A Gift


(Credit: Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash)


They’re the greatest gift

That I have ever received

Loving family


Homemade Clothes


(Credit: Cafer Zorkun, wikiDoc)

I sew clothes from silk scraps and cotton sheets.

The donators think their contributions go to the third world,

But they go to this one,

Right here.

They go to my three children and me,

After having been through my algae green, foot pedal driven sewing machine.

And I know it’s wrong to lie to them, but ever since I saw the x-ray of Dewey,

My son,

Ever since, I saw the thing, which should not be in his chest,

I have seen everything through cloudy glass.

It makes everything

flow together and it

Blots out all the small things like lying

And stealing.

And if I can steal my boy away from death

I don’t care how expensive the treatment is

And I don’t care

Who has to pay for it.

Tidying Up

’What about this vase then?’ his son picked up the very pink and very empty vase from the table and revealed a circle of shiny wood.

‘That’s a gift from the queen,’ he said, his slippers shuffling over the frayed carpet.

‘The queen?’ asked his son.

‘When I was five years old, I saw the queen. She asked me if there was something I wished for.’

‘And you wished for a vase?’

‘I was five; I asked for sweets, and she gave me that whole vase filled with pear drops and mints. You can still smell the mints if you try.’

‘Hm,’ his son took a doubtful look at the dust at the bottom of the vase and replaced it amongst the countless other objects covering the surface of his father’s coffee table. ‘But something has to go, dad. There’s scarcely room to breathe in here.’

‘You’re quite right,’ he sighed, ‘quite right.’ And a minute later his son was locked out of the flat.




Asking Advice

sacto cemetery 1

She went to her father’s grave to ask his advice.

‘Hi dad,’ she said, ‘I didn’t bring you a flower today, because a bouquet would just wither, and you already have so many growing on you, it’s turning into a jungle. The sage is lovely though.’ She took off her glasses and rubbed her eyes.

‘You know I’ve been thinking about that proverb about leading a horse to water. What do you do, if it’s the other way around? I mean, what if you lead a horse to water and it drank and that was fine, but then he just didn’t stop drinking; he just kept taking and taking until even your tears run dry and all your friends say just leave him, but it’s your river, and he has gnawed his way into the riverbed and just won’t let go and…’ she sighed. ‘He just won’t let go.’ Replacing her glasses, she looked up at a cloud drifting between her and the sun.

‘I suppose you’re right; I just have to make him let go. Rigor mortis doesn’t kick in until after three hours.’

She smiled at the violets, the sage and the lavender.

‘Thanks for listening, dad.’

And she went out to the road where her husband was waiting.

A Summer House Toilet

toilet wooden seat

(Credit: timbergreenforestry.com/ShawnsSeats)

He sighed as he released his stream into the toilet bowl. The wooden seat of the toilet was so aesthetically pleasing. The next time he moved, it would have to be to somewhere with a toilet like that.

It was the first day of a whole week of relaxation with his closest family; his parents, his uncle, his sister and then of course his sister’s new boyfriend, but he seemed really nice and it would surely last much longer with him than it had with the others.

His girlfriend, Jessica, had gone on holiday with her own parents, so she could not come this time, but she had a chance again next year.

He looked at the blue bathtub and smiled as he remembered all the times he had let himself soak for half an hour in hot lavender scented water. Next year maybe he and Jessica could have a bath together.

A mark on the seat of the toilet caught his attention. A sentence was carved into the wood. It said: ‘Bob was here.’ It had to be one of the people who had rented the summer house during the year.

‘What lack of respect,’ he thought, a dull anger simmered in his gut, ‘towards both the owners of the house and towards all the people who rented after Bob.’ He shook himself off and put down the seat with a slam.

‘Are you done in there?’ asked his father through the door.

‘In a minute!’ he went to wash his hands. His father was so impatient and his uncle spoke so slowly, they would be bickering this evening. And every evening in the coming week. And his sister and her lover would probably only show up during meals, and his mother would come with lewd comments about that and guess about how long his sister’s relationship would last behind his sister’s back, and he could see his mother had a point, because honestly, he could not remember whether this boyfriend was called Dave or Dylan. And in between it all there would be all the questions about Jessica and about why she had not joined them.

He sighed and longed to go home.

Clara and her Stepmother (version 2)


Clara sat in the garden wearing her Cinderella ball dress, throwing treats for the dog to find.

‘Clara?’ called Clara’s stepmother from the house and Clara sprang to her feet and sped to the bushes the dog at her heels.

