The Threadbare Girl – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s smaller short story collection (just 93 stories instead of 250!), The Story A Day May Collection, available in eBook and paperback from Amazon and Morgen’s online store where you can not only instantly download the collection but also purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…

The Threadbare Girl

It’s the two clocks she finds the most comforting. Both beat a different tune, started with batteries within a few seconds of each other. Alternating like an analogue tennis match.

Of course she doesn’t need two, it being such a small room and she’s not going anywhere so really she doesn’t even need one. But they keep her company. The only noise in her existence. Except for people going to work, then home. Car doors, house doors, the shouting in between. There’s no-one for her to shout at. About. Not that she would anyway. She’s too calm for that.

She only knows the seasons by the temperature of the room. With her body playing tricks on her, that’s not even accurate. She hears the radiators kick in around the house but hers isn’t working.

It’s the sun she misses the most. She sees chinks of it but it’s not the same. She can’t see the whole; her favourite fruit, high up in the sky. Burning into the skins of those allowed out. Playing, talking, oblivious to the freedom they take for granted.

She’s brought food every now and then, when he remembers. Sober enough to recall he’s not alone.

For the first few weeks she thought she’d be rescued, familiar hands picking her up, arms wrapping round her like Christmas paper, but the stranger’s arms have become familiar.

Sometimes she sits in the old empty bath; it cools her after he’s been. She needs it some times more than others, depending on what he’s expected of her.

She’s thought about drowning, but water’s a friend and a friend wouldn’t do that to her. He tells her they’re friends, special friends, and she smiles so he believes it. He’s nicer to her when she smiles so it’s an expression she’s learned to wear, glued in place as soon as she hears footsteps.

He’s told her his name is John but she doesn’t think it’s real. None of it is. It’s a three-year-long dream that loving hands will wake her up from.

He buys her clothes, always a size too small like he wants her to stay a child, as does she. “They grow up so fast,” her grandfather had said and when she sees him again she wants to be exactly the same. The tomboy who wouldn’t be seen dead in pink, but now wonders if she will be.

Everything about the room is childlike, like it was bought with her in mind; pretty pictures, toys to play with – only they’ve never been touched. She wishes she were a toy.

Her smile snaps in place as the stairs creak. She hears the bolt and the door hinges complain. She’d tried that once.

Her smile’s still in place as the arms reach out to her. She’s frozen to the spot, near the bath, in her pink and purple cotton summer dress.

The hands recoil as they touch her skin as if electrocuted by the cold.

*

“Good God, Ted!” The woman in the black trouser suit looked up at her colleague.

“You only need to look at her, Amanda, to know she’s freezing,” the older man added, scanning the room: a toilet, bath and cot, too small for a child her age. “Where’s she been sleeping?”

“I’m not sure she has,” Amanda replied.

Knowing how long the girl had been missing, Amanda battled with what to say to her. She wasn’t trained for this.

As if reading her mind, Ted crouched beside her.

The girl flinched.

“It’s OK love,” Ted whispered, stood up slowly and backed away.

Amanda looked at her. Her clothes, too sheer for the time of year, were threadbare like the room she’d been kept in. “Charlie, you’re going to be fine. You’re safe now.” She knew that was the best thing to say. No point in asking her if she was alright. Even the strongest person in her position wouldn’t be alright. And she looked as thin as a wafer and just as fragile.

“Where is he?” Charlie mouthed.

Amanda looked at Ted. He shrugged his shoulders. “We don’t know,” she answered honestly.

Charlie’s eyes widened.

“It’s OK, we have someone outside watching,” Amanda lied.

Ted looked at his watch. “We should be quick.”

Charlie yelped.

“It’s OK,” Amanda repeated. “Take your time.” She removed her jacket and went to put it round Charlie’s shoulders but she recoiled. “Please,” Amanda said softly. “You’re cold. Too cold. This will make you feel better.”

Those were words Charlie had heard before, many times. After he had been with her, he’d given her some hot chocolate and told her everything would be fine, he’d make her feel better.

She frowned. She did feel a little better; that it wasn’t him, but she didn’t know them either.

“Your parents sent us to find you, Charlie,” Ted said. “They’re worried about you. They want you home.”

