The Red Bench

Mary sat on the red bench at the station waiting for the train, her navy suitcase at her feet. Head facing down slightly. Eyes looking at her patent court shoes not at the mud underneath her fingernails. She could see the sky reflected in those shoes. Just the thing for a funeral. She sat with knees and ankles together; her inner thighs pressed tightly against each other. If she squeezed them hard she felt a buzz of a feeling right there. But, no, she mustn’t do that. She was in mourning; Mother, God bless her soul, only just cold in her grave.


The station concourse was busy despite it being a rainy Sunday afternoon. Mary could see all this just by moving her eyes. Mother’s eyes had moved at the end, even after Mary had thought that it was over. God, she struggled before that. She didn’t give up without a fight. But she was finally at peace. Yes, rest in peace, Mother, rest in peace.


People were milling around, heads down, buried in their mobile phones or those electronic books. Mind you some were reading real books. Mother never did understand the attraction of reading. Mary did though; she devoured books, first from the local village library, then the main library at the town. Then, when it became too hard to leave mother, she signed up to the mobile library. Those visits from Philip and Frances were the highlight of the week. They had got to know her so well; they were her friends. She’d miss them. They didn’t know she was going away. She never had a chance to say goodbye.


Shame, she’d only just discovered Stieg Larsson. She was halfway through the first one; it was on the side in the kitchen. Next to the knife block.


A man, sat on the bench to Mary’s right, moved his legs up so that he was sitting crossed-legged, his knee touched hers. She moved her leg just a fraction towards him. He didn’t seem to notice; he was playing a game on his mobile phone. Mary moved her eyes to the right to catch a glimpse of it and saw the man pick his nose and eat it. Shameful. She moved her leg away, the man’s leg followed.


She was about to move to the empty seat on her left when a woman in a beige suit came and sat there. The woman took out a box of noodles and some chopsticks from a paper carrier bag. Mary was impressed with the way she ate, so casually, so naturally. Chop sticks in one hand and her phone in the other. And she wasn’t even Chinese. Foreign muck, mother would have said, but only because she’d never tried it. Mary could eat all the noodles she liked now. She could eat anything she liked, where she liked, whenever she liked.


She squeezed her thighs at the thought of it.


She glanced at the station clock. Not long to wait now.


As she looked back to her shoes her eyes caught a tiny dot of dark red on her tights and she started to cry.



Nursie had threatened me with a sound thrashing if I went too close to the water so I waited until she tilted back in the deck chair and covered her face with a handkerchief. She had fallen asleep on the way here too. Tom had made snoring noises as we drove along and he made me laugh so much that I thought I was going to wet myself again. But Nursie had woken up and smacked me and told me not to be silly. I had tried to tell her that Tom was the silly one but by then he was looking straight ahead and keeping his eyes on the road.

Maid Tilly was sitting in the Austin with him now. In the front seat.  Tom waved at me and smiled and I waved back. I wanted to ask him to come and play but I knew that Maid Tilly would tell me to go away. She was Mummy’s maid and I didn’t like her; she pinched me when she was giving me a bath. I saw Tom push her head down into his lap then he leaned back so I could see his neck.

Mummy and her friends were all sitting on the scratchy blanket and clinking their fizzy wine glasses together, but not breaking them. Mummy kept shrieking. I wasn’t allowed on the blanket with them. I had to stay out of the way until Mummy called me over.

“Oh sweetie, don’t be such a tease!” she nuzzled against Uncle Brynn, “Fill me up, there’s a dear!” she held her glass. “Chin chin everyone!”

Uncle Brynn smelt like Daddy and he wore Daddy’s lounging robe at breakfast.

I knew they wouldn’t be watching me so I stood up and walked closer to the where the sea was. The water was foamy and it went over my boots. The bubbles didn’t pop straight away; they just stayed on my boots. I didn’t like them, they looked dirty so I went in a bit more to wash them off.

“Hey Chris, not too close to the edge, old boy,” Uncle Brynn shouted across to me. I took a few steps back. I looked at the sand, it was wet but when I pushed my boot down it looked like all the water disappeared. I did it again and again. Harder and harder.

“Have you ever been rock pooling?” Uncle Brynn stood right behind me, he moved so quietly he made me jump. I think he was a spy. Nursie had said that she’d be watching him but she wasn’t doing a very good job of it today. Uncle Brynn came closer, he was carrying the silver bucket, “Come on, I’ll show you.”

He tipped out the ice then went right up to the edge of the sea and scooped up some water. He didn’t even notice that his shoes were getting bubbly. He took the bucket over to where the rocks started.

