No More Flowers in the Window

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PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

He sat with his head in his hands marvelling at his own stupidity.

He’d allowed his ego to out-manoeuvre his common sense.  His inability to listen to his head had cost him dearly.

His so-called friends had egged him on and he hadn’t wanted to lose face.

It’d only taken two days for her to find out.

The pain in her eyes was the worst thing about it.

She’d asked why; he had no explanation.

He’d said sorry, but could hear how lame it sounded.

She’d packed her things and left.

There would be no more flowers in the window.

Word Count: 100

Written for Friday Fictioneers – a 100 words story based on a photo prompt. Hosted by Rochelle. Read the other entries here.

An Imperfect Wedding

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PHOTO PROMPT © Al Forbes

Reception over, we drove away tins clattering behind, smiling guests waving their good wishes.

It had been perfect.  All went exactly as planned.  Everyone had admired my slub-silk oyster and pearl dress.  The vintage car was immaculate, flowers beautiful, food delicious and the page-boys perfectly behaved.  It couldn’t have gone more smoothly.

 

We walked up the path to our new home.  He stopped at the front door and lifted me up to carry me over the threshold.

Oh God, I suppose he’ll expect to have sex tonight.

I shouldn’t be thinking like that on my wedding night…

It’ll be ok…

Word Count: 100

Written for Friday Fictioneers – a 100 words story based on a photo prompt. Hosted by Rochelle. Read the other entries here.

Hemmed In

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PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

My heart constricts, my breathing becomes rapid, shallow.  I try to compose myself, but feel the terror racing up inside, scrabbling, intent on suffocation.  Frantically, I seek an escape.  Each possible exit is treacherously narrow. 

Stay calm!  I mustn’t panic. 

I try to breathe slowly, deeply, but it makes me gag and heave violently.

Inwardly, I am screaming, clawing at the walls, desperate for freedom.

People look at me with curious expressions.  Some studiously ignore me.  Maybe the scream wasn’t just inside my head.

I have to get out of here.

Can’t someone help me?

DON’T THEY KNOW I’M CLAUSTROPHOBIC?

Word Count: 100

Written for Friday Fictioneers – a 100 words story based on a photo prompt. Hosted by Rochelle. Read the other entries here.

Chasing The Dragon Under The Bridge

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PHOTO PROMPT © C.E. Ayr

I know I’ll go. I wish I could resist, but know I can’t.

I glance at the clock, grab some notes from my purse. I head towards the door, then hesitate…

The urge is all-consuming. I race down and wait beneath the bridge trembling.

The silver Renault pulls up. Thank God he’s here.  The window slides down.

The exchange is quick, so quick most on-lookers wouldn’t notice it taking place.

Back in my flat, I prepare everything with trembling hands, sweating and anxious for the relief.

Again, I dither; Aaron would still be alive if only I had beaten this.

Word Count:100

Written for Friday Fictioneers – a 100 words story based on a photo prompt. Hosted by Rochelle. Read the other entries here.

Bodgett & Scarper

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© Sandra Crook

Shaking his head, Bill sucked in air; a typical response of many tradespeople.

“It’s tricky.  We’ll have to support the roof, while putting the pillar in.  Won’t be cheap, but it’ll work.”

For five days, Bill and his apprentice worked to support the ceiling.  Arriving late, finishing early, they didn’t think tea breaks of half an hour several times a day were unreasonable.

***

“IN KEEPING, I said!  It couldn’t look more out of place!  It might as well be painted sky blue pink with lime stripes!” yelled the furious café owner.

“It’ll be another £200 for a fancy paint job.”

Word Count: 100

Written for Friday Fictioneers – a 100 words story based on a photo prompt. Hosted by Rochelle. Read the other entries here.

A Personal and Positive Review of 2016

2007 onward had been a particularly grim period in my life.  2015 saw my financial situation ease by moving house and reducing my mortgage from colossal to manageable.  My quality of life had improved, but I had no idea how much better it would become in 2016.

Fulham finished the year eighth in the Championship with only two losses in the last ten matches (unlikely they will finish in the promotion zone, but I live in hope!) and I had my first holiday in ten years!  This has much to do with the man in my life.

We met at the end of March and by early April were spending a weekend in Derbyshire to attend a party.  The first week in June saw us enjoying a few days in rural France and in October, we ventured to Prague and Budapest.  Our Christmas present to each other is a holiday to Cyprus in February 2017.  Well, the new passport cost me enough; I’ve got to get value for money!

