Cindy oh Cindy

He had woken up with a fierce headache, breath that breached the Chemical Weapons Convention, and a nasty sense of foreboding. His brain hurt. He knew something was wrong. He knew he would have spent the better part of the previous evening trying to impress the new girl on the till at the local drugstore, and that he would have, probably, likely, definitely, have said something stupid, claimed a non-existing ability, promised something he was now committed to and would never in a month of Sundays be able to deliver. This wasn’t the first time. It wouldn’t be the last.

The phone rang. It was her. “A great evening. Thanks for that. Hope you got home okay. And so you’re going to do that for me? Run the marathon? Raise money for the cancer fund? That’s really sweet of you. I’ll pop the entry forms through your letter box this evening.”

Thirty eight years old and not in his prime. Not that he had ever had  a prime or foresaw himself as having one. “Show me a minicab driver who has a prime, who can flex a muscle, who can even bloody locate a muscle,” he thought to himself. Too much time behind the wheel. Too many kebabs or hamburgers or parcels of fish and chips – snatched meals taken whenever there was a lull in the job. Not exactly healthy. Not exactly regular. Run a marathon? Could never happen.

But she was sweet. Cindy. That’s her name. Newly divorced, new in town, new at the job, new at the till. And she had treated him sweetly. Happy to go out with him, happy to sit and chat in an ordinary bar. Didn’t need to be taken to a swish club so she could spend all his money on overpriced champagne substitutes. Insisted on paying for a couple of the rounds of drinks. She knows what life is really like. She’s got a few miles under the bonnet herself and it’s made her generous, unselfish. He likes her. It seems he likes her a lot. He wants her to like him. He wants her to admire him. And so, a drink or two down the road and his head spinning with what might be, he says yes, yes to supporting the charity, yes to running the marathon, yes to doing it for her. How could he refuse her? Sweet Cindy.

He knew how many miles there are in a marathon. More than his normal minicab trips, more than he could run in a million years. But Cindy, oh Cindy, he wasn’t going to let her down, he wasn’t going to say no. The forms arrived, the forms went off, and he worked on his training strategy, his tactics, his battle plan. He would get the medal, get the respect and get the girl.

He pored over the route of the race, he studied the town map, he marked up all the rat runs, hidden alleyways, and illegal short cuts that he had learnt when he was doing the Knowledge and he reckoned that if he turned up at the start, he could cross the finish line in about four and a half hours with having run only five miles. He knew he could do it. The downside was the five miles, but for Cindy he could do it. And so for the next few weeks before his shift, he walked, then jogged, then cantered, then galloped until he knew that the five miles (and hopefully Cindy) were in the bag.

It all went smoothly. He crossed the line with hundreds of others with a time of just under four and a half hours.

“My best time ever,” he said to the official handing out the medals.

“Respect,” said one of the policemen helping with crowd control.

“Oh, thank you,” said Cindy, kissing him full on the mouth. “Let’s meet up later.”

By the time he had fought the crowds back to his home, washed and shaved and put on his second best casual gear (he would save the best for another time) the list of runners who hadn’t passed through all the check points and were consequently automatically disqualified, had been published and tweeted and retweeted and his name was third on the list.

No medal, no respect, and no girl.

Early morning. The phone rings. It’s her. “You owe me five miles of sponsorship and I like the way you kiss. Can we meet up again tonight?”

How can he refuse her? Sweet Cindy.

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Hot Lover

 

Image copyright: Jean L. Hays

He could tell from the way she held a needle that this babe was hot. He invited her onto the dance floor and to the frenzied beat of the B52s they discussed safety pins, button holing, quilt making, zip replacement, and the green credentials of some modern pinning techniques.

She asked whether he knew about transparent threads. He blushed, said no. She whispered there’s a lot she could teach him. He said, Please.

Later they took it in turns to underlock, overlock and flatlock. Didn’t teach that at the convent, she said.

In the morning they drank fresh coffee together.

 

Written in response to Thimbledimble Wisoff-Fields’ weekly 100 word challenge found here.

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Once upon a time

Image copyright: CE Ayr

Nowadays we can’t see the wood for the trees. Or the trees for that matter. Ever since reading hard copy books exploded as the world’s major leisure activity, coinciding with the success of literacy programmes in less developed countries, there has been an existential attack on the plantations and natural forests of the world as paper mills struggle to supply the raw material demanded by the mushrooming publishing industry.

In her leafy garden, Violet turns another page, wondering what D’Arcy will say next, how Elizabeth will respond, hears not the screams of chain saws, sees not the approaching tree thieves.

 

Written in response to Fontachelle Wisoff-Fields’ weekly 100 word challenge found here.

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Suus ‘sera numquam est ad discendum

Image copyright: Penny Gadd

He hadn’t studied Classics but he reckoned he knew enough to get by. Mention the Elgin Marbles and he’d picture them in his mind’s eye. He’d smile whenever he heard, ‘Aeì koloiòs parà koloiôi hizánei’ or ‘Apò toû hēlíou metástēthi’. Phrases such as ‘veni, vidi, vici’ and ‘Barba non facit philosophum’ came easily to him and he used them appropriately and in modest moderation.

