Friday, 23 November 2012

Flash Fiction III

The next piece of flash fiction is from our overseas member Francis Guenette.  Her snippet of conversation was:

"Yes well she said she wasn't drunk, but I don't know"

"Yes, well she said she wasn't drunk, but I don't know." Shit – why had she tacked on those last three words – I don’t know – in that tentative, weak tone? She sounded like she didn’t have a clue, like her client would have been better off telling her problems to the first passerby she saw on the street. Shit.
Monica clutched at the file in her hand and told herself to breathe. The weekly peer supervision sessions with one of her graduate school colleagues always rattled her composure. They were supposed to share case notes from their practicum counselling sessions and try to help each other identify blind spots, work on their edges – what a load of shit. It was the blind leading the blind – one-upmanship spurred on by mutual insecurity. The first person to show a hint of weakness would be brought down like a crippled zebra before a pack of slavering lions.
And who the hell did this guy think he was to be questioning her judgement in that snide tone and making her feel like some sort of imposter? The thought of him being a counsellor someday made her pity anyone who might end up as his client. What a joke this entire program was turning out to be. Why she had thought going back to school to get her Master’s degree was a good idea was a total mystery to her now. And at her age – it was laughable, really. She knew how to help people – she’d been doing it for years. But instead of being out in the world doing what she was good at, she was stuck in a corner of the graduate student lounge being grilled by an egotistical smart aleck who was young enough to be her son – peer my ass.
When she let herself dwell on what her graduate school experience had been so far she felt like vomiting. Insecure professors who were, by the way, also younger than her, nitpicking over ridiculous crap – academics who hadn’t had an original thought in the last twenty years, people so busy cannibalizing any real work they had ever done and stealing their own students’ ideas for more publications and research grant money, they had no time or inclination to give a shit about teaching. Her fellow classmates had either come into the program thinking they already knew everything or they were so busy spewing back every work the prof said like it had just come down from God on high they couldn’t possibly open themselves up to really learn anything. The curriculum for the entire program made her question when the last time anyone designing this bullshit had been in the real world. What a colossal mistake it all was.
“Monica, can we drop the peer supervision roles for a minute? I really need to talk to someone.”
The tremble in his voice propelled her out of her spiral of negative thoughts as she sat up straighter and met his pleading eyes. “Sure, Jeff – what’s up?”
“I haven’t slept for a couple of days – I can’t keep up. Work is crazy right now and I need the job – I’ve got to pay for school. I don’t have that old silver spoon in my mouth like some people in this program. My girlfriend is on my back every minute about how much time I’m spending on campus and I’m behind in the readings for every course. Forget about that bloody theories paper for Mr. Dickhead – it’s not going to happen.”
Monica watched him drop his head into his hand and rake his long fingers through his hair. When he looked up his voice shook, “I admire you – you’re the one person in the whole frigging cohort who seems to care about anybody else or even slightly have her shit together. I watch you and I wonder what the hell I’m doing here. I feel like such a bloody imposter every second – like it’s only a matter of time before they find out what a total incompetent I am and kick me out of the program. Sorry to dump all my crap out like this – I just feel like I’m drowning.”
Monica took a deep breath and reached across the space that separated them to put her hand on Jeff’s knee, “Let’s take things one at a time – OK? Maybe together we can figure out where you can get a little room to move in all of this.” She smiled warmly at him and she could feel her world pivot back to where it was supposed to be.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Flash Fiction II

Here's another piece of flash fiction based on snippets of conversation, this piece was written by Liz

"Can I get the bus to Sainsbury's from this stop"

It was an absolutely crap day. It was cold, wet, miserable and I had a hell of a journey to work. Added to that, I had got in late from a disastrous date, my cat was sick and my feet hurt - I love those shoes to pieces, but boy! do they pinch.

At lunch time, I went to the cafeteria with my best mate, Claire, and we had a couple of lattes and what passes for a salad. I have to lose some weight, and Claire is just a big fat mare these days, but says she is dieting. I stirred sweetener into my skinny latte, and watched her shovel sugar into her full fat one. I think she had hazelnut syrup too.

‘You going out tonight?’ I asked her

‘Nah. Staying in with Pete and mum’

Pete is her god awful boyfriend, still I suppose she’s lucky to get anyone, the way she looks.

‘Washing your hair?’ I commented

‘No, doesn’t need it yet’

That’s what you think, I mused, gazing at the lank ponytail dangling over her shoulder. Poor lamb - definitely behind the door when looks were given out, in my opinion.

Luc from accounts strolled over - Claire and I had been eyeing him up for months - and I once sort of cornered him in the stationery cupboard, and hinted as hard as I could with out actually taking my clothes off that I fancied the pants off of him. He sat down next to Claire.

