They were very close, and still are in spite of the distance, for she survived against all the odds. Whenever she goes to see her she always comments on how lovely it is, seeing her granddaughter all grown up, wearing her old brooch that's always been her favourite. And I was for a time.
Traditionally I was only worn for a special or significant occasion, but when she was at college I had the strange but enjoyable experience of being put in her pocket and going with her, and if she felt nervous about something her fingers would slide down to stroke me. Normally I hated people manhandling me, but I didn't mind in her case- it was better than her biting her nails.
It was almost as if she thought that having me with her would stop something bad happening - and I have been viewed as \u2018lucky.' Stop sniggering, it's true. In the days of knights and sword-fighting, we would be worn when the rich and noble went into battle because they thought we would protect them from harm, so don't laugh at her. It felt good, being wanted, and I have to confess I came in danger of growing affectionate towards her - until she found out from one of her friends about the divers who took me from my home.
Coming out of the dark.
You don't like being reminded of your past - those days of glory when Britain ruled half the world. I think that's why you apologise so much, and give more than you can afford to charities trying to save the poor and starving around the globe.
It's almost as though you're trying to make up for all the wrongs done before you were born. And I've tried to avoid talking about it in case you ran away- I get lonely sometimes and it's nice having someone to talk to. But you can't run forever, things have to be faced eventually.
Some of you may already know and may already be trying to shut out the sound of my words by turning your thoughts to the plans you've made for the weekend, but there'll be a lot of you who don't. There are lots of happy anecdotes from my owners' lives I could have told you but this is the one you need to hear: My story.
We are not like your kind, but there is one thing we have in common: just as you can't remember coming out of the womb, we don't know what it was like being a grain of sand or piece of shell squeezing our way inside an oyster and hardening; all I remember is being.
There were no thoughts, for when you live inside a shell there isn't a great deal to think about - nothing happens.
That probably sounds dull to you but there was no sadness, no pain or death. It was peaceful, just being. I didn't know this at the time but even nothing has to come to an end eventually: the day would always have come when I would be found.
It will be hard for you to understand what it was like being taken out of water, hearing sounds, seeing colours and light - all for the first time. On paper it sounds great, this explosion of life, but the reality was frightening - and even fear was something I had never heard of or felt before.
Maybe that's why your newborns usually cry when they come out, because they're scared and want to go back. I'm trying to think of ways to describe how it was to you, and the only way I can think of is for you to imagine an ancient Egyptian being placed in the middle of a supermarket. That might give you a better idea, but even that doesn't come close.
I've learnt a lot since then (I've had to, I didn't have any other choice) but there's one thing I've never been able to get my head around, and that is time. Your lives are ruled by clocks and diaries telling you when deadlines or birthdays are due, but when you have so much time whole years, even decades can pass you by. Forgive me then, if I am a little hazy on dates.
What I can tell you is that I was brought to the surface in the late 1800s, which makes me special. There aren't many of us that come from nature now. Most are made by man in bulk on farms. Things changed. You suddenly became concerned about human life and diving equipment got better.
Both meant that the world's poor no were no longer forced to hold their breaths for hundreds of metres when they dived to the seabed to pick up our shells, risking death by drowning or attack from sharks.
At first I thought these people were slaves because I failed to understand why they would choose to do such dangerous work. But I came to realise that slavery comes in all sorts of guises if someone's freedom is to choose between hunger and work that might kill them anyway.
I don't think anyone knows how many thousands died in the name of my beauty and what I am supposed to represent: love, luck and protection. Yet none of my so-called attributes were able to comfort the diver who found me or save him from blacking out when he ascended.
So now you know why she stopped liking me and keeps me hidden, apart from when she visits her grandmother. It's all very well for her to hate the history I'm associated with, but she doesn't realise that the lovely clothes she wears have voices of their own; shadows of people are woven into their fabrics and they never stop talking.
There's so many of them all speaking at once that you can't actually hear what they're saying, it's just noise, which speaks for itself.
You don't need to hear their words to understand what they mean. They all come from foreign countries where labour is easy to get - how else do you think she is able to get them so cheaply?
I won't deny that my story is sad but I have a lot of memories that would give me joy if I allowed myself to feel. Listening to the stories of the living is a lot worse; they're not just full of sadness, there's also anger and it surrounds me when she takes me out of the box.
You can hear it in the suitcase she flings in the boot of the car, and in the silence behind the news reports on the radio she listens to when she's driving; those headlines speaking about them, but not for or to them. It's too much to cope with and I spend those visits wishing they were over.
I'm always glad when we get back and she returns me to the dark.
Rome! Have you ever seen the Colosseum? Beautiful isn't it; how strange it is that things of immense beauty contain contrasting qualities. From the outside tourists marvel at the grand scale and arresting architecture, it is ideal for a photograph or postcard. Step inside, though, and a whole complexity of emotions will haunt the senses. Stand on the arena floor and wonder how many men and women have followed your steps into oblivion.
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - The Mother From Hell (following on from A Depressive and a Botched Suicide) By Laura Fry
Outside, a woman in late middle-age tries to look through the large crematorium doors.
Despite the November wind, she is dressed in six-inch stilettos, thin stockings and a tiny mini skirt which leaves nothing to the imagination.
