Tag Archives: short stories

Friday Fiction – A Rare Kindness

For the last few weeks, my Friday Fiction entries have been a bit of fun – a nod to our beautiful hostess, Rochelle, and an admission from the heart of a struggling procrastinator. But this week, I wanted to go back to real story-writing. Then I saw the prompt from Erin Leary and it made me think of a couple of things. Initially, it reminded me of the third FF photo I ever responded to, but then it made me feel much bleaker and darker, helped no doubt by the fact I’m currently reading Cornell Woolrich’s ‘Four Novella’s of Fear’ and getting back in touch with my dark side.

It was the dark side that won out, and I’d love to hear her well (or not) this story works for you.

copyright-erin-leary

A Rare Kindness

The weather is so rarely kind. But when I passed the spot next morning, I was pleasantly surprised. The rain in the night had fallen on saturated ground, there and upstream, and the field beside the road was now just more river. No evidence of my labours remained.

Tomorrow, perhaps, or next week, or next month, when the waters recede, her grave might be visible. The water might even reopen it and free her body the way I freed her soul. But for now, my crime escapes detection. And tomorrow I will be far enough away to do the same.

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Inspiration Monday – A History In Scars

It’s so exciting to be writing again. I’m sure I should be doing a thousand other things, but it’s so nice to be writing. And to have such great prompts to write to – this one is from Bekindwrite’s Inspiration Monday series. After yesterday’s darkness, there’s a patch of light in today’s story. I’d love to hear what you think of it.

And while I’ve got your attention, here’s wishing you a fantastic Christmas, whether you celebrate it or not!

A History In Scars

Gerry traced a finger across Ellen’s stomach. Blue lines like tiger stripes coursed down her flesh, but it was the horizontal white one that caught his attention. The tiger stripes were slightly softer than the skin around them; this one was the opposite – a firmer ridge under his finger. He tried not to dwell on it.

He could stretch his hand out and cover the entire thing. That’s how small a newborn is. Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. He loved kids; he’d love to raise some of his own with Ellen. And he had long since accepted that dating at his time of life often involved ready-made families, but in almost six months together Ellen had never made any mention of having a child. She lived with her parents and little sister, Hope: a five year old late-arrival into the family on whom Ellen and her parents doted.

Ellen shifted under his touch. “Go on,” she whispered. “Ask.”

Ellen remembered that day in a haze of sadness and pain. She’d gone for a routine scan, but the doctor said her baby’s heart was slow and they needed to get it out. She’d been in surgery less than an hour later, her mother holding her hand, her father pacing outside.

“It’s just like when you were born,” her mother had said softly, a smile on her lips but tears in her eyes. It was, of course, nothing like when Ellen was born. It should be the baby’s father pacing outside, not the mother’s.

Ellen turned her head to face Gerry. “I know you want to.”

“It’s OK,” he replied, looking away from her face. A second white line appeared there. Not like the clean incision he’d been touching; this one was jagged and angry. It slashed up her cheek, over her eye and stopped in the middle of her forehead. He knew this scar well – he had seen it every time they met and he’d heard the story of the man who put it there. Gerry was delighted when Ellen had finally agreed to spending the night together. She had every reason never to trust a man again.

Last night, over dinner, he’d been amazed at how much her family saw past the scar, even Hope, who couldn’t have ever known Ellen without it. They all saw the beautiful woman behind it. That was the Ellen he saw too, the one he had fallen in love with. Unlike his ex-wife, who was flawless on the outside, Ellen kept her perfection hidden away.

“I want to tell you,” she said. “It was him. My ex. He gave me two things to remember him by – two scars.”

“What happened to the baby?” Gerry asked softly. “Did you have it adopted?”

“I was going to, but when they took her out, she wasn’t breathing.”

Gerry let out his breath slowly. “Perhaps it was for the best,” he said. He couldn’t imagine how Ellen would have felt raising the baby of an abusive partner.

“She fought so hard to be with us, I couldn’t let her down after that.”

Gerry felt the breath catch in his throat again, but he waited. Ellen would tell him when she was ready.

“Hope.” Ellen whispered. “When she’s old enough to understand, I’ll tell her. Perhaps she will want to stay with me.”

“With us,” said Gerry, pulling Ellen towards him. “If you’ll both have me.”

