Category Archives: SHORT-SHORT’s

The  Christmas Gift  –  by A M Smith ©


This short-short story was my entry to our Writers’ Circle monthly writing exercise.  The prompt was, “underneath the Xmas tree…”  which starts off  the story. Read on!  

Underneath the Xmas tree lay the long box, the contents of which would end my marriage, remove that which I held most dear. I didn’t know it at the time of course, and hindsight is hardly useful after the event.

I noticed Pam’s expression when she spotted the long box  under the tree on Christmas Eve. She looked at the box, and turned to me with an odd expression. A mixture of despair and anger, I suppose.

“If that’s my gift,“ she said slowly, pointing at the box, “you obviously didn’t buy me perfume, like I asked you to, did you? You just don’t get it, do you?” she snapped, and left the room, slamming the door behind her.

Women! What can I say? I was accustomed to her seemingly eternal disappointment. I shrugged, and went outside to brush stray leaves off my front lawn. Although small, it was perfect in every respect.  Edges neatly trimmed, grass evenly mowed; glowing  emerald green, despite the deepening dusk. I surveyed it with pride, and felt my customary  warm glow of satisfaction.

Christmas Day came and went. Pam’s  lukewarm reception of  her Christmas gift  was unsurprising. I can’t bear wasting money, and perfume – I ask you? An   overpriced product with over-elaborate packaging; a few squirts and it’s all gone. Whereas the new Hoover I bought  her for Christmas would last us for years. A five year guarantee on the motor, the latest technology, light and easy to handle, and only a subdued hum when you switched it on. I gave it a trial run on the lounge carpet. It worked like a dream, as I knew it would.

Returning to work after the Christmas weekend came as a relief. To say the domestic atmosphere had been  frosty would be an understatement. But I bore it with my accustomed cheerfulness. These things are sent to try us, as we all know.

I walked briskly from the station, down our street towards home, a nice cup of tea, and then some  lawn maintenance – the perfect end to my day.

Hello, I thought, what’s a taxi doing outside our house?

And: why is there soil on the pavement outside our property?

   And then: What’s the new Hoover doing on my  lawn? why is my long extension cord running out  through the lounge French Doors?

As I hesitated by our gate, trying to make sense of  these unusual  factors, Pam burst out of the front door, wearing her coat, and yanking her biggest wheelie suitcase behind her.

She pointed to the Hoover in the middle of my lawn.

“Seeing you’re so keen on the Hoover and your bloody lawn, I thought I’d put the two together and make life absolutely marvellous for you – now you can Hoover your lawn and have the most perfect grass in the world!”

I stood there gaping.

“Watch!” she commanded, abandoning her suitcase, marching onto my lawn – in high heels,  in high heels! How could she? My lawn …

Pam grabbed the Hoover, kicked the start button and it purred into life, moving smoothly and efficiently over the grass.

“See?” yelled Pam. “The perfect combination  – you and the Hoover on your ruddy lawn. Now it can be spotless. You love spotless, don’t you?  And don’t worry about  the grass mucking up the Hoover engine, I’ve taken care of that too, don’t you worry!”  She shot me a malevolent glare as she barged through the gate, wrenching  her suitcase into the waiting taxi,

How could the Hoover operate on grass? My grass! My precious lawn! I rushed over to the Hoover and suddenly it hit me.

Astroturf .

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Comments

Filed under SHORT-SHORT's

SLOW MOTION SNOW/FAST FORWARD  MADAGASCAR   ©by  A M Smith


 (Short Fiction)

As I dropped the coin into the beggar’s hand, his icy fingers brushed mine and I shivered. Icy fingers – slow mo : my fingers were icy – Jake’s fingers were icy, I did all I could but his fingers got colder and colder – icy fingers – why didn’t I do more? All that snow! Spruce branches groaning and creaking under their cargo of snow – snowfields up to the jagged peaks – snow – snow – nothing but cold snow – fast forward  – “Lady? You okay?” – the bearded face, the sour winey breath, the grubby parka – slow mo – the icicles growing on Jakes’s beard, my icy fingers, my freezing feet – I should have done more – the blinding light off the snowfield – the creaking spruce boughs – my icy fingers – fast forward – “I – I ..”

“Lady – “ slow mo – Jake’s fingers stiffening – getting colder – my breath in puffy clouds – no clouds in that harsh blue sky – rubbing Jake’s stiff frozen fingers  –  fast forward – “Lady – what you been takin?  Lady?”

