Thursday 30 August 2012

Fringe Month - Neil Williamson

Between Shows

A red feather, jammed in a spotlight hinge high in the darkness. A crimson curl, shivering when the cleaner vacuums below. A ghost of brighter times.
    How did it get there? Maybe a gift left by a secret visitor, some rara avis out of Wonderland? No, it flew itself to these heights, buoyed by laughter and applause, buoyed again by impossible magic, by the rising heat of allure, up and up until, like a scarlet moth, it alighted.
    It shivers again, but does not fall, yet. One August day, soon, you will return. Find a red feather on an empty stage. And begin the carnival once again.

*     *     *

Neil Williamson's award nominated short stories are collected in The Ephemera (Elastic Press, 2006 / Infinity Plus Books, 2011). Neil also forms part of a strange cabaret duet called Markee de Saw & Bert Finkle. They can be found at the Edinburgh Fringe, if you look hard enough.

Monday 27 August 2012

Fringe Month - Brian Hill

Urban Spacemen

A door flung open. Wet spray rattled across the linoleum, echoing the sloping rain in the night outside. A chill moment hung in the too-warm air and its bitter beer-swill fug. Maxwell Dargie heaved into a barstool that had seen better days. The door slammed on its wire springs behind him.
Gie’s a pint, Cherlie! I’ve got a thirst like a badger’s airse!
Dargie’s pint of the usual materialised on the bar-top.
Tastes better in a straight gless, appreciated Dargie, lifting the pint skyward, eyeing it with more affection than he had mustered for his manic charge along Princes Street.
On whose pavements, Dargie had swept headlong past crowds, while the rain fell in puddles around his feet. He was oblivious to the passing passers-by, the shop-front windows. Princes Street rain, sharp and reflective, made its inhabitant faces sharp in turn, to the point of enmity.
Dargie ignored the crowds in the manner of a down-and-out. He pushed through them with drunken uncertainty, weaving a little, threatening to touch an arm or a shoulder. He made the danger of intrusion his mask. A path opened up before him. No-one wanted his grainy, skinny face breathing God-knows what stale guff in theirs. No-one wanted to be confronted with whatever anger drove him to stotter down the rain-soaked street to prop up some boozy dive with his mean and probably nefariously supplemented dole.
In the warm pub, Dargie relaxed through several pints. Conversations sparked to life, animated, a little too loud, and died away as if they had never been. Pub talk. And Dargie, as the night wore off and the drink wore on, washed himself up beside a scruff-suited individual. Both slumped on the bar, holding their half-optimistic glasses before them in a kind of alcoholic bewilderment.
His new companion was muttering to Dargie and the pint glass, ‘I’m no fae aroon here. Had a job interview… Nae chance, pal.’ He laughed.
Dargie eyed him, ‘Naebody’s fae roon here. Me, I’m no even fae this planet!’
‘Fit planet are you aff, then?’
‘I’m fae Axelmaxeltactaractarus.’
They collapsed in laughter till each held the other upright.
‘Time for another pint, and a wee nippie chaser,’ said the scruff-suited man, ‘Twa pints o eichty and twa nips. ‘At’s for me an for the man in the moon here!’
Later, in the cool of the night, with a light rain falling. Dargie and his boozing buddy wore away at the streets in a vague attempt to reach civilisation. They danced on through the drizzle arm in arm, a symbiosis of drunks, eclipsing binaries holding each other in stable orbit from which, alone, they might spin away into darkness.

