Mother’s Day

Stan owed his mum big time. She’d always been there for him – when he had his heart broken by a girl for the first time, and for the tenth time. And all eight occasions in between. She never said “I told you so”, she just comforted him and made him cups of coffee and brought him cake. She had been there when he finally found ‘Miss Wright’ and he remembered her beaming with pride on his wedding day, and the big hug she’d given him at the end of the night. He knew she’d been a little tipsy, because his mum wasn’t the hugging sort, but it meant a hell of a lot anyway. He remembered the little sobs of joy when he’d called her to announce the birth of Lenny, even if she didn’t entirely agree with the choice of name.

Now, Stan was driving back to his home town to visit his mum on Mother’s Day. Things were a little different now, his dad was gone, and his mum had moved into a residential home because she was struggling to adapt to life on her own. He pulled on to the car park and found a parking space. He retrieved the flowers from the back seat and walked up the long path to the main entrance. He was about to ask a petite little woman in a white tunic where to find her, when he heard his name being called. He turned to see his brother, Bobby hustling through the door, a box of Milk Tray tucked under his arm.

“Stan, I’m glad I caught you first,” he said with a serious look on his face.

“Why?” Stan questioned him.

“Mum’s taken a turn for the worse since you were last here.”

“What do you mean?” Stan urged his brother.

“She’s not seeing things the same,” Bobby explained.

“Huh?”

“You’ll see, but I thought I’d pre-warn you,” Bobby patted him on the arm gently.

Together, they wandered down a corridor and Bobby came to a stop outside a door, with the number Thirteen on it, Stan looked at the number and wondered if this was an omen. His brother opened the door and ushered Stan in. He was not prepared for what he saw. His formerly strong-willed mother was sat in an armchair looking out of the window with a vacant look on her face.

“Hi mum,” Stan said, bending over to kiss her on the cheek.

“Get off,” she snapped, wiping her cheek with her hand, and then her hand on the arm of the chair.

“Hey mum,” Bobby greeted his mum.

“Oh, hello Robert,” his mum smiled. She leaned over to him and said not so quietly, “who’s that weirdo that slobbered over me?”

“That’s Stanley, your other son,” Bobby explained.

“What other son? I had a daughter, what happened to her?”

“No, mum,” Bobby smiled patiently, “you had two sons. Robert and Stanley.”

“Don’t lie to me!” she snapped. “I had a daughter. Her name was Jenny.”

“Wasn’t your sister called Jenny?” Stan offered.

“Shut up,” his mum yelled at him. “I know who was my sister, and who was my daughter.” She turned back to Bobby. “Tell this weirdo to get lost, will you?”

Bobby looked sadly at Stan. Stan felt like his heart had been taken out of his chest, kicked around by a load of hyper-active eight-year-olds and then stuffed back inside his body. He stood up and walked over to his mother. She leaned away from him, a look of disgust on her face.

“You may have forgotten me, mum,” Stan whispered tenderly, “but I’ll never forget you.”

With those words, he opened the door and stepped out into the corridor.

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A Very Short Valentines Day Story

It was love at first sight. For him. For her, not so much. It took months of perseverance, badgering and borderline stalking before Jeanie finally agreed to a date with him. He tried to make it a first date to remember, taking her to a nice restaurant for a romantic candle-lit dinner, with wine and good food. Then, afterwards, a romantic walk down by the river on the way back to her place. He tried to get a good-night kiss out of her, but she wouldn’t. He settled for a peck on the cheek and the hope of a second date.

He gave it a couple of days before calling her again. He tried, but the number was not obtainable. He went round to her home, but the place was empty. Almost as if she’d never been there. Confused and feeling lonely, he wandered down by the river. He looked at the fast flowing water, and felt it beckoning him in. Without another thought, he felt himself enveloped by a cold wetness. As he was carried away by the torrent, he thought he heard his name. Just before he sank below the surface, he thought he saw Jeanie standing on the river bank.

The Dark Side of Christmas

For all the happy Christmases out there, unfortunately, there will be some people who aren’t so lucky. This is a story for those people…

Charlie sat down with Lorna in front of the television. The kids were in bed, and it was grown-up time. The coffee table was littered with empty mince pie cases and the open box of Celebrations was almost empty. He put his arm around her and pulled her in close.

“Have you eaten all those mince pies tonight?”

“Not all of them, no,” Lorna laughed, snuggling up to him. Charlie smelled her coconut-infused shampoo and felt hungry.

“I should hope not,” he murmured.

“What does that mean?” Lorna wondered.

“Well,” Charlie shrugged, playfully poking her midriff. “Just because it’s Christmas, it doesn’t mean you have to eat for the sake of it. I’m just saying.”

“Okay, okay,” Lorna shifted slightly. “I’ll go easy.”

“Cool.”

Lorna sat up and looked at Charlie.

“Shall I pop upstairs and slip into something a little more comfortable, and even more revealing?” She smiled and winked at him. Charlie looked at her and felt something stirring.

“God, yeah,” he grinned. “I thought you’d never ask.”

Lorna chuckled and gave his groin a gentle grope. He watched her tiptoe sexily up the stairs.

