Birdie

3,698 words – approx. 12 minutes

You can also hear me read this story below, or at my Soundcloud page

Birdie Williams won his nickname in the rushed last week of a summer that had never gathered any momentum. Days worthy of the season had been sporadic that year, and no sooner had a promising stretch been put together than a sudden bank of bulging grey clouds appeared and kept everyone indoors, their endless games of Mario Kart made monotonous by lack of alternative and punctuated by the crack and roll of thunder.

But late August brought with it days of unbroken golden sun, and with the new school year looming ever-larger on the horizon, the children of Kendrick Road were determined to make the most of the weather’s newfound benevolence. At 12, Sean wasn’t quite the youngest of the group, but Patrick made it clear that his involvement in their ragged games of football or cricket was due to his older brother, not any acceptance that Sean could lay personal claim to. Within the boundaries of Ma Williams’ orders – “If you’re going outside, take your brother now” – Patrick would do little to hide his reluctance, often waiting until the last minute to call “Going!” leaving Sean to stampede breathlessly downstairs and pull on his trainers (formerly Patrick’s) in a desperate hurry. Whether or not they were late, Patrick would always apologise to the others as Sean pulled the back gate to.

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My sister, and other life forms – at Sick Lit Magazine

This is one of my favourite things I’ve written recently – so I’m really happy that Sick Lit Magazine wanted to publish it! You can read it here.

You should also read Sick Lit Magazine, which is both sick and lit.

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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Remember, remember

3,189 words – approx. 11 minutes

The house, or what remains of it, stands empty over the park. Its position on a slight hill gives it a vantage point from which to survey the unkept grass and the thin winding path below. There have been people in the park today: old and young, some with dogs on thick red leads, others pushing children in covered prams as droplets race each other down plastic visors.

Among the red-bricked terraces that line the surrounding streets the house’s solitude seems out of place. It shares no walls, hears no arguments, feels no shudders as doors slam in anger. No-one really knows who it belongs to, or where its grounds begin and end. If it has an owner, they are content to let it sit unclaimed. Age and stones thrown from boredom have pocked its face, but the fence of trees has shielded it from the worst of the weather. Tonight the dark drapes it in a bruised shawl. Even in this blackness the windows and door look darker than the rest of the house, hollowed, as if it is in mourning.

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The ward nurse

2,196 words – approx. 7 minutes

The first time it happens is on a Tuesday, an accident. It’s her twelfth day on in a row, all of them thrumming with latent danger. The ward is short-staffed, and there’s no time to think if she’s to complete her rounds. She has to operate on instinct alone, and even that might not be enough.

She has a system, but this is coming under increasing strain as more patients are admitted, each of them needing regular water, or pills, or to be helped to the bathroom. She scuttles up and down the low-ceilinged halls, the chlorine tang reminding her of swimming pools. Her own bathroom breaks are timed for when she is already going down those corridors, so she doesn’t have to go out of her way and lose precious seconds.

There is a constant ache behind her eyes.

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The town that elected a computer

2,390 words – approx. 8 minutes

The first artificially intelligent mayor was a disaster.

The people of the town had become tired of politicians. There had been several scandals involving finance, relationships, and favours, and at the third recall election in five years, a majority of ballot papers were returned spoiled, or simply dropped to mingle with the leaves that covered the pavement.

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