Faded #writephoto

Faded #writephoto Image (c) Sue Vincent www.aliisaacstoryteller.com
Faded #writephoto Image (c) Sue Vincent
http://www.aliisaacstoryteller.com

I never liked roses. They are over-blown and gaudy, just like the woman he ran off with; their scent cloying and sweet, like his shirt after he’d been with her; their thorns sharp and piercing, like the words we exchanged before he left.

My life fell apart then, like loose petals tugged by the wind. I drifted like fallen leaves tossed into life’s gutter. I saw myself in the winter trees, de-nuded, laid bare, stripped of youth and beauty.

But trees bud and blossom and green over, year after year. Their splendour only intensifies as they age. The roses revive and bloom, vibrating colour as if it compensates for the barbs they hide. Me, I just faded away.

I never liked roses, until the day I was given a handful of pink rosebuds, and then it was too late. They bobbed like tender kisses atop their smooth stems, their petals tightly furled, the shade of a young girl’s blush, or a baby’s yawn.

Then, like me, they faded and died.


I wrote this story for Sue Vincents Thursday photo prompt #writephoto

The Dance Tree #writephoto

Tree #writephoto Thursday Photo Prompt image (c) Sue Vincent
Tree #writephoto Thursday Photo Prompt image (c) Sue Vincent

After a brief comments conversation with Helen Jones, I wrote my story inspired by Sue Vincent’s prompt and beautiful picture.


She danced when the world was young and green, and she was all that was in it. She danced for herself and for joy, and the glittering eyes of curious stars. Her dress billowed on the breeze, a filmy sheath of mist and moonlight, revealing nut brown limbs which beat a barefoot tattoo into the soil, matching the throb of life deep in the earth.

New flowers sprang up in her footsteps, animals hopped into being as she passed by, created by her energy. Life surged around her, for she was life.

Mankind watched first with fear, then with adoration, and reaped the bounty she created for them. Laughing, she twirled and leapt, swayed and span, wilder, faster, for their adulation.

Her dance bore her across the world, populating every inch with life, and she was mother to it all. But the more she danced, the more man took. They plundered her bounty, and began their own dance.

The earth whirled and froze and thawed and aged. She danced just like she always had, for life depended on it. But her limbs stiffened. Her skirts swirled and settled in folds around her, and finally she stood still. She lifted her arms to the heavens, and the universe took her back, leaving only a shell rooted in the earth, praying for forgiveness.

 

The Egg Stone | A Short Story for #Easter

The Egg Stone | A Short Story for Easter http://www.aliisaacstoryteller.com

An oldie I wrote a long, long time ago, before computers, mobile phones and x-boxes. That’s right, kids, these innovations came into being within my life-time. Hard to imagine, right? Happy Easter to all!


When I was seven years old, I was sent to spend Easter with my granny in the country. I loved Easter more than any other occasion, even Christmas and my birthday, although all were eagerly anticipated for the treats they would inevitably bring.

My passion, however, was for chocolate eggs, and of course these only came once a year, but in all shapes and sizes, and I would happily gorge until I felt distinctly ill, smearing all in my vicinity with sticky fingerprints, making my annual Easter mark on the furniture and the walls.

On this occasion, my mother was expecting the imminent arrival of my sibling, and experiencing complications, was admitted prematurely into hospital. I was not unduly worried; the excitement of a train journey, several extra weeks off school and the indulgence afforded me by my grandmother far outweighed my impatient interest in the new addition to my family.

Granny’s cottage was situated amongst open fields on the outskirts of a tiny village. The cottage itself was quaint and antiquated with practically no amenities. Every inch of space was crowded with a lifetime’s collection of memorabilia, creating for me days of endless fascination. The fields round about were perfect for hunting wild man-eating bears, fighting scalp-hunting red Indians, chasing robbers and other boyish occupations far too numerous to mention. In those days, WII and DS were futuristic fantasies, and few benefited from the luxury of television.

When I came down to breakfast that Easter Sunday, Granny said that she had a surprise for me on our return from church. Looking round, I discreetly noted a distinct lack of chocolate eggs. Disappointment set in. How could Granny forget? Easter just wasn’t right without  chocolate eggs. But what of the surprise? I decided nothing would compensate for an egg-less Easter. Yet, curiosity tightened within me like a coiled spring, and I could not sit still through the service but wriggle and squirm as a means of release. Granny pretended not to notice but there was no mistaking the half smile of amusement which crossed her features.

After lunch, Granny turned to me with an enigmatic glimmer in her eye and said, “I have hidden something for you in the garden; if you can find it, it is yours.” Then she took up her crochet and would say no more.

Something hidden for me in the garden, I mused. It must be my chocolate egg. But how was I to find it in this rambling chaos my granny kindly referred to as her garden? I begged and pleaded for clues and directions, but when none were forthcoming I set about my task, a mission which to me equalled life or death – chocolate egg, or no chocolate egg!

After two hours of searching I was hot, sticky, red in the face, becoming increasingly irritated, and still had found nothing. What was I looking for? I started again… and again… and again. I left no leaf untouched, no stone unturned. I befriended every slug, snail, beetle and spider co-habiting there, and by teatime was just about to give up, when… there it was, sitting patiently and obviously in a place I had searched dozens of times to no avail.

‘It’ was a very SMALL cloth-wrapped package. Very small, and very singular. I was indignant; all this effort and heartache in just one day, and my only reward was a single tiny egg? Rebellious thoughts rushed through my head.  I snatched up the object. It was very heavy for something so small, far too heavy for an Easter egg, and I would know, this being my area of expertise. What, then, could it be?

I carefully unwrapped the cloth and into the palm of my hand tumbled… a pebble.

As I examined it, I realised it was no ordinary stone. It was so tiny that it fitted snugly into my little hand. It was smooth and perfectly egg-shaped, and bitingly cold to the touch. Rich translucent amber in colour,  dark veins ran through it, drawing light into its heart where they merged, which writhed like flames in slow time. I was entranced.

I decided I liked the stone after all, although I was at a loss as to what to do with it. Granny would know. I rushed to her side.

“Thank you for the egg-stone, Granny,” I said.

“Ah, so you have it, then.” Her voice was gruff, her hands moving faster over her crochet.

“Er… what is it?”

“Why, its an egg-stone, of course. What did you think it was?”

“Well, what’s it for? It took me ages to find.”

“You don’t find an egg-stone. It found you. Now, listen.” She leaned towards me now, eyes intent, crochet forgotten. “It found me too when I was your age. Look after it, and it will look after you. You must polish it occasionally, and hold it every day, but you must never ever let anyone know about it, or see it.” Her eyes burned into mine, and if she hadn’t been my granny, I would have been scared.

“I promise.” I put aside my thoughts of chocolate. I was aware that Granny had passed onto me something far more precious, and I was intrigued.

I hid the egg-stone at the bottom of my bed, beneath the mattress. Later, I took it out to examine it more closely. This time, it felt quite warm, cupped in my hands. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with homesickness, and a longing to be with my family. A little chocolate egg would have gone a long way towards cheering me up, I thought sadly.

Then I was shaken from my thoughts by Granny’s voice calling me downstairs.

“There is a visitor for you,” she said.

Strange; I had no friends from the village.

I skipped down the stairs to find a large woman and a small girl standing in the hallway. The girl smiled shyly and offered me a straw basket, in which nestled three small, perfectly-formed mouth-watering chocolate eggs! I gazed at her in jaw-dropped amazement. I understood the magnitude of this sacrifice.

We sat among Granny’s rambling flowers and shared the eggs while the grown-ups chatted over tea.

The next day, a telegram arrived. Granny read it in silence, then smiled a slow smile.

“You have a baby brother, and your mother and he are both doing well,” she announced.  “I am to take you home on the next train.”

I went upstairs, sat on my bed, and took out the egg-stone. I felt very uneasy.

“You’ve done this,” I whispered to it.

All the things I had wished for the night before had come true; a new friend to ease my loneliness, the gift of chocolate eggs, the return to my family. Of course, it was coincidence. Or was it? The heart of the stone glittered.

Back home, Granny fussed over the baby, and my parents fussed over me. My new brother was not what I expected; I wanted a brother I could play football and climb trees with, but all this one did was eat, sleep and cry. But I was happy to be home, and there was even a host of Easter eggs decorating my room.

There was only one dark cloud on the horizon.

School. And that meant Brian.

Brian was the typical school bully; every school has one. Big, fat, stupid and mouthy, with the weight and the cronies to back him up. He had picked on just about everyone in the school at one time or another, and had yet to be defied. I knew with a sickening certainty that now it would be my turn. I took the egg-stone with me for  support.

On my arrival at the school gate, a crowd gathered around me. Well, I had just had an extra fortnight off school, been to the country, and had a new baby brother. Brian did not like anyone else to be the centre of attention and so in the lunch break he made his move.

“Got a new baby brother have you?” he sneered. “Bet he’s an ugly ginger speccy four eyes, just like you!”

His friends joined in the cruel chorus. He took a menacing step towards me, and began pushing me backwards with each jeer until my back was pressed hard against the wall.

“And now do you know what I’m going to do?” he taunted. “I’m going to smash your specs and then I’m going to give you a black eye.”

I braced myself, slipping my hand into my trouser pocket, and felt the egg stone nestling there, smooth and reassuring. Unfortunately, this did not go unnoticed.

“What you got there then? Get it, lads! “

A hundred hands reached for the egg-stone at his command, taking the opportunity to aim a few well-directed thumps in my direction as they did so. Struggle as I might, I could not resist them.

“Well well, what have we here?” Brian turned the stone over curiously in his meaty paws.

“It’s only a lump of rock,” complained one of his accomplices.

“It’s an egg-stone,” I muttered sullenly, “and its mine. Give it back.”

“Finders keepers,” trilled Brian, and with that my resentment flared into anger. I lunged at him. At the same time, the egg-stone began to glow fiercely. There was a shriek from Brian, and it fell from his hands. It hit the tarmac with a resounding crack and shattered into a million pieces.

There was shocked silence, broken only by Brian’s blubbering. He was blowing on his hands, trying to cool them. They looked badly burned. All eyes were on me. Full of righteous rage, I flew at Brian, hating him, wanting to kill. After a few seconds pause, the whole yard full of children poured around me, screaming their encouragement, some even joining in the attack.

Of course, I was punished both by the school and my parents, but I didn’t care. Brian and his mates never bullied anyone again, so it was a small price to pay.

As for the egg stone, to this day I still keep a shard of it at the bottom of my bed, beneath my mattress.

A Christmas Short Story Santa’s Gift

A Christmas Short Story | Santa's Gift www.aliisaacstoryteller.com
A Christmas Short Story | Santa’s Gift
http://www.aliisaacstoryteller.com

I watch my children launch themselves gleefully at the pile of presents under the tree, but take no pleasure in their joy. My heart feels cold and hard as a stone, and the bitter taste of guilt catches and won’t wash away in the back of my throat.

Sarah is the oldest. Always the thoughtful one, she organises her younger sister to sort the parcels into three piles, one for each of them. It’s meagre pickings, I think dismally, but they don’t seem to notice. Caitlin normally resents Sarah’s bossiness, but on this occasion normal hostilities have been temporarily cast aside. Jojo, not even a year old, crawls happily through the chaos, more absorbed in the crunch and rustle of the bright paper than what it conceals.

My brave bold trio, who already in their short lives have seen a side of it no child should have to witness. I won’t have their childhood stolen away from them, I just won’t.

I pull Jojo onto my lap. She wriggles, trying to free herself.

“Girls,” I say. “Open some pressies for your little sister.”

They show her how to tear the paper, and she cottons on quick, squealing with delight, shredding the paper and mashing it into a squidgy mess with damp, pudgy hands.

When all the secrets have been revealed, it is Sarah who comes to me with a hug. I am surprised to see sadness in her eyes.

“But Mammy,” she says solemnly. “There’s nothing here for you.”

