Little pieces of Morgen's fiction

Monthly Archives: November 2012

Good with his hands

It had been Mavis’ idea to shut early. “Too quiet,” she’d said, despite knowing there’d be a rush when the schools turned out. Today, I guessed, she couldn’t face children running around while their mothers tried on designer wear for a fraction of the price, and then tried to haggle.

“Maybe,” I’d said, hoping she’d change her mind, but she was as strong as her Yorkshire tea – decision made, job done.

So went down the blinds, “the blinkers to the world” she’d say, and that was it, afternoon off to do with as she wished.

Never time off, she’d make sure of that, but do chores that could have waited, nothing worth losing money over. I knew why she was doing it, the shop was no longer the haven she’d bought into, but one that had become mine. Without it I just had Mavis for company and… well, you can have too much of a good thing, as the saying goes.

I’d always been the practical one, said I’d help her with her ‘business-on-a-whim’, but a little goldmine as it turned out, even with mornings like this one.

I stood back as she locked up and tucked the keys into her bag… zipped it up as if it contained the crown jewels, then she took my arm and we walked home, stopping only to look in the charity shop’s window.

Awash with activity, a queue at the changing room, another at the till – all middle-aged women saving money to make their housekeeping go further – I wasn’t surprised at what happened next.

Mavis squeezed my arm and looked at the door. We’d been married for 40 years so I knew what was going through her mind; buy from the charity shop, sell in hers. Win, win.

I nodded. She released her hold on my arm and opened the door, striding over the threshold  a woman on a mission.

While I waited outside, I knew when I was surplus to requirement, my attention turned to the young man behind the counter; a gap-year student helping the British Red Cross instead of backpacking to more exotic locations. I never went to university, instead taking an apprenticeship at a local engineers… where I met Mavis, an assistant in the accounts department, good with figures while I’m good with my hands. So things would have been different if I’d gone to uni, maybe I’d have met someone else; a blonde instead of a brunette, with a willowy figure instead of petite and curvy, just like the lady now staring back at me.

***

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You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books (including my debut novel!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

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No faded circle of skin

It felt as if he was going nowhere, sitting at the bottom of the stairs waiting to go into the boss’ office. Why old Tom Butcher didn’t have seats outside no-one knew, asked, or at least had explained to Shaun.

He looked up as Tracey from Accounts opened the door and burst into tears. Shaun reached into his trouser pocket to retrieve a tissue but then remembered he’d given it to the receptionist, whose name he could never remember, when she’d spilled her tea while he’d been clocking in that morning. He thought she was Russian; Ivana, Ivanka, or something equally exotic. She looked the part too; firm hands gripping the telephone and transferring calls vigorously as others flooded in. The two women couldn’t be more different and it was the weaker one who stood in front of him now. She looked left then right, as if unsure where to go – one direction for her desk, the other the exit.

“I have a daughter,” Tracey sobbed as Shaun got to his feet.

“You do?” he said, not realising that she was even married. She nodded then wiped away a tear, long enough to see there was no ring, no faded circle of skin that implied there’d been one once.

“Tom’s not just fired you, has he?” he asked a little too eagerly, not knowing why he’d been called there.

Tracey shook her head.

“So it’s not that bad.” Shaun replied, trying to look cheerful.

“Redundant,” she whispered.

“Oh dear. I’m sorry… but you’ll get some money?”

“Not much. I’m only part-time.”

Working in Research and Development, Shaun didn’t have much to do with the Accounts Department, but she’d always been there whenever he’d visited. A stroke of luck, he thought, but then suspected that his luck was about to change.

“Can I help?” he asked, not sure what else to say.

Tracey shook her head then plodded towards her office, Shaun watching her as she looked down at her feet as if she’d forgotten how to put one in front of the other.

Assuming no-one else was in Tom’s office, Shaun was about knock when he heard Tom speak.

“Come!” he bellowed, and Shaun took a deep breath as he opened the door.

***

** NEW!! You can now subscribe to the mixed blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!

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You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books (including my debut novel!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.


