Saturday, 9 January 2010

new short story, I'm in the local paper

This is another of the reasons I've not been blogging! I sent it off to a local newspaper, and they're printing it today as part of their Saturday short story series - wow - I'm about to be published! You can imagine the way my face split in two!!!! Anyway, here it is, for your delectation and delight:

Daniel’s Trip to Blackpool

The day we went to Blackpool started out like any other day of the summer holidays; I wish it had ended that way too.

We had toast for breakfast. I had peanut butter and Marmite on mine – one of my favourites. I like it with chocolate spread too. The peanut butter, not the Marmite, of course. I caught sight of Mark, next door, waving. I waved back.

I looked at Mum, and she smiled. ‘Yes, you can go and play with Mark. Make sure you clean your teeth and straighten your bed first, though.’ ‘OK. Thanks Mum.’

# # #

We decided to play football on the green at the end of the road. There’s a small estate down there, and usually quite a few kids about.

‘Mum, can I go down to the green to play footie, please?’

‘Yes, OK; but stay on the green. Don’t go playing in the road. Promise?’

‘Yes, of course. We always stay on the green, you know we do.’

‘I know, but I also know how easy it is to be distracted. So, be careful.’

‘OK, Mum. Can I take some drinks with me? And some crisps?’

‘You can take drinks, but no crisps. You’ve only just had breakfast!’ She put her arm round my shoulders, and gave me a squeeze as she said it. I shrugged her off, of course. I’m eleven now, just, so I don’t need hugs any more. Mark doesn’t let his mum hug him.

I grabbed a couple of cans from the fridge door, and stuck them in a carrier bag with my old football. Then Mark was knocking at the door, and I was off.

# # #

‘Let’s play cricket.’ ‘But I’ve brought my football. We said we were going to play footie!’

‘Yeh, but I’ve changed my mind, I’d rather play cricket. Let’s get the wickets in, then when the other kids turn up, we can get on.’

The expression on his face told me that he’d get his way, as usual, so I just grabbed some sticks and rammed them into the baked soil.

That morning, however, there weren’t any other kids about. We soon got fed up hanging around with no-one else to play with, so we went back to Mark’s to play with his new Wii game. His mum said I could stay to lunch, so I had a toasted cheese sandwich with them.

After lunch, we went back to mine. The house smelt like Mum had been polishing; you know - that sort of warm smell that means the house is loved. Mum wasn’t one of those really house-proud women you see on the telly, but she cleaned up thoroughly once a week or so. Anyway, she was sitting down with a cuppa when we got there.

‘Hiya, did you get a good game in?’

‘Yeh, Mark’s Wii is fantastic. His mum had some really tasty cheese. You should ask her what it was, Mum; you’d like it.’

‘Why didn’t you ask her, then, silly? You were there eating it!’

‘Just thought I’d tell you, you’re always on the phone to each other, anyway.’

‘True enough, I’ll try and remember to ask her. Thanks.’ She smiled, and put down her cup. ‘I thought we’d drive out to the sand dunes for a couple of hours. What do you think? I mentioned it to your mum, Mark, and she said you could come with us - if you’d like to, that is?’

‘Thanks, Mrs Johnson, yeh, that’d be cool.’

‘Great, Mum. I’ll go and grab my camera.’ It was my birthday last week, and I’d got this neat 10 mega-pixel camera.

Mum gave me the keys so we could go and get in the car, while she got the picnic rug out from under the stairs. The cool-bag was by the door, so we took that out with us. We stowed the bag in the boot, but I kept my camera with me.

Mum was out with the rug in no time. She tossed it in the boot, and slammed down the lid. ‘Belts on? Ready to go?’

‘Yes, Mum. Ready to go.’ I kicked Mark’s leg, and nodded at his seat belt. He shrugged, and pulled a face. But then he put it on.

The weather was just right for the dunes. It was sunny, but there was a light breeze from the sea. We found a sheltered spot and spread out the tartan blanket. It has a waterproof layer on the back, which is really useful; you don’t end up with a soggy bum if the sand’s still damp. Mum had brought chilled juices, with a family size bag of Kettle chips and some fruit, so we had a little picnic.

I took loads of photos. One of those I took of Mum hangs on my new bedroom wall. She looks happy, shading her eyes from the sun and smiling at me. I can look at it now, but I couldn’t do for ages; it just reminded me of that never-to-be-forgotten trip.

# # #

Mark killed Mum on the way home. We were nearing Preston when he dropped his i-Pod. He took off his seat-belt to pick it up. A few minutes later, some pratt drove into the back of the car, and that’s how we found out Mark hadn’t bothered to put his belt back on. Mark went shooting forward and crashed into Mum, forcing her through the windscreen.

I could see Mum lying across the bonnet of the car, with Mark on top of her. It looked like he was hugging her. But everything was red and shiny and wet. Mum’s hair was spread out around her head like a halo.

My seatbelt held me in place. It took me a lifetime to undo it.