“You need to come over,” Uncle Brynn beckoned to me and then he crouched down by a pool of water in the rocks, “Look, let’s see what we can find here,” he moved a patch of seaweed and I saw a crab scuttling away. Uncle Brynn dipped his hand in the pool and pulled it out; it snapped its pincers together. I laughed and then he popped it into the bucket.

“Not much meat on there, hey?” I shook my head and laughed at him, “Here you have a go, grab that stick from behind you and just poke around. Let’s see what else we can find. Here, look at this.”  Uncle Brynn pointed to a shell on a rock. “That’s called a limpet, it clings to rocks and however hard you poke it, it won’t come off. Have a go.” I picked up the stick and poked at the shell really, really hard but it didn’t move an inch.

I held out the stick to him.

“No point, Christian, even I’m not that strong”.

“Brynn darling, come on. Leave the boy alone.” Mummy called, “I need you to open this bottle, Patrick’s just too pathetic. He doesn’t have your arm strength.” She squealed and sounded really silly.

Uncle Brynn stood up, “Got to go. See what else you can find.”

He walked back to the blanket and took the bottle that Uncle Patrick couldn’t open. It popped and he pulled the cork out.

I poked at the pool and saw tiny, tiny things swim around. When I stirred faster and faster they floated around like tea-leaves.

There were lots of little pools all over the rocks but I didn’t find any more crabs. I looked at the one in the bucket. I made it go round and round the bottom as I chased it with the stick. “Hey, Mr Crab,” I put my hand in the water, it was really cold and when I tried to pick the crab up it pinched me. It hurt, but I didn’t cry. What I did do was tip the crab out onto a rock. It landed upside down so I pushed the stick down into it until it went crack.

I looked up; Tom and Tilly had moved out of the car and were smoking a cigarette together by its side, Nursie hadn’t moved and Mummy and her friends were now unpacking the food. Just where the rocks met the cliffs there were a pile of blankets. I put the bucket down. It might be treasure, if it was I wouldn’t share it with anyone except Tom. Then we would drive off and rescue Daddy.

It was a dark green blanket and it was still wet. There were white patches on it. I looked around at everyone but no-one looked at me. They were quiet now and all I could hear were waves and sea gulls.

I went closer and lifted the edge of the blanket with my stick. There was a knee underneath it. I stood still but nothing moved. I stepped closer to the pile again and pushed the whole blanket away with my stick. There was a lady underneath it. She looked a bit like Mummy except she was a grey colour. She had a green shiny necklace. Her hair was nearly the same colour as Mummy’s. Her dress was pulled up so high I could see that she had no underclothes on. I poked the stick into the fur.

“Help me please.”

I took the stick and poked it into her cheek; she didn’t move and when I pulled it away it left a big dip.

I watched her face and her eye opened really slowly, like it was stuck. She looked at me,

“Please get help.”

I held the stick back like a spear and with all my strength I jabbed it straight into her eye. Then I pulled it out and stabbed and stabbed at her face.

She didn’t move at all. I dropped the stick.

I turned round and saw Mummy dancing in the sea with Uncle Patrick, she had taken her shoes off and they were getting wet as the waves went over them. Uncle Brynn stood watching them both from the blanket.

“Brynn, darling, you should come in and dance, it’s so much fun!”


I walked over to Nursie and pulled the handkerchief off of her face.

“I’m hungry, Nursie. I want some food.”

A Dick for a Day

“What did you wish for?”

People say that when you break the wishbone or blow out all the candles on your cake and usually they assume it will be world peace, a new car and stuff like that.

Not for me.

I’ve always wished for the same thing ever since I can remember.

I wanted to have a dick for a day.


So, when the chance arose, I took it.

I called my friend, Michael. He’s the only other person in the world who knows about my secret. I was in luck, he’d been granted a wish too and, I have to admit, after a bit of cajoling I persuaded him to have a fanny for the day.

“But what about ending poverty, giving every child a decent meal?” he asked

“This will be much more fun.” I assured him.


I was so excited the night before that I couldn’t sleep. I wasn’t sure when ‘the day’ would actually start, would it be midnight? Or the following morning?

I called Michael but he didn’t answer. I guessed that he was asleep and his cock was disappearing during the night. Then I started to worry that we’d misjudged it and he was out having the time of his life with his new fanny and that I’d missed it all. I managed to drop off in the early hours sans dick hoping that by morning time it would have appeared. I was rather dreading the thought of having to undergo some strange American Werewolf in London transformation in real life.

I also had the apprehensive thought, just before dropping off, of would I be me, a girl, with a penis or would I be male for the day?

