Alone – #writephoto


When I was fifteen, I ran away from home.

I had no idea where I was going. I just snatched my dad’s rusted old sports bike from our ramshackle shed and pedalled as fast as my legs could manage. My ears were ringing from the argument. Blood pounding in my head and adrenaline coursing through my body. I cycled through town and out onto the coastal road, towards the darkening western sky. Before long, I reached the cliffs. I leaned the bike against a post and snagged my jeans climbing over the barbed wire fence. I approached the edge of the world, the drop into oblivion. Paused… then sat, hugging my knees into my chest, and burst into tears.

Crying was a sweet release, cathartic. I had been fighting it for so long. Ten straight minutes of sobbing later, the well behind my eyes began to dry up. I let down my hair, loose strands whipping and sticking to my tear-stained face. I willed my heart to calm as the cool evening breeze soothed my senses. The sunset sky was that delicious shade of peach sorbet, just like the one that my dad had bought for my mum on the Costa Blanca four years ago. I could never forget the beaming smile on my mum’s face that day, my dad’s boyish grin. Back when they were happy. But it hadn’t taken long for storm clouds to form on the horizon.

At first, it was just palpable tension; my dad’s moody silences, my mother sipping a glass or two of wine at dinner. Then it was snide comments, biting each other’s head off at the smallest thing. The harsh insults, the snappy retaliations. My grades began to drop, provoking more rows. The raging arguments, and then the all-out screaming matches. Dad avoided spending time in the house, time with us. Mum moved on from wine to whisky, losing so much weight that she became a shadow of her former self. It all built up to this night, the apocalyptic tempest.


Dad came in late from work, as had become custom of late. Slammed his briefcase down onto the laminate floor in the kitchen-diner, my mother jumping and smashing the glass she had been washing up.

“Now look what you’ve done,” she snapped.

A prolonged pause, and then:

“I’m cheating on you.”

My dad didn’t even look guilty; his words were as matter-of-fact as if he were commenting on the weather.

“You’re- You’re what?”

It was hard to determine the emotion in my mum’s voice, but it wavered as she spoke. Her hands were shaking. I took this as my cue to get out of the room, sensing a cataclysmic argument, fleeing to the hallway but leaving the door ajar. It didn’t take long for the filthy insults to start flying from my mother’s mouth. My unashamed father fumed back, blaming her, blaming their sex drought, her indifference towards him, that it had been a long time coming. I could see now through the gap in the doorway that they were circling each other, like matador and bull. Raging, shrieking, scarcely stopping short of violence. Dad brought up Mum’s budding alcoholism. Mum berated Dad for ignoring her, not appreciating her and everything done she did for the family on such a small budget. She accused him of giving up on his dreams.

“Dreams? Dreams? I had to give up on my dreams as soon as we had her.”

He jabbed a finger in the direction of the hall, where I was eavesdropping. Sharp as a knife in my heart.

“I never even wanted her in the first place. In fact, I wish she’d never been born!”

I couldn’t stay to hear anymore. I ran out the front door, smashing it back into the doorframe with such force that the entire end-of-terrace house quaked. I kept pedalling away, even as my mother desperately screamed my name behind me. Why would I stay where I wasn’t wanted?


And that left me here, teetering on the edge of the cliff, renewed tears prickling in the corners of my eyes. Feeling lonely, and feeling so alone. I wasn’t sure which was worse. My throat was dry. Perhaps I could live on my own now, I pondered. Grab the fifty pounds saved in my piggy bank, find a hostel to stay in where they wouldn’t ask too many questions. It was tempting. The thought of finally silencing the soundtrack of my parents’ shouting was appealing. I stared out over the indigo ocean, listening to the waves lapping and splashing against the rocks some two hundred feet below. A dark part of my brain found that option rather appealing too. If they never wanted me to be born, maybe I should spare them the hassle of my existence altogether.

But something stopped me: an image drifting into my mind’s eye. It was the stricken, tearful face of my mother, through the crack in the door. I realised that she was hurting. She was alone too. And as little as I meant to my dad, she needed me right now. We had to stick together. I shivered in the increasingly bitter breeze, suddenly aware that I was straining my eyes against the gloomy twilight skies. My bare, goose-pimpled shoulders yearned for one of my mum’s signature hot chocolates and her warm, reassuring hugs. I took a deep breath, let out a long sigh and turned back to retrieve the rusty bike.

Home was not the nicest place to be right now. But it was home nonetheless.

Emma H, age 26, 13/08/2017

Short story for Sue Vincent’s “Alone” #writephoto weekly photo prompt challenge. If you want to find out more or take part, you can click on the link below:

Such a beautifully composed photo from Sue; I love the colour contrast. I opted for a somewhat sad tale this week, but I enjoyed writing it – let me know what you think!


The Trees Have Eyes – #writephoto


Joss tears through the bramble and bracken, ignoring the prickling thorns and nettle stings plaguing her bare legs and feet. The stony walls of the gorge bear down on her, intimidating, threatening, her only escape route carved out between them. She could attempt to scale them, but her time is too short. Her chocolate hair is plastered to her forehead with sweat, legs screaming, throat burning. She pauses a second to gulp down air for her parched lungs, leaning on the cliff beside her, leaving a sanguine handprint on the rockface. But then she hears the faint clamour behind her, the collective rage of The Cult swelling to a distant roar. She forces her aching limbs and bloodied feet to keep running.