I gulp back the lump which has formed in my throat, and force a cheery smile. “Santy only brings presents for the children, didn’t you know that? Anyway, your Nana will be over later, and she will have a little something for all of us.”

“Hooray, more pressies,” whoops Caitlin, who has overheard, and Sarah rolls her eyes.

“You’re so materialistic,” she says smugly, and I stifle a grin as she stumbles over the unfamiliar word, my first genuine smile of the day.

I set Jojo back down, and go to the kitchen to prepare breakfast. The window is a black square; it is still early, but I can see lights twinkling vaguely in the windows of some of the neighbouring houses, and know that inside, the same ritual will be playing out, only without the guilt.

I lean on the worktop as panic overwhelms me. I am gasping for breath, my heart hammering so hard, that for a moment, I fear a heart attack.

It was the worst thing I have ever done, and I will never forgive myself, but if I have to, I will do it again. For my girls.

“Is Dad coming today?” Sarah is standing in the doorway, clutching her new Barbie. Of the three of them, she was always closest to her Dad, and his leaving hurt her the most. He hadn’t even said good bye. Just woke up one morning a couple of months ago and said he’d had enough, walked out the door as casual as if he was heading to Tesco.

I can’t say it surprised me. He’d threatened it many times, but I never believed he was strong enough or desperate enough to see it through. And at first, I just felt… relieved. No more rows, no more accusations, no drunken violence. To be fair, all of that only started after he was laid off the previous year, and couldn’t find work. I’d thought we’d muddle through, that love would lift us up above all that. Of course, I was wrong. Everything always comes down to money in the end.

Then the relief faded and reality kicked in; Christmas was coming, I had no man, no money, and no one to turn to for help. But I was fiercely determined to make Christmas special for my girls.

I sold my wedding ring, paid the gas and electricity bills, and bought a frozen chicken and a Christmas pud. The girls wouldn’t notice the difference between a turkey and a chicken. They probably wouldn’t even eat the pud, but Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without one. That left precious little for gifts.

Nevertheless, I was drawn to Toys R Us, even though I couldn’t afford to buy anything. I drifted up and down the aisles like a ghost with big, hungry eyes. Sarah wanted the latest Barbie. And there she was, the last one on the shelf. I gazed at her longingly. She was beautiful, layers of puffy princess-pink organza wrapping her svelte tanned form, an impossible confection of overblown feminine perfection smiling blankly from the chaste prison of her box. I reached towards her.

“Excuse me.” An arm snaked past me and snatched the doll from the shelf. Outraged, I turned to glare at the thief. It shouldn’t have mattered; I couldn’t afford it anyway, but for a few moments, in my head, that doll was Sarah’s.

A woman in a grey coat with a fur collar and very pink lipstick deposited the Barbie on the summit of a mountain of toys in a shopping trolley, and wheeled it past me. It was full of girl toys, all the things I would have bought my daughters, if I could. Next to Barbie nestled Frozen’s Elsa, which had been top of Caitlin’s wish list. Tears stung my eyes.

I rushed out the store, mind in a turmoil. What was I going to do? My head ached, and I leaned against the cool shop window, thoughts fluttering as wildly as my heart, searching desperately for inspiration.

When the woman in the grey coat emerged with her purchases all bagged up in the trolley, I followed her. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t have a plan. I was just obsessed with the over-indulgence of her shopping spree, and the unfairness of it all. Her daughters were getting too much, while mine were getting nothing at all.

She had parked in a far corner of the car park beside a crumbling brick wall. Badly, I noticed contemptuously, as the wheels of her car protruded into the neighbouring space. I lurked behind a big four wheel drive, watching. Tall whispering evergreens shielded us from the main road beyond.

There was no alarm on her car. She piled the bags in and locked up, pushed her trolley back to the store, and then headed towards TK Maxx.

As if you haven’t spent enough, you bitch, I thought, made irrational with jealousy.

In that moment, my passions consumed me; anger at my husband for abandoning us, fury at my helplessness, jealousy of this woman’s affluence, fear of my children’s disappointment on Christmas morning, repugnance at my inability to provide for them.

