Three Stories by Sarah Robin



Panic set in as the smoke hit my face. My eyes widened and I was alert; I knew I had to get my wife and children out of there. I shook my wife to raise the alarm, went and grabbed the children, lifted them over my shoulders and got us all out of there as quick as I could. 

I felt a hand grab mine and it pulled me back hard, “Tom, darling. Calm down, it’s ok. Everything’s alright.” I hurriedly looked behind me through the smoke, “there’s no time, Georgia, we need to get out of here!” I yelled impatiently. I used my sleeve to cover my nose and mouth and told the children in my muffled, desperate voice that they would be ok and Daddy was taking them to safety. 

“Tom, put the kids down. Let’s go sit somewhere quiet and I’ll get you a drink,” she said in a hushed tone, blocking my way. “What?” I asked in disbelief. In the corner of my eye, I could see a crowd of faces staring at me and I was suddenly very aware of myself. 

I lowered my frightened, crying children onto the path and they ran over to their grandparents then looked back at me with faces of fear and confusion. I locked eyes with my wife who smiled at me reassuringly. She took my hand and lead me to a bench by the greenhouse down the end of the garden. “Is he ok?” somebody whispered as we snuck away from the scene I’d caused. “I knew it was a mistake him coming here,” another person tutted. 

“I’m sorry,” I whispered as we sat down. “You don’t need to apologise,” she slid her hand onto my knee. I held my head in my hands and breathed deeply. I felt embarrassed at my loss of control; I’d made a fool of myself but what hurt me most of all was that in that moment my children were scared of me. I’m supposed to be their protector, the person they can turn to for help and guidance and I had failed them. 

I lifted my head and looked at the clouds drifting slowly across the blue sky, willing the tears in my eyes not to drip down my cheeks. “It’s only been two weeks, Tom. We knew it could be difficult,” her grip on my knee tightened. I scrunched up my face in frustration, “it’s only a bloody family barbeque, Georgia. Is this how I’m going to react to a campfire on the kid’s holidays? A sparkler on bonfire night?” 

“We need to give it time,” her eyes glistened in the sun as she smiled at me, “and if we do need some help, we can go to therapy, but we’ll cross that bridge if we come to it. For now, let’s just take things easy and we’ll gradually ease our way into these things, ok?” I took a deep breath and agreed, kissing her on the lips. “I love you, baby,” I swallowed hard and she echoed the same back to me. “I’ll go and see to the kids, I’ll leave you here for a bit,” her hand lingered on my knee before she went. 

She hadn’t been gone five minutes when a warm breeze carried the smoke from the barbeque over my way and I returned to my nightmare like a time traveller. I was there in bed again; I could see, hear and smell everything just like it had happened. I had to experience the events as they had unfolded, like replaying a horror film over and over, unable to change any aspect of it and knowing the horrors that were to come. 

Panic set in as the smoke hit my face. My eyes widened and I was alert; I knew I had to get my wife and children out of there. I shook my wife to raise the alarm, went and grabbed the children, lifted them over my shoulders and got us all out of there as quick as I could. 


A Woodland Adventure

I run around the mighty towering trees like an ant manoeuvring its way between long, thick blades of grass. I splash into cool streams and leap over roots protruding from the earth like wooden snakes lay sporadically on the ground as I race further into the woodland. Rays of sunshine beam through the trees like spotlights shining down on the beauty of nature that surrounds me. Birds joyously sing for miles around, their music echoing throughout the land; bright orange butterflies dizzily dance around me; bees buzz past me hard at work; squirrels hunt for food, their tails wiggling in the air as they scavenge. I am happiest being in the woodland with the wildlife, it’s where I feel most safe and at home. 

My pink dress flows around my muddy knees as I play with anything I can find. I scrape my hair back and pull on a navy-blue baseball cap I found on a tree stump a mile back. Smudges of dirt on my face act as my war paint and I’m ready for action. A fallen branch is a powerful sword; the muddy soil is black tropical sand hiding buried treasure; large crispy leaves on the ground are sacred scrolls of ancient maps leading to hidden places left undisturbed for centuries; birds swooping through the air are baby dinosaurs searching for squirming insects to gobble up; mushrooms provide shelter for grumpy leprechauns. 

An almighty thud behind me freezes me in fright, interrupting my fun. I swing my head around to see a huge spider - maybe ten feet tall - angrily glaring at me with its hundreds of black, shiny eyes. I let out a piercing scream and dart to the nearest tree. I climb as high as I can, scraping my knees as I wrap myself around the rough bark. I pant heavily, peering down on the threatening beast below me. I shout for help to anyone who may hear me but after a while I start to feel like I am truly alone and I will eventually tire and become this monster’s next meal. 

