Modern-day Cleopatra – 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…

Modern-day Cleopatra

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.

As she added soap powder to her washing, she pulled a stray hair from her dress and David studied it as it fell to the ground – even that looked seductive.

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.”

David laughed.

“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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They Never Do – 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…

They Never Do

It wasn’t as if she’d done anything wrong. She’d followed the recipe word-for-word but her effort looked nothing like Pauletta’s.

“They never do, Merys,” Tom said as he walked past, as if reading her mind.

She stared at him as he disappeared into the lounge, then heard the click of the standby and the football burst into life.

“They never do,” she repeated inside her head, unsure whether to take it as a compliment.

Having tipped the contents of the dish into the composting bin, she measured out more ingredients and started again from the top of the page.

Whisking to the second, beating in the correct directions: left twenty times, the right for the same number. She’d thought Pauletta was supposed to make it simple but try as she might, version number two turned out just as badly.

Grabbing the dish in both hands she tapped the bin’s pedal with her slippered right foot and was about to tip the ingredients in after its predecessor when she stopped, and let go of the pedal which made the lid drop with a resounding clunk.

“Shh,” Tom yelled from the other room but Merys was on a mission.

Putting the dish back on the counter, she picked up ‘Pauletta’s Parisian Puddings’ and, foot back on pedal, grinned as the book tipped into the bin, sending up a cloud of flour from the cavernous gloom.

Letting go the pedal with a secondary thud, which produced loud tutting from the lounge, Merys walked to her bookshelf, removed another book and said, “Welcome home, Jamie, welcome home.”

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Playing Safe – 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…

Playing Safe

As the board flashed ‘Go to Gate 17’, Alfie turned round and peered out the expanse of glass – bullet-proof glass after the events of the previous Christmas. Or was it New Year, he couldn’t remember. He remembered there being snow on the ground and taking his aunt to hospital when she’d slipped and broken her arm.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” she’d said to him when he’d told her of the offer; a year’s contract leading to permanent.

Turning back to the flashing board, he picked up his holdall. He’d already checked it was regulation size but now half-hoped that he’d be stopped, that someone would tell him he’d made a mistake and his luggage would be found and taken off the plane.

He didn’t really care if it wasn’t found, it was only shirts and trousers. The things that mattered to him were in his holdall; photographs, rings… his and hers. His – he couldn’t bear to wear, and hers – removed at the hospital and put in a plastic bag, along with the bracelet he’d bought her for their tenth anniversary.

He knew it was now or never. His aunt would say, “now”, his wife, Carrie, would have agreed. He’d always been the one to play safe; suggest Europe when she’d wanted exotic. So they alternated Spain one year, Egypt the next.

Exotic was waiting for him now and as the board read ‘Final call’, he and his holdall headed for Gate 17.

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Exotic Spice – 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…

Exotic Spice

Leona had thought it would be funny to visit a fancy dress shop in her lunch break, hire something to spice up what had become a rather mundane love life with Neville. Even his name bored her and she’d begun to wonder whether it was worth the effort, whether she’d be better off telling him it was over then escaping to the sun, when she’d remembered the shop and its colourful window.

As she closed the front door to the solicitors, she headed to the small shop at the end of the high street. She’d only walked past the newsagents and bakers when she stopped at the travel agent’s window.

There it was: six-inch-high letters, ISRAEL, next to a picture of an exotic beach and sun loungers with not a soul in sight, somewhere she could pick and choose her place, like selecting a desert from a menu card.

But life wasn’t that simple – she’d always ended up with the sunbed that squeaked or threatened to fold at any given moment.

As she looked at the Mediterranean scene she pictured herself being pampered by a tall, tanned waiter and comparing him to Neville, she burst out laughing.

But that’s what she loved about him… he made her laugh and yes, she was sure she still loved him.

So she kept walking, picked out a nurse’s outfit, and walked back to work wearing a silly grin while imagining wearing the uniform.

She wasn’t to know as she selected the next tape and legal file, that Neville had been a sick child and that when he would come home that evening, see her bending over the dining room table in the shortest skirt she’d ever worn, that he’d start screaming.

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Dowdy is a Let-down – 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…

Dowdy is a Let-down

As you step up to ring the bell, you spot your reflection in the side window. Your mascara’s run and you know you need to make a good first impression.

John thinks you’re swimming and he’s supposed to be at work but you followed him here, then waited until he went inside… then waited a while longer until it was touch and go whether he’d resurface.

You’ve not seen the woman but expect her to be young. And pretty, like you were when you and John first met, before the four children distorted your figure from model to mother, career woman to housewife, for almost fifteen years.

And now the man you love… loved… is separated by a brown wooden door and panes of glass which betray your form.

Dipping into your handbag, you pull out the mirror and wipe away the smudged mascara with the side of your finger. Make-up went years ago but it’s returned today, for the showdown.

