Debb Bouch

“Stir up, we beseech thee Oh Lord…” The words of the collect rolled around her and Sarah felt the magic gather. Her puddings would be the better for her participation in Christian ritual on Stir Up Sunday. The priest noticed her inward focus and guessed the reason. He glared as she came out of the dimly lit church, blinking in the winter sunshine. “How dare you turn my service into heathen witchery, woman?” “But it’s Stir Up Sunday, Father. ‘Tis traditional to make the puddings on this day.” The priest grunted, considering her a lost cause. Sarah slipped away. She had such a lot of cooking to do today. But she’d have to make sure the priest ate one of her puddings. With all the goodness she stirred in, he …

Read more →

Reader’s Poll – Top books of 2020 Thank you dear readers for voting. As always, your choices delight and surprise us. Only two classic novels make it into the top five this year. So without further ado…drum roll… 1. Putin – Megalomaniac or Superhero, Christina Gorbachev Two years after his assassination at the hands of a Crimean rebel, Christina Gorbachev examines Putin’s achievements, comparing them with those of Stalin and other famous Russian leaders. This is a good attempt to explain Putin’s actions to puzzled Westerners. 2 Lily, JK Rowling Surely all that needed to be said about a certain boy wizard has already been said? A resounding ‘No’, from you, the readers. So this is it, Harry Potter the prequel. Someone more cynical than me might say that JK …

Read more →

Katy trudged upwards dragging the sledge behind her. Her brother seemed to weigh more every time she climbed the hill. The snow was mushy now, more like cold porridge than ice crystals. The sledge sank deeper into the ruts from the last few runs until she couldn’t go any higher up the hill. “Up, Katy, up,” Bobby cried. “Can’t go no further, Bobs. You’re too heavy.” He cried in earnest. Shuddering, heart rending sobs that shook his whole body. Katy sighed and sat down on the sledge wrapping her arms around him. “Hush now. Don’t cry Bobs. Maybe there’ll be more snow tomorrow.” She hugged him close. He stopped sobbing and squirmed round to look at her. “Katy, promise? Please?” “Can’t promise nothing. Depends on the weather gods.” And Ma, …

Read more →

The sun rose, filling the horizon, spreading a scarlet glow over the world. The aftermath of the battle – the earthly remains of two armies – lay silhouetted, stark black against the bloody background. The dust-laden wind moaned as it laid its soft blanket over the newly dead. The muted calling of birds drew his attention to the lack of other, more human sounds. The bitter iron smell of blood mingled with the fetid odours of death and decay. Alaris stared, remembering the bright, joyous army that had marched out of the city gates less than a week earlier. He slipped off Blaze, leaving him snatching mouthfuls of sparse grass in amongst the rocky outcrops, a little way back from the devastation. Blaze was content to rest from the hard …

Read more →

I am looking for green buds. The wind still bites and soil temperatures haven’t risen yet, but I want leaves. I ache for leaves. The trees have been bare for so long. It feels like spring will never come. I’ll never be released from this icy prison. Every autumn, I shut myself away. I promise to visit friends and see a bit of life but I never do. I need the warmth of her presence. I need to bask in her reflected glory. I am Seph’s warm season fling, her bit on the side. She puts me aside at the end of summer and goes back to her husband. I work so that I can fool around in the warm half of the year. I lock myself away and she …

Read more →

Blood dripped slowly onto the floor. Sy watched, mesmerised, as another crimson droplet formed, swelled and detached, becoming elongated in its path through the air. It hit the growing pool with a little splash spraying myriad smaller droplets around it. His fascination grew with each new drop. A rough tongue scraped down his cheek. He started awake, sitting bolt upright in his dream-tangled sheets. Wulf sat on his haunches, waiting. The door to his room opened and Ellis came in, handing him a mug of tea. *** I heard Sy tossing and turning. It sounded like he was having the nightmare again, after all this time. I brewed some sleep tea and took it in to him. “You had the dream again.” I kept it simple – no accusations, no …

Read more →

The players take the stage in an orderly line, moving to their places with practised ease. A lone oboe sounds out the tuning note for each section of players. Eventually, the note sounds in unison, tuned to perfection. The players rise to their feet as their leader walks on, the audience taking this as their cue to applaud. The tall greying man bows to the audience before taking his place at the head of the violins. The orchestra is ready and waiting. The audience hums with anticipation. A sense of fevered excitement grips the occupants of the stalls while on the balcony, crowds lean precariously over the edge, looking down towards the rostrum. Tonight the new maestro will take the baton for the first time. Rumours have been flooding this …

Read more →