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Book Club Forum Short Story Contest – The Winner

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had asked for permission to post the winning short story here on my blog & the lovely Chrissy (the winner, in case you wonder who that is) has kindly agreed that I could post her story here. So, for your reading pleasure, I present to you the winning entry of the 2009  Book Club Forum Short Story Contest.

Well done, Chrissy!!! It was a great story! 

In Perpetuity – by Chrissy

She watched the spider makes its way across the windowsill, the dance delicate in the rainbow colours cast by the hanging in the window. Before it had quite reached the end a shadow moved into view and a loud “Thunk!” sounded the spider’s death. He had crushed it under her favourite book. He grinned down at her, turned and marched from the room, his whistling alleging nonchalance.

In that moment, in that rainbow tinted, dancing, shadowy, crushing, whistling moment, she knew that it was the end of more than just the spider. This was just one of many ‘incidents’ that he had perpetrated, purely out of spite and animosity toward her. He knew how she felt about spiders, dancing or otherwise.

*  *  *  *  *  *

He had come into her life the way all things seemed to, without fanfare or forethought, just arriving and settling down with her effortlessly. There had been others, but none had meant so much to her.

It had started so well with a mutual enjoyment and joy in the pleasure of each others company. They touched and stroked and nuzzled for hours at a time with her lounging either across him or merely near him, just revelling in their togetherness. She had once run to him the moment he had arrived home, throwing herself into his arms. He’d once welcomed such gestures. All his celebrations held her at the centre, all heartache equally brought to her in the cottage they shared so she could ease his spirit, lift his mood. He used to do all the cooking, saving the best of his delicately flavoured morsels just for her, his fingers dripping with their flavours as he had hand fed her, to the amusement of them both.

A while ago however, his focus shifted elsewhere, and with a creeping neglect she had been relegated to a minor role in his life. Now he would be gone for days at a time, arriving home unexpectedly without a word of explanation, his expectation being that she would remain faithful and constant to him, as though she had no right to any kind of a life of her own. Dismay had long left her heart, allowing contempt to enter with a vengeful plan at its core.

*  *  *  *  *  *

She was a patient spirit, and she was sure that the correct moment would arrive when she could make him see how he had made her feel, he would know that she was so much more than he had imagined, and was worth his attention, worthy of his continued love.

*  *  *  *  *  *

The morning after the spider, she took the long walk into the village. She planned on getting a bite to eat and catching up with one or two friends and acquaintances. It was just what she needed, although she hated leaving the house without knowing when he would be there. One definite was that the cottage was hers. People may visit, even stay for a time but this little haven was hers ‘in perpetuity’, as she would claim.

Lunch was had, and she had made a few arrangements with friends for later on in the week. The afternoon was warm and the walk back to the cottage was fragrant and startlingly pretty, a perfect day. Even the soundtrack to the afternoon was an orchestral arrangement of birdsong, animal rustlings and a gentle breeze stirring the leaves along the path. Her mood was lifted.

She went in the back gate, skirting the hole created by a major project he’d undertaken.

“A swimming pool! Can you imagine how good it will feel at the end of a long hot day to come home and throw yourself in there? “

Admittedly his enthusiasm was invigorating,

“Yeah, yeah I know it’s not your thing, but I’d be here more often perhaps if I had more to interest me”

The hole had been dug, and partial foundations and coverings had been laid. More had yet to be done, but until the latest layers had been sorted, the professionals wouldn’t be brought in to finish the rest.

She headed in through the back door, and could hear him talking on the ‘phone,

“….yeah, I just have to get the foundations straightened out and then we can get on with rest of it, ready to get it on the market…”

Get….get it on the market? What the hell? Is he talking about my cottage?

Her heart almost came to a halt, her thoughts scattered. The betrayal, the utter lowlife, using, evil manipulative piece of….

She had thought her heart had been broken already, but the last fragment, the little parcel of hope for their relationship gave a final whisper as it fell apart. She was done.

She ran into the garden, blindly needing to get far away from him. On the path she haphazardly bumped into one of the friends she’d shared lunch with. He was immediately struck by her appearance and crazed demeanour. When she brought forward the arrangements they had made earlier in the day he readily agreed.

Calming herself she attempted a saunter back into the house. He had the temerity to cuff her gently under the chin with his finger, giving her a wry grin as he made his way into the kitchen. He slipped a jumpsuit over his jeans and tee shirt, tied a brightly coloured bandana around his head and headed out. She left him to get into a working rhythm around the top of the pool. He had only a few hours of good light left in the day.

