A Valentines Rose

Posted: March 15, 2013 in #fridayflash, Short stories

Margo had worked as a receptionist for many years; twenty years of them at the same office block on the edge of town. She was a petite lady in her early sixties, with soft white hair and maroon framed glasses, which matched her lipstick.

Being a receptionist required patience more than anything else. Being pleasant; welcoming everyone with a smile; answering the telephone by repeating the same pre-empted speech you’d said ten times already that day; ensuring visitors were happy; and be on hand to assist with any crisis that unravelled in a split second.

Today, was her favourite working day of the year, valentine’s day. A day she was guaranteed to bring happiness to her colleagues through a simple three second telephone call.  She believed it was the best day in a receptionist’s diary.  Bunches of flowers, bouquets of roses and helium balloons attached to teddy bears would arrive in abundance and her job was to distribute them, like one of Santa’s elves.  The electrifying sensation of making the call and handing over a token of someone’s love to another person was immeasurable.

“Hi Carol, it’s Margo on reception.  A delivery for you.” She said it with a cheery smile and jolly tone and it was received with a high pitched, squeal of joy, no matter the age or seniority of the recipient.

She estimated one call every fifteen minutes. At one point in the day she counted 7 bouquets and a mysterious box with a single rose twisted around the handle lined up behind her desk.  The smell of roses and lilies filled the air, whilst grinning colleagues bounced down the stairs to collect their trophies of affection. How could this not be her favourite working day of the year?

She would look forward to a specific florists van pulling up outside the office more than most. “Thanks-a-bunch!”  A purple van with a bunch of pink roses on the side.  Her husband used to drive it.  Barry was a courier by day but reciprocated his wife’s love for Valentine ’s Day and would take a day’s holiday each year to help the local florists to deliver flowers.  At the end of his day, Barry would arrive at Margo’s office to collect her, whilst grasping the biggest bunch of roses she’d ever seen, with ribbons and wrapping accentuating the petals and blooms.

Barry passed away in the April, last year.  This would be the first Valentine ’s Day, Margo would spend without him.  She reminded herself that this was a day she made others happy, her one day a year to spread love and cheer to her colleagues.  As she handed out the last colourful bloom, she smiled and a satisfied sigh left her fulfilled lungs.

As she said good-night to the security guard and lifted her coat to put it on, she stopped dead as if she’d seen a ghost.  Her jaw locked opened and her heart began to skip a beat, leaving her feeling prickly warm all over.  The purple van “Thanks-a-bunch” had parked outside.  It was the exact same time as Barry would have arrived.  The same time for the last forty-two years.

She slipped her arms into her coat in a slow-motion swoop, and picked her handbag from the receptionist desk all whilst starring in disbelief at the delivery man as he walked up the front steps to the reception door.  He was carrying a long box and seemed to be struggling.  She walked to the door and opened it.

“Margo?” the man said as he pulled an envelope from his pocket.  The box was so long that it acted like a see-saw as he balanced it on his knee, as he handed her the envelope and put the box down by her feet.

“Yes,” Margo said sheepishly, as she ripped the seal and pulled out the note.  She could feel her cheeks glow and the internal heat began to rise from her head.  The note read:

My dearest Margo,

Every year since we began to court

Beautiful flowers and roses I bought

and without fail at six fifteen

From your desk I could be seen

To collect you from work in the purple chariot

I was your Nelson and you my dear Harriet

I knew that my time was very close

So I thought of what you’d like the most

Flowers which you can see all year

To remind you that I am still here

I’m in your heart forever more

and shown in the flowers you most adore

xxx

Her eyes brimmed with warm heavy tears, as she bent down and opened up the box.  Inside was a window box, painted the same shade of purple as the florist van.  Standing tall above the fresh soil, two dozen perfect red roses, their petals soft like velvet, whilst the air filled with the sweet smell of roses.

This was a valentine she would remember forever.

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I began to question the randomness of bumping into him after the fifth time in three days.

The first time was leaving the coffee shop on Monday morning at 7.45am. I knew the time so precisely because I watched the second hand snap to the 9, on the over-sized clock face, at the same time the smiley lady handed my extra cream, chocolate sprinkled, vanilla flavoured super skinny Latte, to me. The aroma of the coffee place lingered in the fresh cold air outside, as the door swung closed behind me. He brushed past me whilst on the mobile telephone, making me spill a good mouthful of my ‘morning wake up potion’ on my high street blouse. I thought him rather rude if I’m honest. Typical business man, dressed in a powerful tailored suit and show-off tie, not even acknowledging my existence that alone, god forbid, apologising for his misdemeanour.

