26/12/2019

SURVIVING CHRISTMAS - a true story

SURVIVING CHRISTMAS

It’s a battle-zone for many.
Parents or in-laws, turkey or beef, the Queen’s speech or a film – all are triggers for armed conflict. Far too much food and booze, and enforced closeness with people only seen once a year.
My Mum got away from it all. The septic tank at my brother’s house broke under the strain of too much rain, and I managed to get her into a nursing home at very short notice. She had Christmas dinner with brother, tomorrow with us, and a pub meal to come next Sunday.
Who wishes they could do the same?
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Every word of this is true! It was a Christmas miracle in itself that the nursing home ten minutes' walk from my cottage had space for my 95-year-old Mum. She's actually having the time of her life, with people her own age to talk to, staff on hand when needed, and good food. Hopefully she'll only be there a couple of weeks while my brother gets his tank sorted out, but Mum and I are loving the fact that I can pop in frequently without the need to drive in the dark.
So thank you to Sandra Crook for the photo prompt, and to Rochelle for posting it in the middle of the festivities. See her blog for other stories. https://rochellewisoff.com/
Meanwhile, if you care to scroll down my blog you will find a handful of other seasonal stories I have written over the years and re-posted this morning. They come with my best wishes for a Happy Christmas and a prosperous 2020.


CHRISTMAS STORIES - a seasonal gift for everyone

Here are a few of the seasonal stories I have written over the years.
They come to wish you a very Happy Christmas and New Year 2020.
These pottery crib figures were a joint effort between me and my children about 40 years ago, and I bring them out each Christmas. I might not see my children every year now, but they are always in my heart.
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CHRISTMAS EVE AT THE DINER

 Sally’s feet ached. Christmas Eve had been a long, hard slog.
Lorry drivers had merely grabbed a burger without leaving a tip, every family had brought over-excited, noisy children, and someone had thrown up in the toilets.
The moment the last customer left, Sally grabbed the keys to lock up – with luck she’d be home before midnight – but just then a couple stumbled out of the darkness.
“Don’t lock us out,” the man pleaded, “My wife’s in labour,” and as Sally held the door open for them, one brilliant star came to rest in the night sky over the diner.
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NOT ALL SANTAS

 I still believed in Santa until he took off his red coat that time and hurt me – my own Pa!
This year I couldn’t face Christmas again so I packed my bag and hit the road.
I almost didn’t get into Brad’s truck when I saw his Santa hat, but I was more afraid of Pa catching me, so I chanced it.
Then Brad stopped at this diner and bought me dinner.
Here it comes – payment time, I thought, but he just showed me photos and talked about what he’s bought his kids.
Not all Santas are monsters after all.
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ROAST POTATOES
It wasn’t even a proper fight – he said his mother’s roast potatoes were crisper than mine, I said he could go home to his mother any time he liked, so he slammed out of the house. When I tried to stop him my hand went through the glass door.
Blood spurted everywhere, and before the ambulance got here I’d bled half to death.
Then the police got involved, accusing him of attempted murder, and when I said I’d done it to myself they assumed I’d tried to commit suicide.
How can I tell a shrink it was all caused by roast potatoes?
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SABU’S CHRISTMAS GIFT
 Sabu’s baby sister’s death from cholera was the final straw – wearing only shorts and rubber sandals he walked to the city, his mother’s wails ringing in his ears.
He swept a school in exchange for lessons, ate the scrapings of more privileged students’ plates, slept in his broom cupboard.
Each Christmas he walked home – each year there was one child less in the village.
It took him five years to qualify, two more to earn enough, but finally he drove a rattling lorry home, where eager hands helped him unload its contents.
On Christmas Day clean water began flowing from Sabu’s pump.
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SINCE  GOD  WAS  A  BOY
 Paco’s ancestors had been goatherds since God was a boy – his grandfather maintained it was goatherds who visited the stable when Jesus was born, but the gospellers called them shepherds because goats were too common.
 Paco loved his work. It was usually undemanding – you walked, the goats ate everything in sight, you moved on. He much preferred the gentle clonking of their bells to the honking of car horns in town.
 But today the graveyard needed cropping, the wall would contain the herd while he ate his mother’s Christmas dinner, and he’d get a decent wifi signal on his phone for once.
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IF IT HAPPENED NOW
“What’s up, babe? Your latte’s getting cold.”
“I’ve gone off coffee, Joe – get me an orange juice instead.”
Joe returned from the counter wearing a worried frown, “You’ve been moody all week and now you’ve gone off coffee – are you breaking up with me?”
Mary couldn’t meet his soft brown eyes. “You might want to dump me when I tell you – I’m having a baby.”
“I’m going to be a dad? That’s brilliant!”
“It’s not yours.” The words dropped like a stone between them and Joe leapt up so violently that other customers stared. “Whose is it then? I thought you loved me.”
Mary shrugged helplessly. “I do love you, Joe, but I didn’t have a choice.”
“You mean someone forced you? I’ll bloody kill him!”
“It wasn’t like that. This angel turned up and told me God’s been watching me and decided I’m the right one to have His baby. The angel said this baby will save the world one day.”
“And you expect me to believe that?” Joe’s voice dripped scorn.
Mary shrank back in her seat, her hands protecting her belly, and a tear trickled down her cheek. “I’m having a hard time believing it myself, but it’s the truth. I’m dreading telling Mum and Dad.”
Joe sat down slowly and wiped her tears with his calloused carpenter’s thumbs. “I can’t deny it’s a bit of a shock, Mary,” he said gently, “But I love you and we’ll work it out.” He grinned suddenly. “I’ve always wanted to be a dad.”
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THAT'S ALL FOLKS!  Thanks for reading - feel free to leave a comment.







