“No, no, no……”, a tiny voice shouted into the darkness. “Not Tony, we can’t have lost Tony.”
“Pull it together man. We’ve got to get the rest of the gang to safety. We’ll come back for Tony.”
In two’s the men made their way for cover. Safely in shelter one of them dared to turn on the light.
“Geoff, what are you doing? Do you want us to get caught?”
“Chill, we’re in the all-clear.” In the distance, they could hear glasses clinking, laughter and soft music. Still, it was clear some of the guys were nervous. They’d been caught out before and they knew the repercussions.
“Look we’ll hunker down here for a while. See if we can get one or two of those vehicles started and then head out.”
More laughter drifted through the air towards them, and they heard a door banging in the distance. Ignoring it they focussed on the cars. How many would they need to fit everyone in?
“Alex! James! Get yourselves back to bed this instant!” The bedroom light switched on startling two young boys. In the doorway stood an angry woman with her hands on her hips.
“Mum… It was just getting to the good bit,” Alex whined.
“You’ve already been told. Any more of that nonsense and James will be going home. You know you were only allowed to have a sleepover if you boys went to bed on time.” She walked into the room and removed some of the dolls the boys were playing with.
The boys skulked over to bed, wading through a trail of dolls and cars and toy guns.
“I expect this mess to be cleaned up first thing in the morning, then you can have these back.” His mother said then with a whoosh she switched off the light and closed the door.
“What now?” came a quiet voice in the dark. A dull torchlight appeared under the bedsheets.
“Give them five minutes to get back to their dinner party and we can play again.” “Yea, now we’ve really got to rescue Tony!”
She stared out across the water. Her mind lapping like the waves on the edge of the lake. Repeating her story to herself, but adding another line each time. Her life had changed, her plans gone awry, was there signals she missed? Probably. She had wanted the cliché. The house, the husband, the dog and the kids. She fought with everything she could, sometimes risking that which she hadn’t meant to. She had almost got it all. Almost.
The dog was an easy win, who doesn’t love dogs? Convincing him of the house move trickier but manageable. Some thought her husband meek but he could be stubborn when he wanted to. The wedding was a much harder challenge but eventually, she got there. Finally, she was ready for the children to come along.
Yet… as more and more time went in, the dreamed of pregnancy just didn’t happen. Cracks in her perfectly laid plans began to appear elsewhere. Strains that had been glossed over now bowed under pressure. Eventually, the talk was had. The perfectly planned life unravelled. One got the dog, the other the house. The title of husband and wife was vandalised with the “EX-“ prefix. So here she was, alone, in front of the wild lake.
Yet, life gave lessons, not curses. The wild lake representing what she needed, giving her time to cleanse, revive and refresh her life. Time to make some new plans…
“As exciting, difficult and memorable as our past can be, there comes a time when we have to get on with living.”
Patrick Carman, The Tenth City
I realise this is quite a melancholic post this week. I have someone on my mind. Someone I used to know well but life presented some challenges, as life often does, and now they are no longer part of my life. Even though that is the case, I still wish them luck and happiness on their quest. Water after all is the best symbol for refreshment there is.
He stared down at the newspaper. He really should call the newsagent and cancel the delivery but so far the thought of one more person apologising for his loss was too much. Better to just let it be, it was only a paper. Making his way to the kitchen he popped the kettle on then opened the fridge door. Row upon row of milk bottles lay unopened. He really should call and half the delivery. He paused. On second thought, a cuppa out would be a nice treat.
He grabbed his jacket and swapped his well-worn slippers for a pair of dress shoes. He wasn’t sure if they went with what he was wearing, Judy would have told him that, he shooed the thought from his mind. It didn’t matter, he had no one to impress anyway.
He walked down the street, hands in his pockets, keeping his head down, terrified a neighbour would stop him and offer more condolences. He knew they were trying to be kind but right now more condolences felt like the last thing he needed. He kept his head down and kept walking.
He stopped outside the café and looked in the window. Should he go in? His mind flashed back to sitting inside, waiting whilst Judy had her hair cut, after what felt like hours she’d appear. What do you think? She’d say with a huge smile. “Beautiful Darling”, he’d say, never really noticing the difference but her smile was all that mattered and that was truly beautiful. He turned to leave, he couldn’t go in there, not yet.
