fiction and other writing

Archive for the ‘Flash fiction’ Category

Hidden

Gerald couldn’t believe his eyes. The skeleton he’d unearthed was like none he’d ever seen. In fact it was incredible. Carefully e removed the red earth to expose more of the whitened bones. The lower half of the skeleton was particularly delicate.

At regular intervals he poked his head up and checked no-one was watching. This find would make him rich. His friends, if you could call them that, would stop laughing at his ‘little hobby’. He’d be world famous. Gerald Farthing, architect extraordinaire; finder of the unique skeleton. He could see himself being invited to universities to explain why he’d decided to dig there.

He was so engrossed with his musings that he failed to register the delicate Gaelic music seeping into his head. The music was exquisite, hypnotic, even spiritual.

Gently he started to caress the smooth bones. They felt like silk to his roughened hands. The music drew him down and he curled his body around the skeleton.

Suddenly he was drowning in a sea of earth, which piled deeper and deeper over him.

Gerald had held his dream fleetingly for a moment but no-one ever knew that he’d discovered the bones of a mermaid.

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Book Review: Not What You Thought? and other surprises by P.A. Ruddock

Not What You Thought? and other surprisesNot What You Thought? and other surprises by P. A. Ruddock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is worth buying because it is raising money for the Forget-Me-Not charity, which helps homeless ex-soldiers. It’s also worth buying as it’s very good value for money with thirty four stories. Some of the stories are short or even flash fiction but all are expertly crafted.
As well as Paul Ruddock’s excellent work there are contributions from five other writers: John M.W.Smith, Tom Benson, Matthew Williams, Lesley Hayes and Peter Nena. This adds a variety of style.
One of my favourite stories was ‘Cold Callers’. It was about a writer who wanted to get on with his work but people kept interrupting. Great storytelling. ‘The Spectre’ is a beautiful account I read some time ago on the author’s blog. It is a sensitive description of a natural phenomenon and I remembered it long after I read it. The variety in the book will keep you turning the page.
I won’t go through all the stories but they’re all worth reading. ‘The Car Clampers’ stood out for me as we’ve all met some of these unreasonable people and I didn’t expect the ending that was written for ‘Put to Death’. Photographic Memory I’ve read before but it was just as exciting this time round.
If you buy this book you’ll be helping a worthy cause and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the stories.

View all my reviews

Never Jealous

You sat in the sunshine. I sat in the shade. We were most unlikely friends. I watched and waited while you danced until dawn, with your many admirers drooling over your every word.

Quietly I read books, studied for exams, collected my degrees, with just one love. You modelled for the daily’s, were interviewed by journalists and appeared in popular shows.
When we spent time together you relaxed and laughed at all the frippery and flattery, the superficial loves and endless calendar of parties.

As my stomach swelled and shrank, the ever slim you, dressed more elegantly, slipped on designer shoes and carefully negotiated the catwalk in five inch heels. Happily I was never jealous.

Sleepless nights and the ever growing school run occupied my days, interspersed with the odd flying stardust visit.

Almost unnoticed I slipped into the world of work again, finding satisfaction in unannounced achievement, while your celebrity image shouted from posters and magazines; each of us in our way contributing to the melee of life.

Today I sit waiting at the hospital for my first grandchild to make her debut, while you battle with crippled feet and wrinkles I cannot see.

We were ever unlikely friends. You live your life in the glare of the sunshine; I live mine in the gentler shade.

The Gracious Smile

I looked like a chocolate caramel in my plain beige dress with delicate embroidery around the neck and sleeves. The dark cocoa jacket had seemed smart in Estelle’s, but now I wished I’d bought something delicate and floaty.

It didn’t matter really; the day wasn’t about me. Amber looked radiant and beautiful. When Mark’s car arrived I noticed a tear in his eye. Of course he’d be feeling proud of her; he wouldn’t be worrying about missing her when she left home. He’d not been here for the last five years.

My stomach did a little flip as I watched them leave together, but luckily there was no time to dwell on it. I needed to get to the church before them. Taking a shuddering breath, I collected my bags and keys, slipped on my low healed patent shoes and headed to the waiting car.

In the next half hour I would have to face ‘that woman’. I practised my gracious smile, having no intention of speaking to her. Amber said she wouldn’t invite her if I’d be upset, but I knew she wanted her there for her dad’s sake.

I bet ‘that woman’ would be wearing something made of silk or lace. Amber often mentioned her beautiful clothes. I was beginning to feel like a brown penguin, if there is such a thing. Not that I’m exactly fat and I don’t waddle, but how do you compete with someone almost twenty years your junior!

The scenery on the drive was just a blur, but once in church it was easy to focus on Amber and her soon to be husband, Charlie. ‘That woman’ had been seated further back and out of my line of sight, although somehow I noticed her white diaphanous dress with pink roses and overlarge hat.

At the reception I’d insisted it would be me sitting next to Charlie. It was my daughter getting married, not ‘that woman’s’ and so she’d been given a place at the grandparents’ table. The food was exquisite and the champagne very passable. As the meal ended the speeches started. I dreaded what Mark would say. I bet he’d get ‘that woman’ in somehow. As he started to speak I felt the vibrancy of his voice and could see small index cards on the table. On them he’d written reminders of whom he should mention and thank. His speech swam over me.

‘…Amber has had a happy childhood, largely due to the generous spirit of her mother. She has had a wonderful role model and today we are delighted to welcome Charlie…’

Quickly I looked up at him and he smiled his special smile; the one that makes you think you’re the only one in the room with him. I could feel everyone’s eyes on me. I’m sure Amber was holding her breath, but she needn’t have worried. I wouldn’t spoil her day for anything or anyone. I rustled up my gracious smile and smiled right back. The room relaxed.

