Friday Fictioneers – Mugabe’s Gone

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story, based on a photoprompt, with a beginning, middle and end, in 100 words or less. Post it on your blog, and include the Photoprompt and Inlinkz (the blue frog) on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

FF - Mugabe's Gone 171122

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Genre: Historical fiction

Word count: 100

Mugabe’s Gone

The television booms in the background.

He’s gone. Mugabe’s gone.

I can’t believe it. My breath comes in gasps. My legs wobble as I stand.

I go to my little store room. There is the clock, exactly where I threw it at 11:15 on the evening of January 15th 1983. Shuddering, I feel for the photograph, hidden under some cloth.

Yes. Here it is. I hardly dare look.

My beautiful boy, my son, my Joshua.

“Don’t view the body,” they said. But how could I bury him without looking one last time?

Tears flood down my cheeks, my own Gukurahundi*.

      *       *       *

*According to Wikipedia, Gukurahundi is a Shona word which loosely translates as “the early rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains”. It was the term used by Robert Mugabe and his supporters for the purging of political opponents during the 1980s.

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The Sirens

I don’t often attempt to write poetry, and this piece was originally intended as an exercise in descriptive prose. However, a rhythm gradually infiltrated the writing, so I tried laying it out as a poem and worked on it in that form. Whether that makes it a poem, I leave for you to judge! BTW It helps if you know the story of Odysseus and the Sirens.

Siren 171120

The Sirens

A nightingale that heard them sing

Would blush for shame.

The lines of melody intertwine,

The words blend, rhyme.

Oh, to be whole, free from the pain of loss!

So many heroes dead, friends hewn by sword,

Skewered by spear, or crushed by rocks.

Now peace. The voices offer peace.

“Helmsman, steer to shore!” I beg,

But wax-stopped ears are deaf.

I struggle with my bonds.

My vessel’s oarsmen beat the waves to froth and past we go,

Past surf that breaks on rocks like knives,

And on the rocks the Sirens feast

On rotting flesh and broken lives.  

What Pegman Saw – Five Star Wife

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview, and this week it takes us to a beach resort in Mexico. Using the 360 degree view of the location provided, you must write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code.

WPS - Five Star Wife - 171118

Five Star Wife

“What a dump!”

“Sun, you said. Sun, sand and sea! And there they are!” Sue gestured at the gritty beach with the sullen Pacific half a mile away. The sun beat down. It was thirty degrees and only ten in the morning.

“Five star luxury, you said” grumbled Jeff.

“The hotel is lovely. If you don’t fancy the beach, go back, sit by the pool and ogle that American girl!”

“I didn’t…” began Jeff.

“Oh, it’s all right. Look, but don’t touch.”

“Anyway, I’d rather be with you.”

“Then sit here, in the shade, and quit moaning.”

The barman smiled at her.

“Could I get a sangria for me and a beer for him?”

“Of course, Senora. I’ll bring them to your table.”

“Do you have wifi?”

“Naturally.” He handed her a printed card. “Network. Password.”

Sue strolled back to Jeff and ruffled his hair.

“Miserable old git,” she said, tenderly.

Friday Fictioneers – Witness

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story, based on a photoprompt, with a beginning, middle and end, in 100 words or less. Post it on your blog, and include the Photoprompt and Inlinkz (the blue frog) on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

FF - Fire trucks - Witness 171115

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

Genre: Horror

Word count: 99

Witness

“Now, Billy, tell the officer what you saw.”

“The room was dark. There were just some flickering candles. There was a man chanting, and another one drawing something on the floor around a big table.

I saw a woman lying on the table. The man who’d been drawing picked up a knife.”

The boy licked his dry lips.

“I was scared. I ran. I’d just got outside when…”

Billy swallowed hard.

“Yes?”

“There was an enormous flash of lightning.”

“Sonny, there was no storm.”

A fireman strode up. His face was white.

“Officer. We’ve found something in the basement.”

What Pegman Saw – “Life and Spirit Free”

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. Using the location provided, you must write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code. This week’s prompt is Athens, Greece.

