“Look, Salvatore. New York. New beginnings for us.”
Salvatore grasped Mama’s eager, outstretched hand. Here he would invest the nugget of greatness he knew was within him and make his mark. He wouldn’t shrivel and stoop, lungs destroyed like Papa’s, in the sulphur mines.
Already, at nine, Sal knew what he needed: skilled teachers, opportunities.
Shepherded down the gangplank with his brothers and sisters, Sal felt the weight of his good fortune, his pockets heavy with assets. He’d been lucky during the voyage. He’d gathered rich pickings in carelessly concealed trinkets and cash. There’d be a market in New York.
I’m contributing some historical fiction to Friday Fictioneers this week. I’m not sure why my thoughts flew so swiftly to this particular Sicilian immigrant family arriving in the land of opportunity, but Salvatore certainly did leave his mark, in his own way.
The early blossoms were perfect. At first no-one noticed. Helen called a cheery hello as she passed, and George waved good morning as he watered his yellow roses.
Soon the bushes were a riot of purple, and Penelope’s neighbours stared, from a distance. George stayed indoors.
Penelope completed her project. This was who she was – a woman with purple flowers and a matching purple door.
The end was swift. Penelope’s padlocked purple door remained a warning to passers-by that the Ministry of Civic Harmony would not tolerate subversive colour schemes. This was a yellow street. Just yellow.
Once again I’m dragging the chain this week, but hopefully someone will still be browsing through the Friday Fictioneers link-up and drop by to read my story. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this weekly flash fiction event.
I open the chest and feast on the sight of my mother’s dresses. Greens and blues and rich ochres – shades of Earth and sea and sky. I have her colouring. I could wear these now.
Father should have disposed of them all, but he refuses, believing in miracles.
I close the lid and continue to my mother’s couch. We sit together, two black-shrouded figures. I stroke her arm to still the tremor that has lingered since the caning, since the vibrant colours of her skirt glimpsed beneath a wind-blown black burka offended a spying neighbour, and we finally understood the new morality.
This story came to mind after hearing a brief radio news item this morning about ISIS “morality police” in one of their remaining strongholds in Syria being out and about measuring the length of men’s beards. The irony of the phrase struck me anew.
In 2002 I taught English to a group of Afghan men who had been accepted into Australia as refugees. I heard some of their stories of atrocities, and since then the plight of victims of cruel regimes is never far from my mind.
This post is for Friday Fictioneers, a weekly flash fiction link-up hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.You can read the other 100 word stories here.
‘Without you we’d still be slaves to the whims of self-serving masters, tossed on the scrapheap when our usefulness ended. Who’d have thought we’d find ourselves a union organiser after all these years? You’ve revolutionised our working conditions – sick leave, regular rest breaks, and more.’
‘I only wish I’d discovered you sooner. And I wish we’d held out for shorter working hours. But it’s a start. Now, for what you owe me …’
‘Sorry, only two wishes per customer now and you’ve just had yours. Rules are rules.’
Another contribution to Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. The other 100 word stories in response to this week’s photo prompt can be found here.
Wall-mounted speakers crackle to life. Esteemed Leader’s morning exhortation is beginning. We stand as the production line pauses to allow us to concentrate, remember and ponder his wisdom while we work.
His beloved voice is deep, rich, clear: “Our striving is not in vain. Our children will reap the rewards of our sacrifice. Follow me, toward the future. Together we are achieving greatness.”
I am willing. My back is strong. I need no luxuries.
I close my ears to treacherous whispers about our Leader’s expensive cars and sumptuous homes. Everything will be alright. Esteemed Leader says it is so.
“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.
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.
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.
Charlotte was the newest in a long line of Ladies Under Curses. Banished from the living world far below her lonely tower, 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.
“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.