Typical Emily

Typical Emily

By Adam Dixon

 

The rain had been relentless that morning. Fat, eager drops tumbled from the sky and soaked the street below. Commuters cowered beneath ineffectual umbrellas and hoods, their splashing steps echoing around the streets. Emily sat under a bus shelter, observing them and warming her hands with a take-away coffee. A double decker bus coughed out a lungful of muttering people who blinked at the deluge as if it had never rained in London before.

“Do you have a visual on the target?” The voice was deep and brusque in Emily’s ear. She calmly took a sip from her cup and waited as the bus rumbled away. The road was a river separating Emily from the coffee shop on the other side of the street. The simple red logo on the sign above the door also peeked out from between her fingers as she idly spun her cup. Emily checked that she was alone under the shelter before replying, making sure not to touch her fingers to her ear as she did so.

“I see him,” Emily said quietly. Her brown eyes stared across the road and fixed on the wide front window of the coffee shop. Water flowed down the glass and distorted the view inside, but the man she was watching still cut a striking figure. His white hair complimented his immaculate navy suit as he sat in apparent ease in the shop. He was around five-foot eight and slender, with an air of effortless charisma. He seemed a little bit of out of place in the modest shop, to Emily’s mind. Any excuse to get out of the rain, Emily mused, or at least that’s how it’s supposed to look. Emily’s eyes slid to a larger man who was sat close to the suited man’s table. He was at an angle which made him harder to see but Emily estimated him at about six foot two, eighteen stone, with hands like shovels and arms like tree trunks; the obligatory muscle-bound bodyguard of an egotist. Neither of them would notice Emily with her plain hair and drab coat, she had made sure of that. Their eyes would slide from her like rain from the window if they chanced to see her at all and that made Emily glow with satisfaction. She loved her job.

“Good,” grunted the voice in her ear. “Maintain a visual. Report in the moment the meeting takes place.”

“Understood,” Emily replied, holding her tongue; she knew what to do. She sat up straight and took another sip of coffee, savoring the smell of the beans and their bitterness on her tongue.

“Bloody weather!” A hooded figure lumbered out from the street and took cover under the shelter. Emily’s gaze didn’t move from the window, but her peripheral view led her to estimate the newcomer at just shy of six feet tall with an average build. He muttered and cursed as he performed the ritual of shaking his sleeves and hood free of clinging droplets, but Emily remained silent. The man in the shop leaned across his table and the big man threw his head back with laughter. The suited man sat back and sipped at his cup, evidently pleased with himself.

“Forecast was a bit optimistic, eh?” the stranger said cheerily. “Light drizzle, they said!” Emily ignored him, but there was something familiar about the lilt of his voice…

“Bloody hell. Emily?”

Emily would have frozen if she hadn’t already been as still as a statue. Against her better judgement she turned her head. The man was staring at her with wide, green eyes and his hood was pulled down to expose a shock of dark hair. Emily noted the scar on the man’s lip and the burns on his knuckles and forearms, all known to her. Unbidden, her mind conjured the image of the green dragon tattoo which was wound around his left bicep.

“Jonathan…hi….” Emily said, inclining her head. The man beamed at her.

“I thought it was you! What’re the chances, eh?”

“Yes…” Emily resisted an urge to fidget. “It’s a bit unexpected.” Jonathan smiled, and Emily noticed his hesitation; he was likely deciding on whether to shake her hand or embrace her. Emily was relieved when he chose neither.

“What are you doing?” the voice in Emily’s ear warned. “Interaction with the public was not part of your briefing!”

“Just a bit!” Jonathan chuckled and ran his fingers through his hair. “You’re looking well. How’s everything going?”

“Oh, fine, thanks,” Emily replied. It was her turn to hesitate then. “And you?”

“Agent!” the voice barked. “Need I remind you that you are on a mission? This is no time for personal reunions!” Emily almost gritted her teeth. I know that! She thought angrily. This was hardly part of the plan!

“I’m fine, too,” Jonathan said brightly, seating himself on the red plastic bench an arm’s-length from Emily. “Job’s going well. Got promoted and moved to a posh restaurant in Kensington. Head chef now!”

“Really? That’s great.” Emily’s mouth twitched into a smile. “Congratulations.” Jonathan smiled back.

“Thanks! Bit stressful but I’m loving it. How’s….how’s your work going?” Jonathan’s smile faded, and Emily winced.

“Oh, you know, same old same old. Busy.” Emily’s eyes flicked back towards the coffee shop. Jonathan followed her gaze and frowned.

“Hmm, yeah. As always, right?” The question hung in the air between them and Emily’s jaw tightened.

“Agent, we need an update.” The voice in her ear was almost welcome. “Do you still have a visual on the target?” Emily did – the seated man had bought himself a muffin and a second drink; he seemed to be in no rush. Unfortunately, neither did Emily’s companion.

“God, this is a bit weird, isn’t it?” Jonathan said. “Last time we saw each other I was loading my stuff into a van!” Jonathan forced a laugh and scratched the back of his neck. He glanced out at the street as the downpour continued.

“It was pissing it down that day, too,” he added as if to himself.

“Yes, I remember,” Emily replied quietly. Their silence was broken by the steady pattering against the shelter.

“This deviation is becoming concerning.” The voice in Emily’s ear sounded angry. She blanched, and Jonathan frowned at her. Oh, good one, Emily thought.

“Is…is that all you have to say?” he ventured. “Don’t you want to ask me anything else? Are you even interested?”

“Of course I am, I’m just…” Emily searched for the word. “Busy, at the moment.”

“Too busy to give an old friend the time of day, right?” Jonathan snorted and folded his arms. “Typical Emily!”

“It’s not like that,” Emily replied, keeping her voice controlled. “I’ve just got things to do.”

“Like what?” Jonathan demanded, spreading his arms wide. “Like waiting for a bus? Christ, Emily, we were together for two years! Doesn’t that count for anything anymore?”

“Jonathan…”

“Agent, do not allow this mission to become compromised,” the deep voice warned. “Confirm, do you have a visual?”

“Oh, don’t give me that!” Jonathan said, his lip curled in disgust. “Don’t even start. You never had it in you to care about anyone but yourself!”

“Agent! Confirm!”

“It’s not like that,” Emily repeated, her eyes darting between Jonathan and the coffee shop like those of a cornered animal. “I’m sorry, but it’s work-”

“It’s always flamin’ work!” Jonathan cried, getting to his feet. “You never even told me what it is you do!  Christ, I hoped that things might’ve changed by now!”

“Repeat, come in!”

“That maybe you’d learned something when we broke up, like that there’s more to life than working!” Jonathan ranted, his face creasing.

“Can you see the target? Has he moved?”

“I…” Emily began, but she trailed off. The paper cup crackled beneath her fingers. She looked at the man in the coffee shop; he was still there, still enjoying his morning.

“What are you looking at?” Jonathan demanded, his voice rising in pitch. “Can’t you even look at me when I’m trying to talk to you?”

“Jonathan…” Emily’s eyes flicked to Jonathan’s, then back to the target.

