Sarah Ann Hall

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

Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words, Take Two

leave a comment »

I’m very late posting this, as it was last week’s WordPress Daily Post Writing Challenge, but I love this picture and my character has inveigled his way in, so I had no choice . He wanted his story told, so here it is.


Couple Embracing

Photo courtesy of Cheri Lucas


Ernesto struggled up the hill laden with shopping, a bag in either hand. As the tram clattered past, Anna nudged him.

‘See,’ she said, ‘we could be sitting on that relaxing. We’d be at the top of the hill in minutes.’

‘Pah,’ was his only reply as he hefted the bags and soldiered on.

His voiced insouciance belied the mood of his body. Arthritis was tearing through his rusty joints. In an ideal world a surgeon would open him up, sandblast back to smooth bone, smear everything with oil, and sew him up. But Ernesto didn’t live in an ideal world; he lived in a stubborn one. He was determined that he would do this walk until it killed him. Never would he give in to travel perched on his backside or holding on to a pole. Inside the devilish tram he would miss the warmth of the sun on his skin, the one thing that soothed his pain. And today was such a day: the sun was high and bright making everything around him shine.

As Ernesto reached the halfway point, he was looking forward to reaching to top of the street, to turning left and descending slowly to their apartment. He would soon be home sipping espresso and dunking cantuccini on the balcony. Anna had bought the chocolate ones again. He preferred the nut ones, but they had started to present too much of a challenge to his teeth. He’d just have to get used to the sweeter taste.

The buildings either side of the road provided shelter from the sun’s glare. He paused, stood back to let others pass, then leant against a wall. The bags in his hands were leaden weights pulling on his shoulders. He wanted to throw them away, throw off the blanket of age and pain that smothered him, held him down, interfered with his every move. He took a moment to look around, glared at the back of the trundling tram and shook his head. Not today. Never.

The sun glinted off nearby windows and drew his eye. The surrounding buildings reminded him of his childhood home. His and Anna’s place was newer; brick instead of stone; light and well insulated. Home. He was nearly there.

He pushed away from the wall, set his shoulders and made to carry on. As he did so, he noticed a couple embracing on the opposite side of the road. The young man reminded him of Peter, his son. Ernesto shivered with recognition. No, not Peter. It was himself that Ernesto saw in the young man. He shrugged, to clear his mind of these odd thoughts, and walked on.

Anna was a few steps in front of him. Soon she would stop to look back, to see where he was. She would chide him for his slowness. ‘Just like when we were at school,’ she’d say. ‘Why go anywhere faster than a snail?’

Back then it was because he’d wanted to spend every moment he could with her. He still did, but his body occasionally let him down. And Anna put up with it, waited and coaxed. She waited for him in the bedroom, just as she waited for him in the street. His beloved Anna put up with so much. She could do this walk in half the time – slim and lithe as she still was. Even now she was carrying two bags of vegetables while he had the half-empty cereal boxes and loo rolls – bulky but light. His Anna: she was so caring, so generous.

Ernesto glanced back across the street. The boy might be like him but the girl looked nothing like Anna. Ahead of him, Ernesto could still see Anna’s young body beneath her clothes, beyond the white hair and sun-loving face. Anna hadn’t gained weight and turned into her mother.  Thank God. Her shapely legs and round bum had survived the onslaught of age because of her walking everywhere. If they had to go further afield, they got a taxi.

The canoodling couple were like him and Anna thirty years ago. Okay, fifty. God, was it that long since he and Anna had kissed on the street? They still held hands in public, when they weren’t carrying shopping and his claws were free enough to entwine his fingers with hers. Was it better to be young and in love, or old and in love? He was grateful and lucky to be able to say he was still in love. His desire for Anna had never faltered. He still enjoyed that overwhelming warmth and comfort of tangling his limbs with hers. And he was lucky that Anna hadn’t exploited the weak friends of his who had come calling. Ernesto could never have blamed her if she had played with any of them. They were out to woo her, continuously teasing and cajoling, but she always rebuffed. Ernesto had never felt good enough for her. He was a failed man who hauled only failed friends behind him.

As Ernesto reached the top of the hill, the young couple skipped past him. ‘That’s something I don’t miss,’ he chuckled to himself. To his mind, skipping didn’t suit anybody over the age of 11.

He thought of all young lovers, oblivious as they were to the world around them. That was another downside that came with age, awareness of others, responsibility for children, caring for parents, and then the fear of being a burden to following generations.

Ernesto made the turn and started his descent. Anna stood waiting for him, hands on hips, smiling. Was that encouragement or exasperation playing over her lips?

‘I’m coming, I’m coming,’ he muttered.

He took a last glance at the skipping couple, and wished them the love he had known and continued to feel.  The anticipated taste of bitter coffee and sweet biscuits was already tickling across his tongue.





Written by Sarah Ann

February 4, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: