The photographs are dry and faded, curled like autumn leaves. They burn even better than I expected.
They are the last thing that connects us. I sold our belongings when I sold the house, forty years of a shared life distributed among house clearance auctions and charity shops, ready to be re-purposed or sent to landfill. There’s something fitting about that last, your jumpers chewed and clawed, used to line rats nests.
I watch the flames die, wait for a sense of freedom to descend but none does.
I can’t burn the memories.
Written for Friday Fictioneers, the writing prompt run by the wonderful Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s. See here to join in the fun.
Storm Philippa had touched down at around 2 am, buckling the thin poles of the discount store gazebo, tearing canvas, flooding the gas barbecue Trevor had hired especially. Their 25th anniversary party in ruins.
Sheila couldn’t help a bitter smile.
The mess of shoddy steel and nylon was the perfect metaphor for her marriage – something unforeseen had intruded from beyond Sheila’s comfortable domestic bubble and destroyed that too.
Only her name wasn’t Philippa.
Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. Peruse the pic and write an appropriate tale. See here to join the fun.
If it was cold, she’d turn on the gas oven, leaning inside with the ticking lighter, me listening for the whoomf of the burner, watching for the sapphire flame.
I’d sit on the step with the musty scent of linoleum and coconut matting, the plastic tang of cyclamen growing in the lean-to, impatient for slices of thick white toast slathered in butter, a cup of Cadbury’s hot chocolate.
She’d peer into the grill, owl eyes made large by pebble glasses, hands on hips as the toast crisped.
Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See here to join in and to read the other tales.
When I saw the old range and kettle, I instantly thought of my Nanny Cuthbert – or Lou as she was called – my dad’s mum. We’d regularly visit her in her terraced house in Uxbridge on the outskirts of London and she showed her love with food: toast cut straight from the loaf; hot chocolate; beef suet pudding cooked in an enamel dish.
Her kitchen had changed very little since the war (bear in mind I was a child in the 1970s and 80s) and to some extent resembled the kitchen below from the Imperial War Museum – though Nan did have the ‘mod-con’ of a water heater above the sink.
When the house and her parents became too much to bear, when the tide was neither out nor in, Molly would run to the beach and the ruined pier.
She’d counted the perfect distance from the rusted beams, one foot in front of the other, toe to toe – nine feet.
Standing just there, with the beams cutting off the endless sky above, snapping short the sand below, she could pretend.
Pretend barrage balloons weren’t jostling the clouds, that barbed wire didn’t loop back and forth amid the dunes and marram grass.
Pretend Charlie was home, safe.
Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the lovely pic (this week supplied by the very talented writer Sandra Cook), write a story and join the fun. See here to find out how.
During the Second World War, many of England’s lovely beaches were strewn with barbed wire to combat an invasion from the sea. Fortunately, such an invasion never occurred, but still, that sight in itself must have been disturbing for residents, a sign that we were vulnerable, that only the narrow strip of the Channel stood between us and possible defeat.
For a child’s perspective from the time, see here.
Johannes was already awake when the baby in the flat below started crying.
He’d passed the mother once, short skirt above skinny legs, jacket too thin to keep out the cold. The baby was pale and slender as she was, spider fingers grabbing for a half empty bottle of milk.
It was 2 a.m. when the mother’s sobs began – deep, shuddering sobs. He got up, hobbled to his kitchen.
At Johannes’ knock, her door opened. Her red eyes narrowed, suspicious of the old man holding a box of eggs, a half loaf of bread.
‘Too early for breakfast?’ he asked.
Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the pic, write a tale and don’t forget to share and read the others.
Not sure if it’s because I haven’t taken part for a few weeks or because it’s Easter Sunday, but for a change I didn’t kill anyone, nothing nasty is going to happen to my characters. Just one human being reaching out to another in need.
Spitalfields is part of the East End in London, once well known for its silk weavers and a refuge for French Huguenots fleeing religious intolerance in their own country.
Fournier is one of these Huguenot weavers, Calvinist Protestants who made their home in the East End during the eighteenth century. They were not always welcomed by the English, especially by native weavers who saw them as a threat to their trade.
Lightermen where boatmen who ferried goods in flat bottomed barges along the Thames.
The rink is closed for the night, the wind cutting across the ice, bringing winter with it. Fairy lights shiver in the black fingered trees, the smell of fried onions from the food stall reminds him of summer and richer pickings, long nights of beer and open jackets and easily lifted wallets.
‘Alright, Pinkie.’ Rose is smiling, a soft, wet-eyed smile that makes him want to punch her. Her hand in his is cold, slightly damp. Like a dead man’s.
‘The wheel is it?’ he says. It’s high up there. High and windy.
Apologies, but due to a heavy workload this week I won’t be reading as many FFs as usual, though be sure if you read and comment on my story, I will reciprocate … eventually!
Fairgrounds and seasides always have a darker side for me. On the surface it’s all family fun and bright lights and loud music, beneath there’s grime and dirt, rather like the rides themselves. Perhaps it’s all those holidaymakers with money in their pockets that attract folk wishing to have a slice of that money and not always legitimately.
Anyway, for some reason the image reminded me of Graham Greene’s novel Brighton Rock, the tale of the sociopathic teenage killer Pinkie Brown. There’s death and violence, sex and Catholicism, all mixed together in a rather distasteful brew – or at least I found it so when I read it as a teen. For those unfamiliar with the novel, look here.
In my story, I picture Pinkie meeting Rose, his girlfriend later wife who is oblivious to the extent of her spouse’s depths …