It is a late summer evening in O’Meara’s wood; a time when dog walkers or ramblers are rarely found wandering in the dense un-coppiced woodland; this is why Jon favours the wood. There are no humans to pollute what he regards, unreasonably, as his wood; it is tranquil and within walking distance of the cottage to which he retired with his wife, Mary.

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The Welsh Dresser

On Swansea beach it’s impossible to tell where sky and water meet. Hadyn stares into the distance and sees no edge to the world. He leans on the handle of a large battered Silver Cross pram.

Although a conscientious objector, he feels guilty about not being ‘over there’ even though he’s had his own war. He vividly recalls the sounds of the Blitz: of Luftwaffe bombers droning, of ack ack fire, the whining of the approaching bombs and then finally, his bomb and after that, nothing, no memory whatsoever of the bomb that threw him two hundred yards and almost took his life.

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The Lift

The School of Anatomy is located in a mouldering four-storey early Victorian building. In 1899, an architect is commissioned to redesign the building to meet the demands of twentieth century medicine. He knows nothing of the latter. He’s a moderniser who turns things upside down in pursuit of progress. With the advent of electric lifts, he sees a chance to exploit the use of the top floor of the building as a new dissection studio (sic).

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63 Railway Street is a two-up and two-down terraced house, fourteen bricks wide, occupied by a respectable working class family.

Lily is six and plump, with a round face that speaks of innocence. Her brown tangled hair speaks of her mother’s carelessness, or uninterest. Her family describe Lily as a hunchback because of her deformity. It is a casual defamation.

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The Tank

It is Friday June 12th 1987. Tom and Liz have finally escaped the city and are moving to a small country village of narrow lanes and mellow stone houses and cottages just like the one they have bought. Their happiness is muted: it’s also the day after the Tories were re-elected with a majority of one hundred and two. Worse than this, Margaret Thatcher is still Prime Minister.

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Walking Rough

Roberta and Wink, short for Periwinkle, are inseparable – woman and dog as one. Both are strays: the woman fled domesticity easily; the dog fled brutality. Roberta named the dog Periwinkle, even though it’s not blue but jet-black, because word and flower remind her of innocence and childhood. The dog answers to Wink and that’s good enough for him as he walks without a lead as close to Roberta’s legs as he can manage without causing his friend to trip and fall.

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Emory stands in a clearing surrounded by an ominous opaque white cloud. There is nothing to see between him and it. He looks behind him and it’s an identical view. He stands very still, frightened to move. Looking down he’s standing on the cloud. He stamps his foot; it’s solid. Looking left and right he finds it impossible to tell distance. He shivers in the oppressive, endless whiteness.

Concentrating hard, Emory stares at the dense white cloud. It bursts apart and a small plump blonde puppy runs towards him and jumps into his open arms. The dog licks Emory’s face, as Emory tries to evade the dog’s huge rough pink tongue.

Within moments the puppy is full-grown and the size of a pony. Emory struggles to hold such an enormous creature in his arms but somehow manages to set it down. Seeing its disorderly blonde furry head he says, I seem to know you.

You should, you’re my cabinet secretary.

Why are you a dog? 

I can be anything I like. Shall we find pastures new, green hills, pretty gals, foaming pints, and all that? No need to be afraid. I’m loveable and mischievous so hold on tight. Hop up. Emory climbs onto the dog’s back. Teneat aures meas, the dog barks.

The cloud parts and they enter a broad-leaf wood where sunlight flickers through the canopy, warming the path on which they walk. This better? the dog barks.

Yes, Emory, replies. Can I get down?

No, I’m taking you for a ride. 

I want to get off.

Not yet, old son.

They canter into a sunlit clearing strewn with dead bodies.

What’s this you’ve brought me to? Emory asks. It’s horrific.

It’s unfortunate, I agree. It could have been worse though; these are mostly old folks and already past it. Bad advice.

Whose bad advice?

The dog leaps forward, its huge paws trampling and scattering the bodies as it gallops out of the clearing.

Stop! Emory shouts. I want to step down. Now!

The dog disappears. 

Emory is back inside the dense white cloud. It’s hard to breathe. Men and women push ventilators. Hancock polishes an enormous NHS badge. Hundreds carry coffins. I’m sorry, Emory shouts. Children silently weep carrying begging bowls. Williamson wanders past whispering to a tarantula. Emory shouts, I’m not to blame. Shapps shouts, Toot toot. Suddenly a choir sings, All things bright and beautiful. Jenrick scatters fifty-pound notes. Sirens scream. Gove sits on a toadstool stroking a self-portrait endlessly crooning, my Precious. A chant goes up – Black Lives Matter. Cops watch white thugs hurl rocks at peaceful protestors. Another chant starts, Grenfell! Grenfell! Stop it! Stop it! Emory shouts. Patel screams incomprehensible abuse at a woman carrying a Remember Windrush placard. Cummings, laughing, intones, Out of chaos comes a new disorder. Emory shouts, I want to step down.

Emory awakens as a hand shakes his shoulder and a kindly voice says, You were shouting in your sleep, Sir Emory. The PM and cabinet are waiting. 

I hope you enjoyed this story.  Remember, I publish a new story every Sunday.
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© Phil Cosker 2020
Phil Cosker has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved; no part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted by any mean, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.