A Perfect Portrait (Part 2)

Alex had never considered himself someone who loved their job.

He liked it well enough on average, but that day he felt strangely energised. The walk there had lifted his mood with every step and he almost forgot to take his breaks, given how much energy he had. While sitting outside for his enforced break he wasn’t even bothered that he didn’t have the money for lunch. Sitting in the dappled sunshine was enough.

This mood followed him all the way through the day, towards his building, up the stairs and all the way to the door. The moment he stepped through the threshold, he found his face dropping its smile and he only walked far enough forward that most of him would land on the bed.

He wanted to sleep more than anything, but his phone buzzed in his pocket and he had the energy to check that, at least. It was a message from an old friend asking when his new place would be ready to host a games night. Looking around his living meagre space, Alex reasoned it might never fit particularly since apart from the chair he couldn’t exactly move the furniture around. He was in the middle of replying when he realised that something was wrong.

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A Perfect Portrait (Part 1)

It was only when Alex finished unpacking his few possessions that he noticed the painting.

His room was relatively plain. The walls were painted cream and the hardwood floors were thoroughly scuffed.  It had a bed, a desk, a bedside table with drawers and a wardrobe. He remembered those from his hurried inspection of the room a week ago, but he did not remember the painting.

The wooden frame appeared was the same colour as the rest of the furniture in the room and it sat so flush against the wall when he inspected it that Alex concluded it was glued in place.

What was particularly odd was the subject matter. It was a painting of a plain room with a chair off to one side. The room pictured had green carpet and a faded wallpaper design made of yellow flowers and white stripes and grey stripes. For a prominent painting, it was incredibly boring, except for how real it looked. As the sun set through the window, he could swear he saw the shadow of the chair shifting to match the time. It was only when he found himself leaning closer, straining to see the painting that he realised his room had grown dark without him noticing. He quickly put the light on and shook his head, wondering how he could let time get away from him like that. He sat back on his new bed, which felt much sturdier than his last. Like all the furniture included in the room, it was built into the wall. He suspected that might be why the painting was stuck to the wall – maybe the landlord had a problem with theft?

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Two Sentence Stories (Part 7)

On his deathbed the man confessed to his crimes, safe in the knowledge that he had escaped any punishment in this life. I simply listened to his admission, then his shaking, pain-wracked breaths and waited for him to awaken to re-live his last day again.

I walk amongst my party guests, watching them anxiously trying to figure out who the sacrifice is going to be that night. I see one place a glass down with a coaster and subtly touch her shoulder as I pass by, followed by eager eyes.

It was a pleasant surprise to find that the dishes were done this morning. It was less pleasant when I remembered that my husband died two weeks ago.


Four Sentence Stories (Part 2)

I never know what to do when someone is singing me happy birthday. It’s why I never tell anyone when my birthday is. It’s also why I make sure I’m home alone all day.

So I refuse to open my eyes as I hear someone singing above my bed, leaning in closer and closer.

After my daughter woke my up for the third night in a row, I was getting near the end of my tether. After she stopped babbling about the man at the window, I finally convinced her to let me tuck her back into bed.

When she finally settled, I opened her window for some fresh air and saw a figure on the street, smiling far too widely. As it turns to walk away on limbs that don’t quite bend right, I lean out and find my hands resting on scratch marks on the window frame of my fifth floor apartment.

I never got over the death of my twin sister. My parents seemed to move on quickly, they always said that they were just happy to still have me.

I miss Jennifer.

I miss being called by name and I hate that I had to move into her old room and wear her old clothes.


Five Sentence Stories (Part 2)

Richard had always dreamed of visiting this cathedral.
He had never heard of it before, but standing before it he realised that it was the same cathedral he had visited in his dreams throughout his entire life.
As he stared at the building, the eyes of the gargoyles seemed to watch him intently and as he circled it, their heads turned to follow him. Finally he found an empty platform, the gargoyle beside it extending its arm downwards towards him.
If the tour guide that passed that spot ten minutes later noticed the new gargoyle, he didn’t include it in his speech.

I think I was just born.

There are people standing around me talking, but I don’t understand them yet. I hope they like me.
It takes a few seconds, but I start to understand some of what they are saying. “Artificial intelligence” “six years” “project funding” “Shut d-“

It was a shock when I woke up to find a set of footprints in the snow leading to my front door. What was worse was that they clearly spent some time pacing near the door, before heading towards the window to the laundry at the back of the house. Fortunately I had awoken in the middle of the night and it didn’t appear they had been hiding in the laundry for very long.

Quietly stalking my hallway, I held the already bloody knife tightly. I had already taken this home for myself to get out of the cold and no one was going to take it from me.

Two Sentence Stories (Part 6)

The grown woman standing before us smiled as she told us that she was our long-lost daughter, who had finally found us after reading about our success online. I welcomed her into the house quickly while my husband started looking online for immediate-effect life insurance policies again.

It didn’t take us long to realise that the tide wasn’t coming back in. We chased the water through sand, rock and coral and over the corpses of suffocated sea creatures, right up until the edge of the endless hole.

I can feel my cat kneading my stomach with her claws as she takes advantage of my sleep paralysis. I keep my eyes shut to avoid hallucinations and squeeze them more tightly when I hear my cat scratching on the outside of my door.


Lost Souls

I recently received my copies of Lost Souls, a collection of short stories published by Flame Tree Publishing.

This book features my first published story, Shut-In. I was absolutely shocked when I received the email to tell me it was accepted. Opening that email and almost crying as my boyfriend held the bag I shoved into his arms is a fantastic memory for me. Maybe not for him. He thought someone had died.

It’s a beautiful book, although the shine makes it difficult to photograph

Goth lighting
Flash! A-ah!

It is a beautiful book, and I am in incredible company


Every day I follow the same routine.

It’s not a compulsion, I just see no need to change it.

I wake at 7:30, am showered and dressed by 8, and I’ve eaten and left by 8:15am. I arrive at my job at 8:50 and work from 9 to 1, when I break for lunch. I eat in the break room and make small talk with my co-workers. At 2 I resume my work, taking a 3:30 tea break. I leave the office at 5:10 and am home at 6. My work isn’t rewarding, but it is steady and my co-workers are nice enough. At the end of each day I return to my home where I live alone, with no one to interrupt my preferred way of doing things.

This routine was followed precisely for years before I noticed that I was even doing it. One morning as I was leaving the house, I was struck by a feeling of absolute panic. It was as though my stomach was at once hollow and filled with immense weight.

It was 8:16 and I have never run faster in my life than I did to catch that bus.

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Two Sentence Stories (Part 5)

I have spent months in this ship, drilling towards the centre of the earth in absolute isolation. I tried to ignore the screaming and the banging on the sides at first, but now I can hear my father whispering how he really died.

I had heard the saying that if you love sausage you should never find out what it’s made of, and that is very true for the new butcher shop in town. However what disturbs me more than finding out what the ingredient is, is just how happy I am to keep eating there, particularly with an employee discount.

As I stand frozen, I can hear growling and the pacing of monstrous claws on the other side of my front door. I was so sure I’d remembered to lock it this morning, after I’d kissed my children goodbye and promised them I’d be back once I’d gathered enough food.

Four Hour Painting

Acrylic layer

The finished painting

I forgot how hard it is to get clear lines with fresh oils

Possibly my favourite part

This painting took about four hours to finish. It’s been a long time since I painted, and while I’m happy with certain elements, I definitely need more practice