Flash Fiction Friday: Morgen’s Life in the Old Dog

The first story in my 5pm Fictions collection is ‘Life in the Old Dog’. I was asked recently to read one of my short pieces (plenty of choice – there are 250 in this collection alone!) to the members of one of the local theatres, Moulton Theatre. A friend had read this recently as practice for being a voice over artist (he has a great voice) so I chose this one. I hope you like it…

Life in the Old Dog

Condoms. Why are there condoms in your handbag? You look at the outside again to make sure it’s your bag. You knew it was when you opened it and the rest of the contents are yours, but these certainly aren’t.

Your mind races for clues. The only other person to go near the bag was Albert and he’d have no use for condoms. As far as you’re aware he’s never cheated on you and anyway, he’s so short-sighted and deaf he’d never notice or hear if anyone was… what’s the phrase the youngsters use today?… ‘hitting on’ him.

You’re always so fastidious about leaving your bag unattended, ever since being cautioned at the airport when Albert took you to Paris for your fortieth wedding anniversary. Not cautioned, he’d say, warned, but it felt like they were the police, with their uniforms and polished shoes.

Today, the only time you went out was to go to the supermarket then the garage for petrol. You’d filled the trolley while Albert sat in the café then you’d filled the car with unleaded while he queued to pay. Then he’d thrown the receipt and some chocolate in your bag. The chocolate you’d picked out when you’d got home, put it to one side on top of the washing machine while he parked the car, and that’s when you’d found the condoms.

The receipt, you remember, will explain all. Petrol… chocolate… condoms. So it was Albert. You look up to the ceiling to avoid the tears you know you want to cry, but you won’t give him the satisfaction. You know he’s not bought them for you, you stopped having babies years ago, so if they’re not for you…

The threat of tears turns to welling anger, and you have your arms crossed when he walks into the kitchen from the garage.

He looks at the contents on top of the washing machine and smiles. “Great. Fancy some?”

You frown so he continues. “Chocolate? It’s Fruit & Nut, your favourite.”

“And these?” you ask, holding up the packet of condoms.

“I know,” he says. “I’ve tried giving up. I didn’t think you’d mind if I only got a pack of ten.”

“Ten?”

“I’ll make them last. I chose a different brand to normal.”

“Normal!”

“These are supposed to be better for you.”

You’re about to throw them at him when he continues. “Low tar.”

“What?”

“Cigarettes. I shouldn’t, I know.”

“These aren’t cigarettes, Albert!”

“Aren’t they?”

“No, Albert. These are condoms.”

“They are? Why did she give me condoms?”

You burst out laughing at his pained expression, like the little boy you remember from school.

Albert winks, takes your hand and leads you upstairs.

***

 

 

The November (free) 100-word competition is open!

** Please check your word count. Your stories have to be 100 words (excluding the title) EXACTLY,
and PLEASE stick to the month’s theme… which for November is ‘America’! **

01 - 100 in veg 669778As I’ve been involved in others in the past (entering, organising and judging – I was the 2015 H.E. Bates Short Story Competition Head Judge!), I launched my own competition in September 2015. As a fan of micro-fiction, I invite you to send me your 100-word stories (excluding title) – a ‘drabble’ – with the chance to win some of my online creative writing courses (full details and entry form on this blog’s 100-word comp page). The prizes are a choice of three courses to the winner, two courses to the second placed and one course of the third placed choice, plus up to three honourable mentions (depending on quantity / merit of entries) per month winning free entry coupon code to my entering writing competitions course.

  • Deadline: the deadline for the current competition is midnight (UK time) Wednesday 30th November.
  • Theme: the current theme (which changes each month, the next few are listed on this blog’s 100-word comp page) is ‘America’, used in any way you like, and please do stick to the theme or your story will be disqualified (at least one has been each month). Please don’t submit other months’ themes at any other time than the month they are due or they will be disqualified and won’t be held back for the correct theme and you won’t be able to resubmit them during the correct month. You’ll have to write new stories, but of course you can send them elsewhere.
  • Fee: there is no fee for entering this competition. I enjoy reading flash fiction… and giving away prizes!
  • Prizes: as mentioned above, you could win one or more of my online creative writing courses, or free editing and critique of your writing up to 2,000 words (worth up to £14 (€20 / US$22 / CA$ & AS$28)). See prize breakdown on this blog’s 100-word comp page.
  • Word count: You must stick to the 100-word count, no less, no more, or you will be disqualified (again, at least one has been each month!). Bullet points do not count as words, neither do ellipses (e.g. ‘and… we’ counts as two words), and hyphenated words (e.g. well-known) count as one not two. (See ‘rules’ on this blog’s 100-word comp page.)
  • Entries: You can enter up to three times per month and it’s worth it as I’ll pick my favourite of the three to go into the competition. Regardless of whether that is successful or not, the two I don’t select won’t be published so you can use them elsewhere, as you can with anything you send over the months that doesn’t come first, second or third.
  • Entrants: This competition is open to anyone of any age or geographical location, as long as the story is in English.
  • Results: The results will be announced on the second Friday of the month following the relevant deadlines (see ‘themes’ on this blog’s 100-word comp page for full details).
  • Previous competitions: The winning stories of previous competitions can be found via the links within ‘themes’ on this blog’s 100-word comp page).
  • And finally… the Judge’s (Morgen’s) decision is final. Good luck!

