Here’s One I Published Earlier…

Yes, here’s one of my published short stories – a short-short fiction, published earlier this year in ‘What the Dickens?’ magazine:

Take note my pen-name is Sarada Gray.

They also took one of my poems.  It’s a story about the perennial British habit of Complaining About the Weather, no matter what it happens to be:

Too Hot Too Soon

It’s early: I take the watering can out front to beat the sun. ‘Eyebrows,’ I think, ‘protection.’ The sun climbs the roof, as if eager for the view.

A woman stands at the bus stop, frowning, scanning the empty road. She sees me and turns her head slightly.

“Sun’s not got to these yet,” I say, starting on the begonias.

Her face contracts – ‘in one brow of whew!’ I think.

“It’s too hot too soon,” she complains.

“I used to live in Spain,” I say, smiling. “I like it.”

Her eyebrows, Gromit-like, demur – ‘we live in England, thank you.’ She shifts her bag, turns back to looking at the road.

“It’s too hot too soon,” she repeats. Her brows settle into a frown.

‘The sun will come up,’ I think, ‘and you’ll be stuck like that all day.’

I go indoors: passing the mirror, I turn and smile. Sunnily.

Looks like being hot today, too.  Enjoy!

Blast!  I’ve just realised that wasn’t the one they published.  So you get two for the price of one today: here’s the one from the magazine:

A Nice Cup of Tea with Dickens


Sarada Gray

So here you are: you’ve waited, you’ve sweated and now you’ve arrived; you’re at the book launch – and first in line is a sweaty, pony-tailed man, a glass of what looks like pee in his fist. You’ve avoided the Chardonnay, thankfully. ‘Hi, I’m Gary,’ he says, and holds out a damp paw.

There’s the 99% perspiration,’ you think as you give it a shake, afterwards surreptitiously wiping your hand on your trousers. (Those are for the wash: you make a mental note as you prepare to introduce yourself.) But he’s not finished: ‘Gary Baldy!’ he goes on, saying the name like a drum-roll and waiting for the response. You look blank: he’s not in the least bald, though the front is receding, perhaps to compensate for the length of that ridiculous pony-tail.

He’s still waiting for you to get it: you don’t. Eventually he gives in. ‘Like the biscuit!’ he says, with the air of an actor doing an encore.

You still look blank – but no matter: he’s done the prologue and now he’s off. ‘I’m doing a thesis,’ he announces happily.

‘Oh?’ The sound could not be less encouraging.

‘ – on the favourite biscuits of Dickens’ characters.’

And before you can stop him, he’s thundering into his soliloque. The connections are obvious: there’s David Copperfield and the ginger nut (ginger equalling moral vigour); the childhood Pip and jammy dodgers, the adult Pip and Bourbons; Oliver Twist and Bath Olivers (just for the name, you assume); Bill Sikes and the pink wafer (you look startled so he explains that Sikes is clearly a closet homosexual) – in fact, whether you want to or not (and you don’t) you learn that there are at least six hundred and forty-two references to biscuits in Dickens; ‘not all of them obvious.’

You don’t say.

You close your eyes and then open them again. ‘Would you like me to sign your book now?’ you ask.

Kirk out


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