The Dress

10 September, 2011 at 14:01 (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

She kept tugging on her sleeve, hours after they had passed the shop-window.

“Please Mummy, please Mummy.”

Ella could feel the exasperation rising. Debbie had learned the word please only recently and seemed to think it was the magic word that unlocked everydoor. This wasn’t helped by Phil asking her everytime a ‘please’ was wanted – ‘What’s the magic word?’ Ella had grown more frustrated with that phrase as Debbie had grown more convinced of it’s literal truth.

“Please Mummy, please Mummy.”

Part of her wanted to turn around and shout at the pleading face. She wanted to shout ‘No! No Debbie, you can’t have it. It’s a dumb dress that you’re going to grow out of in months and it’s far too expensive what what it is. You can’t have it because I don’t want you to have it. You’re a horrible, whining little girl who doesn’t deserve a pretty sparkly dress. Now shut the fuck up and let Mummy pretend she doesn’t have a horrible whining child to satisfy all the fucking time.’
Part of her wanted to slap the child across the face. As she held Debbie’s hand waiting to cross the road she imagined accidentally-on-purpose tripping, sending the tiny girl sprawling across the path of the oncoming traffic. She imagined the tears she’d have to force to her eyes by digging her nails into her thighs and the sobbing way she would say ‘My baby’. She dragged Debbie hard across the road and looked, guiltily, into the eyes of a policewoman coming the other way.

***

“Isn’t it a bit expensive?” asked Phil, later on that evening.

Debbie spun around and around in front of him, delighted with her new dress.

Ella pasted a smile across her face.
“Anything for my little girl,” she said.

“I love you Mummy,” said Debbie, her joy evident in her eyes.

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The Hole

9 September, 2011 at 14:47 (Flash) (, , , , , , , , , )

Sam was angry. Sam was very angry. She was so angry that she had taken off the pretty party dress that Mummy and Uncle John had brought for her birthday and she had run up the garden in her vest and knickers. It would make Mummy shout, she knew, but Sam was so angry that she didn’t care.

Daddy wasn’t coming to her birthday party. Daddy had phoned to say that he had to stay on the rig for another few months. This hadn’t made Sam angry, this had made Sam upset and she had gone to the living room to have a little cry in front of the balloons that Uncle John had blown up. Mummy hadn’t known where she had gone, or else she hadn’t realised how loud her voice was, or how well Sam could hear, or, or, or she hadn’t cared.
Mummy had said to Uncle John that she had known that Daddy wasn’t coming and that Mummy and Daddy had decided not to tell Sam beforehand but to wait to phone her up on the day to say that Daddy had to stay on the rig. Sam was angry because they had lied and Sam was angry because she had been looking forward to seeing Daddy and now she felt stupid for doing so.

Sam was angry and she was running up to the fence at the top of the garden and she was climbing over it and running across the field in just her vest and knickers. She hoped that that would upset Mummy a lot, and, just as she hoped that she tripped. She fell over her own feet and tumbled, down and down and down, much further down than the ground because, it turns out that what she fell over was the edge of a hole. She fell right into the hole and tumbled and scraped herself going all the way down, it was a very long hole.

As she picked herself up she heard sounds, pleasant, gentle music, like her older sister Kelly playing the harp, but much nicer. She saw lights down the tunnel that it seemed she had fallen into and walked towards them. The tunnel widened out and she could see hundreds of people in beautiful clothes dancing and dancing to the beautiful music. To one side were tables upon which were set piles and piles of fruits and foods in a multitude of colours.
It occurred to Sam that she hadn’t eaten since breakfast and that she wasn’t going to go to her party so she edged close to the table.

A bearded man, a little shorter than she was, was filling his plate. He turned to her, “You s’posed to be here?” he asked.

“Um…not really,” admitted Sam.

“Ahh,” he said, nodding wisely and tearing into a chicken drumstick with his teeth. With his mouth full he continued, “If you eat any of this, you won’t be let leave.”

Sam’s eyes widened in surprise.

The man continued, “You’ll have t’stay here and dance with us’ns and you’ll never see your Mummy and Daddy again.”

“Good.” said Sam, who was still angry, and immediately swallowed a grape from the table.

Much, much later the ambulance crew were explaining that it might help Uncle John if he went on a first aid course.

“All that was needed was the Heimlich,” said the ambulance driver. “You’re lucky we got here when we did.”

Uncle John nodded in agreement, looking at his sister holding his tiny niece very protectively.

The driver continued, “You shouldn’t really serve such small grapes at a kids party, they’re so small they really are a choking hazard.”

