I Knew a Joyce Once – 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…

I Knew a Joyce Once

“Shh…” The gallery owner scowled at the two women chatting loudly as he walked by. The older lady giggled as she spotted a white price ticket attached to his black trousers.

“You’ll get us kicked out,” the younger woman whispered.

The old lady beamed up at her carer from her wheelchair and took her hand. “Let me give you a manicure sometime, Sarah, I’ve not lost my touch, you know.”

“I’d like that. Right now though we should be going. I just need to… ah, there they are. Will you be OK here while I pop to the ladies?”

“Of course dear.”

“Or, do you need to…?”

“I’m fine. Happy to watch the world go by.”

As Sarah walked off, the old lady’s attention turned to a tall, distinguished man in his 70s walking towards her, smiling.

“Joyce?” he asked.

She shook her head.

The man’s smile disappeared.

It was then that she spotted the toy bear in his right hand.

The man looked down, following her gaze. “It’s my granddaughter’s. She’s in the café with her mother. I spotted you and… I’m sorry, I really thought,…” he said, and headed to the café, shoulders slumped.

The old lady shrugged and stared at the painting in front of her; a small boy in a blue jacket that reminded her of someone. “I knew a Joyce once,” she said, but didn’t expect the boy to answer, he was just a painting after all.

She was about to say something else to him when Sarah walked out of the ladies toilet, shaking her hands.

“OK,” Sarah said. “Let’s go, shall we?”

“Let’s!”

“And no getting us in trouble again, OK, Joyce?”

“No dear, wouldn’t dream of it.”

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Stalemate – 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…

Stalemate

Stalemate implies that you’re friends in the first place. Derek’s no friend of mine. Give him an inch, as the saying goes, and he’ll take more than the proverbial mile – he’ll take a marathon.

It all started back when… oh you don’t want to hear all about that, you want the action, the here and now, why someone I thought I knew well, someone I’d known from school sixty years ago would turn up on my doorstep declaring his undying love for my wife. I didn’t even know they knew each other. Turns out they met a few months ago buying my Christmas present. Well, Isobel buying mine, Derek buying one for his dog. Not that she bought me a pet toy; they were in the same department store queue, waiting to pay. Isobel behind Derek and she saw what he’d got – can’t remember what she said it was now, doesn’t matter.

She loves dogs. Had them growing up, wanted one, but it was me or a dog so she had no choice, did she?

So anyways, they got chatting, went for a cup of coffee… innocent like and first thing I knew about it is when he turned up. On my birthday of all days! Picked then because he thought… or she thought, I’d be in a good mood. Even if I had been, which I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have been for long, seeing him, would I? Before or after he told me about him and Isobel.

She said afterwards she’d wanted to tell me. That it had always been just coffee, just shopping. Not Derek’s version but he’d always exaggerated, said she wanted to leave me but that I wouldn’t let her. So he came to ask me. Not that there was much asking involved. Any, actually. Lots of demanding as I remember.

I was holding her back, he’d said. Wasn’t making her happy. She’d be happy with him. Couldn’t even think of anything original.

Of course she won’t leave me. Thinks she was the one to put me in this wheelchair. And I’m not going to put her straight, am I? She does too good a job of looking after me, and she enjoys it, I can tell.

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A Woman by Comparison – 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…

A Woman by Comparison

Hoping you’re convincing enough, you laugh at the comedian on the TV. You don’t find him funny but Laura does and you’re still trying to impress.

She looks at you with her big Bambi eyes and you laugh again. She smiles, says nothing, then looks back at the TV.

You don’t want to be watching anything, you’d rather be kissing her, stroking her neck, making her quiver like you did the other girls, except Laura’s more special… more resistant. You’d never have waited this long with Tracey or Kim but they’d barely lasted to third date anyway. You get bored easily and you’ve impressed yourself that you’re still here, waiting, not out trying, and usually succeeding, to find a replacement.

Laura is a woman by comparison. Your mother knows her mother and thought you’d be a good match… tame you, you think this means.

The programme finishes and Laura picks up the remote, switching off the television. She then turns to you, smiles and strokes the side of your face.

