20/05/2020

WATER MUSIC - a story in 100 words


WATER MUSIC

On holiday in Tenerife, who could resist a free concert?
It didn’t take them long to get ready – the Spanish waiter told them bikinis and sarongs were the norm. They started on the vodka in their hotel, mixed generous slugs into bottles of Coke, and went to the beach.
It was heaving, the music loud, the atmosphere electric.

They danced on sand that radiated the day’s heat, and watched the lights sparkle on the sea. It looked different at night – mysterious – and they dropped their sarongs to slip into its silken coolness.

Beach cleaners found their sarongs at dawn.
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There were many beach concerts when I lived in Tenerife, though I chickened out of going to one - I have more respect for my hearing! The sand needed sifting afterwards, despite the banning of glasses or bottles, but how could police control a jam-packed crowd of holiday-makers? Swimming at night, when drunk, is not a good idea either.
Thanks to Rochelle for running our group of flash writers, and to CE Ayr for his photograph she used as a prompt on her blog  https://rochellewisoff.com/  If you'd like to join our happy throng, click on the froggy on there which will take you to the link page.

I hope you are all well, staying safe, washing your hands, and ignoring idiotic advice to inject houshold substances or take unprescribed medicine!
Yes, I'm talking like a mum, but today I'm allowed to - it's my son's birthday, and he's of an age that reminds me how ancient I am :(

14/05/2020

HATS - a rant for these times.

I could rant about many things at the moment, including the overuse of words such as 'unprecedented', 'challenging' and 'iconic', but enough people are doing that already, and I don't like talking politics online.
Jan Wayned Fields' photo which Rochelle posted on her blog  https://rochellewisoff.com/2020/05/13/15-may-2020/hats/  for Friday Fictioneers this week didn't excite my fiction-writing head at all, possibly because it's already full of the book I am in the throes of editing.
So instead you've got this rant, which I know resonates with many of my friends in a similar situation. If you're young and free, enjoy it!  .............................................................

HATS

I have worn many different hats in my lifetime.
Daughter, then student, followed by years as a bank clerk, in the days when we counted banknotes by hand, computers filled a room, and deposit ledgers weighed a ton.
Happily I donned the various hats of a mother – cook, chauffeuse, nurse, gardener, teacher, decorator and seamstress until, eventually, I was a grandmother and retired.

But now they want to force me into another hat, with the words writ large – ELDERLY, VULNERABLE, PRISONER.

That hat won’t fit.

29/04/2020

THE MATRIARCH - a story in 100 words


THE  MATRIARCH

Guiseppe surveyed the empty tables with a heavy heart. “If we can’t open again soon we’re finished! What will we pass down to our children?”
Maria sniffed. “What children? You are never at home to make any.”
As she flounced off, Guiseppe admired her beautifully rounded behind, the swing of her heavy black hair, and long-neglected need surged through his body. Perhaps lockdown wasn’t all bad, he thought, following her upstairs.

Weeks later Guiseppe set some of his tables out on the pavement, and Maria welcomed their returning customers with the contented smile of a matriarch.
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I am pleased I managed to write a positive story today! 
This has been a week of ups and downs - a granddaughter celebrating her birthday in lockdown in the Middle East, several days of wonderful warm sunshine followed by a day of pouring rain, family members feeling the strain while I am unable to help.
But I have also managed to put in a lot of time on my next book, the final one in my fantasy series - probably! I still have the idea for a follow-up simmering on a back burner, but Book 4 brings threads from the first three books together in a shattering climax. WATCH THIS SPACE!
If you haven't yet read the first three, now would be a good time to order them from Amazon, either in print or ebook format. A Volcanic Race, Wolf Pack and Landslide, by Liz Young.
Go on - make my day - buy them, read them, post a review! Please!

23/04/2020

PRINTEMPS - a 100 word story

PRINTEMPS

Paris! City of romance and glamour, where even schoolgirls are effortlessly chic.
The smell of wet tarmac each morning as bouches de lavage clean the streets.
An enticing aroma of fresh baguettes, croissants, cafe and cognac.
Metro stations redolent of Gauloises and garlic, loud with fluid French accents.
Secret geranium-scented courtyards bathed in sunlight.

And malodorous pickpockets targetting careless tourists.  Stale-breath’d beggars slumped on Montmartre steps. Putrid bins crammed into ruelles teeming with thin cats.

