Pamela wouldn’t call it love—not yet.  She had embraced that word too fast with Josh, and it had opened the door to complications, forcing her from all she had known.  No, this time she would find a better name for it.

She studied Tom’s form as he leaned against the stall’s counter, the gun awkward in his hands.  He squinted, adjusted his posture before firing—a routine intended to deceive but which was only fooling Tom.  The tracksuit swaddled his fey frame; his was a body that could never hope to protect a woman, but Pamela reasoned that she had been protected too much already.

“That was so close,” she lied as Tom approached without the plushie he had coveted.  His cheeks matched the bright bunting zig-zagging between the stalls. Pamela rewarded him with a toothy smile.  “Cheer up! Plenty of time for another go later.”

He shrugged, shuffling his feet.  “Maybe. Y’know I can’t be late tonight, yeah?”

“I know, hun.  Big day tomorrow.”  Pamela inched closer, her fingers pressing quick shapes along the hem of his jacket.  Moments later the fabric of her own twitched with the buzz of her pocketed phone. She increased her mental tally, feeling watched.

“Yeah.”  Tom’s baby-blue eyes darted around the fete.  “I’m a bit nervous.”

“’Course you are.”  Pamela squeezed his arm briefly.  “But I’ve watched you train for long enough to know first place on that track is yours to lose.”

“You reckon?”

Pamela gestured at her outfit.  “Hey, who do you think you’re talking to here?”

Tom laughed, and the sound calmed the tide that had been churning inside of her since afternoon practice.  The breeze tripped across them as they pressed through the crowds; it felt like an echo, a caged memory of a time when Pamela would run with her arms outstretched until she could run no more.

Her phone buzzed again; this time Pamela checked it.  Thirteen missed calls and ten messages. She drew a shaky breath, her fingers tightening.

“If we don’t have much time then we should make it count.”  She nodded towards the trees bordering the park. Beyond, the purple light of the hotel pushed back against the sunset.  “I’ve booked a room.”

Tom’s throat bobbed.  “But I said—”

Pamela lifted a finger to her lips.  “Don’t be daft, hun. Neither of us can.  But don’t you think it would look a bit funny booking by the hour?”

She watched his brows pull together, his plump lip being squeezed between his teeth.  Was this a face she could grow to love? Possibly.

“You’re very handsome, you know,” she added, her hand brushing his.  “Come on, Tom. We both need this.”

The sudden buzz of the phone made her jump, and her courage spilt on the traitorous breeze.  She needed to let Lachlan know she’d be late back—he would worry if she didn’t, and Lachlan always struggled to control himself when he was worried.  Loves her too much, he’d tell her. Just wants to know she’s nearby so he can keep her safe. Because she needs looking after.

Pamela’s thumb hovered over the screen.  Lachlan had looked after her since college—helped her to see that despite the long days and nights spent training she would never be a champion runner, that she would never cut through the wind the way she wanted.

But it was fine though.  She still had talent enough to teach at a school—to nurture those pupils who were blossoming into better athletes.

Pupils like Tom.

Her lungs shrivelled at the acknowledgement.  She stared at Tom and the facade crumbled, betraying gangly limbs and an awkward face.  Her skin felt slick and damp.

“Miss, you alright?”

Pamela licked her lips.  It felt as though hundreds of eyes were now fixed on her, watching her try to reconstruct her image of Tom.  “Hun, we’re not at school now. Don’t call me that.”

Tom pouted.  Seeking a moment’s respite, Pamela unlocked her phone and checked the alerts.  Strange how only two of the calls had been from Lachlan. The others were from a number that wasn’t stored but was familiar—


Her body recalled echoes of the night last summer—palms pressing against the moist window as she had straddled him in the back of her Corsa, the alcohol on his lips masking his inexperience.  She had called it love then, but it had made him obsessive, too familiar. Changing schools had been the only option.

She opened the first message, her heart pushing, her skin retreating.

You sick bitch I know what you did to my son and now so do the police

A gasp bled free, the sound alien to Pamela’s ears.  The amber hue of the park began to bleach.


Tom’s voice was nasally, pleading.  Pamela ignored it and continued to scroll, each message a threat or declaration that punched her in the gut.  Josh had kept the photos. Why had he kept the photos?

She almost dropped the phone as it buzzed again.  This message was from Lachlan.

you want to explain why the fucking police have just turned up? what have you said?

