“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”
Seeking the City
By KL Caley
He scraped his worn sandals against one another. His wandering eyes occasionally drifted down to the loose thread on his jeans. Don’t pull it, it was fashionable to have holes in them these days anyway, he thought.
As the early sun rose from the sky, the city revealed itself before him.
Leaving his job and his home was the scariest thing he had ever done, but now he knew he was exactly where he needed to be.
And he let his heart wonder, for just a moment, if he would ever see her again, in this city of dreams.
My 99-Word short story was originally written in response to:
As a few of you may know, a few months ago I had the honour of being featured in Alwayswrite’s monthly Story Chat. This month features a fabulous story called, “As Far As a Former Prisoner Can Go.” written by Charli Mills (of Carrot Ranch website fame). Charli Mills challenges her flash fiction writers to compose a response based on her story for her 99-word story challenge. This is my entry:
Saying Bye to Buttercup.
By KL Caley
He buried his face into the soft golden fur and let out one slow sob, hoping against hope the other prisoners wouldn’t hear. Another excuse for a beating was the last thing he needed.
He looked into Buttercup’s large brown eyes and felt his heart tear. He had always known he would only have her a short while, that was the point of the Puppies Behind Bars program, yet saying goodbye was harder than he had realised it would be.
He finally had someone in his life that understood what it was to give unconditional love.
He walked from the room, and she grabbed the closest thing to hand, throwing it at the door. He had not even glanced back as he walked away. The glass shattering forced her into action, she moved across the room and begin picking up the fragile pieces. Only one ragged piece remained large enough to see her glazed expression. The reflection taunted her, ganging up on her with the persistent voice that was in her head. Had she been good enough?
Gaaaaaahhh! She screamed aloud to no one. Actually, the scream felt great. She felt she was gaining control. Time to re-evaluate her taste in guys, this was the last one that would take her for granted!
“The house smelled musty and damp, and a little sweet, as if it were haunted by the ghosts of long-dead cookies.”
― Neil Gaiman, American Gods
“Who are you?” the voice called to the shadow that moved towards them. He glanced around at the others but no one shared any knowledge. No one has come in here in years, one whispered into the dark.
The shadow came closer, a scurrying sound, it darted in front of them. Perhaps it had missed them. No one looked underneath cabinets, right? Yet, the shadow returned, this time it lowered itself under the cabinet, its eyes glinted in the dim light, its whiskers twitched. Then it darted towards them, snatching one of them in its fearsome jaws with a thunderous squeak. Not Fred! One of the breadcrumbs called out into the dark as the rat fled away.
“Oh God what was that!”
Then they heard a large, meeeeoooowww, followed by a scuffle. As the crumbs watched in horror, the rat was dropped in front of the cabinet, and Fred rolled unceremoniously from his mouth towards them. A large paw appeared pulling the rat from the cabinet and the thudded padding of footsteps announced the retreat of their saviour.
The crumbs returned to their quiet contemplation. Thank goodness for their cat.
Jess felt like she had been holding her breath for an age. Her breath, her tummy, her neck elongated. Every part of her body felt burning hot and screaming at her to move.
But she needed the money. This was easy money, she told herself. Sit still for a couple of hours in an awkward pose. Just breathe. The artist had told her to breathe in deeply and then breathe out slowly. But I can hardly breathe, she thought. Perhaps it was the hot air. There seemed to be so little air movement in the room.
“John…” she said, her voice quivering. She hated to interrupt him.
The thud that followed seemed to echo around the room. Pushing his canvas to one side, John rushed over.
“Jess! Oh god.” He took his phone from his back pocket and began to tap in the numbers for an ambulance but the bleeping seemed to cause her to stir.
“Jess, are you okay?” He gathered some cushions and slid one carefully under her head.
“I’m fine, maybe just a bit of water?”
“Of course.” Within seconds, John had been across the room to the sink and retrieved what happened.
“I’m so sorry, John.” Her cheeks flushed. “I remember feeling hot and then, I’m not sure”
“No worries at all, Jess. Do you feel well enough to pose again or do you want to go home for the day?”
The thought of all the bills mounting up flashed through Jess’s eyes.
“No, no. I’ll finish” But as she got to her feet, she wobbled again slightly.
“Listen, Jess. Why don’t you lie back on that couch?”
“No, no. You need to finish your sketch.”
“I do, but Jess, you are so beautiful, I can draw you in any position. Why don’t you lie down for a while and we can pick up the other one another day. Perhaps a day which isn’t so warm?”
She smiled. Gratitude filled her flushed face.
“Thanks John.” John nodded and after a few alterations, he was soon busy behind his easel again.
Knowing she could make her bill payments, Jess finally relaxed. As John looked in her direction, his heart fluttered, he thought she had never looked so beautiful.
Many, many moons ago. Whilst I was a student, I modelled for several life drawing classes. I am curvy, pale, with wild red hair, not the person you would usually typecast to be a life model I am sure. To begin with, I was so nervous, but the class teacher was so lovely, the artists were all so kind, often showing me their works after, that despite the fact I was doing it for the money, I learned quite a lot about body confidence. Before long I was calm and natural (I hope!) and actually enjoyed the experience.