More Laura Ashley than Magnum P.I.

It was his floral shirt that Vera hated the most. He called it “Hawaiian” but it more Laura Ashley than Magnum P.I.

Ernie had packed it whenever they’d gone somewhere warm – she’d unpack it when he wasn’t looking but he’d find it at the bottom of the airing cupboard or washing basket, assuming he’d missed it the first time round.

His absent mindedness had been one of the things Vera had found endearing when they’d first got to know each other but for 48 years she’d had his dithering, going back upstairs because he’d forgotten the car keys or his driving gloves. She’d never understood why he kept them upstairs. He’d said for security, which was fair enough for the keys, but the gloves? They were leather, but even so…

This holiday was to Lanzarote, or “Lanzagrotty” as Vera’s sister Glynis called it, having had a ‘make or break’ vacation there with her American husband, that was so broken even keyhole surgery wouldn’t have resurrected it. But it was somewhere that had always appealed to Ernie and last year’s Malta had been Vera’s choice so it was only fair. They’d booked the trip in February, picking dates to include Vera’s 70th birthday, and it had felt like an eternity away but as they’d got older time had gone quicker and this year had been no exception.

As Vera stared at the suitcase then the shirt, for once she smiled, folded it neatly and put it on the top of the other contents so it wouldn’t crease. She then looked towards the ceiling, said, “If you can’t be there in person, Ernie, you’ll be there in spirit,” and pulled round the zips as the taxi driver honked his horn.


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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.