Colin is a Bangor boy now living and working in Yorkshire - growing a business and a family (two year old Tom and one-on-the-way) with his wife Justine. Together they are the Burnt Sugar Sweet Company
making and selling 'the world's best fudge' according to the Observer Food Monthly. Colin uses any spare time to write - spurred on by Hull University's course in Creative Writing - and hopes to have a novel finished sometime in the future.
A Word in the Hand by
She made up her mind, right then, that I was something
other. Not Quite Right. Other. Mark it well - we would never
enjoy a loving relationship from that day forward. I had
scalded her with blistering embarrassment. But it was more.
She now felt the instinctive repulsion one body feels for
its polar opposite. And this repulsive foreign body was
me - her firstborn. Her betrayer. No longer mother and son,
but Mother and Other.
And my dad, who in that moment might have been grateful,
knew that from now on I was setting myself apart. That moment
as I led him by the hand. Those little fingers pulling his
big, scaly hand with an untold purpose. Up the stairs. Ignoring
his questions. Purposeful. To the plantpot on the landing.
To the letter inside.
As for me - I really believe I didn't know what I was doing
until it was done - and then it couldn't be undone, and
I wasn't even sure I would undo it anyway. I felt quite
good really. Smart. Clever. Smug.
Sinister. Wicked. Sleekid.
“…sleekid wee beggar, that's what you are, a
sleekid wee beggar.”
”What's that, mum?” My question punctured straight
through the acid-yellow vapour-trails of her hissing words
and I watched them disperse; only the Godzilla-glare of
my mum's eye-lasers still piercing the air between us.
My dad just sent me to go and play, and then they started
at each other behind the wobbly sliding doors in the living
room, and I still felt Smart. Smart, like I had outsmarted
somebody. Like the Snow Story.
The Snow Story. You see, an August birthday made me a candidate
for either an early or late intake to school. The Education
Board had set their policy for late entry. But now I was
being pushed upwards. I went straight from P2 to P4. Smart.
The Snow Story played its part in this. It was February
and we were flailing around in a big snowfall, and Miss
McCready had asked the class to write about the snow. You
know the sort of thing - eight lines of wobbly handwriting,
maybe some daring couplets rhyming 'flake' with 'shake',
and a picture of a snowman.
My story was about a caveman - a caveboy in fact, and his
first sight of snow. It was to have been anyone's first
sight of snow, ever. And he spoke of it burning - like fire.
No rhyming, no pictures. Just a v.v.g. from a now rather
unsettled Miss McCready. Pretty Smart.
It was all a con of course. The story and the brave descriptions
were nicked from an old annual I had bought at the church
fête. I can still see its black-and-white comic strip
drawings of the little caveboy in his bear-skin loin-cloth
shivering as he steps into the snow. Spitting as the white
powder burns his tongue. I didn't copy it, just pinched
the ideas. I felt like a fraud, but Clever none the less.
I was elevated, and the whole world of adults seemed diminished
So on this morning, alerted by her clumsy deception as she
fumbled at the foot of the stairs, I turned my smartness
on my mother. I had looked down the stairwell to see her
snatching up the morning post. With the snap of the letterbox
she had started from her blocks somewhere in the kitchen
to arrive at the doormat before the envelopes settled. I
was just brushing my teeth and getting ready for school.
I was seven years old. Seven years old and I had just been
moved up a class in school.
I watched her shuffle through the mail and then, frantically
stamping upstairs to the landing with those toe-thrusting
steps to keep her slippers on her feet, as far as the landing
where the gaudy vinyl plant pot stood. The tips of the rubber
plant reached down to suspiciously brush the orange floral
pattern that wrapped the pot. Now conscripted as the inadequate
sentry for her concealment. As she slips the letter inside.
Keeping watch for my father. Not seeing me. Not yet fearing
me. Still, for a short time more, Mother and Son.
What do you think of this piece? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please enclose the title of the work and the name of the author. The BBC will display as many of the comments as possible on the page of commented work but we cannot guarantee to display all comments.