Sunday, 31 May 2020

10 Characters Share Their Personality

Ten wonderful characters have stopped by at PB HQ to share their personalities, as they settle in their favourite chair, please help yourself to a drink. There’s most “tipple of choice” at the bar, then make yourself comfortable and meet some, good, bad and … well you decide, characters.

Q. How would you describe yourself?
Are you a happy go lucky person, a control freak, a devious person, an emotional person, love helping others, gets a thrill out of outsmarting your fellow colleagues… or are you something else? Do reveal…!

Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians from To Be A Queen by Annie Whitehead

I am Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians. My father, Alfred the Great, often went to war and I saw what that did to my mother, cowing her with worry. Still, I didn’t think the Viking wars would affect my prospects and I used to be full of hope. I admit to being judgmental about my husband and his countrymen, but I learned some harsh lessons, realising I needed to grow up and stop feeling sorry for myself. I know the importance of duty and when self-doubt threatens, I lift my chin and try to rise to the challenge. I have a temper and throw things when I’m angry, but that has been helpful at times. I am fiercely loyal, and not afraid to take advice. Sometimes I lean too heavily on others; I’ve loved deeply, and suffered losses, but at the end of it all, I have no regrets.

Isy Forrester from In Too Deep by Elly Redding

I thought I had my life all sorted out; move to London with the man I love, and study law.  Only things didn’t quite turn out like that.  Suddenly, I was alone in a City I didn’t know.  I had to be strong, resourceful, and carry on regardless. 
But now I’m back in Devon, where it all started. My beloved father is poorly, and the questions I’ve tried so hard to bury, have returned, like an ever-spinning wheel.  Why did Jack send me away 6 years earlier?  Why do I still love him?  And how can I help?  Can I really solve the mystery of his past? Only things don’t go according to plan.  They never do with me, but I’m tenacious too. Only this time, I know I have to be careful, because I can’t afford to make the same mistake twice.  Not when it comes to matters of the heart.

Twitter: @ellyredding
Facebook: Elly Redding Author
Instagram: Elly Redding

John Milburn from Children from Sinai by Shelley Clarke

My name is John Milburn, I was a Computer Science lecturer at Cambridge University. I enjoyed my work and was happy living a routine life being a good husband and father to twin daughters. Orphaned as a young child, I was raised by my aunt. Family is the most important thing to me.

I used to be more outgoing and a bit reckless in my youth but over the years became a bit staid.  Then the strange dreams started, and I discovered secrets from my parents’ past that put my family in danger and posed questions as to who I really was. We became caught up in a prophecy that was to change our lives and the world we knew. As events unfolded, I forgot about the modest, scared and confused person I was and the old daredevil in me surfaced. I suppose you could say I became a reluctant hero.

Captain Jesamiah from, Sea Witch series by Helen Hollick

Good day, Ma’am, Captain Jesamiah Acorne at your service. [Removes three-cornered hat, sweeps an elegant bow]. Me? I’m kindness itself, always happy to help... [a female voice calls from the background...] What? er... m’wife says I must be truthful, otherwise personal bits of m’self might shrivel up and drop off! [shudders] Well, I used to be a pirate back in the early 1700s – now, I do a bit of trading (legal) and a bit of smuggling [chuckles], I enjoy outsmarting the Revenue... landing a cargo beneath their very noses!

I’d lay my life down for m’ wife, although she insists she can look after herself. Daft wench. Governor Rogers of the Bahamas is under the misapprehension that I work for him as a spy. It’s a misunderstanding I’m still trying to put right...

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Twitter: @HelenHollick
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The Potential for Love - Arabella Malvin Speaks by Catherine Kullmann

I am no simpering miss. I do not relish flattery; my husband need not worship at my feet, nor will I kneel at his. I do not want a fashionable marriage where we live largely separate lives. We must be friends as well as lovers. After we are wed, he will not spend all his time at his clubs and other lounges, but will continue to seek me out and enjoy my company. We shall still dance and ride together but also value quiet evenings talking about everything and nothing, able to engage in friendly dispute where we benefit from the other’s opinions. Above all, he will respect me and ignore the rights the law accords him. We will cherish each other and our children, standing together in good times and in bad, each ready to support the other in a true and loving partnership. Do I ask too much?

