Friday Fictioneers – How can I say no?

Bjorn contributed an excellent story to Friday Fictioneers this week. When I commented that it was the woman’s silence that made the story special, Bjorn replied “… I wonder how someone would write her story from her point of view.”

So – here’s my attempt in 100 words!

FF - Collateral 180926

PHOTO PROMPT © Yvette Prior

How can I say no?

“Another coffee?”, smiled the waitress. Richard, perhaps embarrassed, accepted, but I shook my head. The jewellers’ box sat between us like a small grenade.

“Why?” I wanted to scream. “Why spoil our friendship with romance?”

It was my fault. I must have sent him the wrong message. I tried to say so, but the words wouldn’t come out, so I looked through the window at the rain instead.

We’d had great times, cheering on Manchester City, moshing at rock concerts, and – huge adrenaline blast! – rallying in his souped-up Mini.

But romance. I didn’t want that. My heart was still Deborah’s.

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What Pegman Saw – The Poacher

“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 Bamboi, Northern Region, Ghana.

WPS - The poacher elephant 180915

The Poacher

Yes. It is he. The one who used his distant-death against Kmmbwla-Mera. He is alone, sitting by a fire in front of his canvas house. He’s drinking that-which-maddens from a metal flask.

I remember the day Kmmbwla-Mera fell. It was bright and the leaves on the burkea trees tasted moist and refreshing. We grazed and paid little heed to the jeep and its passengers.

Kmmbwla-Mera noticed first. A man was standing, pointing his distant-death in our direction. Kmmbwla-Mera was a great bull, a brave bull. He trumpeted an alarm and ran full-tilt at the man.

The man’s distant-death shouted. Kmmbwla-Mera stumbled. I heard his dying gasp; I felt him die.

We ran.

Later, I went back.

Kmmbwla-Mera’s corpse; they had mutilated it; they had cut out his tusks. There are no words bad enough to describe such desecration.

Tonight, your murderer will face justice my love, my husband, my Kmmbwla-Mera.

A big ask – long version

This Saturday’s prompt for What Pegman Saw was Hanoi, Vietnam. The challenge was to write a story about the location of 150 words or fewer.

I wrote a story and squeezed it into the word limit, but it seemed to me to have such potential that I simply had to write a longer version – and here it is! I hope you enjoy it.

A big ask - long 180910

A big ask – long version

“Now Vietnam’s normalising, we need a man there, open an office, build contacts. You speak the lingo, don’t you, Matt?”

Usually Matt could ignore the pain in his back that had throbbed persistently for twenty-five years, but it suddenly stabbed at the mention of Vietnam.

“You remember how I learned the language?”

“Oh, that.” With a wave of his hand the CEO dismissed the nine months of captivity, beatings and torture Matt had suffered.

“It’s a Regional Director post, Matt. You’ll be responsible for all our south-east Asia business. It’s a good job. Secure, too.” He dropped a thick file on the desk in front of Matt. “That’s the provisional analysis of the potential. Read it. Get an idea of the scale of your opportunity.”

‘Vietnam is different now,’ Matt told himself. ’Besides, it sounds like this job or no job.’  It wasn’t many weeks before he was settling into Hanoi.

And, as his months in the country passed, he found himself liking the Vietnamese – one of them in particular. Thirty years old, not beautiful but with a quirk to her lips when she smiled that he found irresistible, Nguyen Thi won Matt’s heart. They dated, danced, dined – and fell in love.

“Come see my Pa,” urged Thi.

“Sure,” said Matt. “I’d like that.”

“Next Saturday?”

“That’ll be fine. I’ll look forward to it.” Matt’s back twinged. Until he’d been captured, he’d fought against the Vietnamese of Thi’s father’s generation. He was not proud of some of the things he and his comrades had done. He hoped profoundly that the man wouldn’t recognise him and point him out as a killer.

On Saturday, Thi’s father, Nguyen Anh Dung was nervous. The table was covered with small dishes of food, spicy prawns, savoury meat, crisp vegetables, tangy fruits. He hoped the American would enjoy it. Perhaps at last his daughter would marry. He didn’t like the thought of an American son-in-law, but as he told himself, ‘Thi’s happiness comes first’.

The late afternoon sun lit the buildings, an eclectic mix of colonial and modern, elegant and utilitarian, as Matt and Thi walked hand in hand to visit.

“Here we are,” said Thi.

It was a plain apartment block, neither smart nor scruffy, but clean and in good repair. The couple were silent as they rode the elevator to the eighth floor.

At the door of Anh Dung’s apartment, Thi poised her finger on the bell.

“Ready?” she smiled. Her lips quirked. A surge of love poured through Matt.

“Go for it!”

A few seconds. The sound of shuffling feet. The rattle of a security chain being unfastened. The door opened.

