Wednesday, 30 September 2015

One Day, My Friend, We'll Soar

One day, my friend, we’ll soar,
Far, high above these streets of darkened hearts,
We’ll tilt our wings to freedom,
And scrape the highest of the skies.

One day, my friend, we’ll soar,
Up there, all wrapped in splendid sunlight,
Riding azure blue jet streams,
Breathless with that rush of life and air.

One day, my friend, we’ll soar,
So let me take your broken body upon my back,
And both of us shall climb in painless flight,
I’ll let you rest up there, but promise I’ll be back.

bobby stevenson 2015

The Titanic in New York City

                             Wednesday April 17th, 1912 Pier 60.       

That Wednesday morning, the sun shone, and a gentle breeze blew in from the sea. As far as Adel was concerned, she had everything in life she wanted. She lived in Brighton Beach at the bottom end of Brooklyn, and she had a job painting decorations on the rides at Coney Island.

She had been in New York City for almost a year. A year of struggling and making a life for herself in a new country. It had been lonely at the start, but the work had allowed her to paint and express herself. She had two friends, but as she worked most of the time, it really was difficult to meet people.

On that sunny morning, her cousin Dirk was arriving from Europe on the biggest ship in the world; the Titanic. Both their families came from Stuttgart, and as a girl Adel had been close to her older cousin. Now that she felt herself more American, she was pleased that another of her tribe would experience the exciting land that was the United States.

Dirk had qualified as a doctor, and in appreciation of this achievement, his family had saved money to send him second class on the Titanic.

She knew that the ship was due within the hour and that she could watch it pass from her little apartment on the Avenue, but instead she took an elevated transit from Coney Island into Manhattan. She had heard that there was going to be a large crowd to welcome the greatest ship to the greatest city in the world.

She took a trolley across to the west side, to Pier 60 on the Hudson. There were many people trying to get to the pier, and the crowd stretched all the way to the Battery. Adel wanted to welcome her cousin personally when he stepped from the ship.

She bought a hotdog and a lemonade as she waited, listening to the bands, some of which had come up from Coney Island. She had been granted the holiday by her boss, as long as she worked the following Saturday.

After what seemed a lifetime, she saw the funnels, and then the grandeur of what was the largest ship she had ever seen. It was beautiful, so beautiful that it took her breath away. She wiped back the tears and waved with the rest of the New Yorkers to greet the Titanic.

It was several hours before she was able to walk up and hug her cousin. He had to be processed through Ellis Island, as she had been, before he was allowed to set foot on Manhattan.

She cried again, it was wonderful to see one of her family again and to be able to talk in her mother tongue. Dirk hadn’t brought much with him and so they decided to walk up Fifth Avenue and enjoy the sights of the city.

They got back to her apartment, in Brighton Beach in the early evening. The sun was already sinking on this happy April day and she had baked treats that she would have made back home. She wanted make Dirk feel really welcome.

He was excited by his new country and full of hope, he told Adel. Perhaps he could be a great doctor in America, or perhaps even the President himself. Adel told him that he would have to have been born in the United States but she loved his dreams.

Then he told stories of the crossing of the Atlantic on the Titanic, how they had been troubled by icebergs but the captain had slowed the ship a little and all was well.

Tomorrow she had to go back to work at Coney Island but she would introduce Dirk to her boss, who might be able to help in getting him work. Dirk thanked his cousin and took his little bag into the kitchen where she had made him up a bed. Adel wished him goodnight and hoped that God would be kind to him in the new land.

As Dirk settled down, he took out the code book which he had been supplied, and went over once again the instructions he had been given. Not if, but when, there was a war in Europe and the mighty armies of the Fatherland moved into France and Britain, the Kaiser wanted assurance that the US would be in no position to join the war.

Dirk had one activity and one activity only, and that was to assassinate the President of the United States when the signal came from the Fatherland.Dirk slept well that first night in his new country and dreamed of the bright new world that was to come.

