Friday Fictioneers – Country Matters

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!

PHOTO PROMPT © SANDRA CROOK

Country Matters

“You go and get the hay in, Jack. I’ll be alright.”

Lucy patted her round tummy, and smiled.

“Well, if you’re sure…?” said Jack.

Lucy waited until she heard Jack whistle the dog and slam the back door before she slumped down. The smell of the bacon she’d cooked for Jack made her queasy.

There was a sudden pain from her abdomen, and a growing sense of wetness. Surely not? Not now!

“Mum? Mum!” Her voice held panic.

By the time Jack had brought in the hay, Lucy was sitting cuddling her new-born.

“He’s got your eyes, see,” she said.

Inlinkz – click here to join the fun!

Friday Fictioneers – Before my journey

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!

PHOTO PROMPT © PENNY GADD

Before my journey

It will soon be time for my long journey, but I couldn’t leave without visiting the river one last time.

I have watched it in all its guises; spate when it is beaten to a cappuccino froth, and roars like a locomotive; a quiet trickle after weeks without rain; best of all, full but tranquil, with fish hiding in the shadows. I have seen kingfishers, and, once, an otter.

Today I have been blessed with warmth from dappled sunshine – but now it fades.

It will soon be time for my long journey.

I shall go gentle into that good night.

Inlinkz – click here to join the fun!

Friday Fictioneers – Icon

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!

PHOTO PROMPT © LISA FOX

Icon

As soon as Miles had parked the Harley and removed his helmet he heard the chanting, a thread of sound drawing him to the open door of the church.

The interior was dim, and fragrant with incense. The singing reverberated, thrilling him with reverence, as he drifted towards the glow of a hundred candles illuminating an icon.

The eyes of the icon seized his attention.

“Feed my sheep,” said a deep voice.

Miles blinked. “Pardon?” he said.

A white-bearded priest spoke to him about Jesus. Within two years, Miles had sold the Harley, and enrolled in a seminary.

Inlinkz – click here to join the fun!

Friday Fictioneers – Getting Started

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!

PHOTO PROMPT © TED STRUTZ

Getting started

Arun counted his savings. He borrowed from his grandmother. He sold the gold ring left to him by his grandfather (he didn’t tell his grandmother), and he bought a moped with panniers.

He went to the fish market and bought some fine fish, which he sold door to door. By evening he had fish left, but he was out of pocket. He shrugged and had a fish dinner. Which fish had sold well?

Next day he did better, and the day after better still.

The motorbike only lasted two years – but by then he had a business and a van.

InLinkz – click here to join the fun!

Friday Fictioneers – Short Growing Season

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!

PHOTO PROMPT © JENNIFER PENDERGAST

Short Growing Season

Jo sighed as Ruth finished helping with her cystic fibrosis exercises.

“Mom, I’d so love a garden.”

Ruth snorted.

“Jo, this is Alaska.”

But Jo and her dad, Mike, looked through catalogues and ordered some bulbs. As soon as the bulbs arrived, they planted them in the front yard.

“The snow will protect them from freezing,” explained Mike.

It wasn’t long before the ground was covered with one hundred inches of snow, and when the late spring came, the snow melted and the bulbs bloomed gloriously.

Even with a short growing season you can enjoy life and colour – and beauty.

InLinkz – click here to join in the fun!

Friday Fictioneers – The End

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!

PHOTO PROMPT © ROGER BULTOT

The End

It was bound to happen sooner or later.

The street below my apartment is choked with police cars, blue lights strobing, sirens howling, deafening and disorientating me.

I shall not take the coward’s way out; I shall die as I have always lived, with zest. I hope, though, that someone will find these jottings I have made. I would like to feel that my actions might be understood if not condoned. Perhaps this text will be a mirror for my intentions.

In a few minutes I shall exit onto the roof and run along the terrace.

My narrative will end.

Inlinkz – click here to join in the fun!

Friday Fictioneers – A Warm Deed

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!

A special thank you to Na’ama for the photo and Rochelle for choosing it. It’s a marvellous prompt!

PHOTO PROMPT © NA’AMA YEHUDA

A warm deed

Jack strode beside the security fence, kicking up snow. He wasn’t frightened, but he slowed when he saw a figure on the far side.

The boy was as tall as Jack, but skinny and shivering.

“You look freezing.”

The boy nodded.

“I have no coat.”

“Not even at home?”

“No.”