Before long, Joss becomes aware of another sound, the sound of running water. The valley widens, revealing a small, fast-flowing river on her left. She races against it, trying to outpace the current, pushing her body onwards. She tries not to dwell on the chaos left in her wake, the crimson stains on her skin. As the river grows, Joss sees a sharp drop before her; undaunted, she flings herself from the waterfall’s edge, crashing into the plunge pool below. For a moment she struggles against the fierce undercurrent before allowing it to sweep her downstream. Eventually, her head bursts through the water, spluttering, gasping, choking. She is dizzy, starved of oxygen, her surroundings a blur. But she lets the river carry her, dragging her ever further from her pursuers.

A couple of minutes later, the rushing waters begin to ease, allowing Joss to take stock of the scenery. All around her is dense woodland, lined by mossy banks. Dredging up some energy, she swims ashore, heaving herself onto the slimy rocks and collapsing onto her back, panting and staring wide-eyed at the periwinkle-blue sky. A group of startled jackdaws flit from the trees with a loud cry. Joss longs for their wings, their flight, their freedom. But she daren’t dally to dream; she clambers to her sore feet, and hurries into the labyrinthine forest, searching for an exit.

Everywhere she looks the view is the same; tall, towering, tightly-packed trees casting gloomy shadows over the undergrowth. Birds cawing, bushes rustling. Despite the weight of her waterlogged uniform, Joss never slows beyond a jog, heading in as straight a line as she can manage. What feels like hours later, the woods begin to thin and sunlight glitters through the canopy, painting dappled puddles on the ground. And then, to Joss’ overwhelming relief, the end of a pebbled track emerges before her. There is a sign here, crudely carved in a piece of bark ripped from the nearest tree. “STOP!!!” it reads. She has been here before. It is somehow familiar, a hazy memory dragged from the deepest pits of her intoxicated brain. If only she had heeded the warning back then. She wonders where its creator is now. Whether they are home, alive… whether they are dead. All she knows for sure is that this path will lead her to her real family, to safety, to a life she can barely remember. Towards freedom.

She doesn’t hear the quiet, mechanical whirring and clicking in the trees nearby. She doesn’t notice the camouflaged lens watching her every movement.

She doesn’t see them.

But they see her.

Emma H, age 26, 08/08/2017

Written for Sue Vincent’s Watchers #writephoto challenge! To read other entries you can click on the link here:

I struggled when I first saw the photo but I’m happy with my eventual story. I decided to try something different than fantasy for once – I hope you enjoy 🙂

On Vacation – #writephoto


Gilbert the gremlin was grumpy. The setting sun streaming through the tiny window lit his sullen face, exasperated eyes, frustrated frown. Quite frankly, Gilbert had had enough.

“The most important job in the world” the advertisement had boasted, “Invaluable to Effaeria and all of its peoples.” Set hours, no night shifts, great pay, in a beautiful and tranquil setting. He had been over-the-moon when his application was successful and he was granted the role. What Gilbert hadn’t accounted for was the miniscule workspace, the crippling boredom, and the abysmal loneliness. Three hundred years to the day he had dutifully and diligently worked in this tiny windmill, but where was his anniversary celebration? Where were his uncaring employers? Where oh where was the gratitude?

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Rest in Paradise – #writephoto



Melodious strains of lilting birdsong drifted into Serena’s conscious, enticing her back from what felt like the deepest of sleeps. A soft breeze grazed her skin, wisps of hair tickling her cheeks. The air was pleasantly warm, soothing. Her long eyelashes fluttered open cautiously, bright sunlight blasting her retinas until her vision adjusted to her surroundings. She was lying in a dappled glade, shadows shifting as the light breeze played with the verdant branches. A sturdy oak tree towered over her resting place, its anchoring roots bursting through the earth. And intertwined across the ground, lilac and snow-white wildflowers filled the glade with floral fancy.

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Into Darkness – #writephoto



Tabitha gazed out over the land. Darkness was descending, painting the valley in a palette of smudged grey-blues and faint iridescence. The navy silhouettes of ghostly trees breached an eerie fog that had rolled in with the twilight. Tabitha knew that this was no natural fog; its milky thickness and defined shape indicated the presence of magic, there to conceal all manner of Dark deeds. She felt her skin prickle and fingertips tingle anticipatively.

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The Unmarked Obelisk – Part 2 – #writephoto


Ronat smiled. Everything was just as she remembered.

The brisk coastal breeze whipped her bare skin, fanning out her shining raven tresses. It was sunset; a ribbon of golden light adorned the crisp horizon, glazing the crests of the breaking waves with molten gold. The stony cove carved itself into the rugged coastline, overlooked by a towering obelisk. Ronat took in a deep breath laced with the tastes of salt and seaweed, and her heart pounded wistfully. Her thirty-two years as a land-dweller were almost at an end.

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The Unmarked Obelisk – Part 1 – #writephoto


“Remind me again what we’re doing here, Fergie?” Liam panted.

The last shard of sunlight wavered on the horizon, painting the shadowed skies with a spectrum of obscure shades. The full moon had already captured the sun’s place in the heavens, challenging the west’s waning golden glow with a stark white brightness to the east. Bikes abandoned and wielding torches, the two teenage boys skidded down the scree-scattered slopes toward the coastline, Liam desperately trying to keep up with the determined step of his best friend.

“I told you,” Fergie replied, “Proving that mermaids exist.”

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