Flash Fiction

 

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The Butterfly

She watched the butterfly flap its wings against the window pain, trapped and frantic, trying to escape. It knew the outside world was on the other side of the glass, but could think of no way of getting out there.

“You’re like me little butterfly – imprisoned, with no means of escape.”

She’d been looking after her invalid mother for as long as she could remember. Neighbours called her a saint.

“We can all hear her screaming her orders at you, how do you stand it?”

A saint – they wouldn’t think that if they knew what went on in my head, she thought.

The butterfly pounded its wings, crashing from one pain of glass to the next.

“For God sake let that bloody thing out! Do you want it to drive me mad?”

She lifted her tired, aching body from the chair and unlatched the window, watching enthralled as her butterfly escaped, brilliant against the beautiful blue sky. She closed her eyes, trying to imagine it’s feeling of freedom.

“Close the damn window; do you want me to catch my death?”

Jerked back into reality she closed the window, resuming her seat in the stuffy room.

“Don’t sit down again you idle cow, get me a drink, I’m parched.”

She pulled herself up wearily and walked slowly into the kitchen, filled the kettle and stared again out of the window, looking for her butterfly. Then she saw it, happy and free, as it took nectar from the roses.

The kettle clicked off. She turned; the beauty of the butterfly still in her mind.

“Don’t forget my medicine Girl!”

“Yes Mother.”

She reached inside the cupboard for the crystal clear medicine and imagined the butterfly taking nectar.

“Freedom,” she whispered as she picked up the bleach.

She carried the tea in to her mother.

She too was a butterfly… on her way to freedom……

***Home

It should have been so easy!

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A male monologue.     

            How the hell did I get into this mess? The last 24 hours have been an absolute nightmare! If only I could blank it from my memory and start again – but I can’t!
I stormed into that spotty faced moron’s office, so full of determination, fists clenched, teeth grinding, jaw clamped shut – and then I saw him sitting there, in his bright, modern office, with his legs sprawled out across his desk, looking so supercilious. I guess I should have known from the start to keep my mouth shut!
But as usual I was unable to control myself! Words poured out – as those pale, piggy eyes bore into me! I knew he wasn’t listening to a word I said! He thinks, because his father owns the place, and he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he’s something special!
Maybe I did burst in guns blazing – but when you’re ‘salesman of the year’ why not? Surely it should count for something! The commission they pay me – so they can line their hand-made suit pockets, is a joke! I deserve a rise! I deserve some recognition!
But could he see that? Did he want to see it? Did he hell! All he went on about, in that whining voice of his, was ‘targets’. Well, I told him where to put his targets! I gave him a few home truths all right! ‘I’ve had enough.’ I said. ‘I’m not going to answer to you anymore! Find someone else to hit your targets!’ That made him sit up I can tell you. I walked out and slammed the door into his smarmy face – and boy did it feel good! Bet he was on the phone to Daddy even before I left the building.

****

            Trouble is, when I got home and opened the front door, she rushed up to me and threw her arms round my neck … and my heart sank.
I knew what she was going to say even before she said it. She’s been on about it long enough… endless whingeing at those interminable dinner parties she arranges, with her ‘professional’ so called friends, where they talk about how much money they earn… and where I act as glorified wine waiter!
I hadn’t taken much notice of it till then, tried to ignore it, hoping the feeling would pass … but suddenly I feel trapped! I DON’T WANT THIS! I don’t want to be tied down with nappies, in a house smelling of sick. I don’t want to come home each night to mess and noise, constantly hard up – responsibility… for LIFE! But it’s too late to tell her that now. How can I tell her I’ve just walked out of my job? It wouldn’t be so bad if it was just the two of us – but a brat as well….
Her parents will have a field day. They already think I’m not good enough for her, always have done. Whenever they visit the house – the one they never tire of reminding me ‘they paid for’ – I feel them judging me, their eyes telling me just how inadequate they think I am. Well, they’ll have plenty to judge me on now! I can hear them, as they drive home in that precious Mercedes of theirs.
‘Fancy doing this to her, he knows how to pick his time! I knew that temper of his would be his downfall!’ Oh yes, I can hear them, twisting the knife as they sip their gin and tonics on the balcony of their sunny holiday home in Spain.

****

             How smug he looks as I walk back into his office, cap in hand, to ask for my job back. And how he enjoys telling me he’s already offered it to someone else – and given them my list of contacts – the contacts I worked my backside off to get! Then he says the only job they can offer ‘at this time’ would be at a much reduced rate ….and worst of all I thank him… and tell him how grateful I am and apologise for my temper tantrum …. and  walk out slowly, softly closing the door behind me, knowing the smirk on his face is expanding on the other side.
And now I face the prospect of going home to tell her! The verbal abuse, the inquest, the tears, the recriminations… the apologies! The days of silent treatment as she knits baby clothes, knitting needles clacking like a woman by the guillotine… just in case I forget this dreadful wrong I’ve done, not only to her but also to ‘our’ child

What went wrong? What happened to the carefree lad I used to be? What have I done to deserve it? What has life done to me? What have I done with my life? What have I become?  I had such high hopes. I didn’t ask for much, just a well-paid job, real friends, foreign holidays… All I see now are rows of nappies flapping in the breeze, waving, as if they’re laughing at me… stretching out into infinity.