Bobby stevenson 2015

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The Last Human

We are only memories.

I have memories as a kid, at least I think I do. About being with my mother when I was about four or five years of age, and we were crossing a bridge over a rail track. It was a winter sun and the air was as fresh as daises. I could hear the ‘fut-fut-fut’ of the approaching steam train, whistling as it came around the corner up by Jason’s Creek.

I would stand on the bridge motionless, close my eyes and hold my breath. All of a sudden, the train would pass under the bridge and I would be enveloped by the smoke and smell of the steam. It was an addiction which I loved.

I have other memories, which I think are mine, about later years when the steam trains had long since gone. Some of us would relive the old days, when we heard that an old steam engine had been brought out for the day. Standing on the bridge would be those with recording cameras, waiting for a chance to capture a piece of the past. I wouldn’t take photos - I would just close my eyes, smell the smoke and be four years of age again.

But the truth is, I’m not so sure which of those memories are mine and which belong to the warmbloods. That’s what they did, back then, when they knew their time was limited. When they’d realized they’d screwed up the world with their global warming, with their floods, with their rains. They started transferring their memories into us, the coldbloods - the robots. That way their thoughts and memories would last as long as we did. I can never be sure which memories are mine and which are theirs. Did I really stand as a kid and smell the train smoke?

And now the last of the warmbloods, the last of the humans has died and we, the robots, the coldbloods are standing on bridges waiting on a train as it pulls the last human through the country for us all to pay homage to. To see where we came from.

We, the coldbloods, stand here not sure if we have tears, or if it’s the rain. All we can do is remember.

It is all we have. 

bobby stevenson 2015

The Man Who Mended Broken Hearts

He had spent most of his young life wondering where he fitted into things. He had tried football, but he wasn’t a footballer. He’d tried being popular, and he was worse at that than he was at football.
He had tried singing, acting, comedy, knitting (yeah, that was a disaster), writing, driving, working in a factory, and he succeeded at being useless at all of them.

A boy in his position might have gone off the rails and taken to stimulants, to make his life a little more bearable, but instead he decided to shut down his life and wait for a change in the times.
He didn’t get depressed and stay in bed or anything. No, what he did was keep his head down; neither looking left nor right and this helped get him through the days, weeks, and years.

You’re saying to yourself what a waste of a life – but everyone, and I mean everyone, has wasted something in their lives. I guess you’re wasting valuable time reading this stuff. Still I’ve got you here, so we may as well plod on.

He never really had a relationship to speak of, as he considered himself too little in the world to be of any interest to anyone. But you know what? There is always someone watching you and wishing they could talk to you.

So he kept himself to himself, and kept his head down (as I was saying) and tried to be as invisible as possible. Then one day, one sunny, fine day, he was crossing the street and saw a woman carrying her child - one who was running to catch a bus.
The woman, who was wearing the worst shoes in the world to go running, slipped - and so she and her child fell into the road. He saw all of this and also saw that there was a bus coming which would hit the mother and child. He managed to grab the child and mother before any damage was done.

When you do that on instinct, there is no chance of keeping your head down and being invisible. He was called a hero in the local papers, and anyone who passed him wanted to shake his hand and talk to him. They all patted him on the back and it made him feel that he belonged for the first time in his life.

Things might have died away and returned to normal, if it hadn’t been for a young unhappy girl who threated to jump from the top of the town hall. When the police tried to stop her, she said she would jump unless the man who saved the mother and baby came to talk to her.

While he was trying to keep his head down, and neither looking left nor right, the police came and collected him and told him a woman’s life depended on him. He talked to her and she asked why a man with no family and no friends (for that’s what the newspapers had said) was able to go on living. And he told her that he kept his head down and neither looked left nor right and he seemed to get to places. She said that didn’t sound like happiness, and he said that perhaps it wasn’t, but he said that he didn’t need anyone to keep him going. He said that if you can keep yourself content, then anything else is a bonus.

