She picked through boulders jade with seaweed that slipped like oiled hair under her palms. Her skirt was already wet around the hem – by that evening there would be a pale tide of salt to rinse from the wool.
The wind tugged at her bonnet, caught in the basket swinging from her elbow like a sail, pulling her onward. Driftwood rattled like bones as the waves retreated.
All day she turned the rocks, split them with her hammer, rock after empty rock that she returned to the sea. But there were others … spiralled shells and discs of bone, creatures resembling giant woodlice, curled as if hiding from some ancient storm … And the thrill of those made her forget the rest.
Written for Three Line Tales. See here to join in the fun.
The character in the story is based on Mary Anning, the early nineteenth-century paleontologist and fossil hunter who found the first identified ichthyosaur skeleton, plesiosaurs and pterosaurs. Although she contributed a huge amount to the knowledge and study of marine fossils, being a woman she was not able to take part fully in the scientific community that benefited from her work. She did not always receive full credit for her discoveries and struggled financially for much of her life. She died from cancer at the age of 47.
The nursery rhyme, She sells seashells along the sea shore is supposedly about Mary as she did, indeed, sell fossils to tourists visiting her home town of Lyme Regis in Dorset. To read more about Mary, see here.
photo by Alexandre Boucher via Unsplash
It’s the end of the world. Love you, brother.
Denny had always been one for drama – every headache was a brain tumour, every stomach ache cancer. But something about the text made Stuart swerve onto the hard shoulder amid the car horns and cursing. His call to Denny failed to connect, the same for their sister Clare. Panic mounted as every number he knew failed, as the bars on his phone dropped to zero.
He was staring at the blank screen as the first blast hit, as the nose to tail cars in front of him were flipped into the air, as the pressure wave disintegrated the windscreen.
Love you too, brother.
Written for Three Line Tales. Pop along here to join in.
photo by NASA (yes, THAT NASA – which is why you want to click through to the full size picture for the full effect) via Unsplash
‘Are you there? Dawson? Are you there?’
‘Yeah, yeah, I’m here, Flores. Breathe slow now. Tell me what can you see.’
Cold misted Flores’ visor. Her limbs were stiffening, breath coming harder. She should stay quiet, conserve her oxygen, but what was the point now?
‘I see black,’ she breathed. ‘A lot of black.’ And silver, shreds of silver from the destroyed space station. And in the distance something white, a helmet shining on top of a motionless torso.
She looked away, towards the velvet black, the sprinkle of stars dancing like fairy lights on a string. If she just reached out, she could touch …
Written for Three Line Tales. See here to share, read and comment.
photo by Charles Etoroma via Unsplash
She becomes a blur as she passes, rushing from store to store, caught in a whirlwind of purchases, money falling from her hands into every register like leaves spun on the breeze.
She feels herself blurring, her once hard edges bleeding outwards, flaking away like layers of over boiled potato. She thought once that things would shore her up, that the weight of her belongings would halt the crumbling. But instead, they’ve hastened it, eroded her until there is nothing but the chase, the purchase, the empty feeling when she reaches home.
One day there will be nothing left to prove she was here but plastic bags and a pile of unpaid credit card bills.
Written for Three Line Tales. See, write, share, read. Here.
photo by Sam Carter via Unsplash
Doug climbs onto the stile, sits on the limestone step. Beneath him the rock is as cold as the ice capping the water butts in the farmyard, as if it’s grown brittle in the frost and might shatter under his weight.
He gazes out over the flock, at the wind tugged fleeces, at the snow gathering along the wall line. Time to go. Still he waits, lets the flakes build in the crooks of his arms.
He could sit, let the drifts pile over him, let the walkers find him – wind dried and stringy – in the thaw … A warm, wet nose nuzzles into his palm – his collie, Flash, needing food. Needing him. Doug stands, beats the snow from his coat and heads home.
Written for Three Line Tales. See here to join in.
This reminded me of growing up on the edge of the Peak District National Park. Lots of hills. Lots of limestone. Lots of sheep.
photo by Wynand van Poortvliet via Unsplash
Kirsty would miss the puffins most in the spring, when they mobbed the island with their monochrome waddling, their sad eyes settled on bobbles of pink thrift.
