Short story, Writing journey

Flash fiction: Lost in Art

It’s Friday. I have been to my writing group for inspiration and coffee. This is my homework based on the prompts from the Storyworld cards John and Caitlin Matthews.. It was great to see the range of stories they inspire.

I had the Fairy Queen, Door to Fairyland and the Rainbow.

Lost in Art

The art gallery heaved with the people as they hustled and pushed to catch a glimpse of the rare pieces from the long anticipated ‘Faeries of du Pre’ exhibition. Robert decided this would offer the ideal opportunity to fulfil his initiation in the gang. The others loitered opposite a few yards away, watching his every move, egging him on. He could not back out now. He took a deep breath and hood up, face down he weaved through the crowd, clutching his skateboard tight. It was this which brought him to the attention of Raz and his posse. There were plenty of shadows at the skate park where they could drink, smoke and plot schemes; one requiring someone small, quick and innocent looking. Someone like him. He would skate to escape the depressive atmosphere at home, and the anger of his stepfather. Once he let his guard down, the mismatch of personalities in the gang became his friends and family. Stealing a purse was a small price to pay for the protection and sense of belonging they gave even if seeds of doubt grew daily demanding he changed paths. He could enter the building, grab a bag and slip out unnoticed.

The atmosphere buzzed with excitement as people studied the framed collection consisting of sketches of elegant, ethereal beings, watercolours of streams, woodlands and Yorkshire landscapes A quick glance around and he saw his quarry. On a bench facing a large oil painting sat a dowdy old lady alone with her open handbag beside her. She was as still as statue; her focus fixed on the star of the exhibition; a painting titled The Queen of Elphame. Perfect. He had heard of the painting, everyone had. It captivated a legion of fans worldwide following its discovery in an attic in the village of Cottingley. Articles emerged delving into the history of the legendary artist, Jacques du Pre and theories of who inspired the vivid, unique masterpiece. His mistress or his imagination fuelled by obsession with the supernatural which led to his drunken downfall. Some believed it was the queen of the fairies herself after the accompanying old diary revealed he visited the area during the time of the faked fairy photograph furore. An explosion of merchandise followed – mugs, posters, postcards and bags. It was hard to escape her presence. Everyone was enthralled by the image except him. It was just a painting.

To his surprise as his hand hovered over the bag, its owner turned and placed her wrinkled, hand over his. “ I did …” he began to defend himself.

“Hush” she whispered her gaze returning to the painting. “Just watch.”

In silence, he became immersed in the landscape created by the artist. Snippets of conversation discussing brush strokes, composition and use of colour drifted by unnoticed as he studied the painted figure. Suspended mid-flight over the rippling stream, the royal fairy demanded attention from her subjects hidden in the trees and grass. Her large iridescent wings shone in the moonlight. A dragonfly fluttered in the corner, materialising from the bull rushes gently swaying in an unseen breeze. It zipped across to the other side of the canvas before disappearing into the distance. People glanced at the picture, but no one commented before walking away to the next piece. Robert glanced at the woman who smiled, and her age slipped away as he saw the woman she was in her youth in her sparkling eyes.

“They look but they do not see” she murmured.

Instinctively, he reached for his phone. No one would believe this unless he videoed it. It could go viral. She grasped his hand and shook her head. He put it back in his pocket and sat down. Together they watched a bird fly from the tree to the Queen’s unfurled hand to peck seeds before flying back. He ignored his vibrating phone as time flew by.
The visitor numbers decreased as it darkened outside until it was only the odd couple sitting on the bench. The loud footsteps of the curator echoed in the cavernous room as he warned them the gallery was closing in 15 minutes. They nodded and watched him walk away.

The woman stood and approached the canvas. Robert’s mouth dropped open as the Queen bent down and reached her hand for frail lady to grasp. The hands met: reality and paint blended until there were two people on the canvas. Alone he wiped away a tear as he watched the magic fade. He stepped closer, touched the old lady’s hand, the wrinkles had smoothed, and she looked younger. A smile formed on her face and her fingers wrapped round his.
The investigation into the disappearance of Robert Jones and Gladys Stone arrived at no conclusion with only the abandoned skateboard and bag on the bench connecting the two strangers. No one saw the two additional figures walking in the trees.

Happy writing!

Short story, Writing journey

Flash fiction: The Story of Eeyore’s Tail

It’s time for some flash fiction. This was written for my writing group after being given the prompt:

Choose a well known fictional character. Write why they did what they did.

While everyone chose well known characters from literature by Charles Dickens, the only characters I could think about were from children literature including Eeyore from A.A Milne’s Winnie the Pooh.

animated-eeyore-image-0009

The Story of Eeyore’s Tail

Crushed against the wall Eeyore looked up at the small child next to him to see her eyes tightly closed. Maybe if he did the same, he would be invisible too instead of hiding behind a musty settee in the parlour listening to the stampede of feet on the wooden floor in the hall. Doors opened and closed, whispers silenced until all he could hear was the countdown from the hall.

Ten. Nine. Eight.

When Louise chose him from her menagerie of toys to attend Alexander’s birthday party he was so excited and proud he thought he would burst his seams. Instead of the colourful toys and her pretty dolls he, a round cloth donkey with his drab grey coat, had been seen at last and was the envy of all in the nursery. The party was all anyone could talk about; there was speculation on whether there would be ice cream as well as jelly, whether jelly really wobbled as described in the books Nanny read and what the cake would look like. Louise chattered endlessly about the dress she would wear and the need for matching new ribbons. All the toys worried about whether Alexander would receive his much desired catapult and if they would in turn be used for target practise but Eeyore hadn’t cared because it was him who would see the party first hand. Now, all he wanted was to be in the toy box with the others. Anywhere but here.