France was as wonderful as the last time I visited.  We spent the time watching wildlife, meandering through local markets, eating and drinking, which the French do so well.  My rusty, schoolgirl French was picking up by the end of the holiday; a necessity as the friends we stayed with spoke no English.  Unfortunately, I know it would take a lot longer than a week for it to improve more permanently.

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Having never visited the Czech Republic or Hungary before, I was excited beyond words!  Prague is a delightful city, with something to see round every corner.  We had a list of many things we wanted to see while we were there, some of which we did and others time defeated us.

We determined to eat traditional food and avoided the prolific burger joints and franchises.  Not an easy task; when arriving in Wenceslas Square we were confronted with everything from Starbucks to KFC!  However, we found a lovely traditional Czech restaurant and feasted on goulash and pig’s knuckle.  The buildings in the old town are magnificent and strolling across Charles Bridge, looking at the wares of the street artists is an enduring memory.

prague

Budapest, in comparison, was a little disappointing.  Where Prague is compact and filled with interesting sights, Budapest is widespread with signs of decay and poverty all around.  In order to see the jewels of the city, it is necessary to use local transport and actively seek them out.  I recommend the Terror Museum, an important record of Hungarian occupation by the Russians and Germans and the resulting revolution.  It is shocking to see the number of people tortured and killed during this time and the lifestyle survivors endured.

If you have never been in a ‘Ruin Pub’, it is a ‘must-see’.  They developed at the beginning of the twenty first century in buildings condemned for destruction.  The youth equipped them with rejected furniture and they became the centre of nightlife.  Each is unique, but vibrant.  We visited Szimpla Kert, which a friend had recommended and spent time marvelling at the ingenious items used in decoration.   A sure sign that no matter the situation, a way to enjoy life will overcome the obstacles.

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Two other consequences of the new relationship are that I have lost one and a half stones in weight and have created this blog site.  So far, I have only posted my 100 word offerings for Friday Fictioneers, but encouraged back into writing, I am attempting other short stories and have started a novel.  Whilst I am not at all happy with it so far, I am enjoying writing it.  I am treating it as a learning exercise.

I love the challenge of writing a story in 100 words for Friday Fictioneers every week and reading the other accounts the photo prompt has generated.  Some of my attempts, I re-read and cringe, but others I have been happier with.  Each week, I feel that I learn something and try to incorporate this in new pieces.  For me, for now, that is enough.  Who knows, I may be brave enough to enter a short story competition in 2017!  The immediate goal for this year is to lose some more weight to avoid being mistaken for an elephant seal in swimwear on the beaches of Cyprus!

For anyone experiencing the lows that life sometimes forces us to endure, take heart, the highs are sure to follow.

Small Mercies

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PHOTO PROMPT © Shaktiki Sharma

I squint my eyes, but the image is no clearer.  Cursing, I struggle to read the label, but there is nobody to help.  I hurl the bottle, frustrated, then admonish myself for the mess I will have to try to clear up.

“Count yourself lucky,” they said and I suppose I am.  Nevertheless, the inability to see clearly, bothers me more than I can describe.

All because a selfish bastard drank alcohol and chose to drive home.

As well as my sight, the accident deprived me of my confidence and independence.

It dispossessed me of my husband too.

Every cloud…

Word Count: 100

Written for Friday Fictioneers – a 100 words story based on a photo prompt. Hosted by Rochelle. Read the other entries here.

The Loneliest Time of the Year

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PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

As I pass balloons decorating lampposts and gaudy neon lights, my heart feels that little bit heavier.  I see the rowdy party-goers dancing with arms flailing and drunken grins spread across their faces.

Are they as happy as they seem?  Perhaps they’re trying just that little bit too hard.

Am I the only one who dreads this time of year?

I’ve no money to buy the children a decent gift or provide a traditional Christmas meal.

I can pay the bills… just, but we will have to keep the heating low.

I’ve no energy to appear jolly.

Damn you, Peter.

Word Count: 100

Written for Friday Fictioneers – a 100 words story based on a photo prompt. Hosted by Rochelle. Read the other entries here.

Better or Worse

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PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

She stomped her feet on the mat dislodging most of the compacted snow.  Boots pulled off, she hung her wet coat on the hook and made for the kitchen.

The cold had made her nose stream.  She grabbed a piece of paper towel, flicked the switch on the kettle and slumped into the tattered armchair by the window.

There was still no news.

Each night she went to bed despairing.

Each morning she woke with renewed hope.

Would it always be this way?

Would knowing be better or worse?

He had only been two years old when he went missing.

 

Word Count: 100

Written for Friday Fictioneers – a 100 words story based on a photo prompt. Hosted by Rochelle. Read the other entries here.

