You, Me & a Bit of We – Excerpts 1-6

Celebrate National Short Story Day on 21 December 2013!

Join us today from 3-9pm!

As the afternoon sun fades and the longest night of the year rolls in, we’ll be posting a series of excerpts from our recent short story collection, You, Me & a Bit of We. So grab a cup of tea, coffee, or cocoa, slip into your jimjams (or PJs depending on which side of the Atlantic you hail from) and get ready to hunker down and dig in to some exciting new short stories! Here’s the list of the 42 stories coming up. There will be six excerpts posted on the hour, from 3-9pm.

3pm- Your Final Engagement by Martin Gamble / Death’s Mistake by Meg Laverick /Sidewalk Shouting by Walter Campbell / The Bedroom Mirror by Anne Fox / Home Strange Home by Diandra Linnemann / The Bridge over the River Illias by Robert Lee Frazier


Your Final Engagement by Martin Gamble

YOU sit alone in your armchair, waiting. I’m hiding in the darkest corner of the room as you rest in silence, unaware that I’m staring at you. From the viewpoint of anyone passing by it would appear as though you’re quite content. But from my all seeing eyes, I know you’re riddled with uncomfortable thoughts, and your mind is unable to find the off switch you desperately seek.

The years have trickled through your fingers and you wonder how on earth you became so terribly old. Even to the newly retired generation you’re classed as very old. Sometimes you struggle to remember exactly how old you are. You’ve lived alone for the past few years and your family visits you once a week. Soon, they will come again. To check you’re okay. To check you’re still alive. You have a helper who comes every Monday at noon, but it’s Thursday now and despite the hunger pangs you know your bad leg and stiff back aren’t yet ready to carry your fragile body to the kitchen.

A power cut two hours ago sent your house into darkness whilst you were watching TV. You sit awake in your front room with only the distant glow of an emergency solar streetlight. It acts as a simple compass to denote the direction of the window. You can’t use your stair lift so it’s impossible to get to your bedroom, or climb into bed, during the blackout…

Death’s Mistake by Meg Laverick
YOU don’t really know when you came into being. You leave that work for philosophers and fanatics to fight over. What you do know is that you’re there when he opens up his eyes for the first time and looks around at this funny life he’s been given.

What you do know is that you’ll be the last thing he’ll see when his funny life has come to a close and it’s time for you to guide him away.

His mother smiles down at him, ignoring the mess of birth as she holds him closely. You know that she has something similar to you looking over her shoulder at all times, watching. You can’t see it, but every living thing has one. Life’s constant companion. She smiles as she gives him his name. Jim. The one you’re destined to follow as long as he shall live. Even as he looks around his new world, you’re there, ready to take him away. But you don’t, not yet.

In the manner of all children, Jim is blissfully unaware of your existence. He’s like any normal child: too inquisitive for his own good and not forward-thinking enough to recognise consequences.

He first becomes dimly aware of you when he unthinkingly takes his goldfish out of the bowl, fascinated to see it flap as it gasps for air. You watch too. You’ve never seen something die before. You’ve never seen the way it struggles for life…

Sidewalk Shouting by Walter Campbell
WHEN you first wake up you think of blueberry pancakes, French vanilla coffee and how badly you have to pee. You think of the dream you had about your kindergarten teacher and your neighbour’s Pomeranian getting into an argument in front of the farmers’ market where you buy honey and apples but talk to no one because you hate the people at farmers’ markets. The customers, not the farmers. You think of when your milk will go bad and how much time you have to shower. You think of how dirty your carpet is and if you’ll have time to vacuum. You even think of what part of your body itches most.

But you never think of God.

Ed, on the other hand, does.

This is not to suggest that Ed doesn’t eat pancakes, drink coffee, urinate, dream, buy milk, shower, clean his apartment, or even itch in indecent places. It is just that before and during all those things he thinks about God, and this is what fascinates you about Ed. His cat—a short, chubby grey cat with long hair that gathers under his bed in tennis-ball-sized patches—is very similar to your short, chubby grey cat. His cat, like yours, doesn’t much care for religion. They prefer canned food and the sounds of mice in the walls. Since Ed’s cat was listening to the mice all night, he now has canned food on his mind and Ed obliges, much like you oblige your own cat. However, instead of thinking, my fat cat needs some food so he has the energy to rip up my furniture and get hair all over my apartment, Ed thinks the much more noble, I feed this cat because he is one of God’s glorious creations. Otherwise, your relationships with your respective cats could not have been more similar…

The Bedroom Mirror by Anne Fox
IN forty-five minutes, Emil, your new life. Check your tie, blue-on-blue silk, smooth under your finger. Secure the stickpin, the chip of diamond a point of morning light. Good, no tremble in the hand. Remember, it was not for Esther to ask and not for you to promise. It was a good life the two of you had. Now, no more wondering—you’ll never know why she asked.

Trim the moustache. The feather-edge dust floats into your hand. Yes, you are a lucky man.

Put on your coat. A fine figure you cut—tall, thin, no stoop. No droopy eyelids. No floppy cheeks. No veins breaking under the skin. Still your own teeth. Yes, smile. You have the right. Tell yourself again…

Home Strange Home by Diandra Linnemann
ALL it takes is a blink of your eye.

You have never been to this place before. You are not even sure how you got here. The couch is strangely familiar, its worn upholstery fuzzy with white cat hair. You are sure you have never owned a red couch.

The cats are watching you. Their faces show disappointment. It’s the way cats view the world. The room is quiet; not even the ticking of a clock disturbs the silence. Outside the huge window, trees bend in the breeze…

The Bridge over the River Illias by Robert Lee Frazier
AN owl screeches in the distance and you brace your legs in your horse’s stirrups, reminding yourself that you stopped believing old wives’ tales long ago.

A voice rings out. You turn from contemplating the flight of the owl to the stiff form of the Sergeant-at-arms, Neglis. Grey at the temples, he is still tough as nails. Neglis has seen close to twice as many winters as you but keeps up, step for step, with the young recruits in your company…


If you enjoyed these excerpts why not check out the paperback or Kindle (now only 99p!) edition of You, Me & a Bit of We?



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