New Writing Week, Spring 2021 – Day 5

Launch into spring with Lockerbie Writers! Join us on the blog all week (29th March – 2nd April 2021) and enjoy a selection of new writing from members of Lockerbie Writers. Our final contribution is two short poems from Kerrie McKinnel.

One year on from the beginning of lockdown, Lockerbie Writers group remain unable to meet in person, but many of the members have continued to swap writing and encouragement online.


Today’s poems come from Kerrie McKinnel, Lockerbie Writers’ Events Manager. Inspired by the phrase ‘dead daffodils’, Kerrie has attempted a limerick and a haiku.


Read on, enjoy … and don’t forget to share!

Muddy Bulbs by Kerrie McKinnel


Ceramic shards litter the stone,
muddy bulbs setting the tone.
I know I sound moany,
but really! If only
I’d left the garden pots alone!

Daffodils by Kerrie McKinnel


Cloud, lamb, breeze, sun rays,
I try and fail to enjoy.
Dead: daffodils; you.

Kerrie McKinnel is Lockerbie Writers’ Events Manager and a founding member of A Novel Approach group. Her writing has been featured in publications including Gutter, Southlight and From Glasgow to Saturn. She lives with her husband and two young children, who inspire much of her writing. Since completing her MLitt Creative Writing (University of Glasgow), Kerrie has run a number of successful writing workshops and events, and compiled and co-edited Lockerbie Writers’ first and second anthologies. Kerrie also runs writing workshops and events for all ages through her business, Kerrie McKinnel – Writer. For more information visit: http://www.kerriemckinnel.com

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading all of this week’s pieces of new writing from Lockerbie Writers! Please share, and take a look around our website for more information on the group’s meetings, writing and past publications.
Have you missed any of this week’s new writing? Click on the links below to view each of the last four days!
Day 1: Christina Openshaw
Day 2: Betsy Henderson
Day 3: Kath J. Rennie
Day 4: Paula Nicolson; Rita Dalgliesh

New Writing Week, Spring 2021 – Day 4

Launch into spring with Lockerbie Writers! Join us on the blog all week (29th March – 2nd April 2021) and enjoy a selection of new writing from members of Lockerbie Writers. Today is Day 4, and we’ve got not one but two fantastic poems to mark our penultimate day!

One year on from the beginning of lockdown, Lockerbie Writers group remain unable to meet in person, but many of the members have continued to swap writing and encouragement online.

Today, we have not one but two poems from members of the group. The first is inspired by the word ‘galoshes’ and comes from Paula, who has spearheaded the running of the online group over the last few months. The second, from Rita, uses the prompt words/phrases ‘parade’, ‘brood’, ‘dead daffodils’ and ‘galoshes’ – well done to Rita for using four out of the five given prompts! Not an easy task!

Read on, enjoy … and don’t forget to share!

Photo by Noelle Otto on Pexels.com

We Are by Paula Nicolson


in the wet street

in the wet wind

in the wet rain

in the wet puddles

in the wet wellies

in the wet

the wet

wet

Paula Nicolson (Lockerbie Writers’ PR Manager)
Paula lives near Lockerbie, Scotland, with her family and is a mum to a teenage daughter, two grown-up stepchildren, and an overly chatty cat. She enjoys laughing, eating cake, and writing with Lockerbie Writers; preferably all at the same time.
She worked as a scientist for 22 years in England, but now works as a librarian in a Scottish town where there’s more sheep than books (she made that fact up, but seriously, there’s lots of sheep here.)
Paula is a published poet, short story and a prize-winning flash fiction writer. She’s also a judge for BBC Radio 2’s 500 words and Castle Loch Trust’s children’s writing competitions. You can find her blogging at: http://www.facebook.com/deckywriting

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

An Historic Event by Rita Dalgliesh

As Lord and Lady Martindale return from abroad,
All residents of Mayhem find cause for merriment.
A parade they plan in earnest, first of its kind,
Celebrate a turning point, recovery of humankind.

A brood of youth research ancient heritage,
They’ll re-enact the pageant of an ancient past.
For all our hosts don’t look so hot, their provision and plot
are just what the residents of Mayhem got.

Their ideas permit the villagers to explore
Vast gardens; mausoleums with tombs
Revealing epidemics contracted by previous peers.
Lord and Lady Martindale look nearly as poorly.

The pageant planned for 2021, 23rd May.
For our hosts it may be too late, we say.
Ensure this historic year has its great occasion
Through all conforming to pandemic rule.

Lord and Lady Martindale were no fools;
Knew they had the new strain, are in great pain.
Our parades in jeopardy; all joys diminished.
Tis nasty weather, visions of another lockdown.

R.I.P.

We’ll march in our galoshes, gothic garb and all,
Up to the big house our hosts to recall.
Throughout the grounds dead daffodils abound.
Summer’s on its way, an era over; a lost display.


Rita Dalgliesh is a member of Lockerbie Writers, and has never missed a prompt. She enjoys stretching her imagination through her writing. Rita also loves reading, in particular historical war novels. She recently joined a book group in Annan, which has encouraged her to try a wide range of genres and given her an insight into a whole new world of authors.

