Peace

#1

Soothed by the movement of the swing, she breathed in the silence and sunshine, eyes gently closed.

Breathing deeply, she reveled in the quiet of the garden around her. Even the birds trilled softly.

Warm sun, a cool breeze and the gentle rocking of the swing lulled her as she slowly relaxed.

Peace at last.

 

#2

The silence rang with the absence of shell fire.

Even as the news of the ceasefire spread, the last victims of a long war took their final breath.

It was 11am, and the war was over.

But men were still dying, unaware.

The tragedy of peacetime.

#3

He returned to the apartment, speech prepared and flowers in hand.

Beyond the door, his girlfriend looked up – lips bitten with worry even as she stirred something distractedly at the stove.

“I’m sorry,” they murmured simultaneously, smiling ruefully.

Flowers found their way into a vase, and his favourite meal was served. Kisses, but no words were exchanged.

Peace was restored.

 

Word Count: 162

Touch

Her hands moved reverently across the pages of the book, pressed against the paper as though hoping to extract the history directly from the ink imprinted there.

Slipping a hand down the cracked and crumbling spine, she skimmed fingertips over the embossed title – traced the graceful curve of an ‘s’, the abrupt tip of a ‘t’.

A shiver curled up her spine as she considered the previous owners. The hands that had smoothed over pages that she had touched, that had written the cursive she traced over with her fingers. Touching history.

 

**

The cat’s purring warmth was heavy in my lap, claws clenching with the occasional pinch against my thigh.

Petting meditatively, I smoothed my hand from neck to rump and back again, enjoying the play of long silky fur over lithe muscle as I stroked over and over again. Scritching slightly under Cleo’s sharp jaw, I moved my hand up to massage behind her ears, fingers playing along the delicately furred edge of her ear, delighting in the way it flattened and shifted away from my curious hand.

Soon enough, my eyes blinked shut as I fell asleep – my fingers buried in the dense musky fur, completely content.

 

**

He slid between the crisp new sheets, humming in pleasure at the unique sensation.

Rolling into the middle of the bed, he snuck an arm over a warm waist, rubbing calloused hands over smooth flesh. Pressing a kiss into a lightly haired neck, he slid closer – seeking the warmth of another body. As his bedmate shifted sleepily, he moulded his body against a naked back, slipping a leg between heated calves.

Pressed between warm flesh and clean sheets, he lay a final kiss into tousled hair – and slept.

**

 

Word Count: 291

Love and Loss

#1

Flames flicker red and orange in the fire pit, slowly consuming his ex-girlfriend’s belongings.

Watching her photo curl and blacken loosens a tendril of satisfaction in his gut, even as he glares darkly at the fire, surrounded by friends.

Photos, letters sealed with a lipstick kiss, a small (now dismembered) teddy, a forgotten g-string – all smouldering and smoking, looking remarkably similar to how he felt.

Good riddance. He had beer, and barbeque, and a group of friends all firmly on his side.

He didn’t need her.

 

#2

He poured two glasses of whiskey, aware that he was slightly more than tipsy as he clumsily topped them up with Coke.

He needed the liquid courage.

Heading back to the couch, he handed a glass to her as he sat down, slightly closer than when he’d gotten up. She smiled in thanks, and his heart flipped. They chatted quietly, slightly apart from the drunken singing and laughing, while he toughened his resolve. Eventually, the conversation lapsed and they sat quietly, pressed against each other on the couch.

Now. The moment was now.

He turned to her and as she glanced in his direction, her face went suddenly white and wide-eyed. Watching warily, he winced as she turned hastily and was noisily sick over the side of the couch.

Great.

Smiling wryly, he waited til she was done, then hauled her from the couch – she was barely conscious. Maybe the last drink was a bad idea.

Snagging a bottle of water as he crossed the backyard with his arm around her shoulder, he guided her inside towards the mattresses set up inside, and encouraged her to lie down fully dressed. Covering her with a blanket and setting the bottle of water next to her head, he watched as she blinked sleepily and then passed out.

Rejoining the party, he mused on the missed opportunity.

Next time he’d kiss her before she got drunk…

 

#3

Does she know? He wondered as he spotted her walking through the crowded hallway. His stomach fluttered as she approached, though she seemed unaware he was watching her. Does she know how much I like her?

**

There he is, she thought, quickly looking down as she navigated the crowded hallway. She tried not to blush as she approached her locker, smiling at him on her way past. He was already looking at her - does he know?

**

All year, he said nothing. Just smiled, and made small talk as they waited for homeroom to start. Watched as she went to her locker, tried not to stare at her from across the table at lunch time. Did nothing. Said nothing.

