The reading of the will gave Julian the final confirmation that his mother had hated him. His sister got the house and his brother inherited the business ‘…and to you, my first-born, I bequeath the shoes I was wearing when I met your father, my favourite tan satchel and two volumes on Mesopotamian art.’
He was incensed.
‘I don’t have an artistic bone in my body, she knew how much I hated that satchel, and what am I supposed to do with high heels?’
His siblings presented an alternative view. ‘Have you any idea how important these items were to her? She cherished them above all other possessions.’
Many embittered years later Julian rediscovered the items in his vast attic whilst searching for something of greater worth. A slip of paper slid from the between the two volumes.
‘My darling. Not everything can be expressed in monetary terms. I poured my love into these trinkets, just like I poured my love into you… ‘
Written for: Friday Fictioneers
I eavesdrop on the couple sitting next to me. Two things become apparent:
…They are planning the ultimate holiday.
…They hate each other.
It is the hatred of familiarity – barbed leaping impatience that turns what should be joyous into something tense and spiteful.
Their plight is fascinating to me and I begin typing out their story – small and discrete at first, but then, possessed of a curious desire to reveal my voyeurism, I increase the font size so that they cannot fail to see.
‘Why are you always going off on pointless tangents? Don’t close the itinerary! I hadn’t finished…that man’s writing down what we say…Look…I want you to do something about it…Because it’s creepy…God you’re so weak!’
In even larger font I type:
‘…THINK THEY’RE ONTO ME.
THEY SEEM SO SAD.’
My phone rings which has the effect of shielding me from conflict
‘Hey…Nothing much…Sure, I’ll pop around.’
As I chat the couple leave separately.
I have been immeasurably cruel.
Or I have done them a great kindness.
He jumped the security barrier and made it to the chairman’s office before being wrestled to the ground.
‘THEY’RE KEEPING THEM IN PENS,’ he howled, ‘RODENTS PUMPED UP TO THE EYEBALLS ON STEROIDS…’
The chairman came out of his office accompanied by a journalist.
‘…RUNNING ROUND WHEELS, GETTING BIGGER…TILL THEY GRADUATE TO BIKES HOOKED UP TO GIANT TURBINES…’
The man was dragged away, leaving behind a crumpled photo.
The chairman scoffed.
‘You’ll note that these conspiracists only ever have grainy pictures to substantiate their ludicrous claims…and as for your assertion that we’re in the throes of an energy crisis…’
Behind him the corridor lights flickered…
Written for: Friday Fictioneers
The siren spotted the sailor on the deck of his boat.
‘Look at that rippling torso,’ she sang. ‘It’ll be weeks before I need to eat again!’
Written for: Twittering Tales
Treacherous little Philip – slipped across the great divide and crowned me ‘Last man standing’. The funeral brought matters into sharp focus. When my time came there’d be no one left to see me off. Jeffrey would’ve marvelled at how fat I’d become, but alas drink took him in the 80s, and Shamus would’ve positively pulsated at the possibility of swearing in church, but a black ball of mutated cells multiplied him out of existence a few seasons back.
My family were in attendance. They’re waiting for funds to be released.
I thought back through my greatest achievements: A bunch of semi-estranged kids, fourteen pairs of bosoms successfully manhandled (if memory serves), a brief stint as a deep-sea diver. Everything else paled…
As they carried out the coffin a leather-clad grandson spoke at me as though I was deaf, dumb and incontinent (Am I the one who failed his driving test four times? Stupid little shit!)
They’re all itching to have me declared insane (which indeed I am for putting up with their sponging ass-clownery for so long).
At the graveside I made a pledge:
I’m getting out of here Philip. I’ve cleaned out the bank accounts – Seventy grand! Should keep me in viagra and hookers for the better part of three years. As for the rest – one call to Montegues (I declare that I am of sound body and mind) and it all gets liquidated.
It’s a Catch-22 that my pursuit of a better life will be seen as dementia. I’ll just have to be a ninja at covering my tracks. I’ve given enough to these terrible people. Time to hit the road Jack. Good luck and God speed. The cash machine is no longer is service.
My eldest, Jacob, owns (or should I say owned) a convertible.
I’ll raise a glass to you Philip when I get where I’m going, but between then and now there’s a pressing need to open up the throttle and blast some air through the ole comb-over…
My, how he hated the emaciated sub-species. It gave him no small amount of pleasure to drive his Daimler slowly along the perimeter fence laughing heartily at their plight.
In moments of particular malice it was his singular delight to have them polish the bodywork.
‘This automobile is like you. A collection of elements brought to heel and bound up in a chamber of fiery combustion into which gas is pumped.’
Defeat came quickly and there was little time for sentimentality. He left his precious vehicle behind and fled into obscurity – abandoning his Reich and his identity.
For many years he retreated ever south, constantly in fear of capture, plummeting at last to a lowly lean-to in the woods…
…outside of which…
…he discovered the husk of his once proud possession.
Despite the revulsion there was something to be admired in their audacity.
‘I can only imagine the logistics involved in such a feat.’
They rose from the undergrowth and spoke as one.
‘This automobile is like you. Burnt out, expended.’
Written for: Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers
‘Their greatest trepidation when embarking upon the 250-year mission was that the folks back home would simply forget about them, and their fears were well-founded. With the pace of life of being what it is – ever more rapid and introspective, they were presumed lost. The technology was unproven over such a duration and their dormant bodies wouldn’t stir for many decades, if at all.
When the signal arrived the government deciphered it using an analog device they borrowed from a museum. Before them, in gloriously grainy splendour, stood a solitary astronaut. There were no words and no movement. What did it mean? Had they been successful in their colonisation, or had everything gone disastrously wro…’
The young man paused the tape.
‘Granddad made this shortly after the Aurora programme was cancelled. They let him keep the suit, and the rest he mocked up in the attic with bin bags and tinsel.’
‘Why an earth would he do such a thing?’
‘To hang onto the path-not-taken I guess. His desire was to die heroically out on the frontiers of the unknown…and instead he’s sitting in a lawn chair talking to himself, repeating over and over again…heaven’s door slammed shut.’
Written for: Sunday Photo Fiction
Photo: © A Mixed Bag 2012