Sunday Photo Fiction : The New Flame

185-12-december-11th-2016

 

‘So, how long have you been friends?’ I say.

Chloe sits across from me at the table – I’ve accidentally brushed her knee three times already and her close proximity makes me feel small and hot. She’s around five eight, hair a chestnut waterfall running into the chasm of her cleavage. Any woman’s worst nightmare … and my new bloke’s best friend.

She shifts the flow of hair from her bust to her shoulder. ‘Oh, forever. Since uni. Right, Ben?’

‘Yeah,’ says Ben. ‘We were in the same shared house.’

He flicks her a look, as if a little secret’s tucked away behind his warm brown eyes.

‘Great,’ I say, draining my pint.

I should have worn that tight skirt and heels instead of the jeans with the paint stain on the thigh. Should have ordered a gin rather than swigging Guinness. I have a cleavage somewhere, but it’s packed away under a Fair Isle jumper because how was I to know I’d be needing it tonight?

‘Yes,’ says Chloe. She sucks a lemon slice, tearing at the flesh with perfect teeth before saying, ‘Just before we started going out, wasn’t it love?’

Me and Chloe are going to get on like a house on fire.

 


Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction prompt. Use the picture as a springboard for your fiction. See here to join in and to read the other stories.

 

Sunday Photo Fiction : How long will you be gone?

 

184-12-december-4th-2016

 

‘How long will you be gone?’ She tries to keep the anxiety from her voice but fails.

‘Until the thaw,’ he says, voice gruff.

All she sees is Patrick’s back, broad, blank as the hills that surround their cabin. He fills the tiny bedroom, heavy furs the same dun brown as the wooden walls. He doesn’t fit with the indoors, with the shutters, the rag rug she made from old dresses, the lamp with its blackened glass chimney. His world is the deep woods, the river contracted in its icy husk, the smell of hot blood and cold air.

She remembers her mother’s words, speaking through her pinched nose, her pursed lips. What will you do when he’s trapping, Sara? Knit? Darn socks all winter?

How sweetly simplistic her mother’s view of their lives was, as if the greatest hardship Sara would face through the long lonely season was to prick her finger.

Patrick turns, face clean shaven for the last time in months. ‘The Tappers are only a mile away up the valley.’

She nods. Only a mile. But what will sniff just outside the door? What will scratch the bedpost as she lies awake?

 


Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction prompt. See the picture and write a tale. See here to join in and to read the other stories.

 

 

 

Sunday Photo Fiction: The stink of bones and gizzards

180-11-november-6th-2016

 

The morning after the battle, we surveyed the damage. Counted our dead.

The air was thick with smoke – gunpowder sharp in the back of my nose – every familiar building resculpted. The library windows were smashed, like eyes put out in a great marble head; every column in the temple disfigured, the stone pocked by missiles, chunks littering the paths in drifts and heaps. The priests burned offerings to the gods, adding the stink of charred bones and gizzards to the haze.

Rand walked ahead, kicking rocks into the gutter. The wound on his arm had reopened, a fresh drizzle of blood mixing with the dirt and sweat, the colour bright in the grey world.

‘Here,’ he called.

At his feet was a lump of rock, carved like the back of a hand, the fingers missing below the first knuckle.

‘Is it all that’s left of him?’ I asked.

Rand shrugged.

‘Find what you can,’ I said. ‘We’ll bury him tonight.’

‘He was carved of granite -‘

I cut him off. ‘Bewitched granite that saved a city, Rand.’

He nodded, smile puckering around an old scar. ‘The times we live in, eh?’

 


Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction prompt. See the pic and write a tale of no more than 200 words. See here to join in and to read the other stories.

And here to read another story featuring Rand and Mitchell.

 

 

 

 

Sunday Photo Fiction: Chop and change

179-10-october-30th-2016

 

When Vicky first met Adam, she thought he had potential.

Okay it was midnight at Frankie‘s nightclub and pre the smoking ban, so the fug was thick enough to cut and she was wearing beer goggles so strong they should’ve come on prescription. But Adam stood out from the crowd.

