The Daily Post : The patience of Della


Della had always been patient.

As a child she would sit at the scrubbed kitchen table, feet swinging from the too-high chair as she fumbled at chunky wooden jigsaw pieces, turning each in stubby fingers. It might take her all day to finish the puzzle, but she would. Every time.

‘She’s no Brain of Britain,’ her Mum was often heard to say. ‘But that girl has the patience of Job.’

And so it was with Dougie.

She first saw him in 1982 as he bent over the water fountain in the playground. Perhaps it was his cold blue eyes that attracted her, or the mole shaped like Africa on the back of his wrist. Whatever it was, Della knew one day they would be together.

Dougie didn’t notice her through school. Never saw her in the shivering crowd each Saturday at the village football matches where he played centre forward. Didn’t acknowledge her when she worked behind the bar at the White Hart, even though she always had a pint of mild waiting for him.

Through his two marriages, three children, two messy divorces, Dougie never noticed Della. Not until the day she wrote off his Ford Cortina with her Electric Orange Datsun Cherry.

Wedding number three – number one for Della – was planned to perfection. Unsurprising as she had been thinking of little else for twenty-four years. But as the first day of their honeymoon dawned, Della had to use more concealer than was usual and despite the July heat, she picked a long sleeved polo neck for their stroll along Blackpool front.

Five weeks later Della filed for divorce. She was patient but – despite what her mother thought – she was not stupid.


Written for the Daily Post’s prompt – Patience. See here to join in.






The Daily Post : The Legend of the Dark Lady



The fields were barren, the plough ridges hard with frost and the land plucked bare of hips and berries. Winter had been long, harder than memory. Now grain was so sparse in the barns and barrels even the rats starved – those that had not already been roasted over meagre fires.

Death took the sick and old first. Then the children followed on, tiny bodies lying stiff as spades in the churchyard. They piled them under the old yew, the earth too hard to welcome them home.

Then the Dark Lady came in her cloak of storms, her hair of swirling rain, the raven Hok still and watchful on her arm. The people begged for pity, but the Lady’s heart is black as her bird, black as her eyes of ink.

It was then the true suffering began.


Written for the Daily Post’s prompt – BLACK. See here to join in.

Hok is Cornish Celtic for falcon.

#tuesdayuseitinasentence: Nailed

Spilt red nail polish

Image : Pixabay


Her nails are bitten down to the quick. They snag on her clothes when she dresses in the morning – if she dresses in the morning – scratch her cheek as she sits at the kitchen table, gazing out at her soaked patchy lawn.

Once her nails were immaculate, glossy – ten scarlet blades. Men loved them, some ridiculous fantasy about a woman with claws. A barely tamed creature.

Then one night …

There had been drinks, a man she hardly knew, a scene in a bar taken outside on the street, stumbling into an alleyway of binbags and cardboard boxes.

Shouting, screaming. Then hands were pinning her arms. An animal terror making her freeze, a desperation to escape his trap, that leering, beery breath on her face. She’d fought but he was strong, grip tight – tightening – and she was falling and he on top of her, his weight knocking her breath away, pinning her to the wet tarmac, the base of her spine grinding. And she was clawing, clawing at his wrists, wriggling, sinking further, then …

She was on her feet. Her hands were slick, greasy – stained black in the darkness. He was silent.  Slumped cloth and steaming flesh. She’d ran.

Days later, though she’d washed and washed, the rust was still trapped under the nails, scarlet on the surface, browned like henna on the underside.

So now, the blades are gone, the rust too. But still she smells the metal of that night. And no matter how much she gnaws at herself, the scent clings …


Written for Stephanie at Word Adventures’ #tuesdayuseitinasentence. Today the word is NAILED. See here to read the other tales and to join in.

Also, for The Daily Post’s Daily PromptSCENT. See here to join in and to read the other posts.

The Daily Prompt : Him, the king and the snow

Image result for alfred jewel


A snowflake flutters onto his lashes, melts, is blinked away before another lands. What began as a flurry is falling heavier now, snow settling in the pits and dips in mud grown solid under days of frost and bitter wind.

He doesn’t notice. Doesn’t see the bare trees, black lacework against the solid grey sky, or the vixen crossing the barren field, her belly sunk with hunger, her brush thin, the dull russet hair. He doesn’t see her stop, raise her nose to sniff the air – to sniff him – and hurry on her way, too cautious, too experienced to stay where the meaty, lactic tang of humans hangs.

