The Girl

Gloria looked up at the moon from her weathered rocking chair on the patio. The cold white sphere cast the world around her in a delicate silver glow like the faelight of her childhood fairytales. The light sparked something inside her, causing her to struggle to her feet. As a child, she had loved looking up at the moon. How had she forgotten that? She found herself drawn back to the past as if by frozen hands that dragged at her, pulling her down into the inky black waters of some unknown lake. 

Her heart raced, but it was an unsteady rhythm that left her gasping for breath. Still, there was something there, deep inside of her, something that was desperate to escape into the moonlight. Thoughts that hadn’t crossed her mind for many years floated to the surface like bubbles in a fizzy drink, leaving her feeling strangely giddish. She had dreamed of flying to the moon as a little girl. Vaguely, she wondered when that dream had died. Had it, or had it just hidden itself away in the dark corners of her mind where that little girl still clung to existence? 

For the first time in too long, Gloria took a moment just for herself. She bathed in the light, breathing it in deeply and letting it soak through to her core. Her skin tingled, and to her fevered mind, she could see her fingers quiver and shrink, receding down to the chubby cocktail sausages of her younger years. The wedding ring melted away, as did all other memories that tied her to the here and now.

She felt the wrinkles that lined her face melt and run down her skin like makeup in the rain. Each year was stripped from her in delicate layers that dissolved in the moonlight then reformed as shining butterflies that fluttered away into the night until the sky was filled with their brilliant forms that outshone the stars. She watched them and giggled. It was a sound that her throat had been unable to make for decades.

As the years were stripped from her, Gloria felt a weight lift from her shoulders, giving her the feeling that she was floating. She had known a hard life, and had increasingly become a hard person. That little girl had long since grown up, but she had also become smaller since leaving childhood behind. She was worn, her existence faded and hollow, a bloated yet empty shell of the person she had always dreamed she would be. No little girl dreamed of being old and alone. None dreamed of washing clothes for pennies each day for decades. None dreamed of a loveless marriage with a fat and balding labourer, or of the early death of that unloved yet central pillar of her life. 

There had been children. Three of them. As a girl she had doted on dolls and spent countless hours caring for her teddies. Reality had never seemed to mirror that nurturing joy and she had found herself a poor example of motherhood. She had been spread too thin to care about her own life, so there had been little spare to pass down. They had all long since flown the nest, their existence compressed down into a single poundshop Christmas card each year. Her eventual funeral would be the longest time they would spend in her presence since they had clung to her dress as children.

No, Gloria was barely a person, and it was a nagging knowledge that always gnawed on the edge of her mind. That little girl had dreamed of love and happiness, of adventure and purpose. In those days she rode the waves of feminism, confident that she could achieve anything she could set her mind on. Reality had different ideas. The poor, naive little girl would be so disappointed in herself. The thought stung. She could feel herself bleeding out from emotional wounds that she had plastered over and ignored since the day that little girl’s smile had faltered and never returned. 

Why should it have returned. Her parents had died in a car crash, and her uncle became increasingly free with his hands. Hardening her heart had been the only way to keep going. Frank had offered her an escape, and even knowing that he wasn’t right, she had clung to that chance. He had been cold, fat, and loved a pint with the lads more than he had ever loved Gloria, but he had been a good soul. Still, the emotional neglect gnawed away at her just as painfully. Shutting away that need for friendship and love had numbed that pain, numbed her, until even her own children couldn’t make her feel again.

Her thoughts all spiralled through the desolate ruins of her memories, greyscale ghosts and fragments of people, places, and part felt experiences that slipped past her like half observed photographs of other people’s lives, her consciousness pulled past them all to the single speck of vivid colour that was the event horizon of the little girl’s grin.

 She realised that she was crying. When had she last shed a tear? When Frank died? No. She had needed to be strong back then for the children. Emotion was a weakness and she had led by example, burying anything human away deep inside herself. Maybe the tears had died with the girl. That innocent caterpillar had cocooned herself away but had never emerged again. She was no butterfly but a perpetual seed of lost potential. 

