Three Line Tales : The Thrift Store Cat Whisperer

three line tales week 103: a sanitation van in front of pink graffiti

photo by Hans Vivek via Unsplash


 

Hey, Danny, look! See that old lady? The one pushing her world in a shopping cart. Thrift store clothes, shoes held together with string – your everyday homeless old bag, right? Keep watching.

Isn’t that the weirdest thing you ever saw? How many are there – five. … ten … sixteen … twenty-four I make it. Twenty-four stray cats all after the same hobo like she’s got fish tacos sewn in the lining of her coat. She talks to ’em too, says some weird garbled crap that sure ain’t English. Sal says she gives ’em all names, that they sit round and listen like they’re in elementary school and she’s the teacher. But Sal says his mom was abducted by aliens, so …

Sure see some weird shit in this job.

 


Written for Three Line Tales. See the pic and write a story. See here to read and share.

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Friday Fictioneers : Where the pines stand dark sentry

 

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz


 

Pines stood dark sentry to the rear of the house, the lake to the front.

Sook’s bedroom was in the roof, chill in the winter, hot in the summer when light rippled across the ceiling, an echo of the broad grey of Loch Giutha.

Joshie’s room was bigger but faced the black pines that groaned in the winds or shivered with unseen creatures.

He could keep his big room. The loft was her turret, the house her castle and if the pines harboured unquiet spirits, the water sheltered merrows, kelpies with manes of weed.

And at night the loch whispered.

 


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers, the acme of writing prompts. See here to join in and to read the other tales.

Notes

Loch Giutha does not exist, but giutha is Gaelic for fir tree.

A merrow – like the more familiar selkie – is a Gaelic word for mermaid, while a kelpie is a mythical sea horse.

Friday Fictioneers : The Long Night falls

PHOTO PROMPT © Danny Bowman


 

The sun was low by the time Alison made it out of the city. The streets had been clogged with traffic since the alarm sounded, every lane blocked by dumped cars. In the end, she’d left the Ford and joined a river of humanity drawn to the desert. Beyond the concrete and steel, things felt calmer, voices hushed over the sound of feet stumbling through sand.

A last emerald flash of sunlight and the Long Night fell.

She thought of all those she’d loved as the frost furred her lashes and the cold grew hard. Finally, her heart slowed, stilled.

 


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See here to join in and to read the other tales.

The ’emerald’ sunset refers to a phenomenon called the Green Flash. See here.

 

Never be alone

PHOTO PROMPT © Karuna


 

By the time Diana reached home, night was snapping at her heels, the first fallen leaves of autum swirling in the wind.

What had her mother always said? Never be alone. Always be inside after nightfall. But despite her best efforts and being ‘striking’ in her youth (not beautiful, never that) she’d always lived alone.

Once inside the house, she locked and bolted the door, passed from room to room, closing the shutters on the darkness. Something warm pressed against her calf.

‘Hello, Grim.’

She lifted the cat into her arms, felt the rumble start in his throat as she ruffled the back of his neck. Not quite alone.

 

After dinner she lit the candles, three groups of three – earth, air and sky as mother had taught her – took a bowl of warm water to the dining table and began cleaning the toys she’d found at the allotment.

She didn’t bring objects home often but these had spoken to her. So much love poured into them, so many hopes and whispered promises. The dreams of a young heart had a potency that faded as people aged.

There were countless similar objects around the window and door frames, cluttering the fireplace. China dolls with missing limbs, brooches, rings, letters of love and loss and friendship, a fabric heart, hand-stitched, a token left for an orphan centuries before. Anything loved could work. Could ward them off.

Grim jumped to the window seat, eyes fixed on the shutter latch. Standing, Diana put aside the doll, its eyes rolling closed.

‘You okay, Grim?’

The cat leapt up, hissing, spitting, spinning on his claws, fur standing from his body like pins. The windows rattled, the glass chiming in the frames. Wind howled down the chimney puffed ash into the air. The floor shook beneath her feet, boards bucking, her chair falling.

She checked the candles, still alive in there holders … and watched in horror as they blew out one by one.

A moment of quiet. Ash fell like charred snow, the only sound her own breathing.

Three loud knocks on the shutter.

 


I wrote the first part of this for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers this week and the wonderfully talented Jane Dougherty asked me about the significance of the toys. That got me thinking. So here’s my answer.

The story that raised all the questions – Toy Soldiers – is here. And another tale of Grim the cat is here.

Three Line Tales : Silent Night

 

three line tales week 66: a pylon with red sunset

photo by Adi Ulici via Unsplash


The electricity pylon still stood, though three lines had broken free during winter storms. The metal chords lay where they’d fallen – half-buried in the swaying grass – giving the tower the forlorn air of a skipper having fumbled the rope.

Jim savoured his last pre-rolled cigarette, the tobacco dusty and bitter on his tongue. The workmen hadn’t come to service the tower since before the TV stations put up their test cards for the last time. Since before the screens blacked out for good.

He crushed the cinder under his boot, listened to his final smoky exhalation. And headed for home.


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

Another dystopian vision this week – perhaps it’s because I’m reading Justin Cronin’s The Passage at the moment. It’s good, do take a look.

Three Line Tales : Away from the chasms and back to the light

three line tales week 64: light bulbs – there is a light that never goes out, maybe

photo by Nick de Partee via Unsplash


 

It stretched across the land they said, one long wire, looping between posts and trees, disused telegraph poles and house gables, a bright line of bulbs – baubles of hope in the darkness.

Travellers brought back tales of how the Light Line saved them in a storm, on the blackest, foggiest night, leading them back to the path, away from chasms, sinking sands, shifting dunes.

No one knew from where it drew its power. Some said it was from the air or from the tides, from the gentle spin and rock of the earth itself. But everyone remembered the day the lights flickered out.

 


Written for Three Line Tales, a weekly inspiration of pics and prose. See here to join in and to read the other tales.

#tuesdayuseitinasentence : When the time comes

Petri dishes, mould cultures

Image : Pixabay

‘You get your jabs yet?’ Terry Goddard looked at Janey over his half moon glasses, a sad, questioning smile on his lips.

His hair was uncombed, his shirt creased. He owned one tie and in the ten years they’d worked together he’d never had that washed. Until two weeks ago she hadn’t known he lived alone with a largely absent cat and a hyacinth macaw named Fleming. Then the news had somehow leaked through of how awful it was out there – the looting, the violence, the relentless spread of the disease – and they had spent an evening under the flourescent glare of laboratory lights, drinking a ten-year-old Glenfiddich and actually talking.

Now she wished they hadn’t, that they’d remained polite strangers. Imagining his childhood hop picking in Kent, how he nursed his mother through cancer after cancer until it finally stole her away … It would make it all so much harder when the time came.

‘No,’ she said, rubbing tired eyes. ‘I didn’t see the point.’

He lowered his voice. ‘You’ve got to make a show. For the sake of the others.’ He took her hand, gave it the briefest squeeze and was gone, bustling over petri dishes and samples.

She hoped she died first.

 


Written for Stephanie at Word Adventure’s #tuesdayuseitinasentence. Use the word – today it’s JAB – in a post. See here to join in and to read the other stories.