No life (short story)

He lay sprawled across his bed. He turned and looked up at his reflection on the mirrored ceiling. What had possessed him to put mirrored glass there? Even he had to admit he was not a pretty sight. He’d been on another bender the night before and lord knows how he’d managed to find his way home. But he had and had even managed to get most of his clothes off before collapsing in a drunken heap on the bed. He scanned the room to find his shirt hanging off the wardrobe, trousers on top of the chest of drawers and shreddies on the head board. There he lay in all his glory, nothing on but a pair of old socks with holes in the toes.

He was 35, very single and still lived at home. Even he had to admit his life was a joke. With a numbed brain, he began to contemplate where the last 10 years had gone. How he’d squandered a promising career and wasted his potential on booze and drugs.
As he lay there, naked and emotionally exposed he made a decision to change. He didn’t want to continue living life like this. This was no life.
It was now time to do something about it.

© Jacky Leonard 2015

Authors Notes

Written at a Montpellier Writers Group session

An ‘oar’ some adventure (short story)

The children were dizzy with excitement. Their mother had just informed them they were going on an adventure. It was the middle of the school holidays and they had almost had their fill of computer games, visits to their father’s house and playing in the park. Mum’s surprise trip was perfectly timed and they couldn’t wait to find out more.

“Come down to the kitchen and I’ll tell you what’s in store for us” shouted mum.

So all three raced down the stairs coming to a halt just in front of their mother who was leaning against the dining table with a big grin on her face. She knew it would be an interesting break for them, particularly as they rarely travelled in anything other than the family car or the school bus. She realised it would be exhausting for her, watching 3 young children in a strange environment, but they were good kids and she wanted to give them a real treat. Her main concern was how to herd them safely on and off the ferry, but before she could get too worried her thoughts were interrupted by her eldest, Tom, aged 12.

“Come on mum, spill the beans then,” he said. Their mother paused for dramatic effect before announcing.
“We’re going to Bruges.”
“Where’s that?” said 9 year old Hannah.
“It’s in Belgium.” Said their mum. “We’ll be leaving the car behind and travelling by bus, train and boat. Won’t that be fun?”
“When are we going?” asked Tom.
“Tomorrow” replied his mum, “so we haven’t got much time, you’d better go and pack your rucksacks. We’ll be away for 3 nights. Tom, you help Ollie to pack his bag and make sure you all put in your waterproofs.”

During the next few minutes, Tom and Hannah directed a volley of questions at their mum. Throughout their conversation, Ollie, who at 5, was the youngest of the trio, had remained silent, and completely absorbed. Looking from his siblings to his mum and back as the discussion continued. After several minutes Tom and Hannah had enough information and were ready for action, dashing past him out of the kitchen and up the stairs. He too, turned to go, although at a more leisurely pace with a slightly bemused look on his face. You could almost hear the cogs whirring as he tried to process all he’d just heard.

Their mother made a cup of tea before heading after her children only to bump into her rather worried looking youngest child loitering on the first step.
“What’s the matter Oliver?” asked his mother, “Aren’t you excited to be going on our adventure?”
“Oh yes” he said. “Mummy, I was just wondering. You know you said we’ll be going on a boat.”
“Yes Ollie.”
“Will we have our own oars?”

© Jacky Leonard

Authors Notes

This is based on a real life ‘adventure’ that one of my best friends took with her children.  Sometimes it’s easy to forget how different our terms of reference can be to others, particularly children.

Questions, questions

Do you love me?
Do you want me?
What are your doubts and fears?
Does commitment frighten you?
Or can you plan for years?

Do you need me?
Do you care?
When will you decide?
Will you always run away
To find a place to hide?

Do I love you?
Do I want you?
Will I always care?
Just open your eyes and trust in me
I promise I’ll be there

© Jacky Leonard

Author’s notes

This is a reflection of the insecurities, vulnerabilities and pressures that can exist in relationships.

Getting abreast of the situation

Put your shirt on came the shout
Please don’t get your mammaries out
It isn’t big, it isn’t clever
It’s not even the sort of weather
For showing off your ample chest
Without the covering of a vest
You’re bound to catch your death of cold
You really shouldn’t be so bold
For pity sake here what I say
And go and put your tits away!

© Jacky Leonard

Authors Notes

This was written after hearing a story about a friend of a friend, who’s party trick, when she got drunk, was to take her top off and show the world her breasts.  Ah well, we’ve all got our little quirks.  The thing that stirred me into writing was witnessing the disgust with which my friend shared the tale.  Made me chuckle at how appalled she was that someone would do such a thing.  Surprising how many names we have for a woman’s’ chest.

The world’s a stage

Many come to the theatre
To observe the parts being played
Some leave unaffected by the performance
Others stay to share the experience
Very few will be allowed backstage
When the curtain falls
To see the real person behind the masks

Jacky Leonard © 1982


Author’s notes
This was written as a brief commentary on the personas we present to different people at various times in our lives.  How we generally only allow a chosen few people to get close enough to really get to know every facet of us.

