Category Archives: Writing

FF – Pillars

Friday Fiction again and this week a photo from veteran player, Sandra Crook. I think she must have been with us at least as long as me, right Sandra?

Your thoughts and critique of my writing are always welcome.

crook3Pillars

Edith took the news with a sigh.

“I know you don’t approve, Mum, but the marriage just isn’t working for us.”

“I remember when marriage didn’t work for you, you worked for it. Things got a little rickety, you propped them up. Added a pillar. Or you leant harder on the ones you had.”

“And when there’s no pillars left?”

Edith glanced over at her grandsons. “You’ve three great pillars right there.”

“I don’t love her any more.”

“Well. Love’s the weakest pillar of all. I haven’t been in love since the Great War. And certainly not with your father.”

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FF – Next Stop

Its Friday! And I’m catching up on Friday Fiction. This week’s photo is from Shaktiki Sharma. It was hard for me t make out the image on my little phone screen, so I went with the old “say what you see” motto and the story below was created. Your comments are welcome.

Whatever you’re celebrating at this time of year, even if it’s ‘just’ Friday, I hope it is happy and peaceful for you.

shaktiki-2

Next Stop

The view from the bus was uninspiring – leering neon as unappealing as the darkness. People loitered around the shadows, but she fought the urge to fear them. She was safer among these strangers than she had ever been with Mark.

She clutched Eloise’s weary hand in hers and strode across the street towards a flashing Vacancies sign. The room rates posted below it were hourly, with a discount for the whole night. It was no place for her, and certainly not for Eloise, but her shoulders lifted slightly as she stepped inside.

“Come on,” she whispered, “Our new adventure awaits!”

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FF – Gloves

horses-in-snow

Rochelle’s own photo this week. And a rushed post from me. It’s nice to have time to write at all!

 

Gloves

“Where’s your gloves, now?” Sadie asked, exasperated.

“Dunno.” There was something in Evan’s voice that said he did.

“That’s four pairs gone!” Sadie yelled. “And it’s minus nine out there!”

Evan pulled his sleeves down over his hands.

“Fine. Let’s go or you’ll miss the bus,” she half pushed him out and down the drive.

On the way back to the house, she detoured into the field to check the trough hadn’t frozen. Beside it, she found a neat pile of mittens and a note in messy letters she knew so well.

“Put on you feet,” she read, “Itz cold.”

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FF – Story Seeking Title

Today’s post is another heavy one, and once again about motherhood. Maybe it says something about the mood I’m in at the moment (although this story is not specifically autobiographical), maybe it’s just the bleakness I got from Peter Abbey‘s fantastic photograph below. Either way, I couldn’t think of a title, so feel free to wade in on that, or the story itself.

peter-abbey11

Lisa rocked backward and forward, like a silent pendulum of motherhood. Ethan whimpered occasionally, his tiny fingers rhythmically scraping the tender skin of her other breast. Pain, loneliness and darkness seemed each to magnify the others into an eternity of agony, emptiness and night.

She could faintly hear another world, where her husband and parents breathed and showered and laughed.

Tears moistened Ethan’s hair. She daren’t move, so they fell freely.

When he finally dropped sleeping from her breast, she stood and touched her wet face to his. “I love you,” she mouthed as she laid him into his crib.

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FF – Mementoes

I’ll save my introduction for after the story, lest it count as a spoiler. Here, I will just say thank you to Rochelle for hosting, Claire Fuller for the photograph, and all the Fictioneers for cutting me a bit of slack at the moment, when I am struggling to read more than one or two submissions each week. My story (and then the intro) follows, and your comments and feedback are always gratefully received.

claire-fuller-8-1

Mementoes

Ella bought her first display cabinet when she was thirty-four. She’d never really been a collector; knickknacks always seemed like an expensive way to fill a house with nothing.

She chose a wooden, rugged-looking one, because Peter would have liked it. Pirate treasure wouldn’t have felt odd there. His treasures – hers now – fitted too: a piece of coral, seven rocks, a couple of dried leaves and a coin among the favourites. And then, in the final spot, the too-small urn where Peter himself could count them all forever. Her little Peter Pan, who would never grow out of boyish things.

 

Extroduction

I’ve touched on this subject before, but this week is Pregnancy and Infant Loss awareness week, and while Peter in the story is a little older than that technically includes, the grief his mother feels is certainly in the same camp.

I know all about boyish collections – our front window ledge and porch are cluttered with just the sorts of things Peter has left for his mother, and soon I will have a second little collector on my hands. What I can only imagine (and frankly, try not to), is the grief of a mother who has lost her child. The origins of Peter Pan, it has been suggested, are in just this sort of loss, and certainly when I read about a little boy who never grew up, the childish fantasy is edged with the adult fear. There is only one way to avoid aging, and very few of us would choose it for ourselves or our children.

I am thinking and feeling today for the Lost Boys (and Girls), and for the parents they left behind. I know this includes some of the Friday Fictioneers – my heart goes out to you all.

 

 

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FF -Tidy Mind

Today’s impressive photo from Amy Reese put me in mind of a few things – the line from My Own Private Idaho about “I’ve been tasting roads my whole life…”; that bit in Scandal with Huck; and lastly the massive amount of storage we now use in the West. I’ve read some incredible stats about just how much space and money we dedicate to things we no longer want in our homes but can’t bring ourselves to get rid of. I’m minimalising at home right now, and the purge feels good even though the decisions aren’t always easy.

