Story Appraisals
Read Guestbook
Rose's Photographs
Latest News
Cadenza Magazine
Dead Tree Publications
Internet Publications
Prizewinning Stories
Healing Faith
States of Matter
The River Imp
Walking Upside Down
Warning! Novel in Prog.
The Craft of Writing
Fiction for FREE
FREE Resources for Writers
Markets & Agents
Writing Related Websites
Writing Friends
Competition Links
Readers Write About...
Save Our Shorts
Great Links
Sound Files
Mind Maps
My YouTube Videos

In my dreams, the good ones, Mary Iris McCormack - Mim for short - is forever doing handstands, her knees bent, her feet planted flat against the redbrick playground wall. The skirt of her school uniform hangs like a soft green bell about the half-hidden clapper of her head, and when she turns to face me I see strange, knowing, upside-down eyes peering from beneath the inverted hem. She looks away and a quick flick of blond hair sweeps a swirl of dust from the asphalt.

Dreaming, half-aware of the fact, I wonder how long it's been since that hot yellow-blue, small-town afternoon in her sister's tent. Thirty-nine years? Forty? Can that be true? Has it really been so long since she left me, moved to the city, the bright lights, London?

From the skirt-bell's apex two flawless legs rise into the air, a matched pair of flying buttresses kissing the wall to keep it in its place. Suddenly straightened, oh-so-carefully parted, they become a walking V as Mim inches towards me, poised, balanced, her hands sharp-angled on strong, supple wrists. Spectacular. V for victory.

I hear high-pitched peals of laughter coming from the bell's interior, and at the dark forbidden fork - a place my eyes have no legitimate business - I see her navy-blue knickers.

Three times in the past week I've woken at this point and looked towards the pool of light where the night-nurses sit. I know one of them well - nurse Mary O'Connor, redheaded with a lovely Irish lilt on her. Her father used to be my postman, delivering my letters, collecting my replies, bringing me dry paper and disappointment. Big city news - too big for a small town Freiston boy like me.

Oh, Mim.

When she moves in a certain way, laughs just so, Nurse Mary O'Connor
reminds me of you.

I like to imagine her standing, yawning, unhitching herself from her station and her little pool of sensible light. I like to picture her upended, walking silently through the sleeping ward on her hands, her crisp white uniform too tight to do the bell thing, but her no-nonsense cap dropping off and her red hair tumbling free.

I see her stop at my bed, grin, execute a slow turn, and head back towards her desk. Yes. Even without a bell, even without a glimpse of navy-blue underwear, that would be something worth waking for.

I close my eyes and think about you, Mim - still doing handstands in my dreams, still showing me your knickers, still getting me into trouble after all these years.

Winner of the 2003 Word Smitten Competition