"A Pickled Egg"
The London Magazine, Aug/Sep 2008 (print)
"Sarah sat under the tree for that whole afternoon, her back resting comfortably against the trunk. Ants crawled over her boots and dress, but she didn’t mind. To be amongst such life, even if it were only the hum and tumble of insects, was calming, and much more satisfying than spending the afternoon in a silent, tidy parlour. One ant even found its way inside her boot and she felt it tickle her ankle the whole way back to the homestead. She could see the station in the distance – a small wooden block embroidered against a swirling, muddled canvas of yellows, browns and greens. Behind the house a brilliant blue lake glittered seductively in the summer sunshine, though Sarah knew its glacial waters would be icy cold. She looked back at the tree, feeling a strong sense of communion; they were two displaced, transplanted things in an unfamiliar landscape."
"Mr William Sanderson Strikes for Home"
(1) The New Storyteller, May 2009 (online), (2) First Steps Press, July 2010 (online)
"Suddenly it was dark. The purple haze of dusk had been fleeting and momentary: now the sky was frayed blackness, punctured by a thousand silver dots. The temperature fell rapidly. Shadows played on the tussock grass stretching out before them; strange, mythical shapes whirling on the charcoaled carpet, recently cleared by some unknown farmer. To Sanderson, glancing up briefly from Albert, it seemed as though Marama was a weird, other-world conductor, beating out a rhythm for these unknown, untamed shapes with his pipe. Marama’s eyes were closed."
"Miss Swainson’s Girl"
Random Acts of Writing, July 2009 (print)
"As a child, she had once been tempted to step onto the ice of the local pond – it had cracked and given way, and she had plunged into the glacial waters below. Her brother had been quick to haul her out, no harm done, but the memory of that sharp, crushing cold lingered. Moments of shock returned her to those childhood waters, to that feeling of suffocation."
Halfway Down the Stairs, Sept 2009 (online)
"The patch of earth behind the house was stark in its difference from the well-maintained flower beds at the front door. There, begonias and roses from home thrust their faces out towards the street proudly. Look at us, they seemed to shout – it takes effort to tend to us, to help us grow: but here we are, nonetheless. And yet, out the back, the garden was unkempt and wild. Rubble and vines competed for space in a narrow strip, tumbling together in a tight embrace. Tussock grass rose so high in places that it would come up to Evie’s chest, were she allowed to play there. Her aunt warned her off though, restricting her to the house. Looking through the kitchen window, Mrs Gray picked out a couple of small mounds of earth. They were still well hidden in the undergrowth."
Cantaraville, July 2010 (downloadable pdf)
"There is a scar on the landscape. A road, white and gleaming, like the sheen of an old wound, cuts across the meadow and slips down to the derelict house. It has been raining. The road is washed clean and the crumbled quarry chalk that shapes its path shines with the brightness of milk, as though it has been split across a green rug. Yet this road is not a momentary stain on the carpeted field; it has been here for years, even before the old farmhouse was built. It has been shaped by the weight of colliers and drays, crossing the farm to the coal pits. It is as trenchant as the miners it once served: it welcomes the quenching splash of rain but would be content and stolid without it."
"The Last Game, August 1914"
Foundling Review, Dec 2010 (online)
"A small gathering of men, brilliant white cricket flannels glinting like metal in the heavy sun, stride out onto the vivid green. Purposeful, some of them, marching out chest first, laughing brazenly; others, less so, walking slowly, casting looks back over their shoulders at the small pavilion. Yet, by an invisible and indestructible thread, they are all connected, these men; they know their place and purpose in this team. They look at their fellows with trust and a feeling close to love. The leader of the charge holds a bat, swinging it carelessly like a weapon in the direction of the opposing team, who stand silently at the crease. A shout and a wave from the captain, and the walkers all break into a trot, heading towards the small, yellowing patch of grass that will be their arena of conflict."
Read "The Last Game"
Eunoia Review, Aug 2011 (online)
"Outside the night began to settle about the stone building. It was getting colder and snow was in the air. David always knew when it was coming. He used to stand in the yard and open out his arms, beckoning the heavy clouds towards him. Watching from the kitchen window, Penny thought he was mad. Why encourage a deluge or a force he could not control?"
Read "Slipper Socks"
"The Wedding Guest"
Halfway Down the Stairs, Mar 2012 (online)
"Almost all had been photographed – 'the groom and his cousins, please. Right here, yes, followed by the bride with her grandparents' – all, except one. One woman had avoided the family groupings and warm, bubbling knot of friends. Thin and dressed in a pale lilac dress, she slipped to the end of the dining room, to where the tables were set out. It had been hard to keep the smile fixed on her face. Over here, her cheeks relaxed into bruises and her lips fell into their natural soft line."
