short stories

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Short story – Harry the Hipster Spider

Published July 22, 2014 by Annie Oliver

Harry the Hipster Spider.

Harry was bored.

All of the other spiders in the library were spinning their conventional webs and trapping flies. Harry didn’t want to join in. They were so tedious. Harry was spinning a web, yes, but not because the other spiders were. It was only because he had to get to the floor from a high bookshelf. He liked to hang out among the obscure books where no one bothered him.  He didn’t pay any particular attention to the pattern he weaved; rather, he just nonchalantly let the web slide out in a crooked atypical pattern.  And flies…flies had feelings too, you know. Harry preferred to let the humans deal with the flies. They swatted – he prospered.  Harry liked to yawn near a swatting human or an electric fly zapper – that way the flies would accidentally drop into his mouth like he hadn’t planned it.

As Harry landed on the floor, a spider called Mick scuttled over in the darting, panicked way that most spiders like to move. “The other spiders are talking, Harry,” Mick had said. “You haven’t graced a bathtub in months. I saw a human walk past you the other day and you didn’t even do that crouchy-thing like spiderman…and when was the last time you scuttled?”

Harry shrugged one of his eight shoulders. “Look at you,” he said, “with your webs and your scuttling and your crouchy-moves. I’m sick of being hyper-vigilant to danger all the time. If a human is gong to squash us, believe me they’ll squash us. The crouchy thing makes no difference. In fact, i would say that crouching and staying perfectly still puts us at a disadvantage.” He blinked seven of his eight spider eyes, which in human terms is the equivalent of a snort. “I refuse to conform to societies view of what a spider is or isn’t.”

“What you need,” said Mick, “is to join in with the other spiders. No one likes a smart-arse. We’re spiders. We spin pretty webs. We trap flies. We do what our spider-wives tell us. You haven’t even got a wife. You’re nearly three days old and you haven’t even left your mothers web yet.”

“I don’t believe in conforming to traditional spiderships,” said Harry, “and I don’t live in my Mum’s web, we web-share.”

Mick’s wife, Sharon scuttled across at that point. “Ooooh, look at that web,” she said, pointing to the straggling strands that trailed behind Harry . “look how it shines in the sun. Mick why can’t you make me a web like that? It would look lovely in that spot in the window by the encyclopaedias. The human just dusted my last one away.”

“It’s a mess, Shaz,” said Mick. “Look at it, it’s all bobbly and uneven. Why would you want a web like that?”

“It’s all the rage though, Mick. All the spiders are doing it. Look.”

Harry and Mick looked over to the journals and newspapers section. A group of spiders were weaving webs which were as odd-looking as Harry’s. Although, weaving wasn’t really the word you would use; instead they seemed to be doing a nonchalant shuffle across the shelves, of which web just happened to be a by-product of. Great strands of bobbly, misshapen silk languished over the daily papers.

Harry couldn’t help himself. For the first time in almost seven hours (which is several years in spider time) he scuttled. He scuttled over to the weaving spiders, quite forgetting to be detached and blasé. “Hey,” said one of the spiders, “what’s the rush?”

“Who is this dude?” said another spider, widening only two of its spider eyes, which in spider body language is an expression of severe disdain.

Harry quickly remembered himself, slouched three of his legs over the Daily Star and tried to look as disinterested as possible. “What’s all this,” he said, (without any need for a question mark, so indifferent was the tone.)

“This, dude, is webbing and it’s something you can’t explain or teach. If you have to ask…” he said.

“But…” said Harry, desperate to tell them he’d been weaving like this for days. Webbing? They’d given it a name?

“…You definitely don’t know,” butted in the other spider.

A young girl spider walked across, taking care to use only four of her eight legs. “Have you hurt your legs?” said Harry.

“Who is this dude?” she said, ignoring him.

“Yeah mate,” said the first spider, “don’t be negative just because Sally chooses not to conform to traditional spider ways of walking. We saw how you scuttled over here. Go back with your friends and your nice symmetrical webbery. Fancy joining us Sal?” he said to the girl spider.

