Tag Archives: short stories

Lockdown Fiction: Getaway

Another story written for a Clan Destine Press prompt!

Getaway

Jase couldn’t afford a getaway car, and anyway, neither of them had a driver’s licence, so his  best friend Max waited outside the ratty house on a getaway bicycle.

Once Jase did the deed, he came belting out of Greasy Don’s house at top speed, the ill-kept puppy clutched to his chest. The puppy had yelped once, when Jase yanked the brutally short chain and the wooden stake out of the ground. Jase yelped too, because of the splinters, but he grabbed the dog close, even after she peed on him in terror, and ran for his –  and more literally for the dog’s – life.

Mounting the bicycle was a challenge, even though they’d rehearsed with a loaf of bread in Max’s back yard. But Jase got on behind Max and Max took off, dinking Jase and the rescued puppy, as though Greasy Don was in hot pursuit.

Greasy Don wasn’t. Greasy Don was snoring in front of the television in the front room of his neglected house. Greasy Don didn’t have much going for him, but at least he was an equal opportunity slob, neglecting the house, his own hygiene and sobriety and his health in general, as well as the puppy. He possibly had forgotten he even had a dog, which would explain the poor animal’s state. 

Jase, cynical about adults even at thirteen, had assumed Don enjoyed his power over the weaker creature. He couldn’t abide a bully.

The puppy shivered against Jase’s chest as Max pedalled his bike through the streets and back alleys – he was so good at shaking any pursuers that it was almost a shame they had none – and finally slewed to a halt in Jase’s back yard. He held the bike steady while Jase clambered off with the puppy.

Jase was covered in mud, blood and puppy pee. The rescue had indeed been a dirty deed. But they had rescued the animal. Jase put the puppy down and offered her the bowl of water and dog food he and Max had prepared earlier.  They watched, happy and proud, as the puppy drank and ate her fill, and then clambered all over them, wagging her tail and licking their hands and faces.

‘Stinky needs a bath,’ said Max.

‘Don’t call her that,’ protested Jase. ‘It’s not her fault.’

‘You stink too.’

Jase pulled his shirt out to take a long sniff, and his whole face wrinkled in disgust.

After they bathed the puppy – who frolicked in the water like it was the best game ever, delivering a series of high happy yips – she earned the name Flipper. Jase showered too, and then presented the now fluffy white dog to his father.

‘She followed me home. Can I keep her?’

Jase’s father was fully aware of the drunkard four streets away and the poor neglected dog chained in his back yard. He knew right from wrong, of course, but like his son, he didn’t consider a rescue the same as a theft.

‘You can,’ he said. ‘And if Greasy Don shows up and wants her back, we’ll say we bought you the dog for your birthday.’

 Flipper wagged her stumpy tail.

Greasy Don never did come looking.

Lockdown Fiction: Burning Love

Here’s another little story, written to fill the Improbable Press prompt on 23 April.

Burning Love

When Meredith’s girlfriend dumped her right at the start of their fifth anniversary date, her share house didn’t provide a lot of comfort. Caitlyn’s lunch dishes were still on the coffee table and her sewing project covered the sofa, the armchair and a footstool.

‘Least you could do is tidy up when it’s your turn,’ growled Meredith. Her mood for several months now had been at odds with her childhood nickname of Merry.

‘Time got away from me,’ said Caitlyn, trying to soothe. ‘I’ll put it away now.’ She bustled around, tidying up.

Meredith slumped on a kitchen chair, face in her hands. Her tear-wrecked kohl smudged over her palms. ‘Sorry, Caitie. Oh god. I’m such a mess.’

‘You’ll be all right,’ her friend reassured her.

Meredith suspected Caitlyn was right, but that wasn’t helpful. She didn’t like to think that her Great Love had not been such a great thing after all. ‘Thank god I didn’t tattoo her name over my heart.’ This had been a plan, of sorts, in year one. If they made it five years, Merry ♥ Nadia would have been inked on her pale skin forever.

Earlier in the week, Caitlyn had upset Meredith by suggesting she wait until after the anniversary dinner before getting inked. ‘It’s more a gift for you than Nadia,’ she’d suggested. ‘Get her some flowers and have her go with you for the tatt.’

Wise Caitlyn. Bloody irritating Caitlyn. Now Meredith would have to call Black Heart Ink and Piercings to cancel Tuesday’s booking.

‘Did you know she was going to dump me?’ Meredith demanded.

‘No. But you haven’t been happy,’ Caitlyn replied.

Now Meredith was waiting for Caitlyn to say I told you so. Caitlyn didn’t, and that only made Meredith sadder and angrier. She went on the attack.  ‘You should have said something.’

‘I tried. You couldn’t hear it. You wanted her to love you.’

‘She did love me.’

‘She did. Once. She’s been making you miserable lately.’

‘Like you know me so well.’

‘I do, Merry. I’ve been your flatmate for three years. I know you well enough to know she made you miserable.’

Meredith folded her arms on the table and sank her face into them. ‘She did.’ And she sobbed.

‘Let me make you dinner,’ Caitlyn said, a plea rather than an offer. Meredith’s tears obviously made her uncomfortable.

‘Don’t go to any effort,’ whispered Meredith.

‘It’s no effort at all, Merry. I want to.’

Meredith first went to the bathroom to wash her panda eyes. Fresh towels were out. The tiles gleamed.

