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 headed home. She 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.

Trolley Ride

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Photo prompt by Janet M. Webb

The car’s jam-packed, but I see a space, so I squeeze in. I notice her then. She has a retro look – I’m intrigued.

We’re crowded together. “Sorry,” I say, and she looks at me encouragingly, so I ask her name. She’s shy, maybe nervous.

We reach my stop; she grabs my sleeve. “Stay,” she says, and I take her hand, just like that.

Next thing I know it’s the end of the line and the car’s empty. I’m bewildered.

The driver spots me. “Ah,” he says, “you’ve met Judy. She’s been riding this trolley since 1944. Pretty cute act, eh?”

*****

You’ll enjoy reliving the trolley ride in the clip below, I believe. It’s my inspiration for my Friday Fictioneers story this week. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this weekly flash fiction event. Read all the other 100 word stories here.

Showgirl

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Photo courtesy of Jan Wayne Fields

“You’ll love New York,” they said. “You’ll be a hit, no doubt about it.”

They were right. It was all I’d dreamed of – the razzle-dazzle, the buzz of new beginnings. And fame came quickly. My light blazed brightest of them all. I was loved. I brought hope to thousands.

Now, I feel the weight of the years. Although they tell me I still matter, I know I’ve become just a photo opportunity. They’ve grown used to me, complacent.

The harbour seems colder somehow. I feel its chill rising, seeping in. But I’ll stay. One day they’ll need me again.

*****

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, on her blog ‘Addicted to Purple’. This is my response to this week’s photo prompt. You can read all the other stories here.

Turning point

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Photo courtesy of Sandra Crook

“Go,” his father said. “Take this chance.”

So Carl left. One brief email accepting the scholarship – as easy as that. Dad watched as he drove off.

Four hours on the road, in a daze of uncertainty, and now these stupid sheep with their blank eyes and manic bleating had brought him to a stop and set him remembering.

Nine dry years. They’d battled on, the two of them, till all their stock was dead or sold for a pittance.

“Go,” he’d urged. “I’ll be okay.”

The road cleared. Carl started up, then turned, stirring up dust. He’d be back home before dark.

*****

For 27 years we lived in Dubbo, in the central west of New South Wales, and although we lived in town, the struggles of the farmers were never far from our minds, especially during the nine long years of drought that finally broke not long before we moved away. This week’s prompt took me back to those years and the struggles faced by farming families.

The sheep in Sandra’s photo look well fed and healthy, but during bad times farmers here will take their starving sheep along the roads, letting them graze on the grasses that survive along the roadside. It’s known as ‘the long paddock’.

This is my contribution to Friday Fictioneers. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this weekly flash fiction get-together. The other stories can be found here.

Xue’s Child

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Copyright – Jan Marler Morell

Xue felt the child move and was comforted. A boy perhaps – and strong. She thought of their overworked field and crumbling cottage, of mother-in-law, always watching, blaming.

Beside her, Zhao, grim-faced, strode purposefully through the dark night, their tiny daughter in his arms. Lin-Lin whimpered. Soon she would have rest, and medicine.

They arrived in a cold, damp passageway between high stone walls. Xue resisted a feeling that she would forever be surrounded by these walls. Zhao opened a small door and gently placed Lin-Lin inside. She wailed at the strangeness of the place, but they were already gone, running.

*****

This story is for Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Each week Rochelle selects a photo and writers respond with 100 word stories. You can read the other stories here.

You can read more here.

 

 

 

 

Another cold morning

Firstly this week, I must share my little bit of good news: I’m happy to say that my story ‘Snared’ has won the flash fiction competition for the month of May on an excellent website, Magic Oxygen, where entry fees go towards planting trees, a ‘word forest’, in Kenya, and building projects in a nearby school. My story will be read on radio and the winning story for each month will be published in their 2017 anthology.

*** 

Rochelle’s lovely photo is the prompt for this week’s Friday Fictioneers flash fiction event. You can find the other 100 word stories here, on Rochelle’s blog ‘Addicted to Purple’. My story follows the picture.

