Monday, 6 July 2020

When will I be famous?

 by Rose McGrath


Agnes Flynn wanted to be an actress. She dreamt of being in films.   Admiring herself in her bedroom mirror, with her long blonde hair piled high on her head; she rehearsed her acceptance speech for her Academy Award, into her hairbrush. All she needed now was her first break.
          Sitting on her bed reading The Stage she circled the situations vacant. She auditioned as a dancer for the Wizard of Oz, joined the endless queue for a job on a cruise ship and auditioned for walk-on parts, but it was always the same, she was either too tall, or not quite what they were looking for. Most Saturdays she was on the ferry, then the bus into the city trying out for one thing or another. Then it was the waiting game.
          Dragging her sore feet from the bus stop, Agnes counted out her last few pennies into her hand hoping she had enough money for a latte. Waiting in line, her stomach rumbled as her eyes looked down at the assortment of muffins lined up on the counter. Each wrapped in soft chocolate-coloured paper to display golden sponge with tasty bits of chocolate and blueberries inside.
          Just think of the extra pounds, said her inner voice as she closed her eyes and dreamt of biting into a chocolate chip muffin. Looking down at her watch she threw her bag over her shoulder anxious that she might miss the last ferry. Rushing out of the shop she passed a group of lads heading for one of the nightclubs in the city. When they saw Agnes, they stopped their conversation in mid flow.
“Hey darling, where you going shouted one of the lads, can I come? “
          “Can I take you out for a drink?” shouted another.”
          “I’m in love with you?” shouted a tall spotty lad with thick red hair.
Agnes smiled, tossed her long blonde hair back and moved gracefully past.
Pushing her way through the crowds in Main Street, she passed the waitresses setting up the crisp white tablecloths on the pavement cafés. She watched as the candles were lit and the flames danced in the moonlight. People were enticed in to eat plates of tortellini stuffed with artichoke, Linguine, and pizzas alfresco under candlelight. The pungent smells of garlic and herbs filled the night air. She followed young bright-eyed girls pulling their wheelie bags behind them as they flagged down taxis and mingled in with the hustle and bustle of the city. She glanced at the newspaper seller shouting out the news of the day and heard the taxi drivers beeping their horns at the crowds of pedestrians that walked in front of their cabs. She watched the tourists in deep conversation in different languages, looking up at bronze statues doted around the city. Then her thoughts turned to Frank, the uncomplicated, easy going man in her life. Who didn’t like Jazz music, hated going to art galleries and didn’t much care for musicals, he never did understand her ambitions?
          When she put her key in the door her mother was waiting for her.
          “You’re back then, so what was it this time. Don’t tell me, they wanted you to pretend to be a chicken and lay an egg?” said her mum smiling.
“You look worn out, girl. Did you have any luck, or are you just waiting to hear?”
“They said they would let me know.”
          “Oh, Agnes, why don’t you forget this nonsense of being an actress? Let me tell you, girl, most of the time, actors are out of work and end up waiting tables or taking bit parts, which don’t pay the rent. Frank can provide for you, give you a comfortable life.”
          “‘I can’t give up my dream, what if— Mum. I’ve spent years learning my craft; I can’t just give it all up just like that clicking her fingers. I won’t.”
          “Oh don’t be so melodramatic, your father likes Frank. Grab him with two hands.”
“You mean Dad likes him because he’s rich.”
“Agnes that’s a terrible thing to say. Your Dad is a good judge of character.”
“Yes, sorry, I didn’t mean it, I’m just tired.”
“Frank, loves you Agnes, marry him, he won’t wait for ever.”
          This is a small town Agnes, people talk. I can’t look Father Dunn in the face knowing you are out all hours with Frank, mixing with the set from the golf club and you not having an engagement ring on your finger.”
“What will people think of us, Agnes?”
“I don’t care.” I’ve known him all my life; dependable Frank.
