Dining Out

Dining out

Knuckles rapped on the door. Bother!

Jean had counted on being undisturbed. He smeared a wet-wipe across his face.

“Just a moment,” he called – but the door opened. How could he have forgotten to lock it?

“Wait!” he exclaimed, panic-stricken, but it was too late.

Michael stared at him, stared at the make-up and the mirror, stared at the dress on the bed.

“Bit of a surprise,” he said.

“But hardly unheard of.”

There was a pause.

“Can I take you to dinner?”

“Thanks.”

Jean reached for his shirt. Michael touched the dress.

“This would look nicer, don’t you think?”

Friday Fictioneers – Paris

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 on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

FF - Paris in a tin can 200422

PHOTO PROMPT © C E Ayr

Paris

We were unpacking in our new apartment when I found the photograph.

“Do you remember giving me this?”

“How could I forget?” Jeremy stroked the nape of my neck, and I shivered.

The panoramic shot of Paris by night was stunning, but sadly the worse for wear. It was peeling from its mounting, and it carried a smell of mud from when we’d been flooded in Somerset.

We’d fought over it during our trial separation.

“I’m glad we’re back together,” I say as I move to the window. Jeremy takes my hand, and together we gaze over Paris by night.

Inlinkz – click to join in the fun!

Hannukah – Papa’s story

On January 1st, I published a short story in response to the Friday Fictioneers. The piece ended with Papa beginning to tell his small daughter Rebekah the story of the significance of the Hannukah lights. So many people wanted to hear that story that I’ve written it, and here it is.

FF - Maoz Tzur Papa's story 200112

Image by chavahjacobs from Pixabay

Papa’s story

It was the last day of Hanukkah. All eight candles of the Hanukkiah burned quietly in the window, making a beacon of hope for the world outside. We sang the Haneirot Hallalu and the Maoz Tzur, and we sat down. Papa turned on the lights.

“Can’t we keep the lights off? The candles are so pretty!” asked five-year-old Rebekah.

“The candles are for others to see and know that HaShem saved us. It would not be right to use their light for another purpose,” explained Papa, gently.

“Why?”

“Sit here and I’ll tell you.” Papa patted his lap, and Rebekah climbed up and snuggled there.

“Once upon a time, many, many years ago there was a little girl named Rebekah,” began Papa.

“Just like me,” murmured Rebekah, contentedly, her thumb slipping into her mouth. Momma frowned, but stayed silent.

“She was a good girl, but she was sad,” went on Papa. ”She was sad, her Momma and Papa were sad, and so were all their friends.”

Rebekah looked up at Papa. Her lip quivered. “I don’t want her to be sad, Papa,” she said. She scanned his face anxiously and, as she saw the love there, she relaxed.

“The people were all sad because a wicked king had stopped them from worshipping in the temple. Nobody went to Zion any more. People felt lost. They didn’t know what to do.

Then HaShem saved us. He spoke to some of our young men in their dreams, and they fought the wicked king. More and more men joined with them, and HaShem blessed them with courage and strength. They defeated the king. Our people could worship in the temple once again!”

Rebekah opened her eyes. “We can worship, can’t we Papa?”

“Yes, little one, yes we can.” He placed his forefinger on Rebekah’s lips. “But listen, and I’ll finish the story.

The very first time they worshipped in the temple, they needed their lamps to burn for eight days and nights. These were lamps that burned oil – and the only oil they had was one small clay pot, about as big as the bottle of olive oil Momma uses in the cooking.

‘It’ll never last the full eight days,’ said one of them, but the leader said ‘People said we could never beat the wicked king, but we did. HaShem will provide.’

So they filled the lamps and lit them.

And for eight days, they topped up the lamps from the little pot, and every day the lamps kept burning, until eight days had passed. HaShem had provided. It was a miracle.”

“I expect that made Rebekah very happy. It makes me happy.” The little girl smiled sleepily.

“It made everybody happy, so happy that they wanted their children, and their children’s children to remember it forever. So every year at Hannukah we light candles every day.”

Rebekah nodded. “The candles look like stars,” she murmured.

Papa stroked her hair.

“So when we light the candles and put them in the window, we are saying ‘HaShem saved us. HaShem gives us light.’ It’s sacred light, a holy light, and we must treasure it. We can’t just use it for everyday things. Do you understand, little one?”

Rebekah nodded thoughtfully.

“Yes, Papa,” she answered.

Her thumb went back into her mouth. Her eyes closed. She smiled. She slept.

Two Friends Meet

This short story is a little over 300 words long, and is more or less true…

Nafplio concert 180703

Two friends meet

We were waiting for the concert to begin. It was an open-air recital of music performed by an ensemble of violinist, cellist, flautist and pianist. A faint savour of cooking permeated the air from the nearby tavernas. Swifts swooped and shrilled their thin song, accompanied by the obsessive rattle of cicadas.

Although it was past the advertised starting time, half the seats were still empty and there was no sign of the performers. We laughed, quietly; late starts seemed to be a feature of Greek performances. “People watching” is a very Greek thing to do, so, like the other eighty or so people making up the audience, we looked around.

There was a woman in a green dress sitting in the row in front of us. Her skin resembled a peach that had dried just a little, losing moisture until fine wrinkles had appeared. The wrinkles spoke of smiles, laughter, and love, and the set of her eyes and mouth confirmed them.

Her hair, unambiguously grey without hint of white, was short, straight, and beautifully cut. She sat upright, making the most of her height, projecting confidence. She was on her own but seemed completely untroubled by this. Nevertheless, had my Greek been adequate to sustain a conversation I would have greeted her; there was a warmth about her that invited friendship.