*     *     *

Brian Hill is a writer, designer and filmmaker based on the edge of the Scottish Highlands. He has written poetry for as long as he can remember as well as short stories, planetarium shows and one play.
He was a contributor to ‘A Glimmer of Cold Brine’, a North-east Anthology, published in 1988 by AUP. In the 90s, the play Pinkybrae (co-written with Jim Rankin) was performed in the North-east and the Highlands by the Invisible Bouncers Theatre Company. He was also the Planetarium Poet and performed poems and storytelling in Aberdeen Planetarium. He was, with artist Gill Russell and cosmologist Francisco Diego, part of the CosmicSky team which produced all-sky shows for Glasgow Planetarium and he wrote and recorded poems and stories for CosmicSky’s Cosmic Dome which toured venues in the UK in 2003.
In 2008, a short film ‘Uamh an Oir / Cave of Gold ‘was shortlisted in the FilmG Gaelic short competition. This was based on one of his poems written after the death of musician Martyn Bennett and featuring music recorded by Martyn.
Brian’s collaboration with artist Gill Russell continues and he has contributed writing and voice pieces for several installations. Most recently, he wrote and recorded a poem, for her installation Long Wave at the Clan Donald Centre in Skye. He wrote poems for each of two installations in Cairngorms National Park in Gill Russell’s ‘Where Long Shadows Fall’ project. Recorded extracts of material also formed part of her Reach installation shown in An Talla Solais in Ullapool in 2012.
Several other poems and short fiction have appeared in the ‘Wee Fictions’ blog and two new works are shortly to be featured in the online edition of ‘Love Is The Law’ magazine. Brian also publishes occasional works in his blog (misleadingly) called ‘One Piece A Week, Writing for Different Reasons.’

Friday 24 August 2012

Fringe Month - Steven Porter

All Creatures Great and Small

where it all began for Darwin.

a queue wraps itself
around the Old Town streets
like a boa constrictor.

People are talking
like zoologists,
about tapirs,
sloths, howler monkeys
and feral cat exhibits.

The crowd creeps
into the Assembly Rooms,
cymbals crash with
a note or two of
Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide.

Camille hops around
like a top-heavy kangaroo,
slips into Dorothy’s shoes.

Whalebone straitjacket,
leopard-skin knickers  −
all over in a flash.

Beams creak under
the weight of architecture
and morality.

We are evolving.

the Kirk would
not have approved.

*     *     *

Steven Porter was born in Inverness in 1969 and lives in Spain. He has published 5 books with his output including fiction, short stories, memoir, travelogues, reportage and sports writing. His second collection of poetry – 16 Poem(a)s – is a bilingual English/Galician edition, published on Merseyside by Knives, Forks and Spoons Press. The author’s blog can be found at

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Fringe Month - Cally Phillips

...An' running awa'.

