Sarah Ann Hall

Reporting on writing in progress or, more probably, not; practising flash fiction.

#FridayFictioneers – 15/6/18 – Freedom

with 19 comments

Every Wednesday Rochelle Wisoff-Fields publishes a photo prompt to inspire writers to write 100-words of flash fiction or poetry.

At any point during the following week, the Friday Fictioneers post their 100-word tales. Read the other stories by clicking below.

 

When I looked at this week’s prompt I immediately imagined someone trapped in a cellar, seeing a bird outside, and longing to be free. Then I read Bjorn’s prompt for Haibun Monday on d’Verse and took a different path.

With thanks to Rochelle for hosting, Jean for this week’s photo, and Björn for a useful nudge.

 

© Jean L. Hays

 

Freedom

(Genre: general fiction; 100-words)

I’ve been locked in here for weeks now, watching the days shorten through a tiny skylight. No one will be looking for me. I led an independent life and won’t be missed.

My kidnapper keeps me fed and watered, and life is easy not having to make choices about what to eat, how to fit in shopping, what to wear each day to look my best. Not being able to pee whenever the need arises is the only inconvenience.

She hasn’t told me why I was taken, and I have ceased to wonder. Having no control has become weirdly liberating.

 

 

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Written by Sarah Ann

June 15, 2018 at 10:12 am

OLWG#54 – You’ll Dance on My Grave

with 4 comments

Here is my response to this week’s New Unofficial On-Line Writer’s Guild prompt. That’s two weeks running I have managed to post on the Thursday after the Sunday the post went up. This has largely been because of last minute work cancellations, but who cares. I will have partially met one of my Project 10K goals for the month. 🙂

Thanks to Thom for another set of thought-provoking and challenging prompts this week.

 

You’ll Dance on My Grave

It’s five years since the funeral and I am dancing on my wife’s grave. I can’t actually believe I am doing this. I am not at all pixillated. True, I’ve taken a little Dutch courage, but I am not doing this because I’m tired and emotional.

I am emotional. I am swinging from wondering what the hell I am doing to knowing I am carrying out her wishes. As she lay in that damned hospital bed she told me, clear as a bell, to have a good life, to find another wife, ‘And if you haven’t after five years, you’re not the man I thought you were, and I want you to dance on my grave.’

‘I couldn’t do that,’ I half smiled ‘That would be so disrespectful.’

‘Yes, so you’d better find yourself another woman after I go.’

I didn’t argue. I agreed so she thought I’d do as she wished regarding the getting another woman thing. Angie was the love of my life so why she thought I’d want anyone else I don’t know. I am not well equipped in the gathering of female company.

The problem was, Angie didn’t let it go. She had cancer a long time and prepared her own sending off. She left messages for those she loved to be read at the wake, which was almost everyone there, and her plan and forfeit for me were shared. Many were drunk by that point in the proceedings, the pain of Angie’s passing had to be numbed by something, and her ideas for me caused great merriment. Some wondered if they had heard right when their sore heads stopped throbbing, but there was a print out of all the messages in the care of Angie’s best friend, and there is no doubt whether what Angie wanted is truth or just the way I remember it.

There was never a malicious streak in Angie so I know she did not want me to be seen and arrested for sacrilegious acts. Still, I have come to the grave after dark, to reduce my chances of being caught in the act, because that it what it feels like. I am doing something wrong. I feel slightly sick and my dancing has been lacklustre. In fact, why don’t I just stop and sit with her.

‘I have danced gently and quickly on your grave, love.’

I come to see Angie whenever I need to talk things through. Of course she can’t hear and provides no answers, but I feel her presence. I am glad she was happy to be buried so I can visit her. She wasn’t bothered by what happened to her body.

‘I’ll be dead. Whether I go up in smoke and heat a swimming pool or rot in the ground, it’s up to you. You’re the one having to deal with it.’

Sometimes her rationality and pragmatism got to me. At others her inability to shilly-shally was an immeasurable blessing. I imagine if she could see me now she’d be wagging her finger in mock anger saying, ‘How is it you haven’t found someone to look after you?’

I don’t need anyone to look after me. I was a happy and competent bachelor before Angie came along and swept me off my feet. I was a very happy husband to her. I am a competent widow. I can’t really comment on my mood. I miss her everyday, but I am getting on. I go to work and clean the house. There was nothing I couldn’t do before we married and Angie’s illness was of long duration so I was prepared for after. Her last weeks were spent in the hospital so the major thing that changed on her death was the amount of time I suddenly had. There were no more after work commutes to the hospital, no more hours spent sitting by her bed. It hit me hard, the spare time, empty time, time to chase thoughts around my head and come back to the beginning with the whys and what-ifs and chase them round again. The lack of her voice, never seeing her twinkly eyes, and the time are still the hardest things to bear.

