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An anthology of short stories by M. B. Feeney
The world is filled with people destined to help and to serve. Doctors, nurses, police, and firefighters—each and every day, these special people work to help others in
times of need. Often, this means putting their own lives at risk in order to do their jobs. They give of themselves to benefit society, and they do it without any expectation of thanks.
And then there is the military…
These are the men and women who don’t head home to their families and safe homes to relax at the end of a shift. They are on the front lines, far from home and often fighting someone else’s battles because it is the right thing to do. Military families struggle to cope with the constant worry and the long periods of separation,
staying strong to support those who serve in everything they do, and often are left to pick up the pieces when the highest price is paid.
Servicemen and women are heroes in the purest sense of the word. Even when the world’s gone mad and their hearts are breaking, one thing remains unchanged.
19 August 2012
Pte Jonno Cooper
Hey Shit Face,
Jonno, my man! Got a wicked tan yet? Or is it one of those ‘White Van Man’ tans: face and below the t-shirt sleeves
only? I’m not ashamed to brag; I am golden brown, and it’s driving the ladies wild! Wild, I tell you! I think I may be getting pretty lucky this summer. Don’t you just wish you were me? Well, more than usual.
In some ways, I wish we could switch places. Being a soldier was all I ever wanted to do, and my own body betrayed
me. We were supposed to do the Army thing together, but my bloody asthma soon put a stop to that. That doesn’t mean I’m not proud of you, ‘cause I am, more than I’ve ever been proud of anyone. Well, let’s face it; no-one’s ever given me reason to be. I guess that’s one of the reasons I wanted to sign up. I wanted people to be proud of me for once.
Crap! Hels warned me that writing this letter would be like going to see a shrink. She told me that now you aren’t
around to take the piss, it makes it easier to write the words. I swear, if you take the piss when you get back, I will rearrange your face for you. It’s not that I’m ashamed to be writing what I just did, I would just rather you didn’t use it as ammo against me when we’re out on the lash, mate.
Speaking of being out on the town, a bunch of us, including Stace, were in Leicester Square for Jim’s birthday. The
lads decided that he needed to go on a ‘pull a pig’ night to see how many mingers he could cop off with. He managed to pull some right howlers, but then he met Emily. He sat with her all night ignoring the rest of us. They’ve been
inseparable for the last three weeks. I must admit, I felt like an utter shit after joining in with the lads. I met her yesterday, and she’s alright. I don’t know how she puts up with him, but to each their own, I guess.
I assume Stacey told you about Suzi’s birthday being a total wash out. I felt sorry for her; she’d been planning it for ages. Why she wanted a garden party is beyond me, but it was her day, I guess. Shame the heavens opened the night before and carried on for three days straight. We ended up down the pub. I’ve never seen that girl so drunk in my
life. Stacey had to sit up with her all night in case she threw up in her sleep. She’s a good ‘un, your missus. I promise she’s doing okay, mate.
We were all worried about her at first but your letters are really helping her and she’s been spending a lot of time with Suzi, too. As much as the girl bugs me—no, not ‘cause we shagged that one time—she’s been a good friend for Stace.
It’s too quiet without you, you loudmouth toerag. I’m still struggling to get used to not calling you when I see something funny, or you not being with us on a night out. I’m so used to having you backing me and my mouth up, that I’m getting myself into a bit of trouble. You need get your arse home so you can start talking me out of shit again because I refuse to think before I speak. It’s just not my style.
Hurry back. We need to go drinking.
Love you, mate, Billy.
Disheartened about not being able to find “Mr. Right” on the London dating scene, best friends Jodie Lynch and Louise Hewson create a blog to not only document their disastrous dates with the numerous “Mr. Wrongs” and “Mr. Okay-for-nows” but also to help those going through the same experiences and to see where they’re going wrong.
How will they deal with everything the dating scene has to throw at them — planned or otherwise?
Me: *looks at his sticker* “Hi, John.”
John: *mumbles* “Hi.”
M: “So, tell me about yourself . . .”
J: “Um . . . I’m thirty, I work in the city . . .” *takes nervous sip from his bottle of poncy beer*
M: “That’s . . . er . . . nice.” *gulp* “So, you live local?”
J: “Not too far. Me and mum co-own a house about ten minutes away.” *alarm bells*
M: “Oh . . . that’s great.”
J: “Er . . . so, what do you do for a living?”
M: “I’m a legal secretary.” *tumbleweeds*
At this point I’d given up the will to live and knocked back almost a whole large glass of wine. We sat in silence until the bell rang again.
There’s something about that one person we date in our teens but never become intimate with. Why does a sexless relationship render us unable to stop carrying that person, the what if, with us into our adult life?
For Heidi Johnson, Shane Hughes is her “one that got away.” Through the years, he has stayed in the back of her mind while she became an adult, a mother, and her own person.