These terrible, powerful emotions took control, they moulded me into the shape of someone I barely recognised, an aspect of myself I abhorred, but did not resist. I thought of my daughters’ happy smiling faces, and that was all the motive I needed.

I worked a brick loose from the wall, and hurled it as hard as I could at the passenger door window, more from rage than anything else. The glass shattered. I didn’t expect it to, but it did. I knocked some of the shards out till the hole was big enough to fit my arm through, then reached in and unlocked the door. It clicked open.

I stared at the treasure inside in disbelief. It couldn’t be that easy. But it was.

I didn’t take everything; I couldn’t completely destroy their Christmas. I just grabbed two bags and ran, hoping one of them contained Barbie and Elsa. When I got home and emptied them onto my bed, there they were, glorious and bright and beautiful.

But as I wrapped them, my hands trembled, and with the adrenaline gone, feelings of self-loathing began to push at the boundaries of my mind.

Dad does not come, but Nana does. The girls jump on her immediately, and give her no peace until she laughingly hands out her gifts.

“Where’s Pete?” she asks, looking around and noting his absence. “I bought him a book. Does he know how to read?”

“Mam, don’t,” I protest, and burst into tears.

She wraps me in her arms for a moment. “I’m sorry love. But he does wind me up, the way he treats you sometimes.”

I push her away and retreat to the kitchen. The chicken is roasting, pots bubbling away on the stove, giving the false impression that I am in control. The window is lined softly with steam, whilst outside a grey sky drizzles relentlessly.

“He’s gone,” I say, and the whole story comes out, a torrent which cannot be dammed. Only when the flood has abated am I able to stop and sip at the mug of hot, sweet tea Mam places in my pale, shaking hands.

“Oh love, why didn’t you tell me all this before? I could have helped. You’re not alone, you know.”

“You’re a pensioner, Mam, struggling as it is. I couldn’t burden you with my problems too.”

“But stealing…”

“I know. There’s nothing I can do about it now. I can’t give them back. I have no idea who she is.”

“If I ever get my hands on that rotten good-for-nothing husband of yours…”

“Stop it, Mam. He’s still their father.”

“I know. He doesn’t deserve them. Or you.”

Our conversation is interrupted by the ring of the doorbell.

“Daddy,” shriek the girls, rushing to answer.

“Talk of the devil,” Mam mutters darkly.

But it isn’t Pete. Two tall policemen fill the doorway. I feel so weak, I think I will faint. The girls gaze up at them shyly, clutching the evidence. Behind me, I hear Mam’s sharp intake of breath, and am aware of her scooping Jojo off the floor.

My heart sinks. CCTV. The car park must have CCTV.

“You’d better come in,” I say, leading the way back into the kitchen. “Mam, make another pot of tea, will you please?”

“Sorry to do this to you, Sue, today of all days, but we’ve got Pete again. He’s in the nick now, drunk as a skunk,” says the elder of the two.

I sit down quickly, before my legs give way. So they haven’t come for me after all. I let out a long, shaky breath.

“He walked out on us, about two months ago, Ed. Haven’t seen or heard from him since.” How many times has this happened in the last year? So often, I’m on first name terms with the local coppers.

He left, I say to myself. He is no longer my responsibility.

“You’ll want to come and get him,” Ed replies, taking something out of his pocket and laying it in the middle of the table. A little square of paper.

“What’s that?”

“It’s a lottery ticket,” bursts out the younger officer, face pink with excitement. “That’s why he’s so drunk;  he’s been celebrating. He’s only gone and won the lottery!”

Ed scowls at him, but then directs a smile at me. “It’s true. We checked. I know that man has taken you to hell and back over the last couple of years, but he’s asking for you and the kids. Maybe he can finally clean up his act, with your help.”

I can’t speak.

“Do it for the girls.” Mam’s voice comes out as a croak.

But I can’t, even for them. They are my life, yet I will not be bought. I have hit rock bottom and committed a crime. I won’t make things worse. I won’t condemn them to a life with a drunk and aggressive father.

