Flash Fiction is fermenting…..

If you have tuned in for a flash break there is one just begining to form in my mind, but as I’ve been up for over 24 hours I have decided, for the sake of my sanity and your entertainment, to write it tomorrow. I’m sure many artists/writers do some of their most inspired work in a state of sleep deprivation; as i’m not sure that i am either yet, i prefer to claw back some sleep before attempting to be creative. (I intend to be creative with the microwave shortly-this could be interesting as everything in the freezer is covered with a glitzty layer of frost-what will it be? The excitement is underwhelming me completely.).

I might have to dig deep to find a story from Calgary though as I didn’t really get up to much. It will probably be based on my trip to the Glenbow Museum to see the utterly fantastic Fernando Botero exhibition. Apart from his great paintings and sculptures, the

Dancer

most incredible thing was the total absence of anyone else in the gallery. Ok, it was monday, but had it been London, NYC or Paris, it would have been virtually impossible to see the paintings, and that is saying something given the huge proportions of both the exhibits and subjects! So, rush, (dare I say stampede?), to Calgary immediately for your Fernando Fix.

Finally, before the jet lag stops lagging and catches up, (and yes, the professionals suffer too), I must apologise to the lovely passenger on my flight back today who I quite shamelessly promoted my blog to. It was the last thing you wanted to hear, probably. There is nothing more unattractive than a tired steward pretending to be clever. So, to the woman from 39A, English teacher from North London, I am sorry. Although if you are reading this, my fly-by promotion worked. Hurrah! Hope it was worth it.

I’ll be flashing again tomorrow…..

Over the Edge- this really is flash fiction.

Still buoyed by my recent success, I have been busy getting something down for a short story competition. The closing date is the 31st, but as I am flying tomorrow, (Calgary this time. The amount of time I spend in Canada should make me eliglble for citizenship), I have been trying to finish it. It’s a longer version of my last flash fiction post and I have really enjoyed writing it. I know they say you should put away a finished story and come back a week or so later to spot the glaring mistakes; is a day long enough? Well, it is this time.

One edit I am doing today is my over use of dialog tags. In the space of a mere 2000 words I see that I have used all of the following: grunted, snapped, announced, snorted, muttered, spat and cried. Oh, and said. Now I have spat out my thesaurus, I can try and bring them under some sort of control, but it is a very useful exercise. My thanks go to Erika and her timely posting for bringing these crimes to my attention.

As I said, (you see-already under control), I am working tomorrow. I have only one night in Calgary, Alberta, so might have to dig deep for inspiration. But so far, my belief that there is story just about everywhere is holding fast.

And so to today’s offering. It’s a true quickie. Blink and it’s gone. When we left the flyingscribbler hangar to stride out across the seven sisters last week, it really was this windy.  Verbal communication was impossible, but I think A got the message when I thought he was veering a little too close to the edge. I wonder how many poor souls do go over in error? Perhaps it was this type of thinking that put me in the melancholy mood for the story.

OVER THE EDGE

‘Why are we here?’ he shouted.

‘What?’

‘Why did you bring me up here?’

‘I can’t hear you. The wind’s blowing your words away.’

He came closer and moved around her; upwind.

‘What are we doing here?’

She stared deeply into his eyes and found the strength of his emotion.

‘I wanted to show you,’ she said.

‘What?’

She turned to look over the edge of the cliff, up and out over the waves, into the vastness of the empty sea.

‘That,’ she said, ‘do you see?’

He followed her gaze. Breathing deeply he tasted salt and the gulf between his fears and her hopes.

He saw.

‘I still love you,’ he said

She turned away, allowing the wind to whip the tears from her cheeks and steal the words from her mouth; they flew across the chalky cliff and dissolved over the rolling ocean.

‘I love you too,’ she said, ‘but it’s not enough.’

Copyright: flyingscribbler 2010


A Day In Provence – story inspired by a trip to Toulon

Promises, promises. I said I would post my Toulon-inspired story yesterday. Had anyone visited my blog expecting said story they would have been very disappointed. As it is, nobody so much as peeked all day, so I think I may have got away with it.

We decided to make the most of what I am now officially naming the LAST DAY OF SUMMER by hiking over 5 of the seven sisters. I am now aching all over and quite possibly have man flu caused by walking in force 7 winds in a t-shirt. At least that will give me more time to write. I have just spotted a couple of competitions to enter, and having been boosted by my recent success, I am all for trying again. One of the competitions is from Words with Jam, which I love. This one requires a short story, and as all the good ones I have written are already on a short list elsewhere, I think I might as well write another. So if things go quiet for a day or two, you know why.

