31/12/2014

STABLE - a Christmas story



STABLE

“We have a son! I will teach him to be a good carpenter.”
“Are you sure? I know you promised but . . .”
“Hush, wife – I meant every word – now sleep.”
She lay back on the straw holding her son to her breast and slept until voices woke her.

“Find another shelter – my wife’s just had a baby.”
“We know; we were told to come – we’ll leave the flock outside.”
She moved her veil aside to show the child, and weathered faces worshipped while his baby hands bestowed blessings.
“You’ve seen him,” Joseph said, “Now leave us in peace.”
“We all wish for peace,” they said and departed, leaving a lamb behind – mother and baby snuggled into its warm fleece and were comforted.

Later, more visitors came, rivalling the star-shine with their gifts, and as Joseph hid the treasures from thieves his last doubts vanished - Mary’s story of an angel was true.

That night Mary woke weeping. “I had a dream,” she sobbed into Joseph’s arms and he said, only half in jest, “Not another one!”
“I dreamed he was sold for thirty pieces of silver.”
“Our son will be a simple carpenter, wife – who would sell him?”

                                                             *********************
There's no 100 word challenge this week, so I chose a story that I wrote a year ago in response to a different forum's challenge to write 200 words inspired by the word SILVER.
The photograph I have used is of the crib at Reina Sofia Airport in Tenerife, where I live.

Thank you for reading my blog, and for the lovely comments I have received over the year.
I WISH YOU ALL A HAPPY AND SUCCESSFUL 2015.


27/12/2014

CHRISTMAS & CLASS CONSCIOUS - A 100 word story




We had a lovely Christmas Day - drinks with friends at the local bar followed by dinner with my daughter and son-in-law.

We had a lot to talk about - we're hoping to move back to England next year and they plan to retire early and grow potatoes in Ireland!

We shared the cooking, ate our starters on the terrace and retired there after dinner for more drinks by candlelight. Next year we hope to be drinking our brandies by an open fire.

On Boxing Day we caught up with the rest of the family over thousands of miles thanks to the miracle of Skype, and then we ate a Mexican supper with Venezuelan and Italian friends - a truy international Christmas.


And now life can return to what passes for normal in our neck of the woods. First I must post this week's 100 worder for the Friday Fictioneers - see http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/ for the link to other writers. Then I shall send off the short story I wrote for a competition over the holiday, and finally return to the rewrite that seems to be taking forever!

If you're still here, thanks for sticking with me, and I wish you a happy and successful 2015.

My story follows this lovely photo taken by a fellow Friday Fictioneer Bjorn Rudberg, and if you'd like Christmas stories, read my post for 30th December - "Stable".


CLASS  CONSCIOUS
The tsunami didn’t care that Felicity was a celebrity and Maria a servant – it swept them both off the terrace. Maria clung to a tree, holding Felicity with her strong old arms, until the next wave dragged them away.
As they stood in line for the golden stairs Felicity said, “You can’t come this way, Maria – use the servants’ entrance.”
In a little cove Maria discovered the worn steps of her childhood and ran lightly up them, straight into her mother’s arms, and at the gates she heard Felicity desperately demanding; “I’m a celebrity – let me in here!”


18/12/2014

B4911 - a 100-word story

B4911
They marched past the citizens in proud ranks, their armour polished to a shine even the General couldn’t fault. The only sounds were thousands of feet hitting the ground and the rustle of the watching crowd. Glancing left, B4911 saw his brothers and sisters waving and stood taller.

The General called a halt at the upper level and spoke.  “Troops! On this momentous day you have nothing to fear. The ancient records say that we are the only species able to survive a nuclear blast.”

B4911 swallowed nervously and stepped outside. Whoever wrote the records hadn’t known about arachnid mutation.
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I very nearly wimped out of this week's 100-word challenge when I saw the photo prompt, but then this story popped into my mind. I hope you like it - do please leave a comment, even if it's only "Ugh!"
Thanks (I think!) to http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/ for the disgusting photo. Follow the blue frog link on her blog to see what other writers made of it.