You can find out more about my search for the right husband in Catherine Kullmann’s new novel The Potential for Love
If you want to know more about Catherine and her other books, please consult her website

Mary Mercer, the mother-in-law of my main character Sir Francis Berkeley in Allegiance of Blood by Mark Turnbull

"How shall I describe myself? I am naught more than a god-fearing woman who doth love her family. An Irishwoman I shall always be, despite residing in England. If you further pressed me on discourse about my own character, I will reluctantly admit to being of a modest disposition. I am a wise judge in all matters and my opinions are oft proven most correct, therefore some do not hearken to me at their peril – namely my son-in-law, Sir Francis Berkeley. A lady of refined habits, methinks, and one who takes action, rather than dwelling upon thought or word. Of calm temperament, too, except when it comes to my aforementioned priggish son-in-law and his misguided support of King Charles. This is civil war. He doth not understand the peril such allegiance brings to my beloved stepdaughter and grandson, but I will take whatever action necessary to protect them both."

Jane Smith of Buried Treasure by Gilli Allan

I’ve been called prickly, a control freak, that I constantly need to prove myself.  It’s a defense mechanism I suppose. I grew up in the shadow of my brainy sister. I didn’t even try to compete, leaving school and getting a job as soon I could. But I was far too young and impressionable. When the boss took an interest in me, I was triumphant.  Handsomer, more charismatic and richer than my sister’s partner, he’d chosen ME!  It took a long time to realise the relationship was damaging, stripping me of confidence and self-esteem.
It’s taken a while. I may still be thin-skinned and easily undermined, but I’ve rebuilt myself.  I’m my own boss. The ‘Events’ career I’m developing has taken me to an elite university. In this environment my fragile certainties are under threat.  I‘m not stupid!  Beware anyone who looks down on me, who tries to patronize or underestimate me! 

Hassan from, Far Cry From The Turquoise Room, and also Seaview Terrace by Kate Rigby.

You would have me reveal? Me, a man of mystery!  You will hear me talk about myself in the third person, Hassan is, he was, he will be. He can be the party animal with lavishness and hilarity but beware the black dog when it comes.  Then he will draw the curtains and banish you from his room. Then how does he recover the buoyancy? 

Oh but he does. Just don’t ask him about loss and his favourite daughter arriving in his dreams.

People they love me anyway, and sometimes they hate me more.  They hate my flash cars and wealth but I have this dark thought of an ageing man, losing it all, homeless, drawn, you not recognising him and saying but surely this cannot be the Great Hassan?  For it is precarious, it could all come tumbling down like the card towers, all that was built – gone, kaput.

Daphne from Strays and Relations by Dizzy Greenfield

My name is Daphne. They used to describe me as steady and dependable, irreplaceable, but lately they don’t even bother to keep their voices down. Apparently, now I’m unreliable, temperamental and replaceable.

 I’ve always tried to keep my family warm and well-fed, but I’ve got old – and they can’t seem to make allowances. Only yesterday she said that I have trouble controlling my internal thermometer. And he said that I’m becoming a danger!

I suppose I have become more bad-tempered over the years. It was never so much fun round here after our child grew up and left– and then the ginger cat that used to clamber up of an evening went too.  I used to love it when all the lambs came in to keep warm and safe. I find it difficult to function as I used to, and today I found out my worst fears are about to happen.  I’m being replaced by a younger model.  A shiny new Aga, called Olivia.

I hate her already. I haven’t met her yet –and don’t want to – but I’ve heard all about her perfectly working thermostat and her lack of dents or scratches. What’s more, she’s arriving with a free set of saucepans AND A TEA TOWEL

And how do you compete with that!

Doreen from The Birthday Card and Sometimes It Happens… by Pauline Barclay

Blimey, what am I like? What a question. My girl would say I’m a pain in the butt, but she’s seventeen, enough said! I guess I’m fairly easy going. I try to take life with a smile and a giggle. I’m up for a laugh with the best of them and don’t shy away from letting my hair down and having a good time. This said, I’m not naïve enough to know that people see my as dizzy and common. And, I don’t miss how those in the office and warehouse, where I work as a cleaner, look down their beaks at me. It hurts, though I hide it well. Sometimes things happen that you could never imagine and it did after one of my visits to Mr Greedy’s corner shop.  It changed a lot of people’s thoughts about me. The funny thing is, I aint changed one bit, still dizzy. love having a laugh and common!

Instagram @paulinebarclay
Twitter @paulinembarclay

What an eclectic mix of characters, I have enjoyed meeting all of them and learning about their varying personalities. I hope you have too and that you will delve further into their lives to learn their story and what made them who they are.

