Flash Fiction – Real-Time Record/Write

After the amazing Basically Britt uploaded a video where she recorded herself reading in real-time, I felt inspired to do a Write With Me: Real-time video! If you’d like to see that click the link here!

As for what I wrote: Here it is. Prompt taken from ‘642 Things to Write About’ –

A conversation about you that you weren’t supposed to overhear: 

“No, I don’t want her to find out.”

“She has a right to know.”

“It’s not your decision to make.”

“It’s not yours either.”

I had come down for a glass of water. The glass I kept in my room, the one with the painted flowers, daisies and daffodils, cold in my hand. The second to last step always creaked. A guttural, squeal of pain-like sound, and my left foot hovered over it. Retreated to the previous step. My whole body was waiting on pause. Did they mean me?

“The sooner she knows, the sooner we can work to move forwards.” My dad’s voice, usually calm and reasonable, is almost hysterical. He can’t seem to shake the irritation from his voice. The betrayal.

“There are no forwards.” My mum’s voice. Usually shrill, cold and calculating today. I don’t like it. The world feels backwards. And I don’t understand what they’re saying. What they mean. “Not for me anyway.”

I perch on the step behind me. I’ve come in too deep in the conversation. I’ve missed the beginning. The catalyst. I’ve missed the whole point. I can hear my heartbeat in my ears, blood rushing through, straining to pick up more information. I wonder where they’re positioned. Are they perched on the sofa? Stood by the door?

More immediately I think, how can I move closer? I put the glass down gently, making sure it rests against the coarse carpet, and I wipe my sweat palms against my pyjama bottoms. I lean heavily on the bannister, skipping the squealing step, and trying with all my might to be delicate when my foot lands on the step below.

“If you keep talking like that, I’ll…”

“You’ll what?”

I’ve never heard mum so defensive. So animalistic. She seems beyond anger, and I’m desperate to see it on her face. Desperate to see if I recognise her at all. My second foot follows the first, easily with the first rooted to the quieter step. I tuck my lips into my mouth in the hopes that it’ll silence any loud breathes. I know I’m breathing harder and faster. I’m so scared of what they’re saying. So, lost without the cause.

“What do you think will happen if you tell her?” Dad asks. “Why are you so scared she’ll know?”

Mum takes a minute to respond, and when she does the animal in her has tamed a little. “I don’t want her to look at my differently. I don’t want her to hate me.”

This doesn’t make sense. Mum and I row all the time. I tell her I hate her, and she tells me I’m spiteful. And then we both act like nothing’s changed. Nothing’s wrong. She knows I don’t hate her, can’t hate her. Not really. Not for long.

Still, this last sentence comforts me. At least it’s not cancer, at least she’s not dying. That means we’ve got time. Something we can fix. I’m more like Dad in that way. I want to help; I want to fix things. I want to make everything alright.

I’m by the door now, my eye peering through the crack between hinges. Mum is sitting on the sofa as dad stands over her. She looks close to tears. Dad is red in the face, his arms crossed. They both look tired. But dad looks more resolute than mum does. He knows he’s right. She does too.

“She won’t hate you. Not if you’re honest with her. But if you don’t tell her yourself, if she finds out on her own…”

“I just need more time.”

“You don’t have it.” Dad moves to pull her towards him, but though she stands she steps away from him.

“Don’t do that. Don’t coddle me like a child. This isn’t your problem. It’s mine.”

I can see, on dad’s face, in the way his jaw loosens, in the way his shoulders slack, and the way his hands don’t know what to do with themselves, he’s heart broken by that statement. She’s breaking his heart.

I push the door open slowly, unsure what impact this will have on the conversation, but I can’t bear to be on the outside of this anymore. Can’t bear to be cut out. To watch from the outside as they hurt each other. Over me.

“What’s the problem?” I ask. I don’t know how many times I’ve asked this question, whilst being flippant with mum, or cursing at dad. But it has so much weight here, in this room, in this moment. It makes me hot. And hotter still when they both just stare at me. Even dad’s disappointed. This isn’t how he wanted me to find out – whatever it is. Mum starts crying. Big wet sobs into her hands, and she turns away from me.

