Since we published the first story at the beginning of January last year, I think this probably qualifies Eden Baylee and me as being in the home stretch of a series which we’ve called the


Prompt: Your mother lied to you. That’s the truth.

Title and Parts 1 & 3 Eden

Parts 2 & 4 Bill

Given the disparity between our ages, the choice of a title gave rise to a very brief online discussion but we’re confident that enough of you will be familiar with the expression we’ve agreed on so this is…




Kathy said things in a direct manner, never minced words. She sat back in her chair and flicked her head of blonde curls before delivering the blow. “Your mother lied to you. That’s the truth.”

Mary fired back. “How do you know?”

“I was there when it happened.”

The room spun; Mary felt like she might faint. She gripped the table top to steady herself.

What was supposed to be a fun evening of catching up was turning into something ugly. The last time they saw one another was before Kathy left for Europe six months ago. As usual when her friend called, Mary dropped what she was doing to accommodate her. Her husband was rightfully annoyed she broke off movie night with him and the kids, but she’d make it up to them. With Kathy, she just never knew when she might get a chance to see her again.

Now, as the conversation turned to that dreaded day from her childhood, Mary wondered why they were even friends. “You are so mean spirited, you know that?”

Kathy took a sip and set down her martini glass. “I’m just being honest. God, Mary, it happened years ago. Get over it!”


The words were spoken with a wave of her hand as if they had no significance.  Mary gave a shake of her head. She’d always been semi-jealous of Kathy’s composure, her ability to take whatever came along and embrace it with passionless calm, but the careless, throwaway manner in which she was treating that long ago confrontation with her mother felt cruel, uncaring. Yes, Kathy had been there, witnessed it, been part of it, but this dismissal of it just seemed particularly spiteful.

“Get over it?” she echoed, just managing to suppress her anger. “It was you she was talking about as well, you know. You were wearing the same gear. ”

Kathy spread her arms and shrugged, as if to suggest that Mary was simply proving her point.

“Oh, come on, honey. It was nothing,” she said. “A mother disapproving of what her wee girlie and her friend were wearing to the school disco. How many million times a year d’you think that happens?”

Mary was silent for a while. When she did speak, her voice was low, her rage was under control.

“I’ve got my own ‘wee girlie’ now, Kathy. “And I’d die before I said anything like that to her.”


When Mary got in, her husband was putting away the dishes. Steve seemed surprised to see her.

“Kids asleep?” she said.

“Yep, finally … after reading them five stories!”

“You’re a pushover.”

She sat at the dining table and her husband joined her. He poured them both a glass of wine. “How’s Kathy and her fabulous life?”

“Why do you say it like that?”

Steve shrugged. “Because that’s Kathy, you always return with stories about her adventures, her love life, her next trip. Sometimes I wonder if you wished your life was more like hers.”

Her husband suddenly seemed more intuitive than she gave him credit for. “Interesting you should say that.”


“Because I don’t want Kathy’s life. As a matter of fact, I’m home early because I ended our friendship tonight.”

Steve cocked his head to one side. “No way.”

She nodded slowly, took several sips of water. “Yes, I finally got to see her for what she is.”

“And what’s that?”

“A narcissist,” she said without hesitation. “We’ve had nothing in common for years, so she brought up something from my past. It was stupid but hurtful. Not once did she ask me about how I’m doing now.”


Steve shook his head and turned away. Mary suspected he was smiling but she couldn’t be sure. He’d never understood the complexity of her childhood friendships, especially the one with Kathy.

“Kate still keeps asking why none of the people in the children’s stories ever go to the lavatory,” he said.

Mary laughed and, gradually, mutual recollections of their youngest’s obsession with excretory functions seemed to banish the memory of the Kathy incident.

In the end, Steve got up and,  saying he had an early start, gave Mary a peck on the cheek, took the empty glasses through to the kitchen and went up to bed.

Mary just sat and, in the silence, the residue of fury from her argument began to burn in her again.

At last, she stood up, put on her coat and drove, much faster than she should, back across town to Kathy’s flat.

She rang the bell. The door opened almost at once, as if Kathy had been waiting just inside it. No words were spoken. Mary stepped inside and let her coat fall from her shoulders. There were tears in their eyes as they hugged and kissed like the lovers they had always been.



