Amazingly, not only are Eden Baylee and I still writing stories together but we’re still friends. If you’re a regular visitor, thanks for your stamina and support and, if you’re new to the stories and enjoy the idea, there are plenty more of them back to the beginning of 2021.

Prompt: He swore on his mother’s grave, but then he swore on just about everything.

Parts 1 and 3 BK
Parts 2 and 4 EB


When things started disappearing at work – iphones, laptops, invoices, – everyone knew that Bernard was involved in it somehow or other. He’d started as a junior clerk less than a year ago but he was so bad at lying that his reputation was soon fixed, and new disappearances were greeted with shrugs and renewed decisions not to trust him with anything of value or significance. He always protested his innocence, of course, and nothing was ever proved but there wasn’t much room for doubt. If anyone ever confronted him directly, even with the merest hint of an accusation, he pretended to be deeply hurt, denied all knowledge of it, swore on his mother’s grave, but then he swore on just about everything. And when Tommy Simpson said that, anyway, he knew Bernard’s mother had been cremated, Bernard made up some story about that not being his real mother and that he’d been adopted.

In the end, it was the Head of Personnel, Sally Hughes, who sorted it all out. Mind you, she had to. Either that or she herself would be fired because she – or someone – had ‘mislaid’ the files of two of the company’s best customers, including all their account details.


George Willows sat on the board, even after he’d stepped down as CEO. The tech company hired Bernard sans interview. That he was the former boss’s only son was supposed to be a secret, but someone talked. That’s how it goes when you pull in a salary for doing nothing. It pisses off the oldsters in the company. Still, despite a fat pay cheque, Bernard couldn’t satisfy his shopping addiction.

On the Friday before going on vacation, he sat in his cubicle and scrolled through Ebay. Those first few hours dragged until lunch time. How he loathed the mornings! He didn’t need anything, but as usual, he always found something that jumped out at him. And on this day, a set of headphones did just that.

Apple AirPods Max.

They looked sleek, came in different colours, and a pair (or two) would come in handy for his trip. Before he pressed the BUY button, he stood up and looked around the maze of the open concept office. All he saw were heads down, tapping on keyboards. He locked his screen and decided to take a walk. Why pay for the headphones if he might find them in the storage room?


The colleagues he passed at their various desks no longer even bothered to look up at him. Somebody somewhere would have to deal with him at some point, and it shouldn’t be any of them.

Unbeknown to Bernard, however, one pair of eyes were closely focused on him. Peering through the slats of the blind in Sally Hughes’s office window, George Willows watched his son weave his way through the desks. Thinking she had nothing to lose, Sally had dared to contact her ex-CEO to report the company’s plight and ask whether, given his close relationship with the principal suspect, he might be able to suggest a diplomatic solution to the problem which might be less injurious both to Bernard and the company’s professional standing.

As Bernard, at the door to the basement stairs, took a quick look around the serried desks, then opened it and disappeared, Willows Senior, without a word to Sally, left her office and wove his own way to the still open door.

Bernard was using his cell phone to light the various shelves and boxes through which he was searching so he was unaware that he had company until a voice from the darkness asked ‘Looking for something, Bernard?’


George flipped the switch and flooded the room in light.

Bernard swung around, his hand to his chest. “Dad! You scared the hell out of me!”

“What are you doing?”

“I … Mary asked me to find a stapler.”

“Cut the bullshit.” George stepped into the room and closed the door behind him.

“Dad, listen—”

“Don’t Dad me! As if your poor attitude wasn’t bad enough, now you’re a thief as well?”

Bernard shuffled his feet. “Is Sally accusing me? She’s never liked me!”

The older man locked eyes with his son. “At this moment, the police are going through your desk. Are they going to find something that shouldn’t be there?”

The blood drained from Bernard’s face. He’d meant to return the files — top clients with tons of money. He just wanted to snoop through them when he was bored, but then he’d neglected to return them to the cabinet, not to mention an iPad and several pairs of sunglasses as well.

“You’ll return everything you’ve stolen, or I’ll advise pressing charges. Is that clear?”

“Yes, Dad.” He hung his head.

George walked out without another word. Bernard followed.

No sign of any police.


