Trevor Belshaw Author

Author of Out of Control

Author: tbelshaw (page 1 of 4)

Unspoken

JESS
‘Darling, I’m home.’
Calvin’s cheery voice wafted across from the front door through the passage and into the open plan lounge/diner where Jessica Mollison was just finishing washing up last night’s dinner plates. She heard the cupboard door in the passage slam shut as Calvin deposited his golf clubs. A few moments later he breezed into the lounge.
‘I made two over par today.’
‘Well done!’ said Jessica with more enthusiasm than she really felt. ‘You’ll hit that level par score before too long.’
Calvin almost purred.
‘That bloody Liam Watt put me off by coughing on the last tee or I might have made it today.’
A look of searing anger appeared across his face. ‘I’ll get my own back next time. Two can play at that game.’
He stood behind Jessica, put his arms around her waist and nuzzled her neck.
‘Perfume?’
‘It’s only a dab,’ said Jessica defensively.
‘What are the rules, my darling?’ Calvin’s voice dropped an octave.
Jessica held her breath.
‘The rules?’
‘I don’t wear perfume unless we’re going out together,’ she replied.
‘That’s my girl.’ Calvin’s hands ran over Jessica’s stomach and up to her breasts. He kneaded them softly.
‘Come on, love, on the sofa, let’s have some fun.’
Jessica broke free and turned to face him.
‘I don’t have time for that, much as I’d like to. I have to go out.’
Calvin stared hard at her, his voice stern.
‘Out? Where is out?’
‘It’s Wednesday, Calvin. I always go to Nana’s on Wednesday. You know I do.’
His face softened.
‘Ah, of course, got to keep on the right side of the old gal eh? She can’t have that much time left and she’s worth a small fortune.’
He patted her on the backside. ‘Go and sow the seeds, my darling. We might get the flat bought for us and a bit to spare.’
Jessica said nothing. She picked up her cardigan and car keys and walked across the lounge.
‘See you in a couple of hours.’
‘Oh, Jess,’ he called.
‘Yes?’
‘Wash off the perfume before you go.’

Continue reading

Please follow and like us:

Unspoken Chapter 2

ALICE
The ray of late Autumn sunlight eased its way through a narrow crack in the vertical blind and reflected itself via a polished, metallic likeness of Marylin Monroe, onto the sleeping face of Alice Mollison.
The old woman screwed up her face, blinked a few times, then called to her carer, Gwen, who was busying herself making sandwiches for Alice’s lunch. Gwen called in twice a day; morning, to get Alice out of bed, dressed, watered and fed, and in the evening to get her tea and into her night clothes.
Alice slept in a bed in the corner of the room, the stairs being a mission too far nowadays for the soon to be Centenarian.
Gwen came through from the kitchen.
‘What is it, my lovely?’
‘Can you shut that bloody sunlight off? It’s burning out my corneas.’
Gwen stepped across the room and adjusted the blind.
‘How’s that? We shouldn’t really be complaining about the sun coming out. We’ve had weeks of rain. I’m taking my Gareth out for a walk in the park this afternoon. You don’t know when we’ll see it again. I think—’
‘It felt like a laser beam on my eyelids,’ Alice interrupted. ‘It’s still hot now, here, feel.’
Gwen went back to her sandwich making.
‘Jessica will be here soon, won’t she? It’s Wednesday.’
Alice brightened. Jessica was her great granddaughter, a kindred spirit. She was a clone of Alice when she was that age. She always looked forward to her company. She was bright, engaging, and an aspiring novelist to boot. She read pieces of her work in progress to Alice at least once a week. Sadly, the novel that Jessica knew was inside her had yet to surface. Her laptop was filled with half finished manuscripts, story ideas and plotlines. She liked to be called, Jess, but Alice wouldn’t comply with her request.
‘Jessica is the name on your birth certificate, so Jessica, you remain,’ she had said.
Alice turned to her left and took a small make-up mirror from the drawer in the narrow, walnut, side table. She studied her face intently.
‘Not bad for almost a hundred,’ she mused. She turned her head this way and that. ‘If you can see past the folds of wrinkles and liver spots.’
In her youth, Alice had been a beauty. Everyone said so. Not the filler-assisted beauty of the present day, more of a classic beauty, like the wartime film star, Rita Hayworth with whom she had been favourably compared.
‘Good legs, good bust, nice arse and a face to die for,’ as Ada Blunt, the landlord’s wife of The Old Bull, had once described her. ‘She’ll come down to earth with a bump,’ she had added, as though she was a clairvoyant.
Alice still had a good head of hair, albeit an almost translucent white. It fell to just below the nape of her neck and was swept back at the sides, held in place with hairpins. She patted it into shape and returned the mirror to the drawer.
She sighed. She hated old age and everything it brought with it, even though she had been extremely lucky with her health. There had been no major illnesses, no cancers, no eye problems, not since she had had the laser surgery at least. There had been no hypertension, no real problems with osteoarthritis, and thankfully, best of all, no Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Alice’s mind was sharp as a tack. When she was awake that was. Her ‘forty winks’ were becoming more and more frequent.
She eased herself up in her chair, reached behind and adjusted the two cushions that had become a permanent feature as Gwen returned to the room carrying a plate of sandwiches and a flask of tea.
‘There you go, my lovely. That should see you through to this evening. I’m sure Jessica will get you anything you need in between.’ She pointed to the commode that sat in the corner opposite the bed. ‘Would you like to go before she gets here?’
Alice grimaced. The commode was the thing she despised most about old age. She’d give half of what was left of her life to be able to use a proper flushing toilet. She had a stairlift to get upstairs but no longer had the strength in her legs to get her there, even with her walker.
‘Have you ever seen me on the commode, even once in all the time you’ve been coming here?’ she asked.
‘No, but I just thought I’d ask. Just in case. There’s a first time for everything.’ Gwen replied.
‘I’m neither immobile nor incapable,’ Alice retorted. ‘Even Jessica doesn’t get to see me defecate or urinate. I do have some private moments, few as they are.’ Alice continued as though Gwen hadn’t spoken.
The carer picked up her bag and walked to the lounge door.
‘See you tonight then. I’m off to see old Mr Hathersage now, bless him.’ Ben Hathersage was bedbound. Gwen always added the epithet whenever she spoke about him. ‘Bed bath today.’ She shuddered. ‘That won’t be pleasant, he’s incontinent.’
‘Well, you always seem to want to watch me poo,’ said Alice, with a little glint in her eye.
Gwen turned away. ‘See you later then.’
She stopped and turned as Alice called her name. The old woman smiled a short smile and nodded to the carer. Gwen winked, nodded back in acknowledgement and walked along the passage towards the front door.
‘Cranky old bugger,’ she said, chuckling to herself.
Alice adjusted the cushions again and looked up at the clock. She despised that almost as much as the commode. All too frequently these days, she’d sit and watch it tick her life away as she listened to Classic FM on the new DAB radio that Jessica had bought her for her ninety-ninth.
‘Damn clock. Damn time.’
The clock was saved from further abuse when Gwen suddenly appeared again.