Home visit

He’d go every Sunday morning regular as the old clock on the mantelpiece until it stopped, so he stopped. It wasn’t that Bert had anything better to do, but the allotment had been Vera’s passion, not his. He’d kept it going for her, even three years after her death, until the weeds started taking over, beating his arthritis into submission.  He knew someone on the Committee would say something to him eventually, send a letter maybe or a home visit, be a guest in a house that kept him prisoner except for the weekly shop.

“Nice morning, Bert,” Frankie would say to him as he tended to his runner beans, even if it wasn’t particularly nice. Frankie was like that – glass half-full. Bert wasn’t to know that with Frankie’s stepson Jamie at home, Sunday mornings were his only escape, when Rita took the lad to church, an endeavour for the straight and narrow.

Vera used to sit across the aisle from Rita and they’d smile as the collection went round, or when they took the bread and wine – the body and soul that in some were more lacking than others. Sometimes Rita would leave first, sometimes Vera, but neither spoke to anyone other than the vicar – Rita’s son usually being the topic of her conversation and prayers for a miracle they all knew would likely never come.

Bert looked up as the doorbell went. Muting the television, he groaned to his feed and plodded into the hall. A tall willowy figure loomed through the frost glass so Bert put on the security chain and opened the door a fraction.

“Yes? Can I help you?”

“I’m here to help you, mate,” the voice said.

“Thank you but I don’t need…”

“Name’s Jamie. Been told there’s a few weeds up at your allotment that need sortin’ out.”

***

** NEW!! You can now subscribe to the mixed blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!

See http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B008E88JN0

or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E88JN0 for outside the UK **

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books (including my debut novel!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.


Sticky red hands

It was only the child screaming that Frank saw as he turned into Beckett Close. Slamming on the brakes of his Ford Fiesta, he missed the child by inches.

Bolting the gear tick into neutral he swung open the door and ran towards the child. It was then he noticed the pool of blood on the ground, its shade matching with her sticky red hands.

She held them up to him as his own daughter had done many years previously only she’d done it to prove she’d washed them. The little girl in front of him now would likely never feel clean again.

Looking back down at the ground Frank had expected to see some evidence of where the blood had come from – the child’s clothing was too white, innocent, for it to have been hers.

Crouching down, his face drew level with hers. He recognised her eyes – the same shade as his daughter’s, behind eyelashes as long.

These eyes pleaded with him to help her, to find what was missing.

Frank knew how that felt.

***

** NEW!! You can now subscribe to the mixed blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!

See http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B008E88JN0

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You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books (including my debut novel!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.


Biological is all it is

He says it was planted but you know better. Jack’s always been like that; a thief, a liar, a father to your child. Not a daddy. Biological is all it is but when he provides a roof over your heads you can’t say much.

You hold out the tea towel and he lays the dagger on it. Reverently as if it were a baby. Shows more respect to it than his own. Holly. The rosy pink cheeks nestled over rosy pink sheets. You worry sometimes that she’s too hot, too cold, but she’s strong, stronger than you sometimes, and it scares you. Everything does these days.

You’re not scared of him but the men he hangs around with. You’ve seen the looks they give Holly when they visit in the day. No jobs, you don’t suppose they’ve ever had them. “They make do,” he says. Making do like he does, but it’s never quite enough. You don’t like asking for money but you know it’s getting to that. Break the silence of the past year. Let your parents know that you’re alright. Some arguments you can’t get over and time doesn’t heal in this case. It hurts, pulls apart, wounds… like a dagger. Like the dagger now nestled in the discount store’s blue and white check cotton. Buy one get one free, as most things are. The twins were until Thomas died just hours old… Jack never forgiving you for something beyond your control.

You spot a fleck on the blade and recoil, letting it drop to the floor.

Cloth and blade bounce and the dagger hits the tiles he hits you for being so stupid.

You don’t recoil from that, you’re used to it, like the silence at night when he doesn’t bother to come home. You wish he’d stay away. You wish that one night you’d be brave enough to flee but you don’t know if the other welcome would be any warmer.

“I’m going out,” he announces as you go to pick the dagger and cloth off the floor.

You say nothing, just nod and smile the Geisha smile that hides beneath layers of make-up hiding the bruises.

As the front door slams, Holly starts crying and you feel like doing the same only you know the well is empty, a long-time drained.

