Sunday short short story: A Different Kind Of Speechless by Morgen Bailey

Posted every Sunday, the following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s shorter short story collection, FLASHES,  available in e-book from Morgen’s online store where you not only get the best price but can either instantly download the collection or purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…

A Different Kind Of Speechless

As Tom tied the scarf round his wife’s neck, he wondered if he could ever tighten his grip, pull hard, squeeze the life out of her, but instead tied it tightly enough to last the evening, easy to loosen when they got back home.

He smiled weakly as she turned round, and she went to speak but no words came out.

“We’d better go,” Tom said, then followed her out through the open front door.

As Tom drove to the theatre he wanted to tell her about his day, share his mundane, but pretended to concentrate on the road instead, glancing at her occasionally only to see her steadfast gaze through the front windscreen.

He wanted his wife back, the woman whose shopping basket had overbalanced as he’d walked past, the woman who’d blushed as he’d helped her, while staring at her long black hair… a different kind of speechless.

Pulling into the kerb outside the theatre, he switched off the engine and put the blue card on to the dashboard, setting the timer and pushing it in place, into the fold of plastic joining the windscreen.

As Tom and Arabella entered the foyer, they waited as a man in front of them collected his ticket. Expecting the man to walk into the theatre, Tom pushed the wheelchair forward as the man moved but then halted as he turned round. It was then that Tom recognised him, his hair a little greyer, but there was no mistaking the dark eyes. The eyes full of sorrow as they’d faced each other in court when Tom had listened to Jack Creaton recount how he’d hit the Italian woman crossing the road as she went to collect the cake she’d ordered for her tenth wedding anniversary.

Jack’s shoulders slumped as he looked at Tom, but said nothing.

Tom was debating whether to speak when the woman in the ticket office called ‘next’.

Jack looked at Arabella, bowed his head, coughed and left the theatre.

###

Sunday short short story: Thistle by Morgen Bailey

Posted every Sunday, the following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s shorter short story collection, FLASHES,  available in e-book from Morgen’s online store where you not only get the best price but can either instantly download the collection or purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…

Thistle

“Thistle.”

“Sorry, madam?”

“Yes, young man. I’m after a thistle, the bigger the better.”

“I’m sorry we don’t-”

“Then I want something with thorns. Roses.”

“Certainly madam, we have a wide range of-”

“No, she’s Scottish. She’d get the joke more with thistles.”

“How about-”

“No. It’s got to be thistle… oh alright, anything else Scottish?”

“I’m sorry, madam. I’m not really up on my Scottish varieties but I could get you Tommy. He’s from Scotland, he might know.”

“No, it’s fine. I’ll just have a wander and see what you’ve got.”

*

“Excuse me, young man.”

“Hello again, madam. Did you find something to your liking?”

“No. Your haberdashery department is rubbish.”

“Haber…? I’m sorry. I thought you were looking for a plant.”

“I am. Thistle. You have roses, like you said, and heather, but they’re only sew on. I don’t have time for sewing. The dance is tonight.”

“Dance?”

“Line dancing. Every other Thursday night, and it was lovely before Aileen joined, and now she’s hogging all the men. It’s not fair.”

“I don’t quite understand why you want-”

“The blouse she was wearing, had lovely tulips on it.”

“Then I have just the thing for you, madam.”

“You have?”

“Right by the tills. Never sure why it’s there but there it is. A cactus transfer. £1.99. Iron on. Job done.”

###

Sunday short short story: Thud On The Floor by Morgen Bailey

Posted every Sunday, the following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s shorter short story collection, FLASHES,  available in e-book from Morgen’s online store where you not only get the best price but can either instantly download the collection or purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…

Thud On The Floor

“Lifting up the flap, I knew there was no way I was going to get the newspaper through.”

“So what did you do?”

“I took the middle section out.”

“Of the letterbox?”

“What? No, don’t be silly. The newspaper. Wednesday’s property day. Most people throw that bit away anyway. I was tempted but they pay for the whole thing, don’t they, although it would make my life easier. Monday’s my favourite, thinnest of the week. Not much sport on in the winter, so nothing to report.”

“So you took the paper apart and posted both bits through.”

“I tried but made the mistake of putting the property bit through first and it got stuck. Stupid letterboxes on these new houses, they’re so hard they rip the paper to shreds, so I have to be extra careful. It takes ages round the estate but Mr Jeffrey swapped my route with Billy-”

“So you’d put the property section through. What happened then?”

“I tried to, like I said, but it got stuck. Wasn’t sure whether to push or pull.”

“And…”

“I pushed. Didn’t want it back, did I? Went through eventually and didn’t half make a thud on the floor. Most people have mats so you don’t notice but I noticed that thud.”

“And you looked through the letterbox.”

“Yeah. Don’t know why now but something caught my eye, I suppose.”

“Describe what you saw.”

“A body.”

“Mrs Thompson.”

