Moral Mondays: My Sweet Butcher

Opium poppy

Image : Pixabay

Light stabs through a meagre gap between the curtains. I could rise, pull them to, but the effort is more than I could bear. I turn over, hoping sleep will welcome me back.

Once I dreamed of sun slicked pebbled beaches, the scent of seaweed, frothing waves. Now sleep holds only darkness, hate filled eyes, the death of love.

I could ring the bell for the maid, have my hair dressed and coiled, my waist turned waspish, laced and corseted. I could.

My hand reaches for the stout brown bottle, my sweet butcher of nightmares.



Written for Nortina’s Moral Mondays. See the moral – this week is ‘say no to drugs’ – and write a story of 100 words or fewer on the theme. See here for full Ts and Cs.

At the mention of drugs, I didn’t think of rave culture or crystal meth or the UK’s recent ban on ‘legal highs’, but of the 19th century’s addiction to opiates.

Women particularly used a tincture called laudanum – usually a mixture of opium and alcohol – for every conceivable malady from menstral pain to diarrhea. Many 19th century literary figures used laudanum too: Charles Dickens, Bram Stoker, Elizabeth Gaskell, Wilkie Collins, Edgar Allan Poe and Elizabeth Barrett Browning among others.

See the marvellous Victorian Web for Dr Andrzej Diniejko‘s article on Victorian drug use.


Moral Mondays : Death of a witch

Bloodied sword on wooden floor

Image: Pixabay


The witch died today.

She threw incantations like dice, they said, her evil eye roving from King to beggar. Her hair was a raven’s wing, eyes inky pits, six fingers on one hand turned to claws by the Devil’s nod. I’d shivered in my bed, muttered a prayer to the Virgin to keep me.

As the sun blushed and the witch stumbled to a fresh made scaffold, I gawped through the scullery casement.

I saw naught but a woman – demure, mouth a ribbon of fear, slim fingers dancing. Still the sword swung, fell, raven hair tangling in splintered wood.

None shall touch her more.


Inspired by Notina’s Moral Monday’s moral of the day – Look, don’t touch – which reminded me of Thomas Wyatt’s words written about Anne Boleyn –

Noli me tangere, for Caesar’s I am

Noli me tangere being Latin for Touch me not. It can be seen as a warning to Anne’s admirers that they could look all they wished, but ultimately, she belonged to husband, Henry VIII.

Ironic, since Anne met her fate in 1536 at the end of a French executioner’s sword, accused of incest, adultery and rumoured to have bewitched the king. She was also said to have six fingers on her right hand.




Moral Mondays : Counterpoint to a heartbeat


Old man smoking a cigarette

Image: Pixabay


Jean pulls cigarette smoke into her lungs. It makes her mind soften, drift away.

She feels her bruised cheekbone. It has its own tempo now, a counterpoint to her heartbeat. Where did Gordon learn to use his fists like that, learn language that can make her stomach shrink?

Sometimes her own anger is like that bruise – a rhythm threatening to erupt, to beat the Stranger Gordon into his chair. Is her husband still trapped inside that crabbed carcass, weeping for her to free him?

The cigarette drops, ember fizzing on the damp ground.


Written for Nortina’s Moral Mondays. Read the moral – this week’s is Harsh Words Stir Up Anger – and write a story in 100 words. See here for full Ts and Cs.

If you would like to support the Alzheimer’s Society, the anthology Still Me is available to buy through Pewter Rose Press, with all profits going to the AS.




Moral Mondays : A dead goldfish in the lap


Image : Pixabay



Gordon’s head felt like it was filled with gravel – the slightest tilt shot spikes of pain through his skull.

There’d been a ton of chapagne last night, then Duggy had forced him to drink something that resembled cough mixture and smelled of creosote. This morning he awoke in the bath covered in glitter with a dead goldfish in his lap.


Oh, lord, no. ‘Sir?’ said Gordon.

The PM was glaring at him across the table, a paper knife sliding through agile fingers. ‘I said, what are you going to do about this?’

Dazed, he said, ‘Wash off the glitter and buy a new goldfish?’

Well – he kept saying he needed to spend more time with his family …


Written for Nortina’s Moral Mondays. See the moral – this week it’s Listen before you Speak – and write a story to go along with it. See here for full Ts and Cs.




Moral Mondays: Do as I say, not as I do

shattered window

Image: Pixabay

‘Do as I say, not as I do.’

Mum said it every time I argued to stay up and watch a late horror movie – each time I stayed out past closing on a school night.

It’s only now, as I lie on the kitchen floor, my wedding china turned to shrapnel on the tiles, I realise her words were coded – a warning.

I struggle out of my foetal curl, stretch my limbs once more to their true shape. And though my jaw pulses and my knees shiver under me, I’m sure of something.

Today I shall finally take her advice.



Written for Nortina’s Moral Mondays. See here for full rules and to play along.


Moral Mondays: I never stopped hoping

Elderly couple

Image: Pixabay


‘Gin and tonic with a slice of lemon – one cube of ice.’ He put the glass on the table in front of her.

She looked up, beaming. ‘You remembered.’

Her pleasure soaked through him, sparking a heat he thought he’d never feel again. ‘Of course,’ he said. ‘I remember everything.’

They swapped stories: marriages and children, grandchildren and widowhood, illness and divorce. As she rose to leave, he took her hand, arthritic fingers knitting together.

‘I never stopped hoping,’ he said.

She reached up, stroking his face with her shaking palm. ‘Neither should you.’


Written for Nortina’s Moral Mondays. See the moral (this week it’s “Better Late Than Never”) and write a story in 100 words or less.

Super fun! For full Ts and Cs, see here.


Moral Mondays : Faith and Mickey, the sun and a seagull

Child's crayon drawing

Image: Pixabay

Faith pushes her forefinger into the tights, so the tip is enveloped in stretchy cloth. She spits ‒ soaking the fabric ‒ and starts to scrub.

Mickey stirs. From the smell she knows he’s wet the bed, but she leaves him – he’ll get up when it’s cold and stings. She doesn’t want to strip the sheets just yet. She wants to make the picture.

Then Mickey is beside her, the strong wee smell making her eyelids flutter.

‘Wet,’ he says, snot swelling from his nose.

‘I know,’ she says. ‘Look.’

The picture’s finished, drawn into the black mould on the bedroom wall – Faith and Mickey, the sun and a seagull.


Written for Nortina’s Moral Mondays. See the moral – this week, There’s No Place Like Home – and write a story in 100 words. See here for Ts and Cs.