One Born Every Minute

Time again for Friday Fictioneers. A 100 words of fiction based around the weekly changing photo prompt. Addictive, delicious and so very entertaining. Follow the link, read the others and join in yourself, it’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

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Photo Copyright : Claire Fuller

Sally spent her nights in the abandoned smoke house on the edge of town. A heavy stench of fish still seeped from the blackened oak boards.

Most of the rats and other night crawlers had moved on. Things that couldn’t be repaired she’d use as firewood, things she could sell or barter were piled in the corner.

She lay down on the bed of rags, her breathing heavy and her belly extended and rigid. The baby would come tonight.

Across town the Earl of Middleham savoured his brandy.  “I think I’ll call you Sally” he drawled, his eyes hungrily undressing the comely young housemaid stoking the fire.

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Strippers and Slippers

I’m a bit late this week with my fix of Friday Fictioneers. So I’ve tried to rush something out then I don’t miss a week. I also misinterpreted this weeks picture, I thought they were lights not bottles, opps. But as I’m caught for time I’m going to go with my original idea.  I’m slightly over the 100 word count, but I’m sure the ever gracious host Rochelle Wisoff-Fields won’t shoot me…..

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Original Photo : Marie Gail Stratford

Her nipples chafed across the muslin of her dress. The sensation, although alarming, made her wish for something more, but she had no idea what.

Juliet caught his gaze. Even from across the crowded ballroom, his eyes flamed dark and dangerous, as if he saw straight through her gown to her misbehaving nipples.

Modesty made her turn, curiosity pulled her back. He was gone. Her eyes scanned the dance floor. Nothing.

From behind her came a whisper,

“You have something I want”…

_____________________________________________________

The stage hand tipped her shoulder. Jenny closed the kindle, “Damn”.  The only gaze across the strip club tonight would be blood red and whisky induced. Where’s the romance in that?

Mr Cockdiddlers School For Quiet Young Ladies

Time again for Friday Fictioneers. Hosted every week by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and eagerly anticipated by over 100 addictive contributors. A 100 word piece of fiction based on the photo prompt provided. Follow the link and have a go,

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The door behind her opened and a familiar scent of leather and musk infused the warm evening air,

“Breathe, just breathe” trying to stop the suffocating blackness from wrapping round her chest. She did an internal checklist – Feet the required distance apart, hands palm down, thumbs parallel to the leather inlay, not touching. Never touching.

As always, the ink pot was her focal point. Like a bottomless lagoon, swirling, churning, seeping over the quill, until she was far, far away.

It ended. The door closed. Taking out her handkerchief, she wondered how many others had fallen into that same velvet lagoon over the years.

Kissing Toads

I’m once more attempting Al’s fabulous prompts. I’ve missed a couple of the Haibun Thinking Challenges, but here is this weeks. Haibun is a Japanese literary form that combines one or more paragraphs of your written narrative (prose) with a concentrated (short) poem – the haiku. Hai stands for haiku, bun stands for prose. It’s a great way of getting your creative juices flowing, why don’t you follow the link and have a go.

There are two photos provided this week, I’ve chosen the one below. I’m got a bit of an historical thing going on this week, not sure why, but hey a girl’s gotta dream …….

 

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“Find them before daybreak” bellowed the dark figure from his mount.

The thumping sound of hooves grew louder and ever closer. Clara could see the stallion’s nostrils flaring in and out. Foams of saliva congealed at the edges as its teeth bore down on the bit. The rider pulled hard on the reins and a trail of white foam flew across his thigh. He raised a sword high above his head, the metal glistening in the darkness catching the moonlight and shattering it in to a thousand tiny fragments that only seemed to emphasise his savagery.

Clara wrapped the shawl tighter round the two small boys huddled by her knees. Her heart beating so fast and loud in her ears she thought the men would surely hear. Buried beneath the rushes, their feet in the rising water, all three shivered with cold as much as fear. The sound of the dogs moving off through the woods had Clara raising her head above the reeds. She straightened, brushing the damp moss off her dress and stood back from the boys.

