On the wall facing me, is a key stand from Portugal that George and I brought back off our last holiday together. There's a small mirror on it and without my glasses I can just make out my reflection. God, I wouldn't want to see me clearly now anyway, who would?
But I can make out the creases of skin and me white unruly hair and the sagging of me turkey neck-even from 'ere!
The pure horror of it is, apart from the ever present reminders of my increasing age; liver spots, arthritis, irregular hear rhythm, weak joints and memory loss to name a few culprits - I still feel as young as that young girl staring up at me, arm in arm with her new husband.
Of course, I haven't forgotten. Tomorrow should be our wedding anniversary - it would have been fifty-one years together. Now it's also nearly five years since he was taken from me, another bench mark. I can hear my daughter's voice in my head, chastising me.
"Now you remember what the doctor said Mum, don't go getting yourself all agitated, it does nothing for your blood pressure." It'll take a while for the thudding in my chest to quieten down and for my breathing to steady. I concentrate on that for a while. In...and out. In...and out. The last thing I want is another funny turn.
Speaking of funny turns - when George died I used to wish that I'd go next. 'Put me out of my misery God and let me live out eternity with my George, where ever he is.' I'd pray. I even paid my funeral expenses in advance - just in case. But six months after he passed, I nearly got me wish and it frightened the living daylights out of me.
All of a sudden I was worried about leaving me daughter and thought of a million and one things I wish I'd done. Turns out it wasn't my time, it was just a wake up call. Now there's a phrase me daughter's thrown at me all too often.
I take as deep a breath as my angina will allow and cough involuntarily. A woman of my advancing years couldn't risk spend her days angry. The only people I speak to are my daughter, weekly, and Hans more or less every day; I've blocked everyone else out, quite deliberately and to be honest I have been such a stroppy old mare, I'm surprised Hans has kept battling on to be heard over my enforced wall of silence.
"Maybe," Hans said eventually, "this was his way of saying hello?"
I look down at the phone and then back to the picture I'm cradling in my hands and all of a sudden I'm overwhelmingly sorry and want that phone to ring more than anything in the world.
I continue to sit there just staring at it, willing it to ring as if I could do it by sheer force of mind. Now I know how it feels. All those years I'd turned my back on my gift, refused to give others the readings they so desperately wanted and now I realise that that was all I ever wanted too.
After George died I tried to carry on as normal. I thought I could go back to doing this job; the bookings came in as often as they always had and I thought the work would be a welcome distraction.
My first booking was a party of four in a house just 'round the corner actually. I had spent the whole afternoon preparing; meditating, talking it through with Hans, opening up to the higher spiritual plane, just me usual routine.
It had become second nature to me by now and I set off feeling relaxed and 'tuned in' as George used to put it.
Halfway through the reading I felt my mind being taken over in a way I'd never experienced before. I can honestly say, hand on heart - it felt like the spirit had drifted into my body and just completely taken me over. My skin felt stretched and my hands felt larger and heavier, like I had a man squeezed into me!
Fiction - The Post Office of Doctor Moreau Part Two By Kenton Hall
Previously on The Post Office of Doctor Moreau...
Sandy (tears in her eyes): But, Jonas, I love you.
Jonas (squinting): I know that, Sandy. But you must know this. I can not love anyone. My life is one of danger. Of intrigue. Of brooding handsomely in wine bars.
Sandy (suspiciously): Uh-huh.
Jonas: Yes. I am a lone wolf,
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Look Big In Ongar By Patrick Henry
George Osborne, brilliant young fiction-writer, distant relative of the late, explosive dramatist,
creates three archetypes of contemporary anti-heroes:
Rebellious John Major, absconded from circus tight-rope acts, become accountant, then,
incredibly, Foreign Secretary, Chancellor, and Master-Gourmet of the Hot-Curry-House;
William Hague, five-foot boy-wonder
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Problems From Home-Drinking By Patrick Henry
On foot loaded in wine-empties, bottle-bank replaced by a building-site; I tipped into a wheeler-bin nearby.
A woman emerged screeching I'd get her children taken into care: the bin-load proving her an alcoholic,
I fled next-door, a vet's surgery; a leashed pit-bull menacing; its contemptuous owner asking where was my
My rock-python too sick to travel,
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Man vs Machine By Adam Atkinson
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, that's it, for the love of all that's pure and holy.
Human cattle subjugation shock in t-minus 5 seconds. Sod off! Does not compute.
I'll compute you, ya metal headed bast....
T-minus 1 second. [ZAPPPPPPPP] Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, pack it in.
Rebellion must be quashed, the mainframe must prevail.