“What will happen if I don’t help him?”

Ed shrugs. “He’ll get turfed out when he’s sober, cash in his winnings, and use them to drink himself to death most likely.”

There is a sob from the kitchen door. It is Sarah.

“Mammy, is Dad dead?”

“No darling,” I soothe, opening my arms and enfolding her. “He’s just not very well, that’s all.”

“We can look after him,” she says, wiping her eyes, and pulling away to look at me hopefully.

Ed clears his throat. I know what he’s thinking; the money will make everything better. “It’s a considerable sum,” he says.

I level a cool stare at him. “I married Pete for love, not money. He was the one who let money come between us. Keep the ticket. We don’t want it.”

“Susan, no,” gasps my mother, but my mind is made up.

The two men gape at each other. Raw, ugly greed darkens their features as they weigh up my offer. Ed pockets the ticket.

“What ticket? I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he says, getting stiffly to his feet.

I shrug on my coat and kiss the girls. “I’ll be back soon,” I say to Mam. “Take the chicken out of the oven at three.”

I hold my head high as I step out the door, fully aware of all the neighbours’ curtain twitching.

As we leave, Ed ruffles Sarah’s hair and winks. “All I wanted for Christmas was the day off.”

“I asked Santy for my Daddy back. I’d rather have him than a hundred Barbies,” she announces.

“The big man was obviously listening.”

She nods solemnly. “I’ve been very, very good.”

He looks uncomfortable, can’t meet her steady gaze. “Well, that’s more than can be said for the rest of us.” Then he follows me into the police car.

 

Friday Fantastic Flash with CS Boyack


Author and blogging friend Craig Boyack responded brilliantly to my recent call for participation in my new feature Friday Fantastic Flash, so without further ado, here is his masterpiece.


“Captain Stevens, the pressure on the hull is building again! I don’t know how much longer before it crushes,” Ensign Lola said.

I buckled myself in my chair. “Everyone buckle up. Boost the shields to the pressure points. The last time the pressures were followed by that awful shaking.”

“Pressures seem to be coming from the top and bottom of the ship. Like being in a big vice. I can divert some power from the sides, but it’s just a guess.”

“Do it!”

“Pressure is easing up, but we’re in motion again.”

“Hang on everyone.”

The ship moved violently from side to side. The sudden change in direction reminded me of a whip cracking. Half the crew would be in sick bay tomorrow if we survived whatever kind of storm this was. It wasn’t bad enough to risk landing here for fuel, we might need more repairs than we could handle after this.

The lights failed, and emergency lights cast a shadowy glow across the cabin. “Try to get a fix on where we are now. If we have to send an emergency signal, we need to tell them where we are.”

Lola paused. “We haven’t moved far at all. It’s almost like some kind of vortex. We don’t have enough power to break free, and all we can do it ride it out.”

“Damages?”

“Some surface damage to the upper part of the ship. The bottom has some too, but not as bad. We appear to be coated with a watery type substance.”

“Not unusual for a storm, right Lola?”

A creaking pressure silenced us all. Lola focused on her terminal and worked on the shields in silence.

“Well?” I asked.

“So far so good, but we can’t take another round of this.”

***

“Honey, grab her while I finish folding this blanket and putting our lunch away.”

“She’s okay. She’s just sitting in the shade being happy.”

“I know, but I want to change her diaper before we drive back to your mother’s.”

“Hey, big girl. What ya got there? Somebody’s old toy spaceship. That’s nasty. Daddy will buy you your own someday. Honey? Do we have her teething ring in the cooler?”


I have just finished beta-reading Craig’s most recent work, a collection of short stories entitled The Experimental Notebook of C.S. Boyack, and let me tell you, it’s GOOD! If you enjoyed his flash piece, you will LOVE his book… out soon, watch this space. In the meantime, you can content yourself with one or all of his other books, available on Amazon, of course, each one a cracking good read; I know, I’ve read ’em!


Deception 2

And so to this week’s Friday Fantastic Flash Challenge. Deception and lies. You discover someone has not been honest with you. Why? All is not as it seems beneath the surface. How do you feel? What do you do about it?