Pamela’s legs buckled beneath her and she slumped to the floor.  She punched them, mewling, hating them for being so weak. If they hadn’t been so weak—if they just hadn’t…

She felt eyes on her.  Rubbing her own, she stared at the passing crowds, then at Tom.  He was just a boy, a boy to be nurtured, protected. Her skin crawled, something deep inside of her pushing his broken facade away.

And then the wind returned, pressing against her.  Lurching to her feet, she turned into it and suddenly felt weightless, untethered.  She took one step, then another, and then she was running—the wind pushing and jostling her like it did so many years ago.  Moving beyond the fete into the park, Pamela closed her eyes and lifted out her arms.

She was running, and for a beautiful moment if felt like she had never stopped.




She steps into the sun-baked garden of the pub with hesitant feet.  A toss of her head pushes away the scent of stale beer and allows pricklish anger to reclaim her skin.

Only three tables are occupied, so it takes seconds for her to notice the old man.  As she watches him hunched over a pint, she wishes again that it had taken a few more.  He’s like a vulture in the last days of his life, swooping down and snatching away every rehearsed line and gesture.

She keeps them close as she approaches, though.  He barely notices her, his dewy eyes fixed instead on the pair sitting under the oak tree.  The female of the couple notices, though; her hands quickly vanish beneath the table.  Beside her the man remains relaxed.

Standing unacknowledged is an exercise in both hope and regret, but she nevertheless indulges for a moment before sitting down.  She allows her bag to thud against the table, but the action backfires; pages of handwritten notes spew out, and her jaw tightens as she forces them back inside.

“She’s stuck in meetings, but what else is new?”  She undoes the top two buttons of her blouse and fans herself with the loose material.

The old man studies her.  “You look like a tramp.”

“Nice, ’cos you can talk, yeah?”  She expects it now, but it’s still a punch to the gut.  She jabs a finger at his dishevelled form—the wild grey moat around his pate and the cardigans and coat swaddling his already round frame.

He nods, though his face is still empty.  “She doesn’t care about work like this, you know.  Anyway, you’re late, Anna.  We’ve work to do.”

“It’s Eloise!”  The routine is the same every time.  The forgotten name, the disappointment in her voice.  “What are you doing drinking anyway?”

Her phone buzzes against the table and she snatches up.  Her relief is brief; the message isn’t from her, but from Hannah, and she cannot bring herself to read it.  She reaches across and takes a cigarette from the box in his hand, eyes studying him as she lights it.  He won’t stop her—she figures it’s the least he can do for her, and suspects he knows it too.

“Who are we watching, Francis?”

“Murderers.”  He spits out the word, pressing a thumbnail into a beer coaster.  His face sags as he looks down at it.  “Thieves and murderers, Anna.”

Eloise!”  She lets the rest of the retort evaporate as the coaster begins to shake beneath Francis’ hand.  Old memories resurface, and she stabs at her phone.  Of course she hasn’t called yet.

Nearby, the couple under the tree start to whisper.  The glasses around the woman far outnumber those of the man.

When she turns back, Francis looks somehow smaller, his eyes fixed on the coaster.  Rolling her eyes, Eloise takes a pen from her bag and places it in front of him, and like a fairground machine fed coins he comes back to life.  She bites her lip as she tries to read the scrawl of his writing.

It always seemed so easy in the crime dramas she used to watch, to piece things together into a whole.

Breathing deep, she pushes the cigarette into the ashtray.  “Taken any pictures?”

“Can’t find my camera.”  Francis presses his hands into his pockets before looking up expectantly.  She turns away.

“Good, ’cos it’s messed up.”

Her stomach begins to twist.  She wonders why she hasn’t been in touch yet—wonders what she’s playing at.  Their argument this morning had been about this very thing.

Francis puts the pen down and sits back, jaw twitching.  He doesn’t take his eyes off the couple, and the man eventually notices.  He scowls, juts out his chin.

“Stop staring, will you?”  Eloise hisses.

“Had Durant on the blower weeks back.  Said his son-in-law’s playing the field.  Thinks he’s going to murder his wife—Durant’s daughter—for her insurance.”

Clouds slouch across the sun, and Eloise shudders.  The man’s relaxed demeanour has returned, but the woman’s hands are gripping the stem of her wine glass.

“Sounds unlikely,” she says.  The words chase away the clouds.

“Seen it before.  Had a case back in…”  His eyes dim.  “Where’s Anna?”

“God knows.”  Her eyes snap back to the phone, her stomach somersaulting.

“Anna will remember.  Worked the case with me.  Woman did her husband in.”

