Category Archives: Fiction

Unashamedly bragging…

…about the fact that the inimitable blogger behind the ‘Surviving in Italy‘ scenes has allowed me to place words that came out of my head, onto her little patch of cyberspace.

Grazie mille, and I hope you all like it. Click here for my flash fiction memoir called Spoonful of Sugar. Below is a little sample.

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A Character Based on Possessions (a freewrite)

I always thought his chair looked strange without him sat in it. You had to sit in the room a long time to get a glimpse of it empty. When you did you couldn’t help but notice the difference in colour of material where the sun rarely had a chance to reach the places masked by his body. On the rare occasion that he left the confines of the chair it would be because he needed a new, sharper pencil for his crosswords. He kept a healthy supply of orange coloured 2H pencils in an old coffee jar. This lead stained old jar was always wedged into the corner of the windowsill, tucked behind the curtain and more often than not next to a red poinsettia, the pointy tips of the freshly sharpened pencils contrasting with the withered pale red tips of yet another unwanted gift from his daughter who offered endless plants instead of her time.

It always confused me how someone who couldn’t go to bed on a blunt pencil was not affected at all by the noticeable layer of light-coloured dust on the dark red radio next to their bed. I had heard the radio several times on a Sunday morning, so I knew he used it, but it was so old that even the sound coming from it sounded thick with dust. I think he was focused on the things that would keep his mind from wandering, and this was his crossword competitions, so the only things that warranted his time outside of this pursuit, was the sharpening of his pencils and the hole-punching of his competition entry forms so that he could store them and keep on track of his lack of success.  The only reason he kept the poinsettia on the windowsill for so long was for his neighbours to see that someone had been there to see him. The plant itself was just one more unnecessary object around him.

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Conflict (a freewrite)

She can inject life into the empty rooms and turn all heads towards her, awakening lost and tired eyes. Her energy prevents you from succumbing to the routine of daily life. She can whisk up the debris of her surroundings and pick you all up until you are like plates on a stick, spinning and balanced high above your usual level. Your comfort zone fades into the distance as you are swept along on her wave of laughter and lack of self consciousness. Her raw energy inspires and intimidates. She does so much for other people. She exhausts you. Her relentless introspection and projection of her findings leaves you craving a solitary corner. Bewildered at her lack of awareness of those around her you withdraw into yourself, at the same time reaching out to those closest to you for reassurance that you are right in feeling how you do, and for some mutual understanding. She talks of nothing but herself and her work for others, work which noone asks her to do. She is compelled to offer up her time for all those around her yet is unable to act altruistically for long. Those closest to her are subjected to list upon list of charitable acts which have rendered her more tired than the rest of us, and therefore more deserving of preferential treatment. Any attempts to articulate ones own voice is met with a lack of awareness that someone else has spoken. Her need to be in constant contact with someone means that she gives the impression of being more supportive to others than the rest of us, but they don’t hear the way she applauds herself for this and judges those who choose to keep their problems to themselves.

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You were meant to be watching him

by Lucy Rose Williams

You were meant to be watching him’ she said quietly as she passed me, carrying the kettle to the sink.

I put my black boot on the rusting metal lever of the white plastic kitchen bin and held a plate over its whale-like mouth.

‘I can’t bear to throw this away’ I said to her on her return journey, staring at the last piece of bread and butter I would ever prepare for his supper.

‘What else are you supposed to do with it? ’ She replied, marking the end of the conversation with a forceful flicking on of the switch.

The cheap thin white bread, once perfectly flat, was curled up at the sides, and the thick margarine, already artificially yellow from the outset, was almost orange in parts by now, with an extra film of jelly-like grease starting to form on the surface. It glistened and glowed under the stark tubular light in the kitchen, and seemed to be the only colour I saw on that monochrome day. The dated kitchen was lined with stark white cupboards, with different shades of grey trim on the handles, and smatterings of grey flecks in the formika worktops. Weary mourners leant their grey and black bodies against the pale cupboards, their duty coming to an end.

I wanted to keep that last supper forever, that bread that I used to be embarrassed to buy in the shops, the spread that I warned him about every evening at 9.

I wanted to keep it in a plastic box to look at every day. I wanted to use it as my punishment. I would make myself stare at it every day as a reminder of what I hadn’t done.

When they’d come to take his body out on the stretcher I had snuck into the kitchen to make it. I’d covered it in clingfilm and put it in the cupboard. It was the only job I had been asked to do. I had to do it. No matter how late I was.

‘It stinks,’ she said as she snatched it from me, clingfilm, plate and all, and dropped into the bin. She elbowed me away so that my foot left the lever and the lid snapped shut.

I felt for the spare key in my pocket.

I would come back and get it tomorrow evening at 9.

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‘Fireplace’ A 50 Word Story

Her ginger tom sleeps, plump and foetal, by the fire. His lion’s mane glows red against the backdrop of flames, as does the blood, crystallised on his chin in glistening crimson droplets.

He purrs, the fire roars.

The vet phones to confirm the time, and suggests she brings a friend.

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Woman in the Wind

by Lucy Rose Williams

The church clock strikes eight, so those villagers who are awake know without checking that it is six. A cock crows. A body lies across the doorstep of the church, a line of crumb-carrying ants marches across the fedora covering its face. There is a serene, momentary quiet after the chimes cease. A figure glides past the church wall, before the silence is cracked by a baby crying.

The figure picks up speed and pushes a large navy blue coach pram over the cobblestones. The cries start to bounce along the air as the wheels speed over the lumps in the road. Her black stilettos navigate the rise and fall of the stones with ease as she strides onwards, diagonally across the middle of the square, her fitted jacket accentuating her perfect figure. She fixes her gaze at the empty bench in the far left corner, oblivious to the noises spurting out of the pram.

When she reaches the bench, she does not sit down. Instead she turns her back to the pram and fixes her stare on the green door ahead of her.

Whoever she is waiting for is testing her patience, as she fidgets and adjusts her scarf, tucking her long hair into her roll neck sweater to stop it blowing over her face. She adjusts her skirt around her thighs and checks the time.

Ten minutes pass and the crying stops. This new silence is broken only a few times by some bikes crossing the square. The green door opens and a woman with curlers in her hair, wearing a long powder blue silk dressing gown, stands in the doorway. She beckons the woman towards her but the woman shakes her head and looks away.

The woman in the doorway reaches for a long fur coat from the coat rack and a large grey fur hat. She puts the coat over her dressing gown and slips off her slippers in favour of long leather boots. She starts to button them up the sides and the woman by the bench looks at her watch.

She doesn’t make any eye contact with the lady in the fur as she approaches, and as soon as the pram has been handed over she tightens her belt up a notch around her thin cotton jacket and marches back across to the church on the opposite side of the square. She isn’t as sure-footed this time, and her cheap heels start to wobble, getting stuck every few paces. She starts to stagger and reaches a bench just in time to let it catch her weight. Her feet look narrow and birdlike, and the plastic black shoes look as though they are painted on her feet as they twist into the gaps in the cobbles. Her toes wrap around the stones like an eagle gripping on to a perch.

Her scraggy hair has come out of her roll neck sweater on one side and she tries to adjust it and wedge it back while she tightens up the rag of a scarf she found, and heaves her shoulders up and down, inhaling deep breaths of icy air, and exhaling steamy bursts. She bends forward and rummages in her pockets. She pulls out a photograph and holds it in her blueing hands. Her breathing gets faster and more frantic and she pulls off her gloves to rub her thumb over the photo. She rubs the baby’s face over and over again before collapsing forward with her head between her knees, gasping for breath.

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