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Surprise ©


Hazel Gooderson


Six foot and twelve stone, Johnny the postie opened the gate of Honeysuckle Cottage and listened. He looked left and right. Not only did Mrs O’Malley’s letterbox snap his fingers if he was not very careful, her wretched Jack Russell hurled himself at the door tearing the paperwork from him, or, if in the garden charged and chased. It didn’t help, that Mrs O’Malley laughed at her ‘dear little Jackie protecting her.’

Most of his round was enjoyable and he loved the English seasons. Johnny lived with his old Mum who waited patiently at the end of his round with a cuppa, to hear of his daily tales. Romance had passed him by; never one for the girls at school, never academic and content to be pampered in his childhood home without financial stresses.

It was the first Thursday in the month and his bag was extra heavy to push with the circulars. He had reluctantly given up his bike when directed by head office, and now with the sack on wheels he had to watch his ‘great number 12’s’ as Mum called them, catching on the wheels.

 Regular as clockwork, Mr Jones was ready at the open front door to receive and chat to Johnny. ‘Poor sod,’ thought the postie as he handed across the mail, ‘so lonely.’

“Ere,” said Mr Jones, “that last delivery you brought me had a letter not addressed to me. It’s still unopened, tempted though I was to steam and peek; don’t get much personal post.”

Johnny felt embarrassed. He did his own sorting and couldn’t think how it had happened.

‘Sorry about that, who was it meant for?’

Mr Jones handed the envelope across. ‘Aah you daft thing, it is for you Mr A Jones, they’ve just got the number wrong. I know you are number 1, and although this says 7, I knew it was you.’

Anthony Jones took the unopened envelope.

“Me, for me?”

Dear Mr Jones, My name is Molly and I am thirty two. I have been doing a lot of research and think you are my Daddy. Please can I come and see you?

As the tears poured down the man’s face, Johnny supported him into his house, and went to find the kitchen and a kettle for a nice cup of tea.




Authur's Afternoon ©


Hazel Gooderson


The boy looked small for his age but not undernourished nor neglected as he finished counting out loud ‘eighteen, nineteen, twenty and twenty-one.’ Art bent; he could see the beige parchment paper just peeking out from a flint. He reached down, retrieved the next instruction, unfolded and read ‘now walk sixteen steps east.’ He positioned his compass on the flat surface of a rock, waited for the needle to settle, ignoring the breeze rustling the leaves of the overhanging trees and readjusted his backpack into a more comfortable position. His stomach rumbled, but surely he was too close to the end now to stop and calm the growling. Besides, it would be dark soon.

Fifteen...sixteen steps took him to the large oak tree. Art walked around the massive trunk once, then a second time feeling the uneven ancient bark. He glanced up to see a brilliant blue piece of something wedged into the trunk. He stretched his arm but it was just a fraction too high, despite jumping at it. If only he had slightly longer legs, or had brought someone with him. A blackbird was calling out a warning above. He needed to find something to flick it out. Art searched diligently around, then further afield. Wow, what luck a wooden ladder. With a bit of muscle he could untangle and drag it. The brambles ripped at his bare arms and tiny droplets of blood appeared on his tanned skin. By the time Art had achieved his task and found a safe resting place for the ladder legs amongst the uneven ground of tree roots bursting through the soil, he was feeling dizzy. His bag lay where he had cast it aside to drag the ladder out.

‘I think I need a little something’ he said to himself, ‘ just like Winnie the Pooh.’’

Art rummaged in his bag, settled for a chocolate bar which he tore the paper from and ravenously munched it in three bites, ooh it smelt so good!

The ladder was now firmly against the stout trunk. He placed one trainer clad foot on the first rung, then the other foot and leaned to pull at the blue card just as a crack of thunder shuddered around the boy causing him to jump but not release his grip from his next clue.

On terra firma, Art read ‘Climb the ladder.’

Back up the ladder he ascended, through branches and leaves until he reached a square cut into a wooden plank. He prised himself through to discover a table with an envelope addressed to him. He ripped it open –‘ Happy Birthday Son, hope you enjoy your present of a tree house.’

Never in his wildest dreams had he thought Dad would build him a tree house.  How did Dad know that every time he could wish – cutting a cake, pulling the wish bone on the chicken, it was his one desire? Just wait ‘til he could tell his friends...



Sow the Love of Flowers ©


Pauline Parnell-Hopkinson


The late summer sun made the water of the River Seine sparkle in the warm afternoon light. The elegant buildings on the south bank mirrored in the calm blue depths. Sunday was the day to promenade, skate, run or bike ride. Exercise seemed to be on everybody’s mind. Mme Angelique Dubarre pushed her daughter in the smart buggy along the Quai du Louvre. The little girl was eighteen months old now and liked to watch the runners and occasional boat that sped up river. The police motor boats showed their prowess in hand brake turns as if chasing an escaping James Bond.

The riverside path narrowed as it went under the Pont des Arts and then widened allowing the joggers to increase their momentum. Mme sat on a seat and watched as ducks swam alongside, pointing them out to the child. She expected to meet her husband near the next bridge after he finished work at the flower sellers stall. Jean had always loved his job and she did not mind the long hours he worked as he was a contented man and loved his little family.

Suddenly, as if from nowhere, a small yappy dog appeared and leapt at Marie-Ange in her buggy. It did not bite but the suddenness and barking startled the girl and she burst into tears. The owner of the offending animal quickly approached full of apologies and with a lead in her hand. ‘I am so sorry, Fifi slipped her collar and I could not catch her.’  Angelique was alarmed and the woman hurried away without stopping to help.