‘Hi, gorgeous’, he murmured ‘Still on for later?’

Claire giggled. ‘Oh, Yes! meet you at the bus stop?’ And off he went, to get his power shake and diet coke. ( He has got the most amazing body - I had felt his muscles under his shirt that day in the cupboard...’

‘CLAIRE! You said you were staying in with you mum and Pete.’

“I am. But I’m going to see an exhibition with Luc first. It’s supposed to be really good. That one in the gallery in town’

I sniffed. “Load of rubbish. I think I’ll go to the flicks. That boy from Morgan Stanley asked me - you know, the one Amanda used to go out with?’

‘Oh damn, look at the time...we’d better dash’

I spent the afternoon at my desk, looking out over the Thames. I was really upset this time. Plain Claire, with her spots, greasy hair and fat, was going out with Luc. I’d fix her..and him.

I made a few phone calls and smiled to myself. That would teach them. I hadn’t been born in the East End for nothing...I even went and made old fatty a coffee, and bought her a doughnut - I’m nothing if not all heart.

Fancy going shopping on Saturday? I asked her ‘I thought perhaps we could go up west and have a real girly day out?’

‘Oh, sorry, Tara, Pete’s taking me to Paris for the night. Eurostar’

Oh, lucky you...’I went back to my cubicle. Well, that fat bitch wouldn’t be gong anywhere near he champs Elysee, if I had my way. And that’s what I always get, MY WAY!

I clock watched all afternoon - at 6 o’clock, we put on out coats and walked down to the lobby. Luc was there, looking gorgeous, with a bunch of flowers. I saw who I was waiting for and winked at him. he followed us out to the bus stop and stood next to me. I turned to him and then grabbed hold of Claire’s arm

‘Can I get the bus from Sainsbury’s from this stop?’

The man behind me smiled, and I saw the merest hint of the outline of a cosh in his hand - we all got on the bus, and I leapt out as soon as I decently could. I knew that I would not be having to listen to Claire’s bragging again.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Flash Fiction November

At the first of our November meetings we held another flash fiction night.  This time we all provided snippets of conversation we had overheard.

This is the first piece of flash fiction from Maggie.

The class was new to me. I had done several stints of supply teaching at this school, but this class, the drop-outs, the pull-outs, whatever words they used to describe the pupils, was a challenge.
The kids would not sit down. I did not dare yell at them. That would have been a negative start. Surviving the forty minutes lesson time was all I wanted to achieve. So thought I would try a trick, or rather, a technique. I took up some coloured pencils, some paper, a ruler a protractor. Sitting down next to the quietest boy in the class---they were all boys except chardonnay, who might have been a girl, it was difficult to tell with all the piercings, the loose sweater and the short hair.
"So what's your name?" I aid to my victim.
"Gordon, Miss." I could hardly hear him because of the noise the others were making.
"Right, Gordon. I'm going to show you some interesting patterns with these pencils and stuff here." I used their vernacular insofar as I was familiar with it, which was not very, "and I think you could do some too. It's quite easy."
"Yes, this,” he said, very submissive. What on earth was he doing in this class with a bunch of psychopaths?
I left him to seek another victim. Hardly had I left then Chardonnay moved over to Gordon.
"What are you doing, called? Can I have a go?"
Gordon was compelled to share his materials so I supplemented them discreetly.
I surveyed the class. The pupils -hardly an apt title- were milling around, imitating or re-enacting television programmes, war-games or something else quite out of my experience.
I tried my technique on a couple of others and it seemed to work on them too. A few were resistant to absolutely anything so I resigned myself to being the next best thing to a prison officer and smiled sweetly or shouted sternly as the occasions arose.
Chardonnay's voice became loud. "You mean you are a Christian, Gord? Cor blimey, you don't go along with all that stuff to you?"
"Well," said Gord.
"I suppose you do because you're white."
Chardonnay was black. She did not trust white people, teachers of any colour, or anyone in authority and in her mind that included religious people.
I mean, you went to Africa and them places and stopped them eating each other and now they got nothing to eat and they’re dying, see?"

Friday, 26 October 2012

Flash Fiction VII

Flash Fiction September

This is the last of the flash fiction from September and it's mine.

The Snake by Karen Bellamy

The old man stared at the snake in the fish tank.  Its tail rattled ominously.  We're both getting old he thought pulling the dead mouse from the battered fridge on which the snake resided.  Maybe it was time to go.  He slipped the mouse into the tank and turned away.  He never could bear to watch the snake eat.

