Sunday Photo Fiction – Yellow

Bicycles

Photograph by Susan Spaulding

Hello all. This is an entry for Sunday Photo Fiction. Coming in well under the word limit today – but for once it just didn’t feel right to add anything else. One thing I struggled with was the shortening of toasted sandwich – growing up this was called a toastie, but not sure how widely used that term is? 

“Where’s your mum pissed off to this time?”

“Didn’t ask. Don’t care,” Layla said, almost like she meant it.

There was a greasy hiss from the toastie-maker as Rachel popped the lid.

“Puts a dint in those fabulous plans she promised?” Rachel guessed. She flipped the sandwiches onto plates and set them on the table.

Layla pierced hers with a fork. The toastie exhaled steam before haemorrhaging nutella-banana filling.

“I love these,” Layla said. “Better than birthday cake, anyway.”

Rachel raised a glass of lemonade.

“Happy sweet sixteenth, Layla.”

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Sunday Photo Fiction – Unexpected Gifts

122 09 September 20th 2015

Copyright – Al Forbes

Please follow the link to see the rules and other entries for this weeks Sunday Photo Fiction.

My family were part of a carefully maintained system. My eldest sister’s used clothes went to my cousin, my cousin’s clothes went to Alice down the road, and Alice’s cast offs came to me. Every so often, a plastic carrier of hand-me-downs would appear. My mother would make me put everything on so she could assess with an expert eye what fitted me, and regardless of my protestations, discard anything she deemed unsuitable.

As we became older, Alice developed enviable curves whilst I stayed slim, and so my wardrobe supplements became less frequent.

When I was 15, my mother called me into the kitchen. Hanging on the door was a satin dress in floral print, the kind I’d look at through a shop window, and optimistically say to my friends, “When I’m rich, I’ll buy a dress like that.”

Alice had received it as a present. It didn’t fit, and she couldn’t get the receipt to return it.

“It looks good on you,” my mother sighed, “But it’s frivolous, you’ll have no cause to wear something like that.”

“I’m sure I’ll find a cause,” I said, looking in the mirror.

Friday Fictioneers – Rust

PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

Copyright – David Stewart

A Friday Fictioneers Entry – Please click the link for more info and the chance to check out other entries.

I’m sat on the couch, watching TV, pretending I’m not waiting for her. I down the last drops of my green tea even though the astringency makes my tongue feel like carpet. When I hear the door unlock, I don’t move. She saunters into the front room with damp, dirty clothes and orange streaked hands.

“You were right,” she says bitterly, peeling off her raincoat. “I climbed over the gate. Dad’s bike is gone. Nothing left but weeds.”

“What were you expecting? Dad waiting for you on bended knee with flowers and an explanation?”

“Mum, just leave it, okay?”

Friday Fictioneers – My Favourite Food

PHOTO PROMPT Copyright-Sandra Crook

Copyright – Sandra Crook

To see instructions on how to submit your own 100 word story based on the prompt, see Friday Fictioneers Central.

“The Lord doesn’t have time for goats that run amok, getting filthy from head to foot! Are you a goat?”

My grandmother scolded me as I scrubbed my hands, but my head was still filled with my adventures outside, where I was an explorer.

When I’d saved enough money, I escaped from that house and from Grandma, who shook her head instead of saying goodbye.

I travelled around the world and immersed myself in cultures so dissimilar from my sterile upbringing; the explosive colours, the sound of different languages, and exotic foods

My favourite dish of all was goat curry.

The Killer Question – Part Thirteen

For the first post, click here.

He hasn’t aged well, but his apparent frailty only serves to make him more frightening. If you had sat me in this bleak interview room in front of some hulk-like man, it would have been less intimidating than being surveyed by this particular brand of piercing leer. I try to push the words “Unnatural” and “Evil” out of my head. Beneath the wrinkled skin is a mind that would take pleasure in my destruction, whether physical or emotional. Maybe he prefers the latter, and that’s why he saved me.

“You look less like a librarian than I thought you would, especially after the moth line. Tell me, is that how you deal with men normally? Keep the expectations low?”