My friends have helped me with the time. Ben, Mitch and I meet up every Friday like we didn’t before to bemoan the state of the world. Their wives are grateful; it clears the air for the weekend. It’s weird to think Angie’s death has helped ease the passage of two other marriages, but it has. Ben and Mitch looking after me has helped plug the fissures in their relationships as they don’t take their shit home anymore and leave it at my door. It’s not all doom and gloom. We discuss philosophical questions sometimes too, like whether it is more or less important to keep promises made to the dying than the living? The living will know whether or not you keep them, the dying never can. I never promised Angie but had to keep it anyway. I have failed to find a new wife so have danced on the grave of the old one, the only one. I hope she’s happy to know I followed through, and to know my candle still burns only for her.

‘Five years is a lifetime and no time at all, Angie my love. Maybe another woman will come along, but I am not looking and she will have to work bloody hard to catch my eye and outshine you.’

I stand and rest my hand on her head stone, bend down to kiss the cold marble that is my last link to her. Ben and Mitch are waiting by the gate to take me home. They offered to come in with me, to bear witness, but there are some things between man and wife than no one else should ever see. I have fulfilled my forfeit and professed my undying love. Now it’s time for a drink.

 


 

This week’s prompts are:

  1. keep the promise anyway
  2. another drink
  3. is it the truth or just the way I remember it

 

Go ahead and dive in, set your imagination free!
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.

Have fun

Written by Sarah Ann

June 14, 2018 at 2:51 pm

#FridayFictioneers – 8/6/18 – Within or Without

with 38 comments

Every Wednesday Rochelle Wisoff-Fields publishes a photo prompt to inspire writers to write 100-words of flash fiction or poetry.

At any point during the following week, the Friday Fictioneers post their 100-word tales. Read the other stories by clicking below.

My story this week might feel a little distant from the picture. I started with ideas of a sniper picking out a man in the red shirt, before the hall is entered by a swarm of Manchester United supporters, but that came to nothing. Next I got to thinking about libraries, swarms of tourists, and the following misery tale developed, although I’ve identified the genre in grander terms.

Thank you to Rochelle and Roger this week for the prompt.

 

© Roger Bultot

 

Within or Without

(Genre: philosophy; 100-words)

There once was a book in which the author described a perfect mystical world. She implied it could be found on Earth and peppered clues to its whereabouts in her text. For years scientists and readers argued over where nirvana might be, forgetting an author’s imagination. Possible sites were identified, visited, excavated. Multiple magical landscapes were destroyed then re-visited as examples of what not to do.

The author became a recluse. On her death her follow-up manuscript was published. ‘Beauty and devastation exist in the world, whether or not it is seen.’ Succinct as it was, few grasped her point.

 

 

OLWG#53 – Men in Suits

with 4 comments

Here is my response to this week’s New Unofficial On-Line Writer’s Guild prompts. As ever, thank you to TNKerr for hosting.

I came up with a sort of story, but a title was harder to pin down so apologies for its lameness.

 

Men in Suits

A corner office in a high rise. Floor to ceiling windows look out over the city. Glass walls on the other side have the blinds down and closed. A pale oak board table, matching chairs with upholstered seats and backs, are the only furnishings.

Two men in charcoal suits. The older, middle-aged, is seated. Jacket undone, his belly bulges in a shirt his wife has been saying is too small for months. He crosses his arms and says, ‘You know what you have to do.’

The younger, mid-thirties, gym junkie, stands looking out. Left hand on hip, the right raised in frustration, maybe supplication. He turns, drops the hand and says, ‘She won’t come.’

‘Use your persuasive powers.’

‘They don’t work on her.’

‘Try.’

‘You want me to call her now.’

There is no need for the older man to nod.

The younger man extracts his phone, places it in the centre of the table. He presses two buttons before the ringing tone fills the room. It rings three times before a female voice answers.

‘Jack, how lovely to hear from you. However, I have to remind you I retired two years ago. I’m not that kind of girl any more.’

‘I said as much to Alec. He still wants me to try.’

‘We need you again,’ the older man says, leaning forward in his seat as if the woman at the other end will see his earnestness.

‘Sorry. No can do Alec. You know me. When I say a thing I do a thing.’

