Ali’s Flash – A selection of flash fiction from a collection I’ve been working on.
“I’ve sorted it,” you say, flinging yourself down on the seat beside me as the engine revs, and the ancient school bus chugs into motion. Your whole face blazes with triumph.
“Big Bad Billy. He’s just a pussycat really.”
I snort in disbelief. “Really? That’s not what you said yesterday.”
You shrug your scrawny shoulders and lean in close. “No, but yesterday I hadn’t figured it out.”
“Figured out what?” I lay down my book, trying not to let my scepticism show. “Ok, Rusty. Spill. What did you do?” Read more…
“You’re not my real mother!”
She recoils, as if I have stabbed her with a knife, not just the sharp edges of my words. Her pale lips tremble, the voice they issue so frail I can barely make it out. “I nurtured you, reared you, devoted the best part of my life to you. What does that make me, if not your real mother?”
But my feet have already jumped the precipice; there is no going back. Read more…
I find it quite by accident, squirrelled away at the back of his undies drawer. I place it gingerly in the centre of the bed and stare at it, mind racing: he’s having an affair.
Iconic black and gold packaging. Chanel. I pick the lipstick up, remove the lid and twist. Bright pillar-box red. Used. So she’s a harlot with expensive taste. I fling it in the bin.
I spend the afternoon pacing, vacillating between vehement fury, and cold self-pity. When he walks through the door, I descend on him like a hurricane.
“What’s this?” I hiss, shoving the offending item under his nose. Read more…
Ali’s Fiction – A selection of short fiction from my school days to the present
This story was short listed twice in the Fish Publishing Memoir competitions 2012 and 2013. It is a true story based on my experiences raising my daughter Carys, who was born with Cardiofaciocutaneous Syndrome.
Cai came first, reluctantly thrust into the world three weeks before he was ready. My glorious, flame-haired, fiery-natured first-born son. He lay on my belly, still covered in the mucous of birth, his dark unfocused eyes swivelling. Overwhelmed, I stared back, bemused by this tiny human scrap of life. Just a few ounces and a few days the right side of being premature, his body was so small, it fitted perfectly into his father’s cupped hands.
Two years later, Malachy joined us, five days overdue and so keen to make up for lost time, he was almost born at a toll booth on the motorway. He arrived with a frown on his face. We wondered at it, but didn’t understand. We soon learned. He lay in his incubator, a giant amongst his peers, a tangle of wires snaking from his body to a bank of computers and monitors. His first year was touch and go, but he made it. My beautiful second-born, Malachy the comedian, the musician, the stuntman, always with the glass of life half full.
And then came Carys. Read more…
This story was long-listed in the Fish Short Story Competition back in 2011 (I think).
Kelly was raped on her sixteenth birthday in the back of an old Ford Cortina by Jem Battersby. He was quite a bit older than her, being twenty-four, and already married with twin eighteen month old daughters. He came from a large well-respected family. Kelly, on the other hand, was an insignificant nobody.
On this particular night, she had been celebrating in the local night spot with her friend Annie. All the girls fancied Jem, but tonight she seemed to have caught his eye, and he had been flirting with her on and off all evening. Perhaps it was the sparkly top and long slim legs which attracted him. Or perhaps it was the glint in her eye, and her broad smile.
Either way, she didn’t care. She revelled in his attention, accepted the drinks he bought her, got up close and personal with him on the dance floor a couple of times, and basked in the jealous glances she received from the other girls. When he leaned over and whispered in her ear that he would give her a lift home, she jumped at the chance, even though it was not yet midnight. Well, why did she need to hang around when she had already pulled? Read more…
The Cinderella Shoes
“I’ll take them,” I hear myself say, and suddenly, my heart is fluttering randomly like a butterfly in my chest. “I’ll keep them on.”
The two young sales assistants exchange snooty glances, rolling black-rimmed eyes at each other. One of them goes to get a bag for my old grey trainers, while the other processes my purchase at the till.
As I teeter out of the store on my new high heels, I hear the ring of their mocking laughter, and my spine stiffens.
