Not Like They Used To – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s smaller short story collection (just 93 stories instead of 250!), The Story A Day May Collection, available in eBook and paperback from Amazon  and Morgen’s online store where you can not only instantly download the collection but also purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…

Not Like They Used To

“They don’t make them like they used to, Ted.”

“No, they don’t… what don’t they?”

“These glasses. They don’t sit right.”

“I thought they looked new. Take them back then, can’t you?”

“Suppose. And they’re fussy.”

“Fussy, Frank?”

“Fuzzy.”

“Oh. What, like you can’t see properly?”

“Not properly, no.”

“Then definitely take them back.”

“Vera’s going to town tomorrow so…”

“They shouldn’t have let you leave the shop if they weren’t right.”

“Felt OK then.”

“What made you go for pink?”

“Eh?”

“Your glasses, they’re pink.”

“Are they? They were brown at the shop.”

“They’re pink now.”

“Faded too then.”

“I think they’ve given you the wrong ones. Take them off and see.”

“…Oh.”

“They’re not the ones you chose, are they?”

“No, they’re not… they’re Vera’s.”

“Vera’s? Why are you wearing hers?”

“I don’t know.”

“Won’t she be missing them?”

“Probably not, they’re her reading ones.”

“Oh, right. Did you watch the game last night?”

“Did, Ted. Bit disappointing.”

“Bunch of girls, aren’t they. I used to play football, you know.”

“I do.”

“Teddenham Tigers.”

“And you were good.”

“Thank you, Frank. Back then it was a proper sport on proper wages.”

“Didn’t tell me you were professional.”

“Not me, no, but the lads who did, you know, in the big clubs, got a normal wage and were grateful. Didn’t drive around in flashy cars back then. None of this status symbol and wags.”

“Wags?”

“Wives and girlfriends.”

“Oh yeah. And none of this rolling over in ‘pain’ with the slightest nudge. Lads knew how to tackle back then.”

“They’re all sissies nowadays. That’s why I prefer watching rugby.”

“Gentleman’s sport.”

“And they’re built like men. You know, big, strapping.”

“I do, Ted.”

“The footies are all tall and lanky, like matchsticks.”

“Don’t make them like they used to, Ted.”

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Stronger Than He Looks – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s smaller short story collection (just 93 stories instead of 250!), The Story A Day May Collection, available in eBook and paperback from Amazon  and Morgen’s online store where you can not only instantly download the collection but also purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…

Stronger Than He Looks

They can’t see me, you know. I’ve been down there, on the beach, looked up. It’s impossible. Little round window, dark unless you put the light on. So they ignore me, get on with throwing things for their dogs, rounding up children when it gets cold. Really cold now so not many people there, just the ones who still think it’s romantic, even in November.

I like to pretend they’re up to no good, that they’re plotting to bump someone off, bury the body in the sand or in the shrubs that only the dogs explore. They don’t care about the weather, to them it’s only water, only wind. Not like us, we like warm, to be indoors when it gets really bad.

They forecast snow this year so we’ll get cut off and I’ll have no one to watch, except for my neighbours but they get boring, predictable.

Mrs Jones broke her hip last time we had ice, never went out again when it was like that, would send her old man to run the errands. Then he died and she moved away. She was nice, the only one who didn’t think I was stupid… but then she didn’t know any better.

Dad called me stupid. “Stupid Stuart”, then he laughed. Stopped laughing when I grabbed his throat. Didn’t know how strong I was ’til then. Then he left and I was glad, had mum to myself and we got on good. Like a house on fire, she said. I didn’t know what a house on fire was like so found some matches and… she wasn’t happy. Shut me in here ’til I learned my lesson, but I told her I learn slow so I’m still here. She’ll come for me. Sometime. She always does.

I wanted to go downstairs when I heard a noise, a thump, but she’d be angry and…

Look! There’s two men down there arguing. Look very angry. One of them’s jabbing the other one in his chest, like Dad used to do with me. Don’t look like my Dad though. Taller and bigger, this one. The other one’s weedy like me. I want the little one to… go on! Give him as good as… ah ha ha, he’s fallen over. Serves him…

He ain’t moving. Weren’t expecting that, were you? Don’t get too close, he might…

You’re never going to move him… oh, stronger than he looks. Drag him into… that’s it, so no one can see. I won’t tell no one. Your secret’s safe with…

Mum?

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One Out Of Three – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s smaller short story collection (just 93 stories instead of 250!), The Story A Day May Collection, available in eBook and paperback from Amazon  and Morgen’s online store where you can not only instantly download the collection but also purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…

One Out Of Three

Staring at the old school photo, it scares you how much Nate looks like Adam.

Nate’s on a school trip today and you’re missing him already. It’s only been an hour but you know he’ll not be giving you a moment’s thought. His favourite place, the space museum. Typical boy, he loves anything big and shiny.

