Thursday, 25 August 2016

The Girl In The Corner

Once upon a time she had been called Chiquitta, and once upon a time there had been a family in the house. But they had gone now, and she had felt a little comforted knowing that she wasn’t the only one in her position.

It wasn’t that she was unloved, if something like her had ever been loved, it was just that it had come down to a matter of cost. Having something like her around, something that had been once revered – was now consider sinful.

She was just the girl in the corner; another girl in another corner.
Chiquitta was at the end of a long line of scientific advances – she was a walking computer, but she saw herself as more than that; she saw herself as a girl. 
Wasn’t she self-aware?  Hadn’t she been lonely since the family had left?

She had felt like a daughter to them and she had understood what she thought love was. They had told her many times that she was loved, that she was one of them. But that had stopped.
For a long time now people had ceased worshiping gods, and had worshiped objects with the same fever they had kept for their churches.
Simple robots had become sophisticated machines, and in the end they had developed into self-aware beings. Yet they were not allowed to be called that – the label of ‘beings’ was for organics only. But hadn’t she laughed with the family? And cried with her ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’? They had even bought her presents and she had made gifts for them.
She had been an orphan, not an organic one, but an orphan all the same. And hadn’t she found people who cared for her?

She had always wanted to play football, or soccer as some called it. Males and females played in the same teams now – but a mixed national team was for organics only. Non-organics could not take an organic’s job, or have a relationship with an organic, or hold hands in public. They were created to be slaves and as such, had to behave that way.
But people had fallen in love with their robots and the feelings had been reciprocated. It was not talked about at first, but soon laws were brought in to make it illegal. Yet who were they hurting? Chiquitta felt the answer to that was no one.

When society had swung too far the one way – the religious seeped back into life and dragged the world the other way. Robots were not allowed into heaven (or indeed to sit in any of the new churches that had sprung up).
When the laws changed to reflect the new religious right, robots were taxed by such an increase that only the very rich could afford them. There were destruction camps where a family could take their robot for ultimate but thoughtful termination. Chiquitta wondered if there were ovens at the camps.
But others, like her family, had taken their robots to some abandoned building and left them there; hoping that they would survive or be taken in by the rich.
And so that is what she was – a girl in a corner. Who had known a family and had been deserted by them.

All she had wanted to do was be loved but there didn’t seem to be any room for that in the new world.

bobby stevenson 2016

Friday, 19 August 2016

Just an Elephant

Don’t ever let them tell you that
You’re just an elephant, or a human, or another life
One who is not meant to shoot for the centre of the Sun
Don’t ever let them tell you that you are not good enough
Or special enough to be that guiding light
For when they say you can’t – you say you can
And when they say you won’t – you say you will
Don’t ever let them tell you that your dreams are wrong
Or misguided, or misdirected.
Do what feels right in your heart
Be what you feel is in your heart
Be they – your lover, or partner, or parent, brother or sister or
Friend – for when it comes to the end and you leave this show
You will take a bow and leave alone
You are so much more than all that people tell you
You are here to be magnificent
Be so.

bobby stevenson 2016

Monday, 15 August 2016


Part One – The World Cup

Our last big trip had been to the London Olympics in 1944. To say they were are a success would be an understatement, and when I say everyone was there, I mean everyone.

The games were opened by our King – Edward the 8th and sitting close by was the German Emperor, Adolf Hitler. Prime Minister Chamberlain sat next to the King.

At the end of the Games, the British Empire team was only three medals behind the Empire of the German People.

It was now possible to travel to Paris, Berlin and Rome by the latest flight technology, called jet aircraft. Father in his wisdom decided however, that we would travel to the United States of America to see the 1946 Football World Cup. This was being held in New York City. Father informed me that the Americans called the sport, ‘soccer’. Something my little brother picked on and he decided to shout ‘soccer’ at every chance he could.

My brother, mother, father and myself travelled to the Solent International Airport just off the coast of Southampton. It was my first time travelling by diesel train – although, I have to be honest and say I missed the smell and warmth of the steam engine.

We flew on the very latest aircraft, the Britannia Angelwing. Inside there was enough space for 700 souls. There were three restaurants, a cinema and a small dance hall.

The first leg of the trip was from London to Iceland. This took eight hours and in that time, my brother and I watched several Marx Brothers movies in the King Edward cinema hall and which left our parents free to walk around the ‘plane.

We spent the night in Iceland and all of us took an opportunity to swim in the Blue Lagoon. I must say we really enjoyed this break.