The house is quiet and you debate whether to take things further here or lead her upstairs. Making love on the sofa is seedy which has never bothered you before but you have new bed sheets. You go to take her hand but she leans in, tilts her head as if to kiss your mouth but veers away and you feel her cheek brush yours. You close your eyes and wait for her to kiss your neck, which she does, but then your eyelids thrust open as you feel the sharp pressure on your skin, and your blood draining away.

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Double Trouble – 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…

Double Trouble

“She looks lost.”

“She’s not lost.”

“She’s looking around like she’s lost.”

“She’s taking in the scenery.”

“She doesn’t look very…”

“Happy.”

“No.”

“We should speak to her.”

“We should.”

“You might frighten her.”

“No, you might.”

“Why me?”

“You’re bigger.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Are too. She’s coming this way.”

“She’s looking at us.”

“No, she’s not.”

“Schhh.”

“You’re the loud one.”

“And you’re the ugly one.”

“You’re stupid. Loud and stupid.”

“I can change, you’re still ugly.”

“She’s turning away.”

“Where’s she going?”

“She looks lost.”

“She’s not lost.”

“She’s looking around like she’s lost.”

“She’s taking in the scenery.”

“She doesn’t look very…”

“Happy.”

“No.”

“We should speak to her.”

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Oh Brother! – 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…

Oh Brother!

Ooh, I could swing for my brother sometimes. Dad says he’s a blessing, an ‘accident’, but I think he’s a curse. I’m supposed to look after him when Dad and Sarah, that’s my step-mum, want to go out, but sod that! I’m seventeen and should be having fun. Why should I stay in while my mates all go out? I’m left clearing up puke when brat eats too much ice cream or chocolate ‘Buttons’.  It’s not my fault if he eats the whole packet in one go!

I try to study while brat pretends he’s a train or an aeroplane or something equally loud and infuriating. Sarah hears me shouting at him to “eff off” and swishes into the room, her blonde hair swaying and annoyingly shiny. She whisks him away, singing his favourite; ‘The Mockingbird Song’, giving me a glare that could freeze a volcano. I’m in her bad books, but so what? It does the trick…gets brat out of my way.

I switch off the PC and look up as Sarah returns, now smiling sweetly. She reminds me that she and Dad are going out tonight and that I’m “not asked to baby-sit very often”…not very often, my arse! “Yes, Mum”…she likes me to call her ‘Mum’ and thinks it means something to me. Of course it doesn’t. My real mum, Laura, died when I was seven. If Sarah thinks that playing a mother to me for four years makes her my mum then she can go to – “I haven’t forgotten!” I add as an afterthought and mimic her sickly smile. Her glare returns. She leaves the room, muttering something under her breath. I catch the words “always” and “mood”, and a ‘tut’ or two.

The front door slams signifying Dad’s arrival. “Hello Button” I hear. Brat’s obviously in sight.  I skip downstairs in a ‘Little House on the Prairie’ fashion (Sarah watches it on UK Gold, the lazy bitch). He’s looking very smart in his charcoal grey city-style pinstripe suit. I’m greeted with a “Hello Poppet” as he plants a kiss on my right cheek. He asks me how my studies are going and beams as I say they’re all done. Sarah looks at me in a “as little as you can get away with” expression but I don’t care. She can’t tell me what to do.

Sarah reminds Dad that they’re running late and he rushes upstairs to get changed. Poor Dad, the stick she gives him. Nag, nag, nag. I wouldn’t be like her; not that I’m ever going to get married and I’ll certainly never have kids!

*

With the car scrunching its way out of the drive and brat despatched to bed, I settle on the sofa with some smuggled-in cider, Galaxy Fruit & Nut and ‘Final Destination 4’ on DVD.

I get to a quiet bit of the film, about half way through, press the pause button on the remote and go to check on the kid, as I’d promised Dad. Brat’s sleeping soundly. “Makes a change”, I think to myself. Glancing in the bathroom mirror on the way back downstairs, I make a mental note to get pink streaks in my hair like Penny at school – Sarah would hate that. Dad’s a pushover. He lets me do whatever I want – says I’m a teenager and I’m going through a ‘phase’. Phases are a great excuse to get away with murder!

