Category Archives: Fiction


It was in that moment she just knew. 

Their eyes met across the smoke tinged bar and she blinked hard trying to stop his face blurring as the acrid scent of alcohol, sweat and the gents stung her eyes.  She watched his callous face swim in her vision and imagined herself touching him, stroking him, holding him as she once had. Then the crowds surged and his face was lost in a sea of slurring bodies, desperate for toxins to complete the tortured travesty of their lives.

She turned, walking towards the scarred and swollen door, keeping the strangers out and the occupants in.  The oblique and only portal of the bar, framed by a sweat-greased lintel bearing an equally soiled solitary tankard.   A swift jerk on the creaking handle edged the door inward enough to let her slide out into the frosty night air.  Her breath froze in an instant as she let out the breath she hadn’t realised she’d been holding and she felt her shoulders sag as tense muscles finally relaxed.  Standing there for a moment she closed her eyes and looked round the deserted street, seeing only the reflection of the moon on the iced pavement and the flutter of leaves and discarded papers on the slick road.  She felt alone, isolated, for a moment bereft and turned her head slightly back towards the fetid bar.  To company, to familiarity, to where she’d once been.

“Oi, shut the door love, it’s fucking freezing out there!” a voice shouted from the depths of the bar, followed by jeering laughter and the odd whistle.

“Dozy bitch, what the fuck is she doing?”

“Maybe she figured she’d need someone to warm her back up when she comes in”

“Naa, birds like that don’t think!”

She thrust her arm behind her without turning towards the howls of laughter and grasped the icy handle pulling with everything she had at the door, dragging furrows in the floorboards as it resisted the unusual treatment and screeched towards its housing.  With a final lurch, she stumbled forwards and slammed the door with an echoing crack that broke the night air like a rifle shot and then she stood, breathing hard, listening to the remnants of her life before sit in dumb disbelief as the single glass on the shelf rolled gently back and forth in the aftermath of the quake only to roll softly off the edge and shatter into greasy shards on the floor.

She straightened and pulled up her hood, shoving her hands deep in her pockets and turning to walk resolutely back down the shining, glacial street.  As the shouting started she let go of her breath and smiled.


Face Paining

It was a day for singing and sadness, a day for open hearts and censored thoughts, a day to celebrate the life he has not mourn the living he left out. It was not a day for honesty.

The rain sluiced down the windscreen onto the black bonnet, drumming a tattoo on the roof of the Cadillac and muffling the sounds of Sophie’s quiet sobs from the back. Dave shifted awkwardly in his seat as he tried to gather her more fully into his arms but her limp figure just seemed to slide from his grasp at every turn, leaking back onto the black leather seats as if to immerse herself more fully in the noir of her misery.

“Come on, love” he cajoled. “We’re here to celebrate Alan’s life and he wouldn’t have wanted to see you in this state now would he?” The second the words left his mouth, Dave wished he could suck them back in and erase them from existence, but it was too late.

“What?” Sophie’s head whipped around with a muscular power belying her previous slackness. “You hadn’t spoken to Alan in weeks before he died!  How can you dare to presume to know what he would and wouldn’t have wanted?!”  The previously muffled sobs now started to escalate into tearing cries akin to the wrenching apart of rusted metal as Sophie worked herself further and further into her state of hysteria

“How could you?  You know all he wanted was to be friends and if only you’d have talked to him perhaps none of this would have happened! I’m not sure you should even be here today.  If the tables were turned I’d be too horrified to show my face at his funeral. You… you…” This thought was clearly too much for even Sophie’s melodramas to finish and instead she dissolved into loud, hiccupping wails that startled the group of mourners making their way past the end of the car under their umbrellas.

Dave sighed and once again shifted in his seat waiting for Sophie’s display to finish.  His head was starting to ache and in all honesty he was beginning to wonder why he had agreed to attend the funeral. Wiping his hand over his face he heard the rasping stubble of the last three days and felt the sleepless night’s grit in his eyes and thought over the possibility of escaping the confines of the vehicle and Sophie’s amateur dramatics into the cool embrace of the October rainfall.  For just a moment he entertained the thought of leaving all this behind him and making a break for it through the peaceful graveyard to his left.

Suddenly Sophie’s flaccidity seemed to return in full force and she flung herself artistically onto his lap and howled into chest with a ferocity that made the driver, studiously ignoring his passengers until this point, jump in his seat and turn to the back seat with a look half shock, half ill-concealed disgust plastered on his face.

It was too much.  This was really all too much for Dave to take. He took one look at the driver’s exasperated expression and couldn’t help the noise that came out.  Sophie slowly lifted her head and turned to look at him in disbelief, but the view of her makeup strewn, puffy-eyed, slack mouthed, wobbly-lipped indignation was the last straw.  He could feel it creeping up his chest and overpowering his conscience sense and there was nothing he could do to stop its onset.

Dave leant his head back in the seat and roared with laughter.  The kind of laugh that leaves you feeling weak and trembling after it’s arrived.  His body shook with the sudden mirth that overtook him and tears started to course down his cheeks unchecked as he pushed Sophie away and reached for the door handle.  This seemed to shake her from her incredulity and spur her to action

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing you selfish bastard?  Today is about Alan and you think this is acceptable?  You clearly have issues you need to sort out but right now, I’m telling you to get your shit together and think of Alan!  Shut that door, get back in the car, get yourself together and walk me up to that fucking graveside or…”

“Or what Sophie? You’ll do what exactly..?” Dave left the question hanging in the echo of his final chuckle and stared into the face he once thought he loved. “You’ll do what?”

They stayed locked in the stare for a long time before colour gradually started to flood Sophie’s face, barely visible beneath the cake of makeup on her skin but the flicker of her eyes down towards her now twisting uncertain hands was all the confirmation he needed.

“No, I didn’t think so,” Dave said quietly. He turned in his seat and pulled the door open.  The grey sky and greasy rain greeted him as he stepped from the vehicle and straightened up, stretching as he went.  He stood for a moment; face turned to the clouds and listened to the muffled sounds of the world beyond the black Cadillac and all it held. Without a backwards glance, he walked away, through the peace of the gravestones.