Short Stories

It was a bloody nuisance. A short, yacht cruise this time. I inhaled Sandra’s freshly shampooed hair and held her close. She’s a moody devil, remote one minute then over me like an affectionate child the next. This was one of those loving moments and I determined to enjoy it while it lasted. I loved her and she seemed to love me. It was just that sometimes she didn’t show it. A cheeky glint in her eyes, a quick hug, and she was off across the deck. Sherbrooke to the Irish Coast and back again wasn’t all that far. I … Read the rest

Winter had taken a last wistful look at the streets of Baltimore as the old lady forced her trembling hand to clutch the rail of the bus as it lurched to a halt at the corner of her street.  The driver watched her feel her way down the stairs, her white cane determinedly searching for obstacles.

“You OK, lady?” he asked.

She lifted a pale face towards the sound and mumbled her thanks.  She tottered rather than walked, stumbling on several occasions.  The driver snorted half-aloud, “Drunk.  Poor old girl.  You go and sleep it off now,” he muttered, concealing … Read the rest

Mrs. McGillicuddy locked the door behind her and counted her change. One dollar and fifty-five cents … yes, enough for her bus fare into the city to meet her daughter, Jane. She checked that her door was truly locked and re-checked her money before waddling away down the street to the nearby bus stop. She was such a gentle, dowdy old thing, harmless and vulnerable. She scarcely glanced at the sign near her door. Mme McGillicuddy – Readings. A talent that had earned her beatings as a child now gave her a respectable living.

Mrs. McGillicuddy boarded her bus … Read the rest

True love came to me one crisp, autumn morning as I sat beside a creek at the back of our farm house. Mum was hanging out the washing on a line suspended between two trees. Because I was only six years old, I knew that Mum would be on my case if I ventured into the water. But venture in I had to as I saw what appeared to be a corn bag floating down the stream.

The water was freezing cold with a steady current. The stream was not at all deep and I had no difficulty in snagging … Read the rest

Imagination can be a terrible affliction. When you were gone, I lost my way for a bit. I used to look for you in every imaginable place. I would look in a crowd, always searching faces, often seeing your way of walking, your little swaying motion when you wandered ahead of me on our little shopping trips. I’ve been in trouble more than once for tapping a young lady on the shoulder only to have to apologise because it was not you.

My imagination runs ahead of my brain. I run these little scenarios, just fantasies, you understand. Once a … Read the rest

I made her coffee.  She likes it bitter and strong, without sugar.  She thanked me…and she sat on the edge of her chair across from me and said nothing.  I waited, as Nicky is the sort of girl who will tell you what’s on her mind only when she’s ready.  You can’t force her. She decides for herself…every aspect of her life.  And that’s why I couldn’t really understand her relationship with Larry.

I have had a soft spot for her for many, many months now.   Let’s stop kidding myself. I’ve been in love with her for nearly all of … Read the rest

She remembers someone telling her once that it is cold when you see the lawyers with their hands in their own pockets. Sheila Raine is cold now; cold with that bone-numbing coldness that only a river on an autumn night can be. She clutches the buoy with a fierce grip as she waits for rescue. Her mouth is numb; there is no way she can scream for help. Besides, her screams might bring them back. She shivers, half with cold, half with terror. She would rather die than bring them back.

Time has no meaning. It could have been minutes … Read the rest

I’m sitting here on a log next to a waterhole, chewing on an old biro I found when I was out walking in the Bush.  I always give “Bush” a capital letter because that’s what the Australian outback really is – just miles and miles of dry, rather limp looking, scrub.  At least until the rains come and then birds and freshwater frogs drown out the usual cries of the crickets and the crows.  It rained heavily last week and the creek ran a banker for a while.  But now the water has mostly soaked into the dry earth and … Read the rest

The weather in North Queensland in summer can be stifling. In the tropical rainforest on the banks of Cassowary Creek it can be unbearable. This day was no exception.

Cassowary Creek settlement is one of those way-stations that just seem to spring up beside the rough track that does service as the main road to the Cape. Comprising just a pub, a garage, and a couple of shacks on metal posts to guard against the ever-present termites, the township is a quiet place as a rule. And Cassowary Creek is actually a river but over a cold beer some wag … Read the rest