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Toro Bravo

28 Jul

ian-schneider-66374

 

Flamenco comes from the heart ­ the blood pulsating around your body, twisting your arms, contorting your hands. Toro Bravo, the bull, the flashing red skirts of MariePaz, we dance our battle.

The rhythm makes its way unfiltered to my feet as they stamp the beat on the ground, and to my hands as they clap in syncopation. I can feel the veins in my neck, my forehead. I look at MariePaz ­ she is absorbed in the dance. The passion she once felt for me, and I for her, now expended solely in the performance.

The music stops, and we hold our final pose. Our all-inclusive audience clap as I mop my brow.

 

Inspired by the above photographic prompt at Creative Writing Ink

Kentucky Derby

28 Jul

ross-findon-303091

 

Kentucky Derby

She handed me a crisp pound note, fresh from her pension. ‘Get five shillings and the rest in smash.’

At nine, I am already taller than my wee Granny, so I go up to the booth and translate the request into new money.

Diane likes the tupenny falls. The exact timing of dropping the coppers in, watching them fall, pushing other coins forward. Some drop onto the next level to be raked, moving others tantalisingly close to the win.

Granny stands at the one-arm bandit. She anticipates three cherries while building up the muscles in her right arm. We’ll get an ice-cream push-up if she wins big.

Both games are too sedentary for me. I am drawn to the Kentucky Derby. I play it every day, building up my winning tokens to be exchanged for a prize on the last day of the holidays. There’s a teddy bear for a hundred tokens, though Granny says it would be cheaper to buy. I really like it though, even if I just have fifteen tokens with six days to go.

I put my money in the slot, wait for my ball to roll to the front of my game area. I like to sit on the third seat, three being my lucky number, the date of my birth. The ball is yellow, which I like too, as are the coloured border of the target holes. I don’t mind if someone else is already in my seat, it doesn’t put me off, but gives an added challenge.

When the man running the stall figures that no one else is coming, he puts us under starters orders. The horses are all ready, waiting for our commands. And they’re off.

You need to be quick. Rolling your ball up the slope. Aiming for the three-point hole, but satisfied with a two. My horse moves forward ­ one, two.

Commentary blares over the speakers, filling the whole arcade. ‘And Number Six is leading by a head.’

There’s a fat man who plays all day, or at least all the times I’m here. He’s my main rival. But what he has in speed, I make up in accuracy. I’m ahead. The race is on. I can see his sideways glance, but I am under strict instructions not to talk to him.

Diane comes up behind me, wants to show me her handful of winnings, but I blank her out for a few more seconds to secure my win.

I’m handed my token, and pop it in the sparkly purse, which I wear diagonally across my body. I take out another coin to start again.

When we run out of money it means it’s time to go back to the flat that Mum’s friend lets us have. When it’s raining, we run ahead of Granny, while she braves the elements in her summer coat and rain mate. But if it’s dry, which it sometimes is, we shorten our steps to walk beside her, as she limps along with her rickety legs and bad hip.

I tell her about my races, and ask if we’ll get ice cream from Nardini’s later. And she tells me again, not to talk to the fat man, who sits all day at the Kentucky Derby, trying to get enough tokens for a giant teddy bear.

 

This piece was inspired by the CHANGE prompt at Creative Writing Ink

 

Away with the Fairies

3 Nov

When the children asked why Granny couldn’t remember their names, or talked to them like they were her childhood friends, I couldn’t bear to use the words – Dementia, Alzheimer’s. Their little tongues wouldn’t be able to wrap themselves around the syllables, so said she was away with the fairies. It made them giggle, satisfied their curious minds. It made me wonder how long I had accepted the same explanation when my mum used it for my little Nan. How long before I drummed up the courage to ask if it was really the fairies that were occupying her mind. From my reading of the Brownie Handbook, I would have thought it was more likely to be imps, making Nan leave the gas on to boil the electric kettle dry; making her strip to her girdle and knickers, and walk out to meet the postman.

It seemed appropriate that we took Mum out to the woods to scatter her. The roots of blown down trees looked like fairy skyscrapers, with nooks and crannies to hide precious memories. A ring of mushrooms under an oak. Stones neatly piled. Tinkling in the breeze.

‘What do we do now?’ Moya asked.

The rituals at the church and crematorium were for others to command, now it was my turn, and I struggled under the weight of expectation. A new tradition about to be born through this death.

‘Form a circle,’ I said, thinking back to my childhood’s Thursday nights. ‘Hold hands. Now we skip.’

John looked at me, and I knew he thought I’d gone too far.

‘Even Daddy?’

‘Especially Daddy.’

