Everyone loves a quick read

Fast, fun, clean, cozy, and even good sometimes, enjoy these quick reads by any of a number of authors who shall remain anonymous. Well, not entirely secret. They might lay claim to participation on their own websites. Just look for the label.

Welcome back Penny Dreadful!


It's Odd

It's odd.

I know I shouldn't; but I do get it.
Just vaguely.
This feeling.
Not every time, but sometimes.
OK, mostly it's when it's thick and creamy.
Looks more like it, see.
More like it used to look.

So I get this odd feeling.

OK, I know, I've been told they don't need it any more.
Glad to be rid of it in fact.
In the summer.
But that doesn't change anything.
I still get it.
This feeling.

It's like it's theft.
As if I've stolen it.
Which I have I suppose.
Stolen it.
Nobody asked.
Not even nicely.
Nobody said "Please"
Just "I'll have that".

And now I've got it.
Makes me complicit, see.
In a crime.

Possessing stolen goods.
To wit one coat, woollen, natural colour.

And I feel guilty as I knit.
But it does no good.
I'm not about to give it back to the sheep.
No matter how guilty I feel about it.

Actually I don't feel that guilty.
It's just a little qualm.
A thought.
About sheep and wool and how they need their fleece and how they feel warm and cosy one minute and all of a sudden it's gone and no-one asked them for permission or anything and they shiver even though it's summer and they look all odd and uncomfortable and naked and silly without their coat and sheep aren't silly now are they?

But sometimes they do lose bits.
Of fleece.
All by themselves.
Without help.

You know, just tufts.

You see a bit of wool snagged on a bramble or a
Piece of barbed wire.

A little white flash in the field.
On the ground
They don't feel it.
Don't notice.

We don't do that.
Do we?
Leave little bits of ourselves all over the place?
Without noticing?

Don't answer that.


Another mini-saga

On the failure of the Domestic Science syllabus within the National Curriculum

On honeymoon they ate in fashionable bistros, classy restaurants.

Back home, never liking breakfast, they ate at work; take aways in the evenings.

When unemployment struck they found neither could cook, everything they made was inedible.

They grew thinner, apart.

Their marriage was annulled on the grounds of non consumption.


In the Early Part of Autumn


Lindy came to with a start, staring around the room with a wild kind of hope that died almost immediately. He was still gone, and she was still alone. For the past three weeks she’d pushed the knowledge to the corners of her mind, trying to convince herself that he would come back. He’d come to his senses and come back to her.

A song filtered through from the clock radio, the Fogelberg tune about Linda and her lost lover. Tears threatened and Lindy twisted the knob, hard. Thanks a lot, Dan, came the grim thought. I bought all your albums and this is how you repay me.

She went through the motions of breakfast; coffee, toast, eggs. The coffee brought a grimace to Lindy’s face. He had always been the one to make the coffee; her attempts wrought a bitter brew. When he gets back, maybe. She pushed the thought aside. He wasn’t coming back, and he wasn’t going to teach her anything about making coffee. The realization hit her like a series of slaps.

He. Isn’t. Coming. Back.

The tears that had threatened all morning made good on their promise. Dishes skittered across the tabletop as Lindy dropped her head on her folded arms and gave vent to the grief that had been her constant companion for three weeks. It was several minutes before she sat up, drained and red-eyed. A voice sounded in her head, calm and cold, yet oddly reasonable. Do you really want him back?

“Nooo…” A quavering, wistful sound. “No.” Firmer this time. “No, I don’t want him back. He can have his space, and his time to think, and his little Miss Blondie to help him find himself.” She took a savage bite of toast and washed it down with a gulp of the awful coffee.


Lindy sat in her favorite fireside chair, squinting alternately at the knitting in her hands and the pattern on the coffee table. Satisfied that nothing was out of place, she let her thoughts stray while her fingers did their work. No more wool socks for him, I’ll bet. Little Miss Blondie doesn’t know disco from Crisco; she couldn’t knit if her life depended on it. Lindy laughed ruefully, still aware of the hurt and somehow minding it less. At least her coffee-making skills were improving.


The wind carried the scent of green, and Lindy carried a mop and bucket from room to room. Spring cleaning. Sitting back on her heels, Lindy wiped a pine-smelling hand across her forehead. After this floor, she’d tackle the closets.

Sorting through a box in the guest room, she found a memento that paused her heart. She knew that yarn, that deep gray tweed. Lindy pulled the pieces of an unfinished sweater from the box and arranged them on the floor. The sweater curse, she thought. I didn’t even finish the thing before he left. She ran a hand over the stitches. It’s good wool. Just because he was a jerk doesn’t mean I can’t put it to good use.

The pieces were set aside.


In the way of busy and healing people everywhere, Lindy left the sweater pieces to languish until August. Over two evenings, she picked out the bound-off rows and slowly wound the yarn into hanks. Another evening to soak and hang; a day to dry. By the end of the week, the reclaimed yarn was ready to be wound into flat little cakes.

Pretty, she thought, but what does it want to be? Lindy considered some possibilities, then sighed and put the yarn away. Maybe another day.


Late September, and Lindy was enjoying her second cup of coffee. The morning mail had included a letter from her mother, and Lindy smiled as she skimmed the pages of mom-news. One paragraph made her set the mug aside. “You’ll never guess who I ran into in the grocery store! Dale Martin, your old school friend! He asked ever so many questions about you, and asked me to give you his number.”