She told him that she was unhappy since everyone let her down, and people made her feel sad. And that was when the universe and he aligned, and he told her that happiness is not a god given right. Happiness is for you to make for yourself, and not to be placed in the hands of others. If you can be content with who you are (and considering the amount of trouble the universe has gone to make you, you should be) then when someone brings happiness into your life, then that too is a bonus. But never, ever, expect it from others – they weren’t put on this planet to make you happy.
And she agreed with him and ran into his arms – and didn’t jump.

So now the man who kept himself to himself was even a bigger hero in the papers and crowds started to follow him and he found it hard to be alone. One evening when there was probably about 100 people following him, he turned and asked them all to sit down and that they did. He said that he had no idea what makes a person content but it must start with yourself. Only you can make you happy, and only you can fix a broken heart.

Some thought that he was cheating by saying that, because it was others who had broken the heart in the first place. He said that was exactly his point, your heart got broken because you trusted it with other people.

Then one girl put her hand up and said that it was good to need people, and to have people need you, it made you feel alive. Then she said that since he had been alone all his life he couldn’t understand that point.
He thought for a moment, thinking that maybe she was correct, and then said, no she was wrong. If you love yourself first, then you can love others properly, but if you don’t love yourself and make others responsible for that point, then people are always going to break your heart, because you placed it in their hands.

And one little man at the back said that he didn’t like himself very much and didn’t see much of a chance of loving himself.
He replied that we were all born to love ourselves and it was just that we got blinded to it, by others. Then he asked the folks that if they had a piece of paper then they were to write down all the problems they had – all of them, honestly put down. The problems would be anonymous and then each person was to throw the paper into the crowd and pick up another’s paper.

The crowd sat and read other folks’ problems and some laughed and some had tears running down their faces. Then the man asked who would swap theirs for the ones in their hands and you know what – no one wanted to.
And that’s what he told them – be happy with who you are – the alternatives could be so much worse. It didn’t make all of them happy (or at least content) because as we know, some folks were born to be unhappy.

Happiness is your responsibility, he told them and they kept repeating that fact all the way home. Except for one wee man (and there must have been another) who had picked up his own piece of paper and felt that everyone must have the same problems as he, and that made him happy too.

As for our hero, well he had finally found his place in the universe. It wasn’t grand and it wasn’t a world famous footballer. He was just the man who mended broken hearts and that was good enough for him. 

bobby stevenson 2015
Photograph: A Lonely Road

Monday, 28 September 2015

Three Stories From The Camp

1.You’re probably asking how I first met her, and I would have to say that it was around sometime in the late 1940s; down in the boon docks.  
 She’d been born in Mainz, Germany on January 1st, 1900 and had seen more than her fair share of everything in this life.

She was a Jew, and a proud one and, as you can probably guess, watched most of her family disappear into concentration camps.She was feeding the birds by the docks that day. I remember it was a warm sultry afternoon in New York.

I asked if I could help and she said sure, I could. I had some coffee and we sat and shared it, sitting on an old crate. She had an almost permanent smile on her face, as if to say, I’m happy world, just get used to it.Boy did we talk. I told her about my family who lived upstate and how my great uncle helped invent the automobile.

“You must be very proud,” she said in a thick German accent. Sure I was, I told her, sure I was. And her grin became a huge smile. I asked her about her own family, and she said that there weren’t no one left.

“All gone,” and then she nodded her head as if to say into the showers of those camps.

“All of them?” I asked.
“Yah,” and then she took another sip of her very cold coffee.
“Where were you?” I asked.

And she told me she had been there too, along with her three brothers, three sisters and her mother and father.

“At the end, there was only me,” she said sadly.

So I asked her, how or why she survived.
“Only the good Lord knows that one,” she said.

Then she told me how she got through those days of death and hatred. She said that she would close her eyes for one minute every day. One minute when things were getting really bad and she would remember who she was. It was as simple as that.