I ignore his bait, as I ignored the sorry-looking flower head. I had questions lined up, but I’ve already decided to pull out of the study as soon as I’m home. I’ll make up any excuse, or maybe even tell my supervisors the truth. I’m in trouble already. I may as well say what I want to say.

“I don’t think I’m special.” The words fall from my mouth, but my lips are so numb I don’t feel them. They’re so quiet I can barely hear them. His eyebrows draw together. “You keep saying that I want to know why I’m so special. I don’t. Whatever reasons you had for saving me, they would have applied to any child who was in my position. I’m not different.” I speak more loudly, but in a flat tone.

He smiles and there’s a moment when our eyes connect that I think I know he’s going to break me. Whether it’s through looks, or words, or physical violence, it doesn’t matter. I know that when I leave the room, he’ll have left his mark, something that will never go away.

Alastair’s Photo Fiction – Pinned

Image

Copyright – Alastair Forbes

This prompt came from Alastair’s Photo Fiction Blog.

The sun moves through the sky.

Well, that’s a lie. The Earth moves around it. As I lay on the ground, with thousands of miles of rock beneath me, contemplating our planet’s rotation causes my body to feel lighter. I feel scared that gravity isn’t sufficient to keep me from slowly floating away. People smile and talk about rising like a star, but why would you want to ascend up and away, away from everything you care about? I feel like I’m about to fall upwards and be swallowed by an infinite purple sky.

My family would be lost from sight within minutes. My sister’s freckles would be the first thing to disappear, fading into her brown face. My mother’s anxious features would shrink into a fleshy pinprick as I move further and further into space.

Instead, I lay on the ground. I’m heavy and cold, but safe, pinned to the Earth where they can always find me.

The Library Book Project – 13 October 2010

To read more about the library book project, click here.

I count the change in my hand, hoping that I miscounted or that an extra pound coin will appear somewhere. The sum of money in my palm does not change. I shift my weight and begin to make decisions. Maybe if I made half? No, I’d still have to buy the same amount of eggs and ground almonds. The macarons will have to wait for another day. I venture down the baking aisle, flicking through the recipe book of my mind.

As tempted as I am to go look at cheap fruit, chocolate is a surefire winner at these family get-togethers. No matter what Nigella says, all I can afford is the supermarket value range, so that is what I pick up. I already have all the other ingredients, so I walk towards the chilled goods section. Philadelphia is on offer, giving me a glimmer of hope, but I am twenty pence short of being able to choose it over the own-brand cream cheese.

Once home, I find the recipe book and lay out the ingredients, relieved that I have everything I need. I love baking. It really is just as simple as following the recipe. If only life worked that way, just get the ingredients and follow the instructions. While you’re at school, they make out that’s the way forwards. A handful of hard work, some education, a splash of initiative, and a couple of good ideas. Mix them together and you’ve got a bowl of success.

It wasn’t until I graduated that I realized I was fresh out of good ideas. A minimum wage cleaning job ensued, one I’m still trenched in, waiting for that golden handshake to pull me up. If it wasn’t for my boyfriend, who got straight into the graduate scheme he wanted, I’d probably be back to living with my parents. He makes it feel okay that I’m a cleaner, he makes me believe this rut really is temporary. My family are the opposite. Why am I in minimum wage work? The idea is abhorrent to them. What am I doing about it?

I didn’t even want to go to my father’s birthday party, but I knew that wanting avoid those questions wasn’t exactly a reasonable excuse. I’m determined to give them something positive to say to me this time. I stare at the brownies in the oven. Even if it’s something small.

31 December 2009/Alastair’s Photo Fiction – The Clean Sheet

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Copyright – Alastair Forbes

So, I’m trying to cut down on my workload a little and merge the two things I need to post today. The photo challenge came from Alastair’s Photo Fiction Blog. To read about the library book project, click here:

Kayla tugs me along the embankment, eagerly pointing at the boats. I’m sweating inside my heavy coat, but Kayla darts along the path despite her many wrappings.

“Don’t pull your grandmother like that, Kayla!” My daughter gently reprimands the little girl, whose excitement only fades for a few seconds. Throughout the car ride down to London, she was full of questions. She’ll be exhausted by the end of this weekend away.

“It’s like the pictures we coloured in at the library, grandma!” My granddaughter’s smile is broad and infectious.