 “It’s always been our wish that you and Frank would be together. It’s what his parents hoped. They always saw you as family.”
“He’s my best friend. Of course, I was there for him when they died.”
“We made a lot of sacrifices so you could go to drama college.”
“I know and I’m grateful.”
“If you said yes to Frank, your good fortune would rub off on us. We would be something in this town. You could have one of those lovely sports cars. Take me out for a spin along the coast road. We could feel the wind in our hair, smell the sea air and walk up Adrian’s Peak. Mind you, the little car wouldn’t be very practical when you have a young family. Think about it, Agnes.”
“Why do you have to make things so complicated? I’m just having fun.”
“Just think about it, luv, and what it could mean for your family”.
Frank O’Reilly was in the motor trade. Every time he picked Agnes up for a date he was in a different sports car. The smell of the soft leather and the lush carpet under her feet made Agnes feel a million dollars. He showered her with gifts: jewellery and perfume which made Agnes have second thoughts about her dream. They often danced the night away at the local disco or had a candlelit dinner at an upmarket restaurant in town. He was ten year older than Agnes and was ready to settle down. Their home would be his family’s manor house, which came with a stable block and a farm.
          Then it all happened very quickly. The date for the wedding was set, bridesmaids were picked, the venue was booked, and her dress was bought. Standing in her wedding dress, it all seemed unreal. How had it come to this? Boxes of presents were piled high in the corner of her bedroom. She tried the veil on and looked at herself in the mirror. Agnes held her head in her hands and cried.
          I can’t do this; it’s not my dream, it’s theirs.
She picked up the veil and threw it across the room. Then checked the ferry timetable for the earliest ferry. In the early hours of the morning, Agnes closed her bedroom door for the last time. After she had dragged her large suitcase down the stairs, she stopped at the kitchen table and left a note. When she boarded the bus from the ferry terminal, her thoughts turned to Frank. Her hands were shaking as she dialled his number. When he answered she couldn’t get any words out, so she put down the receiver. Today should have been her wedding day.
The play opened to mixed reviews. There it was in black and white, her first review.
Agnes Flynn who played the busty waitress in ‘The Café’ gave a promising performance.
The Evening Standard
 With a shortage of advanced bookings, the play closed. Her first real acting job came to an abrupt end.
          Agnes peered into her kitchen cupboard and stared at the one and only tin of baked beans. The bread was mouldy, and her rent was due. Her mum was right, she saw the same faces at auditions, looking for work. Rejection had become an all too familiar word.
          On her way back from an audition, she took a shortcut, passing through the more salubrious part of town, full of bars, lap-dancing clubs, and Gentlemen’s Clubs. When she walked past Diamond Lil’s, she saw a sign in the window for bar staff. Swallowing her pride, she stood up straight, rolled her skirt up, flashed her long slender legs and unbuttoned her shirt to show some cleavage. She painted a thick layer of red lipstick on her lips and ruffled her hair. At the bottom of the stairs, she entered the bar. The painted red walls and a leopard skin carpet gaped her lips and she could feel the heat rising in her face. She took a sip of water and steadied her wobbly legs. She couldn’t stop staring, when she saw pictures of nudes that filled the walls.
What would Father Dunn say?
          In the middle of the floor was a circular stage with a spotlight on it. Tables and chairs were dotted around. Red and mauve strip lights glowed around the well-stocked bar.
          As she looked around a voice shouted out, “Can I help you?”
          “I’m here for the bar job you advertised outside,” said Agnes looking around the bar.
          “That’s filled,” said a man puffing on a long cigar sitting at a table next to the
          “I need dancers,” he said looking her up and down. “Take it or leave it.”
          As Agnes turned to walk back up the stairs, she thought of her unpaid rent.