“Just close your eyes and recite your name and then remember who and what you are. Some things or someone in the universe went to a lot of trouble to get you here. Just think of that.”

It was just as the sun was on its last legs that she said she must get back home, and that it had been very nice talking to me.

Here’s the funny bit  - every day after that I did the very same thing. One minute with my eyes closed just to remember who I was.

I have to tell you, it’s got me through a lot of life’s stuff.

2.The clanking of the train as it went over the gaps in the rail made him think of home. If he closed his eyes, he could still hear the horse and carts passing outside the family home in the west of town.Oh, those days of endless sunshine and hope. Everyone was friendly.
Everyone shared. Everyone was in and out of each other’s homes. My son did this, my daughter has achieved that – my, hasn’t your youngest grown. They were the best of days.

He would come home from school and there was his mother sitting at the table, smiling, as only she could. No matter how bad the day had been, that smile would melt away any pain and discomfort. Those were the best of times. No doubt about it.

His father had taught him to help those who needed it, without complaint.

“And I want you, my boy, to do a good deed each and every day without telling anyone about it. Promise?”

And he crossed his heart and hoped to die that he would do it – and he had, as best he could. There was no point in thinking of them all over again – for that would be praising himself for his good deeds.

So why was what he was about to do the most selfish thing he had ever done in his life? How had he got to this point?

Perhaps in every good deed is the seed of its own destruction.

He had seen the boy from across the street many times. Now and again he had nodded or even, on occasion, said good morning. The boy and his family had intrigued him greatly. Although they seemed to be very well off for this part of town, they never ever smiled. It had taken him a while to work out what it was that had bothered him about the boy and his people. They didn’t laugh. How strange, he thought. Perhaps, money doesn’t make you happy after all.

Then one night as he as staring through the window, he saw that the boy was being whipped by his father. It was severe, but as far as he could see, the boy did not appear to show any pain on his face. He just held the side of the kitchen table tightly and gritted his teeth.

He saw the boy the next evening, standing alone watching the carriages pass by and for the first time he spoke properly to him.

“Would you care for a chocolate?”

The boy looked at him suspiciously, then smiled and said thank you. And as quick as the smile came, it went in again and the boy’s face grew dark. It wasn’t until a week later that he saw the boy standing on the corner of the street and he was sobbing. He said good afternoon to him but the boy turned his face away. He asked the boy how he was doing and the boy grunted that he was okay but could he go away and leave him alone. However this was his good deed for the day and he wanted to help the boy. He gave him his handkerchief that his mother ironed for him every day. The boy eventually took it and wiped the blood from the mark on his face. The boy said thank you then wandered off home.

The next day the boy’s father, the one who liked to hit his son, came to his door to return the handkerchief. The man looked at the signs on the wall and said:

“You are…..?” Then the father spat on the ground and ripped the handkerchief up.

In the middle of the night they came for his mother, his father and himself. As they led them away, he could see the boy’s father looking from the window and smiling.

They had been on the train about two days when the wooden slat had opened up at the side. It was only big enough for him to get through, no matter how hard he wished it, his mother and father could never squeeze through that hole.

They told him he had to go and that he had to go as soon as the train slowed. His father pushed his son through the hole.

And that is why he jumped from the train - leaving everyone he loved aboard and on their way to Auschwitz.

3.Everyone called him Papa - that was how he was known in our part of the square. ‘Papa, the storyteller’, to give him his full, well-deserved title.
Whether the stories were as old as the hills, or maybe Papa himself, or even little ditties he made up on the spot; they were always the same thing, they were wonderful and they took us away from our own lives.

“Gather around children, gather around, push-up close to one another, I don’t want to have to shout,” he would say with the biggest grin I had ever seen.

We would all push in to the front, and in doing so, keep each other warm and for a few minutes we would forget where we were and get wrapped up in the warmth and colours of Papa’s stories.