“What’s going on out there?” the voice buzzed. “Have you been compromised? Will we need to abort this mission?”

“I don’t know why I’m even bothering,” Jonathan threw his hands in the air. “I was an idiot to hope that – “

“Nothing has changed!” Emily barked. Her eyes widened, and a shocked silence stretched out. The rain hammered against the shelter like words flung at the accused. Jonathan’s mouth was agape and his eyebrows were reaching for his hairline.

“Oh, Jonathan,” Emily whispered. Her thumbnails pierced her cup with a sharp squeal. “I meant…I didn’t…”

“I know what you meant, Emily,” Jonathan replied, his face twitching. “You’re right, nothing has changed. Best of luck with work.” Jonathan stormed out into the street without lifting his hood.

“Wait! Jonathan!” Emily shouted after him, but he was soon lost in the grey morning. Emily was dimly aware of moisture on her cheeks – she supposed the shelter must be leaking.

“Stay with the target, agent,” the voice in Emily’s ear was firm, no-nonsense. “You’re on a mission, remember.”

“Of course.” Emily settled herself back into position and stared at the coffee shop. “The mission always comes first.”

Across the road, the white-haired man laughed behind the window. Sometimes, Emily hated her job.

 

Follow me on Twitter @ADixonFiction.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

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A Rare Vintage

A Rare Vintage

By Adam Dixon

 

I watched the young man as he weaved through the crowd and reached the bar. I observed his ready smile as the bartender caught his eye, and his lips moved as he ordered a drink. The buzz of Saturday night good humour in The Swan drowned out his voice. Such a graceful bird, the swan, but it does not have any instinct for the hunt, nor does it taste blood. A pity.

The young man leaned against the bar, his fingertips tracing the worn surface. A light above him illuminated his round, boyish face and his fair hair. My nose was confused by the mixture of alcohol and stale cigarette smoke, but I could still smell the young man’s blood. It rose to the top of the other smells, like oil glistening on water. My nostrils flared and my own blood quickened. Even after these incalculable years a hunt still thrills me.

The man scratched his neck and smoothed his white shirt. I reached out with my mind and touched his with an imperceptible tendril. His voice was clear in my head.

I hope Tasha likes this shirt. Have I undone too many buttons?

Then the voice disappeared as if I had turned the dial on a radio only to snap it off again a second later. I looked at the young man’s shirt and saw that his two top buttons had been left undone, exposing a portion of his skin and a tease of chest hair. I followed his nervous gaze to a young woman seated alone in a booth a few metres away. I did not need to touch her mind to see that she did indeed like the man’s shirt. She smiled at him and cocked her head, her dark hair spilling over a bare shoulder. The young man grinned and turned back to the bartender, his cheeks beginning to redden. How quaint. How predictable. How dull.

I raised my half-empty glass of ale to my lips and took a long swallow. It was lukewarm and ashen in my mouth. I was granted a watery view of my reflection in the brown swill; I looked just like any other wrinkled old man, drinking away his joyless evenings alone. I couldn’t wish to be more invisible. My hunt would not be disturbed.

The young woman, Tasha, lifted her mobile phone and began tapping at it, her false nails sparkling. I had not seen her part with the device for longer than the time it took to raise a drink to her glossed lips. All around The Swan men and women were doing the same, idly flicking at their screens even as they laughed and conversed with their companions. They were like moths before flames, and that would earn me my advantage. I focused my attention on Tasha.

I reached out with my mind across the room. Inevitably, I brushed against the minds of the cattle between us. Their petty thoughts clambered for attention in my head.

This pint tastes a bit off…

Barbara’s at it again! Mutton dressed as bloody lamb…

I’d shag him if he ever shuts up and takes me home…

John’s ready to open up alone, but he’d better not fuck it up…

Tasha’s painted face was lit with excitement and her smile was warm. My mind touched hers.

Ricky’s such a babe, I can’t wait for the girls to see our pics!

I pushed my will against the young woman’s, and she stiffened, her eyes growing wide. There was a meagre resistance, but I exerted my will irresistibly onwards, and she was mine; it was child’s play. At my command, Tasha began to type.

“Oops! Sorry, mate!” I was almost knocked from my stool and my drink slopped over the table. A large man blinked piggy eyes at me, then at his depleted glass.

“Didn’t see you there,” the fat man slurred. His blue football shirt was soaked, and his sour breath wrinkled my nose.

“Think nothing of it,” I rasped, turning back towards Tasha. My hold had broken, and she frowned at the partially-typed message on her screen. I began to stretch out my mind once again… A meaty hand clapped me on the shoulder.

“Lemme buy you ‘nother, yeah?” the fat man wheezed in my ear.

“No, thank you,” I said smartly, shrugging off his hand. “Leave me be.” I needed to concentrate. I glanced at the bar and saw that the young man, Ricky, had not yet been served. There was still time.

“Come on!” the fool laughed, swaying close and scratching my jaw with his stubble. “Lemme buy you a-“

The man’s head slammed into the table with a crash and he crumpled to the floor. No-one would have seen my hands move; I can be very fast when I’m angry. I ignored the shouts of surprise nearby and concentrated. Tasha shuddered and resumed typing. After a few seconds the message was sent, and I allowed her to rest her hands on the table. Without releasing my hold on her, I cast my eyes over to her lover.

The young man already had his phone in his hand, naturally, and his eyes widened as he read the new message. I compelled the woman to look at him, smile, and wink mischievously. Ricky coughed and managed to grin back, and I made Tasha turn away with a coy flick of her hair. The young man was distracted by the polite bark of the bartender. He tapped his credit card against the offered device, hesitated, then leaned in to speak. The bartender appeared confused, but he nodded despite his frown. Ricky stole another look at Tasha, who had placed one hand suggestively on her thigh. Ricky left the fresh drinks untouched as he stepped eagerly through the door and into the street. I almost despaired at how easy it had been. One can always trust humans to think with their genitals; they are nothing but apes.

I made a point of finishing the dregs of my glass before I rose and followed the young man. I released Tasha’s mind as I exited The Swan and left her to her confusion. The air was biting cold, and I sampled it as delicately as a wine-taster. I caught the scent of Ricky’s blood; there was the vintage I sought. That was the curse of superiority – the common blood would simply not do.

Ricky had disappeared into an alley a short walk away. The wall of a shop guarded one side and a damp, mouldy wooden fence presided on the other. The amber light from the lampposts did not penetrate the space, and so it was draped in shadows. I could hear the young man’s breathing, I could see the mist pluming from his lips. A slow smile crept across my face. I had him.

“Tash? That you?” the young man called, his voice tremulous and excited. I stepped into the alleyway, my feet making no sound upon the gravel.

“Bit cold for this, innit?” the man asked with a laugh. “Not that I don’t want to, obviously!” he hastened to add. I could hear Ricky’s heart beating, forcing his elixir-like blood down the rivers of his arteries and veins. I began to salivate.

