Flights of Fancy – Serialisation – #Mystery – Getting Away with Murder by Sally Cronin – Free Book Offer.


Since I have just received a lovely review for Flights of Fancy, which was my first short story collection published in 2009 in paperback and audio with a later ebook edition. The stories were written over twenty years and scribbled down on odd pieces of paper… Over the next few weeks I shall be sharing the stories on Saturday and Sunday.

If you would like to read Flights of Fancy in one sitting rather than each week, please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com and just let me know if you would like it in Kindle or Epub format. No strings attached.

Getting Away With Murder

On my forty-third birthday, I murdered a woman. She made me do it. For over fifteen years, she had made my very life, a misery and a mockery. This woman had bullied and forced me into behaviour that had made me ashamed, fearful for my life and sanity. She jeopardized my health and destroyed my self-esteem.

As I stand before you, I freely admit to this killing. I realise that this is my chance to have my say, to explain and to acknowledge this deed of mine. Firstly, let me say, that given the chance, I would kill her all over again. I can show you no remorse or guilt. I cannot stand before you with head bowed and accept your condemnation. It was self-defence in every sense of the word.

This woman came into my life one dreary, wet Irish day, when the clouds met the horizon in a solid sheet of grey. I usually came to the beach when I felt a bit down, sometimes the water washed away my blues, but today the chill wind simply intensified my mood. I didn’t even notice her approaching me. One minute I was alone, and the next she was beside me.

“You look a little sad dear, is there anything I can do to help?”

I looked at her and saw a homely, motherly type of woman, with a gentle, slightly worried look on her face.

“I’m fine, thank you.” I replied, trying to smile warmly, as if I didn’t have a care in the world.

How come then, ten minutes later, I find myself at a table at the almost deserted seaside café, pouring my heart out to this complete stranger? My husband loved me whatever weight I was, but I knew that others were not so forgiving. I dragged up baggage from my past and held onto it defiantly; determined not to let go of the weight of it. Self-pity flowed like hot lava from my mouth, and she sat quietly, listening intently and nodding her head from time to time.

When I think back, she said very little. She didn’t even tell me her name at that time; I used her like an absorbent sponge, soaking up my misery. All she did was push the plate of fresh cream cakes towards me, urging me to take another; that I would feel better if I did.

We met time and time again, sometimes in cafes or restaurants, and as we got to know each other, in my own home. I kept her a secret from everyone. After all she was my friend and nobody else’s. She understood me, and at first I welcomed the comfort she brought me in the form of chocolate and cakes; sweet things that took away the bitterness that was beginning to grow inside about myself.

Soon I could add being fat to my list of woes. I tried several times to tell her that I didn’t want to eat her sugary offerings, but my will was weak and I always succumbed as she sat there smiling benignly at me. One day I realised that my clothes no longer fitted. My husband began hinting gently, that perhaps for my health’s sake, I should lose some weight, and why didn’t I join a slimming club or perhaps take up more exercise?

I reinforced my defensive position and turned instead to my special friend. I would moan to her, shouting about how unfair it all was. It was my body anyway. She would pat my hand, comfort me, and make me feel safe and loved. She loved me however fat I was getting. She was my friend, the one who never criticised me, or made me feel an outcast.

Over the next fifteen years, she became an even better friend, although there were times when I rejected her and asked not to come around anymore. I told her that I needed to try and lose some weight, make new friends and stand on my own two feet. It would only last for a few weeks. Something would upset me. There would be an emotional crisis, an imagined slight, or a comment from someone about losing weight. I would weaken and call her to come around; knowing that she never came empty-handed.

My secret relationship with her went from strength to strength. She was there whenever I needed her. Late in the night when the urge for a kind word and sweet comfort would overcome me, I would call for her to come around and bring her treats. I lied to my husband and family and pretended that I was eating only the best of foods; that I never touched anything fattening. I certainly never mentioned the chocolate or cream cakes that I shared with my special friend daily. Secretly I would buy my own supplies and would tell outrageous lies to the disbelieving, skinny women behind the pastry counters.

‘Oh, the family is coming over this afternoon for tea, will you ever let me have six of those big chocolate éclairs.’ Or wonderful nights of nights, Halloween, the bliss of a legitimate excuse to buy ten pounds of chocolate bars; never destined to see the inside of a child.

When I was forty-three, after an enduring friendship throughout all those years, our relationship was put to the test. I became ill, tired and listless with nosebleeds and pains in my chest. I went to the doctor who put me through the shame of standing on that infernal machine that always seemed to multiply my weight by three. I stood down, expecting the usual lecture, but was met with a resigned and serious look from my family physician. An hour later, I was standing on my beach, looking at the clouds meeting the horizon and remembering my first meeting with my best friend all those years ago.

I had been told the stark truth of my situation. I would die if I didn’t lose weight. My blood pressure was through the roof and my heart was on the point of bursting. It was lose weight or die. Soon. The ultimatum that I had been given reverberated through my numb brain. My friend was coming to see me, she would be at home now, with a batch of newly baked scones, strawberry jam and fresh whipped cream. I couldn’t turn my back on her friendship.

How could I survive without her sweet temptations? She would never accept a friendship that was so empty of comfort and sweetness. I had a choice, and I knew that it was mine to make alone. She wouldn’t go willingly. I had tried so many times to break off our relationship, but every time, one way or another, she slipped back into my life within a very short space of time.

There was only one solution. If she wouldn’t go voluntarily, then I would have to kill her. But I was not sure that I was strong enough to do this face to face. I didn’t have the courage. I would have to find a way to infiltrate her defenses; alter her perceptions and remove her hold on my life by terminating her own if necessary. It would be a shock to my system, after so many years, to be suddenly bereft of this companion of mine. Did I have the survival instinct to kill this woman before she killed me?

That night, we really fought for the very first time. Sure we had quarrelled and parted company for the odd week or even month, but this time it was a physical, mental and emotional battle of monumental proportions. I argued, she cajoled, holding out her hands filled with chocolate bars and promises. I refused and turned my back; she came up and laid her hands on my shoulders.

“You are mine and you must never, ever forget that.”

For the first time I sensed malice and threat in her voice and her manner.