“I only web on vinyl…if I feel like it that is. I mean, half the time I don’t even mean to web I just kind of think about nothing and it happens,” said Sally, doing her lop sided shuffle over to the antique record display.

“She is soooo cool,” said both the spiders together.

“But you don’t understand,” said Harry. “I’ve been doing this ‘webbing’ thing for ages, this was my thing! I mean I didn’t call it anything but it was definitely mine.” Harry felt his third and fourth pupils dilate in panic, which is about the most embarrassing thing that could ever happen to a hipster spider.

“Arachnoid,” said the second spider, “hold yourself back, you look desperate.”

“But…but…I did it before it was popular.”Harry felt his world slipping away from him. He tried again, swallowing his pride, “Look. I’ve been er…webbing over by the electric fly zapper. We could go yawn. It’s over by the obscure books section.”

The two spiders began to laugh. “Yawning?” said the first spider. “That is the very definition of trying too hard. No-one eats house flies anymore. We only eat organic green fly that just happens to fall off the rose bush by the window. The second spider glared at him with his second and third eyes and he quickly added. “Er…If we are passing and they fall while we are making a particularly big vowel sound, that is.”

“I’ll just go then,” said Harry.

“You do that,” said the first spider.

“Grandad,” said the second, sniggering.

Harry scuttled – because he didn’t care anymore – back to his shelf and sat and moped. His once-original skeins of frayed silken web just looked dirty and tainted now. The worst of it all was that they had given it a name. He glanced over the shelf with one of his eyes and saw Shaz berating Mick for not making their web look vintage enough. What would he do now? His whole life purpose was to operate outside of the spiderstream. Where would he go? If he wasn’t original, then who was he at all?

Harry was having his first existential crisis.

But then it came to him. Like a searing flash of inspiration.

As the sun rose that morning, all the little hipster spiders sat webbing and accidentally catching greenfly by the window. Harry scuttled down the shelf. He scuttled like he’d never scuttled before. He threw webs from his front legs in great curves and arcs, spinning the most symmetrical perfect webs you’ve ever seen. A human walked through the door and Harry was the picture of hypervigilance. He crouched, he stayed perfectly still. He made an exaggerated face of pure danger-sensing, even though the human was at the other end of the room. He was the very essence of Spider.

“Who is that dude?” said the spider who had called Harry ‘Grandad’, “and what is his problem?”

“Yeah,” said Sally. “You’re so conformist and misled”

“Oh,” said Harry, “still ‘webbing’ I see”

“Yes,” said Sally, looking nervous. “Er…what’s wrong with that.”

Harry laughed. “Webbing is ok, but I was doing that last day. It didn’t even have a name yet when I started doing it. It was okay back then but now it’s so spiderstream that the webs don’t even look like the original webbing-webs-before-it-was-called-webbing.”

“What do you know?” said the first spider. “Look at you, with your crouching and your weaving and your scuttling. Get back to the spiderstream!”

Harry laughed. “Ah my friend, I’m not crouching and weaving and scuttling because I feel I have to because it represents what society expects of me as a spider. I’m doing it in an ironic sense to illuminate that I can choose to do it because I have transcended those societal roles. In a sense, I’m making a mockery of the spiderness of it all. Not because I have to or want to, but because I can.”

“That’s cool,” said Sally.

“That’s retro,” said Harry.

The gathered spiders made a cooing sound and gathered around in a huddle.

Harry scuttled back to his shelf and waited. Waited for the next day when ironic crouching and weaving and scuttling were the next big thing so that he could start ironically shuffling and webbing and accidentally catching…well, he would decide that tomorrow.

Such is the angst of a hipster spider.





Little Star. A tale of loss and hope.

Published July 19, 2014 by Annie Oliver

when you can


Good day, dear readers.