“I’ll let you know when it’s safe to come,” she licked her lips and winked. Charlie nodded and stood up to clear the table of rubbish and crumbs. He took it into the kitchen and stuffed it into the bin. He went upstairs and hovered outside the bedroom window. From inside he heard Lorna shuffling around, so he coughed gently.

“A few more minutes,” came the call. Charlie nodded, and nipped into the bathroom for a wee. After washing his hands and cleaning his teeth, he checked on Dan and Kelly – who were both fast asleep – and as he approached the bedroom door, he heard Lorna’s voice bid him enter. He took a deep breath and pushed the door open. Lorna lay on the bed, resplendent in a red basque with suspenders and black sheer stockings. Charlie grinned with a sex-hungry leer. He joined her on the bed and soon they were touching and kissing each other.

Later, as they lay naked in bed, Charlie was watching the football highlights on television. Lorna was snuggled up to him, her head resting on his chest. She raised her head and turned to look at him.

“Is everything alright?”

“Sure, why?” Charlie replied distractedly, his focus still firmly on the football.

“I don’t know,” she hesitated, “I just got the sense you weren’t ‘feeling it’ tonight.”

“Why’s that?” Charlie muttered.

“There wasn’t the same passion as usual,” Lorna pointed out.

“I don’t know what you’re getting at,” Charlie rolled his eyes. But she was right. He hadn’t quite felt the same tonight. He was on the horns of a dilemma. Should he be honest?

“Well, there’s a bit more of you to love these days.” He went for honesty. Brutal honesty.

“Huh?” Lorna looked at him confused.

“Well, you know, there’s a bit more Lorna to get to grips with this year.” He smiled and grabbed hold of her waist. “And as much as that basque is sexy, your little tummy sticking out takes away a little bit of the appeal.”

Lorna looked at him, confused, but now a little hurt.

“I’m sorry, I guess,” she stuttered. “I’ll try and lose some weight.”

Charlie nodded and smiled at her. He patted her shoulder and returned his attention to the football.

Lorna turned away and picked up her mobile phone. She was typing away with her fingers and thumbs and Charlie was distracted by the tapping.

“Can’t you turn off the key sounds? The tap-tap-tapping really gets on my wick.” Charlie snapped. “Who are you texting at this time of night anyway?”

“It’s only Carla,” Lorna told him.

“God,” Charlie rolled his eyes. “She’s such a two-faced cow.”

“What makes you say that?” Lorna wondered, her phone resting absent-mindedly in her palm.

“Well, the other day she was round, and I get the impression she doesn’t like your parenting.”

“Why? Lorna sat up and looked at him. There was a definite change in her demeanour. “What did she say?”

“Well,” Charlie sucked air through his teeth, “when you were giving Kelly that bottle of Coke, she said it wasn’t the sort of drink to give a six-year-old.” He looked at Lorna and tried to ignore her naked chest and concentrate on her face.

“She said that?” Lorna looked crestfallen.

“Yeah,” Charlie nodded. “Not just that. I’m pretty sure she tried to come on to me.”

“Yeah, right,” Lorna scoffed.

“Seriously. She groped my bum more than once in the pub last night.”

Lorna flung the duvet back and got up. She went over to the television and switched it off. She stood there, completely naked, hands on her hips, with a stern look on her face.

“This is not a joke,” she told him firmly.

“I’m not joking,” Charlie said.

“Right,” Lorna walked opened a drawer and pulled out a nightie. She put it on and came back to the bed. She snatched up her mobile phone and went downstairs. Charlie put his arms behind his back and sat back with his eyes closed. Carla was such a bore, and he hoped this would be the end of her.

The next morning was Christmas Eve. Charlie woke to find Lorna already up. He went downstairs and found her in the kitchen making breakfast. There was a plate of pancakes and croissants on the counter-top. Charlie picked up a pancake and popped it into his mouth. He stood behind her and reached his arms round her waist. He mockingly pretended that he couldn’t reach all the way round, resting his chin on her shoulder. Her skin felt wet, so Charlie stood up and turned her round to face him. Her face was blotchy and puffy round the eyes.

“What’s up?” He asked soothingly.

“Carla.” That was all she said.

“What about her?”

“I’m done with her.”

“How come?”

“She basically told me that you were turning me against her, and it was you that tried it on with her the other night.”

“Wow, what a lying bitch,” Charlie sneered. Inside his heart skipped a beat, and his stomach lurched a little. He knew that it was him that had tried to push his hand up her skirt at the bar while Lorna and Carla’s husband Tom sat at the table. He also knew that it was him who had basically told Carla that he was bored with Lorna, and wanted some excitement in his life. But he knew that driving a wedge between the two friends would only work in his favour. Lorna reached into her dressing-gown pocket and took her phone out, holding it out to him.

“Do you want to see what other rubbish she accused you of?”