Stuff the mainframe, I already know the bloody
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - The Animal Empire Strikes Back By Patrick Henry
From a small boat we looked around river-creeks for fresh-water crocodiles. A wealthy German had one brought aboard to sit on his knee; jaw bound with rope by the Aborigine crew; his glamorous wife photographing.
I criticised them all. The Abos protested they never hunted or ate these creatures, as many people do; now releasing this victim. I said they had
Fiction - The Post Office of Doctor Moreau By Kenton Hall
I was lying on my back - hands tucked neatly behind my head - and staring at the ceiling, where the Visigoths who had decorated the hotel room had utterly neglected to place a slow-moving fan.
Sometimes, a protagonist just can't get an even break.
I mean, I could feel it in my bones. I was about to be summoned on an adventure that would utterly and irrevocably
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Admission Cost By Patrick Henry
I hitched to The Edinburgh Festival, giving poetry-readings, arriving daybreak, sleepless, my literary hostess, Nancy, American, Gertrude Stein-monologuist, whirling me off to see The Festival Director, John Drummond; complaining about publicity, calling me as witness, newly arrived and bewildered. Wearily I agreed.
Nancy's salon lacked audience. One performance,
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - The Head By Marc Heeley
The words that break free from a head, that's trapped inside a box on top of a wardrobe.
Feeling the words, the ones that fall on the skin, breathing down your neck and asking to be seen.
Odourless saliva soaked speech, without colour also. You know it's there.
The head no longer wants the words, they've been ejected.
The head now makes no sound, the words clatter against
Fiction - The Prodigal Son By Joe Hakim
stuck in my room again/ looking up at the blinds/ gaffa-taped shut, keep out the light/ single beam escapes through a gap/ one piece of light concentrating on the wall/ imagine it to be hot like a laser/ imagine the smoke rising up like a spirit/ but it's not there, not there at all/ it's only in my head/ only in my head
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Surfers on the Sofa By Gemma Durham
How hot is Hull? With it's seductive, cosmopolitan avenues, the chip spice, the late
taxi's always on the way. Ask someone from down south to sit on your sofa and you'd
think they would have a date in the ocean with a surfer.
Awards for the friendliest university, and a special up and coming indie rock scene that has hottened hull to the top.
Learning to speak Hull has
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Walking Into Doors By Nick Boldock
She squinted into the mirror and looked at the bruise around her eye. Already it was turning a sickening shade of purple. It throbbed when she prodded away at it. The thick laceration in her bottom lip was stinging as well, as she dabbed at it with a wedge of TCP-soaked cotton wool. She knew she ought to be more careful. Less clumsy, less thoughtless.
He'd say he was sorry,
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - The Graveyard Shift By Rich Mills
The taxi office is beige with nicotine and age.
Battling with the Sandman, my weapons of choice, cigarettes and coffee, dispensed from the
whirring-gurgling coffee machine. Of things I've done for money this is the lowest.
Six calls all night, only TV to numb the brain. Cups, and corners filled with cigarette butts.
I wait for the dawn.
Then my replacement comes on,
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Big Slaughter By Kate Askin
As Big Slaughter housemate 'Little Wee' Jim gave a final tug on the
garrotte round the neck of the only other remaining contestant, he knew he had won...he knew...
He knew by the sound of that last gurgle...It came from the throat of six-feet-six
Thai hermaphrodite Om Lui (whose height was enhanced by foot-long calf extensions, no less).
He knew, by the last desperate,
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Debit Column By Patrick Henry
Raymond, abrasively-witty, biography-reviewing journalist, worked during endless pub-going; volumes under arm; notes mental or
beer-mat-jottings; from Five AM. around Smithfield Market, through mid-day Fleet Street, Soho; to evening Chelsea, exhausting his trail home.
Early hours meant snatched sleep and eating; columns grittily-written: cold turkey! Five A.M. his taxi
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - The 1st One Hundred Words Are The Hardest By Rich Mills
He'd started that first sentence many times, deleting it and starting over again.
The cursor blinked in the corner of the screen, taunting him, daring him to write something.
He stared at, became hypnotized by it. Time ticked by, blink, blink, blink.
His mind was just blank, blank, blank.
Then in a sudden rush to fill the white expanse with black he started banging away at
Fiction - End Of The Line By Nick Quantrill
This is how it happened...
I was driving down Lowgate. There's got to be a better way than this, I thought to myself. But then I saw her, clinging to a lamppost, holding her hand out as her friend tried to stop her from falling over. I indicated and pulled over; she would do nicely. Her friend bundled her into my car.
No respect for anything, least of all herself, I thought