Friday Fictioneers – The Morning After Effect

ff161013My head was still spinning from the night before. I didn’t remember much, but it had been a good night, that much I was sure. Jimmy always did say the best nights were the ones you couldn’t remember.

On the way to the corner store two woman whispered as I approached.

That was his friend,’ I overheard one of them say. Both sets of eyes looked towards me. Dismissive. Disgusted.

My phone buzzed. There were a dozen messages from Jimmy’s kid brother.

It was then I noticed the blood stain on my jeans.; it was then I started to remember – and panic.

friday-fictioneers

These words form my entry into Friday Fictioneers photo prompt challenge.

It’s an old prompt, but a new story. No re-treads on here

Friday Fictioneers – Opposites Attract

the-boat-and-miss-libertyBob Fogarty had run his crabber out of St. Verlaine for as long as anyone living there could remember. Everybody liked Bob. He always had a story,  and when the whisky was flowing good, most likely a song or two.

Then there was May Fogarty, like chalk to Bob’s cheese she was. Always rubbed folks up the wrong way. Never had a good word to say about anyone or anything – most especially not her Bob. But it didn’t stop them having their ten kids, didn’t stop them staying together while other families drifted apart. Deep down they just loved each other I suppose.     

friday-fictioneers

These words form my entry into Friday Fictioneers photo prompt challenge.

It’s an old prompt, but a new story. No re-treads on here

Friday Fictioneers – Running Towards Trouble

ff140514Maggie gently squeezed my hand as the ceremony came an end. It had been our first September back in New York since I’d left the service.

‘How did it feel that day?’ the young woman next to me asked.

How did it feel, lady? It felt absolutely fricking terrifying. Instinct was screaming at me to turn and run, to flee to safety with everybody else, to escape from the undreamt of horrors unfolding a few blocks up ahead. But I didn’t turn, I didn’t run, none of us did.

‘It felt like I was doing my job, Miss.’ I said.

friday-fictioneers

These words form my entry into Friday Fictioneers photo prompt challenge.

It’s an old prompt, but a new story. No re-treads on here

Friday Fictioneers – Tourist Trap

ff060716Freshly whitewashed walls sparkled under a warm, early-morning sun. Down by the small harbour, tables and chairs, stored over winter in his uncle’s goat shed, had been wiped down and placed outside Nik’s Taverna.  Even the normally unhurried and unfussed Madame Soranis had replanted her window box in readiness. Back up the hill, Mr Konaros too was almost ready for the summer season. Not many visitors to the picturesque village of Arxalas would likely remember Mr Konaros. A few though would have reason to regret crossing his path as they fumbled around in unexpectedly empty pockets on the journey home.

friday-fictioneers

These words form my entry into Friday Fictioneers photo prompt challenge.

It’s an old prompt, but a new story. No re-treads on here!

Friday Fictioneers – A Long, Slow Thaw

ff290616‘She wants to see you,’ my brother said, his faint voice almost lost within the crackles of the long-distance line.

I hadn’t spoken to my younger brother in two years; it had been nearer twenty-five since I’d seen our mother, yet the memories of that spring morning remained clear.

‘You’re too good for her, and that family,’ she’d insisted, bitter, angry tears reddening her eyes.

She never did come to the wedding, never did see her our three girls grow up. She had other children, ones who hadn’t disappointed her.

‘She’s dying’ my brother, continued. ‘She wants to say she’s sorry.’

friday-fictioneers

These words form my entry into Friday Fictioneers photo prompt challenge.

It’s an old prompt, but a new story. No re-treads on here!

Adieu Europe

diceGot to be honest and say I wasn’t really watching the EU Referendum hustings that closely. Why? Well, two main reasons. Firstly I didn’t appreciate there was a serious chance we would actually vote to leave. Naive perhaps, but for me Europe has simply never been an issue. Secondly, it all felt like an internal Tory squabble (most UKIP are ex-Tories) – a squabble that has been brewing for years and needed to finally vent steam. Well, vent steam it did, and driven by the racial intolerance currently rife in our politics, the voters of the UK took the frankly mind-numbing decision to cut themselves adrift from our European neighbours.

What now? Well, that’s a good question. However, I wouldn’t waste time asking the ‘Leave’ campaign as none of them seem to know. Unlike the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014, where there was a 670 page white paper outlining the transition, in this referendum there has been nothing but soundbites and rhetoric. On the news of a Leave vote the UK markets crashed to the point where we dropped from the 5th to the 6th biggest global economy. Hot on the heels of share values being decimated the first lie of the Leave campaign was then exposed. Leaving the EU would apparently allow an extra £350m to be spent on the NHS, each week. As it turns out that was, err, “a mistake” according to UKIP leader, Nigel Farage. Conveniently it was a mistake plastered all over battle buses, hoardings, flyers and television interviews. As I type I’ve just read that Cornwall residents (who voted 57/43 to leave) want their current EU subsidies to be matched by the UK Govt. I wish them well with that request. There will be a long queue of people wanting their lost EU income protected.

