Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge : After the Invasion

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Image : Virginia Frances Sterret


 

It’s getting dark as Sylvie reaches the top of the mountain, the last glow of the fat sun fading to violet and blue.

She loves nights on watch at the old Observatory. According to her friend Trad, there were ladders reaching floor to roof when the People first found the valley – cogs and wheels too, and a pulley system, rusted and choked with red vines. But it all must have been hauled away years ago, melted, broken, its use forgotten.

By the fire one night, she and Trad argued what the place would have been used for – a grainstore, a pump house, a torture chamber. Grin – the most knowledgeable of them when it comes to Before – said observe meant to look at things, though there isn’t a lot to see now: red vine (everywhere since the Invasion); the village; the distant wink of the sea.

‘A look out,’ Trad had said, sinking back, closing his eyes. ‘Top of the mountain – must have been a look out for Invaders.’

Grin shrugged. ‘Then someone fell asleep the one day they needed to be awake.’

Now alone under the empty dome, the mice scuttle round Sylvie’s boots, a barn owl glides, ghostly pale over her head.

She sits, settles her rifle at her side and gazes up at the stars.

 


Written for Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge. See the well chosen painting and write a story to go along. See here to join in and to read the other tales.

Sunday Photo Fiction : How long will you be gone?

 

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‘How long will you be gone?’ She tries to keep the anxiety from her voice but fails.

‘Until the thaw,’ he says, voice gruff.

All she sees is Patrick’s back, broad, blank as the hills that surround their cabin. He fills the tiny bedroom, heavy furs the same dun brown as the wooden walls. He doesn’t fit with the indoors, with the shutters, the rag rug she made from old dresses, the lamp with its blackened glass chimney. His world is the deep woods, the river contracted in its icy husk, the smell of hot blood and cold air.

She remembers her mother’s words, speaking through her pinched nose, her pursed lips. What will you do when he’s trapping, Sara? Knit? Darn socks all winter?

How sweetly simplistic her mother’s view of their lives was, as if the greatest hardship Sara would face through the long lonely season was to prick her finger.

Patrick turns, face clean shaven for the last time in months. ‘The Tappers are only a mile away up the valley.’

She nods. Only a mile. But what will sniff just outside the door? What will scratch the bedpost as she lies awake?

 


Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction prompt. See the picture and write a tale. See here to join in and to read the other stories.

 

 

 

The Sea Wife

Sea snow bridge

Image : Pixabay

 

‘I have a gift for you, wife.’ Dag is soaked to the bone, water dripping from eyebrows thick as thatch. He smells of the sea, salt and fish and days sleeping and living on the deck of a fishing boat.

Ebba curls her lip against the smell. ‘I want none of your gifts.’ Winter is coming and the cold presses through her furs, pinching the tip of her nose, shrinking her skin tight to the bone. ‘Did you bring food?’

He kneels before the fire, wreathed in smoke, steam soon rising from his wet clothes. From under his furs he brings a bundle of seal skin. He lays it on the ashy ground where it twitches then lies still.

‘What is it?’ She wants to see, but holds back, trying to hide her curiosity. Her breath hangs in the air. The package begins to writhe, wriggling as if full of eels.

Ebba is no newlywed bride, easy won by golden slivers of smoked herring. Two decades of marriage have pared her body down, made it taut as a drum skin, her back stiff, her heart nigh impossible to melt. She waits and watches …

 


 

Last week I linked to Sammi Cox’s announcement of her Winter Magic anthology going live on Wattpad. Today, I thought I’d post a snippet of my own contribution, The Sea Wife. See here to read the rest of the story.