Her tears ran down her face, ran down the years that seperated Gloria from herself and finally rejoined the salty streaks that stained the rosy cheeks of her past. Like a stream, those two lines connected them, making them whole for the first time. The butterflies flew around them until everything else was lost to sight, enclosing them in their own personal shell of self reflection that pulled past and present closer and closer together.

Gloria stood face to face with herself and felt burning shame wash through her. Eight years old and so full of hope. She reached out a shaking hand, and like a mirror, her past did the same. Identical hands met, yet where Gloria trembled with insecurity, the girl who would become Gloria, or perhaps the real Gloria that this feeble old woman would rise from like scum atop a pond, held out her arm calmly, confidence radiating from her plump pink skin. What had happened to her? Life. It chewed up optimism and spat out the bitter husks that couldn’t be digested.

“I am so sorry.”

The words were little more than a choked whisper but they held a weight and depth that couldn’t be expressed in any other way. They contained a lifetime of regret and cold voids of every missed opportunity, every word ever left unsaid, every tear suppressed. 

Her past didn’t answer. All of her words were already etched into history. There were no words that could make things better even if she could break free and exist beyond a fragment of memory.

The girl didn’t break free. How could she? Instead, she looked her future in the eyes and smiled. If Gloria thought that her four simple words contained her entire life then that smile expressed all of humanity. How could the twitch of muscles, the upturn of lips, say so much? It unarmed Gloria, stripping away her doubt and her sadness. 

Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be…

She had loved that song back then, singing it in off-key tones to her toys as she pretended to put them to bed. The song played now. It didn’t come from anywhere in particular, and Gloria couldn’t be sure that it wasn’t all in her own head. She was the song. Nothing else existed. She mouthed the words and the girl did the same. It wasn’t a song, but a universal truth. The past was the past, and the little girl had already lived her life, would live it forever, and never again. 

Every moment was the past. Gloria became aware that just beyond the cocoon of butterflies stood an unmoving crowd, an uncountable number of Glorias that had lived their passage of life then sank into the memories of the next. They were all her, and she was all of them. Their presence was reassuring. She had always feared that she would spend this moment alone.

The regrets were still there, nothing could change that, but maybe in another life she would do better. Maybe she wouldn’t. It didn’t matter now.

She moved her fingers, interlocking them with the girl’s. Gloria returned the girl’s smile. It felt good to smile. She had forgotten that. The girl squeezed her hand tighter, comfortingly, and Gloria understood. She nodded.

Her past self closed her eyes. Her body began to glow with the same light as the butterflies. She stepped forward and embraced her future, the light outlining Gloria as the two became one. It shimmered then stretched as the butterflies added to the glow. Even the ranks of her every self dissolved and blew towards her like leaves on the wind. Every petal of light swirled around her then settled into position across her shoulder blades until two white wings resolved themselves and stretched out.

Infinity stretched out in every direction. Gone were the crumbling mortar walls of the houses and the tarmac streets, as was the lone bird feeder that hadn’t been refilled since Frank had died. Only the pregnant fullness of the moon remained. Gloria had always looked up at that singular, watchful eye, and had made many wishes upon it until her sense of wonder had hardened and her wishes were transferred to the bottom of wine bottles. Those wishes called to her now.

She fluttered the wings tentatively. Vague memories of first steps rose up from the depths of her mind. She had learned to walk, and had taught others too. Then they in turn had passed on that independence to their own children. Whatever her mistakes, life went on and the world continued spinning. Everything would be okay.

That thought buoyed her. With the confidence given to her by the girl, she opened her wings and stepped forward. She felt young again. Nothing but her true self remained. Everything else had been left behind. They weren’t important. She breathed her final breath and rose into the sky, weightless and free. Gloria flew towards the moon without a care.

The Last Day

Today is the last day of my life.

Ignore the inconvenient fact that this is the seventh day in a row that I had declared as such. As it turns out, setting into motion the end of my existence was proving to be more troublesome than I had imagined. The irony that I was failing at ending a life of failures was not lost on me.