As the remainder of the audience straggled in, the woman looked around. She glanced to her right and her eyes widened. Her face glowed with delight. She reached out with both arms to embrace a woman who was threading her way between the seats. The two women hugged, exchanged greetings and sat down side by side.

They didn’t chatter; occasionally one would make a comment to the other, who would nod, or say something brief in reply. They just sat, relaxed, companionable, enjoying the occasion together, plainly friends of many years standing.

Shortly afterwards the musicians entered, and chased away the sounds of swifts and cicadas with the music of Smetana.

 

Friday Fictioneers – The Food Technologist

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. Visit Rochelle’s blog for the rules, the Photoprompt and Inlinkz (the blue frog). Then join the fun by reading other peoples’ stories and commenting on them!

FF The Food Technologist 170913

PHOTO PROMPT © Kelvin M. Knight

The Food Technologist

Two champagne flutes – a dribble of champagne in each – stood waiting to be washed. A single red rose, bought by Lynn for Richard, stood proudly at the centre of the table. They’d been married a year and a day.

Richard cut the bread for their breakfast toast.

“I offer you love, my darling!” he said, proffering the slice with a heart-shaped hole to Lynn.

“Hmm. The dough was unevenly mixed, probably because the mixer was poorly maintained,” said Lynn. “Look. You can see there are fewer bubbles at the edge of the hole.”

“Oh, Lynn! You’ve no sense of romance!”

What Pegman saw – A beautiful world

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code. I found this week’s location so stimulating that I wrote a second story, and here it is!

WPS - puerto rico - 170909

 The sun warmed José as he sat on a bench overlooking the sea in the main plaza of the old fort. Dazzling white birds swooped above the ultramarine water. José, listening to their plaintive voices, could imagine them diving, seizing silver fish, swallowing them whole.

He heard the stranger approach, but didn’t turn; he had no wish to be disturbed.

“Señor, good day! May I join you?”

José grunted, and the man sat down.

“Cigarette?”

“No, thank you.”

“Do you mind if I…?”

“Go ahead.”

They sat in silence for a few minutes. Jose seldom indulged in a cigarette, but he enjoyed the smoke that trickled to him on the breeze.

The clock struck eleven. Time to go. Acindina would nag him if he were late for his midday meal.

“Isn’t the view beautiful?” exclaimed the stranger.

José turned to the man, smiled at him.

“Good day, Señor,” he said.

He rose and walked away slowly, tapping the pathway before him with a white cane.

 

What Pegman saw – The failure

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. 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 - puerto rico - 170909

Plaintive sea birds soared over the ocean, cutting long arcs through the air as they rode updrafts by the precipitous wall of the fort.

Carlos sat in one of the fort’s crenellations. The chance of a lifetime and he’d blown it. Alright, Massachusetts was cold; he couldn’t eat his favourite cocina criolla; he missed his family and friends. But surely he could have coped for three years? Instead, he’d missed lectures, eaten too little, and slept for hours during the day when he should have been studying. He’d been weak and failed his family.

He swung his legs over the edge and looked down at the waves breaking on the rocks.

A girl approached and coughed. She eased into the space beside Carlos, and swung her feet over the drop.

“This isn’t the answer, Carlos,” she said. “Come home. We need you.”

Hand in hand, brother and sister walked home.

 

 

 

 

Friday Fictioneers – ‘Me’ Time

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 - 'Me' time - 170906

Photoprompt (c) Danny Bowman

Jane treasured this time away from her daily routine.

She climbed the path briskly, skidding on pebbles left by the rain running through the scrub. The wind, and the bleakness, and the loneliness, scoured away the mask she’d worn during the day. Her face relaxed into a half-smile. She thought with tenderness of her children, without the distraction of needing to deal immediately with their problems.

It was her ‘me’ time. She could be herself.

She reached the craggy summit, glanced at her watch and sighed. It was time to go home.

Time to go back to being ‘George’ and ‘Daddy’.

What Pegman saw – Literary Fiction

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. 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 Poisson-Blanc Quebec 170901

Literary Fiction

Every mile driven between the trees was a mile further from civilisation, a mile further from the concerts, plays and libraries that Estelle enjoyed so much.

“Never mind,” she thought. “Next year, when I start my postgrad studies, I’ll have a cast-iron excuse not to holiday with the family.” And at least the books in the car’s trunk should last through the fortnight – probably.

The resort was beautiful, the lake deep blue in the evening twilight. Birdsong filled the air, and the fresh breeze carried a scent of pine. Their host proudly told them about the camp sites on the islands dotting the lake. He seemed to feel that the provision of latrines was a cause for celebration.

“And here,” he concluded, “are your canoes.”

Canoes. We paddle there? Really?

Estelle stared at him.

He was tall, well-muscled, attractive – and he had a copy of “Wolf Hall” in his hand.

Friday Fictioneers – The offering

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 The offering 170830

Photoprompt (c) Roger Bulltot

The Offering

“Dad, may I go into the ruin?”

Russell smiled at his eight-year-old son, John.

“OK. No climbing, mind.”

In the cool shadows, John could feel the holiness of the place. There was a special silence that was full of voices chanting. He took out a trowel from his backpack, and the silver teaspoon that his mum had bought him at the seaside because he had wanted it so much. There, amid the echo of centuries of prayer, he buried the spoon, and wished with all his might.

In her hospital bed, John’s mum peacefully abandoned her struggle against cancer.