“Tash?” Ricky asked, doubt entering his voice for the first time. “That is you, isn’t it?” I bunched my muscles and prepared to spring.

The headlights from a passing vehicle slashed the alleyway with brief light. Ricky’s eyes widened in shock, and then I was on him. My hand clamped across his mouth as I bore him to the ground. His panicked cry was stifled as the air was driven from his lungs as he slammed onto his back. His hands instinctively clawed at mine, but he was as weak as a kitten compared to me. His cry became a squeal as my fangs pierced his throat and hot, salty, delicious blood filled my mouth. I gulped greedily, seizing Ricky’s flailing arms with my free hand as I ground his ribs under my knees. His blood was sublime; I began to shudder with ecstasy, falling into an involuntary rhythm with the bucking of the dying man. He snorted and gasped, coating my palm with saliva. I removed my hand from his mouth as his struggles weakened and his cries trailed off. I wiped the spit off on his shirt and my fingers traced the skin exposed by his undone buttons, his chest hair tickling my fingertips. I kept drinking, feeling my stomach swell near to bursting. Ricky’s heels stopped scraping against the gravel and his arms fell limp.

I was obliged to strike the man’s chest to force the last few mouthfuls from his withered heart. I pulled away at last, my exhalation sending a great cloud of vapour into the cold air. Blood spilled from my lips and trickled down my chin, but I was too rapturous to even slide my tongue after them. The rare blood had restored me, and I was like a wretch stupefied by strong spirits.

There was a rustling at the far end of the alley. I glanced into the dark with glazed eyes. A fox, its fur matted and filthy, paused to stare at me. It could smell the blood, and I could smell its trepidation and fear. That was good; it ought to be humbled before a superior predator. I hunched my shoulders and bared my dripping fangs in a hiss, locking on to the fox’s amber eyes. The animal turned and fled, exposing its gaunt ribs and dishevelled tail as it ran from me. I smiled and leaned my head back to stare up at the sky. Stars twinkled in the heavens, the sole witnesses to my prowess. No matter, I needed no audience; I owned the night.

Once the blood-haze had faded I stood, scenting the air and listening with senses which had sharpened tenfold. The drunken merriment of the Swan’s patrons reached my ears, and the odour of their cigarettes crept into my nostrils. I glanced down at the corpse of the young man, taking in his pale, twisted face. A pity. Almost.

I gave a growl and darted from the alley to leap onto the roof of the nearest house. I bounded across the rooftops with the wind whistling through my silver hair. The speed of my journey forced back the loose, wrinkled skin of my face, smoothing it into an illusion of youth. But I was so very old, and the blood of the young man roiled in my bloated stomach, proof that I would get older still. I grinned into the night and licked my fangs. It was a fine thing to be old, because youth never lasted long, anyway.

 

Follow me on Twitter @ADixonFiction.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

Not My Cup of Tea

Not My Cup of Tea

By Adam Dixon

 

“Hello, granny! I let myself in, sorry if I scared you!”

Mary blinked and looked up, squinting against the afternoon sun. She beamed as a young woman with long brown hair strolled up the garden path towards her.

“Hello, Lottie, my love!” Mary said, wincing as she stood up from her deck chair. “Oh, don’t worry about that, it’s always lovely to see you! And you’ve brought Harry along too!” Mary gasped in delight as Lottie set down a squirming little boy in a white shirt with blue dungarees.

“Hello, my little soldier!” Mary cooed, opening her arms wide. “Give me a cuddle!” The little boy’s face lit up and he ran full pelt into Mary, throwing his arms around her knees and bouncing with excitement.

“Oof, you’re getting so big!” Mary exclaimed, ruffling his mousey hair. “What have you been eating, young man?”

“Everything!” Lottie said with a laugh. She put her arms over Mary’s shoulders and kissed her.

“Sit down, sit down, both of you!” Mary pushed Lottie gently away and untangled Harry from her legs. She waved at them until they were seated, Lottie on a second deck chair with Harry perched on her lap.

“Would you like a cup of tea, dear?” Mary asked, straightening her faded blue dress. “I think I’ve got some squash for the little one, too.”

“No need, granny! I’ve got a surprise for you…” Lottie slid a white handbag from her shoulder and rooted around in it. She found what she was looking for and held it aloft in triumph. A grin spread across Mary’s face.

“A flask? I bet I know what’s in there, you little rascal!”

“Ta-da!” Lottie gave a bow and Harry clapped and laughed. “I had to bring some, especially today!” Lottie withdrew a yellow plastic cup from her handbag and unscrewed the lid of the flask. A rush of steam burst out, accompanied by the smell of chocolate. Lottie filled a cup with a flourish and handed it to Mary, who breathed in the rich smell with relish.

“Just how my mum used to make it!” Mary sighed, closing her eyes.

“I’ll never get tired of hearing that,” Lottie grinned, and she filled a smaller cup for Harry. The boy was staring at the flask with wide, hopeful eyes.

“He loves this, too!” Lottie chuckled and blew on the liquid to cool it. “Can’t get enough of it. I’m blaming great-grandma for how much of a little chubster he’s turning into!”

“Choc! Choc!” Harry demanded, reaching for the cup. Lottie shushed the squealing boy and let him drink a mouthful. The look of joy on Harry’s face made Mary burst out laughing.

“It’d do my old mum proud to know our little ‘uns are still enjoying her recipe,” she said, and she took a swallow of her own drink. She savoured the hints of orange zest and nutmeg as it swept over her tongue, and the warmth spread into her bones. For a moment, Mary was once again a bright-eyed, curly-haired girl dancing around the hem of her mother’s dress. She lowered herself into her chair, a contented smile on her face.

“Oh, love, this has cheered me up,” she said. “I’d been thinking about how much Harold would love this weather. He’d sit out here, take his slippers off and let the grass tickle his feet while he read the paper.”

Lottie looked up from seeing to Harry. “How are you today, granny? Managing alright?”

“As well as I can, my love,” Mary sighed, taking another sip of chocolate. She probed the dull gold ring on her left hand. “Hardly seems like he’s been gone two years, does it?”

“It doesn’t,” Lottie agreed. “That’s why I brought the choc; I think I was making it for him in the back of my mind. Old habits, y’know?”

“I know,” Mary smiled. “Remember how he’d grumble because you always poured him the first cup?”

Don’t worry about me, girl! Think of your mum and your granny!” Lottie intoned in a gruff voice, and she and Mary fell about laughing.

“He’d always drink it, though!” Lottie declared, rubbing her eyes. “Birthdays, exam results, family gatherings…he was the first to raise a cup at my graduation! He must’ve lived off it while great-granny was alive!”

“Well, he didn’t like to say no,” Mary said, her smile slipping slightly. “He was so good to my mum, bless his heart! Thick as thieves, those two!” She blinked rapidly then withdrew a tissue from her sleeve to dab her eyes.

“Sorry, love,” she said with an apologetic smile. “I miss him so. He was a wonderful man, and he’s left a big hole in this family.”

“I’ll drink to that,” Lottie replied, lifting her cup. “To granddad!” Mary sniffed and raised her own.

