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Morecambe, Lancashire, United Kingdom
In the mornings I’m a Nursery Cook, the rest of the time a Writer. Been writing for decades: short stories, plays, poems, a sitcom and more recently flash fiction, Creative Writing MA at Lancaster Uni and now several novels. Been placed in competitions (Woman’s Own, Greenacre Writers and flashtagmanchester) and shortlisted in others (Fish, Calderdale, Short Fiction Journal). I won the Calderdale Prize 2011, was runner-up in the Ink Tears Flash Fiction Comp & won the Greenacre Writer Short Story Comp 2013. I have stories in Jawbreakers, Eating My Words, Flash Dogs Anthologies 1-3, 100 RPM and the Stories for Homes anthology. My work’s often described as ‘sweet’ but there’s usually something darker and more sinister beneath the sweetness. I love magical realism and a comedy-tragedy combination. My first novel, Queen of the World, is about a woman who believes she can influence the weather. I’m currently working on a 3rd: Priscilla Parker Reluctant Celebrity Chef. Originally from West Midlands, I love living by the sea in Morecambe, swimming, cycling, theatre, books, food, weather, sitcoms and LBBNML … SQUEEZE!

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Sal's One Off Just For Fun 50th Birthday Flash Comp

In honour of my birthday, and because my friend posted this photo on Facebook & I felt sure it would make a fantastic flash picture prompt. When I floated the idea, both she and Stella said ‘Do it!’ All the encouragement needed. Then fourteen of you said you’d join in and I was off …


Photo by Faith Cobaine


·         150 words max.

·         You have from now until till Midnight (GMT) 30th November (the big day!)

·         Post your flash in comments, along with twitter handle & word count. Enter as many times as you like.

·         All flashes will be judged anonymously by me. Stella will keep me informed of submission progress while I worry about getting no entries. I promise not to look and she will email me the nameless stories after the deadline. I’ve ensured no comments will appear in my inbox.

·         Results – posted by Monday 7th December.

·         Please don’t refer specifically to your story on twitter. I read my feed & have a good memory. Why not mess with my head by writing like you don’t normally?

·         The Prize. Yeah, it’s no longer just for fun. The prize is a surprise. Worth about two hours of my day job ... so not much! It will be sent to the winner, wherever in the world they may be. I promise it will be a useful item that will make you smile. And not homemade. The winner just needs to promise to post a pic of it on Twitter.

·         As much as I hope to be stunned by the scope of takes on the prompt and amazed, amused and impressed by the quality of the writing, I really just want more than three people to enter so please tweet/retweet to your followers.

·         Go to it … you’re all FABULOUS!


  1. @hollygeely
    42 words
    (sorry for how short it is; this month started off and is going to continue to be stupid busy)

    Her shadow looms above me
    Affecting all I do,
    She’ll smack me if I fail
    (Let’s face it – wouldn’t you?)
    I must cut the wire
    But is it red, or is it blue?
    I’ll just cut the green one


  2. The Feel of Rain

    150 words

    @Voima Oy

    I know where you live, Denny, I'm good at my job.

    If you hadn't broken up with me years ago, I wouldn't be here, now. The irony isn't lost on me. But you see, Denny, you're kind of a special case. You're everything I thought I wanted, your life and your rich blonde wife. It could have been me with you, well except for the address and the rich blonde wife part. It was a choice that brought me here.

    I just wanted to see what I was missing. Being a private detective is not so bad, really. But it's the loneliness that gets you, the solitary nature of the job. I'm always on the outside looking in. I know the feel of rain.

    But it's all right, I don't regret my choices. I wonder do you ever think of me? You better be good to her, Denny. I'll be watching.

    1. apologies to Voimaoy something happened to the spacing when I posted this tale.... Stella

  3. Doppelgänger
    133 words

    I walk the streets of York. The eroded Roman cobbles beneath my withered boots. The murky puddles reflect my dark silhouette as I stab the falling sky with my umbrella.

    She talks to me, Don’t be so down. Once you would have danced in the rain. Sung in the amber pools of streetlights.

    The therapy is exhausting. The tablets are numbing.

    I see my other self on the wall, but her shadow grows faint and distant. A trick of memory. A refraction of time.