His teacher, Mrs Desmond, is your favourite. She’s the woman you’d pick out for a grandmother if you had to, the times you wish your mother was still alive. She’d have told you what to do.

You feel like you’re going wrong but you don’t know how. You want to be better than Adam’s new wife although you know she’s no threat. She’s too wrapped up in getting a family of her own to bother about the old one.

You’re willing the post to come, the phone to ring, something with news of your interview. It felt like it went well but you’re nervous all the same. It’s nearby, school hours, and you know how much the extra money will help; Nate can have new clothes and maybe after a while you can buy a better car, not as big as Adam’s but something that doesn’t make you nervous every time you turn the key.

The radio’s good on a Thursday and you keep yourself busy until it’s time to collect your son. The post is only bills and the solitary call asks for the bridal shop so you tell them through gritted teeth to reverse the last two digits. They tell you how sorry they are but you just want them to hang up. There’s 1571 but you don’t want to miss the call.

*

Replaying the interview in your head as you drive, you realise Nate’s been talking, but you don’t want to ask him to repeat, so say, “that’s nice” and keep your eyes on the road. He’s still talking when you get home and only pauses when you check the answerphone.

At dinner he tells you all about the machines that mean nothing to you, so you just smile as you serve up the shepherd’s pie and gooseberry fool.

*

The next day brings no post or calls and they say no news is good news but you’d rather know, so you’re still frustrated when Nate brings home a photograph of his trip which you put on the mantelpiece for safekeeping. Saying it’s nice, you mean to sound more genuine but he’s already reading his Doctor Who comic and the moment’s past.

*

Saturday morning, Nate’s waiting by the front door, ten minutes early. Adam’s notoriously late and you want to tell Nate not to get his hopes up, when the doorbell rings and he pulls it open. He throws his arms around his father’s waist and is as swiftly encompassed. It’s a sight you rarely see and you want to join them for a group hug but you know there’s a boundary and it’s ‘their’ time, so you back away quietly into the kitchen.

Leaving the door open so you can see through the crack, you watch Nate drag his dad into the lounge and pull him to the mantelpiece. He removes the photograph and lifts it up.

You can’t see him clearly but you swear Adam is crying.

“You look smashing, Nate,” he says, ruffling your son’s hair, just like he used to do to his own whenever he’d had a shower. Remembering his physique, you smile then stop as you hear footsteps, and can’t help blushing as Adam walks into the kitchen.

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The Perfect Place – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s smaller short story collection (just 93 stories instead of 250!), The Story A Day May Collection, available in eBook and paperback from Amazon  and Morgen’s online store where you can not only instantly download the collection but also purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…

The Perfect Place

@tonenorton done?

@hazbeen yep

@tonenorton no witnesses

@hazbeen nope

@tonenorton where

@hazbeen it’s OK I found the perfect place

@tonenorton where

@hazbeen up the coast

@tonenorton specifics Tony

@hazbeen Yarmouth

@tonenorton hidden tho yeah

@hazbeen course

@tonenorton tide low or high

@hazbeen high. should wash him out no problem

@tonenorton cut it?

@hazbeen ?

@tonenorton cut it, you know, cut its arms free so if it’s found…

@hazbeen nope. left him as is. you didn’t tell me to

@tonenorton tell you? shouldn’t need to tell you!! you have a brain. what am I? your mother?

@hazbeen no, Dad, your not

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The Best Man – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s smaller short story collection (just 93 stories instead of 250!), The Story A Day May Collection, available in eBook and paperback from Amazon  and Morgen’s online store where you can not only instantly download the collection but also purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…

The Best Man

Walking up the aisle, Aaron’s heart lifted as his best man, Joe, winked at him. I’m doing the right thing. Doing the right thing.

Please don’t go through with it, Joe thought, but patted his friend on the back. “OK mate?”

“Absolutely.”

“She’ll be on time. She’ll look stunning and you’ll have a wonderful life together.”

“Can’t wait.”

*

As the Bentley swung round the corner, Mandy looked up at the imposing church tower. “Oh, God.”

“OK?” her father Terry asked, patting down a crease in her train.

“Nervous.”

“So was I, but I did OK.”

“You and mum divorced.”

“But years later. After we had you and Nick.”

“You rowed constantly.”

“It won’t happen to you.”

“We do argue.”

“But you love him.”

Mandy hesitated. Love him. Love, or in love. “I do,” she replied honestly. But not in love.

*

Terry took Mandy’s hand as she got out of the Bentley and gave it a light squeeze. She took his arm and he walked her along the old church’s aisle, then stepped aside as she joined Aaron. The two men exchanged nods and the ceremony began. The couple dutifully repeated their lines as they had done in rehearsals until it came to their names.

