Flash Fiction: Minky

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They make quite a collection when they’re together on the mantelpiece. I dust them every day, very carefully; I don’t want any more accidents. One little nudge, and whoops, china and ash all over the carpet. It’s the devil to vacuum out. Happened to my brother Alastair just the other day. But I never could stand him. Sometimes I like to rearrange them: Dad beside Jeremy – couldn’t abide each other in life, or Agnes next to Peggy. I wonder who will tire first of that incessant chatter? But little Minky, my darling pussy cat, she’s always at the front.  Continue reading

Flash Fiction: Water

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I told them I saw her, under the water, hair swaying, eyes blinking. They brought the horse and cart, and Lewin stood on the back with a pitchfork, stabbing the lake, while all the village watched. It made me laugh, to see how they believed my joke. But the nag reared up and Lewin fell. There was screaming but no one jumped in to save him. We was all too afeared.

After that they wouldn’t use the water. Not even warmed. There was terrible thirst and then hunger. They ate the nag. Soon I think, they will eat me too.  

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This is a Friday Fictioneer story, inspired by the picture above, this week provided by Roger Bultot. FF is hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, who posts a picture online every week, and writer around the world write a 100-word story inspired by it. Click here to read stories by other writers, or here to join in.

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Click here to read a bit more about me and my books.

Flash Fiction: Pillow

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I found it in the bath. I hadn’t put it there, I was sure. I hadn’t been in the bathroom since the morning, and I was alone in the house. Anyway, who puts a pillow in the bath? I bent to pick it up, and saw a grey hair curled across the cotton. Not mine, I was sure. It repelled me, like extracting a long hair from a mouthful of food. And yet it was my pillow – missing from my bed. I left it there. Every night I washed at the sink and laid my head on a rolled-up cardigan.

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This is a 100-word flash fiction story inspired by the photo above. I know it seems a long way from the picture to my story, but to keep it to 100 words I had to chop out all the bits about sunlight and windows. The picture this week is supplied by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, our Friday Fictioneers host. Click here to join in, or here to read other people’s.

Other Friday Fictioneers might like to know that I had the pleasure of meeting a long-standing fellow FF, Neil MacDonald a couple of weeks ago. It’s the first time I’ve met another FF in real life since we’re all scattered across the globe. I can attest that he’s as lovely in person as he is on the screen.

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Do you look at an author’s photograph before you read the book? You’re not alone.

Flash Fiction: Running

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Lights. Over my shoulder their lights are coming, running through the trees, lamps and flaming torches. Coming for me through the trees, shouts, and hoots and laughter. It’s a game, for them. Dogs, teeth bared for blood. Running. Under the chicken house, into the nettles. Quiet!

In the morning she lures me out with food, and I let her paste the baking soda on my stings. I try to tell her about them, but my words don’t come right. She sighs at my tangled hair, my mother. Wants to keep me, but I slip away.

Tomorrow night they’ll come again.

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This is a 100-word flash fiction Friday Fictioneers story inspired by the picture above, this week supplied by Dale Rogerson. Friday Fictioneers is hosted by the lovely Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Click here to find out how it works or here to read some more stories by other writers.

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“A deeply moving read, that keeps you turning pages.” Oprah.com on my second novel, Swimming Lessons. Find out more.

Flash Fiction: Blackcurrant Jelly, 26th August 1966

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Snails had almost eaten the paper, but the writing on the label was my mother’s. I’d decided to tackle the sunroom last, after I’d gone through the rest of the house making piles: keep, charity, ditch. A lifetime of parental belongings. The warm smell reminded me of silent meals, my mother picking at her food, me itching to get down and play, unaware of things unsaid.

I would have thrown the jar away, except the date on the label was my birthday. Inside was a curl of baby hair, the same shade as my own.

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This is a 100-word flash fiction story inspired by the photo above provided by Sarah Potter. And it’s part of the Friday Fictioneers group of writers, run by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Click here to join in and write your own, or here to read some more.

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Find out more about my latest novel, Swimming Lessons, published by Fig Tree / Penguin (UK), Tin House (US), House of Anansi (Canada), and Piper (Germany).

 

Flash fiction: The Reunion

Roger Bultot

It was Sylvie’s idea. She sorted the date, the diner, booked the motel; she sent the emails. They’d met twice before – at the hen do and the wedding, but that was years ago. When they’d almost arrived – all three women driving from different directions – Sylvie texted that she couldn’t make it, some family emergency.

