Category Archives: Short

You know the feeling

You’re sitting there reading this and you know that feeling like there is something on your ankle. Something that feels slightly heavy. Something attached. Like there’s something crawling. Something slimey that’s sliding up and over your ankle bump right now. Something that shouldn’t be there. Something that doesn’t know the difference between your leg and what it usually eats.

Do you know that feeling?

Shrugger

A man is standing on a platform eating a croissant and drinking a bottle of coke. He looks bored and he doesn’t seem to notice that the flakes of the croissant are falling down his jacket.

A woman walks up to him and asks him if this is the right platform for somewhere. He doesn’t even listen to the end of the sentence and when she finishes speaking he doesn’t even react. She starts getting louder as though speaking louder will get him to understand. In the end the man just shrugs his shoulders and the woman walks off not knowing if he didn’t understand the question, if he didn’t know the answer or if he just didn’t care. That’s the problem with shrugs, they can haunt you for the rest of your life.

Party

His moustache drooped unnecessarily into his champagne as he supped and showed his appreciation for the party. He turned away and once he was sure she was no longer in eyesight he spat the champagne into a flower pot. Sadly his moustache went with it and Michael spent a furtive couple of minutes trying to dig around in the now wet soil, dry the moustache, find the glue in his inside pocket, reattach the moustache to his upper lip and wipe the soil off of his lapel with a linen napkin.

Once all of this was over with, Michael decided to mingle. He sidled up to a beautiful woman. On his way he picked up a glass of champagne and a glass of whisky from a passing tray. The woman looked impressed, made eye contact saying, “hello stranger”.

“I thought that you were supposed to say that to people that you knew that you haven’t seen in a while,” Michael said.
“You sure we haven’t met?”
“Looking as beautiful as you do, I’m pretty sure that I would have remembered you. Have we met?”
“No I was just fishing, fishing for complements.”
“Really?”
“Works every time”
“Well I feel such a sap now.”
“So are you going to give me that champagne or not?”
“Sorry, here you are, but I don’t know how you can drink that stuff.”
“What champagne?”
“No that stuff specifically. It’s fucking awful as far as I can tell.”
“I don’t mind it. Don’t hate me.”
“I don’t hate you just because you don’t share the same taste in champagne as me. What an idea?”
“I just wondered if you were one of those guys… You know those guys who absolutely hold their own views. That they’re right all the time and if you don’t agree with them then you’re not just wrong then you’re actually stupid.”
“Going out with one of those guys?”
“Just dumped by one actually.”

Just then the music at the party changed pace from some kind of schmaltzy waltz to something a bit faster. Michael decided to pick his moment.

“Do you fancy a dance?”
“Why not. I like this song.”

She looked at him very closely for a second. And then chose to move in close to him so she was resting her hand lightly on his chest. “Can I ask you to take off your moustache though?”
“How did you know?”
“Well if it wasn’t for half the guys in here tonight wearing fake moustaches it would have been a pretty hard guess, but other than that there’s a lot of glue on you face.”
“And you still want me to take it off?”
“Yes please.”
“Spoil sport.”

It’s late

It’s late, or at least it’s late for you. It’s past your bedtime. The room seems more alive in the dark, than in the light. You get up, turn the light on, and then get back into bed and look around. That’s the curtains that are swaying, that’s the door to your wardrobe that’s casting a shadow over your bed from the light above the door. You try and remember it so that when you turn the light off it will all seem normal. You get back up and turn the light off. You jump back to your bed just in case there is something hiding underneath there. It’s okay when you get off quickly because then whatever it is as surprised as you are and the lights on. But when you’re making your way back the thing will know you need to get back into bed. You jump back in and look around. It’s okay now. You can make out what is the curtain, you can make out what is the wardrobe door. It’s all okay.

But jumping back onto the bed has had repercussions. They’ve heard you downstairs. One of them comes up to check on you. You can hear the steps approaching. You close your eyes tight and pull the covers up and try hard to lie really still. One of them, it sounds like dad from the footsteps, comes in. He notices the window is open and goes over and closes it and re-arranges the curtains. He walks over to the wardrobe and closes the door. He murmurs “Goodnight” under his breath, and then walks out of the room.

You sit bolt upright, look around the room, and again everything seems to be moving towards you. It all seems a lot closer than it would in the light. If the window is closed, surely the curtains wouldn’t be moving so what is that coming towards you? Something shimmering and hissing coming towards you like a sheet. If the window is closed it can’t be the curtains! What is it? You leap out of bed and run towards the light switch hitting it just in time to see… Nothing… There was nothing there. The window just wasn’t closed properly, it was just the curtain. You can hear your mother calling up from downstairs. Urging you to go back to bed. But will you turn off the light? You know you’re just being silly. But… But… But… You can’t help it, tears leak down your face and run salty into your open mouth that’s already whimpering and the heat of your cheeks heats your tears and makes your skin tighten. A lump in your throat rises, you know it shouldn’t your big and grown up, but it comes and once it reaches your mouth your bawling and all you want is your mother to come and rescue you. From what? From what it doesn’t matter, you just want to be reassured, you just want a night light in your room.

Poisoned

I can feel it. The poison. It’s cold and sharp and I can feel it slucing around my brain. As the icy liquid curls round the inside of my skull I can feel thoughts being taken away from me. Stolen. Gone. I move my head up and as I do more function escapes. The poison dripping down, edging down to my spine. I open one eye and look at my poisoner. As I look first I see a syringe and a man. But after a second it all becomes shapes. No edges no definition. No memory of what an edge is. No memory at all. For a brief second everything in my head is pure light.

