You are invited to write a complete piece of fiction – prose or poetry – in no more than 200 words. . After writing your story, send it as an attached word document to:
We will upload the entries on the Website. If you would rather your entry was not put on the website please make this clear in the email to Jude.
So, get those creative juices flowing and put pen to paper -you never know what you can achieve until you give it a try.
“The Shape of Freedom “
THE Shape of Freedom by Jo Brearley
Fly, fly high. Spread your wings and soar. Sing out loud, run like the wind and
Respect each other. Know right from wrong. Use power to show responsibility.
Education, equality, emancipation.
Dare to be bold. Dare to break free, to be yourself, to live your own life.
Open your heart. Open your eyes.
Make the world a better place, for you, for me, for everyone. Let’s walk together down the road to freedom.
The Shape of Freedom by Jude Hodges
Elizabeth opened her front door and peeped outside; the coast seemed to be clear, she couldn’t see anyone about, just next door’s cat washing its face by the gate.
She squared her shoulders, “You can do this”, she said firmly as she stepped onto the path and took a few tentative steps towards the pavement. As she reached for the latch on the gate, a teen on a skateboard shot past, his hoodie obscuring his face. Elizabeth shuddered, “Perhaps tomorrow”, she muttered as she fled back to the safety behind her own front door.
The next day was the same, except it was a young mother with a pushchair and two whining toddlers; the day after, the postman and the day after that a runner, oblivious inside his earplug bubble.
Finally, at the end of the week Elizabeth made it all the way to the pavement and along to the corner shop. She didn’t go in, but Ahmed waved from behind his counter, and on the way back she chatted to old Mr Roberts who was watering his baskets.
It seemed the world hadn’t changed that much in the three months of her isolation and Elizabeth determined that tomorrow she would celebrate her freedom and go to the park to feed the ducks.
The Shape of Freedom by Sue Hillier
An hourglass figure was considered the ideal female shape in Victorian times. Corsets were worn by girls from an early age to shape the figure and provide a structure to support dresses with wide skirts.
Controversy raged over tight lacing, reaching its peak in the 1860. Mothers laced their children into corsets, sometimes from as young as six, claiming if done early the figure would be shaped and tight lacing later would be unnecessary.
Corsets were worn both day and night and waists could be reduced or maintained at 16 to 18 inches. Women’s views seem to vary, some felt anything was worthwhile to attain the valued shape and claimed if done properly, it was comfortable. Others disagreed and medical opinion was strongly against the practice.
In time, as always, fashions changed. Fashionable dress became fluid and soft, with flowing lines signalling the end of tight lacing almost overnight, and the style of corsets reflected this.
As a child in the 50s, I recall seeing my grandmother’s corsets on the washing line, but most women had moved on to the two way stretch girdle, complete with suspenders to hold up their stockings. The advent of the mini skirt and tights in the 60s meant there was no more need for suspenders and liberation, as in other ways then, was complete.
Now, if I stand side on to the mirror, I can see the shape of freedom – it’s not a pretty sight!
“A view from the garden/window/terrace“
LOCKDOWN by Jude Hodges
Looking out from the terrace at the startlingly blue sea below Diana couldn’t help wondering at her exceptional luck. This would be her thirteenth week in this luxurious villa overlooking the Adriatic coast.
Diana had come early in the season to enjoy three weeks of peace and tranquillity, away from her stressful job, and even more demanding family; the first such holiday she had ever taken alone. Then the country had been locked down and she was marooned in this beautiful place with the housekeeper Maria and the gardener, Alexi. Of course, she missed home and her family and friends she told herself, although if she were honest the daily phone calls were an unwelcome distraction.
Diana jumped slightly as the phone shrilled its urgent summons; her husband, Michael asking when she thought she might get a flight out.
