Sacrifices

(c) Yinglan for FFfAW week 72

Don’t look back. Maxie’s sad eyes are following you; you won’t be able to walk away without her if you look.

It’s a good shelter. She’s a good, attractive dog. She’ll find a new home, no problem.

People do all sorts to muddle through. First, you sold the car, it bought a few months. Meant you could only take nearby jobs, though. Not that there’s many going spare farther away.

By giving away Maxie, you postponed the day when you can’t afford food again, but it will still come. Upside is, you won’t have to watch Maxie starve alongside you.

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The Smell of Real Bread

100 words about the smell of bread
photo by Drew Coffman 

Everybody smells them first – the aroma of bread fresh from the oven never leaves them. It’s weird everybody calls us the triplets. I don’t look anything like them; I don’t smell the way they do.

I’d love to be their sister, bread-scented, bag stuffed with baked goods. Unlike the twins, though, I like spending time in the bakery. I help their mother clean after school, when the last of the day’s rolls have gone into the shop. Not that rolls make me smell like them – rolls aren’t real bread.

But it’s okay, I’m used to making do with second best.

This is Elsinore

100 words about learning to read as an adult
pd photo prompt for FFFPP week 9 

‘Nothing is ever as easy as it looks,’ he says.

‘But you’re making it harder on yourself. Let’s try something less taxing.’

He gives me a look that says he’s going to throw another tantrum unless I stop patronising him. Which won’t help with the reading.

‘Here,’ I say, pushing another book his way. One that’s a bit more appropriate for his level of literacy. He stops me.

‘It’s a children’s book.’

‘If you had to learn how to walk, would you start with running marathons?’

‘I am not a child.’

‘You won’t learn to read by starting with Shakespeare.’

Christmas Blues

100 words about not being able to afford Christmas presents
photo by Blickpixel 

The Christmas wish list keeps growing. You are still waiting for an item you might be able to afford to make an appearance.

In the meantime, you check the charity shops several times a day. You find a few acceptable branded clothes in excellent nick; they cost more than you should spend, but it is Christmas. Some of them are even on the list. But you don’t have high hopes for Star Wars toys or the electronics which make up the bulk of the list.

It’ll be the usual for Christmas Day – chicken with a side order of massive disappointment.

Mustn’t Tell

‘You’re going to school,’ Mummy says.

She’s poorly but she acts like nothing’s happened. But they see her bloodied lip, the bruise on her arm. They heard the fight last night. Mummy tells them they mustn’t mention any of it to anyone. If they do, it will only get worse and they don’t want that, do they? No, they don’t.

They mustn’t tell. But when they draw pictures of Mummy, there’s blood gashing from her mouth and she has a black eye and bruises.

Miss asks about the pictures. They say they mustn’t tell or it will only get worse.

All Selling

eBay is such a pain.

She dislikes the hassle. How does one take a decent picture? Hers are either too dark or overexposed. She lives in terror of getting postage wrong. And once those bloodsuckers take their fees, the money isn’t that great, either.

Well, it is some money. On a good week, it takes the shop from Sainsbury’s Basics to Taste the Difference. When she finds treasures on the charity shop run, she’ll buy them and live on cheap toast and butter for a week until the item sells.

eBay is a pain. But it’s better than the alternatives.

There Was a Hush

dam

There was a hush. There was a crack. Birds burst into the air, shrieking; water burst the dam, sweeping.

colourful stripes on road

Nobody had told the poor to evacuate. Their kids wondered why no cars sped down the roads but they didn’t care – they’d never seen so much space to play. There was a hush, followed by children’ shrieks and sweeping water.

beach holidays

Given the distance to the disaster, the sunbathers thought themselves safe. Imagine their surprise when they found themselves trapped between ocean and onrushing water. They barely had time to scream and panic before they got swept away. There was a hush.

***

After struggling with vignettes yesterday, this one popped into my head immediately when I read today’s Story A Day prompt.

Good Girl Days

The doll’s eyes judge me. Whenever I see a customer out – I refer to them as gentlemen callers but it’s a euphemism, most aren’t at all gentle – it shakes its head in disapproval. It mimics the expression on Grandpa’s face when he came to pick me up from the A&E and found me wearing provocative nothing and slutty make-up.

He gave me the doll for being such a good girl while Mum was dying of cancer. I was too old for it even then.

I should bin it. But I need a reminder of my good girl days.

Futures Past

Francie peels off the plastic gloves, washes the fat that finds its way into them off her hands and changes into a t-shirt that doesn’t mark her as a burger flipper. This routine takes five minutes out of her thirty-minute break. Instead of eating the lunch provided, she goes to the deli around the corner.

As a child, she dreamt she’d run a place like this one day – flipping burgers was supposed to be temporary.

The owner greets her with a real smile.

If she didn’t reek of frying oil, Francie’d ask if she could wipe tables for her.

Post Mortem

It’s 22:44, the first time all weekend I’ve had time to sit and think. I should go to bed. I’m on the early shift this week, my alarm will go off in six hours.

Was last night worth it? Yes, Jeremy introduced me to his university friends at last. I cooked, they spent all evening ignoring me. Like being at work. Only worse, nobody at the hospital switches to Latin to make a joke. Jeremy said it didn’t mean anything. They’ve always done it, old habits et cetera.

But I know exactly what it meant: Know your place, pleb.