10/12/2014

CHOICES - a 100-word story

CHOICES                                                           
                                                                
“Marry me, Hanna,” Yakob begged daily, “And we will make many beautiful babies.”
Yakob had dark, expressive eyes, but he was only a fisherman, whose hut crouched on the beach with its roof weighted by rocks. Aaron was ugly, but he would inherit his family’s bar.
“Build me a house first,” Hanna said, “And I’ll think about it.”
Then a storm spread Yakob’s hut all along the beach, and Hanna searched frantically through the debris until she found him.

Now their daughters take tourists on fishing trips and their sons run a beach bar where Yakob’s hut once stood. 
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Thanks again to http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/ for the photo that prompted this story.
Follow the blue frog link on her blog to read many other interpretations of the image.
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Our Tenerife apartment is for sale - click on the page on the right to look at the photographs. We plan to return to England before our grandchildren are too much older!

06/12/2014

The Plumber - a 100-word story









I'm back after a lovely fortnight in England visiting family. We stayed with my brother in the country - log fires and wine every evening - and helped my mother to celebrate her 90th birthday with a posh pub lunch of pheasant pie.
The OH popped down to Folkestone and saw most of his family there, while I spent time with my children and grandsons - and saw, via the modern miracle of a scan, one of my two grandchildren who are due early next year.
I also had to buy a new laptop, which my elder grandson helped me to get started on, and today my brother-in-law installed Word for me - isn't my family wonderful?
So here I am, at last, able to return to my blog with a 100 word story inspired by a photo prompt - which portrays accurately the weather we encountered in England. Thanks to Rochelle for posting the prompt on her blog -
http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/


THE PLUMBER

Sandra was checking Pauline’s shopping through the till when her hands froze in mid-swipe. “Is that Vanessa?” she hissed.
Pauline looked down the shop at the well-dressed woman. “It can’t be.” But it was.
“Hello, girls!” Vanessa chirped and emptied her basket – steak, gourmet salad, wine.
“Supper for two?” Pauline ventured. “Stephen’s back then?”

“Stephen?” Vanessa shrugged dismissively and tossed her newly-blonde hair. “He was a dried-up husk and I’m well rid of him. Being with Paul is like spring after a cold winter.”
She winked at the other women. “Paul’s a plumber – he’s unfrozen my pipes beautifully.”
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Please leave a comment so that I know I haven't lost all my readers by my month's absence! And my apologies for the gap at the top which I can't seem to get rid of :(

12/11/2014

ANTS - 100 word fiction

ANTS

“What do they look like to you?”
“Ants,” Jin said instantly.
“That’s the standard answer,” the examiner replied, “You’ll have to do better if you want to be allowed to land on this planet.”
Jin tried again. “A migrating herd.”
“They’re not migrating – they’re not actually going anywhere.”
“But they are animals and there’s a lot of them.”
The examiner sighed. “I’m looking for a much simpler word. Look at them again and what’s your gut reaction?”
Jin realised she was trying to help him and the penny dropped. “Food.”
“Finally!” she smiled. “Pack your weapon and let’s go.”

 ==================================
Thanks again to  http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/  for the photo that prompted this story, which I wrote in a tearing hurry because I should be packing!
We are off the England tomorrow for two weeks to help my mother celebrate her 90th birthday and to catch up with children and grandchildren. Fortunately my daughter here will water the garden, because the little rain we've had isn't enough.


11/11/2014

TUESDAY NEWSDAY - 1914-2014

This is the official crest of the Royal British Legion, of which there are branches all over the world - even here in the Canary Islands. The actual branch is in Tenerife  and we have less than 20 members, but our Welfare Officers cover the entire archipelago. They have occasionally had to fly to other islands to assist an ex-serviceman or -woman in difficulties.

The Royal British Legion is a charity that exists solely to aid British ex-Servicemen and their dependants, and the poppy is sold in memory of the poppies that sprang up after WW1 on the devastated ground over which so many thousands of young lives had been lost. BUT it is important to remember that the RBL caters for ALL ex-service personnel, not just WW veterans - there are still men and women being injured and killed today, and they or their dependants need our help.

This year 2014 is the Centenary Year of which much has been made on the media, but for anyone who doesn't know what it's all about by now - 1914 was the start of the Great War, which subsequently became known as World War One. It was billed then as "The war to end all wars" - would that this were true!