‘I’m so sorry Darling it is totally impossible – the local police are very strict, and I don’t know when things will be relaxed. Is everything alright at home? Are you managing?’ She put the phone down and turned to the door where Maria and Alexi were waiting. ‘The taverna in the hills I think tonight, don’t you?’ she said, as they shared a conspiratorial smile.
A VIEW FROM THE WINDOW by Margaret Holden
Rebecca wondered what the noise was that had disturbed her slumbers, yes, definitely a noise on the patio in the back garden, she decided to go and wake her husband and let him deal with any intruder.
She shook her husband and said wake up now, yes dear, he dutifully replied, after finding a torch, they looked out of the bedroom window but nothing was immediately visible despite it being a warm, moon lit night
They soon went back to sleep as nothing seemed amiss on the patio, but were disturbed once again.
They peered through the window then a shape emerged from under the garden table and made its way along the path.
In the morning there was a long trail of evidence that something had been investigating the garden, but what exactly, that was the question?
The following night more grunts then what a wonderful sight when three hedgehogs appeared to eat the food and have a drink .
Rebecca’s husband immediately made two more hedgehog homes to accompany the one the grand-daughters had made at Scouts and what a privilege as they now all seem to have permanent residents who provide a wonderful evening’s entertainment, eating grunting and running about on the patio.
THE GARDEN by Jo Brearley
The garden was overgrown now, having been left for well over a year – bereft of care, attention and love. It was wild and out of control, but hopefully that would all change – but not too much!
It was morning and the sun was just peeping through the clouds.
Just then, a very small bird, almost inconspicuous, flew onto the wall surrounding the garden near an Acer tree and warbled its song loud and clear. I recognised the bird – it was a Jenny Wren. How extraordinary that a bird of that size could make such a shrill sound. Amazing!
Just visible at the end of the garden I could see fruit trees and a large Rhododendron yet to flower.
May had yet to reveal its beauty.
The garden really looked promising and I loved it! I loved its promise, I loved its feel.
I wandered around for a while soaking up the atmosphere, the sights, sounds and smells. It felt like me!
My focus was interrupted by the estate agent. ‘Well?’ he asked again. ‘Into the house now shall we?’
‘If we must,’ I answered.
I had already made up my mind. This will do nicely – yes very nicely!
MY GARDEN by Sue Hillier
As I look out of my window the sun is shining and it’s party time in the garden. I can see Roxanne along the path and I love that shade of blue that she flaunts. Ah, there’s Marigold, not a popular name these days, but I like her and you never know where she will pop up.
Over on the other side of the garden David, David Howard that is, is looking gorgeous. Orange is not normally a colour I associate with men, but he is flamboyant enough to carry it off. How different from my dear sweet William, so reliable, but a trifle old fashioned.
Graham Thomas is out there too with his sunny smile. He looks very comfortable alongside the President. I wonder what they are chatting about?
Everyone seems happy enough, I’ve provided plenty of food and drink for them and they are mingling well.
But what’s happening now? There’s Comtesse de Bouchaud climbing away up the pergola and I’m sure that’s Ernest Markham trying to catch her up.
And would you believe it! There’s the Duchess of Cornwall and Queen Elizabeth cheering them on!
Who have you got growing in your garden?
“I OPENED THE DOOR AND THERE HE STOOD”
I opened the door and there he stood by Margaret Holden
As I opened the door after the persistent knocking I took a step backwards, because all I could see was a very large muscular shape trying to get
“Oh my,” I said, how can I help? Not sure what I was expecting, so was rather startled when a deep, rich voice, answered me, was I imaging it, was it just a dream? I was not imagining anything I was assured.
Can I help you? was answered with a request to help him through the doorway and into the courtyard where there was a large expanse of water, I just need a drink, as I have travelled a long way in order to meet you, the one person the whole world knows and admires.
After quenching his thirst he solicitously asked,” have you any spare bananas or peanuts as they give me the strength to build a body like mine, ready for the long trek back to Africa”.
After patting Her Majesty on the shoulder with his trunk the elephant said, “wonderful meeting you, thank you for your kindness, a moment to remember forever”.