“Do you Aaron Edward Thompson take Amanda Susan Ford to be your lawfully-wedded wife?”

He looked at Mandy and after a moment’s hesitation, said, “I do.”

“Do you Amanda Susan Ford take Aaron Edward Thompson to be your lawfully-wedded husband?”

“No.”

A gasp rose up from the congregation.

“I’m sorry Aaron. I love you but I’m not in love with you.”

“But…”

“I know, and you know, that you love someone else.”

Terry lunged at Aaron. “Another woman? You…!”

Mandy put up her hand to stop him. “No, Dad! It’s not another woman, but it’s OK.” Then she turned to Joe and smiled.

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Being Ernest – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s smaller short story collection (just 93 stories instead of 250!), The Story A Day May Collection, available in eBook and paperback from Amazon  and Morgen’s online store where you can not only instantly download the collection but also purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…

Being Ernest

Without a trace of guilt, Noreen Townsend thought it perfectly acceptable to slam the door in the young man’s face. What would an 85-year-old need with a set of encyclopaedias? She knew enough about the world to know she didn’t want to learn any more. She’d never visit the endangered tribes in the remote forests of Outer Mongolia, she’d never need to learn how to make a car that could go 300 miles an hour or know how many breeds of stickleback fish there were. She was a people person, not facts and figures.

To Noreen, her husband Ernest was the skilful one, able to concentrate on his work whilst holding the longest of conversations. He’d been a walking encyclopaedia since they’d first met in the canteen of the electronics factory, until one day, not long after the salesman’s visit, Ernest had paused mid-sentence and stared at Noreen who’d waited patiently for him to continue, unsure as to why he’d stopped.

“A funny thing happened to me this morning,” Ernest had said.

“You’ve told me already, Ernest,” Noreen had wanted to reply but let him tell his tale.

Over the next few months she’d had more repeats, more unfinished sentences until one day he said nothing at all. He’d stare out the window and nod at each truck or car going past. He ate normally, looked after himself, but it was as if he’d run out of things to say.

“Tell me something new,” Noreen had said, tired of the silence, but Ernest would just smile as if there was nothing to tell, which there wasn’t as he didn’t go anywhere, just stare out the window at the trucks.

Then one day one of the trucks stopped. The doorbell rang and Ernest looked round, though said nothing.

Noreen went to the door, led the delivery driver into the lounge where he placed the four cardboard boxes in front of Ernest. Noreen signed with the digital pen, and thanked the man as he left. Returning to the lounge, she peeled off the tape from one of the boxes and took out one of the items. Opening the ‘Hubbard’s Encyclopaedia D-F’ she found the entry for electronics and felt a tear trickle down her cheek as Ernest read out the text.

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I Always Did Hate Biology – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s smaller short story collection (just 93 stories instead of 250!), The Story A Day May Collection, available in eBook and paperback from Amazon  and Morgen’s online store where you can not only instantly download the collection but also purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…

I Always Did Hate Biology

“Stop doing that!”

I’d lost count of how many times I’d told my sister to stop kicking the counter. It was bad enough I was there cashing in my giro but she still wasn’t paying attention. ‘Selective hearing’ my mum had said but we’d been to the doctor so I knew she could hear as well as me.

“Elaine! Do that once more and I’ll…” and that’s when I saw him, the new cashier, so I changed lanes. No surprise that his was the longest, and all women except for Mr Rogers. I didn’t mind being behind Mr Rogers as it meant I got to see him.

I was ignoring Elaine by now which she didn’t like but I didn’t care.

I did wish I’d put on something pretty instead of my dungarees. And when he wasn’t looking, I pulled the bow out of my hair. Bows are for children aren’t they?

I started making up names for him; he reminded me of Charlton Heston from that Ben Hur movie except he had more clothes… sadly. But I imagined him all muscly and sweaty, and racing chariots around in circles with people cheering him on. I’d cheer for him. “Go on, Barry!” I’d say… Charlton’s a silly name, isn’t it?

Then it was just Mr Rogers and me. I moved left a bit so I could see over Mr Rogers’ shoulder and close enough to hear their conversation – boring of course. But his voice was sexy, like caramel, all dark and rich. He was dark too like he’d been on the beach too long.

Then when Mr Rogers finally left, I could actually hear my heart beating – and see his blue eyes up close. I stepped forward, about to speak when he ignored me and pulled down the blind. ‘Closed’ it said, as if to rub it in.

Then I watched him walk behind his colleagues and out the door. In my direction.

He smiled. I smiled. He brushed his hands through his gelled hair. I wished I’d washed mine.

Then he opened his mouth. “Hi,” he said and I went to speak but realised he was looking through me. I turned round and saw my teacher, Mrs Evans, smiling back at him.

I always did hate biology.

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