My husband Don has been Chairman of the Tenerife branch of the Royal British Legion for the past twelve years but is now about to hand over the reins to some (slightly) younger hands. It is fitting that Don's last act as Chairman was to oversee the 2014 Poppy Appeal in which we hope - fairly confidently - that we have again won the Noel Rogers Trophy for the branch which raises the most money per member. Last year we raised around eleven thousand euros - yes, you read that right - 11,000+ euros!

I took the following photographs at our Remembrance Service which was attended by around 450 people, including the British Vice-Consul Helen Keating, a representative of the Tenerife Government, Jesus Morales Martinez, many ex-servicemen living out their retirement in the sun, some who fly out specially each year to join us, and hundreds of people of many nationalities including British, Spanish, Belgian, French and German.
You had to arrive early to get a seat

An ex-Royal Marine conducted the service

I read the Act of Commitment in Spanish

Isn't this a beautiful setting? Westhaven Bay holiday complex in Costa del Silencio, Tenerife. The Belgian owners make us welcome every year in memory of the help given to their country by Britain in WW2.

The Last Post and Reveille still give me goosebumps!

Having no Cenotaph, we cast a wreath on the waters in memory of those lost at sea.

Helen Keating, British Vice-Consul, with a group of Marines
A lovely surprise - the local Spanish under-16s Rugby Team turned up!

Duncan wasn't the only Scot but his was the only kilt.

Jesus Morales of the Tenerife Cabildo, Helen Keating, Vice-Consul, Paul Grey, RBL Vice-Chariman, and Don Young, RBL Chairman, standing beneath a Standard 'liberated' from Gibralter, which we all thought was too good a photo opportunity to miss!
Meanwhile back in England my younger grandson Leo carried his Cub Group Standard in procession through the village. There is hope for the future if the youngsters are taught what the results of war really are.
LEST WE FORGET




06/11/2014

BROTHERS - a 100 word story


BROTHERS

Jake could beat Billy every time in a fist fight, but Billy was smarter and was always talking Jake into trouble. Once Jake came in from the woods covered in dirt, crying, “Billy made me dig a tunnel but it collapsed and I got buried.” Billy just shrugged.

Years passed and Billy’s saloon parked beside Jake’s truck proved Billy had the better job, but the brothers still got drunk together after work. 
Until one night Jake staggered home alone.
“Where’s my Billy?” Mam shrieked.
Jake just shrugged. “We were drinking in the quarry and a heap collapsed – Billy got buried.”

Word count = 100

Thanks to http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/  for this week's photo prompt. My first thought was to write about a race but then this darker idea took over. I hope you like it - and please leave a comment to prove you've read it!


05/11/2014

WEDNESDAY WHINGE

THEY'RE BACK!!
The cycling tourists have landed, with their skintight team outfits and paper-thin wheels, and we residents groan.
In our view they should be handed a leaflet at the airport informing them in no uncertain terms about the rules of the road and how to be courteous to drivers and pedestrians. It would also help if the policia fined a few of them for their misbehaviour.

For drivers, the solo cyclist breaking the speed-limit in a personal challenge isn't a problem - it's the teams which spread out to cover the same area as an articulated lorry and trundle along at 20kph, chatting as they go and swapping places indiscriminately. They clearly don't give a damn about other road users or any pedestrians at the side of our pavement-less roads.

They leave their homelands in the Frozen North and come for the Tenerife weather, which is understandable, although we have never seen them wearing this little - at least, not yet. Anyone undressed like this could end up with sunburn in some very delicate places!





They also come from flat countries such as Holland to practise 'el bici' on mountain roads such as ours - and you have to admire their stoical masochism -












 but when you meet that same lone rider hogging the centre line at walking pace, after you've already shifted down to second gear, you can be stuck behind him* for hours. There are few passing spaces on roads carved out of a mountain.

*Sorry, but it's always a man.



They also fly in from foreign parts for views such as these, and who can blame them for that? Mount Teide is beautiful.


So if you come to Tenerife to ride a bicycle, please remember we live here. And check your brakes - our mountain is the highest in Spanish territories, and the roads are steep!


