In the meantime, have a happy new year.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? Well, frankly, yes. Too many cups O kindness have taken their toll on you and I dont care to remember how we twa hae run aboot the braes. We were much younger then and all that paidlin in the burn and wandring mony a weary foot must have been a result of too much wullie waught. I couldnt really count you as a trusty frien' after that gowan pu'ing event. In fact I am very glad of the roaring seas between us.
In the meantime, have a happy new year.
Ted stood off to the side, away from the crowd bustling around backstage. He’d never done a solo song in front of a live audience before, and his nerves were psyching him out. “What if I forget the lyrics?” he lamented. “What if the crowd hates me?”
Jane, another singer, walked by, and saw the furrow in his brow. “Something wrong?”
He sighed. “First song jitters. Any advice?”
Jane smiled. “You’ve been practicing for weeks. You’ve knocked it out in rehearsals. You got this.”
Ted’s spirits lifted after this pep talk. He smiled back. “Yeah. I got this.”
Key in the lock, turn. Enter, wander room to room. It isn’t all as you remembered. It’s actually better!
Pictures have moved – well, disappeared actually. Where’s that sofa – we didn’t think it looked good against that wall, it was cutting the room in two.
Is that antique cornicing and a ceiling rose? Fantastic.
Upstairs the view floods the bedroom. As well as a drip in the corner of the bay window. Well, it’s an old house, we mentally allow for the imperfections.
“We didn’t notice all these details at the viewing. What a wonderful purchase – welcome home.”
Well, what a weird place this is! I woke up and found myself in a strange bed (not for the first time, but we won’t go into that…)
I got up, walked around and then realised what was wrong. THERE ARE NO COMPUTERS!
Seriously, these people live without Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.
At first it was weird. I felt edgy because I couldn’t ‘like’ things. I didn’t know what was trending and I couldn’t find out what celebrity bottoms looked like.
Ten days later and my habitual insomnia has vanished. Don’t know if I’ll return from here.
She watched the bathing-suited woman stroll along the beach, looking for shells and jetsam that littered the shore. Would she find the bottle? Would she read the note?
The woman passed by without even seeing the small, corked, old green glass bottle bobbing in the waves. But then she turned and walked back to where the little bottle floated gently in the surf.
She picked it up, removed the note, and read: “You have freed me! And now you must take my place.”
The bathing-suited woman disappeared, and in her place walked another woman, garbed in clothing from times past.
Edith was his last leading lady. Not only the last he had played opposite, but the last one left alive.
Many had been younger than he was. During 40 years in the theater, he had worked with many luminaries of the stage. Today, he was only 64, still playing leading character parts, but Diana, Emily, Lucille, Anne, Charlotte, Patricia -- all, all were gone.
The gossip columnists had noticed. They spoke of Cartwell’s Curse. It was annoying, nay, embarrassing.
Now Edith was beginning to upstage him. Perhaps it was her nerves. She needed some of his special tonic.
"Mr Bell? I'm Frederic Chopin. I've come for the... audition."
"Come in, sit down please."
"So what's the gig, Mr Bell?"
"Look, Freddie, this telephone I've invented – thing is, now we need jingles, tunes that play when you're hanging on the line for ages. Must be really short."
"So they play repeatedly and get annoying. You do short stuff?"
"The Minute Waltz."
"Too long. Do you have a Half-A-Minute Waltz?"
"A Demi-Minute Waltz? Sorry, no."
"Can't you play your Minute Waltz twice as fast?"
"Perfect – you've got the gig. It'll sell like hot-cakes in the call centres."
I slammed the magazine into the butt of the CIA-issue Walther PPK, pivoted to a combat stance and peered down the low-ceilinged room only yards north of Houston Street.
The Thug was 15 yards away; his .38 caliber detective’s staring me down.
I squeezed off shots in pairs tap-tap; tap-tap; tap-tap. They hit left-center chest in a circle smaller than a hockey puck. I smiled and fired a final round through his left eye for good luck.