‘Shh,’ whispered Clara to the dog when they were well hidden by the leaves, ‘we mustn’t let the dragon find us. She’ll take away our dress like she did at the shops last weekend.’

Walking out into the garden, Clara’s stepmother called several more times, but Clara bit her lip and even the dog was still except for his tail.

When Clara’s stepmother went back into the house, she sighed and checked her watch. The surprise birthday party she had arranged for her husband would begin in half an hour.

A Story

life vest

She tells him she loves him. She does not tell him that she is pregnant. They get married because he is afraid of being alone and she does not want to be alone with the baby. She has always been against abortions. A week after their wedding she can no longer hide the bulge and she tells him, making him nervous. After the disclosure there is a period where he spends most of his time away from home, but then she shames him into staying with her. They have a multitude of evenings sitting side by side on the sofa, watching cooking shows. Neither of them likes cooking.

They tell themselves that it will be better when the baby is born and in a way it is. For almost two years after the baby is born, they are too tired to be bored.

When the child is five, she tires of him and taking care of the child alone no longer seems like a large burden. Still afraid to be alone, he clings to her as she splits everything they own in two. Before shaking him off her properly, she allows him to have the child for a weekend every fortnight.

For close to a year he lives for that weekend, then he finds someone else to keep him company. His new girlfriend adores the child, but the child is terrified of her long red nails. Soon the child stays only with her mother.

One night as the mother reads her child a bedtime story the child frowns. Forgetting the story, the child says: ‘Mummy, does daddy love me?’

‘Of course he does,’ she says, ‘and so do I.’ She hugs and kisses the child and she wonders how anyone could ever think a life vest a burden.

The Hat Lady

(Credit: ny-image3.etsy.com)

(Credit: ny-image3.etsy.com)

She smelt of oranges and cloves all year round. She had a closet filled with hats and never wore the same one for more than three hours. For long trips out of the house she brought a large hat bag and sometimes I was allowed to pick some from the closet for her.

We went to the zoo and flapped our arms at the penguins and with sticky liquorice in our hands we walked through the forest without using the paths, but never losing our way. In the forest, she told me about bog monsters and trolls and the kind of fairies that pull you off to another world to be a pet.

‘Don’t ever believe that Tinkerbell is a real fairy,’ she told me as the liquorice cloyed my tongue.

After a long time without walks, I went to church with my parents and shortly after they sold all her hats except a brown bowler which I took. When I ran off to hide it, I got lost in the woods and when I sat down and held the bowler over my nose, it only smelt of dust.

Family Portrait

Black Sheep

Black Sheep (Photo credit: JoshBerglund19)

He stares at his family portrait, but there is something not right about it.

His parents look like they always have, except that their salt and pepper hair might have a bit more salt than it used to. He scratches his cheek, but it does not remove the itch from his mind.

His big brother is there pointing his large nose at his wife. Their two youngest are in front of them, the eldest beside them. There is his sister with her toothpaste commercial worthy smile beside her girlfriend and the child that they adopted. There is his little brother in a high hat and his fiancé in a dress of golden sequins with a small, white poodle on her arm.

And then it strikes him.

He is not in the photo at all.

Searching for a Grandson

An Old Man and His Grandson

An Old Man and His Grandson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

‘Excuse me, have you seen my grandson?’ the man leant on his cane as he asked. He was wearing slippers and a sweater which hung loose on his shoulders.

‘Your grandson?’ asked the museum guard, blinking as he rose from his folding chair.

‘My grandson,’ the man nodded, ‘yes.’ He cast a glance across the exhibition hall and the wrinkles on his face multiplied.

‘Well, I don’t know, how does he look?’ The guard sniffed, wiped his nose with the back of his hand, noticed a booger had attached itself and wiped it off on the seat of his trousers. The man looked back at him.

‘He should be young,’ said the man, ‘just a little boy.’

‘Yes?’ said the guard checking his hand for snot, but it was gone now. The man beside him sucked on his teeth.

‘What is his name?’ asked the guard.

‘His last name will be Pond, like mine,’ said the man and looked around the hall again.

‘First name?’ asked the guard.

‘Phillip, Phillip Pond,’ said the man following a young man in a beret with his eyes.

‘I could tell the reception that Phillip Pond has gone missing,’ said the guard.

‘Hm?’ the man looked at him with raised eyebrows, ‘but I’m right here,’ he indicated the front of his sweater.

‘Then what is your grandson’s name?’

The man sighed and shook his head.

‘I don’t know,’ he said.

‘You don’t know?’ asked the guard.

‘I’ve never met him, but I must have some family left somewhere.’ He shuffled off with the assistance of his cane.

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