But when he attended a taster session on Classical life drawing, he hadn’t realized the attractive model wouldn’t have even a fig leaf to keep her warm.

He signed up for the intensive one year course.

 

Written for Ducissa Wisoff-Fields’ weekly 100 word challenge found here.

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Denial

 

Image copyright: Sandra Crook

They’ve started shipping out the corpses in trains, taking them up north, stopping at any starving hamlet or town that will do some burials for 50kg of flour a body. The empty sacks are used as shrouds.

When the trains run out of track they return to the city, loaded up again.

It’s the whole mix of topsy-turvy weather that’s killing us – the extreme heat, mid-summer freezing snowstorms, year-round tornados. Flooding has polluted our drinking water, destroyed our crops.

We’re overrun by refugees from the low-lying areas.

Rats rule! The stench!

Still we hear, “Fake news”, “Chinese hoax.”

Help!

 

Written in response to Pied-Piper Wisoff-Fields’ weekly 100 word challenge found here.

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The Nail Bar

 

Image copyright: Roger Bultot

“Windows to the soul,” she said, “Forget the eyes, it’s the hands. Our hands are always out there, gesticulating, signposting, shaping, emphasising, assenting, dissenting, framing our language. Hands? They’re the divas of our existence, the celebrities of our id, the press officers of our egos.”

The heady fragrance of nail lacquer permeated the air. I inhaled deeply.

“Hands?” she continued, “If you really want to know a person, watch the hands (love this knock-’em-dead scarlet, matches your lipstick beautifully) watch their hands, forget the eyes.”

I smiled. Paid. Reached discreetly for my white stick. Tapped my way onto the pavement.

 

Written in response to Revlon Wisoff-Fields’ weekly 100 word challenge found here.

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Motherbroad

“Tried switching her on at the wall?”

“She’s battery powered, not on the mains.”

Image copyright: Dale Rogerson

“Checked her batteries?”

“Yep, fully charged.”

“Any loose wires?”

“Nope, none to be seen.”

“Too old? Back-up service discontinued?”

“Nope, still under guarantee; still a babe.”

“So phone the help line.”

“Nope. Too embarrassed.”

“Maybe just a slow puncture?”

“No, she’s fully pneumatic; it’s the electronics.”

“Have you tried flowers? Chocolates?”

“You’re being silly.”

“Take her out for a slap-up meal.”

“Sillier still.”

“Works for me.”

“Yeah, well your Mabel’s flesh and blood.”

“My advice: bin her, send off for a replacement. Latest model.”

“Yeah. Probably.”

 

Written in response to Rusterduster Wisoff-Fields’ weekly 100 word challenge, found ici.

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Mum knows best

All her life she wanted to be famous, be a big star.

Think Marlene, think Joan, think Bette, her mum would say. “You can be like them or even better. All you need do is stand straight, smile nice, and be sweet to men.”

Image copyright: Ted Strutz

She loved her mum and so all her life she stood straight, smiled nice, and was sweet to men.

Today is her last day at Murray’s Shoe Emporium. The boss will mutter some words of thanks, give her a carriage clock engraved “Forty years of service”.

She will shed a tear, wonder where went the years.

 

Written in response to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ weekly 100 word challenge found here.

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Clippety-clop, clippety-clop

 

Image copyright: Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

It’s good to be back in favour. The last time we were appreciated was during the Great War. But when that was over, they slaughtered most of us and took to their motorised vehicles.

Now, 150 years on, it’s goodbye to those motorised vehicles. And goodbye to air travel. And goodbye to animal-based foods. They didn’t listen to the climate scientists, called it fake news.

Saved at one minute to midnight.

The humans are a lot humbler nowadays. And not too ashamed to saddle us up for a trip to the local shops.

Plus, the carrots taste a lot better.

Clippety-clop.

 

Written for Hi-ho Silver Wisoff-Fields’ weekly 100 word challenge, found here

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Bad Luck

Image copyright: CE Ayr

“It’s a good price – the owners need to move for a job and want a quick sale. Also I reckon the location is right for us.”

Maddie gripped my hand, “Oh, it’s ideal. And my horoscope said this week is going to be good for investments.”

I touched the wooden table, stroked my rabbit’s foot; just what we’re looking for and well within our price range. “We’ll look at it tomorrow.”

But despite a black cat crossing our path, despite some bird droppings landing on my head, the thirteen steps to the front door killed it for us.

Ah well.

 

Written for Runtshell Wisoff-Fields’ weekly 100 word challenge found here.

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Hope

Image copyright: Susan Eames

Everyone in that tight knit community knows him, knows the story, and are successful in protecting him from curious holiday makers and ambitious young city journalists.

Every morning he comes down to that particular part of the beach, coffee flask and wife-made sandwiches in his backpack, lays out his mat, and sits and watches the waves, looking, looking, looking. Occasionally he will sit up straight, peer through his binoculars, shake his head and sit back, shoulders slumped.

It’s three years since the incident. He blames himself; his wife says it could happen to anyone.

Grief burdens them both.

 

Written for Marvelettes Wisoff-Fields’ weekly 100 word challenge found here.

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