Phonetics: A Winter’s Tale – 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…

Phonetics – A Winter’s Tale

“What the…!”

“Sorry! Oh God, I’m so sorry. Me and my bovver boots.”

“Shh…”

“Sorry. Is your foot OK?”

“Fine.”

“I’m so… I couldn’t sleep last night and had nothing to read so…”

“Nothing?”

“No.”

“You don’t keep any books in the house?”

“Flat.”

“Not even classics?”

“No.”

“Shakespeare.”

“Nope.”

“The Bible, then. Everyone has a Bible.”

“God, no… sorry, are you?”

“You say ‘sorry’ a lot.”

“I do, yes.”

“Divorced?”

“How did you know? Oh, saying ‘sorry’. It used to work…”

“That’s a shame.”

“Not really.”

“So you have plenty of time to read.”

“Not really. I’m always on the motorway, or sleeping.”

“Sorry?”

“It’s catching.”

“What?”

“Never mind.”

“You work on the motorway presumably.”

“Spot on.”

“And you work from the minute you get there ’til you finish?”

“No. There are lunch breaks, other breaks… when it’s raining. This is England.”

“Perfect.”

“For…”

“Reading.”

“I suppose, but I’m with the lads.”

“Can’t you get away?”

“Not really. The porta cabins are noisy and the motorway’s… Besides, they’ll think…”

“Does it matter?”

“Don’t suppose so.”

“How many of you are there?”

“40. 50 maybe.”

“Wow. You could…”

“I could…?”

“Start a book group?”

“I don’t think so. They’re very…”

“You could ask.”

“I guess. You like reading, don’t you. Big stack of books you’ve got there. They allow you that many at once?”

“I have two cards.”

“Isn’t that a bit greedy.”

“Not both mine.”

“Old man’s?”

“Yes.”

“Large print. Very old man.”

“Yes. Neighbour.”

“Sorry, being nosey.”

“You weren’t going to say ‘sorry’ again.”

“I wasn’t? Force of habit. Whilst I’m being nosey, and getting away with it…”

“You were?”

“I thought so, but…”

“Go on.”

“What do you do that lets you read so much? The old man… you a carer?”

“No.”

“Librarian.”

“Not even close.”

“Indoors though.”

“Mostly.”

“For a company.”

“Yes.”

“You’re very…”

“What?”

“Skinny.”

“Naturally slim.”

“I should pick my book and go… before I get a parking ticket.”

“What are you going for? The book.”

“Something with action, shortish chapters.”

“James Patterson’s are short, about one or two pages mostly.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

“He’s very popular. Most borrowed… or stolen, can’t remember which.”

“People’s steal from libraries?”

“I meant bookshops but yes, they probably do.”

“Isn’t that pointless? Aren’t they free?”

“They are but you need a card.”

“Which is free, or at least mine was.”

“They are. So you’ve guessed I work for a company, indoors and I’m skinny. What do I do?”

“Secretary.”

“Are secretaries skinny?”

“Not necessarily.”

“OK, clue…”

“Your foot. You’re a chiropodist.”

“Nope.”

“Treading on a spot. You squash spiders. Bug exterminator.”

“No. I’m going to have to tell you.”

“One more clue.”

“Swan Lake.”

“You make matches.”

“No. That’s Swan Vesta. I don’t even smoke.”

“Me neither. Disgusting habit.”

“Swan Lake… conservationist… no… oh, man in black tights… baddie, dark music. Yes. Ballerina. Of course.”

“We’re going through early rehearsals at the moment so plenty of time…”

“Where are you playing?”

“At the Royal, do you know it?”

“The wife… ex, took me there once. It was funny. Graham Greene, I think. Not somewhere to go on your own though.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t know. It’s just… I don’t know. Never think of it, I suppose, like reading.”

“Step on a Crack.”

“Sorry?”

“James Patterson. It’s very good.”

“OK, thanks. And sorry about your foot.”

“No more ‘sorries’, OK?”

“I’ll try.”

“And come to the ballet. You might enjoy it.”

“Sure. What are you doing?”

“You wouldn’t know it, it’s a bit of a classic.”

“Try me.”

“It’s Shakespeare.”

“Oh.”

“Haven’t you got to get back to your car?”

“My car! I didn’t even catch your name…”

“Juliet. Bye then.”

“Bye, Juliet.”

And as Mike watched her walk away, he wanted to run after her, ask for her number, give her his but she wouldn’t have taken him serious had she known, that’s despite everything he’s romantic, that’s he half-Italian, told her the reason why his colleagues make fun of him… that his surname is Romeo.