I agree with her. I ask her if she’d like to go to the library with me again. She nods enthusiastically.

I look backwards to see my daughter’s face. Her expression is strained and barely covers the years of resentment. I swallow and know that the apology in my eyes is not enough to erase the  murky stains on our past. The clean sheet with my granddaughter is more than I deserve.

The Library Book Project – 16 July 2009

To read more about this project, click here.

I give the coloured envelopes on my doorstep an ambivalent stare. I then pick them up, but decide I want to make myself a coffee before opening them. I feel a little more tired as I consider my new age. I sigh as I flick the kettle’s switch and gaze into space as it boils the water. I feel like I ought to be more anxious about my age, and then decide it’s probably a good thing I can’t muster up any strong feelings about it.

Once I have my caffeine hit in place, I carefully tear the envelopes open and pull out the cards inside. There’s a good mixture. Humour from my sister, though not the tasteless kind that’s about tits or beer or both. That kind of card comes from Mark, my closest friend who I haven’t actually seen in months. Then there’s the sentimental card from my parents, telling me what a treasure I am. Those kind of lines were patronizing at ten, let alone at forty odd.

I look at the cards from across the kitchen table, sipping my coffee and hoping I’ll feel more alive in the next ten minutes. How did it get to this point?  It’s my birthday, I have no plans, noone to call, and nothing to do. This is why old people turn crazy, I decide. It’s nothing to do with your brain deteriorating, it’s the loneliness and complete lack of meaningful contact. Gone are the days when phone calls to the family were something I’d guiltily hate. Now they’re the only thing I really get, and I string out the conversations with pointless questions about people I haven’t seen in years nor have any particular interest in.

My sister’s husband, for example, is a solicitor and the dullest person I’ve ever met, yet I quiz my sister on his work, which I don’t even understand. She mumbles on about various contracts, clearly finding the discussion even more mundane than I am. I reluctantly let her go, wishing I knew what to ask that would animate us both. I remember a story from our childhood, but it’s too late; she’s put the phone down.

I set out a plan to celebrate my solitude. I will walk to the university campus and wander around the lake. Then I will go to town, return my library book, and then eat at whatever restaurant I feel like. I’ll buy some booze, cider will do, and return home. That’s when I’ll start drinking, and later on at night, when I’m hungry again, I’ll order the greasiest takeaway on offer.  I’ll scour the internet for the most promising porn film I can find and link it up to my larger TV screen in front room.

I wouldn’t be able to do that, if I wasn’t alone, would I?

The Library Book Project – 25 July 2008

To read more about this project, click here.

Well, that was awful. I mean, I never even realized people could be so rude. My first ever shift of my first ever job, and I’m already exhausted. All I thought about when I applied and had my interview was the money. The woman who trained me, Martina, she was alright, but the customers? Don’t even ask. The rest of my summer stretches ahead of me, like the days are being reflected by a fairground mirror.

It blows my mind that some people do this day in, day out and that’s all they have. At least I have college to look forward to in September.  (That’s the first time I’ve ever said I’m looking forward to college.) This job makes the prospect of A-Level maths quite delightful. God, A-Levels. I mean, when I first started secondary school, sixth-form students were like this whole other species. Frankly, even as a GCSE student, they were weirdly different from us. Like they were way, way more than a year or a couple of years older than us. I think it’s the lack of school uniform.

College is even more… I don’t know. I know that it’s supposed to be the same as sixth form, but everyone told me not to stay on at my old school, or I’d regret it. “College is way better!” they told me. “At sixth form they still treat you like you’re a kid.” To be honest, I always wanted to ask them how they knew. They either went to sixth form, or they went to college. How could they compare and know which was better?

Still, it gave a finality to my last days at school. I handed in my textbooks and filled in the leavers form. I had to ask the librarian to stamp a sheet saying I didn’t owe any books or fees despite the fact I’d never even taken a library book out. I stood in the very long queue to her desk and wondered why that was. I loved reading and must have read all the books at home twice over.

With that in mind, I’d visited the library in the town centre during study leave. The book I took out is sitting on my desk. It hasn’t been touched in the past two weeks, and now it’s almost time for it to be taken back. I’ll have to return it on the way back from one of my shifts.