Charlie shook her head. He had said that. That her parents had sent him to collect her from school. But he hadn’t known her name. They knew her name. Her real name. She’d told him to call her Olivia, her sister. He’d said it was beautiful and he’d been happy. But then he’d found out her real name and got angry. Beat her. But that was a long time ago and there was nothing to prove that now. No scars on the outside.

She closed her eyes and nodded. At least she’d be with a woman. And women didn’t do bad things to little girls.

“OK, let’s go,” Ted said gently.

Amanda put her jacket around Charlie, it swamping her, then placed an arm around the girl’s shoulders, and escorted her out of the cellar, following Ted up the stairs, past the door with the squeaky hinges, into a kitchen that Charlie had never seen.

She yelped again as the sunlight hit her eyes.

“Got your sunglasses on you, Amanda?” Ted asked.

Amanda went to dip into her handbag.

“No, please,” Charlie begged, releasing Amanda’s grip. “I want to see it, to see it all. Where he lives, where I’ve been living for…”

“We’ll talk about that later, Charlie,” Ted interrupted. “We just need to get you…”

Charlie stopped walking and stared at the hall they were now standing in, then back at the kitchen. Immaculate. It was all perfect. Her grandfather had called her ‘immaculate’. Miss Perfection. Then told her how her parents had waited so long to have her. Her and Olivia. The other half of her egg. That had made her laugh. She’d wanted to have eggs for breakfast for the rest of the week. Share them with Olivia. To make up for stealing her half before she was born.

She had her back to the front door when they heard the key.

Amanda grabbed Charlie’s hand and pulled her behind her, behind the front door as it opened, leaving the two men to stare at each other.

Ted instinctively went for the inside of his jacket, for the gun that hadn’t lain there for over ten years.

John’s eyes followed Ted’s hand and he launched his bags of shopping at him, one of them knocking him off balance.

Charlie screamed and John swung round. “Olivia! What are you doing?”

Amanda, still obscuring most of Charlie, looked over at Ted who nodded.

“John,” Amanda said calmly, “Charlie needs to come with us.”

“That’s not Charlie!” he hissed. “She’s Olivia.”

“OK John,” she said, despite knowing that not to be the case. “You need to let Olivia go, let her come with us.”

“Never!” he snarled. “She’s mine!”

With John distracted, Ted crept up behind him until a floorboard in the 1930’s house gave him away and John twisted back round so the men’s faces were now inches apart.

Charlie tugged on Amanda’s hand and took off the suit jacket. Remembering what he had done to her to get her there, Charlie whispered in Amanda’s ear. With the two men not moving, she knew she had little time. She took the jacket and holding one shoulder in each fist, lunged at John throwing the jacket over his head, pressing down as hard as she could.

With John dropping to his knees, Ted pounced, bearing down on him while Amanda retrieved the mobile phone from her handbag.

“Yes, hello. Police please, and ambulance. 12 Atkinson Street. Please hurry. Thank you.”

Charlie shivered as she leaned against the radiator watching the two private detectives restrain the man she’d known as ‘John’, the man who’d been her father figure for the past three years, the ‘best friend’ in Olivia’s absence, who’d made her hot chocolate not quite like her mother used to make it.

As the radiator kicked into life, she remembered what it felt like, to feel it as well as hear it, feel the warmth she’d been missing, inside and out.

###

Ghost – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s smaller short story collection (just 93 stories instead of 250!), The Story A Day May Collection, available in eBook and paperback from Amazon  and Morgen’s online store where you can not only instantly download the collection but also purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…

Ghost (second person viewpoint story)

As you rattle the charity tin, you sense something non-metal; a button you reckon.

Then a man walks up to you with a coloured piece of paper in his hand, an off-red you think, but it’s small so you can’t quite see. He folds it into a sliver, small enough for the slot on the top of your tin. He does it slowly, not to show off but out of reverence, but it lets you see what it is. A fifty pound note. He doesn’t particularly look as if he can afford it but he gives it as if it recompenses for something he’s earned, something non-monetary, something sacred.

“Thank you,” you beam, hoping to catch his glance which is still staring at the tin. It reminds you of the scene from Ghost where Whoopi Goldberg unwillingly gives some nuns a huge cheque, only this chap isn’t unwilling, just deep in thought. You look either side of him and smile in case there’s a female Patrick Swayze encouraging him to part with his hard-earned money.

