Saturday, May 26, 2012


You’re happy. With him. You’re in love. It’s beautiful and gorgeous and just so right. Until she sees it. She always sees it. And then she must take it away. She must break it. Destroy it. Spoil it. Steal it. And she will not stop until this is done. Hold on to your heart, she’ll take you on a rollercoaster ride.

I’m talking about Scarlet, eternally young, coquettish smoky grey eyes and ruby lips. You never stood a chance. You may have arrived, hand in hand, but by the end of the evening she will have him eating out of the palm of hers.  He will forget your name; she will wipe his memory of cherished times you shared. One kiss. That’s all it takes. As soon as his mouth touches her pouting red lips, you’re history, a lit candle against a cyclone.

Her hair never ends, like a fairytale princess; it billows and shines like there’s a constant breeze following her. Perhaps there is, there’s something strange, a dark magic, an unearthly quality, a ravishing, aching perfection that just isn’t bestowed upon us mere mortals.

To see her is to want her, take her, consume her, breathe in her musky irresistible scent and mould your body to hers. I’ve seen it happen, I’ve felt the pain. I’ve turned up with a husband whose eyes betrayed me the second he saw her. They fall in drones, at her smooth porcelain skin and voluptuous curves. She collects them, a museum of triumphs. And then they disappear, like they never existed at all. You’re left feeling quite mad, examining his birth certificate just to make sure.

You challenge her and she laughs that sweet laugh. She doesn’t care; she has more lustful fools ripe for the taking. Perhaps your lustful fool?   



Thursday, May 17, 2012

Scene of the crime

She had a thing about murder scenes. It wasn’t especially the gore, or the criminality, it was the drama. She never felt more alive than when she looked at the dead. You’d never guess it to look at her. Lacklustre, level-headed Loretta with her mousy hair scraped into a severe bun, glasses perched on a plain nose, drab long skirt and mohair cardigan. If her colleagues, at the library, ever saw her at home, they simply wouldn’t recognise her.

Loretta had a penchant for recreating the scenarios that titillated her the most. She would pour over the photographs, in the evening, and head to the enormous wardrobe. Forget Narnia, this was even more of a bizarre spectacle. Her favourite part was the shelved section, which contained her collection of wigs, all lengths, perms, straight, black, brunette, blonde, ginger. The hair made all the difference; she became the butchered wife, the unfortunate teenage girl, the heiress killed for money.

The wardrobe was bursting with garments, clothes spanning through the ages were arranged chronologically for ease of selection. The shoes were something else, the 1940’s brown peep toes, and the garish 1970’s mules, so many to choose from.

Her eyes scanned the open book. Tonight she would be Martha the prostitute, found covered in blood, in a compromising fashion. She stood on tiptoe and dragged down the wavy blonde wig. Her fingers briskly swept through the coat hangers, she smiled as they found the red mini dress, delightfully similar to that of Martha’s. Loretta then searched for the black stockings, the ones with the bow at the top of the lace panel. She chose the platform black heels and dressed. She applied eyeliner and smudged scarlet lipstick around her lips. She studied the photo again and created bespoke ladders in the nylon stockings, to match, holes and pulls in precise places.

She grabbed the dark crimson tube and squeezed it on to her neck, double checking, it was all about the detail. Martha had been slashed at the throat so Loretta needed a lot of fake blood to create the perfect image. Once satisfied, she lay down on top of the bed and yanked up her dress to reveal her most intimate parts.

She controlled her breathing until it became so shallow that it was barely there. She heard the front door open, was aware of the creak on each stair but, dedicated, she remained in character. She saw the man above her, heard him gasp. She never even flinched. She felt his trembling hand touch her forehead, witnessed his confusion at her warmth. She maintained the look even at the sound of his zip. She never uttered a word. But her slight smile gave it away and he was full of panic then, stuck a knife in her throat, and reeled in horror as real blood pumped from her body. He ran down the stairs and out of the house. Don’t feel sad. It’s all Loretta ever dreamed of.

One Day at a Time

Lauren woke up, which surprised her. She shot a hopeful glance at Richard, in the bed beside her, and held her breath until she was sure she saw his. So they’d made it another day. Lauren didn’t know how long this could continue, people were starting to die. Mr. and Mrs. Wilcox had been the first; their old decrepit bodies seemingly had no chance against the bright burning sun. They’d gone out, she heard, and never made it back home. The sun spotted their hope and scorched it into crisps.

Then it had been poor baby Mia, only two weeks old, her weak newborn frame couldn’t take the sweltering heat. Mia’s mother, Tina, had stormed out into the garden and stayed there, too cut up with grief to care what happened next. What happened next was that she had baked fried scalded, blistered, burned, and shrivelled.

