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Showcase: Hybrid-Renewal + Life’s Plea + Khadijah In The Petrol Station + Elvis And My Pelvis + Hope

Edited by Helen Aitchison

For the third Showcase of June, I’ve selected some diverse pieces demonstrating differing perspectives of ‘Overcoming’.

First is an extract from Hybrid — Renewal by Martin Walker. This piece spoke to me about finding our place and people in life and overcoming judgement and societal perceptions.

Hybrid – Renewal (Extract)

Ever since she was a kid, she knew that difference equalled freak. Her first years at school had attracted too much attention due to her rainbow-coloured hair. Teachers were insistent that she washed it out, but her mother, Silv, had defended her, saying it was a quirky trick of her DNA; she was special.

Being special held responsibilities and complications. Rachael never wanted it, trying to blend in with the other students, finding friendships difficult. She often had to hide away when her skin began to glow green as the sun activated her hybrid nature. The sparkling green segments on her epidermis sent the message to any onlooker that she was weird, a freak, forcing her to make hurtful decisions to keep people at arm’s length.

Often rebelling against rules and regulations, it constantly caused trouble with authority figures. Detention could have been one of her best subjects as back answering the teachers came with too much frequency. Silv had persistently drummed into her that because she was different, her life would be a challenge. However, Rachael challenged everything, causing those early years to be chaotic.

As a child, the urge to connect with nature was unavoidable. When she was a toddler, she had been lying on the lawn at home, her fingers idly playing with the grass, when they involuntarily sank into the ground as if searching for worms. She screamed as her neuron connectors extended like thin noodles to find mycelium strands hidden beneath, sending shock waves of energy through her body. Sometimes she would lie there giggling; other times, crying. It depended on what she was sensing – the pleasure of nature at its most beautiful or the pain of its destruction.

Her parents knew that their daughter was different because they were different. Their longevity, for one thing, was a product of their hybrid heritage. It had been a long time in the waiting for a child, over a hundred years. Now, here she was, the promise fulfilled by many prayers and premonitions. She was to be raised into a community destined to make its mark on the world, to establish a new order, even to stop mankind from its own destruction.

As she grew older, this weighed heavily on her. Her father, Marcus, had been strict with her on the observance of the community’s codes: ‘Defender La Vida’; ‘Sub Rosa’; ‘Protector of the Forests’. They forced her down a route, causing her to rebel in her teenage years. Thankfully, her superior intellect managed to get her through the years of schooling, offsetting her often dismissive attitude. Yet, she wanted more.

© Martin Walker, 2024

Connect with Martin at their website:


Next, a poignant poem from Rachel Harrison, which also echoes overcoming rejection, judgement and finding acceptance.

Life’s Plea

I am a ship caught in life’s stormy waters,
Blown here and there by the winds of change.
Tossing waves have me at their mercy –
No safe port of call within my range.

Dying of thirst, surrounded by water,
Living alone, in the midst of strangers.
Where can I sail when the storm clouds gather?
Find me some place where I can hide from danger.

Darkness and grey skies are only too close now.
When I cry for help, will you be at my side?
I’m set on a course that threatens to drown me,
Be my anchor against life’s tides.

© Rachel Harrison, 1984

Connect with Rachel on, Instagram: and via their website:


My third piece is a thought-provoking short story by Ian McSally. Khadijah In The Petrol Station spoke to me about overcoming preconceptions, taking a pause and reflecting.

Khadijah In The Petrol Station

The office block in the grimy city peered down onto more interesting matters. The blue sky washed up and beyond the grey opposing blocks. He could see less and less of his old city, now buried beneath new buildings and cultures. His phone rang as he moved to the window. Closer to the glass, he could feel the rays on his face. He hurriedly packed his messenger bag and left. He clenched his fists and shook his head; ordered off on a fool’s errand.

Past the mosque and the gurdwara, the car-share club vehicle lingered unloved on a busy street corner. A swipe from one of his less familiar cards unlocked the doors. He climbed in and regretted the diet of the previous occupant.

‘Is it key or button start?’ he wondered, seeing neither. He paused as his clock and heartbeat tick-tocked. Logic drove him to dig into the glove box for the answer. As if pulling a treasure from a lucky bag, he withdrew a key, waved it like a wand and looked again for the ignition lock. He cussed at the former user for leaving the car without fuel. Beads of sweat formed on his prawn-pink face. Dialling the air-conditioning to maximum, he set off for the petrol station.

Two unoccupied pumps on the forecourt chilled his rage. He guessed the filler was on the driver’s side and was becalmed by serendipity. The pump looked like an amusement arcade machine, plastered with supplementary instructions. He shook his head, withdrew the pistol filler, returning it when unable to open the filler cap. He spotted a lever under the wheel and pulled it. He located the nozzle in the filler’s neck and squeezed. The cost and volume numbers in black against a sickly green remained static on zero. He could feel his chest tighten.

A voice broadcast his incompetence across the four lanes of the forecourt. He thought its tone scolding but could not hear the content. He gritted his teeth and drove to the pump two metres ahead, the forecourt filling up faster than his tank. Invited by the screen, he inserted the fuel card and answered 20 questions via a tiny keypad. Salty beads appeared on his forehead. The broadcaster returned to her microphone and the echoing and hurried words beneath the crinkly tin roof blew away with the fumes into the blue sky. He couldn’t understand her words. The pump could not be moved, and the fuel stayed underground.

