Looking back he couldn’t think of one thing that led him to rifle through her handbag. It was a number of things, or a culmination of things that brought him to that point. Afterwards, of course, he felt justified because he found what he suspected.

In this age of electronic messaging and texting, only his wife would still write and receive letters. And more damning for her, she kept them. Well she kept this one. The one that was burning a hole in his pocket and his heart. The one that explained the changes in her.

She had grown, not physically, although she seemed to take up more space, her personality had grown. She wasn’t by any a stretch a shrunken woman but he thought of her as contained and since she lost weight, petite. Now she was larger than life, laughing out loud, a twinkle in her eye and a skip in her step. She had stopped arguing, that was it, the one thing that started him searching through the house.

She had been on vacation with her sister, on a cruise to the Caribbean. This was normal, she went every year, he hated to fly, they went on a driving tour in the UK or Ireland in September. He was three hours late picking her up at the airport, he expected a fly in his ear all the way home. Instead he was told, she went for a coffee and read her book, no worries. No worries, she said, that wasn’t his wife speaking, he appreciated it at first, the fact that he could do no wrong but after a week or so he found himself pondering on the why. Why the change? Surely the laid-back Jamaican attitude had not overwhelmed her and taken her over.

It took him over a week to search the house, he went into every room, ferreting in every nook and cranny until her handbag was the only place left to be scrutinised. He felt so low, going through her things, he would never ordinarily go in her handbag, not even to borrow a fiver. He would always ask. Maybe that is his problem, maybe that’s why she went elsewhere.

Stop that, he told himself. Yes he was broken-hearted, but he had been broken before, all the babies they had conceived that never got past ten weeks, each time that killed him. Each time it killed them both, just a little. Maybe it was inevitable that with all the elephants that lived in their lounge, one of them was bound to want out, it was so crowded.

Knowing your wife slept with someone else and acting upon the knowing, he discovered over the next few days were entirely different scenarios. In his head he screamed and shouted and plaintively cried what about me. On the surface though as with every other issue they faced, he remained calm.

When the days spilled over into a week he made a decision, he was going to fight for his marriage, he was going to fight for his wife, he was going to fight. He started the next morning, bringing her breakfast in bed, not that anything was ever resolved over a slice of toast, but it was a start. He wasn’t going to bend over backwards and become a doormat, but he was going to do little surprising gestures to bring her back into his bed. There was no need to dwell on the past, no need to talk about her indiscretion, maybe next year he might go on holiday with her, to China or India. 

Maybe all he needed was a wake-up call that marriages are fragile and need nurturing.

His wife rang her sister on the day of the breakfast to tell her the plan was working. “Thanks sis, you are the most fabulous sister in the entire world. To listen to me moan on about him and the marriage. Thank you for all your suggestions, I thought writing the letter was overdoing it but it seems to be having an effect. I just wish we could talk, you know really talk, like me and you do. Maybe this will be the start, there’s a herd of elephants need shifting, love you.”

I love

I love the way oil paint moves on canvas

I love the way flowers turn to the sun

I love the way grass smells after it has been cut – sweet smell of summer

I love to fill pages in my journal

I love to write bad poetry

I love watching the second hand move on the clock

I love to run, I wish my back did too

I love to jump in puddles, feeling the water soak right through

I love shuffling through leaves and sliding in snow

i love to cook spicy mexican food with refried beans and guacamole

I love to clean my toilet seat – not many can say that

I love to iron freshly dried clothes and smell the sweetness of the wind

I love watching the minute hand move on the clock

I love to play aeroplanes with children

I love to see my novel develop

I love to see my snaps on line

I love to laugh and cry at life

I love to eat veggies straight from the tunnel

I love to make jam and pickles and chutneys forever

I love watching the hour hand move on the clock

Because it means I’m alive

Because it means

I choose life

Because it means

death is beaten

Because it means

I am me


She was crying.

Not pretty tears, red swollen eyes, her nose full of snot, running freely as the tears.

She sat staring out of the window, oblivious to the world going on outside. People were beginning to get up and out for the daily grind. Mr Boyson was having trouble starting his motorbike directly opposite, his cursing, slamming and banging going unheard or unseen. Martha and Martin the twins from number 23 were gabbing on at a hundred miles an hour as they swung their bags and shuffled through autumn leaves.

Doris sniffled and wiped snot on her sleeve, grabbing her handkerchief too late for the slug like trail on her clothes but she dried her eyes. “Well this will never do,” she exclaimed to herself and put the telegram back in its envelope and into her apron pocket.

“Clarence, I am putting on the kettle for tea. Are you coming down today, love?” She spoke up the stairs hoping her husband would hear her. She didn’t want to take a tray up today. In the kitchen she straightened the envelope and put it leaning against the salt cellar.

She drew the black out curtains in the parlour and put the gas masks away, hung up in the cloakroom, she wished this damn war would end before anyone else’s son was killed. She sobbed again, before shaking her head and turning to brew the tea.


daubing paint on a canvas, celebrating joy, tears falling on red red paint.

red salt water

salty red paint

painting is liberating,

airbrushing reality,

joy overcomes pain,

joy overcomes sadness,

joy overcomes.

Stranger Danger


He died on the street outside my door

Clutching his chest falling down    slow

Screaming for help   no assistance we gave

Left him dying, writhing in pain


Hardened by street crime  we assumed a scam

A gang to come running when we stepped outside

Little boys with no respect for elder or wiser

Did they cause? Did we cause? The life we have to live.

The boy, fourteen years and 3 months

Post mortem revealed a heart broken

By the fear of strangers who lock themselves in

And don’t engage humanely with any ‘cept kin


The pain of the mother screened close up

despairing of the lack of help.

I recognised her grief stricken face

as the lady from the corner shop


We should’ve known him

twenty years or more ago we would have

chatted with him daily watching him grow up

we ignore the young, and we do so at our peril.

Sukey Mackie