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Friday Fictioneers – Dreams

Next week being Christmas, I might be skipping FF to celebrate. Sebastian, bless him, found a present this morning and opened it, so he’s obviously ready! I’m close… just one more thing to buy, I think. Whatever you’re doing, even if it’s not celebrating ancient rites or a Christian festival, I hope you have a great couple of weeks and a happy day on the 25th.

As usual, the Friday Fictioneers are hosted by Rochelle and many other responses to the prompt can be found through her master page over the next few days. Our picture comes from Jean L. Hays, who holds the copyright. [I’ll link her site later if I find it, please feel free to send me a link if you have it].  I hope you like my offering; I welcome your critique and comments.

dolphin_01

Dreams

She dreamed of backyard swimming, of friends splashing in the pool. When the dreams grew tired from overuse, she added dolphins. In desperation, she imagined a lazy river and waving to her mother who wore a pretty dress and a wide-brimmed hat.

The hat was necessary, to hide the face she could no longer properly recall. The swishing water drowned out the voice she couldn’t bring to mind. The garden, she knew, no longer looked anything like the one where she had played. Before she agreed to help Him look for his dog. Before the room. Before the nightmare began.

***

Click here if you don’t think it can happen

 

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Friday Fiction – Testing Spelling

Maybe it’s the grammarian in me, but one thing jumped out of this week’s FF prompt, copyright to and courtesy of Randy Mazie. And it gave me a chance to reprise three of my recurring characters. If you like them, check out their previous exploits here, here and here. However, this story is designed to stand entirely alone. I welcome your honest feedback.

trespass_randy_mazie-1

Testing Spelling

“Next one: Trespassing.”

Matty chewed his lip. “T…R…E…S…S?”

“No!” Luke shouted through the wall. “One S, then two!”

“Shut up, Shrimp!”

“Boys,” I warned.

“I’m helping,” Luke said from the doorway.

“You’re not. I can do it.” Matty is sharp as a tack, but he’s not as academic as his little brother. It drives him nuts.

“Luke, back to bed.”

“Think of trees, passing,” Luke whispered. “Then take out the extra e.”

Matty glared at the door as I pushed it closed. “T…R…E,” A longer pause for the e, “S…P…A…SS…ING!”

The muffled sound of proud applause came through the door.

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Friday Fiction – Legacy

This week Friday Fiction gives us the Want no evil, Think no evil, Feel no evil picture below from Sean Fallon. There are so many things I wanted to do with it, but time and rules permit only one story, and the one below is what I chose. Even then, this is a scene I can see so much more of in my mind and wonder how well I’ve captured in 100 words. I hope you enjoy it. If you have time, please let me know what you think – good and bad – in the comments section.

Other stories based on the prompt can be found on Rochelle’s site. After you’ve read the story, if you’d like a brief musical interlude, click here, or here. Both are relevant.

**UPDATE: Based on the comments posted today, I’ve made a few edits (two, really, and then a few other tweaks to keep the word count). Hopefully this version is a little more clear.

sean-fallon

Legacy

“Deuce is wild,” said Tommy, cutting the deck. “I wanna legacy, like them novels Ron, here, wrote.”

The four men sorted their cards.

“Donate your body to science,” said Ian. “That’s my plan.”

“Don’t think they’ll want mine.” Geoff rubbed arthritic knuckles and glared at the mixed bag of nothing in his hand. “I figure my legacy’s all the scribbling on walls I did during ‘Nam. Peace graffiti never gets cleaned off, right?”

“I’d forgot you’re a Peacenik,” Tommy spat.

“That’s your legacy then: death and destruction. That and your bui doi.” Geoff dropped a fifty on the table. “Bet.”

 

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Voice Week – It’s a wrap!

Another year of Voice Week is over. Everyone’s series(es) can be found at Voiceweek HQ.

You can see my entries throughout last week – it doesn’t matter what order you read them in, so feel free to just click back through. I tried to capture the same situation – a mother’s love for her son going off to war, but from the point of view of five different mothers. I hope the love and the fear came through all of them. Thanks to those who have taken the time to stop by and comment. If you haven’t yet, I’d love to hear what you thought.

Do I have favourites? You bet I do.

For a new take on the view of 5 characters in an old story, LoveTheBadGuy

For five different looks at immigration / emigration (A subject close to my heart), LLDFiction.