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Too Beautiful for Words – 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…

Too Beautiful for Words

While all around her bustles, Evelyn McHale lies serene. Still clutching the pearls, a recent gift from her fiancé, she is as elegant in death as in life.

A crowd gathers but she’s too beautiful for words. They wait… not for her to move, they know she won’t, can’t, after a fall like that.

A man, unknown to the others, takes a photograph, the click the only noise, sets someone talking, then voices become a low buzz.

The man rushes off to his darkroom, eager to catch the evening news then tomorrow’s first edition.

A siren laments in the distance as if to know its prey.

*

A woman returns to her car in the busy urban street but struggles to get through the crowd. As she pushes people aside she sees the black sleek metal crumpled, moulded itself around the body of a woman, just a few years younger than herself. She wants to scream but knows it’s the wrong thing to do. No one around her is reacting, just talking in whispers, pointing to her car and the woman it’s cradling.

She looks up to the Empire State Building imagining the woman’s flight. It would have been silent, the scream as missing then as now.

She wonders what had made her so desperate, what had been taken away from her to leave her no choice. Would she have felt free as she fell? A band of quiet between streams of strangers, those she left behind becoming smaller as those approaching grew.

As she fell into the clutches of aluminium, would she have felt safe? Would she have felt at all?

Blue lights flash behind the woman and a policeman starts talking to her. She just wants to get in her car and drive home, return to her husband, tell him she’s fine, that she wasn’t the woman who threw herself from their local tourist attraction.

And that’s what she’s become. Her, the woman, and their car. Both as attached to it as each other. She knows both will be separated and never see either again, none of them recovering from the impact of such an event.

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Until Daniel – 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…

Until Daniel

You’ve done this dozens of times; tell someone it’s over, watched their reaction – sometimes expected, more often not.

You’ve said it different ways too, as if any way is going to soften the blow. There’s been hysterics, cries of “why?”. To the latter you don’t really have an answer. You’ve been tempted to say “some things are just not meant to be,” but you feel that’s heartless and despite everything you say, that’s not you.

A couple have hit you… one regretted it immediately, the other didn’t, but you knew he’d be a tough cookie; loud, brash… your total opposite.

Sometimes they have relatives with them and that’s really embarrassing, but you know it cushions the blow. You have tissues ready because one of them will need it – they usually do.

Daniel’s the latest, the hardest. You sit him down and go through your usual patter, more gently than normal because you’ve grown fond of him, but you’ve learned that fondness gets you nowhere.

You can’t tell yet whether he’s anticipated this; there’s no reaction. Sometimes you’re doing them a favour, setting them free, but until Daniel they’ve always shown it in their face.

You’re nearly at the end of your speech when he speaks.

“Jeffrey,” he says softly. “It’s fine. I’ve known for a while. Prepared.”

And you wonder how he’s prepared, what he’s done to move on but you know it’ll soon be none of your business. You want to say, “let’s stay in touch”, be corny, but it doesn’t feel right. You never stay in touch with any of them, and he’s the only one you’ve wanted to offer it to.

You nod and he gets up to leave. “Daniel. I’m sorry,” you say and for once you mean it.

“I know,” he says, and you watch him leave.

Through the glass you see him return to his desk, empty an archive box and fill it with his things. He looks around at the other empty desks then puts on his coat. As he walks past your office he smiles and you both know he’ll be fine. Unlike you he’ll quickly get another job while you spend your days circling opportunities, filling forms and sitting in waiting rooms for your name to be called.

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Like Out of Space or Something – 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…

Like Out of Space or Something

“Corr, who’s that?”

“Candy, Sindy, something like that.”

“Looks like a sweet doll to me.”

“You always were a joker, Frankie.”

“Where did she come from?”

“What do you mean? Like out of space or something.”

“No, Stan. You know, where’s she been before here?”

“I don’t know. Ask Eddie. Not from the village that’s for sure.”

“A newcomer, hey.”

“Oh, no.”

“What?”

“She’s married. See, a ring.”

“Oh yeah.”

“As if we had a chance anyway.”

“Half our age.”

“Quarter.”

“Speak for yourself.”

“OK, third then.”

“If she’s not from round here, where do you think?”

“I don’t know, Frankie. Foreign for sure.”

“Philippines?”

“Not quite.”

“Asian.”

“More so, yeah.”

“There’s Eddie.”

“He looks knackered.”

“Doesn’t he. Pub hours finally getting to him.”

“Just back from holiday isn’t he?”

“Thought I hadn’t seen him for a while.”

“Hey look.”

“What?”

“He’s wearing a ring too.”

“The sly old devil.”

“Eh?”

