She lay on her side in bed, the covers pulled up, hugged against her despite the warmth of the evening. One arm was free of the covers and she gently touched the picture stuck to the wall beside her head. She could look direct into his eyes without shifting her head on the pillow. Over and over she gently brushed her fingers over his photographic lips, touched his reproduced nose, and stroked his picture perfect hair. She didn’t want to turn out the light, for to do so would mean she could no longer see the picture. Not that she needed it; his every feature was indelibly drawn in her brain. And she wanted to sleep. But she couldn’t bring herself to turn out the light. With the light on she had that tentative link with him, she could look into his smiling eyes. When the light went out, she would be alone with her thoughts and no longer able to fool herself that she wasn’t with him.

The same urge that kept music playing constantly, kept the light burning, and her pen scribbling long after she should be at rest. Every moment, music was playing, or the radio was on, anything to fill the silence she was once so happy in. Once, silence meant time to think, time to dream, time to write. Now it still meant all those things. But now the silence had a name. His name. She ached to touch him, to hear his voice. But when the music stopped, or when she stopped moving, she could no longer fool herself.

There were times, when she wasn’t paying attention, that she could forget him for a moment. Concentrating on a particular problem, or talking to her friends. But then she would remember and bend almost double in pain. It physically hurt, like a punch to the stomach, and there was nothing she could do. So she kept the music playing. And the lights on. And pen and paper always to hand, or the computer on.

She flicked the media player on and, even though she couldn’t see the screen without her glasses, the mouse invariably found the correct file. Open. Play. And his voice filled the room. As the tears started rolling, his voice wrapped round her like a blanket. Soft, honey rich, full of love and life… And she hit play over and over. Five, ten, twenty times. His voice played over and over. Thirty precious seconds. She lived for those seconds.

In the darkness now, she plays the clip once more and closes her eyes against the pain. She holds her hand back from the mouse, ordering herself not to click “Play” again. 20 times tonight. 19 tomorrow.


He looked across at the figure at the other end of the bar, his eyes drawn in fascination by the sharp planes of her wrist bones, the casual grace of the limb. It wasn’t something he would normally remark upon. The hand wasn’t the usual appendage noted about the female form, at least not first, but on her, the wrist was all he could clearly see. Resting along the battered counter top, motionless, as if it were divorced from the rest of the world. A sculpture. At that moment he would swear on any scripture you cared to name that, if he could touch it, that arm would be as smooth and cold as the marble it was carven from.

The middle finger, centre of the bridge her hand made, arced up ever so slightly, bearing a wide sliver band. From here he couldn’t see, till she raised her hand to lift the tumbler to her lips, the rectangular amber stone recessed flatly into the metal, the colour of the whisky in his own glass. All he could see in the downward shaded pool of light was the silent flight of her arm: the fingers birds, stilled momentarily in migration from the shadows cast around. A moment of silence in which he felt the woman had come closer to him than a lover. He knew her deeply, and was moved in turn by the honour she had bestowed upon him by permitting this glimpse of quiet strength. She might laugh at her companion’s joke, but it was he who was privy to her lyric calm.

Oh yes, he would later tell his children, it is possible to love someone you have only just seen. To commit so deeply to one person, for the chance that you might one day be permitted to see once more the silent grace, and rest at last in its calm.


What constitutes a story? How long should one be? I ask because I enjoy writing, yet have no real ‘finished’ stories. I do have lots of little pieces however. Vignettes if you will. Snapshots.

Yes, snapshots.

Written pictures of a moment I see with luminous clarity in my imagination. I read them back to myself and I think they are good, worthy of being read, yet most people who do read them (an admittedly small group) always tend to go “and? What next?”

I try to explain there is no next, and in a way this lack of follow-up is their whole beauty to me, but all I get are blank looks. Personally I like being given the opportunity to work out what comes next for myself.

What happened after the Snow White rode off with Prince Charming? How did ‘Happily Ever After’ really work out for them? That’s what interests me. The gap left deliberately where the author steps away and says “OK, so we’ve come this far together. It’s time you went the rest of the way on your own”.

It’s something I think is closely related to my love of the random snapshot and why I adore browsing Flickr so much. Photos ask you to make your own stories around them and there’s often no one to tell you if you are wrong or right. A picture is something so very intensely personal yet impersonal at the same time – OK, all art is like this to a point, but photography and short stories are the two things that really float my boat.

I want my snapshots to be spring-boards for other people’s imaginations in the way other short stories and endings are for me. Is that being big headed, thinking I have the skill to do that?

Either way, I’ve written lots of ‘snapshots’ over the years. In my head they (mainly) form parts of a bigger narrative. There is a definite back story, plot, and characters for all of them – I’ve just chosen not to write it. Some of this is because I’ve lost interest: I’ve pinned the moment to the page, it’s fixed in my brain, and now it’s time to move on. Other times I’ve just not felt skilled enough and lacked the words. Either way, they are still complete mini-pieces.

And I do so hate to waste anything.

So I’m going to start a ‘Snapshots‘ section to Bright Meadow (you can see the page up there in the header, between the BrightCast page and the Links page). I shall, from time to time, post a snapshot for your reading delectation. I’m setting no boundaries on their length, so some will be traditional ‘short story’ length, others will be just a paragraph. Genre-wise they will stretch from the mundane to the sublime. All they will have in common is that I want you to share in my literary album and hopefully something will spark in your imagination. If you want to write a “and what happened next…”, please feel free, but I do ask you at least link back to the snapshot in question/tell me about it. I’m curious to see what happens.