Welcome to the eighty-ninth in this daily series that is ‘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 story including the words black, tumble, naked, soap and hair. Here is my 393-worder.
He imagined her naked. He’d imagined it dozens of times but today was different, special. She’d chosen today, a brilliant summer’s day, to wear a near-see-through dress. David suspected she hadn’t realised the sheerness of it but when it caught the light he could see the pattern of her underwear; tiny flowers.
His mind drifted to an imaginary field, to poppies, puppies and Ella. He didn’t know her name but she looked like an Ella. Italian. She had to be with that long black hair.
She turned to the tumble dryer and started reading the instructions. David had seen her use it every time the two of them had been there together but she looked at it like a stranger. Like him.
He knew which machines she preferred but kept his distance. “One day,” he told himself but so far, that day hadn’t come.
David’s washing was nearly finished and he knew he’d then have no excuse to be there, to watch her, to imagine the two of them together, lying in the field of poppies, dogs by their feet as he fed her grapes like a modern-day Cleopatra. He was her Anthony and he’d do anything for her.
He was still staring at her when she turned and walked towards him.
As she closed in, his mouth went dry. He wanted to run, to hide, climb in one of the washing machines if he could but he sat, motionless, on the old padded seating.
“Hello,” she said in a soft European accent. “Can you help me please.”
David nodded but said nothing.
“I understand most but not all. There is one word I do not understand. It is c-y… c-l-e. Like bicycle, no?’
“Sort of. It just means it goes round and round.” David made a circular motion with his right index finger. “Like a bicycle wheel.”
“Ah, I see… You come here often.”
“I sorry. I make joke?”
“No. I’m sorry. Hi. I’m David,” he said, stretching out his right hand.
“Bella,” she said, shaking his hand and smiling. “It means…”
“Beautiful. Yes,” he said and looked down at his knees as a flush of red overtook his face.
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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.