Thank you to all the wonderful authors who took the time to join in the fun and a special thank you to you for stopping by.

Have a fabulous day and I hope the sun is shining on your face and in your heart.



Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Our Rainbow

Our Rainbow
Written by Pauline Barclay and inspired by true events.

Who would have thought what eight weeks would bring? Nothing in our imagination could have thought any of this could happen or what we were about to face. Nothing could have prepared our family for what was about to happen.

Stay at home, the headlines flash. The radio and television never stop reminding us and then of course Social Media plays its part in telling us we must stay home. I understand. My dad is a doctor, who better to remind our family about what has happened to our world. We are a normal family with four beautiful children who have more energy than a crowd at the FA cup final. We have issues and areas of our lives that often need help. One of our sons, from time to time, needs special help, but we still see ourselves as normal. We are happy, full of optimism and we are surrounded by a wonderful extended family who help and care.

Lock down is announced and not only must we stay at home, but our extended family can no longer visit and, equally as upsetting, we can’t visit them. Three of our four children now have home schooling, the baby is still running around playing with her toys and totally happy that her brothers and sister are home all day.  And, like every home in the country we have to try and find a routine and a way of life to get through however long lock down will last. Our home has become, a school room, an office, a playroom, a playground, a cinema and much more. Who would have thought these small four walls would have to encompass so much, but if we thought having to cope with lock down was tough, our real nightmare was about to begin.

At the same time as lock down was announced we learnt that the lady of our home was diagnosed with cancer. My beautiful partner and mother of four gorgeous children was ill. The next few weeks would test us, but with lock down we would be taken to the wire.  Within days of diagnosis began intense chemotherapy, followed by surgery, quickly followed by the start of another long program of chemo. Our home, normally, filled with happiness, laughter and family chaos, was trying to cope. Tears from children who didn’t and couldn’t understand how sick mummy was. Home schooling became difficult and at times impossible. Our son who needs a little help, found the lack of routine and his mummy needing to leave the home for hospital appointments too much to deal with. Before lock down, my dad, a doctor, decided he would stay with us for a few days. I will never be able to thank enough Gods for him staying back then, because of lock down he has remained and without him being with us, we would never have got this far. Lock down means we can’t have our family come and help us, we are muddling through. Cooking has become something that we share as best we can, the children get involved as they know daddy is not a cook good or otherwise, but so far we have not starved. We are doing our very best and our children still laugh and smile and play happily together. Their energy never ceases to amaze me. We have moments of tears and questions and more so when mummy is so very sick after her chemo session. Yet despite all this she finds the strength to cuddle them, tell them how much she loves them and that she will be well again soon. We know it will end and our beautiful lady of the house will recover. We know it will take a long time for her to regain full strength, but she will. The lock down will end, eventually, and life will carry on. Families will once again be together and our own rainbow’s colours will shine brighter and more vibrant because we are a family; a beautiful family that fights and we will come through all of this.


I saw this on Social Media, sadly there is no name attributed to it, but it says so much.
Please read…


I heard that we are all in the same boat, but it's not like that. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat. Your ship could be shipwrecked and mine might not be. Or vice versa.

For some, quarantine is optimal. A moment of reflection, of re-connection, easy in flip flops, with a cocktail or coffee. For others, this is a desperate financial & family crisis.

For some that live alone they're facing endless loneliness. While for others it is peace, rest & time with their mother, father, sons & daughters.

With the weekly increase in unemployment some are bringing in more money to their households than they were working. Others are working more hours for less money due to pay cuts or loss in sales.

For some not getting on with Family domestic abuse is rife...we never know what goes on behind closed doors.

Some were concerned about getting a certain candy for Easter while others were concerned if there would be enough bread, milk and eggs for the weekend.

Some want to go back to work because they don't qualify for unemployment and are running out of money. Others want to kill those who break the quarantine.

Some are home spending 2-3 hours/day helping their child with online schooling while others are spending 2-3 hours/day to educate their children on top of a 10-12 hour workday.

Some have experienced the near death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it and some are not sure if their loved ones are going to make it. Others don't believe this is a big deal.

Some have faith in God and expect miracles during this 2020. Others say the worst is yet to come.

So, friends, we are not in the same boat. We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different.

Each of us will emerge, in our own way, from this storm. It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, actually seeing.

