Looking In


Original Photo : www.flickr.com/photos/s-t-r-a-n-g-e/4481862813


I stand on the outside,

And only look in,

No-one can see me,

Or know where I’ve been,

I watch from the window,

My glass prison wall,

Fate had enslaved me,

Fate watched me fall,

And windowpane tears,

Like soft falling rain,

Rattle the shutters,

The breeze of my pain,


In the room I see laughter,

And love in her eyes,

But I know you deceive,

Your smile a disguise,

I watch the light dimmer,

And see her life fade,

Your hands on her throat,

Her eyes on the blade,


I stand on the outside and only look in,

But now she can see me, for again he will win.


This was written for a prompt ‘Yesterday’ on the fabulous Community Storyboard. There are some really great pieces to check out if you haven’t done so already. Lately everything I’ve written seemed to rhyme, it wasn’t really a conscious decision just a fever that gripped, lol. So I thought I would try and get back my prose mojo…..


“No, it was yesterday” Stella shouted louder than she intended.

She didn’t seem to be getting through. Four heads were nodding in agreement but she could see it in their eyes. Their eyes couldn’t lie, not like their bodies. There was concern; yes she could see that, a veiled understanding that something wasn’t quite right.  Her mother was rubbing her hand and nodding at her like one of those plastic heads in the back of a car. Stella swiftly moved it away, the rubbing was really beginning to grate. She raised her hand to her forehead rubbing at her temple and caught the shooting look between the others.

“What the hell’s going on?”

“Stella, you’ve been hallucinating”

“So you keep saying, but that’s bullshit” She cursed as her mother raised a perfectly shaped eyebrow.

Stella let her head fall back against the pillow and shut her eyes against the thunder storm that was raging.

“She needs rest, we’ll go back to the hotel and come back later” her mother gestured to the others.

When Rita Kowalski spoke the whole world followed. The conservatively dressed matriarch had twenty years of high level politics under her belt and didn’t suffer fools gladly, least of all her children. Rita had the body of a twenty year old and the compassion of a piece of wood. She had chosen to adopt each of her three children rather than sacrifice an inch of that perfectly sculptured body. All three knew nothing about their biological parents and for her brother and sister it had never been an issue but for Stella it had always been the elephant in the room, she knew she was different, she knew there was something missing. It was like she was out of place, a visitor in the wrong place at the wrong time. She’d been secretly researching for years and that’s what had brought her to Scotland this summer.

With the room empty again, Stella was able to fight against the fog that was weaving through her brain. She could remember the tour to the castle by the Loch, the need to go inside, the need to touch the stones that lay abandoned over the centuries. She had felt at home but didn’t know why. She’d never been to Scotland in her life but there was something so familiar so comforting about the place. Yet some deep sorrow that seemed to wrap around her very soul and she couldn’t stop the rattle of her teeth or the tears that suddenly filled her eyes. The rain had come almost immediately as the clouds had darkened and followed her inside. She tried to shield herself against the heavy bursts that quickly soaked through her clothes. Then she lost her footing and everything went black.

Suddenly she was flying through the sky like a bird, over the mountains and into the clouds. She jerked awake not knowing where she was and sat forward grabbing a strong steady arm. Her breath caught in her chest as she saw the mist clearing. The castle was whole again, its stone bastions rising majestically from its foundations. Then a godlike silhouette appeared against the shifting mist, his long golden hair rippled like ribbons and his kilt wavered lightly in the breeze. She wasn’t afraid. She let her eyes roam over the features of his face, she knew who he was. A muscle clenched in his jaw

Stella sat rapt, stricken by the need to hear him speak.  He moved closer,

“You have much to learn about the world of the Fairies lass”

He leaned in and gently touched his mouth to hers. It felt right, it felt comforting, and for reasons she didn’t understand it made sense.

“Aye ye were cursed by the Fairy Queen my bonny lass” his heavy Gaelic brogue sang a sweet familiar melody that instantly filled her heart.

“But I promised I’d wait an eternity for ye my love, aye I knew you’d come back to me”

Then the rain had softened and the sky gave off an eerie pink glow. Stella felt the tension rising in her head, heard his voice growing fainter as the darkness took hold again.

“No, No, I have to go back” she screamed as the hospital room came back into focus.

A nurse came running back in flicking switches on and off the machines at the side of the bed.

“It’s alright Miss, just a nightmare” she said adjusting the pillows behind Stella’s head.

“They brought you in yesterday half dead love, you need to get your strength back” she continued settling the bedding.

