Archive for March, 2010


You always did like exploring. You know, your mother once told me you spent hours in the fields behind your old house. First as a child, pretending you were on a perilous quest for Inca treasure and then as an adult, taking the collie for long walks through the dark fields.

Do you remember that time I came with you down that old hiker’s trail? The conversation had slipped away with the last of the summer sun and we walked with only the sounds of the birds and the occasional rustle of the twilight leaves to entertain us. Four hours earlier and it would have been romantic. Even the dog, sauntering behind us, wanted to go home.

“Just a bit further,” you said, brushing the coarse hair away from your eyes.

You woke me up as you slipped into bed, bringing in the smell of the tall grass on your skin. I curled up into ball at the edge of the bed in protest, privately wincing as you brushed the raw sores on my feet with your leg. I pulled your hand away from my stomach in the night and we enjoyed, shall we say, an uncomfortable breakfast with your parents.

Admittedly, I occasionally enjoyed our trips outside of the M60 caravan, although not for the reasons I told you at the time. In truth, I liked to watch you. The sparkle returned to your blue eyes as you strode down those God-forsaken tracks.

You never looked comfortable in a Monday tie.

I wasn’t surprised when you told me about the ticket to Brazil because you were never a child of the city. I liked the clinical right-angles of the sanitised coffee shops that enclosed our home, while you pined for the uneven pavements of the forests and fields.

Sometimes, I think of you exploring the wild jungles, slashing at trailing foliage with a smile on your face. If you ever come back, maybe we can go exploring again.

Words: 330

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I count the seconds. It’s not a hard task, or indeed, a particularly enlightening one. It’s not glamorous or entertaining; it’s counting up to sixty and starting all over again; a monkey with a stopwatch could do it. Do I get job satisfaction? Not really. Still, the location is great and I don’t have to commute.

But, I’m getting old now. My joints aren’t as supple as they used to be and I let off an audible creak at quarter past six. Maybe they’ll replace me with a newer model soon. I hope so. I’m getting tired.

Besides, I’ve seen all I need to. You’ve got nothing left to show me.

Initially, watching you was an exercise in curiosity, although as the months turned into years, I took a more analytical view; tried to discover patterns, spot trends. Find out what, and do excuse the pun, makes you all tick.

I’ve witnessed couples reunite, break up and repeat the process with completely new people. I’ve seen miserable commuters run for their buses and groups drunkenly fall into taxis. And I’ve remembered every single moment.

To me, these instances – the student opening her exam results, the man buying an engagement ring – they’re just minute occurrences. Single moments which I’ve recorded in my long and illustrious career.

A long time ago, I came to the realisation that, to some of you, these instances must seem like momentous occasions; a turning point in your life. A moment which you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

Good for you. Good for all of you.

But they’re not. Sorry about that. The proposal, the divorce, the ‘Sir, we’ve got some bad news’ phone call. These are all just single instances in an infinitely bigger tapestry. Yes, these things may echo into the next second, or the next day, but they’re just moments. They should be viewed with no more – or less – importance than the previous one.

Every single one.

Word count: 330

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Yesterday I walked through Old Trafford and found that door again.

I remember the night we decided to get through that door. A 2am pilgrimage in January 1994, swigging cheap Rosso Di Puglia from the bottle as we walked down White City Way. We were going to do it. I had a screwdriver in my backpack. You, always impulsive, always reckless, carried a hammer.

I asked you what you thought we’d find once we got inside but you didn’t care. Even then, it wasn’t your way to think ahead. You didn’t like to think about consequences. Nothing mattered apart from right now.

You put all your force behind that first blow. The shock of the noise made you drop the hammer and that started me laughing, which started you laughing, and then we were both holding our sides and gasping for breath. I picked up the hammer and tried again but you pushed me at the last moment and I hit the brick instead. I pushed you back and we both fell over in a tangled heap.

We were going to sit there all night and watch the sunrise like real lovers do but it was January and I was freezing. I think I lasted an hour before I wanted to go home. You teased me for being a soft lass and when that didn’t work, you picked up the hammer and said you were going to get the job done.

You hit and hit like a madman with your eyes streaming from the cold and a jagged red wine stain across your lips and it wasn’t funny any more. I didn’t want people to hear the noise or see us like this, me saying no, you with that look you get when you’ve really lost it. I was ashamed.

I should have known then. I should have walked away on my own and never looked back, not even once. I should have run.

Word count: 323

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The grey headstone of J.T. Bradfield stood gleaming and new in the cemetery, with only a solitary bluebell for company. In his two weeks as a corpse J.T. Bradfield had received no visitors, no mourners. Nobody had even stopped to read the words on his headstone. Soon it would be as though his 92 years on earth had never even happened. Well, he was a grumpy old so-and-so after all. He certainly wouldn’t be missed.

Two weeks earlier, in a small village bungalow, Jim Bradfield made himself a cup of tea and settled into his favourite seat by the window.

Noticing that the rim of his cup was chipped, Jim slowly placed it down on his knee and attempted to turn it around. But his hands were frail and clumsy and the cup slid from his grip, sending hot tea gushing across the worn carpet. Jim accosted himself for his stupidity, and felt grateful that Elizabeth was no longer here to see what a frail old man her husband had withered into.

Shaking, he wiped up the mess with a tea towel and rinsed his cup. He didn’t have the energy to make another, so decided instead to go for a sit down on his garden bench. The bluebells were out. It was Elizabeth’s favourite time of year.

Through his half closed eyes Jim looked down at the patch of bluebells at his feet, and remembered Elizabeth lying there, smiling gently at him as she had done all those years ago. She reminded him of Ophelia, lying in her cotton dress on the dewy ground. Overcome by memories of her scent and a sudden, heavy sorrow, he slowly closed his eyes as a tear crept warily down his age-speckled cheek.

On a distant hillside, a single brown leaf let go of its branch. And, lifted by a friendly breeze, it glided softly to lay silently amongst the bluebells beneath. Nobody saw it happen. And life went on.

Word count: 325

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The bohemian flicks she put on her trailing letters. The extravagant curls on her vowels. He could recognise her writing anywhere. Even now.

He delicately traced a thumb across the words on the tag. A blanket of ink chased his touch over the pale cardboard. It was fresh.

He fought the urge to scan the room. He didn’t know who he was looking for. After all, eight years is a long time.

“Where do you want to be?” the sign above the exhibition demanded. He glanced down at the message in his hands.

“Paris, 2002,” she had answered.

*

It was raining. They danced through the concrete pavements, weaving in and out of the puddles on the grey stone. The warm lights of the hotel shone ahead through the storm.

They didn’t exchange a word in the room. She sat on the bed and dried her hair with a soft, white towel. He idly flicked through news channels and incomprehensible French soaps. They spent the majority of the holiday in that hotel room.

*

He hadn’t cast a thought in her direction for six years. He ran his eyes across the tag again, scouring the letters for clues. There was nothing there to betray the author. No address. No job title. No wedding ring.

No explanation.

His curiosity faded and the message fell from his hand. It idly swung from a piece of frayed string.

“Can I do one?” a small voice from his side said.

He nodded and passed a blank piece of card to the girl, smiling as her face scrunched up in concentration.

Eventually, he picked her up and together they tied the tag to the wall. She asked him if they were allowed to put it over the other messages. He glanced at the echo from the past – now half-hidden by his daughter’s crayon contribution – and reassured her.

“We better be going,” he suggested. “Your mother will be waiting for us.”

Word count: 327

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Welcome to 330 Words

Hello there.

There’s not much here right now, but we’ll but putting up the first stories very soon.

In the meantime, read about 330 Words on our about page.

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