La Porte de L’Enfer

Photo of a wooden door on a stone building, shut with a chain and padlock. Used as photo prompt for flash fiction.
Photo by Bogdan Dada on Unsplash

I’ve lost count of the number of times ‘the only thing private are his thoughts’ has been muttered by passers-by believing their words to be original and witty; while I retain the dignity of private thoughts in my nakedness, the pleasure is dimmed somewhat by the many distractions that rarely allow for a single coherent train of thought: visitors taking photographs; amateurs and professionals alike making sketches I’ve learnt to not take personally when certain proportions are downgraded to fun size; pretentious conversations about art; scrunched up pages of a sketch book hurled at me; crude paper planes projected with whimsy in my direction, their sharp points denting on impact, gravity ensuring I never receive the message; heads bowed in studious attention toward a Lonely Planet within my line of sight, page open to an image of me as the reader verifies the importance of their visit; and of course, that originality and wit rearing its head again with poses mimicking mine, taunting me as the comedian’s jaunty limbs move in and out of freeze frame with fluidity that escapes me.

As the sun sets on the grounds and the last of the visitors makes a beeline to the gift shop, the first muted signal of evening’s silence cloaks me like a lovers embrace, something akin to a tempered version of that kissing pair who don’t get a moment away from one another.

With the quiet of closing, when left alone with my thoughts for a spell, I’m grateful for being on the right side of the real gates of hell; knowing the screams from that garden shed will take their queue when the bells toll at midnight, telling a tale of a more brutal inferno than our maker envisioned, the fury and despair of forced retirement where the wounded, the shattered, and those with chips on their shoulders too large to repair are banished for eternity.

 

Story inspired by Sonya’s Three Line Tales, Week 97 and memories of a visit to the Musée Rodin in Paris a long time ago.

 

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Impartiality

Photo of three people riding horses through the bush in an Australian cattle station. Used as a prompt for microfiction.
Photo by Tobias Keller on Unsplash

In the unseen timelines of the mortal trio, that day was marked as the occasion of the light dimming in each of their hearts forevermore, disconnected as they were from the source.

They’d slunk out of the forest triumphant, leaving behind an unrecongnisable world: sacrifices made in the name of gods they didn’t believe in, although flashbacks were tinged with fear of the wrath of those same dieties.

Meanwhile, the sun continued to rise and set, bearing witness to daylight thievery and acts of grace with the same silent intensity.

 

Inspired by Sonya’s Three Line Tales Week 95.

Excess Baggage

Photo of a pile of dirty dishes in a small sink with a single tap, used as a micro fiction prompt
Photo by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash

We stopped at Novosibirsk and waited on the  platform; as with all other stops, there were locals selling soda, peanuts, pickled fish, two-minute noodles, and the powdered mash potato that had been my staple; I’d get hot water from the surly samovar attendant and with a little stirring, giving me that sense of having cooked a meal, I turned out a delicious starchy mush that paired nicely with whatever vodka was going. Continue reading

Pre-Iron Age Chef

Photo of a snake skeleton use as a prompt for a three line tale, microfiction story
Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

 

Today in the kitchen stadium, the challenger has plated up a char grilled Adaptosaurus on a bed of mashed sweet potato with a side of shredded brussel sprouts stir-fried with the secret ingredient: full-moon-bathed silvered almonds.

If you want to recreate this gastronomic wonder at home, the first step of course is to hunt down your creature, good luck with that—we picked one up at British Museum deli—they’re hard to come by, so if you’re stuck, use chicken and adjust the cooking time accordingly. Carefully debone your protein with a sharpened stone, lather with crushed garlic and coconut oil, and pop it on the grill for an age—paleolithic magic!

 

Inspired by Sonya’s Three Line Tales, Week 82

The Used Car Salesman

Photo of a blue volkswagon combi van used as a prompt for a microfiction story

Photo by Annie Theby on Unsplash

She paid in cash, said it was her savings and emptied a beaten up old suitcase on my desk; between you and me, I usually let people feel they’re getting away with a deal, play along with their haggling and knock off five hundred or so and everybody’s happy, but she wasn’t having none of that—couldn’t wait to dump the cash and drive off with the combi, but then said something about not being able to drive a stick and walked off.

Fred rubbed the stubble on his chin—the bristling of the short hairs gave him pleasure—as he waited for the officer to catch up with her note taking— So why the questions? Was she some kind of crim? Hadn’t seen her around these parts till…

The other officer—carrying a sizable black plastic bag—walked up behind Fred, cutting him off mid-sentence You might want to have a lawyer present before you do any more talking. Frederick Ainsley Bartlett, you are under arrest for…

 

Inspired by Sonya’s Three Line Tales, Week Eighty. I really did’t know where this one was going and feel like it was a bit of a cop out (no pun intended) ending, but maybe I’ll continue it. I so often add half baked promises at the bottom of my posts haha. If you have any thoughts on what Frederick is getting arrested for, please do share…

The Final March

Sketch of boots and ant to illustrate a microfiction story

The golden days of summer picnics with sweetly scented jam, crusty bread, cold slices and chilled fruit platters live only in our memories – a clear line in our collective consciousness separating time before and after the incident we refer to as The Final March.

The chemical weaponry disoriented many of us, sending the synchronised beat of our hearts off kilter, heady toxins muting all our sensory navigational cues. Only some made it back to the nest where we now reminisce about the old days and remind our young to give the big house a wide berth as we continue what our ancestors have done for millenia.

We hush and tread softly when within sight of the place of carnage, paying our respects to generations wiped out at the callous hands of the then new owner. Marching in single file, we lift far more than our weight.

“No such thing as a free lunch” he’d huffed, but the cost of that meal was an exorbitant act of insecticide.

 

This story has lived in my phone’s memo app for months. It was time to release it. I may add an illustration at a later date.

First published July 19, 2017. Illustration added August 8, 2017.

Game, Set, Match

Photo of a woman whimsically dancing on wet tennis court- used as prompt for three line tales microfiction
Photo by Sam Burriss

As much as she hated needles, Lynne was game for another dose, high spirited for 9 in the morning because Frank was home doing the vacuuming and once their respective chores were complete, they’d join the Senior Spartans on their monthly lunch outing. With the cold infusion slow dripping like a hipster’s coffee- into the orifice forged by the nurse’s ‘… little sting’- there was nothing to do but look around the room, make small talk with the nurse and other patient, or- as was mainly the case- look down at her gnarled hands, driftwood garnished with the ring Frank had given her 55 years earlier- hands that had changed Noel and Fiona’s nappies, held a glass to toast each child’s wedding, cooked countless shepherd’s pies- now too set in their ways to do as Lynne instructs. No way they’d hold the arm of the hoover much less a tennis racket these days, at least not long enough to raise much dust. Continue reading