Left left left bump. Right right right bump. Forward forward forward bump. Backwards backwards backward bump. Left left left bump…
… till shoulders, forehead, back hurt.
Slump. Sob. Sleep.
Smelly smell. Stomach snarls. Shovel it, wash it, keep it down down down.
Singing. Loud. Out of tune. Lovely.
Door opens. Scramble, cower, hide.
‘Ciao bambino. Come stai?’
Singy songy sounds. Warm. Lovely.
Sweeping, wiping, singing.
‘Delle mee ‘ow to reach you, bambino.’
Delle mee, delle mee, delle mee.
Close, too close. Hand coming. Cower, cower.
Hand touches cheek. Gentle.
He swore he loved her. But he loved his children, too.
‘If you make me,’ he said, ‘I’ll choose you.’
She smiled on the outside. He meant it. But she never made him choose. When she watched him return to his family the last time, she waved him goodbye as usual. Then she went inside, packed up her things and left without a word.
He would tell the late-night crowd at the Crown she’d broken his heart. It never occurred to him she’d broken her own heart because she couldn’t bear the idea of watching him long for his children.
You’ll know better next time.
At this point you’ll say there won’t be a next time. You’re still shaking with terror. No way you’re doing it again.
But memory’s a funny thing. Give it a few days. It won’t seem so bad anymore. A couple of weeks on you’ll remember the thrill. It was great, you’ll say to yourself. Yeah, a bit scary, but worth it. That feeling of exhilaration while you’re going down. The shock of the cold water. The adrenaline roaring through your body.
When you stand on top of the cliff, you remember.
Gotta hold your breath.
We’d gone down to the beach because there was nothing else to do. We threw rocks at seagulls. A couple of cans of own-brand cider made the rounds. The taste was revolting, but it had the right temperature. When the wind died down, the sun warmed us.
‘Funny footprints. Started out of nowhere.’
Everyone gathered for closer inspection. The tide was coming in, the starting point of the footprints had been washed away. But it looked like someone’d come walking out of the sea. The others lost interest.
But since that day, I’ve been looking for the runaway mermaid.
The picture is one of today’s Flash Fiction February writing prompts. Mermaid was the first thing that popped into my mind, so I went with it. I’m pleased with how it turned out (especially since I struggled with yesterday’s story for hours).
‘Coffee for your mother. She’s unwell.’
He puts the French press down, but there’s too much anger left in his movements. The glass jar cracks. Coffee seeps out. I place my plate underneath, grab the mugs and pour the coffee. I take a big gulp from mine to make room for the rest. It’s too hot, too strong, too bitter – like him. I’ve prevented a spill. I’ve robbed his anger of an excuse to flare up again.
He’ll buy flowers so Mum’ll forgive him. He’ll succeed unless I can convince her to pack up and leave this time.
Sam answers the door. I hide. It’s best, after the disaster with the Brownies. I’m not versed in the customs of suburbia. I shoo away wistful thoughts of my former life.
Sam’s muffled voice mingles with loud, unfamiliar ones. I perk up.
‘Honey, we have guests.’
Nobody but me would detect the strain in his voice.
They’re in the kitchen. Five of them, colourfully clad. They look like types who run away to join the circus. Sam’s out of his element.
‘Say hello to the neighbours.’
I smile. Put on my best “Welcome to the ring” voice. It’s show time.
I have again used one of the GU Creative Writing Society Flash Fiction February prompts (wistful). I’ve also used today’s Blogging 101 assignment as inspiration.
16 Feb 2015: Want to know more about the lion tamer’s daughter? Read the prequel Replacement Cat on 101 Words.
I never choose truth. So I ended up underwater. The guys gave me a crash course, told me to stick with Tom. I’ve lost Tom. He hand-signalled something when I pointed out the amber glow, then went in the opposite direction. I should have paid attention to the signals, but I got bored.
Before I discovered the glow, I felt uneasy. Now I dive deeper, enchanted. It’s pulsing, reminding me of a beating heart.
Strange. I thought the light would be blue, not the colour of burnt sugar.
Danger. That’s what Tom’s hand signal meant. Danger.
But it’s so beautif…
This was inspired by two of the three Flash Fiction February prompts for today: underwater and amber.
She’s rebelling. This morning, she didn’t take the children to school. She’s never liked doing it, but she has never refused before.
‘Try and make me,’ she replied when I confronted her.
Her animosity goes beyond her being a hormone-fuelled teenager. I caught her eavesdropping on her father yesterday afternoon, her ear pressed to the study door.
‘I’m sick of the secrets you keep ,’ she said. She didn’t try to make up an excuse. Tonight, she’s giving us looks as if she’s planning to kill us.
Her father suggests to tell her. I disagree.
Please advise ASAP.
‘Ecology, technology, scientology,’ Amy sings when she comes back from spending the weekend with her father.
‘What’s that, sweetie?’
‘Rhymey words. They’re fun to sing.’
‘Where did they come from?’
’Suzie. I couldn’t say scientology.’
Amy’s hands fly over her mouth. She doesn’t say it, but I can tell Suzie made her promise not to tell me.
Suzie. Sunny, sweet Suzie. Suspicious Suzie. I had a feeling Suzie was all-round bad news, beyond wrecking my marriage.
I’m far from Shakespeare, but I have twelve days. Amy will have new rhymey words to sing then. I’m sure Suzie’ll get the message.
[inspiration: today’s Flash Fiction February prompts: ecology, Shakespeare, technology]