Slow mo: I dimly hear the roar of the traffic on the nearby Trans-Alaska Highway – and I know where that goes – all the way up to the north, where it’s cold, cold, cold and there’s nothing but snow and ice and mountains and there’s Jake sinking into a snowdrift  –  fast forward  “Lady: what you sayin? Ain’t no snow here! just rain – this is Seattle and all we got is rain – no snow!”

Slow mo: the distant clatter of a helicopter – a shadow swooping over the snow –  but it’s too late – Jake’s fingers are stiff – mine are numb – my brain is frozen – my tongue won ‘t work – my eyeballs are stuck – fast forward – “Lady, that’s the radio station traffic bird – WRX – always up there, spyin’ on us all! ain’t rescuin’ nobody – leastways not tonight, not here”.

Slow mo: –helicopter – that’s it – we’ll go to the red sand, where yellow snakes bask in the sun, and black  and white striped lemur tails whisk through the trees, where the careful chameleons creep – no snow there, they don’t even know what snow means they –  fast forward –  “Whaddya mean we’re going to Madagascar? Lady, I don’t even know where Madagascar is – someplace down south maybe?  And anyway, I don’t even know you! Who you, crazy lady? Where you from? Where you goin? only place you need to go is Saint Martin’s Memorial I reckon, they got places for crazies like you”   – fast forward  – and Madagascar will be warm, and Sir David will show me round the island, you can come too, dirty old hobo in a parka, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the warmth, the sun, we can swim in the sea, and play with the lemurs, and there’ll be no more snow, no more icy fingers, your fingers will never be cold again – fast forward  : “Whaddya mean: swim? Where? In the freakin gutters? In this weather?  Lady – I’m drunk, I know I’m drunk, helps keep the cold out, but you is somethin’ else. Man!”

Slow mo : No, don’t go, old hobo man, I’m going to sell Aunty Maudie’s ring, that big emerald , and those emeralds  will buy us two tickets and we’ll go far away from the snow, no more icy fingers, no more Jake, we’ll be warm and no more snow and you can have a chameleon, I’ll have one too, and our hands will always be warm  – fast forward  “Lady: I’m getting wet, you is getting wet, I’m tired of your mumbling and your nonsense – go on home now, get outta the rain, I’m  going down the street to the Shelter, where you going? You what? No, Lady, NO! Ohmigod: no lady – what you do that for? Huh? Huh? Don’ wanna be a witness, no sir, guess I’ll just sneak down the alley into 6th Street and go to the Shelter that route – freakin cold, might as well be snowin’, that lady sure was rambling about snow, and why her fingers was cold in them fancy gloves I’ll never know.  Women! I ain’t got no gloves, and I sure do know about icy fingers. “

3 Comments

Filed under SHORT-SHORT's, WRITING

SHORT-SHORT #2 : Prize Winning Entry!


 Here is another short-short i.e. flash fiction of only 500 words. I’m thrilled to tell you that it won First Prize in a UK competition run by FLASH 500  http://www.flash500.com/,   My entry into the Flash 500 comp was part of the prize I won with this story  from my local writing group, the *West Coast Writer’s Circle, at the end of 2011. I wrote the story in an experimental format, which seems to have worked.  I hope you enjoy it.  *http://westcoastwriterssa.weebly.com/

 

 

EVERYBODY’S TUPPENCE WORTH by A M SMITH

 

He said:      C’mon Cynthia – I’ve gotta condom.

She said:     Darren …  you promise ?

We said:     If only Cynthia would find herself a decent boyfriend!

They said:   Did you hear Cynthia Jenkins is going out with that Darren Baroda?

He said:      But we used a condom!

She said:     Well it didn’t work, did it?

We said:     Cynthia – you don’t have to get married, we’ll stand by you.

They said:   The Jenkins are heartbroken : Cynthia has to get married, and to that no-good Darren Baroda!

He said:      Doesn’t that kid ever stop screaming? I’m not up for this!

She said:     It’s not my fault – he’s a colicky baby

We said:     Aww … who’s Nanna and Gramps’ precious ?

They said:   Darren Baroda must have shares in the pub by now …

He said:      Sorry Cynthia, this isn’t working; I’m off to London – I’ll phone you

She said:     Get out you useless lowlife-drunk  – who needs you?

We said:     What a relief! We’ve sorted out your old bedroom Cynthia, plenty of  room for you and little Wesley.

They said:   Such a shame : Darren Baroda left Cynthia in the lurch, and with such a difficult baby, too.

 

He said:      Thought I’d give you a quick buzz; I’m off to Australia next week, gotta job with a mate of mine. Wish Wesley happy birthday for me, will ya?

She said:     I hope a kangaroo kicks you to death!

