Beginning writing in 2017 on her return to Northern Ireland from living in France , Mary Farrell is the Facilitator of two Creative Writing groups in Northern Ireland and presents regular Courses for the North Coast Writing Group. She has had both prose and Poetry published. Highly Commended in the Bangor Journal Poetry competition in 2018, she was also published in the 2019 CAP Poetry Anthology ‘Find’, Also that year she had two short stories aired on BBC Ulster Radio on the programme ‘Time of our Lives’ and was interviewed on the programme about her Creative Writing. In 2018/19 she presented her own stories twice on the Tenx9 stage. In 2020 she was the winner of the Lurig Drama Short Story Competition, had a Flash Fiction piece published by ‘Flash Fiction Online’ in America and two pieces in ‘Pendemic’. To date in 2021, she has had a Flash Fiction piece accepted for publication in June by ‘Sledgehammer’ magazine.
She is putting the finishing touches to a Trilogy of 60 Short Stories- 20 stories each in three different backgrounds which vary in their historical and geographical settings.
The Cracking of the Mirror
‘Wunderkind’ the press had called him. How the paparazzi would love to see him now! He imagined the tabloid front pages. Hiding in a booth in a side-street eatery! He’d ignored his sixth sense jangling lately. Now after just a few short phone calls….. !
His meteoric rise had made headlines in the financial world. With an instinctive nose for over-extended companies about to crash, he’d buy them for a song, break them up and off-load the smaller units at great financial gain. The moniker no-one used to his face was ‘The Spare Parts Dealer’. His business team was nicknamed ‘The Foxhounds’, eager as they were for both the hunt and the kill.
His personal life too had had a successful upward curve. From a Council Estate in Barnsley, a scholarship to Oxford had smoothed out his accent. Marrying Louise, the granddaughter of an Earl, a month after his graduation, brought him connections with both the Tory Party and the English Peerage. The Company he soon founded was sleekly promoted by her brother’s PR firm. Moving up through the labels of millionaire, multi- and then billionaire, an amicable divorce re-allocated his assets and their three children to everyone’s satisfaction. Louise got the children and Cotswold estate and he the South Bank penthouse.
Oiled by his annual profits, his years passed comfortably. Saint Moritz in January, Rio at Easter, his Bahamian holiday home in August, and Australia each November for the Melbourne Cup formed the backdrop to his very satisfying London life. He regularly featured in the media with this season’s mistress, each as beautiful and intelligent as the last. He had the usual entourage of housekeeper, cook, and personal trainer as well as Season tickets for all the appropriate events both cultural and sporting. His Private Accountant and Personal Secretary were as discreet as they were efficient. His life purred smoothly.
Until Monday morning. Only yesterday!
Arriving at the office, he was surprised to find Elaine’s desk unoccupied. His Personal Secretary had been there at 8.30 sharp every morning for the last fifteen years. Disconcerted he nonetheless began his day by ringing Charles, his Accountant, but was told that he too was not at work yet. How very curious! Speculation about this was interrupted by a call from his Chief Investments Banker. Why had he cancelled the monthly funding for the Coral Project? As he had done no such thing, he ordered the banker to his office immediately. A subsequent investigation revealed a long list of similarly cancelled payments. The funds for them all had, over the weekend, been diverted to a Cayman Island account.
The afternoon brought more bad news. Huge deficits appeared right across the wide band of his investments and bank accounts. The revelations continued long after business hours. After far too few hours sleep, he spent the morning with four different Bank Managers trying to quilt together a patchwork of borrowed funds to disguise the extent of his financial disarray.
Just before noon he phoned Louise. She would understand and help. She was indeed sympathetic but explained that all of her available assets were tied up in the various business ventures of their children. And there was certainly no point in approaching the children she went on to warn him. After all, he hadn’t helped them with any initial funding for their businesses when asked, giving them instead a lecture on self-sufficiency!
By mid-afternoon his pride could no longer stubbornly insist on ignoring that the disappearance of both Charles and Elaine yesterday had a related significance. As the skein further unravelled, it had become clear that his two most trusted employees -whom he also considered close friends!- had combined their knowledge to betray him. Charles had indeed been one of his best assets. No-one could even begin to follow the money trail, the tracks were so cleverly hidden. Over the weekend, they, and most of his money, had vanished without trace.
By close of business, he realised he’d barely eaten for two days. Booking a table at a down-market restaurant where he would be anonymous, he left a voicemail for Chrissie, his latest mistress, to meet him there. He left the office building by the back entrance. Maybe he was being paranoid but he could swear he saw some reporters in the Front Lobby. To be inconspicious he took a taxi to ‘Fusion’. Sliding into a back-booth, he ordered food, and a very good Chardonnay. He was in deep trouble, yes, but he could still turn this round. He knew he could!
He poured a glass for Chrissie. He needn’t have bothered. A short phone-call informed him that she would not be coming. Elaine had phoned her on Sunday night, hinting that she seek out another benefactor. A handsome Italian high-flyer in the City had been very welcoming last night when she’d moved from the apartment which he’d rented for her into Ernesto’s new townhouse in Chelsea. Yes, she and Elaine had become very close indeed over the last few months. He hadn’t known? He’d never asked!
