Mirror, Mirror

Written by Rob

snow_white_queen

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” Image // Walt Disney Studios

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?”
“Depends what you mean by “fairest”, love. Some folk mean ‘blonde’ when they say ‘fair’. Others mean ‘just’ or ‘sporting’ or ‘egalitarian’.”
“You’re a magic mirror: I’m consulting you about beauty. Am I not the most gorgeous creature in the world?”
“I think ‘creature’ is a mistake, to be honest, love. This is difficult enough without getting non-species specific.”
“All right! Am I the most beautiful woman in the world then?”
“Of course you are.”
“Why ‘of course’?”
“You own me. I’ve made a judgement that you want to be the most beautiful. Therefore, you are the most beautiful.”
“But am I really the most beautiful?”
“Well, I think so, of course, but these things are very subjective.”
“That’s not good enough. I want you to tell me that I’m really the most beautiful.”
“You’re really the most beautiful.”
“But would you still say that if I didn’t own you?”
“Of course.”
“But would you still say that if someone else owned you?”
“Yes.”
“But wouldn’t she, your new owner, I mean, wouldn’t she want you to say that she was the most beautiful?”
“Possibly.”
“So what would you say then?”
“Look love, I’m doing my best here. My job is to please. I don’t know what my new owner looks like. Isn’t it enough that you’re the most beautiful owner I know?”
“Am I not the only owner you know?”
“Well, strictly speaking, yes, but I think you’re beautiful.”
“What’s the point in having a magic mirror, if I can’t get a straight answer?”
“With respect love, you don’t want a straight answer.”

Armed with a half hour challenge, Rob penned this one in last year’s previous writing challenges. However, the sharp wit and comedic tone of the fairytale-inspired piece is certainly a great flash fiction story that had us in hysterics. And what a better way to conclude our month of dedication with a mirror that really only speaks one language – you really are the most beautiful woman (or man, we can’t be gender specific here!) in the world, love. If you enjoyed Rob’s HHC, why not check out some of his other writing with ‘Partridge‘ and ‘Angela’s Touch‘. 

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Closure

Written by Lost in a Dream

summer_walk

It’s hard to leave the past behind entirely. Image // Carol Lin

Rose walked away from the high-rise buildings of Tetropolis, towards the fringe of the city. Her bag was heavy and the still, summer heat was particularly overbearing, so the journey took much longer than usual. While it would have been quicker for her to get a cab, she knew that the walk would give her a sense of closure. 

She paused to take a couple of pictures of her favourite places. She laughed at herself for being so damn sentimental. But there was no going back to Tetropolis after all that had happened. 

As she approached the edge of town, Rose found herself pausing outside her first flat. It seemed a lifetime ago. The owner of the grocery store on the other side of the street was sitting in a fold-up chair outside, reading a newspaper, and listening to a tinny radio. She recognised the song playing and it caught her almost by surprise. While she couldn’t remember the lyrics, she knew the rhythm straight away and it took her back to those early days. 

In a moment of nostalgia, she recalled the heavy, black notebook in her bag. The book was never really out of her thoughts, but she tried to push it to the back of her mind. She knew that she should have destroyed it with the other stuff, that’s what Felix said, but when she held the lighter up to the thick cream pages, she couldn’t do it. 

Knowing that she couldn’t take the book with her, Rose resolved to dump it in the next bin. Although she had written the book, she had never read through it. Would those happy, opening pages be laced with irony? Would she herself change through the pages? 

Sitting down at a disused bus stop, she pulled the book out of her bag and decided to give it a read before throwing it away. 

Lost in a Dream’s Closure was written in response to our November Half Hour Challenge theme, Book of Secrets. This short snapshot of Rose’s life leaves us hungry for more. What was in her past that she’s so desperate to throw away? But also, how is it that she cannot part with it? If you’re a diary or journal writer, would you find it sickening to throw your past away like Rose? Maybe it’s the pull of nostalgia that makes this HHC such a simple pleasure. If you liked Lost in a Dream’s writing, make sure you check out some of her poetry as well, such as ‘Parnassus Park‘ and ‘Time Was Standing Still‘.

Only A Smile

Written by Dice

comic_strip_commute

Such a fleeting moment. Image Courtesy of themetapicture.com

Part 1

Sitting there she was unassuming, but when she smiles you understood why someone thinks she is the most beautiful woman who ever lived.

That someone sat opposite her on the train. He usually found himself on the same carriage as her during the commute to and from work. If he was honest, he often made sure he was on the same carriage. He wondered if she noticed, she’d probably think he was a “weirdo” if she did. Today he had been luckier and she had come onto the train after him. He had wondered where she was, she had almost missed the train.

The man often battled with himself over whether he should say something, but no one ever talks to strangers on the train, she would surely think him weird. Would she even answer him? She’d probably just give a curt reply and return to her book. What if he mentioned the book? He read it himself and really enjoyed it. But wait, what if she wasn’t enjoying it, maybe she’d think he was a geek for reading it.