Seven. Six. Five. Four.

He could feel Louise’s heart beat faster and he prayed they wouldn’t be seen.

Three. Two. One.

“Coming ready or not”, bellowed Alexander. His loud footsteps faded into the distance and Louise took a deep breath.

It started so well. Eeyore was in awe with the scene in front of him; bunting decorating the room, every child wore party hats, the table was spread with birthday treats and was that the infamous jelly he could spy? Louise was ushered in and Eeyore watched as the gift she gave Alexander joined the growing mound of presents in the corner.  The children all sat down in a circle before passing a parcel to each other unwrapping layer after layer of paper when the music stopped until it revealed a prize for Louise and the first tantrum from Alexander ensued. Consoled with the promise he could open his presents calm reigned again but Eeyore felt the first tingle of apprehension. He tried to remember all the gifts he saw but his mind went blank when the dreaded catapult was unwrapped. The nursery toys would not be happy and neither was Louise. She held him tighter and tighter. Further party games followed with Alexander being declared the winner until it was time for hide and seek.

Eeyore froze as a thunder of shoes headed their way and the door creaked open.

“Found her” Alexander loomed over them causing Louise to squeal and run off without him. Eeyore felt himself snatched up roughly before he hurtled through the air from boy to braying boy. “Let’s play pin the tail on the donkey” one suggested. The small toy quivered in fear.  It silently screamed when they ripped his tail from his body. He wanted Louise. He wanted the sanctuary of the nursery. With a scarf tied over his eyes, a boy was turned round and round. It was only when the donkey saw his tail and a large pin in the lumbering child’s hand he knew what was coming. Over and over the pin jabbed into him to the sound of the boys raucous laughter.

“Time for food” a voice called. The children retreated. Left alone and discarded in the corner of the room, Eeyore began to cry. He never saw the cake nor knew whether jelly really did wobble and when he returned to the toys he refused to talk. His humiliation and shame of losing his tail was too great. Eventually he lay forgotten at the bottom of the toy box, shunned for his aloofness until one day he found himself in a different nursery with a boy called Christopher Robin. His life began again but he never forgot that day and he always hated birthdays.

 

Happy weekend and happy writing!

Ellfaenian Journals, Short story, Writing journey

Mathilde’s Book of Shadows: The Wrong Choice #FlashFiction

It is Friday a perfect day for Flash Fiction.  I am sharing a snippet of Mathilde’s Book of Shadows. Mathilde is the first witch to begin The Ellfaenian Journals.  This was found on a loose leaf of damaged parchment browned with age and stained with blots of ink.

Flash fiction: Mathilde's Book of Shadows

Mathilde’s Book of Shadows: The Wrong Choice

 

(illegible date caused by water damage) 

What have I done? I knew I was dealing with powerful magic, a raw, wild energy; the howling wind and churned sea warned me but now I see the consequences, I am aware of my naivety and foolishness of meddling with fate because of my deep, overwhelming love for him. 

Snuggled against Eldrid’s chest, I could hear his heart beat in time with mine. strong and steady. Relaxed and at peace while he holds my hand tight connecting him to me. It is at odds with the man I saw earlier when sweat gathered on his forehead, his heart was frantic while his muscular limbs thrashed until I woke him. When his eyes finally focused on mine I was struck by the fear they held. When I demanded he tell me what was wrong, my heart chilled and tightened as he confirmed my worst fear. There is evil in Ellfaen; it is gathering and refuses to let him go. Waiting in the shadows, it pounces when he falls asleep  The evil, he describes as The Dark, has followed him home.

Has he been given the gift of life in exchange for the curse of daily nightmares and terror? I created this situation; it is my responsibility to correct my interference but how?

 

Have a good weekend and happy writing

Kate Kenzie's Blog

 

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Short story, Writing journey

Flash Fiction: The Shadows

It’s Friday! Time for some flash fiction inspired by the word prompt Shadows from The Fiction Cafe – Writer’s Group.

shadows word prompt

 

The Shadows

They are waiting. I tried to explain to my wife how they lurk and hide when she is there, retreat into the corners of the room out of sight. In her absence, they descend. The darkness deepens, the shadows grow as their fingers reach out to touch me, eager to grab and catapult me back into my nightmare. Their warm, putrid breath is warm on my neck.  I freeze. Terror squeezes my heart, clamping it tight. Sweat pours from my brow, cool on my shivering body and I scream until she returns to clutch my hand.

Short story, Writing journey

Flash Fiction Friday: Chinese Lanterns

 

This was written using the following writing prompt from my writing group

Chinese lanterns writing prompt

 

Chinese Lanterns

The glowing Chinese lantern rose high in the sky and then faded away into the distance.

“They are still here,” murmured Josie.

“Pardon?” my mum crouched down to hear my little sister’s muffled voice behind a tightly-wound scarf, but she refused to say anymore. Instead, she ran down the hill, flapping her arms as if she wanted to take off. We thought nothing of it.

We did not listen. Not when our rabbit disappeared, along with many others in the street and Josie whispered, “It was them”. Nor when my dad looked up from the local paper in shock at the sudden rise in dog abductions. We did not notice the lack of insects buzzing around the garden; we enjoyed the lack of flies infesting the wheelie bins. Birds no longer sang at dawn and we casually ignored it all.

It was the knock at the door we heard and the slam of Josie’s bedroom door. She stood at the top of the stairs dressed in her favourite clothes, along with her fairy wings crushed beneath an overpacked backpack.

She grinned and declared, “They are here”.