          Reluctantly, she turned around, and thought about what she had sacrificed to follow her dream.
          “So, what do I need to do?”
          “Watch June then you do it with her,” said the man shouting at the bouncer to play the music.
          As the music started a small thin lady with bandy legs and enormous boobs took to the stage. Dressed in a skimpy black bra and a black G-string that exposed her saggy bottom, she took her place centre stage. As she moved her body to the sound of the 80’s classic her neon-orange stilettos glowed. As she kicked her legs in the air and crawled on all fours across the stage suggestively, she rubbed her hands over her boobs. Nothing was left to the imagination. She finished her turn curled up on a chair. The spotlight disappeared. Then it was Agnes’s turn.
          I can do this with all my dancing training. I might get noticed.  It might lead to a film role, she said to herself as she wiggled her body up and down on the stage and ended with doing the splits.
          The rough voice shouted, “You’re hired, start tonight. Joanne will find you a costume.”
          Once she stepped through the doors of the club, Agnes Flynn disappeared.
 Joanne found her a red bikini, red wig and black stilettos and told her she was now called Candy. She gritted her teeth, looking at herself in the mirror wearing her costume.
          It was just a job, a means to an end
she told herself.
          She wished Frank would turn up and take her away.
          She danced to the 80’s classics. One by one the punters beckoned her over and pushed notes into her G-string. At the end of the night she pulled the £20 notes out of her knickers and stuffed the money into her bag. She had made more money in a night than she had ever made in acting.
          At the back were the booths for the private dancers. Joanne said she could double her money if she didn’t mind being groped from time to time. The money was her motivation. The punters wouldn’t see the sadness in her eyes. Her moves were staged; her smile was plastic as she worked as Candy the good-time girl. Once she brought a ticket for the ferry determined to go home, but she couldn’t take the final step to get onboard.
 Agnes wiped off her thick makeup and pulled off her false eyelashes. A middle-aged lady was now looking back at her. Deep wrinkles were embedded in her forehead. Her once slender body was now plump. There was a scar on her back from where a punter threw a bottle at her, a reminder of the fights that used to take place over the girls. These days Agnes ran the office in the back for Terry the owner.
          As she kicked off her shoes and sat reading the early morning paper, before she cashed up the tills, a young girl wandered into the club asking for a job behind the bar. She recognised the look of desperation in her voice.
          “Yes, I can find you a few hours’ work in the bar if you have some experience. It can get a bit rowdy here though, can you handle it?”
          “Yes, I’ve done bar work before.”
 “I need a job to pay my bills, you see I’m an actress.”
“We get a lot of actresses here, hoping to be discovered. Be here at nine sharp,” said Agnes with a smile.
           Looking at the fresh-faced girl dragging a suitcase made Agnes think of her parents. More than once she had written a letter to her mother but before she got to the end, she would rip it up.
Guilt has kept me away all these years, I should have tried to make it up with them. Is it too late?
Looking down at her healthy bank balance, she knew it was time to make amends. She made a lot of money from buying and selling property in London. So, she could go back and hold her head up high.
           Agnes took a deep breath and breathed in the fresh sea air as she made her way up the gangplank. She fiddled with a piece of tissue, pondering what she would say to her mother about how she made her living.
          I’ll tell her the truth, she said in a whisper.
          As she left the ferry dock, she pulled out the old newspaper clipping from the Evening Standard and carefully placed it in an envelope for her mother.
          As the ferry came into port, she spotted an old lady with a walking stick waiting by the gate, waving to her. A youngish man in a smart suit that resembled her Frank stood next to her.
          Agnes was home.

