Friday Fictioneers – Fourth Wall

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!

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PHOTO PROMPT © DALE ROGERSON

Fourth Wall

Heavy, gilded mouldings around the proscenium made the stage look like a mirror, thought June, applauding at the end of ‘Cosi fan Tutti’. She looked for Oliver, her boyfriend. There he was! June smiled, then frowned. Why was he holding hands with his stage partner, Margery?

The curtain rang down and the houselights brightened. June waited. Her heart sank when Oliver arrived with Margery and the other two principals.

“That was wonderful, darling. I loved it!”

She leaned forward to kiss, but he gently resisted.

Taking out a diamond ring, he said, “I love you, June. Will you marry me?”

Inlinkz – click here and join the fun!

What Pegman Saw – A Wish Granted

“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. This week’s location is Menorca, Spain

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Image by Matt Gribbon from Pixabay

A wish granted

The black horse struts downhill, groomed sleek and with scarlet ribbons plaited through his mane and tail for the festival. Marc, one of the caixers, rides him like a king, tall and stern-faced. His black hair is trimmed short like a warrior, and his eyes are dark and commanding. Every few metres he makes the horse rear and people scurry beneath to touch its heart for good luck.

I watch how Marc controls the horse, and my heart yearns for him.

The horse rises, and I step forward, reaching for the beast’s heart. I touch it! Perhaps my dream will come true!

I sprint down the street to the town square, and greet Marc when he arrives.

“Alejandro!” he says.

“May I squire for you in the jousting tomorrow?”

He frowns.

“I have my brother…” he says, and then smiles. “I’m sure we can find something for you to do!”

 

Friday Fictioneers – Cloudy, clearing later

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story 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!

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Photo Prompt © C E Ayr

Cloudy, clearing later

High cloud covered the heaven. Even mid-afternoon there were no shadows – or, perhaps, everything was shadow.

I scuffed a pebble towards a tree, missing by miles. That’s life when you’re out of work. Nothing you do hits the target.

I noticed Claire at the window of her first-floor apartment. A nice girl, dark-haired, blue-eyed – pretty. No point someone as useless as me hoping to date her, though.

But she gestured me to wait, and thirty seconds later she was running towards me.

“It’s no good moping,” she said. “You need qualifications. Have you tried Medville College? Here, I’ll take you.”

Inlinkz – click here to join in!

Infidelity – 300 word version

Infidelity

It was dark in the wings. I should have been in the Green Room but I wanted to watch the performance.

A strong arm slipped around my waist. It felt so right that I couldn’t help myself. I turned towards Frank, tilting my face up to his. He kissed me. I yielded, as I would have done for Jim, and then thought, ‘No, I don’t need to pretend…’ and kissed back enthusiastically.

How long is eternity? Two seconds? Three seconds? That is how long the kiss lasted, but it brought its own sort of eternity.

And then it was over.

Frank stepped back.

“Liz, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that. I’m so sorry. You’re a married woman.” Even in my swirling Arcadian haze of arousal I noticed that he didn’t say that he was a married man.

“Don’t be sorry, Frank. Don’t be sorry”. My right hand stroked his chest feverishly. The quartet on stage was reaching its climax.

“Oh, Liz, you are just so…Liz, I love you’.

Why did Jim never speak to me like that? Why did he never kiss me like that?

I felt guilty that night as I went to bed. Jim didn’t seem to notice anything. He kissed me goodnight, rolled over, and was snoring gently within a minute. Normally I liked Jim’s snores. They weren’t loud, they just rumbled gently and reminded me that my man lay beside me; a comfortable knowledge of security. That night, though, they grated.

‘Liz, I love you’. The joy of that knowledge! And its guilt. Lying there beside my sleeping husband thinking of another man’s love.

And then, knowingly and deliberately, I imagined Frank’s embrace, the look of bewildered joy on his face, his tender words. I allowed the joy to seep through me. I went to sleep.

 

Friday Fictioneers – Chance Encounter

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

FF - Chance Encounter - 190619 PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Chance encounter

It’s lonely, being divorced, childless and forty-something. Still, at least I have the time and money to travel.

I was waiting for a plane when I met him. He was tall, and looked artistic, cultured – interesting.

“Is that seat taken?” he asked, pointing at the place beside me. His voice gave me goose-bumps. Hastily I removed my bags.

“Where are you going?” he said, sitting down.

“Cambodia.”

His eyes opened wide. “Flight EK222? Why, so am I!”