“It’s not the time,” Dad says, holding his hands out in supplication. Hoping I’ll back down or back off. I’ve never seen them like this. I don’t know what to do. But I don’t want to leave either.

“You were just telling her it is the time. The time for what? What are you guys talking about?”

Mum sniffs, and I can see her shoulders are still shaking. Dad is still trying to usher me out of the living room, he’s moved closer, trying to push me out without touching me.

“What is it? Is mum dying?” I know she isn’t. They would have said. They would have told me. Relief softens my dad’s face for a second.

“No, baby,” he says, “she’s not dying. Can we talk about this in the morning?”

“I can’t sleep not knowing,” I say, forcing my voice to stay flat. Stay calm. “Mum? Say something?”

Mum flinches. She goes quiet. She turns and her whole face is red from crying. Her eyes are bloodshot and desperate. I feel bad for pushing. I hate that I came downstairs. My skin runs cold and I expect her to tell me she hates me. Tell me I’ve ruined her life. I’m making it worse just by being here.

“I don’t know how to tell you…” she mumbles. “I’m so sorry baby, I’m so sorry…”

“Just…” I try to find the words, in equal measure annoyed she can’t and frantic. “Just say it. Whatever it is. I deserve to know.”

“I don’t… I’m not…” She goes quiet. A shadow falls across her face. “I’m not your mother. I’m your mum, I’ll always be your mum, but I’m not your mother. I’m so sorry baby. I’m so sorry.”

It hits my chest and presses like bricks. One beat after the other pounds and hurts and I can’t breathe.

“What are you talking about? Of course, you’re my mum. People always say I look like you.”

“No, baby. I’m your auntie. My sister gave birth to you in prison.” I sink to the floor. The world sinks around me, and continues to sink, and sink, and sink. “She got out today,” mum continues. “She wants to meet you.”

Flash Fiction #2 – Date with Death

Writing.Prompt.s (Instagram) – A dating service where matching is based on people’s search history exists. You’re a serial killer. You go on a date with a writer. 

I check my bag again. Wire, cheese wire to be specific, with wooden handles in the first pocket. Duct tape, and a bin liner in the third. Purse, keys and my Urban Decay in Venom lipstick in the second – middle – pocket. It’s a dark purple. I haven’t put it on yet. My bag is just a handbag. Nothing special. Nothing expensive. Nothing I mind getting blood on, and then dumping. New though, so it shouldn’t have my DNA in it. Purse is also new. Keys are in a plastic baggie. More plastic baggies in the middle pocket, just in case.

I’m stood outside the restaurant. You can’t really call it a restaurant. It’s a Nando’s. It’s a thing unto itself. I do love a Nando’s though. I’ll have to get something I can eat with a knife and fork. Can’t have Piri Piri fingers leaving a mess at the scene. My scene. The thought sends a shiver up my spine. I’m excited. Not just for the murder. For my date as well. I know he’s going to be tall; I’ve seen his bio. And we’ve talked a little bit about where we spend our time. Mainly work. Mainly late-night walks. His favourite tv series is Wire in the Blood. It gave me the idea for the cheese wire in the first place.

In my coat pocket are my thick leather gloves. They’re men’s, and a little too big for me. Hopefully I won’t have to lend them to him. I’m also wearing flats. I hope he doesn’t mind. I went on a date with a guy once and he made a nasty comment about me looking wider in flat shoes. My profile photo is me in heels. I left it three weeks, which is a personal best, before I broke into his house and skewered his testicles and his eyes. He was found three days later, because no one gave a shit enough to visit him sooner.

Prick.

My date arrives and he is tall, which is a relief. He’s got big hands too. I imagine them holding the wooden ends of my cheese wire and feel a bit giddy. A bit shaky. He seems timid though. He goes to kiss me in a greeting and panics. Pulls away so it looks like he’s bowing to me awkwardly. Never mind. Hopefully it’s just first date nerves.

We’re led in, given menus and chicken. I’ve no idea what to order. He talks me through the menu like a child, and I can’t decide if it’s sweet or not. I go for sweet. It’s safer for him. I think about the lipstick in my handbag and decide it was a good idea not to go for it. It might put him off. Everything about him is softly spoken, reflective, and he uses words he must have read in books because he’s saying them wrong.