It was much later that I noticed ‘that woman’ sitting at her table alone. She was studying her drink with an unwarranted intensity as if it contained a miniature elephant or something equally unlikely. I picked up my glass, pinned on my gracious smile again and went over.

‘I hope you’ve had a pleasant day,’ I said.

‘Oh yes, it’s been lovely. Amber looks so beautiful and happy.’

‘She does, doesn’t she? I think they’ll be happy.’

‘It’s nice of you to come and talk to me. Mark’s off doing his hosting duties.’

It was at that moment I wanted to say, ‘Is that what you call it?’ but something made me stop. We both turned to look at Mark, who was dancing slowly and too closely with one of Amber’s friends. It shocked me that I didn’t feel humiliated as I had in the past, but I recognised the look of hurt in Mark’s new woman’s eyes.

‘I was admiring your beautiful dress,’ I said as I pulled out a chair and sat down. ‘Amber’s always talking about your clothes.’

I glanced back to the dance floor and Amber blew me a kiss.

The Ghost of Love

‘She lives her life in another world now,’ I said to the doctor as my auntie smiled with eyes that seemed to focus beyond the boundaries of the room.

‘Mrs Ash do you know who I am?’ asked Dr Parsons.

My aunt smiled, ‘Of course dear. Would you like a cup of tea?’

‘No thank you. Do you know what day of the week it is?’

‘I don’t need to know dear. Weeks are a thing of the past. Can you see the poppies? Aren’t they delicate; such big heads on tiny stems.’

I couldn’t help but look out of the window. Snow carpeted the adjacent field and left a fringe along the top of the fence. Trees were covered in white lace. I shivered.
The doctor continued questioning gently, not showing any surprise at the random replies he received.

As he prepared to leave he said to me, ‘I’ll refer your aunt to a specialist. It could take several weeks but call me if you need me.’

Suddenly auntie’s eyes were focused. ‘I won’t see you again Doctor. ‘I’m off on my travels. Tonight I’m spending with Susan. She’s such a good girl. I want to say goodbye properly.’

The doctor gave me a sympathetic look but as I saw him to the front door he said, ‘She’s so believable isn’t she? It must make it very hard for you.’

We spent a lovely evening together, drinking tea and eating cake. Auntie reminisced about the past. We looked at sepia photographs and each held a story. I studied Auntie Moira and Uncle Walter’s wedding photograph. They were so happy. Even now, when time had faded the image, you could see their joy.

In the morning I carried in her cup of tea in her china cup with tiny roses. As soon as I opened the curtains I knew she was gone. I touched her cold hand and saw the hint of a smile on her face. There was nothing anyone could do for her now. I was about to pick up the phone when I glanced out of the window. A sun light beam caught dust particles in its path, like dancing diamonds. I walked over to look at the view. The day would be full of formalities; it wouldn’t hurt to take a moment to myself.

Outside there was a young couple walking hand-in-hand, through a field of poppies, they turned with bright smiles and waved. Immediately I recognised them from their photograph. I waved right back and as I did so the scene changed to white. Snow covered the fields, lay delicately on the branches and collected into soft mounds under the fence.

Two Can Play

CakeHow can a man of fifty-five still be excited by birthdays? The tension has been rising for about three weeks. What would he get for his birthday? Was it going to be a surprise or would I like some ideas?

Believe me I have ideas!

I smash the margarine onto the sugar with feeling and batter it until it loses its shape. I chuck in the flour and eggs and whiz them with my two month old birthday present; a high quality food churner or whatever it’s called. After thirty five years my other half has apparently not cottoned on to the fact that I hate cooking.

The pure creamy mixture is ready. Now, what flavour to impress him with, for have I mentioned, I mean to impress. A slurp of vanilla essence, a tinge of coffee granules, perhaps a bit of seasoning, I think, as I grind pepper and garlic into the large mixing bowl. I add three spoonfuls of curry powder and some almond flavouring and carefully place my little treasure in the oven. The aroma is rather powerful so I open the back door.

I decorate my handiwork with thick sweet icing and a zest of lemon and in true traditional style I cram 56 birthday candles onto the, what now is a crowded, surface.

“I’m home munchkins. Where’s the pressie?” his voice rings in a happy tone.

“I’ve baked you a special treat. When you’ve had a cuppa and a taste, then you get your present.” I smile a little smile.

He cuts a huge slice to match his growing waist line.

“What a taste!” With a smack of his lips he says with relish, “I could eat it all. That’s the best I’ve ever tasted. What a wife!”

I watch unbelieving as he licks his fingers and presses them to his plate. I watch him savour every last crumb. He still doesn’t know how I hate cooking. Then I remember his present and smile. I reach behind the sofa and bring out his present. His bulgy little eyes light up with greed and he rips off the paper of the carefully wrapped parcel, to reveal Delia’s “How to Cook” books one and two.

Two sentence story challenge

One of the challenges set at the writing group I attend, was to write a story in two sentences. Below are my attempts. Why don’t you have a go?

The summer sun’s light revealed the deathly secret beneath the river’s surface. Upstream, Marcus Dubois hurled the solitaire ring and blood splattered rock as far as he could, into the fast flowing waters.
***
Marcia Edwards smirked as she passed the mill pond. Her brother was on detention for not doing his homework, and only she knew where it lay, in its watery grave.
***
For the seventh time ‘Princess’ Agnes tied the marriage knot.
Like a butterfly she flittered, but divorces she forgot.

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