Finally, I make my choice: chocolate vanilla swirl. I want it all.
Chocolate or vanilla ice cream? Which should I choose? Chocolate is my Dad’s favorite, vanilla is my Mom’s. They took me to our regular ice cream parlor shortly after letting me know they were separating. I guess they thought it would soften the blow. Or maybe they want me to choose between them, as usual. Mom or Dad? Vanilla or chocolate? Which will it be?
Finally, I make my choice: chocolate vanilla swirl. I want it all.
“Let’s not mention the elephant in the pool!”
The cackling laughter follows her as Brenda ploughs on, breasting the chlorine-smelling water, leaving them in her wake. She manages eight lengths this time, a personal best.
“You are telling yourself these things,” remarks her therapist, gently. “How could we reframe that?”
“I don’t know,” she mumbles. “Pathetic middle-aged woman exposes overweight body in public?”
“Brave woman courageously takes up swimming to improve her physical and mental health.”
“Oh yeah. That.”
They are there again the next time. She smiles, walking past, and jumps in, splashing their perfect dry bikinis.
"What are you doing at the weekend?” Dan asked me.
“Going Pasty Hunting on Saturday.”
“Yeah, hilarious. What’re you really up to?”
“Told you. Out hunting pasties...” Long-suffering sigh from Dan. “…it’s September. It’s pasty season.”
“You don’t hunt pasties. You buy them in a shop.”
“Exactly. You seen the number of visitors to Cornwall this summer? In every bakery, not a pasty to be had. I’m starting at that well-known pasty hideout, Martins’ Bakery, then the Corner Bakehouse. Visitors have gone back, and bakeries won’t run out by ten. Reasons to love living in a seaside town No112, mate!”
My greatest joy turned to a reminder of my growing maturity. When I clambered up the mounting block hoping the light of my life wouldn’t move until I hauled myself onboard I remembered when I could lightly spring up from the ground.
My knees flinch with pain as I aim for the stirrups and my fingers won't grip as they once had when I tried to tighten my girth.
As I straighten up and hold the reins I think about the fun I had wonkying knees, accumulating aches and pains. I wouldn't change a thing.
The Writer read the reviews for his latest crime novel and they weren’t good - ‘Lacklustre’, ‘An unbelievable villain’.
‘What do they expect?’ he thought, ‘How can I understand how a killer thinks? An author can only write what they know. And I’ve never murdered anybody…’
His next novel was an overnight success. Sales were stratospheric, reviews were glowing - ‘A terrifying insight into a murderer’s mind!’
‘I don’t know how you did it’ said his agent, ‘but don’t stop!’
‘Don’t worry, I won’t,’ The Writer smiled. ‘Once you get a taste for certain things, you just can’t help yourself!’
We smelled wild garlic and salty seaside. We followed the miniature railway track to the old Ha'penny Bridge. Children ran beside the train, waving at wind-blown passengers whilst copying the "choo" "choo" sounds, as their arms, mimicking pistons, pumped back and forth.
I didn't know when the moment was, if it was at all.
Were you anticipating something, or just content to walk?
So we didn't kiss beneath the Ha'penny Bridge (which stands no more.) Perhaps you would have recoiled. I'll never know, but whenever I smell wild garlic, I think of you and Saltburn-By-The-Sea.
Jacob tore off his collar, shoved a grimy door open, and trudged into the village tavern. Gray haze mingled with a rare hush caused Jacob to pause. Bloody smeared boot prints overlay the pitted floor. In a murky corner, three gnarly patrons clutched a sobbing man. Jacob knew him. Seth. Jacob had just seen his mother. Eyes swollen shut, broken arm and a ventilator was her story. Father Jacob elbowed past the group, knelt at a crumpled lifeless body and draped his priestly stole about his shoulders. Violet. For last rites. For Seth’s father.
He sat in an uncomfortable-looking straight-back wooden chair. Hunched over a yellow legal pad on his lap—writing furiously with a felt tip pen.
When she entered the room, she said, “What are you doing?”
“Self-treatment for my self-diagnosis,” he replied. And he kept on writing without looking up.
“My mental disorder.”
“What mental disorder?”
“Give me that!” She grabbed the pad out of his hand.
