Friday Fictioneers – Memento Mori

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!

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PHOTO PROMPT © What’s His Name

Memento mori

There’s a bathroom suite in the outhouse, never used.

I remember how proud Mom and Dad were when they bought it. It was plastic not cast-iron, and, source of immense satisfaction to Mom, it had a low-level WC.

“Stop picking at the wrapping, Adrian!” snapped Mom. I sighed. My little sister tittered.

When Dad arrived home after work, he tore off the packaging. There it was, a fashionable avocado, with gleaming chrome-plated fittings.

“I’ll have the plumber install it on Monday,” said Dad.

“Come on, Henry. Tea-time. We’ve got prayer meeting tonight.”

On their way home, a drunk-driver killed them.

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The Bridefarer’s Choice – Part 1

Well, I’ve decided to try my hand at a serial once again. The genre is fantasy (a first for me – I’ve never tried this genre before). Episode 1 is complete and published below.  I know where the story is going, and I think it will take four episodes to complete it. I will publish successive episodes every Monday.

I very much hope you enjoy it!

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The Bridefarer – Part 1

Diarmid was a big man. He stooped to enter my house, and his broad frame blocked the sunlight.

“Reverence, Oldest One.”

I inclined my head, acknowledging the respectful greeting.

“Enter, be seated and be welcome,” I responded, with the formal words of hospitality. “You come to tell me you go bridefaring?”

He grinned. “Not a difficult conundrum, Oldest.”

And, indeed, it was not. At nineteen, it was high time Diarmid was married and settled. Besides, he was dressed for travel and carried a sword. I pointed to it.

“Do not be too quick to draw your blade, Diarmid MacDiarmid. You go seeking favour, not conquest.”

“Blades tarnish if they are never drawn.” His voice and manner were light.

“Better a tarnished blade than a dead bearer.”

I busied myself brewing a herbal tea.

“Here, Diarmid MacDiarmid, drink this. Drink slowly, and leave the herbs in the bottom.”

He sniffed it, sipped it. It was a bitter brew. Little creases showed at the corners of his eyes, but he drained the cup. I took it from him and looked at the residue.

I felt the hairs on my neck prickle with anticipation. I have ‘the sight’. It’s often a blessing, when you can reassure someone that they will have a full life and die of old age. But sometimes it’s a curse.

“All I can tell you from this reading is that you will live out your fate. For some, the way is…malleable. Choices will make a difference for them. That is not so for you; your fate is fixed, as straight and cold and strong as the steel of your blade.”

I looked up at him.

“All men die,” he said; but his face was pale. “I do not fear death.”

“You must drink again before I can tell you how your bridefaring will prosper.”

In truth I knew already.

He grimaced but nodded assent, and slowly drank from a second cup. As he handed me the empty vessel, he looked me full in the eyes.

“Tell me the truth, now, whatever it is.”

“I would never do otherwise.”

I stared into the cup. The story was the same.

“Your bridefaring will be successful. In a town far from here you will win the heart of a beautiful young woman. Her hair is red-gold like the setting sun in October; her eyes are blue-grey like the ocean after a storm. She is a king’s daughter, but those among whom she dwells know this not.

You will wed her, and return to your home where she will bear you a son. But, Diarmid MacDiarmid, I say this to you. You need not fear blade or fire or hemp; but beware of water, beware of the sea.”

Diarmid laughed, colour restored to his cheeks. His dark eyes were smouldering at the thought of the beautiful woman who would share his bed.

“I am a fisherman, Oldest. I must always beware of the sea. I bid you farewell, with many thanks for the favourable reading.”

He fiddled in his purse, drawing out a gold coin.

“For your good words,” he said.

I took it silently, and he left.

When he had gone I sat many minutes, my mind wandering the paths of the future.

What Pegman Saw – The Prisoner

“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 Carisbrooke Castle in the UK. King Charles 1 was imprisoned there to await execution.

I’ve tried something a bit different today, and I’m not altogether satisfied. Constructive criticism would be very welcome!

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The Prisoner

Charles woke late after a restless night. He had a headache again. It wasn’t even a hangover – this time. He lay, watching the grey light brighten, until discomfort drove him out of bed.

He wrinkled his nose. Virginia, his late wife, had hated it when the bedroom smelled stuffy. ‘I should change the sheets; it’s been weeks,’ he thought.

“I really am trying, my love,” he whispered, but even her memory couldn’t pierce his numbness.

He needed to escape. It was sunny. Carisbrooke Castle was nearby; he’d go there

He was in the Constable’s Chamber when an old man asked him, “Would you like to see the new excavation?”

Charles nodded. They went down, deep below the keep.

“In there,” said the man, pointing.

Charles entered the dark room; the heavy door slammed behind him.

He could just hear the man through the door.

“This place has always been a prison.”

FFfAW – Two Tides

This is a story for the flash fiction challenge, Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. We are given a photo prompt that is kindly photographed by our participants and approximately 75-175 words with which to create our stories. It’s fun and everyone is invited to participate. For more information, click here.

To read all the stories submitted for this challenge, click on the blue froggy button below.

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This week’s photo prompt is provided by Footy and Foodie. Thank you for our prompt!

Two tides

The estuary was wide, and the far shore was half-hidden by the molten gold of the setting sun. Heidi gazed across the water; such a beautiful place; so many happy memories; such heartache. Alan’s absence throbbed like an abscessed tooth. How could he have just walked out on her?

“Bastard,” she typed into her phone, thought a moment, then clicked ‘Send’.

She spent a restless night, missing his warmth, his smell, his gentle snoring. She was distracted the next day, missing his laugh, his strength, his irritating way of interrupting what she was saying.

He didn’t reply to her text.

Somehow, she drifted to the estuary again that evening. She was so wrapped up in memories that she didn’t notice his approach.

He faced her, dark-rimmed eyes apprehensive.

“I am so sorry,” he said.

Word count: 134

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!

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.