To find and join our group of writers, please go to

http://scribblers.freeforums.net/thread/1135/flash-fiction.

These are the picks from a word prompt. Ghostly

 

There is No Place Like Home.

I will never say I hated the town I lived in, but the din from streets jammed with cars crawling towards a full car park, shoppers never looking where they were going. Harassed mothers with strollers and toddlers. The market with streets filled with stalls selling goods of every description. I needed space to breathe and think. After much searching, I moved to a cottage deep in the countryside.

My purchase was not large but old and full of dark wood furniture, much of it covered in mould. Weeks later having cleaned every nook and cranny I moved in.
Have you ever lived in a house with ghosts? Well I had three of them. Harry was a pain as he made his room in the loft ice cold. Isabella, the old housekeeper, kept moving things. After the third or fourth time, I left them where they were and she never touched them again.

Mary, when I saw her was always in the bathroom. In fairness, none of them caused any trouble and they stayed well out of the way when visitors arrived.

Every time I walked past my bathroom door Mary, a thin little girl with jet-black hair tied in pigtails, possessed the brightest of blue eyes. She looked so sweet dressed in a white dress covered in embroidered yellow daisies. Each time she stood staring at the mirror clutching a tatty rag doll. I have no idea why as she had no reflection. I kept the door closed so I could walk by without seeing her, but I sensed she was in there. I could feel those blank eyes. She did not frighten me; in fact, I was sorry for her. Trapped forever in that room she looked a pitiful sight. From the original plans, it seemed long ago it was a vegetable storage cupboard.

As time passed, my three residents never changed but then why would they? Then writing appeared in the condensation on the bathroom mirror. ‘Jack’s coming.’

On the eve of Halloween, Ruth, a long time friend came to stay for the weekend. I never mentioned the oddities of my house. Right after she arrived, she wanted to use the bathroom.

A few seconds later, she returned with a dazed look on her face and said, “There’s a little girl in your bathroom.”

“Jet-black hair tied in a pigtail and wearing a daisy covered dress?”

She nodded.

“That’s Mary. She’s always in there.”

Her face turned white. “What do you mean?”

“She’s a ghost.”

Without another word, she grabbed her suitcase and raced out of the house.
During that night, doors opened and slammed shut. Someone started sobbing. I crept across my bedroom floor not daring to make a sound and turned the key in the lock. Then it went quiet until I heard struggling along the hallway. Then the air filled with a scream so piercing I clamped my hands over my ears, not that it made any difference. The air became cold and my body froze. Awareness crept over me that I was no longer in contact with my bed. I opened my eyes and the room was no longer there, instead, there was only the dark of a shadow. Paralysed, some unknown force dragged me towards it.

For a moment silence, then the telltale click of the door unlocking tossed me back to reality. The bedroom door opened and a shadow entered dragging Mary.

In the moonlight, I could see that rope bound her hands and feet. With a noose tight around her neck, the shadow looped the rope around a hook and pulled. In a state of shock, I wet myself but stayed silent. Then the shadow wrote on the farthest wall. I never thought a ghost could die but Mary’s legs hung, unmoving. The shadow grew and filled the room. The air in around me warped and twisted. Then, in a flash of pale, silvery light, a man appeared. He wore aged clothes, a crisp, white button up, shirt sleeves rolled up to the elbows.

Then, like the genie from Aladdin’s lamp, he vanished.

Trembling, I staggered out of bed and read the writing. “I know you are not sleeping.”

I threw up. With my eyes fixed on Mary, I fainted.

When daylight flooded the room. Mary had gone. Not bothering to shower, I dressed, packed and ran.

***

I placed the house on the market, and took my friend Davy back to collect a few things. The minute we arrived, I saw he sensed something. I could tell, but he insisted he was okay. After a while, he needed to use the bathroom. Seconds after he left, he charged back into the kitchen, gasping for breath. Then he looked straight into my eyes, and said, “There’s a little girl in the bathroom and she’s not happy. She said, you left, and you weren’t supposed to”.

We threw whatever we could grab into the boot of my car and roared out of the drive.
Some time later, the house burnt to the ground. The police blamed squatters. Yet, they remain mystified by the skeleton of a little girl found in the bathroom.

To this day, the memory of that innocent child and her death still haunts me.
Read more: http://scribblers.freeforums.net/thread/1135/flash-fiction-october-26th-results?page=6#ixzz5Xgl5UQAs

THE DIARY OF SAMANTHA THURLOW
Oct 1, 2018

I’ve done it. I’ve bought a house. Yes, this thirty-one-year-old bachelorette has sunk her life savings into a cottage that needs a great deal of TLC. The movers left hours ago and here I am, sitting on my favourite chair, surrounded by piles of boxes. My new, gorgeous cranberry curtains need to be hung.  I look out and night stares back.  What have I done?   I haven’t decided if I’ve made a wise investment or if I just made the second biggest mistake in my life—my engagement to Ryan will remain at the top of my ‘what was I thinking’ list for years. Note to self: get laid soon before my virginity grows back.

Jemma tried to talk me out of buying this place. I brought her along to the second showing cause I thought that she’d fall for its rustic charm, too. Instead, she’d grown oddly quiet. Went on about negative energy. Friends accept each other’s wacky beliefs, differences. Still, sometimes it’s hard not to roll my eyes when she talks about psychic cleansing and spiritual protection. All that New Age crystal-tarot-aura BS.

Okay, so the house isn’t quiet. It groans, but a strong wind is howling through one of the cracks in the kitchen window. I like the low ceiling, the diminutive rooms. It’s a bit like a dollhouse. But it’s all mine. I can’t wait to set up my studio. I need to make my bed, find the kettle, and actually eat. I’m famished—I should order a pizza. And wings. Instead, here I am writing.  The light in the front parlour is perfect.  All I want to do is to arrange my painting supplies and get to work. I feel so inspired.

WTF. Light blw out. Bulbs? Where did I

Oct 4, 2018

I’ve gone through two boxes of light bulbs. The power surges here are horrible. The electrician who I called told me there was nothing wrong with the wiring.

“Seems it was recently redone,” she said. “All the old knob and tube have been replaced.  Could just be the bulbs. Try some LCDs.“

Instead, I treated myself to four antique oil lamps. They are Crown crystal, almost puritan in their simplicity. I found them in a local shop and although they were overpriced, I just couldn’t resist them. I knew exactly where to put them. And they look like they’ve always been here.

Oct 6, 2018,

I’ve finished unpacking. The place looks cozier, but yesterday I purchased two portable heaters. I’ve arranged to have the cracked panes replaced, next week. Every room has a draft. I’m always cold, no matter how many layers I wear. I managed to start a fire in the woodstove last night. Then, I poured myself a tall glass of chilled Riesling and read things I wish I hadn’t.

Jemma had found some history on the cottage and sent it to me. She has become fixated, and I’m worried about her worrying about me. She thinks I’m in danger. The stove warmed my feet as I read up on ‘Redemption Cottage.’ I hate the name. I’ll never call it that. Ever.

I wish she hadn’t sent me all that information. Apparently, in the thirties, a madwoman lived here. Amelia Deeping was a religious hermit who was barely tolerated by townsfolk. She spent her days writing bizarre devotionals, fasting and self-flagellating. Nobody was permitted to visit and nobody wanted her to visit them.

