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My Secret Place I was trying to avoid a certain young lady's mother and as she has proven to be an expert at tracking one down - damn those downloadable mobile smart phones apps with Google earth.
The Prince and the Jimmy Choo The Prince was at his wits’ end. It was six weeks since his birthday bash and he still hadn’t found the divine creature, the little cracker, he’d danced the night away with.
Credit Crunch “Er, it's been a difficult couple of weeks and now we've just lost the Williams contract, I've had to close the assembly section and lay several staff off. It's getting worse by the day.”
Dear Deer My wife has bought herself a jumper. A Christmas jumper.That was three weeks ago. Since then she’s worn the jumper every day.
The Orchid House Three weeks later, on a glorious sunny Monday morning, Maud set up her table and chair beside the entrance. On the table she placed a small stack of orchid house brochures and the donation box.
Sherlock Holmes and The Case Of The Conjuror's Watch “Diners shook their heads as they settled back in their seats, and it seemed that the search had proven fruitless.
Happy Holidays “Hi Greg, it’s Rose, I’m in Cornwall. I’m all alone for a week, just a thought, but do you want to come down for a few days and erm, liven the place up?”
The Guardian The dog was watching me. It was positioned on the top step as if guarding the chateau against unwanted guests.
Escape Once Shirl had set her heart on something, agreeing with her was a formality.
The Café We must ask them about that strange café tonight."
“Yes”, said Tony. “To be honest, I found it creepy, as if we were intruders rather than customers.”
After Dark When he reaches for the door handle the reality of what he’s about to do hits him with such force he feels his knees weaken. Can he pull it off? He’ll never live it down if someone recognises him and tells his kids.
Rosewood Cottage She cut him off with a look that might have sent shivers down the spine of lesser men and said through gritted teeth, “I like this cottage and I like England, Brad."
The Man Who Played With Dolls He turned on the TV and removed his tie while channel surfing for ESPN. When he found it, he opened the top drawer of the dresser below to put away his tie. He did a quick double-take as his mind registered what he saw
A Respectable Man It’s seven o’clock in the evening and pouring with rain. Two total strangers shelter in the same doorway and strike up a conversation.
Ruined Even then, I could see that my mother was a beautiful woman, with pouting lips and long red hair matched by her fiery nature. They had met at a dance when she was nineteen and he was twenty-five years old so there was quite a difference in ages between them for those days.
Life After Erskine Emmett Dowd was one of the justice system’s success stories. At least, the governor of HMP Nether Grillinge and the parole board thought so. Erskine more-or-less agreed with them. More or less.
Dad Mum said he was “a bad ‘un”, an armed bank-robber, never any good; had “never done nothing for us.” She said I’d be wasting my time looking for him.
A Change In The Weather “Why don’t you just put a sock in it, Mabel,” snapped Delores. “The kid’s trying to help out."
The Ladies' Programme Japan was extremely disapproving, on moral grounds. France equally so, more on the whole thing not being comme il faut. Brazil said a very bad word in Portuguese. India and Spain got in a huddle.
Narrow Escape Tomorrow, she would lay down some new ground rules, read him the riot act and show him no mercy, but for now she couldn’t remember the last time she’d had something to grin about.
Miss Fortune Teller The fortune teller was surprised when her predictions came true.
The Tryst The girls sneaked out of the house one night, but the secret assignation wasn't quite what they'd hoped for.
The Final Curtain She lifts the instrument to her lips, takes a deep breath, positions her fingers and begins, softly at first, then more strongly, each note clear and perfect, rising to the heavens.
The Last Days of Soho Soho welcomed Gilbert unconditionally; a gangly camp adolescent with purple eyeliner. Soho accepted him. In Soho, if you were different, people were indifferent. You could be visible or invisible. He could be Damian or Gilbert. It was his choice.
Sylvia Flack Post-war England must have witnessed many changes, but to a small child who had nothing to compare, the inner world of Margie was complacent. She mainly focussed on her collection of toys.
Never-Ending Journey The ferry was almost full when it swung away from Gun Wharf Quay towards mid channel. The young woman shook the rain from her brolly and picked her way through the clutter of bags, cases and jumble cluttering the aisle.
The Library Book They could just about hear their mum above the noise of the siren, telling them to mind their heads as they got in. It was their first time in the Morrison shelter. Their dad had only finished putting it together the previous day.
Tweeds and Tobacco For my father’s eightieth birthday, my wife and I took him to France for a few days. This was perhaps his last chance to pay his respects to those comrades of his who had fallen on D-Day, 6th June 1944.
The Singing Bridge "When you hear the bridge moan, be careful,” he said, “You should beach your boat and walk out, don't try to pass beneath the bridge."
World Trip In Norfolk, on England’s east coast, Keith yawns. It’s too wet to work in the garden and he’s been for his daily run. It’s hard to fill the days since he retired and he’s starting to drive his wife crazy.