I get up and order my dinner. Chicken wrap – I’ll pull it apart with my knife and fork – rice, halloumi and a bottomless drink. I’ll need my energy. He gets a chicken burger. Chips. Mild sauce. I don’t know how to feel about this.

Back at our table, I ask him what he does. He’s a writer. I ask what kind. He shrugs. Ghost writer. Works on murder mystery books for a company that supplies bigger named writers with new stories. FBI agents. Big explosions. Poisoned coffee and deep psychopathy.

My disappointment is tangible. He feels it as deeply as I do. A lightbulb has burst for me, whilst his barely flickers. He doesn’t know. Not yet. I start to pray the chicken is brought to us quickly before he can realise.

He asks what I do. I lie. Dentist. It’s what a friend said to say if you want a date to end quickly. But he’s interested. Am I private or NHS? Cosmetic or general? He knows more about dentistry than I do, and I’m starting to think he doesn’t believe me when – finally – our chicken arrives, and I can stop talking and start shovelling.

He brings up Wire in the Blood. Says he wants to write a series as good as that. That he’s been researching serial killers. Murders. Real, local crimes. I nod. Make a joke about having a passing fascination with the same things. He’s not convinced. The lightbulb is flickering more so now.

He asks how I spend my free time. We’ve mentioned it briefly over the website we met on. But I can’t remember whether I gave an honest answer. I make a joke about killing people. He doesn’t laugh. He finishes his chicken and looks at me. Asks me if I want to hang out after. I wipe my mouth; still glad I didn’t choose the dark lipstick. I’ve got hand sanitiser in my other coat pocket.  I squeeze more than I need to cover both my hands and rub it in over my wrists as well.

I’ve still not given him an answer. He seems genuinely keen though. And maybe this’ll be good for his next book.

Okay. I agree. But only if he promises not to scream.