Her hands moved to my neck and I felt them caress my skin as they closed around my throat. I couldn’t breathe and felt my strength and will ebbing from me. I turned and using all my considerable weight, I throw her away from me. She landed in a heap on the floor, staring at me open-mouthed; I lifted the lamp above my head and smashed it towards her.

She looked surprisingly small suddenly, shrivelled and lifeless. I opened the front door and turned to pick up her remains and laid her in the trunk of the car. Slamming the lid, I headed towards my refuge at the beach where I carried my burden of guilt, shame and fear to the water’s edge. I walked forward and stood up to my knees in the cold, dark green water and watched as my nemesis floated away out into the Irish Sea. She slowly bobbed around, this way and that, until she settled on a direction. I turned my back on her lifeless form and trudged up the sand to my car.

Over the next two years I walked that beach every day – shedding my weight and slowly my guilt and my neurosis. No trace of the woman. She just disappeared. Slowly I came back from the brink and every day I would get stronger and stronger. It was as if she had sapped the very life from me during those fifteen years. Taking away my will, forcing me into behaviours that were alien to the woman I had once been. What had begun as a sweet and innocent relationship, had turned sour and harmful in every way possible.

That is why today, I am standing before you. I am fit and healthy with a positive outlook on life. No longer under a sentence of death, I emerged the victor, lighter in body and heart, with hope for a future that suddenly seemed filled with promise and opportunity. There was no doubt that I had lost some of myself. I had killed that part of me that had driven me to the brink. I had killed the woman inside of me that would have taken me to the grave with her without tasting the real sweetness of life.

So no, I will not plead guilty, nor will I feel remorse. I stand before this mirror in all my glory and am proud that I got away with murder.

©sallycronin Flights of Fancy 2009

One of the recent reviews for the collection.

James J. Cudney Flights of Fancy by Sally Cronin October 2019: 5 of 5 stars

When I picked this one up, I had no idea what to expect. I’ve read a few other books by Sally Cronin, but I knew these were going to be much different (in a good way). Ms. Cronin has published a collection of ~10 short stories and a novella, ranging in style from murder to fantasy, revenge to humor. I loved all of the stories and will struggle to decide which ones to include in my review…

To begin with, the book kicks off with the main character saying, “On my forty-third birthday, I murdered a woman.” Okay… we’re in for something dark and funny. What a great tale! In some ways, it’s very telling about society, and in others, it’s a little shocking. I found myself wondering whether the guilty party should be punished or not. It’s wonderful when a writer can prompt that question. I also worried she might’ve been describing my mindset on a number of occasions. Oops!

From there, we jump into a woman mourning a loss. She kinda/sorta visits her husband and dog, and it will make you get a little sappy. Afterward, I devoured a few tales about marriage, war, love, and a talking parrot who knew exactly how to motivate a woman to leave her ne’er-do-well husband. One thing is for sure; this collection shows the author’s range in developing memorable characters, kooky plots, and a touch of sentimentality in each and every relationship we develop throughout life.

The one I want to touch on the most is the final story, the novella about a group of women around~80ish who live together in a senior’s complex. Unfortunately, a rough family moves in nearby, and things begin to go downhill. Drugs, theft, abuse… then it leads to murder. The surviving women in the group want revenge, thus plotting out how to rid themselves of the two ruthlessly mean parents and their five children who descended upon the town. Some of the kids cannot be saved and must be made to disappear. Others might survive foster care. It truly was a fun story, and I focused on the humor element, as those Jackson’s needed to be taught a lesson!

Cronin has a clear and strong writing style. By incorporating personal experiences and emotions into her characters, she’s made various types of people come to life. Whether it’s struggling with weight loss, interpreting people’s impressions of you, or stopping yourself from doing the things you want to do but shouldn’t do, the cast in each of these stories reminded me of many events in our lives. The girl who steals our boyfriend… the guy who treats his wife poorly… the daughter who can’t recognize her mother isn’t just an elderly woman… the lady struggling to keep the weight off… or the guy misses his wife. It’s all there, and as a whole, this represents so many wonderful and pain-filled stages of life. Now we can laugh or cry together about them.

I definitely recommend reading this book for its levity, ability to watch others get revenge (without you going to jail), and perhaps some motivation to make changes in your own life. What a great collection.

If you would like to browse my other Ebooks.. you can find their reviews https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thanks for dropping in and as always your feedback is very welcome. And if you would like a full copy of the book now, just email me with your required format. Sally.cronin@moyhill.com

 

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Flights of Fancy – The Sewing Circle Part Four by Sally Cronin


Here is the final part of my novella. The Sewing Circle from my short story collection Flights of Fancy. You can find part three, with links to one and two here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/04/smorgasbord-short-stories-flights-of-fancy-the-sewing-circle-part-three-by-sally-cronin/

The Sewing Circle Part Four

The next morning the rumours started within the various communities around the estate.
Sharon Jackson was having an affair with a police officer from the narcotic division.

Nobody suspected that the whispers that infested the bingo hall, corner shop, post office and surgery waiting room, were started by five old women as they went about their business. Those who dealt drugs on the estate were understandably nervous, and tried to find out more information; without much success. This only served to make them even more paranoid, and soon the rumour mill was working overtime on the stairways until news of it reached the ears of Sharon Jackson.

She was furious, but didn’t have the intelligence to work out how to combat the growing tide of speculation, or the false accusations about her. The one thing she did have, was a healthy respect for her husband’s fists, and as the days passed, she became increasingly terrified that word would reach Archie. Even though he was banged up inside, she knew he had a long reach; time was not on her side.

She was definitely right about that one. A week after the gossip started, Sylvia Ross left the estate and took a taxi to the Docklands. In a wine bar there, she met with an elderly man who despite his walking stick, still strode confidently across the floor to the table where she sat, beautifully dressed and made-up.

An hour later Sylvia left and returned to a meeting at Betty’s flat. She said little but she nodded to Big Sal, and they both knew that the toughest part of their plan was in play.

Three weeks later Sharon Jackson went missing. A concerned elderly woman rang the social services, mentioning that there were four young children living alone in a flat in Grange House. By the end of the day, with no sign of their mother, the police had been informed and the children were taken into temporary care. Darren, who was still at his aunt’s house in Epping Forest, was alerted by one of his gang members, and he got his cousin to bring him home on his bike, where he let himself into the now deserted flat.