The Reason for Turtles

A reminder (or, if you’re new to these stories, a quick introduction): Eden Baylee, in Canada, and I, in Scotland, first got to know one another when we contributed separately to Richard Wood’s Word Count Podcast, which involved recording what we’d written for sound broadcasting. After a few solo efforts, we decided to co-author some and, when Richard decided to move on to other things, we just kept on with the collaborations (but without the broadcast element). We’ve never met but we’ve got to know one another quite well and we’ve been publishing our joint efforts on our separate blogs since January 2021.

This week’s prompt is: My brother did this weird thing with turtles.

Parts 1 and 3 were written by Eden and parts 2 and 4 by me.


The Reason for Turtles

My brother did this weird thing with turtles. We didn’t grow up with pets because Mom was deathly afraid of dogs, which strangely translated to cats as well. Goldfish didn’t count, and turtles definitely weren’t pets. A dozen of the snappers came through our door every couple of months. Mom brought them home from work, always on a Friday. I remember because we couldn’t bathe the next day on account of all the turtles in the tub.

On Sunday, however, Mom’s friends would collect their turtles by no later than 3pm. She was doing them a favour by getting them, so she set the rules.

“I have other things to do,” she said. “Can’t be waiting around all day.”

One time, Mrs. Duke didn’t show up for her turtles until after supper. It threw off Mom’s schedule and she crossed Mrs. Duke off the list—both as a friend and for any more turtles from her.

As for my brother, he liked playing with them, holding their shells and pushing them along the water like Hot Wheels cars. “Vroom, vroom!” he’d say.

Eventually, they all met the same fate, in a pot of boiling water, swimming with onions and carrots.


This didn’t seem to bother Benny. When it was a turtle month, he’d get all excited, select a favorite, then, pre-race, spend ages in the bathroom training it. At least, that’s what he said he was doing, although since he was the one doing the pushing, I didn’t understand what sort of training the poor little turtle needed to do. Mom didn’t mind him doing it. What she did mind was that each time he chose a favorite, he gave it a name – the same one every time, Sheldon. He just put a number after it so they were Sheldon 1, Sheldon 2, and so on. Mom didn’t like it because Sheldon Duke was Mrs Duke’s husband before they got divorced. That was what caused the argument.

One week (we were on Sheldon 17), Mom made Benny show her which one he’d chosen as favorite. She marked its shell with a little cross and, that same evening, for supper, she made what she called Snapper 17 soup. Benny jumped up from the table, ran up to the bathroom and came back almost at once. He was crying.

‘Why did you do that?’ he shouted.

‘He looked like Sheldon Duke,’ said Mom.


Up until that point, I had no reason to think Mom had any issues with Sheldon Duke. I always thought Mrs. Duke was the problem. She had a snooty air about her even though she was poor just like us, and of course there was that one time she came late to pick up her turtles. It surprised me that Mom cut her out of her life so abruptly, but she could be harsh that way. She once grounded me for leaving the front door unlocked after coming home from school. Ever since Dad died, things seemed to tick her off more easily. I could ignore her short temper, but Benny was more sensitive than me. He didn’t understand Mom’s mood swings, and every little thing made him cry. Mom couldn’t deal with it, so it was left to me to comfort him.

“Sheldon 17 was my favourite of them,” he said that night as I tucked him in bed.

“I’m sorry Ben, but you know Mom cooks all of them sooner or later.”

“Why can’t she let me keep one? That’s all I want, just one!”

I wiped the tears from his face and wondered the same thing myself.


In the end, it was Jennifer who gave us the answer. Sort of, anyway. She’s my best friend at school and when I told her about Benny and his Sheldons, she just said, ‘No, turtles are good for people, bring them together’.

She says that sort of thing all the time. Scares me a bit when she talks about the Tai Chi and stuff her Aunt Margaret does. Goes all mysterious and says it’s about spirits and peace and things. I don’t understand any of it but she’s a good friend. Anyway, when she said that about turtles, I asked her how they were good for us. She got all excited and said ‘They’ve got protein, calcium, vitamins, phosphorous, zinc – loads of stuff we need.’

It didn’t seem to me to have much to do with pushing them about in a bath but when I got home I told Benny what she’d said. It really cheered him up.

‘So it’s OK for us to eat them then?’ he said.