Continue reading

Please follow and like us:

Unspoken Chapter 3

ALICE
Jess shifted in her seat and leaned in towards Alice.
‘You can tell me anything, Nana, you know that. I promise not to tell a soul.’
‘I know that, Jessica,’ replied Alice, ‘and I’m sorry it’s you who will have to carry the burden of that secret… well, there are quite a few secrets if I’m honest.’
‘I can handle it, Nana. It can’t be that bad.’
Alice pushed herself back onto the cushions.
‘You’d be surprised at the things that have happened to me, the things I’ve done. I have not led an ordinary life by any standards, Jessica. I’ve had to learn to live with things I still regret and things that I’d do again tomorrow if I had to.’
Jess took hold of Alice’s hand again as she continued.
‘You know, I’m really glad I don’t believe in St Peter, Heaven and Hell, all that malarkey because I would be judged harshly.’
‘Well, you know I don’t believe in all that angelic choir stuff myself, Nana,’ Jessica replied. ‘But I do think there’s something; that spark of life, soul, whatever you want to call it, has to go somewhere. I was reading an article about Quantum Physics the other day and the writer said that they’re on the verge of proving that alternative universes actually exist. There could be millions of them, and that’s where you pass to when you leave this place. There’s also an argument for thousands of dimensions which we could pass through. That’s why some people think they’ve seen ghosts, it’s just a tear in the dimensional wall.’
‘That sounds all right,’ said Alice brightly. ‘But I don’t want to spend the next million years passing through dimensions, universes etc, looking like this.’
Jess chuckled.
‘Oh, Nana, you do make me laugh sometimes.’
‘Good,’ said Alice. ‘Now tell me the real reason you were crying. You had been crying last Sunday too. You can’t fool me with your forced smile. Your eyes give you away, even without the puffiness. I can always tell when you’re unhappy so, come on, out with it.’
Jess let go of Alice’s hand and held hers together as if in prayer.
‘Me and Calvin, we’ve just, well, we’ve got a few issues to sort out. We’re having a lot of fights lately.’
Alice looked hard at her.
‘Fights? Fight’s as in violence? Or is it this American term that’s corrupted our wonderful language. Fights as in arguments?’
Jess hesitated a second too long.
‘Get rid of him, Jess. Don’t tell me it’s a one-off incident. Because they don’t exist. A one-off incident leads to two, three, then it’s a weekly occurrence, then a nightly one. I know you love the man but believe me, for the sake of your own sanity and for the safety of any children to come, get out now. He’s never going to change.’
Jess pulled a face.
‘It’s not like that, really, Nana. He just likes to be the man of the house.’

Continue reading

Please follow and like us:

Unspoken Chapter 4

Alice
1919-1937

I was born on the 24th Sept 1919 in the family farmhouse, on the night of the first violent weather event of the autumn. The winds were so bad they took half the roof off our barn and deposited it onto the flock of sheep that were huddled down in a pasture a hundred yards away. We lost ten ewes and thirty barn dwelling chickens that night. My father later told me if I had been born a dog instead of a child I would have been named Storm.
We owned sixty acres at that time. The rain had a devastating effect on our newly harvested crops. It was a bad end to the year and not an auspicious start for the new arrival.
I was, to say the least, a difficult birth. My mother was in labour for forty hours, she lost so much blood it was a miracle she survived. The local doctor and the midwife who supervised the birth thought my father was about to lose both of us. When I eventually arrived, the trauma had been so great that I refused to cry, even after five upside-down bottom slaps. I was breathing fine, but I was stubborn and wouldn’t give in to their demands, even at that age. It was to be a trait that has stayed with me all of my life.
My father was frantic about the state of my mother. They were soul mates, in love from the first class they attended at the local school. He would have laid down his own life if it meant she would live.
As it was, she did survive. Just. She was never the same woman after, she was weak and prone to every infection going. Luckily the Spanish flu had almost burnt itself out the year before so she was spared that.
Growing up on a farm in the nineteen twenties gave me a far easier childhood than most working-class children. I was well fed, I got plenty of fresh air and was mostly isolated from some of the nastier bugs that infected the town children. I did get Chickenpox at four and a quite severe dose of Measles at six, but the sporadic epidemics of the deadly Scarlet Fever disease wasn’t really seen in our neck of the woods.
I always felt loved, despite my mother’s near-death experience though at times I did catch her looking at me with a strained look in her eyes as if she was remembering those horrendous two days. My father loved me unconditionally. I was half my mother and that was always going to be enough for him. I looked a lot like her and he would often sit in his huge high-backed armchair watching me play with Betsy my rag doll and remark that it was just like watching my mother play at school.
We had twelve farm workers and a few casual ones who would come in for seasonal work. The wages weren’t great and the days were long, some of the work was backbreaking but they were a happy crew. Twice a year, at Christmas, and on my mother’s birthday, my father would invite them and their families around to the farm for a celebration party. The farm workers’ wives used to come around to help my mother prepare the food. My father provided a barrel of ale and a few bottles of gin to help the party swing. We children had bottles of fizzy lemonade to sate the thirsts we worked up playing tag around the farmyard buildings.
We had a few cows at that time and the villagers would bring pails every morning for milk squeezed fresh from the cow. They could buy pasteurised milk from the local shop but old habits, as they say, die hard. No one to my knowledge was ever taken ill drinking our raw milk. Indeed, we used to drink it ourselves. It was much tastier than the small bottles we were given at school.
The farm’s main business was barley, corn and pork. We had twelve big sties, each holding a boar and ten sows. Occasionally we’d have two boars who had been raised together in with the sows, especially if they weren’t breeding too well. The sows were isolated when their time came and reintroduced to the boars a few weeks later. The piglets, to my huge disappointment and frustration, were bulked up for slaughter.
One night in the autumn of nineteen twenty-five, I was woken from my slumbers by a loud shout. My father had leapt from his bed, hared down the stairs, grabbed his shotgun and ran out into the yard. I rushed to my window. The moon was full and I had a perfect view of the farmyard and my father blasting the head off a young fox that had snuck out of the barn with a chicken in his mouth.
The next morning my father kept me well away from the barn, a place I used to love to play in, while he carried out the twenty, headless, legless, dead and dying chickens that were the victims of the fox’s frenzy. Thankfully, my own pet chicken, Dolly had survived the carnage. My father had found her on one of the barn beams. How she got up there we’ll never know.
Having not seen the bodies of the poultry, I found myself feeling sorry for the fox. I sat on the back step and cried at the sight of its poor carcass, lying where it had died. My father knelt in front of me and explained in quite stark terms for the ears of a five-year-old, why he’d had to do it. Then he dragged the fox by its brush, around to the pig pens, and hurled it over the wall of the largest of them.
I can still remember the sound of snuffling and scuffling that followed as the excited porcine sounder attacked their surprise dinner.
He looked at my puzzled face as he walked back towards me.
‘Pigs will eat anything,’ he said. Continue reading