Jack stripped off his new duffel-coat and threw it up the fence. It didn’t even reach halfway. He tried again. No better.

“I know,” he said, and climbed a tree almost overhanging the fence. He threw, and the coat sailed over the fence.

The boy put it on, and smiled.

InLinkz – click here to join in the fun!

Friday Fictioneers – Steel Town

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!

PHOTO PROMPT © J HARDY CARROLL

Steel Town

When I was a kid, there were eight taverns in our town – nine, if you counted the Temperance. There’s only one now, and that’s closing soon – put out of business by the discount liquor store.

The houses used to be neat, lawns and white-painted picket fences. Now, every third house has broken windows. You can tell someone’s doing well if they have a working pick-up on the driveway; doesn’t matter if it’s a rust-bucket, just as long as it runs.

Bethlehem Steel closed and it knocked the heart out of the town.

I’m glad I got out when I did.

Inlinkz – click here to join the fun!

The End of an Era

A few weeks ago I wrote a Friday Fictioneers story with the title “The end of an era?” It felt like a story with potential and I said I would post a longer version. Here it is!

The end of an era

Giorgios sat with his youngest grandson, Yiannis, looking across the Gulf of Argos, over a  sea that was motionless, a lacquered blue-grey. He drank occasionally from a glass of ouzo, rolling the liquid around his mouth, appreciating the flavour of aniseed and herbs. His posture suggested contentment, but his eyes were troubled.

“There’ll be a storm tonight,” suggested Yiannis.

Giorgios frowned. “Perhaps.”

Memories. So many memories burdened a man, he thought. Once he had been decisive, quick to sum up options, quick to plan necessary actions. Where was that ability now, when he needed it most of all? He missed Eirene at his side; how lonely he had been since she left him a widower.

“What do think of your cousin Katerina?” he asked Yiannis.

Yiannis sipped his ouzo as he considered the question.

“She’s bright. She can be too hasty sometimes.”

Giorgios turned back to the sea. The sun’s reflection in the water was dimpled like beaten bronze.  

Hasty.

How different life was nowadays from when he was growing up. He remembered his teenage years, the years of German occupation, the years of resistance. You had to be quick, or you were dead. You had to be ready to save yourself, and not be too fussy about your neighbour.

And you made mistakes. You shot, and maybe the person you hit wasn’t German.

Giorgios closed his eyes. It had been a long time since he’d thought of Gennadios, Some things were best forgotten.

He heard Yiannis. “You’re tired, Grandfather. Would you like me to take you home?”

Giorgios opened his eyes and scowled.

“I want another ouzo,” he said.

Yiannis knew better than to argue. He ordered two more ouzos.

“Your Uncle Spiros thinks he should be my successor,” said Giorgios. He looked intently at Yiannis, who smiled.

“He is your eldest son. Why should he not inherit the business?”

Giorgios grunted. Clouds were building in the west, great mounds of cumulus racing heavenwards.

“You’re right. We shall have a storm. I’m glad Katerina invested in awnings with a guttering system. Our guests will stay dry. Take me back home now.”

Yiannis pushed Giorgios’ wheelchair back to the café, positioning him just inside the doors where he could watch the customers – and the staff. Georgios looked at the mighty plane tree sheltering one end of his café. He remembered Eirene planting it when they had just started the business. He remembered the thoughtful expression on her face as she firmed the soil around the sapling. “What are you thinking about?” he had asked, but she hadn’t answered. It had been an inspiration of hers, though, the mature tree drawing customers into its shade throughout the day.

Spiros bustled over, frowning at Yiannis. “Go and help Ajax in the kitchen,” he snapped. “We’re very busy tonight.” He scanned the tables. “Father, I wish you’d have a word with Demetrios.” Giorgios followed his gaze.

“Send him over to me,” he said. “He knows better than to sit down with our customers.”

As Demetrios minced towards him, Giorgios saw him compose his face, hiding resentment with a smile.

“You’re going to tick me off, I know, but that young man is so handsome I couldn’t help myself!”

“Don’t use your perversion as an excuse for unprofessional behaviour. I don’t want to see you sitting at a table again.” He waved Demetrios away.

He must make a decision. Who should inherit the café, the family business he started so many years ago? He sensed his time was running short.

Katerina joined him.

“You should eat something, Grandfather. Would you like Ajax to make you an omelette?”

“With mushrooms?”

“Yes, with mushrooms.”