We are all on different ships during this storm experiencing a very different journey.

Realize that and be kind.

Unknown author

If anyone knows who the author is, please let me know and their name can be added… thank you.

Pauline x

Monday, 4 May 2020

A Fun Day at the Beach

With over a 190 direct hits on his short story, A Journey into the Amazon, Leighton returns with another wonderful, imaginative story, A Fun Day at the Beach. So grab your bucket and spade and settle down on the sand and join Leighton and his brother in their latest adventure…

A Fun Day at the Beach
By Leighton age 9

"Are we nearly there yet," I shouted excitedly, it felt like we had been in the car for ages. It’s always me that has to sit next to my little sister. Roo is 3 and she always falls asleep in the car, but always has to hold my hand and she snores very loudly.
"Five more minutes," Daddy said looking in the rear view mirror at us. As Daddy answered me, my mummy woke up. My Mummy is like Roo and always falls asleep in the car too. At last, we made it to the big carpark and we saw the sea, I was getting excited.

"Everyone out," Daddy shouted as we all jumped out of the car. I was extra prepared this morning and already had my black and red swimming shorts on. We walked onto the beach and our first job was to find a good spot. We like to go next to the lifeguard station as it is a big cabin and is easy to see, which means we can always find our way back to Mummy and Daddy when we go off to play.
When we have the perfect spot we get all our things out ready for a day at the beach. We have food, bodyboards, buckets and spades. Mummy and Daddy tell us the rules about the beach and how to stay safe and then we go off and start our adventure.
Teddy and I pick up our bodyboards and run towards the sea, this is the start of our adventure. Body boarding is so much fun, but the sea is rough today. We bob up and down in the water splashing each other and playing. When I look up I can’t see Mummy or Daddy anymore and the lifeguard cabin seems so far away. "Teddy we are going to get lost,” I shout." Let’s swim to shore and start heading back." Teddy shouted back, “Ok.” So we kicked and splashed and headed back to the beach. When we got to the beach we heard a strange noise. Right in front of us was a pirate digging in the sand. We knew he was a pirate because he had long curly hair and a big gold earring in his ear. I had seen a picture of a pirate, like this one, in a book I had read. "What are you doing?" I asked the pirate. He looked up and saw us watching him "Ahoy boy,’ he chuckled, “I’m just digging here, " he replied "Digging for what?" Teddy asked him. The pirate looked around and whispered, "For treasure, what else?" I started to get excited, a real life pirate digging for treasure "Can we help ?" I asked quickly. The pirate threw us a couple of spades and we started to dig too.
It felt like we were digging forever when suddenly my spade hit something hard. The pirate and Teddy came rushing over. “What have we here then?” the pirate asked bending down and looking at where my spade was. Together we pulled a big chest out of the sand and tugged it open. Inside the chest was a bright red football. The pirate lifted it out of the chest and then threw it down on the sand and began to cry. The pirate was not happy with a ball for treasure. “Best you take it,” he moaned and gave us the ball.

“Time for me to go,” the pirate said and he walked away. Teddy and I waved him off and watched as he climbed aboard his ship with big sails. Holding the ball, we watched the pirate's ship sail away. My tummy started rumbling so we thought it was time to head back to Mummy and Daddy.
Teddy and I ran across the sand heading towards the lifeguard cabin and soon enough we saw Mummy, Daddy and Roo. "Is it lunchtime yet," we both cried. “Come and sit down,” Daddy said as Mummy placed containers down with lots of sandwiches in. I could see my favourite ones too, sausages. We quickly ate our lunch, Teddy and I were starving.  Lunch over, we had time to play with our new red ball. We spent all afternoon playing and soon enough it was time to go home. We all got back into the car and again Mummy and Roo fell asleep for the whole journey.
I had such a great day at the beach and who would have believed we met a pirate!
The End.

Thursday, 30 April 2020

End of Term

End of Term

By Pauline Barclay

Everyone had left. The classroom was deserted, but Kate lingered for a few moments of reflection before she left High Elm School for good.    

   Standing in the middle of the room, surrounded by empty desks and vacant chairs, she held her school bag in her left hand and with her right arm she gripped a pile of well thumbed text books. She had been waiting for this moment; the moment when she would leave High Elm School. The exams were all over and it was time to move on, but the joy of leaving had temporarily evaporated. The excitement of a new life suddenly daunted her. She had fond memories of her years at this exclusive girls’ school; “A school for young ladies.” Miss Thackeray, the Headmistress, had reminded them all on a regular basis. “A school where good manners and good breading matched the quality of education taught.”    
   She was right, Kate thought as she recalled Miss Thackeray’s well voiced words; everyone took away something when they left High Elm. For Kate it would be memories; good ones, with just a hint of the odd shades of grey.