Please follow and like us:

The Old Soldier

A ten minute poem

The Old Soldier

Captain Tom’s a soldier, and
A modest sort of man
At ninety nine he worked out
A money raising plan

He said I’ll get my walking frame
Do a hundred laps of my yard
Before my hundredth birthday
It shouldn’t be that hard

So Tom set out on his crusade
He hoped to raise a grand
To give to nursing charities
Who need a helping hand

Tom marched up and down his yard
Medals glinting on his chest
The nation took to him to their hearts
And cheered him on his quest

Donations flowed like water
The hundred laps were done
The thousands turned to millions
But old Tom soldiered on

We saluted you, the hero
Of your war campaigns
And now in times of trouble
We salute you once again

God bless you, Tom Moore

Please follow and like us:

New! Tracy’s Twenties Hot Mail.

THRUSH

Hi Emma,

Sorry to hear you’ve got Thrush, I hope the itching isn’t too bad, I scratched my way through two pairs of knickers when I had it.

I’ve still got some tablets, and the cream, if you haven’t managed to get hold of any yet. I can drop them off after my promo tonight, it might be a bit late though, it’s at Fatty Artie’s, Fish and Chip Megastore over at Claypole. They’re having a themed 60s food night and all their stuff is going to be cooked in beef fat instead of oil. Blimey! I think he’ll have to change his shop name to Fatty Arteries after that.

Still, he’s paying me in cash from the till, not in chip suppers, so I don’t care.

I’ve got to get dressed up like a dolly bird from the 1960s, you know, like that Twiggy. She had no boobs though, so I’ll look more like Nancy Sinatra when she was singing that song about her boots. She had a right pair on her.

I once caught my pervy ex: Simon, knocking one out over the video of her singing that song when I came back from my electrocution class. Do you remember? That time I was learning how to talk posh for when I got famous. I only lasted a week. I didn’t care where the bloody rain in Spain fell after the first thirty minutes.

‘Speak as though you have a plum in your mouth,’ said the tutor, Mrs Poshly-Smythe.

That put me off for a start. All I could think of were Simon’s plums, and I wasn’t going to let them get past my lips. He’d been begging me to suck on them for months.

Anyway, it shouldn’t be a bad night, though the crowd might get a bit rough. You know what Claypole is like on a Friday.

Back to the Thrush.

I remember the second time I had it. It was only a few months ago. It started after I had to borrow a pair of knickers from Stacey Macey at her coming out party. She was just looking for a bit of notoriety, really, she was never a proper lesbian. I caught her sitting astride Frankie Arbuckle on a stack of pallets at the back of Hardwall’s DIY shop the week before.

Anyway, I’d got my pants snagged on Stacey’s little sister’s rabbit hutch when I went outside with Jimmy McCorker. There wasn’t an inch of privacy in her house, and unlike that tart, Olivia, I wasn’t going to perform in front of five other couples in the back bedroom. (So, what if Olivia had been first in? She got there within five minutes of the party starting, the tart. Any self-respecting woman would have at least pulled the duvet over their coupling.)

My knickers snagged on the rusty wire of the cage as I leaned back to think of England. Before I could let him know I was caught up, he yanked my knickers down my thighs and I heard them tear in half.

I wasn’t too fussed; they weren’t new ones or anything. I got them in a multi-pack from that new street stall in the precinct, but it did leave me embarrassingly knickerless, wearing a dress that barely covered my arse in the first place.

So, I copped hold of Stacey as I walked back up the stairs, trying to pull my dress down to cover my modesty and to stop Jimmy, (who was two steps behind,) continually lifting up my dress and shouting, ‘Och Aye! there’s a full moon tonight.’

She dashed into her bedroom, (sadly, the one that Olivia was being carnalised in,) grabbed a pair of Tesco’s big girl pants, and tossed them across the room to me.

Olivia savoured the moment.

‘Ooh, taking a souvenir, are we?’ she chortled.