Across the road was a new café. It looked too trendy, one of these barista type affairs. Not a proper café. Still, he’d made it out the house, made it this far, maybe he should go in. No, I’m not young enough he thought, imagining the hipster type with their skinny jeans frowning at his questionable attire. But as he stood and watched a woman walked to the door and stepped inside, as she did, her scarf blew in the wind, causing her to drop her handbag, contents spilling across the pavement. Without even thinking, he crossed the road and knelt to help her. He picked up the pages of her newspaper and tried to sort them into some kind of order.
“Don’t worry about that, I’m not really a newspaper girl anyway, more of a book fanatic”, she said then gave him a beaming smile.
“Me too”, he said then chuckled. He handed her the scrunched newspaper and turned to leave.
“What kind of books are you into?” she asked.
“Oh, a bit of everything.”
“Ever read Fahrenheit 451?”
“Of course, a few years ago now, but it’s a book that sticks with you?”
“Great.” She beamed her smile at him again. “I am meeting my book group over by the window, why don’t you join us? This month’s book was Fahrenheit 451.”
“We’re a friendly bunch, besides I think I owe you a cuppa for helping me but I’d feel bad holding the group up any longer.” That inviting smile came out again. He looked up and down the street. He had nowhere else to be.
“Sure. Why not?” He said. Together they stepped through the door. Despite the nerves, he felt excitement, a new chapter was about to begin, it only took one small step.
Originally written in response to Writer’s Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge (#WQWWC) hosted by Marsha Ingrao at Always Right.
“As exciting, difficult and memorable as our past can be, there comes a time when we have to get on with living.”
Patrick Carman, The Tenth City
Change is often both terrifying and exciting whether that be a new house, a new job or even just a new chapter in life. I’m always curious about how people come to the decision to make that change, I find it’s often one small moment that causes them to take that leap of faith. Hope you enjoyed my tale capturing that moment.
I’m hoping to create a local book group to share my love of all things book related. I attended one years ago, it was at a local arts centre which sadly lost funding and closed. The group tried to keep going but the right venue was never available, pubs were too noisy, or had awkward seating or couldn’t reserve tables, the local bookshop and library both close at 6pm so were unusable and we couldn’t guarantee the numbers to hire a dedicated space, so it fizzled out. I am hoping to start a new one, hopefully with fresh eyes and excitement after (reportedly) more and more renewed their love of reading in lockdown. Wish me luck.
“What has keys but can’t listen to the beauty it unlocks? A piano” – Jarod Kintz
The old piano lay soundless, covered and almost forgotten. I had hated the sight of it after Geoff’s passing, but I could not bear to part with it either. Sometimes as I sat in our little sunroom, I could imagine his fingers dancing merrily along the keys and the soft tune would escape the walls, drifting out to that sunroom entrancing me. It had been his thing. Tinkering away. Capturing his anger or his joy, in simple melodic tunes. I missed those moments. I missed those rhythms. Mostly, I missed Geoff.
My entry to this weeks FFfAW challenge – This week’s photo prompt is provided by Mike Vore. Thank you, Mike, for our photo prompt! 106 Words this week 😀 – the story word limit is 100 – 150 words (+ – 25 words).
Click on the frog to see more flash fiction inspired by this great image
I slumped in my chair, the ale in front of me looked less than appetising, but what else could I do. It looked like there was no way into the castle. It was strong and secure, surrounded by ditches and moats and heavily guarded by skilled archers. It was useless. My love had been taken from me and there was no way to retrieve her.
“What’s wrong with your face?” an elderly woman slumped down next to me. I ignored her. “You’ll turn that ale off, face like that.” I pulled my collar hiding my face a little and hopefully providing the hint that I didn’t want company.
“Must be a girl then?” She took a final gargled slurp of her drink. “Although not that many girls around here. Except for that bonnie new girl up at the castle, of course.” I couldn’t help but turn a little back to face her.
“Ah, so I’m right. It is a girl.” She smiled triumphantly. I sighed.
“Well, what of it? It’s no use now, she has been locked away in that fortress. Promised to another.” I took a sip of my drink hoping to disguise my raspy vocals as thirst.
“Love you, does she?”
“Well, she told me she did. I guess I’ll never know now.” The old woman nodded.
“What if I told you there was a way to find out?”
“There is no way, she is locked in that stronghold until she is wed,” I said exasperatedly. Frustratingly the old woman nodded slowly at me again.
“Well, what if I told you there was a way, a secret way, into the castle?” Her eyes shimmered and she licked her lips.
“Where? Tell me where. I need to go at once.” I made to stand but she pulled me back to my seat.
“Hold yourself, young man. Patience is the skill.” She shook her empty glass at me. I understood the meaning. It could be a trap but I had to risk it, I called to the barman and pointed to her empty glass. Within seconds she had her drink. After she took a slow agonising drink of it, she turned to me and licked her lips once more, now satisfied.