Uncle John nodded again, “Yeah, I don’t really remember putting them out.”

“Kids eh.” said the other paramedic walking back from Sam and her mother. “Who’d have ’em, they find the darnedest things.”

“Yeah,” said Uncle John, dazed.

“Anyway, she’s safe and sound,” continued the paramedic, stroking his beard. “We’ll be getting off in case there are other little kids to save.”

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Vilcanota River

7 September, 2011 at 22:38 (Flash) (, , , , , , , , , )

I look out from the hillside. My stone gaze falls on the grasses, the condor flying above and the Vilcanota rushing below.

My eyes have gazed from this rock even as it has eroded and I have slid, slowly, gradually, closer to the valley floor. They painted me, thos people who ran across the mountain-tops. They who sought to tie me to the roof of their world. They shored my mountains, propped up the landslides and tried to turn back time in that way people have. Still the condors spread their wings and fly above me. They did not succeed, those mountain-runners and I have not seen them for years upon years now.

The ground of the Urubamba Valley calls me on, the grasses grow up around me and my rock face erodes. The passers-by still see me, and my heart calls to theirs as they pass. It is only a few who feel it, most simply stop, stare and pass on by empty of all that gives such short lives meaning.

I call to those who can hear, I call to those who stop, who turn at the passing of the snake and who seem to hear the puma, nestled in the craggy top of my stones. They feel my heart beat with theirs and wonder what it is, they see the passage of the condor and a part of them runs the mountain tops again. A part of them leaps into the air, high above the Vilcanota whilst I, in my silence of the thousand years, observe and continue to erode with the rest of the sliding mountain.

(Three Word Wednesday: Erode, Heart, Observe)

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Tomorrow

4 September, 2011 at 10:20 (Short) (, , , , , , , , , , )

“Blessed day.” he intoned. “Sacred night. Come forth what may, I charge this rite.”

She found the words terrifying, she wished that they were more sonorous, more grim, perhaps just less tritely rhyming.

He moved towards her.

She reflected as she saw the blade of the knife, that it was odd she was still so much of a snob when…

…the thought died as his knife plunged into her heart.

“I have it!” he crowed. “The power of tomorrow is mine!”

He began to laugh when something shifted at the edge of his vision, the knife blade seemed to shatter…no not to shatter, for each shard seemed still to be attached, it moved out as if it had become the edges of reality’s kaleidescope and each particle of the scene before him, each segment of her blood and skin and hair was reflected back at him with the urgency of the blade.

“Blessed day.” he intoned. “Sacred night. Come forth what may, I charge this rite.”

She found the words terrifying, she wished that they were more sonorous, more grim, perhaps just less tritely rhyming.

He moved towards her.

She reflected as she saw the blade of the knife, that it was odd she was still so much of a snob when…

…the thought died as his knife plunged into her heart.

“…Wait…the power of tomorrow?…Wait” he stuttered uncertainly into laughter when something shifted at the edge of his vision, the knife blade seemed to kaleidescrope out and yet he thought he had seen each particle of the scene before him, each segment of her blood and skin and hair reflected back at him before, somehow, as if the blade’s movement was familiar.

“Blessed day.” he intoned. “Sacred night. Come forth what may, I charge this rite.”

She found the words terrifying, she wished that they were more sonorous, more grim, perhaps just less tritely rhyming.

He moved towards her.
“Wait…” He said, again?

She rolled her eyes at his brief reprieve, she found it odd that she was still so much of a snob as to care about the quality of ritual that killed her when…

…the thought died as his knife tore across her throat.

“Don’t mock me bitch.” he said, then saw the blood, “No, I didn’t…I…The power of tomorrow is mine?”

The world mocked his uncertainty just as she had done and the blade shifted from his grasp, kaleidescoping over each segment of her dripping blood, torn skin and hair until it’s blade turned in opposition across his throat and joined their blood forever…never…forever…

“Blessed day. Sacred night. Come forth what may, I charge this rite.”

She laughed as the trite words came from nowhere, into her mind. Perhaps she could use them for a short story, then again, perhaps not. Even so, Tomorrow blew the words into a writer’s ears, perhaps they would form something after all.

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Corner Shop

31 August, 2011 at 23:06 (Flash) (, , , , , , , , )

“Spareabitofchangemate?” called out the old, homeless man on the street corner, running the words together as if they were one.

The girl ignored him, she wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers, and ran along the pavement, the wooden end of her skipping rope dragging behind her. At the corner she stopped running and glanced behind her, the homeless man was peering into his polystyrene cup, trying to count the loose change there. The girl stepped up the two shallow, concrete steps into the corner shop and peered over the counter at the sweets there.