“To Harold!” The two women drained their chocolate and lapsed into a sad silence.

“I was thinking about our wedding,” Mary said after a while, tracing a finger along the lip of her cup. “I was so full of nerves, I thought I might be sick at any moment. Then I saw Harold standing at the altar, waiting for me; there he was, handsome and patient, with that same silly grin on his face, and all my worries melted away. I couldn’t’ve guessed that he’d not slept a wink that night, either.”

“Was he nervous as well?” Lottie asked, hugging Harry to her chest. Mary chuckled.

“He might’ve been, but we’ll never know!” she said. “No, he’d been up all night with my mum at the hospital. She’d had a fall and my dad couldn’t get her up, so Harold took care of her. She was terrified of hospitals, so he stayed with her all through the night and made sure that she got to the church the next morning. My sister told me they’d arrived only ten minutes before I did!”

“That’s lovely, granny,” Lottie whispered. Harry protested and tried to wriggle from her grip.

“Yes, it is,” Mary said, and a wicked grin appeared on her face. “He was exhausted, though, so we had to put off the wedding night, unfortunately for me!”

“Granny!” Lottie’s mouth fell open.

Mary cackled and slapped her knee. Harry stopped fidgeting and giggled in imitation, and then sucked chocolate from his fingers. Lottie cleared her throat and gave the flask a shake, sloshing around the liquid inside.

“More choc?” she asked, raising an eyebrow. Mary thrust out her cup and Lottie refilled it. She dutifully filled Harry’s cup as well, tutting as he slurped it greedily.

“Oh, look at that, he’s got it all round his face now!” Lottie fished in her handbag for a wet-wipe.

“He’s a delight!” Mary chuckled. “He loves that old recipe, no mistake!”

“Just like granddad, eh, granny?”

Mary didn’t answer but stared into her cup as Lottie cleaned Harry’s face.

“I’m going to let you in on a secret, Charlotte,” Mary said softly. Lottie’s head jerked up in surprise. Mary cleared her throat and leaned close, her rheumy eyes fixed on Lottie’s.

“Harold always hated that recipe, ever since the first time he tasted it.”

A breeze whistled through the silent garden. Lottie blinked, then smiled broadly.

“Oh, come off it, granny!” she laughed. “You’ll have to do better than that! Granddad used to guzzle it down!”

“Yes, my dear, but he couldn’t stand it! I think it might have been the orange zest, but I can’t be sure. Not my cup of tea, that’s what he used to say to me.” Lottie’s smile slipped under the intensity of Mary’s gaze.

“But…I brought him a flask every time I saw him in the hospital!”

“You did, and he loved you for it,” Mary said with a happy sigh.

“Granny, if that’s true…” Lottie was crestfallen. “Why would granddad lie about that?”

“Because he understood how much that recipe means to us,” Mary said patiently, reaching out and squeezing Lottie’s hand. “It’s our heritage. Nothing meant more to my Harold than family, you know that.”

“Does mum know?”

“Of course, dear, but she’s been sworn to secrecy. It’s my responsibility to spill the beans!”

“He never liked it…” Lottie said in a small, childlike voice. Harry sensed the change of mood and craned his neck to look at her. Mary spoke up hurriedly.

“No, my love, but he never complained,” Mary patted Lottie’s hand, and blinked as her eyes grew moist. “He once told me that he’d drink a barrel full of the stuff just to make you and your mum smile.” Lottie couldn’t help but smile at that, and she shook her head.

“The old sod!” she said, and her voice cracked. She lifted her half-full cup again, a single tear trickling down her face. “To granddad! I bet he’s up there having a right laugh at my expense!”

“I’m sure he is, my love!” Mary said, raising her own cup. “To Harold! Two years gone, but never forgotten!” Both women tipped their heads back, and sunlight glinted on their damp cheeks. The sweet taste lifted their sadness, and soon they were reminiscing about Harold and his many quirks. The afternoon stayed warm and the breeze caressed their faces like the gentle touch of a loved one.

Little Harry was set down on the ground, and unbeknownst to the older women, he wriggled out of his shoes and his socks. He sat there on the grass, letting the slender blades whisper across the soles of his feet. He giggled and squirmed in delight, feeling happy and safe and loved. Just how Harold would have wanted it.

 

Follow me on Twitter @ADixonFiction.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

 

Be Real

Be Real

By Adam Dixon

“…and then he ran away!” Sean concluded with a dramatic sweep of his arm. He laughed in triumph and brushed the jet-black fringe from his eyes. His three friends sat before him, stretched out on the grass.

“What, just like that?” squeaked Nick. The shorter boy was sat forward, rapt attention on his pimpled face. Like Sean’s, his collar was undone, and his tie flapped loose in the breeze.

“Yeah, it was pretty pathetic,” Sean continued, accepting a cigarette with a gracious nod.

“Why did you do it, though?” Charli tossed her long blond hair over one shoulder as she settled against Nick. Sean inhaled, holding back a coughing fit with practiced willpower. He exhaled the stinging smoke from his nostrils, making sure that everyone was watching.

“The dickhead nearly made me drop my camera,” he said. The group crowed their understanding.

“Oh yeah, that’d do it!” Nick laughed. “You’re more attached to that thing than your own dick!” Charli pealed with laughter, and Sean winced.

“Well, maybe,” Sean forced a grin and rested his hand on the case hanging from his neck. It housed his beloved Nikon, which was old for a compact digital but was his pride and joy. He scanned the area as he passed the fag on, surveying the green space with disinterest. Wooden fences bordered two sides, and the metal fence of a school guarded the others. It was a pleasant place, and quiet in the evenings. A smattering of children played football nearby, watched over by a solitary adult.

As Sean’s gaze swept across the park and back to his friends his eyes met Jo’s. Her eyes were large and brown, and they glittered in the fading sunlight. The corners of her mouth twitched into a smile. Sean felt heat flare in his cheeks and he looked away. Jo would rarely speak up or join in with the boys’ story-telling, not unless it was to put one of them down. Sean held his swagger, listening to Nick spout some similar bullshit story. He could feel Jo staring at him and he pictured her full lips for an instant, and the beauty spot just above them which was almost invisible against her dark skin. His mouth went dry.

Fortunately, whatever Jo might have said was silenced when Sean’s phone rang. The heavy chords of Royal Blood cut into the air, muffled by trousers. Nick swore and demanded that Sean “turn that shit off”. Sean fished his phone from his pocket and let it ring for a few more seconds. As his thumb hesitated over the screen, the call cut off. It was his mum, and it was time for him to go home.

“Well, guys, I’d best be off,” Sean said, stuffing his phone away.

“Aw, bless him! Mummy’s boy!” Charli exclaimed in delight. Sean reddened.

“Yeah well, things’ll change when I’m eighteen!” he insisted. “I’ll be at lock-ins and everything!”