They were as rich as cream, and as light as feathers. They made us laugh, always they made us laugh – that was the one and only rule of Papa: “these stories, my little blessed ones are to make you all happy in there,” and that is when he would point to his heart.

There are times in your life when something so terrible happens that you push it to the back of your mind. Then in the morning, when you awake, you are happy for the merest of seconds before you remember whatever it is you have experienced.

And so it was with Papa’s stories, when they were done, and only when they were done, I would suddenly remember where I was and immediately feel sad again.

It was the same for us all.
I remember Papa’s last story as if it were yesterday.

“Come close my little kinder. Closer still, we don’t want those others to hear our precious little stories,” and then we would all sit as close as our little frail bodies would allow.
“Can you all hear me?” and he’d put a hand to his ear.

“Yes!” we would all whisper.

“Then I shall begin. Once upon a long ago, there was a little child, a little strong boy by the name of Joseph.”

“That is my name,” said Joseph, who sat next to me, proudly.

“So it is, and much like you he was full of life itself. And this little strong boy decided to help the oldest woman who lived in their village. For they all lived in the highest of highest mountains and each of them had to help the other. The town was two days ride away and so everyone needed everyone else. The little boy knocked on the old lady’s door. He was nervous - for it was told that she was a witch. At first she shouted ‘go away’ because through the years, she had been tormented by some. But the little boy persisted and knocked the door again. This time the old lady, who some say was as old as the moon itself - opened the door. ‘What do you want?’ she asked and the little boy explained that he wanted to help. At first she was unsure but as she asked the boy to do more and more tasks, he seemed to enjoy all of it. ‘Why are you helping me?’ she asked. And the little boy explained that he had been taught that helping others was the only way to live. And so the boy came and helped the old lady, day after day, week after week. Then one day, the old lady said she would reward the little boy, who said it didn’t really matter as helping the lady was all that counted. But she insisted and she told him to close his eyes and in doing so, he could go anywhere he wanted. And sure enough, he closed his eyes and the next thing he knew, he was standing on top of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. Now children I want you to do the same,” Papa said to us all.

And sure enough we all kept her eyes tight closed and imagined the greatest of all places to be; and while we were doing this, the guards were waiting on Papa outside the hut and then they marched him to the showers.

We only found this out a little later.

Like the rest who took that walk, Papa never returned, but like the little boy, I still close my eyes and wish of somewhere else.

bobby stevenson 2015

Friday, 25 September 2015

Jinky, the Nutcase

“So what do you want me to call you, Jinky or Jenkinson?” I asked him.
“Why is that so important?” He replied.
“So I know what name to give to the police when I call them,” I added.
“And why would you do that?” Jinky or Jenkinson responded.
“Because, it’s 3am, I don’t know you from Adam, and you’re sitting on the end of my bed.”
“And your problem is what exactly? And by the way, I prefer the name Jinky.”

“My problem is, that you’ve broken in to my house,” I said.
“’Breaking in’ is such an emotive way to put things, but then again I guess you’re a writer and you can say things like that. People who break-in usually steal things. I don’t want to steal anything apart from a few minutes of your time.”
“But why at 3am?” I asked.
“Because I knew there was a chance of getting you in. I have come to your door several times during the day and there’s never anyone home. And, may I add that would be a better time to break-in rather than at 3am.”

The stupid thing was I could see that he had a point. Still, with my finger on the police speed dial button, I thought I would give a chance to explain himself, 3am or not.

“I want you to tell me what happens at the end of your story.”
“Which story?” I thought I should ask.
“’The Shenandoah Reclaim’, the story where the cowboy rides off into the sunset,” he said.
“How should I know?” I asked wishing I had called the police.
“Because you wrote it, but only up to a point,” he said, annoyed.
“I like to leave the reader to make the rest up for themselves, I like to let them take over the story,” I lied.
“What if they don’t want to?” He demanded. He was no longer sitting on the bed but standing.
“Tough? What kind of answer is that?” He shouted (and he was shouting).
“The only one you’re going to get at 3.15am,” I said smugly, although wishing that I had more than a couple of Dan Brown novels next to the bed to throw at him. I knew they would come in handy someday as they are no use when you read them.
“I’m not leaving until you tell me what happens and without any help from me,” he said pointing his finger straight at me.