**

All year, she waited. Knew that she should say something – and did nothing. Smiled at him, and chatted before homeroom – hoping he would say something. Pretended not to notice that he watched her, while she covertly watched him too.

**

Graduation came and went, and still he said nothing.

**

Months later, they struck up an online conversation. Chatted for hours about nothing. She never mentioned her feelings.

**

After months of online conversations, he suggested a meeting. Maybe  today he would say something.

**

He pulled up outside her house, and as she watched from the window, she decided. 

Today. Today she would say something.

 

Word Count: 537

 

These posts seem to be getting longer…

Hope you enjoyed!

 

Shy

Today’s fiction post is the result of a discussion on my experience of shyness vs. social anxiety.

***

We pulled up outside a small suburban home, brightly lit with music blaring from inside.

“Have fun!” Mum offered as I slid out of the car, handbag slung over my shoulder.

Giving her a wave as she drove away, I took a deep breath and wandered up to the front door, anticipation and nerves warring in the pit of my stomach. The door was flung open as I approached, expelling a hoard of my tipsy friends, all clamouring for hugs. A drink was pressed into my hand as I was dragged inside.

“You have to meet Luke, he’s a friend of my idiot brother, but he’s soooo cute. You’ll like him.” Insisted Emily as I meekly followed along, swept along by her forceful personality.

Not waiting for a response, Emily pulled me along towards the back of the house, where the barbeque being cooked.

“Oi fuckface! Look after Kate for me for a bit, will you?” Emily charmingly asked her brother, ignoring the fact that I was shrinking slightly behind her assertive frame.

“Sure – guys, this is Kate. Kate – this is everybody.”

“Hi,” I mumbled awkwardly, sipping my drink.

One of the guys standing around the barbeque smiled, and offered a hand. “I’m Luke.”

I blushed, shaking his hand. “Nice to meet you.”

Maybe the party would be okay after all.

 

***

 

I took a few deep breaths as we pulled up to the house.

Everything is going to be fine, I told myself.

As though hearing my thoughts, Mum said, “Have fun, just think positive.”

Think positive? I thought derisively as I got out, waving as she drove away. Fat chance of that.

I hope this is the right place…I wonder who’s there – god I hope Jas is there. Oh god. What do I do if I can’t find anyone else I know? I can’t trail around behind Kym all night. Oh, great. My hands are sweating. Do I smell? God I hope I don’t smell. I should have put more perfume on before I left home. Why didn’t I do that? I’m such an idiot…

I knocked on the door, clenching my hands tightly against my sides as I waited, trying to quell the shaking. I had a bad feeling about tonight.

The door opened to a chorus of greetings, and I contemplated bolting as the door shut behind me, cutting off my exit.

A short while later, drink in hand and abandoned by both Kym and Jas, I smiled awkwardly as I tried to insert myself into a conversation with people I had just met.

I was failing miserably.

They must think I’m an idiot, sitting here smiling randomly. That guy is looking at me. Why is he looking at me? Is there something on my face? There’s probably something on my face. I’m not drunk enough for this…I just wanna go home. Why did I even leave the house? It only ever leads to bad things…Oh, great – he’s coming over. What do I do? What do I do?!?

“Hi, I’m Josh. What was your name, again? Meg, right?”

Why is he talking to me? Does he feel sorry for me? Just great, he feels sorry for me. What do I say? I’ll probably sound like an idiot, whatever I do. Is it too late to turn around and pretend I didn’t see him? Maybe I can go find Kym. Or Jas. Or I can lock myself in the bathroom so I can freak out alone. Oh, right – responding…

“Uh, yeah – yeah that’s me. Nice to meet you.”

Don’t blush, don’t blush…

Too late.

 

***

Word Count: 603

Distant Moon

Brin lay back against the roof of her cruiser, listening to the droning song of the cicadas.

She had extended the cruiser’s shield so that she could breathe, unwilling to risk it even this deep in the outback, one of the few places nearly untouched by people. Raising her eyes to the sky, she marveled at the lights that twinkled down at her – she’d never seen so many stars before. Only a few managed to shine through the combination of air and light pollution that clung to the outer edges of the country; a thick, impenetrable blanket.

A full moon shone high in the sky, bathing the red ochre landscape in its pale bluish light. Brin peered up at it, knowing that though it appeared untouched, the surface was littered with research stations and the houses of the rich and famous – those who could afford to abandon Earth’s poisonous air.

