On the park bench she remembers the fights and the lies and cries a little. Midday clouds part and somehow life is clearer. In the supermarket she stands in line, tight white knuckles on pram handles highlit by the overhead tubes. She is not frightened when the night comes.

Written for Derby Book Festival, May 2023


He was being chased. Through the dark woods he ran, nearly caught as he reached his front door. He leaped up the stairs and hid beneath the blankets.

He woke up, the dream still vivid, but kept his eyes tight shut.

In the silence he heard the door handle turn.

Written for Scottish Book Trust 50-word competition April 2022

Washing up

The ex-boxer looked down at his red thick-jointed hands emerging from the soapy water. So it had come to this. He shook his head, the spirit rising in his chest again. The door opened. “Hurry up Grandad, we want to go to the park!” He smiled and wiped his hands.


Ali stretched his hand towards the night sky and pulled down a crescent of milk-white seaglass, polished smooth by decades of waves. ‘Here is all the moon I can reach,’ he said. His lover smiled in silence, her eyes full of starlight. She touched the glass to her lips.

Waves of haar rolled in

Waves of haar rolled in on the witching wind. Evening birdsong died away. For the first time ever he dared take her hand and she held his tighter than he had ever hoped. In silence they stood and walked away, glad of the quiet mist. Tomorrow the sun would shine.

Fireworks carved white scars

Fireworks carved white scars across black sky, silhouetting bright behind dark battlements. And fireworks behind her eyes. There, look! The girl she loves is back, she’s back! But the fireworks faded as she pushed her way through the smoky crowd and she saw it was not her. Not her. Again.

He smiled

We stood on the doorstep, flames flickering behind us, and watched him walk away. He did not turn around.

‘Who was that?’ I looked at my mother. ‘Why did he smile and call me his?’

‘All in good time’, she said, her voice strange, and put her arm around me.

Life’s a beach

“Life’s a beach”. It was the third time she had walked past in that t-shirt and this time she was smiling. I twisted, waved and caught my hand in the sunbed. I looked down. Saw blood. Fainted. I woke up lying next to her. She had fainted too.

50-Word Fiction Competition for Scottish Book Trust