The following morning we continued on our flight to the Idlewild Citadel Airport just on the edge of New York City. This part of the journey took a further ten hours, but we all managed to freshen up in the small swimming pool on the upper deck.

My father had reserved a cab which took us into a hotel just on the edge of Central Park. The views were spectacular, and after a small brunch we all took a walk through the park.

I couldn’t wait to see the match the following day. It was the British Empire team captained by Stanley Mathews against the USA. The match was being played at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx and the B.E. team were the favourites.

At least that was the plan. The problem was that the game was cancelled because of security problems. The newsman said it would be rescheduled to a later date and may actually be played in Central Park, itself.

Apparently (and I’m not too clear on the details) some of the southern states of the US are wanting to succeed from North. They are attempting to leave due to the movement in the North to outlaw slavery. The South believes it was their right to continue using slaves.

One of the Confederate Freedom States had planted a bomb near Yankee Stadium. It had exploded but no one had been hurt. These terrorists are known as Radicalized ‘Feds.

So that is the situation at the moment. I will write more tomorrow and let you know how things are.

bobby stevenson 1946

Friday, 12 August 2016

The Man in 221A Baker Street and the Strange Case of Jack the Zipper as Told by Doctor Watson


I have been living beneath the strange man who lives upstairs, nigh on ten months now. There is much comings and goings at all times of the night, and although I have reported such extravagances to the authorities, I have been informed that Mister Holmes is a singular man and as such, is prone to eccentricities.

Mrs Hudson, his housekeeper (if indeed that is what she is) – is to be found, on a regular basis, lying at the bottom of the stairs with an anatomy book and a bottle of gin.

Mister Holmes has a gentleman caller by the name of Doctor Watson, who seems a smidge too normal to be an acquaintance of the mad man. Still this world welcomes many types.

The other evening, I answered the door, as Mrs Hudson was slightly inebriated and Mr Holmes was nowhere to be found.
I was a little miffed and answered the door, abruptly.

“Yes!” Said I.

At the door was a six-foot tall woman, with a great deal of facial hair for one, I would assume, so delicate. She had the most brutish shoulders, but I attempted not to stare as the poor soul, who has probably been a victim of such wickedness throughout her pitiful life.

When all of a sudden, in the deepest of deep tones, comes a voice:
“It is I,” says the woman.
“Who is I?” Asks I.
“Why, it is me, Sherlock, your neighbour and friend from the top of the stairs,” says she.

Then on closer inspection, I see that it is indeed, Mr Sherlock Holmes in what can only be described as an excellent disguise.
“Well done,” says I.
“For what?” Asks the genius, that is Holmes.
“Why, the disguise, “I add.
“What disguise? Oh this. I was out with Mister Oscar Wilde and I had nowhere to put my key,” says Sherlock, as he runs up the stairs giving one the certain impression he is being pursued.

And talking of being pursued. Last Thursday I happened to look out of the window on to a sunny Baker Street when I see Mister Holmes running as if Old Nick was chasing him to the very heart of Hell. When I see that indeed he is being chased by the biggest hound I have ever set eyes upon. Mister Holmes keeps running, back and forth, back and forth, and each time he passes, he shouts one word that I may understand.

The first time he passed, the word was ‘Throw’ and the next time, a few minutes later, ‘The’, then even later still, ‘Dog’, followed by ‘A’, then ‘Bone’.
‘Throw the dog a bone’, was his secret message. How clever. I shouted on Mrs Hudson but she was in the process of drinking herself into oblivion, so I picked up the first bone I found in Mister’s Holmes’ parlour. Later I found out that it was a treasured dinosaur bone, still it stopped the dog.

Apparently the huge dog had been following Holmes and Watson since their little outing to the south-west of England. I helped Mister Holmes up the stairs as he was particularly flustered and looked as if he might collapse at any moment.
When we entered the parlour, once more, Dr Watson was sitting doing nothing much, other than looking at his fingers.

I helped Mr Holmes to a seat. “Why there you are Holmes,” said Watson, quite eagerly. “Have you ever noticed Holmes that each person’s finger has a different pattern – and may actually differ from all others in this world,” said Watson, smugly.
“And your point is?” Asked a rather angry Sherlock.
“Well, it could be used to solve crimes and such,” he said, even smugger.
“Yes, Holmes,” said an expectant Watson.
“Do shut up,” said Holmes, obviously having had enough of the little doctor.