One day, Amelia broke into the local library and set dozens of books on fire, screeching about corrupted souls and aberrations. She wasn’t jailed, for whatever reason. Mercy? Family pleas? Who knew. But they should have put her in a mental institution. Whatever demons she had battled eventually won. She ended up chopping off her own hand and bled to death in the kitchen. In my kitchen. Dammit. Why did Jemma send me this shit?

Oct 10, 2018

I’ve decided to host a Halloween party. I miss my friends, and I’ve fallen into an unfamiliar routine. I wake up at five, work for two hours, clean the house, work another five hours and then sleep. I have little or no appetite. Suddenly, I’m painting bland landscapes instead of my fiery warrior-maidens.

I need to liven up this place. I’m thinking of painting the rooms a bright yellow. The walls are greyish and sometimes I see shadows. It’s just a trick of the light, easily solved by a fresh wash of colour, new plaster here and there.  This house is desperate for laughter,  company…

Oct 14, 2018

I felt like someone was watching me today. I couldn’t shake the feeling, even when I closed the gaudy curtains. Cranberry? What was I thinking? They should be white. I’ve made the place look like a whorehouse. Tonight, I’ll go through my books. My shelves seem cluttered and there are so many titles that are questionable. I found a devotional in the attic.  It speaks to me.

Oct 17, 2018

I told Jemma to leave me alone. She wants to visit. I’m just too busy. I need my own space, some quiet to concentrate. The world is too loud, too too too

Oct 20, 2018

Cancelled the party. Redemption Cottage is for prayer and purification. I have packed away all my paints and canvasses, stored them in the cellar. The view from my window is enough. Today, I had broth and felt satisfied. I thought I heard someone humming a hymn as I scrubbed myself. Then I realized – I was the one humming.
All Hallow’s Eve, 2018

Flesh is weak. I must rise above sins. I’ve sharpened the ax and trust the voice I hear. It repeats, ‘ you shall cut off her hand; you shall not show pity.’ The shadows are chaste—divine—and they beckon. Like Seraphim. Sever ties. Cut here. You shall. We shall. Show no pity.
Read more: http://scribblers.freeforums.net/thread/1135/flash-fiction-october-26th-results?page=6#ixzz5XglDpE9y

 

 

The Muse

Sharma’s passion was writing, but she had to toil at a boring job to pay for her living expenses. She devoted any free time to her work in progress, trying to adhere to her daily word count target of 1000. Always scribbling away in her notebook, at lunch break and after dinner at home, she preferred to delve into her stories instead of going out with friends or watching TV. At weekends, she transcribed her work onto the computer and spent her time editing.

On a sunny week day, she could be found on a bench in a remote area of the park, next to the woods. This was her private patch not frequented by visitors who preferred to be part of the lunchtime crowds. It was a niche, a pocket, surrounded by trees, with a small opening in the front. Sharma felt comfortable, undisturbed by the commotion beyond. Sometimes she would close her eyes and listen to birdsong or look through the trees, immersed in thought.

This was when she first saw a lady, sporting a wide-brimmed hat, strolling in the woods. She could hear her footsteps, crunching the dry autumn leaves. Sharma felt a closeness she could not explain. Another loner on a solitary walk, a lover of nature.

After seeing her a couple more times, Sharma noticed the mysterious lady always wore the same outfit. A charcoal hat over blonde hair pulled back in a chignon, and a long, black coat. The next time Sharma escaped to her den, she saw her sitting on the bench. Her bench. Pale blue eyes glimpsed Sharma and smiled. “Good afternoon. It’s a gorgeous day, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” Sharma said, unsure whether to go back and find another seat.

“Come,” the woman said, patting the bench. “Sit by me and let’s talk.”

Sharma obeyed.

“You’re a writer,” the lady said.
“I try to be.”
“But you have little time, right?” She raised her eyebrows.
“Yes,” Sharma blinked.
“I’m Marsha Vavenza. Nice to meet you-”
“Sharma, Sharma Wells.”
“An Indian name?”
“I was born there. My father worked with an IT company.”
“Charming. The story you’re working on, do you need help?”
“How?” Sharma asked, pushing back a wayward dark curl from her forehead.
“I’m a retired editor. I only take on works by reference.”
“Really?” She clung to her bag, holding her notebook.

“I can edit your work, but only if you wish to show me.”

Sharma budged in her seat, looking into the deep blue eyes of the handsome woman. “It, it’s only in shorthand, unedited, raw. For my eyes only. I couldn’t.”

“Dear, girl. I’m used to deciphering writing more obscure than hieroglyphics, more illegible than those on medical prescriptions. The computers only came in the late 80’s. As we exchanged hand written notes and comments on typed pages, I got used to breaking the codes.”

“I see, “ Sharma said, still resisting, yet her gut feeling said to trust her. Though showing her scribbles to a stranger was out of the question, something made her pull out her notebook and hand it to Marsha.

“Thank you for trusting me,” Marsha said and smiled, as she fished out a pen from her handbag. She skimmed through the pages, writing notes in red. By the time Sharma had to leave, she had finished reading the entire contents. Marsha handed the notebook to Sharma and winked. “See you at the next chapter.”

At the weekend Sharma read over Marsha’s notes and edited her work. Marsha’s handwriting was clear and concise, her comments and suggestions worth taking into consideration.

Winter had already arrived when Sharma finished writing her story and handed the last chapter to Marsha. After reading and making notes, Marsha said, “If you need me, this is where I live,” and wrote her address on the notebook. “I shan’t be resuming my walks in the cold. See you again in springtime, perhaps.”

She walked into the woods and disappeared into their depths.

Sharma had Googled her name and hadn’t been able to find anything during the past two months. Marsha Vavenza did not seem to exist.

After editing and submitting her work, she went to the address Marsha had written on her notebook. The residents at the block had never heard of her. Sharma was intrigued and asked around the neighbourhood, going in and out of the shops.

A pub called Angel’s Bliss looked old, perhaps Edwardian. The man behind the till, mostlikely the landlord, from the way he managed the staff, looked ancient. Sharma ordered a drink and a pack of crisps, and tried to attract the man’s attention. When their eyes met, she asked, “Excuse me, sir, do you know anyone called, Marsha Vavenza who lives in this area.”

“Why do you ask?” the man said, staring at her.

“I have an address, but no one seems to know her. Here,” she said, pulling out her notebook, and showed him.

The man’s eyes darted between the writing and Sharma’s face. “Who wrote this?” he whispered.
“Marsha,” Sharma replied.

“It’s not possible. She died in 1988 and is buried in the cemetery by the woods.”

Sharma’s heart pounded in her chest. Her back shivered and goose bumps covered her arms.

“I-I, “ she said, but something made her stop. “Did-did you know her?” voice quivering, she asked.
“She was my lover. A great woman and writer I lost to cancer.”
“I’m sorry.” Sharma, said tapping her fingers on the bar.
“You saw her?” he muttered.

“Yes,” she whispered, staring at him.

Sharma arranged a bunch of flowers by a tombstone engraved with the writing, “M.V. Clarkson, writer, lies here. 1938-1988”

A warm breeze touched her face. She closed her eyes and whispered, “Thank you, Marsha.”
Read more: http://scribblers.freeforums.net/thread/1135/flash-fiction-october-26th-results?page=6#ixzz5XglmUHLa

 

OUT OF HER COMFORT ZONE

“No thanks, Kim. Really, I’ve had enough.” Lizzie covered the top of her glass with the palm of her hand.