The man just nods, turns and leaves, and you imagine his ‘ghost’ walking beside him, telling him he’s done the right thing, that the money is better off in there, the exact words you’re failing to recall. Only this isn’t four million dollars. But, you guess, to some it may as well be. To those it’s going to, that’s exactly what it is.

The tin’s getting full so you walk to your fellow volunteer, Angie, a few shops down, and tell her you’re going to pop back to HQ for an empty one. It’s a 5-minute drive so you know she won’t be alone for long.

As you pull up, you spot Simon, the only paid member of staff, walking into the building. You catch up with him as he heads for the office and swap “hello”s.

He puts his container on the desk and empties it out. You watch the coins roll into a controlled heap and a couple of notes flutter; a blue five, a brown ten. You’re not one to score points but you know you’ve done better.

Holding out your container, you ask, “Can I swap this for an empty one please?”

“I’m sorry, they’re all out,” he says. “You could have mine but I’m heading back. Won’t take me a second to empty yours though.”

“Sure,” you say and watch him cut the cable ties holding the lid in place. He smiles as your coins pile out next to his, and they remind you of the Henry Mountains that one time you visited the States.

“Oh look,” he says, pulling at the fifty pound note. “It’s a cheque.”

“Really?” you say as he unfolds it, “I could have sworn…”

“Oh!”

Your heart sinks and imagine it being for £5 instead of £50. “Oh, well…”

“No, you don’t understand. It’s a cheque for…”

“Yes?” you say, hoping for a figure near the fifty.

“Two million, four hundred and seventy five thousand pounds.”

“Please don’t exaggerate Simon,” you say but he smiles and holds out his hand. What you thought was a £50 note really is a cheque. A very pretty off-red cheque from The Patrick Swayze Foundation UK Fund. A cheque worth, doing a quick calculation in your head, about four million dollars.

###

May The Fourth Be With You – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s smaller short story collection (just 93 stories instead of 250!), The Story A Day May Collection, available in eBook and paperback from Amazon  and Morgen’s online store where you can not only instantly download the collection but also purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…

May The Fourth Be With You

“Half a pound?” Sonya looked into Wendy’s eyes as the older woman wrote the figure on to Sonya’s card.

“Well, yes, but half a pound is still progress. You’ve not gained so there’s no dreaded circle on your card and you’re only four pounds away from another silver star.”

“But half a pound. I’ve been SO good this week.” To Sonya, shifting half a pound a week was as bad as not having lost anything. £4 to lose half a pound, not exactly fair.

“Don’t worry,” Wendy soothed. “Everyone has weeks like this. Be just as good this week and you’ll probably lose more next Monday night.”

 

So Sonya had. Everything with more than a reasonable amount of fat went; her favourite crisps, no takeaways or ready meals, just meat, vegetables and fish. She was positively glowing with pride by the end of the weekend.

“Nothing! Seriously? Nothing?”

Wendy shook her head. “I’m sorry Sonya but I’m sure next week…”

Sonya took back her card when offered and rejoined the group. She sat in silence while Wendy gave her talk then plodded back to her car.

 

Walking into her hall, her tabby cat strolled to greet her.

“Nothing tonight Buttons. Absolutely nothing!”

Taking that as lack of food, Buttons plodded back into the kitchen and out the cat flap, leaving Sonya to sit on the sofa and watch TV until it was time for bed. Buttons re-emerged, ate the offered food then joined Sonya upstairs.

 

As she walked home from work the next day, she went past, as she did every afternoon, Gregory’s Bakery. Sitting solitary in the window, a pack of four Chelsea buns called her name. Sonya decided that she’d be doing the shop a favour by buying them so they could close up and go home. So she handed over her £1.50 and carried the bagged buns reverently out of the shop and towards the park.

Sitting on a bench by the lake, she carefully removed the pack, folded the paper bag and tucked it into her handbag. “Waste not want not,” she said.

Pulling apart one of the sealed ends of the pack, she put her nose closely to the two buns nearest the opening and inhaled. Fruit and sugar. Sickly but heavenly.

She then stared at the buns. “Well, I’m not going to eat you all.” So pulling the biggest of the front two out of the plastic wrapper, she started stripping it into small pieces and threw them, one by one, into the water causing a rugby-type avine scrum. Spotting a smaller bird missing out, she stood up, tucking the pack under her left arm and threw the remaining pieces of the first bun out to the runt which managed to devour some of it before being enveloped by its larger rivals.