Thank you to Paula and Rita for providing two very different and unique poems. Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for our final piece! We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this piece of new writing from Lockerbie Writers. If you’ve enjoyed it, please share, and take a look around our website for more information on the group’s meetings, writing and past publications.

New Writing Week, Spring 2021 – Day 3

Launch into spring with Lockerbie Writers! Join us on the blog all week (29th March – 2nd April 2021) and enjoy a selection of new writing from members of Lockerbie Writers. Our third piece of the week comes from Kath J. Rennie.

One year on from the beginning of lockdown, Lockerbie Writers group remain unable to meet in person, but many of the members have continued to swap writing and encouragement online.

Today’s piece – a short story – is inspired by the phrase ‘dead daffodils’. This prompt is proving to be the most popular of the five choices which I gave to the writers! It has been written by Lockerbie Writers’ member Kath J. Rennie.

Read on, enjoy … and don’t forget to share!

Photo by Rachel Claire on Pexels.com

The Guilt Trip by Kath J. Rennie

Alice normally detests Sundays, except for the hour she spends on her knees praying for atonement. Today, she feels it will be achieved.


‘It’s time,’ she mutters, clambering from her bed, ‘time to lay the past to rest.’


Alice’s positive mood diminishes as it’s realised her nightwear, and bedding, are sweat-ridden. This has been the norm on Saturday eves. They’re discarded onto the bedroom carpet. They’ll lay there until her return from her son-in-law’s grave; a man loved by her herself and daughter Mia who can no longer bring herself to visit his grave, or forgive the woman she once loved.


Alice had told the police when questioned, ‘It was an accident, Officer.’


‘Sorry for your loss,’ they’d said.


Mia eventually found new love with the child she bore. A child kept away from its grandmother. Alice hopes she will get to spend time with the youngster one day − the day when Mia realises wrong choices have been made.


The trek from the cemetery gate to Thomas’s grave is walked briskly. Alice kneels and tenderly touches the wording on the gravestone; removes the rabbit-eaten daffodil stalks from their vase. No fresh flowers replace them.


‘I’ll not be returning again, Thomas. It’s time for you to forgive us! Mia never meant to push you hard as you stood at the top of the staircase. And Thomas, you have to understand why we lied to the police. And please understand why I can no longer visit. I want to stop feeling plagued by guilt.’


Alice’s burden is lightened as she walks slowly away from the man she still loves. The man who’d chosen Mia as he grabbed the stair bannister to stop his fall. The man who’d had his fingers uncoiled by herself; flamed with jealousy.

She walks home contentedly unaware of Thomas following her.

Kath, an award-winning poet, began to write poetry in her teens; it was only in her forties did she begin to submit them, with many published in various anthologies. Her latest poem, Keeping the Faith, received a full page spread in The Stove networking newspaper. She also took part in a poetry safari in Eskrigg Nature Reserve with The Relevance of Time. On joining Lockerbie Writers in 2015, she learned the art of writing short stories.


Thank you to Kath for providing this short story. Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for the next piece! We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this piece of new writing from Lockerbie Writers! If you’ve enjoyed it, please share, and take a look around our website for more information on the group’s meetings, writing and past publications.

New Writing Week, Spring 2021 – Day 2

Launch into spring with Lockerbie Writers! Join us on the blog all week (29th March – 2nd April 2021) and enjoy a selection of new writing from members of Lockerbie Writers. Our second piece of the week comes from Betsy Henderson.


One year on from the beginning of lockdown, Lockerbie Writers group remain unable to meet in person, but many of the members have continued to swap writing and encouragement online.


Today’s piece – a short story – is inspired by the phrase ‘dead daffodils’, and has been written by Lockerbie Writers’ member Betsy Henderson.


Read on, enjoy … and don’t forget to share!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Someone who Cares by Betsy Henderson

Bella made straight for the cemetery as soon as she arrived back in Scotland. Her mother had died whilst she was stuck on the other side of the world and Bella couldn’t get back. This awful pandemic had meant the planes were all grounded. She had felt terrible; there was no one else and her poor mother had been buried without a single mourner. It was a totally unthinkable situation.

She phoned the undertaker who gave her the plot number of the grave. He told her the paramedic who had tried to save her mum wanted to explain what happened, so would meet her there, for which she was very grateful. Bella was still reeling with disbelief, her heart breaking with the permanence of losing her beloved mum.

A bunch of dead daffodils lay near the head of the grave. Well, they had once been daffodils, but the rabbits had a field day devouring most of the heads. She picked up what was left, not understanding who could have left them when her mum hadn’t known anyone. Bella had brought her mum to live with her only a few weeks before she had to go away on business. Her mum swore she would be fine for the short time Bella was away, but then catastrophe struck and she was knocked over and killed.

She stood looking at the grave, her heart breaking. ‘I’m sorry mum,’ she sobbed, ‘if I could have got back, I would have.’

A voice behind her spoke. ‘She knew you couldn’t help it. I was with her at the hospital when she passed away. She knew you loved her.’