Charlie looked into her eyes and summoned up all the emotion he could. “No,” he said, his voice strained with the forced emotion. “I don’t need to. I can see what it’s done to you.” He took the phone off her and put it into his own pocket. Before they could continue the conversation, there was a stomping of feet on the stairs and he could hear Dan and Kelly rushing through the lounge into the kitchen. In the hubbub, he snuck into the bathroom and closed the door behind him. He closed the toilet seat and sat down. He took out Lorna’s phone and quietly read through her text messages. Apart from Carla, there were some from her dad – boring father/daughter stuff; a few from her various work colleagues – again, work-related and boring. He then poked around her Facebook and Instagram apps. Checking out who had liked her posts, and then looking up these people. Mostly her friends and family. He then happened to look at her Snapchat. He didn’t even know she used Snapchat. He couldn’t really see much, but he was about to give up when there was an Instagram notification. Someone had liked a picture she had posted of the breakfast plate. He snooped on to the fella’s own profile. By the looks of it, he had been following Lorna for a while. Longer than he’d known her, in fact. It looked harmless enough. This guy was married and had his own family, but something about him made Charlie feel uneasy. With a quick tap, he ‘blocked’ this guy, so he couldn’t follow Lorna any more. He put the phone back in his pocket and returned to the family.

Once breakfast was done, Lorna took the kids out to see her dad, while Charlie stayed at home to wrap some last minute presents. He was busy wrapping when he felt a buzz in his trouser pocket. He reached in and pulled out Lorna’s phone. It was a message from Carla. He opened it up and read the message. It told Lorna that Charlie was bad news and she was better off without him. Charlie calmly deleted the message, and then scrolled through Lorna’s address book for Tom’s number. He then took out his own phone and typed a message to Tom, telling him that Carla had propositioned him more than once. Feeling satisfied, he returned to his wrapping.

Charlie was finishing the washing up, when Lorna’s phone buzzed again. He dried his hands and saw another message from Carla. This one was angry and confrontational. And it was good news. It told Lorna that as long as she was with Charlie, they wouldn’t be friends. With a smile, Charlie deleted the message and put the phone on the side. He returned to the washing up and whistled a happy tune.

It was late when Lorna returned with the kids. Charlie snatched the door open and hustled them inside.

“Where have you been?”

“To my dad’s,” Lorna told him. “You know where I’ve been,”

“All this time?”

“Why? I didn’t know there was a time limit.” Lorna was exasperated.

“There isn’t,” Charlie shrugged. He handed Lorna’s phone to her. “You left this behind.”

She took it from him and smiled.

“By the way, who’s this William fella?”

“William?” Lorna stopped suddenly, one arm still in her coat.

“Yeah. William,” Charlie replied icily calm.

“Just someone on Instagram.”

“Oh, right,” Charlie bobbed his head as if he understood. “So, why is he worried about you?”

“I don’t know,” Lorna hesitated.

“Have you known him long?”

“A while, I suppose.” Lorna shrugged dismissively.

“Longer than you’ve known me?” Charlie asked her.

“Probably, why?”

“No reason,” Charlie lied.

“No, come on,” Lorna pressed. “What’s up?”

“Well, it feels like all the sacrifices I make are for nothing.”

Lorna looked at him with a look of absolute confusion. “What sacrifices?”

“I sold my flat to move in here with you. I changed jobs so I could spend more time with you and less time on the road.”

“I thought you did it for love,” Lorna told him, her coat now fully off and being hung up.

“Love,” Charlie scoffed. “If you think so.”

Lorna looked at him with surprise.

“If you think looking after your children is something I do for love, then you are mistaken.”

Lorna leant against the radiator. She quickly pulled her hand away after realising how hot it was.

“Why are you saying this?”

“Because I’m sick of this relationship being one-way. I’m sick of your lies.”

Lorna pushed past him and went into the kitchen. Charlie followed her and found her opening another box of mince pies.

“I thought you were going to leave the food alone?” He sneered.

“Shut up,” Lorna cried. Her eyes looked up at the ceiling.

“Don’t talk to me like that,” Charlie snapped. He followed her gaze. “The kids are busy, they can’t hear us. Now I want to know about William.”

“There’s nothing to know,” Lorna assured him. Charlie moved closer, and she took a step back.

“Are you sure?” Charlie pressed closer.

“Yes!”

“Well then, tell him to go away. He’s been sending you messages.”

Lorna took her phone and looked at it. Charlie stared at her expectantly. He watched as she quietly typed out a message and then put the phone away. He moved closer and put his arm around her.

“You know it makes sense.” Charlie soothed her. “Fancy a Christmas Eve drink?”

Lorna nodded and followed him into the lounge. She sat on the sofa and watched as Charlie poured out two glasses of wine. He handed one to Lorna and raised a glass to toast.

The kids were in bed, and the presents were under the tree. Charlie and Lorna were sat watching a sanitised for TV version of a stand up comedy show, and every now and then, Lorna would check her phone. After three or four instances, Charlie’s patience ran out.

“Who is that?”

“Nobody,” Lorna told him.

“Nobody seems quite persistant.” He reached over and snatched the phone from Lorna’s hand. He read the phone, while pushing Lorna’s arm away. It was William. “I thought you told him to leave you alone?”

“I did, honest,” Lorna assured him.

“Well he’s not getting the message, is he?”

“I can’t help that.”

“Turn your phone off.” Charlie held down the power switch and flung the phone away. Lorna winced as it landed on the hard floor with a crack. She stood up to retrieve it, but Charlie put his hand on her shoulder and pushed her back down. “Leave it.”