18/12/2019

SUMMERHOUSE - a story in under 100 words


SUMMERHOUSE

The summerhouse was our place, where we drank wine and made love to the sound of wavelets lapping the lake shore.
It was there where, one glorious sun-dappled afternoon, we made our vows, and sprinkled rose petals on the water to thank the gods for our good fortune.
But the gods of love are fickle creatures, who waft a curtain of rosy gossamer over their victims’ eyes. Love couldn’t survive the chill wind of reality, and now those dreams are frozen under a blanket of lies and broken promises.
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The building in Dale Rogerson's photo is clearly intended for summer use - you'd get a very cold bottom on those seats, though the view would be glorious. Thanks to Rochelle for hosting Friday Fictioneers on her blog  https://rochellewisoff.com/ from where you can follow the frog link to read other stories prompted by the photo.

13/12/2019

BROKEN - a story in 90 words.


BROKEN
I knew as I walked up the path – the very air hummed with violation. I turned the key on an unresisting lock and my feet crunched as I stepped inside.
My art speaks uncomfortable truths, but never before has it incited violence. The shrouded mummy of my lost childhood stood useless guard over a month’s work reduced to rubble, and my latest work had been turned upside-down – the ultimate insult.
I swept up carefully, saving broken pieces to re-use.
My next work already has its name.
I will not be silenced.
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A bit of a weird this week - I'm not sure where this piece came from, but it wrote itself in ten minutes. 
Thanks to Rochelle for the image - I hope this didn't happen to her!

04/12/2019

NIGHT BUS - a story in a hundred words

This week's Friday Fictioneers image reminded me instantly of a story I wrote three years ago, so I adapted it to use again. I have a busy few days coming up so I hope you will forgive the repetition!


NIGHT BUS

After Dave vanished, George was alone and scared – rough sleeping was dangerous. He was huddled in his doorway when a bus stopped and a voice called, “Free ride, mate?”
Bright lights obscured its destination but George stepped aboard into welcoming warmth. The door snapped shut, leaving his belongings outside, but Dave emerged from the misty interior and handed him a bottle. “Wondered when you’d be along.”
George drank deep, tasting strange flavours. “Have you been here all this time?”
“All what time?” Dave’s voice was vague, his eyes empty.
George turned to get off, but the bus was already moving.
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