Of course, I’m Scottish and a passionate supporter of my country and it’s right to become an independent nation once again. Many people will now be asking where this result leaves that dream. The answer is probably best summed up by this post-EU Ref map.

ukeu

The yellow bits voted to remain; the blue bits voted to leave. As you can see there is a rather large, unspoiled, yellow bit north of the Scotland/England border. In more detail, there are 32 council areas in Scotland. Of those 32, erm, 32 voted to ‘Remain’. Sad fact is if everyone who voted in Scotland had voted to ‘Remain’ it would have made absolutely no difference i.e. we were, as we always are, outnumbered by our fellow islanders in England and Wales. The net result is that despite an overwhelming desire to remain in the EU, Scotland is on the way out. With it will be an end to the EU funding so vital to many Scottish organisations. However, I’m sure we can expect the UK Govt to cover the shortfall, or more likely not.

Unsurprisingly this outcome has triggered talk of a second Scottish Independence referendum. First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, made it clear during the recent Holyrood elections that only a “significant and material change” would bring “indyref2” onto the table. There can’t be much argument that being dragged out the the EU against our will more than qualifies. It looks like being an interesting year or two ahead on the UK political scene.

Thanks for reading.

The clock is ticking

Wee Ginger Dug

So that’s it then. The sun has risen but the darkness falls. The nightmare has happened. The nightmare is here. Two Unions lie broken. Last night England broke the Unions, and chose for us. Chose to take us into the dark forest, chose to take us off the path we wanted to travel. England and Wales have voted to leave the EU and Scotland has voted to remain. Every single council area voted to remain.  The union is divided but Scotland is united, and here we are again, sitting at the back of a bus that’s being driven to a destination that we’ve said we don’t want to go to. We cling on as we drive off a cliff. We shout from the back seat but no one listens. We hold our heads in our hands and we weep in frustration. That’s the best of both better together worlds. That’s…

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Friday Fictioneers – Fear of (Not) Flying

ff220616With the evening sun setting over Milwaukee, Cathy buckled up tight for her final paid landing. The former homecoming queen had pushed her cart up and down the aisles of Deltas for the last 30 years. Her ankles now ached most shifts, but she never once stopped smiling.

“I bet you won’t miss the three-day trips and 5am starts,” the Captain had said.

Thing is she would. Life at home had become almost unbearable since Frank had begun to forget. Last weekend he didn’t recognise their oldest daughter. Cathy feared she would be next, and that scared her.

friday-fictioneers

These words form my entry into Friday Fictioneers photo prompt challenge.

It’s an old prompt, but a new story. No re-treads on here!

Friday Fictioneers – A Pupil’s Sorrow

I started piano lessons at Miss Shawbridge’s place when I was eight. I always hated them, even though I never disliked her. It was the house which creeped me out, it smelled of death, everything just looked old. They stopped me going to see Miss Shawbridge when I was 13.

I saw her the other week, Alice Shawbridge. I hadn’t seen her in almost eleven years. Despite what I did to her that afternoon she still bears no malice. She’s forgiven me and wishes me no ill, she says. The thing is, I’m not sure I’ll ever forgive myself.

friday-fictioneers

These words form my entry into Friday Fictioneers photo prompt challenge.

It’s an old prompt, but a new story. No re-treads on here!

Sunday Photo Fiction – Next in Line

160-06-june-12th-2016Three red lights shimmered in the summer haze. The cars on the start line continued to rev, golden licks of flame shooting from the silver and black exhausts. One by one the lights went dark. Both cars screeched  from the start, flame and smoke trails in their wake. Before you could wipe the heat and dust from your eyes it was over. Dad had won again.

‘Well, he’s only gone and done it, Brad.’ I turned towards my little brother, but he himself was already turned away – lost in his own world. Brad had never really shown much interest in racing; he’d never really shown much interest in most of the things our family was known for in the county. I though loved all of it: the cars, the competition, the noise, the excitement. But I was a girl and girl’s don’t race.

The fans in the stands cheered as this year’s champion made his way back towards the pits. In a few years  Brad would be expected to take over the family concern – expected to become the next champion to raise the family name high.  I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Dad would be heartbroken, but in time I hoped he’d understand.

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Other entries for SPF can be found here.

Friday Fictioneers – The Beast in the Bottle

ff160414We always knew when Daddy had been drinking. His key would rattle around in the lock until it almost broke – his dinner lying cold and uneaten on the table. We’d hear him cursing; we’d see our mother frowning.

