‘Henry’s Garden’ – FLASH FICTION FOR THE PURPOSEFUL PRACTITIONER: WEEK #24 – 2016

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The first one was a surprise. The second too. The third produced a snigger. The fourth a chortle. The tenth, a flinging down of the spade.
‘Whatever’s the matter, Henry?’ said Beatrice as she rushed into the garden.
‘It’s these bones. They’re flipping everywhere.’
Beatrice looked at the ever-increasing pile. ‘I see what you mean.’
‘Any idea what they might be?’
She picked one up and rubbed the smooth surface with her fingers as though it were a genie’s lamp. ‘Ostriches.’
‘And how did ostriches end up buried in a Scottish garden?’
‘I’m sure there’s a logical explanation, dear.’
Henry remembered the odd comment made by the estate agent when they purchased the house.
‘You won’t be able to plant anything there, sir.’
Poppy-cock, thought Henry, but he suddenly realised that the previous owner must have owned an ostrich sanctuary and buried each dead bird in the garden.
There was no choice. He’d just have to keep digging until he’d got rid of the whole damn lot!
And so he continued while Beatrice went to stay in a hotel ‘until he came to his senses.’
He never did and six months later was admitted to a mental asylum, where he was often heard counting. 1,567, 1,568, 1569…

Written for Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner: Week #24– 2016

‘That was the day’ – FFfAW (69th challenge)

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This week’s photo prompt is provided by phylor.

         They’d been cooped up inside the hotel all day so when the rain finally stopped, both were desperate to escape; Dana to soak up the sights of this fabulous city and Jack to send yet another text message.
After a few minutes of ambling, the pair came across a park, its trees and shrubs glistening from the earlier rainstorm.
‘Wow, Jack. Look!’ cried Dana as she spotted an exquisite cherubic statue shining in the dazzle of the late afternoon sun. The armless child was gazing heavenward, a beatific smile etched on the poor mite’s face.
‘Who on earth could have done this?’ murmured Dana as she spotted the arms lying nearby.  She picked one up and slipped on a string of brightly coloured beads that she’d bought at a flea market earlier in the week.
‘That’s better,’ she said and took a step back to admire her handiwork.
‘Sentimental old fool,’ muttered Jack, who’d been pinging text message after text message while puffing petulantly on a rolled up cigarette.
Dana stared at him. He’d barely said a word all holiday so how dare he make fun of her now. She opened her mouth to say so but before she could, a pigeon swooped down and landed on his head. But Jack was so absorbed in texting that he didn’t even notice.
‘Jack,’ said Dana. ‘Jack.’
But Jack carried on texting and when he eventually raised his head and said, ‘what?’                                                                                                                                                            Dana quietly replied, ‘It doesn’t matter.’
So that was the day that Jack wandered obliviously around Paris with pigeon poo all over his head and that was the day that Dana finally decided to leave him.

This post was written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Sunday Photo Fiction – ‘The Return’

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Heidi remembers this place from her childhood. She remembers the brisk walks her parents insisted they went on after church and the cheery, school-related talks her sullen teenager self was forced to endure as they bounded over fences and pushed their way through creaky kissing gates; She remembers the eggs they stole from the field near the farm. Left by wayward hens, according to her father, and so they were entitled. And the scrambled egg they’d make afterwards with the yolks as bright and yellow as the sun.

She remembers thinking how mind numbingly dull this place was. How the silence made her want to scream and scream until the ancient oak trees screamed back at her. She couldn’t wait to leave this place. Rushed off to uni as soon as she turned 18, fell into marriage before she was 30 and became an eminent lawyer by the time she was 40.

Now as Heidi strolls through the verdant Yorkshire countryside in her Hunter wellies and Barbour jacket, she breathes in the blissful peace, punctuated only by the chirp of a bird and bark of a distant dog, and feels sad that she hadn’t visited her dad more often.

He died alone, said the doctor. Was found slumped in a chair with Scottie by his side. Heidi cries when she thinks of this; but then she sees Scottie racing towards her, stick in mouth ready for her to throw it once more and she smiles.