About the author 

Rose, originally from South London now lives in Banbury in Oxfordshire with her partner.
She has had a passion for writing since an early age, but over the year’s life has got in the way. As the family are now grown, she has found more time to write and complete her BA in Creative Art.
These are her first published short stories in CafeLit.

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Life Time

by Penny Rogers

WKD Blue

Lou’s phone was ringing as her visitor walked in and sat down. She raised an immaculate eyebrow ‘You have time, answer it.’
            ‘It’s only Mum. I’ll call back.’
            The visitor got straight to the point. ‘We have to finalise this. What about next Monday? I’ll give you time to talk to your mother’.
Lou looked at her phone ‘Hmm, not really, Monday’s my day for quality time with my friend. We have coffee, go shopping - that sort of thing.’ Lou started to tell her visitor that Angie always came with her to the hospital, but the woman cut in
            ‘All right, Tuesday.’
            Lou shook her head. ‘Absolutely IM.POS.SIBLE. That’s my day for me time.  I get up late, chill, do my nails.’ This was Lou’s favourite day of the week. She didn’t get dressed all day and had a pizza delivery. ‘I ‘spose I could ring mum then, but she might be at yoga or something. She’s always too busy for me.’
            The visitor sighed, wondering why Lou hadn’t answered her mother’s call just a few minutes earlier, but she had a busy day ahead and needed to move on. Lou had to stop going on about wasting time, making up time, losing time and how much time was worth. None of it made any sense to the smart woman on the sofa.  ‘So, it’ll have to be Wednesday,’ she said, trying to keep the irritation out of her voice.
‘That’s possible,’ Lou hesitated ‘but I keep Wednesdays for catching-up time. Doing stuff I can’t fit in during the rest of the week.’
            The visitor wanted to ask about the difference between me time and catching-up time. But the possibility of a coherent answer seemed remote, so to hide her exasperation she looked at her bag, a black Gucci, smart and timeless just like its owner. ‘Well Thursday then.’
          'Deffo not’ Lou was adamant. ‘That’s my day for exercise time. I’m going to the gym, my consultant told me to exercise’. The visitor’s eyes flickered towards her handbag.
Last chance to choose then Lou. Friday? And make sure you’ve made time to talk to your mother by then.’ She stressed the words ‘made time’, but Lou didn’t notice.
          Lou shook her head. ‘Gotta get ready for Saturday.’
          She didn’t see the visitor open the elegant bag and take out an exquisite pair of golden scissors. Lou was vaguely aware of the visitor reaching above her head and with the scissors snipping her life line, the shining thread extinguished in a nanosecond.
         Lou’s phone jangled, breaking the silence in the room. The visitor felt no sense of either triumph or sadness as she carefully replaced the scissors in her bag. The phone rang on. She walked soundlessly across the laminate floor. Death had many more people to visit; life time was all they had. She consulted her list. The next one was barely two hours old; that appointment shouldn’t take too long.

 About the author

This story was published in 2019 in my collection Enjoying the Ride. To date I have raised £500 for Versus Arthritis (formerly Arthritis Research UK and Arthritis Care) through the sale of this book. If anyone would like a copy for £5 (plus £2 p and p UK) please email me penny49 at uwclub dot net.

Saturday, 4 July 2020

Rotten Day

by Allison Symes

raspberry tea

The fairy godmother trashed her wand. It was the only thing to do.

It had been a bloody rotten day. None of her spells had worked properly. She’d only just stopped the cars in the village crashing when one of her charms had sped each of these new-fangled contraptions towards the nearest walls for reasons unknown to her.

She’d carried out the standard checks on her wand. No faults showing. Nor could she detect a curse on her (though she wouldn’t have been surprised if the car drivers had cursed her in that way humans had of thinking bad language would somehow make things better. They certainly had no impact on her).

The fairy godmother sighed and retrieved her wand. There was nothing for it.
If there was nothing wrong with the wand, she would have to take herself in for an MOT then!

About the author 

Allison Symes, who loves reading and writing quirky fiction, is published by Chapeltown Books, Cafelit, and Bridge House Publishing.  She is a member of the Society of Authors and Association of Christian Writers.  Her website is at
She blogs for Chandler’s Ford Today often on topics of interest to writers -
Find Alison on Amazon here.

Friday, 3 July 2020

Four Days in June

by Penny Rogers

flasks of mead

Robin Goodfellow       Hospital radio announcer
Lisa                              Nurse
Tania                           WAG, currently married to Ron King
Nick Weaver                Hospital porter
Ron King                     Premier League Footballer



Robin G.          Good afternoon everyone. This is Silky Smooth Radio, your private radio station broadcasting exclusively to the Top Drawer Clinic, here in the heart of London’s Mayfair. Please send ME, Robin Goodfellow, your requests. Your name will never be disclosed on air if you want complete privacy. So now, for ‘ Donna’ in the eating disorders unit here’s the song you asked for …. PLAYS COURAGE BY SUPERCHICK. FADES

Lisa                  Wake up now Tania. It’s all done. You’ll be fine. You can open your eyes when you’re ready.

Tania               I can’t. They hurt.  I need pain killers. Now. Lots of them.

Lisa                  You’ve had some; the soreness’ll soon go off. There’s already been a phone call to ask how you are. Someone called Ron King.

Tania               He’s my husband. The treatment is my birthday present.

Lisa                  Hope you don’t mind me asking, but is he THE Ron King?

Tania               Yes he is. THE Ron King. Striker for the most successful football team in the premier league. I ‘spose you want his autograph. I’ve got some signed ones in my bag.

Lisa                  Nah. Thanks for offering but we support West Ham. Come on now Tania, here’s Nick to take you upstairs. Open your eyes.

