Nothing’s Impossible by Kimberley Cooper

Prompt: Mastermind | Word count: 1000 | Genre: Women’s Fiction

He didn’t come with a guidebook, our son. Although to be fair, no child does. But in my experience kids tend to follow a similar pattern; cry, pee, poop, talk gibberish, crawl, walk, answer back, finally become human.

But not Cory. Cory was gifted. Not that we knew this to start with. We only knew he wouldn’t sleep, didn’t babble like our two girls had done, and ate voraciously (‘he’s hungry, Mrs Jones, maybe you’re not making enough milk for him’). Hell, if I was a Jersey cow I wouldn’t have had enough milk for him, the way he fed.

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The Price of Belonging by Kimberley Cooper

Prompt: The club| Word count: 750 | Genre: Drama

“Fight, fight, fight”.

The chant was taken up one by one, as the pushing and shoving spilled over into the inevitable fight. The sound was ugly. And as Gabe pulled Danny to the ground and started hitting him, it was going to get uglier.

Joe wanted to put his hands over his ears, wanted to turn away so he didn’t have to watch. But he knew the other kids already thought he was weird. He didn’t want to give them any more ammunition. He could hear his mother’s voice in his mind. She said it often enough. “For goodness sake, stand up for yourself, Joey. You’re ten now.”

The whole class was on the sports field, crowded around the bundle on the ground, dust rising from the parched grass as the boys scuffled. The summer sun beat down on the back of Joe’s neck, and he wiped at the sweat trickling down behind his collar. The collar that marked him as different. The collar that Mom insisted he wear on his oh-so-proper shirts, even in the height of summer. Another think marking him as different to the other kids in the class, who came to school in jeans and t-shirts. Not formal slacks and a proper shirt. Although Mom did let him wear a shirt sleeved one in July and August when the sun was at its fiercest.

Unable to move away in case he got noticed, Joe turned instead and focused his gaze on the birds in the trees. He bet they didn’t beat their friends into the ground as the price for being allowed to join their club.

A loud whistle brought the fight to an end, and engrossed in the antics of a pair of magpies, Joe didn’t notice the group scatter behind him. But he did notice the hand on his collar, screwing it up around his neck and cutting into his Adam’s apple. He squirmed, and twisted out of the sizeable hand. And as he did so, the collar ripped, came away from the neck seam.

He put his hand up in horror. Mom would kill him for getting his shirt torn. He turned round, his hand now balled into a fist, ready to fly.

Until he saw who’d taken hold of him. Master Whitehouse. Head of Religious Education. Tall, broad, with a mustache that Joe thought the classroom hamster would love for a nest. Such a loud, passionate voice that to be in his class was to effectively be on the receiving end of a sermon, spittle included, just the same as when Joe was in church on a Sunday. With the master’s habit of prowling up and down the rows of desks in the classroom, and slapping down from his great height whatever he was holding, he was the scourge of youngsters from the first year to the last.

Joe dropped his hand, but was too angry to mask the feelings on his face. He stepped towards the master, not caring that he barely came up to the man’s waist. “You ripped my shirt.”

Master Whitehouse stood his ground and crossed his arms in front of his ample belly. “Watch your mouth, son,” he warned. “You’re in enough trouble as it is.”

Joe frowned. Looked up. “I haven’t done anything.”

Mr Whitehouse stirred the leaf litter with his foot.

Joe glanced down to where the leaves were being moved, and noticed the droplets of blood glistening wetly in the late afternoon sun.

“Whose is this, then?”

Joe shrugged. He hadn’t seen blood drawn so he didn’t have to tell a lie.“ I don’t know. I was watching the birds.”

Mr Whitehouse peered up into the branches. “What birds? I can’t see anything.”

“That’s because you’ve scared them all away,” Joe muttered.

“What? Speak up, boy.”

What was the point. No reason to wind the master up, not with the way he was going to catch hell from his mother later for getting his shirt ripped. He took a deep breath. “Nothing, sir.”

Mr Whitehouse gave him a hard stare. “Nothing, eh? Well, in my experience, nothing is what gets boys into trouble.” He turned and headed back over the field towards the school. Looked back over his shoulder. “Come on, boy, don’t dawdle. There’s a spot in detention with your name on it.”

Joe sighed. He hadn’t wanted to be part of the fight club. And because he didn’t, he now got to be part of the detention club. Great.