The second encounter was at the bus stop only a few minutes later, when he walked in front of the bus, still on the damn telephone. He was oblivious to world around him it seemed. The bus had piped its horn and the driver waved his arms about in air-attendant fashion, but I knew those weren’t the basic metaphor words he was mouthing. Even a colossal sized vehicle, vibrant red and tooting its horn didn’t distract him from his conversation or journey to wherever his arrogance took him.

I must’ve realised it was the same man I’d seen the day before, when on Tuesday he was in the coffee shop again. This time in a different suit and even more annoyingly bright tie, sat at a table with the phone still to his ear. I remember smiling internally to myself, that the phone might actually be stuck to his ear. Maybe he had children like my four-year-old nephew Marcus, who was as curious as a cat in a room of empty boxes and drawers. Maybe his son had found super glue and spread it on his screen. He was now desperately trying to call someone to help him out of this ‘sticky’ dilemma. Of course I was being daft and the joke had been on me when my trance was broken by the smiley lady asking for my order. I’d been so thrown that I forgot to say “…skinny latte,” after my customary long order. Now I’d have extra cream, chocolate sprinkles, vanilla flavoured cream and FULL fat milk. I shot him an angry glare as I left, but he was none the wiser.

He was in the coffee shop again today, same scenario as the days before. Tailored suit, another glaring tie and of course the telephone stuck to his ear. He was in front of me in the queue. I was either running late or he was a few minutes early. Either way I wasn’t amused as he had taken the last banana bread flapjack. That was usually my mid-week treat and he’d robbed me of it. Who was this man anyway? I’d not seen him in here before. Ever! The smiley lady seemed to be smiling at him more so than anyone else. She was exceptionally beaming today. I examined him, as he ordered. For a tailored suit, it hugged his posterior nicely. It was like looking at two perfectly formed baked beans, firm yet soft and smooth. I listened to his order “… extra cream, chocolate sprinkled, Cappuccino with a shot of vanilla syrup please,” and my eyes forgot to blink momentarily.

As he took his extra large take-away cup from the grinning-like-a-Cheshire-cat-lady, he continued on the telephone call as if he had merely paused for a breath. “Carol,” he said sternly, “no that sounds too frivolous…I can’t do it like that!”

I’d spent all morning trying to get the image of his perfect behind out of my memory, but it was ingrained there. Just like the ringing in my ears, of his northern middle-class accent. It was only then that it had occurred to me I hadn’t seen his face properly. The guy was constantly in a rush, therefore leaving the recollection of his features a complete blur, or obscured by a hand holding a mobile phone.

I was fairly disgruntled when I left for work that evening to meet my friend, only to find ‘Mr Ego’ sitting in the same wine bar we had chosen, on the edge of town. Still on the phone, still arrogant looking and still with that dazzling tie that I’d like to use as a noose. I went to the bar to order a bottle of wine with two glasses when my phone beeped. My friend Carol had text to say she was running late and that she’d be with me within the hour. That’s when I began to get suspicious. She was never late. In fact she was notoriously early. I sat by the window and poured myself a glass of wine. Whilst sipping it slowly a shadow appeared over me. It was him. I looked up and froze.

“Hi,” he said shyly. “Are you alone?”

“No,” I spluttered, “my friend is running late that’s all.” I smiled politely.

“I know,” he smiled. “I’m afraid you’ve been subject to some underhand match-making. My colleague Mark’s wife, Carol is your…”

“… best friend!” we said in unison.

He smiled. He smiled a gorgeous un-arrogant and dental-hygiene-advert grin and my heart instantly liquefied.

“I’ve been trying to find the courage to talk to you all week, but I’ve pretended to be on the phone and could never find the nerve.” His cheeks began to glow a bright crimson and suddenly the arrogance facade cracked and fell off his persona like a newborn chick breaking through an egg. “I was nearly ran over by a bloody bus!” he sniggered. “Can I get you a drink?”

Little did I know the sixth encounter would be across a table in a little coffee shop and two customary long orders for coffee…oh and another too-bright-for-daylight tie.