His face reddened, and he marched to the shop. Rows of processed calories were ignored as he strode to the counter. Submerged in bolts of black chiffon, armoured behind glass, a young woman spoke. Again, he could not hear her. He stopped a metre away from the glass, stared, then stepped forward.

“Was that you giving me instructions?” he asked.

“Yes, it was,” the lady behind a veil answered.

“I couldn’t hear you,” he said.

“I’m so sorry,” she said, while he stared at the moving fabric covering her mouth.

He looked at the niqab and, hunting for the person within, saw not the peace it gave her. Placing his ear to the gap between security panes, he said, “I followed every form of instruction, no matter how contradictory, with no joy. I don’t think I’m stupid; in fact, I first came to this city to study!”

“I don’t think you are stupid, Sir. Those pumps are card only. You may not have seen the signs.” Her voice was assured. Her kindness and sincerity calmed him.

“Well, I did not, but the card failed. The first pump seemed locked, regardless.”

“Is it a fuel card or bank card you are wishing to use, Sir? ‘Pay at the pumps’ only accept bank cards.”

“It’s a hire car and comes with an unfamiliar fuel card. Sorry if I seem upset. It’s not with you; it’s everything else.” He smiled at her.

Though he couldn’t see it, he felt her smiling back. She spoke to reassure him. “It’s not your fault, Sir. Why don’t you move to one of the pumps on the right-hand side? They are cashier only, then I can complete your purchase.”

Though they seldom met his, he noted the warmth from her beautiful eyes. “Thank you, I will.” With that, he returned to his car.

He switched forecourt lanes. The new pump and advice allowed the hydrocarbons to pulse in the pipes like the blood thumping in his veins. He left the brim-full car and returned to the shop, thanking the woman and placing his ear into the gap in the glass to hear her ask for his fuel card.

“What’s your car registration?” she asked, as the car in front of his pulled away. “Oh, don’t worry, I can see it.” She read out the registration plate as she typed.

He drew back away from the glass and noticed her gently shaped eyebrows above peaty brown eyes that flashed in the sunlight. Looking for her name badge, he could only find Welcome. I am new here on a badge in sans serif among the folded acres of cloth.

“Sorry for being angry before,” he confessed. “I wasn’t angry with you. I’d forgotten how impersonal barriers can be – like this glass between us now. And there I am, behaving as if they were needed.”

“It’s OK, I understand how frustrating things can be. Can I have your mileage, please?”

He obliged her with five digits.

“It’s an older card, so I’ll need a signature from you.” She passed the receipt to him. “I don’t like barriers, but sometimes people need them to feel safe.”

“Thanks for your help.” He breathed in. “Most days I want everything to go my way, for my choices, as if I know what’s best.” He signed his name. “You are simply lovely. I see you. I wish I knew your name.”

“You have a lovely day,” she said.

“And you too,” he replied.

He passed her the receipt and pen. He left, shaking his head, to drive off with more peace in his heart.

© Ian McSally, 2024


Next, a powerful and moving poem by Eva Lauder. Elvis And My Pelvis documents overcoming health challenges and the resilience of humans.

Elvis And My Pelvis

Just like Elvis, I have a pelvis,
But unlike Elvis, I broke mine.
But it’s okay,
Doc says I’ll be just fine.
I don’t see how,
Not right now.
My pain is too great,
And my body’s in a two and eight.
“You’re going to rehab,” the doc tells me.
“For how long?” I ask.
“Until we are satisfied that you can fulfil your task.”
I look pensive, sad, in fact,
Doc looks assertive, but he’s full of tact.
The folk in rehab are so kind.
Patient and chatty, so very helpful,
There’s no chance I’ll be losing my mind.
Physio, cakes, copious cups of tea,
Three meals a day, I’m fit to burst.
Progress is slow but steady,
I can’t go home till they think I’m ready.
I will get strong,
I will go home.
I want to prove the doctor wrong.
Six weeks in rehab? Make that four,
I don’t think I could do much more.
In time I’ll be just like Elvis,
Singing ‘Jailhouse Rock’.
And swaying my pelvis!

© Eva Lauder, 2024

Connect with Eva on Facebook:Eva Lauder author, X:@laulauev, Instagram: @EvaLauderAuthor and via her website


Finally, a beautiful piece by Tavinder Kaur New, which left me with a message of self-belief and recovery.


Sunshine, shining, shimmering away energy renewed from yesterday,
Weeds pulled; grass cut time to plant vibrancy of colour again from the drab of yesterday.
Sunshine, shining, shimmering away daylight engaging from yesterday,
Time to sit, time to heal, time for me to be less than yesterday.
Sunshine, shining, shimmering away blinding heart alive from yesterday,
Coming out from the shell, coming out from the pain, coming out from being black from yesterday.
Sunshine, shining, shimmering this is hope again to move me forward to another day from yesterday’s memories and decay. Hope.

© Tavinder Kaur New, 2024

Connect with Tavinder on X: @NewTavinder, Instagram: @tavinderknew and via their website:


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

Read Issue 20 online here or find it in libraries and other outlets. You can see previous editions of our magazines here

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