Hitting his spoon on the edge of the eggcup made Jack wince. He’d only meant to get Sarah’s attention but not realised how loud it was going to be. She burst into tears.

“Sorry, darling!” he said, grabbing her favourite toy, Errol the elephant, to try to placate her, but failing miserably.

He squeezed its trunk which made it trumpet, but that only made Sarah scream. She’d been like this since her mother had left, since the cream envelope on the kitchen table, taken her possessions with her, except her most valuable, her daughter. She’d even taken her art equipment, the huge easel that had barely fitted in their car when they’d bought it. He’d known then it was for good, and that she’d had help; a man with a van, Jack suspected.

Jack knew he wasn’t the easiest of people to live with, shut away for hours on end while she ‘worked’ for a living.

She’d thought writing books exciting when they first met, went to all his signings, followed him overseas, until she’d landed her job, complete with power suit, and it had gone to her head, in charge of hundreds of people… real ones, not imaginary like Jack’s.

That’s what he’d do, he decided; tell Sarah stories. She wouldn’t understand of course but he could try out new plots and they could be as grim as he liked but tell them in a cheery voice, pretend they were fairy tales. She’d be his first reader… or rather, listener.

So he started with his current work-in-progress, a crime story set in Edinburgh, along the lines of Rebus but even more graphic.

“Sarah,” he said softly, then smiled, hoping she’d follow suit. She didn’t. “Would you like a story?”

She gurgled hesitant approval.

“OK. The nasty man is climbing up the hill…”

Sarah widened her large green eyes.

“There’s a lady at the top. Her name is…” In his story he hadn’t even got that far. He usually named his victims first but had only got the name of the detective, Detective Sergeant Fraser (this was his eighth outing) and the antagonist, ‘Butch’ Davis. He struggled to think of a woman’s name but then found the perfect one. “Her name is Abigail.”

Sarah smiled.

“That’s good isn’t? Shall we have the nasty man find a woman called the same as mummy?”

Sarah squealed and squeezed Errol’s trunk who trumpeted in agreement.


Photography courtesy of morguefile.com. You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

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.