Lindy pushed the letter aside and let her mind wander back over the past year. The pain had dimmed to a faint ache. Her coffee was better than what she could get at the local diner, and she’d managed to sell a few of her hand knit sweaters. She’d even been putting out feelers in the job market, looking for a fresh start.

A fresh start. Lindy thought about the gray tweed yarn in the closet. Yes, she thought. Maybe a fresh start would be just the thing. With a gleam in her eye, Lindy stood up.

She reached for the phone.

By Penny Dreadful


Mini Sagas

The Mini Saga is a short story form, a very short story form. The rules are that it must be exactly 50 words long and must, like a true story, have beginning, middle and end. The title may be 15 words long.

They are a good exercise in making all those recalcitrant words pull their weight.

Here is an example:

The Self-Build

Evicted at a tender age, he fulfilled his ambition to build his own house.

"I'll not use this modern wood framed rubbish" he retorted when his brothers visited mocking his perfectionism, his bricklaying, his tiled roof instead of thatch.

They were sorry when the wolf came huffing and puffing by.


The Bare - Finis


She grasped my arm, and propelled me almost dragging me along, down the road, through an alley and out into the busy market square in a mad reverse parody of some sadistic fantasy where the slave is dragged naked through busy streets by a clothed owner. People turned to stare, shaking their heads in disbelief not at the absurdity of the scene, but at my foolishness.

At the end of the square stood a bench and a stone horse trough left in the memory of some long dead citizen "...for the comfort of man and beast" in the sanctimonious words of the Victorian inscription. I'd often seen an old lady sitting there, feeding the pigeons with surreptitious glee in contravention of the pettifogging modern by-laws.

The Bare sat down and dragged me, too dazed to resist across her knee, placing a heavy hand on my back, immobilising me. I heard a tearing sound, felt a chill finger of rain-washed air caress my legs and knew that dispensing with formality, she had ripped my trousers away such was her determination to punish my brazen stupidity.

Any temporary relief I felt that I was wearing underwear which kept me decently covered was shattered as these too were ripped aside, baring my backside to the dampened air and the view of the whole town.
Shoppers gathered to watch the spectacle, laughing at my discomfort, enjoying the sight of my goose-pimpled bottom, secure in the knowledge of their own superiority, that they would never suffer my fate, that what I was receiving was my fair due.

What followed was the most embarrassing experience of my life. I'd like to say that I bore up well, taking the stinging spanking she delivered with bravery and in silence, but I would be lying. Within a few minutes her hand had reached straight through my defences and had ripped first cries, then pleas, finally tears from me.

The Bare spanked with the joyous certainty that it was the only thing which mattered in the whole world, and let me tell you for me, it was. My whole being was centred around the fire in my behind, lit and stoked by her powerful hand. I had nowhere else to go, only to exist within the pain she was pleased to inflict.

Without warning, though to be fair, I was too occupied to have noticed had any been given she stopped, lifted me in her arms as easily as if I had been a baby, and deposited me with a splash in the horse trough. I fancied I could hear hissing as my red-hot backside boiled the water, sending clouds of steam swirling around me, though in truth it was probably just the misty rain.


It was the first word she had spoken.

"Let that be a lesson to you."

I must have looked nonplussed, and who wouldn't; spanked bare bottomed in public and dumped unceremoniously in the horse trough?

She must have seen this for she felt the need to explain, as if to an imbecile.

"Surely you know that if you stand on a crack in the pavement a bare will come and beat you?"

Suddenly, and to this day I don't know where from, I found it in me to laugh, and through my growing hysteria at the situation managed to ask,

"You're dyslexic aren't you?"

By Penny Dreadful


The Bare - Part 1

Cultural note:

With diligence we teach our children the dangers present when walking the streets, though in each country these are somewhat different. In Britain for instance... but no, I shall let you see for yourselves...

The Bare

Looking back, I had always known that it was true, deep inside that dark unquestioned place in the mind where things reside unlearned, perhaps absorbed in childhood by some osmotic race memory.

Of course, if you had asked me on that spring morning I would have denied it. Now I am a man I have put away childish things and all that, so I gave it no heed as I walked the street in my home town preoccupied with other utilitarian adult notions.

The smooth tarmac of the pavement glistened with the diamonds of lately fallen rain, and a bicycle swished past, tyres slick with oily water, the rider glowing like some gaudy Christmas bauble; his fluorescent jacket stark against the drab dark day. A leaden sky promised more from clouds angrily jostling like louts on a street corner. All was normal, everything was as it had always been.

I pulled my jacket tighter against the threat of an invading draught and turned the corner into a road I'd not walked since childhood, since those times when I would have known better.

Replaying the scene now in my head, I'm sure the notion had flitted through my mind, but the way of memory is fickle. Perhaps I've merely imprinted that onto an ill remembered scene. Possibly not though, for I can see in my mind's eye the point at which the tarmac gave way to old fashioned paving with a shallow untidy ramp; a change in colour, in texture, and most of all, in pedestrian rubrics.

My mind has that instant frozen in a kind of stop motion, my foot hovering in the air, the forces of caution and rationality tussling before the latter rose victorious and my foot plants down like a cartoon ten-ton weight on the crack.

Through the settling dust which my febrile imagination provides she appears:

The Bare.

She was muscular and tall, six feet at least, and as I have said; completely bare. She was not grizzly, possibly only cross, but she was brown, her breasts had the soft smoothness of melted chocolate, with wide darker areolae around the nipples as if she were nursing. The hips swelled below a perfect navel adorned with a single silver ring which sparkled against her skin. Tight black braids fell in a cascade from her head.

I was transfixed.

To be continued...