Friday Fictioneers: Red for danger

Photo: Dale Rogerson

How did Michael decide what should stay and what should go?

They’d picked the sofa together, the stereo, the dining table. Every item discussed, fought over, every choice a compromise so that nothing in the flat was really Michael’s taste or Con’s, but that of “Michael ‘n’ Con”, an entity murdered by boredom and a million tiny irritations.

Some things he would dispose of – the yoga mat, the hand-knit throw, the rose bought for their anniversary but never given. All red, the symbol of love and danger.

Con’s favourite colour.

Was that another warning sign Michael had ignored?

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers, the best writing prompt around.

As well as being here on WordPress, I also now have a website where you’ll find more stories and details of my critique services. Come along and say hello.

Friday Fictioneers : Happy Hour

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

‘Happy Hour’. What a joke.

The wind is sharp as a papa’s razor, cutting through my shirt, grazing my ribs. The air’s coloured with urine. A dead pigeon lies pressed on the pavement, feathers still flapping, still keen to fly.

I close my eyes, imagine the tug of the wind on wide wings, the thrill in my chest as I lift, soar above the traffic stink, leave the rotting corpse of this city behind…

‘Hey!’ Tommy’s standing in the doorway. ‘Do some goddamn work!’ 

I take my cloth, go back to wiping tables. 

But the wind still tugs me.

***

Friday Fictioneers is run by the incomparable Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. One story, one hundred words – come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough.

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It’s been a while since I tried my hand at FF – hopefully, I can still write a drabble that’s comprehensible! I also now hang out at my website, https://www.lynnlove.co.uk/ , where you’ll find more stories and details of my critique services. Just come and hang. Could be fun.

Friday Fictioneers: Across the Cat and Fiddle

PHOTO PROMPT © CEAyr

Dad bought the Austin from a travelling salesman he met in the King’s Arms.

The leather seats were cracked like baked mud, the window seals perished to powder and we kids could watch the road speed beneath our feet where spots of floor had rusted through.

Sunday afternoons we’d drive across sullen brown moors filmy with mist, heading for the Cat and Fiddle Inn. Mum and Dad would go inside for pints of bitter and ports and lemon, leaving us in the car sucking lemonade through flattened straws, the wind making the car rock like a lightly moored tug boat.

***

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

The Cat and Fiddle is the second highest pub in England, set in the Derbyshire moors. Famous for its barren location and the highly dangerous, snaking road that takes its name, it’s close to where I grew up in Buxton, Derbyshire.

OLD POSTCARD RP Cat Fiddle Pub Buxton Derbyshire Vintage Car 1930S Cv179 -  £2.99 | PicClick UK

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.

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!

A taste of freedom

Image: Pixabay

The way down from the cliffs was a struggle, the boulders less even than they looked from a distance. The bladder wrack was still wet, slippery under her heels and she had to use one hand to hold her skirts up – she could just imagine how much trouble she’d be in if her only black dress was marked with slime and seawater.

‘Wait for me,’ she called.

Charlie was already a way ahead, striding from rock to rock. His trousers wore twin stripes down the hips, brown and green where he’d carelessly wiped his hands. His patent boots were muddy to the ankle.

Every part of her life felt shackled – working at the big house, the housekeeper with her sharp black eyes, the mistress running pudgy fingers over every mantel and sill. Free time was rare and even then she was not permitted to walk along the Front or go to the music hall or the fair, only to Church or on ‘improving walks’.

How she envied him those boots, those trousers.

She closed her eyes, breathed in the salt tang. Her corset pinched at the waist, on her lower ribs, cut under her arms. Even her breathing wasn’t free.

This was the closest she came, though.

If they sneaked down the beach, out of sight of the Grange, in the shelter of the boulders, there was privacy of a sort. The wind whipped sand in her face, tugged hair from its pins so it caught in her mouth, flicked against her cheeks – she loved it all.

Gulls soared overhead, hovering, wheeling, calling her to join them, mocking when she couldn’t.

‘Come on!’

Charlie had made it to the mouth of the cove. He sat on the sand, peeling off his boots and socks, turning up his trouser legs. He wriggled his toes in the sand like a little boy.

The closest thing to freedom.

***

The image is of Seafield House in Westward Ho!, UK. My current obsession.

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.