The old woman was lying on the park bench underneath layers of musty old coats, pink v-sweaters (four) and thermal underwear, not only yellowed but stained. It was hard to discern if she was skinny beneath all that or fat as her head was covered with a stripey blue and yellow scarf so only two black eyes were visible when we shook her awake.

She didn't show any emotion or even interest when she viewed the photograph. Her family were waiting in the car, giving her some time and space to take in they had been looking for her all...

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Thank God the image was blurred thought Johnston looking over his daughter's shoulder. She had accidentally found his photo folder, the one he thought had been deleted.

'Daddy, who's that lady?'

'No one sweetie.'

He clicked away and back onto the screen with the cartoons ignoring Joanna's 'but Daddy..........' and turning up the sound. Soon everything was forgotten and she was begging her dad to be allowed to see 'just one more' before bedtime, even though he'd already agreed it was way past her bedtime ten minutes ago.

After she was finally tucked up in bed and gently snoring (sinus...

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I jumped accepting this spell might not work but at least I had to try.

The Green Man had been appearing in my dreams for two consecutive weeks, trying to show me through weird symbols and events that my Grandmother's life was in danger from the property developers intent on buying up the back portion of her enormous garden. The woodland area. Wanting to build a private road to their new homes constructed on the McKenzie land.

They tried buying for a nominal fee, then upped the price. But now they were running out of time and didn't care what...

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She cradled the faun's head and he went to sleep.

I had read the final line of the bedtime story about a thousand times, well that is what it felt like and each time Suzie reacted as though it was the first. It made me wonder about the magic words from the authors of these kinds of stories. Did they have any idea just how powerful they were? To instill such feelings in the children listening they could hear the same story over and over yet always hear something else?

Often when my eyes were too tired to read, I...

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The woman at the window was dead. I knew because it was my sister. She appeared whenever we left the house. We no longer looked around up at the top floor to see the dark shape behind the thin lace curtain. We had seen her too many times before, her wretched, contorted face imprinted on our minds.

Martha died in a house fire seven years ago. Accident after she left a burning candle on her bedside cabinet overnight. It tipped over as her blankets were thrown back during a nightmare. Dad couldn't reach her in time as the room had...

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1943. The year of my birth. To a very young mother. Raped by a stranger. I spent forty years believing that Tom Morran was my real father. When I found out the truth (by accident) I had a breakdown which took me by total surprise as I had always been an unemotional, logical man. Cold, is what my wife called me. A cold fish. No empathy, no sentiment or sympathy. Even when our youngest was miscarried after a car accident I didn't shed a tear.

Divorce was not something my wife contemplated after her short stay in hospital but I...

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Absent. That's what I was called by my fifteen year old daughter. The absent father. She did not know the truth, I worked undercover. Danger. Security. Empathy. Love. I had it all but I had nothing for my own family. That isn't true, I thought about them in the spare moments, pulled up images in my mind. Reflected on those special times tucking Beth into bed while she slept, unaware I'd be staring at her, a light in the hall illuminating her face.

I knew Beth thought I didn't care. I know because that's how I felt about my own...

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Cameras lie. Greasy gray hair shining with oil tied back with a cheap rubber band. XXL sized elastic joggers pulled over a stained white t-shirt, the underarms looking greeny yellow. Round face, tiny eyes. Arms folded trying to hide the belly.

Security rushing onto the stage, standing between Sonia and her tormentors, skinny family members disgusted with her appearance and laziness.

Sonia reliving her bravery, assertiveness finally expressing deep held thoughts and emotions. Given the space and security to speak.

Now watching the tape she could not recognise the overweight woman. She was thin wasn't she? She did not even...

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He set the plate before her. Two slices of charcoal blackened toast, plump stoneless cherry jam, no butter or spread. It wasn't punishment for climbing out the bedroom window to staying out late again. It was all they ever ate after mom died. They got through a loaf of bread a day.

She no longer cared what happened. All she could think about was Ross. He cooked her pumelled bloody steak, creamy mash with chives, grilled tomatoes covered in mixed grain pepper from a silver pot. Loved her with food, milky coffee and kisses.

Next week she was going to...

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There's somebody standing in the corner of my room. That's what she told me most days and as normal, I ignored her. I presumed she was talking about her reflection who she believed another person, a friend. Dementia steals the life force. She was no longer the woman I knew anymore, just a small petulant child to take care of. One that could look sweet and innocent but could take a knife to me if she fancied. She spent all day in her bedroom talking to the mirror, packing and unpacking strange old suitcases, oblivious to the fact she was...

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