Friday Fictioneers -An Ordinary Teenage Disorder

 

Photo Courtesy of Jean L Hayes

Hi all. This week was a struggle and I nearly gave up, but here is my entry for Friday Fictioneers

Only two days until prom, and decorating is underway.

Molten glue drips onto my finger, welding another button to my skin instead of the heart shaped wire frame.

Alex glances over and I quickly turn my head away, feeling every blood vessel in my cheeks dilate.

God, what is wrong with me? A question all my friends must be asking as they avoid me, like love sickness might be catching.  It’s torture, this guessing game of what’s possible and what’s likely and what I want and what will actually happen.

Nothing is happening, I think, as he steps towards me.

 

 

Sunday Photo Fiction – On Pause

177-10-october-16th-2016

Copyright – Al Forbes

The Sunday Photo Fiction challenge is facilitated by Al Forbes and involves creating a 100-200 word story around the featured picture. Please follow the link the find the rules. 

“She won’t let the seasons change.” Little Bird pecked viciously at the orange leaves, letting them cascade onto the damp ground. “None of us ever want winter to come, but permanent autumn won’t work. And it won’t be long before humans notice the nights aren’t getting shorter.”

“Are you listening, Taela?” asked Big Bird.

“Yes, I promise I am,” I snapped my eyes away from the fiery coloured trees. “I’ll speak to her.”

When I made my approach, she was sat between the boughs of her favourite Great Oak. Her long, silvery hair spilled down the tree trunk, snarled with twigs and dirt.

“It’s almost mid-December,” I said gently. “I know that it’s hard to move on…”

When she turned to look at me, I saw her eyes were red-raw, and full to the brim with pain which hadn’t lessoned in the past two months. She looked like she was about to say something, but then gave up.

“No matter how long it stays autumn, he won’t come back,” I continued, firmly.

A week later, the tree branches were bare.

Friday Fictioneers – Light for the Lost

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Image belongs to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Just about managed to write a story for the CORRECT picture prompt for this week. This 100 word story is for the Friday Fictioneers challenge. Please follow link to view other stories and see rules for entering. 

The back of the sofa yielded 21p, enough to buy some reduced bread from Asda. The whole time, I was hoping to God that nobody from school would spot me and ask if I was okay, that nobody would notice I was paying in coppers.

At home, my heart jumped when I saw lights in the kitchen, and mum at the table. After nine days in bed, she was finally up. Just as I dared hope she was ready to be mum again, I saw her vacant expression, staring at the flame of a candle.   

“She loved candles,” mum murmured.

 

Memories

I hesitate before I open the wardrobe. Fingertips on the cheap chrome handles, I feel it would be more neurotic to stop myself at this point than to give into my curiosity. After opening the doors, I kneel down and hunt through the debris at the bottom of the wardrobe; khaki shorts, tangled shirts, stray socks, grey-smeared trainers. The disturbed dust makes my eyes water.  I pull out an old shoebox, dark green with a fox logo, and place it on the bed.

Opening the box feels indulgent. They say that people now prefer to spend their disposable income on experiences rather than goods. A good memory is like good wine, it becomes more valuable as it ages, and so creating and preserving such memories is an investment. It’s more pleasurable to examine your mementos when it has been some time since you last did so. Digging out this shoebox, I’m not only letting my current emotions ruin what should be an enjoyable session of nostalgia, I feel that I’m permanently cheapening my memories.

I don’t cut to the chase. I carefully leaf through all the photographs, reread all the important cards with loving words of encouragement. I look through old loveletters, sketches, and cinema ticket stubs with mindful devotion, giving them the time they deserve. I try to let myself pretend I’m not just doing this for one reason. When I find what it is I’m really looking for, I place it face down on the duvet until I’m done with everything else.

Finally, I examine the photograph of me, Amy Gladwin, and Charlotte Foster. It’s Amy that I focus on.

“It’s so awful,” I say out loud, to no one in particular. But I had to say it, because I can’t say it to her directly, no matter how I wish I could. Before everyone found out about what happened, I wondered whether I should get in touch. We were connected online, so it would have been easy. I enjoyed seeing her photos and updates, but when she became semi-famous, I didn’t want to be that old friend who crawls out of the woodwork when they smell success.

I still don’t want to be that old friend. I wonder how many people are doing what I am doing right now. You are not special, I tell myself. Up and down the country, right now, there will be old classmates, student flatmates, colleagues, all digging out photographs and thinking about the connection to Amy they once had. Looking at an old photo of a girl I was best friends with, it’s easy to forget that I barely know the woman on TV.