Grass

They are lying on the grass. The two of them. Her in a denim skirt, him in tan shorts. They each have a plastic cup, half filled with rapidly warming beer. The odd combination of deep base vibrating you but being unable to hear the melody that you only get at a festival is washing over the whole area. But they are kissing and don’t notice.

They roll over each other and giggle. Everything seems possible. They are away from their family away together for the first time. For the first time, they don’t feel different than adults. But the adults around them feel different. They look on bored and cynical. As bored and cynical as they usually are, but for a second when they first see the two of them carrying on they think about what they’ve lost by becoming old. And then they snap back and say something like, “get a room”.

The two of them don’t notice. They feel adult without feeling like adults and for one day in the sunshine it’s the greatest feeling in the world.

Oswald

Oswald didn’t like when people noticed he was different. This was a shame for Oswald because it happened all of the time. Oswald only had one eye and it was smack in the middle of his face. His eye was just above his nose. And people couldn’t help but stare when ever they saw him.

He had tried to make friends but even the loser kids all shunned him. He had tried to get good at sports so the other kids would like him and pick him for their teams. But it was hard to practice for team games by yourself and Oswald’s depth perception had never been that good.

If he ever tried to be smart in class the other kids just hated him more. There didn’t seem to be anything poor Oswald could do.

Then one day Oswald was sitting in his English class. English was his favourite class. In fact English was everyone’s favourite class at his school because the English teacher was Miss Greg. Miss Greg was a very very attractive young women. At Oswald’s all boys school you just had to be female and have a pulse (pulse optional) to attract attention and yet Miss Greg was genuinely foxy. She was a tall, blonde, willowy and she had a slight eastern european accent that Oswald had never been able to place.

So it was English with Miss Greg. They were all paying minute attention to everything she was doing and saying. But despite paying that much attention they could hardly have noticed the draw string of Miss Greg’s dress getting inside the book she was reading to them. And that when she closed the book the string was inside the book. And that when she picked up the book the string was still inside the book. And that when she lifted the book above her head to make a point about something her dress became undone. Suddenly the boys could see everything. Miss Greg realised immediately what had happened, but was so surprised that she didn’t immediately cover herself. She just stood there – stunned.

Everyone was slient. Nobody was saying anything. And then Oswald said, “That’s a sight for sore eye”. And everyone laughed. Even Miss Greg (and then she quickly covered herself). That was the moment that Oswald realised it – if you could make people laugh then they would like you.

Cats Eyes

He stepped out into the rain and already his hat had begun to be soaked through. He turned back towards the door to lock it. While his hand was returning the key to his pocket it brushed against a packet of cigarettes. It was a difficult choice. He could light it here, but would it go soggy out in the rain. He had no choice, once his hand felt the pack he had to light one. The air was so damp the first two strikes of the match failed to take. He chuckled to himself as the third time lit true, with him it wasn’t three strikes and out.

He turned back out into the rain and that’s when he saw the cat. It was just sitting there staring back at him. A cat which probably would have looked cute sprawled on the grass in the sunshine, but tonight it looked back at him with those reflective eyes, it looked back at him and it seemed to know something. He wanted to just walk past it, but he froze just staring at it, staring at it staring at him.

The cat got off of his hind legs and started walking towards him. There was a fork in the path, the cat took it. Just as it was about to walk past on the other fork it turned and gave him one last look, and then it walked on.

He stepped forward and then stopped. Water actually sloshed off of his hat and onto his feet. He hadn’t meant to stop, not in the rain. But he found that he was suddenly unsure of himself. This deal was too important to miss, if he didn’t come through on the deal the consequences would be terrible. But somehow, something made him stop. Stop out there in the rain. He turned back, unlocked the door, and stepped back in. The cat had unnerved him.

Pigeon versus Cat

Little dead pigeon lying on the ground,
Little dead pigeon while walking I have found,
I can’t help feeling that we shouldn’t be meeting,
Because even on a little pigeon there’s some good eating,
So why are you left abandoned by a cat?
What can I say except cats are like that.
Barstards

The hair

Brian was rolling the hair between his fore and index fingers. To an outside observer it may have looked like he was doing this casually. But this was not the case. Brian’s life had been ruined by this hair and so it was with great care and attention that Brian examined it.

The hair was long and blonde or rather it had been blonde when it was last attached to Sandra’s head. Blonde hair on its own hardly ever looks really blonde it looks like you would think gray hair should look. Or at least it does until you see a gray hair.

Brian had seen his very own first gray hair just six weeks ago. Jennifer had pointed it out to him and had made some kind of joke about it. She’d called him an old man and so on. Brian had laughed along but then while driving to work the next morning he realised that he needed to change his life. He decided that he didn’t want to become old he wanted to stay young. It wasn’t like he consciously made a decision to trade Jennifer in for a younger model. No it wasn’t like that. He had just happened to bump in to Sandra at the coffee machine. Sandra and Brian had flirted like they usually had but this time Brian hadn’t stopped as early as he usually would.

They hadn’t had sex on the photocopier or anything seedy, much to Brian’s disappointment, but they had started meeting for lunch. And then they had started telling their colleagues that they were “going to the gym”. It was the perfect cover.

Or it had been. Brian had been greedy though. He had tried to keep Jennifer in the dark. He didn’t want to commit to Sandra so he kind of hadn’t bothered telling Jennifer about Sandra just in case it didn’t work out.

It had worked well until the hair. The hair that got into his underpants. The hair that Jennifer had found. The hair that was definitely not Jennifer’s. The hair that Brian was rolling around in his fingers. The hair that he now allowed to drop to the floor. Brian thought as he watched it fall, that the stress of what was about to happen to him would probably mean more gray hair.