Sunday short short story: Everything That Doesn’t Remind You Of Him 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…

Everything That Doesn’t Remind You Of Him

You can’t remember it being this eerie. Brighter in the estate agent’s brochure, but then the house was full of someone else’s belongings, a young couple. New baby. Outgrown their love nest.

Your love nest died with Nick. No breadwinner to pay the bills, you took a part-time job, then full-time but it still wasn’t enough so you’d down-sized when it had become apparent that you’d not cope… coping was the last thing you’d wanted to do, but you did it for Nick, or the memory of him.

He was the one who held it all together, took you in his arms when he saw the tears forming, his large brown eyes melting your heart every time.

It had surprised you when you’d opened the door to the two policemen that you’d not cried then – you didn’t in front of strangers, even at the cinema with a sad movie. This was the strength you’ve been wearing ever since.

Looking around the shell of each room, the piles of boxes with their names in black letter; lounge, kitchen, bedroom, you wonder if this is where you’ll spend the rest of your life, in a little old house surrounded by everything that doesn’t remind you of him.

“If anything should happen,” he’d said, as if he’d known, “move on, meet someone else.” But you’d known him since school and couldn’t imagine anyone else’s arms around you, although you know Ted at work has a soft spot for you.

You put on the kettle and start opening boxes. The kitchen is easy, so you start with that. One cupboard’s already full when the kettle clicks off and you make yourself a cup of tea. You always have, even Nick could never get it how you like it; little tea, little milk, little sugar. Weak on the outside, strong underneath – that’s what he’d said, knowing he meant you.

And now you are, you have to be, and as you look at the next box you take a deep breath and pull open the flaps.

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Sunday short short story: Stage Left, Henry! 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…

Stage Left, Henry!

“Stage left, Henry!”

“Over here?”

“No, left!”

“Your left or my left?”

“There is only one stage left… like starboard and port.”

“I thought it was port and starboard.”

“Whatever, Henry.”

“Not that I remember which is which of those.”

“It doesn’t matter. Just put the tree ten feet or so to your left.”

“As I face the front or…”

“As you are now. Move… the… tree…”

“I hear you.”

“OK. Now when Romeo comes towards the balcony…”

“Balcony?”

“Yes, Henry… the balcony.”

“But I thought we were setting up for the final scene.”

“Why would we want a tree for the death scene?”

“I did wonder.”

“Then why didn’t you say anything?”

“I don’t know.”

“No, Henry… balcony, foliage, so Romeo can climb…”

“Climb?”

“Do you know this play at all?”

“Of course. It was one of our school projects.”

“Project?”

“To design the set, yes, then photograph it. I still have them somewhere… the photos, not the set… obviously.”

“Obviously. Now, so we’re on the same page…”

“Page? They’ve given you a script?”

“No, Henry. It’s just a saying.”

“What do we need for the death scene?”

“What?”

“You know, the end… when they die.”

“I do know, but why are you asking?”

“I like to be sure. Balcony, foliage, tree… we’ve got those.”

“We have. Alright then… the marble bench, a gun and the poison.”

“And the dagger.”

“Dagger?”

“Doesn’t one of them…”

“You’re thinking of Macbeth.”

“But when Juliet discovers Romeo she thinks he’s dead and…”

“This is am dram, Henry. We’re doing the film version not Will’s.”

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Sunday short short story: Not Red Like I Asked 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…

Not Red Like I Asked

Norman will be back soon. I know what he’s up to, you know. Likes to keep me on my toes. I ask for one thing, he gets me another so I started asking for things I don’t want, just to see where his imagination takes him. Only as far as the corner shop usually.

Today though he said he was going to the parade, needed the DIY store. Always building something… to keep himself out my way, I reckon.

The lads are playing on the green again. I know their schooling isn’t up to much but surely they can read the ‘No Ball Games’ sign, it’s large enough. I’d point it out to them, only… well, you know, you hear such awful things on the news. Happened to one of my brother’s neighbours, terrible affair. He was never quite the same after that… the neighbour, not John, although it shook him up something rotten too, as he’d been outside only a few minutes before.

