Hello – and thanks for dropping in…


I recently joined the Blogging World – deep breaths, hesitant fingers, head full of words, and a great sense of adventure. To be fair, most days are adventures – I live on an island and I’m a recently retired teacher who loves to travel so the material is fairly solidly in place each morning when I wake! It is true – I never know what the day will bring. My purpose in venturing into this new digital space is to share words; I love words. The intention is to use this Writing On A Rock opportunity to harness the words and get them to do what I’ve wanted them to do for ages – work with me to produce a whole load of musings in the form of stories, poems, travelogues, rants and dreams, diaries and articles, thought bombs and conundrums, thunks and thinks – anything which lets words do their thing.

I hope you’ll stick with me and drop in now and then to see what’s going on – it’d be great to have you along for the ride. If you like what you see here, please do visit my Back to the Future archive links on the left hand side. J.

Boy on a Train


He didn’t see a murder, or a secret kiss. There was no melodrama, disaster. It was just a journey where he saw himself looking back at himself from the rain-teared window of Carriage C Seat 12A Reserved. His seat. Booked online with the final dregs of a childhood bank account three days ago, the single ticket now in front of him on the table – a ticket with no return.

The boy in the window, the boy like him but not like him, stared at him knowingly. “What do you think you’re doing?” he sneered. “This’ll never work. You’re useless – this is just a joke, mate.”

“Don’t call me ‘mate’ – and leave me alone,” he responded silently. The boy in the window held his gaze with gold-flecked dirty blue eyes. The glass between them tracked rivulets of converging raindrops, pushed almost horizontal by the force of the speeding train. The slash of raindrops seemed to give Window Boy a silver scar across his lips. Hope that hurt, he thought; hope it made you cry.

Forcing his thoughts away from the sneering attention of that boy, he imagined what it must be like in the driver’s seat up ahead at the end of the long snaky carriages. It would be cool to see the tracks laid out so smoothly, so perfectly parallel, no complications, nothing in the way. Just think of the bullet-like power that could cut through banks of heavy air, force it to move out of your way, that could thrust itself into stillness and silence to create a beautiful mayhem of leaves, debris, dust – all swirling and dancing out of control until it had to settle again behind this magnificent force.

He realised he’d been holding his breath. The woman across the aisle glanced at him; looked away. He wondered if he’d made a noise (he sometimes did but didn’t know how to stop them when they just seemed to come from nowhere), and then he slowly released the air from his lungs, heart beating in rhythm to the pulse of the train on the tracks beneath him.

Window Boy rolled his eyes, his thin cold lips turning up in another sneer. “You know you’re mad, don’t you? Everybody else does. That’s why they give you the tablets. The ones, by the way, you haven’t taken today…”.

No, no, no – don’t listen to him. You can do this. Ignore him.

His hand brushed the fabric of the seat next to him and he flinched, screwed up his eyes, bit into his lower lip. Scratchy material made him anxious, but he was determined to follow through with his plan and a blue striped train seat was not going to undo him. Not this time. Secretly, he turned to see if Window Boy was laughing at him again and realised that it had stopped raining. Parachute clouds were clearing ahead of a pale winter sun and Window Boy was gone, or at least faded to an indistinguishable water-colour of his former hard-edged self.

He allowed himself a hesitant smile. The woman across the aisle picked it up and returned it. “I’m going to see my dad,” he said. She nodded. He looked again at his ticket on the table. Single.

So, have only gone and done it…


It saddens me to see how limited my Blogging output has had to be over the past few months.

But I’m a full time teacher running a busy English department, so maybe it’s understandable and I should cut myself some slack.

However (drum roll, please!!!!), I have just handed in my notice and will be taking early retirement from all things classroom in 14 weeks. How utterly exciting is that?

I am so looking forward to getting back to my fledgling writing and being able to commit to ideas, projects, updates and downdates.

Thank you to everyone who hasn’t “unfollowed” me due to lack of regular output. Much appreciated. 🙂


Long-listed by ReflexFiction :-)


Really happy to see my flash fiction story published by ReflexFiction – click to read


Or read it here…


“I was there that day. I was there.”

Chitter-chatter stops; eyes fix on me. Glasses suspend between frozen mouths and litter-strewn table. I scan the scene for inspiration. His Malbec. “There was blood everywhere—it was overwhelming. I didn’t know who to help first.” Her Chardonnay. “A woman in a pale dress was lying on the floor, eyes leaking tears. I bent to talk to her, but she didn’t answer.” The bass beat from the speaker. “Footsteps pounded—thudded—it was terrifying; it went on and on. What to do? Run? Help? What would you have done? Be honest.”