“Lovely.”  Eloise contemplates reading Hannah’s message, but knows it will make her feel worse.  “So who’s this Durant anyway?”

“Old buddy from the force.”

“So does he think she can’t look out for herself if he tells her?”

“Everyone needs to be looked after sometimes.”

She can’t work out if he sounds defensive, but the words carry too much weight for her to care.

“Doesn’t mean everyone gets it, though, yeah?  You think sometimes the wrong people are looked after, and the ones who need to be aren’t?”

She knows she should feel sad, but she doesn’t.

“They’re here every Friday.”  He both sounds sure and unsure.  “Can’t find my camera.”

Eloise watches the sunlight on the man’s ring as he cups the woman’s face.

“Maybe Friday is date day.”  She folds her arms.  “I finished my exams today.  Just saying.”

His face creases.  “When did you go back to school, Anna?”

“I should be celebrating.”  She lifts another cigarette to her mouth, wondering if she should just leave him to it.

He nods like he understands, but she knows he doesn’t.  In silence that follows he pats his pockets again.  Her teeth tighten around the cigarette but Francis remains silent.  Somehow, that’s worse.

“So can’t the police investigate?”

“Cheating isn’t a crime!”  His voice slaps against the birdsong and muted traffic.  “And there’s no evidence for the rest of it. That’s why he got in touch!”

“But you don’t do this anymore.”

Francis sits upright, and for the first time Eloise sees something tangible beneath the skin and bone.  “Doesn’t matter.  You never lose your intuition.  He’s going to murder her—Drake believes it, and so do I.”

“Didn’t you say he was called Durant?”  She wipes a hand through her hair.  The garden has become a heat-trap, another stifling layer against her skin.

Francis presses a thumbnail into the coaster.  “Durant… Yes.  An old buddy form the force.  My daughter knows what happened.  She knows.”

“You don’t have a daughter!  You have—had—a son…”  Eloise shakes her head, and grabs her phone from the table to call her.  She was supposed to celebrating.  She was supposed to be a daughter, a—

You’re not listening!” The table shakes as Francis pounds his palms against it.  Eloise recoils, her heart thudding against her chest.  She looks sideways and realises people are watching them.  “He’s going to do it!  Just like the case before.  Where’s my—”

Lunging, she slaps his hand away from his pocket.  “You don’t have your goddamn camera,” she shrieks.  “They’re just drinking, Francis.  That’s it.  No affair, no plot.  Does this Durant even exist?”

“Of course! Nothing wrong with my memory!” He slaps the table, his face luminous.

Tears prick her eyes; her fist tightens until nails prick her flesh.  “There’s everything wrong with it!

No, I’ll prove it!” Francis stands up, but the movement surprises even him.  He stands rigid, his eyes blinking as they travel across the garden.

“Oi, mate!  You got a problem or something?”

The man has stood up.  Beside him, the women tugs his shirt, looking horrified.

Eloise can taste the bile rising up her throat.  “He’s not well,” she says, cheeks burning.  “Please, he’s not well.”  Turning to Francis, she points a finger at his chair.  “Sit down!

Satisfied, the man backs off. “Wants to lay off the booze then,” he remarks loudly to the woman.  “Bloody nutter.”

Francis stares at the man, lips moving soundlessly.  “Please,” Eloise tries again.  “Sit down—Granddad!

There, she thinks, she’s said it.  After years of promising not to.  After years of joining him and her father in the bliss of ignorance.  Francis looks down at her and, despite herself, Eloise wills him to say her name.  To give some sign that he remembers too.

“I don’t have my camera,” he mumbles.

She bows her head, taking his trembling hands in her own.  “I know.”

“I want to go home.”

“I know.  Soon, okay?  Soon.”

They remain at the table until she arrives.  Eloise quickly stubs the cigarette out and pushes the smouldering ashtray towards Francis as her mother steps into the garden.  The sunlight dances across the tired lines of her face as she approaches.  Her eyes linger on the smouldering cigarette, before she turns and places a hand on Francis’ shoulder.

“Francis?  It’s Anna.  Your daughter-in—Listen, I’ve come to take you back, okay?”

He shrinks from her touch.

“Come on,” Anna says softly, helping him up.  She glances over her shoulder. “Do you want a ride back, El?”

Eloise lifts her phone.  “Want to catch Hannah and the others.  Celebrating… Exams and all.”

Anna winces.  “Of course, I… I’m sorry, El.  I should have asked this morning instead of… Well that.  It’s been tough.