With a smile on her face, Sonya turned round to walk back to the bench when one of the handlebars of a bicycle bumped into her arm knocking the pack to the ground. The second bun flew out and landed on the grass by the bench.

“Watch out!” the cyclist yelled as he whizzed by.

All Sonya could do was growl at him as he disappeared into the distance.

“Never mind,” she said to herself. “Two left. Two more than I should have but it’s only Tuesday. I can work it off. Walk faster. Go the long way to and from work.”

So grass-covered bun number two was ripped into shreds and went the same way as its predecessor.

Sitting down and facing the lake, she pulled out the third bun and was lifting it up to her mouth when she heard barking from her right. She turned round to see a particularly gorgeous-looking Jack Russell-cross heading in her direction. “Ahh…” she said, as it bounded towards her but then screamed as it leapt up at her, grabbing bun number three from her hand. “No!” she and the dog’s owner shouted in unison.

“Maisy!”

Sonya looked from her empty hand to the teenage girl who was now trying to prise the bun from the dog’s mouth.

“It’s OK,” Sonya said mournfully. “Let her have it. It’s fine. I have another one.”

The girl let go of the now-soggy bun and the dog trotted off, head held high, before slumping to the ground, releasing the bun and eating it at her leisure.

“I’m so sorry,” the girl said. “I’d give you some money but I’m only here to walk the…”

“It’s fine, really. These things happen. I shouldn’t be so greedy and if she’s hungry then…”

“Well, not really. She’s just had her supper but ‘an ever open door’ as my mum says.”

Maisy then reappeared, licking her lips and nudged Sonya’s empty right hand.

“Was that nice?” she asked the dog. Maisy barked and walked back to the girl.

“Sorry, again,” the girl said before putting Maisy on her lead and walking her out of the park.

Sonya looked down at the bag containing the remaining bun. “At least I still have you. And only having you will taste all the sweeter.”

She was then conscious of someone standing next to her; almost next to her, next to the bin to be precise, rooting through it. Staring at the dishevelled man Sonya guessed to be in his sixties, she looked at bun number four then back at the man. “Are you hungry?” she asked. “Sorry, silly question.”

The man just stared back at her.

“Do you like…? Another silly question. Here…” Sonya offered him the final Chelsea bun.

With a whiter smile than Sonya had been expecting, the man took the bag, removed the bun from it and dropped the packet into the bin. Whispering a “thank you” before carefully unravelling the bun, he slowly put the first edge into his mouth and sighed, as if he could hardly remember the last time he’d tasted anything so good.

Sonya wanted to say something else to him but he turned and wandered off in the direction of the bandstand. She then spotted another man, similar in stature but slightly older, sitting on one of the concrete steps. The first man, with bun in hand, sat down next to his friend and peeled another edge from the bun, handing it to him and smiled as he ate it just as reverently.

Sonya watched as the two men finished the bun and sat chatting. Wishing she had something else to offer them, she got up and walked home.

 

The following Monday, as she stepped on the scales, she thought, please… another half pound, half pound, half pound.

“Four pounds! Well done, Sonya. Another silver star on your card.”

Sonya beamed as the other women in the queue clapped and she thought, ‘four pounds; one for each bun, and I don’t miss them at all.’

###

Holding Her Hand – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s smaller short story collection (just 93 stories instead of 250!), The Story A Day May Collection, available in eBook and paperback from Amazon  and Morgen’s online store where you can not only instantly download the collection but also purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…

Holding Her Hand

I can’t bear it. It’s been… oh God, six hours. That’s not a good sign, is it? But she’s alive. That’s what matters. That’s all that matters.

I hate hospitals. That’s not strictly true. The last time I was… we were here, was when I gave birth to her. Six years ago. An hour a year. If they’re another hour… please let them be another hour… let her see seven.

Nick was here then. Holding my hand while I screamed at him, calling him every name. You don’t know what you’re doing when you’re… you know how it goes. Or not. Maybe you don’t.

Oh God, please don’t let me lose them both. I’ll go to church again, I promise. You can’t be that cruel twice. I’m sorry, I don’t know what I’m…

Nurse! Please, is there any…? Thank you. I’d be grateful… very…

I don’t know what I’d do if… no, mustn’t think like that. She’ll be fine. She has to be. She just will.