But this spring the city is odourless, every cobbled square deserted.
Paris consigned to the rubbish heap by a bat - or possibly one dropped petri dish.



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My first visit to Paris was in 1967 on honeymoon, so I saw it through rose-tinted glasses. I still have one tiny cognac glass as a memento of those cafe-cognac breakfasts - so bohemian we felt! Ten years later we saw a different side of the life that teemed there, in the company of a French teenager and her boyfriend. All cities are two-faced though, and now I find the crowds claustrophobic - I do not envy those poor souls on lockdown in those empty streets. We live in a small town in the country, where my daily walks are full of spring colour and life.
Stay safe, everyone - we have a long way to go before this is over.

16/04/2020

PIGEONS - a little hundred word story for Lockdown!.



PIGEONS

I bought this apartment for the view, which now is all I have – I watch neighbours I have never met, enjoying the illusion of company and talking to pigeons.
Overweight Guy is bronzed and fit after weeks of exercise.
I heard Barbecue Couple’s champagne cork pop and raised my own glass to them.

Last week food deliveries stopped. I ventured out briefly and scuttled home, but I brought back more than food. Even in this unpolluted air I cannot catch my breath.

I wonder if there will be any flesh left when they find me – pigeons will eat anything.

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I met a neighbour today who was feeling so depressed about his isolation that I had to write this story - sorry if it's not the cheery story you were anticipating. :)  I hope you are all survivng the pandemic as well as you can, and making the most of your enforced imprisonment to finish that novel?

In truth this image reminds me of the view from a friend's apartment in Tenerife, where the rooftop terraces were used for lines of washing, barbecues and even chicken coops.

Thanks to Rochelle for hostingFriday Fictioneers on her blog   https://rochellewisoff.com/  and to Roger Bultot for the photograph.

PS - Only a day since the prompt yet already I am WAY down the link page - no wonder I only get a few comments!

08/04/2020

WALKING WITH CHILDREN


This virus lockdown has made us relish our one permitted walk each day, and given us time to dawdle – to stand and stare.
Because I am keeping a two-metre distance from my little granddaughter, she walks in front and sets the pace. She stops time and again to admire a pretty stone, a bug on a leaf, a strange door-knocker, crayoned rainbows in a multitude of windows – things we would miss if we were hurrying. So Jeff Arnold’s photo of a rainbow is most appropriate.

Here’s a little poem.

Walking with Children

Rainbows spread their ephemeral beauty
Overhead, or further away over
Yonder, the fabled pots of
Gold at their damp
Bases always just out of reach.
Instead, children enjoy their
Vibrant colours simply because.



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THANKS as ever to Rochelle for hosting Friday Fictioneers. After you've left a (kind) comment on my blog, you can read other writers' interpretations of this image by following the frog link from her blog   https://rochellewisoff.com/

I trust you are all keeping safe and well, and finding refuge from boredom in reading and writing. See you next week, DV.

01/04/2020

TWEET - a story in less than a hundred words


TWEET

“Mum! Come quick!”
“What is it, dear?”
“I’ve just seen one – you said there weren’t any left!”
“Well, I haven’t seen one outside for so long I thought something had killed them all. Don’t stand so close to the window, dear, it might not be safe.”
“But it’s only looking at me, Mum.”
“That’s as maybe, but we’ve got better things to do. There are still some berries left on that bush – nobody picked them this year. Come on, let's fly!”

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Only 80 words this week in my story written in response to the image taken by Douglas MacIlroy and posted on Rochelle's blog.  https://rochellewisoff.com/

I hope you are all finding ways of surviving the lockdown, if you live in a country that has imposed it. We are keeping our distance from anyone we see while food shopping or visiting the medical centre, but exchanging many a cheery 'hello' with total strangers as well as friends. My village has set up a volunteer help group of which I am part, so we hope nobody in our community falls through the net of care.

Meanwhile I have started work on the fourth, and probably final, book in my Living Rock series, so if you haven't already read the first three, Covid-19 LockDown would be a good time to order them from Amazon.The links to all three are here:-
A Volcanic Race: a novel: Volume 1 (Living Rock): Amazon.co.uk: Liz Young: 9781979086578: Books
WOLF PACK (LIVING ROCK): Amazon.co.uk: LIZ YOUNG: 9781790375080: Books
LANDSLIDE: a LIVING ROCK book: Amazon.co.uk: LIZ YOUNG: 9798618061049: Books

Stay home, stay safe, stay well, everyone!

