Tagged: stories

Kreative Kue 240

Kreative Kue 239 asked for submissions based on this photograph:

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John W Howell is the author of the John Cannon trilogy of My GRL, His Revenge, Our Justice and Circumstances of Childhood, co-author of The Contract, and blogs at Fiction Favorites.

The Feckrwe Expedition by John W. Howell © 2019

“Who turned up the fog machine?”

“I was going to ask the same question.”

“Boys. Take it easy. The air just got a little warmer than the snow, so fog is formed.”

“Thanks, pop, but the information doesn’t help us see any better.”

“That’s just it. It doesn’t matter about the visibility. I’ve been over this area hundreds of times. It’s flat as a board. No fear of falling into a crevasse.”

“You just said ass. Heh, heh.”

“I just said a word that stands for a crack in the Earth’s crust that could be dangerous should you fall into it.”

“Heh, heh, heh.”

“What now?”

“You said crack.”

“Okay, let’s just keep on walking.”

“Where are we going?”

“I’m glad you finally asked. We are heading for Bald Mountain.”

“What’s there?”

“There is an old gold mine that I think will be pretty interesting.”

“Real gold?”

“Yup.”

“Wow, that sounds exciting. How long till we get there?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Are we lost?”

“No. I just don’t know where we are exactly.”

“I see now why you named this expedition the way you did.”

“Smart boy.”


This from Na’ama Yehuda, who blogs at https://naamayehuda.com :

Going to Avalanche by Na’ama Yehuda

The sky was blue when they headed out. Crisp, cold, dry, and sunny, it was the perfect day for some easy back-country skiing.

They planned to be home by lunch.

They did not plan on the weather turning. On clouds so low and so fast that they’d reached zero visibility in almost no time at all.

Joshua could see that Daniel was two steps away from panic. That would not do. Not with the children with them.

“Take the rear,” Joshua ordered.

If Daniel frowned at his bossy tone, the heavy fog covered it. Joshua stood his ground, literally, till Daniel maneuvered his skis so he was behind the two youngest. Good enough.

Joshua took a breath and tried to get a read from the weather. It was probably best to shelter in place till the fog lifted, but if the weather was about to get worse, it was better they got back before conditions deteriorated further.

There was no way to know for sure, but his gut’s tightening signaled that the latter option was the one to take. His hand tightened around the compass hanging from his pocket. He’d need it.

“Mark! Sally!” he cupped his hands and called for the two older children who, true to form, used any break in skiing for a snowball fight. The wind snatched his voice and he realized that it, too, had gotten worse in the last few minutes.

“Daniel, get them!” he shouted. “Timmy, Ronny, Sid, and Shirley, stay close to me.”

Shirley nodded and clung to his arm. “Are we going to Avalanche?” her voice shook.

“Avalanche isn’t a place, honey,” he replied over the thunder in his chest. “It’s when a lot of snow slides down the mountain. We’re not in an avalanche zone, so you don’t need to worry.”

“But it’s all white,” she sniffled, “and I’m cold.”

“I know, little one. The weather turned on us. We’ll get everyone in line and we’ll get moving and you’ll soon get warm. Timmy, Ron, and Sid, you okay back there?”

The boys nodded unconvincingly.

Daniel herded Mark and Sally closer to the rest and sandwiched them between the younger children and himself.

“Let’s go!” Joshua yelled, his voice barely audible in the whistling wind. “Keep your eyes on the person in front of you. Daniel, use your whistle if you need help.”

Daniel lifted his ski in response.

Joshua concentrated on the compass, on the next few steps. Everything he loved in this world was behind him. The white settled all around and he felt small. Like when he was ten and the world had come down around him in a tumble.

He shook the memory away.

This time he was not going to Avalanche.

He was going to get them — all of them — home.


My effort was

There’s no arm in asking

“STOP. Everybody stop.”

“What’s up, Dad?”

“Straight ahead. Either there’s a Polar Bear right in front of us or my name’s not – erm. Oh, no!”

“What’s up, Dad?”

“I can’t remember my name.”

“What d’you mean, you can’t remember your name.”

“Who said that?”

“Me.”

“Do I know you?”

“Course you do. I’m your son.”

“I have a son?”

“Okay, Dad. You’re scaring me now, and I don’t want the rest to start – you know what they’re like.”

“Got you going for a while there, didn’t I?”

“Yes, Dad, you did. Now, what’s this about a polar bear?”

“It’s a big one, Son. Deserves capital letters.”

“Okay. What’s this about a Polar Bear?”

“Can’t you see it ahead? Big and white.”