As a teenager, Amy Gladwin was an unambitious student who somehow did nothing but knew everything. Her specialty was doing the bare minimum in class whilst probing those sitting next to her for news. She was a professional shit stirrer, knowing exactly what to say and which buttons to press, and so she was an entertaining friend to have. Despite knowing their secrets would be around the school by the end of the day, people still talked to her, because she always made the process of spilling the beans feel wonderfully cathartic.

Amy Gladwin, 27 year old journalist and media personality, was one of those funny people on panel shows who aren’t well known but make the most controversial jokes. She wrote opinion pieces for newspapers about austerity, feminism, the media, education, and all sorts of other things. She ran the London Marathon and recently went on holiday to Brazil.

Last week, someone stabbed Amy in the back and left her to die in the kitchen of her apartment.

Friday Fictioneers -The Optimist

 

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

Copyright – Roger Bultot

Of course, the urge to complete a Friday Fictioneers entry would only come upon me this strongly when my university dissertation is due in a week from now… If you also have a desperate need to procrastinate, please follow the link and read lots of of other fabulous short stories or find the rules for completing your own entry.

Jenny stepped onto the rusty balcony for the last time, protectively gripping her coffee. Over the lip of her mug, she surveyed the incoming fog and looked forward to disappearing into it.

This is the first time she would leave somewhere and not fondly think back on it. She wouldn’t miss anything, not the run-down house, not the underfunded exam factory she worked at which called itself a school, not the anti-social neighbours, and definitely not the bird crap on her car every morning.

Jenny used to be an optimist. Somewhere else, Jenny thought, I still might be an optimist.

How to be a Completely Unambitious Writer

It’s odd to think that, as recently as 2013, I had enough self-discipline to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days.

Shortly after that, I wrote my series of vignettes for the Library Book Project. I still feel that series is possibly the best fiction work I’ve ever completed. At that time, I had absolutely no issue with calling myself a writer. There were stories I wanted to explore, and it felt so good to get them all down on paper.

While I never really had grand ambitions in terms of getting published, I felt like I was definitely improving and developing a skill. There were so many times growing up where I didn’t feel that I had a “talent” like other kids, and finally I felt like I could be really good at something if I just took the time to practice.

Unfortunately… things happen.

There’s a number of factors involved, but the truth is that I really regret dropping the ball. Being out of practice has meant that I’ve lost some faith in my ability as a writer. It doesn’t feel the same as it did before.

Another problem currently is that I’m also so stressed I find it difficult to actually relax and enjoy writing. Like, I’m really stressed out. Final year and graduate application rounds are totally kicking my arse. And, I get it, there are probably people who have lives exponentially more stressful than mine, and you have to be resilient, but, I’m seriously stressed out.

So, writing might not be my biggest priority right now.

BUT

I’m not going to give up. I’ll try things from different angles, maybe start some smaller projects, and keep talking to the people who I know will motivate me. I’m confident that one day, I’ll get some writerly mojo back.

 

 

Too Real To Be Real

I’m no memory of how I came to be here. I feel like I’ve been on this dark road for hours in trance, and now my eyes and brain have just gained focus on the present. The street I’m in is too real, the winter breeze is opaque, and the stuccoed walls of the semi-detached houses seem to make dents in my vision. The sodium streetlight casts an extradimensional glow on the scene.

I’m frozen to the spot, the air inside my lungs feeling foreign as it enters. My heart seems to have stopped.

There’s a painful flash, and I feel like my synapses are burning. Devoid of the ability to see anything but blinding white, I hear some cheering, and a voice.

“Experiment number three hundred and fifty nine. Success.”

Sunday Photo Fiction – Equal and Opposite

75 08 August 31st 2014

Copyright – Al Forbes

Sorry that I’ve been neglecting the blog, but I moved to Kent yesterday. Hopefully I’ll have more time for writing now! If you’d like to see the rules or the other stories, click here.

“Who’s the lady at number 17? I never see her talking to anyone.”

She is Karen Hannah. A wretched woman who isn’t welcome in my home or in the homes of my friends.”

“What did she do?”

“What she did is irrelevant. The point is that she got what she deserved. You might disagree with the phrase ‘An eye for an eye.’ You might think it’s unbecoming for ladies like us. Not in her case.”

“Is she really so bad?”

“Let me tell you, that woman did what she did for attention. If she wasn’t, then she ought to know that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Since she clearly has no conscience, we’re simply teaching her that there are consequences to the things she does.”

“Hold on, is this the same Karen who Susan mentioned? The one who… Oh.”

“Exactly.”

TBAM – Chapter Three: A

Read the rest of the novel here.

