Saturday, 26 March 2016


I once had a bear called Jack.

When I first got him he whispered in my ear that his main purpose in life was to be the keeper of all my secrets. I was dubious at first so I wrote a list so that we both knew where we stood.

1   I shall whisper my secret once and once only. No repeats.

2  You shall never reveal any of my secrets to a third party as long as we both shall live.

3  You are my bear and nobody else's. You are the keeper of my secrets only.

He kept his word but as I got older he grew fatter with all my secrets until one day his stomach came open and my secrets fell out. I did the best I could but it was too late. My secrets were all over the neighbourhood. They developed a life of their own and I couldn't stop them.
                       Jack didn't die but I think he saw a little glimpse of Heaven. He was devastated and has never spoken to me since. Even though I sewed his stomach back together again he is no longer capable of holding my secrets. I whisper them into his ear and they come back out again. I now have nobody to keep my secrets. I have to keep them myself but I am putting on weight and no matter how much I try I can't lose it.

It's the secrets. They are building up inside and are preparing for the big day when my stomach will burst open like Jack's. I'm waiting for it to happen. Jack is too but is too scared to say anything. Maybe I will also catch a little glimpse of Heaven.


                                                         (C) Ally Atherton 2016

289 words written for the Light And Shade Challenge. Check it out and maybe join in the fun.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Dreams With Jagged Edges

                        I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.

                                                                                 Thomas Jefferson

The hardest part about being a dream catcher is in  the breaking and entering.


           I can't walk through walls. I don't have a magic key. I don't have a teleportation device. My amazing power is restricted to pulling out one dream after another without snapping the bastard and if they wake up I'm screwed. I can't tip toe to save my life. There's always a disagreeable floorboard, a squeaky toy or an unholy cat to deal with. And sometimes, no matter how careful I am, they wake up.

           And then I run. I'm terrible at breaking and entering but pretty good at getting the hell out of again if I need to. You've probably seen me out of the corner of your eye at some point and if you haven't I'll probably get around to you at some point. It's not theft. Not in the strictest sense of the word. I'm taking something you can't deal with. Something that needs to come out before it gets stuck, like a gumball or a small piece of ham. And once it's stuck there's no telling what it will get up to or when it will return. Some dreams never come out. Recurring dreams they call them. But they're not. They are stuck. Lots of people are walking around all the time with dreams stuck in their heads. You can usually tell them a mile off. There's that far away look that they get in their eyes for a kick off. Or the way they grind their teeth. Or sometimes there's nothing to really grab hold exactly but you can tell there's something not quite right about them, inside them.

           But most of the time I get in there and out again with the dream fully intact before they can wake up completely and realise that they had a dream in the first place. Some dreams are long and sticky and some are short and stubby. Short and stubby dreams are the one's that don't make any sense. Like you're driving to work and then find yourself being attacked by a plate of spaghetti. The long and sticky dreams are future dreams. Things you want to do but can't or things you don't want to do but are worried you may have to.


           But dreams with jagged edges are the ones I have the most difficulty with. They don't want to come out for the love of money. They kick and scratch and sometimes I have to leave them in. Dreams with jagged edges are the ones that hold our deepest secrets. Things we can never tell to another living person. I've known some dreams with jagged edges that would rather kill me than come out.

They don't want to be carried away by me or anybody else because they are enjoying themselves too much and don't want to come out because it's raining inside and they love the rain and they are the only ones that know how to turn it off.


                                                                       (C) Ally Atherton 2016

500 words written for this week's Light & Shade Challenge. Take a peek and join in if you are feeling creative.

Monday, 4 January 2016

                            Image courtesy of Thomas Rosenmai of

It's good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.

                                                                        Ernest Hemingway


Thursday, 20 August 2015


My wife has always been good at embroidery and the talking pillows were her idea and I just went with it.

I don't know how many she's made but I've got to know them all intimately over the years.

When we first moved in together I used to rest my head on the I Love You pillow. The one with the pink owl sat on a tree. I gave her the I Love you too one so that we were a matching set. But gradually I've got to know most of them. It wasn't long before Sweet Dreams replaced I Love You, although to be fair to my wife pillowcases do have to be washed regularly. But I admit I was surprised how quickly Sorry I've Got A Headache and I Have To be Up Early In the Morning arrived on the scene.

Our dog has his own pillow now which is great for him. Although he doesn't really appreciate it as much as she'd like him to. Very often we wake up to find Billy on the couch and his Little Devil pillow flung on the floor. He always has the same pillow. Even though he's had a few replacements after chewing some of them. He's not one for change.

It's a long time since we've been coordinated, me and the wife. And usually when I sneak into the closet to find her I Love You pillow  I normally end up being something else altogether. A mismatch. That's what my pillow should say. Mr Mismatch. I'm very often Mr Grumpy or Never Satisfied. She has power over the pillows. She's the pillow master. I'm not allowed in the closet anymore. When we first married it was a game of Who can get in the closet first and we would sometimes fight over the Sex Bomb pillow. I haven't seen that one for a few years and if I found it, Billy would probably get it before me.