    She stands more upright. More confident. I imagine her smiling as she holds a selfie stick in hand and sees beauty in the world.

    I try to thrust the umbrella at her image. But she is not there, as much as I am barely here.

    We are both shadows.

  4. Squeeze Me I’m Yours

    I am tempted to walk away, up the junction, waving goodbye girl as I go. Sunday Street when the hangover strikes, heaven knows I have been here before, crying in my sleep.

    Bang. Bang. My shadow hammers home another nail in my heart. It might be cool for cats, but my hourglass is fast running out.

    Where is my black coffee in bed, labelled with love; where is my slap and tickle?

    I walk the night streets, electric trains, to a farfisa beat. In this heartbreaking world, if it’s love you seek, you won’t be satisfied with a sex master.

    Last thing forever, love’s crashing waves? Like pulling mussels from the shell and waiting to pick up the pieces.

    Trust me to open my mouth, it is hard, the waiting game. Footprints across my heart. By your side we messed around.

    If I didn’t love you, I’d say – it’s over.

    150 words


  5. The Cubicle
    A.J. Walker
    Waking on a toilet is never the best experience. When it’s an unfamiliar one, the lights are off and you can’t recall where you’d gone the night before it’s particularly stressful.

    Poking away with my foot I found my handbag, unfortunately the contents spilled across the floor. Several swear words and bruises later I found my phone; no signal, battery dying. At least from my texts I remembered where I was - the Auditorium for the gig. I’m sure it’d been good, but the last thing I remember was feeling knackered... and Sambuca.

    Bloody hell, I’d fallen asleep on the bog at a gig. Start chiseling me a headstone!

    At least no-one would know.

    Fuck! I came with my mum - she’d wait forever.

    Motion sensors on the corridor lights. Better. Oh mum, please you haven’t waited?

    Fire doors. Two... three.. push.

    “Where’ve you been?”

    At least it had stopped raining.




    1. WC150? That must be one hell of venue the narrator was at to have so many toilets!

  6. Nannyferatu

    150 words

    “You can’t stop me,” growled Eve. “It’s my turn.”

    “Yes, dear,” said Mother. “But don’t you think you need to reconsider?”

    “There is nothing to consider. I’m ready.”

    “Yes, dear. But don’t you think the whole umbrella thing is a bit passé, I mean it’s been done before. And today’s children … well they need something more. They don’t scare easily.”

    Eve thought for a moment. Madames Poppins and McPhee had had it so easy. She needed something with a bit more bite, something to cut through all the nonsense.

    “What about teeth?”

    “Again, that’s been done.”

    “One tooth, maybe, but what about this?”

    Eve opened her mouth, showed dangerous incisors.

    “Oh my,” said her mother, faintly. “Perhaps you are ready after all.”

    Eve, remembering the family motto ‘Nanny Knows Best’, picked up the umbrella again. Its adaptations were bound to come in useful.

    Somewhere, she heard a child scream.

  7. The Masterpiece
    148 words

    ‘You are my muse,’ he said, part way down the third bottle. ‘With you I can do the impossible.’
    She was naked, breathless and alive. So alive. ‘Do it,’ she gasped.
    At the Biennale she hunched, a battered crow with broken wings, high up in a cage. His creation was the talk of the piazzas and palazzos. He moved in with a Hollywood actress.
    It took her a long time to track him down after that. Until he fell out of favour and into rehab.
    Her psychiatrist recommended she write first, put all her anger into a letter and ask for a meeting. But her physiotherapist was newly divorced. ‘Break his balls,’ she said. ‘Tear him limb from limb.’
    So she stood outside the facility, her umbrella hand opening and closing at the end of her one remaining arm, its sharpened tip poised to create her own masterpiece.

  8. Swimming Lessons

    ‘Come on, up you get.’
    ‘My tummy hurts ...'
    ‘It's swimming after school.’
    ‘Don’t want to go.’
    ‘Ruby, if you're not up by the time I count to …’

    Ruby was quiet walking to school, and even quieter on the way to the pool. When they reached their destination she hid behind her mother.
    ‘What’s the matter?’
    ‘That shadow lady scares me.’
    ‘What shadow lady?’
    ‘Look, on the wall.’
    Ruby's mother turned around, but there was nothing to see.