I told her the only souvenir she’d be taking home, was crabs from the favourite to win the greasiest, hairiest, ugliest, tramp of the year contest, and slunk down the passage to the lavatory where  I had to evict a couple of crackheads getting their two hourly fix, before I could pull on the garish, monthly pants, tidy my hair, lip up and make myself presentable. Luckily, the pants were only two sizes too big, so I wasn’t in danger of finding them round my ankles as I walked down the stairs. I grabbled hold of the waistband though, just in case.

By the time I got back to the kitchen, Jimmy was nibbling the neck of a mousey-looking girl with buck teeth and a hairy top lip.

Most of the fanciable men had already copped off and the ones that were left, looked like they wouldn’t know what the word, conversation, meant, let alone produce one. So, pushing past a line of groping fingers, I let myself out and walked the short distance home, across the estate.

Now, you know when you realise you’ve made an horrendous mistake, but it’s too late to do anything about it?

I reached that stage by the time I’d got home, sat on the loo and looked down at those pants.

Stacey isn’t a smelly sort, usually, but I think this grisly garment had missed its annual treat into the washing machine. Under the light of our bathroom, (Stacey’s house had been decked out in mostly, red light bulbs,) I could see the stains quite clearly. I tried to tell myself that she’d just forgotten to Oxi-Action them and the baggy bloomers were clean, but I couldn’t convince myself.

I chucked them in the bin, scrubbed my fanny to within an inch of its life and fell into bed feeling more than a tad, depressed.

Two days later I woke up with an itch that would take an eagle’s talon to sate. It drove me nuts. This wasn’t just Thrush, a Thrush whistles sweetly, this thing was screeching like a starving seagull, swooping down to grab someone’s seaside sarnie.

I still shudder at the thought of it.

The cheeky cow even asked for her knickers back when I saw her a few days later. I just smiled and nodded because she was with that tart, Olivia at the time.

Olivia looked sad, stuck her bottom lip out and said, ‘Aw, Stacey, do let her keep them, she loves them so much, did you see her little face light up when you gave them to her?’

I was livid. It was one of those moments when I needed a wisecrack about the new, drug resistant Syphilis that was infecting the world or asking her if the boffins had signed her up for testing the Incredible, Vagina-shrinking cream that was about to revolutionise post-natal care for new mothers, (Olivia’s fanny is legendary in size and she’d make a great guinea pig,) but I couldn’t think of a single insult worthy of the name, so I just ducked my head, looked at my, fake, leather look, Shoo Shoes, and slunk off home.

Right, I’d better dig out the 1960’s mini dress and get ready. It’s one of those black and white, harlequin patterned ones. I’m going to wear my knee-length, white leather boots with it.

Do you know what? I WILL look just like Nancy!

Are you ready boots…?

I’ll drop the cream and pills off later Hun. Tracy, the Go-Go- Girl.

Please follow and like us:

NEW! Tracy’s Twenties Hot Mail.

Powerful Women

Hi Emma,

I’ve just been listening to Dad and Gran discussing the news, but it’s confusing the life out of me as usual.

Dad said the main headline in the Daily Mirror was, ‘hot political news,’ and it might bring down the Home Secretary.

Gran said you couldn’t believe a single word that Commie rag printed, and the story was probably made up by that sad loser, Jeremy Corbyn.
Dad called Gran a Filthy, Right Wing, Nut-job Fascist. Gran said that was the nicest thing he’d ever said to her.

It seems that some bloke called Cyril Servant has resigned from Westminster because he didn’t like his new boss, who is a pretty woman, telling him what to do.

I wondered if Julia Roberts had gone into politics, but she hasn’t and it’s just a coincidence.

It’s always the same isn’t it Emma? People never like being ordered around by attractive women. I can’t remember that munter, Theresa May having anyone resign when she was Home Secretary, and she tried to kick all the black people out of the country just because one of them had a boat called Windbrush.

When I was half-listening to Dad ramble on, I realised that I was having my first #MeToo moment.

About six months ago, the Dog and Duck darts team asked me to take over as secretary for a few days because Mrs Arrows, who normally did the job, was in hospital for investigations into her prolapse.

I didn’t really want to spend my nights typing up dart player’s scores but Dad said he’d do that and he just wanted me to turn up for the grudge match against the top of the league team from the, Spears of Destiny pub, further down the road.

All I had to do, was stand there looking glamourous for the publicity photos that would be used in the sports pages of the local Evening News.

I was okay with that. I asked if I’d be paid, but Dad said the team couldn’t afford it. I would get free drinks all night though, so in the end I agreed to do it. I would be in the paper again and I haven’t had my photo in there since their reporter snapped me sunbathing in my bikini at the Lido. Remember that headline above my picture, Em? PHEW! Wot A Corka!

I decided to wear that low front, green top I got from Ali’s market stall. I hadn’t worn it before so none of the jealous bitches reading the paper could accuse me of always wearing the same thing. It was a bit tight, so tight I didn’t really need a bra, but I managed to squeeze into it.

Anyway, come match time, Dad asked me to stand right next to the dart board when the opposition was throwing, but turn away and pretend to be jotting down notes when the Dog and Duck players were chucking their arrows.

I don’t know how the Spears of Destiny ever got to be top of the league, Emma, their team are absolute rubbish. They missed the board more times than they hit it. I’m not surprised really, because they spent more time looking at me than the dart board. During the first tie, I bent down to retrieve a dart that had somehow been thrown into the skirting board and two of the buttons popped off the front of my top. Their star player muttered something about a Double Top, as I stood up and his next dart hit the scorer in the back of the head.

By then, their entire team was crowded onto the oche and the thrower didn’t have room to pull his arm back to chuck his third dart. The scorer wasn’t taking any chances and after a quick glimpse at my chest, he nipped off to the toilet, presumably to dab some water on the hole in the back of his bonce.

Anyway, it was then that this woman wearing a T-shirt that said, I want to have the Crafty Cockney’s Babies, wobbled up to the front. Honestly Emma, she had at least five chins. She was a dead ringer for Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars.

She glared at Dad and accused him of cheating by putting my chest in such a prominent position.

Dad denied it, and said that as acting club secretary, I was entitled to put my chest where I felt like putting it.

