False Lights – Magpie Tales

boots (2)

We struggle for money, aye. It’s always hand to mouth and Mum says it was the same for her growing up, and for Granny and Grandad, and for their parents too, Old Sam Trelawney and his wife, Smiling Nell.

They called her Smiling Nell after the scar that pulled her mouth upwards into a grin. When she was just been married and carrying my Grandad in her belly, she tripped on a rope and cut her face on her filleting knife down at the wharf.

Dad didn’t want us to be short of money and didn’t see why we should just be poor. He always said that times needed to change.

Well, they have now, with him in a sailor’s uniform, firing cannon and all.

Thing is, we have even less than before – a sailor’s pay ain’t so grand, not even half he got for setting down to the shore with his men, waving his lights and pulling the boats on to the rocks. I followed them all, silent as a ghost, lying on the cliff top out of sight of the Wrecker’s Moon. Yes, he risked his life and liberty then, but the rewards were mighty fine. I still have a silk shawl to prove it – it smells of the sea.

Now he’s away, earning the King’s shilling, and he might never come back

Nan says he brought it on himself and he should be thankful he didn’t swing for it.

Nan’s not always right, just like Mum never wants to hear the truth. Wrecking is mighty exciting, I think. I’m going to be the best lady wrecker in all of Cornwall when I’m old enough.


Here’s my latest entry into Magpie Tales – I hope you enjoy it! If it feels like you’ve stepped part way into a story, you’ll be right! Here’s the first instalment submitted to VisDare, and then the second instalment submitted to Five Sentence Fiction.

This week, they are all told by the same young lady, and we are treated to her own firm but (probably) fair views on life, death, truths and falsehoods. I hope you enjoy the stories – please do visit Magpie Tales for more!

Dancing With Jack Ketch – Five Sentence Fiction


Dad got sent to The War, that’s what Nan told Mum.

Mum wouldn’t listen – she shook her head, then shouted and waved her arms, then put her hands over her ears and cried.

Mum told anyone outside our four walls that Dad volunteered, that he took himself to the Navy, head held high and a smile on his lips, ready to do battle for King and Country.

Nan was right though – it was either go and fight, or hang for his crimes.

And I know what those crimes were – I saw them all.


Here’s my latest entry in to Lillie’s Five Sentence Fiction. It follows on from my VisDare entry this week, but of course can be read on its own. I hope you enjoy it, and please do visit Lillie’s blog for more five sentence tales!

Paix – Magpie Tales


My father is staring at me, hard.

It has been years since we spent any time alone. I had been a judgmental daughter, belligerent, unable to accommodate the shades of grey in a life that I was convinced could only consist of black or white, right or wrong

I had grown into an adult, still believing my teenage views.

The past few months had ripped the rug from underneath my feet.

“Not a traitor? Not a traitor?”

I see him with new eyes. He is just a man. Just a human being like the rest of us. He is not a monster, just like my mother was not a traitor. They had paid high prices for living through times when making the right decision depended on so many inconceivable and unimaginable horrors.

And I had judged them both with hindsight.

“No. Not a traitor.”

His body sags. I can’t tell if this is with relief, or despair.

He reaches out a hand, an old hand. He has aged since we last met. I take his hand and my index finger caresses the thin gold wedding band he still wears despite everything.

“Thank you for telling me, Celine. It will never bring her back and you may never forgive me for taking your mother away so brutally, but at least she never betrayed us.”

Semantics, I think. It is all but semantics.


Here’s my latest entry to Magpie Tales. This is the finale in my six part story which began in the midst of World War Two. Here are the fiveprevious instalments in order, if you want to indulge! Croix de Guerre, Collborateur, Oubliette, Verité and Honneur.

I hope you enjoy this week’s entry- and please do visit Magpie Tales for amazing poetry and prose!


magpie tales statue stamp 185