As she served him the omelette, Katerina said, “Ajax is an excellent chef, a real asset. I heard other tavernas had approached him, so I’ve given him a pay rise – I hope that’s okay?”

Giorgios grunted. “What did your Uncle Spiros have to say about that?”

“Nothing. I asked him who he had in mind to replace Ajax when he left.” She smiled.

“How is Yiannis getting on? He’s been working with you, hasn’t he?”

“He’s good. Methodical, thorough, and with some flair. I let him negotiate our contract for ice-cream, and he did a good job.”

Giorgios pushed away the half-eaten omelette. “It’s good,” he said, “but I’m not hungry. Bring me a coffee.”

“You know what the doctor said about coffee.”

Giorgios glowered at her.

“I suppose one won’t hurt,” she said.

“Send Yiannis to me with the coffee.”

When Yiannis came, Giorgios glanced around. Was anybody listening?

“How would you feel if I left you the café?”

“There are others who have a greater claim than I.”

“But could you run it?”

Yiannis looked troubled. “Well, yes, I think I could if they let me. But don’t you think the family would oppose me?”

“Could you not talk them round? To run a business you need cunning and determination. Have you got those qualities?”

Giorgios watched Yiannis intently. Perhaps it would be unfair to burden him with the challenge of running the family business. Maybe the time had come to let control pass from the family.

“Don’t look so glum. It may never happen. A storm is the worst we’re likely to see tonight! Now, take me to my bedroom. And make sure the bell is on my bedside table.”

Although his wife, Eirene, had been dead four years, Giorgios still slept solely on the left hand side of the bed. But tonight, sleep eluded him. He thought of Eirene, beautiful, tranquil to the end of her life. As a young man he had loved her passionately; in middle age he loved her as the mother of his children, cherishing her; in old age desire had still burned, albeit with a cooler fire.

For some reason, the distant rumbles of thunder reminded him of Nazi artillery. Why had he thought that?

He dozed.

The hammering of torrential rain woke him. He clambered out of bed, and gazed out of the window at the plane tree. The raindrops slammed into the leaves like machine-gun fire, making them rattle, and beating them to the ground.

His chest hurt. He was used to that. Too much ouzo and coffee. “I don’t care if they do kill me,” he muttered, as though answering someone. The café was closed, the guests all gone.

“I must decide,” he thought. “I must decide.”

Giorgios stood panting. The room felt stuffy. His cheeks felt cold and clammy, and yet he was sweating.

Eirene had always loved Katerina more than the others. And now that he thought of it, Eirene had urged him to give her responsibility in the business. Eirene would want Katerina to inherit the business. He would leave it to her.

But the pain in his chest was too great. The air he breathed felt heavy as water. Giorgios stumbled to his desk and turned on the light. His hand found the notebook and pen without looking – he always kept them handy to jot down good ideas, day or night.

“Katerina is to have the café outright,” he wrote, “The remainder of my estate is to be split equally between my children.”

He added his signature, stumbled back to his bedside table, and rang the bell as loudly as he could. The pain was overwhelming. ‘Is this what Gennadios felt as my bullet ripped through his flesh, and his life gushed away?’ thought Giorgios.

He saw Eirene’s face, her teenage face, filled with desperate grief for Gennadios, and now he could see the shadow of that grief in every memory throughout her life. “She knew,” he marvelled. “How could she love me knowing that?”

Why had he never noticed?

Even as his bedroom door burst open there was a brilliant flash and an immediate shattering explosion of thunder.

“The tree!” exclaimed Yiannis.

“Katerina is to have the café,” gasped Giorgios, scarcely able to articulate the words. Eirene’s grief-laden stare, the terrified pallor of the dying Gennadios, accused him.

“Murder. I murdered him.”

Nobody could hear him. The rain hammered. Sirens shrieked. Even as Yiannis ran to his bedside, Giorgios died.

Friday Fictioneers – Life and Death

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!

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

Life and Death

I have walked many days through the primeval forest to reach this tree. Red bark, dark leaves, it stretches into the sky, a monarch. As I lay my hand along that red bark, I feel the sharp rebuke of the tree:

Pay some respect.

I step away and make namaste; I honour the spirit within.

I hear the life of the forest, its growing and its dying; I feel the shelter it gives to small creatures and to large; I share their reverence for the trees. The forest is alive, conscious.

In the distance, a chainsaw snarls.

InLinkz – click here to join the fun!