She then retreated to the living room; she slumped on the sofa, head tilted back. She regarded the newly cleared spaces. Underneath the pieces of patchwork quilt and plate, the room had been impeccably tidy. The bathroom shone. The kitchen, too.

Poor Caitlyn. A good flatmate, a good friend, even when unfairly bearing the brunt of Meredith’s wounded heart. Why on earth did she stand it?

Meredith found the remote control, launched Spotify and proceeded to play tragic love songs at top volume. Maybe This Time. All By Myself. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? Nothing Compares 2U.

Caitlyn brought her a glass of wine. A plate of cheese and crackers.

‘I know you didn’t get to eat. Nibble on those while the veggie pie is baking.’

‘You’re making me a pie?’

‘I had the ratatouille already. I’ve just put a puff pastry lid on it and a swirl of goat’s cheese through the mix.’

Meredith gazed at her with mingled gratitude, apology and self-deprecation. ‘Thanks, Cait. You’re a good friend.’

‘So are you.’

‘I’m not, sometimes. I don’t know why you put up with me. You must love me a lot.’

Meredith laughed softly and then did not laugh at all at the look on Caitlyn’s face. ‘Shit.’

‘I’d better get back to the kitchen.’

Caitlyn fled. Meredith hesitated long enough to realise several things.

Caitlyn is my best friend.

Caitlyn loves me.

Nadia is nothing like Caitlyn, but for months I’ve wished she was.

Perhaps that’s why Nadia had dumped her tonight. Perhaps Meredith had been making Nadia miserable too.

Meredith stood at the kitchen doorway. Caitlyn, stricken, wrung her hands and looked for escape.

‘It’s okay,’ said Caitlyn shakily. ‘You don’t have to love me back.’

‘But I do,’ said Meredith.

‘Don’t say that.’

‘It’s true, though.’

‘You’re my friend. You love me like a friend.’

‘I love you like a friend,’ Meredith agreed. ‘I love you like a best friend. I love you like a co-conspirator. I love you like a soulmate. I love you like the sun. You’re the one I run to tell my happiest news to. You’re the one I want to cry with when the news is bad. You’re the one I come home to because you’re the one. You’re the one.’

Caitlyn cried. ‘You’re on the rebound.’

‘I’m an idiot, but I’m not that much of an idiot,’ said Meredith. ‘But it’s okay. I understand why you don’t believe me.’

She walked slowly to Caitlyn and touched her twisting hands.  ‘You’ve been so patient. I can wait. I’ll wait till you believe me, Caitie.’

Caitlyn blinked tears away. She met Meredith’s earnest, smiling gaze. For the first time in a long, long time, Meredith looked… Merry. Caitlyn leaned towards her friend, magnetised, drawn by the pull of her long unspoken love, until their lips met.

Their first kiss was soft, sweet. A bit wet from the crying.

It smelled of heat, of baking, of fire, of smoke…

And then the smoke alarm went off.

A dinner meant to offer kindness and care was a burnt offering, but that was all right. Merry said, for years and decades after, that it was fitting that their love be heralded by a noble sacrifice.

Lockdown Fiction: Patience

You know, I often don’t know where things in my stories come from, and that’s doubly true when I’m responding to a prompt. I’m just trying to use the suggested words and images in an interesting way.

Which leads me to this poem, written for Clan Destine Press’s latest story prompt. The words were: Don’t go; Paws; Slam; Burn.

Since CDP publishes a lot of crime, I wanted to write a story about murder and revenge, but I honestly did not expect it to come from this angle.

Patience

I have meant and done you harm
Disguised beneath my canny charm
So none believe in you

You are trapped, imprisoned here
There’s no escaping me, my dear
Not straight away, that’s true.

Don’t slam the door or slink away
Or plot to burn me down today
Revenge is better cold

And served up with a clever, sly
Pre-determined alibi
That under stress will hold.

Resist the worn out metaphors
Equating stealth with padded paws
Find other ways to stalk

Bide your time and make your plot
Until you think that I’ve forgot
Your will to do me in

And enjoy the wild surprise
Reflected in my dying eyes
As I perish for my sin

Lockdown Fiction: Tumble

I wrote this brief piece in response to the Improbable Press prompt of last week.

Tumble

His eyes were green, his skin pale. A right Irish honeypot, and everyone wanted a taste of the sweet lad.

His hair was his glory: golden red, which burned like a holy fire when the sun caught it.

When he walked, the little sway in his hip made traffic stop. He didn’t aim to seduce, but he could hardly help it. Fey blood made a fey boy potent, sparking desire even in those who never expected to desire a boy: a red-golden, cream-skin, emerald-eye, honeypot boy.

He ought to have been hung about with a sign.

Be careful.

His laugh was a siren call and a warning.

That cackle of joy burst out of him at the most unexpected things; but seriousness could also descend without notice, coming upon him like a solemn oath. He would burrow briefly into the dark, rooting uncomfortable truths from the soil and the roots of life, before turning it  all upside down again, flinging what he found into the light, cackling again.

The fey honeyed boy drew the flies, but also the bee, a lad sumptuously large, striped black and golden, full of the solemn hum of life, heavy with a rich nectar. Where the fey boy cackled, the sumptuous boy smiled, his solemn hum lilting lighter. The fey boy burrowed into the dark loam of him, turned it upside down into the light. The gold inside one glinted in the burning sun of the other.

Honeypot and bee, the fey and the earth, the sun and the glow.

Carelessly, they tumbled into love.