Bella turned around; she hadn’t heard anyone approaching and almost jumped out of her skin. The paramedic stood behind her, concern written all over his face. ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t save her; she was too badly injured.’

‘Did you leave the daffodils?’ Bella asked. ‘Were you at her funeral?’

‘Yes, someone had to be there.’

Bella smiled at her companion, grateful there were still people who cared.

Betsy is retired.  She is married with two adult children and three grandchildren.  During the pandemic, she has spent most of her time taking her dog Becky for a walk and trying out different knitting patterns, as well as keeping her hand in with writing to on-line prompts.

Thank you to Betsy for providing this short story. Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for the next piece! We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this piece of new writing from Lockerbie Writers! If you’ve enjoyed it, please share, and take a look around our website for more information on the group’s meetings, writing and past publications.

New Writing Week, Spring 2021 – Day 1

Launch into spring with Lockerbie Writers! Join us on the blog all week (29th March – 2nd April 2021) and enjoy a selection of new writing from members of Lockerbie Writers.
Our first poem comes from Christina Openshaw.


One year on from the beginning of lockdown, Lockerbie Writers group remain unable to meet in person, but many of the members have continued to swap writing and encouragement online.


In recent months, this has evolved into an established online group. Organised by PR Manager Paula Nicolson, and entirely done by email, the group members exchange short pieces of writing in response to a regular prompt, and then share their thoughts and feedback. The aim – as with the in-person group – is to help each other to develop writing skills and confidence.


This month, Paula has kindly allowed me to set the prompt for the online group. I asked writers to produce up to 300 words inspired by at least one of the following: dead daffodil(s); parade; renaissance; brood; and, galoshes. An intriguing choice, I hope you’ll agree!


Read on, enjoy … and don’t forget to share!

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Dead Daffodils by Christina Openshaw

Leaving the house one morning,
When going through the door,
There on the step stood something
That wasn’t there before.

Looking up and down the lane,
No one could I see.
Who has left this present?
I assume that it’s for me?

A glass jar full of daffodils,
All tightly still in bud,
With a white bow wrapped around it.
Someone’s been so good.

It can only be one of two neighbours,
But which one comes to mind?
How should I approach them?
This mystery to unwind.

The daffodils on the window sill
Are opening up each day.
I’ve never seen my neighbours,
They haven’t passed this way.

Another week soon passes,
The daffs are in full bloom.
The weather’s bad, no one’s about,
I need to thank them soon.

Which one could I appeal to,
Without upsetting the other?
The trouble is the daffs have died,
So, should I really bother?

Christina lives with her husband outside Lockerbie. After retiring she joined a local writing group — which has now become Lockerbie Writers. Having had short stories and poems published in two anthologies, she now finds poetry coming to the fore.

Thank you to Christina for providing this poem and kicking off our week. Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for the next piece!
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this piece of new writing from Lockerbie Writers! If you’ve enjoyed it, please share, and take a look around our website for more information on the group’s meetings, writing and past publications.

Christmas Writing Workshop – November 2020

At the end of an unusual year, nobody was holding their breath that Lockerbie Writers would be able to meet up before Christmas … but in fact, that was exactly what happened!

Keep reading to the end to sample a few of the pieces of writing which were produced on the day!

Following discussions with Dumfries and Galloway Council and the venue Somerton House Hotel to ensure that we were doing everything within the relevant government guidance (correct at the date of the workshop) and as COVID safe as possible, it was a delight on my part to be able to finish 2020 by planning a small writing workshop for group members.

Sadly I was unable to attend in the end (ah, the joys of such an unpredictable year), but Lockerbie Writers’ PR Manager Paula Nicolson has kindly put together a few words about the day.

Thank you to Paula, and also to the group’s chairperson Steph Newham for providing the photographs.

‘Christmas Writing Workshop’ by Paula Nicolson

The sound of pens scribbling and brains whirring could be heard at the Somerton House Hotel, Lockerbie, on 27th November 2020 at a Christmas creative writing workshop for Lockerbie Writers.

It was the first time the group had been able to meet since March, albeit socially distanced.

It started with a sensory piece describing ‘I know it’s time for Christmas because I …’, and then followed by the creation of an acrostic using ‘LET IT SNOW’. The final exercise was editing an opening paragraph to a gothic novel. Members enjoyed the chance to stretch their fingers and minds, create new work and also receive constructive feedback in person.

Some of the feedback received was:

‘Enjoyed meeting up again. Great doing some work and listening to others. Nice to stretch my imagination; I’ve missed that.’

‘Actually hearing the works of other members read out was very beneficial.’

‘A very enjoyable morning spent with Lockerbie Writers. Informative workshop which included some Christmas prompts.’

The workshop was then followed by a delicious three-course lunch (again socially distanced).

The group are grateful for funding from Muirhall Energy that helped this workshop to take place.

Thank you to Paula for providing an account of the day.

I’d like to finish with some of the writing which was produced at the workshop. Kath’s piece is an acrostic poem produced to the phrase ‘LET IT SNOW’, while Christina’s piece explores the sensory memories associated with Christmas. Thank you to both for contributing!