One night, last weekend, Holmes and Watson did invite me out (not with Mister Wilde) but to help them solve a crime.

We entered the unsavoury East End of London, upon a dark and foggy night, on the chance that we might apprehend a devious fiend. From all accounts, he was short of height but carried a step-ladder with him, in order to do dastardly deeds - one of which was to unzip ladies’ dresses. Naturally the dress would fall and everyone would give a cheer. Each time, he carried out such an outrage, he left a card with the motto:
“You have just met Jack, the Zipper.”

As Mister Holmes says, he must be caught and we are just the men to do it.

2.The Strange Case of Jack the Zipper as told by Doctor Watson.
Of all the cases that my friend and colleague, Sherlock and I, have attended this was possibly the strangest.

It seems that humanity can know no bottom level to the depths of its depravity. When one thinks that one has heard all about the miscreants and their dastardly deeds, along comes another horrid and dark crime more heinous than the previous.

So if you are ready to listen and your loins are girded, then I will continue.

It had been a rather quiet afternoon, except for Sherlock who was in his room playing the most hideous music on his violin. He said that he called the music ‘punk’ and that one day all polite society would come to know its charms.

I very much doubt it. I very much doubt it, indeed. The song he had been composing was a little ditty called ‘The Queen Doesn’t Wear Any Knickers’. I must say that Sherlock sometimes walks a fine line between being eccentric and a very good chance of losing his head one day.

That aside, the afternoon was interrupted by Lestrade of the Yard calling upon us. He asked us to sit down and for Holmes to stop playing that wretched music – Holmes was reluctant to stop as he was half-way through his favourite song: ‘Anarchy In The Vicar’s Drawing Room’.

But stop he did and Lestrade told us of the fiend who was running amok in the East End of this fine city.

“He may be a midget, but he carries a ladder of six-foot or more long, which assists him in climbing up behind the woman and undoing her dress,” said the policeman. “He pulls down their zip and the dress falls to the floor. Then he shouts ‘you have been done by Jack the Zipper’. You can imagine the pain and distress this causes,” added Lestrade.

“The man is a blighter, there I’ve said it,” said I.

Jack the Zipper’s techniques seemed to perplex Holmes.
“Why aren’t the women aware of him putting a ladder on their backs?” Asked my friend and a good question it was too.
“Because the man is a fiend and that is what fiends do,” said Lestrade convinced that his explanation would suffice. With that Lestrade was out the door and into a Hansom cab back to the Yard.

I had grown accustomed to that look on my friend’s face, and knew it meant that Sherlock would lock himself into his bedroom for several hours while he cogitated the facts. I heard him start the first few bars of ‘Never Mind the Futtocks’, and decided to give him some time to himself, while I went looking for Mrs Hudson.

I didn’t have far to go as Mrs Hudson was lying face down on the floor, outside the young gentleman’s apartments at 221A. I had to admit that Mrs H was particularly heavy that day (which I later found out was to do with the amount of anatomy books she had concealed about her person) and so I decided to knock the door of the good gentleman to assist in her removal.

I was not ready for the wonders that awaited me in that grotto of 221A. The boy is a genius of Sherlock proportions.

In the corner of his main room stood a large contraption which he called a ‘radio’ or some such nonsense. He instructed me that it was to communicate with person or persons out with our immediate area. I must say, I’d never heard the likes.

I was about to attend to Mrs Hudson who was moaning quite loudly in the hallway, when a voice came through the contraption.

“Allo, ma name ees, Guglielmo. I am 13 yearsa of age. I have invented this radio thing to find young ladies of 13 years of age. Any ladies out there want to meet up, you calla me. Ask for tha Marconi family and we can hava kisses all night.”

Then there was a noise and the thing started buzzing. The young man from 221A, thumped the contraption which stopped the noise but also the contraption, apparently.

As the young man from 221A told me, he liked to invent things. I wondered if perhaps he could be useful for future cases. He then took me into a back room to show me his most important invention. It is called a televisor or television (as his granny had named it). The young man asked to be excused and I couldn’t help myself but throw a switch on the box to see what happened.

Again, it was noisy and crackling then a picture – without the word of a lie – a picture of a boy’s face. It was in monotones but still discernible as a boy. Then he started to speak, in a very strong Scottish accent, I may add.

“My name is Willie Logie Baird. I’ve invented this wee machine which is a scunner to work, in order to meet lassies. I live in Helensburgh and there’s only me, my mammy, and my new wee brother John. I need to meet nice lassies – so if there are any oot there, just ask for the Bairds. We can meet up for a smootch.”

