Image courtesy of Kent Bonham
‘Because I straighten your boots when you sling them on the mat?’ She was crying.
‘It’s not just that. You’re endlessly plumping cushions. Making the bed as soon as I get up to make tea. You live your life by hospital corners and I can’t live like that.’
I didn’t look back once as I left.
Now, I throw open the door of my cold bedsit which doesn’t feel like home and kick off my boots. I hesitate. Bend down and place them neatly together. I sink down on the sofa. I don’t have any cushions. But I don’t have her.
Hurrah – this week I finished my structural edits. I was stunned & delighted The Surrogate reached the top 40 in the UK Amazon chart on preorders 3 months prior to publication. Thank you! You can read my ’15 stages you go through with a structural edit’ post here. I’ve also had an emotional week with a big change you can read about here.
‘Wonky Boots & Crumpled Sheets’ was written for Friday Fictioneers. A 100 word weekly story challenge inspired by a photo prompt. Join in over at host Rochelle’s blog here. (For all my US friends who might not understand the connection the first thing I noticed was the car boot which I think you call a trunk over there?)
Image courtesy of Janet Webb
If I could make a wish it would be for one thing but how can I when I know she’d wish for the same thing too? I thread my fingers through hers. It’s ridiculous but I’m almost hoping for bad news for myself. There’s a one in four chance of making it and my rational self tells me if I am the lucky one it doesn’t necessarily make her the unlucky one but still. How could I live with myself?
The door begins to open and I squeeze her hand. This is it. Good or bad. Life will never be the same again.
This Sunday 17th, I’ll be talking live over on Facebook at 8pm GMT about writing, editing and getting published. I’d love it if you could come and join me or pop over and post a question and I’ll make sure I answer it. Join The Fiction Cafe here to post questions & view the live stream or watch on catch up.
‘The Lucky One’ was written for Friday Fictioneers. A weekly 100 word story challenge inspired by a photo prompt. Check out the other entries at host Rochelle’s blog here.
Image courtesy of Claire Sheldon
My euphoria regarding the future was tinged with sadness as I emptied my locker. It was the end of an era. The corridor was devoid of students but was jammed full of memories. Me and Lisa shuffling along, heads down, new school shoes squeaking on the lino during our first day at this school that felt a world apart from our small, safe, primary. On my way to find Lisa, I pressed the corner of the West Side Story poster back down that was hanging off the wall.
Lost in my memories it happened in an instant. My back slamming against the lockers, hands around my throat.
In celebration of the weekend cover reveal for my third novel, The Surrogate, I thought I’d use an excerpt from the chapter I am currently editing which fits perfectly with this week’s prompt. If you wish to do so you can pre-order The Surrogate in the UK here and the US here prior to its September release.
You can join in with Friday Fictioneers, a 100 word story inspired by a photo prompt, over at host Rochelle’s blog, here.
Image © J Hardy Carroll
My feet crunch on broken glass, tears rising quickly.
‘Why…’ I begin, but the choke in my throat holds back the rest of my words.
Afternoon sunshine streams through the window, the upended tables and chairs brushed bronze, shards of glass glint gold.
The air is heavy with dust. With loss. But underneath there is something else. Love. We fall silently into our roles, a human chain, stronger together, clearing out the rubble. At first I think nothing is salvageable but then I realise there is. Amongst the splinters of wood, the twisted metal, it is there. A tiny kernel of hope.
We stand together.
‘We stand together’ was written for Friday Fictioneers. A weekly 100 word story challenge inspired by a photo prompt. This week’s prompt is topical as we all try to make sense of the senseless. My heartfelt condolences for everyone affected by the atrocities in Manchester.
Join in with the challenge over at host Rochelle’s blog here.
Image © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields
I’m broken. Exhausted. Afraid. The stench of my fear is cloying, catching in my throat. The ties binding my wrists slicing deep into my flesh.
Pain. So much pain.
The shutter rattles. He’s back. I curl into a ball as though I can fold myself away.
‘It’s time.’ He drags me outside. The brightness of the sun burns my eyes.
‘Please, Sir.’ A little girl holds out a coin to the man. ‘Can I have a photo with your monkey?’
I plead with her with my eyes – save me. She doesn’t listen. No-one ever does.
She strokes my matted fur so gently I want to weep.
Huge apologies for not getting around to everyone’s story last week – I usually do try. Finishing the draft of book 3 took longer than expected (doesn’t it always!) but it’s off with my agent now so I get a few days rest – hurrah!
‘Broken’ was written for Friday Fictioneers. A 100 word story inspired by a photo prompt. You can join in over at host, Rochelle’s blog, here.
Image courtesy of Sandra Crook
‘Writing’s a dead end job.’ The careers advisor had said. Even now, I remember the heavy feeling in my stomach as my hopes sank.