In the meantime, here’s my flash from Toulon. It is odd that the thing I remember most from there is the hoards of mostly sun-burned and overweight passengers from a cruise ship. But I was fascinated by them.

A DAY IN PROVENCE

Margaret’s mind turned to murder as they crossed the Avenue de la République and headed for the marina. She watched her beige husband elbow his indistinct way through the colourful crowd of locals heading past them.

Forty years of simmering resentment had earlier boiled over into refined hate outside the opera house.

‘Not a patch on Covent Garden,’ he’d grunted, ‘and this town’s too crowded. Bloody French’

‘It’s their town and this is France, you philistine,’ she’d muttered.

Now, turning onto the waterfront, she played a quick round of ‘Ways To Get Rid Of Your Husband.’ She’d got to ‘push him off the cruise ship’ when they passed a wedding party emerging from the register office. Guests in cheap dresses and nylon suits threw giant heart-shaped confetti over the newlyweds. Margaret was captivated by the unashamed garishness and open sensuality of the moment.

‘Dirty gypsies,’ he hissed, ‘they get everywhere.’

‘Switch his heart pills,’ thought Margaret, continuing the game.

‘I’m going back,’ he announced, heading towards the giant ship.

‘What about lunch? I wanted to try some mussels.’

‘That foreign muck? No chance.’

‘We came on this cruise to broaden our horizons,’ said Margaret.

‘Well, you’ve certainly been broadening something,’ he sneered, looking her up and down.

That evening, Margaret looked out to sea from her table. As her Moules Marinières were placed in front of her, she raised her glass to the departing boat.

‘Bon voyage,’ she whispered, having concluded her game with an easier option: ‘jump ship’.

Copyright: flyingscribbler 2010.

Toulon vs. Portsmouth: the jury’s still out. And some excellent news!

There must be one day for every aspiring writer when they finally receive confirmation that they are on the right track and that it is worth carrying on. A moment when they can sit back and feel just a little bit justified in having sat alone for so many hours, (yes, doing nothing mostly, but I like to think doing nothing always constitutes doing something), at the expense of partners and washing up.

Here at the flyingscribbler hangar I may just be having that day today.

A short while ago I discovered a flash fiction competition which was due to close imminently, so I rushed of a couple of recent attempts and the requisite fee. This morning I have found out that I have only gone and won the competition. The prize may only be £50, but it might as well be £500. I feel wonderfully thrilled and very pleased with myself. I have even been asked if I would like to go to the literary festival to collect the prize and read out my winning entry. The story in question is ‘Bed & Breakfast’, which appeared on this blog only last week. This may not be the start of something big, but knowing that someone else likes my effort is good enough for the moment.

By the way, the literary festival in question is the Three Lochs Festival, which takes place in the West Highlands. I would dearly love to attend and am desperately trying to work out a plan to make this happen.

All this unexpected excitement has naturally made writing anything new virtually impossible today, (how early is too early to open the fizz?). However, my recent trip to Toulon will provide the basis for a story or two. As you will see from the comments to my last posting, the question as to whether Toulon is the Portsmouth of France remains very much unresolved. I think its very authenticity makes it perfect for inspirational purposes. It is gritty, slightly decaying and yes, a little bit grubby; but also vibrant, colourful and passionate. I rather liked it. Although my long-held opinion that the SNCF rail network far exceeds our own in terms of cleanliness, punctuality and comfort has been utterly dashed. The long, oh so long, hour spent suffocating on the train to Marseille yesterday afternoon will not be forgotten for some time.

Come back for a story tomorrow. Well, you don’t have to, but it would be very nice if you did.

Back from Toronto-and some more flash fiction.

I must confess, I have been back from Toronto for a couple of days, but have not had a minute to myself. How do people write epic novels whilst raising a family, (i.e. JKR)? I’m only raising myself and can’t manage more than a couple of hours every few days. What do you mean its a question of priority? The hoovering won’t do itself . Apparently. And there was plum jam to make this morning. I can’t just let them rot. Natures bounty bla bla bla…

Exciting trip to Provence tomorrow and this time all for pleasure. Two sunny days in the port of Toulon. A quick web search uncovers the opinion that it is the Portsmouth of France. Can this really be true? I don’t really know Portsmouth, but it always looks perfectly nice from the back of a departing ferry. I think I can get away with this as nobody seems to be reading this blog yet, (and if they are, I may well provoke a comment).