26/03/2020

PARISH MAGAZINES

A second offering this week, but rather than a story, this is a personal memory. I'm probably not the only one taking refuge in nostalgia at the moment.
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My father was a Church of England priest, firstly in Tranmere, Birkenhead, then in Rugby, Warwickshire and, during my teenage years, in Hove, before he moved to his final parish in Horsted Keynes, Sussex.
The clack of Pa's typewriter from his study was a constant sound during my childhood, especially towards the end of the month when he composed the Parish Magazine.  
In the corner of Pa's study, precariously balanced on a small table, sat the Gestetner - a huge lump of machinery built round a drum with which Pa printed everything needed in the parish. 
To produce each page of the magazine he would wind into his typewriter a stencil comprised of, I think, three foolscap sheets (that's slightly bigger than A4 in modern parlance) onto which he typed at considerable speed, having learned that skill in the seminary. Each strike of the key produced a corresponding letter-shaped hole, and if he made a mistake the hole had to be mended and allowed to dry before he could retype over it.
The whole thing was then threaded onto the Gestetner roller, the reservoir charged with ink and the tray with paper, then a handle turned to print off copies. If I was lucky he'd let me do it - the whirr-kerplunk sound of each revolution is fixed in my memory.
It all makes the little Cannon printer that sits on my sideboard seem not only effortless but vaguely boring!

PS - apologies for going WAY over the word limit too!

GARDENING LEAVE - a 100 word story


GARDENING LEAVE

Lynne was digging absently, her mind on her latest plot, when Ron’s voice broke into her train of thought. “What’s for dinner?”
Lynne sighed. “I’ve already told you twice – stew and cabbage.”
“No potatoes?”
“There weren’t any – shelves stripped bare.”
However early Lynne went shopping, the locusts beat her to it. Putting food on the table was hard enough without Ron’s constant whining. She stabbed her fork viciously into the compost heap and continued plotting.

A few months later Lynne’s novel was finished, the garden was awash with green, and Ron had potatoes coming out of his ears.

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For some reason I couldn't copy the photo on Rochelle's blog, so I've used a copy of the lovely painting she did from the same photo - I hope that's okay? To read what other writers made of the image, go to    https://rochellewisoff.com/  and click on the frog.

My story is not - repeat NOT - based on fact, just on daydreams! I hope you are all well, and if the virus hits you, get well soon. We are self-isolating as much as is possible - we do need to eat. Thank goodness the Off-licence is considered essential by Boris and his government! Cheers!

19/03/2020

BILL'S FOLLY - a 100 word story for today


BILL’S FOLLY

It took Bill a month to build the tower, block by block.
Bill’s Folly, the town called it, but he ignored the jibes. He packed his battered car with tins and packets, bought a primus stove and bottled water.
The day he hired a crane the whole town turned out to watch his car creak skywards, trailing a rope ladder.

His pockets bulging with last-minute purchases, Bill climbed the ladder and pulled it up behind him.
“You want pensioners to self-isolate? Fine – but you’ll get a bucket-load of my shit every day to remind you I’m still here.”

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From this story you'll probably guess that I'm over 70 and not happy to be termed 'elderly'! After a last trip to the garden centre today to buy vegetable seeds, my husband and I will be self-isolating - I just hope the weather is good for gardening! Keep well, all of you who so kindly read and comment on my weekly story, and thanks to Rochelle who keeps us going. 

11/03/2020

FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH

FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH


“Hidden in the forest,” was all the witch would say, before her thin lips clamped shut so tightly that her nose met her chin. But Matilda was determined to retain her beauty, and searched obsessively until, one dark winter day, the skeletal trees revealed their secret.

She drank deeply each full moon, and as the years passed she remained unchanged. Her children grew and had children of their own, but Matilda outlived them all.

Finally, alone, and shunned by superstitious villagers, she made one last trip to the fountain.  They never found her body.
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C E Ayr's photo gave me an idea for a story immediately, but I had to go shopping first. Luckily the story stayed in my mind till I got home and put the dinner in the oven. Now I must hurry to post this before it burns!
If you'd like to read other stories, go to Rochelle's blog and follow the froggy link. https://rochellewisoff.com/
And if you're stock-piling for a possible spell in self-isolation, don't forget to buy books! I have four books on Amason now - the latest, LANDSLIDE, you can get simply by clicking on the image at the top right of my blog. The first two in my  LIVING ROCK series are A VOLCANIC RACE & WOLF PACK, or there's my historical novel HELTER-SKELTER.

