Friday, December 25, 2015

The King's Angel

I would have laughed but for the fact the man who spoke to me did so with such an air of authority. His words were English, but the accent unusual. Not the lilt of Irish or the drawl of Australian, something altogether different. 

The world seemed very still. I don’t mean things weren’t moving. The leaves on the trees on the other side of the tall grey stone wall rustled pleasingly. The man’s odd clothes moved with him. There seemed though, a space, a gap, where a sound ought to be. The air was crisp, his words distinct, birdsong soft and clear. It was as if some low buzzing ear worm had been removed from my ear, FM to digital. Crystal clear. 

Though I had no idea where I was or how I had got there, I was certain I was trespassing. I noticed a movement some way behind. A woman, hurrying across the lawn. She came to a stop some twelve feet behind the man. She regarded me with amusement. As I looked at her she bobbed down and up again. Her eyes expressed some urgency. Finally I understood. I curtsied, feeling immensely foolish, expecting at any moment some T.V. hypnotist would appear. ‘And you’re asleep’.

Sunk into my obeisance I stole a glance upwards. A crowd was beginning to gather. Two burly men approached. The grass I half knelt on was wet. The air fresh upon my face. This was no dream and these men carried weapons. Would I wake? The man held up a hand. The heavies halted.

My clothes were commented upon. A long, white summer dress. They called it a ‘shift’. It was almost agreed that I should be locked away until a father, husband or brother could be found. Though my father is alive, I knew they would never find him here. Then the man paused mid sentence. He remarked on the whiteness of my dress; unusual for a wandering woman. She looks like an angel. Fallen from heaven. 

Many months have passed now. The old world I remember seems more a dream now. I draw pictures of things the man thinks are absurd; trains, planes, cars. I miss my family. I miss tea. I miss freedom. But I am his angel and he paces, chewing his fingernails, pouring out fears and sins he would confess to no other. I am taken with him to war. I kneel silently next to him as he prays. His wife is dead, his son too. Two brothers. All gone. This is the last battle he will ever fight. His company want him to win, but as he steps out of the tent I know his only desire is to be with his wife and child.

Hours later I hear his death proclaimed. I close my eyes and am freed. 

by Audrey Miles

Friday, December 18, 2015

A Bridge Too Far


"Almost." Inspector Dalgaard looked along the bridge to where dawn would arrive. "How's your coffee?"

"Terrible. Yours?"

"Same. No budget for a new machine."

"Seems we have more than one common cause." Inspector Stendahl threw the cup over the side.

"I could have you done for littering."

"It was on the Swedish side."

"Might wash up in Denmark."

"Might. See where the current takes it. Call me if you find it." They looked at the body lying across the borderline. "At least it's in one piece."

"Anyone know you're here?"

"No. Got the message, came immediately."

"Lots of paperwork if we do this together."

"Lots." Stendahl pulled out a coin. "Call."


Stendahl tossed the coin high. A gust caught it, stealing it into the night.

"The sea," Dalgaard muttered. They lifted the body over the side.

"See where the current takes it."

"Call me if you find it."

First published as the winning story for the Flashbang Contest 2014.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Going off-road...

Greetings Aphraites!

I have just read the article below on the ever-wonderful website, Writer Unboxed. (If any of you are not familiar with this fabulous blog, check it out now.)

This piece, called The Off-Road Vehicle Mind vs. the Paved Story Plan, by Therese Walsh, really resonated with me. 

Do any of you feel the same way? Do you ever get bored of writing a story if you have it all plotted and planned out in advance? And what do you do if that happens?

Comments welcome below...

And may you all have a block-free writing season this Christmas!!

Sara x

Monday, December 7, 2015

To Kazantzakis

I visited your grave on Crete 
You said god pardons the singers 
but I think he has doubts about poets 

God sends streams of milk 
flowing down the mountain 

We whores of the imagination 
tell stories of weeping prophets 
and priests no one believes 

We create ideas of winged clouds 
filled with fiery kingdoms 
but angels lie, steal and cheat 
then break into tears 
when they lift their arms up to heaven 
and their hands fall off

by Mario Zecca

Image, "Heaven's Gate", by Mario Zecca

Friday, December 4, 2015

Coffee Connections

“Grande non-fat latte,” Simon yelled to no one in particular as he set the warm cup of coffee on the counter. 
Both Tammy O’Hara and Walter Pankins reached for it. “Oh,” Tammy said, “I’m sorry. I thought it was mine.”
“No, it’s a non-fat latte,” Walter replied.
“That’s what I ordered.” They both pulled back their hands and looked at Simon. He checked the cup.
What an idiot, Tammy thought. We know what it is; we just don’t know who it belongs to.
Walter stood taller.  I’m getting that coffee. If my therapist thinks I can’t stand up for myself, I’ll show her.
They both reached again, almost touched hands and withdrew.

Simon looked up; his hand still on the cup, sensing the door at the front of the store had opened. Please let it be Jill coming in for her shift. It wasn’t. He reached into his apron to check his phone for messages. Looking at the woman in front of him, he noted her long red hair, red lips, and a mole near her mouth. Almost as beautiful as Jill. Jill who would barely look at him, who talked constantly about her stupid boyfriend, who didn’t know enough to care.
 Walter checked his phone hoping the woman he’d pinged from had responded. He’d tried two dates before—both disasters. This one would be too but his therapist insisted he needed to keep trying—keep asserting himself. How hard is it to find a strong, smart woman who likes tennis and travel? Who might understand that a man doesn’t have to be a show off and great dresser but just be sensitive and appreciative and kind?
Tammy asked Simon “Is it mine? I’ve got a meeting.” She checked her watch and realized she’d be late for her 10 AM deposition. She’d worked on it all night thinking maybe Frank would call. He’s a cad and a loser. Why do I always go for the flashy promises and end up with a tin of nothing? Where have all the kind, silent ones gone?
As Simon placed a second coffee on the table, Tammy checked her phone again and didn’t look up as Walter swooped in to grab the first one.  Her friend Alice had texted her, “Have to skip tennus. C U nxt week.”
Ha. Won that one, Walter thought proudly, as he walked out the door. I can’t wait to tell my therapist how easy it was.
Simon turned back to the coffee machine and missed the second look Tammy gave his curly black hair and six foot frame before she walked away. 

by Holly Hazard