You Are A Lovely Lot – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s smaller short story collection (just 93 stories instead of 250!), The Story A Day May 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…

You Are A Lovely Lot

No child likes being told off and adults even less so. Being told off for saying you have a bad memory isn’t the worst thing in the world but it stuck, and every time Laura goes to say she has a bad memory she remembers her history teacher, Mrs Davis, shaking her head and tutting.

“Tell yourself something bad and you’ll believe it,” she’d say, but it was true, Laura had a terrible memory… for dates especially, history therefore being her worst subject, which made Mrs Davis warm to her even less.

The teachers at Fordham High had their ‘pets’; no apples were involved but the star pupils sat at the front so their hands would be the only ones the teachers saw. On the rare occasion their eyes did wander backwards, it would inevitably be Laura they picked on. ‘Not remembering’ wasn’t an acceptable excuse and many a time she’d be sent to the Head for a caning on the hand.

She’s sure that if she ever had her palms read, the fortune teller would frown, confused by the dominance of lines, unable to tell how long Laura’s life would be or how in love she could get.

Given the events of autumn 2001 it wouldn’t matter. Mid-August she’d said “goodbye” to her father, the last time they’d spoken, then just days later she’d heard the news on the radio driving back from the recycling tip. The first plane… the second… the pictures on TV when she got back to her mother’s.

Laura’s father had died just three days before, in a comfortable hospital bed, unconscious for days, dementia swallowing his brain for the last time. She’d had her farewell and as she saw the drama unfold and repeat, she thought of the daughters of the men in the buildings – businessmen, just like her father – unaware of what they were losing, no chance to say “goodbye”.

She imagined one man, grey, sitting at his desk, calm despite the panic around him. He was looking at a photograph; his wife, son, daughter, and he was smiling, saying just five words as the floor beneath him crumpled… “You are a lovely lot”.

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An English Summer – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s smaller short story collection (just 93 stories instead of 250!), The Story A Day May 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…

An English Summer

Sheltering from the storm under the old oak tree, you look up and try to find a break in the grey cloud. The harder you look the more you realise there’s no shading; it’s all one colour, like photocopy paper for bland posters about bland events.

And that reminds you of Eric. And why you left him. He’d been the fun one at the beginning, pulling you to places you hadn’t wanted to go, until he’d stopped pulling and settled in Hull. Dull Hull. He’d laughed and said it could have been worse, that it could have been Corby, but at least you knew people in Corby.

You’d weathered each other these past ten years, outgrowing him as you’d become outgoing, going out with friends from the gym and the writing group.

He’d had his bowling club but then they’d laughed at him, an innocent laugh, and he vowed never to return. With no interest in writing or getting fit, he’d refused your invitations, so stayed at home and vegetated.

And it had been like that until you’d woken up one morning, looked at him and realised that there was nothing. No passion. No laughter. No happy ever after. And you’d wanted more.

So you’d packed, and gone to live with one of the poets; Sally. And you’d begun to laugh again. And so had your writing. Dark tales turned to humour and you’d watched the glint in Sally’s eyes as you read them to her.

Until last week, when Eric had turned up. Full of fury, full of the passion that had been missing, but he’d got it all wrong… she was just a friend, a colleague of the arts.

He’d pushed you aside, into the bannister, winded you and you’d sat down… just for a moment to catch your breath.

Sally and Eric had argued, about you, but you hadn’t wanted that attention. So you went through to the kitchen where Sally was making the dinner and watched, in slow motion, as Eric grabbed the knife from her hand and plunged it into her heart. The heart that had been full of compassion for a stray, for you.

He’d been full of remorse. After the event but it was too late. Too late to explain.

And now as the rain falls, you watch them lower the coffin, look over at Sally’s husband Tom and their two children, and you want to say “sorry” again. For the hundredth time. But all you can think of is that it’s summer, that it should be warm, that you should be wearing a skimpy dress, with Sally reading poetry to you, clinking glasses of Pimms.

As Tom throws earth into the hole, you feel a tug at your wrist and look round. The man in the navy uniform tells you it’s time to go, and you look back at Tom. He nods as you’re led away to start the life sentence for killing the man who killed his wife.

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The Lake At Dusk – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s smaller short story collection (just 93 stories instead of 250!), The Story A Day May 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…

The Lake At Dusk

As Hannah walked through the front door, she felt like she’d been through a washing machine only someone had forgotten to set it to spin.

“Stay there!” her mother shouted from the kitchen doorway when she saw the state of her. “I don’t want you dripping through the house.”

“But Mum I’m freezing.”

“The heating’s on, you’ll soon dry.”

Hannah went to step towards the radiator.

“Don’t!”

“But…”

“No.”

“Can’t I at least…” Hannah looked down at her shoes.

“Alright then,” her mother conceded. “But just your shoes. You and they stay on the mat.”

Hannah was used to being spoken to like this but she thought even this was harsh.

“Where have you been anyway?”

This was different; curiosity bordering on concern, a flicker of compassion.

“The shopping centre,” Hannah lied.