I get a lot of letters from people who have lost those that they love. It’s hard to understand when someone we love dies. It’s a pain like no other and it’s beyond my capabilities as a godmother to even begin to explain it. However, my writer friend Annie sent me a childrens tale she had penned when she lost her own dear brother. I’d like to share it with you, and I hope it helps.

Freda x


Little Star.

One cold and crisp winter evening, far, far above the world, a little star was born. She was so brand new and small that she was still just a tiny twinkling pin in the blanket of night.

There were many stars around her, each so very different. Some were brighter, some were gentler. Some were still learning how to shine and some were the oldest and wisest of all, but the little star was the youngest, smallest star in the sky.

Very close to the little star was a star that sang and shone proudly. He was the bravest and brightest in the sky for as far as the little star could see. When the little star could not keep herself warm, for her light was not yet strong enough, this bold, bright star shone even brighter, and made the little star feel cosy and safe.

Then came the time when the little star had to shine all on her own, but she was very scared and she began to cry.

“Why are you crying, little star?” said the bold, bright star.

“I am crying because I have to shine all on my own and I am scared” said the little star, quietly, so that the other stars could not hear.

The bold, bright star laughed, sending sparks of fire flying across the night. “Oh, child,” he said. “Why are you scared?”

“I am scared because my light is so small and my voice so weak. I am scared that the other stars will see me and laugh, because they all burn so brightly and sing so loudly.”

The bold, bright star laughed again “Silly little star. Do you think I always shined so brightly? Do you think I always sang so loudly and so clearly?”

The little star thought about this. “Yes,” she said. “I think maybe you did, because you are so very bright and so very loud that you could never have been small, like me.”

“Little star” said the bold, bright star, “all stars have to begin somewhere. We all have to be born and we all have to learn to shine.”

The bold bright star pointed to a wise, old star further away, which shone gracefully and quietly, quite unlike his own flashes of red and silver-white, which spread across the night sky like a flickering fire. “Some of us are bright and colourful and some of us are gentle, like the wise, old star. But we all must shine, in our own, special way.”

“What if I don’t want to shine?” said the little star, quite stubbornly. “What difference would it make to anyone?”

The bright, bold star sighed. “That would be very sad indeed, little star, and I will tell you why. Do you see that golden speck, far, far away?”

The little star looked hard, and saw a beautiful golden speck of dust, far away into the sky.

“Look closer, little star,” said the bold, bright star.

So the little star looked closer and she saw that the golden speck was a bright globe, full of vibrant green and blue, spinning so fast that it made her quite dizzy just to look.

“Look even closer, little star,” said the bold, bright star.

The little star looked closer still and she saw, beyond the brightness and beyond the vibrant shades of green and blue, that the globe was full of life, full of beautiful beings that shined almost as brightly as the stars themselves.

“What is this place?” said the little star, who had never thought to look so far beyond the sky before.

“That is the world, little star. That is the world for whom we shine.”

“Why do we shine for the world, bold, bright star?” said little star.

The bold, bright star became very still and thoughtful. Then he broke out into a beautiful smile, sending a wave of warmth through the night sky. “We shine because we are here to remind the world that even in the darkest of places, there is light, and there is hope.”

“Then how does the world see us, when it is so far away?” asked the little star, curious how the beings on such a small speck of golden dust could possibly be interested in the stars, which were so very far away.

“Our light takes many, many years to reach the world, but when it does, it burns in the night sky for many more years to come and it fills the beings of the world with joy.” Then, the bold, bright star began to sing and shine more than ever, filling the sky with so much brightness that the other stars began to gasp and cheer in wonder.

This filled the little star’s heart with happiness and she quite forgot to be scared, shining her own little light out as strong as she could manage, being so very small. All of the other stars did not laugh, for they were all so proud of the smallest star in the sky, shining for the very first time. Happiest of all was the bold, bright star, filled with pride that made his bold, bright light fill the sky with beautiful colours.

With each night sky the little star got brighter and brighter until she shone and sang a beautiful little light towards the golden speck in the distance. Every now and then she would turn to the bold, bright star and say. “Do you see me shining, bold, bright star? Do you see how very bright I am getting? I am sure the beings of the world must be able to see my light by now.”