The Joy of Harmony by Kath J. Rennie

Love’s Holy Christmas spirit
Engages all in its grasp
Threading souls together,

Inviting is spirit’s enchanting ask,
To each, create a tapestry

Stitched with significance and care,
Notable moments of this time of year
Outwith ourselves at times, aware …
We are as one – in harmony.

I Know It’s Time for Christmas Because … by Christina Openshaw

I see … shops decorated in October.
I smell … perfumes in the air.
I feel … aggravation – it’s October!!
I taste … fresh mince pies.
I hear … Christmas music again and again and again.

Thank you to everyone who attended, and to everyone who helped to make this possible, including Lockerbie Writers’ Steph and Paula, the Somerton House Hotel (who were fantastic), Dumfries and Galloway Council, and funders Muirhall Energy.

I hope you had a very merry Christmas, and wish you all the best for the new year. Hopefully it won’t be too long until we are free to meet again as we used to – or, at the very least, to organise another of these special socially-distanced workshoped.

– Kerrie McKinnel, Events Manager

New Writing Week 2020 – Day 7

To mark National Writing Day 2020, all week (beginning 22nd June) we will be sharing a selection of new writing from members of Lockerbie Writers.

Our final stories come from Christina Openshaw and Kath J. Rennie.

This is our final day of new stories and poems on the theme of ‘lockdown’, produced by Lockerbie Writers.

This special week of blog posts came into being because we were unable to hold our usual in-person event to celebrate National Writing Day. While the blog can’t compare to an evening of readings from a Scottish author or a full day of writing workshops, we hope that our selection of lockdown-inspired stories and poems have brought you some enjoyment … and perhaps even inspired you!

One of our aims as a group is to inspire others to write, and it is always something which we focus on at our events and workshops – along with the joys of joining a writing group.

If you have been encouraged to start writing, please take a look around our blog, join our Facebook group, follow us on Twitter, or get in touch for more inspiration and advice.

Without further ado, it is time to introduce our final stories which come from Christina Openshaw and Kath J. Rennie. These stories could bother be described as thought-provoking and moving, but each approaches the theme of lockdown in an entirely different and highly individual way.

Read on and enjoy – and don’t forget to share!

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Lockdown by Christina Openshaw

Lily sat watching television with husband Sam as she knitted away – then it happened. Her body fell sideways.

‘What’s the matter love?’ Sam asked, but got no response. Something was wrong – he picked up the phone in a panic and rang the doctor, who visited and sent for the ambulance – telling Sam, ‘I think she’s had a stroke.’

Sam, shaking, rang their eldest daughter, Meg and told her what had happened. ‘I’ll follow the ambulance in our car, could you meet me there?’

As Meg entered through the hospital doors, far ahead along the corridor was her dad – dashing breathlessly towards the room where Lily was. She could hear him saying to himself, ‘You can’t go yet – I have to go first.’

Sam sat with Meg, watching Lily throughout the night – in an emergency room, Lily wired up, sleeping.  From there she was transferred to the stroke ward, better to be looked after. Staff soon began realising that when Lily was asked a question she did not or could not reply; but they were used to this.

Sam and their two married daughters were shocked when informed of Lily’s condition; she had no use in her right arm or leg as yet. ‘We’ve never had to deal with anyone who’s had a stroke before, have we?’ They would have to wing it as best they were able, only time would tell. Over the next couple of weeks the family were overjoyed: she was more alert, taking notice – but still she never spoke.

On one of her daughter Meg’s visits, Lily started patting her face. ‘I don’t understand Mum, you don’t wear make- up.’ Lily persisted, urging Meg with her eyes to fathom out what she wanted to say.

Then it clicked. ‘Is it a mirror you’re wanting, Mum?’

Lily smiled, nodded, as she was handed a little compact. This she moved up and down both sides of her face, then, sighed with relief.

 ‘Awe, Mum your face is fine,’ said Meg realising her mum’s face must feel funny, and that she was looking to see if it was.

Back at home weeks later everyone felt that there was nothing wrong with Lily’s brain, she just couldn’t get the words out. If asked to repeat something, she spoke perfectly clearly – when asked a question no answer came.

Sam was so upset that Lily never called him by name, but would repeat it if prompted. Her first independent word was ‘NO!’ The family were all there that day – they laughed as Sam, joking, said that, ‘Of course it would be.’

Lily did become proficient at hand signs, and the odd word or sentence that came automatically like, ‘Just a minute, just a minute.’ One of her favourite words was, ‘Frustrating.’ When people couldn’t understand, she used this often; where she’d got this from, nobody knew. They understood why she said it – she was locked in; trying to communicate, but sadly hardly succeeding.

The day of Lily’s grandson’s christening, the whole family gathered together in Emmanuel Church; she sat at the front in her wheelchair along with Sam. The organ began to play All Things Bright and Beautiful – everyone was singing, including Lily. She never faltered, knew all the words – words she’d always known. Everyone looked at her, smiled at each other – nudging, nodding.

