Not Imaginary like Jack’s – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s larger short story collection (250 stories), Fifty 5pm Fictions 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 Imaginary like Jack’s

Hitting his spoon on the edge of the eggcup made Jack wince. He’d only meant to get Sarah’s attention but not realised how loud it was going to be.

She burst into tears.

“Sorry, darling!” he said, grabbing her favourite toy, Errol the elephant, to try to placate her, but failing miserably.

He squeezed its trunk which made it trumpet, but that only made Sarah scream. She’d been like this since her mother had left, since the cream envelope on the kitchen table, taken her possessions with her, except her most valuable, their daughter. She’d even taken her art equipment, the huge easel that had barely fitted in their car when they’d bought it.

He’d known then it was for good, and that she’d had help; a man with a van, Jack suspected.

Jack knew he wasn’t the easiest of people to live with, shut away for hours on end while she ‘worked’ for a living.

She’d thought writing books exciting when they first met, went to all his signings, followed him overseas, until she’d landed her job, complete with power suit, and it had gone to her head, in charge of hundreds of people… real ones, not imaginary like Jack’s.

That’s what he’d do, he decided; tell Sarah stories. She wouldn’t understand of course but he could try out new plots and they could be as grim as he liked but tell them in a cheery voice, pretend they were fairy tales. She’d be his first reader… or rather, listener.

So he started with his current work-in-progress, a crime story set in Edinburgh, along the lines of Rebus but even more graphic.

“Sarah,” he said softly, then smiled, hoping she’d follow suit. She didn’t. “Would you like a story?”

She gurgled hesitant approval.

“OK. The nasty man is climbing up the hill…”

Sarah widened her large green eyes.

“There’s a lady at the top. Her name is…” In his story he hadn’t even got that far. He usually named his victims first but had only got the name of the detective, Detective Sergeant Fraser (this was his eighth outing) and the antagonist, ‘Butch’ Davis. He struggled to think of a woman’s name but then found the perfect one. “Her name is Abigail.”

Sarah smiled.

“That’s good isn’t? Shall we have the nasty man find a woman called the same as mummy?”

Sarah squealed and squeezed Errol’s trunk who trumpeted in agreement.

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Carry on with the Show – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s larger short story collection (250 stories), Fifty 5pm Fictions 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…

Carry on with the Show

The music played despite Frank not being there. He was supposed to be giving a speech, recounting his brother’s life – the good times. It wouldn’t have taken him long.

Father Orburn hoped he’d show before Beethoven stopped, or at least during his introduction, the formulaic words ingrained into his memory, just names to be slotted in.

As the last few bars of Moonlight Sonata rang out, the doors to the crematorium hall burst open and a drunken Frank staggered in, still clutching a half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels.

“She’ll be coming round the mountains” weren’t the words Father Orburn had been hoping to come out of Frank Bristow’s mouth but they certainly lifted the mood… that, and Frank’s pink pyjamas.

Father Orburn wondered if the brothers had made a pact to see each other off in style… a dare, or a simple case of Frank not taking Tom’s death very well, or perhaps too well.

Frank slumped down onto a half-empty pew, winked at the vicar and put up one thumb, to which Father Orburn began his introduction. As he spoke, he wondered whether he’d be best to miss out Frank, move on to Tom’s son or the neighbour, but Frank was looking so earnestly at every word that the vicar decided it was worth the risk, despite Frank’s wiggling bottom.

Had there not been a schedule to keep to, Father Orburn would have suggested a nature break, so it was service as normal, or abnormal in this case.

“And now a few words from Frank.” The two men looked at each other. “Frank?”

Frank turned round, looked back at the crematorium doors, then faced front, to the vicar. “Oh, right!” he said in his loud Irish accent and went to stand up but swayed like a toy Hawaiian dancer stuck to a car’s dashboard, and sat down again.

“Perhaps Tom’s son…” the vicar started but stopped as Frank made a second attempt to stand. A lady further along the pew rushed to his aid and walked him slowly up the aisle to the front of the hall.

Once in situ, the lady returned to her seat, leaving Frank leaning heavily against the lectern, almost tipping it over. Father Orburn lunged forward to save it but Frank pulled it back and stood upright, as if on parade.

Taking a deep breath, Frank went to speak but closed his mouth again. A child in the congregation began laughing but was swiftly quietened.

Frank looked at the vicar as if for a cue.

“You were going to say a few words about Tom…?”

Frank nodded. “Tom…” He paused and looked down at the lectern.

The vicar was about to speak again when Frank resumed.

“Tom!” he boomed, “No one knew Tom like I knew Tom.”

The vicar and Dermot, Tom’s son, exchanged glances, both men stepping forward, ready to take over if necessary, Father Orburn hoping that Frank wouldn’t burst into song.