This post was written for Sunday Photo Fiction

Sunday Photo Fiction – ‘One for the road’

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         The journey was tedious. Six long hours on an endless motorway and Reg refused to stop. Not even for the toilet! He’d just done a course on mindfulness and stubbornly believed that the only way to commit to an activity was to focus on it completely without straying for a moment, even for something as essential as a loo break.

But then he saw the writing. It was hard not to really. ‘The Pies’ was bold and brazen and scrawled on the bridge overhead. Reg speeded up slightly when we went underneath and his face changed.

‘What time is it?’ he said.

‘1.30.’ I didn’t need to look at my watch.

‘Hmm,’ he replied and kept on driving, but when he saw the next ‘Services’ sign, he indicated left.

‘I thought we were’t taking a break,’ I said.

‘Just a short one.’ His face was deadpan. ‘I’m rather peckish, aren’t you?’

I nodded, quietly delighted.

I picked up a sandwich in Costa, then watched in amazement as Reg strode over to a pasty shop where he stuffed a steak and kidney pie into his mouth.

‘I’d forgotten how much I loved them,’ he said between mouthfuls. Then he ordered another.

‘One for the road,’ he said.

This post was written for Sunday Photo Fiction

Sunday Photo Fiction – ‘Colour Therapy’

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‘Don’t think,’ said Ella. ‘Just choose. Follow your instincts.’

It was difficult. I’d always been a glass half full type of person yet the glasses which were half full contained liquids with colours that repelled me: a washed out, insipid sort of yellow; the kind of yellow your undies might turn should an errant grey sock creep into the load; a deep burgundy that smacked of cheap 70s suits and a washed out pink; the colour of flighty candy floss.

My favourite colour was cobalt blue and yet the glass with that shade of liquid was virtually empty. It’s such a shame I thought. That glass should be full.

‘You’re taking too long,’ said Ella. ‘I can see your mind working. Use your heart instead.’
I couldn’t decide so I closed my eyes, reached forward and grabbed the nearest glass to me.

‘Give it to me, dear.’ Ella’s voice was so kind and encouraging that I tentatively passed it over to her and opened my eyes. The glass I’d selected contained the yellow liquid.

‘Oh,’ I said, really disappointed.

‘It’s the sun glass,’ she said. ‘Good choice.’

And as soon as she said ‘sun,’ I saw something different in the yellow. I no longer saw washed out underwear but positivity, optimism and a glorious future, and when Ella started the reading, I knew that things were about to change for me.

This post was written for Sunday Photo Fiction

‘The things that daddies do’ – FLASH FICTION FOR THE PURPOSEFUL PRACTITIONER: WEEK #21 – 2016

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The opening sentence for the May 19th Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner: “This can’t be that hard.” Please use this sentence (or this thought) somewhere in your flash.

The Things that Daddies do

This can’t be that hard. Daddy plays the piano every morning and he says it’s easy. He zips his fingers along the keys creating the most beautiful songs and music, and people clap and sing along and tell him how wonderful he is and what a talent he has. He tells me that I must take after him as my fingers are as thin and lean as his, and that that’s a sure sign that I have the gift.

I started lessons last week. With an old lady called Mrs Bradford, who says ‘good, dear,’ ‘more slowly, dear,’ and stuff like that. She gave me a piece of chocolate cake afterwards and said I’d done well.

I want Daddy to teach me, but he says he can’t as he’s my dad and dads don’t do things like that. Dads do things like take their boys fishing and climbing. Only he doesn’t do those things either. I’m hoping that if I practise and get as good as he is, then he’ll do those things that he says that daddies do.

Written for Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner: Week #21– 2016

‘Moving mural’ – FFfAW (65th challenge)

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This week’s photo prompt is provided by S. Writings.