Nowhere smelt like the island – the air carrying only sea scents, the deeps and crashing shallows, weed and rot and salt, a smell you could taste, that covered you like a second skin.
‘Ready to go?’ Mum took her bag, walked the short pier to the ferry. ‘It’ll all be here, waiting for you when you come home,’ she called with a sad smile. Together, they took the ferry to the mainland.
Written for Three Line Tales. See here to join in and read others.
I saw this image and smiled. Recently, I wrote a story about a very similar island environment. It was a pleasure to revisit this rugged, salt tangy scene.
Right now that story is under consideration for publication. Fingers crossed, eh?
photo by Jeremy Bishop via Unsplash
Blue heat colours his dreams. Surf bubbling over crisp sands, hot winds shivering through palms and tufted seagrass, carving the dunes into serpents.
And she’s there, gazing out over the bay, brown body rippled as the beach beneath her feet. She turns, one hand stretched towards him, smile lost in the bright wink of the sea …
He wakes. It’s still dark. The display on his clock reads 03: 00 am. A gale batters the corrugated iron walls, joints creaking, rivets tapping in their sockets. The third day of the storm. Outside crisp snow is carved into serpentine dunes. He blinks and her smile is lost.
Written for Three Line Tales. Write a tale based on the prompt and share away. See here for how.
photo by Frank McKenna via Unsplash
Gideon Smith was the first to complain of the smell, Jennet Powell the next. After four days, Smith took matters – and a house breaker’s jemmy – into his own hands and broke into the seamstress’s cottage.
Jennet found the biddy stiff in her chair, head drooping, strands of silver hair sparkling against the blue of an unfinished velvet gown. On the deal table lay bobbins of thread, dull steel needles and scissors, a book with a pale cloth binding, a water stain clouding one corner. Gideon eyed the title and slipped the thin volume in his pocket while Jennet was rifling through a box of hat pins.
The constable was called and Jennet and Gideon left, Jennet to stow a jet and crystal pin in her drawer, Gideon to walk along the canal. He dropped the book into the lock. The pages flapped like broken wings before it hit the water and vanished into the thick brown, one last act of kindness for his neighbour.
Written for Sonya at Only 100 Word’s Three Line Tales. See the pic and write a tale. See here to join and share.
photo by Samuel Wong via Unsplash
Every weekday he steps onto the escalator, blinks in the cold neon, shuffles to the right. It’s a conveyor, he thinks, sucking up human beings, churning out labourers, consumers, productive cogs.
Then one day he’s about to take that first step and his foot pauses as if caught on an unseen obstacle. There’s a tut and grumble from the commuter logjam building behind him, but now he’s unable to move. He once dreamed of flying in a rocket ship to the craggy face of the Moon, of chipping the old bones of a newly discovered dinosaur from the chalk. He once dreamed.
An impatient cough stirs him. Flushing, he takes a step and though inside he’s raging, wanting to turn and run, to fly a rocket, to name his dinosaur, he shuffles to the right, let’s the escalator carry him on and up.
This is not an age for dreamers.
Written for Sonya at Only 100 Words’ Three Line Tales. See the pic and write a tale and pop along here to read and share.
photo by Manu Sanchez via Unsplash
‘Are you ready?’ His voice is smokey in the darkness, profile sharp against the setting sun.
How can she ever be ready to leave her mother, already sagging under the strain of occupation, her little sister Adalie, all scuffed shoes and knees and lights in her eyes, her hair? How can she leave them, knowing they might break without her?
Still, Marielle takes one last look along the Champs Elysees, at the distant bow of the Arc de Triomphe. One day her city will be free again. She hopes she will live to see it, but if not … ‘For Adalie,’ she whispers and follows him into the night.
Written for Sonya at Only 100 Word’s Three Line Tales.
When I saw this photo of soldiers on the Champs Elysees, I was reminded of a famous, chilling set of photographs of Paris – taken by Heinrich Hoffman – of Hitler gloating in front of the French city’s beautiful landmarks at the beginning of the occupation. And so my mind drifted to the Resistance, to people like Marielle.