I straighten the stack of paperbacks on the table. Check there’s a spare pen.
‘There’s no money in books.’ She had said and I wish she could see me now, sitting under the ‘Bestsellers’ sign.
Outside, the queue snakes around the corner. It’s nearly time.
‘Lisa, have you finished?’ My manager snaps. ‘The author will be here in a minute.’
I scuttle back to my place behind the till, wishing again I hadn’t given up so easily.
My careers advisor told me writing wasn’t a viable career and sadly I listened to her and for 25 years I pushed my dreams to one side. Thankfully, in my 40’s I decided to try and write a novel and am still stunned that my first two books, The Sister and The Gift, have both been International No.1 Bestsellers, selling over 750,000 copies. It’s never too late!
‘One Day’ was written for Friday Fictioneers. A weekly 100 word story challenge, inspired by a photo prompt. You can join in over at Rochelle’s blog, here.
Image courtesy of Liz Young.
‘I’m dying.’ Panic builds.
‘Shh. You’re not. I won’t let you.’ He tightens his grip on my hand and I remember the first time he laced his fingers through mine. We had picnicked under the sunflower sun, the smell of cut grass drifting through the breeze. Now it’s the stench of hospitals that sticks in my throat. Dettol and decay.
‘I want to die.’ I can’t bear the pain anymore.
‘You said that last time you gave birth but it was worth it afterwards when you held our baby, remember? Midwife says not long now. Relax.’
‘Relax?’ Bastard. I hate you.’
I missed last week’s Friday Fictioneers. I was trying to juggle the school holidays with finishing the first draft of book 3, but the end is in sight! I also took part in a local library incentive which made me cry, which you can read about here.
I’ve tried to keep this week’s story lighthearted. I’m sure from the prompt there will be many entries bringing a lump to the throat. ‘Unbearable’ was written for Friday Fictioneers. A weekly 100 word story challenge, hosted by Rochelle, inspired by a photo prompt.
Image courtesy of Jellico’s Stationhouse
The back door creaked open. I shouldn’t go. But the thought of Jake waiting for me at the park pulled me. I shivered and it wasn’t the middle-of -the-night-chill but the anticipation of Jake’s hands heating me.
I wheeled my bike down the side of the house. Paused as the latch on the gate squeaked open. It wasn’t too late. I could go back to bed but my feet carried me forward. I pedalled as fast as I could. I pedalled so fast my dad’s warning words couldn’t catch me ‘there’s a killer out there.’
I didn’t care.
I was in love.
A super busy week with a deadline looming and the school on their Easter holiday but when I saw the prompt it fitted perfectly with a paragraph I’ve just written for book 3 soI couldn’t resist using this excerpt.
Friday Fictioneers is a weekly 100 word challenge inspired by a photo prompt and hosted by the fabulous Rochelle.
Image courtesy of Jennifer Pendergast
You loved playing dress up, twirling in my far-too-large wedding dress until your heel caught in the lace and you tumbled onto the dried grass.
‘Mummy.’ Your lip trembled and I plucked a buttercup, shining gold in the sun, telling you it was a magic flower. All was well in your small world once more.
I blink. Somehow time has slipped passed. Weeks, months, years.
You rush towards me. This time it’s a gown and mortar board that swamps your still-small frame.
‘Mum!’ You’re nervous. I push a buttercup into your hand.
‘Collect your degree, darling.’
Your world is larger now, but I’m still here. Always.
‘Buttercups’ was written for Friday Fictioneers. A weekly 100 word story challenge inspired by a photo prompt. Hosted by Rochelle.
Image courtesy of Shaktiki Sharma
‘Dan said ‘I’m going to give Stella the sack.’ Hilda relayed.
Stella’s throat burned hot. How could he? Today? It’s 30 years since she started here. Not that anyone remembered. She’d helped his wife arrange a birthday party for him too.
Stella fired off an email telling her boss everyone called him fish breath behind his back. She pressed send and gathered her belongings and her dignity, and stood.
‘Not going anywhere, Stella?’ Dan carried in a cake. Thirty candles flickering. ‘I said this morning I’m going to get you back for the party and surprise you!’
‘Sorry,’ mouthed Hilda. ‘Misheard.’
This week my sister asked for a more lighthearted story and as it’s International Women’s Day and she’s the strongest woman I know I had to step outside my comfort zone and give it a go.
Big thanks to everyone who has read, reviewed and recommended The Sister. Yesterday my publisher rang to congratulate me on half a million sales. You can read the first thought that popped into my head here. World Book Day was another step outside my comfort zone. An introverted writer giving a talk to 250 kids. What could possibly go wrong? I blogged about that here.
‘Act in haste’ was written for Friday Fictioneers. A weekly 100 word story challenge inspired by a photo prompt and organised by Rochelle.