Safest place, your own home, although old Ted Richards had a nasty experience the year before last. ‘Distraction burglary’ the papers called it, but it was more than that, he had a black eye because of them. They got one of them, turned out to be the lad next door to Ted, with one of his mum’s stocking over his head… the pervert. Never did catch the other one, although they knew who he used to hang around with.

So that’s why I keep a vigil, make sure Norman gets home alright. I send him out because he needs the exercise, the allotment’s only a road away and I have to think of something, don’t I? Then I’m so relieved when he comes back, try not to show it but I’m not that good an actress really.

They’ve still not fixed the street lamp outside Mrs Jones’. It’s not got one of those stickers on it so I know it’s supposed to work and when you phone the council you get passed round so many departments that it’s quicker to go to the DIY shop and fix it yourself. Of course they wouldn’t let you if they knew… health and safety and all that.

She’s ninety-three. I keep telling them… the council. Say Mrs Jones will be ninety-four next month, but they don’t listen. I suppose they would if I could get through all the options; press one for this and hash for that. No one there to tell me what the hash is. Some American thing made with corned beef, I thought. Mrs Jones’ grandson could tell me – he’s good with technology.

Oh look, there’s Norman, carrying the plant I asked him to get. Not red like I asked, but then he’s colour blind so not to know, is he?

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Sunday short short story: Dad’s Army 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…

Dad’s Army

Glenys always thought it a bind to visit her father. Every other Sunday. One o’clock. Military precision.

*

Major Arthur Thompson didn’t do late and today he was sorely disappointed with his daughter.

Tapping his cane on the floor with the ticking clock, he started to hum the theme tune to Dad’s Army, then chuckled as he replayed the TV introduction in his mind. It kept him busy while he was waiting.

He stood up when he heard a car pull up outside. Using his cane to support himself, he growled as his knees clicked, and a pain shot up his right thigh.

Walking as sternly as he could towards the front door, he stopped when he saw two tall, dark figures behind the frosted glass. He moved forward again as the bell rang and putting on the chain, opened the door a fraction.

“Mr Thompson?” one of the men asked.

“Major, but yes,” Arthur replied, knowing in an instant why they were there.

“May we come in?” the other man asked.

“Do you have ID?”

“Of course sir,” the first man replied and removed a black wallet from his inside pocket. He opened it and showed it to Arthur. “Sergeant Frank Knowles… and this is PC Terry Dooley.”

Arthur released the chain and opened the door, beckoning for the men to step inside.

As the Sergeant went to speak, Arthur remembered the moment his daughter was born; two weeks late and he knew, he’d never have to complain about her being late again.

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Sunday short short story: Others Would Knock 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…

Others Would Knock

Barry shook the newspaper, folding the right half behind the left. Looking out into the office, he tutted at the almost-empty scene ahead of him. Fair enough. It was lunchtime but he’d expected loyalty – eat a sandwich at their desks and work through.

Some of the red ink from a large advert for half-priced staple guns had bled through on to his blotting-paper desk mat. Pulling at one corner of the sheet, he yanked it out of the black leather, screwed it into a stiff cream ball and launched it at the stainless steel bin, laughing at the metal echo reverberating around his large air-conditioned room.

Swivelling his black leather executive chair towards the window, Barry growled as he watched all the people scurrying through the snow, some he knew, but others meaning even less to him. Outside the building’s main gate he spotted an old-fashioned hot chestnut cart patroned by many of his staff. He wanted to lift up his window, shout at them to get back to work but his office door opening distracted him.

Barry swung round expecting to see Joyce, his secretary, others would knock, but saw another familiar face, carrying a dish of chestnuts. Except it couldn’t have been who he’d thought, as he’d been dead for two centuries.

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Sunday short short story: Not Listening 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…

Not Listening

As Jodie reached up to get a glass from the cabinet she felt arms wrapping around her. “Hello there,” she said as Graham burst out laughing, then nuzzled her neck as if they’d been together six months, not six years. The seven-year itch was looming but neither of them gave it a thought.

“I was going to bring you breakfast in bed,” Graham said, releasing his grip.

“That’s OK. I have to get ready for work anyway.”

“But it’s a Saturday.”

“Frank wants us in for stocktaking.”

Holding Jodie by her hips, Graham turned her around and looked at her with puppy-dog eyes.