She was with them – all together, not locked out for once.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

The Dancing Carrier Bag’s Message of Hope by Kath J. Rennie

It came as a shock – the inability to visit loved ones; for them to visit me; to give each other much needed hugs, kisses and laughter.

All communication was to be by phone or social media; at heart, I knew it wouldn’t suffice, but it was necessary if we were to keep each other safe.

Those early days in my new home stretched out so slowly. The walls began to close in on me; walls with a decorative style not to my taste; stark white painted walls with imprints of previous tenants.

I told myself to put up with it until summertime, until a decorator may be allowed in to do the work, but the walls closed in more and no amount of framed pictures consoled.

 I was tempted many an hour to get the pasting table down, unroll the packaged beautiful rolls of gold glittery paper bought before lockdown.  Don’t be tempted to do it yourself! My inner voice warned. You know what you’re like for putting a foot through a strip of wallpaper as you fight to attach it to the wall; of how the paper folded back on itself, covering my hair in wallpaper paste, and then I realized, the dammed ceiling would have to be painted first!

Frustration began to set in. Together with the isolation I was feeling I was ready to scream, but instead (isn’t it strange how the mind works) I burst into laughter at past memories of how trying to be a top decorator had gone so terribly wrong.

‘What’s so funny?’ my son (also in lockdown with me) asked.

 I told him of the drastic mistakes I’d made.  

‘I’ll give it a go,’ he said in earnest. ‘It can’t be that hard to do?’

I tried not to laugh out loud, thanking him for his offer. I was not going to let him attempt wallpapering for the first time in his life with my expensive rolls of paper.

‘PAINT!’ I shouted out at the top of my voice, scaring our cat half to death. ‘We’ve litres of it; we’ll soon have this place looking brighter and cheery.’

Gazelle-like I made for the broom-cupboard; grabbed paint brushes and trays; I was a woman on a mission. Then realised, sadly, I wouldn’t be able to repeatedly climb a ladder to paint the living room-ceiling due to having a disability, and, I realised, neither would my son; also with a partial disability … BLAST! DAM! BLAST!

I sat a while and cursed our disabilities, I cursed the deadly virus. I turned the air blue with my swearing, and then tears fell slowly down my cheeks and I’d wished I’d never moved away from the countryside.

I’ve often thought of tears as being healing waters, and they were; they gave space to rethink a plan of action.

Dismantling a mop head from its pole and attaching it to a sponge roller, the ceiling was painted; a little at a time, over time, but that didn’t matter; the grubby yellow tinge became a lovely antique cream.

A month passed by. Three rooms seemed brighter, but they still spoke of solitude. The solitude felt crippling; it had me stand and gaze out through different windows of a yet still, unfamiliar home; especially my bedroom window mostly, which overlooks a football field where once all my sons had played footy; and the children’s play area, where once I’d pushed them on swings.

It was at this window one spring evening, observing hues and the lushness of fir and ash trees swaying in the slight breeze that I was consumed with a feeling of dread and fear; all memories of days gone by dissipated as eeriness seemed to cloak the park.

Sadness was felt. Thoughts of … ‘How long will it be before children will again swing gleefully up into the air? Or slide bravely down the slide? Or rock boisterously on the toy horse and cow?

I felt myself comparing my feelings of being lockdown with how I’d felt after a major disaster in the town. The feelings were comparable. I knew I had to move rooms, but as I went to, an object caught my eye: a white plastic carrier-bag, caught up in the breeze, dancing its way along the road’s white marking. It twisted and twirled before leaping up into the air.

I was mesmerised. In my mind’s eye I was watching the leading female character Odette dance her part in Swan Lake. I watched it for what seemed an age, until the bag was carried off out of sight.

I’ll never forget that night; of how a discarded piece of plastic magically took me to a happier place; a place of strength; of hope.

Thank you to Christina and Kath for providing these final stories and rounding off our week of new writing.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this piece of new writing from Lockerbie Writers.
If you have enjoyed it, why not check out our books, Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology and Behind Closed Doors?

If you’ve missed our previous posts, you can read them here:

Lament of a Lockdown Lass by Deborah Redden (Day 1)

The New Normal by Betsy Henderson (Day 2)

The New Normal by Rita Dalgliesh/My Lockdown by Frank Walker (Day 3)

Lockdown by Steph Newham (Day 4)

Heat by Paula Nicolson (Day 5)

Blue by Kerrie McKinnel (Day 6)

New Writing Week 2020 – Day 6

To mark National Writing Day 2020, all week (beginning 22nd June) we will be sharing a selection of new writing from members of Lockerbie Writers.

Our penultimate story is by the group’s Events Manager, Kerrie McKinnel.

This is our sixth day of new stories and poems on the theme of ‘lockdown’, produced by Lockerbie Writers.

As today’s story comes from yours truly, it seems like an appropriate point at which to reflect on my own experiences of this process.

I will admit that I was apprehensive when I first suggested this week of blog posts – mainly because I had been rather late in thinking about it. In 2019, we had spent several months doing drafts, editing and peer review ahead of the publication of our second collection of writing. To ensure these posts would be ready in time for National Writing Day, I could only allow 3 weeks: 1 week to write, 1 week for everyone to read and review the work by the other group members, and a final week for each writer to reflect on the feedback which they’d received via the peer review and complete their final edits.