“Might be the abdominal snowman.”

“What?”

“Abdominal snowman.”

“Do you mean Abominable Snowman?”

“Properly.”

“Probably.”

“Yeah, whatever.”

“The Abominable Snowman, if it exists, is in the Himalayas, not the Alps.”

“And Yeti’s stood right in front of you.”

“So it seems.”

“Be nice, Dad. Go up to him, show respect and offer him your hand.”

“I did – and he bloody took it. How can I hold my sticks now?”

“I’ll hold ’em for you.”

“You need to hold your own, Son.”

“How am I supposed to hold my own against a bloomin’ polar bear – sorry, Polar Bear?”

“Alright – bored now.”


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On to this week’s challenge: Using this photo as inspiration, write a short story, flash fiction, scene, poem; anything, really; even just a caption for the photograph. Either put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at keithchanning@gmail.com before 6pm next Sunday (if you aren’t sure what the time is where I live, this link will tell you). If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be appreciated, but please do also mention it in a comment here.

Go on. You know you want to. Let your creativity and imagination soar. I shall display the entries next Monday.  Following a family bereavement, I shall be in Florida for a week and shall not be able to produce a Kreative Kue. This Kue will, therefore, remain open until Sunday 16th December with the results being displayed the following day.

Kreative Kue 239

Kreative Kue 238 asked for submissions based on this photograph:
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John W Howell is the author of the John Cannon trilogy of My GRL, His Revenge, Our Justice and Circumstances of Childhood, co-author of The Contract, and blogs at Fiction Favorites.

Say where? by John W. Howell © 2019

“Look at that place down there.”

“I know right? It’s beautiful.”

“Who do you suppose lives there? Probably some money-grubbing aristocrat.”

“The garden is lovely.”

“You can say that again.”

“The garden is lovely.”

“For heaven’s sake, I didn’t mean to really say it again.”

“Well, I’m a very literal kind of person.”

“With a side of Obsessive/ Compulsive behavior.”

“I resemble that. I’ve been told also that I am very sensitive.”

“What do you mean sensitive?”

“To the feeling of others.”

“Give me an example.”

“Well you said, ‘Who do you suppose lives there?’”

“Yeah, so what?”

“I never answered you.”

“Now that I think about it you did not. Why?”

“Cause I didn’t want you to be uncomfortable.”

“Uncomfortable? How would I be uncomfortable.”

“You mentioned that the owner of that house might be a money-grubbing aristocrat.”

“Yeah so?”

“I live there.”

“What? That’s impossible. You are just a plain old nerd I met at the balloon launch area.”

“Aristocratic nerd don’t you mean?”

“Aw come on. You are pulling my leg.”

“Ask the balloon pilot.”

“You’re serious.”

“Yup. We are landing for a spot of tea and a few watercress sandwiches.”

“At your place.”

“Right on the South lawn. See where the garden paths come together in a roundabout? Right there.”

“Goodness.”


Na’ama Yehuda, who blogs at https://naamayehuda.com offered this amazing piece:

Middle Child by Na’ama Yehuda

Her rooms were in the middle of the castle, hovering above the center of the river, sandwiched between two layers of guard rooms, bordered on both sides with sentinel halls.

Her residence, her very life, was perched between the woods on one bank and the manicured gardens on the other, split between one land and another, between a grand promenade entrance on one side and an into-the-wild entrance on the other, belonging to both and owned by neither. It was so by design.

Oh, she was no prisoner. She had the freedom of the castle and the pleasures of the adjacent lands. She could go riding or strolling, hunting or frolicking, visiting or picnicking. As long as she made sure to spend the exact time on either side of the river, as long as she took heed to show no favor, no preference, no prediliction.

Three of her attendants were timekeepers. One from each side of the river. One from a foreign country altogether. All three carried hourglasses and were charged with maintaining synchronicity. Disputes were rare, for they would mean a cease of all outdoor activities till the disagreement resolved, cause a strain on her well-being, tarnish their families, and lead to possible replacement. The timekeepers kept discrepancies to a minimum.

The comparable reality extended to everything: An exactly equal number of ladies in waiting from each side of the river, exactly the same number of servants, workers, soldiers, guards, and tradesmen who were allowed to live and work in, or gain access to the castle. The same number of her dresses had been made on each side of the river. Half the furniture, too.

The constant balancing act was tedious. It was also necessary.

“You are the bridge,” her governess had explained to her when — still a child — she was fed up with being shuttled across the castle mid-activity, so equal play time on the other side can be maintained. She did not want to have two of everything and be required to play with each equally. “You were born to end five hundred years of bloodshed.”