At first there was awkward conversation about their journeys, the weather and the cherry pie. They ordered cocktails, wine, they laughed and swapped stories, mostly about their mutual friend; went to bed late. They arranged to meet again. None of them invited Sylvie.

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It’s been a very long time since I last wrote and published a Friday Fictioneers flash fiction piece. I’ve been writing my third novel (hopefully more news on that in the coming weeks). Novels allow a lot of wriggle room, so it’s lovely to be back and being forced to write so tightly. If anyone wants to join in with their own 100-word story inspired by the picture above, click here. Or if you’d like to read some others visit this page. Picture supplied by Roger Bultot.

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Tonight I’ll be in Ealing (West London) at The Pitshanger Bookshop talking about my second novel, Swimming Lessons. And on Saturday I’ll be at the Wimborne (Dorset) literary festival. Do come if you live nearby. More information here.

Flash Fiction: Man on Train

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The man sits beside me, his suited belly pressed against the table, his laptop open, a mouse plugged in. The train sways and we all sway with it. The man pulls a handkerchief from his trouser pocket, sneezes into it and blows his nose vigorously. Five minutes later: handkerchief, sneeze, blow. And again. The fourth time the sneeze comes unexpectedly with only his hand to contain it. From the corner of my eye I see him run the length of his tie between his fingers. His hand hovers over his computer mouse, considering, then he holds it and clicks.

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I’ve missed several weeks of Friday Fictioneers – just been too busy. It’s meant to be a short short story inspired by the photo, but this week I have written a scene of 100 words, which is much easier to do than a story, so I’m cheating really (or just easing myself back in gently). Join in here and write your own 100-word flash fiction, or read some other writers’. This week the picture is provided by C.E.Ayr, and the whole is hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

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Swimming Lessons

My second novel, Swimming Lessons, will be published in January 2017 in the UK, and Canada, and February 2017 in the USA. Click on the country links to pre-order.

 

Flash Fiction: Paper dream

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In a box labelled Images d’Épinal, Eva found a flat paper model called Statue De La Libertè. It took her three evenings to meticulously cut around each shape, fold every tab, and stick them together. There were little family groups to attach to the edge: a plump man with a young son gazing upwards, a woman with two children, a mother holding a baby.

When it was finished, Eva imagined herself part of that tiny perfect world; and chose to ignore the too-bright colours, the fixed smiles on the faces, and deliberately forgot that it was all made of card.

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This is a 100-word flash fiction story inspired by the picture. It’s part of the Friday Fictioneers group, where our hostess, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields gives us a picture to write to, this week supplied by Lucy Fridkin. Click here to join in, or here to read other people’s.

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Images d’Épinal were originally stylised and brightly coloured designs developed by a
Frenchman in the town of Épinal. The phrase is now used for something that is so perfect and happy that it is unreal, a chocolate-box image as we might say in England. I’d be interested to know what idioms fellow Friday Fictioneers use for this phrase around the world. s-l500

Flash Fiction: Cedar of Lebanon

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It was hot that summer, the sun leaching colour from the grass, her hair turning blond. The cedar survived the drought though, 100 feet tall and the trunk too large for her arms to meet around it. Still she liked to press her cheek up against the bark, feel it breathe.

One evening Alex built a bonfire, and she stood drinking with the others, trying to whoop as the sparks flew, pretending to laugh when the bird’s nest caught.

Perhaps it was the hangover, but she couldn’t raise herself, couldn’t get out of bed the next morning to see the blackened stump.

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This is a 100-word Friday Fictioneers short story inspired by the picture above (the colour of the grass started it off), this week supplied by Jan Wisoff-Fields. Click here to join in, and here to read other people’s.

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My second novel, Swimming Lessons is currently available as a give-away on Goodreads to UK readers. Click here to enter.

Flash Fiction: Broken

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When things got really bad Cara unlocked the door to the old brew house. In one corner a huge vat squatted, as if awaiting its moment of escape. A rusting metal walkway ran around the inside walls, and under it was a scattering of broken things: chairs, tools, tyres, and other rubbish. A stinking and stained mattress was dumped in the middle. Cara undressed, and lay on it, face and palms upwards, waiting. Sometimes she had to wait for an hour or even two, but they always came if she was silent and still enough. The rats always came back.

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Sorry my story is so dark this week, when the picture is so lovely. I should be happy, I have good news – my first novel, Our Endless Numbered Days has been longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award. It is a very long longlist, but lovely to be on it.

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This is a 100-word Friday Fictioneers short story inspired by the picture above, provided to us by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (every week) and (this week) C.E. Ayre.