“No you haven’t. They shut at seven on a Friday.”

Hannah said nothing.

“Well?”

Hannah knew she’d find out eventually. “The woods.”

Her mother shrugged her shoulders, truth clearly outweighing risk.

“And it was scary,” Hannah whispered.

“You’re dripping,” her mother grumbled, throwing the washing-up towel she’d been holding. Despite falling short of its intended target, she ignored it and returned to the kitchen, getting another tea towel from a drawer and continuing to dry the dishes from the evening meal that Hannah had missed.

The smell of the food still clung to the air making Hannah’s stomach growl. She stared at the towel then at the kitchen. Shaking her body like a dog, she figured she’d be dry enough to tread the few yards in socked feet to retrieve the towel but putting her right foot forward she heard a squelch, so bent down to take off her socks. Like a gymnast she leaned towards the radiator and hung them over the top of the curved white metal; the metal that was now piping hot; the heat that would suck up her moisture if only it was allowed to.

“What you doing?”

Hannah looked round to see her brother, David, standing in the lounge doorway holding a yoghurt pot and licking the spoon.

“Trying to get warm. What does it look like?”

“You look stupid.”

“Thanks. Charming as ever.”

“You been seeing Jason again?”

“How do you know his name?”

“Everyone at school’s talking about it. The romance of the year.”

“Hardly.”

“Why? He dumped you?”

“No!”

“He has!”

“Shut up!”

“Did he tell you to meet him by the lake at dusk, all romantic like?”

“What?”

“He did the same to Emma, only he didn’t turn up then told everyone at school the next day that she was easy, just by her being there.”

“Emma? My Emma?”

“Yes, your Emma. Bezzie mate Emma.”

“When?”

“Last week sometime. When you was…”

“Were.”

“Yeah, whatever.”

“When I was visiting Nan in hospital?”

“Yeah, that was it.”

“She phoned me. Crying. Said her uncle had died. I didn’t even know she had one.”

“Probably doesn’t. Just wanted you to feel sorry for her. So you went through Priory Woods, to meet him and he didn’t…”

“Change the record, David.”

“What?”

“Record. Round flat thing made of black plastic… oh, never mind.”

“And you went in the dark. Even you’re not that stupid.”

“It wasn’t dark.”

“Not when you went, no, but… you waited that long? You are that stu…”

“I wasn’t waiting.”

He looked down then picked up the tea towel. “You want this?”

Hannah nodded.

“Okay,” David said, handing it out to her, just short of reach.

Hannah closed her eyes and sighed. David stepped nearer and nudged her hand with it. “Here. I’m not that mean. Not like…”

Hannah’s eyes bolted open then glared at her brother.

“Alright,” he said, “subject closed.”

They stared at each other until he spoke again. “Was it really horrible?”

“Please don’t.”

“I don’t mean being stood up, though I bet that was… Okay. No, I mean going through the wood after dark. It’s supposed to be haunted.”

“Now you tell me.”

“You didn’t exactly ask. Didn’t tell anyone you were going, did you?”

Hannah shook her head.

“What was it like?” David continued.

“Quiet. No birds, nothing. Like death.”

“Who are you talking to?” Hannah’s mother asked as she walked through the hall to take her husband a cup of tea.

“No-one, Mum,” she said.

Her mother paused. “Hannah… please don’t go down there again. You know how I feel about that place. David made that mistake. We can’t lose you too. Okay?”

“Okay, Mum,” Hannah said, feeling warmer than she had in a long time, and even managed a smile.

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Small Town Drama – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s smaller short story collection (just 93 stories instead of 250!), The Story A Day May 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…

Small Town Drama

Broadville didn’t exactly follow the Trades Description Act. When it was first laid out in the 1900s it consisted of a straight road, ten houses, a shop, and 33 residents; 19 adults and 14 children. Over a century later it was still one road, ten houses and a shop but 24 residents and a pub. It didn’t make much money but being a self-sufficient community they muddled along.

That is until a stranger came to town.

“Excuse me, are you lost?”

“I don’t think so.”

“On your way somewhere?”

“Not particularly.”

“There aren’t any houses for sale here.”

“That’s OK, I’m not looking.”

Fred Tindell was stumped. No-one came to Broadville unless they were visiting and being the oldest resident, he knew this guy wasn’t here for that. He also figured that asking more questions wouldn’t bring anything but trouble, so he smiled, tipped his hat and went off to the pub for his evening constitutional.

As he approached the pub’s front door he glanced back and saw the man heading for the shop. With no way for the stranger to see Fred without turning round, Fred waited and watched him go inside.

Fred waited some more. And waited. And waited. He was a pretty patient chap; he’d nursed his wife through cancer, even endured the soaps on TV while she endured the treatment. The pub’s opening hours were dependent upon who wanted serving so he had plenty of time to kill.