He was not bothered by losing his entire family in the slightest. He now had the freedom to live and do as he pleased, even though Sharon’s idea of parenting had been relaxed to say the least. He could get up when he wanted, eat what and when he liked and best of all he could drink his favourite tipple, vodka, all day without his mother sharing the contents of the bottle. His friends all came round to sample the delights of the new gang headquarters, and the neighbours were subjected to noisy parties into the small hours, and harassment on the walkways and stairs.

The social workers came around, but their hands were tied, as Darren had turned sixteen while away at his aunts, and could not be persuaded to give up his freedom and go into some form of care. The council promised to re-house the boy, as he couldn’t remain in a three bed roomed flat on his own, but were not sure how quickly this would happen. On the fourth day, two large men in suits appeared and the residents on that landing assumed that they were from the council, who had been called that morning with further complaints and requests for assistance.

The two men knocked on the door to the Jackson’s flat and one of Darren’s mates, on his way out to collect more vodka, inadvertently opened it and admitted them into the confined hall. He took one look at their faces and hurriedly left, glancing nervously over his shoulder as he ran down the landing. Within minutes he was followed by the rest of the gang, one of them nursing his right ear; trying to hold back unmanly tears.

The neighbours on each side of the flat listened with ears pressed to their lounge walls but they couldn’t hear a word. They were beginning to doubt that the two men were from the council after all, and their suspicions were confirmed when sounds of a more physical nature were heard from the Jackson’s living room.

Twenty minutes later, the two men left; carefully closing the door of the flat behind them. All was silent and the neighbours on either side settled down to enjoy their after lunch television programmes and well-deserved nap.

Several hours passed and just as they were settling down again for the evening, the neighbours heard someone falling around inside the Jacksons’ flat. It sounded as though furniture and ornaments were being knocked over, and then a crash as something heavy such as a television smashed to the floor. Not wishing to get involved in anything to do with the family, the police were not called and about half an hour later they heard the front door being opened. On both sides of the flat, curtains were twitched and eyes followed the progress of the figure that emerged onto the landing.

It was an astonishing sight. It was Darren, but barely recognisable, as he stumbled in high-heeled shoes, drunkenly down the landing. He was wearing a tight satin dress, fishnet tights and he was wearing make-up and jewellery. The neighbours found themselves tittering and laughing at the spectacle as Darren staggered towards the stairs. A man returning from work stood one of the stairwells, transfixed by the vision before him. Darren stared glassily back at him and then grabbing the handrail almost slid to the bottom of the steps. He didn’t even appear to see the man in front of him, and tottering on his stilettos, he swung around the corner and down the next flight.

Unfortunately for Darren, he was inexperienced in the management of high heels and as he reached the top of the last flight of stairs leading to the car park, he slipped and fell untidily to the bottom landing in a crumpled heap.

He lay motionless as a crowd of residents clustered around him. One daring soul prodded the supine body with the toe of his shoe and then leapt back as the body began to twitch and jerk before going rigid and collapsing back onto the dusty surface of the pavement.

The post mortem showed that Darren had a great deal of alcohol in his system as well as a considerable amount of recreational drugs. No one else was suspected in his death although the residents of the estate had their own ideas. Darren’s gang were not bothered by the nature of Darren’s death, but were mortified to think that their leader, and the terror of the neighbourhood, was secretly a lover of fine clothes, high heels, make up and jewellery.

Those gang members that lived on other estates were never seen again, and those that remained on the Redgrave kept a very low profile. Some even went as far as to go to school on a regular basis and one graduated to college where he trained as a social worker.

000000

A month after Sharon’s disappearance and Darren’s death, Archie Jackson apparently slipped on a bar of soap in the prison shower and hit his head on the tiles. His death was ruled as accidental by the authorities.

The sewing circle continued to meet although they were not only missing the lovely Flo, but Sylvia too on some occasions. In the weeks following their successful campaign, she could be seen getting into an elegant black car one or two mornings a week. One day as the friends sat around working on their latest projects, she looked up and smiled at them gently.

“I have some news.” They all turned to her expectantly.

“I am getting married.” She announced to her open-mouthed audience.

“It’s someone I have known for years, a widower living in Chingford. He has got a lovely house and he says it is too big and empty for him on his own.”

She drew a handful of envelopes out of her handbag and distributed them around the stunned women.

“I hope you will all come to the wedding, and be my bridesmaids, and when we get back from honeymoon, I would like you to come out to me every week for our meetings as I don’t want to give them up.”

Big Sal who was sitting next to Sylvia, grabbed her in her ample embrace and kissed her resoundingly on her powdered cheek.

“You just try and stop us you sly old floozy. Perhaps you can set us all up with mates of his at the wedding? We could all do with a bit of a fling!”

The others all laughed and Betty rushed to the kitchen for the sherry bottle and five glasses.

As they toasted the future Mrs Mitchell, they also raised their glasses to their beloved friend Flo and prayed that she could now rest in peace.

©sallycronin Flights of Fancy 2009

Other short story anthologies.

You can find all my books at these links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thank you for dropping in and as always I value your feedback. Sally.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Flights of Fancy – The Sewing Circle Part Three by Sally Cronin


Welcome to part three of my novella The Sewing Circle from Flights of Fancy.  In yesterday’s episode the sewing circle are united in the grief at the loss of their friend.  The final part of the story is tomorrow…

Part two of the story with link to part one: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/03/smorgasbord-short-stories-flights-of-fancy-the-sewing-circle-part-two-by-sally-cronin/

The Sewing Circle – Part Three by Sally Cronin

The next afternoon, instead of sitting around completing sewing projects, the women sat quietly as each held a memento in their laps. The objects were neither expensive nor necessarily attractive, but they all reminded the women of some different aspect of Flo’s personality. Big Sal cradled a little ceramic dog that had obviously been lovingly handled over the years.

“Flo bought this when her little Yorkie died,” she wiped a tear from her cheek. “She was a feisty one that Flo and I bet if she was here she would have a thing or two to say about those bastard Jacksons.”

Sylvia examined her manicured nails and then looked up at the rest of the circle.

“I know if it had been one of us Flo would have marched up to that Sharon Jackson and given her one over the head with her brolly.”

