Bin liners and broken biscuits

‘Hasn’t he got no home to go to?’

Nan said the same thing each time she saw Carl kick a can round the rundown park in the middle of the estate, whenever he was shuffling outside the offy pestering customers to buy him fags.

‘What you want to smoke for?’ she said the day he asked her for twenty B & H. ‘You’ll stunt your growth and you’re already a short arse.’

I watched him watching Nan as she hurried us off to the indoor market for bin liners and a box of broken biscuits, watched him squint his currant eyes, a look too hard for a twelve year old.

He never did grow much.

Fifty years on, a neighbour told me when the police kicked Carl’s flat door in he was five foot one and a quarter. He lay in the hall wearing only his pyjama top, eyes wide, watching for Death with his iron hard, old man’s stare.

 


Note for non-UK readers –

B & H – to give them their full name – are Benson and Hedges a popular brand of cigarette here.

Offy is a nick name for an off-licence, a shop that sells alcohol, cigarettes etc.

A box of broken biscuits is a memory from my childhood. When I was young we didn’t have much money and my mum used to buy boxes of broken biscuits, rejects from the biscuit factory packed in a plastic bag and a plain brown box, sold off cheap, all the flavours mixed together. Each biscuit came coated in crumbs and all of them tasted of Ginger Nuts.

 

What pegman saw : When the old devil calls

This week Pegman takes us to Wroclaw, Poland


 

I huddle under the sign of the Blind Beggar, the first flakes of snow snatching at my coat as darkness reclaims Alms Street. A pair of bangtails scurry from the rookery, shawls pulled tight to keep out the chill, their conversation shrill with drink.

I don’t see the child until a tiny hand slips into mine. A boy – I think – no more than four, eyes too-wide in a narrow face, like a creature adapted to the night.

‘Says he’s ready.’ The voice is faint, a hiss through narrow pipes. The child vanishes into a low alley, bare feet silent on the cobbles.

The only sound is the shush of falling snow as I follow Old Noah’s messenger into the slum. When the devil calls you come, but fear has me like a hook, trying to pull me away to anywhere but this place, this night.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, a writing prompt using Google Streetview. See here to join in and to read the other stories. I saw the statue above the doorway with her blank face and clapsed hands and the rest came from there.

Bangtail – Victorian slang term for a prostitute

Rookery – Victorian slum reknowned for crime and prostitution, the most notorious of which was the Old Nichol.

 

Three Line Tales : The anniversary

Three line tales week 80: a pizza oven

photo by Cathal Mac an Bheatha via Unsplash


 

Their anniversary dinner, their favourite pizzeria.

He stares down at his plate, at the smear of tomato, the shattered bread dough. Life gets in the way of love, he thinks – clothes dropped on the bathroom floor, plates left in the sink, a leaking cistern, overdue mortgage payments. It all distracts from the emotion that was once the centre of his world.

‘I love you.’ He reaches across the table and takes her hand.

 


Written for Sonya at Only 100 Words’ Three Line Tales. Visit here to read the other stories and to join in.

Friday Fictioneers : In the bathroom

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields


 

The skirting board is hairy with fluff, carpet and towel fibres mixed to make a grubby flesh tone. One of the tiles is lifting, flashing dingy grout.

So intimate this space. An important room.

Bill and I found out we were expecting Sally here, hunched over a strip of plastic, waiting for that blue line.

And here we first realised something was wrong with Bill. Those terrifying splashes of red, the first of many.

Now I’m lying on the floor and I can’t move. The pain in my head’s easing though, growing softer at the edges.

Bill? Hold my hand.

 


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers, the best flash prompt in town. See here to join in and to read the other cracking tales.

Where she walks

 

I always knew when she’d passed by.

A mound of flies for each footfall, iridescent bodies and soap bubble wings rocking with every puff of breeze, a salute from the recent dead.

It’s been like that for years, the glistening footprints, the absence of her. She seemed forever round the next corner, bluebottles the only sign of her presence as other women leave their scent.

This evening she came clawing at the door, a ghost at my last feast. And now she waits. And now she watches. And the flies fall about us like jewels.

 

 

 

What Pegman Saw : No amount of riches

 

This week Pegman takes us to Pena, Portugal.


 

‘Beautiful, isn’t it?’ He watched her face closely, a smile playing at his lips, never warming his eyes.

She was careful to control her expression in front of him, keep a light burning in her own eyes, even when cold lead seemed to fill her chest. A painful lesson she had learned early in their marriage – he must always see what he wanted to see. ‘It is truly beautiful,’ she said.

The Moorish arches, streams twining through tree ferns and palms, the mountainside hugged in green … Yes, beautiful.

Another beat to examine her expression and he was satisfied. He released the grip on her arm, turned to talk to one of his men, his attention pulled to something more important.

Her husband was a brilliant man, but one thing she knew and he did not. That no amount of riches can fool the prisoner they are free.

 


Written for What pegman saw, the prompt with Google streetview at its heart. See the pic and write a tale and visit here to read this week’s stories.

 

 

Three Line Tales : The dragons take York

three line tales week 80: a blue old school VW camper van

photo by Annie Theby via Unsplash


For some context … The VW reminded me of Trixie, a red campervan that plays an important role in my urban fantasy work in progress. Below is an extract in which our heroes are being chased through the streets of York by a huge and terrifying creature – all bat wings, claws and fangs. If they can only reach the VW and safety …


 

The shadow of King’s Court was coming closer and closer and below the pound and slap of their footsteps he heard something — the thrum of a VW engine.

‘We’re going to do it,’ shouted Neil. ‘We’re nearly safe.’

Suddenly there was another loud screech and it was all the movie sound effects he’d ever heard, every terrifying alien bug mother, every nameless horror – angry, frustrated, on the attack. There was a loud crash. The ground rocked beneath his feet, throwing him down. On his knees on the cobbles, Neil dared to look behind him.

The creature that had been caught up in the shop sign was free, the bracket piercing the membrane hanging from its wing, plaster clinging to the metal.

Dipping its head, it plodded towards him.

 


Written for Sonya at Only 100 Words’ Three Line Tales. See here to join in and to read the other stories.