“But-”

“I said, leave it,” Charlie dug his fingers into her shoulder.

“Ow,” Lorna yelped, “you’re hurting me. Stop it, you’re scaring me!”

“I’m scaring you?” Charlie sounded incredulous. “I haven’t even started.”

Lorna pushed his arm away, and hurriedly stood up. She went over to get her phone.

“If you turn that phone on, we’re done,” Charlie threatened her. She fixed him with a stern look and switched her phone on.

“I guess we’re done then.”

“Are you fucking kidding me? On Christmas Eve?”

“I don’t care. Get out.” There was an unusual tone to her voice. It was probably determination. Charlie stood up slowly and walked over to her. He raised his hand as if to strike her and stopped. Lorna was holding her phone screen towards him. She had dialled ‘999’ and her finger was hovering over the ‘call’ button. Charlie laughed and punched the phone out of her hand. He felt a searing pain in his knuckles and pulled his hand back to see lines of blood. The phone had been sent spinning under the dining table. Lorna took a step back, the determination replaced with genuine fear.

“You’re not even worth it,” he sneered. “Look at you, who would want you?”

“Please, get out of my house,” she whispered.

“With pleasure. You call me when you come to your senses.” Charlie calmly picked up his jacket and car keys and opened the front door. “Happy Christmas, you pathetic cow.” He slammed the door shut behind him and drove off.

Charlie spent Christmas with his parents, waiting for Lorna to come to her senses. Three days later, he got the call he was expecting.

“I’m sorry,” Lorna told him. “Please come home.”

“If that’s what you really want,” Charlie agreed, smiling to himself smugly. He hopped in the car and drove back to Lorna’s house.

He arrived to see a strange car on the drive. He went up to the front door and was about to simply open the door when he stopped. He rang the doorbell and waited to be welcomed back with open arms. He saw a shape coming to the front door and prepared himself for a heroes welcome. The door opened and Lorna stood there before him. Her face was pale and blotchy, her hair needed washing. She stood aside to allow him to enter. He bent over to kiss her, but she took another step back. Charlie shrugged.

“No kids?”

“They’re at my dad’s.”

“Some quality time together? Good thinking.”

“Thanks,” Lorna muttered quietly. Charlie noticed her eyes fixed on something behind him. He went to turn but before he could even get ninety degrees, there was a sharp pain between his shoulder blades. He staggered, completing the semi-circle and was met with a strangely familiar male face staring at him with steely determination.

“Who the fuck are you?” Charlie groaned in agony.

“Hello, Charlie,” the face said. “I’m your worst nightmare. Goodbye, Charlie,” it finished, and there was a metallic glint before Charlie felt another sharp pain in his stomach, and then he blacked out.

Song Title Short Story #15

Merry Christmas Everybody – Slade

“Pass me the tinsel?” Neil waved his hand in the general direction of the box of tinsel. Gemma grabbed a handful and thrust it into his hand. He took it and draped it around the tree. He stood back and marvelled at his tree decorating skills.

“Aren’t you decorating the other side?” Gemma asked him. She walked past him and turned the tree around to reveal the bare back-side. Neil shrugged in a ‘what am I like?’ way and sat back as Gemma proceeded to re-distribute the existing decorations and then add a few more. Once finished she joined Neil on the sofa and drained the last dregs of her wine. She shifted uncomfortably.

“What am I sitting on?” She lifted one bum cheek and pulled out three Christmas stockings. Neil took them off her and picked up some drawing pins off the coffee table. He tried to push them into the wood of the mantelpiece. He stood back and watched as all three fell back down again. Gemma laughed and got up to do the job properly, before heading out to the kitchen to refill her wine glass.

“Do you think it’ll snow?” Neil called out.

“Neil, it’s twelve degrees out there. What do you think?”

“Probably not then,” Neil shrugged.

“Have you got the camp bed down from the loft?”

Neil clapped his palm against his forehead. He cursed under his breath and stomped upstairs. He was sliding the ladder down when he heard Gemma hissing at him.

“Are you trying to wake the baby?”

Neil smiled an apology and finished sliding the ladder down as quietly as possible until he heard the reassuring click. He gently climbed up into the loft and retrieved the camp bed. He looked down and saw Gemma waiting under the hatch in readiness to receive it. He lowered it down into Gemma’s arms and then followed himself. Gemma carried the bed down the stairs, while Neil tiptoed downstairs past her into the kitchen. He was stood in the kitchen deliberating which beer to have when Gemma stormed in with a look of pure anger.

“It’s for your bloody parents we’re doing this! Why you had to invite them to stay in our two bedroom house I’ll never know. I love them, but we’re not exactly blessed with space since Carmela was born.”

“I don’t know, it was a spur of the moment thing. Dad doesn’t like travelling in the bad weather-”

“The weather isn’t bad. It’s going to be a nice day.” Gemma interrupted him.

“Well, you say that, but the weather forecast did say a cold snap was coming.”

Gemma rolled her eyes at him. Neil chose his beer and took off the cap and took the first swig straight from the bottle to prevent the beer from spilling out.