“Don’t be a party pooper,” Kim slurred, adjusting her tiara and sloshing wine everywhere as she staggered back on to the dance floor.

Music blared, the heat stifling and the atmosphere damp and sweaty. Lizzy watched as the party goers stumbled around on the dance floor barely capable of standing, let alone dancing.

“Come on Lizzie,” Kim insisted. “Its my hen night.” This time Kim grabbed her hand and hauled her towards the bridesmaids-to-be, all dressed in barely there dresses with saucy slogans pinned to their backs… Faye-loves-Mr-Grey, Maisie-is-Free-and-Easy, Lola-is-a-Goer, and Maeve-the-Rave.

Like flies round the proverbial, their outrageous outfits and behaviour attracted a swarm of lascivious, drooling, drunken admirers who believed it was their lucky night.

Lizzie wondered why on earth she had allowed herself to be talked into accepting an invitation to an event she knew would be out of her comfort zone. She was fond of Kim, they had met when they were both allocated to the same shift at work, and had worked together ever since. Despite their obvious differences, they had established quite a close working relationship. In some ways, she envied Kim, with her brash out there personality, sharp wit and this-is-me, love-or-hate-me attitude, but when Kim tried her include her in social events, Lizzie had repeatedly declined. It was only when Kim refused to take no for an answer, that she had reluctantly agreed to attend her hen night.

“Lizzie, lighten up,” Maeve-the-Rave yelled in her ear. “Watch me,” she encouraged, running her fingers seductively through her long, chocolate coloured silky hair, and putting on a display of overt sexual simulation.

“You look like a fish out of water,” whispered a voice in her ear. Lizzie spun round to find a pair of seductive dark eyes regarding her… a glint of amusement shone in their depths. He smiled. “Not my scene either, want to go and sit somewhere quieter for a while.”

Glad of an excuse, she returned his warm smile. “Kim, I’ll be back shortly, just need a break from the noise,” she yelled above the music.

Kim stood up mid twerk, hoisting her bride-to-be sash clumsily over her shoulder. She stumbled and stared at Lizzie through astonished glassy eyes. “Hey girls, Lizzie’s pulled… go girl!”

Lizzie followed him into a quiet area with squashy leather sofas and soft lights. She flopped gratefully into one of the sofa’s and he joined her. “Hi, pleased to meet you… I’m Jude and I gather you must be Lizzie.”

As she met his smouldering gaze, Lizzie could not believe her luck. She giggled nervously. “Take no notice of Kim, she’s drunk.”

“I’d never have guessed.”

“Okay, that was a dumb thing to say. So, so… do you come here often? No, forget that… if it’s not your scene, why are you here?”

He threw his head back and laughed. “I like you, you’re different. I’m here under sufferance for the same reason as you, a stag night. By the way, you should smile more often, it suits you. I can tell you’re one of those rare females who do not realise how mysterious and attractive they are.”

She felt her heart quicken and lowered her eyes… an automatic response from years of crippling shyness.

“Lizzie, you’re like a breath of fresh air, learn to take a compliment, be proud of who and what you are.”

She slowly lifted her eyes to meet his. “That’s more like it. You know, you have the most hypnotic green eyes I’ve ever seen. Tell me all about yourself and please don’t say you have a partner.”

Lizzie was flattered by Jude’s attention and decided to make the most of the situation. After exchanging life stories over several glasses of wine, their mutual attraction intensified and when he suggested they take some fresh air, she did not hesitate.

As he took her hand in his, she experienced an involuntary tingle of excitement deep inside her. Without a backward glance, they walked through the doors and into the still, clear moon-lit night.

Jude turned to her. “It’s such a gorgeous night, let’s go for a walk. After being in that stifling, crowded place, we could both use some space.”

As she fell into step beside him, he placed an arm around her shoulder, and it seemed so natural to allow her arm slip to around his waist. Oblivious to time, they left the noise of the night-club behind, savouring the magic of the evening. As they walked along a deserted lane, in the light of the full moon, their shadows reflected eerily on the surface.

“Just look at that silver moon with its mysterious shadows. Don’t worry, I’ll protect you from all the werewolves and vampires out tonight.” Jude laughed, pulling her to him.

Lizzie could feel his breath, hot and urgent on her neck. He lifted her chin and kissed her gently. “I’m so hungry for you.”

He took her hand, pulling her towards a rustic gate which he pushed open before gently steering her into the field beyond, their sexual tension almost tangible.

As they fell into soft grass, he ran his fingers through her thick, auburn curls and gazed longingly into those hypnotic green pools.

Lizzie took control… straddling his body, she gently brushed his lips with hers driving him wild with desire.

She hovered over him smiling, her eyes flashing. In a instant his desire turned to abject terror, but he found himself powerless to fight. He groaned as her vampire fangs pierced his Cartoid artery, his consciousness slowly fading as she feasted on his young, rich warm blood.

With her appetite sated, she transitioned… extending out her black, leathery wings and soaring high into the night sky. With her black form silhouetted in the glow of the moon, she flew back towards the night-club.

It had been well worth the effort after all, and had made a welcome change from hours spent surfing internet dating sites for her prey!
Read more: http://scribblers.freeforums.net/thread/1135/flash-fiction-october-26th-results?page=6#ixzz5Xgm1g59I

OUT OF HER COMFORT ZONE

“No thanks, Kim. Really, I’ve had enough.” Lizzie covered the top of her glass with the palm of her hand.

“Don’t be a party pooper,” Kim slurred, adjusting her tiara and sloshing wine everywhere as she staggered back on to the dance floor.

Music blared, the heat stifling and the atmosphere damp and sweaty. Lizzy watched as the party goers stumbled around on the dance floor barely capable of standing, let alone dancing.

“Come on Lizzie,” Kim insisted. “Its my hen night.” This time Kim grabbed her hand and hauled her towards the bridesmaids-to-be, all dressed in barely there dresses with saucy slogans pinned to their backs… Faye-loves-Mr-Grey, Maisie-is-Free-and-Easy, Lola-is-a-Goer, and Maeve-the-Rave.

Like flies round the proverbial, their outrageous outfits and behaviour attracted a swarm of lascivious, drooling, drunken admirers who believed it was their lucky night.

Lizzie wondered why on earth she had allowed herself to be talked into accepting an invitation to an event she knew would be out of her comfort zone. She was fond of Kim, they had met when they were both allocated to the same shift at work, and had worked together ever since. Despite their obvious differences, they had established quite a close working relationship. In some ways, she envied Kim, with her brash out there personality, sharp wit and this-is-me, love-or-hate-me attitude, but when Kim tried her include her in social events, Lizzie had repeatedly declined. It was only when Kim refused to take no for an answer, that she had reluctantly agreed to attend her hen night.

“Lizzie, lighten up,” Maeve-the-Rave yelled in her ear. “Watch me,” she encouraged, running her fingers seductively through her long, chocolate coloured silky hair, and putting on a display of overt sexual simulation.

“You look like a fish out of water,” whispered a voice in her ear. Lizzie spun round to find a pair of seductive dark eyes regarding her… a glint of amusement shone in their depths. He smiled. “Not my scene either, want to go and sit somewhere quieter for a while.”

Glad of an excuse, she returned his warm smile. “Kim, I’ll be back shortly, just need a break from the noise,” she yelled above the music.

Kim stood up mid twerk, hoisting her bride-to-be sash clumsily over her shoulder. She stumbled and stared at Lizzie through astonished glassy eyes. “Hey girls, Lizzie’s pulled… go girl!”