I leap down the stairs, missing the last couple of steps and settle back on the sofa, finishing off the cider. The film’s nearly finished when the doorbell rings. I swear, stuff the empty cider bottle under a cushion and press the pause button. With the chain on as instructed, I open the front door and see my dad’s brother, Mike, standing in front of me. “Hiya!” I beam but he looks awful. I see the tears streaming down his face and know something’s really wrong.

“What’s happened?” I ask dreading his words. I feel sick and shiver. He just says “I’m sorry Janie, so sorry, I’ve got some bad news”. He asks to come in. I say nothing but take the chain off and move back so he can get past.

He asks me to sit down but I can’t. I stand fixed as if super-glued to the spot. Mike tries to blink his tears away without much success. He puts his arms around me, easing me on to the sofa. He clears his throat and begins to explain that my dad was driving to the restaurant when a lorry pulled out of a side road and the car hit it head on. “I’m so sorry Janie,” Mike says again “they didn’t stand a chance.” After a pause, he asks me if he can get me a drink, I shake my head. I say I want to see my Dad but he drops his head. He clasps my hands and continues. “Aunt Izzy’s getting the spare room ready for you to stay with us. You wait here, I’ll switch everything off, fetch you some clothes and get your brother.”

In a haze, I trudge upstairs while Mike switches the TV off followed by lights in the lounge and kitchen. I head for the box room. Leaning over the small bed and stroking a slip of Tyler’s hair from his forehead, I whisper “sorry little one, but you’re stuck with me now.  Don’t worry.  I’ll look after you.”  Tears start rolling down my face as I sing “Hush, little baby. Don’t say a word. Mama’s going to buy you a mocking bird.” and I suddenly realise that I’m not only crying for Dad but also for Sarah – my second mum.

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Getting Off Lightly – 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…

Getting Off Lightly

Hearing the bones snap as he fell, Graham cursed himself for being so stupid. He’d known they were fragile, being so old and yet he’d been this careless; not keeping a hand free to hold the stair rail.

“Mr Simmonds!” Tony, one of his students, yelled, then tried to help him to stand until Graham yelped.

“My leg!” he whimpered as Tony lowered him on to one of the bottom steps.

“Take it easy, Mr Simmonds.”

Graham rolled up his trouser leg and winced.

Tony tutted. “That looks nasty.”

“Deep cut, that’s all, but look at Henry.”

Tony stared over at the class’ skeleton lying in pieces on the newly-polished hallway floor and shrugged. “We’re here to learn how to mend people. Henry will probably be the only one that we won’t hear complaining… I’d say we’ll be getting off lightly.”

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Raven Hair Flying – short fiction by Tony Tibbenham

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…

Raven Hair Flying (by Tony Tibbenham)

I shuddered awake.  The alarm clock jangling into my dream.  For once I was glad:  I had been lost on the beach again, crying for mummy with my cries lost amongst the gull calls. Why did I have this dream before every audition?  Was I really so nervous?  I snuggled down again, intent on getting another ten minutes under the duvet before facing the commute.

Eight minutes later I dragged myself into the shower, battering my aching legs and back with hot needles of water.  The third audition this week, travelling further to find another opportunity.  Always looking for the funds to pay the last bill.

Today was all the way across town, three buses and a long walk, for a small show.   I almost didn’t want to get it, the commute would kill me if the show didn’t.  These thoughts swirled round my mind as I stepped up onto the first bus.

*

The driver smiled, seeing his favourite passenger, looking tired as she lugged her costume holdall aboard.  He had watched out for her every shift for months. The mundane drive round the circuit of roads was more tolerable when she was aboard.  She smiled as she said “hello” most days.  Other times, like today, she seemed pre-occupied.  He watched her slide gracefully into a seat before he pulled away, driving on automatic as he dreamed of her raven hair flying as she glided across the stage, smiling, flying into his arms.

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