    She recalled a story from childhood about a girl who'd drowned in the pool. The mother hadn't been able to reach her and vowed to never let it happen again. Ruby's mother remembered the shadow lady.
    'She's only looking after you, like she looked after me when I was your age,' she said, squeezing her daughter's hand.
    The shadow followed them inside, outstretched umbrella ready to reach for any child in trouble.

    WC 149

  9. Not All Of Us

    Clary and Marc were cross-legged as Jess arrived, dropping down beside them.

    “Hey,” Marc grunted.

    Clary shrugged, glancing at the redhead. “Playing chicken with deadline?”

    “Here, aren’t I?” Jess replied. “Not like there’s a choice, is it?” The trio’s eyes focused simultaneously on the blank screen at the front of the arena. Jess shivered. “Don’t you hate it?” she burst out. “Seeing them?”

    Marc stared at her, eyes wide.

    “Shhh,” Clary said. “Someone’ll hear. Then where will you be?”

    “Isn’t that the point?” Jess said. “That they have us sooner or later?”

    “Not all of us,” Marc replied. Clary’s head swivelled towards him, eyebrows raised. “Showtime,” he said, eyes on the vertical white surface. “Let’s find this year’s winner.”

    On screen, black silhouettes solidified, thin, shadowed blades raised en garde. Jess’s head turned away.

    “Welcome our brother or sister to the shadowlands,” the crowd chorused on cue. Jess was mute.

    (150 words)


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  11. Me and My Shadow
    150 words

    My shadow is gorgeous.

    No greying hair, no wrinkles, no wobbly bumps and blobs.

    So it’s my shadow I am sending to meet you, on this our first date in real life.

    My shadow waits for you, bold and poster-sized, against the library wall. I can feel my hair drooping in the damp night air, but she doesn’t have a hair out of place.

    I can see you approaching. Wow.

    My shadow turns her irresistibly slate-smooth body towards you…

    I panic. Me. Not her. I lash out with my umbrella, trying to slice my shadow in two, while she performs a ridiculously graceful display of swipes across the wall. You watch her, entranced; charmed by her charcoal perfection.

    I hesitate, and then take a step towards you.

    Then another.

    My shadow slowly shrinks into the tarmac. And as I emerge into the lamplight, I am sure I hear you gasp.

  12. Omens

    148 words

    ‘Isn’t this a lovely day to be caught in the rain...’

    Benny’s voice echoed off the shrapnel-cratered walls. Lucy smiled as he danced down the road, as sure-footed as Astaire.

    An aircraft droned overhead. Searchlights probed the sky moments later, picking up the unfortunate craft and gripping it in their blinding fingers. Anti-aircraft shells exploded around it, little sparks of flame in the blackness.

    Benny looked up, the gaiety falling from his face. After twenty bomber ops he knew what being shot at was like.

    “Let’s get home,” Lucy said, walking faster.

    The shadow on the wall kept pace with her but Benny didn’t. She shivered as she saw one lonely silhouette. It wasn’t a bad omen. Benny would finish his war and come home safely. Turning away from the stark shadow, she took Benny’s arm and pulled him along, unease sour in her heart.

  13. @firdausp
    (137 words)


    Standing in the doorway I watch her draped across the wall of the neighbouring house. She leans against it oblivious to the light drizzle. Her umbrella poised as if to unfurl any minute.

    I reach out my hand, she does too. I smile and I can hear her smile. The sound is a little swish of the lips, and I can almost see the half crescent.

    It's getting dark and a little cold. As I go inside she follows, pooling around my feet from the light overhead.

    In the dim light from the bedside lamp I strip and watch her do the same. Her movements more fluid and graceful than mine. No scars, no wrinkles—she's perfect.

    I leave the lamp on. She lies down beside me, spooning me from behind, a reminder that I'm never alone.

  14. Used.

    I shouldn't have been there.
    The pounding rain started without warning as I turned into an unfamiliar road.
    Second right the voice said.
    The wipers couldn't cope with the deluge. I was confused about the location. I moved my eyes away from the road to the screen on my left. The blue line clearly showed me on Drury Lane, but this road was narrow and off the main route.
    I felt a thud against the wing, and the car lurched over a bump then stalled.
    i got out, walking to the back by the rear lights, spied two lifeless legs lying in an unnatural position, checked body for a pulse: none.
    Panic cloaked my senses and I drove off.
    “Why me?” Tabloids say you were slated, worst actress, disaster, suicidal, “but why choose me?”
    “Stop following me!”
    You appear again dancing freely in the rain.
    But I’m not free.