“Yeah, whatever you say, mate,” Nick chuckled, stroking Charli’s hair as she rested her head on his chest. He took a drag from the dying cigarette and blew three perfect smoke rings into the air. Sean felt a stab of envy; it wasn’t that he fancied Charli at all, it was how Nick was always at ease around girls, despite his spots and his high voice. Maybe it was his tan and his muscles; Sean was pale as a ghost and lanky as a scarecrow. He was caught somewhere between admiration and hate for the smug prick.

“Off you pop, then,” Nick said, waving dismissively. Charli smiled and said goodbye, and Jo simply waved. Sean stalked off down the street, head down, the sound of his friends’ merriment and the shouts of the kids playing football fading away. His footsteps sounded lonely and insignificant to his ears, and he muttered angrily to himself as he walked. After a few moments, he paused and looked up. He enjoyed the way the red sunlight was decorating the horizon, and the empty road split his frame of vision into three pleasing sections. Sean unzipped his case and raised his camera to his eye. The snap of the shutter was like a whisper of pure potential to his ears.

“Sean! Hang on a sec!” a voice called. Jo came hurrying from the park, shrugging her backpack onto her shoulders. Sean’s spirits lifted, but he also felt a burst of panic. He just stood there as Jo caught up with him.

“Hey,” he said, trying to sound casual. Jo stopped and smiled.

“Hey,” she said. Her voice was deep and scratchy; Sean quivered at the sound of it. He cleared his throat and stuffed his Nikon back into the case. He felt ridiculous as he towered a foot and a half above her.

“You off as well?” he asked.

“Well, yeah,” Jo replied, and her eyes sparkled. “Thought I’d keep you company. I’m going your way.” Sean nodded and kept walking. His footsteps seemed loud and brutish now, echoing obnoxiously around the street. Sean racked his brain for something to say. Where’s your mouth now, big man? he thought. After a few minutes, Jo spoke up.

“So, have you decided to go to uni, then?” she asked.

“Y’know, I’m not sure,” Sean replied, grateful for something to think about. “I guess so, as it’ll probably help me in the long run. The colleges round here don’t really appeal to me.”

“Yeah, I get that,” Jo said, rubbing her lips thoughtfully. “There’s not much for me, either, but I don’t really fancy uni. My parents are pushing for me to go, though.” She grimaced. “My dad nearly hit the roof when I said I wanted to be a carpenter! It’s like I told him I was pregnant or something!”

“It’s hardly a secret” Sean grinned. “You made them stuff, didn’t you?”

“Couple of chairs, even a bedside table for my little sister.” Jo said, with a note of pride. “I worked afterschool for weeks to get those done. They were impressed, but they weren’t happy.”

“That sucks,” Sean replied, adding a grimace of his own. “Is it…is it because it’s not a girl’s job?” He raised his fingers to make quotation marks. Jo laughed.

“No shit, Sherlock!” she said, but her smile took the sting from her words. “They say it’s unlikely I’ll get an apprenticeship over a guy when there aren’t many to begin with. Won’t stop me trying, though.” Sean marvelled at Jo’s determination; if only he could be so sure of himself.

“I’m actually a bit freaked out by it all,” Sean said as he scratched the back of his neck. “Mum and dad are pressuring me to make a decision, and the school is pushing me, too. The school only cares about conversion numbers, so fuck them, but mum and dad mean well. But what if I don’t want to go? Will I need to get some boring job which I’m gonna hate? I know that’s reality for a lot of people but surely it can’t be all there is? I just wanna take pictures and forget about exams and sixth form, but there’s so much riding on what I do with my spare time! It’s all too much, y’know?” Sean stopped, suddenly embarrassed. He was breathing heavily, and his fists were clenched.

“Sorry,” he mumbled. “It’s bothering me more than I’ve been letting on.”

Jo was staring at Sean with an odd expression.

“What?” Sean asked, folding his arms. Jo pursed her lips and traces of glitter sparkled as they passed under a lukewarm lamppost.

“It’s good when you’re like this,” Jo said at last. “No bullshit, not like back there,” she jerked a thumb over her shoulder, back towards the park.

“I dunno, I guess I feel like I can tell you this stuff,” Sean said with a shrug. “You’re not judgey like the others, you don’t expect me to be anything. You’re…” Sean waved his hands, searching for the right word. “You’re real.” Sean felt heat in his cheeks again and he moved on hurriedly.

“One good thing about uni is that I can get away and be myself. Plus, there’s not really anyone I’d miss from round here.” Jo’s head jerked up.

“No-one?” she asked. Sean balked at the obvious cue. He dry-swallowed several times, wishing that the street wasn’t so bloody long so that he could escape to his home.

“Well, I…” he said, rubbing his neck. “I’d miss…well, y’know, I’d…not miss exactly, but…oh, fuck it!” Sean halted and turned to face Jo. Their eyes met. Now or never, big man! he thought. He wished he was more like Nick.

“I’d really miss you, Jo,” he said, forcing the words out. “You’re not like everyone else. I can be real with you.” Heart thumping, he carefully took one of Jo’s hands. Her calloused fingertips brushed over Sean’s knuckles and he almost lost his nerve.

“I’d miss you too, Sean,” Jo replied, her voice a breathy whisper. She took his other hand and squeezed. God, she’s beautiful, Sean thought, as warring emotions tore through his body. He opened his mouth, but Jo placed a finger on his lips.

“Don’t,” she said. “Be real with me.” Jo pushed the camera case over Sean’s shoulder, then cupped his cheek. Sean felt his head being pulled gently down, and panic flared in his mind as Jo’s face filled his vision. Her dark eyes began to close as she turned her mouth towards his, her lips parting. Sean watched her come nearer, closing his eyes at the last possible second before their lips met.

It was delicate at first, and hesitant. Jo’s lips were soft and warm, and Sean could smell coconut butter on her skin. Jo’s fingers stroked his cheek, her fingertips tracing his jawline. Sean pressed closer and encircled Jo’s waist with his free arm. His heart hammered against his ribs and his body grew hot. He let go of Jo’s hand to pull her into a tight embrace, and she exhaled in pleasure, breaking them apart. Sean opened his eyes saw that Jo’s were also open, and they were shining in the fading light. Jo smiled shyly and ran a finger along the downy fuzz on Sean’s upper lip.

“Now that’s what I’m taking about!” she said in a husky tone. Sean giggled. Like a girl.

“Real enough for you?” he whispered, and he leaned his forehead against hers.

“Mhmm,” was Jo’s simple reply. Sean could feel her heart pounding as her breasts pushed against him.

“So, what, are we, like, together now?” Sean asked lamely. Jo chuckled and pulled away from him.

“Don’t get ahead of yourself, boy!” she chided, fluttering her eyelashes. “You might not be good enough for me!”

“Oh, it’s like that, is it?” Sean replied, raising an eyebrow. He grinned back, but he felt dread settle in his stomach. Jo inspected her nails with exaggerated care.

“Yep. Maybe I don’t want someone who tries to act like tough guy. Starting on people in parks and all that. Besides, you might be buggering off to uni soon!” Sean’s expression must have betrayed him because Jo burst out laughing.

