Tag Archives: Short Stories

21 Minutes

“Can you keep a secret?” She looked up from where her head nestled in the crook of his arm, nothing above them but blue sky and fluffy, white clouds. 

“Of course I can” he snorted in reply, “you can tell me anything”. He brushed a stray hair of hers from his stubble and stretched out on the blanket, adjusting his legs, crossed at the ankle.

“I mean, like a proper secret. Not like, oh I’m scared of the dark or I once stole pic n’ mix from the shop as a kid.” She bit her lip but kept her head bowed.

“Alright, I’ll bite. Go on. You have to tell me now.” He sat up, propped up on his elbows with a bemused smile on his face. She sat up to face him, long legs curled to one side, and looped her hair behind her ear. Suddenly looking serious, she fiddled with the hem of her dress.

“It’s just that, I’ve done something, well, something happened. It was an accident and I didn’t mean for anyone to get hurt, of course I didn’t, you know I’m a massive Jessie and I hate the thought of pain or anyone being upset.” The words tumbled out in a torrent, she looked at him with pleading eyes, knowing she had to go through with it now.

“What do you mean, what happened?” He sat upright, looking puzzled. “You can tell me anything, Nat, tell me what happened. Are you in trouble?” He reached out for her hand, she let his fingers entwine with hers. An act of solidarity, which she was certain would vanish once he knew what she was capable of.

“It happened last night. I was running late and I had to get back for Emma watching the kids. I’d been chatting to Clare after the class and time got away. It was dark but I was still pumped from the class but I knew I could jog back through the park and make up the lost time. It was stupid I know. I know it’s not safe.”

“What the hell happened Nat, are you okay?” He moved closer, holding both her hands now. “Jesus, just tell me.”

Tears came thick and fast now. Rolling down her cheeks as she choked out the details of the attack. “I saw him leaning against a bench by the lake, just up from the play park. I must have been huffing because he saw me jogging right into his path before I was close.

“It was dark but I knew he’d seen me.” She lowered her head again. Not able to look Ben in the eye.

“Oh God Nat, did he touch you? I swear to god if I find out he laid a fucking finger on you again, I’ll kill him. I’ll tear him apart.” Ben, her dependable Ben, was up on his knees, holding her shoulders now. Pulling her into his arms and against his chest.

“He didn’t touch me, Ben. He didn’t get the chance.” She whispered.

“I know you shouldn’t have to avoid certain places Nat, it’s not fair to live your life like that, but avoiding the park in the pitch-black would be a good start. You’re only just building up your confidence again and…” She cut off his exasperated pleas.

“He didn’t get chance to hurt me, Ben, because I got to him first.”

 

 

Tagged , , , ,

Compound

“Look, I’m just having a few money problems, okay? I will pay for the room, I swear.” The man leaned over the table towards the bored-looking copper. 

“Skipping the hotel is the least of your worries, mate.” The sergeant replied. 

“On arrest, you were found to have this envelope in your possession. It contained a number of photographs. Can you tell me what these are?” The officer fanned out the photographs of the compound across the table. 

“No comment” The man replied. “Any sign of my solicitor?” He knew his solicitor would do everything in his power to avoid having to deal with him, but it was worth a shot. Stalling the questioning process was his only option. At least until he got his story straight. 

Wishing he’d managed to sleep, he rubbed his hands over his face. 

“It would be a hell of a lot easier if you just answer the questions. Are they yours?” The officer pressed. 

“No comment.” The man replied. Just sit tight. He needed more time to think. 

“Alright, we’ll do it your way. Interview terminated at 13:07.” The officer gathered up the papers and left. 

The man held his head in his hands. They knew something. Tracing him down to the hotel so quickly proved that. The photos proved nothing, just a group of buildings. No easily identifiable signs, vehicles, or people. But it was guarded, the camera masts and secure gates and armed guards showed it was a place of interest. 

He could murder a coffee. Not the best turn of phrase, given his current situation. The door to the interview room opened abruptly and he was ushered back down into the custody cell. 

A cold, weak cup of coffee came through the door hatch an hour later with the news that his solicitor was en route. The man lay down on the thin, blue mat and closed his eyes. 

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Unholy

Getting by on half a Kinder Bueno for breakfast isn’t ideal, but Ellie had forgotten the last time she ate anything normal before midday.

Coffee, chocolate, and the endless supply of biscuits on offer in the newsroom kept her going most days. It also kept her waistline expanding. As she walked towards the Town Hall, she wondered if that was the root of Nick’s problem? Maybe she should make more effort to get some exercise and knock Greggs in the head for a few weeks?