One mourner hears a sound over the music and makes her way outside, aghast.
Fiction - Loved Ones By Emma Williamson
I remember the day my mother and father split up. All the family had gone out for the day with our parent's friends, Claire and Craig and their two daughters, Lauren and Molly. Me and my two younger brothers, Jasper and Cohen were in the ball pit with Lauren and Molly.
'Silver, drink!' Jasper announced, he was only 3 years old and hadn't quite grasped the concept of full sentences yet.
Fiction - What Colour My Dear? (Exercise in experimenting with different voices)
By Michelle Dee
"What colour my dear?"
"Blue. Yes blue to match my mood."
"Why so blue dear on such a promising day?"
"Well I'll tell you. I have just this moment been turned down yet again for employment; that is the third this morning if you please. I am doomed never to find a suitable position.
Fiction - Replacing Sheila By Gary Clark
She was a sorry sight Sheila, sat all day in a corner of the room, moving only occasionally to look through the window when the front gate rattled or a car door slammed.
But it was never him and her watery eyes soon closed again, sadly, as she returned to her fitful dozing. Old age takes its toll on us all eventually.
Poor Shelia, cast aside like an old
Fiction - Equus Mal-Amour By Frankie Lassut
Every time Roger fell out with Trudy, he took it out on Selina.
Saturday nights were the worst. Roger and Trudy would go out pubbing, Selina would of course stay at home, dreading the unhappy couple returning at 12.30 - 1am.
It was always the same. Selina would hear them coming up the lane.
"Don't you fuckin deny it! I saw the way you looked at her!"
"Oh, stop being so fucking stupid!
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Sundog By Amanda Lowe
I have my yellow boots on to walk the dog who is scratting at the door, he knows it's time to go. Outside, he's running ahead like a mad thing as my yellow boots squelch flat fields, left foot, right foot.
Striding along the bank, lost in thoughts, I stop and gawp at a sundog, reflection of the sun in the sky. The sun and its doppelganger side by side, striving to outshine each other.
Fiction - The Lie of the Land By Steve Rudd
So I ran.
I ran, and I ran, and I ran.
Nothing means anything when eagerly anticipated phone calls never come.
All those wasted Sundays slumped beside the phone add up.
Ah, heartbreak. You've got to hate it. But you've also got to take it.
The hardest thing of all is resisting the urge to break the ice, to ring first,
to put words into your mouth
Fiction - Too Late To Call By Sarah Ann Watts
The bus pulls out of the station. I check my watch - I am not too late. I close my eyes, pretend to sleep.
The witching hour is yet to come. I told you I would be home by midnight. You like to know where I am. I tell you I can protect myself and you shake your head in doubt. 'Be careful. It isn't the same world.'
I laugh at your fears and paint my lips and smile.
Fiction - The Day By Danny Swain
Ray turns the CD player off as he answers the phone. The sound of waves crashing against a beach fills his ear. Jenny wipes the plate and puts it on the draining board. A man appears at the kitchen window. Benjamin pulls the car into the drive and gets out. He hears a noise in the garage.
Mary locks her front door and buttons up her coat. Read more...
Fiction - Blood in the Bath By Leah Scarpati
It was Halloween night and the weather suitably matched the mood of the evening. Like a parody of a horror film, the wind howled at forty miles per hour, blowing the dried up autumn leaves up into mini tornadoes down the deserted and dimly lit street. The odd raindrop fell from the sky, threatening to pour down but unable to carry out the threat to its full potential.
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - A Scene In Suburban Hell By Laura Fry
Nothing unusual ever happens in Sandwalsh. People don't tend to move away to pastures new. They know their neighbours, even if they are not exactly friends.
Perhaps they cry into their IKEA pillows every night, out of boredom, depression or sheer frustration, but if they do, they most definitely hide the unfortunate fact from public view. What people think is
Fiction - Career Opportunities A Joe Geraghty story
I was sat on an amplifier in the band's rehearsal room on Wincolmlee, secreted away on Bankside, a decaying industrial area of Hull. In front of me was the city's hottest band, Witham, presumably named after the area on the edge of the city centre.
Talk about a lack of imagination. From the way they were lounging around the room, I assumed I
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - The Hand that Rocked the Cradle By Lin Whitehouse
Hearing his mother's footsteps, the boy climbed out his bedroom window. They were both angry. He wanted to run away but it was a long drop and he might hurt himself.
She shouted when she saw him, sitting on the tiled roof, suddenly scared and remembering a time she had climbed out of a similar window.
He hugged his knees not wanting to look at her; she could not look away
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Resurrection By Leah Scarpati
The rhythmical drip-drip of condensation echoed around the cave. Kate couldn't see her hand in front of her face, were her eyes even open? The fall had shattered her torch as well as her ankle; as the pain continued to bite, panic rose. She couldn't feel her toes.
Hours of calling for help had been swallowed by the chasm of darkness,
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - The Latter-Day Luddite Saves the Day By Laura Fry
The police were on a coffee break, at a loss. Despite all the technology, the wanted man had got the better of them. They didn't notice the young woman at the opposite table with an old-fashioned tape recorder, on her way to teach a friend's child German.
She had found the man who had just left the café somewhat suspicious and pressed record.
This latter-day Luddite was able to tell