It’s my fault. Well, not totally. I wasn’t the one driving, speeding outside a school. Who does that? But I was late. A minute or two, that’s all. Stayed to listen to the end of a play. Put it before her though, didn’t I? Nothing’s more important, I knew that. Know that.

If I’d been early, on time, the car wouldn’t have been there yet. The road would have been clear when she’d chased the… yes, it’s the cat’s fault. No, mine. We usually hold hands but I’d let go so she could say “hello”. That’s all, just a hello.

Of course the road may not have been clear, it’s a school, but other drivers, parents, would have been going slower, legal, and they would have stopped. I hope they catch the son of a…

Oh no, he’s walking towards me. He’s taking his… what’s it called? The surgical cap thing. No, no, no, no… please don’t say…

“Yes, I am.” I don’t want to say anything else. I just want him to speak. Tell me quickly, get it over and done… one way or the other. Just say something. Why isn’t he saying something? He must have done this hundreds of times.

Good news would be easy, quick. So it’s… He’s speaking. Just don’t let him say, “we did everything we could” or “I’m sorry Mrs Everett…”

I don’t need every detail. It’s too complicated.

“Please,” I say out loud, “just tell me. I can handle it.” I’ve handled it before. Five years ago. Sudden, like this, couldn’t be helped. Of course it could have. Everything can be helped but we knew the risks. You don’t marry a policeman lightly.

Then he tells me. Magic words; “very slow recovery… will need your support… more operations” but I don’t care what it takes. She’s alive. Then it hits me; that her life has come full circle. Mine too. We’ll both leave hospital not knowing what the future holds, but I know one thing for sure, she’ll never be more loved and I’ll be there… holding her hand, every step of the way.

###

A Military Couple – a two-part short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s smaller short story collection (just 93 stories instead of 250!), The Story A Day May Collection is available in eBook and paperback from Amazon  and Morgen’s online store where you can not only instantly download the collection but also purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…

A Military Couple (part one)

Laura watches the ship leave. Silence. No waving hands, no kisses blown. The major’s words replay in her head. “He didn’t tell you?” He hadn’t. Not like him.

Laura pictures the box of his letters at the bottom of her wardrobe, at their home. The photos of him, comrades, even an ice cream van. She’d squinted at the face holding… no, offering the Flake 99. Offering it to him. Laura’s husband.

Laura’s never been the jealous type. Never needed to be. Until now.

It’s the woman’s brown eyes – like a puppy’s. John’s always been a sucker for those.

It had been her, Laura, who’d prevented them getting a dog. She loved them as much as he did but sneezed just passing one in the street. Every time she saw newspaper articles of sniffer dogs she’d smile, knowing they kept him company when she couldn’t. But now he has this woman keeping him company. Surrounded by deep brown eyes whose owners know how to use them.

And now he’d made the choice. Home to her or stay with them. He’d written so freely, so lovingly that it had never dawned on Laura that there would be a choice. Could be. She’d stood with the other wives, waving, cheering. Except the other wives were holding hands with their children, until their husbands arrived and they let go, threw their arms around them. A group hug. A human parcel of flesh and blood.

She’d watched them one by one, group by group, get into their cars, and drive back to their houses, safe within the confines of the base. A bricks and mortar group hug. To homemade food, parties, reunions. Only Laura’s still waiting for hers.

She doesn’t mind it getting dark. It’s the warmth she misses. A sunny early May day turned into a cold May night. She zips her jacket up to her chin and digs her hands into her pockets. She isn’t sure why she waits; she knows there won’t be another ship. Unlike buses they don’t come in threes. They come in ones and her one, his one, came and went hours ago.

She hears footsteps behind her and turns. A man in uniform and she nods.

“I’m sorry ma’am. I’m going to have to lock up now. Do you have a ride…?

She nods again and walks to her car. It’s still the one he bought her when they were first married but it drives well and she doesn’t want to change it. She doesn’t want anything to change.

The car starts first time and purrs like a kitten. The talked-about kitten that went the way of the dog. She drives the half hour to their detached redbrick house and pulls up to curtained windows with no lights behind.

Locking the car she walks up to the green metal post-box, finds the smallest key on the ring and opens the door. It squeaks as she pulls it and she makes a mental note to locate some WD40. John would have noticed it before now and she’d never have known.