By the time ah wis twelve ah kent fine well ah wisnae gonnae grow up tae be a man. It still bothered me cus a’ ah wanted wis tae be a fitba’er. It wis ma passion. Bit the boys widnae play wi’ me nae mair. Mainly cus I scored tae many goals against thum. Fer a year or so they let me play goalie, bit ah wis guid at that tae an’ they jist got fed up wi’ playin’ wi me and so ah hud nowan tae play wi’ an there’s only so much keepie uppie ye can play when everywan aroon ye is playin games.
But that wisnae the worst hing aboot bein’ twelve. Na, at twelve ma ma hud anither o’ her great ideas an’ decided that ah wis gonnae join the Girl Guides.
‘You liked the Brownies, so much,’ she said, ‘I remember how upset you were when we moved and you couldn’t go back.’
Ah wis scunnered. How far from the truth wis that eh? Ah wis upset, aye bit no cus ah loved the Brownies! Ye’s ken why. She’s niver kenned. She jist thocht that it wid be ‘good for you to mix with girls a bit more.’
An’ ah wished ah’d niver complained aboot the local boys no wantin’ tae play fitba’ wi’ me.
‘You can’t play with boys all your life,’ she says.
‘Why no?’ I asked.
She didnae respond. Ye didnae answer back tae ma ma if ye kenned whit wis guid for ye and sae ah ended up at the Girl Guides the next Friday nicht.
If ah’d hated the Brownies, bye it wis nuhing compared tae hoo mich ah hated the Guides. The uniform wis horrible. I wore a skirt tae scuil, ye hud tae in theym days, bit ye niver saw me in a skirt any other time, an’ noo here ah wis, expected tae wear wan ivery Friday nicht. It wis appalling. An worse, upstairs the Boys Brigade met on a Friday (but we werenae allowed to ‘mix’ wi’ them) an they hud a boss uniform. An’ fae the soon’ o’ baby elephants camin’ doon through the flair above, they wis huvin’ a mich better time as we were.
An the Girl Guides badges were just crap compared tae even the Boy Scouts. Ye hud tae dae sewing (an ah’ve niver been able tae thread a needle) an housemaking and daein tea parties an’ a’ that kinnae hing. Nuhing proper. Just rubbish kinna stuff that wid mak ye a great housewife which wis wan hing ah wis sure ah wisnae gonnae be. Cus ah’d worked oot that if ah cudnae be a fitba’er (whit wi bein’ a girl) ah’d be a sailor. Even if ah niver got tae gang tae sea. Ah kinna thocht that if ah wis a guid enough sailor ah’d get tae gang tae sea nae matter whit. It wisnae realistic, bit it wis some kinna a hope. An’ ah clung tae it.
Meantime, we hud tae get through Friday nichts. Cus hoo’ever mich ah whined aboot it, ah wisnae gonnae get oot o’ the Girl Guides that easy.
But hings tend tae turn up if ye look oot fer them. An’ ah made a freen’ at the Girl Guides. Anither girl wha hated the whale hing. Her name wis Wendy. Well, when ah met her I thocht her name wis Windy, cus she cam frae Belfast an’ hud a hell o’ an accent on her. A Falls Road Proddy accent she proudly telt me. An’ Windy didnae want tae be at the Girl Guides. Windy didnae want tae even be in Embra or even Scotland, an she wis only ower here cus o the ‘Troubles’ as they ca’ed it then. So there we wis. A pair of wee disgruntled refusenicks. In skirts Bit Windy wis a bit mair clued up than ah wis then, an she cam up with the beginnin’s o’ a great plan. For we went tae the Guides and hame frae the Guides under oor ain steam, as it wis only across the park, an’ she said no wan wid ken if we niver went. So we stopped gae’in. Which wis a great plan tae start wi’. But did kinna leave us hingin aroon the streets on a Friday nicht. An’ sometimes we cud gang tae Windy’s hoose cus her ma wis oot (her da’ wis still in Belfast) but sometimes we couldnae and that’s hoo, wan day we found oorsel’s standin aroon near the Guide hall which wis quite close tae the bran’ new car wash at the back o’ the local petrol station. An’ we watched the cars gaein’ through the car wash and wan time we saw this wumman an she couldnae reach tae pit the money intae the box, cus her car wis tae far away, an she got oot o’ her car and before she got back in the hing started and she got a soakin’. An’ we laughed at that. Bit we cam up wi’ an idea as well. Ca’ it a money makin’ scheme. If it wis the eighties it wid probably be seen as entrepreneurial, bit it wis the seventies an it wis jist a variation on chappin’ doors an’ cheatin’ Brown Owl oot o a tube o Smarties.
And here’s what we did. We stood aroon the pay in box and we says tae fowk, as if we wis jist passin,
‘Dae ye want us tae pit the money in fer ye? Cus it’s real quick an’ ye micht get a soakin.’
An’ an incredible number of fowk fell fer this. They couldnae see anyhing wrang wi’ whit we wis sayin, an’ mebbe’s some o’ theym hud hud a soakin’ like that wumman. We felt like quite a success. An’ it wis better than ‘homemaking’ badges. An’ then we decided tae adapt oor plan, tae oor advantage.Ah cannae mind whae’s idea it wis an’ ah dinnae want tae blame Windy cus it micht jist as well hae been mines, or at the very least ah hink we wis baith tae blame as mich as the ither .Egged each ither oan so tae speak. Well, blame aside, here’s the plan:
We did the usual schpeel tae the punter (we wis getting the vocabulary o’ the scammer ye see) an’ then we suggested tae thum that instead o’ gaein’ fer a simple wash, they shud pay that bit extra an’ get a wash an’ wax. An then, here’s the hing – we wid pocket the difference and leg it afore they discovered they’d been diddled. If they ever did. Cus we did used tae hang aroon an see whit happened and maist o’ the time they didnae even seem tae be payin attention an when the brushes stopped they jist drove aff nane the wiser.
It wisnae aeways plain sailing, bit we managed tae stay wan step ahead o’ the game, sae clever were we noo at telling lies. One man asked us why we wis hangin’ roon the petrol station an’ we telt him oor dad ran it. That seemed tae work. An’ we worked it intae our ‘routine’ cus we hud developed quite a wee ‘story’ tae tell the punters by noo. Which wis probably oor undoin. We started oot jist ‘happenin’ tae be there an no wan payin’ that mich attention tae us, but then we got tae big fer oor boots an’ oor story got sae big and sae unwieldy that people started payin’ attention tae us. An’ when they did, they started payin’ attention tae the fact that they micht no be getting’ as guid a deal as they’d thocht. An’ it a’ cam crashing doon roon wur heids wan nicht. We wis sprung by the petrol station mannie.. Someone complained. An he cam roon and caught us, red handed. Well, we wis aboot awa’ on oor heels but he cud see we wis in Girl Guide uniforms an he kent where tae look fer us. He thocht. An when he went tae the Guides an described us, they pit twae and twae the gither an got in touch wi oor ma’s and oor ma’s gied us the biggest row. No just the ‘I’m disappointed in you’ wan, which is bad enough, na the whale ‘disgusted that you can be so duplicitous and don’t you know how dangerous and what were you thinking of and…’
And tae mak matters worse they made us gang back tae the Girl Guides. Or tried. The Girl Guides wis worse than ‘disappointed’ wi’ us an a’, an decided they couldnae huv their name dragged in the mud, an we wis banned frae them ever again. Result. Except ah wis niver allowed out on a Friday evenin’ till ah wis fifteen. That’s hoo angry ma ma wis. Windy, ah dinnae ken. She went back tae Belfast as far as ah ken. Ah certainly wisnae allowed tae play oot wi’ her an ah niver seen her efter that in the play park when ah wis allowed oot again durin the day. An there wis little point gaein oot aeyways, cus nae boys wid play fitba’ wi’ me. Sae ah hud nuhing left tae dae but sit in the hoose an read books. Cus we wisnae allowed tae watch TV mair than an hour a day, an’ homework only lasts so long even if yer spinnin’ it oot, and even wi a nine o clock curfew, ye cun get a fair amount o readin done in an evenin, especially when wan o’ the few places yer mam trusts ye tae gang is the library. A place o’ safety. Where ye cannae git intae trouble, richt? Wrang. But that’s anither story.