Shuffling over to the smaller tanks he lifted one of the lids and Oscar slid up his arm.  The pearlised scales shone despite the solitary bulb which hung in the middle of the room.
'There's my boy.'  He sat down in the battered leather armchair and allowed the snake to slide across his shoulders and settle in a curled up pile at the back of his neck. The old man hit the TV remote and noise exploded into the room.  He shifted in his seat and lifted his arthritic fingers to stroke the snake's head while he stared blankly at the screen and wondered - how long?  His eyes began to close and he drifted, his tired brain jerking and spluttering like a worn out car until he reached that place that always brought him peace - the vast plains of white sand where he'd grown up.

The old man woke to the sound of the snake's menacing rattle.  He felt it inch its way over his worn out shoes, he smiled - it was over.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Flash Fiction VI

Birthday present for Dad?  by Francis Guenette 
She’s standing in her kitchen holding a tattered, yellow, stickie note that was stuck to a page and buried under yet more paper – all held to the fridge with a heavy duty magnet. Yes – she was one of those people who used the front of her fridge as a make shift bulletin board – for all the use it ever did her. She was never organized anyway. What could that question mark have meant? Did it mean she wondered if she should get him gift, or if she should mail it, or if it would get to him on time. She had no idea.
Her dad had died almost two years ago – prostate cancer which had moved into a tumor in the bladder. Her one fear, those last months with him, had been that he would lose his mind in some way – maybe not recognize people or start saying odd things. But nothing like that happened – he was himself right to the end, but a different self, too. He was polite and grateful for the care she gave him, that she had rearranged her life to be with him, that she made it possible for him to stay at home to die. They had a difficult relationship over the years but he ended things well.
She remembered thinking people who were dying would want to mend fences and have serious talks with family members and friends. After all, her dad knew he was dying and that gave him an advantage over people who dropped dead out of the blue. But she had been wrong about that. He had used all his energy to go to the end with dignity – managing to be polite on the way. It had been amazing, really.
She remembers the day he looked out at his prized roses her husband had just trimmed and said, “Well, they’ll bloom nice next year . . . but I won’t see them.” One day he wanted to drive across the line – in their family the American border was always called, the line. He wasn’t really supposed to drive but she wouldn’t stop him. Behind the wheel of his truck he looked at her and said, “What a great feeling to get out on the road – I could go anywhere.” They both knew he couldn’t go anywhere – his morphine was back at the house and she didn’t see that he had packed extra pads to deal with the issue of incontinence.
That last day – sitting by his bed – wondering if he could still hear her – she said, “Dad – maybe death is like going out on big road trip – maybe it’s like getting in the truck and taking off on the wide open road. Maybe it’s like that.” The tears slid silently down her face.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Flash Fiction V

Breaking Up by Scheherazade Pesante

He fiddled with his glass then looked into her moist eyes.

“It’s just that I can’t go on like this.”

She turned her head away from him and stared into the tank that held live lobsters.

“Please, try to understand, this hasn’t been working for a long time,” he reached out and

touched her wrist,”don’t you feel it too?”

Tears trickled down her cheeks dripping from her chin and onto his hand. He drew his

hand away shaking off the offending wetness. She saw the reflection of his distaste in the

glass of the tank.

“ You started this, I wasn’t looking for it,”she whispered,”you started it!”

He sighed, “Yes, and I’m finishing it.”

She turned at the cruel twist of his voice and he winced.

“Don’t look at me like that, we’re both adults, you knew what you were doing.”

“Did I?”she asked.

He pushed back into his chair and reached for the bottle of wine. Pouring some into his

own glass he then offered her the bottle but she just stared at him. Shrugging he put it

back in the cooler.

“Does he know?”

“That doesn’t matter.”

“But does he?”


“Will you tell him?”

”I think I must, don’t you?”

“But why?”

“Because I feel dirty, a cheat.”

“But he’ll never forgive me!”

“He’s your brother, he loves you.”

“No, not this. Not with you.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, you’re blowing this out of proportion.”

She leaned over the table, her eyes wide, her hands gripping the sides.

“You don’t understand, it took so much for him, to admit to the family, to admit he was gay,”

she began to cry again,” This will destroy him.”

“Alright, alright,” he said looking around the restaurant,”Please just stop this horrid


“You won’t say anything?”

“No.” he said taking some bills from his wallet and placing them on the table,” Look I have

to go, we’ll talk about this later.”

She grabbed his arm as he rose from his seat,” You promise?” She sniffed.

Patting his hand over hers he replied softly,” Yes, yes of course.”

“You’ll call me?”

“Soon, don’t worry.” he said and left.

She watched him hurry away then took a sip of her wine.

Pulling out her mobile phone she pressed the fast dial button.

“Hi, it’s me. There’s something I have to tell you, it’s important. Can you come down to the

Sea Palace Restaurant? Right now. No, I have to tell you face to face. Five minutes, ok,

see you then.”

She put the phone away poured herself some wine and settled down to wait for her