The thought of the tiny Flo giving slovenly Sharon a good slapping made her friends laugh, and within minutes they started to throw in other suggestions of what evil might befall the Jackson clan. As the proposed retribution became more and more virulent, the laughter died away and slowly the five women began to look at each other in silence.

Big Sal picked up her copious black handbag and extracted a pencil and a piece of paper. On the back of an old shopping list she jotted down some of the ideas already mentioned and sat hand poised to record any more.

Maggie Baxter, who was proudly conversant with the entire Bible, clapped her hands and grabbed everyone’s attention.

“Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins.” Maggie smiled at them all. “That book of Leviticus was sure clear about making those poor Israelites pay and I guess what was good enough for them is good enough for those Jackson’s”

Mary Jones who was the frailest of the group looked worriedly at her friends.

“But what can we do, we are only a few old ladies and those Jacksons have a big family and they are all thugs and thieves.”

Big Sal reached over and patted her hand gently.

“Don’t worry love; I think we can bank on a few recruits from the other residents and what we don’t have in brawn we will make up for in brains.”

Sylvia sat silently, wiping the odd tear from her heavily made up face. What the other members of the sewing circle didn’t know, was that Flo and Sylvia shared a secret from the past, making this violent loss even more poignant.

In her twenties, Sylvia had been vibrantly attractive and had met and married Davy Ross, a minor name in the East End. He had worked for Mike Mitchell who ran an extensive extortion and prostitution racket in the fifties and sixties and Davy was known for his temper, and his ability to collect money with menaces.

Unfortunately for Sylvia, Davy liked to take his work home with him, and she spent quite a bit of time in the casualty department of the local hospital, having ‘bumped into’ fixed objects in her home. Friends tried to persuade her to leave him, but Sylvia knew that he would find her and kill her if she left.

A job had been planned at a large high street bank, and at the last minute, a member of the gang got nicked and a replacement had to be found. Mike Mitchell who had masterminded the job recruited Davy into the team, a little reluctantly bearing in mind his unpredictable temper. He was right to be concerned, as the night watchman at the bank, ended up getting more of a hiding than he might have done with the original set up. Unfortunately for Davy, the guard survived and was able to give the police an accurate description of his assailant. Davy knew the score and accepted his ten years inside without grassing up either the other members of the gang or his boss, who honoured the unspoken code of the East End, by making sure Sylvia was taken care of.

Sylvia knew that with good behaviour, her violent husband might be out in five or six years. She prayed that his temper, and his inability to keep his fists to himself, would ensure he served the full sentence. She had originally trained as a hairdresser and she opened a little shop close to her home and began to live a new life of freedom.

Flo was one of her regular customers, and being from the area was fully aware of Sylvia’s past troubles, although they were never mentioned. Neither was the increasingly frequent visits to the shop by Mike Mitchell, who was crossing the bounds of the accepted code of behaviour by fancying the wife of one of his own men; serving time for one of his jobs.
Sylvia was wary at first, as she knew the man’s reputation, but he was good looking and charming and began to show her a life that she did not know existed. Fancy restaurants and weekends in the country; away from the prying eyes of the East End, and Mike’s wife; definitely clouded her judgement, and she found herself falling in love with the mobster.

Their affair lasted two years, and in that time, Sylvia neither wrote nor visited Davy in prison despite his constant demands. Unfortunately, nature stepped in and Sylvia found herself telling Mike that he was going to be a father in seven months’ time. This fact did not overly please him, as he already had four children and a wife who would take him to the cleaners if she found out. Despite being a hard man, Mike loved his family and had to convince Sylvia that if she kept the child it would have to remain a secret. Not only that, but Davy was not going to be happy about finding out, which would be very dangerous for both Sylvia and the child.

This proved to be the case, when a woman who lived in Sylvia’s street, decided to inform her husband on a prison visit of the local gossip, and that Sylvia was expecting. The man got a broken jaw for his trouble when he passed the information onto Davy, and within days, a message was passed to the outside.

Sylvia was locking up her hairdressers for the night, when two men grabbed her from behind and dragged her into a nearby alley. Two hours later Flo was passing on her way to the Bingo hall, when she heard what she thought sounded like a frightened kitten in the narrow gap between the buildings. She ventured a little way into the darkness and saw an arm protruding from behind a heap of rubbish bags. She rushed forward, completely oblivious to her own safety and found Sylvia curled up holding her stomach with one arm, bleeding across the dirty cobblestones.

Flo rushed back into the street, persuading a passing man to go to the nearest phone box and call for the police and ambulance. She returned to cradle Sylvia’s head in her lap while they waited for help. She went with her to the hospital and was by her bedside when she regained consciousness after her operation. Sylvia suffered a broken nose, crushed pelvis, fractured skull, and had lost her baby. As she looked down into the bruised and battered face, Flo knew that this was not the end. That Davy was not going to let it rest and would no doubt finish the job when he finally got out of prison.

Mike Mitchell was also aware that this beating was just an instalment. It was really no surprise to anyone that a week later, Davy Ross unfortunately slipped on some soap in the shower and banged his head. He was dead when the guards found him. Sylvia was notified as she lay in her hospital bed coming to terms with the loss of her baby. She also knew that Mike Mitchell could now never come near her again, in case he was implicated in her husband’s death.

Flo understood, being the mother of so many children herself, and having lost one or two in early pregnancy, how Sylvia must be feeling. She was holding her hand firmly when the doctors told her that due to the beating she had received, she would never be able to have any more children in the future. Over the next few years, Flo and Sylvia became close friends but the events surrounding the beating and death of Davy were never discussed again.

Even the other members of the sewing circle were unaware of the shared past of two of their closest friends, and although they knew that Flo and Sylvia went back a long way, they were taken by surprise at the level of grief that Sylvia experienced. She had cried for two days, refusing to leave her flat or even get dressed in one of her elegant but out-dated suits. She finally appeared at Betty’s flat and sat silently as mourners came and went with their offerings. Eventually her friends gave up trying to get her to talk, taking it in turns to sit beside her, leaning in so that she could feel their comfort.

As a memento of her beloved friend, Sylvia had chosen a pale yellow silk scarf that Flo had worn often. She now ran the scarf through her fingers time after time before looking around at the others as they sat quietly remembering their friend.

“It would be lovely to see the Jacksons brought down and all sorts of evil things done to them, but we have to be realistic about what we can do ourselves.” She sighed wearily as her friends listened intently.