*     *     *

Cally Phillips writes in Scots but more usually in English. She has 20 years experience in dramatic writing with many stage and screen credits. Her first novel The Threads of Time was published in 2003 and reissued as an ebook in 2012.  Her second novel Another World is Possible (2007) which started off as an online serial blog novel, is now the backbone of a trilogy (in four parts) which will be published in 2013.  Her third novel Brand Loyalty was published in 2010 and is now also available as an ebook.  Her other ebook publications include A Week With No Labels is crossover drama/fiction, charting the journey of a fictional drama group; a collection of short ‘flexible plays’ on a Fairtrade theme ‘5 Fairplay dramas’, the stageplay Chasing Waves (2004) and two short story collections wrttien in Scots ‘Voices in ma Heid’ and ‘It Wisnae Me’ both available as ebooks.

‘…and running awa’’ is a short story in the It Wisnae Me collection and forms the second part of the series  'Chappin' Doors...', which was showcased at the Edinburgh ebook festival Short Stories section on August 20th

You can find out about all Cally’s work on her website or through her Amazon author page

Festival website:
Festival Facebook page

Monday 20 August 2012

Edinburgh e-book Festival (4)

Here's a short story from the Director of the Edinburgh e-book FestivalCally Phillips. Wee Fictions will be carrying the companion piece, '...An' running awa'', tomorrow, in full - it's great to get a bit of collaboration going on.