“Yeah, only I didn’t know that’s who she was. I only have numbers on them, not names.”

“And where was she lying?”

“There.”

“By the foot of the stairs.”

“Away a bit, sort of between the stairs and the radiator. All twisted like, like she’d fallen down the stairs but…”

“Go on.”

“But it didn’t look natural. Too much blood. You break things, bones, when you fall down the stairs, you don’t bleed.”

“You know a lot about-”

“CSI. I watch them all, but don’t tell mum will you or she’ll go mental.”

###

Sunday short short story: A Figure To Die For by Morgen Bailey

Posted every Sunday, the following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s shorter short story collection, FLASHES,  available in e-book from Morgen’s online store where you not only get the best price but can either instantly download the collection or purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…

A Figure To Die For

“In or out?”

“Eh?”

“Are you coming in or going out?”

“Neither.”

“Then why are you standing there?”

“’cause I’m waiting for someone. Not that it’s any of your business.”

“I was only trying to be friendly. Holding the door open.”

“You needn’t have bothered.”

“I can see that now.”

“And…?”

I was just in the mood today for an argument, and it didn’t really matter how far I went or how near to my face his was, I wasn’t going to be wrong. I didn’t want to use any violence, and I didn’t think it would come to that, but I wasn’t going to take any abuse from a thug like him. Shaved head or otherwise.

He thrust his hands into his pockets. They didn’t look deep enough to hold anything dangerous.

I was on my way to a friend’s book launch so didn’t really have much time to spare but didn’t want to leave. But he was ignoring me and looking in the opposite direction. I followed his gaze and couldn’t believe who he was waiting for; a girl slightly older than him with an award-winning smile and a figure to die for.

###

Sunday short short story: Feeling Stupid by Morgen Bailey

Posted every Sunday, the following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s shorter short story collection, FLASHES,  available in e-book from Morgen’s online store where you not only get the best price but can either instantly download the collection or purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…

Feeling Stupid

“You’re as white as a sheet,” Mark says.

You do feel a little pale, devoid of energy. “I do feel a little… well, beat,” you reply.

“Beaten.”

“Oh yes,” you reply, feeling stupid.

“Your skin’s all…” he continues. “How do I put this nicely? Doughy.”

He’s made his point, you think, and wonder whether he’s hinting at you to go home. But he’s the boss, he could just say so. Tell you to your white doughy face.

“There’s something on your top,” you say, hoping to feel better by pointing out one of his flaws. You feel this to be the most innocent of a very long list.

He looks down at the speck and blushes, a dark contrast to your pale hue. “I’m trying a new shampoo,” he says and you realise now what the white speck is.

“Well, your hair looks very healthy for it,” you lie and want the ground to open and for your size 8s to take you down into the void.

You see a vein pop out on his neck and realise that it wasn’t blushing that was making his face go red. “Are you alright?” you ask but before he can reply he slumps to the floor.

Scraping your chair back, you crouch down beside him and put a hand above his mouth, palm down, to check for breathing. You’re relieved when your palm feels warm.

Having established that he’s conscious, you get up (even in his condition you don’t feel well enough to leap) and phone for an ambulance. Your office is near the hospital so it doesn’t take long.

By the time it arrives he’s sitting up and talking but he’s got a nasty rash on his neck.

“Hello!” the blonde paramedic beams, a little too jovial for your liking but apart from the rash, Mark doesn’t look particularly ill. “What seems to be the matter?”

If I knew that, you start to think, but then tell yourself off for being so mean.

“Oh dear,” the paramedic continues, “nasty rash you have there.”

Mark smiles at her, looking somewhat embarrassed.

“New shampoo?” she asks.

He nods.

You watch in silence as the couple gaze into each other’s eyes. If you didn’t feel queasy before then, you certainly do now.

###

Sunday short short story: Valentine’s Day by Morgen Bailey

Posted every Sunday, the following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s shorter short story collection, FLASHES,  available in e-book from Morgen’s online store where you not only get the best price but can either instantly download the collection or purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…

Valentine’s Day

Fred pulled at the zip but it was stuck fast. “Darned thing!”

“Do you need any help in there, sir?” the female shop assistant asked.

“Er, no, I’m fine, thank you,” Fred replied feebly.

“Well, if you need me, please shout.”

Shouting was the last thing he felt like doing. He looked in the mirror and his heart sank. How had he come to be in this position? He knew how much this outfit meant. If only he couldn’t get out of the damn thing.

He tried again at the zip but the end flew off and hit the mirror.

“No!” he wailed as he realised he’d have to spend the rest of the day in this red and black basque.

He pulled off the tag so the assistant could scan it at the till, then as he put his business suit back on over it, he vowed never to shop for underwear for his wife again.

###

Sunday short short story: Such A Pterodactyl by Morgen Bailey

Posted every Sunday, the following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s shorter short story collection, FLASHES,  available in e-book from Morgen’s online store where you not only get the best price but can either instantly download the collection or purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…

Such A Pterodactyl

“Dad! Maisy won’t share!”