Lauren tried to blink away the images and the terror. What was worse? Taking on the sun like that or the slow crawl to the end, starvation and thirst? Tears pricked the corners of her eyes. She watched the rise and fall of Richard’s broad shoulders, the manly lines of his back and the eternal beads of sweat that covered them now. She moved up, her body brushing against his, skin on skin, alive. The unmistakable drip of desire, the electrical jolts caused her hand to snake around his body and feel for a response with confident fingers. They still had today.

A drowning man is not troubled by rain.

Taken & developed from my story 'The Number 93'.

The 93 bus roars back to life at the terminus. The new driver watches the old man, full of sorrow, shuffle to his seat. The old man is Jack; he’s 86 and tired of life. He lost his wife, Brenda, last week. They’d finished their nightly Cocoa, creaked into bed and fell asleep. Brenda never woke up and felt cold and rigid in the morning. He has spent the last three days on the 93, on and off, going around and around and around.

The April sun, of yesterday, has miraculously turned to snow. He thinks, perhaps, he feels better that the weather’s turned cold and bitter. It seemed distasteful, the happy egg yolk sun, he’d wanted to rip it out of the sky and make it rain. How did the sun dare shine when Brenda could no longer feel its warmth?

He watched the passengers, come and go, life continued all around him. It was vaguely comforting. Life didn’t carry on at home, even the clock had stopped ticking that morning, when he realised Brenda wasn’t getting up to toast the bread while he made the tea. He hadn’t returned to the bed, nor changed the sheets. He threw the old tartan blanket over his legs and waited for sleep to find him, as he settled into the armchair. He shed a tear as the light broke through the gap in the curtains and for another empty day, he was alive, without her.

The neighbours had suggested he find himself a nice hobby. He looked at them blankly. He had lost the love of his life, they’d been together 67 years, no amount of fishing or stamp collecting would make him feel better about that.

When had he last told Brenda that he loved her? His heart lurched, he gripped the seat in front of him in a panic, as the bus cruelly ignored the young female in pink Wellington boots and raced by the park and the library. No, panic over, he definitely had less than two weeks ago. What day would it have been? They’d been watching the television and she’d been chuckling at a comic. He’d started laughing too, despite having missed the joke, because that’s what her laugh had made him do. Before they knew it, they were practically in tears as they egged each other on, their sides hurting, sighs that kept it going.
‘I love you, you funny old bugger’, he’d said, and they’d collapsed in hilarity again. Tears prickle at his eyes now and threaten to spill over on to his weathered cheeks.

He pressed the bell, waiting for the bus to stop before standing, he didn’t have Brenda to hold on to now, and he thought he’d probably fall. He’d stop for some flowers, lilies were her favourite, her mother had been called Lily. He’d go and see her, have a little chat, pretend he could still hear her funny old croaky cackle.    

The Red Jumper

Mrs. Morrison knits a jumper, surrounded by balls of soft, red wool. Mr. Morrison pretends to read the newspaper, but they both know that he won’t get as far as the crossword puzzle because he’s too busy listening to the click-clack of the knitting needles. It’s the same every Saturday night; it has been for twenty three years, and after all this time, she still hasn’t finished her husband’s jumper.

‘I might finish this jumper this week’, Mrs. Morrison states, bowing her head to conceal the rapidly growing smirk on her face.

Mr. Morrison glances up from his paper, watches his wife’s quick hands perform their magic; he likes the winding of the wool but mostly the sound as the needles clink together, it sends a sensual tingle right down his spine.

‘I don’t think you will’, he challenges her, which makes her giggle.

‘Oops, I made a little blunder’, she confesses in that little girl lost voice which drives him crazy.

‘What did you do?’ he growls.

‘I dropped a stitch’, she admits with wide eyes.

‘Say it again’, Mr. Morrison orders.

‘I dropped a stitch’, she says with slow, sultry repetition.

Mr. Morrison groans and trembles with desire, and leads his wife by the hand to the bedroom, leaving a trail of red wool up the stairs.

Baking Day

Doris kneads the dough; making her arm fat wobble. She sweats as she digs her thumbs in, turns it over and pummels. She likes the way it swells to life under her hands. Her striped cotton apron is dusted in flour, as are her hands, her cheeks and the lino floor.

George naps upstairs, he dreams of young ladies in tiny swimsuits: blondes, brunettes, redheads, he’d long stopped being fussy. He smiles as they frolic in the water, cheeky pink nipples pop through shiny fabric.

Doris shapes the dough, chubby fingers work briskly to capture the intricate features. She’s making a bread George. Her tongue lolls at the side of her mouth in concentration. The dough’s too sticky; she throws another handful of flour on to the worktop, covering George’s bread face and has to pick out the nooks and crannies of his eyes, nose and mouth again.