I opened the door and there he stood
I opened the door, and there he stood.
Standing proud, and to attention.
Without saying anything I slammed the door, and went back to watching TV.
Bloody flashers, you’d think it would be too cold for them now.
I opened the door and there he stood by Jo Brearley
Mr James Hamilton
He stands in the doorway tall and erect. His thick blonde hair is glossy and neatly parted. It falls softly to one side covering his right eye, and he gently flicks it back with his hand. The movement looks natural but is well rehearsed. The blue eyes he has been blessed with shine and twinkle and seduce. His wide open smile reveals his perfect white teeth which help emphasise his ever-so-lightly tanned face.
He is dressed in a smart, grey suit; his shirt is crisp and white. His expensive, highly polished leather shoes reflect the artificial light, while his manicured hands twitch ever-so-slightly, catching the eye of anyone studying him closely.
Everything about Mr Hamilton, Mr James Hamilton, oozes style. He is a cool character and every move he makes is calculated. He has just celebrated his 35th birthday and is on the way up – so they say!
Mr Hamilton stands in the doorway tall and erect. He has become rich but has a ruthless streak and an icy heart. He looks smug and preoccupied.
‘Everyone ready?’ he asks, but does not wait for an answer. ‘I have something important to tell you and I’m afraid it’s not good news!’
I opened the door and there he stood by Sue Hillier
I opened the door and there he stood.
I wasn’t expecting him. I was in the kitchen getting dinner when I heard him. Surprise must have shown in my face for he didn’t move. Beyond him the sky was darkening and the roar of rush hour traffic filled the air.
He looked as he always did, endearingly dishevelled, with the same heart stopping expression I’d always loved. Then I smiled.
‘You’d better come in’ I said. He walked on past me to the kitchen and sat down.
I shook my head ‘We can’t go on like this, it’s too dangerous. Someone is going to get hurt.’
I had no alternative, I picked up the phone and dialled Marie’s number. She answered directly.
‘It’s me, Jane’ I said. ‘Can you come over? Bruce is here.’
She sounded distracted, ‘Yes of course, I’ll be right there.’
‘I love seeing him’ I said ‘but that road is so dangerous, it’s no place for a dog out on his own.’
I opened the door and there he stood by Jude Hodges
I opened the door and there he was, as I always knew he would be one day. He was everything I had expected, imposing, clean cut and immaculate; a shining example of his kind.
‘I can’t believe you are finally here’, I said, ‘It has taken such a long time I had almost given up hope.’
‘I must apologise’ he said, with that look in his eye. ‘It wasn’t as simple as I had thought, and the satnav was very inadequate. But I am here now and eager to meet everyone.’
‘Come in, come in,’ I replied. ‘You must be thirsty – what can I get you?’ I had no idea what he expected, and he didn’t answer my question.
After all this waiting I couldn’t believe I was so flustered, I thought I was prepared, but it dawned on me that I didn’t have a clue what to do next. ‘As you know, my name is Gillian. I don’t know your name though?’
He favoured me with a kind expression from the black depths of his enormous, luminous eyes.
‘Gillian, I am Rom, it is so kind of you to welcome me. Now, please, TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER.’
MY DREAM HOLIDAY – WEEK TWO ENTRIES
MY DREAM HOLIDAY BY Jo Brearley
The post flew through the letter box and landed on the mat. I bent down to pick it up.
‘Just junk mail,’ I shouted.
As I walked towards the kitchen to bin the card I had another look.
Win a Dream Holiday of Your Choice
My eyes lit up. It sounded very tempting and the process to go through seemed straightforward.
‘Here, George, look at this.’ I passed him the leaflet.
He laughed. ’It’s a con, these things always are, throw it in the bin where it belongs and don’t be silly wasting your time on stuff like this.’
‘Well someone’s got to win. Anyway, I will make up my own mind.’ I walked away.