“He’s wearing a ring… she’s wearing a ring.”

“Lucky old git.”

“Mmm.”

“What?”

“Just thinking.”

“About?”

“Whether my passport’s up to date.”

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They Always Look at the Shoes – 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 Always Look at the Shoes

Oh God, they’re so young.

Inexperienced. Yes, Jeffrey, they’re young and inexperienced. Your CV is much longer, stronger.

They can’t be ageist these days. You’re here, you just have to shine.

My shoes. No! Why did I forget to polish my shoes? First impressions – they always look at your shoes. Maybe if I start talking as soon as I get in there they won’t have a chance. One of them will. Do they really need four people to interview me?

Two… four… six… eight… nine, ten, eleven. Plus me. Twelve. Is that total or just this round? Sales is popular, I guess.

3.20. Ten minutes. So am I next or… the door’s opening!

She’s younger that they are. I’ve got no hope.

Jones. Good. Not me. We get 10 minutes then or…?

Another door. 30s I reckon. OK, that’s better. Thompson.

Ah, so four people interviewing but not together. Phew. 50/50 chance then. Two more doors. Next or next after next.

Right, third’s opening. Another young one. Maybe 30s is as good as it gets. If I’m lucky they’ll see me as a father figure… wise… mature. Besides, you need to have had a life to sell life insurance.

Door 4… has to be door 4. Yes! My age. Smart. OK. I’m smart. Rawlings… that’s me!

Oh no, he’s looking at my shoes.

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Joining the 21st Century – 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…

Joining the 21st Century

Throwing back his head to swallow the tablet, Stanley said, “an Aspirin a day keeps the doctor away” then smiled at his St Bernard dog Bernie, who huffed and went back to sleep.

Stan looked back at the typewriter and sighed. He was already behind schedule and knew that even if he could rattle out a couple of thousand words a day, his agent, Delores Cooper, would be at him to work quicker.

“You need to get yourself a computer,” she’d said. “It’ll be more productive.”

Stan couldn’t see how, he’d be typing at the same speed. If the words weren’t coming out from his brain it wouldn’t matter what sort of keyboard his fingers hovered over.  But they were sore from slipping between the letters. So really there was no choice. His grandson could show him how it worked… 8 vs. 80. He felt like a child himself.

“You could email your manuscript to me,” Delores had added, her eyes looking even bigger and scarier than normal. “Save you all that money on postage.”

Stan wasn’t sure now why she’d taken him on. She clearly saw something of value in his novel that he couldn’t. “You’re just being a writer,” he said to himself and he liked the thought of that. A writer. He’d had no day job for years so he could say he was. He pictured his passport, long out of date, stating it. He also imagined his picture alongside, grinning. He’d grin, to match, to the border guard who’d refuse him entry and they’d escort him away, the muscled arms of two security officers, one either side of him, lifting him off the floor. He’d be swept along, feet dangling and pretend he was parachuting down onto enemy territory in the dead of night, like an undercover spy.

Stan did grin, there and then, and clapped too when the rest of his novel came to him. After making some scribbled notes, he made a call. “Hello, Nathan. Are you busy on Saturday?… Oh, great. Can we go shopping?”

Stan laughed as his grandson cheered, then after he’d told Nathan why, pulled the phone away from his ear as the boy squealed. “It is time I joined the 21st Century.”

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First Impression – 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…

First Impression

Running down the hill, Amy could see the bus indicating right, waiting to pull out into the rush hour traffic.

“Don’t let it in, don’t let it in!” Amy begged, but then saw a cream Mini slow down, its flash of lights reflecting on the back of the bus.

She knew if she waited for the next one she’d be late and if she was late on her first day she’d not be sure if there would be a second.

The traffic lights ahead changed to red and whilst drivers cursed the new roadworks, they had bought Amy valuable seconds. She caught up with the bus and went ahead a little, waving in an attempt to catch the driver’s attention. He nodded and opened the doors.

“We’re not supposed to pick up between stops.”

“I’m…” Amy said struggling for breath, “sorry. I…”

“Late for work?”

Amy nodded. “First day.”

“Oops.”

Amy smiled. She’d not had to catch the bus for her old job but now she was working in the town centre she’d either have a longer walk or take public transport, and having spent too long deciding what to wear had only left enough time for the latter.

“Nice suit,” the driver said as she took the ticket.

“Thank you. It’s new.”

“First impression counts, hey.”

Amy blushed then realised that the driver was younger than he’d looked from the front of the bus. A little older than her but with a heart-melting smile. “So they say.”

Now, as she sat on the bus, she had another reason to look forward to going to work.

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