Stalemate implies that you’re friends in the first place. Derek’s no friend of mine. Give him an inch, as the saying goes, and he’ll take more than the proverbial mile – he’ll take a marathon.

It all started back when… oh you don’t want to hear all about that, you want the action, the here and now, why someone I thought I knew well, someone I’d known from school sixty years ago would turn up on my doorstep declaring his undying love for my wife. I didn’t even know they knew each other. Turns out they met a few months ago buying my Christmas present. Well, Isobel buying mine, Derek buying one for his dog. Not that she bought me a pet toy, they were in the same department store queue, waiting to pay. Isobel behind Derek and she saw what he’d got – can’t remember what she said it was now, doesn’t matter.

She loves dogs. Had them growing up, wanted one, but it was me or a dog so she had no choice, did she?

So anyways, they got chatting, went for a cup of coffee… innocent like and first thing I knew about it is when he turned up. On my birthday of all days! Picked then because he thought… or she thought, I’d be in a good mood. Even if I had been, which I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have been for long, seeing him would I? Before or after he told me about him and Isobel.

She said afterwards she’d wanted to tell me. That it had always been just coffee, just shopping. Not Derek’s version but he’d always exaggerated, said she wanted to leave me but that I wouldn’t let her. So he came to ask me. Not that there was much asking involved. Any, actually. Lots of demanding as I remember.

I was holding her back, he’d said. Wasn’t making her happy. She’d be happy with him. Couldn’t even think of anything original.

Of course she won’t leave me. Thinks she was the one to put me in this wheelchair. And I’m not going to put her straight, am I? She does too good a job of looking after me, and she enjoys it, I can tell.


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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.