“Eddie, you’ve got your own,” Simon pointed out.

“I’ve finished it.”

“So you have. That’s not Maisy’s fault.”

“But hers is pineapple.”

“Then you should have ordered the same.”

“But I didn’t want to.”

“And?”

Neither of the children replied.

“Yours looked nice Eddie. Cranberry Crush, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, but…”

“Oh Dad,” Maisy piped up. “You’re such a pterodactyl.”

“What?” Simon asked, face screwed up.

“It’s a dinosaur,” Eddie explained.

“I know,” Simon replied. “But I don’t…”

“Never mind, Dad,” Eddie continued looking longingly in the direction of his sister’s dessert.

“OK,” Eddie said when Maisy had finished. “Are we done now?”

With her lips blue from the pineapple and damson ice cream, Simon smiled at his daughter. “Something else?”

Maisy shook her head.

“Really? You two usually work backwards; dessert, main, starters. Not hungry?”

Maisy shrugged her shoulders.

Eddie grabbed a menu.

“And you Eddie?”

Eddie nodded but stared at his sister’s blue lips. “Anything blue.”

Simon laughed, but before anyone said anything else, the fire alarm went off.

“Shouldn’t we evacuate?” Eddie said, proud of his knowledge of the word.

“I’m sure it’s only a drill or someone’s burning the toast. Can you smell smoke?”

The children shook their heads.

“Well, then. Go on, have whatever you fancy.”

###

Sunday short short story: Knew Better by Morgen Bailey

Posted every Sunday, the following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s short short story collection, SHORTS,  available in e-book from Morgen’s online store where you not only get the best price but can either instantly download the collection or purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…

Knew Better

Emily knew better. She’d been told over and over. Only she thought she knew better. That it didn’t matter. She’d been out to the ice-cream van a hundred times, probably more, but always hands clasped tightly to grandfather, grandmother, or mother. Never alone… ’til now.

*

It was a classic scenario. Hot summer’s day, ice-cream van, little girls in school uniforms. A dream scenario to Frank. He’d promised the judge he’d behave, told the parole board enough times so they believed him, but he knew better. They thought he knew better.

And there was this one little girl. She looked like a Lucy. He liked the name Lucy. Used to have a cat called Lucy, until his father took it away. Told him it had been run over but Frank knew. His father looked guilty, just for a second, just long enough for Frank to know. He knew everything that his father did. And vowed never to be like him. But he couldn’t escape. Just like the little girl who’d gone to his car to see the puppy, holding the ice-cream that had already started melting. Except there was no puppy. He couldn’t have pets after Lucy. Couldn’t bear to let them go. He wouldn’t let her go… this little girl in her navy blue and white uniform. So smart. With navy blue shoes and long white socks.

They had holes in them. Not old, like his socks, but symmetrical, like the middles of flowers. Frank loved flowers. His mother would buy fresh ones every week until his father had lost his job and they’d run out of money.

But Frank had plenty of money now. He’d look after Lucy like she was his flesh and blood. She’d forget, and call him “father”. She’d be the sister he never had. The daughter he’d always wanted.

*

She knew it was wrong. “Don’t talk to strangers” that’s what she’d been told. Except there was something familiar about him. He reminded her of her father. The little she could remember. And his smile. He had a nice smile. Friendly. And she was in need of a new friend.

It had never been the same since they’d moved. So many times after her father had gone away. Her mother had promised that it would be fine, that there would be plenty of little girls for her to get on with, but she’d had that look in her eyes that Emily had seen before. Her mother had said that this was ‘it’ this time, that they’d stay, but Emily knew better.

###

Sunday short short story: Almost by Morgen Bailey

Posted every Sunday, the following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s shorter short story collection, FLASHES,  available in e-book from Morgen’s online store where you not only get the best price but can either instantly download the collection or purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…

Almost

You stare at him and wish he hadn’t done it. It was a simple enough request; time for yourselves, just the two of you but he’d thought better, involved the whole family. You thought you knew him by now, that he knew you, but you realise that two years counts for nothing when you’ve spent little of that together.

He steps forward and kisses your forehead. You normally find it endearing but this feels patronising. You hear his mother sigh, proud of his son… the perfect team. Better than him and you.

You look down as he picks a thread of cotton off your blouse, his favourite top, the one he bought you for your nineteenth and you suspect that he had help.

At fifteen years your senior, you liked his maturity, but as you look around the room you feel almost a child.

Then he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a box, the blue velvet box that you recognise from his briefcase, the square diamond large enough to feed a country.

The room is silent, waiting for what everyone expects to happen next.

You shake your head. You know you shouldn’t, but you can’t help it. For once you do what you want.

You mouth a ‘sorry’ and turn to leave but he grabs your arm.

“Don’t you dare,” he hisses under his breath, the smell of whisky almost overbearing.

###