So that was what I did for the rest of the night. I made up a story about Gene, the cowboy and the things he did next after riding into the sunset.

I awoke about 10am to find that Jinky (as he likes to be called) had disappeared as mysteriously as he had turned up. Although he had left a note saying that he was unhappy at my ending of ‘The Rose Girl’ and would I mind if he dropped by at 3 to 3.30am tomorrow to find out what happened next. 

You see I only wrote these things to pass the time, if I thought people were going to read them, I wouldn’t have bothered.

bobby stevenson 2015

Thursday, 24 September 2015


Tommy lived in a town where you had to be one thing or another. That was the way it was, that was the way it had probably always been. There was no room for neutrals, no room at all.

The folks who lived on the north side of the street gave their allegiances to the blue team and those on the south gave theirs to the green.

It was no use saying that you liked them both, or worse still, that you didn’t care about either – both of these cases got you beaten up. That was all that ever happened to Tommy, he was beaten up.

In this part of the world, for reasons that are better known to themselves, the greens went to one school and the blues went to another.  Now Tommy wasn’t sure what the merits were in either system, just that he would have liked to have been friends with both, but as he already knew, that was impossible.

Both sides thought they were in the right, which meant that both sides thought that the others were wrong, and that included the folks who thought nothing about either; those folks were probably the worst according to both.

Tommy’s ma had passed away when he was barely out of nappies, and soon his father had met another woman which had caused him to move down south. Tommy stayed on in the town with his gran and granddad both of whom were neither green nor blue but just beige (if a person could be beige).

He had a lonely wee life, had Tommy, since he was a neutral and therefore was the lowest form of life, but there was one thing that made him happy and that was rock music. More importantly, David Bowie’s music.

You see, this was the year of 1973 and this was also the year of Glam Rock. Folks who weren’t trying to thump each other, were dressing up in glitter and sequins, and basically dodging folks beating them up.

When Tommy’s grandparents went to their beds, which was usually around 6pm, Tommy would put on the record, Ziggy Stardust and dress up as his hero. His hair would be red and his face was painted with his gran’s makeup - and he was the happiest boy alive. 

One Saturday when the blues were marching for something and the greens were marching for something else, Tommy was left in the house because his grandparents felt that it was too dangerous for a boy to be out on the streets. 
Right out in front of Tommy’s house, the blues came marching, shouting and singing from one direction, and the greens were singing, shouting and marching from the other.

Tommy hid behind the curtain to see what would occur, and that was when Tommy decided that he was fed up hiding and that he would go outside.
The blues and the greens were at what you would call, a stand-off’ snarling, and shouting abuse at each other – when suddenly they all stopped, and everything went quiet.

Tommy, all dressed up as Ziggy Stardust walked down between the two groups and started singing a song from his favourite album. In the silence some started sniggering, then there was laughter, then both sides shouted, then both applauded the wee rock star.

And for a few minutes both sides sang along with wee Tommy and forgot that they were either blue or green. 

And Tommy felt it was probably the best day of his life – so far.

Katie and her sister came as a pair. They were born almost a year apart. They ended up in the same class in school when Irene (the elder of the two) was kept back and made to repeat a year. 

They left school and worked in the same shop together and both went out with boys from the same street.

But for whatever reasons, they never got married – and became ‘old maids’ as some folks would say unkindly.

