It had occured to me earlier during the night, that my date was not going the way I wanted it to. I was meant to be sitting in a rich and luxurious restaurant with beautiful Madonna waitresses attending to my every need…and my new girlfriend’s. THAT’S where the problem lay.

Josephine glared at me. This was our first date.

During the day, I had rung the local Visitor Information Centre, where I had been reliably directed to this particular restaurant. My needs were great. It was to serve lovely food, be well furnished with stylish and elegant decore, complete with wonderful wait staff.

This was the place of choice that had been highly recommended by a strong country accent. Hey, not even the table had a cloth on it. The waitress hovered over the table closest to ours.

“Well, Mike. You could have invited me to a nicer place than this,” she huffed. “And on our first date too. It’s not as though we’ve been married for 30 years and the spark has disappeared.”

I could see that whatever spark there had been was fast being snuffed out.

“There are even stains on the wall.” She pointed to a yellow irregular pattern on the stretch of plaster nearest our table.

Really, I could see her point. My mind did not want to imagine where the stain came from or what it might be. My eyes found her blue ones and I desperately hoped they looked apologetic. The waitress vanished back into the kitchen.

But then, the most marvellous smells came from the little kitchen hidden at the back of the restaurant. The waitress came whizzing out, food steaming in her hands and balanced on her arms.

My date sniffed the air. The plates were placed in front of us on the little bare table. Cutlery hastily followed the food in being set down.

Josephine delicately picked up the fork. She dug it tentatively into the rissotto. I stared, hope against hope that she didn’t choke on it. And then, she smiled, digging her fork in again and again.

As tentatively as my date had, I pushed some of my ravioli onto the fork and raised it to my lips. Closing my eyes tightly, I put the fork in my mouth. The most heavenly divine taste, perfectly balanced in every way, exploded on my tongue. My taste buds were dancing with excitement.

Standing nearby, the waitress was watching us. She winked.

Piece of paper

The rain sodden road reflected the street lamps, the light bouncing off the hard otherwise black surface. It was pretty, she reflected, or would have been if it was not for the tank that was stationed outside her window.

Looming out of the night, the bulk of the war machine infuriated her, as did her brother’s desire to join the troops in the war. But then again, if it was not for him going to the Front, she would not have her independence. Being a woman before the war had been restrictive, but now, without the men around, she was having far more fun.

But the cost had been great. The women folk of the township had their independence, but they had lost all the same. Her hands fidgetted with a piece of paper.

Her mind roved her past, coming up with bizaar memories. It rested on one in particular… the last time she had seen Chad before he had left for the war.

It had been a weekend retreat that they had disappeared off on. Mother was not to know. Mother did not approve of Chad going to fight. So sister and brother had hired a cabin close to the lake just outside their home town. It was their final time together before Chad was going away; for how long no one knew.

Hot words had been flung at him.

“FOOL!” she had hurled at Chad.

His face had clouded with anger and hurt that night. “I’m not a fool, Tracey. I’m not. I just want to join my friends on their adventure.”

“It’s not an adventure, Chad. It’s death and disaster and all that’s bad.”

Then, his anger had melted and he had cried, silent tears running down his cheeks.

“I thought of all people, you would understand, sister.”

And he had not talked to her since.

The piece of paper fluttered to the ground. It was now her face that ran with tears, as she felt a gnawing pain. She was right, had always been right, but now it was a cold comfort. The piece of paper was final proof she was right, for it was a telgram. Chad was dead.


My brother walked into the room, breathless with laughter, a beer in one hand and his mobile in the other. Accompanying him was Sue, his wife and Best Friend. She was my Best Friend too and we had grown very fond of each other before they were even married. It was storm season, when the thunder and lightning came with the rain.

“On the following Friday, we packed our bags and planned our escape,” he was saying to someone on the phone.

“What’s that?” I asked, all ears.

“Oh, Belinda, didn’t you hear?” Sue’s eyes popped as she spoke with me, surprised I hadn’t kept up with the gossip.

“No, Sue. I have been snowed under with lots of work to do. Haven’t even had time to look at the News let alone keep up with family business.”

Sue stared at me in silence, as I felt great guilt for not keeping in contact. They had been away on a camping trip, while I had stayed home to catch up with the extra workload my Freelance Writing Business had generated that month.

But my brother, Troy, who was still laughing, hung up the phone.

“Well, Belinda, the river came up after the massive storm last week. Water flooded the camping grounds where we were staying, turning it into a temporary island. Only 4WD vehicles could get through. Not even our little tinny was useful, as the flood wasn’t high enough for it.”

I closed my mouth, becoming aware that it was open as I stared at him in disbelief. Normally, the camping grounds where he and Sue frequented, didn’t flood at this time of year.

Sue took up the rest of the story, as Troy stopped long enough to gulp at his beer.

“But then, on Friday, the river flooded even more, and so we had only a small window of about 2 hours to escape. We packed up our camping equipment and stashed it in our sedan. Then, we threw all our important possessions into the tinny, before heading back to dry land. The river was high enough during that little bit of time to use the tinny.”

Troy was nodding. “And both Sue and I had our daughter’s birthday party to get back in time for.”

“Lucky…” was all I could manage to say in response.

17 Cats

17 cats. How did he end up with 17 cats. And at his age! 60 years old was too old to have 17 cats. 

His only desire was to be left alone. That meant NOT having any cats, let alone 17 of the damned creatures! 

And then he remembered. The month before he’d been drinking with his mates, and a stunning woman had walked into the bar. Not only was she stunning, but she was even his age.

Before too long, he had been shouting her rounds, until he was under the table. 

The night after had been bliss. The scent of her captivated him, and they had gone home together…back to his place. 

Now, it was a month since they’d met and he was surrounded by 17 cats.  In the bed beside him, he could feel warmth radiating from something underneath the sheets. He tentatively reached out his fingers. No, it was not her. It was his hot water bottle.

  And then the next lot of memories came back.

  She had confessed that she was dying. This was to be her last tryst as the disease that melted her insides was tightening its grip. She had no one to leave her 17 cats to. 

In the depths of passion, last week, he was chivalrous. In her will she had left them to him! And now, she was in the village morgue, awaiting burial by her cat hating family. 


It was THE day. Time to shine. Laurie stood before the mirror in the green room back of stage.

Could she dazzle the crowd who sat in the audience? If only her Alchemist brother has been there too. He had been working on a secret recipe, refusing to tell anyone what it was.

A teenager was putting on a costume nearby. Oh to be young again. But Laurie was in her 50s. Some said she was still young, but she knew they were only being kind.

The 50 year old actress looked at the teenager again. Then she remembered. That youth was Renee. Renee had asked her a peculiar question when they met on Tuesday. The teen was having trouble with some of her lines and had asked Laurie to mentor her.

After putting on the costume, Renee approached the older lady and her now mentor.

Shyly handing Laurie a letter, she blushed.

Laurie took the envelope. The stamp on the front declared it was from Amsterdam. It must be a letter from her brother.

Ripping it open, she unfolded a letter, written in her brother’s scrawl. A vial of brown liquid tumbled onto her hand as she did so.

Eyes scanned the letter excitedly, but one sentence stood out.

“This vial is the end product of my project and is the Elixir of Youth.”

As soon as she was alone, she promised herself, she’d drink it!