Thankfully, the group did not disappoint. It has been a busy month, but I am incredibly proud of the work which everyone has produced.

Today’s new writing is a short story which I wrote inspired loosely by the traditional tale of Red Riding Hood. I aimed to give the plot a modern-day twist by plunging poor old Granny into lockdown …

Several peer reviewers commented that they would have liked to read more – that Blue’s story was only just beginning when it ended. When editing, I toyed with the idea of writing more, but decided not to for this particular blog (word limit in mind!) … perhaps in the future I will come back to Blue’s tale.

Read on and enjoy – and don’t forget to share!

Photo by Nicolas Veithen on Pexels.com

Blue by Kerrie McKinnel

Once upon a time there was a girl called Blue. Now, please don’t ask me whether or not this was really her name. It sounds unlikely, doesn’t it? But that was her name, and that’s the end of it. Blue lived up to it too, in her turquoise t-shirt, lapis leggings and sapphire sneakers.

Blue’s days were taken up with college, helping on her parents’ llama farm, and daily jogs to Granny’s to do a few chores and have a chat over a cup of tea. Pretty standard. That was, until a terrible plague hit the land. Overnight, Blue’s classes were cancelled, and Granny was instructed to stay at home with immediate effect for her own protection.

‘I know it’s rough,’ said Granny when they video-called a few days later.

‘Rough?’ exclaimed Blue. ‘Understatement of the century! What will you do?’

‘I don’t know.’ Granny sighed. Her tablet slipped down her lap, giving Blue an excellent view up Granny’s nose. ‘G.D.S. said they’d help, but so far I haven’t even had any food.’

‘The Goblin Delivery Service? Oh Granny, you know better than to rely on them!’

‘Well I don’t have much choice, do I?’ scolded Granny, and then she sighed again. ‘I’m sorry Blue, I’m just a bit … well … fumbleglasted with the whole situation!’

Blue gasped. She’d never heard her granny swear before. She told Granny she’d sort something out.

‘Don’t go getting into trouble.’ Granny sniffed and cuddled down into her brown dressing gown.

‘Would I do that?’

‘Have those sores on your hands healed yet?’

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

‘Granny!’ Blue rubbed at her palms. ‘Honestly, litter picking is completely inhumane. I was in so much pain.’

‘I’m sure that girl from your college class was too.’

‘I keep telling you, if she didn’t want me to punch her then she shouldn’t have wound me up.’

‘And I keep telling you, you don’t go around punching people.’

After she’d finished on the video call, Blue went down to the kitchen and found an old picnic basket. Apples, bread, chocolate cookies … she piled it high and slipped in a bottle of wine out of the pantry.

‘Don’t you dare take the long way to Granny’s,’ shouted Mum. ‘I don’t need you coming face to face with that poor girl again.’

Blue jammed her headphones in and strode off into the wood. Why did Mum make such a fuss? Blue had no intentions of meeting that “poor girl” again. She didn’t want to end up back on community service, or worse. She was deep in thought, rubbing at her scabby hands, when someone tapped her shoulder.

‘Sorry, can I …’ she began as took out her headphones and turned around to find herself face to face with a wolf.

‘Good morning, my dear,’ he said. He looked as if he was trying to smile, but all it did was show off his perfectly white teeth. He laid his paw on her shoulder. ‘How lovely to …’

‘AAA!’ Blue screamed as she punched the wolf square in the jaw.

‘Ouch! You horrible girl! You’ve broken my jaw.’ A low growl erupted from his stomach as he lunged towards her.

‘Stranger danger! Stranger danger!’ yelled Blue as she punched him again, and then once more for good measure. She took off through the wood with the wolf following right behind her. Leaping over tree branches and loose stones, she sprinted as fast as her sapphire sneakers would take her, and she didn’t stop until she reached Granny’s house. She burst in, slammed the door behind her, and stood gasping for breath.

‘Blue? What’s wrong?’ cried Granny, and then she noticed Blue’s bleeding knuckles. ‘Oh, Blue. What did I say about getting into trouble?’


Kerrie McKinnel is Lockerbie Writers’ Events Manager and a founding member of A Novel Approach group. Since completing her MLitt Creative Writing (University of Glasgow), Kerrie has run a number of successful events and workshops for both groups, and compiled and co-edited their two books, Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology (2016) and Behind Closed Doors (2019). Kerrie is a self-employed writer and also runs creative writing workshops through her business, Kerrie McKinnel – Writer. Her writing has been featured in publications including Gutter, Southlight and From Glasgow to Saturn. For more information visit: www.kerriemckinnel.com.

Thank you for reading my short story!

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this piece of new writing from Lockerbie Writers.
If you have enjoyed it, why not check out our books, Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology and Behind Closed Doors?

Check back tomorrow for our next post!