She immediately whipped out a dog-eared, rule book and pointed to a regulation, regarding deliberate distraction.

Dad said that if she hadn’t picked a team full of perverts I wouldn’t have been a distraction at all. He suggested she set up a gay darts team if the players she had were unable to concentrate on the job in hand.

Just then, the scorer came back in from the lavatory looking a bit flushed.

Jabba, who was, apparently, only the team kit washer, pushed her way past Dad and glared at me.

‘You should be ashamed of yourself, turning up to a sporting event dressed like that. I didn’t dress like that when I was your age,’ she whined.

I sniffed, looked down my nose at her and told her that the male population must have been eternally grateful to her for that, and walked out of the bar while her mouth was still wide open and her chins still wobbling.

I don’t know, Emma. Some people can’t stand to see attractive women in positions of power, can they?

I resigned as secretary the same night. I hope the pretty Home Secretary doesn’t do the same.

Tracy. #MeToo

Please follow and like us:

A bit of poetry

My Mistake

I did something stupid. Then lied, but you knew.
I opened a window and our love went on through.
I tried to revive it, I tried, how I tried,
but our love froze to death in the cold dark outside.

I Held You

We danced beside the river as the sun broke through the mist,

In the warming of the morning, I held you and we kissed.

And later that same afternoon, I held you as you slept,

Then you had to leave me and I held you as you wept.

I held you when we met again, back home in winter rain,

I held you in your ecstasy and in your guilty pain.

I held you when you broke away, to end the secrecy,

I held you as, when giving birth, you screamed and cursed at me.

I held you when the verdict came, that devastating call,

when fate tore away our happiness that morning in the hall.

I held you through the anger, through the fear and misery,

I held you on our final night, as you slipped away from me.

I dream we dance an endless waltz, your head upon my cheek,

I hold you close; you comfort me when everything seems bleak.

I bless you for our daughter, there’s so much of you in her,

We hold you in our memories, you never leave us there.

In Dreams

In dreams you are happy.

In dreams you don’t cry.

In dreams you have everything

money can buy.

In dreams you are famous.

In dreams you succeed.

In dreams you have more

than you ever could need.

In dreams you are confident.

In dreams you excel.

In dreams you are loved

and you give love as well.

In dreams you find harmony.

In dreams there’s a way.

In dreams you’re the master

of all you survey.

In dreams there is safety.

In dreams there’s no pain.

In dreams you can hold her

again and again.

In dreams she still loves you.

In dreams she still cares.

In dreams you still walk

on a cushion of air.

In dreams there’s a future.

In dreams there’s a plan.

In dreams you are more

than a simple, flawed man.

In dreams you show interest.

In dreams you both play.

In dreams you’re a partner

who won’t go astray.

In dreams you share feelings.

In dreams you exchange.

In dreams she believes

that you really can change

In dreams you’re a talker.

In dreams you convey.

In dreams you don’t let her just

wander away

In dreams there’s a last chance.

In dreams there’s reprieve.

In dreams you persuade her

and she doesn’t leave

In dreams there’s no ending.

In dreams you don’t weep.

In dreams you don’t wish you

could die in your sleep

Please follow and like us:

Christmas Story 2019

The Little Christmas Tree

The Last Pine Tree Before The North Pole

Ryan yawned and tilted his head from side to side in a vain attempt to remove some of the stiffness from his neck. He pulled his head back and looked beneath the fake-fur trim of his hood to the canopy of pine branches high above. Thin, watery sunlight filtered though the trees, casting grey dappled shadows across the gaps on the forest floor. He leaned this way and that to counter the humps and bumps that tossed the sled from side to side as it slid over the snow-covered track. A few feet in front of him, two Inuit guides drove the team of ten, powerful Husky dogs through the rapidly thinning treeline. Earlier, the forest had been thick, and the going had been slow, he had lost count of the amount of times they had had to get off the sled to carry it over, or around, a fallen tree. Now, the vegetation was sparser, the going was easier and the few, short hours hours of daylight they had been blessed with at their base in Last Town, seemed to have been cut in half.

Ryan, disliked the freezing, long, night, which lasted almost twenty hours at a stretch. But that’s what you had to expect when you got this close to the North Pole. In the forest daylight, he caught glimpses of startled reindeer as they dashed across the path ahead, but in the dark, all he saw was slow moving shapes amongst the trees. Scariest of all, was the sound of a wolf howling from the trees on the left, which was answered almost immediately by a howl from somewhere on the right. Every so often he would hear a loud, Plop! as lumps of ice fell from the treetops onto the soft snow on the forest floor.

Ryan tried to be brave, but he was beginning to regret that he had persuaded his father to let him come on his pre- Christmas trip to the far north, to recover data from the scientific, weather-checking instruments that had been tracking temperature, snowfall and air quality for the past six months. His mother had been against it, but he had begged and pleaded until she gave in.

‘Make sure you’re back in time for Santa,’ she said. She would be waiting for them at their hotel in Last Town when they returned.

He yawned again and looked at his watch. The movement attracted the attention of his father, who looked down, smiled and ruffled Ryan’s hood with his gloved right hand.

‘What time is it, Son? My watch appears to be broken.’

Ryan showed the illuminated dial of his watch to his father.

‘We’re almost there, Ryan. Another half an hour and we’ll be at the camp.’

Ryan puffed out his cheeks and blew warm breath into the freezing air.

‘Thank goodness for that, Dad. I really need to stretch my legs.’

Professor Mulgrew nodded.

‘Make the most of it while you have the chance, son. Were only here for a few hours. It will have to be a quick turnaround if we’re going to get back to Last Town for Santa Claus.’

Ryan suddenly felt a little worried.  Lots of questions came into his mind at once.

‘We will get back in time for Santa, won’t we Dad?’

‘It might be tight; we lost a lot of time crossing that frozen river earlier, but we should make it.’

Ryan looked up at his father.

‘He will find me if we don’t get back in time, won’t he?’

His dad ruffled his hood again. ‘I’m sure he will, Son.’

 Ryan pulled a face as he thought about it. ‘I forgot to hang my Santa sack up,’ he said.