“Whachoo wan? Wishwon?” asked the grey old asian woman behind the counter, her English heavily accented. The girl smiled up at her, over the sweets.
“Wishwons?” asked the woman again, smiling back over the sweets.

The girl pointed to the cherry chupa chup lollies and held up one finger.

“Won lolli,” said the shopkeeper, placing it deftly in the bag.

The girl’s front teeth bit down thoughtfully over her lower lip. She pointed to the blackjacks and raised two solemn fingers.

“Chew off those.” said the shopkeeper, smiling broadly now. “Thas twenny pee.”

The girl glanced down at the fifty pence coin she held in her hand. She pointed at one of the white chocolate mice, two fruit salads and a packet of parma violets.

“Thas fifty pee.” said the shopkeeper twisting up the paperbag with hands as crinkled as the paper.

The girl handed over the coin and took the bag of sweets with glee. Then she took off down the steps of the corner shop and back up the street at a run.

“Spareabitofchangemate?” called out the old, homeless man on the street corner, running the words together as if they were one.

The girl glanced at him as she ran by but said nothing. Then she made it to the terrace house she called home, dashed through the door, slammed it and took the stairs two at a time to her bedroom.

Mumbled words shouted from the kitchen below didn’t penetrate the room clearly enough to be replied to and she happily ensconced herself in the comfy armchair in the corner of her room. With her back to the door she didn’t react when it was thrown open and her father came stomping across the floor to her. She did however, jump a mile when he laid a hand on her shoulder and placed a small object into her hand. She fiddled with it and he waited until she had it in place.

“Please stop going out without your hearing aid.” he said.

“Sorry Dad,” she replied. “But I had to get to the shop before Mr Street did or he wouldn’t go in.”

“His name isn’t Mr Street, you should stop calling him that.”

“Sorry Dad.”

“And I don’t think it’s polite you watching him and Mrs Harishandra.”

“Sorry Da…ooooh there he goes!”

Her fingers delved into the paper bag to pass her father one of the blackjacks and she nibbled on the nose of the white mouse as they peered out of the window. There the homeless man finished counting his coins and drew himself up to his full height before walking to the corner shop.

“Where do you think they’re going to go this time?” she asked her father.

“I don’t know, her son caught her last time so they can’t go to the back yard again.”

“Do you think they’ll try the bus shelter? All the kids from the big school do it there.”

“No, it’s too open, they need somewhere no one’s going to walk in on them, especially not her son.”

The pair of them chewed away on their sweets until they saw Mrs Harishandra flick the shop sign to closed.

“They’re staying inside then,” said the girl.

Her father shook his head, “Surely not, the smell would alert her husband and I’m sure he doesn’t approve.”

“Maybe the yard again…”the girl trailed off as on the roof opposite them the skylight began to open. Soon out of it poked Mrs Harishandra’s head and the homeless mans, with one arm each able to stick out they passed their illicit cigarette between them as the little girl and her father watched, fascinated to see if anyone would catch them this time.

(Three Word Wednesday: Drag, Mumble, Penetrate)

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Negotiation

27 August, 2011 at 12:55 (Flash) (, , , , , , , , , )

“Babababababa” cooed the baby, clutching it’s toes with it’s fingers.

“No way, I can’t go higher than twenty, it’d be un-natural.” said the tall, blueish figure above the crib.

“Brrrrrrrrrp” sputtered the baby, wetly, one hand waving wildly, foot still stuck up in the air.

“I can go to thirty two for the second major sale, not the first. Anyway, we haven’t closed one deal yet, never mind a whole sale.”

“Ssssssssss” drooled the infant, letting go of it’s feet completely.

“We could go up to twenty-two, with two early molars to be replaced at two years with the usual type.”

“Babababababababa”

“What deal you broker with here is entirely between the two of you.”

“Gugagagugagasszzzz”

“So, for twenty two how much would I get?” asked the tall, slender man stepping back a little.

The baby rolled back it’s head and bawled, the cry echoed around the room and filled the house. Tears seemed to threaten to roll down it’s cheeks at any second. Then the baby stopped it’s cry and focused it’s gaze upon the tall, blue man.

“We have a deal.” he said, eagerly. “Look, can you hold onto the merchandise? I’ve got to make a call to the buyer?”

The baby wrinkled it’s nose.

“I can make a downpayment in good faith,” offered the man.

The baby might have seemed to nod to an observer. The man, in anycase stepped forwards and gently took the baby’s jaw between his fingers.