The Easter Bunny

I’m sitting here this morning and feeling rather blue
My waistline has expanded and my teeth are aching too
What’s caused this bad depression is that recently you see
The Easter Bunny called here with a present just for me
With no thought with my skin or teeth, my waistline, rump, or legs
I tucked into a banquet of gooey chocolate eggs
Ah, but I’ll get my own back and grab him by his fur
And pull out all his whiskers when he comes again next year

Jacky Leonard and Evie Thomas © 1980

Authors Notes
Written with my cousin Evie, for her children at Easter.  Us being silly again…only the Welsh can rhyme fur with year!

The decision

The way out seems so easy when you hurt too much to live
And you think how short a time it takes to die
No more misery or pain, nought to take and nought to give
No decisions to be made no need to lie

You cannot find a single soul to help or understand
Life’s doors are locked and you have lost the key
And so the balance of your life lies there in your own hand
And you hope this day will be the last you see

But please before you take that first step leading to your last
Let me put one question to your aching mind
If this were next year and you could look back upon your past
Would happiness still seem so hard to find

We do not know what lies in store and this can cause us dread
But joy like sorrow comes in many ways
And time will find an answer to the problems in your head
Go forward now and live out all your days

Jacky Leonard and Evie Thomas © 1980

Authors Notes
Written with my cousin Evie, in one of our more serious moments.

‘Twas the night before Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas and down at the hall
They decided to hold a fancy dress ball
First prize was a bottle of guzzlers gin,
10 fags, a large turkey and ham in a tin
So everyone there would be doing their best
To be very original to outdo the rest
At 8 o’clock sharp the doors opened wide
And 30 fat Santa’s hurtled inside
Cecil and Cedric created a scene
When they both glided in dressed as 2 fairy queens
The girls from the union of Christmas card packers
Came dressed as a box of red Christmas crackers
And a dog dressed as Rudolph when nature did call
Wet Dougie’s tree costume, balls, tinsel and all!
At 9 a brawl started and Jim got a knocking
He was seen putting presents in Jill’s Christmas stocking
Not a thing wrong with that, but wait just a minute
He seems too drunk to notice her leg is still in it
A motley assortment of pixies and elves
Were sat in the corner amusing themselves
By smoking the fags and drinking the gin
And eating the ham that they’d found in the tin
The hall was now full, ‘twas packed to the brim
And the scrooges in town weren’t allowed get in
So for spite one chap made a 999 call
“They’re drunk and disorderly down at the hall”
Then back at the hall there was a big shout
“The snowman has melted, his pipes fallen out”
A candle turned round and shouted “you liar”
When all of a sudden the hall caught on fire
Fire extinguishers were grabbed off the wall
But try as they might they could not save the hall
But thanks to the scrooges the police came real quick
And out of the panda jumped Constable Dick
Fire engines arrived and they knew without doubt
It wouldn’t take long ‘til the fire was out
But the copper was angry “you all make me sick”
And without more ado led them straight down the nick
They were hustled and bustled and locked in the cells
And the rattling of bars blotted out Christmas bells
Then old Dick the copper with good Christmas Cheer
Laughed at the crowd and then said with a sneer
“You’ll be stuck here all Christmas and serves you all right
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.”

Jacky Leonard and Evie Thomas © 1981

With apologies to Clement C Moore

Authors Notes
Written with my cousin Evie, for a school play.  I was playing the role of headteacher, with more than a nod to the Head at our school.  This poem ended the play to great applause from the students and teachers.  I thankfully avoided expulsion in spite of my caricature. 

A changed woman

A house in a town on a cold dark day
It looks like the rest in the row
Inside sits a woman with nothing to say
And no where that she cares to go
She looks in the mirror while doing her chores
And stares at the stranger within
Recalling the day that she worked as a whore
In McOnnally Duffs house of sin
The years come and go a woman can change
If only her knickers and vest
A proud housewife now, she remembers when she
Was decidedly one of the best
A vicar had come to her one dark night
Full of animal lust and desire
But when he couldn’t extinguish what he felt in his heart
He wed her to put out the fire
So now some years later we look at her fate
A do gooder now fair and true
But if she answered honestly what’s in her heart
She’d much rather be a good do!


Jacky Leonard and Evie Thomas © 1980

Authors Notes

Written with my cousin Evie, when I was still at school.  We used to spend hours playing with words and making each other laugh.  I can thank her for getting me interested in poetry and prose.  I miss her heaps.

Quiz night

10 around a table, trying to look smart

Questions seem a trifle tough, quiz master have a heart

We’d like to get a few right and leave with heads held high

It seems a bit unlikely, but we’ll give it one last try


Jacky Leonard – © 2010


Author’s notes

Written after a fun, albeit unsuccessful quiz night with friends