Through the candle flame and out of the barn door I saw the stars piercing the velvet night. I walked outside; snow creaked. Straight above our heads a single star shone brightest as others spiralled in silence. Your hand was warm in mine. It is time to go back in.
Written for Scottish Book Trust December 2021
Silkie outgrew the pond.
Once again, under cover both of night and of the tarpaulin over the wheelbarrow, we bumped him down to the sloping sand.
Clouds opened the sky and a grey head appeared in the black mirror waves.
Silkie swam towards the moon, not looking back this time.
Horse years run faster than human years, you’ve seen that boy, haven’t you? Yessir, though, now you’ve finally caught me up. You’re 25 now, 25! And me nearer 80 than not. Not long to go maybe. What say we jump that one last canyon? What say? Let’s go.
To me! Me!
Go on, chase it down!
Oh, at least undo your coat, man!
But it’s pouring!
To you! You!
I didn’t see it!
Well, you shouldn’t be smoking….
And the over-50s Sunday kickabout continues as it always does, until – GOOOAAALLL! He aeroplanes away, raincoat over head.
Bluebell bit Foxy. Or vice versa.
The fizzy drink he threw over the snarling dogs splashed her white dress.
He should not be allowed in the park, let alone his wicked dog.
She should, well, she should….
They dragged their dogs in opposite directions, still snapping.
Later though, they smiled.
The battlements quaked. In the bedchamber the physician’s long hat quivered in the falling dust. He scratched the curled words, hurriedly, carefully, desperate to carry his thoughts, his steely will, through his arm and quill. With the last word he shivered. The queen’s eyes softly opened and the world stilled.
Jay’s hand was warm on Kelly’s shoulder. She looked in the mirror and he was there, smiling. Like this it wasn’t so bad, she thought. She’d thought it would be worse to have a haunted heart. Jay’s hand tightened and her breath came quicker. Then slowed. And stopped.
Jen biroed a map on the back of Magda’s hand and walked away smiling. Magda stayed sitting in the park, hand in her jacket hidden from the rain. Then she thought twice and licked the ink away. Her hand was red from rubbing but now her eyes were dry.
“You’re as much use as a waterslide in the desert!”
“Oh, don’t start.”
“Well, you make me so angry!”
“Well….” (He grins.)
“It’s not funny.” (But she smiles.)
“Well…. In the desert….” (He grins again.)
“Stop it! I’m fluming – fuming….” (She tries not to laugh.)
(They kiss. They make up.)
Feet slide together then slip slowly, unstoppably, apart – the fence stops his fall. Families in red gloves, blue scarves, skate past him as he clings to the rough-painted wood. She sees him clinging there, still slipping, and feels a warm rush: “I’ll skate with you”. She takes his elbow.