Thirty minutes later, as promised, the dog team pulled the sled out of the pine forest, past a few large boulders, and came to a halt alongside a broken-down shack. Part of the roof had collapsed and the open door creaked as it swung in the strengthening wind. The shack was surrounded by a series of high poles which had various sized boxes fixed to their tops. A thin strand of wire holding a few dozen glass lightbulbs, hung between them. On the floor, just inside the shed, was a coil of unused lighting wire.

Ryan jumped off the sled and stamped around while his father and the two guides unpacked the replacement equipment and prepared to check the data from the existing experiments.

He climbed to the top of a ten-foot snowdrift and looked out across the frozen tundra. There were no trees beyond that point and the flat, snowy landscape stretched for miles until it reached a long line of white, jagged mountains. Beyond the mountains lay the North Pole; Santa’s home. The sky looked pitch-black above the peaks, although there should have been a good two hours of daylight left.

As he clambered down from the snowdrift, he noticed a small, stumpy, pine tree that had grown just behind the run-down shack; the only tree for a hundred metres or so. It was a thin, spindly little thing, no taller than Ryan himself. The sparse branches were tipped with icicles.  He immediately felt sorry for it.

‘Look, Dad,’ he called out. ‘A baby tree, all on its own.’

Professor Mulgrew walked across and examined the pine.

‘It’s not a baby, Ryan. It’s probably as old as many of the trees in the forest back there. It’s just that the soil isn’t as good out here and it hasn’t had a chance to grow like they have.’ He looked out across the frozen waste, then back to the tree line. ‘This must be the last pine tree before the North Pole.’

‘It looks so lonely, Dad,’ said Ryan. ‘Can’t we dig it up and plant it near the other trees?’

Professor Mulgrew stamped on the rock-solid ground.

‘We’d never get a shovel into this, Son, and even if we could, I doubt it would survive the shock of being moved.’

As his father walked back to the sled, Ryan patted the tree on one of its frost-covered branches and said.

‘Did you hear that? You’re the last pine tree before the North Pole, that’s something to be proud of. You should be one of the most famous trees in the world really. People should write stories about you. You shouldn’t be left unnoticed and alone.’

Then he had an idea.

He ran around to the storage shed and picked up the coil of spare lighting wire, made sure the lamps were screwed into their holders, nice and tight, and ran back to the tree. He wrapped the wire around its branches, being careful not to disturb any of the hanging icicles, and happily found he had just enough spare wire to reach back to the shed.

‘Dad,’ He called. ‘Could you plug this into the generator for me?’

Professor Mulgrew plugged the extension lead into a spare plug socket as Ryan waited outside, expectantly. Suddenly he heard the sound of the generator starting up and the thin line of lamps between the poles flickered into life. Ryan cheered as his tree lights burst into life. The glow from the bright yellow lamps flickered across the icicles, making them seem to dance in the icy, artic breeze.

‘There’s something missing,’ said Ryan to himself. Then he realised what it was.

He ran back to the sled and rummaged about in the bags until he found a small, round, shiny metal, dinner plate. He rushed back to the tree and wedged it into the topmost branches.

‘There,’ he said proudly. ‘Now you have a shiny star.’

His happy thoughts were interrupted by the alarm in his father’s voice.

‘There’s a storm coming!’

Ryan clambered up the snowdrift again and looked north to see that the dark black clouds had moved a lot closer. The three men hurried about, taking down old boxes from the pole tops and installing new ones.

Amaruk, one of the Inuit guides, (his name means, Grey Wolf, in English,) called Ryan down from the snowdrift and pointed to the old shack.

‘Get the huskies inside, Ryan, take them to far end, where the roof is still in place and tie that door shut. We’re going to have to camp here tonight.’

Ryan began to panic. ‘We can’t,’ he said, ‘Santa is coming tonight. He doesn’t know I’m here.’

Amaruk looked at Ryan sadly.

‘I’m sorry little one, but we can’t outrun this storm. It will blow us back to Last Town.’

Ryan reluctantly led the Huskies into the shed, settled them down, then closed the door and tied it shut with a length of old rope he found on the floor. When he had finished, he walked round the back of the shack to the little Christmas tree. He pointed to the north.

‘There’s a storm coming, little tree. I know it’s not the first one you’ve seen; you’ve probably been through a lot of them. I just wanted to wish you good luck with this one.’

 When he got back, he found the guides using short, sharp, saws to cut blocks of solid snow from the snowdrift.

‘What’s happening, Dad?’ asked Ryan. ‘We’ve got tents on the sled. Why aren’t we setting them up?’

‘They’ll just blow away in this storm,’ replied his father. He noticed the look of alarm on Ryan’s face. ‘Cheer up,’ were going to spend the night in an igloo.’

Ryan forced a smile.

‘I just hope Santa knows where I am. I’m supposed to be in the hotel in Last Town tonight.’

He watched, fascinated as the two Inuit guides shaped the blocks of ice they had dug out of the snowdrift. When they thought they had enough, they began piling them on top of each other to build a circular wall. It was amazing how quickly the building came together. In what seemed like no time at all, Amaruk placed the final block onto the roof and patted into place with a small, wooden mallet, then everyone joined in to cover the igloo with loose snow. Ryan’s job was to pat it all down with a wide, plastic spade.

They finished work just as the storm arrived. Ryan followed his father through a short tunnel and found himself inside the igloo. It was warmer than he thought it would be, and by the time Amaruk had finished carving a few nooks into the ice wall, to hold some battery-operated LED lights, he was warm enough to remove his outer coat. A few minutes later, Aput, the other guide, (whose name means Snow, in English,) crawled into the igloo with their sleeping bags and food packs.

Ryan suddenly found he was really hungry and tore open one of his packs to find a banana, an apple, and a couple of carrots. His other pack contained sandwiches and some round, oatmeal biscuits.

He ate hungrily, leaving only two biscuit and the carrots. He washed the meal down with a bottle of fizzy water and settled back on his sleeping bag with a notepad and a thick pencil.

Dear Santa.

