Crimson’s Creative Challenge #83: Goodbye Dolly

CCC#83

Dolly pushed her nose against my shoulder. Warm smells of manure and hay and horse enveloped me.

‘Go on, now,’ I said, gently pushing her back.

She sensed something was different, a wrongness that made her nod and kick the stable door.

‘All right, I know.’ I pressed my face against hers, felt the brush of her whiskery lips, soft as kid gloves.

I turned then, hefted my pack and crossed the yard, cobbles and runoff slipping under my boots.

Mother stood at the farmhouse door, arms folded, a barrier never to be crossed. I nodded and she slipped back inside without a word.

Tom paced at the crossing, tipping his cap back when he saw me. ‘For King and Country, then,’ he said.

Poppies shivered on the bank along the lane, a scarlet ribbon leading us on to adventure.

‘For King and Country,’ I said.

***

Written for Crispina Kemp’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge. Use the photograph to take you to different worlds. See here to join in.

And to accompany the story, an apt song from the time.

Friday Fictioneers: Uplift

PHOTO PROMPT © Ronda Del Boccio

As Fi left the living room, Callie removed one earbud. She rested a pink DayGlo marker pen on the textbook that was open on her lap. ‘You didn’t read a word the whole time she was in here.’

‘What?’ I returned to staring at The God Of Small Things, ignoring her slight smile.

‘Uplift,’ she said.

‘You going to give me a physics lecture now?’

‘Uplift is how my mum describes the feeling of meeting my Dad.’ She put her earbud back in place and picked up the marker. ‘And it’s not physics, you pillock – it’s chemistry.’

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the prompt photo and write a story of no more than one hundred words. See here to join in.

I admit, I struggled over this one. So I followed the lead of our gracious host and attacked the subject tangentially.

The God of Small Things is a novel by Arundhati Roy that I haven’t read in years but remember it being amazing. It won the Booker Prize in 1997.

What Pegman Saw: Walking in shadows

Image: Google Streetview

‘The lady stayed in the shadows, mostly.’

‘Particular shadows? Particular places?’

‘I saw her in the park . On days when men came round and I had to leave the flat. The lady would be under the trees, waiting for me.’

‘When else?’

‘At school before I was excluded. In the flat too.’

‘Was that when your mum was taking drugs?’

‘Yeah. We had a cupboard in the hall. When Mum came back from her dealer, the lady would be in the cupboard.’

‘How do you know she was there? Did you see her?’

‘I heard her. She had a way of breathing.’

‘Can you describe it? This way of breathing?’

‘No.’

‘Do you still see her?’

‘Only when I’m off my meds.’

‘Like last week?’

‘Yeah.’

‘Did you really forget to take your medication, like you told the police?’

‘No.’

‘Then why -‘

‘Because I missed her.’

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week we visit Providence, Rhode Island. See here to join in.

Friday Fictioneers: Trophies

PHOTO PROMPT © Jan Wayne Fields

I’ll admit, I was jealous of my brother. While my life was unremarkable, his was extraordinary.

Beautiful girlfriends. A house in Kensington. Holidays to Tonga, Maui, Cambodia.

He lived in the house ten years, but as I walk the rooms, my footsteps echoing, the place feels like a feature in a style magazine. No photographs of family on the mantelpiece. No scrappy school paintings pinned to the fridge or toys on the floor. Not even a dog basket cluttering the hall.

I cuff my cheeks dry. The man had so many trophies and won nothing.

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the prompt picture and let your imagination fly. See here to join in.

What Pegman Saw: A cosmic levelling

Image: Google Street View

The call came just after eleven pm. She let it go to voicemail.

‘… I wasn’t able to get to a phone before now. You know how it is…’

The table was still set for two, the candles burned to black grease. At least the wine hadn’t gone to waste. She teetered out onto the veranda, glass in one hand, cigarette smouldering in the other.

She’d never liked sharing, not since she was a little girl. Back then it had been dolls and slices of black cake she’d kept to herself. Perhaps this was payback for her childish greed, a cosmic levelling.

Sipping her wine, she watched the flames enveloped the house they’d both loved, the house he’d want for his next family.

Never was good at sharing.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week we visit the Dominican Republic. See here to join in.