Tania.              Wow Nick, you’re really something!

Nick                 Excuse me?

Tania               You are so cool, and I love your hair. Where have you been all my life? Did she say your name’s Nick? Ooohh yes, I can see your badge. Nick Weaver. I love you Nick Weaver.


Nick                 Here, steady on. You can’t be seeing right.

Tania               Ooohhhh, you are funny. Is there a Mrs Nick, or do I have a chance? I’ve got a lot of money and I’d be very discreet. Mind you if one of the celebrity mags got hold of a picture of you.Wow! You wouldn’t be a porter in this clinic for five minutes. We’d be chased by the paps all over the world.

Nick                 What are you on about? Are you mad? I’ve got three kiddies and their Mum’d kill me if I got up to any funny business. And as for this job, it’s the best thing I’ve had since I came out of the army.

Tania               Oh Nick, there’s no need for your wife, or anybody, to know. It would be our wonderful secret romance. I do love you. Hold my hand, just for a minute. I don’t feel very well.

Nick                 More than my job’s worth. You’re still recovering from an operation, your judgement’s clouded. Here’s your room. Lisa’ll look after you.

Tania               Who is that gorgeous man?

Lisa                  He’s a porter. I think he’s called Nick. Wouldn’t say he’s gorgeous though, a bit chubby for me – and I like men with a bit more hair than he has!

Tania               I’ve gotta have some of that! As soon as I can get up I’ll go and find him. Can you make sure I’m not disturbed?

Lisa                  I’ll put a note on your door. Is it OK if your husband visits?

Tania               Ron? No it is not OK. I don’t want to see him ever again. If he rings tell him I’m asleep, and if he visits tell him I’m throwing-up. That’ll keep him away.

Lisa                  If you’re sure….

Tania               Yes, I am. Just leave me alone now.

Tania               I’ve got to get Nick back here as soon as possible. That man is so tasty. P’raps I’ll have a sleep, then think what to do.

Tania               I’ve got it! FX SOUNDS OF PHONE BEING PICKED UP AND DIALLED. Hello. Is that the porter’s lodge? Can I speak to Nick please? He’s not there? Can you ask him to come to Room A19? He left something here. Thanks.
Spa treatments for his wife will keep her out of the way…and some premier league tickets for him. Perfect.

Ron                  Tania, can I come in?

Tania               No you can’t. I feel sick.

Ron                  I’ll come back in half an hour


Ron                  I’ll get the nurse FX SOUNDS OF MAN WALKING AWAY

Lisa                  FX OPENS DOOR. What’s the matter now?

Tania               Where’s Nick?

Lisa                  I don’t know, and you can’t see him. He’s got a job to do and it doesn’t involve talking to you.

Tania               Who said anything about talking? Look. Find him and I’ll give you tickets for any West End show you want.

Lisa                  Not possible. Get some sleep.


Lisa                  Excuse me, are you Ron King?

Ron                  Yes, I am. I ‘spose you want a selfie. Come closer babe.

Lisa                  Get your hands off me! No I don’t want a selfie. Sorry, that sounds rude. It’s just that I’m worried about Tania.

Ron                  Well get the Doctors to sort it. I’m paying enough for the treatment, and the stay in this frickin’clinic.

Lisa                  I don’t think they can do anything. The operation went really well, she’s fine…..but she doesn’t seem to be seeing the same things that the rest of us see.

Ron                  You aren’t makin’ sense. Tell the Doctors.

Lisa                  What treatment did she have exactly?

Ron                  Eye rejuvenation using some expensive stuff from South America. Cost a fortune. Only agreed to pay for it to stop her going on about me being photographed with that X Factor winner.

Lisa                  You might need to find out about side effects. Try Google.

Ron                  Still think the Doctors ought to sort it out. I’ll come back tomorrow.


Tania               It’s twenty-four hours since my operation. I’m fine now. I’m so glad you’ve come to see me. Get into bed with me. There’s no one here. No one’ll know.

Nick                 You’re mad. I can’t do that, I’d lose me job and Fran’d kill me. What do you want? The office said you had something of mine.

Tania               You have my heart.

Nick                 Rubbish. I’m off…..

Tania               No wait. Here are some vouchers for your wife. Fran is it? Funny name, but there you go. Vouchers for the best Spa in London. As many treatments as she wants.