Picking out the solitary letter she recognises everything about it; the envelope, the writing, even the smell. She shuts the door and lets herself into the house.

Putting a pre-prepared casserole-for-two into the oven, she sits at the kitchen table and stares at the letter. She has twenty minutes to decide what to do. She can wait while she eats but she doesn’t want to spill anything on it. She thinks about the dinner and what she’s to do with the other half. There’s no dog to feed it to. Once it’s cooked it can’t be re-frozen so decides it’ll keep in the fridge until it’s binned or eaten. She knows it won’t taste the same; eating alone never does. Conversations turn to silence as she has nothing to share.

The timer pings as the doorbell goes and she stares at one then the other. The dinner, too hot, can wait a while but with no-one else it can be, she knows the other choice can’t.

She runs to the door. He’s changed his mind. Only when she opens the door there’s not one man to greet her but two. One takes off his hat, followed by the other. One goes to speak but can’t find the words. She knows him, from John’s 30th. Andy, she thinks his name his. She recognises the other from earlier in the day and feels sorry for him, that he’s had to leave his family so soon after getting home.

She knows why they’re there so she doesn’t need them to say anything. She knows she doesn’t want them to speak but that they inevitably will.

“Wait,” she says and the men look at each other. “Please come in and wait. Don’t say anything. I need to do something first.”

The men do as she asks, wiping their feet on the mat, although they all know there’s not a speck of dirt to be found. They stand, caps under their arms, a gentle pressure that ensures no dents. They watch her walk into the kitchen, slowly as if stopping time. The men smell the food and Andy licks his lips then bows his head.

She sits at the table, holds the envelope in both hands then turns it over and opens it, pulling out the cream matt paper.

My darling Laura. I have to keep this short as we’re about to go on manoeuvres but I know you’ll understand. Do you remember Andy from my birthday party? No, probably not. Too many faces, names. I’ll send a picture next time. His wife’s due to give birth shortly and he won’t be home in time. He didn’t ask. He wouldn’t, but I knew and… I’m sorry, really I am. I know you’re going to be disappointed, but you’d do the same. I know you would. Anyway, things out here are fine. We even have British ice cream. Not quite the taste I remember without you sharing, but it’s a little piece of home. A little piece of you. Take care my darling and I’ll be with you before you know it. Love always. John xx

She stares at the kisses and pictures his face; smiling, laughing, no fear in his eyes. The eyes, brown as a puppy’s.

She stands up, places the letter into her pocket and walks back into the hall.

###

A Military Couple (part two – A Different Perspective)

So she was there. Laura. I wish I’d looked harder now. If I’d known he hadn’t phoned her, had sent a letter that hadn’t reached her, I’d have found her, gone over, and said something. Invited her to ours. Only I saw Emma and little Daisy from the ship and well, I couldn’t take my eyes off them and was just… oblivious to my surroundings. Which is not what we’re trained to do but you don’t expect to be looking for anyone else at something like that, do you? The crowd was just that… a crowd. Sure, I’d spotted other women I recognised but once I’d seen Emma, that was it. Focused. Honed in. Homed in.

Guilty? Yes, very. I should have looked for her. To tell her. But I didn’t know. And I know what you’re thinking; that it’s my fault he was out there. You’re not wrong. I said I could wait. That she’d send me photos. Wouldn’t miss much, Daisy being so young and all, but Johnny insisted. He was like that. Said he wouldn’t miss much either, but I knew that wasn’t true. He’d been out there longer than me but he loved it. Loved her of course too, but work was his obsession. It’s the adrenalin. Unless you’re in a job like ours, you can’t understand.

He left before I woke up so I didn’t get to say “goodbye”. That’s the worst bit. I wanted to say “goodbye”, and “thank you”. Again. He said once was enough but I don’t think he knew how much it had meant to me. Means to me. OK, so he didn’t give his life for me, as such, but if he hadn’t of… no, I know. You can never tell. He could have had Plan A; seen her, returned out there and then… only they would have had that time, wouldn’t they? The time that Emma and I are having… well, will have. For a month anyway. Yeah, she’s scared. She always has been, will be, but doesn’t say anything. I can see it in her eyes though. The green eyes that said “could have been you,” when I told her the news. Before Laura. I’m sorry for that too. A wife should always be the first person to find out. Nearer the top than someone she briefly met at a birthday party.