The Santa Suit It was the Santa suit that had been responsible, no doubt about that, and in the space of a few hours my life had been changed completely by a series of events that I never quite managed to control, at least not at the start.
Out of Bounds A prosperous publisher, ever ready to celebrate yet another literary success, had invited a cross section of the arts world and a smattering of his posh neighbours, to sample his canapés and chilled white wines and partake in an afternoon of scintillating and witty conversation.
Family Matters It was not very often that you saw somebody in a suit in the lane. As he locked his van, Pete Dawson said to himself, I wonder what this old bloke wants along here? Suit and briefcase! Looks ominous. Why is he staring at me?
Locked Out “I’m supposed to be house-sitting but they’ve locked the doors and I can’t get in. They’re halfway to Bali and it’s raining and the dog’s inside going crazy. What can I do?”
Mini Sagas Nine mini stories of exactly 100 words that pack a punch and tell a story in the blink of an eye. “Are you paying him?” the skipper asked. She winked, “I’m letting him take advantage of me!”
Size Twelves Thirty minutes later, there he was on the beach with the sergeant and the P.C. that had found them, staring at a pair of shiny black brogue shoes.
Amsterdam Through half closed eyes, Tom watched the young waitress stretch her arms high, her denim skirt lifting and showing the backs of pale knees as she placed a poster in the window of the café. North Sea Jazz Festival.
Blotch At least he hadn’t dropped the watches. How Percy had heard about the three gold Rolexes in a nondescript semi in Reigate was a mystery, but he knew not to ask.
Knight In Tarnished Armour “I wonder sometimes how you’ve managed to stay out of jail with some of the antics you get up to.”
Seeking Literary Inspiration “Oh, you really needn’t bother,” she replied, lifting her glass of Perrier water. “I’m well aware of men touting for business as amateur tour guides. Not to mention the children and their incessant appeals for bakseesh."
Paddy George opens the back door and we all file into the garden. Ashley has a photo of Paddy and Tom is carrying the clippers we used to cut Paddy’s toenails with. That’s one job I won’t miss about the old fellow.
Playing Around "Put him in front of the telly with football, a plateful of pie an' mash and a bottle or two and he's as happy as a sand-boy! So, Mum goes off to Tenerife and bosch, everyone's happy. You ready for another?”
Shattered Haven I never knew why I locked my doors and windows that night. As was my habit, and the norm for 1970s Australia, I locked nothing. Perhaps it was a premonition or my guardian angel sending me a warning, but that night lock them I did.
First Day The door opened behind her. A man’s voice said, “Can I help you? I saw what happened through the window. That car nearly hit you, never mind splashing that big puddle over you.”
Bountiful Harvest The image of the woman came to haunt him again; her abruptness and impudence still left him reeling.
See You In My Dreams It’ll be nice, they said when she moved in, having the pictures around. It’ll remind you of the people you love, the places you’ve been.
The Heat of the Day The cat was out the back door like a shot its tail up stiff as a bean pole. He shouldered the door shut, sat down and slipped his feet out of his shoes. Thank God it was Friday.
Best Friend Lorraine had not quite forgotten how lonely she was before Millie moved in a year ago. She’d been on her own for nearly two years, ever since David had announced he was leaving her.
Seize The Day The train rattled north through the darkened towns and countryside, emitting the occasional blast from its steam whistle. Soldiers littered the narrow corridor, their kit-bags, rifles and greatcoats, strewn carelessly along its length.
Last Tango in Tesco's Oh, the dancing of him. The whirling, spinning, dervishing, dizzying speed as our feet skim the floor. Breathless and giddy, we ebb back into our chairs and he, with old-fashioned courtesy, thanks me with a kiss on the hand.
Déjà vu I saw an elderly woman looking out of the dormer window. She waved and smiled at me.
A Winter's Journey “I’m running away, and you can’t stop me,” wailed Daisy. Her long suffering Mum had heard it all before. “OK, darling. Do you need a lift?”
Parslow Minor Parslow, tall and lanky with slicked back hair and his one-size-too-small-hand-me-down blazer buttoned all the way up, stood, slipped his right hand into his pocket and his left behind his back Prince-of-Wales-style.
White Star At Night Moving swiftly down the opulent corridor with its brass fittings and plush décor, one could hear the constant heartbeat of this incredible liner as its three massive steam engines thrust their way through the cold water.
Civilised Behaviour He paused, sniffed and smelt the lingering whiff of Bulkan Sobrane in the conservatory and knew someone else had been in the house, again.
Let Them Eat Cake There was a small crowd in the street near the back of a car. A police car arrived followed by an ambulance.
Caveman Primitive man, bored with sitting, shivering and sheltering in his dark, dank draughty cave, ventured out and looked in wonder upon the sunrise and sunset and lightening storms.