Captive audience; all mine. One leans towards me—gentle fingers on shaking shoulder. Another takes my hand—warm, safe in his soft concern. I breathe. Blondie looks at me in awe; her designer lenses. “What frightened me most was the glass—exploding from windows, raining down onto innocence, icy splinters across the street. I felt it crunch as I walked, powdering into a thin, crystal carpet. Awful. Awful.”

Drop of the head, slight shudder. Get her a drink. Anyone got a tissue? Rain patters against the window. “People everywhere were crying, some silently screaming—it was like the world had stopped and everyone was weeping because there was nothing else for them. I cried too. This guy paused—he wanted to help, but his eyes were unfocused, confused; he ran off.” Blondie tries to ask a question, but I fix her with a stare—she clamps her puffy red lips together and breaks eye contact. This is my stage; butt out, Blondie.

Across the street, a garish illuminated shop sign winks at me. “When the emergency services arrived, it was chaos—flashing lights, uniforms trying to make sense of it. I gave them as much information as I could; they were very grateful.”

Delicate sniff. “Sorry, it’s so painful to talk about. Please, can we change the subject?”

Of course, of course. Hush now. Have another drink. Sit by me. You want to stay at my flat tonight? You don’t want to be alone; you’re so upset. I nod. Smile weakly. “Thanks.”

That day? No. I wasn’t there.

Silent applause.

Thinking about Hawks


My recommendation from the bookshelves which line my long hallway is the Day 4 offering of 30 Books in 30 Days, and it is the exquisitely written “A Kestrel for a Knave” by Barry Hines.

Many of my Writing On A Rock followers are not from the U.K. so this title might be unfamiliar. But it is indeed a Must Read.

Billy Casper’s bleak future seems inevitable. Dismissed as hopeless at school and neglected by the remnants of his family, in weeks he will be joining his brutish brother, Jud, down the mines. However, his affinity for the natural world offers a sliver of hope; he raises a wild kestrel, which he names Kes, and her quiet strength and independence strikes a chord with the troubled teenager. Adapted into a critically acclaimed film by Ken Loach, A Kestrel for a Knave remains a cornerstone of British fiction. ‘A slim book about a no-hoper and a hawk’ was Hines’s own description of the novel, yet its slightness belies its great emotional power – when Billy flees his demeaning existence at school and ventures into the wild, he comes alive.

If you’re looking for something that might have passed you by, or you’ve not read this since you were at school, now’s the time to give yourself a real treat. Step gently into Billy’s world and go with the flow – it will ask you to invest emotions in a “knave” and to see the world through the eyes of someone much misunderstood. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did when I read it for the first time – and the second, and the third…

30 Books in 30 Days…


Three days in and three fantastic books from my stuffed shelves have now been recommended – Anatomy of a Soldier, The Night Circus and The Book Thief. There are 27 more to follow – with some surprising twists and turns in an unpredictable set of recommendations. Hope you’re following on Twitter @WritingOnARock. If so, maybe you’ll be kind enough to retweet. Enjoy your day. 

30 days of books 


So, we gained an extra hour – fall back into autumn and all that – and I decided to spend it on me. This meant don’t spend it washing the kitchen floor or searching online for the next available Tesco delivery slot or emptying the garden pots of the now sad looking, faded summer colours. This meant – spend it with books. So I set myself a challenge to spend an hour identifying from my groaning bookshelves a book-a-day and to recommend these titles, one each day via Twitter, for 30 days to other lovers of books. Easier said than done! But I have made a start and, in doing so, have rescued from dusty top shelves some forgotten favourites – and my pile of “must read that one again” titles by the bed has grown somewhat. Now I’m excited because working my way through them during the dark evenings of the “Winter is Coming” phase and then the “Brrr, Winter is Here” period of hibernation is going to be like greeting old friends and sharing hot chocolate. How exciting!

Day 1 is today. Welcome to @writingonarock #30daysofbooks #readingonarock. Hope you’ll follow me on Twitter if you don’t already, and that you enjoy, then retweet, my recommendations. I challenge you to read at least one that you might never have considered before. 

Enjoy November – it’s a very underrated month 😊

Stephen Page

Author: The Salty River Bleeds, The Timbre of Sand, Still Dandelions, A Ranch Bordering the Salty River. Alum: Palomar College, Columbia University, Bennington College. Follow on twitter @SmpageSteve on Instagram @smpagemoria on Facebook @steven.page.1481

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