Sunday Photo Fiction – Human Misery

This is a flash fiction for Sunday Photo Fiction – 200 words or less based on the photo prompt. Follow the linky for an explanation of the rules or more stories. 

Magdalena had enjoyed 8 happy years of marriage and expected many more to come. Her husband was a thoughtful and honest man, and the idea of abandoning him for anyone else would never cross her mind.

Somewhere down in one of the many netherworlds, three old crones were watching the human world through their special crystal glass. Nothing gave this sadistic bunch more pleasure than watching unhappy mortals.

They didn’t need to get involved too much, humans were very good at making each other miserable. However, they were capable of a few manipulations here and there, and it made the watching even more entertaining.

A stranger was passing through Magdalena’s village, and all it took was one crone’s whisper: “Isn’t he handsome?”


A Warlock’s Opinion of Love

Photo: J Hardy Carroll


This is an entry to Friday Fictioneers – where we write 100 word stories based on the picture prompt provided.

Most warlocks will tell you that magic cannot interfere with love. However, Arran’s 162 year experience has taught him that love can be far more fragile than many ascribe it to be.

20 minutes ago, he watched with disappointment as his young protégé disappeared into a $200-a-night hotel with his ill chosen minx. From that moment, this private tryst was doomed.

A simple incantation and smoke is billowing from just one window of the hotel. The lovers are probably oblivious to what’s happening outside, but it won’t be long before they have sudden, unexpected company.

Love rarely survives such indignities.

Friday Fictioneers – The Price of Dream Endings

Copyright - Renee Heath

Copyright – Renee Heath

Please head to FF central to submit your own story.

My darling sweetheart, my love, my eternal light and guiding star,

I won’t be honest in this letter. I can’t tell you the truth because I suspect you know more of it than I do.

You are a stream of adjectives that begin with beautiful and end with perfect. You’ve shared so many things with me, but please, I beg you, don’t cast a light on what’s in between those words.

Don’t you see? We’re the Hollywood story come to life and that happy ending could be ours for the taking!

My sight for your silence, it’s up to you.

Sunday Photo Fiction – Ignorance

51 03 March 16th 2014

Copyright – Al Forbes

This week’s entry for Sunday Photo Fiction. Click the link for more stories and instructions on how to submit your own entry.

I can hear you muttering through the kitchen door, no doubt adding to the thorough list of sins your ex-girlfriend committed against you. This tirade started about an hour ago, when the bottle of whiskey we shared had been considerably depleted. Our other friends made excuses and left shortly afterwards, but you stayed, determined to spit out every bitter feeling and burn what was left with alcohol.

I ignored the tears when they began to appear, ignored to urge to tell you the truth: These words are hurting you more than they will ever hurt her.

I pour a glass of water and open the kitchen door. You’ve finally stopped talking, but your eyes are closed and your mouth is slack as you lay across my sofa. I lean over you to inspect your face more closely, wondering if you’re caught in some lonely, hateful dream. I slowly bring my lips to your ear, thrilled at the risk you might actually listen to me for the first time tonight.

“You didn’t deserve her.”

Sunday Photo Fiction – Lunar Promises

48 02 February 23rd 2014

Copyright – Al Forbes

Click here to submit your own flash fiction based on the photograph, and to read other stories.

In the village where Sian was born, a small housing estate was being built to the west. The area had previously been an unremarkable, empty field. It had also been the spot where, every month, Sian’s mother had greeted the full moon at midnight. The moon gave her gifts of rare herbs and dispensed words of advice in reward for her diligence.

Sian’s mother had been dead for five years, and Sian had not dared to meet the moon herself in that time. She left the hospital where her brother was being treated, knowing that she had to do something. The skies were cloudless and the timing was perfect.

Walking through the empty construction site, she had no idea whether her presence here would be acknowledged. The moon had every right to refuse her, and this place was perhaps no longer as sacred as it once was.

Sian paused. The moonlight filtered through the giant metal frames, and then solidified in front of her.

She kneeled, sobbed for forgiveness, and pleaded until a deal was struck.