For a little mystery, set up, thrown around and knocked down all in 500 words, our leader: BeKindRewrite.

 

Another great year!

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Friday Fiction – The Prisoner’s Dilemma

Koi carp: so nice, they named them twice. This week’s picture for the Friday Fictioneers led me to a whole load of research about carp, none of which I used. It bred in my brain several terrible puns, none of which I used. Hopefully, you enjoy the story I did go with. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, who has been distributing our weekly picture ration for a year now, and to founding-Fictioneer Doug MacIlroy, whose picture is this week’s prompt.

koi

The Prisoner’s Dilemma

It’s a feeding frenzy out there. I can hear them pushing and shoving, desperate to get the first bit, the last bit, anything in between. Hungry mouths: never full, never satisfied.

I can hear them, but I can’t see. The small slits that serve as windows too high to provide a view, let alone an escape route. I’ve been here how long? Days, maybe. Weeks, even. The nights and days uncounted.

And yet, I hear them and I wonder if I am the lucky one. My meals are scarce and scraps, but no one fights for my gruel and roaches.

Operation Unified Response

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Inspiration Monday – Claim your island

This week’s InMon prompts include the phrase “Capture your island”, which put me in mind of the fascinating post I read here (reblogged by Rochelle Wisoff Fields). And hence, my story below. I hope you enjoy it, your comments and critique are always welcome.

Robinson_Crusoe_island

Claim Your Island

“So, you’re Robinson Crusoe. The first thing to do is claim your island.” Gordy pulled a forked stick from a pile of driftwood and pushed it upright into the ground. He would have liked to make a flag to hang from it, but there was no material in the pile. He could strip off his vest and use that, but he might need it for warmth in the night. And anyway, a white vest would look like a flag of surrender: Gordy had no intention of surrendering to anyone.

“You never know what’ll be on the island, so you’ll need a weapon to defend yourself, and to hunt wild goats to eat. Luckily, when you were cast away from the ship, you brought your trusty bow and a handful of arrows.” He unslung the bow from his back and counted the arrows in the quiver he’d carried under his arm. Seven. Or it might be eight. Numbers were tricky like that.

The sun flicked behind a cloud and Gordy was glad of his vest. “It’s not as warm as it ought to be,” he muttered. “You should build a fire before it gets any colder. You’ll need it to cook the goats later too.” He began to gather some more sticks into a campfire. “Or wild boar. Mmm…” The idea made his mouth wet and he spat on the ground. Gordy took a swig from his canteen and wished it was grog that slipped down his throat, not water.

There was a rustling from the undergrowth behind him. Gordy froze. The noise stopped, and he dropped to his knees, carefully stringing an arrow onto the bow and pulling back on the string.

The sound came again. “It must be Man Friday,” Gordy whispered, holding the bow steady in shaking hands.

“George Anderson! Is that you messing about in my log pile again?”

“Man Friday is aggressive,” Gordy thought, wishing the local had used his proper, adventure name, and not the one his parents insisted on.

“Get out here this instant.”

Gordy felt a hand on the back of his collar, then he was lifted several feet off the ground and dragged out of the undergrowth. Face to face, Man Friday was even more terrifying. He stood six feet tall and almost as broad, wearing a bright yellow housecoat, with a washing peg hanging from his fearsome mouth.

“I’ve told you about mucking about in my garden. Get home before I tell your mother!”

“Yes, Mrs Rogers.” Gordy pulled his plastic bow and quiver onto his shoulder and hurried away before Man Friday could flick him with the red tea towel she’d been hanging out to dry. It would have made a good flag, he thought. Perhaps later, he’d stage a raid and capture the enemy’s ensign.

 

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Inspiration Monday – Raise Heaven

Another Thursday, another prompt from BeKindRewrite. The muse was determined to come back to this one – raise heaven  – however much I tried to consider some of the others. Let me know how you think she did!

The Limits of Omniscience

My father never blasphemed. I mean, never. When we were small and shouty, he used to say “You’ll raise heaven with that racket”, because Hell was outside his vocabulary. I’m not sure what he thought would happen if he said it, or any of the other words he avoided. We used to discuss it as children. My brothers – all older than I – would goad me into expletives, then threaten eternal darn-nation or the wrath of GD.

It made church attendance in our family something of a pantomime too. My first boyfriend, Stephen Thompson, lasted from Thursday to Sunday, when an uncensored ‘Jesus’ during the first hymn saw him ousted from our family pew, never to darken my door again.