Later on, Neil put on his Santa hat and put all the Christmas presents under the tree before getting a kiss from Gemma under the mistletoe. They then went upstairs so that Gemma could put on her sexy Christmas nightie, and Neil could take it off again.

The next morning, Carmela made an attempt to enjoy having numerous wrapped presents in front of her face, while being photographed and videoed. Gemma was busy in the kitchen trying to get the turkey into the oven when the doorbell rang. Neil opened the door to his parents and, completely unexpected, his grandma. He welcomed them inside and took his dad aside.

“You didn’t say Grandma was coming.” He whispered.

“We didn’t know either. We had a call from the home saying she wanted to come to us for Christmas. What could I do?”

Neil gave his dad a panicked look and glanced nervously at the kitchen. His mum and grandma had already gone into the lounge and were fussing over Carmela. Neil took a deep breath and stepped into the kitchen. Gemma was obscured by steam which Neil wasn’t certain wasn’t emanating from her rather than the pans on the hob.

“Is there enough for one more?”

Gemma stalked towards him with a potato peeler in her hand, and a murderous look on her face.

“Who?”

“Grandma.”

“Fucks sake, Neil!”

“I know, I know.

“Fine, I can stretch it out to one more plate.”

“You’re an angel,” Neil kissed her and ducked out of the kitchen door. He returned to the lounge where his mum was playing with Carmela while dad was sitting on the sofa with Grandma.

“What’s this song called?” Grandma asked Neil.

“I think it’s Michael Buble,” Neil replied. He wasn’t sure. It was the Christmas album he’d bought for Gemma last year.

“Hmmm, he’s no Sinatra, is he?” Grandma sneered. Neil laughed.

“No Grandma.”

The song finished, and then Slade came on.

“Ooh, I like this one,” Grandma grinned. She tried to get up, but the sofa was so low, she couldn’t do it on her own. She settled for tapping her stick on the floor in time.

Gemma came through from the kitchen with a bottle of prosecco and five glasses.

“Drink anyone?”

“Lovely, thank you,” Neil’s mum smiled as Gemma poured her a glass.

“Just a small one for me,” Neil’s dad smiled. “I’ve got to take mum back to the home later.”

“Fill mine to the top,” Grandma chuckled. “It’s Christmas after all!”

Song Title Short Story #14

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday – Wizzard

Bobby should have been looking forward to Christmas. His parents had been at loggerheads for weeks, to the extent that his dad had spent the last couple of nights away. Bobby didn’t understand, and his mum said nothing when he asked her. She would stand in the hallway with her arms crossed and watch her husband peel Bobby off his legs every night before giving him a goodnight kiss on the forehead and a ruffle of his hair, then going out into the darkness and driving off in his company car.

Now, Bobby was kneeling on his bed, looking out of his bedroom window into the night. The sky was dark, and the cloud looked heavy. He had seen the man on television earlier saying there was a chance of snow, and although his mum had groaned, Bobby knew this meant he could wake up in the morning to a real, non-imaginary white Christmas. He heard his mum shouting his name from downstairs.

“Bobby, have you got your pyjamas on yet? It’s half past eight!” Bobby was too busy looking up at the sky to reply. The next thing he knew, his mum was stood in the open doorway of his bedroom.

“Bobby!” She yelled at him. “When I ask you a question, I expect an acknowledgement of some sort.”

“Sorry, mum,” Bobby murmured, dragging his attention away from the outside and slowly undressing. “Do you think it will snow?”

“It might do,” she replied, moving over to the bed and helping Bobby out of his t-shirt. She craned her neck to look at the sky through the window. “Now hurry up and get your pyjamas on. If you want to put the food out for Santa and his reindeer, I suggest you pull your finger out.” Her face softened and she flattened his unruly hair.

Finally in his pyjamas, Bobby went downstairs to help his mum put some chocolate chip cookies and a carrot on a plate and a glass of milk on a tray. They left the tray on the coffee table and Bobby begged his mum to put the ‘Santa Stop Here’ sign in the front lawn. With a deep sigh, she flung a coat on and went outside. Bobby watched through the living room window as she plonked it into the firm soil. She looked over and Bobby gave her the thumbs up. Relieved, she came back inside and closed the door behind her.

Bobby was finally cajoled into bed, and his mum read him the now traditional ‘The Night Before Christmas’ book. She didn’t quite put the same effort in as his dad always had, but he gave her the benefit of the doubt for at least giving it a try. She gave him a good night kiss, warned him that Santa wouldn’t come if he was awake, and then turned the light off. Bobby lifted the corner of the curtain and had one last look at the sky. He thought he saw some snow flakes in the white glow of the street lamp.

Bobby woke up the next morning, and looked outside to see the ground covered with a generous layer of snow. He squealed with delight, and then remembered what day it was. He leapt out of bed and ran into his mum and dad’s room. He jumped onto the bed where his dad would have been, and shook his mum awake.

“It’s Christmas!!!!!” he yelled at the top of his voice. “Can I go downstairs mum, can I, can I?” He bounced up and down beside her. She nodded and was about to open her mouth to speak, but Bobby was already halfway down the stairs. By the time she joined her son, Bobby was sat in the midst of a pile of torn wrapping paper with a pile of toys stacked neatly at his side.