I worried that I may not have been specific enough.


The next morning I awoke feeling very different. Very uncomfortable to be honest until I realised that lying on your manhood is a wee bit painful. I quickly turned over and rearranged what felt like the biggest boner ever and straight away felt much better.

Of course the first thing that I did after rearranging things was play with it; I stroked it, I squeezed it and tugged it. It all felt so good! It didn’t take long to experience my first ejaculation and boy, that was something else!  As a woman I’m used to waves and slowly building crescendos but this was like exploding fireworks!

Typically I used a sock to clean up; it was the closest thing to hand.

I then decided to have a look at it. So I got out of bed and stood in front of the mirror. I was relieved to see that I looked like a man. Not a particularly good-looking man but a man nonetheless. So I stood there and wiggled my hips, the schlong shimmied. So I wiggled harder and watched my new appendage wave around like an elephant’s trunk.


I called Michael, he was busy having fun with his new fanny, but not too busy to pick up the phone.

“Come over at two.” he said.

I realised that I needed to pee. It was a feeling not unfamiliar with those usual needing to pee feelings except that it felt higher up, if that makes sense. So I went to the bathroom and do what I always do which is sit on the loo. Big mistake! I didn’t think about where my prick was at this point and I ended up pissing down my leg and onto the floor. I stopped, but not before I had piddle dribbling down my (rather hairy) thigh. I stood up, trying not to step in the puddle on the floor, and held my manhood in my right hand. I aimed at the side of the bowl and let it flow. So much harder than it looks. I mean it got caught in my foreskin and came out at a slightly odd angle. I stopped myself peeing and shifted a few bits then tried again.

Much better!

I was a fireman with a hose. It was brilliant!

I showered and wanked off a couple of times (I wasn’t going to waste a moment) and, once again, it was like fireworks.

The 1812 overture came to mind.

Dressing was a bit of a conundrum – I’m a girl and have girl clothes so I shuffled through my closet and found the largest knickers that I had and put them on. I realised quite quickly what a fuss it is trying to get comfortable in underwear. I had to rearrange things before I felt at ease. I preferred it sitting slightly to the right pointing to the side parallel to the ground. I also found out, once I had my jeans on, much handier for rubbing via the pocket.

And so to Michael’s.

It was an interesting journey; I was able to understand why men sit with their legs open wide. At first I sat like I usually do, right leg crossed over left knee but, boy, it was not comfortable. My balls, which I have to admit I’d pretty much ignored up to this point, got squashed between my thighs and I realised just how sensitive these things are. I tried legs together but that felt far too uptight. So legs open it was.

I was surprised at how much control I didn’t have over my new attachment. I saw a fit guy and it stirred (I wasn’t certain up to that point whether I would be wanting to look at men or women and I was quite satisfied with the fact that I was still attracted to men) and as soon as it stirred it was like some switch in my brain had gone. Racy thoughts, well, they raced in and I could feel my member starting to move around like a bloody python. It took all my concentration to control it.


Michael opened the door. He looked rather attractive. God knows where he got it from but he was wearing a dress. He looked like Michael but a girl Michael. I guess if he had a sister she’d look like that.

We starting fooling around as soon as we were in his flat. It was so cool. Complete role reversal. Michael is a bigger feminist than me so our friendship has always felt equal but, with a dick, I felt so different. It was like my joystick took over and I was positioning him all over the place, trying this and that. I don’t need to go into the details, I’m positive you get the picture.

Basically I fucked his brains out then we ate a takeaway and I went home and went to bed.




The sun has left

The day is fading

Blue skies turn to dark

The curtains close

Shut out the world

We begin another night


Sleep evades us through the night

Only minutes left

‘Til once again we face the world

Our hope each day is fading

Truth is coming close

Our expectations dark


All seems dark

As black as night

Yet still I feel you close

I won’t believe that you have left

But your face is fading

You are still my world


I tried to shield you from the world

I held you in the dark

Sent all those creatures fading

Except the one who came that night

And nothing of you left

Those nightmares coming close


He came too close

He took your world

Now there’s no sweetness left

He hid you there amongst the dark

And freezing winter night

With your lifeblood fading


Your life is fading

Your eyes close

Alone there in the night

An empty space is in the world

All around is dark

There’s nothing of you left


Your light is fading from my world

My fear comes close to me in the dark

The horrors of the night you left

War Sonnet


Our fear hangs like the sword of Damocles

Over our days. The nights are filled with dread;

Men scream and shake their heads to cast away

Haunting visions of the dying and dead.