We've had a few bad arguments over the years and she even has her own set of pillows for those occasions. Unfortunately I know them to well. You really don't want to know what they have written on them.

She always makes sure I have one of her pillows even if I'm sleeping on the couch or in the porch. If I go away on business I normally take Mr Grumpy with me. It's probably the most comfortable of the lot.

She's great at embroidery but not very good at plumping up pillows. I don't know what she puts in them. It could be leaves or teabags or nail clippings as far as I am concerned. They've never been very comfortable. Although Billy always seems to have the plumpest pillow going. He must be doing something right.

Lately she's started to make a new batch but she does it in secret. Either the old ones are looking worse than I thought or she's found new ways to describe me. There's a Fat Bastard in there somewhere, I just know it. Or maybe she's just looking ahead and she's working on the one that's going in my coffin. She's always looking too far ahead and maybe she thinks it's going to happen sooner rather than later.

No doubt she's making some new one's for Billy. But it's always Little Devil. He's never anything else. Unlike me. I dread to think of what I'm going to be resting my head on for the next twenty years. It seems a long time since I was Stud Of The Year or that one night in Vegas when I was Irresistible.

I don't know what my coffin pillow is going to say. I don't really like to think about it. But I'm guessing it's going to be the comfiest of the lot.


                                                                                         Ally Atherton 2015

Tuesday, 4 August 2015


I sneak up on you and turn your key.

Sometimes I do it when you are asleep, when you don't hear night sounds like your fridge belching or your floorboards groaning as I tip-toe across them. I turn it just enough so that your good dreams don't overexcite you and the bad ones don't go on for long enough to kill you.

But when you are awake I have to turn your key when you are not looking. When you are doing simple things like boiling a kettle or peeling a potato or hanging your smalls on the washing line. I have to be careful that you don't see me and that I don't drop the key before I have the chance to turn it. I especially have to make sure that I bob down quickly enough whenever you look at yourself in the mirror. I've been caught out a few times like that and I see the momentary look of horror on your face before you have the time for your brain to forget seeing me.

I sneak up on you and turn your key.

I make it all happen. Every sneeze. Every fart. Every annoying song that crawls into your head.

It's me.

And I'll be there for you until your key grows blunt and rusty and completely unturnable.

                                                                                     (C) Ally Atherton 2015

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Easy Money

Everybody knows somebody who works in a store, right?

That's all you have to do. Pluck a job out of thin air and slap it in their face and before you know it you'll have them convinced their Aunty Maud has crossed the velvet curtain. It's called shot gunning.You can throw anything at them and they'll make it fit. You just provide the match and they'll set fire to the mailbox.

'Somebody is giving me a nursing badge. So who works with medicines? Who looks after old folk? Who works in the pharmacy? Who takes all the pills?'

You see how it works? It's easy money. You give them a triangle and they'll turn it into a circle. There's no magic involved. They do it all for you.

When I was kid I used to have a lemonade stall in front of our house but I soon realised that by the time you bought all the lemons and squeezed the life out of them all you had left was a bruised ego and enough change to buy a can of Seven Up.

So now I don't have to squeeze any lemons. I just squeeze as much money as I can out of the bastards.

'I'm getting a pair of black boots so who was in the army? In the navy? In the police? Who worked in the shoe shop?'

They fall for it every time. I can convince anybody that their dog is nipping at my ankles. That their Nan loved the funeral service and that, yes, sometimes you can smell their perfume, their favourite flower or their Lambert and Butler Superkings. They'll believe everything you tell them because they want to believe there's a better place out there beyond the thunderdome.  That's there's an Emerald City at the end of the yellow brick road.

A place where you don't have to squeeze the lemons or the apples that life throws at you just so that you can buy a can of Dandelion and Burdock.


                                                         (C) Ally Atherton 2015

336 Words for the Light & Shade Challenge and the A to Z Blog Challenge

Thursday, 2 April 2015


                                         Art work by Moolikesskittles

I am the only person that sees her.

April. With her ridiculous costume and her lob-sided smile that looks like it has been painted by a four year old with a broken crayon. For everybody else she is nothing but a corner of the eye illusion. An ocular event as sinister as the wagging tail of a dog. As devastating as a microscopic particle of dust landing on the carpet.

But she's there all the same. And I see her. And sometimes she sees me

and when she does her face drops to the floor and she will stick out her tongue or blow a raspberry across the room at me. And I know then that she is about to do something. Somebody is about to trip over their own feet on the sidewalk.

Somebody is about to piss themselves in the middle of a very important meeting.

Somebody is about to declare their love to somebody who is going to spit every single ounce of their love straight back

at their face like a two day old piece of gum.

                                                            (C) Ally Atherton  2015


Written for the Light and Shade Challenge and Day One

          of the A to Z blog challenge.