She could clearly remember the day she had arrived. The grandness of the school and how the staff were so well organised had daunted her at first. The imposing buildings that housed the classrooms and the main hall areas, the long corridors and high ceilings. Yet, despite this, she’d had a feeling of belonging as soon as she had walked down those hallowed hallways. The years had slipped by and now she prepared to leave for the last time.
   She let her mind travel back through the years. As if on cue, she could hear Mary Butler whispering slyly, covering her mouth with her hand so that she couldn't guess what she was saying. That kind of behavior never bothered her when the girls did that, she had never wanted to know their secrets, she was different from them and they all knew it.    
   She smiled as Molly's giggle rang in her head, a more infectious laugh she had never heard. When Molly Brogan laughed, the whole class would dissolve into hysterics. Molly, Kate thought, would enjoy her life, her exuberant nature would take her through any difficulty that came her way and she would blossom from it. Of course, there was Angela Mackay, a spiteful girl. A girl who would make life uncomfortable to all who encountered her. How odd, Kate mused, to have known such opposites at the same time.

With her arm beginning to ache from the weight of her books, Kate placed the heavy volumes down on a desk to the right from where she was standing. Released from the weight, Kate fondly recalled the day the Headmistress had summoned her to her office.
   “Do come in Kate and take a seat please.” Miss Thackeray had said as she indicated to a chair in front of her large oak desk. Smiling, the Headmistress continued. “We are all aware that you will be leaving at the end of this academic year.”  Perching on the edge of the chair, Kate expected to be reminded of the school’s exit procedure, but instead, Miss Thackeray enthused about Kate’s future.  “University life will be perfect for you Kate. I am confident that you will be as successful there as you have been here. I am proud of you. I like to think that High Elm as played a part in equipping you for the next stage in your life.”
   They had been kind and encouraging words and Kate would remember them with affection.  High Elm had played an important part in paving her future and now as she stood in the empty classroom, she thought about what Miss Thackeray had said. Though she knew, long before her meeting with the Headmistress, she had made the right decision, University would suit her.

Lost in her thoughts of the years spent at High Elm, Kate hadn’t noticed how cold the class room had turned. And as the cold slowly crept over her, the large old fashioned radiators creaked loudly as they rapidly cooled down. It had been a very cold spring and reluctantly, the caretaker, had left the heating on until the end of term. Looking around the room, she saw that without the smartly uniformed girls with their chatter and laughter the place seemed sparse and out of step with the times. Though, the introduction of the ball point pen and central heating, several years earlier, had marked the move to a more modern era. But despite these changes, the room like the rest of the school still held an old fashioned elegance. Rubbing her arms as the chill took a hold, Kate for the last time, walked over and looked out of one of the four sets of French windows which opened majestically onto a spacious terrace. From the terrace she could see the large stone staircase that swept down to the assembly area. In this school, there was no such place as a playground; High Elm, preparing its young ladies for their future, provided a central area for socialising. No wonder, Miss Thackeray was proud of her school, thought Kate, as she remembered the many hours of socialising that had taken place during her years. High Elm, with its gentleness, decorum and privileges prepared its young ladies for their lives in the adult world. Kate knew she would miss this feminine, elegant world she had enjoyed for the last seven years, but she had chosen Oxford. It would be home from home in some ways, though a new challenge in others. For all her modern thinking she knew she was an old fashioned girl at heart.

“Kate, what are you doing here?” Startled at the sound of Miss Thackeray’s voice, she swung round.   And in a voice that betrayed a hint of nostalgia, she said, “I was just saying goodbye.” Embarrassed at being caught out in her private reminiscing she lowered her head.
   “Well I'm glad I caught you before you left us all together, you see you left this behind.”
   Looking up Kate saw the smiling face of the woman who had been a source of inspiration for the last seven years and she reached out and took the envelope.
   “Thank you,” she said as she looked down at the envelope. “I'm looking forward to the future, but I'm terrible at goodbyes. I said everything in the staff room earlier, but I needed just a few moments on my own. Silly I know.”
   “Kate, you will make an excellent lecturer, our loss is Oxford's gain.” Miss Thackeray, said knowing that ever word uttered was true. “Do take care dear, we will all miss you.” And to Kate's surprise, Miss Thackeray learned forward and kissed her on the cheek before leaving the room.