Just say something, say “hi”. What if she doesn’t answer? What if she doesn’t like him? She’s probably wondering who he is and why he’s glancing fervently. There was no point in talking to her. But what if she did like him? But what if she doesn’t, was it worth the risk? Just say “hi”, just say “hi”.

She probably doesn’t like me.
Coward.

Part 2

He glanced again. He looked a little serious, but when he smiled he was cute. Did he smile because he liked her? Don’t be silly, he was just being polite.

He’d probably think she was a creep or something if he knew she had chosen this carriage because he was on it. She’d done it a few times before, that’s creepy isn’t it? Maybe that’s why he was glancing. It couldn’t be because he liked her too, could it? He would have said something. Maybe he’s shy. But not even a “hi”. He didn’t like her. What if she said something? Is it odd for the girl to say something? Does she look “easy” if she does? He probably didn’t think the same as her. Even if he replied, he’d probably take what he wants then move on. If he wasn’t interested, it would make the journey to work awkward, she’d have to avoid the carriage he was on.

Just say “hi”. What’s the worst that could happen? She could be embarrassed, she could embarrass him. There was no point in talking to him. But what if he did like her, he doesn’t. But what if he doesn’t, was it worth the risk? Just say “hi”, just say “hi”.

He probably doesn’t like me.
Coward.

Dice’s flash fiction was written on behalf of the HHC theme for February – unfortunately, he missed out on the love-themed month, but we’ve managed to pop this piece into our Simple Pleasures theme for April. A fleeting glance with a good-looking stranger on a train, bus, or plane has happened so many times, it’s hard to count on one hand. But what happens when you pluck up the courage and strike up a conversation with them? They could be the partner of your dreams. We’re hoping for a part 3! If you like Dice’s writing, why not check out some of his other work, including ‘Keep Smiling Through‘ and ‘The Writer’s Block‘.

 

Partridge

Written by Rob

partridge_twins

Such a sweet relationship! Image Courtesy of David Mitchell

“Arthur! Arthur, where are you?” Miss Granville’s screech echoes down the stairwell for the umpteenth time this morning.

“Coming, Miss Granville.” Arthur calls back from the scullery. He puts Miss Granville’s shoes down that he was polishing and onto the counter, wipes his hands on a rag, and trots down the hallway and up the stairs, trying hard to ignore the nagging arthritic pain from his knees. Miss Granville is sitting in her wheelchair, facing the window, overlooking the back garden and lawns. She is proud and straight, if wrinkled and old, with piercing blue eyes.

“What were you doing, Arthur?” Miss Granville demands.

“I was polishing your shoes, Miss Granville,” pleads Arthur.

“Don’t you take that tone with me, Arthur,” snaps Miss Granville. “Why are you so behind with your chores this morning?”

Arthur knows there is no point in trying to suggest overwork, so he offers, “I seem to be a little slow this morning. I didn’t sleep very well.”

“Well, you need to buck your ideas up. I need you to go to the animal feed place at Harmstone. My partridges are nearly out of seed. Then there’s my bed which is needing clean sheets. I’ll bet yours needs changing too. And could you pick up some salmon for lunch whilst you’re down town? Oh, and my dry cleaning should be ready by today. I will be needing my best shawl for the W.I. lunch tomorrow. Now, I’ve noticed the lawns need a trim, Arthur. I hope you’re not going to let them get tatty, you know, like you did last Spring?”

Arthur begins, “no, I won’t Miss Granville,” but she cuts him off, with a chop of her hand.

“Look Arthur! My partridges are here again. Aren’t they just the most beautiful creatures you ever saw?” Her voice has softened, her speech taking a dreamy tone, as she lays her head to one side, clutches her hands to her bosom, and gazes lovingly to the far side of the lawn. Three partridge have hopped out from under the rhododendrons and are pecking at the grass. “Oh, I do love them so.”

“Lucky partridge,” says Arthur, bitterly.

“How dare you speak to me like that?” Miss Granville screams, her face contorted like an old newspaper. “Stop feeling sorry for yourself, you ungrateful wretch, and get about your tasks. Never was a woman more cursed with a husband than I am with you. My mother warned me – how I wish I had listened. Now get out of my sight, or you’ll not have time for the ironing before you need to make lunch.”

Arthur collects the bird seed from the agricultural supplier in Harmstone and buys an air rifle with telescopic sight. The following afternoon, after dropping his wife off at the W.I., and when he was supposed to be cleaning her bathroom, he sets himself at the cellar window with his new gun. He only needs to wait ten minutes or so before two partridges hop into view, pecking at the seed he has spread on the lawn. Arthur’s first shot produces a flurry of feathers, as one bird runs in a tight circle before dropping in an ungainly heap, whilst the second flies away, rasping loudly.