And it should all have been so easy ….

***

Home

 

Mavis, Alex and Coronavirus

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Alex: (Looking out of front window)
Bloody isolation! I used to be able to get out for a quick pint down The Old Bull and Bush before – now it’s closed she’s got me trapped in all day. If I sit down for more than a minute she’s at me.
 ‘Mr Motivator’s on Alex,’ she yells. “Come on, you need to keep fit. He’ll get that belly of yours sorted.”
Keep fit! What for? So I can listen to ‘er naggin’ from mornin’ till night? Er never bothered with Keep Fit before, so why now all of a sudden? She’s been watchin’ all them people walkin’ past in their tee shirts and joggers – brand new, arrived from Amazon yesterday – it’s like a bloody fashion show out there it is… with their poor old husband’s trailing behind ‘um.

Mavis: (Washing up in kitchen)
He needs more to do, not just to sit in his armchair watching Peers Morgan on television. They’d get on well together those two – opinionated pair. I catch him sometimes lookin’ out of window, watchin’ them walkin’ past. I saw ‘im wave a ‘er from number thirty yesterday – he thought I hadn’t noticed. Right mess she looked too, in a shocking pink track suit. How old does she think she is?

Alex:
It’s Thursday – ‘er highlight of the week. Eight o’clock she’ll be shootin’ outside to clap for NHS. Apparently no one thinks you care if you don’t go out and clap. Well I can clap from me armchair thanks – and I bet I’m more sincere than those what just go out for a good  gossip- with their faces made up to the nines because they’re appearin’ in public. It’ll take ‘er half an hour to do ‘er hair!

Mavis:
I noticed ‘er next door had cut ‘er ‘air and put a colour on. Never mind, it’s not ‘er fault if that’s the only colour she could get. Our Milly says they show these You Tube videos on how to cut ‘air – I’ll have to tell ‘er. I offered to have a go at cuttin’ Alex’s ‘air but he won’t let me. I think he’s relivin’ his youth again – he’s stopped shavin’ too, designer stubble he calls it – bloody mess if you ask me.

Alex:
She won’t even leave me alone in the greenhouse. I tried to have a crafty fag in there yesterday and next I see ‘er comin’ down the path. Had to stub it out in a pot of geraniums I’d just planted. ‘Funny smell in here’, she said. ‘It’s that new compost’, I replied. What a waste of a fag.

Mavis:
I know he tries to have a crafty cigarette behind me back. I follow ‘im and try to time it that he’s just lit up and has to stub it out. He won’t be able to buy any more without me knowing now he doesn’t have an excuse to go to the pub. We’re over seventy you see, in the danger zone, they say we must stay home ‘cause we’re vulnerable. It’ll be a good chance for him to try and give up. He says he already has – but I know different.

Alex:
She’s painting rainbows now to stick on the front windows – says everyone’s doin’ it. I won’t be able to see outside soon.

Mavis:
Our Milly’s going to WhatsApp us tonight. It’s lovely to see ‘er and what’s-his-name for a nice family chat. The kid’s don’t stay on long though – usually keen to get back to their on-line friends. What they find to talk about is beyond me. It’s lovely seeing them though. It usually ends up being just me and our Milly havin’ a chin-wag.

Alex:
Oh heck! We’ve got another of those WhatsApp calls from our Milly tonight! It’s usually just Mavis and our Milly what does the talking. I get sick of hearing about Coronavirus, that’s all they have to talk about.
Ruby Robotham has usually gone past by now, she’s late today. Oh, there’s George from Corner Shop trailing after his wife, Norma. Got ‘im on a lead she has. He should put his foot down like me.

Mavis:
‘Come on Alex its eleven o’clock, time to get your walkers on or we’ll be late. We don’t want neighbour’s to think we’ve had a lie-in, now do we?

Alex:
Lie in. I should be so lucky! I think this virus was invented so women got us where they want us – right under their thumbs.
Oh, here ‘er from number thirty – eh, she looks a bit of alright today.
‘Alright Mavis, I’m ready!’

***

Oh, Mr Tesco!

thank you signage
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Who would have thought
You’d be the highlight of my week
When sitting at the computer paid off
To get the grocery I seek.
Oh, Mr Tesco,
It’s the first time I’ve got a slot,
So please forgive my excitement,
I haven’t lost the plot.
The joy I felt as I ordered
I haven’t felt for days,
The moment I indulged myself
Exposed in many different ways.
When a simple bar of ‘Galaxy’
Sent temptation overboard,
When a bottle of ‘Domestos’
Was mightier than the sword.
When a meagre tin of tomatoes
Sent my heart a’flutter
And I won’t tell you what I wouldn’t do
For a taste of real butter.
If you’re like me then you will know
How a bottle of red
Will set you up for pleasant dreams
Before you go to bed.
Oh, Mr Tesco you take on new state,
Your van becomes a charging steed
You’re the superhero of my dreams
The man who hears my hunger screams –
So please, please don’t be late!

