A Night on the Town

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Abject horror? Or rapture?

She snipped away at a few errant strands and removed her tool belt. The face reflected in the mirror beamed its appreciation. Done for the day!

A half hour later, she showered and slipped into a beautiful white sheath. A spritz of her favourite perfume and she was ready.

Shoes! Where were they? She found the perfect pair waiting for her.

Red. Her favourite. He never forgot. He had crafted them especially for her, in the little workshop below her salon. She carried the box out to the hallway.

He was waiting for her, dressed in a tailored suit.

The room lit up with a sudden radiance.

His assistant looked at the lovely vision in white and hurried to help her try them on.

They were perfect.

They walked away, she leaning on his arm, leaving their ordinary lives behind for a blissful evening.

Sheer rapture!

[150 words]

Written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers Challenge  hosted by Priceless Joy.

Thank you, PJ! Thank you for the beautiful photograph, Yinglan!

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Bad Writer

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This spot, they said. You’ll find your muse, just go there and thoughts shall flow. You shall be able to write again, they said.

I can barely read what I’ve written.

Little toy boats all in a row. Blue and white are the predominant colours. You can’t see it but the table cloth at this café is blue and white as well. The plates, you guessed right, blue and white.’

Backspace.

The waitress hovers and I get the feeling that she’s reading over my shoulder. I minimize the screen, waiting for her to leave. She scuttles off to another table.

The row of little yachts, perfection. The skyline of the city, etched across the sky, just so. Hard to believe that chaos can exist in such perfection.’

Delete.

I slam the laptop shut and order lunch. The food’s worth the trip, I decide.

And oh, they; they were so wrong.

[150 words]

Written for What Pegman Saw, a weekly flash fiction prompt inspired by google maps. This week Pegman takes us to Melbourne, Australia. The photograph is of St. Kilda Pier, Melbourne, Australia.  © Paul Huang Google Maps

 

Up with the Lark!

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It’s over. I shall not sacrifice my Sunday morning sleep for you, any more. Don’t pretend you don’t understand. I pedaled, pushed, wheeled and cycled this morning, allowing you to hoodwink me into trying out ‘the fresh air of the early morn, the incessant chirps of birds and the gentle breeze that whispers in the ear’. NO! Shut up! Stop right there! Beautiful morn, indeed! Arrrrgh! Your infuriating enthusiasm! The birds had never been more annoying and as for the breeze, it howled in my ears. What was I doing out there, cycling like a fitness freak when I could’ve been as snug as a bug in my heavenly rug? All that maniacal activity made me quiver, tremble, spasm; not in a nice way, for your information, so wipe that disgusting smirk off your face. I can feel the presence of ghost muscles that shouldn’t have been conjured up in the first place. Don’t dare smile! What? No, I’m not smiling. That is a wince, as I try to reach for a sandwich. No, I don’t want to get fit. I am fit enough, you @#$%^$#! No hugs! Be gone, demon! Away! Now, allow me to stuff my face in peace.

[200 words]

Written for Sunday Photo Fiction hosted by Susan Spaulding. The photograph is by the wonderful C E Ayr. Thank you!

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Last Light

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Within a wall, is a maze of walls that mirrors other walls that collapse together into picture perfect houses. The swarm descends, blazing lights and honking, parking their little toy cars in the driveway. Facing their colossal television screens, tuned to the NEWS, they sit down to dinner at the dining table, a perfect walnut veneer, and shovel down forkful after forkful of salad, meat and potatoes and chew and chew till they can chew no more. They stare and stare till they can look no more; shuffle upstairs, toss and turn, till dreams overcome them in the yawning darkness.

[100 words]

Written for Friday Fictioneers prompt hosted by Rochelle. Thank you!

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

 

Muted

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Has anybody seen this place? I ask all and sundry. All I remember is how sunlight dances off the walls that change colour with every passing minute. The evening draws on as I make my way uphill, leaving the car far behind, to its inevitable fate. Everything ultimately boils down to this. The path widens into a square and I sit on the steps of a building waiting for it to come to life. Not a soul in sight. What do I expect? Raucous laughter? Chatter? The din of everyday life? Silence reverberates without, while thoughts ricochet within. It is still as still as a photograph. I’m in the frame, looking on, there, but not really. I get up to leave. I don’t know what I’m looking for. All I have is a photograph in my hand, memories that I can’t trust anymore, and a hollow where my heart once was.

[151 words]

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Thank you, Priceless Joy, for hosting the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers weekly challenge.

Behind doors

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I’m going to get out of here.

Some day.

I’m working on it.

Spurred by the voices in conflict next door, I look at the ads in the paper.

Not now.

Maybe, not ever.

I butter my stale bread while I look at the television screen that has random colourful lines dancing onscreen.

Green/Red/Blue/ and yellow.

