Thank you to Sandra Crook for this week’s photo. Maybe it’s the mood I’m in, but it struck me this way, so here’s a fairly say-what-you-see response from me for Friday Fiction. Critique away!
Sandy was so excited to be going on holiday, she even joined in the bus transfer sing-a-long. She needed this break, after all the drama with Jackson: to lie on the beach and swim in the pool, to read, flirt and sip cocktails alone in the sun.
The hotel was smaller and shabbier than she’d expected, but it didn’t dent her excitement. The water was calling to her. After checking in, Sandy stepped out onto the pool deck. Stinky black seaweed covered the ground and clung to her sandals. Then she saw the sign: “Desole – la piscine est ferme”.
With apologies for being a little late this week, here’s my story for the Friday Fictioneers. I was reminded the other day of an old favourite from a few years ago, so if you read this one and want more from me, click here.
For now, here’s the photo from Roger Bultot, that inspired today’s entry. Your feedback is always welcome.
Painting Over The Cracks
The view was dreary, so Mom picked dandelions to fill the apartment with colour and painted our rooms with cans the store threw out for being mixed wrong. Mine was “Resplendent Ruby”, but it came out green. When it snowed she showed us the beauty in each flake, and bustled us out on ‘adventures’ to scavenge the Clearance shelves for dinner.
For years, we bought it – credulous before our benevolent dictator’s relentless positivity. But even a kindergartener knows food isn’t good just because it’s in date. And that you don’t call Daddy “gentle” just because the bruises don’t show.
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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!
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.
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.
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.