After a day in the garden, evening meal and a bit of tele, I said I was going to bed.
‘See you in a bit.’ George yawned.
I texted my entry and looked out of the window at the clear, dark night studded with stars. I closed my eyes.
George appeared at the door. ‘What you doing?’ he asked
Well, you know how the song goes don’t you!’
‘When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.’
MY DREAM HOLIDAY by Pete Hunt
THIS IS THE LAST CALL FOR ALL PASSENGERS ON FLIGHT NUMBER XK93 TO MARS, WOULD YOU PLEASE MAKE YOUR WAY TO DEPARTURE GATE 13 IMMEDIATELY. HENRY STEPPED ON THE MOVING WALKWAY AND WITHIN MINUTES WAS COLLECTING HIS BOARDING PASS BEFORE TAKING HIS SEAT ON THE 5.30 SHUTTLE TO THE RED PLANET. ON ARRIVAL HE CHECKED IN TO THE CASSINI CRATER HOTEL AND THE NEXT MORNING MET UP WITH AN ESTATE AGENT AT A PLACE OVERLOOKING THE MARALDI SEA. RIGHT MR ROGERS, I AM GOING TO SHOW YOU A NICE ONE BEDROOM HOLIDAY APARTMENT ABOUT A MILE FROM HERE. HENRY WAS STARTING TO GET QUITE EXCITED, SO HOW MUCH IS THE FLAT? ASKED HENRY. WELL IN YOUR COUNTRY ON EARTH YOU DEAL IN POUNDS, SAID THE AGENT, UP HERE OUR CURRENCY IS “ZIPANS”, SO THIS FLAT WOULD COST YOU TWENTY THOUSAND MARS ZIPANS, THAT’S ABOUT TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND POUNDS. THAT’S GREAT NEWS, SAID HENRY, LEAD ON……………
HENRY, HENRY, WHERE ARE YOU HENRY? AH, THERE YOU ARE, DAYDREAMING AGAIN, I’VE TOLD YOU BEFORE, THINKING FOR YOURSELF ONLY GIVES YOU A HEADACHE. SORRY DEAR, WHAT DID YOU SAY? I DON’T KNOW HENRY, SOMETIMES I THINK YOU’RE LIVING ON ANOTHER PLANET.
MY DREAM HOLIDAY by Jude Hodges
The Northern Lights! I am totally enraptured as I stand on the deck of this huge ship, oblivious to the cold wind which lifts my hair and blows my thin coat around my legs.
As the ship carves its way through the ice-floes I can hear the orchestra far below in the first-class dining room where my friends are waiting. How can they remain below when up here Mother Nature is putting on a show so spectacular?
As I watch, the lights swoop across the sky in front of me, dancing waves of green and aquamarine with the occasional flash of pink or purple; a ballet for my eyes only, lifting my spirits as we sail on to New York.
Suddenly people arrive on deck, falling over each other in their haste, and I am heartened that at last they have realised the wonder that is unfolding across the endless sky.
I no longer feel cold, even though sea water is rising up my legs and pulling at my clothes. I strain to keep my footing as the water rises over my head and the lights follow me into the deep.
MY DREAM HOLIDAY by Sue Hillier
“I’m not happy.”
“I know. And I’m sorry.”
“You say that, but this was always just about you, it always is.”
“That’s not fair!”
“That’s how I feel. I try to help and be supportive, but sometimes I feel I’m more like a servant.”
“Why do you say that? You said, oh never mind, it doesn’t matter.”
“I said what? What doesn’t matter?”
“Well, to begin with you seemed pleased at the idea. A once in a lifetime opportunity, time together, away from it all. A dream holiday.”
“It’s away from it all that’s for sure.”
“Just look around you, beautiful beaches, palm trees, warm sea to swim in and glorious sunshine. What more could you want?”
“There’s nothing to do.”
“We are supposed to be relaxing. You’ve got books to read and music to listen to.”