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Photo Copyright – Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

I am struck by the beauty of lace against an icy window. Just a curtain, just another midwinter morning. It’s the delicacy that fascinates. Fragile threads. Intricate twists and knots enclosing the emptiness and holding it together, patterns bestowing meaning and purpose on spaces where nothing is.

A call from the bedroom and I go to her. She’s looking at the photos on her nightstand – our children and grandchildren. She’s worried they’ve forgotten.

“Forgotten what?” I ask.

“It’s important,” she urges, gripping my arm, “not to forget.”

Delicate, twisted threads. Holding it together. Her hand like ice on my skin.

*****

Up and away

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Photo copyright – Rich Voza

Seatbelt fastened, luggage stowed – just enough for the trekking holiday that had impressed everyone.

Back at headquarters it would be business as usual for her colleagues. She chuckled, then got a grip. Don’t draw attention. A lifetime of undercover policing had taught Monica how to blend in, even disappear altogether when necessary.

The Erikson case had ended her career – a million in cash and jewellery vanished, and the culprit dead without telling.

Retirement! How would she cope? They’d all wondered.

“Quietly and competently, as usual,” she’d assured them.

Three stopovers for withdrawals, then Monica would disappear again. Thank you Mr  Erikson.

*****

Thanks once again to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting Friday Fictioneers. Each week writers post 100 word stories in response to a photo prompt selected by Rochelle. This is my contribution this week.  You can find all the stories here.

Not so charming

 

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Photo copyright – John Nixon

Midnight struck, and Cindy was heartbroken.

She’d done all a girl could do. She’d observed what he googled at work when he thought nobody was watching.

She’d followed him at a strategic distance on weekends.

She’d discovered what he liked, and reinvented herself to become his dream girl. It should all have come together at the office party.

She gazed dejectedly at her reflection in the mirror, from newly blonded hair to fishnet stockinged feet. His words still stung.

“You wear what? Size 10? Freaky!”

Well, he was the freak. Especially now he wore a strappy red stiletto in his neck. Size 10.

*****

This story is for Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields on her blog Addicted to Purple. You’ll find all the 100 word stories here.

There’s been some discussion recently among Friday Fictioneers about the frequency of gruesome endings to stories. Please accept my apology for adding to the murder tally  this week. In my defence, I can only say, firstly, that I haven’t really killed off many of my characters so I’m sure I’m still within whatever quota exists. Secondly, I couldn’t think of anything else.

In case you’re wondering about the connection to the prompt, I’ve wanted to write a story to go with the following song for so long that when I saw those feet in the picture I couldn’t resist. The video’s a classic – I hope you’ve got a couple of minutes to have a look.

The monster game

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Photo courtesy of Douglas M. MacIlroy

“Remember we used to play the monster game? Mum would grab us and hide us. ‘You’ll be safe from the monster here,’ she’d say, finger to lips, and I’d giggle and shush you.

Dad would charge in the front door, playing along, and we’d hear them downstairs yelling and crashing about. Dad would ham it up for us. I remember him stomping upstairs, calling, but Mum had told us, no matter what, we weren’t to give away our hiding place.”

“Is that how you remember it, Elise? Really? Well, you hold on to that. Good memories are a precious thing.”

*****

It’s time for Friday Fictioneers again. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this  flash fiction event and selecting the weekly photo prompt. Read all the other 100 word stories here.

 

A twisted tale

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Photo copyright – Piya Singh

Three youngsters stalked by a homicidal monster? Don’t believe it. It was war. Young hotheads were everywhere, out to prove themselves.

Most were pushovers. We just had to puff on them and they’d run away squealing. A few got tricky – barricaded themselves behind brick walls and started playing mind games. Some of us got burned trying to dislodge them, but not me. I had a plan. I spread the word down in the valley and waited.

Soon every man with a gun was scouring through our woods. The promise of a free supply of pork chops and bacon was irresistible.

*****

It’s time for Friday Fictioneers again, where writers contribute 100 word stories in response to a photo prompt posted each week by Rochelle on her blog ‘Addicted to Purple’. You can find all the other stories here.

And here’s a cute little video if you’ve got time for a trip down memory lane.