That is my life. Failure. I’m too good for this shitty world. That is the only explanation. Everyone is against me because they are jealous. My art should have made me rich and inspired the hearts and souls of people all across the world, but instead, here I was. Miserable and alone. Well not anymore. Fate was in my hands.

At first I attempted the tried and true method of a razorblade. There I was, blade primed across the throbbing veins of my wrist, my heart pounding but resolute. I nicked the skin and saw the first beads of blood form. Then, quite without warning, I passed out. You see, I’m deathly afraid of blood, and the slightest sight of it always renders me unconscious. I had figured that a swift enough action, combined with the iron will of committing to death, would have avoided such a reaction, but alas, my feeble body betrayed me, just like everyone else. Continue reading

Truth Lies Beyond the Lines

The sun shone brightly as John Solorus made his way down the suburban street toward the local church. He had already helped a lost woman that morning and felt that he had done his good deed for the day. Not that he intended to stop at only one. Clouds loomed on the horizon, threatening to cover the sun and bring rain but he did not mind. Today was a good day. 

Just as he was nearing the wide wooden doors of the church he saw that an elderly lady was handing out copies of ‘Good morning magazine’. Slowing, he bought one with a smile and entered the church with it tucked beneath his arm. The vicar had not begun his service yet so John seated himself and opened up the magazine. He skipped past the first few pages that were dedicated to a young man from the village who had been killed in Afghanistan, instead favoring the more cheery articles about charity and marriage. Reading too much into negative things just left him sad and angry. Not like his wife who loved to read sad things like Shakespeare.

Despite the sun, inside the church was cold and grey, lit only by carefully arranged candles and what light was able to flood through the stained glass windows. John liked the atmosphere. Most modern churches were too bright and clean cut. They had no soul. If it was up to him, all churches would be grand buildings of stone fit for the Lord’s worship.

Mrs Clenmoor entered the building and took her seat on the front row of pews. She offered him a slight nod of her head. She was short and wore clothes that had not been in fashion for decades. The clothes hung from her bony body. She too was devote of faith. Continue reading

The Ippa without a Hat.

All is not what it seems.

Have you ever put something down then find that it has gone?
Mummy and Daddy do it a lot.
“Where are my keys?” they ask. “I could have sworn that I left them here.”
They put it down to bad memories or say that somebody moved them.
But somebody didn’t move them, it was a something.
And that something is an Ippa.

Ippa are small fluffy creatures that live inside trees.
Their feet are big and soft and their hands are small and fast.
They have big eyes and little noses and mouths that like to laugh.
Each one has two things that make them special, their fur and their hat.
Some have blue fur some have pink. Others have orange, green or silvery zinc.
All the colours of the rainbow then more. All of the colours that you adore.
Then their hats are their pride and joy. Whether it’s a cap, a wrap or a top hat,
Paper, cloth and metal, big and small, the Ippa have them all. Continue reading


“Magnificent,” announced the king’s assistant. “The detail, the colour, the emotion! It is simply wondrous.”

From the darkness nearby, Ellion Demerre, a scrawny, unkempt man with dark hair and dark clothes, approached the painting that had drawn the other man’s praise. It showed a woman of great beauty, naked on a backdrop of a midnight field. There wasn’t a brushstroke out of place.

“It is still not right,” sneered Demerre critically. “The symmetry is all wrong, the skin varies in shades, the hair has odd numbers of strands and freckles never match. It is infuriating.” Continue reading

Whispers on the Wind

Rain made a rhythmic pitter-pattering against the window, filling the room with the sound of a thousand tiny drums. Flames burned softly in the fireplace, spreading warmth and light into every corner.

Thomas and his sister May were seated on a thick rug, looking up at their father who sat in a large armchair. Their mother sat beside the fire on the only other seat. Their father’s voice carried above the rain as he read from a weathered old book. The children listened, completely enraptured with his words while even their mother leaned in closer as her hands worked a sewing needle.