“I’ve read them all and you always choose the music.”
“Why can’t you look on the bright side? At least social distancing is easy here and there’s no-one telling us what we can and can’t do.”
“I suppose you’re right, but eight records, the Bible and Shakespeare soon get boring Robinson.”
MY DREAM HOLIDAY by Margaret Holden
To Feungirola with all my family would be a dream come true
Off we would all jet to find our posh apartment.
Our own swimming pool to play in, and sometimes a swim, what fun,
Our own sunbed to lay peacefully on, under the azure blue ceiling and in the warm sun.
A meal in a restaurant laid with a snowy white cloth,
Colourful food with the essential wine and the squash stuff!
Entertainment to watch in the town square,
Ladies in bright coloured dresses are twirling and swirling whilst men’s feet are rapidly tapping.
A fast rhythm on the guitar being played that keeps hands clapping,
So lively surely no one can be caught napping.
Salvador |Dali is everywhere, times pieces and pictures galore which I just adore.
Stylish clothes to buy for wearing in the sun, this one would suit mum the family declare.
Donkeys to ride with their brightly coloured trappings,
For me, a sedate ride in a horse and carriage to smoothly glide,
along the sun dappled streets of Mijas.
My family is happy and chatty and so am I
A dream holiday, if only dreams really did come true.
THE GREAT ADVENTURE – WEEK ONE ENTRIES
THE GREAT ADVENTURE by Jude Hodges
It was a very special day for Amelie and she was determined to look her best; give no one the chance to sneer at her appearance. Her green silk dress was a little crumpled but there was little she could do about that and so she concentrated on putting up her long hair, making the most of her long smooth neck, one of her best features. A little blusher and a hit of colour on her lips and she was ready.
Amelie has waited a long time to see Paul again and she eagerly anticipated his gentle smile, his warm hand, his fingers entwined with hers as they embarked on their greatest adventure. She loved him so much and now they were going to be together forever.
The heavy door opened and as she stepped into the light Amelie caught her breath at the sight of the sun, dazzling, on the blade of Madame La Guillotine.
THE GREAT ADVENTURE by David Keen
My heart’s racing, can I really get away with this? This will be the most dangerous thing I have ever attempted and it’s taken me three weeks to pluck up the courage to risk this raid.
Take a quick peep round the corner. Yes, it looks like the coast is clear and there is not a policeman in sight.
- Quickly, but silently, I run to cover over by that heap of metal items. Made it! Grab one of those: although it’s fairly heavy it will come in handy.
Have another good look around. There is still no-one in sight, I’m going to risk it.
I walk briskly, not running so as not to attract attention from police surveillance. Trying to look as though I have a right to be there I approach the point of no return.
This is it, this is what the last seven day’s planning has been for – and I’m actually going to get away with it!
A quick dart, and I’m inside now.
I’ll start with fruit and vegetables and then look for toilet rolls.
THE GREAT ADVENTURE by Sue Hillier
It’s very dark in here.
And noisy – thump, thump, thump all the time. I can hardly hear myself think.
How long have I been trapped in here? I must try and escape.
If I just twist round a bit, oow, that’s tricky. Try again, twist a bit more and wriggle. Trouble is, there’s just no room to manoeuvre. If I push a knee or an elbow, I might get round so at least I know which way to go.
That’s better, I think I’m heading in the right direction, but there’s still a long way to go and I don’t think I’m getting anywhere. Wriggle and squirm.
It’s so hard and there’s just no room in this tunnel, I can’t do it all on my own and I MUST GET OUT!
“HELP! PLEASE! SOMEBODY NEEDS TO HELP ME!”
Stop panicking, now at last I’m making progress, but will I have the strength to get to the end? I hope so.
All of a sudden there’s one last big push, then startling daylight and all kinds of different noises. Somebody grabs me and I hear them shout “It’s a boy!”