He pulled out his boarding pass. “Seat 27A”

“Mine is 27B! Looks like we’ll be sitting together a while longer.”

How very agreeable!

Join the Party!

A milestone reached!

I have at last finished the first draft of my latest novel. The first 50,000 words were finished under the stimulus of NaNoWriMo – thank you to everyone who supports that endeavour, and to Gabi who was my writing buddy. It’s taken me since then to write the next 60,000 words, giving me a completed manuscript of 112,000 words. The working title is “The Owl on the Pergola”

Now the hard work starts – the editing!

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The Owl on the Pergola

The novel is a work of literary fiction that tells the story of a young Indian woman who grows up in a very poor rural community, and moves to Kolkata when she is 16 years old. She is luckier than most, having an aptitude for study and a wealthy aunt who is prepared to sponsor her through higher education. However, she has to contend with an obsessive stalker who eventually turns violent, and with the ubiquitous prejudice that a woman’s place is in the home, serving her husband and his family. Will she have to choose between the man she loves and the academic career that she desires?

Friday Fictioneers – Romance

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 hyperlink 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 © CEAyr

Romance

The job had been messy. To escape, I’d ridden my scooter three hundred kilometres through heat and dust to the quiet town of Medville. At the bar “Le Soleil d’Or” I found a much-needed drink – and her.

She had black hair and green eyes – unusual here, where bottle-blonde and sunbed-bronze are the norm.

What fun we had!

Walking hand in hand along the beach. Sampling the produce of local wineries. Eating pizza, ratatouille, bouillabaisse.

But now she nags me.

She asks questions.

And yesterday I saw her visit the gendarmerie.

The pistol in the carry-box of my scooter isn’t licensed.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

 

At First Sight – Part 7

As I’m taking part in NaNoWriMo, which requires me to write 50,000 words of a novel in the 30 days of November, I’m afraid I have no time to write original material for my blog. Instead I’m repeating a serial I first posted in 2017, one episode per day. I hope you enjoy it!

At first sight - camper van 170708

Jon and Vikki fell in love the day before Vikki returned to her home in Australia – leaving Jon behind. Her abusive former partner, Guy, is tracking her. Her childhood sweetheart, Dan, has proposed marriage to her. Jon flies to Melbourne and learns that Vikki has disappeared. The police are dismissive, but Dan hacks computer records and discovers Guy’s whereabouts.

“Are you nearly finished with that – what did you call it? – that witness statement? Because we’re about five minutes away from the campsite.”

Jon pressed ‘Send’ on his tablet.

“All done. Can we pull off for a minute, to work out what we’re going to do?”

There was a halt half a mile ahead, and Dan pulled in.

“I’m worried that confronting Guy may cause him to harm Vikki. The last thing we want is for him to use Vikki as a hostage,” said Jon.

“Yeah. What do you suggest?”

“Do you know the registration number of his camper van?”

“C-A-M-P-3-7. He shouldn’t be difficult to spot in any case. It’s the low season. There won’t be many campers.”

“I guess we go in and see if the van’s there, and see whether he comes out?”

“I can’t think of anything better. I’ll park just inside the entrance. We might need to block his way out.”

Jon touched his nose gently; it was still slightly swollen and sore. “He’s quite a handy brawler. Better than me. What are you like?”

“I reckon the two of us can take him, don’t you?”

“I think so. Only be careful; he fights dirty”

Dan nodded, and put the car into gear.

“Got you.”

The campsite was two miles down the road. As they pulled into the entrance, a man came over.

“You got a booking?”

“No. You got any vacancies?”

“No. Cabins are all shut for the winter. Unless you got a tent in the boot?”

“Yeah, that’s it”

“How many nights?”

“Just the one.”

“That’ll be twenty-five”.

Dan pulled the notes out of his wallet.

“You can pitch up through there, straight ahead, ‘bout three hundred yards.”

“You got somewhere we can freshen up before we settle in?”

The man jerked his thumb in the direction of the wash-house, a low, block-built structure.

“Happy camping, fellers”. He disappeared behind the building.

Dan pointed. A camper van stood barely one hundred yards away facing the exit.

“I guess this is it.” Dan leaned across and removed the automatic from the glovebox.

They had barely started moving towards the van when Guy emerged from the wash-house. He glanced casually in their direction, and his eyes opened wide. He sprinted towards the camper van, pulling keys out of his pocket as he ran.

“Block him with the car, Dan!”