If you read this note you’ll know I’m not in Last Town tonight. I’m stuck up here instead, so, can I ask you a favour? Instead of leaving me a present, could you use some of your Santa magic to make the little tree happy.  I feel so sorry for it, growing on its own like that.

Lots of love.

Ryan.

PS.

Sorry I don’t have a mince pie. I’ve left you some oatmeal biscuits and carrots for the reindeer. I hope that’s okay.

He flattened out the foil-wrapping that the food had been packed in, and placed it on the floor between his sleeping bag and his father’s. Ryan slipped the note under the carrots, pulled off his boots, slid into his thickly-padded sleeping bag, and with the sound of the storm howling around outside, he drifted into a dreamless sleep.

At exactly two-minutes-past-midnight, Ryan woke with a start. He shot bolt upright in his sleeping bag, his head cocked to one side, listening hard to see if the sound that had filtered into his sleep, was real.

The storm, it seemed, had passed over and all was eerily silent, except for… YES! Now he was sure… the sound of the tinkling of sleigh bells. They were faint, but unmistakeable.

Ryan eased himself out of the sleeping bag and as quietly as he could, in his excited state, pulled on his thick coat and boots. He scurried on his hands and knees through the short tunnel and got to his feet. The air was cold, the night was black, but the sky was filled with a billion, sparkling stars. Ryan looked up in wonder, he had never seen so many. Then, as his eyes turned to the north, some of the glittering stars began to move towards him. He blinked, and looked again to make sure he wasn’t imagining it, but the stars were moving towards him, there was no mistake.

His mouth opened wide as the tinkling of bells got louder. The tiny stars became bigger, and bigger until he could see the shape of a sleigh, led by nine reindeer. The sleigh and the harness were covered with strings of rapidly flashing, white and silver lights, Ryan could hear the whoosh as it sped through the skies towards him. Suddenly, it was overhead, two hundred feet above, he heard a deep, booming, ‘Ho, Ho, Ho,’ as it sped on.

Ryan jumped up and down, waving his arms, shouting, ‘I’m here, Santa, I’m here.’

But Santa drove, on, seemingly oblivious to his desperate calls. A tear slid down Ryan’s cheek as he watched the twinkling lights fly over the forest, towards Last Town.

He turned towards the little tree, amazingly still lit, and glowing proudly despite the storm.

‘I’m so sorry,’ he said. ‘Santa missed us.’

He crawled back into the igloo, and fighting back the tears, undressed, slipped back into his sleeping bag and fell into a restless, sleep.

Ryan was the first to wake next morning. He sighed as he remembered the events of the previous night. They would be going home today and the lights would be turned off, leaving the little Christmas tree alone and cold through the long dark winter. He looked hopefully at the floor where he had left his note for Santa but his father had rolled over in the night so that he was lying across the spot where Ryan had left it.

He felt a sob rise from his throat, but he held it back, got dressed and slid out of the tunnel. He didn’t want to let the grownups see him cry.

Outside it was still dark, a few of the bulbs on the line of lights had gone out during the storm, but a few were still lit.

Ryan walked over towards the shack to check that the Huskies had got through the night without incident. On the floor, by the shack door, was the string of lights that Ryan had hung around the little tree. They had been unplugged and lain out on the floor alongside his stainless-steel dinner plate. Ryan took off a glove and touched one of the bulbs; it was icy cold.

Puzzled, Ryan walked around the back of the shack to where the little tree stood. As he turned the corner, his eyes opened wide in amazement, a joyful cry escaped his throat.

The lonely, bare, little tree, was lonely and bare no longer.

Its branches were strewn with dainty, star-shaped, glittering lights, some glowed red, others green, blue, silver and gold. There were no wires between the lights, each one was powered separately by Santa magic. Between the lights, lying across the branches, were long strands of silver. The icicles on the tips of the branches, danced, bathed in a myriad of colours. Best of all, at the very top, was a large, shiny, silver star.

Ryan stepped back and admired the little tree.

‘You look beautiful,’ he said. ‘And, because of the Santa magic, you’ll look like that for ever and ever.’

As if to reply, a breeze whispered through the tree’s branches, making them sway, gently.

Then Ryan saw something else that brought more tears to his already wet eyes.

Between the shack and the back of the little tree, in the shape of a horse shoe, were a dozen little pine trees, each about eighteen inches tall. All had their branches decked out in the same star-shaped lights as the little Christmas tree. Ryan clapped his hands together.

It was still the last pine before the North Pole, but it was no longer alone!

Ryan was so entranced by the scene, that he hadn’t noticed the small pile of gaily-wrapped presents that sat beneath the little Christmas tree.

He ran back to the igloo, shouting at the top of his voice.

‘Dad, Dad, Santa found me. He’s left us presents; you should see the little tree.’

The grownups crawled out of the igloo and Ryan led them around to where the little tree danced its colourful dance in the early morning breeze. He passed around the presents.

Dad got a new watch to replace his broken one. The new watch had dials which could tell you the time in any part of the world.

Aput and Amaruk, each got a new fishing rod that could fold away into the smallest length imaginable. The Huskies got a large bag of dog treats.

Ryan held his present close to his chest, not wanting to spoil the moment by opening it.

Finally, under pressure from the others, he at first, folded back a little bit of the paper from one end, before giving in and tearing the brightly coloured wrapping from the gift.

Inside was a box with the words, Junior Arctic Explorers Kit, emblazoned across the lid. Ryan slipped it off to find a fake-fur hat with flaps to keep his ears warm, a set of powerful binoculars and a digital, satellite-connected tracking device with which you could find your way home from anywhere. In the bottom of the box was a card with a picture of Santa on it. Ryan opened it slowly and read.

Dear Ryan.

Thank you for your letter. I was a little bit concerned that you might think I hadn’t found you, but you were my last call on the way home. Thank you for pointing out the plight of the little tree. I hope both you, and it, are pleased with the result.

See you next year, wherever you are.

Love, Santa.

PS.

You will find some more presents back in Last Town.

Merry Christmas.

The adults packed the sled and tidied up the camp, while Ryan said a happy goodbye to the little tree.