She doesn’t really like George. Her mother had promised her that she would grow to love him. Well fifty two bloody years later and all she feels is a persistent stab of annoyance. She loathes his nightly snoring. She despises his greedy salivation at young girls on the television. She hates the way he shouts out the answers at quiz shows, his smug face when he gets them right. Doris spitefully sinks her thumbs into his dough eyes until they emerge at the other side and smoothes them over.

George wakes in agony, he can’t see, his eyes won’t open, his entire head burns with a searing pain.

Doris hears his cries and wishes he would shut up. He’s always making a racket. With circular motions, she rubs a large piece of dough into a ball. With great delight, she crams it into George’s bread mouth.

George mumbles, struggling for air, as he writhes in the bed, a salty taste fills his mouth and a pressure makes him gag but it’s no use, his lips fuse together until he can’t make a sound.

Doris smiles, feeling pleased with the tranquillity. She looks down at George’s dough nose and aches to rip it off, or flatten it with the palm of her angry hand. She longs to do it. But maybe this is enough? He can’t leer at attractive girls or shout at the television. Perhaps she could live with this new George?

Devilment wins the day as she gleefully screws up the dough in her large, mean hands until no trace of the George face exists. She stuffs it into the loaf tin and slams it into the hot oven.

She walks upstairs, her heavy feet creak on each step. She pops her head around the door. No George. He has quite disappeared. His spectacles remain on the bedside cabinet, and flour covers the sheets, but he has very much gone.

Doris enjoys a peaceful, pleasant evening, watching television, and pulling apart chunks of golden, freshly baked bread, smeared in butter and jam, eating until it’s all gone.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

This is my title, My story is hereby named: My epic haiku.

I have a problem
And I can only explain
In five, seven, five.

It started last year,
A competition entry,
To write a haiku.

I liked the feeling
The counting of syllables,
The three lined pattern.

And I couldn’t stop.
I entered sixty-seven.
My new obsession.

It must seem crazy
To all you regular folk
Who write so freely?

Imagine faces
Of those I know, those I don’t
Who try to converse.

I count on fingers,
The syllables on digits,
As I speak out loud.

Tip tap on paper
My spidery hands tap, tap,
Checking the numbers.

It just has to be
The perfect little haiku
Or I lose control.

Once I got it wrong
A mistake in a story
Five, seven and four!

The shame was awful
I remember my anger
In the sad mirror

There for all to see,
The girl who made the mistake,
Sent the flawed haiku.

So I’m careful now
With double and triple checks
For five, seven, five.

And one day I’ll win,
And people will understand,
A nice big first prize.

Until this happens,
I’ll keep counting syllables
On my busy hands.

I’ll ignore the stares,
The sniggers, the distraction.
They just don’t get it.

My doctor’s advice
Shall be heeded: therapy
I’ll get there one day.

By Laura Huntley,
Lover of flash fiction and
Partial to haiku.


I saw an angel today, perfection in lily white, crying into a tatty tissue, perched on the grey church steps. I would usually mind my own business, I’m not an interfering type, but I’d never seen an angel before so I joined her. Because she was an angel and, I only a mere mortal, I quite lost my tongue, my throat dried and words crumbled in my brain, rendering me silent.

She peered up at me and smiled, and my legs didn’t belong to me any more. I unashamedly gasped at her ethereal beauty, the large hazel eyes, the small button nose, and the soft pink lips that probably tasted of strawberries, honey or wine, something intoxicating, sweet and delicious. I felt the most overwhelming sorrow in my heart and yearned to wipe away the dainty, crystal teardrops.

‘Angels shouldn’t cry.’ I heard myself utter. She laughed at that, rolled her gorgeous eyes, but the laughter caught on a morose thought and she wept a little more. I handed her my starched white handkerchief, without a word, and she took it, nodding in gratitude.

She said, ‘I should go back in there.’ looking back at the church.

‘Should you?’ I asked.

‘Yes. I’ve left a distraught fiancĂ© and have upset all my family and friends.’

‘But do you want to?’ I asked, trying to be the solid, calm voice of reason, quashing the urge to take her in my arms and speed up my fast-track to Heaven.

She said, ‘I don’t know.’ with a tremor in her voice, my handkerchief catching fresh sprinkles of tears, some landing on the satin bodice of her dress.

‘You could come with me and leave all this?’ I offered out my hand, pleading with her with my eyes.

She shook her head mournfully, her long auburn hair tickled my hand, and she placed the handkerchief inside it.

‘Goodbye and thank you.’ She kissed me lightly on my forehead. I watched her walk towards the church doors, smoothing down the fabric of her crumpled gown.

