he sits next to me.  As we chat about Jamaican Easter traditions, I check his wedding finger.  Empty.  I think to hell with it and ask for his number. 

‘Amanda, I’ve met this guy.  We’ve been dating for a few weeks now.’

‘Really?  I can’t believe you’ve kept him a secret.’

‘I wanted to see if things would work out.  Guess what? He’s a Jamaican minister.’

‘Shut…up, a minister.’

‘I know right.  He’s Baptist, but he’s sweet like condensed milk.  Pray he’s the one.      
He makes a mean steam snapper, stuffed with okra, and callaloo steeped in butter.  Oh my word, when I ate the fish I embarrassed myself.  It was so tasty I sucked the juice from the fish head.’  We talk about Jamie for the next two hours. 

Daily I pray ‘God let him be the one.’  Dating is fun.  It’s the first time I’ve felt loved: Surprise flowers at work, and unexpected gifts. We laugh comparing the similarities and differences between Jamaican and Black British culture.  I’m constantly learning something new.  I look forward to our evenings together which always end in prayer.

Autumn 2015

‘What’s up? It’s the middle of the night?’ Amanda answers her phone sleepily.

‘Sorry, I know it’s late but I can’t wait ‘til morning…I’m engaged.’

‘Max. That’s fantastic!  Tell me everything. How did he ask? What’s your ring like?’

‘This evening we went to watch the World Championship athletics.  Jamie asked me to marry him just after Usain Bolt won his last race.  Fans were standing cheering, chanting and waving the Jamaican flag. The atmosphere was electric.  It took me two seconds to say yes.  My ring is platinum with green and white diamonds.  So beautiful.  I can’t believe I’m finally getting married.  I’m too excited to sleep, you coming over?’

‘I’ll be there in half an hour.’

When she arrives we squeal, drink champagne, dance around and tumble down giggling like little girls. 

When Pastor Kendal announces my engagement, brethren dance in the aisles praising God for answered prayers and the fulfilment of the prophecy.  Some older sisters struggle to move their arthritis ridden bodies so bang their walking sticks on the carpet. 

Spring 2016

Today, is the final fitting for my dress.  The sweetheart neckline trimmed with scalloped lace emphasises my bust line.  The shimmering diamanté crystals and beads on the bodice hug my body.  My image takes my breath away.  I run my hand over the weighty satin of the skirt, such a luxurious feel.  ‘Jamie will over the moon when he sees you. You look breath taking.’ Amanda says.

‘You expect me to leave my church after over thirty years Jamie?’  I shout, no regard for others in the coffee shop.

‘Yes, of course. You know it’s tradition.  I want you to serve with me in my church.’

‘Why can’t you serve at my church?’

‘Maxine, stop your stupidness.  I want you by my side as my wife at home and in ministry.  If you can’t do that then it’s simple, you’re not ready to be my wife.  Let me know what you decide.’  He walks out the door. 

I wrestle, wondering am I ready for marriage, to compromise and give up some of my independence? Do I have what it takes to leave the church I know so well despite its flaws? 


‘You look dreadful.  Bags under your eyes, hair matted together.  What’s going on?’  Amanda enquires.

            ‘Jamie’s expects me to join his church after we’re married.  I’m scared of change.  I haven’t slept properly or been out for days.’

            ‘Are you out of your mind?  You knew all along you would have to go to his church, it’s tradition.  You would pass up marrying Jamie for what exactly?  He really does love you, even the blind can see that.  Look at all the times he’s put your choices first.  Fix up Maxine, stop being selfish.  Call Jamie and tell him you’ll follow him to his church.  After all, you two belong together.’

As we sign the marriage certificate, Jamie declares ’You’re the answer to my prayers.  I love you Mrs Thomas.’

Winter 2016

I love being Jamie’s wife.  We’re both getting used to married life.  It’s been good.  I’m quite settled in his church now.  The members are really nice to me.  I hardly see the old youth group but Amanda keeps me up to date on our nights out.  It’s funny, Jamie really did turn out to be my unexpected ‘ram in the thicket’.

About the author:

"The Secret"  by Jacqueline Robinson available from and Amazon