WPS - athens-greece 171111

WPS - Storming the Polytechnic 171111

Genre: Historical fiction – 17 November 1973

Word count – 150

Life and Spirit Free

The night’s blackness is beaten back by the soldiers’ arc lights.

Stinking exhaust from a tank blows across the road towards us as we cling to the gates of the Polytechnic. Somebody has a radio. My Giorgios is still broadcasting from the heart of our struggle.

“Polytechnic here! People of Greece, the Polytechnic is the flag bearer of our struggle and your struggle, our common struggle against the dictatorship and for democracy!”

Giorgios, I love you!

The tank’s engine revs.

It creeps across the road. Surely it’s not going to crash the gates? There are a dozen of us hanging on to them!

Alex, next to me, yells at the soldiers massing behind the tank.

“Brothers in arms! Disobey your orders! Support us in the struggle for liberty!

‘From the Greeks of old whose dying

brought to life and spirit free…’”

I join in.

The tank is coming.

Aagh! That hur….

Historical Note

From 1967 – 1974 Greece was ruled by a military junta. They used all the techniques of a totalitarian state including arbitrary arrest and torture. Students were at the forefront of the resistance, and in November 1973 they occupied Athens Polytechnic, and improvised a radio station using laboratory equipment.

On the night of 17 November 1973 the army stormed the Polytechnic, using a tank to break down the gates, to which students were clinging. No lives were lost during the assault – although there were many injuries. However, later in the day soldiers shot dead several people outside the campus, including 17-year-old Diomidis Komninos shot through the heart by a sniper.

I have quoted a translation of part of the Greek national anthem, which students were singing as the tank attacked.

Greek National Anthem

I shall always recognize you

by the dreadful sword you hold,

as the Earth with searching vision

you survey with spirit bold.

From the Greeks of old whose dying

brought to life and spirit free,

now with ancient valour rising

let us hail you, oh Liberty

 

Friday Fictioneers – Love in store

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story, based on a photoprompt, with a beginning, middle and end, in 100 words or less. Post it on your blog, and include the Photoprompt and Inlinkz (the blue frog) on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

FF - Love in store 171108

PHOTO PROMPT © Marie Gail Stratford

Love in store

Spenser was a hunk, with dark hair and eyes, and a body sculpted by Praxiteles. He swaggered up to Laura, diminutive, bright, management potential.

“I’ve got tickets for a show tonight. Come with me?”

Laura shook her head.

“Thanks, Spense, but I’m busy.”

“Sure, Babe.”

Laura hoped her manager, Craig, would notice her refusal, and ask her out. She loved his gentleness.

Instead Craig said “I must have a word with Estelle,” and sidled across the floor.

“Estelle. Would you like to dine with me at The Purple Pig this evening?”

But, alas, glamorous Estelle only had eyes for – Spenser.

One Year Old!

I’ve just realised that it is exactly one year since I created this blog, Autumn Leaves!

Thank you to everybody who has read it, commented on posts, and followed me.  I’d particularly like to thank Rochelle, Joshua and Karen for providing prompts for the flash fiction challenges ‘Friday Fictioneers’ and ‘What Pegman Saw’.

Autumn Leaves first birthday 171107

During the last twelve months, I have blogged 166 posts, which have received over 6,500 views, with 173 people following the blog. It’s been read by people from 63 different countries, something I find almost unbelievable!

To celebrate, here are links to three of my favourite posts

‘Me’ time, a 100 word piece of flash fiction with a twist that surprised everybody. https://pennygadd51.wordpress.com/2017/09/06/friday-fictioneers-me-time/

Persistence of Vision, a poem celebrating my wife after 42 years of happy marriage.

https://pennygadd51.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/poem-persistence-of-vision/

A heavy bag, which is an allegory in the form of a short story

https://pennygadd51.wordpress.com/2017/02/28/a-heavy-bag/

Next year

So, what shall I do in the next twelve months?

I plan to spend three hours every day working on my novel.

I intend to take a creative writing course.

I shall continue to participate in at least one flash fiction challenge – they’ve been very helpful for improving my writing skills.

Finally

Thank you all so very much for supporting my efforts to become a better writer; and thank you for the friendship that has been shared so freely!