“It’s delayed, be a few moments before it kicks in. Right, I’ll be back tomorrow night.” said the man, then in a flurry of glittering cold he swept out of the window leaving some ferny patterns under the eaves and a solitary icicle hanging from the gutter.

The baby began to cry, the man would surely have cursed the tears that he missed, but the baby’s mother, snoring in the room below didn’t curse at all that she slept straight through. She didn’t even notice.

When the blueish figure returned he noted at once the smell and offered, tactfully, his services to change his client. His client was too proud, however, to accept. He did flash a sudden smile at his tall visitor, showing the beginnings of pearly, white teeth. Jack grinned back. Then, they got down to business and the baby cried.

Even Jack was tired when they had finished, but they were both pleased with the day’s work as Jack held up three long strands.

“Blackbird’s going to be very happy with this deal. If you can keep this up for the next couple of years you’ve really earned your twenty-two.”

The baby just lay back in the crib, breathing hard, all cried out.

“Not many can, you know,” continued Jack. “Even if they’ve got the lungs for it, they’ll be constantly interrupted.”

“baabaabaabaaaaa” burbled the baby.

“We’ll renegotiate in seven years then. Pleasure doing business with you.”

The tall, thin figure left a flourish of swirls on the window but the baby didn’t notice, nor did his mother come up the stairs before they had melted clean away. She did notice her baby’s new teeth though, and wondered, somewhat distractedly, how much a teething ring would cost.

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Necklace

25 August, 2011 at 22:57 (Flash) (, , , , , , , , , , )

“Shhh” he said gently, to the crying baby. “If they come, they’ll stop you crying and then how will I harvest these?”

He held up a glistening dew-drop, suddenly solid and firm.

“Can you imagine how much I’ll get for a necklace of baby-tears?” he asked.

The infant stared, wide-eyed and the gangly blue man and, if you were of sufficient imagination, you might have thought it shook it’s head.

“A lot.” said the thin man. “And now for your part of the bargain. Sure about it?”

That imaginative onlooker would have sworn blind the baby nodded.

“It’s going to hurt.” he said.

The baby scowled.

“I can see you’re determined. Very well.”

Skeletally thin fingers were placed over the baby’s mouth and cheeks where they pressed for a moment.

“Right, pleasure doing business with you,” said the man. “And I promise they’ll start happening soon, but I’d rather take my leave first – never was very good with pain.”

So saying, he opened the window and clambered out onto the ledge leaving icy patterns in feather formation across the glass.

A few minutes later the baby set up with a lusty, roaring cry and it’s parents came racing.

Within moments the baby was out of it’s crib and being rocked by it’s mother whilst it’s father looked on anxiously, “What is it? What’s making it cry this time?”

The baby’s mother hushed and hummed and cooed nonsensically to the child whilst she tugged and prodded and pulled.
“Aha!” she said at last.

“Is he well?” asked her husband.

“Very,” she replied.

“No need to worry then?”

“None at all.” she laughed.

“Show him the window,” he said to her then. “Jack Frost’s been.”

“He’s not the only one.” she said, turning so the baby could admire the frost patterns on the window. “I think the tooth fairy’s started to call as well.”

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Travelling Salesman

24 August, 2011 at 15:36 (Flash) (, , , , , , , , , )

“You have to admit it is adaptable and that the glide function is incredibly smooth.” he said smarmily.

My lips pressed together. “Yes, but you did lie somewhat on the advert.”

“Madam,” the salesman assured me. “I most certainly did not. This is a vehicle with one careful owner which functions beautifully for all your travel needs.”

“You didn’t state that the careful owner was yourself.” I stated from my seated position.

“This is true, but Madam, I sell many such second-hand objects, I’m not required to make any disclosures as to the persons who have sold or otherwise given me their items.” He smoothed down his jacked with impecably manicured hands.

“If you had the idea that it came with… obligations may have been more obvious.”

“Madam, I am here to negotiate a sale. You signed the contract and now you have a top of the range magic carpet.”

“I was expecting a flying car!”

“Madam did not make that clear.”

“I was not expecting to become a genie!”

“I do fully understand Madam’s predicament and can only hope that Madam will find, as I did, a buyer for the carpet and it’s genie curse.”


(Three Word Wednesday: Words – Adapt, Glide and Lie)

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Sebastian of Portugal

23 August, 2011 at 21:12 (Lace and Steel, Short) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

It was a cold January when the king of Portugal was born and almost immediately he had entered the world the serving maid Belle, noblewoman of Aragon and satyr to boot, had him off in her arms to present to Maldonado. Of Queen Joan’s actions on that day nothing more is said but Maldonado, the half-horse astrologer made the prophesy that he is famous for and that did indeed come to pass.