Her parents had defied odds and had sought alliance instead of massacres. They’d built a bridge over the fear and hate that endless war had fed. They’d began construction on the castle. They’d birthed her.

The people had watched and waited.

She was barely toddling when her parents’ carriage had gotten ambushed by some who’d believed that ending the alliance would enliven the centuries-old feuds. The warmongers were wrong. They’d killed her parents, but not the want for peace. People on both sides of the river came for the murderers. People on both sides worked to complete the castle-bridge and ensured the princess could be raised in its center.

It was on that day, cocooned in her governess’s lap, in the room above the river that had for generations divided her people, that she truly understood: After so much distrust, an exacting fairness had to be the glue that would hold peace till lasting trust could grow.

No betters. No less-thans. Not even the appearance of favorites.

The efforts to keep it so were sometimes so precise as to be ridiculous, but she preferred to err on the side of the absurd, rather than risk her people any harm.

She was the princess on the bridge.

Her rooms were in the middle of the castle, hovering above the center of the river, sandwiched between two layers of guard rooms, bordered on both sides with sentinel halls.

Her residence, her very life, was perched between the woods on one bank and the manicured gardens on the other, split between one land and another, belonging to both and owned by neither. It was so by design.


My effort was

It takes two

“Aah, look at that. Isn’t it absolutely the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?”

“What?”

“The chateau, silly. What else could I mean?”

“Me?”

“In your dreams, Sunshine.  Maybe twenty years ago. Certainly not now. Look at you.”

“Can’t. No mirror.”

“And look at those gardens.  Look how clean and tidy they look. How come you can’t make ours look like that?”

“Maybe in part because they aren’t that big. Or that level. Oh yes, and maybe because I don’t have a team of fifty people to do the hard work.”

“You don’t need them in a small garden like ours. Just you should be enough. Old Mr Smythe next door has his nice and here’s just one of him. And he’s older than you are.”

“And he has three strapping sons who come around to do the heavy lifting.”

“I’ve never seen that.”

“That’s because you spend most of your days in coffee mornings, WI meetings, church meetings and other do-goodery.”

“What’re you saying?”

“I’m saying you never see his lads helping him because you’re never home.”

“If you’d rather I didn’t get involved in things outside the house—”

“Don’t get me wrong. I’m quite happy to do all the housework as well as the gardening while you’re out gadding about. Besides I like my own company.”

“More than mine?”

“Your words, Dearest, not mine. Anyway, have you seen the size of that place?”

“Ooh, yes. It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?”

“Wouldn’t do for me. I’d end up having to do all the cleaning and dusting in that bloody great place whilst you’re out having a good time.”

“Excuse me. What I do is my civic duty. I’d hardly call it having a good time.”

“Of course, Dear.”


P1030409_resize
On to this week’s challenge: Using this photo as inspiration, write a short story, flash fiction, scene, poem; anything, really; even just a caption for the photograph. Either put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at keithchanning@gmail.com before 6pm next Sunday (if you aren’t sure what the time is where I live, this link will tell you). If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be appreciated, but please do also mention it in a comment here.

Go on. You know you want to. Let your creativity and imagination soar. I shall display the entries next Monday.

Kreative Kue 238

Kreative Kue 237 asked for submissions based on this photograph:
IMG_0304
John W Howell is the author of the John Cannon trilogy of My GRL, His Revenge, Our Justice and Circumstances of Childhood, co-author of The Contract, and blogs at Fiction Favorites.

The Departure by John W. Howell © 2019

“What are you doing with that bugle?”

“I was going to play a farewell.”

“Farewell to who?”

“Whom.”

“Huh?”

“To whom. A farewell to whom.”

“That’s what I’m asking.”

“Okay, never mind. I don’t have time for a ‘Who’s on first’ thing with you.”

“What are you talking about? Let’s get back to the farewell.”

“See that guy in the prison clothes over there.”

“You mean the dayglo orange, so no one will miss seeing me, clothes?

“Whatever. See the guy?”

“Yes. Who could miss the guy.”

“He is loading Wanda for her last ride.”

“Wanda?”

“Yeah. Wanda Wagon. She’s gone over that mechanics bridge to the great junkyard in the sky.”

“Please. You are getting all maudlin over that pile of junk?”

“Pile of junk? That car has been through thick and thin with me.”

“Thick and thin? How do you figure? You bought her used last year.”

“Well, it’s been a tough year.”

“Don’t you think you are getting carried away?”

“Says the guy who sobbed at his Vespa’s departure.”