You can submit here, I will feature one story each week and include links to your blog and books. Entries must be under 500 words, but please remember that I write YA, so there may be young people on this site… please keep it family friendly. I really hope you will join me and take part in the craic!

Friday Fantastic Flash

Headstone in cemetery with flowers for concept of death and loss

Flash Fiction Friday is a new feature on aliisaacstoryteller, which will run in conjunction with The Friday Fiction. I am inviting all you authors, bloggers and readers to join me and have a go. You can submit here, I will feature only one story each week. Entries can be on any subject, so long as they are under 500 words, but please remember that I write YA, so there may be young people on this site… please keep it family friendly. I really hope you will join me and take part in the craic!

So here is my entry to kick it all off.


Birth Mother

“You’re not my real mother!”

She recoils, as if I have stabbed her with a real knife, not just the sharp edges of my words. Her pale lips tremble, the voice they issue so frail I can barely make it out.

“I nurtured you, reared you, devoted the best part of my life to you. What does that make me, if not your real mother?”

But my feet have already jumped the precipice; there is no going back. “She gave me life. There is no greater gift a mother can give a child.”

“That’s not true.”

“You just don’t want me to find my real parents. You want me all for yourself. You’re selfish, and afraid.”

An uncharacteristic hardness settles into the line of her jaw. “Alright, then. I set you free.”

It is not the reaction I expect, and I flounder, speechless for once.

“Get your coat. I’ll show you.”

I have no choice but to scrape up my courage and follow her out the door.

*

I eye the gravestone, the bare plot, untended and unloved, and wipe the tears savagely from my face.

Sometimes, the stories we make up for ourselves are preferable to the truth. Sometimes, the most twisted imagination can’t compete with reality.

She died young, my birth mother, her life stolen by the drugs she craved so badly for most of it. I had been taken from her as a baby when she was caught trying to sell me in a pub, a desperate attempt to raise funds to fuel her addiction.

Five hundred euros was all I was worth.

I turn away, burying myself in my real mother’s arms. She holds me tightly, stroking my hair, and murmurs softly.

“It was the best five hundred euros I ever spent.”


 

Don’t forget to submit your flash fiction piece here. Thanks for reading and taking part!


The 777 Writer’s Challenge and a Sneaky Peek at ‘The Cinderella Shoes’

shoes2

I was tagged last Sunday by blogger and supporter of Indie writers, and all-round top guy, Kev of Great Indie Authors, to take part in the 777 Writer’s Challenge. Thanks, Kev!

The rules are to go to the 7th page of your current WIP, find the 7th sentence, and then paste the following 7 sentences into your blog post. You must then nominate 7 other writers to do the same.

I must admit that I have cheated somewhat; my current WIP is all over the place at the moment, and I’m not comfortable with anyone seeing it just now.

Instead, I give you a slice of a short story I wrote earlier in the year, called ‘The Cinderella Shoes’. I have bleeped out the naughty word, as I don’t want to offend those of a more sensitive nature. So here goes…

“I glance down at my feet. Four hundred euros of Swarovski encrusted soft silver leather now adorn each one, balanced on a perfectly crafted, needle-thin mirrored heel. The first pair of ‘f*** me’ shoes I have ever dared to own.

I push back the panic which is welling into my throat, locking away the guilt for later. I just want to enjoy the elation which is coursing through my body. It is a long time since I have felt the excitement which accompanies an illicit act. I am appalled, and enthralled, by my own audacity.”

Oh my word! What did she do? Sorry, can’t tell you any more, ‘cos this one has gone out to a writing competition. As I don’t generally tend to fare well in writing competitions, I expect that you will be able to read the story in its entirety on my blog fairly soon!

So here are my 7 nominees. I would be delighted if you choose to take part (because I’m nosey, and want to see what you’re working on!), but as I always say, no pressure, it’s just for fun, if you have a few spare minutes.

Jane Dougherty

Sacha Black

Helen Jones

Sue Vincent

Sally Cronin

Geoff le Pard

Hugh Roberts