The festival tickets were 200 each. Car rental 300.                                                   ‘Only 100 each if we split it,’ said Anna.
‘I agree,’ said Jane. ‘Imagine how cool we’ll look, driving there in that!’
The car she had her eye on was a moving mural, covered with bright images of bridges, houses and exquisite birds, and two against one, I had to agree.
On the day of the festival, we donned trilbies, sunnies and maxi dresses and headed off, basking in the admiring comments that accompanied us there.
‘Funky car.’ ‘Cool motor.’ ‘Love your style!’
‘See, told you!’ said Jane. ‘It was well worth the money.’
We parked up and took out the tent, but two hours later when the sun had set and the bands were playing, we were still putting up the tent, while our previous admirers ambled past sniggering.
‘Not so cool now, are we?’ I said.

This post was written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

‘Man on the Cliff’ – FFfAW (64th challenge)

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This week’s photo prompt is provided by momtheobscure. 

Man on the Cliff

‘Mum, there’s a man on the cliff; a big man.’

‘Quiet, love. I’m reading.’

‘But there is. Look.’

Anna glanced upwards, squinting as the sun caught her eye. But all she could see was a cliff.

‘Go and play, Max. I just want to finish this chapter.’

So Max picked up his spade and wandered nearer to the water. He looked again. From this angle the man seemed scary, as if he was about to pounce on Max, grab him and hit him over and over. But when Max took a few steps into the sea, he could see the man’s face. Now he looked sad and fearful. Not scary at all.

When Max saw this he ran back to Anna. ‘When can I see Daddy?’

‘Soon.’ Anna put down her book and wrapped her arms around her son.

This post was written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

‘Inspiration’– #AtoZ Challenge

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I think that the less you write, the more you wonder where successful writers get their inspiration. I always figured they were just more imaginative and creative than me, until ideas started coming to me and then I realised that it wasn’t so difficult to be inspired if you were curious about the world and if you’d cultivated the habit of being creative.

There’s a fantastic Ted Talk by Ken Robinson called Changing Paradigms where he speaks about the way we are educated. When we are very young, we play and are therefore allowed to express our natural creativity, but this disappears the more educated we become and Robinson puts this down to the effects of standardisation.

I must admit I always hated school, and it was probably for this reason. It didn’t help that I was quiet and shy and therefore misunderstood by most teachers. I found it difficult to learn as part of a group and it was only once I’d left school that I slowly started to be inspired by the world around me and that was when creativity truly began for me. We are all naturally creative but it’s something that can’t be taken for granted. As we grow older, it tends to fade as ‘real life’ takes over and we end up operating in a default mode, which doesn’t allow for ‘out of the box’ thinking.

Last year I did a mindfulness course and one aspect of mindfulness is curiosity i.e showing an interest in life and what’s going on around you. This necessitates fully engaging with the present moment and in so doing, you become inspired as a tiny, seemingly innocuous moment can provide sufficient inspiration for a poem, short story or piece of flash fiction.

I strongly believe that if you nurture your creativity, inspiration will follow and I’d recommend the following:

1/ Read a short story or chapter of a novel
2/ Watch an indie film or short film
3/ Visit an photography or art exhibition
4/ Participate in flash fiction challenges, especially those with prompts or themes.

I’m sure that if you try these things, ideas and words will naturally arise.
The great thing about regularly nurturing your creativity is that it has a domino-like effect. The more you create, the more easily you’re able to do it. 😀

Sunday Photo Fiction -‘Cocooned in a festive bubble’

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On Christmas Day the rain came. There was no warning. Cocooned in our festive bubble, we didn’t realise till the evening when we looked out to find ourselves marooned. The oven was hurriedly switched off and the turkey shoved in the larder for a more suitable time. Firemen brought sandbags and words of advice but we slept badly that night and awoke the next morning to see the garden waterlogged and water gushing through the pipes surrounding the house.

We fished out dust covered wellies from the loft and trudged through the deepening water to seek help. The roads nearby were covered with puddles with huge Range Rovers steaming through them splashing any poor beggar in sight. We’d never seen Yorkshire like this. The water continued to rise until it was almost level with the front door. We looked in horror, but there was little anyone could do but hope, and pray, if that you were that way inclined. And then, as if by magic, the water subsided and kept on subsiding until the paving stones were visible again. The danger had gone and our house felt safe once more. It was time to eat the turkey.

This post was written for Sunday Photo Fiction