Across the Water

This a story for the latest Friday Fictioneers prompt. If you are born in Ireland, or spend any time there, you will hear tragic stories of the Potato Famine, and the many thousands of Irish who sailed ‘across the water’ to escape.


She walked down to the shore for one last time. The clouds were rolling from the Irish sea, the waves were sharp as cut glass as they broke on the rocks, yet she didn’t see it. She saw instead a path reaching down to the shore, lazy palm trees waving overhead, and the sun rising over the Southern ocean.

Was it really like that? Liam said it was in his letters. Half a world away he was waiting for her.

“There’s plenty of food here,” he wrote. “You don’t need no damn potatoes.”

She sighed and turned away from her visions. She looked up into the face of the priest as he sent her to God and gently closed her eyes. Another victim of the potato famine was gone from the cares of this world forever.

The only sound was her father’s sobs and the scratching of his pen as he wrote to Liam.


Sunday 1939

This story is in response to the photo prompt at Friday Fictioneers. The prompt is not an easy one this time, and I honestly thought it would be beyond me. But it stirred memories of stories I heard from people who recalled the start of WWII on September 1, 1939, and my father’s comment that war was “never did anyone any good and mostly it’s the children that suffer.”


Sunday 1939

Sundays were quiet in our house. Usually, we gathered around the radio – father quietly reading the paper, mother knitting, and me busy with my crayons and drawing paper.

This Sunday seemed different. Dad’s paper was still folded, and mum’s knitting lay idly in her lap. They were watching me with my crayons drawing dresses for my paper dolls, as if it were the most important thing on earth.

Then I caught the words coming from the radio. “This country is at war with Germany.”

My mother gave a sob and grasped me in her arms. Outside, air raid sirens shrieked for the first time.

Next day, I was standing on a railway station with a name tag and a suitcase. I never went home again.


*Just a note to say that this did not happen to me. I am a Baby Boomer, born after the war. But it did happen to a British friend of my parents, who was evacuated to the country as a child when war was declared. Her home was destroyed in the London bombings, and her parents did not survive the war. I thought this was actually a story that could be told on both sides of the war, since my father heard similar stories from death camp survivors. Suddenly they would find themselves on a train station and never see their home again. As he said, it is mostly the children that suffer.

Duet in A Flat


This is the photo prompt by Roger Cohen for this weeks FF challenge. I think it’s gorgeous, and even a little erotic.

Duet in A Flat

“Two cellos in one small flat is ridiculous! One of us has to leave.”

“The cellos don’t seem to mind.”

“Of course not. They’ve taken up the loo. But I mind having to move them every time I have to go.”

Tessa and Stephen glared at each other across the tiny breakfast bar. It really was a small flat.

“One of us could take up another instrument.”

“Well, not me,” Tessa huffed.

“Or we could take a hint from the cellos.”

One passionate embrace later, there was no more talk of breaking up. But they did start looking for a bigger flat.

The King of Terror

This story was suggested by my son Laurence, as a possible explanation for what Nostradamus might actually have seen. I published it for the Friday Fictioneers fireworks prompt last week. Better late than never!



Grey faced, the seer staggered back from the bowl, and pressed his back against the wall of his tower room, shielding his eyes from the terrible vision which had confronted them.

Michel de Nostradamus had seen many terrible things, both in the present and the future. The plague, the graves of his first wife and their children, the agonising death of a king…

But this defied all horror. The world would end in 1999, in a welter of flame,  the sky lit up all over the world by what he could only think of as the coming of a great King of Terror.

Nostradamus covered his head and moaned, while the scrying bowl continued to reflect the worldwide fireworks celebrations of New Year’s Eve. 1999.