Levi had been deliberately unhurried as he dressed in the clothes that were brought to him. It wasn’t that he didn’t want an explanation as to how he got here and who these people were, but he dreaded not being able to make the correct response to whatever he was told. He didn’t feel ready for some beautiful journey of discovery about his family, and there seemed to be a good possibility that something more complicated was going on here.

He looked out of the window again. The area seemed quite hilly, almost mountainous. How far away from home was he? How many hours could he have travelled last night? And why would he have been willing to come out at such short notice? He rubbed his head. It ached, but not in the way he would expect if he’d sustained an injury. He was sure this lady, whoever she was, was lying.

Hesitantly, he opened the door which she’d hurried out of and peered at the corridor outside. He felt like he was a tourist in a stately home who’d stumbled into the “No Admittance” area. To his left was a dead end, but it looked like there was a staircase to the right. He slowly walked along the corridor, giving nervous glances to the statuettes and paintings that lined the walls.

When the corridor opened out above the staircase, Levi found himself looking down on an entrance hall that rivalled his house for size. He found himself becoming more and more suspicious as he considered what he knew so far. There was nobody around to ask for directions, and Levi found himself feeling somewhat relieved this was the case. At least he knew where the front door was if he needed to leave.

Once downstairs, he heard voices coming from behind a set of double doors to his left. One of the doors was propped open. Levi quietly approached and peered through. The lady he’d seen earlier was furiously murmuring at a man in a suit, presumably Lekivan. She spotted Levi and stopped talking.

Lekivan turned. He stood as straight as the lines on his suit, and looked down on Levi with all the force of an irate schoolmaster. His gravity softened as soon as Levi made eye contact with him, his frown dissolving and his shoulders slackening into an unthreatening pose. The transition was as quick as it was eerie.

Levi instantly recognized him as one of the men in the photograph upstairs.

“Levi, Soriah told me about your memory loss. Is it true you can’t remember anything from last night, nothing at all?” Lekivan asked. He had a slight accent which Levi couldn’t place, but it was definitely foreign.

“No. I can’t remember anything. Can you tell me where I am?” Levi was trying to be polite, but some of his frustration came out in his voice. He walked through the doorway. They appeared to be a large dining room with windows lining both sides of the room. Levi could see an orchard to the left and an ornamental garden to the right. Soriah looked uncomfortable and moved around to the other side of the table, as if she was frightened of what Levi might do.

“What was the last thing you remember?” Lekivan replied. Levi’s nostrils flared. He didn’t like the fact his questions weren’t being answered.

“I was at home, by myself. It was about 7PM. So how did I get here?”

“Levi, please, there’s no need to be hostile,” Lekivan said, haughtily. “You have to understand that the conversation we’re about to have is going to be difficult for us both, and myself and Soriah will have to go through it now for a second time. Let’s all just relax, sit down, and talk this through.”

Levi bit back the urge to say that was all he’d been asking for, and did as Lekivan asked.

“Levi, I came to your home quite late last night. You see, we’re your mother’s family. Lekivan is your grandfather, I’m your aunt.” Soriah paused, waiting for Levi’s reaction. He remained impassive. After the photograph, this was hardly a shocker. Besides, something still didn’t feel quite right.

TBAM – Chapter 2: E

Read the rest of the novel here. Sorry about the week break, I was moving!

In the end, Levi was not given the option of opening the door. The stranger opened it for him.

She wasn’t one of the people in the photograph. She looked like she could be in her late forties, but was possibly older under the subtle make-up. Her blonde hair was streaked with grey and pulled back into a tight bun. Levi noticed that her clothes were somewhat formal and unusual. Her grey, asymmetrical dress was made of a stiff material and had long sleeves. She was carrying some clothes with her.

“Good morning, Levi! How are you feeling?” Her smile was very unthreatening, but Levi stepped back. He was almost tempted to just go along with what was happening, but he knew he wouldn’t be convincing.

“I’m sorry, do I… do I know you?” he asked, nervously. Her smile disappeared so quickly Levi wondered whether he’d insulted her. “I’m really sorry, I don’t seem to remember how I got here,” he added, hastily.

“You don’t remember?” The lady blinked. Levi could practically see thoughts running around in her mind. “That’s… that’s unfortunate.”

“Unfortunate?” There was a pause.

“You hit your head,” she said, suddenly. “You fell. When you got here. So we took you upstairs, to rest. That’s probably why you can’t remember. Oh dear.” She took a step forward. Then a step back. Then she sighed. “We’re going to have to explain everything again. I should tell Lekivan. You… You try on some of these clothes. You’ll need to change after sleeping. I’ll talk to Lekivan and then you can meet us in the dining room.”

She dropped the clothes on the desk and rushed out before Levi could ask her where the dining room was.