“The younger kids are not to blame but they shouldn’t be with that mother of theirs. They deserve a chance to live a decent life.” She paused and looked down at the scarf wound through her fingers.

“Sharon Jackson and that son of hers deserve everything they get and we need to make sure that they never do this to anyone else again.” She gave a tight smile.

“We have to get to Archie Jackson inside and feed him a story about Sharon and he will take care of her for us.” Her friends listened in fascination as Sylvia displayed a side of her they had never even imagined before. “After that he needs taking care off so that he can have nothing more to do with his kids as they grow up.”

“As for that Darren, he is past redeeming and needs to be got rid of like any other vermin on the estate and we have to get him to do the job on himself.”

The others looked at each other, realising that if they were to undertake this revenge on the Jacksons, they were reverting to the old life that they had known young women living in the East End. They also knew, that if they didn’t do something, then the Jacksons would continue to terrorise this estate and any others they moved to. The key was to cut the head off the clan in the form of Sharon Jackson. Without her around, and Archie taken care of in prison, the younger members of the family would be put into care and unlikely though it seemed, that might give them a chance of a better life than remaining with their mother and father. Darren however had to go, as they knew, without any doubt, that he had cold bloodedly killed Flo. He now had power and he would use it against people for the rest of his life.

The final part of the story is tomorrow….

©sallycronin Flights of Fancy 2009

Other short story anthologies.

You can find all my books at these links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thank you for dropping in and as always I value your feedback. Sally.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Flights of Fancy – The Other Side of Heaven by Sally Cronin


Welcome to another story from my first collection Flights of Fancy. A woman moves into her new cottage but there is something missing…

The Other Side of Heaven

When Meg saw the cottage she knew that it was the one. She had visualised her dream house so many times in her head that it almost felt that she was coming home.

As soon as she had walked down the country lane that separated the property from the main road she had heard the sound of running water. A river or lake had always been a requisite when imagining her perfect home, and the sound ticked at least one of her boxes. As she rounded the bend in the lane she saw the house for the first time, its red slate roof glistening in the sunlight.

She inhaled the scent of the vibrantly coloured flowers that dominated the small front garden and she smiled at the sight of the roses that surrounded the front door. Meg stood for a moment on the cobbled path and delighted in the fresh, sweet smell whilst she ran her eyes over every inch of the front of the cottage.

Despite its age, the windows were large and you could tell that the sunlight that shone through those panes of glass would make the interior bright and welcoming. Taking a deep breath she opened the old wooden door and stepped inside.

Within a very short space of time, Meg found herself carefully unwrapping a lifetime of treasures from the boxes that sat expectantly in the various rooms in her new home. Jack as always was eager to help and despite the insistent interruptions from the collie, Meg made steady progress as she placed objects and pictures in just their right place. Surprisingly, despite working all day, she felt refreshed and excited as she walked through each room, moving furniture slightly to recreate the image that she had held in her mind for so long. Eventually, she was satisfied and she and Jack turned their attention to the garden at the back of the house that lay basking in early evening sunshine.

The dog, young and excited ran out ahead of Meg and started to race around the immaculate piece of lawn. Flowers crowded the edges around its borders, and as in the front garden, the air was filled with a heady and sweet scent. She walked to the little gate set into a hedge and opened and closed it leaving a frustrated Jack on the other side.

“Good boy, Jack. Stay there; this bit is not for dogs”.

He sat down and watched his owner with head cocked to one side. He would not move until she returned. They had been parted for too long for him to allow her out of his sight now.

For Meg this was heaven. Row upon row of fresh vegetables, a small green house where she could see ripened tomatoes hanging from their vines, and an established orchard at the end of the plot, with trees laden with fruit. For a fleeting moment she wondered why so many of the vegetables and fruit seemed out of season, but she put that down to the fact that this part of the country enjoyed a micro-climate that kept it warmer than the average.

Contentedly she retraced her steps and pushed open the gate separating the two gardens and was rewarded with an ecstatic welcome from Jack as he leapt up and licked her face.
After a simple supper, Meg and Jack sat together on the bench at the front of the house and as her hand gently stroked his head, she absorbed the sounds of the evening. In the background the music of the river accompanied the buzz of insects as they collected their final nectar of the day.

Everything was now perfect. The house waited as did Meg and Jack for that final, finishing touch. Jack had been waiting the longest. Meg had missed him so much but there had been no choice under the circumstances. As she stroked his head as it rested on her knee she knew that she had been forgiven for sending him away, but now they would be together always. However, there was someone who was still missing. Meg had no idea when Sam would arrive; all she could do when she had left was to promise that she and Jack would be there to welcome him home.

The evening moved into starlit night and as the moon rose in the sky it seemed as though time had stopped. Jack’s ears suddenly twitched and he nudged Meg’s knee. She turned her head towards the lane leading to the cottage and she stood, moving down the path to open the gate with the collie at her heels. Jack looked up at her as if asking permission.

Meg nodded and he ran ahead barking excitedly and she hurried after him just as a stooped and elderly man came into view. He was walking with a stick but when Jack reached him and jumped up and down in excitement he threw it to one side and went down on one knee to embrace the dog.

Meg slowed and took in the sight of the two beings she loved the most greeting each other. She felt young and giddy just as she had all those years ago when she had first met Sam. Then before her eyes he stood, tall and straight, the years fell away from him and she eagerly fell into his arms and held him as Jack pranced around them in delight.

Eventually, the three of them walked back to the cottage. Meg and Sam hand in hand with Jack walking carefully between them. They turned in the gate and Sam saw their home for the first time.

“I never thought, when you promised to create a place for us all in heaven, that it would be so beautiful”

Smiling, Sam picked his young wife up and carried her over the threshold followed by Jack, tail wagging and barking with encouragement.

©sallycronin Flights of Fancy 2009

Other short story anthologies.

You can find all my books at these links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thank you for dropping in and as always I value your feedback. Sally.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Flights of Fancy – Getting Away with Murder by Sally Cronin


Flights of Fancy was my first short story collection published in 2009 in paperback and audio with a later ebook edition. The stories were written over twenty years and scribbled down on odd pieces of paper… Over the next five weeks I will be sharing them on Saturday and Sunday whilst I get on with editing the next book.. I hope you will enjoy my early efforts.