I glance down at my feet. Four hundred euros of Swarovski encrusted soft silver leather now adorn each one, balanced on a perfectly crafted, needle-thin mirrored heel.
I push back the panic which is welling into my throat, locking away the guilt for later. I just want to enjoy the elation which is coursing through my body. It is a long time since I have felt the excitement which accompanies an illicit act. I am appalled, and enthralled, by my own audacity.
I don’t just walk around the shopping centre, I float, basking in the admiring glances of passers-by. I may be a woman of a certain age, but in my skinnies, and with a heel, my legs still look good. I drop my trainers in a bin. Read more…
I watch my children launch themselves gleefully at the pile of presents under the tree, but take no pleasure in their joy. My heart feels cold and hard as a stone, and the bitter taste of guilt catches and won’t wash away in the back of my throat.
Sarah is the oldest. Always the thoughtful one, she organises her younger sister to sort the parcels into three piles, one for each of them. It’s meagre pickings, I think dismally, but they don’t seem to notice. Caitlin normally resents Sarah’s bossiness, but on this occasion normal hostilities have been temporarily cast aside. Jojo, not even a year old, crawls happily through the chaos, more absorbed in the crunch and rustle of the bright paper than what it conceals.
My brave bold trio, who already in their short lives have seen a side of it no child should have to witness. I won’t have their childhood stolen away from them, I just won’t. Read more…
The Egg Stone
I wrote this story in my early twenties for a writing circle I was part of at the time. At the end of the year, we published our stories in a little local anthology… it was the first time I ever saw any of my writing in print.
When I was seven years old, I was sent to spend Easter with my granny in the country. I loved Easter more than any other occasion, even Christmas and my birthday, although all were eagerly anticipated for the treats they would inevitably bring.
My passion, however, was for chocolate eggs, and of course these only came once a year, but in all shapes and sizes, and I would happily gorge until I felt distinctly ill, smearing all in my vicinity with sticky fingerprints, making my annual Easter mark on the furniture and the walls.
On this occasion, my mother was expecting the imminent arrival of my sibling, and experiencing complications, and so was admitted prematurely into hospital. I was not unduly worried; the excitement of a train journey, several extra weeks off school and the indulgence afforded me by my grandmother far outweighed my previous impatient interest in the new addition to my family.
Granny’s cottage was situated amongst open fields on the outskirts of a tiny village. The cottage itself was quaint, and antiquated with practically no amenities. Every inch of space was crowded with a lifetime’s collection of memorabilia, creating for me days of endless fascination. The fields round about were perfect for hunting wild man-eating bears, fighting scalp-hunting red Indians, chasing robbers and other boyish occupations far too numerous to mention. In those days, Wii and DS were futuristic fantasies, and few benefited from the luxury of television. Read more…
This story is an excerpt from a novel I began writing when I was fourteen, but never finished. The rest of the manuscript, hand-written and full of crossings out and re-writes, lurks in the bottom of my desk. Who knows, perhaps one day I’ll even finish it.
“Probably still snoring in his pit,” exclaimed the giant, Greybeard, disdainfully.
Heln’Or turned to the old wizard seated beside him. “Elramuin, go and fetch him. The rest of you, make haste. We have wasted enough time here already.” She put down her pack and staff, perched on a corner of a bench, and nibbled disinterestedly at a dry breadcake.
Sherel, faith healer and warrior woman, stretched and yawned. “I’m wearing all my possessions,” she commented, then sighed contentedly. “So finally, we are off! The Quest begins. I am looking forward to this.”
“Then you are a fool,” snapped Heln’Or, laying aside her half eaten breadcake.
“We are all fools to follow you into this danger.” observed Sherel, unperturbed.
“The only way to defeat this enemy is to strike at his heart. He won’t be expecting that,” explained Heln’Or, as if talking to a child. “We must take the battle to him.”
“Well, I’m only going along for the adventure, remember?” Sherel reminded her. “Your enemy is not mine.”
Heln’Or glared at her. ” You think so? I would not be so sure, if I were you.” Read more…