Tag Archives: summer

A Fiction: Life Changer

Do you ever just get in the car and drive? I mean drive without thinking about it, autopilot some might say. You can sometimes get from A to B without remembering the journey at all. Well, that will never happen to me again, never, because I will never get in a car again.

I remember the day well. It is etched in my memory until the day I die. It altered my life, irrevocable.

The sun was shining, but the day was cold. You know, one of those fiercely cold days that make you smile because you feel alive. I’d been duped by the sunshine so left the house in jeans and just a thin jumper. I turned round and went straight back in to grab my coat. Graham followed me back, as usual, but letting out an excited bark which warned me that his promised turn on The Heath was a definite goer! I wrapped my coat around me and opened the rear door for Graham to jump in, and then settled myself into the drivers side, belting up as usual.

I’ve done this journey many many times. It’s a pleasant one, one that most people would love to do, but one that I’ve now realised I take for granted. The roads are narrow and tree-lined, they border The Heath which is pretty visible no matter which angle you approach it from. I love my area, but you know how it goes when you’ve lived there for a while…….

I was working to a deadline, plus my sister’s baby had been quite ill. I was due at a party that evening, and I was thinking about the possibility of taking the next belt in my quest to dominate the Judo world. Should I eat at home before the party, or should I arrange to meet people for dinner before? My thoughts were erratic today, all over the place, and Graham was groaning in the back as he always does when journeying toward his place of freedom.

And then it appeared. From nowhere. A pushchair. I braked. It flew up in the air, or so it seemed. It flew straight ahead….or so it seemed. And also to the right and to the left. It seemed to go everywhere, and in slow motion. Why do things like this go in slow motion, why couldn’t the seconds before be in slow motion, then I’d have seen it. I know that this is an irrational request, but what the hell…..

The noise was immense, like nothing I’d ever heard. Cars were screeching to a halt. Doors were slamming. Horns were blowing. There were screams, screams like I’d never heard before, but screams that I hear all the time now.

I pulled on the handbrake and just sat, staring ahead, I simply couldn’t move. Every face that I looked at seemed to morph into what could only be described as a gargoyle, or worse, like a something from a painting by Francis Bacon that haunted me as a teen.

I came back into reality, unbuckling my seat belt as it happened, undoing the door before my belt was fully off. I was confused, stunned, incapable of saying anything even remotely coherent.

‘What happened?’ I managed. It seemed like such an inane thing to say, but nothing else would come out. I was utterly bewildered. People were staring at me, some were swearing at me. My god, what had I done? Hell was opening up in front of me. I knew that I’d run into a pushchair, and I knew that my head was full of every other kind of thought but driving. I could see a group of people kneeling on the ground, huddled around something. Time stopped. Graham barked somewhere in the background. And then she appeared. My Guardian Angel.

‘Don’t look over there dear. Stay here. Don’t go over there. I saw everything.’ Her voice was calm, as calming as aloe vera on a burn, and I immediately wanted my mother, my soothing taken-before-her-time mother. She was like my mother.

I remember being back in my car surrounded by dog noises. And then I remember being at a police station.

I was prosecuted for driving without due care and attention, but surely the mother should have been prosecuted too. I had to pay a hefty fine and my license was revoked for 6 months, at the judge’s discretion. The child died. But I had been deemed not wholly culpable because I was driving within the speed limit and my Guardian Angel had not only confirmed that, but had drawn attention to the fact that the mother had pushed the child out ahead of her so that she could check the traffic. The absurdity of that. She had come from between two parked cars, chatting to her friend, straight out into the road leaning forward to check for oncoming cars, but it was too late, I was there, killing her child.

My life would never be the same again, my life sentence had begun.

And Graham now had to walk everywhere.



Mark’s Story: The Bike

I heard the knock on the front door.

‘I’m outta here. See you later.’

I knew it was him as he never lets me down. He’s my best mate, Mark, someone I’ve known for all of my life and will know for all of my life. I’ve had some of the funniest times with Mark. Proper side-splitting times. You hear people say that, but no truly, I mean it, piss yourself funny times. My mate Mark is a diamond.

I flung open the front door.

‘What the fuck are you wearing? Where d’you get that?’, I asked. Mark had on a cream coloured matching Adidas track suit: top and bottoms. There’s no way that was his, he just didn’t have things like that.

‘It’s Paul’s, fucking kill me if he knows I’ve worn it. Anyway, fuck ‘im, how’s he gonna know eh?’

Paul is Mark’s older brother, and yeah, he’d be pissed off.

‘It’s quite smart mate.’

We headed off down my road and turned into Windermere. We were going to the river bank where everyone always gathered on a Friday night; it was either that or causing chaos down the seafront. It was a light, warm evening and we could hear the screaming and shouting from our mates. We were a gobby lot, but harmless.