With the snow and the pile of presents, Bobby wondered if the day could get any better. And then, it did. He heard the sound of a car pulling onto the drive, crunching the snow. Then, a door slammed shut. A figure walked past the front window and then the doorbell rang. Bobby rushed to the door and fumbled the key into the front door. He managed to get it open and there stood his dad, covered in snow and a large wrapped present under his arm.

“Dad!!! Santa’s been and brought me loads of cool presents. Come and look.” His dad grinned and stepped inside. He held the present out for Bobby to take and then his face froze. His gaze was locked on something behind Bobby.

“Merry Christmas,” he said.

“Merry Christmas,” came his mum’s voice from behind him.

“Look, before you start-”

“I’m not starting anything,” his mum cut him off. “Want some coffee?”

“Sure,” his dad nodded.

“You go and sit with Bobby, I’ll bring it through.” Bobby watched his dad crack a smile and then he took his hand and dragged him into the living room to show him what Santa had brought.

Bobby didn’t really notice much of what was going on around him that day. He was busy playing with his toys, and gazing out at the snow through the window. He didn’t really like playing in the snow, it was cold and wet, and not his scene. But the one thing he could sense was the atmosphere. It wasn’t strained or unnatural, it was like it used to be.

However, when it came to bed time, Bobby knew what was coming. His dad would leave and he would be sad again. Bobby kept looking at the clock on the mantelpiece, expecting his dad to finally stand up to leave. And yet he didn’t. He sat in the armchair, his smiling face lit by the glow from the fire. Bobby looked across at his mum on the sofa. She had a glass of something red in her hand, and a box of yucky chocolates was open beside her. She was smiling too. Bobby felt his mouth open and a loud, uncontrollable yawn emitted from within. His parents laughed at him, and his dad stood up and scooped him up in his arms. Bobby allowed himself to be carried up to bed, and stood in his bedroom while his dad skilfully undressed him and helped him into his new Star Wars pyjamas with Kylo Ren on. He felt himself sliding into bed, and then his mum came into give him a good night kiss.

“Ooh, look,” his dad pointed at something outside. “A shooting star. Quick, Bobby, make a wish.”

Bobby looked outside and followed his dad’s finger. He saw the fleeting glow in the sky and made his wish. Then, as tiredness took over, he settled into his pillows and pulled the duvet up to his chin. He heard the light click and he was plunged into darkness. He sensed his parents leave the room, and turned over.

Bobby woke up the next morning, and looked outside to see the ground covered with a generous layer of snow. He squealed with delight, and then remembered what day it was. He leapt out of bed and ran into his mum and dad’s room. He jumped onto the bed where his dad would have been, and shook his mum awake.

“It’s Christmas!!!!!” he yelled at the top of his voice. “Can I go downstairs mum, can I, can I?” He bounced up and down beside her. She nodded and was about to open her mouth to speak, but Bobby was already halfway down the stairs. By the time she joined her son, Bobby was sat in the midst of a pile of torn wrapping paper with a pile of toys stacked neatly at his side.

With the snow and the pile of presents, Bobby wondered if the day could get any better. And then, it did. He heard the sound of a car pulling onto the drive, crunching the snow. Then, a door slammed shut. A figure walked past the front window and then the doorbell rang. Bobby rushed to the door and fumbled the key into the front door. He managed to get it open and there stood his dad, covered in snow and a large wrapped present under his arm. In his other hand was the bag he had seen his dad take with him that first night he left.

Bobby stood there and wondered why he felt like he had been here before, but not exactly the same.

It was almost as if it was Christmas, every day.

Dave’s Christmas Carol – part 2

If you have been waiting anxiously for the conclusion of this festive Dave story, wait no longer…

Dave went to bed, thinking the only three spirits he would be interested in were Gin, Whiskey and Vodka, and being woken up at One o’clock in the morning was not his idea of Christmas preparation. Nonetheless, he went to bed after double checking the cupboard under the stairs was locked. He pushed the sofa back against it, to be safe.

Sure enough, as the church bell chimed once for the hour, Dave’s bedroom was flooded with light. He sat up with a start and found himself confronted with a hovering apparition of a young girl. He looked around to see if Yvette Fielding was going to jump out with her Ghost Hunting crew, or maybe Bill Murray would shoot it with a proton beam. Slightly disappointed when neither happened, Dave asked the ghost girl what she wanted with him. She was here to show him Christmases past, apparently. She held out her hand and hesitantly, Dave reached out to touch it. Before he knew what was going on, the room around him swirled and disappeared. He was soon in a strange place. He asked the ghost where he was. She looked at him a bit weird, before telling him this was his past. Dave shook his head and told her he’d never seen this place before. The ghost looked at him again. She asked him if he was Ebenezer Scrooge, of 15 Pinewood Road. Dave shook his head. He informed her that he was Dave, of 15 Pinewood Crescent. The ghost girl reached into her floating form and pulled out a ghostly looking notepad. She cursed and apologised profusely for disturbing him. She held her hand out again and Dave took hold of it, and then all of a sudden he was back in his bedroom. She apologised again, before vanishing in a flash of white light. Dave shook his head in disbelief and went back to sleep.