The world passes unseen.

All he knows are his breathing and the exquisite crystal teardrop that’s nestled in his palm, the golden wires that twine and coil along the edge, that twist into the snout, the flaring nostrils of a fierce beast, that whirl into two great, fathomless eyes, protecting the king, his emerald gown, the coal black stare.

His hands grow hard with the cold, as if the stone has sunk into him, made him stone too. The snow falls harder, blotting out the sky, the vixen’s tracks, the spindle trees – leaving him, the king and the snow.


Written for The Daily Prompt – today the word is EXQUISITE.

There was one object I though of after reading the prompt word – The Alfred Jewel. Twelve hundred years old, it’s one of the finest examples of Anglo Saxon goldsmithing in this country.

Commissioned by King Alfred himself, as the inscription “aelfred mec heht gewyrcan” (Alfred ordered me made) attests, it’s always seemed like a perfect, magical object to me and I tried to imagine how the man who found it in the late seventeenth century might have felt as it lay in his hand.

See here to learn more about the jewel.

The Daily Prompt: Never let the sun set

Bed and bedding

Image: Pixabay


‘Never let the sun set on an argument.’

That’s what you said, yet you never could take your own advice. We hadn’t spoken for an hour, well, no more than a ‘pass the salt please’ and a ‘tea?’, though no eye contact was made, no little smile shared.

You went up to bed without a word, leaving me to watch some late night science documentary I’d seen before and hadn’t really been interested in the first time round. I listened to your footfalls on the stairs, the creak of boards a you crossed the landing, the cistern filling after the flush.

Eventually you were quiet and I churned the argument over in my head, beginning at irritated indignation, slowly feeling the stupidity of it, that two people who love each other so much could let such a ridiculous thing spoil an evening.

I crept to bed at midnight, slipped in beside you, wanting to hold you but preferring to sleep in isolation than risk you shrugging me off.

It was only in the morning, as sleep clogged my lashes, as I swallowed the bitter taste on my tongue that I realised you were cold.

That you were still in the same position as you were when I went to bed.

That you slipped away in the middle of an argument. No kind word. No last kiss.


Writen for The Daily Prompt’s ARGUMENT thread. See here to join in and to read the other posts.

The Daily Prompt: The day I realise

Steam iron

Image: Pixabay

It’s my birthday when I realise. Standing at the sink, wrist deep in washing up water, hands pink from the heat.

He doesn’t love me anymore.

It’s not just a thought, it’s the knowledge of it, a feeling in my chest as if I’ve my lungs are sinking to my stomach, my heart deflating, turning wrinkled and soggy like a week old balloon.

‘You putting the kettle on?’ he calls from the front room, TV blasting the theme tune to one of the American murder mysteries he likes, the sort of show where the worst of life’s trauma’s is solved in an hour.

I click the switch on the kettle, rinse out two mugs, dry my hands on the tea towel.

‘Just making it now,’ I say.

I crouch by the washing machine, tugging shirts free from the knot of linen. I put the iron on and wait for the kettle to boil.


Written for The Daily Prompt. Today the would is REALISE. See here to join in and to read the other posts.


Graceful as an elephant: The Daily Prompt: Graceful

Elephant's head

Image: Pixabay

‘Graceful as an elephant,’ Dad muttered as I tripped for the third time.

I sat on the pavement, examining the fresh graze on my knee, blood like red pearls on scuffed skin. I’d grazed the toes of my new shoes too, roughened leather showing pale against the chestnut brown polish. I could have cried, but refused to let myself.

Dad had gone up ahead, past the grocer’s cart with its hillock of crinkling Granny Smith’s, past the chemist with its giant bottles of jewell coloured liquids, copperplate brass plaques declaring Elix. Cardammomi co, Elix. Carnis et Ferri.

He turned back to see where I was, spun smoothly on his heel, his jacket flaring, his arms raised slightly, as if ready to dance. He kept on walking, one step, two, down the curb onto  Old Farm Road. He was frowning, eyes searching the air above my head.

A horn sounded. A thud. The pages of a newspaper flapping to the ground like weary pigeons.

Dad taught me a lesson I shall never forget – it’s better to be aware than graceful.


