Wednesday 13 December 2017

Self Improvement by Michael O'Connor

Michael O’Connor has published two books and an e-novella and contributed to many anthologies, including four of the earlier Bridge House ones. He has had stories published in a large number of UK/North American print and online magazines, two of which received Honorable Mentions in the tenth and thirteenth annual editions of the Year's Best Fantasy and Horror. He won first prize in Writers’ News Magazine’s 2011 ghost story competition. His website is at

Today, I am fabulously rich and unbelievably handsome, incredibly healthy and fantastically successful. I have a powerful memory and outstanding conversational skills. I fraternise with film stars and royalty, act as a consultant to several major international companies, and own an art collection which is the envy of museums across the world. I speak several languages fluently. I eat whatever I like without gaining weight, drink until dawn without ever suffering a hangover, and am automatically invited to every important social event. I never feel tired or listless. Men respect me and women love me. I can win friends and influence people without being in any way nice to them. My sexual skills are legendary, and in great demand. Household pets obey my every command and weeds never grow in my garden.

Yet just a few short years ago, I was a seven stone weakling. I had a dull run-of-the-mill stuck-in-a-rut job, dry unmanageable hair, and I used to get sand regularly kicked in my face by elderly ladies who carried some around with them for that precise purpose, as I was always too frightened of water to go near a beach. The computers in several dating agencies crashed when my personal details were fed in to them, rendering me persona non grata in those most romantic of places. I was an avid stamp collector and dedicated train spotter with leanings towards bird watching, although I have to admit that I never actually acted upon that particular avocation because I was afraid that too much exposure to the open air would harm my weak chest. My proudest possessions in those days were two complementary anoraks -- one for best and one for day-to-day wear -- and I enjoyed a case of acne which was quite astonishing for a man in early middle-age. 

It was not a very rewarding existence and I was, to say the least of it, rather dissatisfied. Much of my ample spare time was devoted to scrutinising those seductive classified "self-improvement" advertisements in newspapers and magazines. I was constantly searching for a way to transform my meaningless existence without actually doing anything difficult or requiring the least effort or application on my part. 

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Michael O'C said...

Hi, everyone. I am very proud to have my story in this anthology and hope readers will enjoy it. Michael O’Connor

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