FF – Empty Chairs

Photo copyright Brenda Cox

Empty Chairs at Empty Tables

We giggle and order everything we’ve dreamed about for months – it’s a good feeling to be out together again.

At the next table, the man tells the waitress to remove her mask, says he’d rather die than wear one. He gets angry when she refuses, starts shouting about infringement of liberty.

An older lady approaches from where she was sitting alone. She’s a full foot smaller than him but there’s strength in her eyes.

“A little more caution might have meant my husband was with me today,” she says. “Is a mask a greater infringement of liberty than death?”


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FF – The Discovery

Photo copyright Alicia Jamtaas

The Discovery

This is the News at Five

After yesterday’s discoveries, our historical experts have been investigating the impressive collection uncovered by the Earth lander. A reminder than excavations unearthed a near-perfect collection of plastica objects believed to be from some time around 21st century of the Earth Epoch.

In spite of their age, the items are almost intact and indicate a hitherto-unknown faith held perhaps universally by our ancestors. The crowned Goddess depicted on each sacred drinking vessel appears to be nautical. Waves of hair cover her naked form and tail-like shapes appear to flick behind her.

Her name was Starbucks.


This wasn’t the story I was planning. I can’t decide if it’s a bit cliché these days. But I was talking to the boys literally yesterday about what would happen if humans suddenly disappeared from Toronto. How fast the plants and animals would take over, and what would remain. So I guess this photo took me there.


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FF – The Destination

This photo, courtesy of Dale Rogerson , reminded me of the Big Apple we pass on our drives out East. The story that follows is fictional, but we’ve never stopped. Perhaps we should.

The Destination

Whenever we drove East, we passed the Big Apple. Mom said it was a pie store, and we couldn’t stop because pie’s not good travel food. I recently discovered there’s a whole play park there too. I asked Mom why we never stopped.

“Honestly? I wanted to. I asked Dad every year, but it’s such a bad location. If we stopped there, we’d never get to the island.”

“Isn’t the point of a vacation to enjoy the trip?” I asked her.

“Dad always wanted to get where he was going,” Mom replied, tapping the urn. “And now he’s made it.”


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FF – Ooops!

Photo credit – Liz Young


“Oops!” was one of Mum’s words.

Graze your knee in the playground? “Oops!” Crash the car on your driving test? “Oops!”. Knock red wine all over her new carpet? “Ooops!”

We joked that if we killed someone she’d maybe add an o or two, but still reach for “oooops!”.

She died before I realised it was a defensive mechanism; a reaction to the punitive parenting – if you can call it that – of the nuns who raised her. There was no room for “oops” at the convent, and Mum was determined everyone have space to make mistakes. Even herself.

N.B. Like most of my stories, this one is entirely fictional. I do say ‘oops’ a lot, mostly while watching motor racing crashes.


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FF – Motherhood

Photo credit: Miles Rost


We used to go for walks across the bridge. In the middle there’s this bit that sticks out, so you can stop and look through the fence and watch the trains and swans underneath. The trains chatter and race. Mummy used to say they were racing to the next delay.

I liked the swans better. They glided down the river however fast the river flowed. Last time we went, there was a mummy swan with a little baby. Mummy said she was teaching it to swim, but the little swan was going first. I think it was teaching her too.


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FF – Maggie and Bill

Thoughts are with fellow Fictioneer, Ted, this week, as he recovers from a recent stroke. I know loving family are with you, Ted, and you can be sure your fans are cheering you on from near and far.

Photo copyright Na’ama Yehuda

Maggie and Bill

Maggie’s your typical glass half-empty sorta girl. She looks at a cloud and sees rain. Bill’s the opposite. He’s always busy admiring the silver linings. You might not think them well-suited that way, but it works. She packs the umbrella for them to shelter under when it rains; he brings a picnic they can share on the beach… or in the car, if it turns out she’s right.

She’s often right, of course, but he finds the silver lining in that too, because she enjoys being right more than he minds being wrong, and isn’t that a recipe for love?


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FF – Just Do It

Photo copyright, Roger Bultot

Just Do It

There’s always one. Every. Damn. Day.

They are identifiable by their clothing style. This one’s t-shirt says “Just Do It” and he thinks that means “Whatever you want.” He looks scruffy but that shirt cost more than I make in a month.

He approaches the stall with a boy tagging along. The kid’s about my daughter’s age and he picks up a bracelet she spent the evening weaving.

“I’ll give you a penny for this,” the man says, taking nine off the posted price. “My son could’ve made it.”

“But he didn’t,” I think. “He ate pizza and watched TV.”


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FF – Great and Clod-hopping

Photo copyright belongs to long-time Fictioneer Ted Strutz. (https://tedstrutz.com/)

Great and Clod-Hopping

I’d noticed him months before. His friend put me in charge of staging a show in the toilet, a project he thought was stupid. But he was a scary 3rd year and I was new and shy, and had a boyfriend anyway.

Then we had to make Romeo and Juliet portable – a small crew, lots to do, not much time. I told him to get his “great-clod-hopping boots” off my freshly swept backdrop. He said why should he, when I was sitting on it with my “great-clod-hopping-arse”.

20 years on, he takes his boots off when I sweep our floors.


A rare true story from me, a memoir I suppose, of one of the pivotal moments of my life. 2001 was an important year for me, relationship-wise. Not only did I fall in love with Jon over boots and backdrops, I also met my best friend, Joy, at a First Aid workshop. It’s her birthday today, and our 20 year anniversary of best-friend-ness in a couple of weeks. Two of my favourite people in all the world, and I met them half a lifetime ago.


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FF – Room With A View

Room With A View

We couldn’t afford a fancy honeymoon suite so opted for “Double room with views of Niagara Falls”. Which meant an infinity sight of the top river flowing into mist, with a heavy sideline in parking lot.
“Double” was a push too, for the bed where we huddled like hamsters, lest we fall into the “bedroom spa” – which looked a lot like a bathtub they hadn’t managed to fit into the bathroom.

We stayed three nights after the wedding, united in adversity and finding comfort in each other’s company. Perhaps it was the best kind of honeymoon suite after all.


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FF – The Return

Copyright David Stewart (https://greenwalledtower.com/)

The Return

They’d all been kept apart so long that gathering together in this way felt both exciting and unnerving. The old kind of crowds had been hot and close, full of unwanted touching from strangers, accidentally or otherwise. This was different.

This was closer, more intense but completely comfortable and filled with a sense of belonging, like going to a concert and discovering everyone there is already a friend. Without faces or voices, recognition came from deep within and as they met, they drew together, a growing sense of ease replacing individual cares.

The realisation came in a single moment. Home.


Today’s pretty photo reminded me of crowds of people gathering before a concert or at an airport. It’s a view we have missed for so long, perhaps I would have seen it in any image! I started thinking about a story where we come back together after the pandemic and how that would feel. (I know some of you already have; here in Ontario we’ve got a long way to go, but that’s another story.) But then the story took a different turn, one perhaps inspired by or at least connected to a recent re-reading of this old FF: https://elmowrites.wordpress.com/2016/05/25/ff-the-greatest-of-these/

I hope you enjoy, I welcome your feedback good or bad.


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