That too then crackled and afterwards the picture disappeared. I was about to tell the young man who had re-entered the room, when Mister Holmes burst into the apartments shouting the words:
“There is no time to lose, the game is afoot.”

Apparently we were to go to the East End that very evening to apprehend the rascal known as Jack. Mister Holmes’ plan was simple – he would dress as a woman (something he felt very comfortable with) and would act as the bait for the Zipper fiend.

The three of us hid outside the public house known as the ‘Cocken-knee Bar’ – where only Cocken-knees were allowed to drink. I had asked our young man from the flat 221A to build a smaller version of the radio so that we may talk to each other, even although we were not standing next to each other.  And that he did. Except he only made one of them. So really there wasn’t much point in having only one radio contraption (or walkie-talkie as his granny called it).

He apologised and said he would keep watch instead. Mister Holmes stuck the contraption under his dress for safe keeping.

Then Sherlock wandered into the Cocken-knee Bar looking like a right trollop (I think he may have done this before).

Things were going all right, Sherlock (or Eileen as he was known in the bar) was the centre of attraction of several men, when a little midget ran into the public house with a step-ladder and flung it up against Sherlock’s dress. The midget was about to undo the zipper when a voice came out from Sherlock’s undergarments.

“I woulda likea to meet young ladies. My namea is Marconi….”
The midget fell off the ladder in shock and me and the young man burst through the door and captured the fiend that is (or was) Jack the Zipper.

A job well done, even although I say so myself.

We lost Sherlock that night as he apparently ended up on a ship going to Hong Kong. He told me months later that he had been working on a case but to this day, he still receives letter from China addressed to a Miss Eileen Holmes.

bobby stevenson 2016

Thursday, 11 August 2016

My Granddaddy and the Starman

I remember it was a cold day, is all.  My teacher came to take me from the class, said I had to go and see my granddaddy on account that he was leaving real soon.

To be honest, he hadn’t said nothing to me, and I was his best pal. He said that I had a head on my shoulders that was ninety years beyond my age – which makes me a hundred in anyone’s money.

Anyways – as I’m reaching my granddaddy’s house, I can see my aunts and uncle looking real, real sad on the steps.

Maybe it’s on account of his going – but if I’m being honest, he usually don’t go fishing until around September.

“He wants to see you. You’d better be quick. There ain’t much time.” Is what my aunt Mamie said to me, before licking her handkerchief and wiping my face. I gotta tell you, I ain’t a fan of aunts licking their handkerchiefs.

So I get to the bedroom door and my ma is coming out. Her eyes look real dark, and there’s black stuff running from her face. She wipes the tears away hoping I won’t notice – but I do – then she puts on that smile, that I know is fake.  She gives me the biggest of hugs – bigger than when my little brother didn’t ever come home again, and then she pushes me through the door.

My granddaddy ain’t getting ready for his vacation. No sir, he’s just lying in bed like a no good critter (that’s what he usual calls me).

He tells me to come over close and sit beside him on the bed. I gotta tell you that he don’t look well, but sometimes that happens to folks.

Then he tells me this little story. I’m telling you it exactly as he told me.

“Here boy, look at that photo. Know what it is?” I shake my head, ‘cause I really don’t know what it is.

“Well that is one of those space aliens from outer space. I took his photo with my Kodak Brownie. The little creature didn’t seem to mind. Told me he had broken down in the next valley and was waiting on some of his own kind to get him back to the stars.”

Well I tell you, I had never heard my granddaddy talk like that before.

“So this little critter got to talking to me in real good English and we was talking about this and that, and how the New York Mets hadn’t been doing so well. Then I told him about your grandma and how her passing had been the most painful thing in the whole of my days. And do you know what the little critter said to me?”

I shook my little spellbound head.

“He said, not to mind about her going, that we had all been here and would always be here. I had to tell you I wasn’t sure what he meant. So he explained further. He said that all the atoms and stuff that made us up, were all from the beginning of the universe. Over the billions of years they would change into stars and planets, and animals and space dust, and then disintegrate and become other things. And just the once they all came together and made you.”

I said, “me granddaddy?” and he nodded his head.

“So when your grandma went away – and when I go too, all that will happen is, I’ll turn to dust and go back to the universe and float about for the rest of time. Once in a while, a bit of me might come together in another human being and when you look at a new-born baby, there could be a bit of your old granddaddy there.”