Please leave a comment, but I am already aware of the typo in the link - I could find no way to change it once posted! 



30/10/2014

THREE LITTLE INDIANS - a 100 word story

THREE LITTLE INDIANS

We didn’t have Facebook when we were young, we wrote letters, and we arranged our annual reunion by telephone. Gradually our numbers dwindled until there were only three of us – me, Jan and Betsy.

This year I arrived first and ordered our champagne, but when Jan arrived she was alone.
“Lunch for two,” she told the waiter, “But you can pour champagne for three.”
It was obvious he thought we were just two crazy old women as we toasted the empty chair, and then we proved him right by flinging Betsy’s glass at the wall.

Shame about the window.

Thanks again to Rochelle for the photo prompt which sends about a hundred writers across the world into a Flash Fiction Frenzy.
http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/
Read the others by following the blue froggy link on her blog.

28/10/2014

NEWSDAY TUESDAY

It's been hot week on The Rock with temperatures up in the 30s - just when we thought it was safe to turn off the fans and get out the blankets!
Unfortunately the heat also tempted people to take risks in the sea, and an elderly man became the eighth drowning victim of the season.





On Saturday morning the sunrise was gin-clear and the Tenerife branch of the Royal British Legion's Poppy Launch party was hot hot hot.
We raised 375 euros with our efforts, so it was, as they say, worth the sweat!


but this morning there is cloud and a hint - not a promise, mind you, just a hint - of rain to come.

Many locals would welcome it - looking at these cat-tail grasses and succulents releasing their feathery seeds into the atmosphere, it's no wonder we're all sneezing!


And of course, Hallowe'en is almost upon us. It took me aback to stumble upon this sight in a Chinese emporium in Las Galletas - a nasty reminder of the dreadful murder in a similar shop a couple of years ago.


I bought a witch's cloak - much more suitable at my age - and a huge bag of sweets for the trick-or-treaters.
 Happy Hallowe'en!


22/10/2014

BUFFALO - 100 word fiction

We have a busy couple of weeks ahead of us - my OH has been Chairman of the Royal British Legion Tenerife Branch for the past twelve years but is retiring this year. Before then he hopes that our members - all 17 of us - will win the Noel Rogers Trophy for the most Poppy Appeal money collected per capita. We have won it seven times in a row - last year we raised over €11,000. - and other branches haven't even come close!
So, with the Official Launch this Saturday, poppies to distribute, collecting boxes to round up, the Remembrance Service to organise, and the AGM to attend, the OH is a bit stressed, and my writing has had to take a back seat.
o
Therefore I wrote this week's 100 word story in a coffee break half-way through shopping for groceries. Thanks as always to Rochelle for the photo prompt.
http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/


BUFFALO

Each photograph identified a building on the skyline but Buffalo ignored them. He climbed over the barrier to the beach where, with wavelets lapping his boots, he could open his memories.

Instead of buildings, trees and totem poles scraped the sky; tendrils of smoke pinpointed his village and their nearest neighbours a mile away; kayaks bobbed on the lake and water-birds soared.

Then a siren burst his dream and a patrolman said, “No-one’s allowed down there – go home.”
“I fished this lake before you were born,” Buffalo said, but he went.

Overnight all the photographs were obliterated by tribal symbols.

Please leave a comment - I promise to anwer them all!

16/10/2014

WHAT WOULD YOU SAVE? 100-word fiction

WHAT WOULD YOU SAVE?

Marjorie clutched the oxygen mask to her face and breathed deeply, but Jim had already lit a cigarette.
“Haven’t you had enough smoke for today?” Marjorie snapped.
“I need one,” Jim said, “Don’t you realise we’ve lost everything?”
Marjorie choked back a sob and glared at the collection of junk in front of her. “Is this all you managed to get?”
Jim shrugged hopelessly. “I just grabbed whatever was on the hall-stand, and you didn’t do any better.”

“Yes I did,” said Marjorie, “I’ve had Betty for seventy years - she's always been the first thing I’d save from a fire.”

There is a large element of truth in my story this week. Betty has been my friend and confidante since I was born, and in the event of a fire I would grab her first - right after my grandchildren, of course. 
What would you save?