A Social Congestion

Posted: January 26, 2013 in #fridayflash, Short stories

Traffic slowed, bunching up.

Doug clicked off the radio and listened to the bleating horns, each desperate to be heard, like lost lambs.  He took a deep breath, as car’s whined impatiently through his ears and the humming lingered in the air like an unwanted smell.

It was pointless.

Why were they getting so irate?

Was the noise of the car horns really going to get the traffic moving?

The piercing penetration of compressed air vibrated through everyone’s ear drums; bouncing off the tarmac for miles each decibel, a blunt knife stabbing the thick atmosphere and fraying tempers.

Doug pulled his notebook from the pile of books on the passenger seat and began to write frantically.

He could see people getting out of their cars, some standing on the rim of their drivers doors to look over the traffic and repeatedly glancing up the road for any sign of movement.  The ‘Parkers’.  They liked to be the first ones to know what was going on.

‘Musicians’ were the folks happy to stay in their own shielded environment, but frustrated enough to want to be heard so insisted on using their horns as a way of communication.  Some would use their horns spontaneously and sporadic, whilst others more in tune and with a certain rhythm.

The individuals less self aware and probably the most vulnerable of all were the ‘Robots’, who without direction or planned routine, were short circuiting and spinning out of control in front of Doug’s very eyes.  They couldn’t cope with being in a confined space, unable to gage what was happening next or indeed how long the situation would take.  You could see them over heating quicker than the vehicles.

And last but by no means least were the individuals Doug liked to call the ‘herd’.  They neither looked panicked or stressed, or even felt the need to assess the situation around them.  They were lost, undecided on which group to join.  They would make a performance of getting out of their cars, either stretch or clear their throats whilst taking wide and steady strides between their car and the central reservation barriers.  Most of them would have their hands on their hips or be gently shaking their head, watching for other people’s reactions.  Occasionally they might sigh, laugh, or the braver ones make a sarcastic comment to try and get someone elses attention.

The overall scene, was like a clip from a disaster film, where everyone was desperately trying to escape the world ending, or a volcano erupting.  The motorway was bursting with rows of cars touching almost nose-to-nose.

Doug remained in his car watching individuals in his eye shot.  He was amazed as people became more animated, the longer they were kept waiting.  Was it the fact they had lost control?  Or maybe it was because they were all confined and behaviour really did breed behaviour.

The transparent heat, from overheating engines and exasperated bodies, lifted up into the skies.  The image of motionless cars began to look warped, as if a melting pane of glass was shielding them from going any further.

In the distance the faint drone of sirens and a glint of blue luminosity travelling at light speed broke through the ambience.    Doug threw his book across to the other seat and adjusted his rear view mirror.  He watched as the crowds were now more intent on the arrival of the emergency services behind them, than they were about what was going on in front of them.

As the sirens became louder, Doug turned back on his engine.  He put his foot to the accelerator and as he let go of the handbrake, he hoped he’d gathered enough information for his psychology dissertation, “Social behaviours in the same circumstances”.

Now to try and out run the police so he could get home to write it…

The world was white and she hated it.

Sure it looked picturesque. Gleaming white fluffy snow on everything as far as the eye could see. But it was pure hell from where she stood.

The street lamp stood superfluous, as the beam of pure white landscape, glared over its amber ray. The trees were topped with sugar and the roads and paths all fused into one level of soft feather duvets.

It was all pointless though. None of this mattered when her true love was not here with her. He had left that morning to get a train home. The anxiety and doubt grew in the pit of her stomach. She hated goodbyes at the best of times. Seeing him walk away into the distance, his body becoming nothing more than a small dot through the vapour, was heartbreaking. The further he walked away, the heavier the snow seemed to fall. As she’d said goodbye, a piece of her heart and hope had gone with him.

She was beginning to wonder if the flurry of snow and ice was actually a premonition; a sign that she’d never see him again. The phones were down, all the lines and telegraph poles burdened with whipped cream shaped flurries. The television set was snowier than the bleak world outside.

Boredom only fed the anxious loneliness. A void inside of her was growing bigger and yet bingeing off of the negative storm in her mind. It was hopeless.

Ever since she’d been small, she could remember being resentful of the other children playing in the snow. Building snowmen and lying down in the thick mounds of crisp white blankets, spreading their arms and legs wide to create ‘snow angels’.