“Y’know, you’re pretty sensitive for a tough guy!” Before Sean could protest, Jo stood on her tiptoes and kissed him, slowly and softly. She breathed a deep sigh when they parted.

“Come on then, I’ll finish walking you home,” she said, chuckling. Sean shook his head with a smile and let himself be dragged along. They walked through the darkening street holding hands and chatting about anything which came to mind, their hearts fluttering like birds in their chests. For Sean, life had never seemed brighter or more beautiful than it did right then. He didn’t know what he wanted to do, but in that moment, for the first time in months, he didn’t care.

Follow me on Twitter @ADixonFiction.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

Before my Heart was Cold

The cellar was cold, musty and seemed more cramped with every visit. Not thirty seconds had passed since Carl had descended the creaking staircase, but it already seemed like an hour. A single fluorescent tube flickered above, throwing shadows across the room. The gentle plinking of Alisa’s piano drifted into Carl’s ears and he shivered; the melody was mournful, the minor chords chosen with care to amplify his pain. He tried to ignore it as he unscrewed the heavy cap and checked the oil level. It was low, so he lifted the jerry can and carefully poured in the pungent liquid; he had loved that smell, once upon a time.

“You’re back early,” Alisa stated, not turning her head. “Two weeks to the day I last saw you, minus three hours, seven minutes and twenty-eight seconds.” She was seated in front of Carl, facing the old, dusty piano.

“Yeah,” Carl said and as he put aside the empty can. He replaced the cap and rested his hand on the cool metal surrounding it as if to transfer some warmth into it.

“You always do that,” Alisa said, her voice lifeless. The vibrations tickled his fingers through the metal.

“Can’t help it, I guess,” Carl said. He stepped back to get a better look at her, adjusting his thick glasses on his beak of a nose. With sad eyes, he examined the metal plate which covered the back of Alisa’s head and went on to form her entire left arm. He still marvelled at the workmanship; it looked so real, with only a light rusting at the elbow giving its material away. He couldn’t even see the myriad of wires and tubes which lay beneath. It was exceptional, and unnerving.

“Do you like this song?” Alisa asked, still looking at the piano. Carl moved beside her as her fingers deftly swept across the yellowed keys. The song was heart-wrenching and tightened Carl’s chest.

“It’s beautiful, Allie,” he whispered. “But it’s so sad. I don’t think I can bear it for long.”

“Interesting,” Alisa said, slowing her playing but not stopping. “I feel nothing. I remember being moved by music before my heart was cold.”

“You were, Allie,” Carl said, a grimace twisting the corners of his mouth. He hated it when she said that. “You used to love how music made you feel, even when you couldn’t play very well.”

“I play better now,” Alisa stated.

“Yeah,” Carl admitted. “You’re a hell of a lot better…but there’s no joy in it anymore.”

“Joy.” Alisa stopped playing and turned around. Carl winced as her face came in to view, more than half of it covered by a plate of metal. Her eyes were still the same pale blue, but her freckles only covered her right cheek and the laughter had vanished from her once jovial face. Her button nose was gone, replaced by a shaped metal ridge; a dreadful substitute in Carl’s opinion. Her lips no longer smiled, but instead hung like a grey horizon above her chin. In the absence of the piano Carl could make out faint whirring and ticking sounds echoing from within Alisa’s body.

“Joy.” Alisa repeated, her grey tongue clicking against her teeth. “Curious. My name is derived from the Hebrew word for joy. I think my parent chose it on purpose.”

“I wouldn’t know, Allie,” Carl shrugged, feeling deeply uncomfortable.

“Joy…there was no joy after you changed me.” Alisa said, looking straight at Carl. She shifted her heavy feet, making a dull thud on the cellar floor. The chains which snaked around her ankles gave a dull rasp at the movement.

“You all regret it now.” Her voice was cold, just like the rest of her.

“Allie, stop it,” Carl pleaded, reaching for her shoulder. He shivered as his hand touched steel and a chill ran up his arm.

“My injuries were fatal, but you decided that I shouldn’t be allowed to die,” Alisa pressed on in her sterile tone. “It’s a strange to think of it, especially when most people wouldn’t force a cherished pet to stay alive when they are suffering. It was selfish.”

“Allie, don’t talk like that!” Carl snapped. He faced her with as much courage as he could, forcing himself to look into her dull eyes. “You were everything to us! To me! We couldn’t let you slip away like that! We…needed you here…I needed you.”

“Not like this,” Alisa replied, her eyes boring back into Carl’s. “Nobody wanted this, and that’s why I’m here, out of sight and out of mind. You’re the only one who still comes back.” Carl was silent and his jaw worked as he tried to think of something to say. Before he could, the thing that was once Alisa spoke again.

“You’re lonely, aren’t you, Carl?” Carl was startled and took another few moments to answer.

“Yeah…I am,” he confessed at last. “I hoped…I thought things would get better…but I ought to look after you. It’s the right thing to do!” He spoke with more confidence than he felt.

“Five years is a long time when something is hopeless,” Alisa said, turning back to the piano. The mournful music resumed once again. “Visiting me is illogical and it causes you pain. It won’t be long before even you stop coming down here to change my oil. When that day comes I will be allowed to die.”

“Allie, I’ll not abandon you!” Carl insisted, despite the horror he felt growing inside him. Alisa’s words frightened Carl because he had been considering doing just that for months. It was not a thought he entertained with his full attention, but circled the edge of his consciousness like a hawk waiting for the right moment to strike. Nothing escaped Alisa anymore, and the hawk had been circling lower.

“Perhaps,” Alisa said, her fingers moving over the aged keys. “It won’t matter to me either way.” Carl’s shoulders slumped and his heart grew heavy in his chest. He still loved Alisa, or the memory of her, at least. He could remember the warmth of her face when it was pressed against his, how her lips and her tongue had tasted, and how musical her voice used to be. He remembered how he used to stand and watch her play the piano, positioned in much the same way as he was at that very moment, studying her fingers as they danced and smiling at her eagerness. He had almost been driven mad with the thought of losing her, and had jumped at the chance to save her life. If only he had known…

Carl wandered back to the stairs leading up to the main building, gazing up at the open door and the bright sunlight which beckoned beyond. He watched Alisa play for a few minutes and then began to ascend. He paused at the threshold of the door, holding the handle in a shaking hand.

“Bye, Allie,” he said, his feeble voice cracking. “I…I love you,”

“Goodbye, Carl,” Alisa said. Cold. Precise. Inhuman. Carl closed the door with tears streaming down his cheeks. His heart thundered within his chest, even as it broke with shame. Sobs racked his body as he turned a key in the lock, and the piano stopped playing.