* * * * * *

Evening crept in as his continued in his labours. Concrete had been mixed and poured, bits were pondered, levelled, mulled and muttered over. He took frequent breaks, with his fruit juices being replaced by bottles of beer.

To lull him, she had joined him outside. He had watched her for a time, his only comments being about “…necessary changes coming… new set up….” She let him ramble while keeping herself quiet and small to portray acquiescence.

As the evening drew closer in and the light lost is penetration, his work slowed.  She caught movement in the garden perimeter. It was now or never.

* * * * * *

As he leaned over the edge of the pool to check his work in the fading light she leapt forward. She side swiped his legs with her body and watched him flail his arms before he dropped into his sunken works. She followed gracefully, leaping onto his back, and was joined immediately by the two friends who’d been waiting for her signal.  They silently edged forward along his body to push his head into the wet mixture, the drop and surprised having already winded him. His alcohol consumption made his response dulled and lacklustre. He was still in a short time.

It took a while to completely submerge the body into the hardening cement and level it out enough to pass a cursory inspection. Any errors would be put down to client incompetence, rather than the inclusion of a large object.

* * * * * *

Her friends departed, seeking out places where they could stop to clean themselves of the dust and debris the task had covered them with. She went indoors and spent a little time cleaning. She finished off the food that he had left on his plate, then settled on her favourite chair and contemplated what had taken place. She did feel sad as she had thought this one would be the one to last.

* * * * * *



Police were investigating another disappearance from the country cottage locals have dubbed ‘Bermuda Cottage’. This is the third owner to have mysteriously disappeared without a trace from the property. Pool workers had notified the authorities when they noticed that the doors stood open and the owners personal effects were on open display but without any sign of him.


Chief Inspector in charge of the investigation requested that all and any information be ‘phoned into to the Police hotline.


“We are frankly baffled. In each case the owner appears to have just walked away from their lives. Each one was contemplating moving from the area at the time of their disappearance, and the cottage was discovered with open doors and windows, nothing missing or disturbed, and no obvious signs of a struggle.”


The CI finished with


“The only possible witness to anything untoward is unable to tell us anything, as this is the cat that lives at the cottage, one that according to locals has lived at the cottage through all the years of these disappearances. If only it could speak, eh?”

* * * * * *


She snuggled deeper into the cushion. It was almost time to head on out for the night. The nice policeman had opened a tin of tuna for her for her earlier, and had then had carried her in his arms as he’d looked through the cottage.

One under the cellar floor, another had tumbled into the deep waters of the well, and now another under the exquisite pool floor. The pool men had done a lovely job of finishing.

She slowly stretched out her limbs, splaying her claws for the full wake up effect. She trilled a meow of satisfaction.

It would safely remain her cottage, in perpetuity.


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Book Club Forum Short Story Contest – My entry

I mentioned (I think) in an earlier post that I was entering the Book Club Forum’s short story contest. Well, I did enter – but I didn’t win, I’m afraid. It was a runaway victory for the winning entry & deservedly so! If  the winner gives me permission I shall post her story here, but in the meantime, please find my entry below:  


She watched the spider make it’s way across the window sill and wondered what it would be like to be a spider. Would you spend your life living in terror that some huge hand or shoe would swoop down and end your life? In some ways, she guessed, she really wasn’t all that different from the spider, because hadn’t some huge hand had come down and in one fell swoop ended her life? Ok, so she was alive, as those damn doctor’s were so fond of saying, but what kind of life could it possibly be when everyone she really loved was gone, crushed from existence, like so many insignificant spiders?

Her doctor’s were telling her she was making good progress, but progress towards what, exactly & why did they think that mattered to her? Adam was gone, Cassie was gone & the “baby-that-never-got-to-be” was gone too. They’d told her it had been a boy. She and Adam had argued long and hard over boys names. Adam wanted something traditional, like Tom, or Richard while she  wanted something with a little more flair, like Carrick or Dillon. Oh, how she would love to have the chance to tease Adam again, to tell him his choice of boy’s names was boring, staid, and completely uninspiring, but that wasn’t ever going to happen, was it?