We skipped in a circle as I mumbled incantations from all the cultures that had brewed in my life. Then I broke the circle, stood in the middle, a tight little group, clasping hands around me. I took her from my pocket, and silently asked the fairies to look after her.

This story was written in response to this prompt at Creative Writing Ink

A photo by Robert Lukeman. unsplash.com/photos/_RBcxo9AU-U

Ice Queen

22 Apr

There’s more to her than meets the eye, there’s got to be. That cold exterior must have some hidden depths. Maybe when she leaves here she helps out at a soup kitchen, or a food bank. Maybe she rescues dogs, or half-squashed hedgehogs.

She can’t possibly be this shallow – only worried about face creams and this month’s healthy eating craze. Surely her well-educated brain has space for the plight of refugees or how to combat global warming.

I look across the desk at her. She’s been trying to make me cry all day. Throwing reports at me, asking for figures she knows she has banjaxed, commenting on how her sister would never leave the house without full make-up, let alone turn up at work with dried baby-sick to be scratched off a jacket, and she had twins.

I do not rise to her bait. I have worries and joys and pains and delights that she cannot even image as she sails her solitary course. But one day she will approach me from the wrong angle, and find that I have hidden depths, and there is a fire raging within my ice.

 

 

This piece of flash fiction was inspired by the photo prompt at Creative Writing Ink – their copyright.

American Gothic – Flash Fiction

11 Feb

 

It seemed cruel of him to send me the card – he knew it was my favourite painting – the woman, stoic in her love. ‘Such a romantic,’ he said, ‘I prefer Munch.’

I’m getting married and thought I should let you know, was scrawled inside, in that writing I had learned to decipher .

He didn’t give a date or place, nor the name of his bride or an address, but his meaning was clear – although I am getting married, one day you and I will grow old together – wait for me.

 

This piece was inspired by the painting American Gothic, as posted at Creative Writing Ink

#flashfiction #americangothic #creativewritingink #valentinesday #love

Happy – Flash Fiction

11 Feb

Her dad took the photo, Patricia remembers that, it would be another year before he let her touch this Instamatic. He stood far away, so that the scrub land and railings have more prominence than her mother’s face. And it was how she would always think of her, in black and white, hair blowing in the breeze, trousers rolled up to catch the dwindling sun.

‘Was she happy that day?’ Patricia asks her father, years later.

‘Obviously not,’ he says quietly, and she is annoyed that she has disturbed his thoughts.

She said she would just be a moment. That they hadn’t to wait for her. That she would catch up with them in the wee cafe they passed earlier. That they had to order her a pot of tea and some bread and butter.

Her tea was cold, and it was dark before they brought her back to the shore.

‘She looks happy in the photo though, Dad, doesn’t she? She doesn’t look like she’s…’ Patricia looks at her mother’s open pose, arms stretched wide , ready to embrace the day, ready to embrace the future, whatever it may bring.

 

 

This piece was inspired by the photo above from Creative Writing Ink – the competition is closed but I thought I would share this anyway as it’s been a few months since I’ve done any flash fiction.

 

 

New Year’s Resolution Part ?

14 Jan

Just decided on this resolution which came like a bolt from the blue and appears to be the answer to all my troubles (don’t you just love cliches?) I’ve alluded in the past to some fairly major family issues affecting us at the moment, which I won’t go into as this isn’t really what this blog is meant to be about. But the issues are still very present, and aren’t going away anytime soon, so here’s the nub of it, it’s affecting my writing. I’ve been trying to get back into a novel I started writing many, many years ago, which is all ready and waiting in my head, but it’s fairly autobiographical, so sitting down to write it takes quite a lot of emotional fortitude. Emotional fortitude is something I have barrel loads of (who knew), but it is all being expended in other ways, leaving none when I’ve got my writer’s head on.

So what’s a girl to do? For the past year I’ve been footering about with short stories, and have spent a lot of time getting All the Places I’ve Ever Been out to market, but the new novel hasn’t been worked on properly. It is a novel I really want, and indeed, need to write. But I’ve finally realised that now is just not the time for it. But it’s not the time for giving up on writing either. I’ve found it really wonderful having a book published, and everyone is giving me such positive feedback that I’d be a fool not to carry on.

So, here’s what I’ve decided – Triangle of Sky is going on the back burner (a place it has languished for so long it should be used to it), and I’m going to pull out a radio play and re-work it as a novel. In theory this should be easier, and as outlets are limited to one for radio plays (and the Beeb said no),  I’m not losing anything by resurrecting it.

I woke up this morning, and even before I saw what a beautiful day it was (a real Elbow one), I felt more ready to write than I have in weeks, and I think it’s because I’ve made this decision.  Anyway, I better go now and get started. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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