He stared at the cooling food on his plate…thinking. When the phone rang again, he was tempted to ignore it, but a fatalistic curiosity took over. Yes, this was he. Whose office? Dr Fisher in Harley St? but he’d had his routine medical check last week for the Insurance Company. The full works – blood test, x-ray, even a sight and hearing test. The results? Sorry but he was too busy to attend to routine test results at the moment. What! Could you repeat that please?
As he put the phone down with a shaking hand, an unfamiliar sensation uncurled behind his eyes. Without warning, tears began to stream. When actual drops began to fall onto his place mat, he covered his eyes with a pristine Henry Poole linen handkerchief.
Even those born without a silver spoon but who fight hard to buy one, should never doubt the ability of the Fates to decide who keeps it!
You made no noise entering the cheap motel room.
You reaching the bed. They were oblivious.
The scar on his naked back moved rhythmically,
her red manicured fingernails curled in orgasm.
Not the sound a gun makes in films, you idly mused.
You see blood beginning to pool round your sturdy sandals.
He had to die…leaving you for that tramp!
Your father’s Army gun a useful legacy after all, you smirk.
No! You’re not sorry!
The pain in your side explodes.
As you crumple, one last angry thought.
‘Damn, that bitch had a gun too’.
The Cold Light of Day
A last-minute random whim, Jacob shoves the notebook in his pocket as he leaves the apartment. One of his Myriam’s distinctive diaries. Oh how he’d missed her this last year! Shuffling along the sidewalk, his arthritic hip complaining, he pulls his muffler tighter around his neck against the chill of a New York winter morning. At first he just glances at a few words as he walks, wanting to see her familiar handwriting again. So uniquely sloping you had to bring the page almost horizontal to your eyes to make sense of it. As words and phrases slam into his consciousness, his steps slow until he stops altogether.
The impact of what he is reading hits his knees. Barely reaching the next street bench, old fashioned metal with peeling paint, he slumps heavily down. He can’t go on to the shop now. His son Bernie would guess something was wrong. He is dizzy, feels weak, hands trembling, throat dry and tight. Could he be having a heart attack? The notebook only a third full, he feels compelled to finish reading it all. Now, in one go. Okay, he’ll be too late to open the shop, but Bernie would be there soon with his own set of keys.
Myriam had always written in notebooks even before they’d married. A familiar part of their life together, she writing away while he read the Torah Respecting her privacy, he’d never looked in the chest under the bed where the notebooks had piled up year after year under blankets. She didn’t know he knew they were there but hey, he knew everything about his Miriam. He didn’t need to look in them. They’d grown up together, families allied by race and religion. Their parents had decided they should marry at twenty, and he’d never regretted a minute of their forty-seven years together. He couldn’t have hoped for a better, more devout Jewish wife and mother for their three children.
Diagnosed with leukaemia, as expected she’d accepted it as God’s will. Had passed quietly and with grace, surrounded by their family in the apartment bedroom they’d shared for over forty years. Clearing out her things after the funeral, he’d been surprised to find the iron chest empty. He was even more surprised therefore, a year later, to find this rogue notebook, behind a box on a high dusty shelf. He’d been looking for an old scarf, thicker than his usual workday one. Instead he’d found this. From the dates, it was her last one, written in those declining weeks before a rogue embolism without warning had stopped her heart before the cancer could.
Short fast puffs of his breath mist in the icy air. A foot-numbing freeze from the icy sidewalk takes hold in as he reads. He’d not bothered putting on his over-shoes that day – it was only a short distance from the apartment to the shop. Hadn’t thought he would need them. But he also hadn’t thought that he would be sitting reading on a wintry street bench.
Words, phrases float out of the pages into the air above him. His mind strains to reach up and grab them, knit them into some alternative sort of sense. Isaac -his brothers name so often mentioned. The hardest punch comes from the words ‘Bernie looks so like Isaac’. He wants to stop turning the pages but can’t. Slow unheeded tears seep downward, some nestling in his wrinkled cheeks. Ignoring mounting pain, he reads on. A bite as cold as the sleet-filled New York sky above him clamps his soul, as he learns that the scaffolding of his entire life has been a sham, a fakery.
The Landlady Bird
“You’ve forgotten me” Mrs Faraday accuses on his arrival at the Pasadena Lorenzo Motel. She’s right! His last time there so much had been going on he has little recollection of the Motel manageress.
Now here she is in front of him, a sparrow of a female poking into his psyche to unlock doors firmly shut for eleven months. Quivering with unsated curiosity, her eyes are pecking, prising their way into his brain, his soul. How she thirsts to know every nuance, every detail… but there is really only one overriding fact.
Eloise Cortes is dead.
She had plunged from a third-floor balcony to lie spread-eagled poolside. A stain beneath her spread wine-dark on the shadowed tiles. He can hear Mrs Faraday thinking, “Did she fall or was she pushed?”
He deletes her thought, an instinct for self-preservation wiping his mental blackboard clean. As the returning Investigative Detective on a newly re-opened case, he has to be unemotional, have clear perspective. But even eleven months later his mind totally recoils from the scene, from the memory of her arm sliding out of his grasp as she flew.
He still loves Eloise so much!