THE GREAT ADVENTURE by Pete Hunt
DANNY LOOKED AT THE NUMBERS ON THE ILLUMINATED CLOCK FACE; IT WAS 3.00AM, AFTER
PAUSING BRIEFLY ON THE EDGE OF THE BED HE MADE HIS WAY TO THE BEDROOM
DOOR, STEPPING OUT ON TO THE LANDING HE WAS GREETED BY A NEW MOON PIERCING THE
DARKNESS AND FLOODING THE PASSAGE WITH AN EERIE BLUE LIGHT.
NOW, HE SAID TO HIMSELF, WAS EMMA’S ROOM THIRD OR FOURTH ALONG FROM THE STAIRCASE.
BY NOW HE WAS STARTING TO FEEL THE EFFECTS OF A COLD NOVEMBER NIGHT AND KNEW HE
COULDN’T AFFORD TO WAIT ANY LONGER.
CROSSING THE LANDING HE STOOD IN FRONT OF THE CHOSEN DOOR AND WAS ABOUT TO OPEN IT
WHEN A VOICE BEHIND HIM SAID ‘IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR THE BATHROOM YOUNG MAN, IT’S TWO
DOORS ALONG’. DANNY’S HEART WAS IN HIS MOUTH, OH, ER, YES, YES, THANK YOU MRS
WARREN, WITHOUT HESITATING HE RACED TO THE BATHROOM AND SHUT THE DOOR. WHEN
HE EMERGED TEN MINUTES LATER, ALL WAS QUIET, MAKING HIS WAY BACK TO HIS OWN
BEDROOM HE TURNED ON THE LIGHT AND WAS LEFT ALMOST SPEECHLESS WHEN HE SAW HIS
GIRLFRIEND’S MOTHER SITTING ON HIS BED, ‘MRS WARREN’ HE STUTTERED, ‘WAS
THERE SOMETHING YOU WANTED?’
THE GREAT ADVENTURE by Jo Brearley
Our hearts raced, our breath panted
Our legs ached.
We climbed the steep and rugged hill.
It took some time but still,
We smiled. The sense of triumph
On our sweaty faces showed its grin.
We shook hands, then hugged and applauded our fete.
‘It was worth it,‘ we all said in a chorus of cheer.
We stood in silence.
We stared in amazement.
The view completed our journeys end.
THE GREAT ADVENTURE by Margaret Holden
White glistening, soft sand beneath my toes
The Caribbean is heavenly as everyone knows.
I sit on the beach with the azure blue sea
Lapping gently, nearly up to my knee.
Happiness oozes from me
A drink in hand, food by my side how much happier could I possibly be.
The sunlight bleaches my long blonde hair
When back home again this will make the boys stare
The coconut palms gently swaying
As I listened to the words my best friend was saying.
But the man who served our food
Seemed to change our whole mood.
He seemed to exude an air
Sinister you felt from his stare.
I shivered despite the heat of the sun
Somehow that man had taken away my fun.
I turned to my friend and said;
Let’s go for a walk and find Chez Fred
As we walked along the sunlit beach
A cloud passed over the sun, and a shape floated by beyond our reach
A shiver went down my spine
My friend said, wish the sun would once again shine
We stumbled over a man in the sand, blood all over the place
How we wondered could we save his face.
As I looked with dismay, I realised
The man in the sand had been my lover that day
His name I never knew,
Until a piece of paper past me flew.
I reached down to the sand
And read the name in my hand.
A half buried driving licence had shed light
On the man I slept with and had such a wonderful night
Just then a condor flew past, wings gently flapping a wondrous sight
Gathered up my lover and flew away into the night.
Was this a dream, how could this be
I have evidence in my hand washed up by this serene sea.
A driving licence now wet and torn
Was in my hand making me feel very forlorn.
I still don’t know if this is real
But I wish he could come back and take me out for another meal.
Ah, well the sun is shining, no good pining
We’ll just order another drink, every cloud has a silver lining.