“It’ll be fairly simple,” she continued. “And there are plenty of us to do it. There and back three hours. Promise.”

Graham stuck out his bottom lip and whimpered.

“You get me every time.” Jodie laughed then patted his hand away as he slipped it between the folds of her blue towelling dressing gown. “But I can’t, they’ll be waiting.”

“Time to eat together though, yes?”

“Yes. You set the glasses and I’ll do the toast.”

“Uh huh,” Graham said, reaching past her with one hand, using the other to undo her dressing gown belt.

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Sunday short short story: Until The Red Light by Morgen Bailey

Posted every Sunday, the following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s short short story collections,  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…

Until The Red Light

She wasn’t to know that that’s how it would turn out, by someone actually dying. It was a silly prank, an April’s Fool even… except it was September. Two weeks before her forty-first birthday. Now Sarah had visions of spending it in prison. The police wouldn’t wait to find out that it was an accident, let her free on bail. They’d see it as murder plain and simple, ‘bang her up’ as the saying went.

It had all started a week before, when she went shopping, just groceries. Tesco. Nothing unusual. Until the red light, a couple in love walking across the road oblivious to her stopping for them but then she reckoned they wouldn’t have thanked her even if they had been aware, most people didn’t these days.

She watched the couple as they stepped on to the pavement, in tandem, as if their hearts beat in unison, step-by-step. They even looked right together, like a bulldog and its sturdy owner, except there was nothing sturdy about these two; as skinny as telegraph poles. They weren’t speaking but Sarah knew how it went… unspoken conversations like two old friends spending an evening together without a word. There was no need, it had all been said.

The couple had just reached the bus shelter when the car behind Sarah hooted, bringing her back to her senses. She looked into the rear view mirror to see a young man shaking his fist at her from behind his bright red sports car’s funeral-black steering wheel.

She put her hand up to say ‘sorry’ and, drove on putting the couple out of her mind… or she tried to but the more she thought about their closeness, the more it reminded her of him. Roger. And the ring. The ring she’d found, tried on, but had been much too small.

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Sunday short short story: Without Knowing 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…

Without Knowing

You’ve never seen her so happy. You wish you knew her name, to be brave enough to ask. She looks as if she wouldn’t mind, but she doesn’t look in your direction for long enough.

Like you, she always sits in the same seat, same departure, same destination until she turns left, you right. Different clothes but same shoes. Hers are black high-gloss high heels that make you ever so slightly horny… no, childlike, the years strip away every time you see her.

You figure she’s nearing retiring age, maybe three or four years older than you at most.

She doesn’t wear a wedding ring but you think she has children. You’re not sure why but she looks the type; homely, kind, with no weight on her shoulders other than maybe that of a young grandchild. Widowed… or divorced, for a while, like you.

You’d like to take her on your boat, her whole family, go away for a weekend, somewhere like the Norfolk Broads where it’s flat. Or play something to her on your Steinway when you’re alone with her, after a nice meal or the theatre.

You don’t dress to match your wealth but she doesn’t strike you as the sort of person to care, not about money, only the important things like family and love.

It’s why you travel by bus, a car too lonely, even with a chauffeur. You tried it for a while but it wasn’t you, your newfound wealth comfortable yet uncomforting.

You can barely remember what it feels like to be in love. You’ve been doing well lately, not dwelling, and she’s been helping. Without knowing, she’s your Samaritan, just seeing her gives you something to think about as you sit behind your desk on the twentieth floor of your new high-rise office.

Your stop is coming up, and you start the dread the next seventy-two hours, a weekend without the bus journeys, without her.

You go to stand and she reaches out for the handrail, skin missing skin by an inch or two.

“Sorry,” she says, but there’s no apology needed. “You work at McCardie’s, don’t you,” she adds.

You want to say something but that will give away your accent, that you are McCardie, so you just nod.

“I work for the opposition,” she says, and you know she means Cohen & Sons.

Before you can stop yourself you laugh and she smiles, her green eyes luminescent.

The bus stops and you signal for her to go first. She bows her head and you follow her off the bus. Instead of going left, she stops, turns and faces you. You want to go right, head for your office but your feet won’t move.

She holds out her hand. “Flora Cohen. Jack was my husband. He dressed just like you. Quiet too.”

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