It was my turn to choose a title and, unashamedly, I’ve stolen one from a once popular and still excellent novel/film by Kingsley Amis. I haven’t read it for a while and it’s probably badly dated but it seemed to fit the central character of our story. If you don’t like it, blame me.

It’s also piublished on Eden’s site here .

Today’s prompt: I was dressed in a completely inappropriate shade of pink.

Parts 1 and 3 BK
Parts 2 and 4 EB



Jim Bickford always seemed to be asking for trouble. Basically, he was just a harmless joker with no pause button – no instinct to check whether what he was about to say might be rude or offensive. Most of us at work had known him for a while and were used to it. He was good to have around, never let anything get too serious. Whenever some newcomer arrived, one of us would somehow prepare them for what to expect and they’d soon get used to him and, mostly, enjoy the jokes. It changed when Frank Dawson, a new deputy manager was appointed for the engineering section. He’d come from head office and was pretty obviously there to increase productivity or something. He also saw himself as a tough, hard-nosed, no-nonsense, macho individual who wouldn’t take any crap. Jim, as usual, was unfazed by any of this and, one morning, when he arrived half an hour late and Dawson stopped him at the gate, the excuse he offered was:

“Yeah, sorry Boss. Schedule’s all to cock. Party last night. When I got there, though, I realised I was dressed in a completely inappropriate shade of pink.  Had to go home and change.”


The story goes that Dawson had had enough of Jim long before that little incident. The two had butted heads before, but that exchange must’ve broken the proverbial camel’s back. Gossip and rumours only muddied the truth.

A security guard said he’d heard harsh words between them, that Dawson had threatened to kill Jim. Another worker in the building said he saw Jim crying in the parking lot that night. Someone else said he wasn’t just crying but bleeding as well. It was all hearsay as we never saw Jim again after that.

His desk must’ve been cleared sometime after hours because the next day, it was completely bare. His computer, the picture frames with his wife and kids in them, the line-up of bobble heads he collected for some strange reason—all gone.

A curious co-worker pulled open his desk drawers to check for file folders that might’ve been left behind. Nothing, not one piece of paper, not even a paper clip. All surfaces appeared to have been wiped clean. The only thing that lingered as we walked by Jim’s old cubicle was a faint smell of bleach.

It was as if Jim Bickford had mysteriously disappeared.


The whole thing happened when the company was going through a bit of a crisis so people’s attention was distracted. Jim’s closest friends worried about him but the pressure on everyone to find new markets, increase productivity and profits prevented anyone from looking more deeply into it. Besides, knowing Jim, it could easily be another of his tricks. He’d made it pretty clear that he had no time for Dawson (not to mention a few others on the Board) but Stewart Fraser had even said that Jim had broken down one night in the pub, been very close to tears and said the answer might be an overdose. But then he’d quickly laughed and said he was talking about an overdose of beer and it was Stewart’s round.

It was only when things began to stabilise and the sales charts started rising that Jim’s absence became a regular tea-room topic again. The suicide angle was dismissed pretty quickly and it was hard to imagine him being outsmarted by anybody, whatever their status. Most of Jim’s mates were convinced that he’d dreamed up some anti-Dawson scheme and were just waiting for the final touch that would surely lead to him getting the sack.


“Here you go,” Jim said. He handed a Mojito to his companion. “I asked for extra mint, just the way you like it.”

From under a wide-brimmed hat came a breathy voice, “Thanks, sweetheart.”

Jim took a seat on the adjacent lounger and they both stared out to sea, sipping their cocktails in comfortable silence. He couldn’t believe they’d pulled it off. The last couple of years had been the most joyous and the most difficult of his life. He never intended to hurt anyone, nor leave his wife and kids, but he couldn’t keep up the pretence of a happy man anymore—not after he’d found his true love.

The idea for him to vanish seemed ludicrous at first, but the more they talked about it, the more they realized it was the only solution. At work, they kept up the charade, openly showing disdain for one another. Secretly, however, they planned their escape. After Jim disappeared, the workplace gossip persisted for months, but it did eventually stop.

The company’s Philippines division created a senior executive role, and Frank took the job. The position was perfect for him. He was single, mobile, and most importantly—Jim was there.








Moral Bankruptcy

At present, especially in the UK, there are so many things that illustrate the ubiquitousness of the condition identified in our title that potential readers may already be deciding ‘I don’t want to read any more of this stuff’. But be reassured, it has nothing to do with politics, although there does seem to be a predilection for immoral behavior at so many levels even outside the corridors of power. But all we want to do is entertain you by dabbling in 800 words of mild moral mayhem.