“What on earth were you doing up at those ruins, especially in that storm?”

Stella listened, but didn’t speak.

The nurse carried on talking, oblivious to the lack of response from her patient. She told Stella how the ruins were said to be haunted. That an evil queen had cursed a wild highland warrior to wander alone through eternity searching for his lost love.

“Some folks say she’ll come back again one day, and bring the heather back to the Loch”

“Aye, we Scottish love our stories” giggled the nurse as she left the room.

Stella lifted the blanket from her leg, and looked down. The tiny tattoo on her ankle seemed suddenly brighter and the vivid purple of the heather seemed to take on an almost magical hue.

Stella closed her eyes and whispered “Yes, it was only yesterday”.

Friday 13th Prompt – Omelette for One


Susie got to the house, turned off the engine and tilted her head back against the head rest. She closed her eyes and let the silence seep in and ease the ache in her head. A few seconds of peace before chaos kicked in. She’d been distracted all day, though if truth be told probably for a while. Nothing she could put her finger on but something wasn’t right. There had been the phone calls where nobody spoke, just dead air that crackled on the other end. The jewellery that had been moved and some of it she couldn’t find or some had turned up in odd places. The letters she’d seen the postman bring but never saw, not even opened envelopes thrown in the bin. John must be laughing at her, saying she was being daft, perhaps she was.

When she’d struggled to get up this morning, she’d vowed to be in bed by ten.  It was already eight when she’d got home. A late night office meeting and the Chambers account that needed typing up before tomorrow had kept her in the office far longer than she intended. She stopped for take out on the way home. She really couldn’t face cooking this late. She opened her eyes but stayed sat in the car. A faint smell of barbecued ribs hit her nose and she glanced at the brown steaming bag on the seat. Then her eyes drifted to the dim light filtering underneath the garage door. John must be still working she thought. He’d be starving.

Susie still had a thick ache in her head as she rubbed at her temples and her mouth involuntary opened and stretched into a yawn.  Then snapped shut suddenly when she remembered the near accident she’d had earlier. A wagon had skidded to a stop at the corner of Remmington, only just missing her. She’d been tampering with the radio, somehow the station had moved from classical to rock. She never listened to rock. She was a one station kind of girl, always had been. Suddenly a screech of brakes and a thunder roll of steel had slammed to a stop just in front of the driver’s side window.  Susie had slammed her foot on the brakes and instinct had her throwing her hands up over her head and bringing it down between her knees. That’s what they do on planes!

She really had to move. The light was starting to fade and the cool evening air was weaving a chill through her unbuttoned jacket. She could feel the crunch of the pebbled driveway under her pumps as she walked to the front door. She saw shadows of feet under the garage door but the light still stayed on. When he was busy John wouldn’t even hear a hurricane hitting she thought to herself as she fumbled in her bag for her house keys. She blindly rummaged around with her one free hand, then lent on the door and it opened. He’s forgot to lock it again, she sighed. How many times had she told him to lock the front door when he was working, anyone could get in and he’d never know a bloody thing.

She put the bag on the kitchen counter and tried the light switch, the bulb must have gone. She shouted through the connecting door to the garage in the kitchen. He didn’t answer. She shouted louder. He’ll be through in a minute I’ll get the plates out she thought, as she reached for the cupboard door above the sink. He’s been moving stuff again. “More room for his home brew I bet” as she tried a few more cupboard doors looking for her mother’s crockery, the ones she always used. “When did we get these blue plates?” she asked herself tracing her fingers over a patterned rim. They must have been in the garage, she thought.

She ran upstairs for a quick wee before they ate. The bathroom light bulb must have gone as well. She quickly peed and washed her hands at the sink. Where had her toothbrush gone? He better not have been cleaning the grout with it again. It was always hers that needed replacing, his was about 4 years old but it still stood straight and tall in the bevelled glass by the mirror. She was chuntering to herself and drying her hands on the dirty towel she must have forgot to pick up this morning when she heard the connecting door in the kitchen open. She shouted down the stairs “Be down in a minute Pet”.

John went to the sink and squirted a drop of liquid soap onto his hands. The house seemed quite now, that was why he spent so much time in the garage. He flicked on the light switch and the kitchen lit up. He went to the fridge; he really wasn’t hungry but couldn’t remember the last time he’d eaten. He supposed he should force something down. It was two years since Susie had died, but he still missed her every day. It was weird, sometimes he thought he could hear her calling his name, he even caught a scent every now and then of barbecued ribs, her favourite. She’d been bringing them home when it happened. The accident team said she must have fallen asleep at the wheel. How many times had he told her to take it easy, to get some more rest? He grabbed for some eggs, an omelette would do!