Row after row of his squiggly script read, “I will not be impatient.”
“Why didn’t you do this on your computer?”
“The thing was taking too long to boot up.”
There are beautiful things for sale online, artfully arranged.
Designer fashion, jewellery, shoes. Reasonably priced. Your credit card action must be swift as they are quickly sold to a perspicacious buyer of similar good taste.
I see the slight scuff mark on the cedar chest that they are set on, the wall they hang against. The white shelf the shoes are standing on.
They are my clothes. My shoes. My jewellery.
Photographed in my house. Disappearing from me. Piece by beautiful piece.
I did not photograph or advertise or sell them.
I live alone. I have the only house key.
Savannah was delighted at the sight of the lake. After easing herself down the ancient rock that grew out of the lakeshore, she pushed off into the spring-fed water. She gasped with the cold jolt that helped her to refocus. Quiet breast strokes sent her gliding over the pristine surface. Floating on her back, she soaked up the unlimited blue of the sky. Slowly she let her legs sink, treading water in a circle of stillness. Her mind serene, shivers finally sent her on shore.
Suddenly she shrieked in alarm. A bloodsucking leech was stuck on her leg.
The four walls of our home had become a war zone fraught with disagreements, disappointments, and unfulfilled expectations. Truces never lasted long enough for us to have seen beyond our differences. Yet, we just couldn't turn our backs on each other.
On that rainy night, two officers arrived at our door. Solemnly they announced that you were killed by a random drive-by shooting. For me, peace had become my unwelcome companion.
Often I reflected upon what had held us together during those turbulent times. Possibly, quite possibly, we were simply two loons still in love, but never realized it.
‘It might be just a rumour but I heard one of those FFFers killed poor old George.’
‘Really? I thought they were a decent bunch, just filling their days scribbling 100 word stories, poems and such.’
‘Yeah, well he died laughing after reading one of the funny stories someone posted last week. He was eating his dinner as he read through them and laughed so hard he choked to death.’
‘Ha! My money’s on the wife. A lousy cook and she knew he loved comedy. I bet she used a pseudonym.’
The fifth thwack landed more heavily on his bare cheeks already starting to redden from the previous four smacks he had taken.
This time tears welled in his eyes and he had to choke back a small whimper of exquisite pain.
Heaven was truly here in the Mistress’s boudoir, where for £100 you could get half an hour of gently administered discipline.
To his mind there truly was no better way to spend your Tuesday lunch break from the High Court bench.
The Duke of Westland smiled down from his portrait.
Walter studied the painting, admiring the duke’s powdered wig and frilled cravat. His eyes widened as the duke stepped out of the gilded frame and strode towards him, extending a bejeweled hand.
Walter accepted the duke’s handshake. Looking down, he noticed that the rings now adorned his own fingers. Puzzled, Walter looked up and met his own gaze. His other self winked, turned, and left the room.
Walter called out and raised his hands but his glittering rings thrashed against the inside of the canvas, causing his powdered wig to slip.
“She’ll be an Amazing Mum” the customary quote from Hello magazine showing photogenic celebrities in designer brands cradling their bumps, until…
They give birth.
Stagger from bed at 2 am to stick a cracked nipple into a bawling infant’s mouth.
Change nappies filled with something that looks and smells like a volcanic eruption.
Is he/she fast asleep? Worries. Prods. Wakes.
Teething; incessant crying, nothing pacifies.
The word ‘sleep’ vanishes from the dictionary.
First steps, words; the terrible twos. ‘Me Time’ abandoned.
Mums survive; cradling their children in cocoons of love and support.
Who needs ‘Me time’. We are all amazing.
Not quite based on a recent true event.
Sandi and Jack MacLeod were entertaining American guests Max and Mandy for the first time. They'd planned on feeding them venison, but as Jack started to cook it, Sandi became concerned that their guests might be vegetarian.
"Oh, no," said Max, flashing a huge smile. "We're not vegetarian. Let me add a couple of extra ingredients," he insisted. "You'll notice the difference."
An hour later, the venison remained uneaten, unlike the MacLeods.
"Delicious, Max," Mandy said. "The Scots make great food, don't they?"
