Home visitation

With my daughter off school for the winter holidays, we could shield together as a family. So after nearly five months of living in the flat, I moved back home for nearly two weeks. People envision a perfect reunion — a fairy-tale Christmas with a glowing tree, hot chocolate and hugs. And it was amazing in all the ways you might imagine. But it also was challenging in all the ways you wouldn’t. It was my first time back in the house since August. The furniture was moved oh-so-slightly, we had new curtains in our bedroom windows. Plants has grown. … Continue reading Home visitation

Calm before the storm

The last time I felt this sense of foreboding I was 13 and sitting in a Middle School biology class with Mr Shoemaker. It had been a stormy morning and the wind gusts had been causing the school windows to clatter. We were Kansas kids, so we knew what it meant when the winds died down and the sky turned green.  For months now, I have been lonely but not afraid. I knew what to do to keep myself safe and endured that to buy time while they developed better treatments and the UK decided to pay for vaccine alternatives. … Continue reading Calm before the storm

PGTips and the power of human touch

I went to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned. I was afraid to walk into the building but my PGTips habit was visible even over Zoom calls. There are only 30 cases of Omicron identified in the UK but one of them is in Spelthorne which is where my dentist Nick has his offices. So I double masked and I cleaned my hands and tried unsuccessfully to hold my breath. The hygienist was in full PPE but my heart beat faster and I could feel muscle pull away when she told me about her recent family trip to Portugal … Continue reading PGTips and the power of human touch

Buy the Matches

In 1992, when I was 21, I lived in St Petersburg. It was just after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and it was hard. Food was in shortage because workers had walked away from the communal farms and all the crop was rotting in the fields. It was spring and cold and ice fisherman were drowning and floating ashore after fishing when the ice was thin. We lived with Russian flatmates who were disillusioned. We were millionaires compared to our friends but there was nothing to buy. We had to search to find food in the empty supermarkets, just … Continue reading Buy the Matches

Writing the Perfect Short Story

One of my hobbies is fiction writing, and I particuarly like to write short stories. In this article (one of several Mslexia is publishing to help prepare writers for entering their short story competition), Margaret Wilkinson shares a great set of questions you can ask yourself about your writing to make it stronger and more readable. Give your story a facelift Don’t abandon your short story just because it’s been rejected a few times. If the idea was enough to inspire you in the first place, chances are it has the potential to inspire an editor or competition judge too. … Continue reading Writing the Perfect Short Story