Friday Fictioneers – Singin’ the blues

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 - Singin' the blues 180815

PHOTO PROMPT © Yvette Prior

Singin’ the Blues

The cigarette smoke stings my memory.

I remember evenings with Robin. We would play the ‘Moody Blues’ on his hi-fi as we sat on his single bed, our limbs tangled under a blanket, sharing a packet of ‘Disque Bleu’ cigarettes, swigging Heineken and nibbling peanuts.

In our first year at university he asked me to marry him, and I said, “Let’s finish our studies first”.

He asked me again when we graduated, but I said, “I want to complete my PhD first”.

He moved. We wrote. We phoned. We visited.

The smoke teases me. I wonder where Robin is now?

76 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – Singin’ the blues

    • Dear Susan
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Disque Bleu was the brand I smoked – as you say, it felt very sophisticated. I could imagine myself as a French intellectual, arguing passionately long into the night! And, yes, I suppose that’s foolish – but it’s also part of the dreams we have as we learn who we are as adults. (BTW I stopped smoking pretty quickly – health risks were becoming apparent, and I couldn’t afford the cash anyway!)
      With very best wishes
      Penny

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    • Dear Lish
      Thank you for reading, and for your kind comment. I had fun writing this story, thinking back to student days. And time certainly does pass quickly – but I’ve been lucky and it’s left me many happy memories. And if I’m very fortunate, there’s still a bit more to come. Yay!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Smell really is a strong trigger for half forgotten memories. There’s curiosity, but I somehow doubt that they want to see each other. Reality often destroys sweet memories. Great story, Penny, it hits a chord in many of us, I bet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Gabi
      Thank you for reading and commenting. You’re exactly right about the couple not wanting to see each other. I’m glad the story struck a chord with you; it did with me too. I have no regrets about my choices, but occasionally I remember the past and wonder how an alternative future might have played out. One of the reasons I’m a writer, I suppose!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Dale
    Thank you for your lovely words! You are so right about her reason for never saying yes. I imagine her as an eminent professor, heaped with academic distinctions and honoured by the state. She’s stayed single, had a few very discreet affairs and is altogether very content with her lot. But like all of us, she enjoys a nice nostalgic wallow every now and again. Poor Robin, though!
    With very best wishes
    Penny

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    • Dear Russell
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Now I have an image of Winnie the Pooh with a spliff…I wonder if the Hundred Acre Wood is heaven for fictional characters?
      With very best wishes
      Penny

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  3. Missed opportunities! No point pondering over bygone. Sometime one has to make decision and stick to something one wants. If she had given up her ambition, she would have a different regret with her cigarette today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Abhiray
      You are exactly right – “If she had given up her ambition, she would have a different regret with her cigarette today”. I’m afraid poor, faithful Robin always came second after her career.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

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    • Dear Yarnspinnerr
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I think (from reading Vikram Seth’s “A suitable boy”) that I’m flattered by your exclamation “Wah!”
      As you say, this is a tale often repeated in real life.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Sarah
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I suppose whether you find the lesson sad or not depends on the relative importance to you of a PhD and an academic career compared with a love affair. It’s an individual preference, isn’t it?
      With very best wishes
      Penny

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  4. Love the way you had time so intimate as we felt the pretzel twist led legs and indulging – to them skip stones over the years to bring us to a reflecting moment!
    Many of us could insert different names – songs – and locations –
    I also sense contentment (a bit) as the individual reflects back – not a “one that got away’ yearn – not depth of angst – but wonderfing – hm

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Yvette
      Thank you for reading so perceptively and commenting so beautifully. I wish I’d written “pretzel twisted legs” and “skip stones over the years” – lovely metaphors!
      You have read this story exactly as I hoped. The narrator feels contentment – yes! And no yearning, no angst, but certainly curiosity. And, yes, many of us could claim a story like this as our own – that was exactly what I hoped when I wrote it!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Kelvin
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Would there be regret, do you think, on the part of the narrator? She made choices, followed them through, made a successful academic career for herself, probably had some discreet love affairs. Suppose I had made the narrator a man? Would you have felt the same?
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • I sensed regret from this narrator, Penny. I am not sure what I’d feel if you made him a male. I would have to read his story and see. I wonder why this narrator is telling this story? And to whom she is telling it?

        With very best wishes

        Kelvin

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    • Okay. Back story. Narrator studied in the late sixties/early seventies. Made a definite choice in favour of academic success over marriage. Drifted away from early lover, Robin. Built a very successful career. Had several pleasant affairs. Became very distinguished, and is just about to give a very prestigious lecture to the Royal Society. She’s a smoker, and before giving the lecture she nips out the back and has a crafty ciggy, and, with her mind in idle, she feels vaguely nostalgic about Robin. Immediately after the action of the story, an official of the Royal Society comes out and says, “When you’re ready, Professor…”

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      • Hmmm – I would say, for what it’s worth, Penny, that your narrator is still a she and she and those feelings of nostalgia you describe could be the tinglings of regret which some professional people get when they reach a pinnacle and wonder why they have no one permanent to share their successes with. Maybe. It’s just how I feel. Hope that’s okay? 🙃

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    • Dear Ali
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I don’t think the narrator was really given to regret – she was far too practical. We all have “what if?” moments, don’t we? And sometimes memory brings a smile, as we remember the fervour with which we kissed, and how it was all going to last for ever!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  5. How many of us have been there–when a scent takes us back? I loved the nostalgia of your story, Penny. Some of the scents that take me back are hairspray, coffee, rain, perfume, diesel, and yes, even cigarette smoke. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Jan
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I think cigarette smoke is my most nostalgic smell, mainly because it’s only associated with my student days and I’ve come across it very little since. Other smells that trigger my memory are wax crayons – takes me straight back to primary school – and the smell of old churches. I’m glad you loved the story’s nostalgia.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

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    • Dear Randy
      Thank you for reading and commenting so honestly. It’s useful feedback that the emotional tone of the story can lead you to read it as a sad story.
      I’d be interested to know whether you would feel the same if it had been the man who had dumped the girl and gone on to academic success?
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

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