Friday 17 August 2012

Edinburgh e-book Festival (3)

It's all happening over on the Edinburgh e-book Festival site. Here's a selection of the latest short stories:

Windowboxes by Pat Black

The Race by Brendan Gisby

Statistically Improbable by Bill Kirton

The Stabbin o' Rizzio by Cally Phillips

Civil Rights by Catherine Czercawska

There are many more stories to come over the next couple of weeks - Wee Fictions will be sharing the links. Why don't you get over to the Edinburgh e-book Festival and see what's going on - there's a helluva lot!!

Thursday 16 August 2012

Fringe Month - Hugh Macmillan

The four of them met at the Diggers as it was the closest pub to the churchyard. The plan was to have a pint then walk to Ali’s grave, then across town to where Drew was buried, conveniently close to the Artisan Bar.  They had a bottle of Yamikaze 12 year Old Japanese Malt to sprinkle on the ground at each site.
“There’s floaters in it, though”
“They’ll no mind” said Stevie, “they’re deid after all.”
They walked down the hill. It was a bright spring afternoon.
“Remember Kenny Morgan? He died young.”
“He drank, didn’t he?”
“Aye Paraquat” said Stevie, limping into the graveyard. Stevie suffered from some ailment which kept him intermittently short of breath. 14 pints of Guinness a day didn’t help.
Time wore on.  The sun was blazing and the distance between the graveyards seemed considerably more than a mile and a half. They had to stop quite a few times to let Stevie, by this time very red in the face, catch up.
They couldn’t find Drew in the second cemetery.
 “Christ You cannae even track him down now. He still owes me a tenner you know.”
It was a vast necropolis, apparently packed with men called Andrew who’d died before their time. The party split up, reformed, this time with no sign of Stevie.
Finally they gave up and drank what was left of the Yamikaze. It did have floaters. As the shadows lengthened, they set off to the Artisan, then after a few pints, back towards town.
“Where do you think Stevie got to?”
They were passing Greyfriars.
“That’s where his grannie’s buried isn’t it?”
They all nodded, noting its convenient proximity to Sandy Bell’s.

*     *     *

Hugh Macmillan lives in Penpont, Dumfries and Galloway. 'Thin Slice of Moon' new and selected Poems just published.

Monday 13 August 2012

Edinburgh e-book Festival 2012 (2)

Get yourselves across to the Edinburgh e-book Festival and read this. It's a cracker of a story.

The Scottish Book Of The Dead by Gavin Broom

Great to see people writing in Scots dialect. There's nothing 'daring' or 'revolutionary' about it. It's just the way it is.

Sunday 12 August 2012

Fringe Month - Angus Shoor Caan

Intae Care.

Tinker, Sailor, Sodjer, Thief
Ye’d fun thum a’ doon the dokes it Leith
Bit ye widnae take yer weans doon there
The polis wid pit thum intae care
an’ sen’ thum sumwhere remote, lik’ Crieff.

*     *     *

Angus Shoor Caan. Sixty years of age. Born and raised on the beautiful west coast of Scotland, left school at fifteen and had a brief fling with the east coast before setting off on my travels worldwide via various ships of the Merchant Navy fleet. Saw a bit of the world with that, my only real regret being I didn't ever think to take a camera with me. Started writing six years ago when I returned to the homeland and now, having just completed Zachary Bleu, a Western, have ten novels to my name with three of them published. Also, a good number of short stories as featured in McStorytellers, two themed poetry collections and over one hundred miscellaneous odes. The published novels are Scoosh, The Reader and Violet Hiccup. Previously I had another two published as eBooks, Dhu Lally and the Bampots and Larry Kynn (A case study in misadventure) but the site folded before it could get going properly.
Happy to preview and discuss any or all of my scribblings with anyone interested.

Saturday 11 August 2012

Edinburgh e-book Festival 2012

The inaugural Edinburgh e-book Festival started today. I'll be posting links to their fiction features as they appear. First off, here's something from me - it's one of the pieces from my collection, The Next Stop Is Croy and other stories.

The Watchmaker's Wife by Andrew McCallum Crawford 

Make sure to take a look around the Festival site - there's a lot going on over the next few weeks!

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Fringe Month - Garry Stanton


Damp earth, patchy
late year grass.
Cold dust below.
Somewhere, from brittle branches,
black eyes
stare down.

