Observations from the staircase

roger-bultot

Photo prompt courtesy of Roger Bultot

“Mark his progress, Antonio. He descends halfway and pauses, bathed to striking effect in the chandelier’s glow, adjusts a cuff, then hastens down to retrieve Isabella’s dropped fan, leaning close. She blushes. Is she the one?

“No – look! Lady Francesca faints. He rushes to escort her to a chair. He caresses her waist. She’s entranced – he has her!”

“Ha! They can’t resist!”

*

“Watch, Julietta. See how Isabella drops her fan, then tilts her head as he leans in, her hair brushing his cheek.

“But no! Francesca has diverted him. Observe how charmingly she swoons. She has him! Francesca is our champion tonight!”

*****

This is my contribution to Friday Fictioneers this week. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this weekly flash fiction event. You can find all the 100 word stories here.

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Guiding Principles

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Photo prompt courtesy of Shaktiki Sharma

Beverley was in her retro phase when they married. She wanted to recreate the traditional values of a simpler time. Harold was enchanted. Then one day their laminex and steel dining suite was replaced by an ornate Queen Anne – Beverley had discovered antiques. It was all about timelessness and elegance. Harold adapted.

Next came her organic phase and handmade bowls on a splintery recycled table. Beverley sought sustainability, a natural lifestyle. Harold endured, itching in homespun clothing.

But now he was bewildered. Things were disappearing.

‘Minimalism,’ Beverly explained, studying Harold thoughtfully. ‘If it has no purpose, it goes.’

*****

This story is for Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. You can find all the other 100 word stories written in response to this week’s prompt here.

His first batch

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Photo prompt courtesy of Vijaya Sundaram

Midnight. Vera heard him outside, dragging something down into his new shed.

She didn’t believe his story that it was for potting up plants. Vera had watched every episode of Breaking Bad. She knew that evasive husbands with locked sheds and deliveries in the dead of night were up to no good.

She flinched at muted gurgles and rattles from the shed. Police sirens made her rigid with fright.

When it blew, she raced outside, fearing the worst. Eric staggered out, a sticky, bleeding mess. The shed was wrecked.

‘Ginger beer,’ he spluttered. ‘For Christmas. I wanted to surprise you.’

*****

My story for Friday Fictioneers this week is prompted by a childhood memory of my father’s home-brew plant in our laundry. Yes, it exploded. There was no real damage, just an awful lot of cleaning up to be done. My father made a few successful, and delicious, batches of ginger beer about that time and I think only one of them exploded.

I’m sure the TV series Breaking Bad is generally well-known, but just in case you haven’t seen it, here’s the whole series in 3 minutes.

 Thank you to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, who hosts Friday Fictioneers, where writers contribute 100 word stories in response to a weekly photo prompt. You can find them all here.

A gleaming shape she floated by

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Photo prompt courtesy of Georgia Koch

Charlotte was the newest in a long line of Ladies Under Curses. Banished from the living world far below, she got her visuals on a giant screen with excellent social media access. She’d learned to be content.

That was before she saw his facebook videos: sun-dazzled helmet, jewelled leathers, coal-black curls— he was a god, astride a Harley. She had to find him.

She set off downriver, defiant, determined, and in her best snowy-white dress—she was a Lady after all.

Pity she was dead as dust in the bottom of the boat by journey’s end—but a curse is a curse.

*****

This week’s Friday Fictioneers’ prompt is a repeat from last year, so for the first time I’ve been able to do a re-run. However my first story for this picture continued an even earlier one, so I’ve reworked it, combining the two stories. If you’d like to read the two original versions, you’ll find part one here and part two here.

Friday Fictioneers is hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. You can read the other hundred word stories here.

Here is the poem that inspired my story.

 

Antarctic Antics

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Photo prompt courtesy of Janet Webb

I know they talk about me. They’re pathetic. Waddling, broody old birds—fluffed up and self-righteous, huddled in cackling, gossiping groups on the beach while the kids are swimming—until I arrive, and there’s an icy silence.

Well they don’t bother me. They think life’s an easy downhill glide but I know better. You take what you can get and you pebble your own nest, so to speak.

My future’s secure and my children come home to the best roost in the neighbourhood. And I’ve got their men to thank for it. Let them brood on that.

*****

I came across some startling information while I was browsing for a story idea about pebbles and nests. I couldn’t resist. This Wikipedia article explains it all, if you’re wondering.

And just for sheer delight, have a look at this video. It doesn’t touch on the disgraceful extra-marital shenanigans explained in the above article, but it does show an example of my penguin character’s ‘pebble your own nest’ attitude. It’s the cutest thing.

 Once again, this story is for Friday Fictioneers, a flash fiction link-up hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. You can find all the other 100 word stories here.

If we build it …

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Photo prompt courtesy of Adam Ickes

“It’s a mistake,” I protested. “It’ll be the ruin of the place.”

But other voices argued for compromise. “Without public interest we’ll never save it. We have to help them experience it for themselves. Then they’ll realise and help.”

So the road and the timber boardwalk with a whiz-bang viewing platform appeared. And the public came. And the trail bike riders, and the late night party animals. And from the platform you could see soft drink cans and cigarette packets and beer bottles.

And the wetlands continued to shrink and die.

But I never said “I told you so.”

*****

This week marks my second year as a blogger, and also my second year as a Friday Fictioneer. I ventured into blogging primarily so that I could join the weekly party at Rochelle’s place. And I’m pleased to say I’ve managed to post a story for every prompt since then – haven’t missed one. (Am I proud of myself? Yep.)

While I have been promising myself to update my about page with details of some of the writing milestones I have reached outside of this blog, and to diversify and post more non-flash fiction onto it, I haven’t done anywhere near what I would like to. However, my Friday Fiction record stands unblemished. Can I keep it up? Time will tell.

Thank you once more to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, who hosts this wonderful flash fiction event, and manages to encourage every contributor, even when in the throes of meeting publication deadlines and book launching. The other 100 word stories are here.

 

Time to go

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Photo prompt by Ted Strutz

Closing time. Only losers like Brenda lingered, crying into their drinks. This place wasn’t helping—chaotic, like her life.

She realised at last that she was just an easy pickup, nothing more. She’d had dreams, once, of a soulmate who’d walk beside her along life’s rocky trails. Now she knew better.

Outside, the empty streets brought clarity. Brenda opened her front door with a new resolve.

She tipped his dirty socks onto the floor and scattered newspapers over the lounge. She dropped his leftover pizza into the bathtub, and walked out.

From now on, he could pick up after himself.

*****

Another 100 word story for Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. You’ll find all the others here.