 

 

Follow me on Twitter @ADixonFiction.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

Meet The Bloggers Who Are Attending The 2018 Annual Bloggers Bash #BloggersBash

On behalf of the committee of the Bloggers Bash, I’d like to extend a very warm welcome to everyone who has confirmed their attendance for the 4th Annual Bloggers Bash. Bags are packed, votes have been counted, cakes baked, envelopes sealed, outfits chosen, and the fun starts at 10:30 when Sacha flings opens the doors, and the hugging begins. (Please – no screaming this year when you see Geoff’s beard!)
Where & When?
Saturday 19th, May 2018 at The George IV pub in Chiswick, London. Click here for full details on how to get there.
We’ve lots going on during the day, including two speakers, a panel debate and, of course, the announcements of this year’s bloggers bash award winners. We’ll also be announcing the winners of The Bloggers Bash Blog Post competition. Click here to see the agenda.
Without further ado, allow me to introduce you all to this year’s attendees who have confirmed that we can add them to this list. Want to know who they are? Click on the name of their blog and pay them a visit. I know they’d be delighted to welcome you.
Ritu – https://butismileanyway.com/
Marje – http://www.MJMallon.com
Steve – https://stevetanham.wordpress.com/
Zoe – http://zooloobookblog.co.uk/
Hayley – https://justanotherblogfromawoman.blog/
Barb – http://www.barbtaub.com
Lucy – http://www.blondewritemore.com
Isa & Joanne – http://www.joandisalovebooks.blog/
David – http://www.mistybooks.wordpress.com/
Jane – http://www.thedreamjobblog.com/
Willow – https://willowdot21.wordpress.com/
Melanie – http://www.thewanderingdarlings.com
Ali – http://www.aliisaacstoryteller.com/
Deborah – https://deborahjayauthor.com/
Eloise – https://eloisedesousa.wordpress.com/
Lance – https://lancegreenfield.wordpress.com/
Lauren – http://www.millysguide.com/
Sheila – http://www.scskillman.com/
Debbie – http://www.debs-world.com/
Jemima – http://jemimapett.com/
Emmalene – https://abrummiehomeandabroad.com/
Sam – http://lovingthefiftysomething.com/
Lorna – http://www.ginlemonade.com
April – http://www.aprilmunday.wordpress.com
Ulrich – http://www.transmutation.me
Jill – http://www.midlifesmarts.com/
Linda – https://lindasbookbag.com/
Icy – http://www.icysedgwick.com/
Sherri – https://sherrimatthewsblog.com/
Esther – https://esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com/
Stevie – https://steviet3.wordpress.com/
Melanie – https://melanierousselsite.blog
And not forgetting your 2018 Bloggers Bash committee
Sacha – http://sachablack.co.uk/about/
Geoff – https://geofflepard.com/about/
Shelley – https://shelleywilsonauthor.com/about-2/
Suzie – https://suzie81speaks.com/about/
Helen – https://journeytoambeth.com/about/
Adam – https://adamdixonfiction.com/about/
Graeme – https://graemecumming.co.uk
Hugh – https://hughsviewsandnews.com/
Coming to the Bloggers Bash and don’t see your details above? Let me know, and I’ll add them to the list.
Not got your ticket yet? Click here to buy one.
We look forward to welcoming all of you.
To sign up for news about the Bloggers Bash straight to your inbox subscribe here.

Meet The Bloggers Who Are Attending The 2018 Annual Bloggers Bash #BloggersBash

On behalf of the committee of the Bloggers Bash, I’d like to extend a very warm welcome to everyone who has confirmed their attendance for the 4th Annual Bloggers Bash. Bags are packed, votes have been counted, cakeshttps://melanierousselsite.blogbaked, envelopes sealed, outfits chosen,https://melanierousselsite.blogand the fun starts at 10:30 when Sacha flings opens the doors, and the hugging begins. (Please – no screaming this year when you see Geoff’shttps://melanierousselsite.blogbeard!)

Where & When?

Saturday 19th, May 2018 at The George IV pub in Chiswick, London. Click here for full details on how to get there.

We’ve lots going on during the day, including two speakers, ahttps://melanierousselsite.blogpanel debate and, of course, the announcements of this year’s bloggers bash award winners. We’ll also be announcing the winners of The Bloggers Bash Blog Post competition. Click here to see the agenda.

Without further ado, allow me to introduce you all to this year’s attendees who have confirmed that we can add them to this list. Want to know who they are? Click on the name of their blog and pay them a visit. I know they’d be delighted to welcome you.

Ritu – https://butismileanyway.com/

Marje -https://melanierousselsite.blogwww.MJMallon.com

Steve -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttps://stevetanham.wordpress.com/

Zoe -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttp://zooloobookblog.co.uk/

Hayley -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttps://justanotherblogfromawoman.blog/

Barb -https://melanierousselsite.blogwww.barbtaub.com

Lucy -https://melanierousselsite.blogwww.blondewritemore.com

Isa & Joanne -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttp://www.joandisalovebooks.blog/

David -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttp://www.mistybooks.wordpress.com/

Jane -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttp://www.thedreamjobblog.com/

Willow -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttps://willowdot21.wordpress.com/

Melanie -https://melanierousselsite.blogwww.thewanderingdarlings.com

Ali -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttp://www.aliisaacstoryteller.com/

Deborah -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttps://deborahjayauthor.com/

Eloise -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttps://eloisedesousa.wordpress.com/

Lance -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttps://lancegreenfield.wordpress.com/

Lauren -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttp://www.millysguide.com/

Sheila -https://melanierousselsite.blogwww.scskillman.com/

Debbie -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttp://www.debs-world.com/

Jemima -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttp://jemimapett.com/

Emmalenehttps://melanierousselsite.blog – https://abrummiehomeandabroad.com/

Sam -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttp://lovingthefiftysomething.com/

Lorna -https://melanierousselsite.blogwww.ginlemonade.com

April -https://melanierousselsite.blogwww.aprilmunday.wordpress.com

Ulrich -https://melanierousselsite.blogwww.transmutation.me

Jill -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttp://www.midlifesmarts.com/

Linda – https://lindasbookbag.com/

Icy -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttp://www.icysedgwick.com/

Sherri -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttps://sherrimatthewsblog.com/

Esther -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttps://esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com/

Stevie -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttps://steviet3.wordpress.com/

Melanie – https://melanierousselsite.blog

And not forgetting your 2018 Bloggers Bash committee

Sacha -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttp://sachablack.co.uk/about/

Geoff -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttps://geofflepard.com/about/

Shelley -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttps://shelleywilsonauthor.com/about-2/

Suzie -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttps://suzie81speaks.com/about/

Helen – https://journeytoambeth.com/about/

Adam -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttps://adamdixonfiction.com/about/

Graeme -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttps://graemecumming.co.uk

Hugh -https://melanierousselsite.bloghttps://hughsviewsandnews.com/

Coming to the Bloggers Bash and don’t see your details above? Let me know, and I’ll add them to the list

Not got your ticket yet? Click here to buy one.

We look forward to welcoming all of you.

To sign up for news about the Bloggers Bash straight to your inbox subscribehttps://melanierousselsite.bloghere.

VOTING IS OPEN FOR THE BLOGGERS BASH AWARDS (ABBAs)

This is it. The wait is finally over!

