Welcome to the forty-eighth in the series: 5pm Fiction.
Late April 2011 I discovered http://StoryADay.org and the project that is to write 31 stories in 31 days. Anyone who knows me or follows this blog, knows how passionate I am about short stories so my clichéd eyes lit up at this new marvel. And just a few days later there I was, breathing life into new characters. This went on to become (with some editing of course) my 31-story collection eBook Story A Day May 2011.
I was nearing completion of the 2012 project when I decided that I didn’t want to stop at the end of May so 5PM Fiction was born. I put a load of prompts on the 5PM Fiction page and today’s was to write a monologue where Vanessa sees something unusual out of her bedroom window, and I started it but ran out of time to finish / hone / post it before 5pm (I’ve had a ‘bit of a day’ today) so decided to run one of my eShort stories instead. My apologies if you’ve read it before but perhaps you might enjoy it (if ‘enjoy’ is the right word – one lady on Goodreads disliked it so much she’s vowed never to read my writing again ) a second time, so here is my 658-worder, based on a true story (original article pasted below).
Feeding the Father
I don’t mind doing everything. He and mum looked after me for years so now it’s my turn but sometimes it gets a bit lonely, just talking to myself.
Dad looks smart today. I put him in his favourite jumper, the blue one. I can’t change his trousers as he’s too heavy but it don’t matter as he don’t go nowhere. I must get him some more aftershave as he don’t smell too good.
Things started going wrong after mum left. If she hadn’t of gone, everything would be alright. Said she couldn’t take it no more. I know she meant me. Blames me for being stupid. They had rows. Know they had no money ’cause they had to look after me. So, now it’s my turn. Look after my dad.
He’s not hungry tonight – left his food again. He’s not been hungry for a while. “Need your strength Dad,” I say but he just stares at the TV, looks straight through me.
There’s the doorbell. Don’t answer ‘cause it’s nobody’s business. I can manage just fine on my own. But then I’m not on my own – I got Dad. I turn the TV up loud when they start shouting through the letterbox. If I can’t hear them then they can’t hear me…us. Not that Dad says anything. He don’t seem to mind people shouting at him. I never shout at him. I love him, see.
The letterbox voices have gone quiet.
‘Neighbours’ starts and I laugh. “Everybody needs good neighbours” the voices sing to me. Well we don’t. Neighbours are nosey. Shouting and banging on the walls. We keep us-selves to us-selves. Don’t need no-one sticking their beaks into our business.
When the banging starts again I shut the lounge door. Thump…thump…thump. I feel the room shake then there’s a crash. Voices! The lounge door bursts open and I look at the faces. One man looks at Dad and gasps. Dad don’t look back, he’s too busy staring at ‘Neighbours’.
One of the men grabs me to take me out the room, but I don’t wanna go. Can’t leave Dad… he needs me. Another man goes upstairs and shouts down, “The mother’s up here”. There’s no-one up there. I know. Mum left us, she ain’t there. It’s just Dad and me. Me and Dad.
I get bundled in a van and taken to hospital. I don’t like hospitals. Went there when I was seven when I broke my arm. It hurt. And they kept poking my arm to see how much it hurt. Couldn’t they see it did ’cause I was crying? Don’t need no doctors and neither does Dad. He’s got me, he don’t need no-one else.
They sit me in a chair and give me a cup of tea with lots of sugar. I like it, it’s sweet. Then they start talking.
Did I know my Dad was dead? “Course he ain’t dead,” I say. Dad just likes watching TV. I feed him so he don’t need to go nowhere.
Then they talk about mum. I don’t want to talk about her, ’cause she left us. They ask me when I saw her last and I say it was my birthday, 19th August. Dad said I was sixty, but I ain’t that old. No-one’s that old.
I tell them Mum left ’cause I was hard work. I know I was hard work but not any more. I do the work. I look after Dad. That’s what I do.
The man then left the room and I heard him talking to someone. Then he came back in and brought me here. I like it here, apart from the voices, but I miss my Dad.
“Mister, when can I see my Dad?”
So it just goes to show that truth is stranger than fiction (or in this case, just as strange).
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called Short Story Saturdays where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.