Microfiction: Christmas shopping

This short Christmas story is for the Friday Fictioneers prompt.

PHOTO PROMPT © Björn Rudberg


The toy store had been full of families, parents letting little kids loose among the bright packaging and letting them choose! Fiona picked out some cheap junk for the twins and left. Guilt followed her like a thief. After school, she took them to the charity shop, guilt prodding her to let them loose to choose something she could afford to buy. Their jaws dropped at the sight of the mountain of home-knit bonnets, each one a unique design, pattern, colour combination, representing who knew what for her five-year-olds. It took them half an hour to choose a dream.



On April 24 I posted a triolet about the modern Viking longship parked along the waterfront. I had to borrow a photo of said boat since my phone refused to cough up my photos. Well, it did. yesterday. It took a mere ten days for the email with the photos to travel the 50 centimetres from phone to computer. To celebrate, here’s another Viking triolet.

Viking 1.jpg

With such adventures you regale

The stay-at-homes who never sailed

In search of saga or wild tale!

With such adventures you regale

The guests whose imaginations pale

At so much fantastic stuff retailed.

With such adventures you regale

The stay-at-homes who never sailed.


Christmas blues continued or: what I am going to do with the rest of my life

Today was supposed to be big book promotion day for The Dark Citadel with an Amazon countdown deal and a couple of advertising sites weighing in. I’ll have to take Amazon’s word for it that the deal is actually on because I can’t see any price change. So, no more promotional links from me, as they don’t show a new low price.

There are also only three shopping days left until Christmas. Having abandoned shopping last Friday, I had a look on the flea market yesterday and found a few pretty bits and pieces. I had intended looking up town this morning before the crowds get there, but wasted half of it in futile emails to Amazon. Taking my boiling blood to the shops was not a good idea, so I took Finbar for a long walk instead.

The morning was beautiful, sunny, cool and the colours all so vivid. We were overtaken down by the river by a Tibetan monk, saffron robes, shaved head, sandals, the lot. He stood in quiet contemplation, looking through the golden trees, across the beautiful blue river where a thin veil of mist was dissipating in the sun. His hands were lost inside his robes and I assumed he was looking for his rosary beads or whatever thingies Buddhist monks use to get the spiritual juices flowing. When I looked back he had got out his smart phone and was taking a pic of the cityscape behind us. Somehow, that made me feel even more depressed.

What I realised though, as I watched the placid river, the robins, and a pair of magpies inspecting a likely-looking nest, is that this whole book lark is taking over my life. I spend hours each day writing. When I’m not writing new stuff, I’m trying to write synopses, query letters, polishing completed mss, or looking around for places to submit novels or short fiction.

Many writers claim that the creative aspect is enough to keep them going. I thought it was too, with a little recognition from time to time. When a lovely review comes in, or a story or a poem is accepted for publication, I get a real thrill of happiness. But it would also be nice to see my paypal account filling up. That is the real litmus test—do the punters, not just the literate, like-minded and possibly indulgent people who ‘know’ me, want to buy my books? If they don’t, I feel that I’m bashing my head against a brick wall.

From now on, and I suppose this counts as a New Year’s resolution, I am going to spend more time on OTHER THINGS. I will sit down and write when I feel I have something to say, not because it’s like a nine to five job where I sit in front of the computer until I find something to whitter on about. I am not going to sweat to get Beyond the Realm of Night into paperback because I don’t think it’s worth the time, hassle, and the expense of buying a proof copy.

I’m going to…well…I could wash the dog’s blankets, or clean out the kitchen cupboards, or…something.

Christmas shopping and why I hate it

Shopping is something I hate. I get claustrophobic in shops, overheated, and lost. In the street I plough through the crowds as if I’m on a special mission with M breathing down my neck. Christmas shopping is the worst of all. I have a list of the things I want to get, the shops I need to visit. I take the back streets to the shop I’m after, dive in and dive out again. Flying squad tactics.

Yesterday I couldn’t put it off any longer and ventured up town. I made two shops then came home. Sorry everyone about the presents, but I couldn’t stand any more of it. I wrote this instead.

Too many

So many

Are those who sit by the wall

Between shop fronts

Next a dog

Curled asleep

On a piece of cardboard.

So many who see

Each passing face

And search it with insistence

For a friendly sign.

So many are those,

Hand resting

On the head

Of a curled, sleeping dog,

For whom the brightly coloured, shiny things

Behind the window glass

Have as much significance

As a grey rock

Shed by a dead planet.

Photo credit Benjamin Brock
Photo credit Benjamin Brock

Stars in the east


Crowds rush and push

filing past a myriad useless things

slack-jawed or with furrowed brow

in search of some heart’s desire

that cannot be found amid the tinsel-bound displays.

Beyond the lights and waves of torrid heat

the prowling cats and homing birds

beyond the clouds that billow

sailing on the mild wind from the west

in the timeless dark of the over-arching sky

the stars that saw the first green shoots appear

mourn the passing of those raw and reverent times

blink in the neon glare and look away


Poems for tourists


Sunbathers on a beach
slumber, oiled and indifferent
to the grandiose history of a grain of sand
or the dark, unsoundable depths
of the waves’ home.

Destroying the magic

Footsteps in the wilderness
no matter how quiet
make the wilderness


I feel no need to touch the pyramids
to see my footprints in desert sand
or stalk a tiger with native guide
or be the first to leave a plastic bag
in a virgin forest.


Floating hotel squats
obstructing the riverfront
spewing its load of credit cards
into the waiting boutiques.

New camera

Better to watch and observe
than snap and snap and snap.