Meanwhile, Shane has lived a life of regret that he let Heidi go for the wrong reasons: fear and a misguided sense of not wanting to hurt either of them. When they reconnect online, the memories they’ve tried to suppress over the years return, reigniting the feelings never explored ‘back in the day.’ Will a school reunion
in their home town of London, surrounded by old school friends, help the pair address the questions the years apart left unanswered? Or will they still be left with wanting more?
I scrambled to get my thoughts straight, wishing I’d thought this meeting through better.
“Sorry.” I apologised again, bringing a small smile to her face. “I thought I had what I wanted to say clear in my mind, but the moment you walked in, it all went to shit.”
“Don’t worry about it. This is your rodeo, take your time.” I glanced at my phone. There was still a decent amount of time to catch my train.
“Thanks.” I took another deep breath to steady my nerves. “I know we spoke last night, after. . .” I trailed off, not sure how to phrase my words.
“We had a rampant fuck in a dark alley?” Heidi supplied, making me laugh.
“If you want to put it that way, fine by me.” My face began to ache from my grin, but I didn’t care. I was finally at ease and knew what I wanted to say and how to say it. “I wanted you to know that I didn’t turn up just looking to get in your knickers last night. I know I’ve flirted, some of it got pretty hardcore, but I never expected anything.”
“Look, Shane. Yeah, the flirting online got pretty intense, but if I hadn’t wanted it to continue, you know me well enough to know I’d have put a stop to it. I did go to the reunion with a purpose. I wanted to remind you exactly what you’d let go. It makes me sound big-headed and full of myself, but it made me feel good. Like you, I never even considered for one moment that we’d end up in that alley, but we did.” She paused to take a sip of her coffee.
I watched her intently, blown away by her frankness. This woman never ceased to amaze me, or make me regret my rash decision fifteen years prior.
“As I said last night, it shouldn’t have happened, but I won’t regret it. It made us both feel fantastic, and if need be, has given us some closure.” Did I want closure? I’d told her last night that I left wanted to know how it would feel to make love to her and I hadn’t lied. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I must have thought that us having sex would, as Heidi mentioned, give us a closure on our unresolved history, but it hadn’t.
“It hasn’t for me.” I had promised myself to be open and honest with her before we parted ways once again. She maintained eye contact even though her skin was flushed with a blush that spread from her throat to her cheeks.
Ava Jones has settled for a life that she’s not sure she wants anymore, but won’t admit it. Her best friend, Erica Davidson talks her into taking a break on the Isle of Wight. Her days on the island are spent thinking things through, and arguing with Morgan
whom she hates on principal.
Is it so wrong for her to want a life that follows the script of a honest to God romance film?
We tried for a couple of years to have children, but it never happened. After many serious discussions, we decided to give up on the idea altogether. That was when we bought our first fur baby: a beautiful Collie cross called Rhea. She was our little girl, and we both doted on her. We assuaged our guilt over our mutual neglect by caring for Rhea, devoting our attention to another living being rather than to each other. The puppies, Remus and Romulus, soon joined her, and our “family” was complete.
For as long as I’d known him, Marcus had played Sunday League football, which was followed by an afternoon with his teammates at the very pub I was now approaching. Coupled with training one evening a week, his evenings out gave me more than enough time to spend with Erica or at home with the dogs.
“Have you thought any more about that holiday I mentioned?” Erica asked while we claimed our usual table. Our customary bottle of red wine was already ready and waiting for us.
“I have . . .” My words drifted away when I thought back to her idea of a girlie getaway on the Isle of Wight. Just as its name suggested, the top-class Lakeside Hotel with attached spa was located right next to a beautiful lake. Bliss.
“And? Why the hesitation?” Erica pushed like she always did, her blue eyes flashing once more as she looked into my brown ones.
The idea of a real getaway caused the blonde hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, but I tried to rein my excitement in. “I don’t know. It sounds amazing, and Lord knows I could do with some time away.”
“Do it, then.” I knew I had enough holiday time available at work. Screw it.
“Let’s do it.”
About M.B. Fenney
M. B. Feeney is an army brat who finally settled down in Birmingham, UK with her other half, two kids and a dog. Currently at university studying for her BA (Hons) in primary teaching, she procrastinates on her assignments by listening to music of all genres and trying to get ‘just one more paragraph’ written on whichever WIP is open. She is also a serious doodler and chocoholic. Writing has been her one true love ever since she could spell, and publishing is the final culmination of her hard work and ambition.
Her publishing career began with two novellas, and she currently has multiple projects under way whilst Honour, a compilation of her own military based shorts, was released in November 2013. Always having something on the go can often lead to block which eventually gets dissolved by good music and an even better book.
Her main reason for writing is to not only give her readers enjoyment, but also to create a story and characters that stay with readers long after the book is finished, and possibly make someone stop and think “what if…”
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