Getting Away with Murder.

On my forty-third birthday, I murdered a woman. She made me do it. For over fifteen years, she had made my very life, a misery and a mockery. This woman had bullied and forced me into behaviour that had made me ashamed, fearful for my life and sanity. She jeopardized my health and destroyed my self-esteem.

As I stand before you, I freely admit to this killing. I realise that this is my chance to have my say, to explain and to acknowledge this deed of mine. Firstly, let me say, that given the chance, I would kill her all over again. I can show you no remorse or guilt. I cannot stand before you with head bowed and accept your condemnation. It was self-defence in every sense of the word.

This woman came into my life one dreary, wet Irish day, when the clouds met the horizon in a solid sheet of grey. I usually came to the beach when I felt a bit down, sometimes the water washed away my blues, but today the chill wind simply intensified my mood. I didn’t even notice her approaching me. One minute I was alone, and the next she was beside me.

“You look a little sad dear, is there anything I can do to help?”

I looked at her and saw a homely, motherly type of woman, with a gentle, slightly worried look on her face.

“I’m fine, thank you.” I replied, trying to smile warmly, as if I didn’t  have a care in the world.

How come then, ten minutes later, I find myself at a table at the almost deserted seaside café, pouring my heart out to this complete stranger? My husband loved me whatever weight I was, but I knew that others were not so forgiving. I dragged up baggage from my past and held onto it defiantly; determined not to let go of the weight of it. Self-pity flowed like hot lava from my mouth, and she sat quietly, listening intently and nodding her head from time to time.

When I think back, she said very little. She didn’t even tell me her name at that time; I used her like an absorbent sponge, soaking up my misery. All she did was push the plate of fresh cream cakes towards me, urging me to take another; that I would feel better if I did.

We met time and time again, sometimes in cafes or restaurants, and as we got to know each other, in my own home. I kept her a secret from everyone. After all she was my friend and nobody else’s. She understood me, and at first I welcomed the comfort she brought me in the form of chocolate and cakes; sweet things that took away the bitterness that was beginning to grow inside about myself.

Soon I could add being fat to my list of woes. I tried several times to tell her that I didn’t want to eat her sugary offerings, but my will was weak and I always succumbed as she sat there smiling benignly at me. One day I realised that my clothes no longer fitted. My husband began hinting gently, that perhaps for my health’s sake, I should lose some weight, and why didn’t I join a slimming club or perhaps take up more exercise?

I reinforced my defensive position and turned instead to my special friend. I would moan to her, shouting about how unfair it all was. It was my body anyway. She would pat my hand, comfort me, and make me feel safe and loved. She loved me however fat I was getting. She was my friend, the one who never criticised me, or made me feel an outcast.

Over the next fifteen years, she became an even better friend, although there were times when I rejected her and asked not to come around anymore. I told her that I needed to try and lose some weight, make new friends and stand on my own two feet. It would only last for a few weeks. Something would upset me. There would be an emotional crisis, an imagined slight, or a comment from someone about losing weight. I would weaken and call her to come around; knowing that she never came empty-handed.

My secret relationship with her went from strength to strength. She was there whenever I needed her. Late in the night when the urge for a kind word and sweet comfort would overcome me, I would call for her to come around and bring her treats. I lied to my husband and family and pretended that I was eating only the best of foods; that I never touched anything fattening. I certainly never mentioned the chocolate or cream cakes that I shared with my special friend daily. Secretly I would buy my own supplies and would tell outrageous lies to the disbelieving, skinny women behind the pastry counters.

‘Oh, the family is coming over this afternoon for tea, will you ever let me have six of those big chocolate éclairs.’ Or wonderful nights of nights, Halloween, the bliss of a legitimate excuse to buy ten pounds of chocolate bars; never destined to see the inside of a child.

When I was forty-three, after an enduring friendship throughout all those years, our relationship was put to the test. I became ill, tired and listless with nosebleeds and pains in my chest. I went to the doctor who put me through the shame of standing on that infernal machine that always seemed to multiply my weight by three. I stood down, expecting the usual lecture, but was met with a resigned and serious look from my family physician. An hour later, I was standing on my beach, looking at the clouds meeting the horizon and remembering my first meeting with my best friend all those years ago.

I had been told the stark truth of my situation. I would die if I didn’t lose weight. My blood pressure was through the roof and my heart was on the point of bursting. It was lose weight or die. Soon. The ultimatum that I had been given reverberated through my numb brain. My friend was coming to see me, she would be at home now, with a batch of newly baked scones, strawberry jam and fresh whipped cream. I couldn’t turn my back on her friendship.

How could I survive without her sweet temptations? She would never accept a friendship that was so empty of comfort and sweetness. I had a choice, and I knew that it was mine to make alone. She wouldn’t go willingly. I had tried so many times to break off our relationship, but every time, one way or another, she slipped back into my life within a very short space of time.

There was only one solution. If she wouldn’t go voluntarily, then I would have to kill her. But I was not sure that I was strong enough to do this face to face. I didn’t have the courage. I would have to find a way to infiltrate her defenses; alter her perceptions and remove her hold on my life by terminating her own if necessary. It would be a shock to my system, after so many years, to be suddenly bereft of this companion of mine. Did I have the survival instinct to kill this woman before she killed me?

That night, we really fought for the very first time. Sure we had quarrelled and parted company for the odd week or even month, but this time it was a physical, mental and emotional battle of monumental proportions. I argued, she cajoled, holding out her hands filled with chocolate bars and promises. I refused and turned my back; she came up and laid her hands on my shoulders.

“You are mine and you must never, ever forget that.”

For the first time I sensed malice and threat in her voice and her manner.

Her hands moved to my neck and I felt them caress my skin as they closed around my throat. I couldn’t breathe and felt my strength and will ebbing from me. I turned and using all my considerable weight, I throw her away from me. She landed in a heap on the floor, staring at me open-mouthed; I lifted the lamp above my head and smashed it towards her.

She looked surprisingly small suddenly, shrivelled and lifeless. I opened the front door and turned to pick up her remains and laid her in the trunk of the car. Slamming the lid, I headed towards my refuge at the beach where I carried my burden of guilt, shame and fear to the water’s edge. I walked forward and stood up to my knees in the cold, dark green water and watched as my nemesis floated away out into the Irish Sea. She slowly bobbed around, this way and that, until she settled on a direction. I turned my back on her lifeless form and trudged up the sand to my car.