If you’ve missed our previous posts, you can read them here:

Lament of a Lockdown Lass by Deborah Redden (Day 1)

The New Normal by Betsy Henderson (Day 2)

The New Normal by Rita Dalgliesh/My Lockdown by Frank Walker (Day 3)

Lockdown by Steph Newham (Day 4)

Heat by Paula Nicolson (Day 5)

New Writing Week 2020 – Day 5

To mark National Writing Day 2020, all week (beginning 22nd June) we will be sharing a selection of new writing from members of Lockerbie Writers.

Our next contributor is the group’s PR Manager, Paula Nicolson.

This is our fifth day of new stories and poems on the theme of ‘lockdown’, produced by Lockerbie Writers.

One of the joys of joining a writing group is getting to know the voice and style of each individual writer. Each member has their own particular genre likes and dislike, a natural flow to their sentence structure and rhythm, and a vocabulary which is as personal to them as their favourite notepad-and-pen combo. Of course each story and character will have their own feel, but once you know the other people in a writing group then often it is easy to recognise each author’s voice.

Or is it?! As part of the peer review process for these New Writing Week posts, I sent out the stories and poems anonymously, so that each peer reviewer’s judgement was not shaped or clouded by the knowledge of who had written the piece. If you are a Lockerbie Writers member reading this, it would be interesting to know how many of the authors you have attributed to the correct stories so far!

Our fifth day of new writing comes to you on behalf of Lockerbie Writers’ PR Manager, Paula Nicolson. Thank you to Paula for sharing this intriguing and clever take on the ‘lockdown’ theme. I imagine that those group members who read the twist at the end of this short story would know only too well that it was Paula who had written it!

Read on and enjoy – and don’t forget to share!

Photo by Patrick Henry at Unsplash.

Heat by Paula Nicolson

The crackers Jess took from the supermarket stuck in her throat; she’d committed a crime that day, but there’d been no police to come after her.

*

The early morning sun was nudging its way through the tree branches. It was time to venture from her self-imposed lockdown, but as usual, Jess had a reluctance to leave the house.

With her wide brimmed sun hat, white boiler suit and Mickey Mouse sunglasses, she walked along the kerbside brush; the creak of her swaying wicker basket and the crunch of weeds underfoot were swallowed up by the silence. Sweat was already trickling down her forehead and nestled in her eyebrows.

Pleased that she’d remembered to pack a hammer, a spare pair of sunglasses and a water bottle, she hummed one her favourite tunes that used to be sung by the protestors; that is before the demonstrations descended into riots. Stopping by the river, she filled her water bottle from its trickle and then climbed the bank to the bridge overlooking the supermarket.

‘Better check for cars before I cross the bridge,’ she said and chuckled to herself. There was nothing there; as it had been for some time.

After pushing open the supermarket door, she headed straight over to the cracker section; her trainers pattering softly and rhythmically on the chequered flooring.

‘39 steps,’ she whispered to herself as she arrived at a broken and sloping shelf on which the last two remaining packets of crackers clung.

‘They’ll go nicely with soup!’ she said as if she was talking to one of her customers. She didn’t miss the cheesy music or the toddler tantrums, but she longed to ask someone, ‘Can I help you with your packing?’

But then she heard a clunk from two aisles down, and then another. She slid the two packets of crackers into her basket and ran to a cash desk where she hid underneath its chair and put on her tabard. The clunking stopped.

Gripping the conveyor belt, she peered over the counter. A woman was standing by the canned soft drinks section, repeatedly picking up a can from the few that remained, one by one.

Standing up and smoothing the creases in her tabard, Jess said, ‘Welcome to Robertson’s! Can I help you?’

The woman turned; anger crept across her face, and she threw a can at Jess. Then another, and another.

‘Wait! I’m not going to hurt you!’ Jess said, while ducking.

As the woman ran at her with another can in her hand, Jess could see that her skin was red raw with equally angry patchy ulcers on her face, arms and legs.

‘Oh dear,’ Jess said. She never liked what had to come next. She felt so sorry for the poorly folk left behind. Being in so much pain and with an unquenchable thirst, it would make the most acquiescent person turn to rage. Climate change, solar flares and meteor showers were all blamed in turn as the roads melted, the forests burned, rivers shrank and people died; they finally realised that nature was just running its course as the Earth self- destructed.

Reaching for the hammer, Jess hit the can out of the woman’s hand, and then her head. It was swift, with only a few blood splatters left behind as she dragged the woman’s body into the supermarket’s old walk-in freezer. The only other casualty was her Mickey Mouse sunglasses; found crushed underneath the cash desk.

*

As Jess finished her soup and pulled down her window blind, she sighed. She’d only wanted to have a chat.


Paula lives near Lockerbie with her family and an overly chatty cat. She worked as a scientist for 22 years in Hampshire, but now works as a librarian in Annan. She’s a published poet, short story and a prize-winning flash fiction writer. You can find her blogging at https://deckywritingsheepslife.blogspot.com/

Thank you to Paula for sharing this perfectly-formed short story.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this piece of new writing from Lockerbie Writers.
If you have enjoyed it, why not check out our books, Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology and Behind Closed Doors?

Check back tomorrow for our next post!