We knew, of course, that our family were extremists. We heard good Christian children at school using these words as though they had no magic power, and not once did I witness a spontaneous lightning strike in the playground. But knowing you’re in the minority isn’t the same as knowing you’re wrong.

When I was seven and she was five, Magda Thorpe, who was the oldest daughter of Reverend Thorpe, told me she prayed to Jesus and he talked back. In so many words: “Jesus”. I clapped a hand over her mouth and pushed her under a yew tree to protect her, but the only punishment was mine. And it was far from divine. Mrs Davis had me stand up in front of class and explain how I shouldn’t push people because it was bad. I couldn’t even explain why I’d pushed Magda, because I couldn’t say the word she’d said.

I believed I was saving Magda that day, and I trusted my father to have our best interests at heart, even when he drove away good prospects like Stephen Thompson.

Right until I turned eighteen. Since my father had always wanted me to be another boy, he insisted that I join in the same tradition my brothers had, and celebrate my birthday with a beer at the Rose and Crown. I sat across the table from him, the pint glass a few inches from the tabletop and heavy in my hand. One sip had told me I wouldn’t enjoy this initiation, but the look in his eye ensured I would weather it.

“Get it down you,” he said. “God knows you’ve waited long enough.”

The breath caught in my throat. The cool glass slipped from my hand and back onto the table with a bump. All my muscles seemed to be simultaneously tense and flaccid, like I’d gone into some unheard of form of medical shock.

All around me, I felt like the world should have stopped, but my father and his friends, even my brother sitting beside me, hadn’t reacted at all. They were talking about the latest football game and waiting for me to drink. One by one, they stopped talking and looked at me.

Then my father laughed and they all joined in. “The rules don’t apply in the Rose, my girl. God doesn’t dirty his feet in this little corner of the world.”

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Friday Fiction – Memories

Tough one this week: the photograph is Rochelle‘s own and a fascinating collection. I wrote this story as scantily as I could and it was still 158 words. Some fierce editing was needed to bring it down to 100; I hope you enjoy it and I’d love to hear what you think.

I’m on and off with computer time this week, so please forgive any delay in reading your comments and/or stories.

iaam

Memories

Alma’d felt so grown up, consigning her etch-a-sketch to history in the ninth box. Each Christmas since, she’d chosen something special, like the photograph she found in the trash after Anthony’s ship sank. When she met Ralph at a concert she put the ticket in, even though it was only June.

But as the years passed, she began to worry: there were only 36 boxes.

She and Ralph spent that Christmas at the sea. Alma paced the beach and picked out two large shells. She returned to find Ralph smiling at the hotel door, his arms stretched around a present.

* * * * *

Some notes. Only read these if you’ve got lots of time and nothing better to do.

Pre-edit, I really liked the opening paragraph, but it was too long and had to go. I felt it was a better explanation of the set up, and of Alma’s character: Alma started the collection when she was nine, looking back over her childhood and allocating one box for each year. She felt so grown up, putting her etch-a-sketch in the ninth box and thus consigning it to history.

A few comments have mentioned the other items. I can’t explain them all, but here’s a few I know…

#2 Alma was very ill as a toddler. The medicine bottle represents this and her gradual return to health.

#11 & 13 Alma learned to skate at 11, by thirteen she excelled at ice hockey.

#14 Alma’s older brother, Anthony was in the navy. When she was 14, his ship was hit by a torpedo and sank. Her mother, heartbroken, threw out all her old photographs of Anthony, including this one of him with Alma. Alma found it in the bin and rescued it for her treasure trove.

#24 When she was 24, Alma went to a summer concert and met Ralph. She was so certain about him, she immediately shelved the ticket instead of waiting until Christmas.

#31 Alma felt this year that she’d achieved pretty much everything. She was married, had a house, a car and a dog. She was packing away her monopoly set pending the arrival of her firstborn when she realized how well the pieces matched her life.

#32 Alma and Ralph’s first child arrived.

#36 With one box to go, Alma went for a walk on a beach and sent a prayer into the waves that the conclusion of the boxes wasn’t a sign. Luckily, she’d picked a diamond in Ralph, who knew the most valuable present he could buy his wife was a new set of shelves (or boxes) and 36 more years of memories.

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