The Sea Swan My beauty is beyond denial. My grace and elegance beyond compare. I do not know how I came to be here, sitting upon this desert of water. I awoke, some fate or amnesia restarting my life from this point, I recall nothing else, ever.
A Distant Friend She puckered her now overblown, once rather cute face, pushed back a handful of unkempt hair, and turned the envelope over as if examination would reveal clues to its sender before opening it.
The Best Medicine After ten years of bliss, on a solo trip to Cape Kennedy, Earnest vanished.
Wednesday's Child We hear the taxi draw up outside. Quickly I turn off the lights and the TV. Mina is whimpering a little as we make a dash upstairs for the bedroom. It’s just safer that way.
One Perfect Bloom This February, there was only me to look for the first snowdrops and celandines shyly peeping through the still-cold earth.
A Rolling Stone She had come along when he was least expecting it. She had popped into his cocoon of self-centred contentment when he wasn't even looking.
The Woman in the Red Fleece The whole place was overgrown and deserted. It looked spooky and interesting, though.
The Postman His mind turned to Mrs Jennings as he approached her letterbox. Christine Jennings was good-looking and shapely. Those dark green, strong eyes would start the butterflies in his stomach fluttering gently.
Smeared “Roger, you’re among friends, so it’s okay to ask. You’re not your usual happy self this morning, are you? Your hands are as shaky as anything! Something’s obviously on your mind. Out with it!”
The Confection in Question As I dropped dough into the boiling broth, Libby got inspired and decided to make a cake from scratch. I became her sous chef. The only requirement? The ability to lift a five-pound bag of flour.
Four Against One In week one, we visited the Galapagos islands by boat, in the company of many convivial Americans, so the true awfulness of the Mackintoshes dawned slowly.
Tattooed and Tanned Anyway, he says to me, all decisive like, “Deidre,” he says, “Deidre, we’re going to try something different this year. Something a bit more exotic.”
Table d’Hôte My neighbour in our tiny French village makes me think of starch. Everything about her is stiff, from her thickly lacquered hair to her rigid opinions.
A Foggy Day We were not even at Bronkhorstspruit when we started getting mist. At first it was only in the valleys, but later it spread to everywhere.
The Corpse in the Hay Shed The curious crowds were already speculating about the finding: murder or accident? Do we know the victim or was it a passer-by?
The Eagle Although the weather could be unreliable, the beauty and the wildlife more than compensated. But the one that had eluded us was the golden eagle.
Red Herring This was the day that the great warrior and explorer, Eric the Red, would join his forefathers and the heroes in Asgaard.
Mr O'Henry Mr O’Henry was five foot four, a small restless man with bright eyes who might in some circumstances have been mistaken for a leprechaun.
Time Honoured Recipe My whole livelihood hinged on this momentous occasion. A test of character, my very pride at stake, my ability to achieve, for this recipe is no ordinary one.
Wet Feet Bert drained his cup and sat back with a contented sigh. “I must say, Lennie here makes a decent brew. Just what I needed. But look, Charlie, I’ve been meanin’ to ask. How are your new shoes?”
The Lie “That, of course, could be a lie.” Leo said that in the same infuriating way that he always did. And I fell for it every time!
When Harry met Heidi From the top of the beach Harry saw a long legged, flaxen haired, golden goddess, strutting her stuff along the shoreline
Recycling Fred Fred is reluctant to bin anything. When a skip is left outside a house in his street, Fred knocks on the door to ask if he can take anything useful.
The Morning After The chance had come to start afresh, far away from their homeland, in a place, it was reputed, with clean air, rich soil in virgin earth, an abundance of clear water and plenty of room for everyone.
The Caretaker Lucy never liked him. She didn’t know why, there was just something about him she really didn’t like.
The Drifter I unzip the case and ease my sweet Annie-Mae out into the lingering sunshine.
The Dodger Inspector Delaney brought his team up to date on the intelligence. Their target was Alan James Dodge, nicknamed Dodger.
Book Keeping “But Dad, this move is so unexpected. Don’t you think it’s a bit spontaneous?”
The Dragon Slayer A modern allegorical tale. A young boy saves the world from environmental disaster.
The Striped General She marched out to confront the enemy who had dared to storm her territory.
The Chase When he saw the cashier exiting the café and searching, he became suspicious.
Killing Time Paula was thrilled when Miles asked her to move in with him, but she hadn't known about the clocks.
Summer Season It's summer season at the beach and Maggie's hoping to get close to Bill.
Get The Chicken Ready She didn't realise she'd have to make the chicken stew from scratch.
Hidden Danger “Took a risk, didn’t you?” an American voice shouted.
A Step Too Far Christopher and Angela won the dance competition, then she made a suggestion that was a step too far
Night at the Pub It was just an ordinary evening - until the bride walked in.
Killer Hawthorne stirred himself to do a bit of gardening, but things soon got out of hand.