Sunday Photo Fiction – Sharing

Sunrise coming through the clouds. Of course, in your fiction, it could be absolutely anything

Copyright – Al Forbes

Read the rules and submit your own story based on the prompt here. I’ve actually started writing up a new novel. This isn’t an extract, but it’s a short segment based on another character’s point of view.

She never smiled. I only noticed it after a couple of weeks of knowing her. It wasn’t obvious straight away. She didn’t give off this vibe of being completely miserable or anything like that. It was more like there was always a little part of her that was dwelling on something else.

I guess I really wanted to fix her. I was arrogant enough to think I could just talk to her and she’d suddenly open up. I imagined her smiling, and I thought it would be like the clouds suddenly parting and the sun shining through, or a similar cliché.

It never happened. I took every opportunity to be alone with her, and I asked her a million questions. I wanted to know about her home, her family, and why she’d come to the academy. Her answers were always half-hearted and she didn’t look me in the eye. Eventually she began avoiding me altogether.

Years later, when I found out the unremarkable truth, I wondered why she’d been so reluctant.

In another few years, the issue of what truths are better left unshared would almost tear our marriage apart.

Sunday Photo Fiction – Awkward Goodbyes

44 01 January 26th 2014

Copyright – Al Forbes

Sunday Photo Fiction time again. Please click here to find out more!

We’re dragged downstream by the current. Flowing with the water, we don’t need social graces to feel graceful. We’re proceeding on a journey we didn’t decide to make. We glory in the effortless momentum that terrifies and excites us.

We see the river disappear in the distance, and our smiles falter because if we don’t climb onto land, we’ll fall and never see this place again. We don’t know how deep the drop is. We don’t know if there are rocks at the bottom.

But we have a vague suspicion it will feel good to plummet down the waterfall together. A terrible, dangerous, beautiful idea.

It will probably hurt a lot.

With that in mind, we grab the riverbank on opposite sides and pull ourselves to safety.

Cold and wet, we stare at each other for the longest time across the water, further apart than ever. We exchange sad, lethargic smiles before we turn away.

Our goodbyes are always awkward.

Friday Fictioneers – Unstable

I’m sure you’ve all missed me over the Christmas break (*tumbleweed*) but I’m back with a Friday Fictioneers submission. If you’d like to submit your own story based on the picture, click here.

The stone crumbles beneath my fingertips, leaving dirty smears across my palms. I look up to see a house which should have been abandoned long ago, but you’re still there, staring at me sadly through the hole where the window should be. I see her clinging onto you. I see her tears. I see her mouthing her name for me.


She doesn’t understand that the waves of time decayed this place before I arrived, made the foundation so weak the whole thing could topple with one push.

 I place my hands against the rock and call out my final warning.

Some Culture For You – Extended

This is an extension of my previous Friday Fictioneers post, which can be found here.

I stand in the dark, with only the smell of urine to keep me company. I’m a trespasser, not just to this abandoned building, but to this country which you seem to have claimed for yourself. Every odd little custom and saying reminds me of the weeks in which we first met, where my looks of amusement would prompt explanations from you. “That’s just something we say where I’m from.”

I’m now in the place where you are from, in the very building you said you lived in.

“You fucking bastard.” I breathe.

That’s something we say where I’m from.

I try to breathe shallowly because the odour is becoming overwhelming. Ungraciously, I accept defeat and walk back to the only ground floor room where the boards on the window are broken. I have to stop midway to lean against the graffiti covered walls in the hallway. I hit the walls harder and harder, trying to force away the anger that’s constricting my throat and chest.

“I fucking hate you! I fucking hate you!” I moan through gritted teeth. The pain in my torso radiates throughout my body, and it’s really, really easy to blame you for it despite the fact it’s obviously not your fault.

Liver cancer.

Fucking ironic, right? I mean, I definitely did more than my fair share of research and testing to find a cure. Obviously didn’t contribute as much as you did, as everyone is keen to point out. Well, that’s a lie, nobody is actually comparing your work to mine. It just feels that way when someone mentions any articles you write, any conferences you speak at, and any documentaries you appear in. It happens suspiciously often, and I wonder how you can possibly have time to do so much.