Thinking that he must have missed him, though not sure how, Fred was about to go into the pub when the man came out of the shop. Fred snuck behind a pillar and pretended to text on a mobile phone. He didn’t have one and was just tapping into his palm but the stranger wouldn’t know that. Fred laughed quietly at getting one over on him. Except he wouldn’t have known that either, because he wasn’t looking. He was chatting to Elver, the owner of the shop, Fred’s less-than-honest brother-in-law.

Fred watched them shake hands. That wasn’t good. He knew saying anything to Elver would prove fruitless but Elver talked to his wife, Fred’s sister, and she spoke to Fred’s wife, so Fred would just have to bide his time.

He didn’t have to wait long.

The following evening when he returned from the pub, Doris put his favourite meal in front of him. Shepherd’s Pie. He loved the intricate plough-lines she’d weave into the topping. Her smile was extra perky as she placed the dish in front of him.

“Had a good day dear?” he asked her.

“Oh, you know, the same as usual really.”

“That’s good dear. So nothing special happened then.”

“Not really,” she said hesitantly, but then pulled out the chair opposite him and slumped into it. Fred stared at her as her eyes worked out how to tell him the news. Since she’d lost her hair, her pale green eyes had become even more noticeable, he hoped they wouldn’t lose any of their shine as her baby-soft blonde fuzz grew back.

“You know something, don’t you?” she asked.

“Not really.”

“You do, I can tell.”

“I saw a guy go into Elver’s shop last night and…”

“You did? What was he like?”

“Rude.”

“You spoke to him.”

“Briefly.”

“Did Elver say what he wanted?”

Her smile broadened to a grin. “You’ll never guess.”

Guessing was one thing that Fred was particularly bad at and Doris knew that. “A film shoot,” she blurted out.

“Really?” Flashes of Cary Grant, Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn ran through his brain.

“Well, not film,” she added.

Fred deflated.

“The small screen.”

That’s OK, Fred thought, lots of movies are shown on TV these days.

“Emmerdale,” she continued. “They want to use our little town to do a specific scene.”

“Really?” he asked, salvaging some enthusiasm and thinking that he might even get a walk-on part.

“Yes,” she nodded enthusiastically. “Elver thinks it’s a plane crash… or did he say train?”

Oh great, Fred thought, as if I haven’t had enough drama in my life.

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Feeling Like A Child Again – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s smaller short story collection (just 93 stories instead of 250!), The Story A Day May 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…

Feeling Like A Child Again

I grip the handle of the college door but can’t bring myself to open it. Someone behind me coughs. Without looking, I step sideways, letting go. I’m good at that. Letting go.

I smile at the growling face which in turn grunts at me.

I puff a breath of air after he’s gone and tell myself not to walk back to the car park. I’ve played this scenario twice this month and hope it’s third time lucky. It has to be. I have no choice. It’s now or never… well, now or I don’t get a job. And I’m not going on the dole. Never done that, so it comes down to this; glass entrance door to my right, car to the left.

I hear someone walking up the stairs but I don’t want to look because if I turn left the car park wins. So I keep looking straight ahead. I have time. Bert gave me redundancy when he retired. Two thousand pounds. Three months’ rent, food, car bills. I’ve worked it out. I’m good with figures. Bunch of roses £4.99, Chrysanthemums £3.99, Carnations £2.99. My favourite’s Gerberas. 75p a stem. Even a mixed bunch I’d add like lightning. That’s what Bert used to say.

It’s words I have trouble with. That’s why I’m here. Bert didn’t mind. He’s the only one who knew. Him and my mum but I don’t have either of them now. So I need to help myself.

It’s a man. I thought it was a man. Heavy footsteps. Large feet.

He stops at the door and turns round to look at me. It’s OK. I don’t mind.

“Coming in?” he asks. I nod. So he opens the door and waits. I have no choice now. He doesn’t do anything when I don’t either. Then he smiles. He’s got a nice smile. Friendly. Comforting. Just what I need.

“The class starts in a few minutes,” he says, but it’s not accusatory, it’s advisory. Then I laugh at the big words I’ve just thought. Then it dawns on me. “How do you know where I’m going to?” I ask him.

He taps the side of his briefcase. “I have a register,” he whispers as if it’s top secret then laughs. “We’re the only group on tonight. Don’t worry,” he winks, “I don’t bite.”

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They Said It Couldn’t Be Done – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s smaller short story collection (just 93 stories instead of 250!), The Story A Day May 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 Said It Couldn’t Be Done

Phyllis always likes to look smart. Brought up by strict Jamaican parents, they’d instilled in her that pride cost nothing, but made you feel like a million dollars; which since the family moved to England only equated to £700 but she didn’t care.

They’d despaired at her lack of aspiration; settling (in their words) to marry a salesman.

They hadn’t lived to see what the couple would make of their lives, but Phyllis still thinks of them fondly as she stands in front of the full-length mirror wearing the new outfit she’s chosen for the weekly shopping trip; to the shop which bears a royal crest, that delivers her Christmas hamper, and is situated between her favourite afternoon tea treat and Ernest’s tailors.

So, as she stands there, and places the matching hat on top of her neatly coiffured curls, she smiles, looks up to the ceiling and says “and you said it couldn’t be done”.

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