“Tom!” Frank said even louder, but stopped as Dermot tapped his arm. “I’m sorry, son,” Frank bellowed, “I should have told you all those years ago. You had a right to know.”

“I think we should go outside,” Dermot said, pulling Frank’s arm.

“No! I want everyone to hear this. That you’re Tom’s son.”

“I know Uncle Frank.”

“I know you know.”

Dermot screwed up his face and tugged at Frank’s arm again.

“It’s OK,” Frank continued. “Everything’s going to be fine. You come home with me and…”

“Uncle Frank. I have my own house. Have had for…”

“Oh, that’s right.”

Father Orburn coughed dramatically and Frank put up his right index finger. “Sorry your honour. Won’t be a minute. Now, Dermot. The time has come for the truth, for everyone to know that your father…  that your father…”

“Yes?” Dermot said.

“That Tom… I… the coffin.”

Everyone looked at the coffin.

“That the man in the coffin isn’t Tom.”

“What?” Dermot growled at Frank.

“I mean…” Frank continued nervously, “It’s Frank in there, not Tom.”

“Dermot,” Father Orburn interrupted. “I think you’d better see your uncle…”

“I’m not his uncle!” Frank shouted. “I’m his father! I’m Tom!”

The child who’d earlier been laughing promptly burst into tears accompanied by gasps around the congregation.

“He…” the newly-confessed Tom pointed to the coffin, “Frank was called up, you see, and well, he didn’t want to go. I wasn’t, don’t know why, but I wanted to go so we swapped places. He said he’d look after Sylvia and… you were only a nipper. Turns out he looked after her too well and they… she knew but never said anything and by the time I came back you were a family. Everyone believed them… wouldn’t believe me when I tried to tell the truth, they said the war had damaged my brain and… I loved you… loved you both, even Frank despite what he did, so I went along with it. I still got to see you but it wasn’t the same…”

“So why now? Why the pink pyjamas?” Dermot asked.

“It was your mother’s and my song… it was playing when we met, Frank knew and…”

“I’m sorry,” Father Orburn said. “But we should…”

Dermot smiled. “My father or not, Dad would have loved to have seen you in those so, sure, Father Orburn. Carry on with the show.”

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Just Desserts – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s larger short story collection (250 stories), Fifty 5pm Fictions 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…

Just Desserts

Lemon curd tart had always been Ernie’s favourite. “Can’t beat a tart,” he’d say whenever Nora made it – which, over the years, was less and less thanks to his incessant remarks.

A hundred times she’d had to listen to that, chapter and verse. Said as if new. Lemons grown in the garden of their retirement villa.

As he opened his mouth to say it for the 101st time, Nora crept up behind him and squeezed the dog’s toy cockerel at full volume.

Ernie clutched his chest, gasped for breath and slumped to the floor.

He’s now buried in the garden, right by the lemon tree, and my, they’ve never tasted so sour.

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Her Eyes Have Never Been Bluer – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s larger short story collection (250 stories), Fifty 5pm Fictions 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…

Her Eyes Have Never Been Bluer

You saw her smile, right before your foot pressed down on the accelerator. That soon changed her expression, didn’t it? Didn’t think you had it in you, did she?

You’d tried before, different method; wrapped her favourite scarf round your wrists like you’d seen in the movies, only it was too big, too awkward, and she’d grunted and turned over, burying her neck in the pillow, leaving no clear skin open.

You’d stood there for ages, staring at her, looming over her skeletal frame, wasting away from the disease eating her inside out.

You’d finally had enough when she’d started refusing to eat, neither of you having the strength to argue. You loved her with all your heart, so you’d taken her to Devon, as you had every summer, to that little out-the-way place with the crumbling cliffs.

*

Any doubt you had disappears as the car gathers pace. She takes your left hand and squeezes it, and you look at her face. It’s no longer pale, no longer sallow and her eyes have never been bluer.

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Bath for Two – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s larger short story collection (250 stories), Fifty 5pm Fictions 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…

Bath for Two

“Twist it.”

“It won’t turn.”

“Here, let me have a go.”

“No point. I’ve tried.”

“Try a different angle then, or something.”

“Tried every angle.”

“Tried to warn you.”

“It’s been alright before.”

“Before me?”

“Just one… I told you about Sam.”

“Thought you were just friends.”

“To start with.”

“Like us.”

“Not like us, we’re better.”

“You got them undone before.”

“Always.”

“Happened often then?”

“A few times.”

“Didn’t realise you were so…”

“It’s OK. It’s not a competition. Wasn’t serious like we are.”

“Just fun then.”

“Yes.”

“More fun?”

“Different fun.”

“Turn the key again. The lock might have loosened.”