Not necessarily in that order.

I can’t taste the butter, or the bread.

I long for the fish that’s frying next door.

How do I know?

Look at the photograph.

It’s all about diffusion. Molecular movement.

Where else can I put my education to good use?

The couple next door are certainly not on their honeymoon, the pots and pans being hurled into the sink with unnecessary force.

Maybe projecting necessary mass into acceleration, anything to prevent a breakdown.

I sit at my desk that wobbles, on a chair that creaks, balancing my cheque book, a miracle that I even have one, considering that a minimum balance is required.

Scouring my account cleaner than the brand new detergent that promises miracles, getting by is getting harder.

Keeping body and soul together, hiding from prying eyes, behind a locked door.

It’s going to happen.

Sometime.

[200 words]

Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction, hosted by Al Forbes. Thank you Al! The photo prompt is by J Hardy Carroll.

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Myself, caretaker.

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Who you?

Wait there woenly.

You who?

You wanting admission for your childrens?

Nice boys. Twins woenly, no? What your names?

Tom and Jerry? No?

Ajay and Vijay? Verry nice!

Commeere, don’t hide Mummy’s backside.

I have chocolate for you.

Here, take.

No? Very shy no, Medam?

Office? Sorry, office is close till next week Monday.

Myself? Rawbett. Security.

Thees flaarz? Mys. I looks after thees flaarz.

I waters them everyday morning and everyday evening.

working full time.

This play moan?

Very good Medam. First class! A-one!

Children getting out of out marks.

Means full marks woenly.

Rimes learning top class- Ajay Veejay- you tell- Baa Baa Black ship avooenyvulll?

Counting numbers – wontoootreefoe…

You likes? See Childrens laughing off, nicely.

Come see my flaarz.

You want picture Medam?

Wait I getting chair.

No problem Medam, small childrens chair

For big mans also fits.

I sitting.

Wokay  me ready.

What? say ‘cheese’ Wokay! Chisss!

Good bye Medam. Bye, Bye Ajay Veejay! Ok Tata! Bye!

Best of Good Luck!

Ave a nice day!

God Bless YOUUUU!

[174 Words]

Thank you PJ for hosting the wonderful FFfAW challenge. Thank you Shivamt25 for the photo prompt.

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Woes of Sympathy

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I go about the business of my life, shunned by those who hold their head high. Yes, the Proud. They don’t need me. Despite their dwindling numbers, they are still a reproach to Society. I’ve come a long way trying to help them find solace.

Solace, indeed.

Let me tell you how I tried. I touched Poverty, trying to obliterate her, she, who shivered in my presence while she cast her baleful eye on me. I held her close, too close for comfort, for long years, when the sun hid behind layers of frozen clouds. It was then that I became synonymous with the Poverty of the Spirit, who stalks among the living, touching those who cannot see beyond the confines of their cloistered lives.

I have been striving to be visible.

My presence struggles to be felt.

Have you ever been the victim of your circumstances? At least, perceived as one? That will be the shield that you need, for behind that, you can see me for what I am. I preen. I primp. And my twisted heart gladdens at the sight of your abject misery. I get a chance to show how noble I am, at your expense. I make people feel oh, so glad at their exalted circumstances. I make them feel gratified, important and eventually immensely magnanimous, at being able to help. I am condescending in all my concern, feigned or otherwise.

The truly Proud see me for what I am and walk away. They never look back preferring to shiver in their little hovels, living on air and water till their very eyes shine with an ethereal gleam only Death can recognize.

Their hunger becomes a light that consumes their being.

Have you ever been slapped hard in the face? Have you felt the shock reverberating along your jaw, angry tears, obliterating your vision. This is their expression when I approach them. I ignore that. I try to comfort with honeyed words that sound hollow, even to my ears, while I say all the right things.

They look at me and away, dismissing me in one look that deems me insignificant.

I try doggedly. I am spurned like the cur that I am.

I walk away in pretended disdain, angry, for I did extend a helping hand. I did try to uplift the downtrodden. I did try to be good. I think to myself, I’ve been lucky, truly blessed, oh please won’t you allow me to help you? Why don’t you accept my help?

Their eyes declare- Help? Never could stand the stuff. Distasteful. We cringe at your kind looks cast our way. Never could tolerate kindness. Especially when all we have left is our pride.

All I did was try to help.

Don’t, for all that we have left, is our pride.

Sympathy

Head above Water

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I’ve always wanted the best view from my window.

This. Cascading water. The bustle that I could ignore. The peace.

An address that read- 24/7, Head above Water Retreat, Off the Road…

It was either this or the meds. Did I really have a choice?

I was asked where I would feel good.

It was either the mountains or water.

I loved the suspended animation the mountains could give me. But the gurgle of water soothed me.