 

The FOURTH Annual Bloggers Bash Awards 2018 are now OPEN FOR VOTING.

 

You can vote HERE.

 

We had a HUGE number of nominations, so thank you to everyone who took the time to nominate your favourite bloggers.

 

Voting Closes at midnight on April 30th (BST). The winners will be announced on May 19th at the Bash in London. If you can’t make it along to the event don’t worry, we will put a winners post out on the evening of the same day. Although we have pingbacks to all the winners blogs it would be best for you to check back to see if you won.

 

TO THE VOTERS – Choose carefully, you can only vote ONCE per award. There are 9 awards (so this is a long post). Yes, you can vote in each category, but only once in every one.

 

TO THE NOMINEES – Good luck to you all. Every nomination is really well deserved and as a result, this year we are doing things a little differently. Winners will have their prizes and certificates shipped to them as well as their winner’s badges emailed. However, all nominees will be entitled to a Bloggers Bash nominee badge once the voting is over. 

 

Don’t forget to follow all the fun in our Facebook group, on Twitter, or using the Hashtag #BloggersBash. We also have a mailing list which ALWAYS gives you the most up to date info before anyone else. 

 

Disclaimer: The committee has done their best to coordinate the nominations and to ensure, where possible, we gave nominees a choice of which category they wanted to be in. Due to time constraints and limited resources, this may not have always been possible. In addition, the committee is not responsible for the quality of information nominators gave. The committee uses the information it is given. This year we specifically requested the ‘NAME OF YOUR BLOG’ not your first name. Therefore this is what we are displaying. If your name has been displayed incorrectly, you can contact us and request a change by emailing annualbloggersbash@yahoo.co.uk. While the committee will endeavour to make changes promptly we neither guarantee to make those changes nor do we guarantee to do so in a certain time frame. 

 

Awards:

 

BEST OVERALL BLOGGER 

 

Who is the blogger that excels in a variety of categories? Who provides excellent content, is sociable and engaging with readers, shares other posts, or has a writing style that keeps you coming back time and time again?

Whoever you choose needs to be an all-rounder. A blogger that is head and shoulders above the rest as that’s what makes the Best Overall Blogger.

 

FUNNIEST BLOGGER

 

Which blogger always makes you laugh the most? Whether that’s through humourous content or their blogging manner. A blogger that has your sides aching from laughter and brightens up the blog-o-sphere is what makes the Funniest Blogger.

 

MOST INSPIRATIONAL BLOGGER

 

Who inspires you? Is there a blogger that’s thought-provoking and inquisitive? Perhaps they’re a muse to you with the constant provision of inspirational content or imagery. Who’s the one blogger that touched your heart? This is what makes the Most Inspirational Blogger.

 

 

MOST INFORMATIVE (Original Content) BLOGGER

 

This award is for the blogger with the most informative and original content. Who creates fascinating content that you find yourself longing to read? Perhaps they’re a history blogger or they write about the craft of writing/blogging, or maybe they like archaeology or wine tasting. They could be an artist or musician. The topic is irrelevant, it’s the original content that counts. A blogger who shares a wealth of knowledge in an informative way is what makes the Most Informative & Original Blogger.

 

BEST BOOK REVIEW BLOG

 

There are so many wonderful book bloggers out there, but which one stands out for you? Whose book reviews do you enjoy reading and engaging with? It’s not the number of reviews that’s important, but more about the quality of them. Who has you clicking the ‘buy now’ button after reading a riveting summary, or who has the most thoughtful reviews? A blogger who shares an abundance of book reviews in a memorable way deserves the Best Book Review Blog.

 

SERVICES TO BLOGGERS

 

Which blogger goes out of their way to help others? Maybe this is someone who helped you kick-start your blog with tutorials or how-to guides. Perhaps they continually reblog your posts. It could be a blogger who consistently provides useful posts on how to boost your blog. Or maybe you want to nominate someone who provides an engaging platform for others.

Someone who selflessly dedicates themselves to other bloggers is who deserves the Services to Bloggers award.

 

HIDDEN GEM

 

Have you stumbled upon a blog by chance and discovered useful information, or thought-provoking content? Is there a blog that doesn’t get the notoriety they deserve? Maybe they have such an original style you can’t help but read their posts. A blogger who you believe should get the limelight for a change is who deserves the Hidden Gem award.

 

NEWCOMER BLOGGER

 

A category for those bloggers who have been blogging less than a year (joined the blog-o-sphere after 1st June 2017). Did they join with a bang? Have they made an impression? Do they engage with readers? Are they funny, or well designed, or maybe share posts that make you smile time after time. A newbie blogger who deserves recognition makes the best Newcomer Blogger.

 

BEST PAL 

 

Which blogger do you want to go to the pub with? Or maybe have dinner with? Who never fails to reply to comments, and has thoughtful things to say? Maybe they encourage the community through weekly challenges or blog parties. A blogger who makes the blog-o-sphere a better place is what makes the Best Pal.

 

That’s it, folks!

 

Remember to get your ticket and to follow us on Facebook or Twitter using the Hashtag #BloggersBash. We also have a mailing list which ALWAYS gives you the most up to date info before anyone else.

 

 

 

 

THE BLOGGERS BASH NEEDS YOU! Panel Debate 2018

 

The Annual Bloggers Bash returns bigger and better than ever on Saturday 19th May 2018. The venue is booked, and the committee have been busy working behind the scenes to ensure the day is full of fun, learning opportunities, networking, and, of course, the blogtastic award ceremony.

 

To ensure that you get the most out of your day we are looking for your input. We received incredible feedback about the panel debate at last year’s event so we’ve decided to bring this back.

 

In order to maximise the time and choose the right panellists to meet your needs we want you to submit questions/topics that can be put forward for debate.

 

Here are a few suggestions to get your mind ticking:

 

  • Do you want to learn more about Flipboard, StumbleUpon, or another platform?
  • Are you interested in how to make graphics for your blog, or how to create images?
  • Would you rather learn how to market, or monetize your blog?
  • Does learning how to create an effective social media strategy appeal to you?

 

Let us know what topics you would like to see covered at the Panel Debate 2018 and help us help you.

 

STILL TIME TO GET YOUR TICKETS:

 

Tickets (available until 3rd May) £25 pp

Late entry ticket (available between 4th – 18th May) £30 pp

 

Please take note of the small print:

  • Tickets are non-refundable unless the event is cancelled
  • Tickets are non-transferable
  • Tickets are limited on a first come first served basis
  • Cost of a ticket is for entry to the event only (not for food or anything else)
  • Those buying a ticket agree to comply with any health & safety rules set by the venue and to behave in a way that will not impact upon the enjoyment of other people
  • The Committee reserves the right to change the venue and/or agenda of the event
  • Payment for tickets via PayPal only.

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

 

Join Sacha and the committee on our Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/991165987611263/

You can also join us for our Twitter Hour on the first Sunday of the month 7pm-8pm using the hashtag #BlogBashChat or join in the conversation on Twitter by using the #BloggersBash hashtag.

 

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