The bold, bright star would shake his head and laugh, and say, “Oh, little star. You are doing a very good job of shining so bright, but the light from a star takes many thousands of years to reach the world below. So keep shining, little star and one day your light will break through even the darkest of nights.”

So the little star kept shining and growing, until she too, was bright and filled with colour. Her voice sang out across the night sky, causing all of the other stars to gaze at her with wonder, for no one had ever seen such a little star that was so very bright.

The little star was so proud of herself that she turned to show the bold, bright star just how very bright and colourful she had become, but the bold bright star was no longer there. She looked everywhere for her friend, seeking his strong, beautiful colours among the many stars that shined in the night sky, but the bold, bright star was nowhere to be found.

The little star began to cry.

“Why are you crying, little star?” said the old, wise star. The little star stopped crying quite suddenly, for the old, wise star hardly ever spoke, as he was a graceful, quiet star.

“I was crying because the bold, bright star is gone and I cannot find him. Do you know where he is?”

“Oh, child,” said the old, wise star, his gentle light warming and soothing the little star. “The bold, bright star is gone because it was his time to stop shining. The light that burns within us does not last forever. Once it has left, so must we.”

The little star did not understand. “Then why did he not tell me? Why did he not say Goodbye?”

“We do not know when our time will come, little star. We do not know what light lies within us, or how long it will last, so we must shine while we can.”

“Then I will never shine again,” said the little star, feeling quite angry. “For I do not feel like shining without my friend the big bold star beside me and I do not see why I should shine, when one day I will stop, for what is the point?”

The old, wise star became very sad, his light dimming to a shimmering glow of silent warmth. “Because you must, little star. Because you are so very important.”

“Why am I important, old wise star?” said the little star. “I am the smallest star in the sky and my light does not even reach the world, for I am too young.”

“One day, the light that you shine now will reach the world, little star. You are important because the beings of the world below will look up into the sky and you will fill their hearts with gladness and joy. That is why you shine and it is also why I shine.” The old, wise star began to fill with a pure and gentle light, which he spread across the sky with warmth and grace.

The little star still felt very sad. “But my friend was so beautiful and so loud and you are so very old and have so gentle a light. Why is it that you did not stop shining before he did?”

“It is how it is and how it always will be, little star,” said the old, wise star. “Some stars burn with a long and gentle light, while some stars burn with a fierce brightness that leaves us far too quickly. Oh! What a light your friend had! What a beautiful, bold, bright star he was!”

The little star could not stop feeling sad. It hurt her to think of what a beautiful, bright star her friend was, because when she thought of him, she could only think that he would never be beside her again, teaching her, guiding her and making her feel safe. “I still do not want to shine,” she said, “because my friend is gone and I feel so sad and alone. How can I shine when I feel so very, very sad?”

“Little star,” said the old, wise star, “do you remember what the bold, bright star told you about the world?”

The little star looked at the golden speck in the distance. “Yes, he told me that our light is a message of hope, but I do not feel like giving hope, because I am so very, very sad.”

“He also told you, little star, that our light takes such a long, long time to reach the world, because it is far, far away.”

“Yes, I remember,” said the little star.

“Then the bold, bright star’s light still shines strongly over the world below and will for many thousands of years to come.”

At this, the little star felt glad. “So the bold, bright star is not gone after all! He is still shining over the world below, reminding them that there is hope, even in the darkest of places?”

“That is right, child,” said the old, wise, star. “So you must shine. Shine as brightly and sing as loudly as you can, and then your light can sit next to his once more.”

At this, the little star was filled with happiness, for although her friend was not beside her, she knew that his light still warmed the hearts of the beings below. So she shined with a light so warm and bright that all of the other stars gasped and cheered in amazement.

She shined in colours she never knew she had within her. She shined for the world and she shined for her friend, the bold, bright star, for she knew he was waiting for her light to reach the world, where they would sit together in the night sky once more.