Lizzie followed him into a quiet area with squashy leather sofas and soft lights. She flopped gratefully into one of the sofa’s and he joined her. “Hi, pleased to meet you… I’m Jude and I gather you must be Lizzie.”

As she met his smouldering gaze, Lizzie could not believe her luck. She giggled nervously. “Take no notice of Kim, she’s drunk.”

“I’d never have guessed.”

“Okay, that was a dumb thing to say. So, so… do you come here often? No, forget that… if it’s not your scene, why are you here?”

He threw his head back and laughed. “I like you, you’re different. I’m here under sufferance for the same reason as you, a stag night. By the way, you should smile more often, it suits you. I can tell you’re one of those rare females who do not realise how mysterious and attractive they are.”

She felt her heart quicken and lowered her eyes… an automatic response from years of crippling shyness.

“Lizzie, you’re like a breath of fresh air, learn to take a compliment, be proud of who and what you are.”

She slowly lifted her eyes to meet his. “That’s more like it. You know, you have the most hypnotic green eyes I’ve ever seen. Tell me all about yourself and please don’t say you have a partner.”

Lizzie was flattered by Jude’s attention and decided to make the most of the situation. After exchanging life stories over several glasses of wine, their mutual attraction intensified and when he suggested they take some fresh air, she did not hesitate.

As he took her hand in his, she experienced an involuntary tingle of excitement deep inside her. Without a backward glance, they walked through the doors and into the still, clear moon-lit night.

Jude turned to her. “It’s such a gorgeous night, let’s go for a walk. After being in that stifling, crowded place, we could both use some space.”

As she fell into step beside him, he placed an arm around her shoulder, and it seemed so natural to allow her arm slip to around his waist. Oblivious to time, they left the noise of the night-club behind, savouring the magic of the evening. As they walked along a deserted lane, in the light of the full moon, their shadows reflected eerily on the surface.

“Just look at that silver moon with its mysterious shadows. Don’t worry, I’ll protect you from all the werewolves and vampires out tonight.” Jude laughed, pulling her to him.

Lizzie could feel his breath, hot and urgent on her neck. He lifted her chin and kissed her gently. “I’m so hungry for you.”

He took her hand, pulling her towards a rustic gate which he pushed open before gently steering her into the field beyond, their sexual tension almost tangible.

As they fell into soft grass, he ran his fingers through her thick, auburn curls and gazed longingly into those hypnotic green pools.

Lizzie took control… straddling his body, she gently brushed his lips with hers driving him wild with desire.

She hovered over him smiling, her eyes flashing. In a instant his desire turned to abject terror, but he found himself powerless to fight. He groaned as her vampire fangs pierced his Cartoid artery, his consciousness slowly fading as she feasted on his young, rich warm blood.

With her appetite sated, she transitioned… extending out her black, leathery wings and soaring high into the night sky. With her black form silhouetted in the glow of the moon, she flew back towards the night-club.

It had been well worth the effort after all, and had made a welcome change from hours spent surfing internet dating sites for her prey!
Read more: http://scribblers.freeforums.net/thread/1135/flash-fiction-october-26th-results?page=6#ixzz5Xgm1g59I

via A Veterans Day Salute

Scribblers 4.

 

A Dash of Flash

 

To find and join our group of writers, please go to.

http://scribblers.freeforums.net/thread/1099/flash-fiction-july-27th-results?page

These are the picks from a word prompt.

 

From Suzycue

JUST A SIP

As Tania pulled up at the red light, her washy, blue eyes were immediately drawn to the plastic bottle teasing her from its recess. The lure of the liquid overpowered her… she leaned over and took a generous swig.

She pulled on to the office car park, placed the bottle in her bag then made her way up the stairs to her office, shutting the door firmly behind her. The effort of the stairs had taken its toll… she carefully dabbed at the beads of perspiration that had erupted on her forehead, then switched on her computer. She had become accustomed to and tolerant of, the thumping headaches, the constant anxiety and nausea. She again reached for the plastic bottle labelled ‘Spring Water’ and took another gulp.

Mike, her boss, popped his head round the door. “Morning Tania, have you finished that report I asked for?”

“I’m on to it,” she lied, panic beginning to rise in her.

He stood for a moment, appraising her. “You okay? You’ve been looking really tired and pale lately.”

“I’m fine, Mike, just not sleeping great, that’s all.”

“Have you tried a glass or two of wine? Works a treat for me.”

“I’ll bear it in mind. Thanks for asking, but really, I’m fine!

“As you know, the board meeting’s at two. I need to study the figures in advance, so can you make sure I get that report by twelve o’clock latest.”

“No problem.”

She stared hard at the computer screen, tears beginning to well in her eyes. It had hit her like a sledgehammer when Dan had called time on their relationship. His fervent denials of another woman had, in fact, turned out to be true, but she had been both shocked and stunned when he finally confessed to finishing their relationship for the new love of his life… another man!

The vodka had initially dulled her pain, her emptiness and her humiliation, but it had quickly escalated into a toxic dependence, one that ruled every aspect of her life. She lost touch with friends, had become a sly, scheming liar and a first-class actress, consumed with guilt and shame.

Unable to focus her addled brain, she turned off her computer, slipped on her jacket and walked to her car. On the way home she stopped to buy another two bottles of vodka and drove back to her flat in a haze… to drink herself into oblivion!

***********

When Tania regained consciousness she was lying in a hospital bed, hooked up to an intravenous drip. The harsh reality of her potentially fatal addiction was delivered by a stern doctor at her bedside. For the first time in eighteen months, she was sober and the gravity of the situation shocked her to the core… if she sank any lower it would be into her grave. Coming face to face with her own mortality ignited a flame of determination that burned inside her. She would beat this… she had to!

During Tania’s detox programme, her Mum had revealed a closely guarded, shameful family secret… her Grandmother had succumbed to chronic alcohol addiction, which had eventually claimed her life. It was concluded that Tania had inherited a predisposition for it, and just one sip could result in a relapse.

Pieces of her childhood began to fall into place. Recollections of heated arguments, images of her Grandmother slumped face down in her Christmas lunch… her Mum’s livid face. But now she felt only pity for her ‘shamed’ Grandmother who, like herself, had needed help not persecution.

***********

“It’s great to have you back, Tania. Look, I’ll level with you, I hate these return-to-work interviews, but I have to say, you look and seem so much more like your old self. I’m so pleased you’re…”

“Sober?” Tania interrupted. “There’s no need to tread on egg shells, Mike. I’m a recovering alcoholic, and will always be. Apparently, it’s in my genes… my Nan fell victim to it. I was a mess and in a really dark place, one I don’t ever intend to revisit. So from now on its a life of sobriety for me, and you know what, bring it on.”

A relieved smile spread across Mike’s tense face. “That’s good to hear. Looking back, I should have noticed the signs… you were no longer on the ball and seemed permanently tired… to think I even encouraged you to have a glass of wine to help you sleep! When your Mum rang to explain what had happened, it was a wake-up call for me too… I was drinking far too much, since then I’ve cut right back.”

“That’s where you and me differ, Mike. I’m incapable of cutting back, it’s all or nothing… I dare not even risk a sip… that’s how I’m wired.”

“I appreciate your honesty, Tania, and admire your determination.”

***********

“I can pick you up if you like, so you can have a drink.” Tania offered.