The next day they set off for Cornwall. They'd heard the eating was great down there, too.
Adam had insisted that they get out of the apartment, go for a drive. She knew he was sulking because he hadn’t met any of her colleagues or friends. She’d moved south to get away from that commute, her nosy family. And ended up here. With inappropriate Adam. While she abhorred firearms, he collected dozens. Slumped low in the passenger seat, he fumbled with a .45 as she drove.
“Please, fasten your seatbelt, Adam…Please, stop playing with that gun!”
She imagined what he’d do if the gun fired accidentally. How he’d jump from the coasting car, vanish over Muldraugh Hill.
My reflection makes me shudder. Bone structure is odd. Face looks weird. I didn’t see it coming so soon. I honestly thought everything would stand still in front of me. But the momentum has picked up. Back and neck pain. An increase in vertigo frequency. Six high-grade colon polyps were found this year. A 6-cm kidney angiomyolipoma was found two years ago. Too late to heed the warning signs? I would have been healthier if I had done something. Drugs, supplements, laughing yoga. Perform Dan Tian breathing exercise regularly. It cultivates energy. There would have been fewer wrinkles, I believe.
“I want you to have this.”
I took the blue square from my pocket and laid it in her hand.
“You know the picture I have by my bed, the one where you’re two, standing in front of the water park?”
She smiled. “Yeah, I know that picture.”
“It’s my favorite picture of you,” I said, fighting back tears. “Anytime I think of you, I think of that picture.”
“Is this...from my swimsuit?”
I nodded as a tear fell.
“Would you carry it with you, for me?”
“Something old, something blue.” She cried.
My baby girl. Always.
“How do we play?”
“Well, Tenner, I'm a Jack, a 'FACE' card, you see? I'm higher than you.”
“Yeah, you're one higher, but that makes you the lowest 'FACE' card, right?”
“Well, technically, the deal is we're all part of Deckingdom. The lowest is two. I'm fourth highest.”
“Fifth, if there's a Joker. Sixth, if there are two.”
“Listen, Jokers are wild and not part of the kingdom hierarchy.”
“But you're still the lowest of the 'FACE' cards.”
“I'm a JACK, dot-breath, so a little respect, please. Can I get everyone to shuffle over here?”
“I fold. Ten's, let's go.”
Did she leave her purse open? She thought it was closed when bending down to reach a grocery store’s bottom shelf. She surveyed its interior. Credit cards intact. Money as well.
Evening darkness accompanied her walk home. A brisk wind howled past her ears. Tree branches swayed.
She reached into her purse. Not finding the house key, she pulled out a spare hidden under a doormat.
Once inside in the basement, a window caught her attention. Glaring light shifted from shining on her to illuminating the outdoors.
A man waved something familiar before her — the other key to her house.
It was 1960 and a 9-year-old boy was in Little League. He couldn’t hit or catch so the manager tried him at pitcher, where he was a little better. He was pitching against a large boy known for his hitting prowess.
The first two pitches were out of the strike zone and the batter help up. The next one was right down the middle and he took a mighty swing and missed. The boy, now a man, doesn’t remember what happened next, but for that moment, and for the rest of his life, he was king of the mound.
These thieves were thorough. They took everything. First missing: a shovel from the garden shed. Misplaced? Next they stole the shed. There at bed-time, gone by morning. Thieves snagged low-hanging fruit, unearthed ornamental shrubs.
We set up watches, pausing vigilance only for a grocery run. That cost the copper from the walls. Heard a noise at night, found half the clapboards pried away. No sign of the garage door.
We filed a home-owners’ claim. The agent said, “Unprecedented.” That translates to ~too bizarre to have happened before~.
Yes,” I answered.
We decided to try another city, payout or no payout.
Girl jumps. First time.
Boy pings her bra. A compliment.
Boy kisses Girl.
The anger buds.
“Smile.” Lost count how many times.
Man presses too close.
Man brushes her thigh.
In the club. On the tube. At the water cooler.
“Smile, love. Pet. Darling.”
Teach your daughters:
Avoid the dark.
Keep car doors locked.
Don’t wear short skirts. Tight tops. Matching underwear.
Asking for it.
Woman pushes the anger down. For now.
One day she won’t.