Kate watched as the woman who had been an inspiration during her teaching years at High Elm left the room. She felt tears prick the back of her eyes. She didn’t stop to wipe them away, instead she picked up her books and walked to the classroom door, she turned for a brief moment, smiled, then walked out closing the door firmly shut behind her.

-The End -

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Cutie Dogs

Continuing my attempt at making people smile during the crisis, I have made another video.
Cutie Dogs. 
Guaranteed to make you smile.

Take care and I hope the sun is shining on your face and in your heart.

Pauline x

Monday, 20 April 2020

Where Am I?

Where Am I?
By Paige age 11years old

It was a miserable wet day and I was walking home through the woods. I hate walking through the woods it takes forever to get home, but it was a no no to go the way I usually go as the road was closed. The woods are a scary place and I’m not the type of person who gets lost all the time, but I was. I’ve no idea how long I’d been walking, but it felt like hours. It seemed like more hours had past and you know what, I was definitely lost.

Suddenly, I tripped over a massive tree root. ‘Ow,’ I screamed. I looked down and saw blood oozing out of my damaged leg. Bright red blood flooded into my sock. ‘Oh my goodness,’ I cried and bent down to try clean the mess up. Like something out of a horror film, the branch poked out of my leg. The cut was extremely painful and it was make worse as I’d cut my hand on the branch sticking out of my leg. Now my hand was covered in blood too.

I started to limp along the rough path, when out of nowhere a  tall man, with ginger hair and a bushy beard, jumped out from behind a large tree and grabbed me. ‘Aaaargh get off me,’ I shrieked, my voice echoing through the woods. Without a word from his lips, he pinned me down and pulled my head back and then out of the blue he grabbed my hair and ripped out a massive chunk of it. Before I could get up and try to escape, he grabbed my bag and opened it. 

He pulled out my pencil case. I shouted, ‘What are you doing in my pencil case?’ Even as I spoke it all seemed unreal. I took a huge gulp, ‘There is nothing in there you would want to steel. Don’t hurt me please,’ I added and took another gulp of air. Then the ginger haired creepy, tall man said in a dark scary voice ‘I don’t want to steel anything or hurt you,’ as he spoke, he laughed out loud. A shiver of fear ran down my spine. ‘What do you want me for?’ I shouted, surprised how even my voice was despite shacking like a jelly.  ‘I want to do this,’ he replied his voice sounded more like a growl of an animal than a human. Suddenly he ripped out my small scissors and before I could move, he grabbed my hair and cut it off. 

With my hair on the ground around me, he threw me down on to the ground to join it. ‘Do you think I’m real?’ he asked and pulled me back on to my feet. Before I could answer, he continued. ‘Maybe I am and maybe I’m your nightmare.’ As suddenly has he appeared, he disappeared. I looked around, but he had gone. I raised my hand to my head and to my shock my hair was all there. I looked down and the only thing on the path was blood, my blood. No hair. Shivering with fright, I set off back down the path, blood was still dripping from my leg. Walking was painful.

Still lost, I tried not to think about what had just happened when I was hit in the face with a clump of mud. Stopping, I wiped the mess from my cheek. Looking around all I could see was dirt flying everywhere. What is going on? ‘Excuse me!’ I shouted as I saw a man, standing in a large hole, with a shovel flicking mud and dirt into the air. On hearing my voice, he turned and twisted his head. To my horror his head spun round like an owl’s. He aimed the spade at me. I quickly side stepped. ‘Hey leave me alone,’ I cried and before I could get away a hand popped out of the hole. ‘Aaaaargh,’I screamed, but it was in vain as a corpse climbed out of the grave. I just stared unable to move as it grabbed me. He slapped his hand over my mouth while the man with the shovel beat me multiple times. Even as the blows rained down on me, I didn’t feel any pain and the blood on my leg had stopped. The corpse released his hand from my mouth then dragged me into the grave. ‘You silly little girl,’ the corpse said, his hands as cold as ice. ‘Where do you think you are?’ I tried to answer, but the man with the shovel leaned down the hole and pulled me out. 