“I can’t believe its Christmas already. I suppose it would look bad if I didn’t go.”

“Pick you up at eight then?”

“If you must.”

Tania smiled. “Mike, its the staff Christmas party, not a funeral.”

“Bah Humbug.”

“Pick you up later.”

***********

“Go on Tania, one won’t hurt,” Chrissy yelled over the disco.

“Yeah, let your hair down for once, it’s Christmas,” Spence added. “What can I get you?”

“Just a soda and black, please. Spence, I don’t need alcohol to have a good time.” She thought back to last Christmas, spent in a miserable drunken stupor. She turned to Mike. “I love this song, come on, it’s time you had a dance.”

Chrissy and Spence linked arms and sauntered over to the bar. Spence ordered their drinks and a Soda and black for Tania. “Go on,” Chrissy encouraged, she’s such a stick in the mud.”

“Can you put a double shot of vodka in that,” Spence asked, with a wink and a wry smile.”

 

 

 

From Toni

DETAILS MATTER

 

I decided my future path very early in life, about age ten as I recall, when Sue Gleeson twitted me once too often about my stutter. She never did find out about Tiddles, the stupid cat she was always boasting about. And a few months later Dave Moreton’s dog disappeared too. Humiliating me in front of the whole school. I can’t help the name my parents saddled me with. I always get my revenge.

 

I realised the possibilities of social network sites very early on. My brain works that way – always one step ahead of the mob. So over the years I joined them all – Netbookers, Palster, Moodler, DateMe, Liaisons – in different names of course, sometimes a young girl, sometimes a young man my own age, sometimes a mature older woman. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m as normal as the next man—I just love women to death. Hehe. Gettit!

 

But sometimes I get the urge to get involved with the schoolkids, to sort of make up for the stuff I missed out on. Geek-beak, they called me then. What with the stutter, the big nose, the unfortunate name, and the giant intellect I had a pretty miserable time in school. That’s gone now, the nose; it’s just a normal nose. My parents could have had it fixed any time but they were too mean. Of course, I managed to play my little “tricks” on all of them, one way or another. The stutter too. Using my very personalised therapy.

 

And in case you are wondering, no, I’m not into grooming kids. That’s a sort of little break for me, away from the serious stuff.

 

But for the best trick I waited until I was legally adult. So I could inherit, see.

 

After the house fire that killed my “beloved” parents the insurance payout on their million-dollar property and dad’s life insurance (too mean to insure mumsie) meant I could do whatever I wanted, go wherever I pleased. I became a pretty astute investor which gave me more than enough to live the simple life I wanted without the tedium of a nine to five.

 

So I did. Bought a bike, not a Harley, just a nice medium sized Suzuki. Quite big enough to get me from A to B to C. Three months here, three months there. I picked up a new ID in each town, they come in handy. It’s amazing how trusting lonely women can be.

 

Police didn’t have a clue.

 

 

So which face shall it be this time? MaryAnne Benson, Lizzy Smythe?

 

Sarah White? Maybe. Brunette, 40-ish, attractive in a matronly way, non-threatening. Ah yes, why not dear Sarah. We had a lot of fun and she twigged pretty quickly what I was up too. A matter of like recognising like.

 

Not that she was really competition as she was after their bank accounts and I was after the owners of those accounts. We parted a little … shall we say, unpleasantly. Mace at dawn! Not quite that but I did notice the gun in her handbag. I don’t think she saw my knife.

 

No, on second thoughts, best leave that one alone.

 

I’ll try DateMe this time, since I’ve used Liaisons twice now. It’s a bit cheaper than Liaisons too. Not that the cost would bother me but it’s always good to save money when you can.

 

My DateMe name: Margo K. Age range: 40s. Seeking: F 35 to 55.

About me: Recently widowed, I’m new in town and looking for female companionship for outings, dinner, concerts, plays. Friendship only.

 

There that’s done. If it’s anything like the other places I should get responses fairly soon. Well, there you are. One, two, three … bingo. Rebecca S. Bit frumpy but I never let that bother me.

 

We are meeting tonight, going to see a play. Rebecca tells me her daughter is playing the lead and even though it’s an amateur company they have an excellent reputation. I can’t imagine anything more tedious but of course I won’t actually be subjecting myself to that particular torture.

 

In case you are wondering, I never dress as a woman. No, I’ll be wearing my usual jeans, trainers and black hoodie. I buy them new in each town, then bin ’em well away from … well, you know.

 

This is a very dull suburban place to have a theatre, but there it is, The Victoria – looks as though it was once a cinema. I’ll park the bike around the corner and wait out front. She’ll just see this chap waiting for his girlfriend and maybe we’ll get chatting while she waits for Margo. Not that it’ll make any difference.

 

Funny there don’t seem to be any folk around.

 

And there she is. Rebecca. Bit on the scrawny side, but that makes it easier. The knife should slide in easily.

 

Hang on. No, it can’t be … ! What did she say? Becky Smythe. Her cousin? What’s she holding?

 

“I’m Becky Smythe. This is for Lizzy.”

 

I get careless just once!

 

Nooo!

 

 

From Baccus

Spinning Out of Control

He had been hooked at the age of eleven when he first saw a plate spinner. Awesome. He wanted to be able to do that. In fact, he wanted to become the best plate spinner in the world, with the most plates spinning. It took a lot of trial and error to arrive at the ideal shaped poles for the gyroscopic effect, and to save up for his own plates because his mother put her foot down at the third breakage.

By the time he was eighteen, he was making a living from his act which involved spinning fifty plates while behaving like an idiot and telling a few jokes. Money for old rope. That said, fifty was nowhere near the world record. His ambitions of becoming the best spinner ever had slowly drained out of him along with the pleasure of learning and performing. It was as repetitive and boring as any mindless job, but at least it was a short act that paid reasonably well.

One night, as he was setting his fortieth plate spinning, he noticed a child – a boy of about eleven – gazing up at him with a look of awe on his face. It felt like staring back in time at himself. There was nothing to be amazed by. At eighteen, the spinner knew he should be studying to be a doctor or an engineer – something useful and challenging. He had squandered his youth on a pointless act of trivia, and he could see the child falling into the same trap.

There was a knack to keeping the plates spinning. There was also a knack to stopping them, and it was a spectacular knack, a chaotic chain reaction. Of course he would never do this on stage. It had only ever happened during practice. If a plate spinner were to appear clumsy, that would instantly break the spell. And it did. As forty sticks began lurching like drunkards and forty plates smashed noisily onto the floor, the child turned his back and walked away.

via The Secret Gate 

Simply wonderful.

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These are the picks from the prompt. The Key

Read and enjoy.