‘Yes, it’s what they’re for. And Jennifer’s auntie says they bring us peace of mind.’

Benny laughed. ‘Right,’ he said, ‘not a bit like Sheldon and Mrs Duke then?’

That made him happy.




As with most (probably all) aspects of this collaboration, apart from respecting the word count, Eden Baylee and I make no decisions in advance about genre, style, moral, physical or other story elements, or such things as whether the narrator or principal characters should be male or female. Everything springs from the prompt and however the one who’s writing the first part decides to start it all off.

The prompt this time is: My only defense was to write down every word they said.

It was my turn to write parts 1 and 3 and Eden’s to write 2 and 4.




It’s funny how men keep on getting away with things but women find it much more difficult. Well, funny isn’t the word, is it? Sometimes it’s a very long way from funny.

It seems to start quite early. Maybe it’s just built in to the way everybody thinks. I remember at primary school – and even on into secondary, come to think of it – that the little boy gangs which formed – just 3, 4, 5 friends – were sort of normal, but we girls just had one, maybe two friends, but never enough to be a gang. It’s a sort of pattern that persists even when they grow up. Men have got their golf clubs, darts matches, meet up in pubs before going to the football – regular, normal activities – while we’re fetching the kids from school, maybe chatting a bit while waiting for them at the gates, but then taking them home, not prolonging the chats or anything. The chats are just a filler really.

But for the boys and men, it definitely helps them to get away with things. There’s always one of the gang to back up what they say, even if they weren’t around when whatever it was happened.


For the most part, being born female is a disadvantage in life. Being female and a visible minority only adds to the challenge. The best thing I have going for me is an unwavering belief in my own self-worth. And that, my grandma taught me, just by living her life until the ripe old age of 95.

“If you live long enough, people can’t help but respect you even if they hate you,” she said.

Grandma had a way with words, and she taught me to value the power of them. Used judiciously, they cut deeper than a knife, she said. Conversely, when words are not considered before speaking, expect to be disappointed.

She could fill volumes with all her wise sayings. There are days I regret not writing them down when she said them. Every so often, I remember one of her gems and jot it in a notebook. I have a memory box of Grandma’s things: pictures of me with her as a child; jewelry she wore and gave me; and my favourite possession—a lock of her hair, tied at each end with a red ribbon.

She gave it to me just before she passed away.


Obviously, I remember that day well, and not just because of the sadness. It was like a light going out – in the room, but in my head, too. I’d rushed home from school to see her because of Billy Chapman. He and his gang – Joey Murray, Kenny Holmes and the rest – were always the worst at teasing and being mean – not just to me but to all the girls in our class. We were doing English and the teacher put me, Jenny Beecham and Sally Jay on the same table as him to write a story about friendship. Right from the start Billy decided friendship meant boys, told us he and the gang would have the ideas and we’d just be secretaries. At first, my only defence was to write down every word they said. But I made tiny changes to some of them. Following Grandma’s advice,  I changed ‘friend’ and ‘pal’ to words like ‘associate’, ‘colleague’, ‘cohort’, ‘familiar’, ‘intimate’, and ‘bosom buddy’ so when Billy read them out to the teacher at the end, he couldn’t pronounce them properly and even thought words like bosom and intimate were rude. He had to stay behind while I ran home to Grandma.


I was a block away from home when I saw the ambulance pull out of our driveway. By the time I arrived at my house, I was out of breath. Tracy, my babysitter who lived next door, greeted me.

“Your grandmother fell and your mom’s gone to the hospital with her.”

I begged Tracy to let me go too, but of course she couldn’t. She was only a teenager.

That evening, my Dad took me. Grandma was asleep. Mom was nowhere to be found.

“Can I go in by myself?” I said to Dad.

“Are you sure?”


I sat on Grandma’s bed and held her hand. “Please don’t go,” I said.

She squeezed my fingers. Her eyes remained shut, her voice a whisper. “Smart girl, I can’t stay.”

“Please …” Tears welled under my eyes.

“Shhh … your mother cut a piece of my hair for you, so you can remember me.”

“I’ll always remember you, Grandma … and your words, and using words wisely.”

“Yes, even now, they’re all I have to give you.”

Save for a lock of hair, and her love of words which she passed on to me, Grandma left the world with a smile on her face.