You pull two plastic bags from a green cotton holder, wrap the dagger carefully in one, then inside the cloth which you place into the second bag.

Going upstairs you look in on Holly who has since gone quiet, though not asleep.

Pulling a suitcase from the top of the wardrobe you start packing; half Holly’s, half yours, clothes barely big enough for her, yours that now drown you – the dagger the beneath layers. You add a blanket, toy giraffe, then you pick up the phone and dial.

The taxi arrives quickly and you shut the front door, posting your keys through the letterbox.

The driver helps you strap Holly onto the back seat, next to you, then asks for the address as he shuts his door. You remain silent. When he asks you again, you take a deep breath and he starts to drive.

***

** NEW!! You can now subscribe to the mixed blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!

See http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B008E88JN0

or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E88JN0 for outside the UK **

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books (including my debut novel!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.


Yes, Mildred

“Why are you laughing?”

“It’s the vicar, he’s out jogging again.”

“And that’s funny how?”

“His face… like a beetroot. Well, not quite, more red than purple.”

“Come away from the window, he’ll see the curtains moving.”

“In a… Oh no!”

“What?”

“He’s clutching his chest! Norman, go out there and do something!”

“Like what? I’m not a…”

“Call for an ambulance then!”

“While you do what?”

“Norman!”

“Alright woman. Keep your…”

“It’s OK. He wasn’t clutching his chest, he was just reaching for his mobile. That’s a funny place to…”

“So I don’t need to call for an ambulance then.”

“No, Norman.”

“That’s a shame.”

“Why?”

“Some of the paramedics you see on TV are quite… ”

“He’s dropped to his knees! Why would he do that?”

“Do you want the ambulance now?”

“I don’t know.”

“Is he just kneeling or rolling around on the floor?”

“Kneeling.”

“And his face?”

“Still red.”

“Maybe one of us should…”

“Oh no, it’s alright. He’s patting the ground.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know.”

“Maybe it’s a religious thing.”

“What?”

“You know… thanking God for the earth.”

“Norman, sometimes you’re… It’s OK. Looks like it was just a contact lens. He’s holding it up like an Oscar. He’d make a good actor. Very dramatic.”

“Yes, Mildred.”

***

** NEW!! You can now subscribe to the mixed blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!

See http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B008E88JN0

or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E88JN0 for outside the UK **

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books (including my debut novel!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.


A goatie to go with it

No, stop crying. He’s not worth it.

This bench is so cold… come on bus.

How could he change so quickly? How can a heart go from rich to… well, heartless.

“You’ll find someone else,” he said, and I know I will but I want him, despite…

Cute dog, pity about its tail. I thought that was illegal these days. They’re supposed to make you feel better, aren’t they? Dogs. Man’s best friend, and all that.

Simon could do with one. A wagging tail… stump in this case… would melt even his dark heart, wouldn’t it?

“Good boy, Tyson?” Silly name for a dog but then it does look at a bit like a…

Simon’s not a good boy… man. Nothing manly about him, not anymore. I even had to go to his house.

“Told you face-to face, didn’t I?” he said, as if that made it better, but he’s the one with the car.

At least it’s not raining. Didn’t bring an umbrella because Simon usually takes me home. Took. Won’t happen again. Good. His car stank.

Wind’s picking up, rattling the plastic sides of the bus shelter. Someone’s drawn all over the bikini-clad model so she looks like Hitler. Like Simon, except she’s blonde-haired and he’s brown. Should have known but never been out with anyone with a ’tash before. Won’t again, that’s for sure. Wasn’t much of a ’tash either, like a pubescent kid trying to look ‘hard’.

Someone says “hello” so I look up. He’s got a ’tash but it has a goatie to go with it. Cute.

I budge up so he can sit down and he says “thanks”.

I go red. Don’t know why. I never go red.

He laughs which makes me laugh. My dad would have said it was a good sign.

He holds out his hand… the cutie, not my dad, and tells me his name: Simon.

Can’t be unlucky twice, right?

***

** NEW!! You can now subscribe to the mixed blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!

See http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B008E88JN0

or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E88JN0 for outside the UK **

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books (including my debut novel!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.



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