Love and many thanks to all the key workers
for putting themselves at risk
to keep us safe and well fed. 
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Life’s Turbulent Waters

 

backlit beach dawn dusk
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With unashamed perception
She flaunts her form,
Careless and free.
Skin salt-stung fresh,
Eyes wild, eager, expectant,
A new day wraps its arms about her.
And sand, Sahara soft,
Caresses her youthful limbs,
As tension slithers from her

Tangled in weeds,
Lashing frantically,
Trying to break free,
The current overwhelms her,
Draws her down beneath murky waters,
Stifling, choking,
Breath snatched from aching limbs.

Submitting and accepting suffocation,
She ceases fighting and assumes defeat,
Surrendering to the turbulent waters,
Allowing resignation to encompass her,
And in her yielding new strength emerges,
As water recedes and her soul breaks free.

 

Demons in her Head

adult alone black and white dark
Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

(#Social Isolation#Clapping for the NHS

Clapping permeates night’s stillness
And emerging into darkness
She feels suddenly not alone.
Her face, her outdoor face, is smiling.

Protective arms are placed about her children
As lovingly she looks upon her man
And in this moment’s madness she feels somehow safe
Connected to a world she understands.

She will speak no word about her fear
To sap her strength – to break her,
As she knows such words will only lose their trust,
So silently she locks away her demons,
Buries the key deep down amongst the dust.

Yet inside the minefield of her head
Dark images mingle,
Gnaw away, struggling to get free,
They pummel and punch as they jostle and joust,
Barging and banging as they fight to get out,
Tormenting her soul, unwilling to let her be.

A movement from a child
Returns her back to ‘mother mode’,
The place where she belongs,
The place she feels at home,
So restoring her smile she claps instead,
Ignoring the turmoil invading in her head,
And she wonders if other mother’s are being misled
By demons which are banging in their head.

J.H. March 2020

 

 

Priorities

woman in pink long sleeve hoodie carrying tissue rolls
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With half the world in shutdown
I find it strange to see
Loo rolls being the commodity
Folk consider a priority –
Alongside pasta – the new staple
We Brits need on our dinner table.

What happened to yesterday’s newspaper
Hanging on a nail?
When our only antiseptic gel
Was cold water from a pail?
Spaghetti was a foreign food
Heinz put in a tin –
And long-life milk, so disgusting
We threw it in the bin!
The only place to buy things
Was from the corner shop,
And the only Corona to find there
Was Dandelion and Burdock pop!

It seems now we need a lesson
On how to wash our hands,
We are so reliant on Facebook
Our heads stay buried in the sand.
We no longer make decisions,
Allowing others to cloud our visions,
As we scurry like Santa’s little elves
Grabbing loo rolls from the shelves.

In Denial

architecture big ben big city buildings
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IN DENIAL

We observe as man destroys us –
We recognise it happening, but ignore it.
Have we become complaisant and accept our fate,
Shunning scientist predictions, sanctioning leaders to dictate –
Their influence led by image, not survival?

Eschewing suffering we watch our land flood,
See people made homeless, their fields turned to mud.
The ground beneath our feet is iced in concrete,
Hedgerow’s are mutilated, air polluted,
Yet we remain muted.

Our island is Great, but our voice is small,
It’s not our shame; we don’t hold the blame,
That’s someone else’s chore…

Until it becomes a problem no more…

Poetry Moments

IMG_0719

THE IRRITANT

With loneliness profound
I loll in brackish water,
my shell clamped shut…
Waiting…

A parasite swims slowly
towards my enclave,
entering my inner sanctum.
I feel its connection…

Cradling this irritant, I bathe it,
forging a precious seed within me,
wondering at its delicate beauty,
experiencing love greater than all other…

Yet know; exquisite love like this can’t last.
Someday my flawless jewel will be wrenched from me,
You will prise my shell – tear out my heart – snatch my child…
and eradicate my reason for living.

***

 

 

 

Marketing Misery

book page
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Writing a novel I find fun, challenging and exciting. I even enjoy editing – changing words around, reforming sentences, moving punctuation – honing my work. However, the area I can’t come to terms with is marketing, when I have to leave my comfortable ‘inner self’ and face putting my completed work ‘out there’.

But surely this is what writing is all about – reaching the end and offering it for others to (hopefully) enjoy. Yet when I reach this stage the knot begins to tighten in my stomach, as I come away from my world of imagination and walk towards the real world – as me.

I’m not sure why I feel this way, it’s certainly not fear of rejection. I know I’ve never been great at accepting praise, preferring to be told where I went wrong and what I can do to improve. I find some comfort in that.

I read tons of advice:-

Have a comprehensive email list / be active on social media / have a personal website / include sample chapters / post blogs, / link to an Amazon page / contact booksellers and libraries – COMMUNICATE! All positive things to do, I agree – and I will do them when my next novel, ‘Away With The Fairies’, comes out in a couple of months time. See I’ve already started plugging it!

Are most writers shy and introverted? Do we need to be in order to delve deep within ourselves?

Please post your thoughts – and feel free to promote your next novel if you wish. Remember too, I am comfortable with criticism – so don’t hold back!