“An easy grand,” I said, returning the pistol to Mick Doherty.
“You shoot like a girl O’Keefe,” he said.
“I’ll relay your compliments."
Now, then...my head spun around: which was it? Then was once now, wasn’t it? Need I start again? Thus I avoided writing my story--What lay behind this?
Now, then, this is a story about death. First the cat and then the printer, when will it be my turn? Thus I brooded.
The cat could walk half way across a room, rest, walk the other half, rest, and make it to the box.
The printer could print fine but it sufferd from digital dementia which made it forget to say it was done, ‘start the next job.’
Good advice, printer.
Jill stared at the rain pouring against her house window, wishing the weather were nice enough for her to go outside and spend time with her friends. At age eight, rainy free afternoons are the pits.
She tried to think of something different to do. She was bored of her usual TV shows and video games, and her friends were likely stuck inside just like she was.
Suddenly, an idea came. She closed her eyes, sat back, and imagined herself laughing and cutting up with her pals. The image was vivid.
Not quite the same, but not too shabby, either.
"Well, what for? What are we doing, anyway?"
"What's that supposed to mean?" he asked.
Slowly then, she ran her finger down the side of her glass. "You know what I mean."
"No, I don't."
"Oh, come on, Peter."
He turned to her. "No, Katie, I really don't. Why don't you tell me."
She glanced behind her, to the other tables. "Don't you raise your voice at me."
He took a breath. "I'm not. I just..."
"Oh, stop it. Just think, Peter. Just once...think. Can you do that for me?"
He looked away, past the tables, through the tavern window to the weak winter sunlight.
Up. Down. In. Out. Suck. Blow. Pull. Kick.
And again. And once again.
And again. Once more.
Clench. Gasp. Stop!
‘Where’s the beach? I can’t see it.’
‘Can I stand? Where’s the sand?’.
Round and round and round.
‘I see it. I see it!’
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
Pull. Kick. Pull. Kick.
‘How deep is it? What’s beneath me?’
‘What was that? Something stroked my leg, I’m sure.’
Roll. Pull. Kick. Roll. Whimper. Kick. Kick. Kick.
‘Oh thank God: my toes scraped the sand’.
‘Oh dear God: what's that lump inside my costume?'
‘Oh: a beautiful big shell.’
“You look bummed out, man—like you lost your last friend,” Andy said.
“Well,” Matt said, “I always get depressed this time of year.”
“Clinically? You mean, ‘afraid-to-leave-home-stop-eating-stay-in-bed-all-day’ depressed?’ No, just down, I guess.”
“Sounds manageable. Maybe you need a swift kick or just to get laid.”
“Okay, what time does your old lady get home?”
“My mother or my girl friend?”
Andy sucker punched Matt to the left temple. Matt folded up like a lawn chair and lay on floor, blinking.
“Shit, why’d you do that?”
“To cure your depression. Women and pain work every time.”
“Roger!” Rita’s thick and muffled voice tried to invade his peaceful world. The staircase vibrated as she marched up. The door flung open, her frame filling the doorway. With one hand on her hip and the other pointing at him, she narrowed her eyes.
“Why didn’t you come down when I called you?”
“I didn’t hear you.”
Rita puffed out her cheeks, then let the pocket of air escape.
“Where’s my purse?”
Roger’s eyes widened with surprise. “You mean you’ve been calling me for the last twenty minutes so you could ask me about that?”
“So you did hear me!”
Singly, I’m innocuous and ephemeral. Not built for longevity or a life alone. I need company, lots of it. Combine me with more of my kind and we gain a new meaning and reason for existence.
We bring pleasure, pain, inconvenience or death. Not to be trifled with but, then again, viewed as a single entity; we’re impressive, powerful, immovable, universal and each of us supposedly unique.
Wheels, runners, boots and rails don’t assist us on our journey; we travel unaided by mechanisation from liquid to six-sided solid.
Snowflakes – we’re hard to overcome once we’re united.