She wondered what it must have been like all those centuries ago, to be the first humans to set foot on the moon. How their primitive spacesuits – a marvel of technology at the time – must have felt as they moved, slow and careful, across the surface of the moon. Did they know then that they would be some of only a dozen humans to set foot on the moon in nearly one hundred years?

How would they feel knowing that tomorrow, the last of humankind would be abandoning Earth and its distant, silvery moon?

Brin sighed, the magic gone from the evening sky as she considered tomorrow. She would have to be up early to report to Control for cryo-processing.

Then, next time she woke – there would be two moons to greet her.

*

Word Count: 288

^This week marks 45 years since the first humans walked on the moon, I thought it only fitting to write a little something to commemorate it.

Anger Management

A good approximation of my mood today

Flash fiction riffing on the theme of frustration/stress management today. Just a bit of fun :)

How I imagine I deal with anger/stress:

Still grinding my teeth in seething frustration, I snapped the noise-cancelling earmuffs over my ears, and slid on the safety glasses.

I ejected the clip, double checked that it was unloaded, then reloaded it with a click.

Gripping it tightly, I peered down the sight, curled my finger around the trigger, pulled back the slide, and breathed. Tried to tell myself I wasn’t imagining a face superimposed over the bulls eye.

In. Out.

Squeezing the trigger, I fired – the muffled sound and recoil easing the downturn of my mouth, teeth unclenching slightly as I caught sight of the hole torn in the paper of the bulls eye.

My lips curled up in a bitter smile.

A few more clips and I might be able to go back to work tomorrow.

I hated retail.

^I know nothing about using a gun. And don’t particularly advocate the use of them to solve problems, either – but this seems fun.

How I probably should deal with stress/anger:

Closing my eyes despite the darkened room, I breathed deeply.

Inhale. Exhale.

Reaching my arms towards the ceiling, I stretched on tip toe as high as I could reach, lengthening each part of my body.

Inhale. Exhale.

Bending forwards and sweeping my hands down towards my toes, I consciously tried to relax my jaw and smooth the wrinkle etching itself into my forehead.

Slowly, as I continued to stretch, hold and breathe, the tension left my body, leaving only the honest burn of exertion and a calm, quiet mind.

Inhale. Exhale.

How I actually deal with anger/stress:

I reached into the bag, searching out another handful of Maltesers. Around me, empty wrappers were littered, evidence of earlier snacking.

“Arseholes. Who needs ‘em?” I muttered darkly around my mouthful.

Smearing the remote with melted chocolate, I pressed the ‘play’ button and slumped back against the pillows, the bag of Maltesers balanced on my stomach.

Onscreen, the opening credits finished and the young man at the bus stop introduced himself.

“My mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” I lilted along with Forrest Gump, settling in contentedly.

Bliss.

Word Count: 325

How do you de-stress?

Seasons of Flash Fiction

Title is pretty self-explanatory – Four posts, fiftyish words each, on four seasons.

#Summer

The house was dark and humid, a breeze from the gently rotating ceiling fan barely cooling the air.

We all sat silent and motionless – trying not to move, or even think too hard, unable to function in the unbearable heat that was beating down outside.

Sweat dripped.

Ugh. Summer…

#Autumn

The gardens were a riot of colour.

Despite the cheerfully shining sun, the air was chilly and damp, a film of mist limning the variegated leaves still clinging to their branches.

The garden was filled with crunching foliage and delighted laughter as children and adults alike jumped and walked through piles of brown and red leaves.

The best Autumn pastime.

#Winter

Ominous black clouds were gathering outside in the chilly air.

I was bundled up inside with a book and an enormous mug of tea, heater on.

Suddenly, the temperature dropped, and then -

The sky opened and it poured, deafening as it hit the tin roof.

I smiled, and read on.

Winter was great – as long as I wasn’t out in it.

#Spring

My eyes itched and watered.

Hayfever. Great.

The air was damp and sweet, the sun warm and bright.

Despite the beautiful weather, green grass and blooming flowers, all I could see was pollen.

Nasty, hateful pollen making me sniffle and itch.

I loved Spring. I hated Spring.

Word Count: 220

Why I Write

Anybody else ever get the question “Why do you write?” Yes?

Since starting this blog, and challenging myself to write every day – everybody I’ve mentioned it to can only ask “Why?”

I could never really pin down one single reason, but the more I think about it, the more I have to say.

Here’s why.

I write because I love stories. I love robots, and magic, and regency manners. Post-apocalyptic Earth stories, Gothic horror stories, a hidden magical world in 1990’s London. I love that sometimes, a story so captures the imagination of people that it becomes a cultural phenomenon, or lives on over hundreds of years, or encourages a new generation of people to pick up a book.