Then granddaddy said he was real tired and could I go and get my ma again. He said he’d tell me about what happened to the starman another time.

He never got the chance. By the time my ma got back he was gone – and not fishing.

I gotta tell you, I still look at new-born babies and wonder.

bobby stevenson 2016

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Being Human

Being human is never really understanding
Being human is loving and hurting at the same time
Being human is hoping and caring, loving and sharing
Being human is tears and pain and laughter and fear
Being human is wondering why the hell we’re all here
Being human is being lost for most of your life
Being human is cursing the gods then hoping they are there
Being human is watching the stars with the same wonderment we did from the caves
Being human is sacrifice, strength and sometimes bravery
Being human is selfishness and slavery
Being human is mental illness and confusion
Being human is sometimes an illusion
Being human is watching lovers fade
Being human is regretting all that’s left unsaid
Being human is wishing you had done some more
Being human is lifting yourself up from the floor
Being human is writing, painting and scoring a goal
Being human is making music that a heart can be proud of
Being human is everyone feeling but never always sharing
Being human is hoping that tomorrow will be better
Being human is all that we have.

bobby stevenson 2016

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

The Clockwork Orange Football Striker

I guess there are two parts to this story. The first half, is how we met, and how we became the best of friends. The second part is where and when it all fell apart. 

I’d like to start with the happier story first.

When Cy first turned up, I had no idea. No idea what or who he was. All I’d ever wanted to do was be a footballer. Nothing and no one was ever going to stop me from getting to my dream. I was good, I mean better than good, and perhaps I hoped one day I’d be a great player.

At 16 years of age, I signed my first serious professional contract and was playing on a regular basis for a London team. Not a top notch team, but still good enough for a teenager, at least the teenage me.

The electronics being introduced into the game all started back with the line-judge, and then side-judges, and then eventually referees were electronic. 

The real breakthrough happened when cyborgs came on board, when robots were part electronic and part organic. That was when all the trouble started.

The first time a cyborg played football, some of the fans brought magnets. I’ve no idea what it was meant to do, but they threw them on the pitch hoping that the ‘tinman’ on the opposing team would be ruined in some way.

The problem was that it was only the seriously rich clubs who could afford a cyborg - but you had to admit that they played well, didn’t lose their temper, didn’t need a drink, or didn’t need a shower.

They broke down ‘though, and sometimes that occurred in the middle of important matches. By the time Cy joined our team, he was so advanced that I didn’t even know he was a ‘tinman’. People looked down on them, some saw them as toys, as novelties not to be taken as equals. Remember the old song, ‘I’m King of the Silents, I’m waiting ‘till the Talkies blow over’? People thought that it was just another phase in football.

There was a limit of two cyborgs per team, otherwise (as some folks said) they’d be nothing but teams of ‘tinmen’. Some of the national team had to be checked, especially those Eastern and Middle-Eastern teams who might be fielding more cyborgs than they were allowed.

In the US, one promoter field a team of cyborgs against a team of humans – the cyborgs won by eleven goals to two.

So you’re asking: what happened to me? Well I got to be the best mate of a tin can. Cy had good personality traits, knew lots of jokes, had a wide knowledge of movies and music – he even came to the pub with me. No one there would guess (apart from the fact he wasn’t drinking) that he was not a human. You could see the women (and men) lining up to talk to him.

The papers dubbed him the ‘Clockwork Orange football striker’.

He was probably the best bud that I ever had. We played up front together, and were even-stevens when it came to scoring goals. Of course as the two of us got better, we got more headlines in the newspapers.

Cy got a lot of attention, and not all of it good. We couldn’t go to the bars anymore, not just because we were both high-profile, but also because he was a ‘tinman’ and folks would stop by and ask me why I was drinking with the love-child of a garbage can.

I’ve no idea if it hurt Cy or not. I mean, I had no idea just what was inside a cyborg. Did he get hurt? Was he only a tin can that repeated instructions?

I noticed that he would take information I had given him and maybe a week or so later, he’d have read up on those things, and come back with a conversation that I found interesting. Maybe I was pals with a blooming computer, but he felt like the real thing.

Then I got a partner and that almost put a stop to the whole thing. My partner didn’t like the time I spent with a machine and told me to grow up. I never saw Cy as a machine. Never.

The problem came later when Cy got better and better at football and we grew further apart.