‘Which is exactly why we need you.’

‘Which is exactly why I won’t be coming back. I retired.’

‘You’re the only one who can meet the particular needs of this client,’ Alec says, arms outstretched on the table, hands reaching toward the phone, his body betraying his desperation.

Jack wonders why Alec asked him to call now he’s taken over the conversation. But Maisie wouldn’t have answered if she’d seen Alec’s number calling.

‘I am not the only one with my talents,’ Maisie says. ‘Come on, Alec, you must have picked out someone else by now for special training. I am not unique. It’s as you always say, no one is indispensible.’

Jack squeezes his lips on the smirk that tries to escape. Alec will not like Maisie quoting his own words back at him, and it underlines the fruitlessness of Alec’s pleadings. Jack wonders how long Alec will persist. He doesn’t want to watch his boss squirm, and knows Alec won’t want to be observed as he begs Maisie to return for this one last job. He also knows Maisie is resolute. They discussed it before she left. ‘There’ll always be one last time,’ she said. ‘And after you take the first last job there’ll be another one, and then another. I am out. End of. Not coming back for nothing or nobody.’

Jack misses her and looks forward to the day he decides he’s had enough and he and Maisie can socialise without fear of compromising each other.

‘Look you two,’ he says. ‘I’ve got things to do. I’m going to leave you to work this out.’

Alec looks at him, raises his arms in objection. Jack shrugs.

‘You take care, Jack,’ Maisie says.

‘You too. And remember I love you anyway, even if you are letting us down.’

‘Pah.’ The retort is true Maisie in stop taking the piss mode. ‘See you on the other side,’ she says.

Jack smiles, ‘Will do,’ and leaves the room.

He knows he will suffer Alec’s ire later. He doesn’t care. Maisie is right, Alec should have picked out and trained up someone to replace her. She’s wrong about not being unique. She truly was, but someone could be as equally good and effective at the job, with their own unique flare. As Jack walks through the open plan space to his desk he wonders if it’s time for Alec to retire. He’s been caught out, accepting a job and relying on an old hand to meet client demand. It’s not the first mistake he’s made of late. Jack will have to keep his eyes and ears open, whether for a way out or a way up he’s still not sure.

 


This week’s prompts are:

  1. we need you again
  2. I love you anyway
  3. I’m not that kind of girl

 

Go ahead and dive in, set your imagination free!
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.

Have fun

Written by Sarah Ann

June 7, 2018 at 8:21 pm

OLWG#52 – micropoetry

with 4 comments

I am behind with my responses to the New Unofficial On-Line Writer’s Guild Prompts and so have returned to micropoetry in an attempt to get on top of my disorganisation.

Thanks and congratulations to TNKerr on posting these prompts for a whole year.

 

tanka

kids line up in rows

sit at desks in the classroom

what’s one more or less

when measles contagion hits

or a gunman visits school

 

 

American sentence

Love me. For me. Forever. Everything else is complicated.

 

 

Shadorma

Birthday cake,

Sandwiches and crisps.

Finger food

Nibbled at.

We say goodbye in circles,

Hugs until next time.

 


This week’s prompts are:

  1. what’s one more or less
  2. everything else is complicated
  3. we say goodbye in circles

 

Go ahead and dive in, set your imagination free!
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.

Have fun

 

Written by Sarah Ann

June 3, 2018 at 2:40 pm

OLWG#51 – First Date

with 4 comments

I am very late with the OLWG #51 prompts. The first of which was the one that grabbed me, and I’ve not been able to incorporate the others. I’ve also re-used a character, seeing her from another’s point of view.

Thanks and apologies for lateness to Thom.

 

First Date

‘You are not what I expected,’ I said as I opened the door, which was a stupid thing to say, and rude. What had I been expecting? I’d had no idea when I made the call and didn’t care what she might look like. It wasn’t important. I didn’t speak to her at the time, but a manager who arranged all the appointments and explained all the rules. Still I didn’t expect the gorgeous creature with raven curls at my door, coils like old bed springs arrayed around her head. She didn’t need to do this sort of work. And that was the second stupid thing to have thought within three seconds. What did I know? It was even more stupid to ask her, as I followed her down the hall into the main body of my apartment, ‘What brought you to this line of work?’

She smiled, as if she was asked that all the time, and said, ‘I like people.’

There was to be nothing more I realised. She was guarded, wearing armour to work. Who could blame her? Who knew whom she would meet when she knocked on a door? All the lonely people, as the Beatles sang, who need to pay for companionship. And that is all it is. I love cooking, but eating alone is no fun. Cooking for one isn’t great either. I can’t get the proportions right and end up over-eating.