Just as Dave was drifting into a deep sleep, the church bell chimed twice. He opened one eye, then the other. He heard a jolly laughing coming from his walk-in wardrobe. Now Dave knew that Santa Claus didn’t exist, so he thought he was either hallucinating vividly, or someone was playing a killer prank on him. He sat up and crept over to the wardrobe door. He opened it slowly, and was gobsmacked to see his wardrobe inhabited by a tall guy in a robe and a crown on his head. This one introduced himself as the Ghost of Christmas Present. The ghost held his hand out and Dave hesitated, because he hadn’t held a man’s hand since he held his dad’s hand as a child. After much cajoling by the ghost, he took the hand offered and then they were out in a snow covered street. Again Dave wasn’t really sure where he was going with this, but he went along with it. He got to see the jolly chap from Mr Scrooge’s office with his family and friends, then off they went to Bob Cratchit’s house. Dave saw his family, in particular his young son, Tiny Tim, who was struggling with an ailment. The Ghost of Christmas present watched Dave’s detached, expressionless face, and then took him to one side. He queried Dave as to why the plight of his most trusted and loyal employee was having no effect on him. This is when Dave had to admit he wasn’t Ebenezer Scrooge, and didn’t really have a vested interest in Bob Cratchit’s welfare, or that of his family. The Ghost of Christmas Present rolled his eyes and disappeared cursing Dave for wasting his time. Dave was left stood in the street outside the house of a stranger.

Dave reached into his pocket and pulled out his… mobile phone, because this is a story about salvation, not public indecency, and tried opening up the Google Maps app. Thanks to the rubbish H+ signal, it was taking ages, and so he didn’t see the huge swirling fog approach. Before he knew it, he was enveloped and couldn’t see more than a few yards in front of him. With a gulp, he put the phone away and turned around, only to come face to face with a tall, hooded, figure. Dave asked him if he was the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, and the figure nodded. Dave then asked if he was expecting Ebenezer Scrooge, to which the figure nodded again. Dave calmly informed the figure that he was not Mr Scrooge. The figure shrugged it’s shoulders and lifted it’s hands to the hood. Dave held his breath as the hood was pushed backwards. He opened his mouth to scream, but nothing came out. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come was none other than Simon Cowell. He took a cigarette from the pocket of his cloak, and put it in his mouth, lighting it with a gold lighter. Dave wondered if he shouldn’t be seeking out Ebenezer Scrooge, but Simon Cowell shook his head and told Dave that it was Three o’clock in the sodding morning, and he was buggered if he was traipsing across town. Besides, he said, he was paid for the hour, so it made no difference to him. Dave felt a bit sorry for this Mr Scrooge, but before he could take it up with the Simon Cowell ghost, he was back in his own room again. Being completely knackered, he fell asleep almost immediately.

It was Christmas Day when Dave awoke, and he felt really bad for this Mr Scrooge. If he was as doomed as all these spirits had alluded, then God help the poor old bastard. Feeling a little bit affected by the evening’s proceedings himself, Dave rang Donna and wished her a Merry Christmas, and also spoke to Annabel. Then, he got dressed and went out into the world to find Ebenezer Scrooge and see if he had experienced the epiphany he was meant to. He found his way to 15 Pinewood Road and knocked on the door. A window opened above his head, and snow dusted his head and shoulders. Dave looked up to see Mr Scrooge glaring at him from on high. Dave smiled nervously, thinking to himself that this was not the look of a man who should be full of joy for having been saved from a miserable life after death. Then, without warning, Mr Scrooge smiled and laughed. He told Dave that he would indeed be accepting his quote, and also wanted additional Directors and Officers cover. More than that, he would be happy to recommend Dave to his customers. With a smile on his face, Dave was about to leave for home when Mr Scrooge invited him to dinner at Bob Cratchit’s house. Dave nodded his thanks and together, they sang and danced through the town to the home of Mr Scrooge’s loyal employee. They knocked on the door, and waited patiently. Minutes passed. Mr Scrooge knocked again. More minutes passed. Then a cough behind them made the two men turn around. A kindly old lady was stood at the end of the drive. She kindly informed them that the Cratchits had won the lottery and gone to DisneyWorld for Christmas.

Seeing Ebenezer Scrooge’s crestfallen look, Dave invited him back to his house for dinner instead.

The two men got royally shit-faced on brandy and wine, and then fell asleep before the Queen’s Speech came on.

Dave’s Christmas Carol – Part 1

As it’s Christmas, I felt it was time to dust off Dave and add a twist of Dickens. Here, then, is the first part of Dave’s Christmas Carol. 

Dave was all alone in the world. It was his own fault, he just couldn’t stand people. And if people were all being honest, they couldn’t stand him either.

He had grown old alone. It all started when he got his job as an Insurance Broker. It was a huge leap from just being an employee – now he was an Employer, with people under him. Now he had to spend more time either at the office, or going to see customers for new quotes and to renew policies, and all the while, building relationships so that he could get new quotes in the future. He was meeting all sorts of people and this had the knock on effect of reducing the time he could spend with Donna and Annabel. He started missing parent’s evenings, school plays, then forgetting anniversaries and birthdays. He even missed Donna’s fathers’ funeral because he was at the local Insurance Institute dinner trying to extend his circle of contacts.