We said:     Cynthia, this can’t go on; Wesley’s a big boy now and he should know he mustn’t hurt poor old Kitty  like that

They said: Wesley Baroda’s a nasty piece of work – and only 7 years old .

He said:      Thought I’d just check in – I’m back in London. Wesley’s birthday today – 13 isn’t he? Oh – sorry –  I meant 12

She said:     Drop dead

We said:     Cynthia : unless you do something about Wesleys’ temper tantrums,  take him to the psychologist, you know it isn’t natural; if you don’t, we’re really sorry, but you’ll have to leave.

They said:   Wesley Baroda’s seriously bad news; been spoilt by his grandparents of course.

He said:      No, nothing to do with me – no I don’t know  Wesley Baroda; yes, it is an unusual surname, just a coincidence – I told you I don’t know him from a bar of soap; now bugger off and stop pestering me!

She said:     I can’t  – he couldn’t have – not Wesley – he loved his Nanna & Gramps – no-no-no-I can’t believe it – all that blood –  surely he couldn’t have… aaahhhhhhhh

We said:     ……………………

They said:   Absolutely shocking! that boy’s a monster – pity they dropped the death penalty

 

He said:         Time for me to change my name and do my disappearing trick.

She said:       I’m not eating that.  I want  to  die.

We said         ……..

They said:     We blame the education system  and  all those single mothers. Suppose two life sentences gets some justice for the Jenkins. By the way, did you hear about the axe murder in Lambeth?

 

6 Comments

Filed under SHORT-SHORT's, SOCIAL COMMENT

SHORT-SHORT 500’S : #1


I’m currently in love with the short-short format: stories that come in at 500 words, or less.  So, to make a change from my book themed ramblings, I thought I’d introduce a dash of fiction once a month. I hope you enjoy this first short-short story. It comes in at 438 words. I’m keen to know what you think of the idea. I hope you like it, because I’ve got more, tucked away in my hard-drive.

I should add that this story was prompted by my recent viewing of the movie The Bourne Supremacy. Even if you haven’t seen the movie the plot is not that hard to follow.  Enjoy!

JASON BOURNE DRIVES A WHEELIE BIN  

Vroom- vroom- eee – skreeee – ka-dooom – vroom – graunch – skreeee: he’s wrenching the wheel left, the crappy old Lada taxi shudders with the strain, ricochets off a silver Volvo, slides on an icy patch, lumbers into an intersection, misses a garbage truck by a whisker, gathers speed on the downhill gradient – his foot flattens the accelerator pedal – sweat stings his eyes, his hands cramp on the wheel, he’s welded to the wheel. His eyes flick up to the rear-view mirror.  He’s lost the black Jeep, by some miracle he’s lost the Jeep!  Moscow’s snowy streets careen past.  He needs to get off this motorway, hide, lose himself, ditch this bright yellow Lada, fade in amongst the muffled walkers on the pavements, bury his hands in his pocket, tuck his chin down into his scarf, become another Tovarich.  He’s Jason Bourne.  He’s on the run.  He’s in Moscow.  Someone – he doesn’t know who – is chasing him  – could be CIA, could be Russian police, could be Russian Mafia doing the dirty work for his own side, could be … could be … possibilities swirl round his head.  His knees ache from colliding with the dashboard, his leg burns after the badly judged jump onto the garbage scow, a molten  glass needle stabs his right shoulder every time he turns the wheel, but he’s okay, he’s done it – he’s Jason Bourne and ….

“Jason!  Dammit – are you deaf? JASON !!”  roars his mother. “How many times do I have to – oh never mind – Jason! Focus!  ts Wednesday night: the wheelie bin – you haven’t taken out the wheelie bin ! It’s the only thing I ask you to do, and every week it’s the same, nag-nag-nag, why do I have to nag you all the time? “

Jason Brown’s eyes slowly focus on the flushed face, take in the angry arms-on-hips-pose, vaguely register the pitched tone, the raspy breathing.

“Okay, okay – I’m doing it” he mutters, sliding off his bed with all the speed and grace of an exhausted  sloth. I bet Jason Bourne never had to push stupid wheelie bins around, I bet he never had a mother who yelled at him all the time, I bet ….

A red-hot pain at the back of his knees registers. He jerks round. His Mother is advancing on him, raised arm drawing back, ready to lash the sjambok against his calves again. There’s a look of cold fury that’s drawn her lips against her bared teeth, whitened her face, made the veins on her neck stand out like cables: Jason Brown runs like hell, runs for his life.

6 Comments

Filed under SHORT-SHORT's