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Revels and Rebels XV

Dear Santa, When I was kid, I created a make believe village. Do you remember it? Every Christmas, between the ages of eight to twelve, I asked for Philip Laureston village figurines – perfectly detailed buildings complete with climbing roses and house signs. My village started with a cottage, the Rose and Crown pub and an oak tree. Over the years it was extended to include a farm, a school, a church, a village hall, shops and a duck pond. Each week I visited the villagers and had delightful conversations and arguments, and in the messiness of my imagination I understood what made their imagined lives happier. I remember one heated debate where the parents demanded a school house because they thought it was inappropriate to educate their children in the Rose and Crown pub. The children rather liked their lessons in the snooker room. The parents won. Since the Pandemic began, I can honestly say that I’ve truly understood what life was really like for my imagined villagers. This idea of
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Revels and Rebels XIV

Dear Santa, It's Epiphany. Twelfth Night. You're about to hang up your Christmas sack for the festive season and here I am writing to you with my last-minute request. I know, I'm as irritating as a Christmas Pudding that refuses to light no matter how much warm brandy you pour on it.  Soggy Christmas Pudding aside, there is a reason why this letter is late. I've been ruminating over what to wish for. And the thing is this - I still don't know what to wish for. My current plan, or hope, is that in writing to you I might write myself into my wish. The thing is this, since the pandemic began, I'm having trouble finding a way to live in the world. Working out what I must suffer, what I can change. How to navigate sorrow and joy. And how to live with the conflicts within whilst the noise of division and marginalisation rage all around. Sometimes, they become one of the same. Sounds confusing, right? And fuelling this confusion is the general level of fear we have to

The last jam sandwich

Alpha (Left) and Omega (Right), London 2020   It’s how you knew breakfast time was over. You and your sister, sitting like bookends At the top of the garden steps. Us, at the bottom, throwing Chicken strip, mini-burger, liver biscuit And then – the jam sandwich – presented. You’d sit down, eyes thinning to a slit. A moment of meditation before the second arrived And Paradise fell into your mouth. Foxes.  Born into our garden amid a pandemic spring. Accepting of the new world, whilst we could barely stand. We named you, Alpha and Omega, In respect of your wildness, Your status in the earth. A menace others called you. We took a breath as you approached  Mange-stricken, injury-ridden, motherless. And so our routine began – chicken strip, Mini-burger, liver biscuit and a jam sandwich Sprinkled with magic dust to heal. This spring, you’re all grown up. Teenagers who know how to catch. Playing together, risking it all on the The trajectory of sliced bread.  As teeth meets jam, you run wi

Revels and Rebels XIII

Dear Santa, I’m sat by the Christmas tree. The fairy lights twinkle, the baubles sparkle, and the clip-on-birds look really confused. The white dove is looking at me wondering where peace went, and the robin, having given up on Christmas, is taking a nose dive towards the floor. I understand the birds’ confusion. 2020 is the year where the world turned upside down and inside out. Bound at home, unable to hug friends and visit family, attempting disconnected living in a connected world. Which way is the North Star – who knows? We’re all a bit like Odysseus down here, stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one side you have the rock of reality eroded and twisted by politicians and media. The other side, the six headed monster of big Pharma trading health for profit and barking down contrary ideas to protect financial growth. One thing is for sure, Capitalism is not interested in paying the ransom for Freedom. You’ll be sad to learn that ‘Ho, ho, ho’ went out of the window mont


“We’re all going on a summer holiday,” Cliff Richard croons from a stereo in the corner of the room. Mary sits in her winged chair looking out onto the frost-ridden garden of Sunset Heights care home. Stuffed down the side of the chair are the pills she pretends to take. “False advertisin’ that - promisin’ a summer holiday in middle o’ winter,” Angie says as she makes the bed. Mary chuckles. “Unlike you, Angie, he isn’t arrested for it and doing community service here,” Nigel says as he strides into the room, gadget rich, bringing with him the faint smell of death and detergent from the main corridor. Angie’s eyes narrow. So, this is Mary’s son, she thinks: Uppity with a free smile, long lean limbs and designer everything. “Sharp jeans,” she says to Nigel. “Betta watch yer don’t cut yerself.” Nigel looks up from his phone, caught for words. Angie glares back, all button nosed, acid mouthed and as round as the moon. She’s wonderful, he thinks. “Nice to meet you too,” Angie mutters, pun

Lady of the Manor

A crop top and baggy pants. The perfect garden wear for midsummer gardening. In the heat of day, out she marches into the garden with pruning shears in hand. The fox lingers. At the age of seventy-something, she knows how to work a crop top but not a set of pruning shears. The holly bush, that noblest of evergreens, is about to experience a personal apocalypse. With thick garden gloves and a grandiose sweep of her arm, she dethrones the holly bush snip by snip. A blackbird offers silence. A church bell tolls. Exhausted by the trauma, overwhelmed by the heat, the holly bush is reborn as the living dead. She picks its crown off the floor and shoves it in the brown garden recycle bin. Now she can have an uninterrupted view of her communal garden from her one bedroom flat. Later on, when her neighbours voice concerns, she’ll spin reality with all the skill of a spider. She’s accomplished at blame and drinking champagne. The fox lingers... --------


Bacteria screams down the walls. I feel myself separate, drunk on the smell of fungus. Breath as manacled as my body. A rip of velcro is amplified by the darkness. A yellow mask looms over. Injection. Hot. Suffocating. Liquid burns through my veins. Words die within me. Stillness. A seed is planted in my mind. The roots are fierce, killing my memories. I grasp after the memory of eating potted crab sandwiches with dad while our toes dangle in the sea. Gone. I can feel it inside me. I’m an echo. Not my words. Not my breath. Inseparable from it. ----------------------- Reference: Highly commended, NYC Midnight Flash Fiction international writing competition Photo by Jaël Vallée on Unsplash