Nick                 Why’re you doing this?

Tania               Because I love you.

Nick                 You’re mad, but I don’t suppose a quick cuddle would hurt.


Ron                  Get your filthy hands off my wife. You’ll lose your job; I’ll break every bone in your body. You freak.

Nick                 I never touched her!

Ron                  And as for you Tania, you’re nothing more than a slapper. You can pack your bags and look for consolation in the National League.


Lisa                  What is going on?

Ron                  I found this creep in bed with my wife.

Tania               He’s not a creep. I love him. He’s hot. I’ll never look at another man now I’ve found Nick.

Nick                 I’m not in bed with her. I didn’t do anything. Honest. She kept comin’ on to me. You gotta believe me. I didn’t really touch her, she’s not my type. A bit thin for me, I like something to get hold of…..

Lisa                  …….leave it Nick. Get back to work. Now go. Now! FX NICK RAPIDLY LEAVES ROOM 
Ron, you’ve gotta sort this out before there’s even more trouble than there is now. Find out something about this eye stuff.

Ron                  OK, I’ll get my PA onto it.  FX MAKING A CALL ON HIS MOBILE
Pixie, stop whatever you’re doing. I don’t CARE if you’re planning a photoshoot for OK!.  I don’t CARE if you’ve got The One Show on the other line. Listen to me. Get a flight to Bogata NOW. Talk to those people I got the eye stuff from. Here must be some sort of antiodote. FX ARGUING VOICE ON THE PHONE. I told you Pixie, GET IT. I don’t care about the cost, I don’t care about the danger. SORT IT OUT. No you can’t resign, you know why…… and I’ll make this worth your while……please Pixie. Thanks, you’re a doll, I’ll see you right for doing this. Yeah that’s right, go like an arrow from a bow if you think that’s quick, but take as much cash as you can with you. Notes talk over there.
There you are nurse. Nothin’ else I can do for now. Make sure you keep that weird porter away from her; I’ll make it worth your while.

Robin G.          Good afternoon from Silky Smooth Radio, broadcasting from the Top Drawer Clinic in the heart of London’s Mayfair. This is Robin Goodfellow apologising for being off-air for two whole days. This has never happened before, but then Silky Smooth Radio has never before been asked to help get vital medicine from South America. Well done all our contacts in Bogata. Let’s say a big ‘Thank You’ with Eyes Wide Open sung by Sabrina Carpenter. MUSIC PLAYS.

Lisa                  Wake up Tania. It’s all sorted now. You’ll be fine. Look at these lovely flowers from Ron. He brought them in earlier but you were asleep. He said he’ll be back this evening. That PA of his did an amazing job getting the medicine in just two days, just shows what money can do.

Tania               What flowers? Oh, those roses. Yes he always buys me red roses when I’m upset. I had such a strange dream! There was this really ugly man with a funny haircut and a beer belly. Ugh, gross. What do I look like? I hope this treatment has worked; I can’t afford to look old. If I do then no one’ll want me, the paps won’t chase me and I’ll lose all my celebrity endorsements. Do you know how much I’m worth? At least Ron’s not seeing that Lizi LaBonka any more, well he says he isn’t and there aren’t any rumours about it in Hello this week. When did he say he’d come to see me?

Lisa                  This evening, just as soon as he’s finished recording an interview for The One Show. He refused to do it live ‘cos he wanted to be here. He’s very romantic isn’t he?

Tania               ‘Spose so, at least he is as long as he gets his own way. I’m so glad he isn’t fat and ugly like that freak in the horrible dream I had.

Lisa                  ASIDE Hmmmm. If only you knew. TO TANIA Now, get some rest, then make yourself look lovely for when Ron arrives. I’ve got to go. A bottle of eye rejuvenation lotion has gone missing from the pharmacy.
             Heaven only know what’ll happen if it gets into the wrong hands!

Robin G.         This is Robin Goodfellow saying goodnight and sweet dreams from Silky Smooth Radio. To send you all to sleep on this midsummer’s night, and especially for Helena in the sleep disorder ward, here’s some music by Felix Mendelssohn.


Les Jardins de Cadiot

after long drought rain
refreshes the tired gardens
I slip on wet stones