What We Leave Behind | Creative Non-Fiction

Politicians, particularly those approaching the end of their time in power, tend to focus on legacy. The Monroe Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, and the Third Way are all examples of attempts to leave behind something tangible. They are the fenceposts to which administrations and existences can be tethered, held fast by a conviction that time and lives were spent in the service of something greater than themselves.

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A Kind of Magic | Short Story

[Warning: content includes infant death]

It is more difficult to look up at the sky than it is down at the floor. This is why, when we are feeling uncomfortable or embarrassed, we look at our toes. It is why those at the top of their field can comprehend those below them whilst the less well-informed can only fumble and grasp at the musings of their betters. So it is with my endeavour.

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The Ragged Frenchman | Short Story


I’m delighted to have another short story published in Literally Stories. ‘The Ragged Frenchman’ was written last Christmas and involved a little bit of historical research. As such, it really was a labour of love and I was pleased with how it turned out.

One of the most evocative chapters of history is Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow in 1812. A few critically misjudged decisions by Bonaparte saw the French army depart Moscow too late in the year and retreating along the same route that they had used to thrust deep into Russia. Consequently, the land had been stripped bare of resources. Harried by marauding Cossacks and dogged by rapidly dropping temperatures, army discipline disintegrated and men became feral with cold and hunger. Horses were set upon for meat after stumbling on the wintry ground, and officers wandered off from their men to end their misery rather than march on.

Hopefully I’ve managed to capture some of the chaos and desperation of the retreat, along with a healthy dollop of the supernatural.

Read ‘The Ragged Frenchman’ here.


Matthew Richardson is a writer of short stories. His work has featured in Gold Dust magazine, Literally Stories, Near to the Knuckle, McStorytellers, Penny Shorts, Soft Cartel, Whatever Keeps the Lights On, and Shooter magazine. He is a PhD student at the University of Dundee, a lucky husband, and a proud father.

Not necessarily in that order.