We are surprising a friend’s mother who is on a cruise and if I can find a decent bowl of bouillabaise at the same time, i’ll be a very happy scribbler indeed. Back on Sunday, with inspiration for more flashing hopefully. Until then, please accept this little piece from Toronto. I love this city, so I’m not entirely sure why it provoked this mood. The water maybe.

SINK OR SWIM

The Canadian Geese bobbing at the harbour entrance were trumpeting a patriotic greeting to the approaching pleasure boats; or was it a warning?

James stepped nervously along the decking, away from the insistent noise. He peered out across the water; halfway to the islands a ferry cut through a thousand sparkling diamonds.

‘How far do you think I’d get?’ he said to the older man standing near him.

‘About half way,’ replied the stranger, ‘if the ferries and sail boats didn’t get you, the current would.’

James gazed back out to sea, fixing on a buoy in the middle of the channel.

‘That’s what I thought,’ he said quietly.

The man sipped his coffee.

‘Tempting, is it?’ he asked, turning to James.

‘Maybe.’

James turned round to lean against the railing. He looked up to the iconic tower, following the elevator rushing tourists into the sky.

‘Do they know what I’m thinking?’ he asked quietly, squinting against the morning sun.

‘I imagine,’ said the man turning back to the water, ‘you want to know if they care.’

James looked down at the water lapping against the deck.

‘Well, do they?’

The man shrugged.

‘They might, if they knew you,’ he said.

‘I suppose,’ said James.

‘Come on,’ announced the man, ‘we’ll take the ferry across. It’s much easier.’

James smiled at the man.

‘Does the city look different from over there?’ he asked.

‘It’s another perspective,’ the man replied, ‘but you might like it.’

copyright: flyingscribbler 2010.

Here’s one I made earlier…

Back at the flyingscribbler hangar for 24 hours, I remember promising a Toronto inspired story. There is one fermenting, but this tired and dehydrated steward just can’t get the words out in the time available. I have to sleep after all. But fear not, i am flying back to Toronto in the morning, (yes, they really do make us work for our money, and you thought it was a simple doss. Believe me, it does not feel like a doss at 3.30am, cleaning vomit from a toilet wash basin), so the story can linger a while longer. Until Tuesday.

However, fearing to upset my readers,(and having found the blog stat function I find that I do have readers, what a thrill), I happen to have a flash up my sleeve. I wrote it after watching Torch Song Trilogy again after, oh so many years. Is Harvey Fierstein a saint yet? What? He’s not? Shocking. I hope you like it. It made me titter anyway.

BED AND BREAKFAST

‘Well,’ announced Derek entering the kitchen and laying his hang-over eyes on the drag queen sitting at the table, ‘that explains the sequins in the bathroom.’

‘I’m sorry honey, this dress is dropping glitter faster than a salmon shedding scales on a fishmonger’s slab. I’ll clean them up in a minute.’

‘It’s not a problem. That coffee hot?’

‘Just made it. I hope you don’t mind. I didn’t pry or anything; I was only looking for the coffee.’

Derek yawned, waving away any infringement of his privacy. He reached for a cup, squinting through the head pounding created by the effort. Breathing to stabilize, he poured the coffee and sat down.

Silence.

Derek’s mouth hesitated with a question and gave up.

‘Don’t worry sweetie, I was the perfect gentleman.’

Derek could feel the rush of shamed blood drowning his face.

‘That was your question, wasn’t it? It usually is. How did we meet? Did we do it? Was it good?’

Sipping coffee, Derek peered through his guest’s lashes.

‘If you’re interested, the answers are: At my club. No. Does not apply.’

Derek lowered his eyes, bashful.

‘I don’t usually, you know…’

‘Seduce female impersonators?’

Derek nodded.

‘That makes me feel like an ethnic minority.’

‘Sorry.’

‘Would it matter if I was?’

Shake of the head.

‘Does this make a difference?’

Derek watched his guest flare his nails and drum roll the table.

‘No. It doesn’t.’

‘Good. I’m Crystal DeCanter, by the way. But you can call me Peter.’

copyright: flyingscribbler 2010.

A story from Kampala, and a very odd bird.