 

Changing Key From Ellie
Livvie unlocked the front door and hung the key on its little hook. She loved this flat. It might only be the tiniest of studio flats but it was theirs, hers and Jamie’s, their very first together.
She was sad Jamie had to go away on a course almost as soon as they moved in. Livvie had hated the thought of him going. Three months seemed like such a long time but she’d coped. It had been really difficult at first but she’d grown used to it and set about settling into the flat unpacking their stuff and arranging what little furniture they had. There wasn’t much space at all but she’d managed to find a home for the important things, Jamie’s rugby trophies and a small shelf for her poetry books.
Normally, when Jamie was around Livvie would spend Saturdays watching him play rugby, with Livvie feigning more interest than she actually felt, trying hard to remember the rules and positions of the players. The games weren’t too bad but it was the evenings in the club house afterwards that sometimes got a bit too much for Livvie developing into raucous boisterous affairs.
Now with Jamie away she’d taken advantage of his absence to join a poetry class instead. Livvie enjoyed her poetry group. It was a delight to discover others who loved reading poetry as much as she did, to share thoughts and ideas. She learnt so much from talking with them, these people of different ages and backgrounds. Livvie gradually made friends with a few of them and looked forward to mooching down to the local pub after class to carry on their discussions for a few hours more.
One evening she found herself sitting next to Alec. She wasn’t too sure about him – he seemed a bit miserable and stand-offish in class. He didn’t say much during their group discussions but when he did he was invariably worth listening to and came across as very well read and deep thinking. Now sitting next to him Livvie felt there was nothing for it; she had to say something and, predictably maybe, started by asking him about his favourite poets. So he told her of all that he loved, he quoted verses to her, became animated. He introduced her to Herrick, spoke to her of Hughes and they discovered their shared love of Eliot.
After a couple of glasses of wine she decided he wasn’t too bad after all. He started to open up to her and told her about the girl he loved; the love of his life Alec was convinced. He’d thought that one day they’d marry but she had different ideas. She told him he was needy and shacked up with one of his friends. He’d never get over it, he said, never.
Partially to try to alleviate his pain and also, deep down, in the hope he’d win her back he’d started to write poetry himself. He’d tried to show her one or two but she’d just not been interested and threw them back at him. “You can keep them,” she said, “I don’t want them.”
As the group started to disperse at the end of the evening Alec smiled at Livvie and said, “You know, it was good talking to you, Liv … I think you understan.”
“I do”, she said, “I think I do”.
She wanted to help him get over it all, move on, make him smile again. They made sure after that evening that they sat next to each other and talked more. A couple of times they even met up separately for coffee but whatever the topic they started talking about it always came back to Alec’s problems and poems.
“You can read them if you like,” he said one day, “she doesn’t want to.”
Livvie took the poems he offered and read them slowly as he watched her. Occasionallyshe’d read a couple of lines aloud and sometimes just gasp at what he’d written.
“They’re wonderful, Alec,” she said, “she’s lucky having someone love her so much.”
******

The term edged to its close and Jamie’s return was imminent.
“I shall have to give up classes next term,” Livvie told Alec, “Jamie’s coming home.”
“I know,” he said, “but why does that mean you have to give up your poetry class, you love it so much.”
“Oh I have to,” she said, “I just do. Somehow I can’t have Jamie and poetry too”.
“Your choice, Liv. Here I wanted you to have this,” Alec handed her an envelope, “it’s a kind of ‘thank you for listening’. Talking to you has helped a lot. No need to open it now, you can do that later.”
Back home Livvie opened the envelope. Inside wasn’t the ‘thank you’ card she’d supposed but a poem Alec had written for her. For her. No one had ever done that before. Touched, she read his words, smiled and tucked the poem inside one of the poetry books on her special shelf. The only place she thought of as her own in that cramped flat.

******

Livvie heard Jamie’s key in the door. He’d been back a week now and greeted her with a quick kiss on the forehead. “Hi Babe,” he said squeezing her bum. He flung his jacket onto the floor and himself into the armchair tossing his keys carelessly onto the nearest shelf. Livvie’s shelf. He turned on the television and then without looking at her said,
“Stevenson’s injured so they’ve moved Willo onto the wing and brought Rick Thomas into the centre. It’ll never work, he hasn’t got the speed.”
She looked at him. She looked at his jacket on the floor. She looked at his keys chucked next to the poetry books on her shelf. “They don’t belong there,” she thought, “they don’t belong there at all.”
Livvie made her choice.

 

Like a Key from Baccus

It’s a Sunday, like all other Sundays. A half-full church with only half the congregation singing while the other half mimes. The other half – the missing half, not the miming half- are my less-than-religious friends and neighbours, peeps who like to be warm on a Sunday morning, not watching condensation rise with their prayers.

I glance up at my mother, singing the bits of the hymn she knows and can stretch to, even if that means screeching into the higher registers. She has the holy look that she wears on a Sunday morning, a bit like the look she wears on a Saturday night when my father rolls in the worse for wear, but without the pinched expression that makes her nose turn white. On a Sunday, her rosy-cheeked face welcomes her martyrdom like Joan of Arc roasting in the freezing flames of virtue.

I’m not sure why so many parents of the parish think that dragging their children to church will make them more biddable. On the last note of the last hymn of the Sunday morning, we kids flee from piety to porn sites and the pretense that we know what we’re watching. Of course, it doesn’t add up. If this is how us kids got made, then all that holy stuff is fake; has to be. You couldn’t do that porn stuff then roll up to church and sing “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind”.

Yet that’s apparently what adults do. I don’t get it. I wonder what age you have to be before it makes sense? Does it gradually dawn, like understanding chemistry, or does it click, a key turning, opening the door on a brave new world? I hope it’s not like a key. I think I’ll need time to adjust. It must take a lot of practice to be able to do that porn stuff then go and shake hands with the vicar.

 

 

Granddad’s Key  from Ron.

When I remember my granddad, it is with pride, a big man who made and kept friends with ease. Most found him good-natured, and he always saw the best in people. He was a great speaker and gave his life to our family.

 

I loved visiting him because he took the time to talk. His life stories straight away transport the room to another place and time. His voice was deep, slow and often he wiped his eyes when he remembered something special. Excitement confused his words but I never stopped listening. He never spoke of the war unless he could see a point to the tale, to educate, to honour the fallen. To recall was to re-live and he avoided the pain. Most afternoons after speaking for a time he would often nod off. Before leaving, I would tuck the knitted quilt that grandma made for him around his shoulders.
One day when I visited, he said, “Have your mum and dad told you my secret?”
I sat on the floor in front of him. “Dad says you’re worth a lot of money.”
A chuckle came from his rough lips as he lifted my chin and stared into my eyes. “You’re ten now. If I tell you something, will you promise never to tell anyone?”
“Why me? My dad’s your son and auntie Joan your daughter. You should tell them.”
He said something under his breath that I did not catch. “I don’t trust them. Listen, you don’t have to believe me, I’m not even asking you to, but one day you will understand.”
“Okay and I promise not to tell anyone. Cross my heart.”

He appeared to grow in front of me.
“Your dad is right. I have a few pounds stashed away for a rainy day.”
From around his neck he removed a chain with a gold key attached. “Never give this to anyone unless they ask for granddad’s key.”

“What if no one asks?”
“Then my solid gold key is yours to keep.”

Confused, I left him dozing in his armchair and went home. The chain and key I hid in a box in my wardrobe.

A few weeks later mum told me she had bad news. Her eyes filled with tears. As she blinked, they dripped from her eyelids and slid across her cheeks. My heart sank.

“Your granddad is in hospital. He has pneumonia”

I tried to hold back my tears as I asked, “Can we visit?”

“You can come with us tonight. The doctors say he hasn’t got long.”

***

The three of us sat by his bed but I saw that every breath was a struggle. His lungs were desperate for oxygen, but his body would not cooperate. His breaths came fast and shallow. He gripped the white hospital sheets and his eyes pleaded for the pain to stop. He was too old to fight the battle. For a few minutes, he appeared to perk up. He stared at me, I am sure he winked before closing his eyes.

