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Showcase: The Apparition + Intruder + Humanity + Changing Seasons

Edited by Afsana Elanko

Welcome to my last Showcase for November and, in fact, my last Showcase for this year. Thank you for all your submissions, which I have thoroughly enjoyed reading. Great pieces of writing can be created from the simplest of ideas and that has been  evident on every page I’ve put together this month.

Wherever we come from, our heritage helps us shape our future. Ray Miles highlights this point saliently, with his many references to connections from the past as well as the future.

The Apparition

My father’s ghost appeared to me, and said “Son, don’t be sad.
I had my time; I’ve got my love and now it’s not so bad.
Of course, I have regret about the way I left my life.
Just taken in an eyelid’s blink, so sorry that my wife
Was left alone to deal with things, but now she’s by my side,
And we have all the time we need, for I can be her guide.”
There are times when I wish that I had paid him much more heed,
Or made some time to be with him, but never felt the need.
And now, of course, it is too late, I can’t ask the one who knew
Those things that were so simple then, that only he could do.
He’d listen to the birdsong knowing just the type he heard,
And name the flower in the wild; such knowledge he conferred
On those who listened; but alas not me while on this earth;
It’s only when the chance has gone, we realise its worth.
Now he has come back to my sight, and I was sore afraid;
Needlessly as it turns out, for he is but a shade.
He came to let me know that all is well where he is now,
That he can see I think of him, and never disavow
My parentage. This fills his spectral heart full to the brim;
And now I’m more than ever sure that I should be like him.

© Ray Miles, 2023


Talking about connections leads us nicely to our next piece which takes an interesting perspective of the intruder by Hongwei, where the connection between owner and pet is challenged. I like the two perspectives of the cat owner and the cat, and the way the cat can create calm and change the course of what is to come: an agreeable ending.


I wake up one morning to find a stranger lying in my bed.

The bed wa,s in fact, bought by and belongs to Joe. Some say Joe’s my master, owner and keeper. Territorially speaking, it’s obvious that quite the reverse is true. Joe is my servant, companion and best friend. I know how much he loves me. Everything in the house became mine as soon as I moved in. Joe’s here to serve me and make my life more enjoyable. He feeds me with succulent tuna and tries his best to entertain me with various toys. He even built a kind of pretend tree for me to scratch myself against, but it was too wobbly. I prefer using the big lounge sofa which is made of a nice, soft fabric.

The stranger isn’t the only guy lying in my bed. He’s lying next to Joe. That’s why I can’t get to my usual place in bed, next to Joe.

It’s early in the morning and both are sound asleep. An alcohol smell floats in the air. I now remember they came back very late last night. I was fast asleep on my comfy sofa when they stumbled into the house. I wanted to stand up to greet Joe but my limbs felt very weak. The other guy’s clothes stank of cigarettes and cheap aftershave. Yuck! I know Joe likes men, and I’ve got no problem with that. But I’ve seriously overestimated his judgement and taste. After Josh left, Joe hasn’t had much luck with men. He often brings back outlandish people, but this guy takes the biscuit! I can’t let this guy stay in my bed, and ruin my life!

I rise on my paws and stretch my back and forelimbs, gathering strength for action. I confidently leap forward and land accurately on the guy’s stomach. His upper body twitches under the duvet. He opens his eyes. There’s a mix of confusion and shock in his eyes. As soon as he sees me, he takes out an arm and waves it towards me, as if to push me out of the bed. How rude! In my bed! At the precise moment before his arm brushes me, I calmly raise my paw to greet it. My sharp claws land on his bare arm for a brief moment. I then withdraw them quickly. I hear a loud scream, which wakes Joe up. While the guy is swearing and Joe is wondering what’s happening, I swiftly jump off the bed, dashing out of the room, across the hallway, through the door flap and into the garden.

It’s a nice day. The sun is shining, and the birds are singing in the cherry trees. I won’t allow what has just happened to ruin my mood. I decide to spend the morning inspecting the neighbours’ gardens. If I’m lucky, I can perhaps catch a sparrow or two. But I’ve got to watch out for the husky who lives a few doors away. He hasn’t been particularly friendly since I ate his treats. It wasn’t my fault; I saw them first and acted faster!

Soon it’s midday, and I feel a bit hungry. This makes me miss Joe. I make my way slowly back to the house. The cigarette odour is now gone. Joe is making a sandwich in the kitchen. As soon as he sees me, his body gets a bit tense. Is he still angry with me? I take a sniff in the air and detect no hostility in him. I boldly walk up, rubbing my body on his leg. I hold my tail high and purr sweetly. The seriousness on Joe’s face disappears. Slowly, he bends down on his knees and puts his hand on my shining black fur. His eyes are full of affection as he strokes me gently.

“Mimi, I know you don’t like Peter but that was a bit too harsh. You know you can talk to me any time, and there’s no need to punish him.”

I purr agreeably. All the danger has now gone, and my life is back to normal. No one can take Joe away from me. No one! Now, where’s my tuna?

© Hongwei Bao, 2023

Connect with Hongwei at X: @PatrickBao1


 Humanity is the topic of the next piece and how we can be pulled apart, but also how we can come together again.


You are you and I am me
Except I lost my sense of humility
Let alone any form of dignity
As I lay here wasting on the street

You are you and I am me
Except you lost your sense of empathy
Let alone any type of sensitivity
As you judge me wasting on the street

We were socially distanced for far too long
It seems like all of our humanity has gone
I cry as I pine for days bygone
When I wasn’t struggling to survive

Let’s revert to when people still cared
Where if you had a problem, you’d find it shared
Where society wasn’t so kindness-impaired
Where I’d feel grateful to be alive

It’s hard for me to ask for support
Life turned out not at all how I thought
If I stay here, it will no doubt be cut short
I don’t know how much more I can take

Let’s end the judgment, let’s put it right
Let’s be of service, spreading love and light
No more division, let’s stand and unite
What a beautiful world we would make

© K.E. Milligan, 2023

Connect with K.E. Milligan at X:@KEMilligan87


As the seasons change and winter draws in, bringing the longer and colder nights, we say goodbye to some things and hello to others, as Thomas Nixon suggests.

Changing Seasons

Winter days have come knocking
But this typewriter won’t stop rocking
Why does winter bring such gloom?
Perhaps its the ghosts, in the writers’ room

Battered in, but not beaten
This weather won’t stop our fight
Our words, the eternal light
Our minds: our beacon

Though springtime is a distant shore
And the sunshine, a distant lore
Never forget the words we bring
The words that carry our souls to sing

So hunker down, this lonely night
For the time is only right
No good words ever came from happy days
For it is the writers’ mind: our eternal blaze

© Thomas Nixon, 2023


As I sign off this week and for the last time this year, I would like to thank the Pen to Print and Write On! team and especially Madeleine, Claire and Lena, who have been a constant support network to me and to all the other page editors throughout the year.

As the year closes in and is coming to an end, I count my blessings and think of all the wonderful people who add light to my life and make it such a beautiful place. Even when times have been hard, people have come out of the woodwork and been there for me and my family in ways I could never have imagined. So, whatever life throws at you, always hold on to the good things and the blessings that come your way, because these are the jewels that enrich and light our lives. All the best until we meet again.


If you’d like to see your writing appear in the Write On! Showcase, please submit your short stories, poetry or novel extracts to:

Issue 18 of Write On! is out now and you can read it online here. Find it in libraries and other outlets and see previous editions of our magazines here. Look out for issue 19, coming to you on 12 December.

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