Written for The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt – GRACEFUL. Visit here to join in and to read the other posts.

All fur coat and no knickers : The Daily Prompt : Facade

Glamorous female model smoking

Image: Pixabay


Your facade reminds me of a country house – grand but stony. I wonder if there are other similarities.

Does your beautiful exterior hide decrepitude, hidden portions of yourself you’d rather others did not peek at? No doubting you are presentable when you’ve had fair warning of visitors, but if we look a little deeper, are there places – hidden behind a red silk rope – unavailable to the public? With an air of dusty neglect and just a whiff of rodent?

If I pulled aside the curtain of your respectablilty, would I find rotting waste, a thousand dirty, hidden little secrets swept out of sight of prying eyes?

Just tell me – are you all fur coat and no knickers?


Written for The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt – FACADE. Write a post to accompany the word and why not pop along here to read the other posts.

The Daily Prompt: Cake : Donnie’s Birthday

Chocolate cake with candles

Image: Pixabay

Donnie’s 40th birthday was on the 5th September. Her little boy a middle-aged man – who would believe it?

Jane hadn’t a clue what to buy him, but as she found tea often helped her think, she put the kettle on. Her father had always bought ‘useful’ presents – new saucepans for mother, a winter coat for Jane even though her birthday was the middle of August. He never bought luxuries for himself, so he didn’t see why he should do it for anyone else.

An oily slick had formed on the top of her tea by the time she had an idea. Her boy had had a tough time of late. He didn’t need something useful or practical, he needed something frivolous. He needed spoiling. She would make him a birthday cake.

The day before Donnie’s birthday, she gathered her ingredients together. Butter, sugar, flour, eggs, chocolate. She’d even tottered down to the supermarket with her walking stick and trolley to buy sugar strands and silvery balls and edible glitter to decorate it.

Jane never made cakes when Donnie was little. She’d been too busy working in the grocers or cleaning offices or serving behind the counter in the fish and chip shop. He’d been a good boy though, never complained even when he missed out on the best toys at Christmas. Even the year she forgot his birthday and he had tinned beans and pork sausages for his tea when she’d promised to take him for ice cream.

Making the cake was trickier than she’d expected. She didn’t know what some of the terms meant on the recipe and had to mix it in a saucepan because she didn’t own a mixing bowl big enough. Such a mess too – flour everywhere and a blob of butter on the kitchen tiles that she skidded on, bumping her knee on the cupboard door, making her heart hammer like a steam train.

Eventually it was done and she was so tired her hands were shaking. Thirsty and uncomfortably hot, she sat at the kitchen table and stared at her creation.

It was … beautiful. The sugary glitter caught the light like frost, the silvery balls like stars in a chocolate night, the icing deep and inviting as a bed of furs.

And suddenly she was crying, sobs breaking from her, shivering her narrow shoulders. Because Donnie would never taste it, would never sit at her kitchen table again, would not let his own mother visit him, not to see him in that place, with its smell of fear and its dark corners and its long, loud nights.


‘Happy birthday, son,’ she whispered, tipping the cake into the bin.


Written for The Daily Post’s Daily PromptCAKE. See here to join in and to read the other posts.



The Daily Prompt:Melody:The polite men

Van on the horizon

Image: Pixabay


‘Can’t you hear it too?’ she says.

Her face is so pained, lines of worry scoring her forehead, deepening her wrinkles, that I’m tempted to lie for her sake.

Tempted to take her hand –  shrivelled, soft skin and long yellowed nails, a mole’s paw of a hand – and smile and laugh and say Fooled you. Of course I can hear it. 

But even though I open my mouth the words won’t come. Terror seals my throat shut, as if it’s plugged with cooling candle wax.

Because there is only ever one outcome for those who hear the Melody.

One day when you’re at work or walking the dog or eating fish and chips in front of the fire, a black van filled with polite men in dark suits will pull up outside your house. And they will knock at your door – a light knock, meek as a spinster. And they will invite you to go with them. And they will always be polite even as you protest you can’t hear, even as you scream, even as you’re dragged away, feet kicking, heels catching on the kerb.

Even as the van door slams your protests shut.

I take her hand and say, ‘No, Grandma. I can’t hear anything.’

And in my heart I say goodbye.


Written for The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt MELODY. See here to join in and to read the other posts.