Family Holidays 

A Short Story 

Ken Preston

6 March 2024

We’ve all got photographs of family holidays. Children and adults posed in front of a beautiful view, smiling into the camera. But do those lovely photos always represent the truth?

Read on for your latest short story.

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Family Holidays 

He places another photograph on the table. The print is square. A white border surrounds the picture. The colours are faded.

That’s me in the photograph. A skinny kid in a floral bikini, smiling uncertainly at the camera. Standing alone on a beach, surrounded by families sitting under sun umbrellas. The ocean is just visible in the faded background.

‘Newquay,’ he says.

I shake my head. ‘I’ve never been to Newquay.’

He places another photograph on the table. Me in a summer dress, standing in the courtyard of a castle. Surrounded by families. Me, alone, glaring at the camera. Bored. Angry.

‘Tintagel,’ he says.

‘That’s not me.’

The photographs are laid out like playing cards. He’s a magician performing a trick.

He pulls another photograph out of the packet. I place my hand over his before he lays it on the table.

‘What about you?’ I say. ‘Where are you?’

He places the packet of photographs on the table. The cardboard sleeve is yellow, with the word KODAK printed in red and blue.

‘I took the photos,’ he says.


‘Because that’s what you do on holiday, isn’t it? You take photographs to remember.’

My hand trembles as I pick up the coffee cup. ‘I remember.’

The holidays in broken down caravan parks, bed and breakfasts thick with the smell of stale cigarette smoke. The penny slot machines, the cotton candy, the donkey rides. My mother, watching me with dark, tired eyes, the cigarette hanging from her lips.

I remember all the holidays.