Flash Fiction Friday: Feeding the Father (inspired by a true story)

Hello everyone. It’s my birthday today so I’m hogging the FFF slot and I was going to write something new but sadly ran out of time. So I’ve chosen a piece from my Fifty 5pm Fiction Collection which mentions today…

Feeding the Father (inspired by a true story)

048 jelly 216738“There we go, Dad,” I say, putting down the bowl of jelly. Dad don’t say much these days. In fact we ain’t spoken for weeks. He just stares at the TV. ’Neighbours’ coming up… his favourite.

I don’t mind doing everything. He and Mum looked after me for years so now it’s my turn but sometimes it gets a bit lonely, just talking to myself.

Dad looks smart today. I put him in his favourite jumper, the blue one. I can’t change his trousers as he’s too heavy but it don’t matter as he don’t go nowhere. I must get him some more aftershave as he don’t smell too good.

Things started going wrong after Mum left. If she hadn’t of gone, everything would be alright. Said she couldn’t take it no more. I know she meant me. Blames me for being stupid. They had rows. Know they had no money ’cause they had to look after me. So, now it’s my turn. Look after my dad.

He’s not hungry tonight – left his food again. He’s not been hungry for a while. “Need your strength, Dad,” I say but he just stares at the TV, looks straight through me.

There’s the doorbell. Don’t answer ‘cause it’s nobody’s business. I can manage just fine on my own. But then I’m not on my own – I got Dad. I turn the TV up loud when they start shouting through the letterbox. If I can’t hear them then they can’t hear me… us. Not that Dad says anything. He don’t seem to mind people shouting at him. I never shout at him. I love him, see.

The letterbox voices have gone quiet.

‘Neighbours’ starts and I laugh. “Everybody needs good neighbours” the voices sing to me. Well, we don’t. Neighbours are nosey. Shouting and banging on the walls. We keep us-selves to us-selves. Don’t need no one sticking their beaks into our business.

When the banging starts again I shut the lounge door. Thump…thump…thump. I feel the room shake then there’s a crash. Voices! The lounge door bursts open and I look at the faces. One man looks at Dad and gasps. Dad don’t look back, he’s too busy staring at ‘Neighbours’.

One of the men grabs me to take me out the room, but I don’t wanna go. Can’t leave Dad… he needs me. Another man goes upstairs and shouts down, “The mother’s up here”. There’s no one up there. I know. Mum left us, she ain’t there. It’s just Dad and me. Me and Dad.

I get bundled in a van and taken to hospital. I don’t like hospitals. Went there when I was seven when I broke my arm. It hurt. And they kept poking my arm to see how much it hurt. Couldn’t they see it did ’cause I was crying? Don’t need no doctors and neither does Dad. He’s got me, he don’t need no one else.

They sit me in a chair and give me a cup of tea with lots of sugar. I like it, it’s sweet. Then they start talking.

Did I know my Dad was dead? “Course he ain’t dead,” I say. Dad just likes watching TV. I feed him so he don’t need to go nowhere.

Then they talk about Mum. I don’t want to talk about her, ’cause she left us. They ask me when I saw her last and I say it was my birthday, 19th August. Dad said I was sixty, but I ain’t that old. No one’s that old.

I tell them Mum left ’cause I was hard work. I know I was hard work but not any more. I do the work. I look after Dad. That’s what I do.

The man then left the room and I heard him talking to someone. Then he came back in and brought me here. I like it here, apart from the voices, but I miss my Dad.

“Mister, when can I see my Dad?”

***

And here is the article that inspired this piece…

Feeding the father article