“…And so the valiant knight defeated the demon and soaked the trees in its blood. Its body was killed but the knight had no means to destroy its spirit. Shapeless, the demon took to wandering the forest, seeking what it had lost. The knight warned the locals not to heed any voices they may hear upon the wind and so the demon was unable to tempt any but the naughtiest of children.” Continue reading

Electronic Dreams of Man

A scorching wind blew through the streets. The air still crackled faintly, like far off popcorn, while everything shimmered hypnotically in the heat. A sickly smell hung over the buildings. It was quiet. Birds sang and leaves rustled, but they only highlighted the void that had filled the world.

A man shambled along the side-walk with the aid of a walking stick. He had ruffled white hair and moved with a pronounced limp. Old Grouch was what he was called by most. It had been too long since he had heard someone call him by his real name. He had no family or friends, and his bitterness left a sour impression on any who knew him.

He was a relic of the past, of a different world altogether. He had been for years. Society had always moved quicker than he had cared for. Even as a child he had hated what others loved. Popular music was noisy drivel without soul, yet everyone else ate it up ravenously. Phones removed people from communities rather than bringing them closer together. Machines cost people their jobs and made everyone lazy and incompetent. He just did not understand people’s divine fascination with technology. Continue reading

Points of View

Two points of view from opposite sides of the same event.

It was raining. It lashed down in great torrents, whipping the faces of me and the men around me as we stood and waited. We were all sodden to the bone and could feel our strength seeping away with every second we stood idly by. To either side of me were lines of grim faced soldiers all awaiting our commanders signal to attack.

Then, as suddenly as it had started, the rain stopped. Through the clearing haze we got our first sight of the enemy troops. Misshaped figures faced us down a hundred yard opposite us. They looked to us like mutants, bulges and tormented postures looking dominant among their ranks. Shadowy shapes reminiscent of men hung back in the distance. The damned mist likely hid their main force, keeping us guessing at how innumerable their force truly was.

Only an old wishing well and several low growing rose bushes separated us from them and those objects would provide us with no safety from our monstrous foes. It had once been a shine to our god of luck so we were all adamant not to let anyone defile its sacred grounds. Continue reading

The Sinning Saint

England, London, Thames House (MI5 Headquarters), High-security detention wing.

A cold, white walled room built from sturdy blocks of stone. Sat around a heavy wooden table were three men. Two were in suits and sat at one side while the third wore simple street clothes and sat opposite them. His hands and feet were in chains.

“This is agent Ryan Smith and agent Thomas Hawke interviewing David Black, serial killer,” stated one of the suited men after pressing a button upon a recorder at the end of the table. He turned a cold glare upon the man opposite him.

“Looks like we finally caught you. Its took eleven years for you to make a mistake but your rampage is now at its end.”

His companion continued , running a hand through his short blonde hair. “Now that we’ve got you here, how about you answer some of our questions. We’ve been dying to ask them for over a decade now.” Continue reading


The death happened on a sunny day down by the peaceful brook where families often picnicked in the warm days of summer. Who among the villagers would have guessed that a venomous snake lurked among the dark bushes that lined the silver stream? The girl Pinocca, who was entering into the cusp between child and woman, certainly didn’t. As she picked the sweet smelling flowers of dazzling colours that grew beside the water, the snake had struck out and plunged its fangs into her rosy flesh. In her shock she had staggered back, lost her footing and plunged into the chill waters. The bite was not deep but the venom spread through her veins and froze her limbs. She drowned, her lips inches from the air that they so desperately sought.

The villagers grieved for a time, then moved onwards. The girl’s father, a widowed carpenter, was driven mad by the loss of his only child, his dead wife’s only legacy. He locked himself away in his workshop, living on the stale bread, potatoes and small wedges of cheese that an elderly women left on his doorstep each week. Friends and neighbours feared for his health, but no amount of knocking or calling out his name summoned him forth from the decaying house.

Night and day the steady sound of hammer and chisel reverberated through the house. The carpenter worked to ease his pain, his tools the vassals of all the emotion that could no longer flow from his body. Numb was his mind but skilled were his fingers. A single image was burned into his mind, all the more vivid in the troubled dreams that filled the scant scraps of sleep that he could not fight. Continue reading