Eloise shrugs.

“I didn’t want to ask you to come here again, but work…”  Anna shakes her head.  “Don’t be late, okay?  Jay’s away this weekend so we can have a girls night if you want?  Talk about your exams?”

“Sounds good.”  Eloise turns to pick up her bag and notices the couple opposite are now holding hands.  Again the sunlight glints off the man’s ring, and it makes it more noticeable that the woman isn’t wearing one.  Eloise’s stomach flutters at the sight.  He was right about the affair, wasn’t he? There really was something of him still there.

Then a horrible chill envelopes her.

“Where’s Jay this weekend, Mom?”

Anna looks over her shoulder.  “Oh, looking at another business we might invest in.”

The chill creeps across Eloise’s limbs and into her chest.  “With Dad’s money?  Guess even now he’s looking out for us, huh?”

Anna’s face cracks for just a moment, but it’s enough.  Eloise almost gasps as she recalls Francis’ words.

You never lose your intuition.

We Go Again!

Cripes, it certainly has been a while since I last posted… well, anything on here really.  But fret not (you can lie all you want, but I just know it’s been keeping you up at night!) for change is afoot.  I had a lot going on at the tail end of last year – buying a house and the expected unexpected return of a savage period of depression being the main constraints on my time and motivation – but 2019 has pretty much seen everything start to get back into a relaxed and rosy routine.  It wasn’t therefore too much of a surprise when a hesitant tap on my front door signalled the return of a sheepish-looking muse.  After some stern words about the acceptable way in which one should take a holiday, and some stern words back around providing a conducive working environment I let her back into the house for coffee and biscuits.  And then writing stuff happened.  Yay.

I’ll be getting the ball rolling on a few writing projects moving forward, and a new story will be uploaded here this afternoon.  There will be some other bits of fiction and poetry emerging on a much more regular basis after that, as well as some more interesting asides in video game narratives (it’ll be fun, I promise) and other new additions to the site.  So yeah, to coin a cliché, big things are on the way.

Or, at least, bigger things.


Modern Witches

Arietta sat with folded legs on the living room floor, her face matching the discarded balls of wrapping paper beside her scrunch for scrunch.  The young goat being cradled in her lap looked up and started to nibble at the untidy ends of Areitta’s flaxen hair.  She shoved its head away and went back to sulking.

It wasn’t fair.

Continue reading “Modern Witches”

Friday Flash Fiction Fan Fiction: The Dawn of Kernel

Naashyka wasn’t sure how long she had sat there thinking, but the restless matrix of asterisms in the gemstones of her flight suit indicated it was less than the K3R-NL hour it felt like.  The obvious reason for the discrepancy was that she was still acclimatising to the timezone of the local system.  It was also the most preferable; the more Naashyka considered the alternative, the drier her skin felt.

Continue reading “Friday Flash Fiction Fan Fiction: The Dawn of Kernel”

Flash Fiction: Where’s My Sand, Witch?

“No, you’ve got it all wrong.” Lul pushed strands of seaweed from her eyes and smiled reassuringly up at her customer. “It’s ‘sandwich shop’, not ‘sand witch shop’—Silent ‘t’, see?”

The skeleton looked at the sandwiches on Lul’s cart, sockets glowing. “You stupid? Nobody eats around here. Now where’s my sand sculpture?”

Shame pricked Lul’s cheeks as she flicked her tail, conjuring a twisting edifice from the sand. “There you go,” she said thickly. “Good luck with the contest.”

Continue reading “Flash Fiction: Where’s My Sand, Witch?”

Cut the Ribbon and Break a Bottle of Champagne!

Hello to the world beyond my world.  May I say that you’re all looking splendid at the specific single moment in time you happen to be reading this.

So, I’ve been writing for some time now, but have been somewhat reluctant to start up a website, in part because of the fear of realising that I may have evolved from I.T. student to tech-illiterate dinosaur.

But then I decided to bite the bullet.

I am a now a tech-illiterate dinosaur (stat adjustments to follow).

But at least I am tech-illiterate dinosaur with a reasonably functioning website.  I now finally have a space to store my prose and poetry where it might get a little more notice, and thus (hopefully) entertain a wider audience than the couple of strangers who occasionally look over my shoulder when I write.

So watch this space.  I’m reasonably certain my work will see you entertained, if not all nostalgic and stuff, and as it doesn’t cost you anything to keep updated I don’t have to worry about money-back guarantees.