If you’ve missed our previous posts, you can read them here:

Lament of a Lockdown Lass by Deborah Redden (Day 1)

The New Normal by Betsy Henderson (Day 2)

The New Normal by Rita Dalgliesh/My Lockdown by Frank Walker (Day 3)

Lockdown by Steph Newham (Day 4)

New Writing Week 2020 – Day 4

To mark National Writing Day 2020, all week (beginning 22nd June) we will be sharing a selection of new writing from members of Lockerbie Writers.

Our fifth contributor is the group’s chairperson, Steph Newham.

This is our fourth day of new stories and poems on the theme of ‘lockdown’, produced by Lockerbie Writers.

Since lockdown began in March 2020, the group has been swapping writing via email in response to fortnightly prompts. This has been a relatively new experience for some members, and very different to our usual in-person meetings.

‘But what makes it so different?’ I hear you ask. Surely a story by a particular author will have the same impact whether it is in an email or read out loud at a meeting?

Actually, no, not necessarily.

Imagine you are watching an Oscar-winning film and we reach the climax; the protagonist delivers her tear-jerking final monologue, complete with dramatic pauses and parts which are quieter, slower, delivered with a tremble in her voice … and then imagine that you are reading that same monologue on paper while sitting on the sofa with a cup of tea. Suddenly that piece of writing may have to work harder or in a different way to compensate for the lack of a dramatic delivery.

It’s the same when we read our writing. We know our own stories and how we want them to sound. We know when to shout, when to whisper, when to pause for effect. Sending our work out to be read by others in our absence is a totally different experience and sometimes a harsh learning curve … but certainly a worthwhile one, especially for writers who aspire to publication.

Our fourth day of new writing comes to you on behalf of Lockerbie Writers’ chair person, Steph Newham. Following feedback from the rest of the group, Steph worked hard on this story to ensure it jumped off the page in all the right ways … I hope it takes your breath away as it does mine. Thank you to Steph for providing this moving and beautiful short story.

Read on and enjoy – and don’t forget to share!

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Lockdown by Steph Newham

It’s true he’s gone. One of the earliest to die, harnessed to a machine. I wonder if this is a dream. Why can’t I visit him? The question haunts me. I don’t think it’s a dream. My pain’s in the blisters on my fingers; in the ache of my back each evening as I put the hoe on its nail in the shed. I don’t mourn my confinement. I’m in love with this garden; his legacy, it consoles me. My hair tangles in whippy branches as I hug the trunk of the willow we planted twenty odd years ago. I ease my pain by picking resin teardrops from the bark where a branch split off in a storm just after he died. I watch them fall, welcomed into the mound of sweet-smelling compost that I’ll sift and spread around his garden.

Under my care the garden survives. I feel its boundaries of hawthorn, beech and hazel shiver gently, while the laurel, holly and newly-planted yews shake their darkness into place around me. Beyond the hedge it’s quiet and the strangest thing is the empty sky. I am not lonely; I feel his presence just beyond the greenhouse or in the potting shed. I hear his steps on the gravel, smell the dampness of his tweed jacket in places I know he has not been, and my heart gives a thud.

I walk the paths in the dawn hours, listen to the blackbird; why so jubilant, when he is no more? I dead-head roses; my tears mingle with dew on the petals as I remember his endless patience at my incompetence in his garden. There is a deep dent in the box hedge round the herb bed. How had I done that? Was I careless with his shears? I’m sorry, I mutter, then feel his smile shape my mouth – never mind, pet, it’ll soon grow again. I go indoors, make a cup of tea, feel my spine uncurl. Later I think I’ll thin his beet seedlings, even though I don’t know how.

I begin to feel safe enough to persuade the children that I’m fine. My mind has memories of a world outside that no longer interests me; during my waking hours, I concentrate on the one who has been my world for the past twenty-seven years. Each morning I wander this garden I’ve inherited, my feet becoming rooted in the right mix of brown and green compost-rich soil he fretted over. I will not think of those evil-weevil grubs that plague me. I‘ll defend his hostas against slugs. I’ll plant seeds in the raised bed that never disappointed us.

Six months and the dahlias have gone over and birds are feasting on the rose hips. Dreams still trouble me. I know the yews will never provide arrows to protect me. Only isolation here will guard me from the virus that took him. I look about, think of my grandma who said growing laurel has benefits: brooms can be made of the branches. I run fingers through my tangled witch hair. Perhaps in the future I might need to fly high over the hedges to take a look beyond his garden. Put an end to the isolation. Return to that other world we once journeyed through together. But for the moment it is enough to tend the plants he nurtured.

Thank you to Steph for sharing this thought-provoking short story.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this piece of new writing from Lockerbie Writers.
If you have enjoyed it, why not check out our books, Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology and Behind Closed Doors?

Check back tomorrow for our next post!

If you’ve missed our previous posts, you can read them here:

Lament of a Lockdown Lass by Deborah Redden (Day 1)

The New Normal by Betsy Henderson (Day 2)

The New Normal by Rita Dalgliesh/My Lockdown by Frank Walker (Day 3)