March 2018
« Sep    


Last week’s assignment was to write a short story using prompts & character traits picked from a list. I wanted to write my story ‘For the Love of Yew’ but after 3 days of trying to wrestle it to fit the brief, I gave up and produced this instead (with a nod to Yew for good measure):


Eric Sabbatini opened the garden parasol and carefully moved it round to block the sun from his chosen garden chair. He wiped down the table with a wet cloth and then wiped it dry with a towel, before laying out 3 freshly sharpened pencils, an eraser, a pencil sharpener and his Dictaphone. To his left was a bottle of chilled water and small side plate with 3 Rich Tea biscuits. From his leather satchel, he removed a pile of papers, which he automatically tapped into a neat pile before laying on the table to his right.

The garden table sat squarely on the rectangular patio overlooked by gleaming French doors. The patio was edged by a low wall beyond which laid a small but perfectly cut lawn, and at the end of the garden was a shed, painted lavender blue in a carefully thought out splash of colour. A narrow flowerbed stretched down one side of the garden and on the other was a neatly clipped evergreen hedge. It was clear that Eric liked order.

Eric picked up the first paper and noted the name and student number on his Dictaphone. Sipping his water, he started to read through, stopping to underline & make notes in the margins.

The neighbour’s backdoor was thrown open with a loud crash and 2 children tumbled out into a messy garden. A woman’s voice shouted “…and don’t step in dog poo!!” over the childish shrieks of delight. Moments later followed a scratching sound at the door and then the dog was also released into the garden, barking with uncaged relief as he honed in on a ball the children had.

Eric frowned.

“Muuuuuuummmmmmm!” Mum! MUM! Dog dun a poo!”

Eric shifted crossly and focused hard on the paper in front of him.


Eric sighed & picked up his Dictaphone: “Jasmine Keen. Essay Title: ‘For the Love of Yew’” He paused and arranged his thoughts, trying to start with a positive point, “Jasmine, again I find myself greatly amused but at a loss by your essay. The assessment was to examine the impact of the New World on horticulture in the 18th Century. What I have here is an imaginative, lively story, nay novel about a man obsessed with the Yew Tree. Jasmine, we have spoken sev…for fuck’s sake!”

A ball had landed in the middle of the lawn. The dog instantly started barking incessantly for its return.

From behind the hedge a child’s voice called out “Sabbi! Sabbi! Ball peese”

Eric rose to his feet, walked across the lawn and scooped up the tennis ball – discovering too late that it was slick with dog drool. Grimacing he dropped it over the hedge, purposefully avoiding speaking or any eye contact with the children.

“Muuuuuuummm! MUUUUUMMMM! I stepped in poo. I got poo”

The backdoor remained firmly shut.

Eric wiped his hands on a cloth and sat down, picking up his Dictaphone again: “Jasmine Keen, continues: Jasmine, clearly you seek to…”

“Muuuum! He’s touching it. Don’t touch it. EUGH!” the older child shouted.


Eric snapped off the Dictaphone and stared at the table, breathing hard.

“Don’t touch it! Take your shoes off. No! Muuuuuuummmm!”

The dog was barking and the kids were screaming. Where was the stupid woman? The little boy started to gag and cry. Eric’s hands curled into tight fists, his knuckles standing out white with tension. He hated marking, he hated smug, clever Jasmine and he hated next door – the kids, their horrid little dog and that bloody woman. He wrestled to regain control of his anger, staring hard at the straight stripes on his lawn.

Finally, taking a deep breath, Eric picked up the Dictaphone once again. His voice came out brittle. “Jasmine. Keen. Continues: You are clearly a cle…FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!!!”

The back door had been flung open and their Mother was now in the garden screaming at the children, at the dog, at the poo…at everything. Eric shook with impotent rage and threw the Dictaphone on the table “FOR FUCKITY FUCK’S SAKE!!” he shouted, “FUCK FUCK FUCK!”.

Suddenly an indignant face popped up from behind the hedge, “OI SABBI! Watch yer mouth. Me kids are out here, for crying out loud.”

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