‘Off to bed, children, now,’ she would tell us.

I always went without hesitating. I hated it when Daddy drunk. I’d stay hidden underneath the covers until the house went quiet.

Our mother couldn’t hide from him. She had to put up with Daddy through all of his moods. Yet, her smile remained just as bright the next morning, no matter the bruises.

friday-fictioneers

These words form my entry into Friday Fictioneers photo prompt challenge.

It’s an old prompt, but a new story. No re-treads on here!

Sunday Photo Fiction – The Grassy Knoll Files

spf050616Joel was a conspiracy theorist. He wasn’t the only one in his freshman year at St. McKenzies. In fact they had their own club. ‘Theories Unlimited‘ it was called, and they met once a week in each other’s rooms at the dorm house. So far this semester they had covered all the old favourites: JFK, Area 51, the Moon Landings. Tonight Joel was hosting the group. There would be plenty of room, there was only six of them.

‘That’s clearly not true,’ cried Emily. ‘Elvis isn’t dead, he has a ranch in North Dakota – I’ve seen the pictures.’

Joel nodded in agreement. As the discussion around the continued existence of ‘The King’ raged on, Joel got up and wandered across to the fridge. Having pulled together a pastrami sandwich he tipped the milk carton up to pour himself a glass, only to find the carton almost empty.

‘Hey, has anyone been at my milk?’ he asked the group.

The room fell silent, almost. At the far end of the settee Jimmy slurped from a plastic beaker. Looking up, the white foam ring around his lips was clear for all the theorists to see. Sheepishly he shrugged his shoulders and said ‘Err, the CIA drunk it? Aliens?’

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Other entries for SPF can be found here.

Friday Fictioneers – Leaving Home

ff010616A ewe and her lamb huddled together for warmth in the darkness of the crumbling cottage. Last night the rest of the flock had followed each other into the temporary pen readied behind the farmyard, but at least one wary mother appeared to know what this meant.

As sunlight crept over the hills a red quad bike approached the cottage. A young collie crept inside and chased the two shivering occupants out into the open field. The farmer looked at his watch. Over his shoulder he could hear the lorry approaching: the spring lambs would soon be on their way.

friday-fictioneers

These words form my entry into Friday Fictioneers photo prompt challenge

Flab Battle – Take Two

treadmillWell, not quite, more of a minor reenactment.

The original ‘Flab Battle‘, which commenced in March 2012, saw me go from an outrageous 18’6″ (116kg) to a low of 12’7″ (79.1Kg). In truth, I had lost too much, too quickly. There was very little fat/cushioning left on certain parts of my body i.e. base of spine. To this day I remain convinced that I somehow screwed up my metabolism and as a result even when it’s hot I can still feel cold.

For the best part of three years my weight remained in my defined comfort zone which capped off at 13’7″. However, we then decided to move house. This involved stress. This also involved dismantling our treadmill. These two things allied to me just getting lazy and into some bad eating habits saw my weight begin to rise again. Now that we’ve moved and are settled it’s time to get back on track. The stress is easing and of course the treadmill is now back up and running in the garage. A starting weigh-in last week shocked me to the core. The scales flashed 14’8″ (92.6Kg). This was all the motivation I needed to get back into action.

weight graph

A combination of treadmill sessions, every other day, and calorie counting (with my trusted app/website MyFitnessPal) has borne some early fruit. Not only do I feel physically and mentally better, but I weigh less. Today’s weigh-in showed I had dropped down to 14’4″ (90.7Kg). Yes, I know a good percentage of this will be water weight as my body starts to flush out the sludge, but it still an encouraging first week or so.

Plan is to lose at a slow, steady and sustainable rate until I reach my target of around 13’3″ (84Kg). Hopefully I can achieve that before autumn turns to winter. Regular updates to follow.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday Photo Fiction – Natural Born Artist

spf290516I started messing around with paint when I was a kid. I painted everywhere; on walls, on floors on windows. I drove my old mum mad. If I weren’t leaving paint on something I had it all over myself. No matter how many baths I had, no matter how much I scrubbed, there were always paint under my nails. More than that it was under my skin, and everyone knew it. In the end they just let me get on with it. And I did.

There wasn’t a part of town where you wouldn’t see my tag. Fizz I called myself and the cops and the council hated me. They’d clean a wall and I’d be back. From time to time they’d catch me. It didn’t bother me: if I had to pay for my art then so be it.

Funny thing is last week I went back to one of those walls I sprayed as a kid. This time the council were there again, but to say well done and give me a cheque. Yeh, so get this, they’re now paying me for my art. ‘Urban regeneration’ they call it; ‘Fucked up’, some old fella called it. Call it what you want – I just love to paint.

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Other entries for SPF can be found here.