Finally, after one missed birthday too many, Donna had enough and left with Annabel to stay with her mother. Weeks turned into months, and before long, they had been gone for five years and Dave had completely lost them. On the plus side, his Insurance Brokerage was becoming the biggest and best in the area, winning awards for all sorts of things. Those awards slowly replaced the pictures of his family on his mantelpiece (of course he took them home, they were his awards, after all).

Now, a wrinkled old codger, Dave sat in his office looking over quotes for an Accountants firm called Scrooge & Marley – a funny name for a company he thought to himself – who he was quoting for. He knew he’d have to be good because Mr Scrooge was a well-known tightwad, and so Dave would have to be cheap if he was going to win the business. It was Christmas Eve, and Dave finished putting the quotes together and put them into a folder. He put his coat, scarf and gloves on as he’d also heard that Mr Scrooge was stingy with the heating in his office. It was a crisp, clear day, so Dave decided to walk across town to enjoy the weather, and not because he had foolishly forgot to put petrol in his car.

He arrived at Scrooge’s office and knocked on the door. Then he realised that there was no point knocking, and so he pushed the door open and went inside. The office was so cold, Dave felt his nipples harden beneath three layers of clothing, and his breath formed clouds in the air. He rubbed his gloved hands together to keep warm. He looked around for Mr Scrooge, and his eyes fell on a man sat shivering at a desk with his teeth chattering. Dave saw a name plate on the desk in front of him that read ‘Bob Cratchit’. Another very odd name, Dave thought to himself. Unperturbed, Dave enquired after Mr Scrooge. With a great effort, Bob Cratchit raised his arm to point to a door behind him. He slowly stood up and shuffled over to open the door.

Dave followed him and found himself in a darkened room, with the only light coming from one of those rubbish lights that look like candles, but run on batteries. Dave kept his coat, scarf and gloves on and took a seat in front of Mr Scrooge’s desk. Just in front of him, Dave saw a jar of humbugs. Mr Scrooge offered him one, and Dave accepted gratefully, whilst marvelling at the man’s impressive mutton chop sideburns. Bob Cratchit left the room and closed the door behind him. Dave attempted some light-hearted repartee to open his pitch, but on seeing Mr Scrooge’s stony expression, dispensed with the small talk and got down to the nitty gritty of the appointment. He presented the quote, outlining all the relevant warranties and endorsements, before revealing the premium. Mr Scrooge looked at him blankly. Dave began to feel a little hesitant, wondering if he had forgotten anything. Finally, Mr Scrooge thanked him for his time, but he would not be making a decision today, as he was waiting for another quote to come in. Dave nodded understandingly, and left his business card on the desk before leaving. On the way out, he smiled at Bob, who was in conversation with someone who seemed quite jolly and friendly. Dave went out into the cold, and somehow felt warmer. He unwrapped his scarf, and walked back to the office to close up. He’d given his three employees the afternoon off, as well as Christmas Day and Boxing Day because he had to. He locked the office and cursing himself for having to leave the car behind, began to walk across town to his house.

Arriving home, he fumbled in his coat pocket for his house keys, and was just about to put the key in the lock, when the door knocker seemed to transform into the face of a haunted old man. The air was filled with a blood-curdling moan, and Dave stepped backwards, falling over a stone plant pot. He looked around, but there was nobody around. He looked at his front door, but all he could see was the ordinary door knocker. Shaking his head, he went inside and closed the door behind him.

He made himself some tea – a bowl of carrot and coriander soup and a crusty roll – and sat in front of the television watching an old Morecambe and Wise Christmas special. He was just mopping up the last of the soup with his roll when the television suddenly shut off, and the real fire effect gas fire went cold. Dave looked around in confusion. He’d remembered to pay the bills, he was sure. Then, the door to the cupboard under the stairs began to slowly open. Dave cowered in the chair, because he knew what lurked in cupboards under stairs – eleven year old boy wizards, or Indians. Thankfully, it was a ghostly old man with the face he had seen on his door knocker. Dave rubbed his eyes in disbelief. The ghost man introduced himself as Robert Marley, his partner. Dave was a bit confused, as he had never had a business partner, but he kept schtum because he had always been brought up to respect people older than him, and this ghost was definitely older than him. Anyway, this Robert Marley began to tell him how he needed to change his ways, or he would be doomed to a miserable death. As he spoke, chains appeared and wrapped themselves around the poor old ghostly Mr Marley. Dave was completely at a loss, but let him waffle on about how he was supposedly forging his own chains with his curmudgeonly ways, and Dave was going to be visited by three spirits who would show him the error of his ways and put him on the straight and narrow. Finally, the old ghost seemed to have run out of things to say, so he took his chains and wandered back into the cupboard. When he was certain the old ghost was gone, Dave rushed over and turned the key to lock the cupboard door. Then, as if by magic, the television came back on, and the fire sprung back to life. Dave screamed loudly when he realised Morecambe and Wise had finished, and now there was a ‘Best of X Factor’ compilation show on.

To be concluded…