Her parents had bought her and her sisters sledges made from pink glittery plastic with purple string. She can remember hearing her sisters outside, squealing with absolute delight as they shot down the hillside adjacent to their family home. She used hers as a roof for her camp behind the sofa. Nothing would ever entice her out there; a world where only one colour was of importance.

The doctors had said it was a phase, a phobia she would grow out of. She hadn’t.

Snowball fights might as well of been full blown world war attacks, as boulders pounded against the windows and she ducked for cover. She would close the curtains in every room, in the hope that when she’d open them again the next morning, it would all be gone.

It hadn’t worked then and it didn’t feel like it would work now. The curtains were shut, like an enchanted cloak, not only disguising her from the world but protecting her from anything it might throw at her too. But she knew it was there. Its luminosity was penetrating the curtain’s lining, intimidating the cloth to let its glare shine through and tease her.

She could foresee days, if not weeks, of being stuck in the lonely four walls that she loved to call home, but today it was solitary confinement.

Two thuds at the door made her heart race. More snowballs or maybe slates from the roof. Then another heavier bang.

She stood a few meters away from the door, petrified of even looking out of the spy-hole. It must be those pesky kids from down the street.

She edged gently towards the door, stretching out her arm to ensure the door was not only shut but safe to peek. She peered through the minuscule looking glass.

It was him.

Unable to make it to the train station, he had turned around and come back to hibernate from the storm.

In his arms the world could remain as white as it liked. She had no reason to venture out there or even think about the white enemy.

She was safe.

Posted: April 27, 2012 in #fridayflash, Short stories

The trees looked like a huge mass of blurry green clouds as the car catapulted through the country lanes.

The faster he went, the more adrenaline surged through his body like an electric shock jolting all of his internal organs into overdrive.

He could hear police shouting and their cars accelerating behind him; the blue flashing lights and sirens only adding to the pace and the buzz he was experiencing.

Ray his associate screamed hysterically, directing his next move or turn, whilst gripping the parcel shelf in front of him. His knuckles were a florescent white from the lack of blood flowing to his fingers. He held on even tighter as they spun round another sharp bend. “Right, right, right!” Ray screamed with a smirk across his face, as he caught a glimpse of his companion spinning the steering wheel like a captain of a ship, veering away from an iceberg.

The back of the car clipped a curb and bounced enthusiastically to the middle of the road. The car stopped for a split second, before accelerating down the nearest side road as if it was on imaginary bungee ropes, going from zero to seventy miles per hour before they could blink. The police cars behind him all mimicked his actions, throwing each of them slightly off course.

Seeing a straight road ahead, Ray flung his head round to look through the rear window. More blue lights had joined the pursuit and their bright headlights flashing in unison with the rotating cobalt beams on the roofs of their cars, was a scene like no other.

“Jesus!” he exclaimed, “They’re all out tonight Boy!”

“They won’t catch me!” Steve screamed, spinning the wheel again, “I’m not called Speedy Steve for nothing me old china!” wiping another bead of sweat which hung reluctantly from his brow.

The sound of shrieking sirens rang through his ears, but to him it was like listening to an orchestra, in tune and almost therapeutic. This is what he lived for and the next quick move and sharp bend was his purpose in life.

As he veered around another bend, he could see a police car on either side of the road up ahead. This could only mean one thing. Stingers.

“Mate, avoid the stingers. The stingers Steve…” Ray grabbed the handle above his head with both hands. The police in front of them had already laid the trap and Steve tried to brake but was going too fast.

A piercing popping sound was heard four times over.

The chase had ended.

As Steve and Ray leapt from the car, now a deflated tin-can in the middle of the road, they ran towards another car in front of them. Also a victim to the stinger, the smell of burning rubber filled the air and steam, smoke and car fumes penetrated from where the wreckage lay.

Two boys, no older than fifteen, sprung from either side of the car. Steve pounced on the first, whilst Ray tripped the second.

With both boys on the ground, hands behind their backs, they were cuffed.

“Another days work well done” Steve said as his colleagues in the other police cars began to pull up around him.

“Not sure about our old girl though,” Ray said glaring over at their exhausted looking police vehicle, now much lower to the ground than she had been designed for.

“She deserved some new wheels after that anyway!” Steve sniggered.