“That’s different. I had that scooter since I was eighteen.”

“Is that a tear I see?”

“I still miss her.”

“Didn’t you get a Harley?”

“Well, yeah. It’s just not the same.”

“I’ll say. Chrome headlights, fabulous saddlebags, terrific seat, wheels that would make you cry.”

“Yeah, she is sweet. You getting another wagon?”

“Do you have no sensitivity at all. It is too soon to talk of another wagon.”

“Coup, huh?”

“I’m in mourning.”

“Maybe red with a turbo V8?”

“I like blue better.”

“Ah, midnight blue. Maybe a convertible? The dealer is down the street.”

“Might do me good.”

“What about the bugle?”

“You are right. It was only a used car, after all.”

“You sure we were talking about cars?”


Na’ama Yehuda, who blogs at https://naamayehuda.com offered this touching and timely piece:

Gone Today by Na’ama Yehuda

They came for the car today.

It’s just a car, she tried to tell herself. It would not make sense to keep it. Not with the fees and with the debt on it only increasing. Oh, she tried, but there was no way around the loss of it.

No way around loss. In general.

She couldn’t bear to go outside to see it off. She stayed indoors, her nose glued to the window, her sweaty palms pressing life-lines into the glass, her heart in shreds.

It’s been his car.

And he would not be coming home to drive it.

 

Note: Dedicated on this Veterans Day (US) and Remembrance Day (The Commonwealth), to all who fought and won and lost and left and returned, or left and did not return, or not in the same way they’d left. And to the many who still are away in uniform. You are seen. You are known. May all come home whole. And may humanity one day learn peace and no more war.


My effort was

It’ll have to go!

I had no idea whose car it was.

I’m sure it wasn’t there when we looked at the house and there was no mention of it in any of the correspondence with the solicitors. True, we had agreed to buy some of the furniture, carpets, curtains and so on with the house and we’d paid for that separately, but nothing was said about a car. And yet it was there when we arrived.

It looked to be in running order, and the keys were in the ignition. We even started it up. It fired up first try. I did notice the mileometer was showing a fair bit more than two hundred thousand miles which is rather a lot, and since we had our own car anyway, we didn’t want this one.

Funnily enough, when I came back from my first overseas tour, I bought my boss’s house from him. He and his wife were planning to retire to New Zealand and had no need of a house in England. So I bought it from him and paid him cash for all the furniture, even the low-mileage car in his garage. But not this time. Couldn’t have anyway. The garages on these houses aren’t big enough to put a modern car in! They’re really more like store-rooms. The best thing to do is to wire and plumb them and put things like washing machines and tumble-driers in them – use them as a utility room or shed. The alternative was to buy a car small enough to be able to drive in them and still open a door, which cuts the choice down a lot.

But this car was there when we arrived to take possession of the house. Not on the driveway, you understand, but on the road in front of the house. For a while, we thought it may have been someone visiting one of our new neighbours, though we didn’t feel that we knew them well enough to ask. We thought it was likely to be gone in a few days so said nothing. It was only when our neighbours described it as an eyesore and asked us if we were planning to keep it that we gave any real thought to where it had come from and what we could do about it.

The local police didn’t help, either. They told us that if it is ours and kept on the road it should be taxed and insured. They were also rather unhappy about the fact that it had no number plates, so couldn’t easily check to see if it was street legal. We looked under the bonnet for the other identification plates, but they had all been removed and the serial number on the engine had been filed down.

The only advice they could give us was to scrap it, so we talked to the local scrapping firm. They said they’d need the registration number or at least the VIN to be able to scrap it legally. Obviously, we didn’t have either. They said that they’d have given us a hundred or so for it as scrap if we had the right documents, but because they have to submit paperwork to the government for every vehicle they take in, they couldn’t do that.

After some negotiation, they did agree to take it away and deal with it, but that it would cost us five hundred quid to cover their costs. Five hundred quid to get rid of a vehicle that we found on our doorstep! That’s scandalous. But there was no choice. The police and everyone had recorded us as owning the damned thing, so the cost of disposing of it was down to us.

Can you imagine how devastating that could be?

…if it were true.

Good job it’s all made up then, isn’t it?


P1010891a
On to this week’s challenge: Using this photo as inspiration, write a short story, flash fiction, scene, poem; anything, really; even just a caption for the photograph. Either put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at keithchanning@gmail.com before 6pm next Sunday (if you aren’t sure what the time is where I live, this link will tell you). If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be appreciated, but please do also mention it in a comment here.

Go on. You know you want to. Let your creativity and imagination soar. I shall display the entries next Monday.