‘You don’t know do you?’ the corpse cried out as I stood on the side looking down. ‘You are in the woods or are you in a your nightmare?’ And like the ginger haired man, the corpse and digger suddenly disappeared, along with the hole. As they disappeared her leg started bleeding again. Where was she? Was she really in the woods or was she in a nightmare?

The End

Paige's story also appears on, top selling, fantasy, author, Suzy Turner's site

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

A Ball of String

A Ball of String
by Pauline Barclay

Lia looked at the clock on the wall, it was two minutes before eight. She raised herself from the sofa and at the same time hit the off button on the remote for the TV. With heavy steps, she headed towards the front door, and like previous Thursdays, she would stand outside and clap.
           Reaching the front door, Lia pulled her jacket from the coat hook and slipped it on. Her spirits tonight had no more lifted than when she had slipped out of bed at seven thirty that morning. A positive person, she had tried to stay focused and optimistic, but today it wasn’t working. Why? She knew why and right now she didn’t want to torment herself further with all the things she would have been doing on her birthday had lockdown not been imposed. Zipping up her jacket, she pulled open the door and as the night air brushed against her face, to her dismay, she felt the prick of tears. Come on Lia, she silently castigated herself, self pity is not you. You are the one who wipes away other people’s tears not mopping up your own. Even as she knew she was being silly, she couldn’t stop thinking about her son and daughter-in-law who would have been coming to visit, bringing her only granddaughter, Roo, just eighteen months old. Her family lived no more than twenty miles away, but they might as well been on the moon at the moment.
           Wiping the back of her hand across her wet cheeks, Lia took a deep breath, mentally shook herself and stepped out into the cool night air.  She pulled the door closed behind her and was surprised to hear a buzz of voices in the street. Looking to her right and then her left, she spied neighbours standing in their gardens waving and calling out to each other. On the opposite side of the road it was the same. It seemed, every week more people joined in. In all the years she had lived in Bramble Road, she had never seen all of her neighbours, collectively or individually. It had taken a national emergency for everyone to show their faces.  Taking it all in, she walked the few yards to the top of her driveway. A few hands started to clap and then the street erupted. The noise was almost ear splitting. More clapping, banging of pans and whistling joined in. The, normal tranquil, street was a cacophony of sound. Voices cheered, some called out, ‘Thank you NHS and front line people.’ The atmosphere was electric. A tingle shot down Lia’s spine at how everyone had rallied to show their support. She clapped enthusiastically, her own disappointments of the day evaporating.
Caught up in joining in, it took several seconds before she realized her name was being called. ‘Lia,’ she heard, and instantly turned to the source of the calling.
‘Catch Lia,’ Mark from next door called and at the same time he raised his arm and threw, what looked like a ball towards her.  She reached out her arms and cupped her hands. As soon as she was sure she had it in her grasp, she looked back at Mark, who added, ‘Hold on to a length and then throw it to your next neighbour.’
Unsure what the game was, Lia did as requested. Twisting round on her heel, she called out to her neighbour on the other side, ‘Charlie, take this,’ and holding on to a length, she threw it to him. Seeing him catch it, she added, ‘Hold on to a length yourself, then pass it to your neighbour.
Within minutes the string ball had passed along and around the street until everyone standing outside had taken hold of a length.
‘Everyone, please…’ Mark’s voice boomed out. ‘Instantly there was a hush in the street. ‘Now can we all gently pull on the string together,’ Without question, heads nodded and in silence hands gently pulled.
‘This is what we must all do,’ Mark continued, ‘and, like holding our imaginary string, we must all pull together. Help each other and, no matter how difficult our days are, let us make sure we hold each other up. We all need help, some more than others, and not just today, but when we come out the other end and all of us try to rebuild our lives.’
A hush settled over Bramble Road. The residents absorbing what Mark had said. And then, as if a starting gun had been fired, a loud applause filled the silence of the street. ‘We are in this together,’ a chant started, building to a crescendo.
Goosebumps pricked at the back of Lia’s neck as a lump rose in her throat, threatening to choke her. The tears of earlier, no longer held back, splashed down her face. Her vision blurred, Lia looked down at her hands, there was no string, there never had been. Unsure she was able to speak, Lia gazed around at her neighbours. It was true, they were all in this together and whatever it took, she would hold on to the string because they all needed each other. She was there for them as they were there for her. Thank you, Mark, thank you for the string and thank you my special neighbours. Together we will get through this because like the string, we will pull together.

The End