“Every girl should get a rose on her sixteenth birthday.” That red rose from Granny had felt more like a judgement than a gift. The first falling petal reminded Viola of Belle, and Granny had been there to mourn her lack of Prince, handsome or otherwise.
Five years later, Granny would have been impressed. Yamin held a rose outstretched, a diamond ring balanced on top and Viola could almost feel a little nudge from behind.
But Viola had been raised on Mulan and Moana, not Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella: marriage would clip her wings, and today, she needed to fly.
Another quick Friday Fiction to celebrate being home alone today. Thank you to Rochelle, who has sustained the group for so long and so wisely, and to J Hardy Carroll for this intriguing photograph. The link to my story is something of a rabbit warren of tangents, but here it is. Your comments and critique are welcome.
Josie passed another brown-bagged sandwich into outstretched hands.
“Thank you,” said the woman, tucking it into a worn-out backpack hidden in the bushes behind her. “I’ll have it when I’m done.” She waved Josie away and struck a pose, aimed at a black car approaching slowly.
Dad turned the phone towards her and she caught a glimpse of a torn backpack underneath a chilling headline: The Kingston Ripper Strikes Again.
“Why do they do it? They must know the risks, especially now.”
Josie took a deep breath. “If you were starving, wouldn’t you sell the only thing you had left?”
This blog has been quiet so long, I bet you wondered if I was ever coming back. I did too. But here I am, possibly for a one-off, possibly for a sporadic return to the fold. We’ll have to wait and see. Those little boys whose births were announced here 2.5 and almost 5 years ago are growing, and growing up and definitely keeping me busy. Here they are in a forest, up to some cute mischief!
But I’m really ere to share a story, to try my hand at getting back into the Friday Fiction party, and for that, I present to you a picture (Copyright Sarah Potter) and 100 words of story. I’m not happy with any of my current ideas for a title – feel free to suggest one if you are inspired. Either way, I welcome your constructive critique, I’m a bit rusting on writing, editing and what-have-you, so I’m sure there’ll be plenty to say!
For Sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.
The line flew unbidden into Alice’s head as she stared at Joey’s old boots, stuffed away and forgotten when summer called for sandals. She’d spent so much of their marriage cleaning up after him, it’d probably been her, but she couldn’t remember. Occasionally he’d swept through the house and made it look like she never put any effort in at all; annoying her even more.
A spider dashed out and shot across her hand.
“Oh Joey,” Tears washed black spots onto the shoes again. “I wish you’d come back and piss me off again.”
Thanks to Ted Strutz for this week’s photo, which reminds me of the Zac Brown Band song “Toes”. I went a different way for my story, though. I welcome your comments as always.
Allie lay down in the creek. The rushing water eased her muscles, washing away a week’s sweat and mud. The water stumbled on rocks and branches, but never relented in its quest for the ocean. Allie wished she had the same certainty of purpose, but Owen was gone, their children were gone … She had no one and nowhere to race toward.
She was soaked when she finally stood again – diverting just a little of the creek from its mad rush to the sea to travel a while with her.
“You’ll get there eventually,” she whispered. “And so will I.”
Thanks to CE Ayr, another picture for the Friday fictioneers to get our writing teeth into this week. I’m a bit of a fan of Canadian railways myself, but the story took me a little way from the train lines. I would love to hear what you make of it, and if you read the tags afterwards, whether they come as a surprise…
Stillness amid chaos
Mimi paused in the middle of the bridge as she did every day. Far beneath her, the train yard was deserted. Stillness amid chaos. Her Grandma said it was something to strive for, that to be still was to be at peace.
Mimi hated stillness. That’s why she danced – to swirl away the thoughts that gripped the silence. Here in the city, dancing and parties, people and sounds could fill every waking second, so she stopped on the bridge in search of her Grandma’s stillness, knowing that she could find it whenever she wanted, sprawled on the concrete below.
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.
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.
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.
No rerun for me this week; if you went back to Rochelle’s original post, you’ll know why. Five days into motherhood, apparently I didn’t put writing first ;). Three and a half years on, it’s still a challenge to fit in a weekly burst of writing, but sometimes we need to rise to challenges…
Kent Bonham recommended the rerun; the picture is Rochelle‘s own.
Mrs Mwanna says he won’t bring Mummy home in this. She says it loads, like each time she looks out, the sun will be shining, the ice will have gone and the car will have pulled in.
She looks more often than I do, but they don’t come.
It’s too cold to take Mummy outside. She’s too frail to walk and it’s too slippery for the wheelchair. Too far for me to visit. Too early for us to phone.
We hold hands and watch through the frost for the car that won’t come. He won’t bring her home in this.
Apologies for the long period of silence, enforced by a combination of illness and traveling. Thanks for your patience!
It’s been so long since I last posted, that the Friday Fictioneers are on another photo prompt from the same contributor, J Hardy Carroll. This picture reminded me of the nonsense poem, “One fine day in the middle of the night,” and the line “back to back, they faced each other.” Beyond that, my story reflects a deeper feeling I have about the way we behave as humans, but that wasn’t my original intent. Your feedback is welcome, enjoy!
The Valley of Death
There they stood. Line upon line of them; back to back like the school desks of naughty boys caught cheating. Each man could feel the warmth of another against his spine, but he could see only desperate, calculated cold in the eyes ahead.
An army, weaponised by their enemies, bent on self-destruction, this was to be their end.
What they could have done if all had moved as one, turned together and risen up against their oppressors. But here, on this field of death, they could think of only that the man opposite must die.
A distant bell chimed once.
It is Friday, after all. So, better late than never, here’s my story for Rochelle’s own picture prompt this week.
It’s arguably not a story, but it came to me all at once, and when I typed the last word you see below, I noticed it was 100 words exactly, so I couldn’t resist the feeling it wanted to be posted as is. Apart from changing one adjective that didn’t seem quite in keeping, I haven’t changed it at all, but I welcome your feedback.
Everything in Grandma’s house was old. Grandma herself, obviously, had been alive long enough to remember black and white television, Nixon and the Civil War, and she had a telephone that plugged into the wall and you had to stand right there in the kitchen if you wanted to talk, because you were tethered there like a goat.
But the oldest thing in Grandma’s house was the golden clock. It never moved. Uncle Joe said it was right twice a day, but Grandma said it told the time she met Grandpa and was always right. I liked Grandma’s version better.
Thank you to Sandra Crook for today’s picture prompt. I have so much I could say, so many different observations that could lead to stories, but this is the one the Muse chose this morning. Your comments and critique are very welcome.
A few weeks in, Alice was beginning to feel motherhood was her own personal Groundhog Day. She was Bill Murray, working her way through the same piles of diapers and washing and pain and tears – her own, as well as Aiden’s – over and over again.
Like Bill, she tried something subtly different each time, and although the consequences were considerably less hilarious in real life, love was still the goal. And that first time Aiden smiled, together with every time he waved his tiny fat feet in delight, she knew spring couldn’t be more than a short time away.