Then again, I was always amazed at how fast you worked. I quickly learned not to compete with you in the same way that many post-graduate students in the same area compete. I revered you like a God at first, and you bashfully accepted my jealous praise. I’m not sure exactly how we became friends, but we were friends. Do you remember those lunchtimes where we’d sit together and make jokes about the awful cafeteria food? The times you’d come over and I’d make you “Proper English Food,” which seemed to consist of just about anything as long as it was smothered in gravy? The hours you’d spend talking about home?

This home. The one that I’m standing in.

And I’m such a desperate, pathetic idiot. I knew you wouldn’t be living here anymore. This is the address you gave the university when you first came to England. Just because you’re now working in the same city where you grew up doesn’t mean you’d be staying in the same apartment you were before. Even if you wanted to, this place became derelict a few years after you left.

Still, I pictured you being here so clearly, seeing this place as it is now makes me feel like everything you said was a lie. It’s so much simpler to see you as a villain, so much more satisfying for me to pretend you’re a bad person. If I think about this logically, I start feeling bad about tricking the secretary into giving me your old details. I start to wonder if I’m a bit crazy. I know I’m sick, but perhaps I’m sicker than I realize.

After vomiting, which actually makes little difference to the ambience of this corridor, I start walking again. As I get closer to the open window, the breeze highlights the clamminess of my cheeks. The light burns my retinas, and I place a shaking hand against my forehead to shield my eyes. Nausea bubbles up again, but I bite my lip until the feeling passes.

There’s going to be another few months of this, and then nothing. You probably wouldn’t even hear about my death. It pains me to consider that you might not care. A year ago, you were putting together a research team and I applied. Not just because of you, I hasten to add, but because it would have been a glorious opportunity to revive my floundering career. I checked my inbox every waking hour for a response.

I never despised you more than the moment I read the standard rejection letter that you sent. It was your name on the bottom of the email, the same bullshit about not having the correct skillset on top.

How fucking dare you.

We worked together. It was one thing for me to know that you were perhaps more academically gifted, but for you to not even consider me suitable to work on your projects? I suppose this research was too precious to you. You were finally starting the human trials of the wonder drug that had kick started your career. You were looking for the best, and I didn’t make the cut.

However, I have a sneaking suspicion that sending that letter made you feel good. You wanted revenge, didn’t you? You wanted to reject me like I rejected you.

I cried when you told me you were leaving England, but I was so happy for you. Your project had been a complete success, you’d gained massive attention, and I thought you deserved it. I smiled through my tears and told you that I’d always said you were a genius. You replied with something modest, and we stood silently for a few moments. I thought you were going to disappoint me, but after some tense heartbeats, you leaned forwards and pressed your lips against mine.

I backed away, confused and guilty. I had a boyfriend, and you knew that.

I would have kissed you back. I wasn’t in love with you, but even then I wanted to imprint myself in your life, which seemed destined for so much more than mine. I wanted you to revere me romantically in the same way as I revered you intellectually. Maybe you did at some point.

I tried to correspond with you shortly after you left, and you never replied. I broke up with my boyfriend. I worked hard with my research, but never came close to the success you currently enjoy. I was diagnosed with terminal cancer. My life will end, and the only remarkable part of it is the bit which was illuminated by you.

I need time.

I need a miracle.

Isn’t that what they’re calling the drug you created?

Friday Fictioneers – Some Culture For You

Featured Image

Copyright – Randy Mazie

Can’t believe it’s time for another round of Friday Fictioneers! If you’d like to read the other stories or read the FF rules, click here.

EDIT: The extended version of this piece can be found here.

I stand in the dark, with only the smell of urine to keep me company. I’m a trespasser, not just to this abandoned building, but to this country which you seem to have claimed for yourself. Every odd little custom and saying reminds me of the weeks in which we first met, where my looks of amusement would prompt explanations from you. “That’s just something we say where I’m from.”

I’m now in the place where you are from, in the very building you said you lived in.

“You fucking bastard.” I breathe.

That’s something we say where I’m from.