Follow the link on this blog  http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/  to read other stories prompted by the photo.
And please leave a comment on mine!



12/10/2014

GO BANANAS!



A few drops of rain and the banana plant in our community garden bursts into flower. It's a plant, not a tree - actually it belongs to the herb family!
The spectacular flower is about 50cm long and a lovely purple colour. 
As you can see, the first petal is just starting to curl - what happens next is amazing.

Beaneath each petal nestles a tiny hand of bananas waiting to be fertilised.


At this stage they are all straight and pointing downwards, but that changes as they grow and ripen. We have watched our own plant produce a small bunch each year, but the sight of thousands of bananas growing inside a plantation is fascinating - next time you're in Tenerife, take a guided tour.


Eventually all the petals fall off and as the bananas grow they curve upwards to reach for the sunlight. You need to be strong to carry one of these huge bunches on your back as the plantation workers do., but it's the only way to get them to the lorries undamaged.


Canarian bananas are smaller than the American ones and much, much tastier. Since the Banana Wars, when America tried to price their rivals out of existence, Canarian bananas are making a comeback - and rightly so.
Each week we buy some from the local farmers' market where they sell 'Grade 2' - those that haven't reached export standard. 
We're not complaining - they're just as delicious.

So there you have it - my thought for the day - go bananas, Canarian-style!




09/10/2014

HOPE - a story in 100 words

After a hectic week celebrating two birthdays - my husband's and my daughter's - here I am again with a story prompted by a photo on -
http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/
HOPE

Molly eased herself into the chair, careful not to move it from the dents in the carpet. Her feet only just reached the floor.
She spread her fingers over the keys, imagining younger, sinewy hands, closed her eyes and air-played a song.
 Painful tears dripped onto her blouse.

The door opened, but it was only Paul.
“You’re always in here – I’m getting rid of this stuff.”
“Don’t you dare!”
“It’s been two years.”
“He’ll come home.”

Paul flicked the cymbal as he left.
The sound vibrated through Molly’s soul before soaring out into the world - a message of love and hope.

06/10/2014

A DAY IN THE MERCEDES MOUNTAINS

A couple of weeks ago we had a lovely day out with our son and his other half in the Mercedes mountains in North Tenerife.


These mountains, being so high above sea level, are green and lush compared with the drier south, due to more rainfall and cloud moisture.

There was some cloud that day which made the views misty, but as it kept the temperature down we weren't complaining. The roads are winding and precipitous, as are the terraced fields, and we saw several of these zip-lines.

Don and Magda are standing on the edge of an almost sheer drop, but assuming the cage was for vegetables rather than for people, we didn't risk using it! 
The barranco behind me was equally steep, although if I'd slipped, the cactus would possibly have broken my fall. Why is it that the steepness doesn't show up in photographs?



We had lunch in Bar la Cueva in Chinamada - a little hamlet at the end of a very narrow road. We ordered a dish each which, when we saw the portion sizes, was a mistake. Delicious food, and the first time I have eaten gofio - a Canarian speciality. 

Here are Bod and Magda inside the cave that gives the restaurant its name, but we ate outside.

There are several walks from there, notably to Pico de Ingles, but although the youngsters are experienced hikers, I certainly couldn't have made it that far. The little track I did explore was daunting enough!
Just round that corner I found myself looking across a deep barranco, in the centre of which was an isolated peak shaped like an icecream cone, totally covered in trees - truly spectacular.

There were lizards, quite large ones and not overly skittish,

and cacti and succulents as tall as me,
and little houses that were half cave with fantastic views, and a tiny church.

Bod and Magda walked further than I did and didn't, this time, need rescuing.
 A week earlier we had to drive to the middle of nowhere to collect them after they'd tackled a 6 kilometre hike that took them six hours. They had run out of water, despite taking as much as they could carry, and were so desperate that they drank from a standpipe in a field - they were lucky to get away without a bad tummy upset. Tenerife is an unforgiving place.







And on the way home we stopped in the forest - I could have stayed there longer.
So if any of you haven't been to Tenerife yet, or have only seen the tourist places, put a trip to the Mercedes Mountians on your wish-list.