As she unclipped the harness and picked up the still wailing Marie-Ange, who should come running, hearing the commotion but Jean. In his hands was a colourful bunch of dahlias. He quickly pulled out a bright pink one and handed it to his daughter. ‘Here little one, a pretty flower for you.’  Her attention was immediately distracted as she took the stem in her tiny fist. ‘I believe she takes after you, my love. When she grows up she too may be a florist.’  




Murder in Manhattan ©


Myra Oakenfold


No sooner had the last chimes of Big Ben rung in the New Year and greetings and kisses exchanged than Miranda made an announcement to her circle of friends.

           ‘Listen everyone,’ her hands fluttered in the air, ‘I’m having a party in the summer to celebrate my big birthday. It’s going to be a murder mystery party. Details will follow later but save the date – July 14th.’

            There was a chorus of cheers and chatter before the music started again and the dancing resumed. Miranda’s best friend Jackie laughed, ‘That’s our girl, theatrical as ever, always the star of the show!’  The amateur dramatic group would never be enough to satisfy her friend’s thespian ambitions but Jackie’s interests lay elsewhere! Her eyes scanned the room and she soon caught Ralph’s eye. He winked and then rolled his eyes, being Miranda’s husband wasn’t always easy, but his affair with Jackie was some compensation.

Miranda was busy preparing for the Spring production of ‘Dying to meet you.’ She had felt peeved that the leading lady’s role had been given to Trudy Banks, but Miranda was also involved with producing the play so life was quite hectic. Ralph had rejected her efforts to draw him into the group. He said work and extra meetings made it impossible. Jackie also seemed unavailable to participate, ‘Not my thing, I’m sticking to my knitting and crochet, I’ll leave the excitement to you,’ she smiled.

             Jackie and Ralph were there to support enthusiastically on the first night. The show finished at 10 pm and Miranda had arranged to meet them in The Pig and Whistle which was opposite the hall at 10 30 pm. Sitting close to Jackie throughout the show without intimate contact was proving difficult for Ralph. As they left the building he grabbed her hand and led her to the back of the hall. ‘Oh I needed this,’ he gasped as they fell into each other’s arms. ‘Me too, it’s been a long evening!’

              Miranda was basking in another successful performance as she moved to the window of the squashed dressing room to get some air. Although the sky was devoid of moon or stars, she could clearly see the couple in a passionate embrace. The shock was awful but little signs she had ignored in the past slowly came to mind. She removed her make-up, dressed quickly and put on a brave face as she walked to the pub. The show must go on!

              Plans for the murder mystery party began soon after the play finished. Miranda sent off for the party kit and studied the plot and setting. She informed her friends that the murder would be set in 1920’s New York and everyone was to dress accordingly. The story would feature Chester Fisk and his crowd of high- society friends and business associates. It would involve intrigues, gossip and treachery. The venue was a restaurant hired just for the party and twenty- five guests were invited. Miranda was the only one who knew the plot and the identity of murderer and victim.

                The evening of the party found an excited group of friends in a splendid selection of outfits arrive eager to be part of the mystery. Miranda handed out the name tags and a character description to each guest and began to flit around with a tray of cocktails. Ralph was reading about his character Grayson Krieg. She handed him a drink, he raised his eyebrows, he had just read that he would be poisoned with a lethal dose of arsenic. Candice Wellington, played by Trudy Banks, would administer the fatal dose. Miranda knew Trudy would be able to act the part. More drinks and canapes were passed around and the guests began to take on their new identity. There were clues left for guests and short breaks where Miranda directed the next moves. By the time Candice had lured Grayson to the corner of the restaurant and given him the poison Ralph was feeling distinctly queasy. Miranda enabled the planned power cut and Grayson slumped to the floor.

               The lights were turned on and the guests crowded round the victim. It was just pretending but Ralph’s skin had turned green and he was clutching his stomach.

               Miranda stepped forward, ‘Luckily for you it’s not arsenic Ralph. Now your lover Jackie can make it better. GET OUT!’




Awake ©


Deborah Dunseith


Twenty, nineteen, eighteen, seventeen

White doors open wide.  My trolley moves forth, I'm on the inside.


Sixteen, fifteen, fourteen, thirteen

How long does it take?  There's a drip in my arm but I'm still wide awake.


Twelve, ten, nine, eight

The surgeon laughs and turns to a nurse.  Am I in a dream or something far worse?


Seven, six, five, four

Scalpel glints under bright white light.  I can't move or speak.  I'm dying with fright.


Three, two

Incision....the pain hot and deep.  Over my chest the blood starts to seep.



My insides exposed.  Pushing and pulling.  Sutured and closed.


I'm still counting..

Zero, minus one, minus two

I want to shout out.  I want to weep.  I had an operation but was never asleep.






Hope ©


Iris Welford


I must have SAD, seasonal affective disorder; I feel low. I approach the New Year with trepidation or, perhaps, that’s how many people think.  Not just Brexit, finance, all those practical things that ultimately affect us, but those deep things that linger in the depth of our brains. “Snap out of it” I say to myself. “Live in the moment.”  ”Easier said than done” replies the inner voice.  A growing sense of age and vulnerability reaches out to grab me like an unseen shadow snaring me into its web.  “Keep fit, walk, eat healthily, laugh.”  The admonishment comes from those who “know” but they are much younger. “How would they know?” I ask.  And so, as fireworks celebrate the New Year, and hope rises in the blood, I make my secret resolutions to be happy with whom I am now.





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This site was last updated 10/20/19