Noticing the door is slightly open, you push it a fraction and wait, listening for voices, footsteps, but none are forthcoming. You push the door a little more, then hear the noise; heavy breathing and his voice.

“That was fun,” he says, out of breath. “Let’s do it again.”

You thrust the front door backwards and it hits something. You don’t look at what but stomp through the hallway and into the lounge.

The picture that greets you isn’t quite what you expected; fully-clothed not naked, vertical not horizontal but John is out of breath and red-faced.

“What the hell?” the woman says as she looks at you.

She is younger but plain and that feels worse. You’d expect him to leave you for someone her age but dowdy, even in such a stunning dress, is a let-down.

“Susan!” John puffs, half-bent, palms on his knees, but looking up at you. He straightens and steps forward, but you back away.

“It’s not what you think,” the woman says.

That’s what they always say, you’ve watched enough TV.

“She’s… she’s…” John tries.

You can’t say anything but just stand there shaking your head.

“She’s teaching me,” he blurts.

“I bet she is,” you hiss and can’t remember ever being this angry with him, this hurt.

“The tango,” the woman says coolly. “It was supposed to be a surprise.”

You look from her to him and back to her. “What?”

“He’s bought you a cruise for your wedding anniversary. Doesn’t want to be an embarrassment on the dance floor. He’s very good actually. You’re a lucky woman.”

And as you look back at his big brown eyes, he reminds you of the first dog you had as a child and you whimper, “Yes, very lucky.”

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Cheapskate – 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…

Cheapskate

“What’s the matter?”

“Jim’s dumped me.”

“Again?”

“I know.”

“That’s got to be the… fifth time?”

“Sixth.”

“For good?”

“I think so.”

“Well, you can’t take him back even if he crawls…”

“But I love him.”

“Ruth!”

“I know, but I can’t help it.”

“You’re a doormat.”

“Josie!”

“You are, you know you are… and just before your birthday. Last time it was Christmas.”

“I know.”

“With his birthday in between. Cheapskate.”

“I know.”

“I told you you’d been too generous.”

“But he said we’d be together for ever.”

“No ring or proposal though was there.”

“I know.”

“Plenty more fish in the-”

“Sea. Yes.”

“Just look around. What about him?”

“Bald.”

“Nice eyes though.”

“Look at his teeth…”

“Fair point. What about him?”

“Walks funny.”

“It’s a limp, that’s all.”

“Bet that’s not all that’s limp!”

“Ruth Anne Murdoch!”

“Josephine Marie Willis!”

“So what are you going to do for your birthday now Jim’s not taking you anywhere?”

“Thought I’d go to the beach.”

“Lovely.”

“What to come?”

“Love to. Bus?”

“Thought I’d treat myself.”

“Coach.”

“Taxi.”

“That’s my girl.”

“Well, you’re only eighty once.”

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Legs and Confidence – 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…

Legs and Confidence

Staring at the blank lines, I know I have to write something, anything. But voids and I go together, my life a nothingness; no job, love life.

Loads worse off than me, I know, Maria keeps telling me. She’s my oldest friend… not quite back as far as school but not far off.

With just the TV for company, there’s nothing to do but sit and stare at it… and eat.

“Chins up,” she tells me then laughs as if that would make me feel better.

It’s alright for her; she’s got a job, a man in her life. She said I could go out with them but who wants to be a gooseberry? She suggested it again today, said they’re going to the cinema but back row for three? No, thank you. Besides, I think Andy’s a little jealous of our friendship.

Maria buys me the local paper every week… for the jobs section, I’m sure, or maybe the dating column, or both.

She says she’s done with it but I know she’s not read it. She’s not careful enough with stuff to leave it that tidy-looking.

She brings me teabags too, knows I get through them too quickly, even at two cups a bag.

Almost at the end of the milk, so better ration it. She takes a lot in her drinks so that doesn’t help but I don’t mind, she’s good to me… said that already, didn’t I?

Some people love being at home all the time but I hate it. I want to work, really I do, but Maria doesn’t understand why I’m hesitant. I suppose she just likes to remember the old me, the sporty me, the pre-Afghanistan me. The ‘me’ with legs and confidence.

“You’ll get new ones soon,” she says, and I’ve seen the Paralympics, I can see what’s possible but it’s years of work, isn’t it.

Maria says I won’t look forward but what is there to look forward to? I lost her when Andy came on the scene. OK, that’s not fair. I pushed her away, but she didn’t leave completely, won’t leave for good, like I told her to… shouted at her to.

I should be grateful. I am, really I am, but…

“Write it down,” she said. “Like an autobiography. It’ll be therapy.”

I shook my head but she put the paper and pen in front of me anyway, kissed me on the cheek and left for her date with Angus Andy.

So here I am. TV switched off, remote at the other end of the room (thanks, Maria) and I have to write. Something, anything…

Legs and Confidence by Tom Butler’.

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