Just as I’m about to give up hope, a blinding bright light fills the space around me. “Mrs Jackson! Get off that plant at once!” A gruff voice approaches me. “She’s in here! Switch off the buzzer, she’s in the conservatory.” My eyes adjust to the light and I see a swarm of women in light blue uniforms surround me. “Look at your new nightgown, it’s covered in dirt! And what were you doing with Malcolm’s hat?” A large, frizzy-haired woman barks at me, tutting and shaking her head. “Your grandchildren are coming to see you tomorrow; you must get some sleep. Let’s get you cleaned up and back into bed.” The nurse reaches out her arm for me to hold onto. As we slowly exit the room, I look behind me to see a house spider run out from a broken ceramic plant pot on the tiled floor.


Walking Home with Daddy

Butterflies dance around my middle as the school bell rings. I grab my book bag and my coat from the cloakroom and push past the other boys to reach the door as quickly as I can. There he is – my daddy. I run across the playground towards him as fast as my little legs can carry me, arms wide, my cheeky smile even wider. “Daddy!” I squeak, crashing into him. “Hey, spaceman!” he shouts as he picks me up and spins me around making rocket ship noises, making me squeal in delight and very, very dizzy. He places me down and hugs me tight as I regain my balance. The mummy’s in the playground look and smile, cocking their heads to the side, appreciating the sight of a loving dad and his mini-me son. 

What they don’t know is this is the first time I’ve seen him in almost seven weeks. The last time I saw him it was night-time and the policeman asked him to leave the house and mummy was crying. I don’t think of this when I see him today, though, as I’m just so pleased to see him. “What is it then, spaceman? The swings and slides or go hunting for conkers?” he asks as we stroll hand in hand through the school gates and down the pavement on the 10-minute walk home. “Conkers!” I jump up and down excitedly. 

The number of orange and red leaves crunching under my smart black school shoes multiply as we approach a cluster of trees within the city park. “Last one to the statue is a rotten egg!” We race towards the towering trees and both fall down laughing as we reach the statue, the ground now blanketed with a thick layer of multicoloured leaves, crispy and light. We wade through the sea of colours, kicking the leaves up into the air as we go and watching them sway majestically back to the earth while we search for conkers. I find any unopened shells, he cracks them open and I collect the conkers in my coat pockets until they’re too full to possibly hold any more. We make a good team, Daddy and I. 

Once my pockets are filled with conkers, we walk down to a large pond where we see an old man sat on a bench in a green coat feeding at least twenty ducks. He turns towards us and smiles. I smile back and he reaches out his hand holding a couple of slices of bread from his loaf. I run over and take the bread. “Cheers!” Daddy waves to the old man. Half of the old man’s ducks swim over to where me and Daddy are, as we take it in turns to see who can throw pieces of bread the farthest. 

Just as we’re about to leave the park to go home, something catches my attention out of the corner of my eye. I take hold of Daddy’s hand and hurry him over. As we approach the hedge by the side of the park, I spot the brown spikes. “A hedgehog!” I exclaim in awe, pointing at the animal. “Oh, wow! Look at his little nose!” Daddy says in a hushed tone, crouching down with me. “What should we call him?” he asks. I pause in thought for a moment, admiring the creature. Daddy suggests names like Henry, Hector and Harvey; typical names for a hedgehog, I suppose.

“Michael” I declare with certainty.  “Why Michael?” Daddy laughs. I tell him it’s the first name that popped into my head and it’s the name of mummy’s boyfriend. He stops laughing and his eyes go a bit red and watery. “Oh, right.” He swallows and glances down to his feet before looking back and me and smiling. “That’s nice. Well, say goodbye to Michael, we’d better get you home.” 

We hold hands while we slowly stroll the short walk home, my little hands nests within his. He holds them tighter now than he did earlier. “Will you be picking me up from school tomorrow?” I ask, hoping he will say yes. Daddy says he will be walking me home from school each day until he gets himself an apartment. He says I could come and visit him and watch films and have sleepovers. “Cool!” I grin, excited to spend more time with him.

We turn the corner and as we head towards the front door, he tells me he loves me, he’ll always be proud of me and there are no limits to what I can do. “People say the sky is the limit, spaceman” he says, “but it isn’t - there are no limits; you can do anything you want to do, be anything you want to be. Don’t forget that, yeah?” He lifts me up into the air and spins me around, his rocket ship noises muffled by my uncontrollable giggles of delight. He places me down and gives me a tight squeeze. 

“I had fun today, Daddy. I can’t wait for tomorrow!” I beam. “Me too. Love you!” Daddy smiles, taking a step back, waving. “Love you!” I shout, making my way inside the house. I climb onto the sofa and peer out the window with my hand on the glass, watching him walk down the street as it starts to rain. 


Sarah Robin is a new writer from England, only starting to write during the coronavirus pandemic. She enjoys nature and wildlife, frequently exploring the Lake District and the Scottish Highlands. Robin has had several short stories published in anthologies and is a poetry competition winner. She takes her inspiration from the people she meets and places she visits, as well as her own life experiences. She tweets @SRobinWriter


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