It was terrible, breaking the news. She knew it though, as soon as she opened the door. Invited Mick and I to come in but not to say anything. I couldn’t anyway. Done it before but it wasn’t the same. Had to leave it to Mick. He was more professional about the whole thing. Detached. Not really known Johnny. Not like I did.

I asked her if she wanted us to phone anyone but she shook her head. I don’t know who she has now but admin will sort that out. Help her. Send a woman to sit with her, give her someone experienced to talk with. They’re better at dealing with that kind of thing. Women. Except Emma, but then she’s bound to be emotional, with Daisy and that.

And Laura? Don’t know. She comes across as strong, independent. I think she’ll be fine… in time. And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Time. You get used to waiting in our profession. Them here, us out there in a strange country that becomes familiar. They wait for us to come home, we wait at home to go back.

It’s deathly quiet wherever you are and if you get used to that, then that’s half the battle, isn’t it?

###

Over – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s smaller short story collection (just 93 stories instead of 250!), The Story A Day May Collection, available in eBook and paperback from Amazon  and Morgen’s online store where you can not only instantly download the collection but also purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…

Over

“Over,” I say, and my dog and I cross the road. Overnight, after oversleeping, I’ve become overcome with cold. I’m usually overrun with chores but I’m taking it easy today. A contrast to yesterday, blitzing my overgrown garden; now my pavement is overcrowded with overfilled brown wheelie bins and strong, green gardening bags.

I look in the dictionary and have never heard of ‘overhand’. Wikipedia tells me it’s a boxing term and a knot, and I’m not a violent person but right now I’m angry. My neighbour’s extension has gone over and above what was promised to me; it’s already overhanging the light into my south-facing garden.

I head to the bank to check that I’m not overdrawn, not dipped into my overdraft, then buy some over-the-counter medicine before this cold overpowers me. I think I’ve been overcharged. On the way home, another neighbour calls me over. So, switching off my iPod’s classical overture, we talk over the fence, while his England flag flutters overhead.

To say I’m fat is an overstatement. I’m a little overweight and could do with an overhaul of my eating habits, but it would be an oversimplification to say 5-a-day fruit and veg would do it. I often overlook them at the supermarket, an unhealthy oversight. My body’s been doing a bit too much overtime at the moment so it really wouldn’t hurt.

An early night is also long overdue but I have plans tonight (I’m having writing friends over) so an afternoon nap will have to make do.

My back is complaining, it does that a lot. When I go to pick something up it says, “don’t overdo it” but I never listen. Tomorrow morning I shall carry stacks of Red Cross-donated books which I’ll tip on to the counter and their shiny covers will slip against each other and overbalance on to the floor.

In the afternoon, what energies I have will be used to empty my loft (pre-electrician’s visit), bring down the boxes of already-bought presents that will overwhelm my mother in September, when she’s easily pleased, although I suspect she overplays it, oversells for my benefit. My aunt, her twin, will just look overawed, carrying her overladen gift bag into the kitchen, putting her Andre Rieu DVDs with the others. An überfan.

Then Wednesday lunchtime my job sharer will read me her handover notes as our shifts overlap, my turn to work two and a half days before another weekend arrives.

I usually travel overseas but my friend and I are busy so we’ll wait a year. She’s off to Mexico, me to Winchester. I’ve never been there before so I’ll need to pay attention so I don’t overshoot the junction, overstep the mark on the map for the venue.

If I played cricket I think it would be underarm not overarm, that’s just how I throw; like a girl.

Radio Litopia’s AgentPete calls me an overachiever but I like to think I’m just overjoyed with all things literary. We chat during Sunday night’s Open House then our Skype connection is terminated before I overstay my welcome. I live and breathe writing, albeit stuffily through a red overblown nose. I sneeze over and over again.

Having over-egged today’s prompt, this ditty is over. Well, anymore would be overkill, wouldn’t it?

###

 

10-year old www.morgenbailey.com is (finally!) alive

Ten years ago I bought my domain: www.morgenbailey.com. I had a very basic website until 2011 when I created this blog and since then morgenbailey.com has been forwarded to the blog.

But now, at the insistence of my marketing guru, Caroline Vincent – rightly so – morgenbailey.com is now alive under its own right… plus it has a shop where you can buy my books… all ten of them! Clicking on the photo below will also take you to the home page.