05/03/2020

BLACK MARKET


BLACK MARKET

“How much? It’s only a cabbage!”
“Suit yourself - it’s no skin off my nose.”
“I’ll take it, but it’s daylight robbery.”
“It was moonlight, actually. How are you off for spuds?”
“I could use a few kilos.”
“I’m rationing them – I can only let you have two.”
Danielle scuttled indoors before the neighbours saw her buying black market vegetables, but if her husband didn’t get his meat and two veg her life wouldn’t be worth living. She turned on the television, hoping to hear better news about the virus.
Self-isolation with a bad-tempered man was worse than a prison sentence.
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Roger Bultot's photo of empty shelves is chillingly apposite in view of the reported stock-piling some people are doing right now. Even I bought a carton of long-life milk 'just in case'. And we're being careful to wash our hands more often, but we're not panicking - more people died this week from a dozen other causes than of Covid-19.
MORE EXCITING in my life this week is that the third book in my LIVING ROCK series is now published. You can buy LANDSLIDE on Amazon in print or ebook by clicking on the cover image on the right. If you haven't read the first two books yet, A VOLCANIC RACE and WOLF PACK are still there waiting for you!

26/02/2020

THE ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT


THE ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT

Lucy was just nineteen and ripe for plucking when the actor stayed at her aunt’s boarding house. After a week of stories about his glamorous world, she packed her bags and followed him.
But scrubbing greasepaint from his collars wasn’t glamorous, and the thrill of being backstage soon wore thin. She wasn’t even good enough at sewing to help the wardrobe mistress.
When she caught him kissing his leading lady, she got a bus home and married the boy she’d left behind.
He was a much better father to her child than the actor would ever have been.
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In the midst of preparing for publication Landslide, the third book in my Living Rock series, I've taken a break to write this week's 100 words.
My first husband had just dipped his toe into the world of amateur dramatics when we met, and twenty years later the 'roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd' tempted him to turn professional. I still remember scrubbing the collar of his one white shirt and drying it on a radiator overnight for the next performance!
Thanks to Dale Rogerson for her evocative photo, and to Rochelle for hosting Friday Fictioneers on her blog, https://rochellewisoff.com/

20/02/2020

SPARROW REMEMBERS



SPARROW REMEMBERS

Stolen from her bed in the cold white darkness of a Canadian winter, Sparrow’s last sight of home was the sun rising beyond the grain silo beside her house.
Instead of attending school, she chopped wood, broke ice for water in winter, suffered mosquito swarms in summer, and endured nights under a stinking blanket with her captor.
She was thirteen when another little girl appeared – then she remembered that image.
With the child on her back she trudged east, scavenging for food, hiding from strangers, focussed only on one thing – the vision of sunrise over her parents’ farm.
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Dawn Miller's photograph may well have been taken in Canada - it reminds me of the country around my son's home in Ontario, where he lives with his Canadian wife and two small daughters. So my mind instantly put together Canada, little girls, and the photo's focus to create my story.
You can read what other writers made of the image by following links from Rochelle's blog.  https://rochellewisoff.com/

13/02/2020

BUT YOU SAID.... a story in 100 words


BUT YOU SAID...

“But you said you loved me!” Sonya stared unseeing at the crashing waves, willing herself not to cry.
“Everyone says that – I didn’t think you’d take me seriously.”
Sonya fumbled for the door handle and stepped out onto the sodden turf.
“Get back in the car - you’ll catch your death!” Matt grabbed her arm but she wrenched it free.
Her eyes blurred with tears and wind, she turned and ran. She didn’t even see the cliff edge, and Matt was powerless to stop her as she tumbled to the rocks below, taking her unborn child with her.
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Only the rain blurring Rochelle's photo made it interesting, so I went with that - hope you like my story? If so, please do leave a comment. I see far more 'page views' than comments and I always wonder what people thought when they read and moved on silently.
We've had some rain this week in UK, as you may have heard. I drove through huge puddles on my way to buy a new bed this morning, but that is nothing compared with the devastation in other parts of the country. With the coronavirus invading our shores as well, it's been a dramatic fortnight. But on the other side of the world the Australians are greeting heavy rain with huge sighs of relief.