A Little Bit Of Something New (Well it’s new for me anyway)

Well, I am trying something else new. I’m a great believer in trying everything once, but in the words of the mighty MeatLoaf  “I won’t do that”….

I had a request from someone who wanted to do a podcast with one of my stories, you can listen to it here and it got me thinking. I’ve got into trouble before for thinking so try to avoid it as often as I can.   But then relented after a glass or two of wine and thought why not.

Excuse the quality – a mobile phone, a couple of glasses of red, a bag of M & M’s and a dire northern accent don’t make for a great recording….

Nobody Saw & Nobody Knew –

He Glanced at His Watch Impatiently 

Two Men Walking

The last two mourners at the small churchyard walked in silence towards the gates. Paul’s eyes darted quickly to James on his left then just as quickly back to the road ahead. He desperately sought a connection from his companion; he wanted him to shout, to hit out, to say something, anything. But there was nothing. He needed recognition; an acknowledgement, a moment of acceptance, anything at all from the man at his side. Mounting frustration kept Paul’s gaze shifting back to the road in front.

James, the taller of the two, was 6’4 of toned perfection. His hair was blonde, sleeked back against his head. Cut slightly longer at the back it gently skimmed the collar of a long navy overcoat that fell to just above his calf. He wore it opened and the cut of the cloth handsomely bellowed around his lower body. The sharp weave of the heavy fabric turned the colour almost black against the shimmering gold silk lining. Underneath was an equally expensive suit with a hint of dark grey pinstripe that gave a tantalising glimpse of some heavy duty money. The silk handkerchief neatly folded in his pocket seemed somehow over the top but the celebrity mags had always called it his trademark look. In contrast, Paul’s suit screamed cheap, it was 20 yrs old. It smelt of old spice and sweat of alcohol and cigarettes. He instantly wished he hadn’t worn it. His desperate attempt this morning at taming his unwashed hair had been slowly eroded by the incessant rain and he instinctively raised a hand to it, wondering what to do next.
Paul lowered his gaze as they approached the gates and turned to look at James, not knowing what to say. He stood for a minute, facing him, riveted by James’s pallid stare. There was a definite air of unease as one man scanned the other. What now? And then, divine intervention. A black Mercedes, seeming to appear from the shadows, suddenly screeched to a stop at the side of them. The door opened. James climbed in and was gone. They were two strangers who had shared a last goodbye, a fleeting connection of two worlds. Paul reached into his pocket, grabbed some coins and quickly counted. He walked out of the gates wondering if he had enough for the bus fare home, maybe even a pasty from Gregg’s…….

After the funeral, Paul needed to be on his own. He wasn’t part of James’s life, he didn’t feel comfortable around the starlets, models and TV execs he knew would be there, each vying for 5 minutes Press coverage in next week’s chip paper. It just seemed so false, so ridiculous and so totally crap! So a couple of hours later without any real reason why, he found himself alone in James’s apartment. The porter had recognised him and let him in. He re-locked the door and turned, sliding his head back against the wood he gave himself time to get his breathing under control and let his eyes adjust to the emptiness of the titanic open plan space. He hadn’t needed any lights, a huge fish tank, floor to ceiling in height, was the only dividing wall in the open plan unit. It separated the living areas and the bedroom. Neon prisms of light danced in the darkness, bathing the space in enough light to let him wander unhindered. Without conscious direction Paul found himself by the large king size bed at the farthest corner of the unit. It was freshly made, he could see a dozen pillows neatly plumped piled against the headboard. A delicate swathe of emerald green satin sheathed the bed with a flowing lava of textile pooling around the floor. He lay down. He wanted to rest, just for a while. He listened to the darkness, the night wind gently rustling through the tall oak outside the window. He couldn’t get the earlier encounter out of his head.
He couldn’t relax, couldn’t stop the fog from invading his thoughts. He sat up. The dimly lit shadows sailed over the wardrobe that was set back against the un-finished red stone brickwork. He got up and walked towards it. The carved Moroccan doors sang of elegance and wealth. Running his fingers over the delicate mouldings, he shivered. A vivid memory flashed into his head; odd sized wooden planks, nails scattered across the paving stones, two boys and a newly built rabbit hutch. The image vanished as quickly as it came. He shivered again. His hands hesitantly went to the wardrobe doors and opened them. Something caught his eye. Hidden in the far corner conspicuously veiled and out of place amongst the other expensive boxes he pulled out a tattered old shoe box. Sitting back on the bed, he flicked on the small spotlights built into the headboard. He opened the lid, his fingers caressing the old dog-eared photos. Even in the dim light Paul could see the images from memory and he lay back thinking about the past. His brain was churning, as was his stomach, maybe that Gregg’s pasty wasn’t such a good idea.