His Story

I hope nobody minds, but I have done two this week.  Initially, I couldn’t get the story right.  I wrote, deleted and re-wrote countless times.  Then, very late at night it took shape, but I wanted to tell the story from two points of view.  If you have the time to read both, I hope you will see why I wanted to post the two sides.

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PHOTO PROMPT © Lucy Fridkin

The sun crept across the clouds like molten lava lighting up the grey sky augmenting its tempestuous appearance.

It matched Peter’s mood as he reflected on the afternoon’s events.  His face distorted with fear.  He’d known the risks, but arrogantly thought they didn’t apply to him.  He’d always gambled and the gamble had always paid off… always; until today.

How could he face his wife, his father or his colleagues?

Stupid, senseless, fool!

His shoulders sagged dejectedly as he looked at the calm water below.  It provided the solution to his turmoil.  With newly-found serenity, he stepped off the ledge.

Word Count: 100

Written for Friday Fictioneers – a 100 words story based on a photo prompt. Hosted by Rochelle. Read the other entries here.

Her Story

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PHOTO PROMPT © Lucy Fridkin

How could he leave me?  How could he do it now?

Did he really think the money and lifestyle were so important?

I loved him when we were penniless, living in a tiny bedsit and I love him still.

Did the money mean more to him than our relationship?  Did he truly believe I would blame him, resent him or even leave him?

Stupid, senseless, fool!

If only he had come home that night.

If only I had the chance to tell him.

It would have made a difference, I’m sure…

If he’d known about the baby growing inside me.

 

Word Count: 100

Written for Friday Fictioneers – a 100 words story based on a photo prompt. Hosted by Rochelle. Read the other entries here.

…Within Tent

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PHOTO PROMPT © Jan Wayne Fields

The air was blue as he erected the tent.  She poured him a drink and took the kids to the playground.

The pinched expressions on the boys’ faces evaporated as they enjoyed the freedom to be children.

“Time to go back,” she said eventually.  Their faces clouded instantly.

“Dad’s having a snooze,” said the eldest, a note of relief in his voice, as he saw his father’s legs sticking out of the tent doorway.

She stretched her arms out wide, smiling as the tension left.

“I think Dad could be asleep for a while, let’s go and explore the beach.”

Word Count: 100

Written for Friday Fictioneers – a 100 words story based on a photo prompt. Hosted by Rochelle. Read the other entries here.

A Prisoner of Conscience

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PHOTO PROMPT © CEayr

His breath was ragged and his voice gravelly from calling out.  He was locked in the confined, cold, damp building.

Knuckles bleeding from incessant knocking, face covered in a congealed mess of blood and snot, he slithered to his knees, wretched and despondent.

The constant drip, drip aggravated his tattered nerves.

Why couldn’t I have just turned a blind eye?

“Have a heart, let me out,” he beseeched.

A faint scratching sound; was it help or threat?

Thorny tendrils of fear sneaked around his heart and squeezed persistently causing his heartbeat to increase.

A metal key turned in the lock…

 

Word Count: 100

Written for Friday Fictioneers – a 100 words story based on a photo prompt. Hosted by Rochelle. Read the other entries here.

Pre-Concert Nerves?

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PHOTO PROMPT © Björn Rudberg

The cello sat silently in the corner, polished and ready to play.  Twinkling lights dripped from the ceiling around the podium.

Edward hurried in, brushing the snow from his heavy navy cashmere coat.  He glanced around furtively, confirming he was alone and swiftly poured himself a double Jack Daniels from behind the bar, which he necked and repeated three times.  He drew a deep breath and sternly told himself to behave normally.

He wasn’t anxious about the concert.  Pre-performance jitters disappeared the moment he picked up his bow. 

What troubled him was the carnage he had left in his bedroom.

Word Count: 100

Written for Friday Fictioneers – a 100 words story based on a photo prompt. Hosted by Rochelle. Read the other entries here.

 

There is Always One

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PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

There is always one who stands out,

One who insists on being different,

Which would be fine if it were tasteful,

But it never is,

It’s always tacky, brassy, common,

Does changing gender really mean he has to lose all sense of good taste?

He believes he is a woman inside,

He is nothing like a woman on the outside,

He lacks the softness, the fragility, the beauty,

He is a grotesque parody of a woman,

He tries hard to achieve a look that will always evade him,

I try hard to hide my embarrassment.

That one is my dad.

 

Word Count: 100

Written for Friday Fictioneers – a 100 words story based on a photo prompt. Hosted by Rochelle. Read the other entries here.