‘Last Sip’ – Sunday Photo Fiction

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‘Do you want to see him, love?’ said the nurse.
‘No,’ I replied as ‘he’ had gone. But the others took turns to say their final goodbyes, blowing noses and weeping softly as they left his room.
Later the undertakers arrived, did what they had to do and removed the body. I peeped through the curtains then and the drizzle obscuring the windows and glimpsed the coffin, the overworked windscreen wipers and the lowered heads. I then heard the crunch of gravel as the long black car transported my father’s body away from the home he’d loved.
Afterwards I crept upstairs into his empty room where I spotted his spectacles, open in his Bible at the page he was reading and his glass, three-quarters full of the water he was sipping up until 5 pm yesterday after which time he could drink no more.

This post was written for Sunday Photo Fiction

‘The Three Wise Men’ – Sunday Photo Fiction

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I call them the three wise men. There are more of them obviously, but if I stand in a particular place; on the corner of Bessie Road and Gleneagle Avenue, in between the ‘s’ and the ‘F’ on the sign, ‘Gladstone’s Fish Shop.’ I can see them and only them. The lights are a mere five minute walk from my flat and even though I know the way, they guide me somehow, making sure I get home safely, and when I’m coming home at night after a hard day’s work, or a hard evening’s drinking, I gaze up at them looking for the answers they always provide.

‘Keep going,’ they tell me. ‘Don’t ever give up.’

And on particularly bleak nights like this one, when life seems pointless and all sense of purpose gone, they bore into me, deeper and deeper, blindly persisting until they connect with my soul. It’s this that enables me to go home lighter and slightly less despondent. It’s they that keep me alive – my three wise men.

This post was written for Sunday Photo Fiction

‘Sunday Photo Fiction’ – ‘Chemistry doesn’t like you’

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To this day, I recall the smell of methane, the vicious blue flame and the ice cold feel of brass. Even when the Bunsen Burners weren’t being used, I’d sense their presence, positioned strategically in the centre of the high wooden tables like soldiers ready to attack.

I hated chemistry. The Mr Bean-type teacher, Mr Tansley wore a melange of browns and purples under his lab coat; this was the 80s after all, yet he somehow always looked dour; miserable and afraid of the world he intended us to discover through various experiments and calculations. Yet despite my aversion both to him and the subject, I pitied him for he was hated by teachers and pupils alike, bullied and tormented by both. I often wondered why he’d chosen such a job.

It was a sad, old lesson for me, a big black hole in my middle school timetable; the misery reinforced only by one hastily scribbled comment in my school report. ‘You don’t like chemistry and chemistry doesn’t like you.

This post was written for Sunday Photo Fiction

Sunday Photo Fiction – ‘The old is not their truth’

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Greta released a sigh of pleasure as she entered Periwinkle Square. It was truly immaculate with its identical mansions, leaf-free entrances and matching rose beds. Greta passed through it every day on the way to her job in Victoria. Although she took a slight detour to do so, this was of no hindrance as it enabled her to start work with a clear head. Perfection did this for Greta. The sight of the higgledy-piggledy mishmash of dire winter clothes that the majority of London commuters insisted on wearing on the preceding tube journey was nothing but a painful abhorrence to Greta, something that needed to be obliterated.

Today, however was different. At first glance the square looked the same, but as Greta ambled through, she noticed something awful. One of the marble pillars outside Number 7 had been damaged.

‘What on earth happened here?’ Greta said to herself and without another thought, removed her gloves and attempted to lift the broken piece which was lying by the pillar.

‘Oi, lady. What are you doing?’

Greta looked up to see a surly workman running up to her with an axe. ‘The new owners said to destroy it. Russians, I think. Don’t like old things.’

‘But it will spoil the square. Everything needs to look the same!’

‘Beauty is truth,’ said the workman. ‘Some poet said that once. These people live here now – the old is not their truth.’

Greta stared at him, amazed he knew anything about poetry but she realised there was nothing she could do so she walked back the way she’d come and resolved to find a different perfect square the next day.

This post was written for Sunday Photo Fiction

Sunday Photo Fiction – Symmetry is a sign of beauty

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           They’d been arguing since well before Jamie got sick, and after that things only got worse. Fights broke out over everything – who would take him to hospital, when he should take his pills and how much they should tell him about what was going on.

           It had been Amy’s idea to make the cake. ‘I can make anything from flour and sugar,’ she’d boldly declared. Jamie’s birthday was on Halloween and he’d always loved everything about it; the tricks, the treats, the craziness. This year, however was different.

           Her husband took a step back and fixed his eyes on her latest creation. ‘The eyes are too close together and the scar below his chin, well, it’s just not symmetrical.’

           ‘It’s not supposed to be. Symmetry is a sign of beauty and Halloween is not a time for beauty.’

           ‘Hmm. And don’t you think it’s just a little too green?’

           Amy opened her mouth to reply and then the kitchen door opened.

           ‘Mum it’s perfect, said Jamie.

           Amy looked up; her son’s wan face was infused with happiness. She turned to Simon and for the first time since Jamie’s diagnosis she saw him smile.

This post was written for Sunday Photo Fiction

(Great prompt, thanks!)

Sunday Photo Fiction – ‘No birds came’

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Rosanna’s feeder hung stationary against a marshy grey sky but no birds came. The neighbouring garden; however, separated by a red cedar fence attracted all manner of birds. Swooping from great heights to land on a bird table in the centre, blackbirds, robins and even the odd green parrot would jostle for position as they pecked, squawked and nibbled their way through countless supplies of bird feed.

Rosanna watched the scene with sadness, wondering why the birds remained absent from her side. It seemed so unfair. Her neighbours were a couple with three lively kids and a dog while she was old and alone. She’d imagined the birds would be company of sorts, but perhaps it was her loneliness that put them off somehow. Nevertheless, every week she would empty and refill the feeder with seeds, in the hope that the birds might eventually have a change of heart.

One day, Rosanna heard a little whimper coming from the back of the garden so she ambled down to have a look. There, snuggled together on an old sweatshirt of her husband’s was a tabby cat and five black kittens, each mottled with white. When they saw Rosanna, they lifted their little heads and mewed in harmony. Rosanna laughed and gathered them up in her apron. And from that day she never felt lonely again.

This post was written for Sunday Photo Fiction

Sunday Photo Fiction – ‘Different genre, different shelf’

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He was an avid reader so they showed him their library. He should be safe in there, they said. But the shelf of books was anathema to Oliver; a haphazard mess of colour, size and genre.

His eyes ran along the titles on the spines. ‘Bird Photography,’ The Forge of God,’ ‘Cydonna…’

‘Not even in alphabetical order,’ he mumbled under his breath and his fingers twitched as he considered how to rearrange the books. As he did so, pinpricks of sweat began to appear on his forehead and his heart rate increased. He relaxed a little when he noticed that a novel by a man called Heinlein had been plonked next to a James Herbert but sighed loudly upon the realisation that a bunch of photography books were on the same shelf.

‘Different genre, different shelf,’ he muttered and began to chant it like a mantra as he emptied the shelves and placed the books in piles on the floor. He was soon so engrossed in the activity that he didn’t see his sister come in.

‘What on earth are you doing, Oliver?’

He glared at her. ‘Just arranging the books.’

She nodded and smiled then quietly closed the door.

‘The OCD,’ she whispered to her husband. ‘It’s worse than we thought.’

This post was for Sunday Photo Fiction