Posted: April 19, 2012 in #fridayflash, Short stories

A Girly thing

Posted: April 13, 2012 in #fridayflash, Short stories

She was such a harmless looking character. It’s hard to believe she’s the one who had done this to him.

Miles’ life had been perfect until she appeared on the scene. He’d gone to university and as a result not only got the qualifications to become a successful doctor, but also met the girl of his dreams, Janice, who he later married.

His marriage was perfect, a dream come true in fact.  Janice prepared him a home cooked meal on the table every evening after work; they went for pubs walks in the countryside; posh dinners at swanky restaurants; theatre trips; watched local football matches every other Saturday; breakfast in bed on Sundays; they made love at least five times a week; and bought each other gifts on payday. He went out with the lads on Thursdays and she went to bingo with the girls.

But then ‘she’ came along and life was nowhere near the same as it used to be. Janice would rather go shopping with Amy on a Saturday than watch the football together.  She’s been too busy with ‘her’ to have dinner ready when Miles got home from work. Posh dinners and silly gifts on payday were becoming a thing of the past now that they have girly things to entertain them. ‘Girls on Tour’, Ladies that lunch and pink accessories are the essentials and priority now, apparently.

Miles had never seen so many pairs of shoes, a new infatuation Janice seemed to have acquired since ‘Amy’ had been on the scene.  Janice only ever had two pairs when they first started dating, three if you counted the old pair of sneakers she wore for gardening.  Now the house is inundated with them.

Shoes; photo frames; blankets; and stuff.  It was the ‘stuff’ Miles couldn’t get his head around.  It was like a third person in their marriage.

“What’s this?” Miles would ask, picking up a random, unidentified object from their immoderate leather sofa.

“Oh it’s something I picked up with Amy at the shops today.”

“What is it?” Miles said inspecting it carefully as if it was a ticking bomb ready to explode.

“What do you mean what is it?” she said, almost offended by his innocuous question.  “You can see what it is.  You’re just being difficult.  We need it, that’s all you need to know.”

Miles huffed, tossing the object down again, like a knight throwing down his sword in battle and admitting defeat.  He upstairs to avoid yet another pointless argument, one which he would no doubt become the ogre, blamed for not understanding Janice’s life and needs.

On his way up the stairs he tripped over yet another pair of pink shoes, kicking them to the side and sighing as he dragged his feet mindlessly up the remaining few steps.  He went into their bedroom and slumped onto the bed.

Miles heard Amy laugh and stood up.  He looked over the top of her crib and smiled. “I can’t stay annoyed or pushed-out for long.  I look down at you, our beautiful baby girl and it’s all totally worth it,” he held his hand out and she grabbed it with her cherub like hands. “Well maybe not the lack of sex life,” he said in a quiet voice, “or the tiny pink shoes which have invaded the entire house, but the rest is worth it,” they both giggled together, as if she knew what he was saying to be true.

“Fight!” they shrieked.

Aiden looked at them puzzled as boys and girls pushed past him.

End of school was always busy and children seeped from every exit and poured down the main driveway towards the gates of freedom. As he was one of the smallest in his year group, Aiden inevitably got pushed more than the average boy, but he figured being in his first year of secondary school, that one day he’d be the one to push the smaller kids aside. He just hoped puberty was going to be kind to him.

“Fight!” more boys shouted as they shoved past, sending him flying into the open arms of the bushes.

As he brushed himself down and got to his feet, like a new born calf, he steadied himself by straightening his knees and back. He looked at his mate Toby, who was slightly taller than him, but still vulnerable due to his auburn hair and exceptionally large teeth which his face hadn’t quite grown into yet.

“Come on!” Toby said grabbing hold of Aiden’s arm, “Must be a good ‘en”.

The two sprinted to the end of the driveway, each holding the straps of their rucksacks like military soldiers in training. As they jogged out of the cast iron gates, they were faced with a large group of children who had formed a circle around two boys scrapping.

There were too many kids shouting and huddled together to get a close look. The atmosphere was electric, charged with adolescent tension and excitement. Aiden was desperately trying to peer over others shoulders or get a glimpse of what was happening. He could hear the punches. Flesh hitting flesh and groans as the life was slowly being beaten from another being.

“Someone get the teacher”, a girl cried, looking pale and her cheeks moist.

