Flower pots on the staircase

Julia’s Garden

They served her notice. In three days they would come to clear it away. It was dangerous, they said. A public nuisance, they said. People could trip and fall, they said. It had to go. More than once they said that. But she had watched them, these hapless pedestrians. Ambling down the street, minding their own business. They always appeared lost in their own little worlds until they reached her garden. And there they always stopped. No-one ever fell. No-one ever tripped. No-one was ever bothered by the nuisance of it all. She sat by the window and watched as Read More

Sand dunes and beach

Worse Things Happen At Sea

“Worse things happen at sea.” Whenever anything goes wrong, that’s what she says. I have wondered about it on more than one occasion. Why it is that she should say this, exactly. The sea. What do either of us know about what goes on there? We live inland, far from the coast, snuggled down in a soft dale. A place where the horizon does not exist. Where the ground makes a deep and satisfying thud when I walk upon it. The froth, spray and swell of the sea are as abstract to me as an equation scratched on a board. Read More

River Clyde Glasgow

Vernacular

Bobby was late. Just left me standing there outside the train station. When it started to rain, I gave up waiting and headed to the pub across the road. I thought, “Let him figure it out”. The place was packed. The only free space, a stool at the bar. My instinct was to turn and leave. “I’m not going to sit there alone. Not at the bar.” Too late. I was jostled forward. The barman eyeing me up. A new face. “A white wine please.” I caught the trace of a smirk on his face. The white wine? Or the Read More

Shaded Forest

Crow Roof

It was early morning when I heard him leave. The door clicking shut behind him with a deliberate caution that alerted me to the fact that something was up. From the window I watched him walk out across the field, the wan morning light no longer dim enough to offer him cover. His movements were furtive and awkward, something I had never seen in him before. The slowness and wariness did not suit him and he walked as if he was weighed down with some heavy burden. My father was not a secretive man. He rarely spoke in hushed tones, Read More

Westertoren

The Westertoren Bells Ring Only On Thursdays

He rang the bell of course. As soon as he saw her step out on to the street. Hearing it, she did what they all do. Stopped dead in her tracks, shocked that a bike was approaching her. No-one remembers Amsterdam is a city of bikes. No-one looks. No-one listens. They just step out. Tourists. He shouted out “Let op!” But she didn’t understand. Dutch is a useless language in an emergency and he had no time to correct it. “Watch out!” That was what he meant to say. Too late. He swerved to avoid her as she stood motionless Read More

Night Light

Spoons

Lottie was my grandmother’s friend. As a child her name confused me. To my ear, Lottie was the sort of name you would give your favourite doll. A chirpy, foolish sort of name. Giggly and frivolous. So when I first met her, I was shocked to discover that Lottie was in fact an old woman. She lived in a stale, dusty apartment in a towering block of weathered concrete, and I remember wondering at the time if she had ever imagined it would come to this. Back in the day when she was young, and Lottie suited her, would she Read More

Danish Winter Tree

Short short story: “The Fairy Tree”

The tree stands on a mound at the top of the hill. From this vantage point it has views out across the fields and down towards the lonely row of houses that make up the village. Up there it’s possible to see everything. There’s nothing that goes unobserved. It’s form, silhouetted against a backdrop of light and sky, is the first thing I see each morning when I turn from sleep and gaze through the window. It floats there in the light, suspended. Separate from the soil that roots it to that spot. “Good morning” I say to it, although Read More

Snowman

Short, short story: “Snowmen”

It had taken four days to arrive, the snow. During that time, he could smell it coming. The air was different. Cleaner, clearer, more a texture than a smell. A prickle in his nose and throat that made him feel alert and slightly on edge. He would stand outside and breathe it in, sensing its approach. It made him feel like a child standing there waiting like that. Waiting for snow. His eagerness, his excitement building with each day. “Like the coming of Christmas” he thought. It was something he’d never experienced before, that anticipation, and as it rose within Read More

Hoyfjell Hotel Fefor

Short Story: Cabin Fever

JULY They’re in my street, filming my home, which I guess was inevitable. The first thing I notice though is the grass. It’s all yellow and dry and it makes the house look pale. I’m surprised at how quickly it’s deteriorated. When I lived there I made sure the lawn was green. The same as all the other lawns in the street. That was important for some reason. The grass had to be just as green as everyone else’s. You have to blend in, be the same. It’s that kind of street. The news reporter looks genuinely concerned. Perhaps because Read More