Over the next two years I walked that beach every day – shedding my weight and slowly my guilt and my neurosis. No trace of the woman. She just disappeared. Slowly I came back from the brink and every day I would get stronger and stronger. It was as if she had sapped the very life from me during those fifteen years. Taking away my will, forcing me into behaviours that were alien to the woman I had once been. What had begun as a sweet and innocent relationship, had turned sour and harmful in every way possible.

That is why today, I am standing before you. I am fit and healthy with a positive outlook on life. No longer under a sentence of death, I emerged the victor, lighter in body and heart, with hope for a future that suddenly seemed filled with promise and opportunity. There was no doubt that I had lost some of myself. I had killed that part of me that had driven me to the brink. I had killed the woman inside of me that would have taken me to the grave with her without tasting the real sweetness of life.

So no, I will not plead guilty, nor will I feel remorse. I stand before this mirror in all my glory and am proud that I got away with murder.

©sallycronin Flights of Fancy 2009

Other short story anthologies.

You can find all my books at these links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thank you for dropping in and as always I value your feedback. Sally.

Smorgasbord Short Story Festival – 9th June – 12th June – Albert the Perfect Candidate by Sally Cronin


I am off to the #BloggersBash and making a weekend of it in London including going to see The Mummy and a visit to TGI Friday’s for some Fajitas….probably with a margherita… or two.  In the meantime I am going to leave you with some entertainment… I hope you will enjoy and please share the guest authors who have contributed stories.. thanks very much Sally.

Welcome to the start of the Smorgasbord Short Story Festival from today until Monday 12th. We have short stories and poetry from some wonderful writers including John Howell, Robbie Cheadle, Mary Smith, Philip T. Stephens, Wendy Janes and a few more from me from various collections.

Here is one from my first collection Flights of Fancy. Set a little time in the future.. but not by much!

Albert, The Perfect Candidate by Sally Cronin

On Friday night, Albert sat in the white walled room, his eyes closed against the glare from the fluorescent lighting and his hands over his ears to shut out the infernal racket from the wall-mounted television. He did not have to watch the screen to see what images it displayed. Twenty-four hours a day, it brought the fear and disasters of the world into each room in every house and workplace around the country. Terrorism, financial and natural catastrophes and of course superbugs were all guaranteed to make the headlines. He shook his head. Where did all the ‘good news’ stories go?

His mobile telephone had rung several times in the last hour and he knew that it was Marjorie, his partner, no doubt reminding him for the fiftieth time that he must not be late for dinner.

He opened his eyes, switched off his phone and thought about the pile of folders still unopened on his desk. There was also an e-mail from his boss demanding that he should be in his office first thing on Monday morning. Why do they do that? Under normal circumstances Albert would have spent the whole weekend desperately worried in case he was going to be fired. He had every reason to be stressed out anyway – he was late with this month’s mortgage payments, his doctor had told him his cholesterol and blood pressure were through the roof and his blood sugar was not far behind.

He didn’t need the doctor to tell him he was six stone overweight, needed to give up smoking and drinking and was a candidate for a heart attack. He only had to look at his face in the mirror every morning to see that he fell neatly into the 95% of the population who suffered from a lifestyle induced health crisis.

Everyone he knew amongst family and friends was equally unfit. Most of them were on pills of one sort or another and it seemed that once you were put on medication you were on it for life. Sure, most of the major diseases had been eradicated in the last fifty years, but it was easier and quicker to give you tablets to control your blood pressure and cholesterol than go to all the trouble of showing you how to change your lifestyle.

Anyway, what pleasure was there in life if you couldn’t eat a whole pizza with a bottle of wine two or three nights a week? Besides Albert hated fruit and vegetables. Who needed to stand out in a crowd? When all your friends and family and even your doctor were fat and unhealthy too, why change? Still, he wished he could remember a time when he had felt well enough to get up in the mornings.

He looked around him and smiled wryly. At least in one very important aspect he had been extremely successful. He was a perfect example of modern man and this was precisely what they had wanted. All his financial problems would be solved now that he had been accepted into the programme. Marjorie would be well taken care of should the worst happen, and best of all, he was contracted not to make any improvements to his lifestyle for the duration of his lifetime. Bring on the Pizza!

Animal testing had finally become redundant. Eventually it became impossible to recreate, in animals, the levels of physical, mental and emotional stress that humans suffered after prolonged exposure to their modern lifestyle and diet. Scientists could no longer manipulate the gap between species to obtain reliable test subjects without compromising the safety of human trials. Medical records were accessed, and from the millions of suitable candidates, the most qualified specimens were recruited.

The door opened and two lab technicians wearing masks and surgical scrubs walked in wheeling a trolley containing medical instruments.

“Hi Albert,” one of them smiled at him. “This is not going to hurt a bit.”

© Sally CroninFlights of Fancy 2008 : https://www.amazon.com/Flights-Fancy-Sally-Cronin-ebook/dp/B00M3AV1FS

Tomorrow – the new serialisation of the second book by Geoff Cronin. Followed by two short stories from John W. Howell and one from my second collection The Tales From the Garden.

Thanks for popping in and please feel free to share.. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Short Stories – The Sewing Circle- Part One by Sally Cronin


51l5B4hcBuL._UY250_This is the novella in the second part of my short story anthology and is in three parts. Last posted a year ago and I hope that those of you who have not read before will enjoy.

THE SEWING CIRCLE – Part One

The sewing circle met at Betty’s flat on the ground floor of Malcolm House, every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. There were six regular members and the odd person who dropped in who appreciated that the group was the source of gossip and information about the Redgrave Estate.

Copious cups of tea were provided with members taking it in turn to produce homemade cakes that were judged critically during the course of the afternoon. Recipes were swapped and toppings envied as the ladies knitted and embroidered the hours away.
All of the members were over eighty and had lived varied and sometimes tragic lives. All had been born and brought up in this deprived area of South London and the fact that they still participated so fully in their lives was a testament to their strength of character.