“No good. Have you got any WD40?”

“In the shed.”

“Would you mind?”

“But I’ll have to put some clothes on.”

“It’s dark, no one will see you.”

“Next door have a security light… I don’t think WD40 will work.”

“Soap then.”

“Bath for two?”

“OK.”

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My One Regret – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s larger short story collection (250 stories), Fifty 5pm Fictions 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…

My One Regret

It wasn’t falling through the air that I regretted. I knew I had no choice.

It wasn’t standing on the edge – that had given me clarity. My heart was thumping, to be expected really. I could hear it above the chaos, the screams, the sirens of this city, new to me.

Being outside was colder than I’d expected; a real contrast to the building behind me. Not much wind, autumn hadn’t had a chance to set in. That’s how I felt; more life ahead of me than behind, or at least there should have been.

I was glad I was wearing trousers. It’s funny thinking about dignity at a time like that, but if I’d been wearing a skirt and had spun, done a cartwheel, then my knickers would have shown. Like a 5-year old’s, except they don’t care, it’s only their mothers that care about a thing like that.

I knew I’d be one of many. I wasn’t the only one to take that way out. The rest stayed. Burned. I couldn’t do that.

I wish I’d been able to say “Goodbye”, kicked myself for forgetting my mobile, leaving it on charge when I should have switched it off, put it in my handbag as I always did. Kicked myself for not knowing your number off by heart so when a colleague had said “Goodbye” to his loved ones then offered me the chance to do the same to mine… to you, I could have taken it, thanked him with all my heart, for one last opportunity; a chance to say sorry… for arguing, for not making up before I went to the meeting. The one time I’d left like that. I could hear others leaving frantic messages on answerphones, their regret that they couldn’t speak person-to-person, that there’d never be another face-to-face.

And as I fell through the air, dropped those hundred-plus storeys of that stark, glass building, I was at peace… with myself, but not with you. That is my one regret.

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Weapon of Choice – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s larger short story collection (250 stories), Fifty 5pm Fictions 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…

Weapon of Choice

The red scarf, he’d decided would be his weapon of choice. Ironic, given that it was her favourite.

He’d plotted this moment all day; romantic dinner, superb wine, get her in the ‘mood’ then he’d do it.

She loved him saying what he was going to do to her – gave her something to look forward to – only there were some things she didn’t need to know. Telling her he’d kiss her neck was fine, but saying he was going to wrap it in red silk and squeeze it until she stopped breathing would only spoil the moment for them both.

He’d kiss then caress her neck, let her feel the scarf soft against her skin, stand behind her, a position of strength. She’d struggle of course, try and scratch his hands but she bit her nails so they’d have little effect. Besides, he was a foot taller, heavier.

As he walked up the path to the cottage, a bottle of Mas de Daumas Gassac in one hand, the other inside his right jacket pocket, she opened the door and smiled. He followed her inside, right hand feeling the soft material that had lain there all day, since he’d removed it from her dressing table that morning.

They went into the kitchen where she’d already started cooking, the smell of his favourite meal, beef goulash, permeating the air.

“I’ve got something to tell you,” she said, but he knew what she was going to say; that she’d found someone else, that she didn’t want to be with him anymore, that this was the last meal they’d share together. He’d known for weeks, could tell she was ‘acting’, that something wasn’t right.

Placing the wine bottle on the kitchen table, he went over to the stove and stood behind her as she stirred the goulash, then watched her lean over to smell the sauce. Although he was hungry, he’d hardly touched breakfast, skipped lunch, the thought of sharing a meal with her now made him feel sick.

There’d be no last meal, no small talk, no “I’m sorry” conversation.

Pulling out the scarf he wrapped each end round his wrists and pulled it tight, then brought it over her head and in front of her neck. He saw her head lower, her gaze following the scarf.

“Oh, that’s where it went,” she said and laughed, a laugh he used to find endearing but had more recently found annoying, like a schoolgirl’s, immature, almost babyish. She stopped laughing as he brought the two ends behind her neck and crossed them tightly. “Ow,” she said, putting her free hand up to her neck, “lighten up a little, will you darling.”

But he didn’t lighten up, he squeezed, his biceps pressing against his pale blue work shirt.

He heard the clank of the spoon as she dropped it into the saucepan and starting pulling at the scarf, her fingers clawing at his, her voice no longer understandable but a rasp that faded as she slumped to the floor.

That’s when he saw the envelope, on the work surface, her name in writing he didn’t recognise and he knew he’d done the right thing. He stepped over her body, lunged at the envelope and tugged out the single sheet of paper.

As the photograph revealed itself he saw the scan, the human peanut surrounded by a black and white blur, and he screamed as it fell to the ground.

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