Today’s prompt is: There she was, Amy Gerstein, over by the pool kissing my father.

Parts 1 and 3 are by Eden, 2 and 4 by me.


Moral Bankruptcy

Amy came into my life at the start of the year, and her expensive tastes have put a dent in my finances. I’ve almost maxed out all my credit cards, and my bank account’s in perpetual overdraft. She’s worth it though, so much so I even tell Mom I’m considering monogamy for the first time.

“She brings out the protector in me,” I say, “and she’s gorgeous and charming. Who can resist that?”

“Obviously not you!” Mom’s excitement comes through the speaker phone a bit too loudly. I turn down the volume and agree with her. “When are we meeting this young lady?” she says.

“She’s planning a first-class trip to Belize after I finish my PhD, so maybe sometime after we get back?”

“First class?” Now Mom sounds concerned. “Is she paying?”

“Of course not. I wouldn’t let her if she wanted to.”

“You don’t have that kind of money, James.”

“I know … but I’ve got several contracts lined up. I’m sure I can swing it.”

A pause sucks the energy from the conversation, but then Mom says: “Your dad’s friend has a timeshare at a five-star resort in Belize. Maybe you and Amy might consider it.”


What a bombshell! I hesitated a bit, then, trying to keep any excitement out of my tone, asked, “Which friend’s that? I didn’t realize Dad was so well-connected.”

“George Duncan. They’re both in that bridge club, or whatever it is. He’s a fund manager or something.”

“Ah yes, I remember. Thanks. I’ll maybe check with Dad. Is he there?”

Mom’s answer is short, her displeasure badly concealed. “No. Lord knows where he is. His dinner’s going to be cold.”

I should have tried my usual snide remark about Dad’s forgetfulness. It always made her giggle, but the idea of lounging in a plush Belize timeshare didn’t leave much room for thinking about others, not even long-suffering Mom. Instead, all I offered was, “OK, I’ll try his mobile. Remind him to check the time, eh? Love you. Bye,” and closed my phone.

When I got back to the flat, Amy was in the bathroom, wearing only her dressing gown and singing over the loud whirring of the washing machine.

“Good news,” I said, trying – unsuccessfully, as usual – to appear nonchalant.

She just looked at me.

“I think I may have got us a 5-star timeshare in Belize.”

Her dressing gown fell to the floor.


The nominal fee for the timeshare came as a huge relief, but Amy thought differently. She must’ve viewed it as an opportunity to spend elsewhere.

“This bikini on me will make you the envy of the resort!” She sat in bed with her laptop, scrolling through an online shopping site.

I tried to reassure her. “You could wear a burlap sack and I’d be the envy of the resort.” In the end, I couldn’t curb her shopping. Her big doe eyes hypnotized me into handing over my credit card for her latest whimsical purchase.

The morning after arriving in Belize, Amy seemed distracted. Her main interest was in exploring the grounds, and not necessarily with me.

“James, I want to take advantage of every minute.” She applied lipstick and spritzed perfume on her neck.

I pulled myself up in bed in a daze. “Where are you going? It’s not even eight o’clock.” Before I could gather my thoughts, she was gone. I fell back to sleep and got up an hour later. While headed to breakfast, I expected to see my girlfriend in the dining room, but instead, there she was, Amy Gerstein, over by the pool kissing my father.


Apart from being too shocked to say anything sensible, the fact that it wasn’t only my girl but my bloody father stopped me going over to them. I had no idea which one to complain to. So I went straight to the communal breakfast room. It was full of couples, mostly older, but right at the end, next to the serving hatch, was a long table around which sat a bunch of noisy, middle-aged men. The mood I was in made me want to go across and tell them to shut up but the waitress came to take my order.

“Noisy buggers,” I said to her.

She nodded and said, “This is your first time here, isn’t it?”

“Yes. Why d’you ask?”

“You get used to it. They’re regulars. Some sort of club. Most of them have got chalets here.”

I thought of making some poor you type of remark but stopped when the door opened and Dad walked in. He went straight to the noisy table, pulled back a chair, flopped down into it and shouted, “Your turn, George”.

I recognized the fat, bald bloke who got up and headed quickly for the door. It was George Duncan.