Ultimately, my story isn’t exactly about any of these things. I hope it makes sense – it was one of those that would have appreciated 200 words, but hopefully still works as it is. Your thoughts are very welcome.

from-amy-reese

Tidy mind

Alice leaned on the box and taped it closed. Packing was always such a release. Tidy house, tidy mind, as Jack would say.
Steve arrived from Big Yellow and put it in his pick-up. “Alright, Mrs A?”
She smiled and waved. He was a nice boy was Steve; always polite. Make a nice husband for her daughter, she thought, if the girl would just smile.

“Where’s the cutlery gone, Mum?” Sarah asked that evening. “And my plates?”
“I’m decluttering,” said Alice, emerging from Sarah’s bedroom with a heavy bag. “You don’t want all this stuff kicking around when I’m gone.”

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FF – Exceptionally Beautiful

This morning, I met my son’s toddler gymnastics teacher. She smiled and said, with honest enthusiasm, “You look exceptionally beautiful today.” I am desperately tired, wrestling a cold myself and two children who have also got it and have entirely forgotten how to sleep at night, at least in their own beds. It will pass, we will get through it, but hearing “You look ex…” my brain completed it with “…hausted.”

I could barely keep my eyes open. The short walk to class felt like a mountain climb. I looked exhausted. But apparently the top I had chosen at random from the drawer this morning – one which I love and which is in a colour that I’ve always thought suits me – meant I looked something else too.

I’m not writing this out of pride or self-pity. I’m grateful not just for the compliment, but for the reminder – we can be many things all at once. It’s better to focus on the good ones!

from-roger

Exceptionally Beautiful

Pin-pricks of light scattered across the ceiling. Annalise thought about the star-cloth backdrop they’d had at their wedding. It was a silly thing to focus on, especially today. Light was just light, after all. Thomas was lying in a box in the next room, and people were filing past shaking her hand or putting arms around her and saying things in hushed tones that she couldn’t hear.

The stairs swept up around her and she briefly wondered where they led. What happens on the second floor of a crematorium?

But more, she focused on the light. It was exceptionally beautiful.

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FF – From The Ground Up

A week or so ago, I revisited an old FF story from September 2015. It was one I felt had more mileage at the time, but never had chance to expand. This week, I couldn’t tell exactly what the prompt picture (copyright Shaktiki Sharma) showed, but a couple of elements caught my eye and the story and character which emerged reminded me of Lauren. So here she is again, probably a little before Gerry put in an appearance, getting to grips with a change of circumstances.

shaktikiff2

From The Ground Up

What she’d stand on had always mattered to Lauren.

“Flooring matters” she’d say, poking at seventies carpet or yellow lino as her Grandmother might a stained tablecloth.

“It’s not like we have to eat off it.” Ian, ever pragmatic, had insisted only that there was a floor, never mind the style or state of it.

She picked a stale chip off the cardboard carpet now and gnawed on it. Freedom had its advantages, but home comforts weren’t among them. He’d kept it all when she left – stone inlay and subfloor-heating were as wasted on him as she had been.

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FF – Cleanliness Above All

Sandra Crook provided this week’s photograph. I’ve wondered some way from it, and not in the direction I originally started, with my story below. Your comments are welcome.

crook2

Cleanliness Above All

Initially, Simeon hoped Elenora might be an ally. “I don’t approve of slavery,” she said. “I have an honest, local girl myself.”

But it transpired “local” meant English and as for “honest”, the maid was apt to pilfer coins to buy ribbon, and would be dismissed once a replacement could be imported.

“I like to know her hands are clean.” Elenora flicked a suspicious glance at the pristine plate set before her. “And she speaks the language.”

Later, his wife admired Elenora’s white dress.

“Presumably the cotton was picked by the only English plantation worker on the island,” Simeon thought.

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FF – All Aboard

This week’s rerun is a new one for me. I was away for its original version. I’ll post my story below and welcome your comments; my own thoughts follow it so as not to pre-influence yours.

the-boat-and-miss-liberty

All Aboard

I take their silver coins, these travellers, and I carry them, one by one, to the teeming world on the other side. A few of them know my name, most do not. A few of them thank me; most barely notice the ferryman taking them from living shore to dead.

One day, a coin will spill from your jaw, and I will take it, open palmed, for my labours. Will you see me? Will you know my name, my parentage, my history? Will you take the hand that aids you aboard, or shun it in one final push for independence?

 

**********

Extroduction

I had originally planned to write something a little more subtle, linking the Staten Island ferry with Charon on the Styx, but leaving it up to the reading to decide which it was.

Then I wrote the line in bold below, which gave it all away, but which I loved. It didn’t make it into the final edit of the story, but once it had crept in, I felt the piece needed me to be clear. The Ferry fell away and only the Underworld was left.

Darkness and the Night, Father and Mother, Uncle and Aunt… all a single unholy coupling that made me fit only for that endless grind of conveyance.

So, in the end, there is very little of the picture left. I would like to edit longer, but the little boy who was one when this image first appeared is now three and a half, and is pretty peeved that I took even half an hour out of his day to write this. Charon isn’t the only one who would appreciate a bit of appreciation and a break 😉

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