The crypts
of the rich line
the walls. But I can, still,
deep inside, hear the cries
of the poor, outside the
kirkyard gates,
where they have always been.

Metal covers graves,
to deter
the resurrection men.
All around,
blossom rots in the bosom of
moist brown

The aura of autumn
is all around,
in its
cool warm aromas, and
olfactory echoes of
burnt things.
It is in the breeze.
It is in the lichened walls,
and it sits on the faces of lunch-break
workers, like the abstract future.

You can detect the plague,
even now,
lingering in Greyfriars.
You can taste
the pain
of Covenanters, their gate
padlocked now, and forever.

Nettles nestle
in green,
resting against
the Flodden wall,
long breached, as
creeps in, 
wearing a long dark

wearing a long, dark overcoat.

*     *     *

A native of Edinburgh, Garry has always been a creative soul, from co-writing Fringe shows to supplying songs for the official Hibernian FC cd back in '98. He has released an album online, has had poetry published and has in the last two years written two novels which remain as yet unpublished. A mature graduate from the University of St Andrews, he now lives in Fife and has two sons.

Saturday 4 August 2012

Fringe Month - Brendan Gisby

Edinburgh from an alternative past – March 1981

Up on the battlements of Edinburgh Castle, Colonel Nikolai Krakov watched, without regret, the last Russian vehicle roar down the esplanade on its way out of the city.  It was late afternoon, the warm mid-March sun shone in a clear sky, and he was the only remaining member of Russian personnel in the Castle.  Like the captain of a sinking ship, he was staying to the bitter end.

Krakov felt tired.  He rested his old, weary body against the parapet and gazed out over the sunlit panorama of the city.  For the second time in less than a year, a war was raging out there.  The thunder of rocket fire and mortar fire and the whining, staccato bursts of machine-gun fire filled the air.  Directly across from him, on the blue, sparkling waters of the River Forth, the big guns of large grey American and Canadian warships pounded the fast receding Communist shore defences.  Down to his right, the Leith contingency of the Resistance Army, under the cover of a heavy mortar screen, was progressing slowly into the centre of the city.  And away to his left, black clouds of smoke billowing high into the sky indicated the fast approach of invasion forces on that front.  The enemy was closing in.

Krakov closed his eyes and ran his fingers through his crop of grey, spiky hair.  From an inside pocket of his jacket, he brought out a sealed white envelope, which he proceeded to stare at for some seconds.  The envelope contained a ten-page letter addressed to his wife, Olga.  She’ll never receive it, Krakov thought despairingly, and I’ll never see her again.  Never.  He had cold-bloodedly murdered one of his countrymen, and a fellow-officer at that.  That the murdered man was scum, vermin, deserving of such a death, was of no consequence.  There was no way now that he could return to Russia.  He had burned his last bridge.  Very slowly, Krakov tore the envelope in two, then in four, then in eight.  He watched dolefully as the tiny scraps of paper floated downwards to land on the sharp granite rocks many feet below him.

Krakov closed his eyes again.  So what was left?  The Americans?  An old prisoner-of-war facing death in a Nuremberg-style trial for an unknown number of atrocities?  No, he couldn’t face that.  Back in his office, along with a signed statement confessing his complicity, he had left, for open inspection, every document that had ever been written in the Interrogation Centre.  The records of Edinburgh Castle, he hoped, would show, like Buchenwald, Belsen and Dachau in a previous reign of terror, how low and vile a creature man was.  If he could be sure of that, then he had salvaged something at least out of all the horror; he had made some small act of restitution for the terrible things his countrymen had done.  And the remaining detainees were safe: they could bear witness; he had made sure of that.

Krakov smiled wryly.  He leaned over the parapet and gazed down at the sharp rocks.  He always knew it would come to this.  He could never return home.  He couldn’t stay.  The rocks below looked so inviting.  It was the only way, the only escape.  At least there was some honour in this, his final act.  Like a heavy stone, his body plummeted down – to oblivion and peace of mind at last.