***

The sun shone, its glare bright and cheerful as I entered the church. As I took a pew near the front, the long held-back tears flowed. I was not ashamed. I loved him. Now my storyteller, a wise man who would always listen, was gone. I sat and awaited the start of the service.

A few days after the funeral, the family entered granddad’s home. It was as if the spirit of the house had gone with him and I did not want to be there. Dad told me to take whatever I wanted as a keepsake.

Almost in a whisper I said, “I’d like his medals.”

Dad walked into the back room and returned holding the framed decorations. “He’ll rest in peace knowing you have them.”

I held them close to my chest. “Can I go home? I don’t like being here.”

“Run along,” said mum. “Your dad and auntie Joan need to find granddad’s papers before we put the house up for sale.”

As I made my way home, I remembered granddad’s words. Only give them the key if they ask. No one had mentioned any key.

I still have that key. It reminds me of my storyteller.

Flash from The Scribblers

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From Ellie

 

The Realisation
There was no comforting voice at the other end of the phone. No one to help, she was alone. Liza shoved back her chair and rose to her feet. She had to get away from here, these scrutinising bright lights, this sterile emptiness.

She stepped out into the anonymous night. Safe there. Liza thought she could pass through unremarked, un-judged. Yet amongst the ones who noticed nothing there were those who saw, who seemed to see straight through her – watching. Out here in the darkness of the alleyways she could think, try to untangle the maze in her mind. The light when it came was flashing, it moved too fast. It didn’t illuminate, it blinded.

There was no looking back. No going back.

Dawn was hostile, recriminating. A new day Liza was unsure she wanted. Another day to get through. Another day of conflict, of mind-struggle. She was tired now but she had to go on. Didn’t she? Pull herself up as best she could.

She’d been coping. Just. She’d been alright. She’d been alright till she saw the man with the bird, the man with the piercing eyes. Eyes that knew. That reached her soul. He’d stroked the bird gently as she had once stroked her belly and she imagined its wings fluttering in the cup of his hand like the fluttering she’d once felt in her womb.

Liza had left it late. Too late she’d come to realise. It had been her decision, hers alone and now she was overwhelmed by a surge of remorse. The scream she heard, visceral, anguished, was her own. The pain of regret was pain for them both.

 

Coming Home from Ron

Julie Cross paces across the floor. Her flat shoes making no sound on the thick pile carpet. Billy, her four-year-old son, plays soldiers with his action man in the kitchen. For the umpteenth time she peers out of the window for the car to arrive. Today she must not be late.

Her mind wanders to her husband. He was always there, mentally if not physically. Her one stable force she so desperately needed in her life. Love bound them for eternity. Today she felt so alone, so lost, incapable of doing even the smallest tasks. Billy had asked what was wrong but she simply said she was nervous. This was the beginning, the suffering and the endless empty days that were in store for her.

Their first meeting was strange, a blind date, arranged by her sister. From their first moment, she fell one hundred percent in love with him. How could she ever live without him? He’s my best friend and, my anchor. My one constant in a world filled with chaos.

Reality resumes by the ding-dong of the doorbell. She glances out of the front window and sees a gleaming black car. “Billy, its time to go. Put your coat on.”

She runs to the door, unlocks the latch and opens it wide. “Billy, hurry up.”

“Flight Sergeant Bob Williams. I have the honour to take you to the base.”

She smiles at the man standing there. He is short, with square shoulders and black, close-cropped hair. From his polished shoes to his immaculate uniform, he is a lifetime airman.

He checks the time. “No rush. The flight is a little late. Head wind or something.”

“We’re ready. Come on Billy.”

Her son runs out, dragging his coat with one hand while the other grips his action man. He looks at his mother as she helps him with his coat. “Don’t worry, mum, I’ll hold your hand. Dad knows I’m here to look after you.”

“You’re daddy’s boy.”

Once seated Julie gazes straight ahead, half-aware of a world outside the comfort of the car. As always when travelling Billy dozes. The journey to the RAF base takes fifty-five minutes.

At the main gate to the base, the driver stops to allow the barrier to rise. Seconds later, he drives on to an area next to the main runway.

As Julie and Billy alight from the car, a corporal approaches.

“There’s tea and coffee and sandwiches inside the marquee. Please help yourself. I will advise everyone when the aircraft is on its final approach.”

She grips Billy’s hand and enters. Two other women with their children sit at different tables. Julie nods to them and sits at an empty table.

“Can I have a coke, mum?”

She flashes her eyes. “Go and ask the man with a white jacket and I’m sure he’ll serve you.” She watches as he runs off, thankful he doesn’t understand. Again she remembers the good times, relives them. This experience has not and will not crush me. Billy returns clutching a glass filled with coke.

“Be careful and don’t spill any on your coat.”

“Okay, mum.”

“Ladies and gentlemen. The aircraft you are waiting for is due to land in five minutes. Mrs Cross, will you please lead.”

She nods takes Billy’s hand and follows the young airman.

Outside, the scent of cut grass fills the air. The sky is blue with just a few high clouds drifting towards an unknown destination. For once, the weather is perfect.

The large transport lands and taxis to a stop. In the distance, three groups of uniformed airmen march towards the descending ramp.

A soft voice from behind says, “You may move towards the aircraft.”

With her son, she walks slowly, almost robotically, as if her brain is struggling to tell each foot to take the next step.

Her timing could not have been better. Her husband’s coffin begins to slide into the hearse as she arrives.

Billy tugs her hand. “Daddy says it okay to cry.”

 

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The following flash are from Scribblers.

Twenty-four Hours from RAS.

Black clouds sprawled across the sky from the west. The first splash of rain hit the ground and in seconds thunder bounced of the clouds. Frenzied lightning zipped across a wild sky. Detective Inspector John Benton, with head bent into the rain, walked across the dock. He scowled at the sky, stood stock-still, hands in pockets, and waited. Ten metres in front of him, three divers struggled into their dry suits. He wiped the rain from his face knowing that tomorrow the city would be the same as today.

The dive master said a few words, nodded and watched two divers vanished beneath the surface.

***
Rain hammered the roof of the vacant warehouse. Despite the noise, a detective sergeant questioned those who survived and slept rough.

The first was a man with his eyes fixed on nothing at all. His clothes were once high end, but looked like rags. His skin hid behind layers of grime and his hair hung as a tangled mop of brown and grey. The sergeant offered him a cigarette, which he grabbed.

The next, a woman dressed in untold layers of clothing. Her grease-layered hair tied back with string. She held out her hand for a cigarette. The sergeant gave her the packet and gave up asking sensible questions.

***

John and his aid, found shelter in a large shed that had seen better days. Years of British weather had taken its toll. The structure that kept the weather off packages destined for delivery. Tonight it was draughtier than an old railway platform.

His lighter flared as he lit his sixth cigarette. He turned to a uniformed female officer. “All this for a bloody drunk, stoned on meths, having a pee.”

She shrugged, looked at her boss. “Will they find a body in that crap?”

John took a deep drag on his cigarette. “I bloody hope so. Why do we put up with this?”

“We make a difference.”

He looked at her. “This makes a difference. This is what your life will be. Working all the hours you can, day and night. You can forget the real world. This is it for the like of us. Do you really believe someone gives a shit? If I could, I’d retire tomorrow.”

“Boss, do you have to smoke so much. You know second-hand smoke and all that.”

“Don’t tell me you’ve stopped.”

She nodded. “Two months.”