Judith sighed. How could she help her single friend Pamela find a man?
As the vicar’s wife, she did meet a lot of people in their village so she was perfectly placed to search out single-dom cancelling males. Preferably well-educated and rich ones – like Frederick Drew.
Judith wasn’t the best vicar’s wife though. Sometimes she said funny things. It put people off.
Frederick didn’t take to Pamela all that well. Jane Malcom was more his cup of tea.
Pamela stayed single, Judith stayed an average vicar’s wife.
*With grateful thanks to Barbara Pym.
“You haven’t written a Friday flash fiction story yet and it’s now the afternoon!”
The accusation rankled with Emma at first. “Jeez Louise, gimme a chance,” she thought. “I’ve been busy this morning doing… well, there was a little bit of research, checking what the weather was up to and a little bit of catbounce.com.”
Then she thought to herself, “Well fair enough, I haven’t written a 100-word story yet. I should do that.”
She had a little think to herself about what she would write and borrowed from cartoonist Tom Gauld’s undramatic plot structure suggestions.
Erroneous accusations. Done.
The driving examiner getting into the passenger seat was the dreaded "Pink Dragon", so-called because she was (a) pink and (b) a dragon. Despite desperate efforts to control her flaming breath with peppermints, she'd already torched seventy-eight cars, each time prematurely ending the candidate's chances of success.
The test proceeded quietly, the dragon calling instructions through the open window. Then, half-way through, she called for Emily to preform the required sudden emergency stop, always a risky moment for dragons. Emily braked hard; the dragon screamed in fright.
That made it seventy-nine. But Emily got her entry fee back.
"That's it," Mary said, picking up the phone. "I'm calling an attorney to start divorce proceedings."
"But Mary," I said, almost choking on my coffee. "You can't do that. You and Don have been married twenty years."
"Don has become the most insensitive person in the world, whereas Danny Boy, our cat, dotes on me day and night. I'll divorce Don and marry Danny Boy."
"Come on, Mary. You can't be serious," I laughed.
"Just watch me!" she said, continuing to dial the attorney's number.
No-one knew Laura's name, or cared. Running the children's department in the local bookstore, she was condescending, superior, and generally unpleasant to know. She sneered at children' choices as they made their purchases. "Oh, you want THAT?" she'd say.
But the books disliked her, too. One night, while she was counting the day's miserable takings in the till after everyone had left, the entire Teen Fiction and Reference shelves collapsed onto her.
It was a slow death. Suffocated and strangled by mountains of her most despised titles, Laura's last vision was the cover of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows.
Is it just me?
Should I have?
Could I have ?
Did I do it wrong?
Was I just being stupid?
Did I say the wrong thing?
Did they really mean that about me?
Was that a silly thing for me to have done?
Could I have done something else instead?
Would someone else have done it differently?
Might that have been a better thing to do?
Will it be better next time?
Ought I to do it again?
Was it my age?
Was it my looks?
Yes or No?
Is it me?
After more than a year of feisty contributions to LinkedIn, the website, and WordPress, the Flash Fictioners were starting to run out of ideas. “What to write about?” they cried, helpless. “Where to find motivation?”
Desperate, they bounced ideas back and forth, hoping for the miracle of inspiration. A few possible topics arose, but in the end, they felt just as stuck as in the beginning.
“This is awful! We’ve written ourselves into a permanent corner!”
But then, Emma their savior came to the rescue. “Write what fuels you! Your passion!”
And Friday Flash Fiction lived to see another day.
“And where is your writing this week, young man?”
Ted gulped, thinking back to the speech he’d prepared on the way to school. Taking a deep breath, he spoke to his teacher. “Well, ma’am, I had it ready to put into my backpack, when all of a sudden – ”
“Just know: I don’t want to hear that a dragon swallowed it again. One more time with that excuse means a detention.”
With that, Ted’s pet dragon shot from his backpack and swallowed the teacher whole.
“A bit extreme, but well done, Flames.” Ted smiled. “Now we plan for next week.”