First off he didn’t seem to be sweating Carling like his mates and when he asked her to dance he didn’t talk to her fake tanned cleavage. He was well turned out too, shoes so polished she could see Stacey Burns being sick in the reflection.

It wasn’t until they started going out that Vicky realised how much work he needed. And the more they went out, the more imperfections seemed to float to his flawed surface – the more she reviewed her exes finer points.

If only I could give him Darren’s teeth. Swap his thighs for that cyclist I was dating back in uni. And if he had Stu the lifeguard’s chest …

The day she imagined Adam with her old English teacher’s head, she knew it was time they finished.

Plenty more Creatures out there to experiment with …

 


Written for Sunday Photo Fiction. See the pic and write up to 200 words to go along. See here to join in and to read the other tales.

 

Sunday Photo Fiction: The finch whisperer

177-10-october-16th-2016


 

Every morning the scuff-scuff of slippers on the garden path, loose sole slapping like a Labrador’s tongue.

His voice drifts through my open window, carried on a breeze scented by lilac and rubbish bins. His is a sing-song mumble, the hint of some old melody from the blackout, a spell to hold off the Luftwaffe.

He interrupts himself often – greetings, questions asked with no response – until his twittering mixes with the sparrows’ and finches’, his tone matching theirs, adjusting his accent so they might understand him better.

He’s the only one from the flats who uses the garden for anything other than for dumping extinct fridges and gutted pizza boxes, the only one to fill the space with a sound other than the thump of bass.

After the ambulance takes him away I skulk to the feeder, pour slippery seeds in his honour. But the birds have all flown – only drifting feathers and lime left behind – and it makes me wonder if he was talking to them after all.

 


Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction prompt. See the photo and write a post of around 200 words to go along. See here to join in and to read the other tales.

Sunday Photo Fiction: The last man

172-09-september-11th-2016

 

‘Is that the last man?’ she asked.

‘Yes. Oh, yes, don’t worry.’ His eyes flashed at her then away. ‘No survivors.’

She could hear the edge in his voice, the rage at what he’d been forced to do. ‘If you have something to say – ‘

Gun in hand, his head dropped, defeated. ‘No. We made an agreement. It’s just …’ His Adam’s apple bobbed like a cork on a pond. ‘It’s harder than I thought it would be.’

Nodding, she said, ‘It was never going to be easy, but you’ve done something to be proud of today.’ She looked pointedly at the gun hanging heavy in his hand. ‘One last thing.’

The gun raised, trembling. With one decisive motion he let it drop.

She peered into the cardboard box and smiled. ‘Right. That’s the toy soldiers packed. Now all that’s left is your comic book collection. We’ll have this spare room turned into a nursery in no time.’

 


Written for Sunday Photo Fiction. See the photo and write up to 200 words to go along. See here to join in and to read the other stories.

 

 

 

 

A Blighty One

167 08 August 7th 2016

 

Bertie never talked about the trenches.

He’d watch those grieving mothers in widows weeds look askance when they passed an office-Johnny in the street. Their eyes cried out, wanting to understand why this man walked untouched while their Tommy was just a name on the town memorial – no stone, no coffin, no grassy patch to lay violets come the Spring. These perfect men had shuffled important papers, made decisions that liberated Antwerp, won back Messines and Passchendaele. But though their bodies were intact, their pride took a beating – every sideways glance a punch, every insinuating conversation a sabre to the heart.

No such worries for Bertie. The withered arm, heavy as a sandbag, was sign enough.

This man did his bit. This man was comrade to our lost boys.

Though he accepted the shy kisses from the women, the grateful handshakes from the old men, he kept the secret of his Blighty one*.

The game of poker in a moonlit trench. The aces tucked in his puttees. Angry words and fists thrown.

A sniper’s shot.

No, even though guilt gnawed like rats in his chest, he never told.

The world needs heroes.


Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction prompt. See here for the rules and to read the other stories.

* To have a ‘Blighty one’ meant to gain an injury that involved being sent back home to Blighty (Britain) and away from the trenches, either for treatment – or if the injury was bad enough to stop you fighting – for good.