Flash Fiction: Water-stain

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Fully dressed, Peter lay next to Malorie and looked up.

‘I’m leaving you,’ she said.

He might have laughed, except it wasn’t funny. Above him, on the ceiling, he saw a water-stain shaped like an arrow firing into a heart.

‘I’m hiring a nanny to look after the children,’ Malorie said. ‘No divorce; we have to keep up appearances.’

Actually, thought Peter, it was a sword.

A nurse came into the room. ‘Time to be turned, Mrs Gibbs.’

Peter stood, and as the nurse rotated Malorie’s body from her back onto her side, he looked up again and saw the heart, cleaved in two.

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I said on Twitter that today I was too sick to write, too sick to do anything. But I am a writer. So, a sad story for a sad day. Picture by Sandra Crook. Join in or read others.

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If anyone is thinking of buying a copy of Our Endless Numbered Days for a Christmas present (or for themselves), let me know and I’ll post you a personalised card to go with it. Offer is worldwide.

Flash Fiction: Into the Sun

crook

Cara goes by bicycle to the village shop. The sky is polished blue.
As I lie down with Peter in the grassy hollow I imagine Cara peddling home, into the sun.
Time slows: minutes become hours
Peter turns towards me.
Hours become days
I think of Cara squinting, stopping.
Days become weeks
Peter leans forward.
Weeks become months
I picture Cara pushing the bicycle, head bowed.
Months become years
One first kiss, and a shadow falls. We shade our eyes, look up. Cara, her face dark under her hat, frowns.

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This is a Friday Fictioneers story: a 100-word piece inspired by the picture (this week provided by Sandra Crook). Friday Fictioneers is hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Click here to read other people’s stories, or here to join in.

I’d love to know what you think – constructive criticism gratefully received – leave a comment below.

 

Short story: Oboe solo for two players

david-stewart

The sound of the oboe carries through the evening, a melancholic invitation to come now. He has told his mother that he must be in the bandstand; something about fresh air and breathing technique. His mother likes that he is practicing.

At the first note, gliding in through her open window, she stirs and tells her mother she’s going to the meadow with the old portable gramophone, to dance. Her mother likes that her daughter is imaginative.

At the bandstand, in the dusk, she winds up the gramophone. And while Bach’s Partita for solo oboe plays out into the night, they practice, together.

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This is a 100-word(ish) story for Friday Fictioneers brought to us by the wonderful writer Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, and the picture this week is supplied by the fantastic writer, David Stewart. Click here to join in with Friday Fictioneers, or here to read other people’s.

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Until Sunday readers in the US can win a signed copy of the UK version (left) of my novel, Our Endless Numbered Days; and readers in the UK can win a signed copy of the US version (right). The competition is running on Twitter and Facebook. Click the links and follow the instructions to enter. Good luck!

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Flash fiction: Ophelia

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‘I used to follow her sometimes, in the early mornings,’ Gil said. ‘She never knew.’

Flora leaned forward beside his bed, waiting for her father to continue.

‘Once, I sat in the bird hide at Little Sea Pond and watched her shed her layers of clothes and emerge transformed into something ethereal, something not meant for this world. She stepped into the pond, lay back, and the water, it seemed to me, welcomed her, as if she had come home. She floated there as the sun rose – a naked Ophelia.

‘I never told her how much I loved her.’

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Thanks to our wonderful hostess Rochelle Wisoff-Fields who has been guiding and inspiring us Friday Fictioneers for two years today. If you want to have a go at writing 100 words based on the picture above (this week supplied by The Reclining Gentleman) click here, or if you want to have a read of all the other flash fictions, click here.

This week I managed exactly 100 words, and rather than thinking about the rather chilly-looking pond above, I rather had in mind this paining by Millais. 1280px-John_Everett_Millais_-_Ophelia_-_Google_Art_Project

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My novel Our Endless Numbered Days will be published in early 2015. Click here to find out more.

Short story: Before we fall in love

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If I could, I would turn our love on its head: the disappointment, work-a-day and humdrum would be over and done with first.

At the river the tide would go out, and the stinking mud would make plain its dirty treasure; it would rain, you would catch a chill and I would be unsympathetic,

Before we fell in love.

I would try, and fail, to mend that hole in the roof and you would refuse to hold the ladder, because you had better things to do,

Before we fell in love

Before we fall in love.

***

Does this count as a poem? If so, it might be my first ever.

For those who don’t know how Friday Fictioneers works, this picture (this time supplied by B.W. Beacham) is our inspiration for our weekly online writing group hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Each story is only about 100 words long, so why not read a few others: click here to read some more or to join in.

And please comment below with any suggestions on mine, or just to show you’ve visited.

Short story: Loved

studio-lights-from-kent

I stood where they told me, hidden in the dark margins of the studio, to watch you in the spotlight. You mesmerized them, studio crew and interviewer (and me), laughing and then hushed, hanging on your every word. I was so proud. They all loved you, your book, your perfect life, projected. I loved you too, then.

Loved you when the production assistant whispered, ‘Isn’t he wonderful?’

Loved you when she said, ‘A bit of a rogue though.’

Loved you. ‘Apparently he has a wife and child in the country.’

Loved. “And a woman in every city.”

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For those who don’t know how Friday Fictioneers works, this picture (this time supplied by Kent Bohnam) is our inspiration for our weekly online writing group hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Each story is about 100 words long, so why not read a few others: click here to read some more or to join in. And please comment below with any suggestions on mine, or just to show you’ve visited.

Short story: Dead Salt Pond

 

adamickes-boardwalk

Richard hadn’t walked around Dead Salt Pond for years, but he let the dog lead the way. When he had first taken Sophia there, when she was still his student, the jetty had been newly built; firm, dark planks stretching out over the reeds. Now it was silvered and rotten, holes showing a patchwork of sunlight and shadow on water.

That day, he and Sophia made love for the first time, in the dunes behind the beach.

“Marry me,” he asked, at the end of the jetty.

“I can’t.”

“Can’t or won’t?”

“Can’t,” she said. “Richard, you do know I’m still seventeen?”

And he saw the rest of his life charge towards him, unstoppable.

***

Our stories are meant to be 100 words long, give or take a couple of words, but this is 114. I put the last line in, took it out, put it in, took it out, put it in… Should the last line have been taken out? I’d be really interested to know what people think. Let’s have a vote!

For those who don’t know how Friday Fictioneers works, this picture (this time supplied by Adam Ickes) is our inspiration for our weekly online writing group hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Click here to read other people’s amazing stories or to join in. And please comment below with any suggestions for improvement on mine.