Arm’s Length


Each week, we pick a short fiction piece from our Fairlight Shorts archives to feature as our story of the week. This week, we’ve chosen a story about recovery by Becky Jones.

Becky Jones is a seasoned content marketer, who lives in Reading, in the UK, with her husband and two boys. As a professional marketer for nearly twenty years, she writes a lot for work – blogs, eBooks, thought leadership reports, web content, email campaigns and more. Around her work and busy family life, she loves to write short stories and is compiling a growing collection. A couple of these stories have been published by Fairlight Books in the last year.

‘Arm’s Length’ follows a former professional swimmer as she overcomes her grief by helping a student.



Leah gave the junior manager on reception a curt smile as she pressed her plastic pass to the turnstile and moved through.

‘Swimming today, Mrs Dawson?’

‘Yes please.’

‘No problem. The pool is busy today so let me just check. Ah yes, there’s space. Please go ahead.’

In all the years she’d been coming here, Leah had not once been turned away. This was just a performance they acted out every time, both knowing full well the staff were a bit too scared of her lately to refuse entry, even if the pool was full.

For Leah was a long-standing member of the health club: there was even a picture of her on the honorary members wall. A former national swimming champion, she was becoming as well known locally for her unpredictable moods, and she wasn’t oblivious to the menopause leaflets that had appeared in a prominent position on the reception desk.

She wasn’t menopausal. She’d actually been through the change a few years earlier with little bother. She was just cross at life for making her a widow too early.

Entering the changing room, a young girl in a pineapple-patterned swimming costume, fists full of fluorescent googles and dive sticks, was fidgeting next to her mum near the doorway. Leah walked briskly past, spotting that the cubicle she liked to change in was free. Communal changing gave her the shivers; all those bits of body and saggy skin on display. It was hard enough contending with her own body now she was in her fifties, never mind anyone else’s.

Read more…