The two men looked at each other.  Their eyes met. They both froze.

Pain surged in Matt’s back. Terror washed icily through his stomach. He fought to retain self-control, not to run. He glanced once, imploringly, at Thi, and then locked eyes once again with Anh Dung.

Anh Dung saw the eyes of a young GI, at first defiant, then screaming, and finally broken, abject. He remembered the contempt he had felt then, and was filled with shame and horror at what he had done, who he had been.

Thi stared from one to the other.

“What is it? What’s the matter?”

She seized her father’s arm and shook him. Gently, Anh Dung pushed her away. He bowed deeply and spoke to Matt.

“I once did you great wrong,” he said. “Nothing I do now can atone for that. Can you forgive the father’s evil for the sake of his daughter?”

He lowered his gaze, fixed it on the ground and remained silent, waiting.

Slowly, one finger at a time, Matt unclenched his fists. Slowly his panic subsided and his breathing slowed. Thi reached out to him, and he grasped her offered hand, drew strength from her.

“It’s been a long time,” he said. “I guess I can try”.

 

Friday Fictioneers – Setting the Date

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 - Setting the Date 180725

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

Setting the date

Here by the lake the air smelled fresher. Swallows shrilled their night-song. Half-seen moths brushed against skin.

“So I guess, if it’s okay by you Mom, we’ll have the wedding in the fall.”

Eva smiled at her son, John, and his fiancée, Elise.

“Can we manage that, do you think, Pa?”

Cornelius blinked through thick spectacles. He thought of his life with Eva. Such memories! The delight of being a couple; Eva’s support when he was jobless; the joy of bringing up a family together.

“I guess,” he said.

Eva slipped her hand into his.

“That’s settled then,” she said.

What Pegman Saw – Family Matters

“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 the Faroe Islands. When Hitler overran Denmark, Britain occupied the Faroe Islands to deny him a strategic base in the North Atlantic.

WPS - Family Matters - 180708

Nordragota, Faroe Islands, Kingdom of Denmark | Google Maps

Family Matters

November was a rotten month for starting my new job as civilian secretary of the British Consul to the Faroe Islands. There were six hours of gloomy daylight, shortening every day. Even without air-raids the drabness made the war feel real.

But the family I lived with were lovely. Johanna, the matriarch, let me help about the house; and twice a week she let me join in the chain dance, holding her youngest son Olavur’s hand and chanting words I didn’t understand.

“You are my daughter,” said Johanna. “Four boys I bore, but no girls. Now I have you, Catherine.”

Winter ebbed, and the men went to sea. Then, on March 28th 1942, the trawler SELRES_c719b40c-1c76-420d-9708-56d850683a78SELRES_63ac3c94-ea10-460b-b575-f9f3ef4fb83bSELRES_8ee89319-eac9-4ce0-9f0a-60a2d7dc82c8Nyggjaberg SELRES_8ee89319-eac9-4ce0-9f0a-60a2d7dc82c8SELRES_63ac3c94-ea10-460b-b575-f9f3ef4fb83bSELRES_c719b40c-1c76-420d-9708-56d850683a78was sunk by the Germans and Johanna lost three of her sons.

She didn’t smile for two years – not until she first cuddled my newly born son, while Olavur, proud dad, looked on joyfully.

What Pegman Saw – A letter from India

“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 the Kangra Valley, India.

WPS kangra-valley-india 180602

A letter from India

Kangra

18th May 1847

My beloved Margaret,

I write to say you needn’t worry – the serious fighting is over and we have peace. We must now bring prosperity to the people. Major Barclay believes tea could be cultivated here, and he is something of an expert.

How I long for you! I imagine you walking in the green pasture by the clear river, your hair ruffled by herb-scented breezes from the great snow-capped mountains.

I pray you are safe after the birth of our first child. In my mind’s eye I see you holding the dear creature close your heart. How strange it feels not to know whether my child is a son or daughter!

Dearest, it seems so long before you can join me here and make me whole. Until then, I shall serve with honour so you and our child may be proud.

May God bless you,

Leonard

Friday Fictioneers – The First 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 - The First Time 180425

PHOTO PROMPT © Jan Wayne Fields

The First Time

Gerald marvelled at how strong Peter’s legs were, how supple, how beautiful, as he followed him up the steep path.

At the top, he gazed over the plain and exclaimed, “Great view!”

“Even better wi’ a beer. Get t’ bottles out, lad.”

Gerald smiled at him. Trust Peter to be thinking of beer!

They sat down, side by side, almost touching, and opened the bottles. Yeasty bubbles tickled Gerald’s nose as he drank. The warm sun caressed his skin.

His hand crept onto Peter’s. Peter looked earnestly at him. Suddenly, their hearts sang.

For the first time, they kissed.