How different things were just a few weeks before. Trepidation was a feeling he rarely felt, but waiting in the car that Saturday morning, Paul’s heart was racing. His mouth felt like a service station cheese sandwich, dry and begging for a little accompaniment. He’d been dry for 7 weeks, 2 days and looking at his watch, almost 23hrs. Sobriety had helped him pull himself together at work, being a freelance writer had its advantages as long as you actually wrote. His latest pieces had recently been picked up and money had started to slowly placate his over anxious bank manager. Paul had finally agreed to meet up with James. He wasn’t sure why he had, not after so long, but since that first awkward phone call had come out of the blue James had never let up; calling him, texting him, said he really wanted him to look over some plans he’d had drawn up for his new place. Paul felt like a kid again, his stomach was churning, excitement, anticipation, fear, all mingled with that healthy bowl of muesli he’d eaten for breakfast. Although the excitement of James letting him drive the flash new Mercedes E Class had started to disturb his stomach acid, it slowly eased the further they got out of the city.

They had been on the road for a few hours, the low rising concrete replaced by low rising peaks and green mountain meadows. The background hum of the CD player weaved between snippets of insignificant conversation. Then suddenly, without warning the car screeched wildly out of control. The rancid smell of burning rubber quickly hit the back of Paul’s throat. He tried to swerve, pulling at the wheel. Using both hands frantically trying to turn the car away from the large black object coming towards them. They say your life flashes before you. Not once do they say ‘a huge black cow’ but that was what Paul saw as he momentarily lifted his gaze towards the oncoming barrier. Then a never ending haze of green hit the shattering windscreen. Then what felt like minutes rather than seconds as they came to a sudden terrifying stop.

All was silent except the constant hissing of the radiator panel, smoke billowing from the shattered bonnet like a steady rise of steam from a boiling kettle. Paul slowly shifted forward, tentatively lifted his throbbing head and turned to his left. James was slumped over the passenger air bag, his right arm dangling loosely towards the floor of the car. Paul pulled at his seatbelt, the stench of smoke clawing at his throat, seeping into his chest as he started to cough. His left hand gripped the dashboard trying to steady himself. He shouted to James, to wake him, praying he was alive; but nothing, the only sound his own heavy breath and the rasping pressure escaping from the compacted mangle that was left of the engine. He tried to look in the rear view mirror, shattered in pieces and now bent almost vertically. He heard a sudden, short gasp, it startled him forward. The white nylon of the air bag was stained by a heavy stream of blood. He looked at James, his left eyelid was partially open and the brilliant blue now stained a dark ruby red. He cautiously tugged at James’s seat belt, trying to loosen its grip. Leaning forwards he felt a hot piercing pain in his side, he hissed. He put his arm out and slowly eased James back against the Italian leather seat.

As the first orange flicker appeared under the wheel arch Paul realised they needed to get out. He painfully moved his legs from under the steering column and gave two heavy kicks against the door cranking it open. Putting an arm around James, he lifted them clumsily out of the car, cursing loudly as he moved. He moved towards the clearing. Another loud explosion suddenly threw them to the ground. Polished rosewood and Italian leather flew overhead, the door finally landing 50 metres in front. James tried to lift his head, so did Paul. They looked at each other and started to laugh; a tense, nervous, inappropriate laugh. Paul wiped away a trickle of blood seeping down his face. It was then, looking at James laughing so crudely, that Paul realised how much he had missed, how much he loved his little brother. The laughing stopped. James gasped. A strange hollow sound rose from his chest. Paul reached out for him, cradling him tightly. Tears stung his eyes as he feverishly stroked James’s clammy forehead, his face pressed pleadingly against James’s cheek. Willing him to breath, to hang on, to stay with him. He didn’t. James breathed his last breathe in his brother’s arms. Paul was still cradling the motionless body of his brother when they were found some 30 minutes later by the rescue services.

That divine intervention that had carried James away from the churchyard on that miserable wet morning had in fact been just that. It was James’s funeral. There had been no words spoken between them, just like the photos Paul now held in his hands, James had just been an image, walking beside him, saying goodbye ……………..