Rosewood Drive

3,838 words – approx. 13 minutes

The house at 12 Rosewood Drive had seen better days, but even those had been far from magnificent. ­­Its paint, though, had once been more evenly spread, and the wooden panels the peeling white coats covered had not always seemed to be folding in on themselves. The front yard, too, had once been subject to a measure of control, in contrast to the sprawling, spiked wilderness that now welcomed its few visitors.

It had, once, seemed to shine – with the slick sheen of a realtor’s suit, but shine nonetheless. Now unidentifiable green shoots sprouted between the cracks in its walls, and the second floor front window had been smashed and left unrepaired, the floor of the room it led to sagging into the bathroom below like a spider’s sac. Time and the misfortune of its neighbourhood, one without inhabitants whose money, or regard, or simple stable presence could maintain or improve the property, had taken their toll.

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Beneath the midday sunshine

On cold days his knee still ached. He’d lean on his stick by the front garden fence, his cap pulled down, and his padded jacket wrapped around his thinning frame.

“Let him be,” grandma would say, watching him stood looking down over the valley.

It happened two weeks after mum’s fourth birthday. The news spread in minutes, the way bad news does in a village. She remembers grandma getting ever more frantic, unable to stay still but not wanting to leave either mum or the telephone.

By the time he came in it was dark. His face was blackened and his breath sour. Grandma hugged him and yelled at him for being drunk, for being late, for spending his wages on alcohol, for being a miner. Through all this he just stood in the doorway, his arms hanging by his side. She learnt later that he hadn’t spent a penny, that the landlord had waved away his attempts to pay.

We never knew why he was leaving the mineshaft at the time of the explosion. It was the middle of his shift, and the supervisors were known for their inflexibility. He never talked about it. When months later the 468-page report blamed no-one he just spat.

Once, I ran out to him by the fence when mum wasn’t looking, my small hand finding the leathery creases of his. We stayed there until mum shouted from the kitchen, then we went back inside to where grandma’s cawl struggled in the pot.

Pretty bubbles in the air

4,184 words – approx. 14 minutes

“How old’s the lad now?” Col jerked a thumb at Davey to his right.

“Twelve.”

“Twelve, eh?” said Col in wonderment. “I remember when you were so big,” he said, addressing Davey, and he spread his hand face down, level with the bench they were sat on.

“He ain’t much bigger now,” said his dad. “But you will be, won’t you? You’ll be big and strong, like your old man.”

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How to fly

1,599 words – approx. 6 minutes

It’s too early on a Friday morning, and it’s cold, and you don’t know which entrance to the plane to take. The other passengers carrying their baggage walk untroubled to either the front or back steps, and you wonder if you missed an announcement.

“Excuse me,” you say to one of the baggage handlers. He stops, cradling a stuffed sports bag as he looks at the sheet of paper you’ve hopefully thrust in his direction. “Should I be at the front, or the back?”

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