John’s voice softened. “Wish I could. Tried it a dozen times but this bloody job doesn’t help.”

“Something’s happening, boss.”

A flurry of bubbles hit the surface. The heads of two divers followed. Between them, they held something coated in black gunge. The dive master dragged it from the water and dumped it on the pontoon.

A paramedic jumped from the rear of an ambulance and raced across the sodden ground. He raised his head, stared at the inspector and grinned.

John flicked his half-smoked cigarette into the water. With a shrug he shoved, his hands back into his pockets and strolled towards the scene. He managed a grim smile as he glanced at the victim. “Bloody hell, a sodding tailor’s dummy.”

He turned and walked back to the warmth of his car muttering, “Soaked, tired and up early in the morning. Thank Christ I’m paid overtime.” He slammed the car door shut and went to turn the ignition.

The knock came quietly at first but the pounding on the window forced him back to the real world. He turned his head. “Want a lift?”

She grimaced. “Sorry boss. They found another body. This time it is a young woman.

 

SUNNIER CLIMES from Suzycue

As temperatures continue to soar to unprecedented levels, there appears to be no end in sight to the current heat wave sweeping Britain. Amber alerts are in force to remind people of the hazards to health in such extreme temperatures… those particularly vulnerable are the elderly and young children. However, everyone is advised to avoid exposure to the sun at its hottest that is between the hours of ten o’clock in the morning and three in the afternoon. As levels in reservoirs are receding at an alarming rate, you are reminded that a hose-pipe ban remains in force until further notice, and to use water only sparingly for domestic purposes.

Brian reached for the remote and switched off the television. After dabbing his sweat soaked face with a tissue, he heaved his weary bones out of the armchair and walked over to the open French window, staring out at the garden… his pride and joy. He sighed heavily at the sight of his precious lawn, the immaculate, green patch-work blanket of former years, now parched and barren.

The temperature in the old, creaky house was unbearably hot and sticky… an electric fan battled to blow humid air around the room, providing little or no relief to the cloying atmosphere. We are not used to, or equipped for such a hot summer, he mused.

Holidays spent abroad with his wife Janet, in pursuit of sunnier climes, invaded his mind. Oh how she had worshipped the sun… her insatiable appetite for mahogany, glowing skin. Over the years, he had watched her glowing skin shrivel under the intense heat of the sun. He had warned her, but she wouldn’t listen… had even teased her about such vanity, but realised in hind-sight, it was an addiction and, in all probability, she would be out there now, soaking up the sun in the heat of the day.

He had enjoyed visiting hotter countries, but for him it had been more about the travelling, visiting different places, experiencing diverse cultures. He often left her to lounge on the beach, while he soaked up places of interest, buildings and historical facts, or explored quaint little villages off the beaten track. But he missed her terribly… her bright blue eyes that shone with humour, her acerbic wit, her spirit, her positive attitude and enthusiasm for life.

He now felt as bereft and barren as the lawn… at fifty nine years old, the light of his life had been snuffed out. Maybe if she had sought treatment sooner when he first noticed that mole on her back had changed. But she had made light of his concern.

“I’ve always had moles,” she had said, with flippant disregard.

That had been two years ago. How quickly Melanoma had invaded and ravaged her body, how stoic and upbeat she had remained right until the end, when her addiction to the sun finally claimed her life and left him in a deep, dark hole of loss.

 

Shadows from Ellie.

They’d arrived at The Fox earlier in the afternoon, he approaching from the north, she from the south and were now sitting outside talking in the pub garden enjoying the late afternoon sun.
“You’ve not changed a bit,” he said, “You have no shadows.”

Anna looked at him head slightly to one side and smiled. “I don’t understand.”

“You have no shadows, no artifice.” Gilbey leant closer across the table, “You were always like that. Genuine. Just you. And it’s so good to know you’re still the same.”

She smiled again, flattered.

Those Without Shadows, Fancoise Sagan. You used to like her.  Have you read it?” he asked.

Anna hadn’t read the book. Worn down by the long years of marriage and motherhood she had become lazy. An intellectual wilderness of her own making. She shook her head. “No, but I loved Bonjour Tristesse

Gilbey laughed. “I know you did. You gave me your copy.”

“Did I?” trying to cast her mind back thirty or so years.

“Yep, you did. I treasure it” he said only half joking.

“Of course you do!” She laughed back at him. “I bet it has my name or gushy words or something like ‘Paris ‘67’ written in the front of it – I used to do that.”

“It has indeed. A French seven with a little line drawn through it.”

“God. How pretentious. I used to think that was so sophisticated.”

They laughed again and looked at each other.

“I don’t remember laughing this much before,” she said.

“No, we were too busy fucking.”

“True!”
It was him smiling now. “You told me you weren’t reading so much.”

“Yes …you know, work family that kind of thing. I don’t seem to have the time these days.”

“The time or the will? Do you know what I think?” Gilbey didn’t wait for an answer, “I think you’ve become subsumed and perhaps for the most part you don’t mind but there’s a little bit of you that does. A bit that wants to break free that remembers what you were, what you wanted to be. You should make time for yourself, you know. You could make time if you really wanted to. Do something you want to do.”

Anna wasn’t sure whether to be offended by his directness or pleased at his concern but she knew he was right.

There was a small pause while she reflected and Gilbey opened his briefcase. “Here, look what I’ve brought you,” and he handed Anna a copy of Birthday Letters. “You used to bang on about Sylvia Plath and I thought you might like this. It’s from his side after years of silence.”

“’Bang on?’!” she said mocking.

“Sorry, ‘extol the virtues of’!”

Anna took the book from him and started to turn the pages almost reverentially. “Thank you. I’ll enjoy reading this. I know I will. It will be interesting to get his perspective, see how time alters things. Perceptions. Not just him but me too.”

She delved into her tote bag. “And I have this for you. I was browsing through an old bookshop and came across it. I had to get it for you.” Their hands brushed as she gave him the copy of Andrew Marvell’s poems.

“It still has its original dust jacket,” he said gently taking it from her. He looked at the flyleaf, “and it was printed in the year I was born.”

“That’s one of the reasons I wanted you to have it. I used to ‘bang on’ about him all the time too. Especially this, ‘Had I but world enough…

and time” he answered

“this coyness, lady, were no crime,’” they both said together.

“You remember” she said.

“Of course I remember. We have world enough” he said, “but time?”

She sighed. “I guess time’s running out.”

“I guess it is. You know, there’s much to be said for seizing the day while we still have days to seize.”

Anna smiled. “Perhaps you’re right.” She looked at her watch. “I should go now and get back before they’re all home.”

“We should both go.” he said, “Shall I see you again? I don’t want to lose you after all these years.”

 

 

Anna straightened in her chair and looked around. Butterflies fluttered about the flowers like the thoughts now fluttering wildly in her head and the flowers themselves bright and vibrant as her re-awakened ideas. She looked over to Gilbey his head lowered over his poetry book, absorbed, lips moving as he whispered the words of To His Coy Mistress. She noticed the sun’s rays as it dipped in the sky and her own shadow lengthening.
“Yes,” she said, “you will see me again.”

Source: British Tourist Board to spray mountains white and dye lakes turqoise

Source: Through The Wings of Time

Below, see Marie Lavender, author and self-made success story, tell the tale of her rise in the writing business. Follow her at – My Author Journey by Marie Lavender When Jill Marie asked me …

Source: Marie Lavender, on Perseverance

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