She could feel the tears welling up, getting ready to choke her, like they always did. Beginning in a slow forward movement, until it was a great rushing torrent of emotion, tears & terror, until it engulfed her in sorrow and she began to feel herself sliding into the oblivion; sinking deeper and deeper into that dark pit. She couldn’t afford to let that happen, not now, not today. “Focus, Morgan”, she chastised herself. “You need to be alert today. You need to focus. If they think you’re this close to losing control there is no way they are going to allow you out of this nut house and you cannot afford to let that happen!”

She paced around her room trying to calm down, thinking of some of the happier times in her life, times when her world had made sense, when she had been in control. She thought about the day she and Adam had decided they would try for a baby, not knowing she was already pregnant. They had spent a romantic day by the sea, walking along the beach, between St. Hellier & St. Aubin. There had been a powerful wind that day, so not many people had braved the sea front, but there had been one family with a beautiful little girl. She and Adam had spent a long time watching her and her parents attempting, and failing, to make their tiny castle stay upright in that ferocious wind.

They had spent the night tucked up in their little house, making plans for their family, plans that had never included murder. But then, no one ever plans for murder to happen to their family, do they? No, their plans had included normal things; family holidays abroad, trips to Cornwall and Scotland; nursery colours to pick and prams to choose and all the things couples think of when they decide to start a family. They had gone to bed that night satiated and content in the knowledge they had set out on a path that would see them raising their family in their chosen community, that their life together was cemented and nothing could go wrong.

How foolish and arrogant they had been, she thought now. What right did they have to believe they were safer than anyone else, to believe that their life was charmed and would therefore remain untouched by tradgedy? “Oh Adam”, she sobbed, “If only we had known. Would we have started a family if we had known that our daughter wouldn’t live to see her third birthday?”

“Morgan? Doctor McKaskill is ready to see you. Do you want me to walk with you to his office?” asked Nurse Thompson, poking her head into Morgan’s room.

“No…….., no, it’s fine”, Morgan replied absently,still caught up in her memories. “I’ll go on my own”.

“Are you sure, luv? I don’t mind going with you. Truth betold, I could use the fresh air that walking to Dr. McKaskill’s office would provide. Not to mention a sneaky fag, but don’t you tell anyone I told you that”.

“Oh, ok then, I guess I could use the company” Morgan replied, unhappily accepting her chaperone.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


“Ok Morgan, today we need to make a decision about whether or not you’ll be able to attend the trial, which as you know, starts next week.”

Morgan sat in Doctor McKaskill’s office & knew she should be listening to him, but really, she found it so hard to pay attention when he spoke to her. Her mother had put her in this stupid hospital specifically because of Doctor McKaskill and his reputation, but reputation bedamned, the man was a bore! Seriously, shouldn’t a psychotherapist make one less inclined to kill themselves, she thought, the man speaks in a droning monotone and makes me want to kill myself out of shear boredom!

“Morgan, are you listening to me? Are you here in the room with me?”, he asked.

“I’m sorry, Doctor McKaskill, I was miles away, I was just thinking about Cassie, that next week would have been her third birthday.”, she lied.

“And how do you feel about that, Morgan?

“How do you think I feel about that, Doctor? That’s a pretty stupid question, don’t you think? I feel like I should be the one who is dead, not her, not Adam. She had her whole life in front of her and they decided that her life wasn’t important, that she didn’t deserve the chance to grow up and fall in love, to do all the things that normally are in the future of a three year old.” she shouted at him.

“What right did they have to take my baby’s life, to decide that she didn’t deserve to live? Tell me, Doctor McKaskill, if you can, because until someone can tell me, how do I make sense of what has happened?”

“Morgan, there will never be any sense to what happened to you, to your family, but we have got to find a way to help you cope, to allow you to return to your life…..”

“Return to my life?”, she screamed, “what life would that be, doctor, I have no life. Don’t you get it? My husband is dead. My daughter is dead, and my unborn baby is dead, too. They were my life, so what exactly do you expect me to return to? Can you bring them back from the dead? Have you got some secret Pet Sematary you have’t told me about? If you do, please tell me, please, because this is killing me. Those bastards have destroyed my life and I would give anything to get it back” she sobbed.


“Please, just let me go back to my room Doctor McKaskill. You can’t help me. Nobody can help me & I know that you’re not going to let me go to the trial next week, so what’s the point of sitting here trying to convince you that you should? Just let me go back to my room to grieve, please.”