05/02/2020

HOMECOMING - a story in 100 words


HOMECOMING

They landed at midnight to avoid the protestors, simply glad to have arrived. Guards took them to an anonymous building where they were stripped and examined for any signs of the plague, then after scalding disinfectant showers they were given flimsy paper gowns.
“Where are my own clothes?” Lee asked.
The answer was curt. “Burnt.”
Herded through the eerily empty terminal like lambs being driven to slaughter, Lee was grateful no-one was around to witness their humiliation.

Then they stepped off the escalator into a dull roar of sound, and behind a glass wall a hundred flashbulbs popped.
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The UK citizens who arrived from Wuhan this week were treated less harshly than this, merely being put into quarantine for a fortnight. They all signed their agreement to this step before they flew, and are being provided with every comfort, yet still some are complaining already! Two weeks is nothing compared with the nightmare that people are living in China right now.
Ted Strutz's photo is puzzling, and I wonder if my story is anywhere near the truth? To read what other writers made of it, follow the frog link from Rochelle's blog.  https://rochellewisoff.com/
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For anyone who missed my contribution to Friday Fictioneers last week, my excuse is that I was helping my 95 year old Mum to pack and move into a care home near me. She is making friends there already, and I have been in to see her several times. Joining in with the occupational therapist's chair exercise routines quite wore me out!!

23/01/2020

NUTS! a story in one hundred words.


NUTS!
Moira crept round the shops, hiding her bruises behind her hair. Derek had ordered macadamia nut ice-cream – where on earth did he imagine she’d find that?
After an increasingly frantic search she tracked some down in the deli, and finished her shopping. At home she added a few more nuts and made a curry – he liked it hot enough to sear his taste-buds.

When Derek collapsed, gasping for his Epipen, Moira slipped along the back lane to throw the tub in a skip before calling an ambulance.
It arrived far too late, of course, but that was hardly her fault.
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It's taken me 24 hours to think of a story for this domestic image taken by Na'ama Yehuda, so I hope you think it's up to scratch! If you would like to read how other writers interpreted it, follow the Frog link from Rochelle's blog https://rochellewisoff.com/

15/01/2020

GREENHOUSE - a story in 100 words


GREENHOUSE

Zena dressed the children carefully – trousers, long-sleeved shirts, wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, Factor 100 on exposed skin.
“Are we going to the beach, Mummy?”
Sometimes Zena took them for a picnic under the ruins of the pier, but keeping them in the shade was exhausting. “No – today’s a surprise.”

When they reached the Dome Zena bundled them up in warm jackets - air-conditioning kept the temperature down to a cool 40 – but their awe at their first sight of a tree made the journey worthwhile.
With tears in her eyes she told them, “This is how it used to be.”
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This story may very well be prophetic, the way we're treating our world at the moment. I shudder for my grandchildren. There are countries still too poor to do their share of the repair, but the richer countries should be picking up the slack, and they're not. I was born in Australia, so the dreadful fires there are breaking my heart. 
Enough of politics! Thanks to J Hardy Carroll for the photograph, which reminded me of a tropical rainforest dome I visited in Australia 30 years ago, and the thoughts combined to inspire this story. Thanks also to Rochelle, our genial host on Friday Fictioneers on her blog  https://rochellewisoff.com/

08/01/2020

BY THE PRICKING OF MY THUMBS - a story in 100 words



BY THE PRICKING OF MY THUMBS
It was so hot in the campervan that the children wanted to sleep in the tent. Delia was reluctant to let them but Barclay said, “The security guard patrols regularly – they’ll be fine.”
“I’ve got a bad feeling...” Delia demurred, but when he winked and added, “We’ll be alone for a night,” she blushed and yielded. The site was well-lit, the pool’s surface reflecting the orange lamps – what could go wrong?
Eventually the children’s giggling ceased, the van rocked to a standstill, and all was silent. Only then did a tentacle slither up from the deep end.
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This story, prompted by C.E Ayr's photograph, is my first for this year, and written in a hurry, as it is my granddaughter's 5th birthday today and I am taking the cake. I have been making Smartie cakes since my own children were small - sometimes chocolate ones, but she prefers plain. So be it!

And here is an update for those who read my story two weeks ago. My mother enjoyed her impromptu stay in a nursing home so much that she wanted to stay. Fortunately they had a vacancy arise over the Christmas period, so we will be moving Mum in soon.