Welcome to the one hundred and seventeenth 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 second person story about Flora, so here is my 470-worder.
You’ve never seen her so happy. You wish you knew her name, to be brave enough to ask. She looks as if she wouldn’t mind, but she doesn’t look in your direction for long enough.
Like you, she always sits in the same seat, same departure, same destination until she turns left, you right. Different clothes but same shoes. Hers are black high-gloss high heels that make you ever so slightly horny… no, childlike, the years strip away every time you see her.
You figure she’s nearing retiring age, maybe three or four years older than you at most.
She doesn’t wear a wedding ring but you think she has children. You’re not sure why but she looks the type; homely, kind, with no weight on her shoulders other than maybe that of a young grandchild. Widowed… or divorced, for a while, like you.
You’d like to take her on your boat, her whole family, go away for a weekend, somewhere like the Norfolk Broads where it’s flat. Or play something to her on your Steinbeck when you’re alone with her, after a nice meal or the theatre.
You don’t dress to match your wealth but she doesn’t strike you as the sort of person to care, not about money, only the important things like family and love.
It’s why you travel by bus, a car too lonely, even with a chauffeur. You tried it for a while but it wasn’t you, your newfound wealth comfortable yet uncomforting.
You can barely remember what it feels like to be in love. You’ve been doing well lately, not dwelling, and she’s been helping. Without knowing, she’s your Samaritan, just seeing her gives you something to think about as you sit behind your desk on the twentieth floor of your new high-rise office.
Your stop is coming up, and you start the dread the next forty-eight hours, a weekend without the bus journeys, without her.
You go to stand and she reaches out for the handrail. Skin missing skin by an inch or two.
“Sorry,” she says, but there’s no apology needed. “You work at McCardie’s, don’t you,” she adds.
You want to say something but that will give away your accent, that you are McCardie, so you just nod.
“I work for the opposition,” she says, and you know she means Cohen & Sons.
Before you can stop yourself, you laugh and she smiles, her green eyes luminescent.
The bus stops and you signal for her to go first. She bows her head and you follow her off the bus. Instead of going left, she stops, turns and faces you. You want to go right, head for your office but your feet won’t move.
She holds out her hand. “Flora Cohen. Jack was my husband. He dressed just like you. Quiet too.”
Photography courtesy of morguefile.com.
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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.