Lofty mountains and all the chance of elevated escape, or drowning in the depths of inviting water?

I could not choose.

This little retreat that bridged the canal, perched rather precariously over the river, came into view just around the corner of the leafy lane.

To Let.

I figured out a way to get there.

Now the river sighs and gurgles under me and I am perched at a height, away from it all.

Blessed peace.

The water gushes under my haven and, with renewed energy, I marvel at the magnificent torrent that surges ahead.

The ducks paddle their placid way, pleasantly surprised by the bread I toss at them, accepting this manna from heaven.

Well, I am in Heaven.

[196 Words]

Thank you, Al, for hosting the Sunday Photo Fiction. Such a lovely platform to share stories on. Thank you, A Mixed bag for the intriguing photograph.

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The A-J Handbook of an Alienist.

A is for Alienist. Here comes the Alienist. Watch her as she dusts her framed diploma and gathers her tales of woe for the day. She walks the murky path of troubled souls and collects a few trophies along the way. Ah, this will add a glitter to the halo she has installed around her forehead, so she can be seen from outer space, even. A is for Abuse, that the Alienist deals with and reinforces.

The thing about abuse is that you get used to it. You accept it as part of your life. It becomes an inherent part of your soul. You set up yourself for it. You are conditioned by it. Active abuse shows itself on you, your bearing, your words and thoughts. You are a victim. You look like a victim and soon behave like one.

B is for broken. The Alienist thrives on the broken. She hunts them down. She’s developed special skills in identifying them. The broken inhabit the hidden nooks and corners when they don’t want to be seen and under extra hyperactive behaviour, when they feel the eyes of others devour them. Smiles moulded from plastic freeze on their faces and their eyes are sunk into hollow depths of despair. A murderous glint appears when you spy the espying Alienist. You are one among the truly broken.

C is for Coventry. Have you heard of this quaint old English term- Being sent to Coventry? A group of popular, active, privileged people, who have their bearings about them, vote to send an unsuitable member of their company to Coventry, for being different, having problems, and being the proverbial wet blanket. So nobody speaks to you, for you are in Coventry, you are shunned and ostracized. The Alienist thrives on Coventry. Coventry provides her with a major chunk of bread and butter she needs to put on the table. Many decades of research and psychological studies later, the Alienist states that this practice is cruel and detrimental to the individual, but does nothing about it in real life.

D is for desperation that sets in when you realize nobody is listening. Not even the Alienist, who is paid to do so. You muster the courage to speak to the officious Alienist who is as prejudiced as your peers and tries to convince you that what you are feeling is wrong. Any pedestrian healer of souls would know that the first step to healing is acceptance, both by the healer and the broken. But no, the Alienist is infallible in her opinion. Her veil of prejudice already exists, firmly attached in place.

E is for the eagerness with which the Alienist, in the avatar of the healer, is eager to point out that the world is nice and there are nice people out there. E is also for the eagerness you show in escaping to another zone unsullied by the presence of the formidable Alienist. E is also symbolic of the stupid grin you plaster on your face in case you get caught.

F is for the final futility of seeking help. The broken are now shattered to smithereens and come to the conclusion, that there is no point in speaking up. There really isn’t. Nobody wants to look at your point of view. The Alienist who has the world in the palm of her hands is quick to point out the other perspectives which have obviously escaped you. Now you’d rather amuse yourself banging your head against the wall and see the patterns that emerge.

G is for Good Lord. For God’s sake! There are many pleas for help, some strident, some barely audible, some masked under the veil of silence, smiles and even dignity. Dear Alienist, get off your high horse and lend an ear. You might be the reason for someone to want to continue to live. Don’t be the one to push someone off the narrow ledge they are barely walking on. It’s murder. Believe me it isn’t very much different.

H is for the delirious happiness dispensed by the Alienist. After a few sessions with her, things are better now, at least the pretence continues. For you realize things were better before she curled her tentacles around you and now you can’t extricate yourself anymore. You know you were happy when you were depressed and now you are desperate to get away, who cares about happiness? You could have created a happy world in your mind, instead of being driven up the wall!

I is for you, yes, the hidden, ignored, much-maligned I in you. If you are different, admit it to the Alienist, at least you stand a chance of being a specimen under someone else’s microscope, at least someone unlike her is going to spend time on you, serves you right, plucking your wings away from your body, removing your limbs systematically, cutting you open and poking into your entrails before formally validating your thoughts by giving them a collective noun and a prescription that makes you feel relieved and hopeful as you down your meds, day in and day out. At least you’re not judged any more for being the way you are.

J is for Jolly good show and it’s Just another day in the illustrious life and career of the Alienist. She pins you to the rest of her collection and her saga continues…another day another time, another place… Well, I’m sure you’ve had enough of her. Me too. Not going to Continue.

The way with words.