    149 words (exc title)

  15. @GeoffHolme
    Word Count: 150

    Party Time!

    She yawns and stretches, curling toes:
    "Five minutes, folks, until we close!"
    The members squeeze out of the door,
    And silence then descends once more.

    Another workweek done at last:
    Quick tidy up and get home fast.
    "Got any plans?" asks colleague Tess.
    "A birthday party, fancy dress."

    "Sounds fun," says Tess, "I feel quite green."
    "It's sword & sorcery - not my scene;
    My bag’s romantic novels. Oh,
    I'm not sure if I want to go.”


    She has no notion what to wear
    To fit the theme but, halfway there,
    Encounters roadworks. And thus she’s
    Developing a cunning wheeze.

    Outside the house, the prop she’s found,
    Lit up by floodlights on the ground,
    Casts eerie shades, hard to dispel,
    As, donning it, she rings the bell.

    The portal opens. "Hi!" Sal says,
    Then peers, bemused, at her friend's “fez”.
    "What have you come as, Mary Ann?"
    "Um... Cone on the librarian."

  16. That’s A Wrap

    Okay, now hold the umbrella in front of you and pretend you can’t open it.

    Sorry, what? Belinda said.

    After all those years in front of the camera she assumed she had heard all the requests a photographer could make. She always understood and complied: fashion is fluff, that’s why it requires a model doing something, anything, to make a picture compelling. Giving the impression you’re struggling with an umbrella wasn’t one of those things, Belinda thought. Still, there she stood, in a ridiculously expensive dress and in an even more ridiculous pose. The photographer snapped away. When Belinda turned her head, she discovered the flash of the camera cast her greyish black shadow on the white building behind her. At least that showed some artistic merit.

    After about an eternity the photographer said Okay, that’s a wrap.

    Yeah, I think it is, Belinda muttered. I think it is.

    149 words

  17. Mr. NUI scrubbed harder to wipe the spraypaint off the wall. His spraypaint. He brushed vigorously enough for it to look like tough work for his investors: codgers who would be watching this footage on tonight’s news. His true fans could get a good laugh in when re-watching the videos online in the months ahead.

    He never wore a mask for his graffiti work, but all the papers and websites were quick to use the lazy headline “MR. NUI UNMASKED.” His followers likely had an image of him as a mysterious, globetrotting, renegade, not the overweight, pasty man that was arrested halfway through his firehouse umbrella girl mural.

    He continued to clean the wall and color in the white spaces with the small pastel he’d concealed from the parole officer, shaping the message he’s send to his fans when he was a continent away. “Bring your blacklights to the firehouse.”

    150 words

  18. Shadow Play

    Laughing in the rain and playing with shadows were nothing new to Kensington and Mac. The two had been together since the seventh grade, and their worlds were the better for it. As they grew up, they didn’t grow out of making up their own shadow plays, they’d just grown more elaborate.

    And that was how they found themselves outside the train station that Sunday, reenacting scenes from Doctor Who with nothing more than an umbrella and a bowling ball.

    And when the police surrounded them, neither could explain what they were doing, and every attempt ended in more fits of laughter.

    They were held over as the police ran every test they knew to see what they were on, but they found nothing. They were finally released on their own recognizance and told not to carry a bowling ball within city limits.

    They never said anything about watermelons.

    149 words

  19. Woman At Work

    Her shadow, huge on the white wall, reminded her of something - now what was it? Perhaps it will come to me later, she thought, opening the back door. She shook out her sodden umbrella, and savoured the echo of her footsteps in the corridor all the way to her room. Well, not hers exactly; more borrowed. Appropriated.

    She took off her coat and sat down at the table. Time to work…and she snorted. That was it; that old joke at school, about ‘men at work’ road signs being a man opening his umbrella. Except the man’s work - his umbrella - was on the ground, while hers was conjuring ideas, images and phrases out of thin air. She smiled for a moment, then sat up straight and began to type. This story wasn’t going to write itself.