“Fight, fight, fight!” a group of older boys chanted from the other side of the circle, each with a fist clenched and pounding it into their other hand, everyone in rhythm with the other.

“I can’t see a bloody thing,” Toby shouted to Aiden.

“Me neither,” Aiden shrugged.

“Here,” Toby said cupping his hands together for Aiden to step up further above the crowd “Have a look and tell us what’s happening!” using his head to point to the activities enclosed within the human arena.

Aiden stuck his foot in Toby’s hands without hesitation and hoisted himself up, pulling on Toby’s shoulder and then leaning on his head. “Ewwww, what the hell you got in your hair man?” he shrieked, wiping his hands on his sweater.

“Hair gel, durrr!” Toby screwed up his face and then looked stern, “Just tell us what’s happening”.

As Aiden towered over the heads of his superior peers, he saw a boy lying on the ground, his shirt ripped and stained red in patches. His face looked bruised and his nose was obviously the culprit of the continous flow of blood, which had also stained the pavement. Another boy, much taller and enraged was punching him in the arm.

“Get up!” he bellowed, “Get up and fight like a man. You give me respect you hear!”

Aiden looked down at Toby and a small entourage of friends who were obviously in the same predicament of being too short to see. “Its grim,” Aiden said turning up his nose and top lip, “There’s loads a blood.”

“Who is it?” Toby said excitedly, “who’s getting beats?”

“Don’t know,” Aiden said peering back over the crowd of heads, “but he’s getting a proper pasting. The older boy has flipped! I don’t think he’s from our school.”

“What ya mean?” Toby said even more perplexed than Aiden.

“It’s a different uniform. He ain’t got a blazer or a tie. But I can only see the back ov ‘is head!”

Aiden watched as the older boy, who still had his back to Aiden, pulled the smaller now scrunched up lad from the floor and lifted him into the air by his bloodied ripped shirt.

“I will not take it from you little shits anymore, do you hear me!” the older boy bellowed. “I deserve respect and good manners. Why do none of you respect us anymore!”

Aiden looked puzzled, but his eyes were fixated on the two beings.

“You stole from me boy!” the voice bellowed again, “Stole my life and how do you repay me? By enticing your snot-nosed friends to give me as little respect as possible. I hate you! Show me respect, you hear?!”

“Someone get a teacher!” the girl cried again, wiping her eyes.

“Shut up!” the older boy shouted back at her. ”I am the God damn teacher!”

Posted: February 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

The screaming was as high pitched, as an out of tune violin.  Anna squinted as she watched two friends arguing and shouting at the top of their voices. 

As she sat on the sofa it was like being a spectator of a boxing match, as people began parting in the room, each standing behind their opponents, when only hours before they had all been laughing and joking with each other. Arms were waving around and each of their faces seemed to have been injected with Botox, becoming more rigid, tense and seamless as the arguments grew. 

One of the main instigators was screaming at the top of her voice, piercing the air with her shrills of disgust at another. 

“Only dolphins can hear you now!” the other shouted back in a deeper and aggressive voice.

More obscenities and explicit language could be heard as the brawl continued. 

The more the two ringleaders bellowed at each other, the more their body language became predictable and defensive.  Their necks were stretched and their heads sticking out further than they should, from the rest of their body.  Shoulders tucked back, but arm gestures were pointing with poignant thrusts and forceful jabs.

Anna couldn’t decide who was in the right or wrong, she was mesmerised by the performance she was being subjected to and yet a surge of adrenalin had her on the edge of her seat, eyes bulging wide and her mouth firmly shut. 

Anna had seen on several occasions through her love of watching wildlife programmes, tribes of monkeys and apes suddenly divide and be at war with each other, when the hierarchy structure is shifting or in jeopardy.  It usually ended up with lots of squawks from all members of the pack, warning calls and chanting for respect and order to be maintained.  The outcome would normally conclude with two of the most dominant members of the pack physically fighting, until one unfortunately died or was left an outcast.  She couldn’t help but feel this state of affairs was similar in so many ways.

She stood up from the sofa and wanted to interject with reasoning and calm, but they wouldn’t have listened.  Fuelled by alcohol and emotions their actions were not genuine to their personalities’.  A small disagreement over an innocent act by one and an overreaction of the other had resulted in a small party of friends in conflict.

Then a voice penetrated the room and the whole group fell silent.