‘I’ll always remember the day I met an angel.’ I shouted after her. My words were wasted; they bounced back off the closing doors. I slipped the handkerchief, blessed with angelic teardrops, into my pocket and sloped back home. I didn’t wait to watch the parade of relieved and happy faces, confetti, bouquets and other such wedding paraphernalia. I broke down at the mental image, mixing my own melancholy with hers on to the white cotton, so I replaced it with the memory of her smile, her lips, to savour, to cherish, the day I saw an angel. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Nancy Bellerose

She came to me in a dream, and I was grateful for that, I had my publisher breathing down my neck for my next book that I hadn’t started. This is, generally, how it begins. I invent a character, one that I can see vividly and give them a voice, a style of dress, habits, flaws and positive traits. I interview them in my head, asking question after question until I know them better than my own sister.

Often the more outrageous a personality; the more straightforward it is to paint them with words. Of course, some don’t make the final cut, and some need tweaking beyond first recognition. But this is my method of writing and my fiction, I feel, has always been the better for it.

So when Nancy Bellerose was born in my slumbered imagination, I awoke full of resolve and clarity, a smile on my face and relaxed shoulders. I could still see her as I stumbled through the morning, as I do, with countless cups of coffee, numerous cigarettes and a love-hate relationship with morning television. She had immaculate hair, well groomed raven black locks, mostly straight until the flicked up kink at the bottom, glossy and smooth. She had impressive cheekbones; her face was slim but not severe. Her hazel almost cat-like eyes were to die for, as were her sultry lips that she would paint red. She adored fashion, loved to see and feel fabrics, bought the finest that her wealthy Papa’s money could buy her.

I would have fun with Nancy Bellerose. I imagined her as a chew men up and spit them out sort of woman. She’d clamber over (and indeed, under) anyone to get ahead, ambitious, ruthless, determined. I knew I needed a twist, a way for my readers to somehow feel as though they could still warm to her; allow her to win in the end. She must have a soft side, one that she concealed from the world, the mask had to slip, the devil horns shrink enough to fit on a small fluffy white halo. They had to love her; she must climb down from her sulky horse and appeal to them. I hadn’t developed the entire story, I rarely do. I prefer to start writing as soon as the character finds their tone and take it each word at a time. I give my character space to grow and move through the story like a strong willed marionette, occasionally they decide which way to turn.

Chapter one was going well, I’d introduced Nancy Bellerose immediately, and she was behaving like a luscious bitch in a coffee shop, almost curdling the goddamn cappuccino she sneered at whilst jangling her disgustingly expensive gold bracelet. Just the simple fact that words were leaving my active fingers as I typed on the keyboard thrilled me more than I can explain, but to have someone as elegantly spiteful paving the way felt like a dream come true. And so the words kept on coming, I had her hurling vicious abuse at her driver, cackling into her designer tailored coat as she splashed some poor woman in murky puddle water. I had her situated at a business lunch, besmirching every idea and ruining everyone’s day. And all this was gravy to my train until I remembered that I hadn’t got my glasses on and a gigantic headache was poking at my temples. I felt quite cross at myself as I rubbed at my stinging eyes, switching off the computer and abruptly called it a day.

I thought I’d take a leaf out of my very own beginnings of a book and pop out for a coffee. I regretted this decision as I felt the cold shards of rain miraculously find their way down the back of my jacket and wet my neck. But by now, the coffee shop was closer, so I slipped inside and hogged the last free table. And fuck me, guess who was there? I thought I’d lost my mind (or at the very least my spectacles again). A waitress came to take my order and, somehow, I just about managed to get the words out of my mouth to ask for a large coffee. Could it really be? But how is that? She looked just like her. I had a strong desire to slap my own face. That woman couldn’t be Nancy Bellerose, I mentally chanted, because I had made her up. She didn’t exist. If she did, then I must have seen her somewhere before and conjured up her face to fit my character? I watched her rebuff her foamy drink and heard the jangle of the bracelet I had just written about moments before.

She turned in my direction and noticed my intent gaze. I’m sure there was a micro expression of hesitancy, but then she smiled that deadly smile with ruby lipstick and blew me a kiss. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t respond. It was absolutely Nancy fucking Bellerose.

She stood up, fluffing her hair and fastening her long black coat. She sauntered by, in the seductive style of walk I knew she would have. She leaned down to kiss me, leaving a scarlet mark on the flesh of my cheek. She flung the doors open wide and I felt the spit of rain from outside. I followed her out and I watched her get up close to her driver, leaning in to his personal space, seething, shrieking expletives and nastiness. He apologised and immediately opened the car door for her; she slipped inside like a movie star. I glared at the scene before my eyes, the one that I’d written, the one that was happening. I pleaded with her with wide eyes but she sped off, drenching me from head to toe as the tyres raced through a puddle. I heard her laughter and I felt sorry for the poor bastards at the business meeting.