“Morgan, I need you to understand that while no, no one can bring them back to you, there is a way that you can cope with this. I do want you to go to the trial because I think that being there will help. I think that you need to be there to see this trial, so that you see for yourself that, while we can’t bring them back to you, we can at least get them the justice they deserve. I honestly think that witnessing the trial for yourself will go a long way toward helping you find a way to cope, to find a way to want to live again. So,yes, I am going to allow you to go to the trial next week.”

“Really?”, she asked.

“Yes, but in the meantime we have a lot of work to do, to get you prepared for what’s going to happen. I think we should end this here today, but I want to see you twice a day until the trial. Do you understand?

“Yeah”, she replied, too scared to say more for fear of making him change his mind, should the wrong words slip out of her mouth.

“Fine, let me get you a nurse to take you back to your wing, and Morgan, please remember that we need to work hard at this because you need to be ready for what is going to happen and that means we need to start back at the begining and talk about what happened. If you don’t think you can do this, you need to let me know because your being able to talk about it, without losing control is what you need, to ensure you can endure listening to other people talk about it during the trial.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


“Morgan, you have a visitor.” “It’s your Mother, but I thought I would check how you’re feeling, see if you’re feeling up to seeing anyone”

“Not really, but I haven’t really got a choice, have I?

“No, your mother doesn’t really seem like the kind of woman who’s going to take no for an answer.”

“That would be putting it mildly”, sighed Morgan, “Well, I guess I had better get on with it, then.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Mum, look, Doctor McKaskill thinks that I can handle this, so why are you so sure I can’t? Morgan asked in exasperation

“Morgan, sweetheart, I just don’t want to see you have to go through all this horrible business again. It’s bad enough that it even happened in the first place, why do you insist on re-living this nightmare?”

“I insist on re-living this “nightmare” as you call it, because someone came into my house, Mother.”, Morgan replied begining to shake with rage. “They came into my house and shot my husband and daughter, and beat me half to death, Mother, killing your grandson in the process. That person is going to trial soon and I intend to be there every day! I will be there, sitting in that front row, so that he can see me and know that I survived, that he didn’t manage to kill us all”

“You don’t have to do th..”

“Yes, I do and you are not going to talk me out of this, so please stop it, now!”

“Mum, look, I really don’t want to fight with you. I have to do this and it would be great to be able to do it and know that I have your support. I know you didn’t like Adam & or that we moved to Jersey instead of staying in Bath, but he was my husband and we wanted to make our own way, not live on the family money, and some day you have to realise it was my life and my decision to make.”

“You’re quite correct, Morgan, I did not like Adam, nor did I approve of the fact that you married someone who would never make anything of himself. Honestly, what did you expect?”, demanded her mother, “He was beneath you and he was destroying you”

“Destroying me? How can you say that, Mum?” she cried “I loved him and he loved me. We had a good life together. Ok, so it wasn’t the life you would have chosen for me, but it was our life, the one we were making together, Mum.”

“How can I say that, dear? I’ll tell you how I can say that. You stupidly fell for a man who would never amount to anything, married him and decided to throw away your future. You had everything and he was nothing, a nobody! Then, you stupidly allowed yourself to get pregnant with that child. Don’t you see? I had to save you from him, from what he was doing to you. He had to be stopped!

“Oh my god Mum”, Morgan cried, “What are you saying?

“I’m saying that he deserved it, Morgan. He was ruining you and now that he’s gone, now that they are gone, you can go back to living your life the way it was meant to be lived. We can get your life back on track! Ok, so it’s not ideal it had to get to that point, that I had to have him killed, but he wouldn’t leave you. No matter how much money I offered him, he wouldn’t leave you, so what choice did I have?”

“Trust me honey, you are much better off without him, without them!”

“Trust you?” Morgan screamed, lunging at her mother, wild with rage. “I’m going to kill you!”

The End

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Book Club Forum Short Story Contest

I’ve decided to enter the short story competition that is happening at the Book Club Forum – info here. Now, it’s been a good long while since I have done any creative writing – probably since college, so this should be interesting!  I have started & started again, lol.

The stories have to begin with one of three sentences: “She watched the spider make its way across the window sill.” or “You’ll never believe what just happened to me as I walked through the park!” or “He finally had the proof he needed.”

I started with the last one 1st, then got stuck & have since begun stories with each of the other two sentences as well, now, which one shall I develop & will it be worthy of submitting to a contest? Fingers crossed!

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