once upon a time

Once upon a time by

Dad disappeared when I was eight. Not in a puff of smoke. He was just no longer there. Not in the house, not in the garden (I looked) and definitely not in Mum’s bed.

            When I sat down to tea that Sunday I asked where he was, expecting an easy answer. Instead I felt my stomach squeeze as Mum explained he’d left us. I knew she must be wrong. He was my dad, he couldn’t leave us. He loved me.

            It was the middle of the ‘swinging sixties’ but at my school the only thing swinging was the sting of a skipping rope. “Don’t tell anyone,” Mum urged, but who could I tell? The word ‘divorce’ was strange, unnatural. Back then children had two parents; I was different. I couldn’t risk friendship.

            I kept that secret but it stuck inside me like marshmallow. I became one of the silent children, watching, bookish.

            After Dad left other things gradually vanished: heating, lights, and laughter.  Eventually the house went too. No garden any more, no sympathetic neighbours, no Daddy.

            There was talk of a new school, a new life. I started to tell my story.



Jane completed the Writers’ Bureau course in 2018 and hasn’t stopped writing since. Her fiction’s appeared in The People’s Friend, Yours and the Weekly News. In 2019 she was delighted to win Beaconlit Festival’s flash fiction prize. Her stories have been shortlisted in writing competitions including Retreat West and Flash500.




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