    136 words

  20. Shakespearean Sonnet to A Seaside Statue

    Whene’er I find my wand’rings lead me here,
    To cogitate upon flash fiction notes,
    Ofttimes I bellow “Ars’nal!” in thy ear,
    If passersby should haply clear their throats.
    When Master ‘Preview’ said they were all wrong,
    The notes that sounded when a tune thou played
    Were all correct, thou said, but might belong
    In some order more fittingly arrayed.
    A play what Master Wise wrote I did view
    When yet I was a callow, fresh-faced sproglet,
    Where Mistress Jackson was induced to strew
    A ‘sleeking kowder’ in thy golden ‘goglet’.
    And if, perchance, I stand here in the rain,
    “I’m wet through, folks!” I hear thee moan again.

    Word Count: 108

  21. Mrs Gulliver knew she’d never get through the door with or without the
    birthday umbrella. She’d brought the Blue-footed Booby handled brolly all the
    way from the Galápagos Islands.
    She could just hear Mr G moaning, I warned you about giant discrimination.
    Best to stay home.
    Maybe she could climb the balcony. Ha, maybe twenty years ago, not
    anymore. Her spare tyre was the size of a rescue dinghy.
    Strains of Squeeze drifted out and in spite of herself, Mrs G began to sway
    and tap her feet.
    Suddenly the doors opened, a few hundred faces popped out.
    ‘Ooh, we thought it was an earthquake.’
    ‘Just li’l ol’ me foot stomping, cos I can’t fit through the door.’
    Sal rubbed her chin, pointed a finger in the air and ran inside.
    Next minute the band joined them outside, followed by people carrying tables
    of food and the party commenced.

    Rosie Canning

  22. Would you follow me to a house with a white, picket fence? Would you dance me through its rooms then sit near me by the fire? Would you join me drinking tea cross-legged, pinkies raised? Would we read from a book and banish silent hours?
    Would you come a little closer, so I can see the line of your face? Would you forgive me, if I said I can't go on anymore? Would you understand how empty the grey space has been? Would you slip round your neck the noose left by the door? I can be your colour, depicting how this ends, you my slate mirror and sombre, death friend.
    Would you follow me to a house with a white picket fence?

  23. Come In, Number 9, Your Time Is Up

    “You wanted me, sir?”

    “Yes, Number 9, come in.”


    “Ah, thank you. Look, Number 9 – Natasha - no easy way to say this; we’re letting you go.”


    “Job calls for a certain type. Certain behaviour. Plausible deniability, foolproof cover and rigid protocol.”

    “I am trying sir.”

    “You’ve set fire to a dead letter drop, given classified files to the wrong team and blown a perfectly simple extermination.”

    “Canterbury wasn’t my fault sir; the umbrella gun jammed so I improvised.”

    “By beating the target to death with a brolly…”


    “The barista has written “Big Boss Spy” on my coffee cup... Look, pick up a blank ID pack at the door and spend your severance on starting over. Somewhere nice, eh?”

    “Thank you, Sir.”

    Standing outside, Natasha drained her crimson coffee cup and thumbed her phone.

    “Is done. Da, all of them. In coffee. No-one suspects.”

    149 words

  24. -- Mum --

    "...and after the lights, Mum bought me some Lego *and* a hot chocolate. With marshmallows."

    Aaron paused.

    "Whereas, Ryan, your mum..."

    I kept quiet.

    "Who we never see."

    "Who *you* never see."

    "OK. Does she have flippers?"



    "Far from it."

    "50ft tall, perhaps?"

    "Well, she could..."

    I said something really stupid.

    "Photo," said Aaron, "or dead leg."

    I told Dad later.

    "She might," he said.

    I didn’t need my 3am alarm. Trees bent in the woods at the bottom of the garden as Mum emerged. Striding up to my window, she did her best whisper.

    "Let’s go, Ryan. Camera?"

    She lifted me out of the bedroom on to her shoulder. Nine steps later, we reached the town square. There it stood. She popped me down in front of Debenhams and posed.

    I took a picture as my amazing Mum lifted the municipal Christmas tree with just one hand.


    150 words

    1. Clever stuff, Ed. The punchline gave me a chuckle

    2. Clever stuff, Ed. The punchline gave me a chuckle