Short Stories


It was the time Donal found most peaceful in St Brendan’s.  Those first few hours after midnight when the air was still, only disturbed at that moment by the distant wail of a siren, way across town, that subsided almost as quickly as it had begun.  It restarted a few moments later, somewhat closer, then fell away again.


He wondered momentarily whether it was coming anywhere nearby, then looked up into those familiar eyes atop the altar cross.  Eyes that had looked down on him thirty years earlier when he had first beheld them as an altar boy, eyes that he had never been able to dismiss from his mind throughout those years.  They had lovingly welcomed him every time he had returned to stand before them, yet in this flickering light from the many candle flames licking around the feet of the figure, they now seemed empty and sad. Continue Reading

Joe wandered into the Microbrewery on Sixteenth.  The place was exactly as he remembered it from two years ago – noisy, bustling with people.   A local blues band was hammering out ‘Hard to Handle’ from the loft, and waiters jostled between the crowds taking food to the tables.

He had flown into Denver that morning, and had survived the flight in the back of a 757 without throwing-up.  He hated flying in 757’s, as they felt to him like they shimmied in flight, a movement accentuated at the back of economy, the location he usually avoided.   But this time at check-in, he had got the cold-hard bitch who was having a bad day, and so was entirely disinterested with his protestations about a susceptibility to air-sickness, particularly on 757’s, and specifically going into Denver, where sometimes the approach felt, to him, not dissimilar to the Khe Sanh technique used during the war in Vietnam.

He had come, reluctantly, in response to a cryptic e-mail from his old friend Robin.  In this, Robin had intimated that there may be news about Joe’s brother Charlie, who had left so suddenly during their last visit to Denver.  So he had arranged to meet Robin at this bar, and was a bit early.  Continue Reading

Alec sat on his favourite ramshackle bench in the Park, as he did every Sunday on his way home from Morning Service.  The park was empty of people other than himself, which was not unusual, because although this was a small park in the midst of a large housing estate, very few of the residents used it.    So it had become a small oasis amongst a desert of hubbub, somewhat unkempt and wild in parts, with the grass more meadow than lawn.

The sun was shining on this beautiful June day, and Alec closed his eyes to feel the warm rays slowly cooking his bald pate.  His children often chastised him for not wearing a hat in this weather, and were always quoting him the latest medical research on skin ailments, which he dismissed with the simple words that if God had wanted him to worry about melanoma’s and the like, He would have had Alec’s school teach him about them when he was young enough to absorb the knowledge.  Now, at the age of 82, he had surpassed his allotted three-score-years-and ten, and was merely grateful for every additional day he was allowed by his Master. Continue Reading

Kirsty settled into her steamer chair next to the small pond in her garden.  It was late Friday afternoon, and she liked to relax for an hour or so before the turmoil of the weekend burst upon her, normally heralded by one or other of her, now fully-fledged, children bursting through the door with news of their exciting week.

She had finished all of the chores necessary for their home to be as spick and span as it could be for the homecoming.  Her husband, Michael, was tapping away at that infernal computer in his study at the front of the house.  She had hoped that, after a lifetime as an international salesman, his new job that allowed him more time to work at home would give her more access to him, but the lure of the Windows Desktop had proved as strong as the call of the road.

She loved her garden.  It was small but fashioned in her favoured cottage-style over the many years they had lived here.  The borders bristled with colour, attracting the many bees and butterflies that flitted between the myriad of blooms competing for their attention.

Of course, it was not all her own work.    Michael had stretched the canvas by building the conservatory, laying the patio, digging the pond and then linking it to the small stream via a water feature.  But she had flourished the brush that painted the shapes and colours, softening the harsh lines of edging bricks that defined the terraced lawns and borders.

She lay back in the chair and looked at the sky.  It was as clear a blue as she had seen all summer, with not a cloud to break the continuity of the backdrop.  It was another blank canvas awaiting a picture, she thought, except for the small shape of a hawk circling high above.

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