Welcome to the seventy-first in this daily series that is ‘5pm Fiction’.
Late April 2011 I discovered
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 second person viewpoint story from the keyword of ‘plant’, so here is my 531-worder.
Biological is all it is
He says it was planted but you know better. Jack’s always been like that; a thief, a liar, a father to your child. Not a daddy. Biological is all it is but when he provides a roof over your heads you can’t say much.
You hold out the tea towel and he lays the dagger on it. Reverently as if it were a baby. Shows more respect to it than his own. Holly. The rosy pink cheeks nestled over rosy pink sheets. You worry sometimes that she’s too hot, too cold, but she’s strong, stronger than you sometimes, and it scares you. Everything does these days.
You’re not scared of him but the men he hangs around with. You’ve seen the looks they give Holly when they visit in the day. No jobs, you don’t suppose they’ve ever had them. “They make do,” he says. Making do like he does, but it’s never quite enough. You don’t like asking for money but you know it’s getting to that. Break the silence of the past year. Let your parents know that you’re alright. Some arguments you can’t get over and time doesn’t heal in this case. It hurts, pulls apart, wounds… like a dagger. Like the dagger now nestled in the discount store’s blue and white check cotton. Buy one get one free, as most things are. The twins were until Thomas died just hours old… Jack never forgiving you for something beyond your control.
You spot a fleck on the blade and recoil, letting it drop to the floor.
Cloth and blade bounce and the dagger hits the tiles he hits you for being so stupid.
You don’t recoil from that, you’re used to it, like the silence at night when he doesn’t bother to come home. You wish he’d stay away. You wish that one night you’d be brave enough to flee but you don’t know if the other welcome would be any warmer.
“I’m going out,” he announces as you go to pick the dagger and cloth off the floor.
You say nothing, just nod and smile the Geisha smile that hides beneath layers of make-up hiding the bruises.
As the front door slams, Holly starts crying and you feel like doing the same only you know the well is empty, a long-time drained.
You pull two plastic bags from a green cotton holder, wrap the dagger carefully in one, then inside the cloth which you place into the second bag.
Going upstairs you look in on Holly who has since gone quiet, though not asleep.
Pulling a suitcase from the top of the wardrobe you start packing; half Holly’s, half yours, clothes barely big enough for her, yours that now drown you – the dagger the beneath layers. You add a blanket, toy giraffe, then you pick up the phone and dial.
The taxi arrives quickly and you shut the front door, posting your keys through the letterbox.
The driver helps you strap Holly onto the back seat, next to you, then asks for the address as he shuts his door. You remain silent. When he asks you again, you take a deep breath and he starts to drive.
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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 fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, 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.