Friday Fictioneers: Rainbow

PHOTO PROMPT © Jeff Arnold

They called the new baby Rainbow.

To anyone who asked – and plenty of those who didn’t – Kate would say it was because they wanted their daughter to be bright and colourful, to be a symbol of hope, connected to both the Earth and the Heavens.

Mike would stand behind his wife, smile and nod.

What he couldn’t add was that after Kate’s drink driving conviction, her brief imprisonment and lengthy counselling, after her affair and his decision to take her back, the baby was a symbol of calm after the storm.

The sole remaining, ephemeral connection between her parents.

***

Written For Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the inspirational photograph and pen a story. See here to join in.

What Pegman Saw: Dust and Ashes

Image: Google Earth

There were the remnants of a fire, set in a dip overlooking the canyon. Pike scuffed the blackened ironwood with his boot, kicking up dust and ashes.

‘She was here.’

Root stood silhouetted against the ripening sunset, one foot up on a rock, thumbs hooked in his trouser pockets. He raised an eyebrow.

‘Smart enough to make a fire out of nothing,’ said Pike. ‘Stupid enough not to think we’d find it.’

Root nodded, chewed a fragment of nail from his index finger, spat it into the drop below. ‘Which way?’

Pike pointed down the canyon. ‘She wouldn’t last long out here and she knows it. She’ll head for people, hope she can get a lift someplace.’

Root nodded, heading back towards the Jeep.

Pike smiled to himself. The least he could do was give her a head start.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week we visit Happy Jack, Arizona. See here to join in and have fun.

Friday Fictioneers: The Linnet of Livorno


PHOTO PROMPT © Douglas M. MacIlroy

Granny Cora was in music hall back in the day.

She started aged seven with her parents and four siblings – The Flying Beneventis – though the family name was Mossop and the closest Granny came to Italy was sharing a Penny Lick on Blackpool seafront.

At the age of twenty-one Granny married her manager, Gordon, and shed her leotard to become a novelty act – The Linnet of Livorno. She’d stand alone in the limelight and whistle. One moment she was a blackbird, the next a mistle thrush, always ending with a song to make the heart break – the nightingale.

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the picture prompt write, share and read the work of others.

I don’t know what the bird in the picture is – I’m pretty sure it’s not a mistle thrush, a blackbird, a nightingale, or even a linnet. But whatever she is, she inspired me to travel back in time.

NB

A Penny Lick was a small glass for serving ice cream most common during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The glass would be rinsed off (not very well!) before being used for the next customer.

Wilton’s Music Hall is the oldest music hall still standing in London. It really gives an idea of what a typical Victorian music hall was like.

What Pegman Saw: A little spare

Image: Google Earth

A group of boys were hanging out in the shelter of the bridge. Twelve to fourteen years old, skinny backsides slipping out of baggy jeans and cargo pants. They weren’t up to much – drinking, smoking, tossing rubbish and rocks in the lake. Old enough to get into trouble.

Maybe that’s where her Gabino would be in ten years time, hanging out with his cousins, boys from the neighbourhood. Boys with connections.

Marcia shivered, lit the second cigarette of her rest break. She was lucky. Her job was better paid than many, meant she had a little money spare each month as long a no extra expenses came up. If mother could only stay well enough to care for Gabino while Marcia worked, their little family might stand a chance.

She dropped her cigarette stub on the foreshore, pressed the final light from the ash as the phone in her pocket vibrated.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Earth as its prompt. See here to join in.

Jane Dougherty’s Words and pictures poetry challenge: The Whisperer

Michael_E._Arth_-Moscow_Metro-_oil_painting,_1980

Tasha had taken the cold journey from home in her stride. She examined every passersby closely: the women with their head scarves in shades of mud; the men’s faces hidden by Party caps, their hunched, overcoated shoulders.

She watched the trams and buses jostle through the city, along Gorky Street. The child hardly spoke, her expression curious but calm – she hadn’t reached for her grandmother’s hand once, not even when a milkman’s horse reared as they crossed the road.

‘This way, Tasha.’

The girl followed Ludmilla obediently, wide, dark eyes everywhere as they entered the metro station. The vaulted roof was golden and blood red with Soviet stars, chandeliers and mosaic tiles blinding in electric candlelight.

Ludmilla caught a glimpse of Tasha’s reflection as they rode the escalator to the next platform. That river of brunette hair, the narrow, pale face – she could almost be her Kaya at that age.

The golden station glittered and dissolved. She turned away, not wanting her tears to be seen. Her poor, betrayed Kaya.

A small hand slid into Ludmilla’s and she shivered. ‘Aren’t you looking forward to me getting my special prize, Babushka?’

‘Of course,’ said Ludmilla, trying to smile.

Tasha held her hand for the rest of their journey and it took all Ludmilla’s strength not to scream.

***

During the Soviet period, children were actively encouraged to inform on adults, even if they were relatives – even if they were their parents. See the story of Pavlik Morozov. Though the truth of the Pavlik legend is contested, the fact he was hailed as a hero by the Soviet state is not.

Written for Jane Dougherty’s Words and pictures poetry challenge. And what a fabulous painting she’s chosen. It’s entitled Moscow Metro and it’s by Michael E. Arth. Yes, I know it’s supposed to be a poetry challenge, but Jane was happy for me to write prose, so here it is.

What Pegman Saw: Folly

Image: Google Earth

‘What’s the point of it?’

The tower was five storeys high – bruised white washed walls, red corner stones, an onion dome roof.

Steph shook her head. ‘No point. Just a wealthy man showing off. That’s why they call them follies.’

Up close what had looked like a wooden door was just painted plaster, the grain worked in with a fine brush. It was cold under his hand, the surface slightly damp.

‘So, are there rooms inside?’ he said.

Steph peered at her guidebook. ‘Says here – the brick and plaster construction was thought to be solid until 1996 when a scan revealed a hollow chamber inside.’

Dai’s fringe flopped over his eyes. He gave her a lopsided smiled. ‘Like a burial chamber?’

Steph rested her hand on his, fingers curling round his. ‘Like a prison,’ she whispered.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its jumping off point. This week we visit French Polynesia. See here to join in.

Friday Fictioneers: Love Letter

PHOTO PROMPT © Jeff Arnold

The stomp of boots echoes up the narrow stairwell.

Anton scrambles out of bed to the attic room door, rams the bolt home. His fingers describe a sigil in the air as he mutters a holding spell. It won’t stop them, but it might buy him time.

On his desk, a manual typewriter – black and gold, antique. He creates another spell over the keys and begins to type…

…In a cottage in the deep forest, an identical typewriter rattles to life, the keys tapping out a message.

I am discovered. Take the children. Never stop running. Love always.

A

***

Written for Rochelle Wissoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the prompt picture and write a tale. See here to join in.