Medusa’s Epic

I.
My family are immortal,
Born of Titans and sea.
My family are all monsters.
All, except for me.
My father is a creature with
Crab claws, a merman’s tail.
I have soft hands, soft features.
I am mortal. I am frail.
My mother is a goddess,
Her hair smells of sea and salt.
She has the strength of the ocean
And my beauty is her fault.
My sisters are both giants.
Their names mean strength and brawn
But my name means protection.
A curse to do me harm.
My brother is a dragon,
Full of venom and spite.
He’ll coil around his apple tree
And kill you with one bite.
Our name, Gorgon, means terrible.
But for me it isn’t true.
My hair is golden sunsets.
My eyes the deep sea blue.
My family are all monsters,
Nightmares in the dark.
Creatures of legend and myth.
Whilst I am beyond remark.
.
.
II.
My childhood clouds in mystery.
No one cared about my strife
I spent my time in solitude,
An isolated life.
At the utmost point of the mountain
is where I made my home.
My sisters rarely visited.
For the most I was alone.
I gazed upon the vale,
Watching the lives of little men
Thinking of the life I could have had,
If I’d been born as one of them.
But the fates had a plan for me
Which drew me down the tor.
They had a plan to destroy me,
To reveal the venom at my core.
I’d venture from my home sometimes,
To revel alongside mankind.
Amongst the drunken throng, you see,
Anonymity I would find.
No one saw my golden hair,
My face hidden in a mask.
To laugh and sing and dance to songs
Was my only happy task.
But a mid-June Panthenaia
Was where Poseidon spotted me.
Amidst Athena’s temple
He tore my dress with glee.
.
.
III.
I might have had a chance,
If I had been a titan.
If I’d had claws and a tail,
And the strength of a great python.
He kissed me harsh and fiercely
Freezing skin and bone.
Whilst cried for my mother.
Wished that I’d stayed home.
When Poseidon had filled the cup
And spilt mine on the floor
He left me crying, a sorry state,
Wanting me no more.
Athena understood me,
Because Athena is so wise.
She saw the anger in my stare
And burnt the venom on my thighs.
Athena gave me a choice,
To stay a mortal-torn.
Or curse me with a power which
Would make me a titan reborn.
If I had been a titan,
I might have had a chance.
So I accepted Athena’s gift to
Be able kill a man with a glance.
My golden hair recoiled,
Snakes sprung from my head.
Now anyone who touched me,
Would end up stone cold dead.
.
.
IV.
Perseus was a hero,
His start the same as mine.
His mother was a mortal,
But his father was divine.
Zeus, brother of my rapist,
Came to Danae one evening.
He showered her with soft kisses
In the form of a golden spring.
But King Acrisius of Argos
Had heard his fortune told
And believed Danae’s son would kill him
Before he could grow old.
When he learned Danae was pregnant,
He threw her in the sea.
Rescued by another king’s brother,
And as a hero raised to be.
King Polydectes fell in love with Danae,
But Perseus forbid their match.
The king would not give up easily,
And a plot began to hatch.
For the marriage of Hippodamia
He called people to bring offerings.
But for the horse tamer’s stable
Perseus could provide nothing.
Perseus was ashamed,
Unable to do his best.
So the King gave a command
And my head became his quest.
.
.
V.
I brought many men to ruin.
I was a formidable foe.
I was finally a monster
My family cared to know.
Rumours spread of my appearance
Many called it “punishment”.
But I knew Athena, wise Athena,
As only benevolent.
My appearance was grotesque,
I could turn men to stone.
And had I ever wanted,
I could have taken every throne.
I think Athena knew this.
She knew I’d never yield.
So when Perseus came for me,
She gave him a bronze shield.
Perseus fought bravely.
Fearless. Like a soldier.
And he swept that fatal blow
Took my head clean from my shoulders.
From my neck sprung my children
In a golden river flood.
Pegasus and Chrysaor
Of God and Gorgon blood.
Perseus took my head in a bag,
Carried it to his king.
Whilst Polydectes plotted revenge
Unaware of my continued sting.
.
.
VI.
Perseus was a hero
Everyone knew it to be true.
Having slain an evil monster,
His glory only grew.
He returned to Polydectes
Via Ethiopia
Plagued by Poseidon was this place
Full of drowning screams of fear.
For Poseidon had been insulted
And punished with fierce cruelty.
And only Andromeda could win the day
By sacrificing her beauty.
A story which sounds familiar
Yet she retains her fame.
Because rather than fight back, instead,
She let Perseus take the blame.
He killed a fearsome sea creature
He turned it to cold stone.
Then Andromeda’s father
Offered Perseus a home.
All the while I hung there,
My hair tangled in his hands.
Never getting the glory,
For saving those dry lands.
Athena took my head back
Placed me on her shield.
As a reminder to all women
Of the power that we wield.
.
.

Flash Fiction: #1

642 Things to Write About: Prompt:

You walk into your bedroom and discover someone going through your drawers.

‘What are you doing?’ I asked, leaning against the wooden doorframe. Terry was outlined by the falling light through the curtains, his hands wedged firmly in the top drawer of my chest of four.

‘Nothing,’ he said, his eyes opening wide and his face paling. His hands remained in the drawer.

‘Do you really think I’d hide it there?’

‘I don’t know what you mean,’ Terry replied, finally releasing the shirts he’d been rummaging through and closing the drawer.

‘I wouldn’t leave your present just anywhere for you to stumble across it, now, would I?’ I laughed, coming over and wrapping my arms around his waist.

‘So, you have got me a present?’

‘Of course. Ten years we’ve been married, did you think I’d forget?’

Terry rolled his eyes at me.

‘What is it?’

‘I’m still not telling.’ I shifted to release his waist, but he pulled my arms back around him, locking me in with his thicker, tanned arms wrapping around my back.

‘Tell me. I hate surprises.’

This was true. Terry hated surprises. He’d said as much on our first date which, really, when you thought about it, was a terrible idea.

‘When have you ever hated a surprise from me?’ I joked, feeling my laughter press my chest against his. We were the same height, but he was wider across the shoulders than me. Hairier than me. I was greyer.

‘There’s always a first.’ His eyes looked sad the moment it escaped his mouth. We released each other and stepped back. I moved to my side of the bed and pretended I’d come in for a book that was sitting on my side table.

‘Dinner will be done in ten,’ I muttered.

‘James… I didn’t mean…’

‘I know what you meant,’ I said with a half-smile. ‘I’ll see you downstairs in ten.’

Terry was still stood by the chest of drawers when I walked out of the bedroom.