I write because I love words. I love discombobulate and tumescent and facade. Expelliarmus, Jabberwocky, whizzpopping, besmirch. I love that there are authors out there who made up fully functioning languages, or first coined phrases that we now use regularly without thinking. I love that by writing, I could do that too.

I write because my favourite authors strung together those words into sentences that left me breathless, that sent shivers down my spine, that made me sob into my pillow. Because “Lord Voldemort had risen once more.” left my twelve year old self cold with horror, in a way the movie never quite captured. Because “Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! – I have as much soul as you, – and full as much heart!” makes my heart ache and my eyes blaze with outrage on behalf of a fictional woman. One day, I hope that I could do that to someone too.

I write because I love reading, because my imagination and my lifelong love affair with words insists that I put pen to paper, or hands to keyboard.

I write because I have to, because I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t write.

So why do I write?

Why not?

A Tale of Two Showers

Sam sighed deeply in exhausted contentment as the heavy stream of water beat down on her head and shoulders, the heat almost unbearable against her freezing skin.

Feeling slowly returned to her frozen toes, and she slumped against the cool shower wall with her eyes shut, just breathing.

Work was over for another day.

The door opened.

“Mind if I join you?”

She smiled.

***

Elle dragged her exhausted body up the two flights of stairs to her apartment.

Struggling with the lock, she thought longingly of the shower and glass of wine that awaited her on the other side of the door. When the door finally swung open, she dumped her stuff on couch and made her way to the bathroom, stripping as she went. A trail of clothes littered the floor behind her – a message her girlfriend would hopefully take advantage of when she got home.

Shower started and heating up, she climbed in and stood, face raised to ceiling, just enjoying the heat.

Beyond the bathroom door, she could hear muffled movement. Cate was home.

There was a brief silence, then -

“Mind if I join you?” A man’s voice. Not her girlfriend.

She screamed.

***

Word Count: 198

Two showers, one question – two different outcomes.

Hope you enjoyed!

 

Generations

#1

Gently calloused fingertips rubbed butter and flour together briskly, wrinkled hands knowing and sure – repeating an action perfected by decades.

Ingredients were added and put away, messes cleaned as they were made, and the dough mixed and kneaded by hand – no fancy machines here. This was the way her mother had taught her, and it never failed.

Perfect, uniform circles of dough were pressed out, lined up on a tray dull with age, brushed with milk and cooked, until they emerged perfectly risen and golden brown.

The same way they had for decades.

Later, still warm from the towel-lined basket, they were arranged on a platter with homemade jam and whipped cream, and the kettle beginning to boil.

The embroidery ladies would arrive any minute now.

#2

It was a week night.

Mince was browning in the saucepan, while steady hands chopped an onion perfunctorily, eyes darting periodically towards the pan.

Meat browned, the onion was dumped in and stirred, the heat slowly turning it soft and translucent.

Cans, bottles, containers and packets were pulled from the pantry and left in a jumble on the bench. A can of this, bottle of that, pinch of this, few twists of that – resulting in a fragrant, easily accomplished meat sauce, waiting only for the pasta.

Water boiled, no salt. A packet of dried pasta into the water, stirred, left to cook.

Time for a glass of wine, now.

Dinner was served, eaten, and forgotten.

Hours later, the kitchen was still littered from the detritus of cooking – empty cans and bottles in the sink for washing, vegetables scraps left on the cutting board, half a dozen other ingredients strewn on the bench.

It was a week night – it could wait.

#3

Eight hours and counting.

The house was a confusion of smells – sweet and savoury – as more and more trays and cooling racks and plates were filled with all manner of seasonal treats.

Covered in flour and chocolate, she stood at the stove, sure hands dipping, twirling, and removing truffles from the bowl of melted chocolate.

It was December, and Round One of the month long baking bonanza was well under way.

Truffles, gingerbread, sausage rolls, fruit mince pies, peppermint bark, fudge and shortbread – and more. New things made the list every year. And every year, the results were better, more consistent, more perfected, more creative.

Her feet hurt, her arms ached and she was pretty sure she hadn’t eaten anything but raw dough and cake batter since breakfast – but none of that mattered.

What mattered right now was the precise swirl of chocolate on top of these truffles.

 

Word Count: 443

*

Well, I’ve been going at this daily writing gig for a month now, and still going strong. Received a bigger response than I was expecting, too – though I started this for myself, I’m still extremely thankful to the fellow bloggers who have liked/followed/commented since I began. I’ve written over 5000 words (in case any of you were wondering why I keep a word count in my posts) which is more fiction than I’ve written in ten years.

Thanks for reading!