Kith and Kin

In 1968, when David is twenty-two, his mother, Bethany, a single parent, dies. Among her effects he finds a letter, ‘To my dearest David.’ Until then, all David knew was that his father, Richard, died before he was born. He had no idea that Reg, his father’s brother, had murdered him. Shock throws David into a rage of an intensity he never thought possible. He finally understands why he hasn’t an extended family and why he and his mother took on the world alone. David has no one to ask why the murder took place. 

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Sugar Loaf Mountain

Andrew, Fay and their five-year-old daughter, Sylvie, are travelling along the A40, when Sylvie looks out of the window, and asks, What’s that funny pointed hill thing?
That’s Sugar Loaf Mountain, Andrew replies.
Is it sugar? Sylvie asks.
Might be, Andrew laughs. 
Fay smiles as she drives. Are you feeling better? she asks Andrew.
Just indigestion. It’ll be those pasties we had for lunch.
Why’s it called Sugar Loaf Mountain? Sylvie asks.
Maybe Daddy can tell you a story about it at bedtime, Fay says.
Will you, Daddy? Will you?

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School’s out

In 1972, Ahmad was training to be a teacher in London where he was nourished by the many galleries and museums. Today, officially retired, Ahmad is a volunteer teacher in Tiaz, once the cultural capital of the Yemen and now on the front-line in the civil war between Saudi-backed government forces and Huthi rebels. From a distance, he stares at ‘his’ bombed out school. 

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Haunted

A snicket leads out of the rear of a cul-de-sac of 1930s semi-detached houses. Robert, aged seventy-five, has lived in number 17 for years. Recently an elderly man has been loitering in the snicket and each time Robert has tried to speak to him he’s vanished. Robert’s not alarmed but intrigued.

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Marley Lives

The south-facing elevation of Sonya’s eighteenth century house is festooned with white roses. The garden is the most visible expression of all that she holds dear as custodian of her family’s heritage. Her visiting grandchildren, Nick and Jane, play football on the immaculate lawn, and invariably but accidentally, damage her meticulously ordered herbaceous borders. Bored by Sonya’s endless carping at their lack of respect for her delphiniums, Nick and Jane refuse to visit her. She misses them and has a vivid memory of her daughter, Clair, telling her grandchildren that Granny is mad as a hatter. Sonya’s reached the point where she’s trapped in her own sad history of appearing to love objects more than people. 

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The Escape

This is my 100th 500 word story from the collection 
‘Behind the Plague Door’

It’s early morning. The sky is black. Maritime pine and eucalyptus emerge, ghostlike, from swirling clouds of white smoke which precede the imminent arrival of the fire. A high wind drives the inferno towards a large white walled and red tiled villa. 

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The Jacket

Geoffrey is proud of the home he and his late wife, Isabella, created, for themselves and their daughter, Anita. In the ten months since Isabella’s death he’s kept the three promises he made her: he’s kept a close eye on Anita, eaten three meals a day and kept himself ‘respectable’.

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