It was really weird. Like a film. Flashing lights. Men in uniforms. Ambulances and police cars. I didn’t hurt. Nothing was real. The front of a black car was inside ours; it was pushing my seat forward.

The driver was struggling out of his door, past a white balloon. He was shaking his head, his mobile held to his ear.

Everything was silent. They said it was shock. I could only hear myself, screaming like a girl, ‘Get my mum! Mum’s bleeding - please get her out.’

They did, but it was too late. They put a blue blanket over Mum. Over all of her. Mum wasn’t there any more.

I watched them talk to Mark. They put him on a stretcher, covered him with a blanket and gave him an injection. They put a mask over his nose. Why were they making such a fuss over him? I wanted to scream ‘He’s just killed my mum!

‘What’s your name, son?’

‘Daniel.’ Mark’s just killed my mum. She’s dead. Mark killed her.

‘We need to take you to hospital, Daniel, to check you over.’

‘I’m alright. Where are they taking Mum?’ They can’t take her away; they haven’t tried to help her. But they’re helping Mark.'

‘Is that your mum, then? What’s her name?’

‘Amanda. Amanda Johnson. Where are they taking her? I want to go with her.’

‘Daniel, we can’t let you do that. You can go with your friend.’

He’s not my friend.’

‘Have you got a dad I can phone for you? He could meet you at the hospital.’


‘Do you know his number?’ ‘

What?’ They’re closing the door. They’re taking Mum away from me.

‘Daniel, what’s your dad’s phone number, love?’

‘It’s in my mobile.’ I took it out of my pocket and handed it over. None of this is real.

‘Hello, Mr Johnson? This is the emergency ambulance service. We’ve been called out to a road traffic accident. I’m afraid your wife and son were involved. I have to warn you, it’s a serious accident.’

I’ll wake up soon, and it’ll just be a normal day. ‘DAD! They won’t let me go with Mum. Tell them to let me, Dad! TELL THEM!!!’

# # #

I woke up in the hospital; Dad was standing next to me. His red eyes cried out the truth. He put his hand on my shoulder and squeezed. Something trickled down my face. I thought I must be bleeding, but my hand only showed wet. Then I was sitting up, and Dad had his arms round me, and we were both crying. A nurse put a box of tissues on the stretcher, then drew a curtain round us.

Dad said the police had told him that the driver of the black car had been chatting on his mobile, and not concentrating. He hadn’t seen Mum indicate for a right turn, and had crashed straight into the back of us.

If Mark had been wearing his seatbelt, Mum would still be alive. Now I wanted to kill Mark. How could he have been so stupid?

# # #

Everyone says it was “just one of those things”, and that “he’s paid for it”. He spent weeks in hospital; and he’ll always be scarred. Doesn’t change the fact that he killed her, though, does it?

Three weeks ago, a lady from Oxfam came and collected twenty black bin liners of Mum’s life. Our stuff went in a huge van. We followed it in Dad’s car. I looked back over my shoulder and could see Mark and his mum standing at their gate, watching. She waved, but I turned my back on them.

I like my new school, and I’ve got some new friends.

We never go to Blackpool.


  1. And again I say... WOOOOHOO! I'm so excited for you :D

  2. Congratulations on getting this published, it's fantastic and so are you!

  3. Sent here by Rachel -- what a wonderful story! Congrats on your publication!

  4. I followed Rachel's link, congratulations!

  5. Congratulations and I enjoyed reading this story! I am the girl Rachel saw in NYC with my hubby. One day we can meet face to face when I come for my visit to Scotland.

  6. Congrats on your publication! What a wonderful feeling that must be.

    Your story is riveting. I had never thought about an unbuckled back seat passenger as a safety risk for those in front.

  7. Rachel sent me here! :)

    Congrats! You're a happy lady!
    I asked Rachel to take you with her -
    to the pyramids with me! Hope to see you!

  8. Congratulations! Dropping by from SITS to say, "hello". Best wishes in 2010!

    Kindest regards,

  9. Congratulations to you - I found that a very moving story, the part where you went into the crash was so unexpected.

  10. thank you all so much for your kind comments, which are really encouraging:-) Maybe I will be a "real" writer one day!

  11. First, I compliment you on your published story--well written. Second, I thank you for the comments to my picture of the pelicans in line-abreast on the Salton Sea in write with pictures blog. Please visit and and return often. Make sure your sound is on when tuning in to the latter site.

    Thank you,

    Jim Pankey, USN (Ret.)

  12. Ouch - what a sudden unexpected twist. Great writing. I think the secret of good writing is if you cannot tell how much is fiction and how much is based on fact. I hope this was all fiction for you!

  13. I followed a link from your daughter's blog...

    That was inspired. The pared down prose of the child's voice made the sudden right turn and the subsequent events so much more vivid.

    I'm deeply impressed.

  14. Christine, I just gave you another award, for your response on 2/11...about your 15 minutes of fame! :) Congrats!


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