We got to the end of the road and through the cutting, jabbering about this and that, some bird or other.

‘I thought I could hear a fucking bike’, said Mark, ‘whose is that? Look at that bunch of fucking twats. They’ve never driven a bike in their lives. Haaaaa, it’s only a fucking 50cc. Haaaaa. Look at ’em.’

We upped our pace as we walked along the river bank. Mark was determined to get to the other side and show them how to ride a bike properly. They were taking it in turns to burn up and down the bank, and Mark was getting more and more animated about how shit they were.

‘Oi, oi,’ he shouted, ‘oi, Finch, hold on hold on, I’ll fucking show you how to ride it. Been riding them for years me.’

We reached the other side of the river and watched for a minute as yet another rider messed up their turn.

‘Right, bugger off, get off the fucking thing. Where’d you get it from Finch? How much was it? I’ll show you how to ride it.’

‘£50 quid mate. Yeah ok, ‘ave a go’, said Finch.

I’d never seen Mark ride a moped before, but he seemed to know what he was doing. We watched as he turned the handle, revving the engine, and then he was off. We turned to watch him, he was going at some speed, well, as much of a speed as a 50cc could do, and then…….

‘Fuck, where’s he gone. Fuck.’

He’d disappeared. We all ran toward where he was last seen. There’s a kink in the river edge, close to where the bushes are, so we scrambled through them hoping that our friend was ok. And there he was. Well, I haven’t laughed so much in all my life. I swear to god, I wasn’t able to control myself. Mark was stood in the river, Adidas track suit filthy and soaked through, moped upright on its back wheel, in a wheeley position, and his face stunned in a state of shock.

‘Fuck sake, Paul’s gonna kill me. Get me out for fuck sake. What the fuck happened there.’

That was the day I properly pissed myself. My mate Mark had done it again. None of the other ‘twats’ had ended up in the water, only my mate Mark. He’d added another story to the hundreds that I already had of him, and I love him for it.


Amelia’s Story: Fish

I woke at my usual time. Thought about my day, my week. The sunshine was coming in through the gap between the blind and the window. Yeah, summer’s coming.

Up I got, tied my hair back, looked around for my dressing gown and pulled on the cosy socks that I’d kicked off during the night. What for breakfast? Had mum been shopping yesterday? Of course she had, she’s always up at the supermarket. For a moment I wondered why, but then the answer was easy: we eat everything she buys pretty much as soon as she buys it.

The house was quiet. Everyone was out, just me in, biding my time, preparing to go back to college. I’m happy pootling about the house, making a cuppa, picking up and putting down my book as and when it suits me, chatting to this pal and that if the mood takes me, and flicking on the TV and watching whatever I want for as long as I want without any opposition. The house is my domain during the day, and nobody, unless by prior arrangement, penetrates that. Yes, I liked it that way. I had a routine.

I flicked on the kettle as I walked past it, making my way to the pantry. I’d already decided on muesli this morning, maybe with some toast, but that would depend on what bread was left. I hate that white stuff that the men around here like, and besides a malted Danish is better for you. Well, I say ‘the white stuff that the men like’, but funny how that was always what was left over.

Yes, as predicted, just the white stuff left. Jeez. I picked up the muesli and gave it a shake: full box. Nice one. Out of the pantry I pootled, found a bowl, a mug, a spoon, made my tea, added milk to my muesli and sat in my favourite chair at the kitchen table. My favourite seat looked out onto the garden. In the summer we have the French doors open and the sound of chirping birds and garden mowers is always lovely. I was lost in my thoughts when my phone rang.

‘Holy guacamole, who the hell….hiya. Yeah, I’m good thanks. How’re you?’ I listened. I had to think on my feet. ‘Awww I can’t today, my nan is coming over.’ Lie, white lie. You see, I’d already decided that I was going to have an undisturbed day today, just me and my Tom Ford palettes. Well, the Tom Ford palettes that I was going to be getting in New York next month. I needed to do some research into them. Huuuugely important.

‘Yeah, sorry, yeah, another day for sure. Soon. This week sometime. Byyyye.’

Phew. Just managed to swerve that one. I went back to my thoughts, but goodbye thoughts of summer, and hello thoughts of NYC, 5th Avenue, and shopping. I was straight on my IPad. Tap tap tap. Google. Tap tap tap. Tom Ford. Tap tap tap. Shopping New York. Tap tap tap. Make up New York. Oh there they are. Luuuuuvely. A better choice in New York. Barneys. Saks. Bloomingdales. Bergdorfs, what are these places. Ah yes, ok, department stores. Tap….


You what. No, can’t be. Ignore.


‘Holy guacamole. Are you kidding me.’



I grumped toward the front door.


I swung the door open. I knew the look on my face.

‘D’you want any fish?’

I just stared at him.

‘No mate. Do I look like I want any fish?’


I knew. He knew. The door slammed shut.