“Ok they’ve gone, we need to move quickly” she whispered, all the while her eyes furtively scanning the shores of the river and the forest entrance. The smallest boy, Jonathan, looked up in both awe and apprehension.

“Can’t we go home Clara, I’m cold and I miss my blanket”.

Clara looked down and caught the tears edging his eyes, the ones he was fighting so hard to keep at bay. She smoothed her hand over his forehead moving a loose curl away from his face, and smiled. Perhaps searching for toads in the dead of night wasn’t their best idea after all. She nodded at the two boys, held out her hands and turned towards the house. Papa would be furious; she’d already seen his face when his horse passed them earlier. But she knew he wouldn’t be angry for long. When Mama had told her the story about having to kiss a lot of frogs to meet a prince, Clara thought there was no time like the present and if she started now that she was nine she would find him in no time. Her plan was fool proof, or it would have been without her brothers in tow. She would just have to come back tomorrow night on her own.

 

 Beware of kissing toads,

An innocent kiss can burn,

Love will look for you.

 

Chain Gang

I’ve been out of the link for a few weeks and missed a couple of my usual prompts. However things seem to be calming down and I can get back to normal again. The Sunday Photo Fiction is one of the prompts I’ve missed. A weekly 100 – 200 word story based on the photo provided, the stories are great to read but it’s even better taking part, get yourselves over.

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Looking out to sea, the smell of freedom was almost tangible, Simon could taste it. He watched as the waves lashed back and forth, black against black. Then the pace slowed, almost to a breath, a lingering sigh of sorts. A heady scent of seaweed and fish, of power and salt hit his nostrils.

He could smell the brewing storm. For a second he closed his eyes savouring its release. The pull of cold steel around his ankles broke his repose. A guard stood above him, twisting a heavy booted foot through the chain. Under the shackle, he felt his flesh ripping; he bit his lip but didn’t flinch. He wouldn’t give them that.

Back at the barracks huge rivets were set into the wall beside the bunks and each man was linked to a heavy chain bolted to the floor. Simon laid still on his bunk listening to the others. Their talk was raw and crude and never broke the surface. He rolled over, pulling an extra length of chain.

This morning he’d found the bottle with the message buried under the stones. His men were coming. Six months of hell, thinking of nothing but revenge. The bastard son of his father would pay dearly for his newly stolen title. Simon De Montfort, known to some as ‘The Black Pirate’ was the rightful Earl of Claybourne. He’d soon be breaking skulls instead of rocks.

The Trunk – Part 3

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Part 1

Part 2 

Sally reached for the wine glass and took another drink. Looking back at the letter, she read it for a second time,

“……………….I watched for your train, and the next. I waited under the clock for 3 hours before I realised you were not coming. Why Julia? Why let me hope, and then take it away as you did before? I explained my search was for answers, not recriminations. I have no wish to cause you pain but I fear my own sanity relies on your honesty……………….”   

If Julia was his mother, why didn’t she go, how could she leave him standing there, waiting? Three hours watching trains come in, then go out, people rushing past, never stopping. The first letter was so formal, but this one seemed more personal, there was pain in his words, she could feel it. Although they were strangers Sally felt strangely drawn to their story. She sat back, closing her eyes, picturing the woman who never arrived.

May 1941 –

The deafening sound of the roof collapsing drowned out the screams from the others in the shelter. A ball of fire whooshed upwards as concrete and tiles rained down on the crowd. Julia stayed knelt against the wall, her eyes tightly shut and her hands pressed hard against her ears. The noise was painful.

Coughing and brushing debris and what else from her hair, she looked up to find two men stood near. Their mouths were moving but she couldn’t hear what they were saying. They came closer, looking directly at her, their mouths still moving but their voices couldn’t penetrate the deafness in her ears. She groped unsteadily behind her trying to re-orientate herself in the darkness. A third man came forward, past the other two and put an arm around her waist, lifting her up, away from the wall.

