Flash Fiction: Crossing the river alone

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Yesterday I asked the fat nurse to describe the view.

‘A river,’ she said, her big hands moving confidently as she changed my dressings. There was no disgust in her face, although even I can smell my decaying self, my rotting body.

‘And on the opposite bank,’ she said, ‘are two yellow chairs. What d’ya say we break out of here and go and have a nice sit down?’

Today it was a new nurse, thin. I imagined her fat colleague, weighing down one yellow chair, waiting. But I didn’t ask her to look. I don’t want to know that both chairs are empty.

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This is a Friday Fictioneers 100-word (or so) short story based on the picture provided by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, and written about by writers all over the world.

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This week WordPress interviewed me about my writing, and included a big mention for the wonderful Friday Fictioneers. Read the piece here.

 

 

Flash Fiction: Third Person

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In books there’s always the drunk one. And the hesitant one. And the sober, sensible one – the person warning about the lake’s depth, the submerged dangers and the weeds to get tangled in. I should have been that person when we went down to the water in the dark, but instead we three were all the first kind. Giggling, we pulled off our clothes, plunged in, screaming at the cold.

A full five minutes of laughing and splashing went by before we missed him.

‘Peter!’ We tread water. ‘Stop messing around!’

In the blink of an eye we became the third person.

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Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this weekly 100-word Friday Fictioneers writing event. Join in. Read other people’s. The picture this week is supplied by Erin Leary.

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Another competition to win BOOKS. But this time not only Our Endless Numbered Days, but also books by Kazuo Ishiguro, Yann Martel, Kate Atkinson, Danielle McLaughlin, Julian Barnes and others. Click to enter.

Short story: A place to write

“But you’ve the whole house to write in,” Rex said, loading a tray with wine and olives. “Better than a shed at the end of the garden.” His hand was already on the back door, pushing it open.

“A shed with a view of the sea and a bed,” Ingrid said, but he was already gone.
She heard a wail start across the hall. “Mum, Flora pinched me!” A door slammed. “Mum. Tell her.” The children’s argument spilled into the kitchen where Ingrid stood at the window watching Rex’s retreating back.
“A quiet shed,” she whispered, and turned to her girls.

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For those who don’t know how Friday Fictioneers works, this picture (this time supplied by Björn Rudberg) 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.

Short story: Night swim

No one had looked up when Margaret had said she was off out. However, instead of going to book group, she undressed on the beach and stood, naked, under the vast arc of an inky sky studded with stars. At her feet was the sea, lapping the concrete steps with its cold, black tongue.

Margaret lifted her arms above her head and dived. She swam underwater as far as her breath would take her, then when she surfaced, Margaret turned and trod water, looking back at the string of town lights behind the dunes. She had never felt so alive.

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For those who don’t know how Friday Fictioneers works, this picture (this time supplied by Dawn Landau) 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.

Crossing time: 4 minutes

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“Why did you let her bring the jigsaw? We’ll be across before she even gets the lid off.” The passengers lurched as the ferry’s chain engaged.

“It keeps her occupied.”

Margaret up-ended the box so that scraps of leaves and sky and dogs fell under the table. Her father huffed and stared out of the window at the advancing shoreline while she and her mother laughed. There was another jolt so that the standing passengers clung onto each and beer and tea sloshed onto the stained carpet.

“Unfortunately,” announced a disembodied voice “mechanical problems are causing a delay to this crossing.”

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For those who don’t know how Friday Fictioneers works, this picture, supplied this week by Ted Strutz 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.

Short story: The flimflam

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Agnes knocked on the door. We stood there for ages; I was hoping no one would answer but eventually we heard slow footsteps and the door opened a crack.

“Please mister,” said Agnes, “my friend isn’t feeling well. Could she have a glass of water?”

As the old man poked his head out I remembered to sag at the knees. He looked us both over. “What’s the problem here?” he said and opened the door wider. “Water d’ya say?” He cupped an ear with his hand.

