Archive for the ‘Short stories, starts & writing’ Category

I’m bumping this one after a certain Snuffleupagus once again went missing in transit.


We’re the last ones off the plane.
If you’re not the first in line then why rush to be part of the queuing crowd?
Besides, we have just so many bags to deal with. Easier to let the frantic hordes go by so we don’t feel like we’re being pushed.

Entrusting each child with a suitcase to wheel out, each adult is loaded up with a backpack (well over the carry-on weight limit) and laptop satchel (ditto) before we head down the aisle and try to prepare ourselves for the steamy fug and fumes that await us just outside the Arrivals gate.
Keep the kids focused and suitcases on course, try to stop them from crashing into things and running over peoples’ toes and half way to Customs and Immigration we discover we have a missing soft toy. “Doggy” has been left on the plane.
I about-face. Head back to the plane.



Herakles & Theseus look on

In a quiet lane, between Dowell’s and Haworth’s I reckoned, not far from home, my old friend Martin Foy stood before me with his head in his hands.
“Martin? Why are ye weepin’?”
He gave no reply. A little bird standing out on top of a naked bush caught my eye. A little orange, black and white stonechat. It gave a little whistle followed by three tapping noises and flew off in a little burr of blurring wings. It wasn’t the slightest bit concerned with our affairs, offered no hint that it even noticed our presence. Why was Martin ignoring me?
“Look at me, will ye. I’ve not seen ye this past… and you standin’ aloof there.”
He dropped his hands to his sides and looked at me with tears dripping from his eyes. I had never seen him like this before.
“Ah, Harley! Yer like me own brother, ye know that. And yer mine still, for all yer misery.”
“What? What misery? What are ye talkin’ about? Why are ye crying, Martin?”
I tried to stretch out my arm to grip his shoulder but found that my hands were tied with a cord through an iron ring in the wall near where I stood. What was this then? (more…)


For more than a month that horizontal plane, the cold, hard iron blade of the sea, has scythed around this lonely spite-filled ship, the Meeuwtje, the Seagull. Our only constant: that unwavering edge. If only we would come to it and tumble off into the void.
I am consumed with the vilest thoughts; acidic loathing, a derision that stoops my shoulders. This sinful, wind-blown bastard-mongrel pack with whom I share this stinking pile of creaking timber, rope and sailcloth!
There is little conversation. Whispers and mutterings as the men go about their labour. Occasional commands bellowed by the Captain; more an attempt at maintaining a semblance of normality than through necessity. I am spared his half-hearted wrath. As a paying passenger, a guest of the V.O.C., I was never expected to assist in the physical aspects of sailing, only to stay out of the way. He also knows I think he should be thrown overboard with the rest, with stones tied to his feet. (more…)

Red & orange radiance

A red and orange radiance danced about with silhouettes and shadow, trembling and blinking against walls and lighting the frost-bleached skeletons of the naked trees towering over the nearby buildings. Filled with such a rapturous joy and surrounded by the sounds of uproar and emergency, I was down on my hands and knees and had begun to cry. Tears and snot were soon raining down through the clouds of steam I huffed out, wheezing and weeping with silent sobs and laughter at the cold mossy stones and frozen mud under my blackened mitts. (more…)

This story first appeared on Literally Stories.

Bush paddock

Toothpick balanced on his lip, just so. Hair slicked down with practiced precision. But despite the evil eye and air of menace he fancied he gave off, Rachel Duccini couldn’t help but smile. Gerard Marron, for all his sneering attempts at brooding ominousness, reminded her a hell of a lot of the Lollipop Guild Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz. The way he squinted, the pant legs too short to cover his ankles, and the way he had his hands in his pockets, thumbs out pointing at each other across his groin. (more…)

Every morning she manhandles him from his bed, arranges him in his chair and takes him to the bathroom. Waits for him to use the toilet, and then sloshes cold water over his malformed body, helps him to wash. He flinches when the water hits him, sometimes letting out a little gasp, and goosebumps come up over his bony biceps and skinny chest, but always he says nothing.
Most times this chore, followed by the chore of dressing, the chore of breakfast, is performed in silence. This has been routine now for twelve years and there is no joy in its repetition. Only the numbing weight of obligation and the toxic pall of stale regret that hangs above their heads.
On Saturday, like every Saturday, she pushes him in his chair along the side of the road as the impatient morning traffic hustles by. Motorcycles and cars and buses and trucks sound their horns and jostle for space, and she wonders why all these people should be so tetchy and agitated when she is the one who just had to scrape her brother’s shit from under her fingernails.


Vacant, unblinking stare. Brown eyes, lit by a cold white sun. The light is more grey than white through the black slats of the blind. Brown eyes gaze down the length of a soft forest of shadows cast by the raised thread-trees of a faded, laurel-green terrycloth zig-zag-patterned bed-cover. A bed-cover-plain. In the distance, over the bed-cover-horizon, an ill-proportioned composition of cool-grey carpet, beige wall and window form a bed-sky. And in that sky a single speck of dust catches the grey sunlight as it floats toward the floor. It could be a flake of skin. Her skin. Part of her being. Or it could be insect excreta, or cigarette ash, sentient life en route to the bed-planet perhaps. Whatever its origin, it is agonisingly slow in its angled trajectory, its movement determined by some immeasurably small draft or other. Brown eyes stare at that speck of dust until their vision blurs and the smudge of beige carpet, louvered by the cold, slatted sunshine, and the wall and window become one great grey mess.

Alone in the land of others
An outside visitor I am to them,
Whenever a festival arrives
I miss you all the more.
From afar I know you brother
Climbing up the mountains,
The zhuyu plant is worn by all
Except for the one absent.

On the Double Ninth Festival: Thinking of My Brothers in Shandong

By Wang Wei
(Translated by Zong-qui Cai)

I sensed some kind of trouble, but nothing I could clearly define; a feeling akin to the time of menses, but as much in the head as in the hollow of my gut. A kind of tearing — a pressure in my ears of rising blood and whispered screams. Deep basal thuds I feel in my chest, coming through space as though something were being bludgeoned from my soul. I could not fathom it, but knew it to be central to my being. I thought of my twin brother. (more…)

Bladder & Trident

I shall never forget that feeling. His slimy, rigid skin moving under the grip of my shivering hands. Royalist or revolutionary it was impossible to tell, but I could feel his waterlogged flesh move, far too much of it, over his mortified bones and tendons. His body was coming apart and the tissue of his hands and forearms felt like it could come away in a solid sheet at any moment. I thank the Almighty it did not and will curse the Devil forevermore for contriving to place me into such a heinous undertaking. (more…)

Grey beach detail

Were my memory a book, the first page of the chapter that was the night I first met Georges Servan Aballaird would begin, “Here begins a new life.”
I felt no panic or fear. I embraced him tenderly, cradled his brow as he stared into the vast darkness below, gently took his hand, and as we floated away from that hellfire and toward the shore I heard a voice softly singing, “They do not know you anymore.”
The sea had become a shining blanket of reflected stars and Georges and I were flying, falling through them, arms outstretched, into eternal darkness, into fire and ice. (more…)