The Giftie

An essay by Sadie Loveday, as provided by Judith Field
Art by Errow Collins

O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
(Robert Burns, “To a Louse”)

On my 40th birthday, I said to myself, “Sadie, it’s time for life to begin.” Sadie Loveday, spinster of this parish. I’m not bad looking, really–5 feet 12 inches with all my own teeth and hair. I wear glasses, but there are sexy frames these days.

Just as I’d convinced myself that perhaps short men did have a certain bijou charm, my mum had a stroke and I moved back in to look after her. She was a good friend, and we had some happy times. She never pursed her lips when I spent money on myself, however trivial the reason. Like the green hair extensions. “We’ve got to have our toys,” she said. “They’re the marigold on life’s muckheap.” She also reckoned that you should always have two things to look forward to, so there seemed to be brightness stretching into the future.

She died. I’d been out of the dating rat race for eighteen years, and all that stretched into the future were years on my own. “You don’t need a man to make you complete. Haven’t you heard of feminism?” my mates said, scurrying back to their hubbies. But I was still crouching at the sprinting blocks with nowhere to run. The finishing tape had been rolled up and put away.

It was all very well telling myself that nobody’s perfect, but how could I meet Mr He’ll-Do? I didn’t want to go out pubbing or clubbing, what’d be the point? With everywhere full of luscious girls in their teens and twenties, why would a man be interested in me? I googled “dating apps over 50.” All the descriptions included the word “seniors,” which made me shudder. I’d have to do it the really old-fashioned way–take up a hobby. Better than sitting at home squinting at my phone.

I’d always loved singing, so I joined the Mill Hill Chorale, who met in the local church hall once a week. I decided not to have any other sort of treat on choir days so that if anything else good did happen, I’d have two things to look forward to, like Mum said.

Shelley, the leader, said I was a tenor. You’d think that would put me in the middle of lots of hunky men, or at least one or two. It didn’t. They were all married, and spent the non-singing time complaining about arthritis, flatulence, and memory loss. I called it “the organ recital.” Most of them needed a nurse, not a lover. Old, dull, gay: pick any two from three. I decided I’d have to set my cap at younger men and hope they didn’t dodge it.

The Giftie

Congratulations on you buy the Giftinator™ from Foon Corporation. People all around you see you how you wish you would look. Switch on, the Giftinator™ tunes into your brain waves and determines how that would be. Acting within 10 foot radius. So just think hard, wait for results.

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Summer 2016 collection.

Sadie Loveday: Girl, 58. Diva. Lover. She showed no interest in nor aptitude for technology until she met her current partner. Shortly after, apparently out of the blue, the two of them took up inventing. The results include the Do-it-yourself karaoke machine/tea maker and the one-stage system to dye any fabric with leopard spots. You’ll see them advertised in the back of any local newspaper.

Judith Field lives in London, UK. She is the daughter of writers, and learned how to agonise over fiction submissions at her mother’s (and father’s) knee. She’s a pharmacist working in emergency medicine, a medical writer, editor, and indexer. She started writing in 2009. She mainly writes speculative fiction, a welcome antidote from the world she lives in. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications in the USA, UK, and Australia. When she’s not working or writing, she studies English, knits, sings, and swims, not always at the same time. She blogs at Luna Station Quarterly and

Errow is a comic artist and illustrator focused on narrative work themed around worlds not quite like our own. She spends her time working with her partner on The Kinsey House webcomic and developing other comic projects when she’s not playing tag with her bear of a cat. More of her work can be found at

“The Giftie” is © 2016 Judith Field.
Art accompanying the story is © 2016 Errow Collins.

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