“This is Big Brother.  Would Christine please come to the diary room,” there was a dramatic pause.  “Chantelle and Morgan please make your way to the bedroom immediately.  All other housemates are to remain in the living area!”

The theme music began and the title page hit the screen. It was over.

How dare they stop the show like that?  She flicked frantically through the channels until she found the live-feed, but all she could hear was intermittent noise as the cameras focused on the housemates in the living area.  They all looked as bewildered as she felt inside.  She’d been watching for days, her body’s imprint on the sofa where she had been sitting, with discarded wrappers, dirty plates and the laptop with the website updates running on the screen. 

Tomorrow she would return to work, she promised herself, but she needed to keep an eye on this situation.

A Good Deed

Posted: January 13, 2012 in #fridayflash, Short stories

The sky was clear and the air was crisp and it hit the back of Michael’s throat, like a fresh breathe mint.  He turned the corner and sprinting almost on tip-toes, he gave a small jig on the corner paving slab, psyching himself up for the two mile run around the local park.  As he jogged near to the park’s entrance, he heard a strange breathless noise, as if someone was letting the air out of a rubber balloon. 

Lying on the other side of the road was a young boy, physically fighting with the air that surrounded him, thrashing his arms in a sporadic motion. Without hesitation Michael ran over to where the boy lay.

“HHhhhiiinnn-halor!” he wheezed, as he lay on the floor gasping.

Michael crouched down beside the young boy and put a hand on his shoulder to reassure him.  “Where is it mate?” he asked scrambling around on the pavement to see if the boy had dropped it in his mission for oxygen.

The boy gripped his own chest, and tried desperately to catch his breath, but it was no good.  He pointed using his other hand before lying flat on the ground, rasped heavily and screwed his eyes shut as if the pain was almost unbearable.

Michael looked around and saw a sports bag a few yards down the path next to a parked car.  “Is that your bag mate? Is the inhaler in there?”  The boy attempted to nod but the concentration of his breathing was too intense.  Michael ran to the bag and dragged it to the young man, unzipping pockets and spilling the contents on the ground. 

“Front? Back? Side? Which pocket is it in?” he asked.  He lifted out a new games console, followed by an MP3 player that lay in the main compartment, amongst some CDs and video games.  It definitely wasn’t in this section.  He unzipped the side pockets but nothing was in there apart from a hat and gloves. 

The boy winched and tried to grab the bag from Michael’s grip, as he pointed to the back pocket.  “Its in the back?” Michael asked spinning the bag around lunging into the last zipped pocket, like he was diving into the sea to save a drowning man.  The boy nodded.  He pulled out a variety of necklaces, followed by the inhaler.  He shook it vigorously as he handed it to the youngster.  The boy immediately pressed the top of it trying every attempt to inhale the airborne medication, but his breathing was so erratic, it was clear he would need medical attention.

Michael felt around in his tracksuit bottoms for his mobile phone.  The boy looked at him horrified as Michael requested an ambulance and gave the operator their location.  He attempted to grab hold of Michael’s hooded sweater, but fell back to the ground in pain and still struggling to breath.  As Michael hung up the phone, he leant down and got closer to the boy, “Whats up mate?  You need an ambulance, you can’t breathe!”

The boy shook his head and then winced from the pain.  “Whats your name?” Michael asked, but the boy didn’t answer.  He must have been in his very early twenties.  He was a slim build, but slightly toned upper body.  His branded jogging bottoms, were dirty from where he was thrashing on the concrete footpath, but his trainers were pristine white. 

Micahel kept reassuring the boy and getting him to breath in more of a rhythm, but although he was improving it was still aggravated and Michael could see the pain he must have been in. 

They soon heard sirens and Michael began scraping all the boys belongings off of the pavement back into the bag.  “Must’ve been a good Christmas,” he smiled trying to ease the tension, “looks like you got a lot from Santa,” he chuckled.  The boy just looked at him blankly, still gasping but the rhythm of his breathing gradually slowing down. 

Once the paramedics had arrived Michael’s part was done, but he couldn’t help worry about the lad, who he’d now found out was called Peter.  Michael stood on the curb, watching the paramedics load the boy onto a stretcher and then into the back of the ambulance.

That was the first time in five years he hadn’t completed at least one lap around the park, but he felt even more vindicated than normal.  He went home to put his feet up.