My excuse for the gaping silence since the weekend is totally genuine: I have been cooped up at a swanky hotel at Heathrow for 3 days on standby duty. Apart from allowing the airline to run an operation without grinding to a halt, this also partly explains why it is in financial disaster zone. I didn’t get used, so came home last night, released from my hermetically sealed box, with your standard airport hotel window, (i.e. non-opening). Actually, mine was non-viewing, looking into the internal atrium.

Remind me not to commit an offense punishable by imprisonment: I even had multi-channel tv and a swivelling easy chair and still felt locked-up. Locked-up with wi-fi at rates beyond my means. I didn’t fancy the option of trundling around said airport looking for a hot spot either, so my post has had to wait.

The enforced solitude did however offer the opportunity to really get stuck in to ‘Women in Love’ and more importantly, pay attention. I even tried reading it out loud in various accents I thought suitable to the time and place. (Note to self: don’t do this in public. Actually, why the hell not.)

The airline have finally given me something to do this week and so off to Toronto tomorrow. And again on Sunday. So, before I depart, please accept this offering.

It is a small flavour of Kampala, Uganda. In fact, a very small flavour; a sniff really. Mostly taken from the seat of our transport from the airport. I think it has the material for a longer story, but since I have imposed a 250 flash limit on myself, I have kept it short.

GRADUATION DAY

Sister Maria coughed as she leant against her school gate; clutching her tumorous stomach, she prayed, eyes closed, head back.

‘Not today, Lord, please.’

Above the dusty city prehistoric storks glided on invisible heat, lusting for carrion; hungry for death.

Maria stepped forward, over the trickling sewer. She peered down the hill, trying to spot the Archbishop’s car. Inside, her life’s work waited patiently for their graduation, proudly waving away flies.

Along the gritty road, clogged and choking, Maria watched as the hopeful opened shacks selling bruised fridges and dented dreams; the hopeless swept dust and the last of their dignity from their cardboard porches. Further away, fuming mini-vans snorted diesel, impatient to cross the stream of traffic like unruly wildebeest.

‘Good morning Sister, I hope you are blessed today.’

Maria turned to the “Look Good” barber shack leaning precariously next to the playground wall.

‘Thank you Paul, I hope so too,’ said Maria, smiling, ‘and thank you for making the children look so smart. Please let me know how much I owe you.’

Paul shook his head.

‘Sister, I do not believe you can afford to pay for twenty hair cuts.’

‘And I do not believe you can afford to work for free.’

‘Then,’ said Paul, turning away, ‘we are equal in this matter.’

Maria marvelled at the generosity of the poor as a stork landed greedily next to the gate, assessing its options.

‘As I said,’ called Maria as the Archbishop’s car pulled up, ‘not today, thank you.’

Copyright: flyingscribbler. 2010

The stork described is the Maribou Stork, otherwise known as The Undertaker Bird.

Stay tuned for Canadian themed posting soon. I’m rather enjoying this.

Castle in the Clouds – a new flash fiction story.

Returning from Uganda on Wednesday, I didn’t have time to write a story based on my trip (and still haven’t), before dashing up to Scotland to celebrate A’s birthday with his family.

Fearful of disappointing anyone, (myself actually), here is a story based on this trip to the Fife coast. Uganda inspired tale to follow…

Castle in the Clouds

The castle seemed to float between the clouds and the shore, shimmering mirage-like upon the glistening sand.  Surveying their kingdom for the first time from this vantage point, the royal couple finally appreciated their achievement.

‘It’s amazing, isn’t it?’ whispered the King.

‘Beautiful,’ answered his Queen.

Linking hands in a reassuring gesture of kinship, they continued to take in the scene.

As the evening sun continued to fall away into the ocean, the castle walls became framed in a golden halo, reflected in the moat wrapping itself around the castle like a jewelled ribbon.

The Queen sighed.

‘It won’t be long now,’ she said.

‘Can’t we do anything to stop it?’ asked the King, forlornly.

The Queen quietly shook her head.

‘It’s too late,’ she replied gently, ‘look.’

The King followed her gaze beyond the castle, out to where the waves were breaking against dark rocks.

‘I don’t think it’s coming any closer,’ he said, bravely.

‘Of course it is,’ snapped the Queen, ‘it always does.’

They watched silently for a few minutes until there could be no doubt.

Once released, the deluge gathered momentum, pounding back and forth up the beach, ever closer to the towering outer walls of the castle.

Finally, inevitably, the waves breached the moat, flooding it with cold, dark water; as the first tower collapsed, a single tear fell from the King’s eye.

‘That was the best castle we ever built,’ he sniffed.