The noise in her ears started to fade and she heard him call out to the other two men. “We gotta get outta here Mick, grab the bags and meet me back at Joes” The other two guys nodded, darted a look at each other and gestured to Julia.  “She’s hurt, I’ll just make sure the A.R.P’s get her, I’ll catch you up” The tone of his voice enough to get the other two moving and climbing over debris a second later, although she noticed a look between the two that suddenly added to her fear.

Lifting her, he half dragged, half propelled her over the scattered brick work and out into the street. Julia looked up at the darkened sky, angry and red above the fires blazing around them. There was a shroud of what looked like pink smoke, and now and again through a hole in the pink veil an absurdly, reassuring evening star. Her mind finally caught back up to speed. She looked at the dark haired man at her side, and swept her body quickly away from his hold. “Thank you, but I’m fine now, you can remove your arm from my waist” she raised her eyebrow expectantly, waiting for him to immediately release her. He didn’t.

His eyes, blacker than any she’d ever seen before, seemed wide with indignation, also humour she thought. He was laughing at her, she knew it, and she could feel it. She looked at him, about to repute him, but what could she say “I don’t like the tone of your eyes” for god sake the raid had left her demented. Then he smiled, a smile so incredible that her legs went weak and she almost swooned right back to him. He pulled her close, twisting a loose curl between his fingers; he brushed his lips over her ear and whispered ……

Come back next time to see what he said…………………………..

The Trunk – part 2

Here is the second part of my ongoing short story –  Part 1 can be read here 

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She didn’t know how old the letters were, but by the colour of the fading paper and the dry texture under her fingers she guessed they’d been there a good many years. The ink was still readable though, a smooth blue tip, that seemed to swirl across the paper. Another guess told her female, something about the flow and care of the pen stroke.  She looked for the signature at the bottom of the page just to be sure. ……. ‘Mark’,  well that was a little unexpected.

She went back to the start,

“20th May 1969

Dear Ms Wade,

I hope this letter finds you well, and does not cause too much distress. I really do not know how to say what I must but think it would be for the best if I state the facts I have been given and how they may relate to yourself. My name is Mark Roberts and I believe I may be your son………..”

Sally gripped the letter in her hand, her eyes instantly pulled from the page to the photo frame on the wall. It was her graduation one, mum looking radiant and dad grinning like a peacock. The three Musketeers he’s called them, oh yeah it was clichéd, but that was dad to a tee. Her parents had been so thrilled when she came along that the feeling never left them.  After years of struggling to conceive and then dad’s illness, they never thought they would be able to adopt. But Sally had been offered to them when she was 4 months old and her dad had been smiling ever since.

Sally swallowed and looked back at the letter,

………………… I was born on the 13th March 1943 in Deal in Kent. My birth certificate states my mother was Julia Ava Wade and my father, unknown! I have reason to believe you are the Julia Wade I seek. Please believe me when I say I hold no ill will and do not look for any form of recompense with regards the past. My situation is such that I need to find information with regards my medical background and this is my sole claim to your person.”

Jesus, he writes so impersonally, Sally thought. This guy was writing to his mother. Surely there should be something more, something else, although she didn’t really know what. She’d always felt so secure in who she was that she’d never given any thought to her own background. It had never been an issue. Sure, she knew she was adopted; Mum and Dad had never kept it a secret, but it never left an after taste or a yearning to know more.

She turned the page and carried on reading,

“If you are the Julia Wade I am looking for, please send a reply to the address above. I implore you to acknowledge your receipt of this letter and hope we can meet in person at your earliest convenience.

Regards,                                                                                                                       

Mark Roberts “

Sally put the letter down, unfolded her legs and made a pit stop to the kitchen. Instead of refilling the glass she grabbed the bottle and brought it back with her. Habit made her check her phone. Two texts from Simon. She stopped, she thought about answering but then looked back at the letters and changed her mind. Instead she switched off the phone, threw it in her bag and swallowed another mouthful of wine. She didn’t have the energy to deal with him tonight. She sat back on the sofa, picked up the second envelope and opened it.

“14th June, 1969,

 Julia,

What happened, I waited under the clock at the station, as you asked. Why didn’t you come……………

Check back next time to see what happens……………