 

 

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To Have and To Hold by Kimberley Cooper

Prompt: Coming undone | Word count: 1200 | Genre: Women’s Fiction

“Ready, Dad?”

I look down at my daughter. At that little button nose, those almond shaped eyes, that very special look that told me as soon as she was born that she had Down’s Syndrome. But more than anything I see her ivory satin dress, the lace train, and a perky tiara set on top of her dark curls.

Ready? Is any father ever ready to give his little girl away on her wedding day?

While she waits patiently for my answer, a sob crawls out of my throat. This is a day that twenty five years ago, I never thought would come. I never thought she’d go to college, get a paying job and move out and live independently. And I certainly never thought she’d find the sort of love that led to St Mary’s church.

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Changes by Kimberley Cooper

Prompt: Going Home Word count: 500 Genre: Contemporary Fiction

They say you should never go back. That nostalgia clouds the memory, and disappointment is sure to follow.

But what do ‘they’ know. And who are ‘they’ anyway?

The bus pulls away from the stop, and I slip my arms through the straps of my backpack, hoist it onto my shoulders, and wince. Yeah, there’s a sore patch where the fabric’s been rubbing my bare skin. I can hear Mom’s words now. “Put a jacket on, you’ll catch your death in this weather.” And “Don’t wear those shoes without socks, you’ll get blisters.”

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The Book of Hope by Kimberley Cooper

Prompt: A White Lie Word count: 2500 Genre: Fantasy

Aric knew the Book existed. Just knew it. Locked away in the highest tower of the capital city, no one living had ever seen it. But legend said if you read the Book, you’d see not only your role in history, but all of history itself.

And the legend went further. If you ever got chance to write in the Book, you could change history. Change what had already been, as well as what was still to come.

Aric didn’t believe that part. If history changed, how could the Book even exist? Someone would have found a way to change history enough so the Book couldn’t exist anymore. And Aric knew it existed. Couldn’t say how he knew, but with the absolute confidence possessed by eleven- year-olds everywhere, he knew.

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The Nearly Perfect Funeral by Kimberley Cooper

Prompt: Conversation with my spouse Word count: 1200 Genre: Women’s fiction

He’d been 86 when he died. She was 92. A scandal it was, when they got together sixty five years ago. She was so much older than him, and already had a baby by another man. Tongues wagged, glances burned and shoulders turned against them. But it didn’t bother Arthur or Peggy. They held their heads high and over the years, turned that first heady flush of romance into a family. Stronger together than they’d been apart.

Wars came and went. Service to his country bent and bowed him, while she stayed at home raising the children they’d made together, as well as the boy that had been t’other man’s. The one whose beginning might have been a mistake, but who had been loved just as much as the others. And when the business of raising the boys was over, and work was a distant memory, they could rise late, go to bed early and spend the minutes in between in each other’s company. A small life, simply lived.

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In the Garden by Kimberley Cooper

Prompt: A New Life Word count: 1000 Genre: Sci fi

Preet was quite the celebrity on Mars. Everything that dropped out of the sky seemed to fall into his garden, almost like they were aiming for it.

The first year, a piece of hard, shiny stuff the size of a finger turned up in his garden. He didn’t see it fall, but it must have come from the sky, as it wasn’t red like everything else on Mars. The council even had to invent a name for it. “Not-red.” Preet didn’t think that showed much imagination. But at least everyone had something different to look at. Something that wasn’t dust in one of the thousand shades of red which had been named. Like vermilion and magenta and ruby and crimson. And people came from far and wide to look at the not-red. So many came, trampling over his garden, that Preet got quite grumpy, whipping dust into a stinging, choking boulder-filled cloud which lashed the Martian landscape for weeks.

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The List by Kimberley Cooper

Prompt: The List Word count: 1500 Genre: Contemporary Fiction

It sat there on the kitchen table.

The List. Or given its significance, perhaps it was more accurate to call it THE LIST. Anyway, whatever, it formed part of Eva’s every conversation lately, was almost the only thing she talked about. God knows if we’d have anything to say to each other after the bloody wedding.

“What shall we put on the list, Jo?” “Jo, which store should we have the list with? And then when she was feeling down and it was all a bit overwhelming, “Do you think anyone will want to know what’s on the list?”

So, The List on the kitchen table. An innocuous bit of paper held to a piece of hardwood by gravity. I could put my mug of coffee on it at breakfast time, sling my keys on it when I come in from work, use it as a place mat for my dinner plate. Wouldn’t affect The List at all.

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