• 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?…

  • 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,  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…

  • Childhood,  Family,  Friendship

    First Class

    ‘How long?’ I breathed down the phone. ‘Weeks,’ Martin’s voice choked back. The day after, at four o’clock in the afternoon, I popped around to the red-bricked house next door. Jenny was setting the table, and the smell of home-cooked cottage pie filled the air. She kindly put a teapot on for us while young Sophie played with her ice blue princess castle. ‘Does she…’ I asked, narrowing my eyes. Jenny shook her head. ‘We need to. But I just…’ Her cup shook against her saucer. ‘Let me help,’ I offered, placing my aged hand over hers. Her skin was so young. ‘How?’ Her eyes were lost, strong, and full…

  • Childhood,  Dreams,  Family,  Friendship

    Just a Toy

    Fourteen foster homes in fourteen years. Every year, a new home. There was always something. Not the right fit, just a temporary thing, they had to relocate immediately, too much of a strain on the family, behavioural issues, it’s just not working out. No room for error, no room for failure. One big mistake, and I was gone. And at fourteen years old, it was not hard to make one big mistake. I was expelled on the second day of my new school with my thirteenth foster family. On the third, I was gone. By that point, I couldn’t imagine ever becoming a piece in that well-known puzzle we know…

  • Dreams,  Family,  Romance

    My Mary

    Clad in sooty black leather, my Mary roared about the seaside village from the unripe age of sixteen. When she rode, her vanilla hair whipped out of her helmet, which she only wore because her father demanded it, her slick smile grew ten inches, and that jacket she wore burnt under the relentless sun like a lump of hot coal. She was a lioness. And the village folk didn’t take kindly to it. They harrumphed and tutted. My Mary heard the whisperings, but it didn’t bother her a jot.  And then she met me. An awkward, gangly fellow who resembled more of a dizzy flamingo than a strapping lion. But…

  • Childhood,  Family

    The Begonias

    ‘Mum, can we go now?’ Samuel groaned, tugging his mum’s Gillet as she perused a selection of begonias. ‘Almost, darling.’ She read a tag. Samuel rolled his eyes and watched a man who looked like a goat fill his trolley with spiky plants. There were plants everywhere, and everyone thought the world of them! His mum thought more highly of them than her own son. What could a plant do that he couldn’t? Talk back maybe. ‘Mum, it’s been hours,’ he tried again. ‘Samuel, please,’ she snipped like a pair of pruning shears. ‘Excuse me!’ she called over to an assistant to talk through the begonias who had become her…

  • Family

    The Perfect Gift of Love

    The perfect gift of love. Her arrival date was Christmas Day. Her funeral date was not much later. She lived and died inside of me. I cradled her silent body, kissed her sleeping eyes, and hung tight until she was taken away. My baby. My gift. My love. Mince pies filled the air, laughter, lights, out-of-tune carols, and the tearing of paper. Everything was bright, though the colour had faded for me and Matt. Our angel would have been a year older today. She would have shone like the star on top of our tree. Sammy rolled around under the Christmas tree, crushing the presents with his long body, his…

  • Family,  Friendship

    Logan and Lucy

    Lucy entered my life when Logan exited it. He’d been unwell for some time. We’d had many years together, our whole lives really. We met in primary school, and despite the bumpy road, we finished in our sixties. He slipped away peacefully, although can anyone really know if a person died peacefully? It was a Tuesday. A sunny day. I’ll never forget wrapping my hand around his cold fingers like a scarf that terrible morning. I wanted to keep him warm. I had barely shed a tear when a deep barking sliced through the stillness. For a second, I thought it was an awful mistake, and Logan was alive. When…