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17 Sep

She liked to dry the dishes twice, once straight out of the dishwater, and again before putting them away. She was polishing really, not just drying them. There was something steady and reassuring about doing it that way.

After breakfast Andy liked to watch her from the table, while he smoked. Sometimes he asked her, “What are you thinking about?”

“Oh, this and that” she would say, without turning. To be truthful she wasn’t thinking about anything at all. Neither this nor that.


Hold your breath.

15 Sep

She never gave up. When her head slipped below the surface, she reached…and  a strong hand gripped her wrist.

When waiting for salvation, try to remain calm.

Eat lunch.

12 Sep

How would he tell the head of orchestra? Leaving the school tuba on the tram was pretty easy really, as easy as leaving his laptop.

Yesterday he’d left late, he was hungry and just wanted to get home to eat. He didn’t even notice the tuba was gone until this morning before school. Probably not a good idea to mention his blazer was gone too. It may still turn up and there was no point in stressing mum.


Enjoy the ride.

9 Sep

Make no sudden movements.

8 Sep

She saw the gecko as soon as she walked in. Without taking her eyes from it, in a movement as fluid as water, she crouched and reached out. The tiny lizard didn’t move, even when she took it in her hand.

“We meet again, small friend” she whispered, “In my home this time”.

“The gecko has taught you to dance” said a low voice from the shadows, “I can see now what a great gift you have…the gift of nature’s grace”.


Look up.

7 Sep

Ernie was home on shore-leave before redeployment…it was his idea. “Get up there” he said, “you haven’t lived until you’ve done it.” She had to admit the view was spectacular once she found her balance. A full moon hung in a clear sky and stars glimmered in the distance. Not a breath of wind blew.

Dad’s viewing platform was unfinished. His plan was to bring his telescope up to stargaze on clear nights, and that never happened. Now she was surprised to realise she felt closer to him up here than in the years since he died.

“Hello Dad.”

“Did you say something?” Ernie’s voice floated up from below.

 “IT’S ME, BETTY”, she was sitting now, looking up.

“I know who it is”, his face appeared now over the gutter. “Move over”, he sat down and lit a cigarette.

“Dust off the telescope, big brother.  It’s gonna be you, me, Dad and the universe.”



There are no free holidays.

6 Sep

The holiday was interminable. She cared little that it was warm every day and the air blew sweet across the gardens of the Villa Valentino… her thoughts were far away. August, please pass quickly so that I might see him again.

“THERE you are dear” her aunt looked flushed, “I’ve been searching for you. We’re all for a game of Bocce while it’s still light. Do be a sport.” She frowned and adjusted her large straw hat.

“I really would prefer not. It’s hot and I have a headache.”

“It’s such a shame you’re not making more of our trip. I’ve seen guests I recognise from the Tattler.”  She moved briskly to the steps,  “It’s as if we are in the pages of an exotic novel.”

No sound now but the solidly determined steps of her aunt’s day shoes, and the faint laughter of others in the distance.

Love all creatures, great or small.

31 Aug

Do butterflies have hay fever? Julie wondered.

Hold them close.

29 Aug

At low tide they sat in the warm shallow pools, Jeanie between her mother’s knees…the plastic bucket between her knees. Filling, emptying, filling, emptying. No sound except the seagulls swarming the fishing boats offshore.

It was late summer, they had the beach to themselves now. Jeanie smelled her mother’s tan lotion, and felt her warm strong legs. The best part was her mother’s humming…Jeanie could not only hear the hum, but feel the hum from her back to her tummy.


Keep your shirt on.

28 Aug

He suspected she’d dropped it in the pool on purpose. She’d done it before.. excessively careless for a woman as brittle and precise as Gretchen. Hang it, if he didn’t find the bloody thing in the next minute he was out.

“Is it awfully cold?” she shifted on her feet, impatient, “I adore those pearl drops. Oh I know I should have my ears pierced but I just hate pain.”

Now he was shivering…surely she could see that? “When you find it I’ll warm you with a hot toddy.”  A hot fucking toddy, he thought, wouldn’t that be grand.

Gretchen’s eyes never left him. She was in her favourite place, playing her favourite game.