                                                                *     *     *

Brendan Gisby was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, halfway through the 20th century, and was brought up just along the road in South Queensferry (the Ferry) in the shadow of the world-famous Forth Bridge.  He and his long-suffering wife and muse, Alison, presently live in splendid isolation in the wilds of the Trossachs in Scotland.

Retiring from a business career in 2007, Brendan has devoted himself to writing.  To date, he has published three novels, three biographies and several short story collections.  You can find out more about his writing on his website, Blazes Boylan’s Book Bazaar (

Brendan is also the founder of McStorytellers (, a website which showcases the work of Scottish-connected short story writers.

Friday 3 August 2012

Edinburgh e-book Festival 2012

Whether you're in Edinburgh or not, visit the Edinburgh e-book Festival site to find out what's happening in Independent e-publishing. The site is having a rolling launch over the next few days, with the main launch on 11th August. So happy to be part of this.

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Fringe Month - Karen Jones

Dinner in Edinburgh

Euphemia McTaggart laid the oak table for dinner. She would have nothing common in her house and nothing from Ikea. Ikea was where Glaswegians went for cheap furniture and cheap fish and chips.  Her end-terraced villa - in what she termed one of Edinburgh’s leafy, genteel streets - warranted nothing but the best. 
She took a deep breath, anticipating a shiver of pleasure at the scent of the polish she applied to her antique furniture twice a day. She coughed and spluttered. Findlay had opened the windows again.  She hated open windows. The stench of curry, chop suey, haggis suppers with salt ‘n’ sauce and the demon alcohol oozed into her clean air.  She reached up and shut out the city.
Euphemia placed silver cutlery on floral patterned mats and called to her husband.
“Findlay! Dinner will be served in one moment.  Please come to the table.”
Findlay appeared on cue.  Euphemia smiled.  He’d insisted she get rid of the tasteful brass dinner gong and, after a few terse words, she’d acquiesced.  The first time he hadn’t heard her call, she’d put his cold tongue and green salad in the bin.  He’d been punctual ever since.
Findlay sniffed, wrinkled his nose and puckered his top lip. “What are we having?” He placed a napkin as flat on his lap as the starch would allow.
“Liver and onions, pickled cabbage and tinned new potatoes.”  She watched him grimace.  “Something wrong?”
“No. It’s just that I fancied some fresh vegetables for a change and maybe a nice wee piece of steak.”
“Steak?  Are you mad?  Have you seen the price of steak?  We’ll have no extravagances in this house.”
They ate their food in silence, the way Euphemia liked it. After dinner, she allowed television for one hour so they could watch the news.  Later, she crocheted new antimacassars for the leather Chesterfield while Findlay assembled extensions to his model railway village.
At nine o’clock Euphemia rose, yawned and announced her intention to retire for the night – it had been an arduous day.
Findlay sidled up to her, slipped his arm around her waist and whispered into her ear.
Euphemia shrugged off his hand, placed her hands on her hips and glared at him.  “What date is it today, Findlay?”
Findlay blushed and looked at his feet. “July 28th, Euphemia.”
“And did we, or did we not, have bedroom activity on July 4th?”
“We did, Euphemia.”
“Then you’ll have had your sex for July.”  She turned on her very flat heels and marched out of the room.
Left alone, Findlay became aware of the carriage clock’s relentless tick on the marble mantelpiece.  He got up and opened all the windows. If he breathed deeply enough he was sure he could smell life. People - probably in Glasgow - were having fun, spending money, dancing, maybe even having sex more than once a month. He trudged back to his plastic, glue and paint. 
Ach, well, it would be August soon.

                                                          *     *     *

Karen Jones is from Glasgow. Her work has appeared in several print anthologies, in magazines including The New Writer and Writers’ Forum, and in various ezines, most recently in The Waterhouse Review and Up the Staircase.  She was short-listed for the 2007 Asham Award and took third prize in the 2010 Mslexia short story competition. One of her stories received an honourable mention in The Spilling Ink Short Story Prize 2011 and another took second prize in the Flash 500 competition 2012. Three poems (she’s not sure how that happened) have appeared on Every Day Poets.