No new story today because I’m too busy reading StoryFest 2016 stories.
‘Give it a decade and Manhattan will be ours. We have waited this long, why the sudden rush?’
‘Mother, please,’ Marina pleads.
It’s her only wish. Mother remains unmoved.
‘It’s so unfair, Delphine. Why won’t she let me? Shelley goes, all the time.’
‘Shelley tried once and got caught. You know she likes telling tales. She doesn’t know the safe way out.’
Marina’s eyes light up like an anglerfish.
I hesitate for a second. She’s only thirty-three and I may regret this.
‘No word to anyone. Including Shelley. Up there, you follow my lead. Happy Birthday, baby sis.’
Story 31 of 31 for Story A Day May.
She has learnt to endure Father’s punishment without so much as a flinch – if she flinches, whimpers, cries, he’ll get angrier.
But she’s inherited Father’s anger. The first time it flares up when she finds a bruise on her baby brother.
The second time, it makes her fling herself at Father’s fist as he’s about to hit her brother again. The look of shock on his face is almost worth the pain of the beating she takes in return.
She doesn’t want there to be a third time. She will have to talk to someone before she turns into Father.
Him, with a new girl. You see the resemblance between her and your former self – a full-blooded whirlwind bursting with youth and life.
Had you been honest with yourself, you’d have seen tonight coming. He left you a husk of your bubbly self. You’re as pale as he is, as close to death before he’s had a drink; you can’t provide the life-force he needs any longer.
New Girl may think this is what she wants. Didn’t you? She’ll come to regret her choice soon.
If only you could muster the energy to warn her.
Story 29 of 31 for Story A Day May.
‘Sure, I’ll hand over my most precious invention without asking any questions. As long as you help me with an unpleasant chore I’ve to tackle today.’
The way he says it, Gwen knows he’s going to be cruel.
‘Deal. Let’s tackle it.’
He leads her into the storage room.
‘See those cobwebs? They need to go. Here’s a broom.’
Despite the murky light, she sees the spiders – big ones with hairy bodies. The ones she used to be afraid of.
Five minutes later, she returns to the workshop, carrying a box of spiders she’ll set free.
‘Your turn, darling brother.’
Another dingy motel, another deal.
She counts the money and checks whether it’s all real. All he does, meanwhile, is play with his Glock while putting on his tough guy face.
Nothing missing – she gives him the tiniest of nods. He pushes the crate towards the buyers. They wait for the buyers’ taillights to fade into the horizon before they hit the road, going in the opposite direction.
Briefly, she allows herself to wonder how long it’ll take until reports of a mass shooting in this area hit the news.
But it’s too late for her to develop a conscience.
Story 27 of 31 for Story A Day May.
Everyone has chipped in because the class is quite expensive. Which is why I feel I need to make an effort. And believe me, it is an effort. I don’t want to take my time and execute my strokes in a mindful fashion. I know they meant well but this is the worst present ever.
‘Still illegible,’ one of the nurses remarks. ‘Aren’t you halfway through by now?’
That’s just the thing – the one thing I’ve learnt in the last few weeks, incidentally. Calligraphy practice doesn’t have much of an influence on penmanship. My handwriting is as bad as ever.
Story 25 of 31 for Story A Day May.
‘Barely average, your numbers. Not good enough.’
I shouldn’t give in to my anger and I know it.
‘With all due respect, sir, my numbers are bang on average.’
The body language of his bodyguards changes – subtle movements, meant not to alarm. One of them will have a hand on his firearm.
‘And average is not good enough. Government policy is government policy.’
A policy that doesn’t make sense. A policy that sets everyone but the best up to fail.
I used to be on board with the official line. But what self-respecting statistician could get behind everyone above average?
Story 24 of 31 for Story A Day May – today’s prompt is genre and of course I’ve gone with dystopia.
A crowd of people is swarming around her. They cannot help themselves. Her voice reels them in and holds them spellbound. She sings – of love and loss and letting go – and dances – light on her feet like a prima ballerina. Her audience laughs and cries and when a song comes to its end, they beg for another one, not noticing that the spell has been broken.
She feels sadness.
She has never been happier.
She wants this moment to last.
But she wakes.
Because she chased a dream that turned into a nightmare, she can neither sing nor dance anymore.
‘A mermaid who cannot sing is like a fish without fins.’
The eldest sister gives a sad shake of the head that makes her hair float from side to side.
‘Will you not give her voice back?’
‘Deal’s a deal.’
The five sisters wince.
‘If she could sing, she might rediscover happiness.’
Is the youngest sister sang, wouldn’t she infect anyone who listened with her sadness? If she wanted the ability to voice her heartache, wouldn’t she come herself?
But mostly, the sea-witch likes watching the King’s daughters recoil when they hear a mermaid’s voice out of a sea-witch’s mouth.
Story 22 of 31 for Story A Day May.
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