“I don’t see why we have to have these meetings at this unholy hour.” a councilor complained to Ellie as he ambled into the meeting room laded down with files. She smiled and shrugged. Is 9am really that early? Or had all the daily grind of council bureaucracy gotten too much? She suspected the latter for this time-served civil servant. 

“Ellie!” 

The City Mayor, Anna Carvell caught Ellie’s attention and strode over with a broad, photographer-pleasing smile. 

“Lovely to see you again, thank you for coming down. I know these weekly meetings are pretty hard going but it’s important our constituents know we’re dedicated to discussing the issues that matter to them.” Spoken like a true pro. That entire spiel was straight out of PR 101. 

“Good morning Anna, it’s a pleasure really. Like you said, it’s all about the readership.” Ellie was about to take her seat when Anna stepped closer. 

“Will you be covering the press conference at the training ground this afternoon?” Anna tried to keep her tone light, but Ellie could tell there was something there. 

“Yes, of course. I’m hoping for some good news for Daley, that was a horrendous tackle.” Ellie had seen the challenge with her own eyes and gasped along with the press box as the right-back crumpled to the floor in the dying seconds of last Saturday’s game. 

“Yes me too, but I hear the recovery is going well. I’ll see you there.” With that Anna took her seat, shaking hands and offering smiles to everyone around the room. 

Why is she going to the press conference? Ellie wondered. It was no secret that the city mayor was a blue and was regularly seen in hospitality at home games. But the slog up to the remote training ground was an unusual diary booking for the Mayor. 

“Ellie took out her laptop, set up the voice recorder app, and readied her pen and paper to take notes, her stomach rumbling.  

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Breakfast

Naomi was bitterly regretting not eating that croissant for breakfast. Counting down the last few minutes until the end of the exam, her head was banging and as expected the test paper was a blur of words.

She knew this stuff, she just couldn’t summon the knowledge. She wrote her name and the date – apparently, you get a mark for that. 

Mr. Duffy signaled the end of the exam and teachers began to collect the papers in. She felt a hand on her shoulder as Mrs. Rhodes picked up her paper, looking down at her disappointed.

At the first opportunity, Naomi got up from her seat and walked quickly to retrieve her bag. Chloe was quicker and linked her arm through Naomi’s with a squeeze.

“So, come on then. What happened with you and Ben?” she whispered as the students filed out of the main hall. 

“Chlo, don’t start. Nothing happened, we’re mates, I’ve told you a million times. And no, he’s not in the friend zone, he doesn’t like me like that.”

“Alright, don’t get all mardy about it. He’s fit though, isn’t he?” Chloe grinning, glancing over at Ben who stood awkwardly outside the main school reception.

“Behave, he’s just a really good mate. We’re like brother and sister, just into the same things and obviously, we work the match, that’s it.” Naomi’s headache was worsening and Chloe was being more annoying than usual. 

“What you up to now anyway? Wanna come into town? I’ve got an H&M gift card I want to use.” Chloe said as she lined up her phone camera to take a post-exam selfie. 

“I don’t feel very well. I’m just going to walk home.” Naomi started towards Ben. 

“Ohhhhh, walking home with Ben are we?” Chloe teased. 

“Whatever, Chlo” Naomi managed a smile for Ben who fell into step alongside her and headed out of the school gates. 

Tagged , , , , , ,

Magic

What am I supposed to do, perform bloody magic? He thought as he lay in bed. The hotel room was a depressing beige with moth holes in the blackout curtains covering the balcony window.

Not that there was much of a view, the barren car park, and the back of Sainsburys. 8am and the sun shone into the drab room like bullet holes. The thought made his chest ache.

An envelope lay on the bedside table. He’d turned it over in his hands a hundred times during the night. He’d sleep much easier once it was delivered instead of sitting there, like a ticking time bomb. The issue was delivering it. He couldn’t let it out of his sight and so a courier of any kind was out of the question. But the two of them couldn’t be seen together.

It had been 17 days since he’d made contact. It was too soon to involve the police. Stick to his orders, report back, and get paid. Money was an issue. Let the client decide on how to proceed, just get paid, and move on.

His thoughts whirred. Surveillance at a designated drop off point may be the only option. The phone rang on the desk. He leaped up like he’d been electrocuted. Throwing on his jeans, shoes, and shirt, he pulled his phone charger from the plug socket, grabbed the envelope and his jacket, and quietly slid open the balcony door.

“Shit” Stuffing the iphone charger cable into his pocket he realised the plug was still in the socket, covered with his fingerprints. Hitting the ground from the first-floor balcony stung the soles of his feet. He rounded the corner, attempting to button his shirt and look as normal as possible when he heard the crackle of the police radios. Envelope in hand, he ran.

Tagged , , ,