Belt up

“Penny, put on your seatbelt. I don’t care that it rubs. It’s the law. Don’t stick your tongue out, it’s rude.”

“You’re not my mother.”

“I know I’m not your mother, Penny, but she asked me to look after you and that means getting you to the school safely.”

“I don’t feel well.”

“You look alright to me.”

“My stomach hurts.”

“Your mother told me you said that yesterday but there was nothing wrong with you.”

“There is today.”

“Penny, seatbelt, now.”

“I don’t feel…”

“You said that already.”

“My head hurts.”

“I thought it was your stomach.”

“They both hurt.”

“Stop being silly and do up your seatbelt – we’re going whether you like it or not.”

“I don’t like you.”

“The feeling’s mutual.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means I’d rather not be here taking you to school.”

“Then don’t.”

“I promised your mother.”

“I won’t tell. You can leave me at home.”

“On your own? I don’t think so.”

“I’ll be OK. Mum does it all the time.”

“Of course she doesn’t, you’re too young.”

“Every Wednesday night when she goes to see Uncle…”

“Stop fibbing.”

“She does.”

“…Uncle who?”


“I didn’t know you had an Uncle Tom.”

“I don’t.”

“I said stop lying, Penny!”

“She does. He’s not a proper uncle, that’s what she calls him… to me.”



“Not my…”



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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 fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, 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.