Behind him silver picture frames and knickknacks glittered on a hall table.

“Jackpot,” whispered Agnes.

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This picture, was supplied by Al Forbes for Friday Fictioneers, our weekly online writing group hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Rochelle posts a picture each week and writers from all over the world gather to write about 100 words using it as inspiration. Click here to read other people’s and to join in. And please comment below with any suggestions for improvement on mine.

Short story: Disassemble

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Flora’s parents were both authors; dealers in words: two dimensional, unless you let them into your brain where they might transform into images and emotions.

Flora had always preferred the three dimensional – things she could walk around, touch and take apart. At first her parents encouraged her, enchanted by a child who was the antithesis of them – buying her lego, meccano, a plastic tool set. They paraded her and her creations at dinner parties and at family gatherings. And then one day Flora found a real toolbox under the stairs, with real screwdrivers and spanners and hammers.

Then they weren’t so happy.

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This picture, for Friday Fictioneers was supplied by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, who also hosts our group where writers from all over the world gather to write about 100 words using a photo as inspiration. Click here to read other people’s and to join in. And please comment below with any suggestions for improvement on mine.

Short story: Rain

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The rain beats down on the roof of the Morris Minor. The old wipers can’t cut through the blur fast enough, and Flora leans forward where the headlights show the road disappearing beneath the car in black and white.

The first thump comes as she is passing the unlit supermarket. Then something hits the windscreen, swooshed away before she can even flinch. And then another. And another. There are things on the road – small, thrashing, distressed. Flora swerves, and the short beams of light the car throws out shows her hundreds more silvery creatures falling and flapping. Fish.

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This picture, for Friday Fictioneers was supplied by the lovely Janet Webb. Writers from all over the world gather to write about 100 words using a photo as inspiration. Click here to read other people’s and to join in. And please comment below with any suggestions for improvement on mine.

And for all the American contributors to Friday Fictioneers, I also very excited to let you know that I’ve just heard that my debut novel, Our Endless Numbered Days will be published in the US by Tin House.

Short story: French Kiss

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Professor Rex Blackwell had a reputation. Ingrid knew it; everyone knew it. He was witty, erudite and charming, and when he focused his attention on a student – admittedly always the pretty ones – for a while they would bask in the full warm light of his regard. But Ingrid, who could have had her choice of any number of her fellow male undergrads, and probably female, didn’t want to wait for Rex Blackwell to come knocking.

Midnight on the final night of the French trip saw only Ingrid and Rex in the bar. And when all their talk of dead poets and writers had ended, she kissed him.

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This picture, supplied by the very talented Sandra Crook for this week’s Friday Fictioneers writing group, provided instant inspiration. My problem was cutting down all I wanted to say. The last two lines are too short for my liking, but I’m already seven words over. Friday Fictioneers is where writers from all over the world write about 100 words using a photo as inspiration. Click here to read other people’s and to join in. And please comment below with any suggestions for improvement on mine.

Short story: Morbid obsession

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Rex still walked the beach early each morning with Charlie, before the nudists arrived with their sun cream and sandwiches. Rex told himself it was because the dog needed walking; he didn’t acknowledge, even to himself, that it had become a morbid obsession. As soon as Rex let Charlie off the lead, the dog raced across the shingle, scattering the gulls like sheets of newsprint into the wind. Rex kicked through the debris of the night’s high tide, looking for the remnants of other people’s lives – items lost, or discarded, or like Freya’s clothes, left in a tidy pile on the sand.

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I’m currently working on my second book, playing around with ideas and characters, and this is one proto-scene. There’s definitely a character who lives beside the sea, so this was a perfect picture for me, provided by E.A Wicklund for this week’s Friday Fictioneers writing group – where writers from all over the world write about 100 words using a photo as inspiration. Click here to read other people’s and to join in. And please comment below with any suggestions for improvement on mine.