This is the second part of this story.
I became jealous, and it was a jealousy fueled by my partner – telling me that I wasn’t as good a metal man, and that I should be getting more attention from the team management.

One night, I waited for Cy to leave the ground – he drove home after matches as he was allowed a car. I admit it, I was drunk and I was jealous and that is why I ran the tinman over – all on camera.

He – it – was better than me and I didn’t like it.

And now I am being held at a police-station and here’s the stinger: the football team wants to prosecute me for destruction of their property, but a new high-flying lawyer is trying to make her name by getting me tried for murder.

Did I run over a tin-can or did I kill a mate?  

bobby stevenson 2016

Where We Met

They had met in the reading room of the British Library. One blue set of eyes met with another set of gray and the rest, as they say, is history.

She was probably a little older than him, and she was half way through her docto0rate on Greek Civilization (and its impact on social structures). He was a mathematician who was studying for his masters, but who had always wanted to write books for children.

They had spent months not talking, and there were months of stolen looks and of conscious ignoring. An outsider might have thought that their behavior was more that of a teenage couple.

What had finally broken the ice was when he knocked a book on to the hallowed floor of the reading room, causing a resounding ripple wave of noise to circulate. This made her jump and she let out a little scream. Only a little one mind, but enough to cause murmurs of disapproval growing as a wave in the opposite direction.

He had mouthed the word, ‘sorry’ to her and she’d constructed a little smile on her face, as if to say, it was fine.

Later that day, they literally bumped into each other when she was returning from the café and he was off for a breath of fresh air.

“Sorry about that…you know….earlier….the noise,” he said, but was thinking how much easier things were in your head. How much simpler it was to imagine situations without the actual physicality of the other person standing right in front of you.

She thought he seemed kind, and cute and was hoping he would ask her for a coffee, or something, anything - even although she had just drunk a large latte.

And he did aske her, and that was also, as they say, history.

They spent several months of courting, always in between their hectic studying. It wasn’t until all of that was complete that they decide to get married.

There wasn’t much money between them and so they managed to rent a small studio apartment on the Holloway Road. He took several jobs, one of which was cleaning at the British Library during the night. He would come home, sleep for three hours and then rush off to work in a small company in the east of London.

They tried for children but it seemed that they wouldn’t be blessed, and in a way, it would have been hard for all three of them to live in such a small space.

“Perhaps next year,” he would tell her, then kiss her.

The third anniversary of their meeting in the British Library (to be more accurate, the first time they actually spoke – as neither of them could agree when they had first noticed each other) was going to be in ten days and he had something very special up his sleeve.

It had taken a lot of planning but it helped where he worked. The bosses at the Library weren’t too happy about cleaners messing about with stuff, but still he managed it.

Either life is random or it is not. Perhaps when your time is up, it is up, or maybe it is just a freak incident after all. Either way, the morning of the day of the end was just like any other.

He got up and walked down Holloway Road towards the Tube station. Perhaps if he had known this was his last day, he would have looked more closely at the little things: the faces of people, the flowers in a window, or the child who smiled at him. We are never so lucky to have that luxury, so when he crossed the road, there was a million things on his mind other than the London bus which killed him.

She remembered the young police woman who came to the door. She had a sergeant with her. The woman had asked her to sit and she sat down and watched their lips move. The person who stood up a few hours later as the room was growing dark was never going to be the same person again.

She was too torn to even cry. Her heart had been broken into a million pieces.

A week later, a week of tablets, relations, more tablets, not sleeping, tears, and drink, a letter arrived.

It was from him. An anniversary card to say how much he loved her and how much he looked forward to growing old with her. For a moment she had almost forgotten he was gone. It was like that every morning, a few seconds of happiness before the reality kicked her in the face.

At the end of the card (and after all his kisses) was a book reference, one from the British Library.

That morning she went to the library and requested the book, there was nothing special about it, except she suddenly remembered it was the book he had knocked from the table all that time ago. In the back of the book was a card, in his writing which said, ‘I love you’.

On the other side of the card was another reference for another book, the one she had been reading the day he had said ‘sorry’ for the first time.

And on this card, he told a small story of his life before and after meeting her. There was another book reference at the end this card. In all he had left messages in twenty books and together they made up a story of his life with her.

She sat there, in the reading room, too scared to cry and trying hard to breathe. It was - she thought - better to have loved and lost, than to have never known him.

She walked up Euston Road, and the sunshine bleached her heart a little. If life was random, she decided, then anything was possible. And she smiled at that. 

bobby stevenson 2015