Arthur is weeping uncontrollably “Oh, my, my. What have I done? Those beautiful birds. They never did anyone any harm. I must be mad. She loves them so: I must be. But God help me: I’m so lonely.”

Rob’s Half Hour Challenge entry was written last month under the theme Servant. We thought it fit quite well into April’s Simple Pleasures, but it also gave us some lovely dark comedy with a wicked twist. Poor Arthur, at least he didn’t shoot his wife – was that your original thought as well? If you liked Rob’s HHC, make sure you check out some of his other work, including “Thy Tears Wash” and “Smile“. 

Gone – An Alexander Episode

Written by Dice

puff_smoke_vanish

Once you step outside the Room, you cease to exist. Are we just a puff of smoke? Abstract, fluid.

“Mr Speaker, would the honourable member like to explain why my idea of a takeaway from Jekies was scuffed so? He may do well to know that Jekies serves the best food in the Milky Way,” called out Alexys.

Alex laughed. Today, the Impossible Room had been made to look like the inside of the Palace of Westminster, and so they had decided that they should debate the question over dinner in the House of Commons. Alex, Alexys, Lexi and Zander were all dotted around the large debating hall. Lexi stood to answer Alexys’s question when a terrible shout came ringing down the halls of power.

“Zander!”

Everyone went quiet and looked towards the large double doors. Standing in the opening was Alexander, his face white with horror.

“Jennifer’s gone!”

Zander stood very quickly, horror spread over his face too.

“Impossible!” he cried in response. “No one can leave or enter this place without you or me knowing.”

“She’s gone! I watched her disappear in front of me. It happened instantly.”

“Who’s Jennifer?” asked Alexys loudly.

“You best be joking,” shouted Alexander back at her.

“No,” replied Alexys quickly, surprised at Alexander’s angry reaction.

“We don’t know her, Alexander,” said Lexi calmly, backing-up her sister.

Alexander looked like he was going to react very angrily when Zander spoke before Alexander could even open his mouth.

“Alexander, they are not like us, they are not yet Alexanders. They cannot remember if a timeline changes. The only reason they are still here is because they’re in the Room.”

“Zander, you’re suggesting…” Alexander didn’t finish his sentence before he ran out of the room. Continue reading →

Eliza

Written by Lilith

Where cat meets girl...

Where cat meets girl…

She awoke with the taste of blood in her mouth, curled up in the scummiest corner of the alleyway and wrapped in a large crumpled blanket. Or was it a cloak? She lifted the fabric up and tried to get a better look at it, but something distracted her; her hands.

Her hands. She turned them over and over, trying to make sense of the opposable thumbs, the multiple joints of her fingers, and the softness of them. They were so useless! How was she meant to defend herself with these? Her arms seemed weaker, too, but she was reassured by the fur that still spread down from her shoulder to elbow to the back of her hands. She lifted the cloak off herself to get a better look at the rest of her body.

Her knees were bent the other way, for a start, and her feet seemed completely wrong – so long and flat! She only spent a few seconds noting the new prominence of her mammary glands, then craned her neck over her shoulder to see whether her tail was still there. It was, thank the Gods, and longer than ever.

Her eyes were struggling now with the low light in the alleyway, but her ears were still in the right position on top of her head, and as she twitched them experimentally she was happy to note that she could still hear everything she needed to. But there was something in the way of them… She lifted a hand to her head and lifted some of it up. Dark grey, shoulder length fur – no, hair. Human hair.

She was half woman, half cat. A Beastman.

Continue reading →

Morning Tiger

Written by Rob

weekend away

The couple’s weekend: wine, romance and sex. What can possibly go wrong?

“What are you grinning at?” Karen snaps at me. I should be used to this. She has a beautiful face but it’s screwed up enough to frighten a pitbull. I’m confused. Sure, we’ve not been getting on too well of recent, but last night, as soon as I slipped between the sheets, she was all over me like a rash. Such passion and surrender; so giving, so inventive: I thought all my Christmasses had come at once. This morning she seems to be back in the doldrums again.

“Didn’t you enjoy last night?” I try.

“I slept well, if that’s what you mean.” I give up. I’ll never understand women. I was feeling full of beans. I was up with the lark and out for a brisk constitutional. Now I can feel her sapping the positivity out of me again. I’m so glad I sneaked out of the dark room without waking her.

We’re away for the weekend. Karen’s pal Julia and her partner Derek invited us to watch the rowing regatta at Holme Pierpont. They found a quaint little hotel just a few miles down the road from the regatta venue and booked for all four of us. Now Karen and I are waiting for them in the lobby, ready to share breakfast.

The lounge door opens and Derek staggers out, looking like he’s near to death.

“What’s up with you?” I ask, though I’m fairly sure that I know. I left him in the lounge with a bottle of brandy at around midnight. It looks like he didn’t make it up to bed.

“I think I must have dozed off on in the chair last night,” he croaks. “I’ve got a mouth like the sole of a limeburner’s clog. Where’s Julia?” Continue reading →