One thing I love about food is the conversation when you try something new. I can feel the textures and new flavours, but I only have one tongue and set of taste-buds. I want to know what others think and feel and taste. And so I have been using companion escorts since my wife died unexpectedly.

We have friends, I have friends, but we end up having the same conversations, always about my wife. As much as I still love her I don’t want to spend all my leisure time talking about her. And it seems to me my friends are bored of food conversations. They don’t say so, but whenever I try to engage them on the flavour of a new herb combination their eyes glaze, so it’s time for me to chop and change eating companions. Change who they are, not chop them up. Oh dear. I realise her beauty still has me rattled and unnerved and I talk nonsense when even thinking about her. That night I felt jumbled thoughts spill from lips and watched her eyes spin. She must have thought I was. Hell who knew what she thought.

I invited her to sit and ran to the kitchen, focusing on the food in order to calm my racing heart and still my brain. Cook the onions low, fry the spices and chillies high. Stages and order. Cooking is precise and calming, for me at least. I love the bashing of bread and the whisking of eggs, the physical involvement, but that night I needed cerebral, planning and tight guidelines in order to concentrate on what I was cooking and not who I was cooking for.

Afterwards I remembered being in the kitchen and the process of cooking. I remembered carrying the finished dishes through to the table and the smile on her face as she tasted and enjoyed. Conversation flowed easily. We had a lovely time together. But I can’t remember a thing about the food. Whether or not the smoked paprika made a difference to the lamb tagine escapes me. If the raspberry ice cream was better for being mixed with a fork rather than made in an ice cream maker, it completely passed me by. I was captivated and enraptured by her and not my latest tryouts from the weekend supplement. Which is why I’ll be on the phone later to ask for another appointment with Marie. I’m trying something new again. I can’t serve her the same. This time I’ll be more prepared for her beauty and hopefully able to taste my food. I’ll try the tagine and ice cream next time I meet with friends. I’ll enjoy their familiarity, and savour food while they talk about my wife.

 


This week’s prompts are:

  1. You are not what I expected
  2. some myths are prophecy
  3. Tell them what?

 

Go ahead and dive in, set your imagination free!
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.

Have fun

 

Written by Sarah Ann

June 2, 2018 at 5:33 pm

Project 10K – June – #amwriting #amediting

with 7 comments

As usual, May has been a mixed month in terms of goal achievement. I have submitted more that three short stories. This comprised three flashes, which I consider only half a story, one to a competition (no success), and two online challenges. I also submitted four short stories of 1000-words plus: one to a competition, two to a women’s magazine, and one for consideration for inclusion in an anthology.


Working to the deadline of the end of the month for the anthology and competition entries, and these being new stories, made me realise what I’ve knew before – that I can’t do everything. By scheduling my time to get short stories written to deadlines I have neglected editing my novel. I therefore need to be more choosy around short stories and balance my time better if I am ever going to get another novel ready for submission.

In terms of submitting my current book, I have approached five agents this month as planned. I’ve heard negatively from two, positively from one, and await a response from the remainder.

I have successfully participated in Friday Fictioneers each week.

I have been late for all OLWG challenges – I scheduled my responses to the last two sets of prompts as I posted this.

I managed to edit a paltry 5% of my Nano17 novel.

 

On the plus side, a renewed focus on short stories resulted in me winning the mystery category in a competition.

 

Goals for June (much the same as May)

  1. Edit the remaining 37500 words of my NaNoWriMo 2017 novel.
  2. Post responses to the On-Line Writer’s Guild prompts by the Thursday after a Sunday post.
  3. Write two new short stories the ideas for which have been rattling around my brain for ages.
  4. Contribute to Friday Fictioneer prompts.
  5. Submit my finished WIP to agents – another three.

 

Goals for May – summary of achievement/ not

  1. Edit the remaining 39500 words of my NaNoWriMo 2017 novel. FAIL
  2. Post responses to the On-Line Writer’s Guild prompts by the Thursday after a Sunday post. (I live in hope.) FAIL
  3. Write new short stories/ adapt old ones for short story competitions – enter three. WIN
  4. Contribute to Friday Fictioneer prompts. WIN
  5. Submit my finished WIP to agents – at least five. WIN

 

Thank you to Gabrielle for this motivational challenge.

Written by Sarah Ann

June 1, 2018 at 10:45 pm

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