‘I’ll come to see you again next year and every year after that,’ he promised.

Ryan stroked one of the glittering branches, took one last look at the little tree’s new companions, and with a happy heart, walked back to the sled.

The Huskies were yapping to each other, clawing at the snow, eager to be off. Ryan fed them two treats each and took his place at the front of the sled alongside Amaruk.

‘Which way is home, Navigator?’ asked the guide with a smile.

Ryan started up his new device, typed in, ‘Last Town,’ and waited. A few seconds later a route was displayed with an arrow pointing South-West. Ryan held out his arm in the direction the arrow was pointing.

‘That way,’ he called.

The Huskies began to run. Ryan took one last look back and waved.

‘See you next year,’ he whispered.

Please follow and like us:

Desperate Measures

First published in Ireland’s Own magazine.

Michael Keagan stared despondently at the bleak winter sky. The light snow that had started to fall half an hour ago had become heavier and begun to settle.
‘Fabulous,’ he whispered, ‘the first Christmas snow we get in decades and I’m stood around in it, freezing to death.’
Cursing under his breath, he pulled his hood forward, checked his watch for the 20th time and wondered, once again, why he had chosen to wear trainers instead of the warm winter boots that were sitting under the stairs at home.

Christmas Eve wasn’t the best time to do a spot of breaking and entering, he decided.

Keagan looked around, the garden was quiet. His hiding place could not be overlooked by the neighbours, he had chosen well. The laurels were excellent cover and he could see into the drawing room clearly. The occupants, a man in his 40s and a slightly younger woman, were sat together in front of an open fire, drinking and sharing some joke or happy memory.

Keagan willed them to go to bed, it was 11.45. It couldn’t be much longer now surely? There was a child in the house, kids always got up early on Christmas day. Parents usually got up with them.
Five minutes later his patience was rewarded. The couple left their fireside seats and headed for the door leading to the stairs. The man remained for a while, turned off the Christmas tree lights and placed a metal guard in front of the coal fire. He checked his watch as he left the room; closing the door behind him.
Keagan watched as the stair light was turned off. It was replaced by a bedroom light and the duller light of the en suite close by. Not long now. He reached for a cigarette then decided it was too risky. He would have to wait.

Ten minutes later the lights were extinguished. He hoped the pair weren’t feeling amorous.

Keagan waited in the shrubbery for another thirty minutes before he decided it was safe enough to proceed. He took a final glance at the upstairs window and hurried across the lawn, crouching as he ran. The snow was coming down heavier than ever and would quickly cover any footprints he left behind.
Still crouching, he crossed the patio and headed for a set of French doors. A pair of small garden statues guarded them, one either side of the frame. Keagan lifted the right hand statue carefully and groped underneath until he found a key. He grinned and nodded to himself. He knew it would be there; people were so lax about security matters.



With a trembling hand, he turned the key in the lock. The door opened with a low groan, the warm air that greeted his entry, welcome after the freezing two hour reconnaissance. Keagan dipped into his pocket and pulled out a small pencil torch. Sliding a tiny button forward he shone the thin beam around the room. The door he wanted was on the left and with a few quick strides he crossed the timber floor and let himself into the drawing room.

The fire had begun to die down but gave out enough light to enable him to turn off the torch. Keagan wandered over to the Christmas tree, a dozen parcels lay underneath. Picking a couple at random he shook them, guessed the contents then returned them to the pile.

‘Now for the tricky bit,’ he thought.

He walked to the stair door and slowly eased the handle down. He grimaced as it creaked open, didn’t anyone lubricate hinges anymore? Keagan waited for a full minute in case the sound had been heard, but no-one stirred in the rooms above. He decided to leave the door ajar, for his heart as much as anything else. The noise had un-nerved him.
On tip toe and grateful now for his decision to wear the trainers, Keagan crept up the stairs a step at a time, listening intently for any sound of movement.
At the top he halted and waited for a few seconds; all was quiet. He turned to the right, eased open the white painted door in front of him and entered the bedroom. A small night light glowed on the bedside table, he smiled to himself; she never had liked the dark.

Keagan looked toward the small figure curled up under the covers and caught his breath. The girl was asleep, breathing softly, deep in dreams; her golden hair spread over the pillow. He moved slowly to the side of the bed, reached into his pocket and brought out a small package containing a bracelet and a short letter. Holding his breath, he gently lifted her hand and laid the package on the coverlet, then set her hand on top. Instinctively, he leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead.
He wanted to stay longer, but he daren’t. He wanted to wake her, to tell her he loved her, to tell her he hadn’t forgotten, but that could end in disaster. Laura’s mother had steadfastly refused him access, despite the court order he had won. She had even refused to pass on gifts and messages. Were she to discover him in this burglar role, her revenge would know no limits

Keagan leaned over her again, whispered, ’Soon, my darling,’ then, wiping away a tear, he turned and left the room as quietly as he had entered it.
Back outside, Keagan replaced the key under the statue and took a last look at the house he knew so well, the house he used to share with Laura before life had become so difficult. His lawyers had insisted that access would be granted in the New Year It all should have been sorted out much sooner. Had it been left to Laura’s mother and him, it would have been.

Once on the street he lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply. The snow fell steadily. It was in for the night, there would indeed be a white Christmas; Laura would love that.
Back in the car Keagan lit another cigarette, fired up the engine, turned on the radio and adjusted the dial for the heater. He had a two hour drive ahead of him, but the journey would be shortened by the feeling of a job well done.

As he was about to pull away he heard a beep from his pocket. Keagan checked the phone; a text message was waiting in his inbox.

‘Thanks Dad, I love the bracelet. Happy Christmas! Laura.

Through misty eyes, Keagan checked his mirrors, pulled away from the kerb and turned up the radio. As he drove along the deserted High Street he heard the familiar voice of Bing Crosby wishing everyone a merry Christmas.
‘Someday soon we all will be together, if the fates allow. Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow…’
Keagan nodded in agreement and headed toward the motorway.

Please follow and like us:
« Older posts