“Under the arches of the drawbridge, there is a secret door. You can only get to it when the water lies low. But it has been dry for many weeks so I would think tonight you would make it. It will take you into the very walls of the castle but it would be a way inside no-one would know of. Once inside you will need to use every skill you have. Especially patience and listening. It will be the only way to avoid the guards and find your love.”
I stood up and threw money down on the table. “Thank you. Thank you so kindly.” She nodded her nod once again.
I waited in the woodlands until darkness. Then just as the woman said made my way down to the water. Crossing it carefully I stood underneath the archway. I could not believe my luck. Hidden in the darkness was a doorway, so many would miss it, but there it was, exactly as she had said. I started climbing the steps up to it, preparing myself for the challenge ahead. As I reached the top step behind me I heard the heavens open. I glanced back at the moat, wondering just how long it would take to fill, just how long I would have. It didn’t matter, no matter what I had to try.
My response to Sue’s wonderful photo prompt. A bit of an adventure this week. 🙂
If you want to give the prompt a go too, head over to Sue’s Page Thursday Photo Prompt – Bridge #writephoto and join in the prompt.KL
I knew what that meant; new house, new town, new school.
It hadn’t been a problem when I was younger but now things weren’t as easy.
Making friends became harder and harder.
Being the new kid, the stranger in a class that had been together since primary was like being a cat in a room full of dogs.
Still, I loved my dad and this was the life he chose, the army was all he knew.
When I’m older I think I’ll do the same.
He says in the army you make friends for life.
Originally written in response to Carrot Ranch 99 word challenge with the theme of Migrate.
In 99 words (no more, no less) write a migration story. It can imagine the dusty or arctic trails of the frontiers past or look to the travel across the galaxy. What issue about modern migration bans might influence an artistic expression in a flash? Migrate where the prompt leads you.
People stood muttering to one another, some yelled angrily at the flight teams, some napped uncomfortably on the harsh metal chairs. It was during the chaos that Alfie escaped. Making his way down the restricted corridors, he couldn’t help his excitement. He had always been curious by airports, now he had a chance to explore. When the tannoy went off calling his name he ignored it. Eventually, he made his way to a doorway where an air hostess was announcing they had been cleared for flight – slipping his way past the queuing muttering people he moved down a long gangway. He stood with a large family, smiling at a boy about his age. The air hostess moved out the way to allow them all past and he found he was on an aeroplane, time to find a new hiding place. He fell asleep beneath a large holdall, waking some time later. He was excited to tell his family of his great adventure. He just needed to get home now.
Short fiction piece of 175 words for FFfAW challenge – This week’s photo prompt is provided by Dawn Miller. Thank you Dawn!
Click on the frog to see more flash fiction inspired by this image
The babysitter was asleep on the sofa, mouth hanging open, a slight dribble making a break down her chin. I crept quietly behind it then made my dash for the window, dropping to the floor then hid my tiny form behind the curtains. I stole a glance back to the sitter, she hadn’t moved. Taking it as a sign I raised myself a little higher until I could see out. My eyes soaked in all the flurry and excitement on the streets below, shimmering streetlight displays, late-night food sellers, market stall holders even a gang of bikers had joined in what seemed to be the after-dark party of my neighbourhood. How I longed to be part of the commotion. One day, when I am just a little bit bigger, no-one will be telling me bedtime.
Short fiction piece of 136 words for FFfAW challenge – This week’s photo prompt is provided by Sunayana with MoiPensieve. Thank you Su!
Click on the frog to see more flash fiction inspired by this image 🙂
His legs felt heavy with each step he took like wading through the bogs of his childhood. His childhood.
Could he really say that when he was just 14 now?
Yet, it seemed a world away.
He had had a family, a brother, a father, it was all gone now. Now he was a pawn. A chess piece in the most powerful game. The ruling of England.
He was never supposed to be part of this game.
His father should have ruled for many more years.
His brother should never have died.
He should not be king.
Yet, he was all that was left.
Men surrounded him. The most powerful men in the country. They urged him towards the steps.
The very thought made his stomach churn and gurgle.
Once he stepped through there was no going back. Once he stepped through, the coronation would begin.
He’d officially become the king of England.
Originally written in response to Sue Vincents #writephoto – Passage. I hope you enjoy anyway.
Use the image to create a post on your own blog… poetry, prose, humour… by noon (GMT) Wednesday and link back to Sue’s post with a pingback. KL