416 #2 It Started With A Kiss…

…And Muddy Knees

Last week, I posted one of my entries for an old Authonomy.com competition. The task was to write a 416-word short story. This is another entry, one of my faves. I’ll tell you why at the end… 

Lottie the Gardner

MuddyKnees:    you still going tomorrow?

Lottie1990:       Yep

MuddyKnees:    🙂 see you there, geordie carrot queen. x

Lottie stared at the avi of Mr Bloom from the kids’ TV show and frowned. X. In six months of questions, advice and chatting on organicveggrower.co.uk, MuddyKnees had never added an ‘x’ to his messages. Why now, the day before they’d finally meet?

‘Howay, are you still mithering that Crack Phone?’ Barbara from the neighbouring allotment wagged a courgette at her. ‘You’re addicted, pet.’

‘You’ve a cheek. This iPhone saved you from purple sweetcorn.’

‘And how is your organic veg guru?’

Lottie picked a mangetout, hoping to hide her blushes. ‘That’s the thing. He’s sent us a kiss.’

‘Really?’ Barbara beckoned her over to peer at the message. ‘Howay, you’ve pulled, pet.’

‘Don’t be daft.’ Lottie picked at the mud under her thumbnail. ‘Anyways, all I know is he’s from Yorkshire and he writes an allotment blog. He could be forty and married.’

‘Or thirty and single? You’ll need new undies.’

‘Give over. It’s an organic allotment meet-up not Geordie Shore.’

‘Aye, pet, but some fancy silk knickers hiding under your dungaree dress will make you feel right special. It’s not for him to see, not yet, anyways.’

Lottie blushed as red as her radishes. Did she have time to nip to the Metro Centre on her way to Harrogate in the morning?

‘And,’ Barbara said, returning to her weeding, ‘if he is forty and married, you can wear new pants down the Bigg Market tomorrow night.’

Lottie mimed stabbing herself in the heart. ‘I’d rather eat your entire crop of purple sweetcorn.’


‘Lordy, you’re prettier in person than you are in your avi.’ Carole, forum moderator and host of the meet, led Lottie towards a group admiring her brassicas. ‘Wait ‘til you clock MK. We might not agree on slug control, but I already adore the boy. He looks like Rafael Nadal and talks like Alan Titchmarsh.’

Lottie felt herself redden as the only male under thirty looked around. Carol wasn’t kidding. Tall, dark and wielding a trowel. He sent her a kiss?

‘Lottie, meet MuddyKnees aka Xavier Thomas Hernandez-Stone.’

Xavier? With a mixture of amusement and disappointment, Lottie shook his hand. It wasn’t a kiss – it was his bloody initial.

‘Nice to meet you, Xavier. Finally.’

Still holding her hand, he smiled, blushing slightly. ‘No one calls me Xavier. Ridiculous name for a Yorkshire lad. It’s Tom.’

Lottie grinned, delighted she’d blown forty pounds in La Senza.



This was one of my favourite entries, not because it’s a work of genius – it’s not – but because it gave me Lottie and Tom. They’re the stars of The Carrot Queen (Working Title) – a tale of romance, radishes and a ruthless psychopath. Allotments have it all going on, baby. 

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