Esther Newton’s Monday Motivations : Parts of a dismembered whole

Black cat in shadow

Image : Pixabay

He struggles to remember when he first saw the darkness in his daughter Emily. Perhaps it’s the effects of the medication, but the past arrives in clumps, like clay torn from a sculpture, parts of a dismembered whole …

 

 … An afternoon in summer, sunlight gilding the garden gate. A young girl – Emily’s best friend, Charlotte – stands in a forest of scarlet hollyhocks, lace trimmed vest just visible through her torn pinafore, tears washing the cut on her cheek …

… Tying posters to lampposts as the drizzle gathers on his lashes. MISSING: Trixie … Fluff … Tuppence … Sox … A series of fuzzy pink noses, ginger stripes, black and white patches. A look from the neighbour that’s as misted as the day. Another? is all she says before softly closing her front door …

… Emily shares an abusive text from a friend – foul words, hard to forget. His arms wrap tightly around her fragile frame. If he can hug long enough – well enough – perhaps love will find a way inside her. An almost overwhelming urge to squeeze too hard, to make something happen, but nothing helps. Defeated he leaves her room, crosses to the airing cupboard, unearths a half-drunk bottle from beneath the faded pilowcases …

… The news report. Her school’s front gates. Familiar flaking paint above the rolling headline, yellow on red. The death toll rising …

 

As his eyes flicker closed he knows the truth. The three of them have always walked hand in hand – he and Emily …

And the darkness.

 


Written for Esther Newton’s Monday Motivations prompt –DARKNESS. So, yes, it’s painted in the blackest hues.

Gallery

Winter Magic is Brewing

My blogging pal, Sammi Cox has helped pull together – through Dreaming Spirit Press – a wonderfully creative anthology on the theme of Winter Magic which launches on Wattpad tomorrow, and she has kindly included one of my own stories – The Sea Wife. So do pop along to Wattpad if you’re a member and if you’re not already a member, rest assured, joining is very simple and the reading is free. Congrats Sammi and happy reading all

Sammi Cox

With only a few days left before the multiple-author anthology I have been collating, Winter Magic, is released, I thought I would share a few pictures to help set the mood.  I am overwhelmed by how the project is looking, thanks to the amazing submissions that were sent this way.  The anthology will be available to read only through Wattpad (except for those wishing to access a PDF copy in exchange for an honest review).  More details to follow…for now, some pretty pictures…

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Three Line Tales : All’s fair in love and cake

three line tales week 44: six macarons

photo by Baher Khairy via Unsplash


 

For fifteen consecutive years, the village’s finest amateur bakers – Maureen and Diane – battled it out in the church fete’s Victoria sponge competition. Some years Maureen’s rise was poor and Diane took the crown – other years Diane experimented with the all-in-one method or brown flour … with disastrous results.

This summer Maureen’s sponge was a triumph – light, golden, the filling sweet and creamy, better than sex, her husband Neil had said, though he’d earned a stern look across the hostess trolley for that.  On the morning of the fete, Maureen went to find Diane’s effort, hoping to see singed crusts and gluey jam. But … Diane’s name tag was missing from the judging table.

It was as a confused Maureen was leaving the cake tent that Diane swished in, bringing a cloud of sweetly scented air with her, a plate of macaroon sandwiches balanced on her manicured fingers, the garish pinks, yellows and lilacs like an act of violence in the cool beige tent. Before Maureen could speak, she noticed a young man – tall, dark, square-jawed – as he bent to whisper in Diane’s ear, a soft, secret word that made her giggle like a school girl caught behind the bike sheds.

Maureen won the Victoria sponge competition this year, though she feels somehow she lost the war.

 


Written for Sonya at Only 100 Words’ Three Line Tales. See the pic and join the fun here. Apologies for going over the three lines so very badly.

 

Friday Fictioneers : With his teddy tucked under his chin

PHOTO PROMPT © Jan Wayne Fields

PHOTO PROMPT © Jan Wayne Fields


 

‘How long had Danny lived at the campsite, Mrs Brindley?’

Angie waited patiently for the answer – she was used to waiting. Waited for Sara Brindley to pull a tissue from her sleeve, wipe a drip from her nose.

‘Since he ran away from home just after his fourteenth birthday. Three months.’

The scene of crime photographs were tucked inside the file under Angie’s arm, well hidden. No parent needed to see that.

Angie’s son Ben was at home, probably asleep already, Teddy tucked under his chin.

She reached across the table and squeezed Sara’s hand.

 


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ Friday Fictioneers. See the pic and write a tale of 100 words or fewer. See here to read the other, wonderful stories and to join in.