‘I know,’ said the Queen, ‘but tomorrow’s will be even better.’

Copyright: flyingscribbler. 2010.


Whilst in Fife, we built the best sand castle I have ever been involved with, following a design offered by our niece and nephews. Ours, like the King and Queen’s, is now consigned to the waves.

Collision Course, another flash fiction story.

Being determined to keep this up as long as possible, I am trying to form the habit of posting most days I am at home, and (cheap) wifi availability permitting, some days when i am away flying.

I can’t promise that the stories will be polished, but they will be mine, which is the point really. As an exercise in just getting words out, it should be useful. There seems more point to it if someone else can read them too.

So, to today’s story: not having left my house since yesterday yet, and i will be later as i am working all night, inspiration comes from my bike ride round the village.Enjoy.

COLLISION COURSE

James looked up from the road as two goldfinches flitted overhead, tails like gilded arrows.

Thud.

Launched into the warm evening air, their image remained soldered into his vision like a fizzled-out sparkler.

Thud.

James lay on the ground, bracing for the inevitable pain. He waited. Logic began its equation game: if I have crashed, there must be pain; to feel pain, my nerves must be connected to my brain; if there is no pain, that connection must be severed; ergo, my neck is broken.

‘Well thanks a bloody lot mate.’

Startled, James sat up and looked round. Apart from a sheep sprawled over his mangled bike, the road was empty.

‘Did you hear me?’ said the sheep, ‘The least you might do is apologise. Distracted by the pretty little birdies were you?  Cyclists: you’re all the bleeding same.’

Conversing with a talking sheep being beyond his capability for the moment, James turned to encounter himself, still horizontal, blood gushing from a gaping head wound. He looked back at the sheep.

‘I think I’m dead.’

‘Whereas I’ said the sheep, rising from its defunct carcass, ‘am presumably full of life. We’re both dead, idiot.’

‘Why are you talking?’

‘The point,’ said the sheep, ‘is that you can understand me at all. We’ve always understood your meaning.’

‘Well, what do we do now?’

‘And dead sheep are afterlife experts because?’

‘Your sarcasm is really annoying me.’

‘Really?’ mocked the sheep, setting off. ‘Get used to it. We’re making this journey together.’

Copyright : The flyingscribbler. 2010. (is this necessary? Perhaps.)

Let the writing commence: 1st flash fiction posting.

So, I have been considering how to motivate myself each day, or at least each time I find I have time to write. After some deliberation it occured to me that I could post a piece of flash fiction here and hopefully someone will pick up on it and hang around long enough (or lost enough) to read it. It may not be good. It might be good. The jury will be out until you let me know.

As inspiration I will obviously use my time in the air and at the destinations I go to, (Uganda tomorrow), and when I’m not flying, I will use whatever occurs to me.

Yesterday, i took my bike out and found the inspiration for this story. I’ve limited myself to 250 words max, and about half an hour.

UNOFFICIAL BUSINESS

Jane had parked her car on the other side of the lane, opposite the cottage’s front room.

Barbara fussed nervously with the net curtain, trying to work out if her nearest neighbours would be able to see it from their garden.

“Why did you have to bring that car Jane? You know it makes me nervous.”

Jane looked up from the sofa.

“My mini’s in the garage. Anyway, I don’t see what the problem is”

Her mother threw her an exasperated look.

“I don’t want the neighbours thinking anything’s going on here, that’s all.”

“Not worried are you, mother? Got something to tell me, have you?”

“Sarcasm, Jane, won’t get you what you came for.”

Jane pouted, faking hurt feelings.

“How much do you want this time?”

Jane removed her police notebook from her jacket and ripped out the top page.

“I took a proper order for you this time Mum,” she said, proudly. “I forgot my Sarge’s lot last month; never get promoted if I keep that up.”

“First rule of retail Jane,” said Barbara, finger wagging, “keep your customers happy and they’ll be back for more.”

Jane rolled her eyes.

“I know, I know. Can we get a move on Mum? I’m supposed to be in court in an hour”

Barbara opened the back door and headed towards the greenhouse.

“How was the last batch anyway?”

Jane smiled.

“Phil in forensics said it was the best he’d ever smoked.”

“I always liked that lad,” beamed Barbara.

Copyright: The flyingscribbler. 2010

The inspiration for this was a police car parked on a lane outside my village. It got me thinking about why it would be there. Hopefully not to deliver disastrous news to relatives, although it’s always possible. Anyway, hope you enjoyed it.