Jon raced after Guy. He hoped Guy would fumble the keys in the door, but he didn’t. As Jon arrived, Guy was sliding the keys into the ignition. The van’s engine roared. Jon grabbed the door handle but he was too late. The van shot forward, dragging him off his feet. He let go, toppled sideways, and rolled on the ground, winded.

There was a crash and the van lurched sideways as Dan rammed it with his car. The van’s wheel caught Jon on the head, stunning him. He fought to stay conscious, forced his eyes to stay open, saw Guy leap from the camper van swinging a baseball bat. Jon saw the blow coming, tried desperately to dodge, heard a sharp crack, and then an overwhelming pain that plunged him into blackness.

At first sight - baseball bat 170708

Dan rushed around the van and saw Guy lying, a large red stain spreading through his shirt, a pool of blood on the floor. Beside him lay Jon, face white, still as death, a bloody dent in his skull. Dan pulled out his mobile phone, called for an ambulance and the police. Then he  removed the keys from the ignition, and ran to the back of the van. His chest was hurting where he’d hit the steering wheel in the crash.

He flung open the doors. Vikki, bound and gagged, lay on the floor of the van, struggling to breathe. Swiftly, Dan tore the tape off her mouth, and she took great gulps of fresh air. He pulled out his knife and cut her bonds. Sobbing, Vikki clutched him.

“Oh, Dan, thank goodness you’ve come. I knew you’d find me.”

“Jon’s outside,” he said, grimly. “Badly hurt, I’m afraid. Ambulance is on its way.” Blood welled up into his mouth. He turned and spat it out of the back door.

“Dan, you’re hurt!”

“Hit the steering wheel when I rammed the van. No airbags in my old wreck. Cracked rib or two, I reckon.” He brought up some more blood. “Sorry,” he said, and toppled forward.

Vikki screamed.

“Help! Get an ambulance! Somebody help!”

She scrambled to her feet, pushed past Dan’s unconscious form and jumped clear of the van. The campsite owner was some twenty yards away, too frightened to approach closer.

“Please,” called Vikki, “they’re all out cold. Please help me.”

“This one first,” panted Vikki, leading him to Dan, who was choking. Bloody froth streaked his chin. “Help me get him into the recovery position.”

Together they lifted him out of the van, and laid him on his side. A trickle of blood ran out of his mouth. He groaned, but breathed more easily.

They moved around to Jon. He lay perfectly still and silent, the blood from his head wound already coagulating. Vikki let out a howl of despair. “No!”

She knelt down and leaned over him, feeling for the pulse in his neck. It was faint, but regular. She clutched his hand.

“Stay with me, Jon. Stay with me!”

There were flashing blue lights, and sirens. Vikki hardly noticed, until a policewoman laid a hand on her shoulder.

“Come on, madam. You’re obstructing the paramedics. Let them look after the casualty. Come with me now.” Gently, talking, cajoling, guiding, she led Vikki away from Jon.

The senior paramedic shook his head at the severity of the injuries, even as he busied himself with the task of stabilising the patient’s condition.

“Can you spare a minute to look at this feller? He looks bad.”

Dan was wheezing, and his legs were jerking.

“Get him on oxygen right away. He’s got a perforated lung. Let’s get him into the wagon; we might need to insert a drain.”

Police had cordoned off the scene. Guy lay still, his corpse already cooling, while the pathologist did her job. Not that there was any doubt about the cause of death; a bullet through the heart is unambiguous.

Dan and Jon were loaded into the ambulance, which set off, sirens blaring, for the hospital.

“Please, can I go with them?” Vikki begged.

“We’ll take you in a few minutes. The officer in charge needs to talk to you first. Both your friends will be getting the best possible care.” The policewoman handed Vikki some tissues. “Here. Dry your eyes. Everything will be okay, I’m sure.”

 

 

Friday Fictioneers – Lots to Learn

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 © Sandra Crook

Lots to learn

In his mind Arnold labelled her “Girlfriend”.

They’d met occasionally in cafes. He’d taken her to the Natural History museum, where she had admired his knowledge of palaeontology. ‘That was a date,’ thought Arnold. ‘Perhaps I could invite her to my flat.’

He vacuumed and dusted. Used an air freshener.

He showered, anointed himself with deodorant.

The doorbell rang. She smiled and gave him a peck on the cheek. ‘First kiss,’ he thought.

Entering, she looked around.

“Everything’s covered with labels!” she exclaimed.

“I’m learning Mandarin.”

She drank a cup of coffee and left. She needed to wash her hair.

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!

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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.