NB

Black cake is a Caribbean recipe I’ve never tried but that sounds rather amazing.

What Pegman Saw: Six Days

What we’d thought would be three days walking turned to five then six.

The smaller children suffered worst, those too young to understand the cold, the heat and pain it brings. The small ones added to the sound of those days – the crunch of ice underfoot, the soughing wind, children’s sobs collapsing into whimpers.

The land was a series of low hills and promontories, leading to great expanses of shale, glacial cliffs.

Those that fell – infants, the elderly, the sick – were left unburied, wrapped only in the clothes they wore. The earth too hard to dig. No spare blankets to act as winding sheets.

I think of them sometimes, pared by the ice, weathered to the colour of rock, another low hill eroded by the wind.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View. This week we visit Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. See here to join in.

Friday Fictioneers: Fallen

PHOTO PROMPT © C.E.Ayr

The fall felt sudden when it came, the troops marching along the avenues, the army encampment in the shadow of the tower, everywhere red, white and black.

Others went before us, but trouble had seemed so distant, another man’s worry. And in the meantime there had been meals to cook, clothes to launder, work and school, the thousand small things that make a life.

Now liberty sleeps, the days have taken on a darker hue and that other life has faded to a distant point on the horizon that remains just a point, no matter the miles travelled.

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the prompt pic and have a go. See here to join in.

Apologies for the slow response to comments. I’ve dived into writing another novel and am finding hard to clamber out!

What Pegman Saw: Death of a swimmer

Image: Google Street View

Charles swam every morning, whether the sea was ruffled by breeze or chopped to spiky breakers, baby-bath warm or prickling with ice.

A veteran, some said, though there seemed little evidence for that aside from his upright bearing and buffed shoes.

He rarely spoke, would only nod at the post mistress and the baker, Gerard, though neither knew what they had done to deserve the honour.

During the years he lived in Roscanvel, Charles held no more than ten conversations and afterwards, no-one could agree on whether he lisped or if his false teeth clicked when he spoke.

When Simone found his body on the shingle one late-frost morning in May, she was disturbed enough to shake as she described the scene. But not enough to cry without imagining her own mother’s death.

All the residents were at a loss at to why anyone would murder Charles.

All, except one.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week, we visit Roscanvel in Brittany. See here to join in.

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #75: Down Brigstowe Bay

Brigstowe Bay was a grinning moon banked by rocky spurs.

At the centre of the smile was a bank of grubby sand, the Grand Pier with its sagging wooden roller coaster and sun bleached stalls selling candy floss and hot dogs.

On the northern spur, looking towards Torquay, were the wide streets and Romanesque villas of Upper Cliffside, looking down on the promenade in more ways than one.

On the southern side, set apart from the wannabe millionaires of Cliffside and the hucksters and charming liars of the promenade, was an area locals called ‘Brig’.

The pubs and cottages lining Brig harbour resembled squat toadstools, warty with jerry-built extensions, sheds and stillhouses. What fishing boats remained ran the coast, ‘fishing’ for washed up whisky and smuggled brandy.

A boy from Brig could beat a Cliffside lad hands down in a fight.

Though maybe not a fair one.

***

Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge #75. See Crispina’s inspiring pic and join in.

Stop Press: The Spinner’s News

Crispina Kemp’s mythic fantasy series, The Spinner’s Game is now out in print as well as ebook and don’t the covers look beautiful? Crispina is garnering 5 star reviews on Amazon and has a feature on The Writing Magazine site. Truly deserved

crispina kemp

Okay, so I’ve been sitting on this for a week, so it’s not really “Stop Press” news. But anyway…

Last Tuesday the books I had ordered from Amazon arrived. The full set of The Spinner’s Game

LOOK WHAT WAS ON THE AMAZON VAN!!!!

These are my gift to Shen, my daughter, whose ear for the past two years has been thoroughly bent and assaulted by me talking about the Spinner, and Kerrid, and the plot, and the edits and… you get the picture. Moreover, she’s been there since the earliest conception of the Spinner.

But before I let the books slip through my hands, I took some photos (see below).

And now for the second news item

UK’s Writing Magazine has chosen The Spinner’s Child to promote on their Writer’s Online site. O Yay! See it here!!!

And finally, Amazon now features a 5-star review of The Spinner’s Child

Screen…

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