Desired shall be the King and many mistresses will he take,
Though he human be he’ll fight for satyrs sake.
At Alcazar he will be turned, and flee within a rout,
By the eternal gates, his life and all of Portugal be turned about.

Brought up as he was by the two Mithraic priests his grandmother commanded never to leave his side Sebastian through himself into the fleshy pursuits at a young age. His conquests before the age of eighteen are legendary throughout Europe, such was his legend (fit to equal that of Casanova) bastards born still in Portugal are called ‘Sebastian’s Children’.
But as his proposals of marriage were turned down by the House of Valois and even the Hapsburgs, that curious intermarried political alliance of satyr and harpy, legends of Sebastian’s promiscuity lessened and that of his misogyny grew.

When he ascended to the throne women were no longer seen at court, soon throughout Portugal it was unheard of for a woman of decent social standing to walk along a street without a male escort. Though women were not seen at court Sebastian’s mistress, Rosinne Menezes would invite the ladies of the gentlemen of court to the upper rooms to which women were consigned without gentlemen escorts. These ladies would play whist and various other games until Sebastian’s law that forbade women to take part in card games. After that they danced, but he forbade that as well.

It was on the eve of his fateful war in Morocco that he declared women should wear no other colour than black, and, in a rare public appearance, Rosinne appeared by his side dressed as it’s now customary for Poruguese women to appear. That is to say, in the high combed cap with it’s trail of velvet and lace, not a hair in sight and with an unheard of high-necked collar, the golden symbol of Mithras at her throat, her figure swamped by the gathered sleeves and skirt.

Sebastian fought with mercanaries of every stripe and hew but the size of the satyr force within his army was unheard of, most were of the Germanic states and the Hanse lands. On the field of Alcazar, where he suffered his most epic defeat at the hands of the Moroccan King, Abd Al-Malik, his legend was made for his defense of the satyr general, Le Camoëns.

He stood, alone upon the field, this noble satyr,
Sebastian turned to face his general and his friend,
Across the field of war they stood, and the Moors held back,
Then with one shout that Royal Traitor Abd Al-Malik,
Commanded his trolls onwards where Le Camoëns stood.

It is said that Sebastian single-handedly fought off the thousand trolls Al-Malik sent against him as he retreated with the injured general. What is known is that Sebastian was in the last boat to leave the Morrocan shore and that the soldier and poet, Le Camoëns was with him. It is also known that when Sebastien and his general reached Lisbon they had already partaken of that curious water which has granted Portugal it’s strange magic. For Sebastian reigns in Portugal still, Rosinne Menezes his Queen and the shadowy satyr, Le Camoëns his advisor. Fashions and laws in Portugal have not changed for a hundred years and it is known as death to innovation and invention for all that it jealously guards it’s fountain of youth.

Sebastian, they say, was struck from behind with a spear by one of the Morrocan trolls. They say that both he and his satyr general should have died before they made Lisbon but that Sebastian’s Mithraic advisors ordered the boat make landfall at some secret cove. Portugal guards it’s borders assiduously these days and ware any, pirates or persons of nobility who make landfall on Portugal’s coastline.

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The Shipwreck

21 August, 2011 at 19:09 (Flash) (, , , , , , , , , , )

The storm cracked it’s lightning whips from overhead and still the rig continued it’s journey, tossed by the waves. For a moment it was outlined against the black clouded sky by a crack that echoed around the sky. It strained over the racing waves, beneath the clouds. Not even those aboard could hear the creaks of it’s timbers as the wind tore a line free of the mizzenmast. The roar of the ocean was too great and the thunder too loud. Then the ship seemed to catch itself in the trough of two waves, the fore tossed by one and the aft by another, there was a moment when the sea seemed to pause, hover above the decks, and then it crashed. The figurehead plunged into the trough of the wave and the jigger tore from it’s hold and the foam and salt of several tonnes of water plunged upon the ship.

There was no time for anything to be done, as the sailors aboard the ship tried to race up from below decks the sea pushed them back. The sea wrapped itself around the full-rig like a serpent and squeezed with all it’s might. The foremast joined the jigger as the sea squeezed. Lines from the mainmast span free from the rigging and spiraled up in the water like tentacles from a drowning sea urchin.

The next morning the sea was calm. The yellowed sky glowed free of clouds and the only evidence of the previous nights events was the driftwood that came ashore as flotsam. The beachcombers ran for such, but the gentlemen on the beach ignored the spars of the ship and it’s intricately carved figurehead to favour the barrels floating merrily as jetsam upon the tide.

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