top of page

250 word short story

“Are you unravelling a little honey?” I am wary with words, keeping it light. Twenty plus years together gives us a shared idiom, but nuances of dialect still play tricks. He is easily alarmed by intimacy introduced suddenly.

It was the towels that alerted me. All of them dry as dust for days on end. He always showers daily, always has. We both do, among many things that have synchronised. Tea variety, sock manufacturers, biro preferences. I guess an affair can be ruled out, I would have known.

Would I have known? We have never come close to mutual honesty, despite written commitment. An address scrawled on a piece of paper in a long-forgotten pocket can make my jaw clench, tears smart hot. A casual anecdote told to a third party that I have never been privy to. Did you make that up?

I made it up when you put me on the spot. Or just breathed a sigh when you missed the slip. Of course I have secrets, what sane person doesn’t? My girlfriends share the load; like a squirrel caching nuts I store my stories in the minds of those best suited to them. Karine for confessions, Melanie for dreams unfulfilled.

So this morning I should have been forearmed, yet here I am all shaking sobs and uneaten breakfast as I read the note. The towels have gone along with a few other things that surprised me, such petty wants we harbour. The dog glares, accusing and snubbed.

10 views0 comments

250 word short story

Jan was working the Friday backshift. Again.

He’d been watching the girl since she slipped into the nook by the door. Her face was barely visible, but it was something else that had caught his attention; a flash of iridescence as she tidied her legs under the settle.

It had been a filthy, brackish night on the island, so the pub was under-half full. A few big men from the rigs playing the bandit and the usual bunch of gothy teens. Jan lumbered over to the table on the pretext of a weather check.

The clouds were low but briefly revealed dabs of a chartreuse aurora colouring the glimmer dim. Whaap were calling across the bay; “Sea kin,” his ma always said. “Callin’ you doon.”

Leaning across, his bristly slab of a face hovered close to the girl. All but her hand was in shadow; it had the sticky look of the sea to it, as something recently immersed.

“You’ve picked the wrong tavern to hide in missy; we’s mostly fisher folk here and I know scales when I sees ‘em. Scooch over in the corner there and keep your hood up. I’ll get you at last call.”

He felt her eyes on him, but she made no move. His father’s father had seen more than fish below the waves, so the family told it. “But you gotta mind,” his voice low now, reassuring, “if it’s the sea you want or the land. It’s but one you can choose missy.”

7 views0 comments

250 word short story

Sitting for him gave me purpose and an elevation from my humdrum life. The smell of linseed, the meditative rustle of hog’s hair scrubbing and refining the painting’s surface. Teasing the life out of me and onto the meticulously prepared canvas.

I took great pride in my ability to remain perfectly static for him. The stillest of still lifes: myself, the jug, and the yellow light.

He talked sweetly to me during the stretches of the afternoons, more attentive than my mother and brothers at home with their chores and mundanities. He saw me. Not just superficially but the soul beneath the flaxen plaits, with the gross patina of the farm on my hands. His tenderness was real and when he stroked my hair, he called me “My divinity: Idun the eternal one.”

He often spoke of immortality as he consumed my youth and yearning through those magic, golden afternoons. In return I drank the draught that he prepared for me each day without inquiry. Total trust.

The weakness came on slowly, a ghost of fatigue tracking me relentlessly through the onset of the calescent summer days. My body felt waxy, and mother commented on my pink rimmed eyes. I still made the sittings but felt less able to remain in place with each passing day.

It was on a Sunday that I finally failed to rise, giving in to the damp sleep-hands that held me to the sodden cot. My mother’s wails fell only on my dead ears.

His words to me were true though, he made me a goddess, adored and worships in the salons of Europe and beyond. Every day since the picture went on show I have watched the watchers; squinting up from the poured milk to meet their gaze.

Immobile, immortal, deified.

3 views0 comments
bottom of page