*   *   * 

Strangely he didn’t think about the boy until the next day after he’d returned home from work and had a knock at the door.

Two men in suits stood one behind the other.

“Mr Michael Roberts?” the first man asked looking at him sternly.

“Yes, that’s me,” Michael replied a little taken a back.

They both held up leather wallets revealing their police badges.

“Mr Michael Roberts, I am arresting you on suspicion of burglary and handling stolen goods.  You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used as evidence in a court of law.”

“What?! Burglary, are you mad?” Michael spluttered, as the second officer spun Michael around, pulling his arms behind his back, and clicking the hand cuffs around his wrists.”

“We have forensic evidence to connect you with a number of burglaries.”

“Forensic Evidence?” Michael was walked to the Police car parked outside his house, with the second officer still behind him, forcefully leading Michael from behind.

“Finger prints,” the second policeman said, “finger prints and perspiration over stolen goods from three different properties.  All will be explained.  In you get.”

A Companion for two

Posted: December 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

She inspected his collar as he slept on the sofa.  Gravy.  She never cooked gravy, unless it was with the Christmas dinner and as it was mid October, she highly doubted it was from last year’s offerings.  Besides which, this stain was fresh.  He must have been somewhere else last night, eating the food from another woman’s humble kitchen.

Their relationship had changed since Becky had gone back to work after working from her home office four days a week.  Their endless lazy days pottering around the house together, had turned into the odd quiet night in snuggled up on the sofa.  If she went out with her friends she’d come home to find him out too, or worse completely vegged out and comatose on the sofa, which is where he’d remain until the following morning.

Becky had noticed he had been going out a lot more of late, especially in the evenings, which was out of character for him.  She didn’t question him about it, because she felt it was the attention which he was craving.  Instead she left him to his own devices, whilst she stayed at home and pondered over his whereabouts.

The gravy stain wasn’t the first clue he’d been enjoying home luxuries somewhere other  than their small dwelling.  Apart from the fact he’d been putting on a few pounds, he often came home smelling of ladies floral perfume.  One evening in fact, she could almost see a pink haze around his coat, with a sickly rose smelling poison hitting the back of her throat like a dagger to the tonsils.

It wasn’t long before the two of them merely existed in the same residence, dancing around each other’s routines and politely glancing at one another rather than asking where the other one had been or how their day was.  Becky felt intimidated by the unknown and scared of confronting him, just to be given another cold shoulder.

After a restless nights sleep, of him on the sofa and her upstairs listening intensely to each snore, she decided enough was enough.  She got up to her alarm and after her morning routine, got into her car as usual ready to go to work, but instead she only drove it off of the drive and a little way down the road, before she parked up around the corner, and switched of the engine.  She sat and waited.

It took an hour, but she soon caught sight of him walking down the garden path and turning up the street, in the opposite direction of where she hid.  Like a predator watching its prey, she sat rigid, the only muscles moving intentionally were her eye lids and internal organs.

The months of internal questioning inside her worried head and blank looks when she confronted him were about to be realised.  She watched as he shot up the alley way at the end of their street, and she leaped from the car and darted behind his shadow’s ambience.  She followed him for several minutes and even managed to manoeuvre a busy road without him seeing her.

It suddenly felt like she’d swallowed a wasp as her breath and heart both gasped and left her short of air for a split second.  She watched as he went down a driveway and a more mature ladies voice welcomed him excitedly and made kissing noises on the doorstep, before Becky heard the door slam shut.

She watched from the end of the driveway, peering through the branches of the shrubs, with ruby red leaves, almost crisp, but not yet autumnal enough to shed.  Her chest was breathing very slowly, as if each breath was a sound barrier between her and them.

She watched as the two-timing-cheat stood in the kitchen, the modernised spot lights highlighting his swindling face.  His eyes were fixed on the lady in red, his head moving like a clock pendulum as she sauntered around the kitchen.  Becky guessed her to be almost twice her age and was wearing what seemed to be a silk red robe over her black night gown.  Hussy.

As Becky gazed heartbroken into the kitchen of another woman, she could see the two becoming more in sync with each others movements, as the over-familiar female fed him smoked salmon from her fingers tips.  Just like Becky and Butch had once been, the pair looked inseparable.  She had seen enough and although it was a painful decision to walk away, it was clear that her feline companion had opted for the grander standard of living.