• Romance

    I Will

    When I pictured my wedding day, I saw myself cloaked in white and crowned with jewels. I’d wear the pale blue drop earrings my mother gave to me on my sixteenth birthday, borrow my sister’s make-up, and buy some white Vans that I’d embellish with lace. The picture was perfect. But you know a picture can never always be quite perfect. Nobody believed me when I insisted I had only been drinking sparkling water that evening. I wouldn’t have believed me. But I had nothing to blame except my own stupidity. I kept twirling it around on my finger, captivated by the moon’s charm against the diamonds. Should I? Shouldn’t I?…

  • Story Snapper

    Still

    His eyes glazed over the lake like it didn’t exist. He had a sunken, pale face and shoulders that dropped so low you could almost visualise the wooden beam forcing them down. What had life done to him? He stared as though there was someone at the other side of the lake holding a card with an impossible equation written on it. The last thing I wanted to do was go over and talk to him. I came here to relax, to ‘get away’ from my own problems. He was an old man. He wouldn’t want me interfering in his life. But my feet were restless, my heart stirred for…

  • Friendship

    Here

    This was where we first met. Right here on this bench. You were watching the cars, counting them, you said. Sneaking a glance at the driver, wondering who they might be and where they were going. You found it hard letting go, retiring. I had just had a fight with my girlfriend, my first long-term one. I was in the wrong as usual, and you helpfully pointed that out to me. After the fourth time of bumping into each other here anyway. It was right near where my bus stopped, and it was on your way to the village shop. You told me exactly what I did and what I…

  • Friendship

    Words

    I can’t get any words out. My lips seal as soon as the emotions rise in me. When you feel something, words travel with that feeling, and together they communicate what’s going on in that person. But words don’t seem to travel with my feelings. So, the emotions soar around inside me, and I sit there in silence, longing to communicate, scraping for something to say. But the words aren’t there. And the pressure builds in my head. My heart rattles around. I feel exhaustion take over and all I want to do is shanghai those emotions. So, I drink. The scrambled vowels and consonants darting in my head drop…

  • Family

    The Banana Incident

    ‘I am not spending money on a cinema screen. It’s not happening,’ Hugo said, marching up the muddy, beaten track toward another kissing gate. ‘Hugo, calm down, I’m just saying…’ Kate grabbed a water bottle from his rucksack. ‘Slow down!’ ‘I won’t do it,’ he reiterated, not slowing down at all. ‘Dad, it’s freezing!’ Jack moaned, trudging behind his parents. ‘I told you to wear a hat,’ Kate huffed. ‘It’s hardly much bigger than our one now anyway.’ ‘It’s six inches bigger! We don’t need a 50-inch TV.’ ‘We don’t need a bean to cup machine either, but…’ ‘Uh, we do actually.’ Hugo glanced at the coffee-stained OS map. ‘It…

  • Story Snapper

    Our World

    A world without Coronavirus. Where social distancing is simply a matter of being British.Where a baby’s first word isn’t ‘mask’.Where Christmas is a time of peace and not of lateral flow tests.Where one does not whip out sanitiser when one goes to shake one’s hand.Where the tune ‘happy birthday’ isn’t a reminder to wash hands more thoroughly.Where death toll figures aren’t read over a bowl of cornflakes.Where fathers and mothers don’t die alone because of national restrictions.Where loved ones are lost. A world with Coronavirus. Where embracing one another isn’t taken for granted.Where broken relationships mend.Where working from home swings doors wide open.Where the world unites in giving key workers…

  • Family

    You Made It

    ‘What about Christmas Day?’ she asked. ‘It’s tomorrow.’ A blast of white air escaped my mouth like I had a puncture. ‘I won’t make it,’ I winced as I said it, bashing the side of the lorry with my fist. ‘I’m sorry. They needed the extra work, and you know how desperate we are for the extra money. It’s so icy, and the traffic…’ ‘Don’t drive dangerously, Liam.’ Cars sped past on the main road. Jaguars and leopards after their warm dinners. They’d be home in time for Christmas. The bitter wind moaned through the trees behind me, and a horn shrieked at a car that had its main beams on. …

  • Family

    The Ugliest Christmas Jumper

    It was the ugliest one I’d seen by far. Elf-green wool with HOHOHO in white bordering the arms and torso, and…I am not even kidding…tiny ball balls sewn onto the fabric in the shape of a Christmas tree. She had made it herself. Gran had made it especially for me. She didn’t hate me either. She liked me. She thought this would make the best present ever. I mean…there’s a Specsavers advert right there! But I loved Gran. I couldn’t have not worn it on Christmas Day. Except, I had also planned to meet Jon’s parents for the first time that afternoon. Yes, the first time ever. Ever. And of course, I wasn’t going to…

  • Family,  Romance

    Love in Action

    Winter was the hardest on her. The dark, cold mornings, the dark, cold afternoons. And we had just added two more babies to our not-so-little family. I never in my wildest dreams imagined I would be a dad to four kids. That wasn’t the plan. We wanted two. But then we thought just one more. And the fourth arrived alongside that third. Twins. It was Lex that did it all. Kept us all alive. Kept us all motivated. She was the star. She was the workhorse. With a husband that worked in London all week and barely got to kiss her goodnight by the time one foot was in the…

  • Childhood,  Family

    Fairy Princess

    When I was five, it was just Daddy and me. He didn’t walk in the door with bags of sweets anymore. He had to pick me up from school every day instead. He had no sweets with him. He didn’t slurp up spaghetti with me anymore. He had to cook fish fingers and chips for us every day instead. He didn’t slurp anything up. He didn’t play I Spy with me when we skipped through the park anymore. He had to answer his phone instead. He didn’t skip. When he shouted at people, I dreamt I was a fairy princess, floating high in the sky above the pink clouds, in…