It was in Katie’s 70th year, and Irene’s 71st, when the younger girl noticed the changes in her sister. Irene began to forget things, (as did Katie) but it sometimes meant Irene leaving a stove or a kettle burning away. Then Irene started to imagine things and people (and they were things that Katie wasn’t able to see and share). Then Irene started to walk about at night and sometimes leave the house which meant that Katie had to go out into the dark and follow her, finally bringing her sister home.

The doctor grew concerned about Irene and told Katie that she must be prepared for Irene to go into hospital. So one night, on Irene’s final night in the house. Katie dressed up as one of Irene’s imaginary friends and she laid a pot of tea out on the table and Irene served sandwiches to everyone. Then in the dark they went for a walk, with Irene and all her friends. Irene and Katie sat at the edge of the forest watching the sun come up and Katie watched Irene have her final sleep on the outside.


Then the school bell would ring for a freedom that would last the entire summer. Marcus loved all those days that lay ahead – sunshine and heat in the hills of his childhood, and on the very hot days, the trips to the seaside – ice creams and fish and chips.

He used to lie next to the little beached fishing boats on the front at Hasting and stare at the blueness of the sky and wonder what it looked like from the other side.
And now he knew.

His life had been all rocket science, finishing up with him becoming an astro-engineer; a man who would spend too long away from his family, but he had to admit he loved it up here. Out in space - on the European station – several hundred kilometres above his home.

The Project Manager had asked him and the Bulgarian – Androv to check the pipe flow – it had a habit of closing down when the pipes went into the side away from the sun. But Androv had been in sick bay and Marcus had decided to check the pipes himself.

The fail-safe attachment had severed. He had no idea why. As soon as they noticed he was gone they would sound the ‘man-overboard’ alarm.

But it would probably be too late by then, and as he drifted further into deep space, he felt a peace and a freedom that he hadn’t tasted since the days of the school bell.

Her friends were always there waiting on her. Sadie would stand on her bed and lean out the window, and below her window were her three best pals in the whole wide world.

Annie was the beauty – she would probably be a matinee idol and then there was Celia, who would definitely win a Gold medal at the Olympics. Sasha was the brainy one, the one who said that one day she would be a great doctor.

Sasha could whistle the loudest, so she always stuck two fingers in her mouth and alerted Sadie that the gang were ready to enjoy another day together.

Those were the best days of her life. She was sure there had been other days just as enjoyable – days when she had been a mother or even a grandmother, but she couldn’t remember those days at all.

But for the time being, Sadie waved to her pals below and shouted that she would be down in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. She always said those words, and her pals always laughed.

Just then the nurse came into Sadie’s room.

“What are you doing standing on your bed, Mrs Jenkins. How many times have I told you not to lean out the window,” said the nurse.

“But my pals, are waiting,” said Sadie.

“Well they are just going to have to wait a bit longer”.

And the nurse gave Sadie her medication which sent her to sleep, and in her sleep Sadie would leave the old folks’ home and join Sasha, Celia and Annie below for a day of fun and freedom. 

His auntie used to ruffle Henry’s hair when he was about five, then put her massive hand underneath his chin and force his cheeks together to make him smile.

“Aggie, your boy, your little Henry is a worrier. He was born worrying and he’ll probably die worrying,” said an auntie who meant well.

But she had been right, Henry had never known a day when he wasn’t worried about one thing or another. He was always sure the sky was going to fall on his head.

He worried at night that his house had been built on top of a coal mine and that one dark evening he would be swallowed up.

Worrying became his friend, and it was a friend that he would be lost without.
It was on the day of his 61st birthday that he entered the bank to withdraw money to buy himself a present. He never kept money in the house just in case it was stolen.

Henry didn’t see the bank robber at the other end of the building but he did feel the bullet as it entered his chest and exited his back.

As Henry fell to the ground, he could see the blood - and felt satisfied that all his worrying hadn’t been in vain. And as the darkness came over him, he could feel a kind of warmth and freedom in his dying. He had nothing left to worry about now and that was just dandy.

bobby stevenson 2015