The tenant of the flat, and gracious hostess, was Betty Smith. She had been lucky in as much as her husband had lived long enough to enjoy ten years of retirement with her. They had lived in the annexe of their son’s lovely house near Chelmsford but after Arthur’s death, Betty felt lonely and isolated, with her son and daughter-in-law out at work every day. She moved into the flats five years ago and was delighted to find that several of her old friends were not only still alive but resident on the estate. She was now eighty-six and a firm favourite with the younger children on the Redgrave who were the eager recipients of her cupcakes.

Mary Jones was eighty-three, had lost two husbands in the Second World War, three children as babies, and had toiled into her seventies as a cleaner at an office block in the heart of the City. Her wrinkled face identified a life-long affair with nicotine and her skin had the patina of a well-polished piece of walnut. Mary was the matinee-jacket expert, having knitted for four generations of the offspring of her two surviving daughters. Her eyesight was not all that it used to be but her loving family forgave her the odd dropped stitch. Arthritis made it difficult for her to get out on her own and the other more mobile members of the circle would walk with her to the post office to collect her pension on Thursdays and to the convenience store on the corner of the estate. She had recently started using a wheeled stroller and was very pleased with her new-found independence. With the help of her neighbour she had even made it down to the Red Lion pub for the pensioner’s special one week and was planning to make this a regular outing.

Sylvia Ross, the youngest member of the circle, was a bit of a mystery as she always changed the subject when asked about her early years. She had no family, by all accounts, and even when firmly pressed refused to give details of where she was born or brought up. She once let slip that she had been married but then changed the subject which, of course, elevated the curiosity of her fellow members to extraordinary levels. This resulted in a certain amount of behind the scenes digging and once or twice snippets of an enticing nature were ferreted out, only to fizzle away from lack of information. She was just eighty and extremely elegant. She always wore a smart suit to the sewing circle although it was obvious that the classic clothes were decades old.

Her blonde hair was touched up every month by the hairdresser in the high street and her nails were the envy of all the teenage girls in her block. The circle marvelled at her ability to embroider with her extended, red talons but liked her too much to pass comment. They doubted that they would ever get to the bottom of the mystery, but Sylvia was a lively and generous member of the group who was always there if one of them was ill or needed something special brought back from the shopping precinct. She truly had a heart of gold.

Maggie Baxter was originally from Jamaica and had married a seaman from Hackney in the fifties. She had the most wonderful laugh and her generous spirit was well known throughout the estate. A trained nurse, she had acted as the community midwife for over twenty-five years and even now, at eighty-five, was called upon regularly by the young mother’s on the estate for help and guidance during and after their frequent pregnancies. Nothing shocked Maggie and she could be relied on to keep a secret. She was not above giving some of the younger, more obnoxious, residents of the estate a quick smack if they got out of hand on the stairwells, but on the whole even the toughest of adolescent boys who roamed the estate, jobless and bored, knew that Maggie Baxter would be there if they needed them.

Her friends in the sewing circle warned her however that she needed to be careful. In recent months, several new families had been housed on the estate and their rowdy kids were an unknown quantity. In fact, petty crime was on the increase despite the fact that they had their own community police presence, and on two occasions recently elderly residents had been mugged and injured on their way back from the local shops.

The frailest of the group was Flo Miles, a tiny little woman who had amazingly borne twelve children, all of whom had survived wars and sickness. She had thirty-six grandchildren and fifteen great grandchildren and at ninety years old was considered the queen of the Redgrave. She had lived there since it was built, twenty years earlier, and knew every little bit of gossip there was to be had about the residents. The other members even suspected she knew more that she was telling about Sylvia Ross but on this subject, she was strangely close-mouthed. She was also fearless and despite her fragile appearance walked herself to and from the local Bingo Hall despite her friends’ insistence that she go by taxi. The fact that she was a prolific winner also worried the members of the sewing circle, but she did make the compromise that on nights that she won money she would get a cab home and get the driver to walk her to her ground floor flat, conveniently close to the parking area.

Sarah Dempsey or big Sal as she was known to her friends and neighbours was a gregarious and fun loving Irish woman who had come over to London as a spinster of thirty-eight, in the late 1950’s. She had cared for her parents until their death and then found herself evicted from her family home by her brother who had inherited the lot. He had begrudgingly given her forty pounds and bought her a one-way ticket to England. Luckily, Sal found a job as a waitress in a large department store in Knightsbridge and being the hard worker that she was she remained in that job for over thirty years. She had a lovely little pension as well as her state benefits and she adored giving unusual and unexpected gifts to every one of her acquaintance. She was treasured by everyone, especially when she burst into song at quiz nights, and other functions, at the community centre in the middle of the estate.

So, here was the sewing circle, a group of friends who were independent and who took care of each other lovingly. All very different, but all intent on one thing, ending their lives with dignity and in the company of people they cared for.

There was just one problem and that was the Jackson family. The Jacksons had moved onto the estate after being moved from two other communities because of their unreasonable behaviour. Archie Jackson was in prison for violent offences more than he was out and his wife Sharon was a loud-mouthed harridan who could be heard through the thin walls of the flats, shouting and swearing throughout the day and long into the night. They had five children although it was a mystery to everyone how she had so many bearing in mind that Archie was inside most of the seventeen years they had been married. The more uncharitable amongst the residents speculated on the difference in look and colour between the offspring and there were certainly enough suspicions to cast doubts on Archie’s participation in some of their conceptions.

Everyone on the estate gave the Jacksons a wide berth. Since their arrival, petty crime on the estate had risen dramatically and the residents’ committee had even requested a meeting with the Police representative to try to stem the tide of thefts and muggings that suddenly affected the area. The police did what they could and in fact, they did catch the older Jackson boy, Darren, red handed shoplifting from the corner shop. But because he was only fifteen he was let off with probation. Next, the committee tried the council who said that having moved the Jackson’s twice already they were running out of options. There were suggestions from some of the residents that a prison ship or deserted island would be a suitable place to move the family but in the end, the council promised to try to find alternative accommodation away from the Redgrave.

Hoping that a resolution was only a matter of weeks away everyone on the estate held their collective breath and trusted that not too much damage would be inflicted on property, or themselves, in the meantime.

This wish was not to be granted and for one of the members of the sewing circle, life was about to take a desperate turn.

 

©SallyCronin – The Sewing Circle 2004

The next part of the story will be on