A young couple are taken on a life-changing journey. A story based on real events. "Captain Parker took us aboard his ship in 1847. That winter, the Caribou did not arrive and the seals had come late. Many of our people had eaten their dogs and twenty had died of starvation. When Captain Parker gave up his store of whale fins and flippers there was much fighting, but our elders made sure all had their share. The captain and the ship’s doctor had learned Inuktitut and conversed with the elders of our tribe. When he spoke of taking some of us to show to his people, my father offered me and I was accepted by the captain as I was young and healthy. He promised my father that he would tell his people of the plight of our tribe. He said we would bring back many riches and the goodwill of great people. They would send men to build settlements and we would be helped by them, just as the Inuits of the East were helped by the Danes. The captain wanted to take a female too, and after inspecting some of our younger girls he chose Uckaluk. He said it would be proper for us to be married before the journey. The weather was becoming unfavourable for setting out to sea, he had to hasten the start of the voyage, so we began our life as man and wife without the blessings and customs of our people. Captain Parker performed his own marriage ceremony on board the ship. Home was far away only minutes after the Truelove set sail for the land called England. The sea was wide and long..."
A young woman tries to escape her stifling and superstitious community. "Emily hadn’t wanted to come to the memorial service, but Ma Kearney had insisted. It wasn’t easy to refuse, after all William had been her only son. ‘Six daughters before my lad was born but I never really knew what it was to be a mother until I held him in my arms.’ This had always been her introduction to any discussion about William Henry Kearney. There was certainly no great love lost between Ma and her daughters. Emily’s sisters-in-law were respectful enough toward their mother, and one or other of them could always be counted on to do their familial duty in times of need, but the relationships between mother and daughters were cold, they acted at best like polite acquaintances. William Henry senior had died soon after William was born and if Ma ever missed him, she kept it to herself. Courting Will had been a long process. Molly Kearney had a reputation for scaring off any prospective brides she found unsuitable, which was any girl her son had showed an interest in before he met Emily. Rumour had it that more than one poor girl had been chased out of the house by Ma brandishing a broom, and occasionally using it with some force, for simply talking too much, or smiling at or laughing along with him. Even girls who were friends of her daughters were not tolerated often within Ma’s walls. She maintained that there were enough people in the family that any other company was not needed..."
Mr H's Angels
London in the eighteenth century is no place to raise a child alone, without money or a place to live. Lili knows that the only hope her son has of living a better life is to take him to the Foundling Hospital where he might, if he's lucky, find a place in Mr Handel's famous choir. "Lili is small and the muscle in her arm stretches and aches from carrying the baby all the way across London. He is tied to her waist by a shawl, the fringes of the cambric blending into her dress so that, from a distance, no one can even see that he is there." ''Mr H's Angels' was shortlisted for the Cinnamon Short Story Prize in 2014
The Night Study
A Danish painter is driven into exile by his father. But he can never escape the chains of the family's dark secrets. "I watched the face of the man who could destroy me and, even then, I remember thinking what a fine composition this room would make. The mighty bookcases indistinct in the darkness, the fire in the grate, illuminating the faces of the two men drinking but clearly having no care or regard for each other. I had never been good enough for my father but I could always trust my younger sister to act as a bridge between him and me. It was to her that I could show my paintings, before my father destroyed them. When my father insisted that I go into the family business, that was when I knew I had to leave. But at regular intervals I would row over the lake to see her when my father was away. When she told me he was making her marry his old business partner I wanted to go and confront him but I did not really have the courage and was too easily persuaded by my sweet sister not to do anything. On the night of the wedding I stayed on the other side of the lake, looking at my old home lit up in festivity. As the music died I rowed over to where I knew my sister would be waiting. That night we said our last farewells, for the next day she would be leaving for Copenhagen. I knew the composition we made was beautiful. Angrily I threw myself into painting, feeding on my melancholy. I tried a palette of blacks and greys but could not cope with these. Instead I painted the summer fields of my childhood, all greens and yellows and a bright blue sky. I despised my weakness. Even more so when I was taken up by the London art market, my bright daubs becoming popular with the bourgeoisie because enough influential critics liked them..."
The War Hero the Film Star and the Footman and Another Story
"When Frederick came home from work one day there was a strange bike leaning against the porch. He cussed; the last thing he wanted was having to be polite to visitors after a hard day in the fields. "As his eyes became accustomed to the gloom of the kitchen he found himself being stared at by a middle aged man. He was wearing a better suit than normally seen in the village and the best china was out. ""They said you were a beanpole and they didn't lie." the main said approvingly."
By the River
Terrible things happen down by the river: it is a place of despair where humans do their worst to each other. Yet it is also a place where ghosts can be laid to rest. In By the River, originally published in Umber ( 2011 ), the voices of a bereaved 60 year old woman, a teenage boy who’s lost his way in life and a murdered Viking are woven into a dark story of revenge and tragedy. “From being all conquering giants, they were now instantly reduced to playthings for the deities; as the world seemed to expand, the river becoming broader and the sky higher, some men fell to their knees while others remained impassive awaiting their fate. They didn’t need to wait long. The sky fractured with a great fork of lightening, thunderclaps reverberated off the riverbanks in drum rolls and the water started to roil.”
No One Ever
“Many who waded through the water coloured it with their blood, wine-red – a new meaning for the wine-dark sea of legend…” The battle of Marathon, fought in a time of treachery, danger and intense fear and superstition, was a military disaster for the Persians. But it was not the end of danger for Greece, and the courier’s famous triumphant journey, commemorated in the Olympic race, carried a frightening secret: “His own shadow, long and thin in front of him, was like a rope pulling him towards Athens; as he neared his destination so it gradually shortened, so the sun rose, so the enemy fleet moved towards Phalerum.” What of the Athenian runner himself? Surely, there was no way he could have known how his feat would be celebrated: “Thousands upon thousands of people running. In all the known world, and even lands beyond.” He would surely not have known or cared how fast he was running. And he would not have been able to predict that two messengers, not one, would be named in the annals. Or would he?
David Churchill Barrow
Christmas goes terribly awry for a Hessian Colonel in America. "Colonel Count Karl Emil Ulrich von Donop was once again mesmerized by the visage and cleavage leaning towards him, pouring the wine into his crystal goblet. It all seemed as if it was a storybook fantasy – the crackling fire keeping out the damp December cold, the holly (for which the little village was named) decorating the mantle and table pieces, candles all aglow – and a young hostess who could fill Greek goddesses with envy. Christmas had not been this comfortable since he left his home in Hesse-Kassel years ago..."