Once proud and tall they crowd and cower down

In trenches deep, once smooth, now stinking, rank

Piss soaked, shit cloaked, all fetid, rotten brown.

Incessant day follows the ceaseless night.

But never fear boys, the end is in sight.

We fight in the war that will end all wars.

Because of us, peace shall reign evermore.

We’ll be home by Christmas, the fight well done.

So smile now lads, listen out for the call

We go over the top and give our all.

sweepers cart


Joe’s cart was rather tatty; the original wheels were long gone and the panels were dented. Balanced along the top and affixed to the sides were a collection of brooms, besoms and dustpans with which he cleared up the debris of people’s lives.

He employed his softest, badger-hair hand brush for cleaning up grief. He would tease the grief tenderly onto the dustpan that was used for nothing else. Then he would gently guide the swept-up grief into a paper sack and carefully place it in a box under the cart.

He attacked the broken hearts with a stiff bristled yard brush because he knew, as did many of his generation that a broken heart was easily mended and didn’t need to be disposed of with any necessary care.

There was a scavenger broom for dispelling the general disappointments of life abandoned under bushes and behind walls. He also found this broom convenient for sweeping up the petty anger, envy and jealousy he unearthed among the streets.

Attached to the side of the cart was a galvanised steel broom which, to his disappointment, Joe made use of more and more frequently. With its tough bristles the road sweeper scrubbed every day at the fear hidden deep, deep underneath the discarded sentiments littering the pathways.

The Odorous Adventures of Gerald 

When he was 49 Gerald fell off his bicycle. He suffered grazed hands and a broken nose. His nose swelled to twice its size and for the first time in his life he could not smell. For him this was a blessing as Gerald had always had a very sensitive nose; he could tell what people had eaten for their lunch, even if it was something as innocuous as a cheese sandwich, merely by their breath as they talked to him. He could detect stale urine as soon as he passed Manor Road, which led to Manor Park where Sunny Gates Care Home was situated, and he knew when it was recycling day the moment he woke up by the stale scent of wine and beer that hung in the air.

Slowly his sense of smell returned but, to his consternation, Gerald found himself smelling odours that he had never smelled before. He still caught a whiff of flowers before he turned into the road where the florist was, a hint of the sweat of joggers when he went into the park or the brine of the sea when the wind blew in an easterly direction. But there were also deeper odours that were much more intense, almost alive. Somehow they were thicker. And he smelt them everywhere.

One Wednesday at work, Gerald was pulled to one side and given a glossy brochure entitled ‘Maximising the Entry Experience for the Interface User’. He looked at the woman who had given it to him. She smelled of two-day-old damp washing.

“It’s about moving those bloody doors so that people in wheelchairs can get in” she snapped. “PowerPoint’s set up; just read these notes to them.” And she opened the door of the conference room.

Gerald worked in the Civic Centre. He wore a badge bearing the title “Building Maintenance Manager”. In reality he was a late-middle-aged man waiting for retirement.

He entered the room nervously, the smell of his own sweat filling his nostrils. Suddenly a wall of nauseatingly acrid odours hit him like a punch, he looked at his younger colleagues and saw their eager faces smirking at him and he realised that the aroma was their sick expectations of seeing him fail. The scent of his fear, a thickly, sickening odour, like almost-rotten hyacinths, entered his nostrils.


This new turn in his odoriferous life took a while to accept, and then, with his usual fortitude, Gerald started to classify these new aromas and catalogue them. Happiness smelt unsurprisingly like a fresh summer’s breeze. Love, surprisingly, like a cloying rose. Children generally smelt like a mixture of excitement (candyfloss) and tiredness (wet dogs). Gerald’s sister, a matron of 45, smelled of lust which was a blend of citrus and dark coffee, a not all too unattractive smell in Gerald’s view. He could see where it might come in handy.

He found some things hard though. People could no longer lie to him, and he could sense what they were feeling even before they opened their mouths.

His boss, he realised, not only respected him but actually liked him – a scent of clean linen. A lot of people he met were unhappy – a muddy puddle smell, or dissatisfied – an odour of mould with a sillage of the Bradford Pear tree, or envious – a sharp odour of fox urine with base notes of mulch.

What surprised Gerald most was a woman who had travelled on the same train as him for years. They had occasionally had those train conversations like you do:

“Did you understand what the guard said?” or “Did she say that we had to get off the train?”

Gerald hadn’t noticed her for a while and then one day she got on the train at Barnes. As she sat down he smelled something new. Her smell was light, fresh, like the fresh air after a rain storm.

“Ozonic” Gerald wrote in his notebook. Then he put the book away and smiled at her.