The stretch

‘Remember Henderson’s apples.’ Serge drilled his brother with a pointed stare.

‘What? Look. She’s gorgeous. I’m gonna talk to her.’ Jim slid off his bar stool.

‘Henderson’s apples, J.’

‘Eh? Oh yeah. Whatever. Eighteen months ago she was just another chick at school. What does it matter?’

It mattered a fair bit. Eighteen months ago Heidi Schwarz had ben plucked from the obscurity of their small town and into the international modelling limelight. Now as she swanned through the old hall heads turned and cameras snapped.

Everyone agreed she’d changed. Her voice was deeper and spokesmodel perfect. She walked with high steps, as exaggerated as they were light. She seemed taller. Her cheekbones more pronounced. Her eyes wider. The locals stopped her for autographs or to be photographed with her, or just to say, ‘well done, Girl, you’ve put the town on the map’.

Jimmy weaved his way between the throng, Serge, at his heels, reminding him, all the while, of those apples he’d wanted so much, just out of reach over the back fence.

Jimmy made a dive between a closing gap, to her side. ‘Eh, Hides.’

The model turned. Paused. Her mouth opened. Shut again. Then the eyes that had been searching the ceiling for a name lowered. ‘Jimmy Valos. Isn’t it? How are you?’

Serge sidled behind his brother. ‘Three months in traction,’ he whispered.

‘Yeah, good,’ said Jim. ‘Y’self?’

Half an hour later Serge was still hovering. ‘When the bough breaks, Jimmy,’ he whispered but his heart wasn’t in it. He had to admit a little familial admiration. How did Jimmy do it anyway? A nerd like him?


I’ve been amiss, not posting for two months (while I swanned around the northern hemisphere waiting for the snow). I will continue to post to this site when I have new microfiction stories (such as the one below) or related material. But I’m also taking the time to focus on other writing projects. You can find out more at my new blog, smatter, (


Thornton’s watch weighed heavily on his wrist. The tick of it no longer measured an accumulation but a diminution. He wasn’t sure when this realisation had occurred to him. But time bound him twice now. It dictated his routine, dividing each week, each day, each hour into a series of repeated tasks. It marked the approach of the oblivions of age and death. It marked him as inconsequential.

Perhaps that’s why he’d slipped away at lunchtime, crossed the road to the gallery, and now stood in front of the work he’d found so inspiring in his youth, trying to reclaim that experience. But the work hung mute before him.

A woman close by motioned towards the wall. ‘It’s beautiful isn’t it?’

Thornton checked the label for an answer. ‘It’s the artist’s early period.’

The woman shrugged. She paused as if considering another enquiry, before turning slowly and wandering to the next gallery. Her floral scent draped behind her, lingering in the still air. Once he’d have kept her in his sights. But his thoughts were only of the sub-committee and the agenda he needed to circulate before three.

In front of him the painting, an image of a man alone in a snowdrift streetscape, dissolved. Thornton checked his watch again before turning away. He’d still have time to grab a sandwich from Sal’s before the team meeting.