Read "The Wedding Guest"
221B Magazine, Mar 2012 (online)
"She wanted to say that all her married life she had struggled against a lack of boundaries and firm lines, and that she longed for a space of her own. But reality was different. Her mother’s house encroached on her own – before her legs became bad, Mam would stroll in through Elsa’s back door with a borrowed plate, or a pile of mending, without even knocking first. Brothers, nephews, cousins roamed in Elsa’s kitchen as free as anything; she could look up when serving the evening stew to find a freckled face at the table not pulled from her own belly, but from that of her sister."
Read "The Armchair"
"From the Earth"
Black Market Review, April 2012 (online)
"From the blackened, sucking earth they were extracted; bones, grey and rough with age, were tugged up into the sunlight by regretful, apologetic hands. There was no time for the care and precision that came with most digs. Students, professors – they were up against it. They scrabbled frantically in the mud and debris for calcified remains; take-away cartons and drink cans were pushed aside as expert fingers felt for a femur, a cluster of ribs, a pelvis."
Read "From the Earth"
"Appalachian Phone Call"
Specter Magazine, October 2012 (online)
"The truth was that Cory did not know how to frame his thoughts, let alone respond to his mother. The truth was that, from the moment he replaced the handset, he had begun to feel a slipping within, like plates shuffling on top of each other in his mother’s dresser. The phone call lasted seconds, but the speed with which it nudged aside something he had hoped was fundamental astonished him. He had, after all, been working on an integral part of himself for many years until it was near perfection; now his shaking hands stripped away all certainty."
Read "Appalachian Phone Call"
Extract(s), February 2013 (online)
"He opened his hands. The seahorse had been thrown about during his escape and blood streaked his palms. Tyler transferred the seahorse between hands, wiping them down his shirt. The tail had now separated completely, and that made Tyler feel sad. He did not know why. He put the end against the body, part of him hopeful that they would connect all over again, but they did not."
"On This Day"
Halfway Down the Stairs, March 2013 (online)
"For the next three weeks Pete comes every day. He is not working and the prospect of job hunting retreats into the faded margins. Occasionally bills and letters arrive for Emma and it is only until they topple off the telephone table that Pete realises he has not thought of her for days. Instead he finds his feet hurrying towards Yvette and Richard’s small flat. He makes himself useful. A shelf is straightened, the washer in the bathroom tap is replaced. He empties the bin full of uneaten baking. Yvette does not like to go outside much and the bins frighten her. Pete is happy to help. But each day, right before he taps their door, he wonders what will meet him. What will Richard be wearing? One day Richard answers the door in a faded Live Aid t-shirt, Queen blaring in the background. The significance of other dates are not as clear; on July 14th, Yvette has to explain that the cowboy hat and plastic pistol are a reference to Billy the Kid, shot by Pat Garret. Pete sees the humour in a grown man wearing a child’s fancy-dress costume but he does not laugh."
Read "On This Day"
"At the Hotel El Loro"
Halfway Down the Stairs, June 2013 (online)
"At the Hotel El Loro, the pool tended to empty by six o’clock. Families would drift up to their rooms to dress for dinner, staining the marble stairs in the reception with shiny footprints. The heat of the day was swallowed by the cool tiles, in such a pleasing way that some residents lingered in the foyer, pacing skin-to-cold surface until bodies chilled and became comfortable again. Kimberley was one of those who hung by the lifts and flowerpots, inching her way slowly up and down the corridor in bare feet. By the end of the first week it had become a ritual; she would leave the others on their sun-beds, pink and salty, and drift inside the El Loro where the air was scented and the sound of the kitchens echoed outwards. For while, until her mother trailed the rest of them in, Kimberley had peace."
Read "At the Hotel El Loro"
Halfway Down the Stairs, November 2013 (online)
"They’d been travelling for two hours when the train pulled into a little station, just north of Paris. Hanging baskets crammed with yellow flowers swayed as the train eased by and Monica leaned her head against the dirty glass. She thought she could smell oats and raw potato, though they hadn’t packed food and hadn’t eaten since the ferry. Monica sniffed. She must have been mistaken; the breeze held only the tang of fuel and hot metal. But then a yellow petal drifted by the window and Monica remembered a dandelion, forty years old."
Read "The Dandelion"
"An Old Man Walks Up A Road"
Halfway Down the Stairs, June 2014 (online)
"The questions began when his daughter became pregnant. He had initially welcomed the symmetry of such an event; his child having a child, life continuing to be replenished. In one of his poems he likened the motion to that of a needle, diving through fabric, in and out, weaving one soul to the next."
Read "An Old Man Walks Up A Road"
Fowey Festival of Words and Music Short Story Competition - Runner-up, October 2014
“What does your husband do?” the nurse had asked. She was making notes and occasionally underlining a sentence with a highlighter.
“He sells solar panels.”
“Is there much call for that in Alaska?”
“He sells most during the winter.”
The nurse had sniffed. “People think spending money will make the sun come back?”
Wanda didn’t like her. But the nurse hadn’t been wearing sequins, not anywhere she could see.