Monday, 23 February 2015

The State of Grace

Photo Credit
The State of Grace

This is so unfair!
How dare Gabe talk to me like that?
Just because he’s Father’s favourite.
Just because he’s mister whiter-than-white.
I was only doing what he told me to do.
‘Look after Jane’ he said.
‘Keep an eye on her’ he said.
‘Don’t let her get into any trouble’ he said.
Does he think I am stupid?
I have been out in the world before. Just because I had a problem last time...
I went with her to the party.
Wow, was this different. It was like nothing I had ever seen before.  The way these kids carried on, I was shocked, but I remembered the job I had to do.
I kept out of sight, just watched Jane.
It was pretty lame, until Peter and Paul arrived.
I mean, twin brothers, football stars, deep blue eyes - and buff too - well who wouldn’t?
Jane obviously had a thing for Peter, giving him those cow eyes of hers, and tittering and simpering at everything he said.
But she wasn’t going to get anywhere unless someone got him away from Paul.
She asked for my help - silently, of course, but I heard her plea.
So I thought, ‘Guys go to parties with a wing-man, it’s like I’m Jane’s wing-woman - ha!’ So I made sure he could see me.
His eyes nearly popped out of his head, he stood there, tongue covered in cigarette butts where he had been dragging it on the floor.
So anyway, I got him away from his brother. Jane had a clear run.
In the morning, I thought of Jane, doing the walk of shame, while I flew off, unobserved, of course.
I thought I had got away with it, but I reckoned without Father.
Of course I knew he was supposed to see everything, but I figured he couldn’t be watching everything all the time.
The next thing I knew, he had sent Gabe.
‘What was the last thing I told you?’ he said.
‘I was doing what you told me’ I said.
‘No, Grace, this is the end. After that incident with Joan of Arc, and your retraining, you were told that this was your last chance. You are dismissed’.
‘You heard. Dismissed. Leave.’
‘But, you can’t...’
‘It’s too late, Grace. The decision has been made. Father has signed off on it, you’re out’.
‘But what will I do?’
‘The same thing that others before you have done. It’s all downhill for you from here, I’m afraid.’
The smug bastard smiled a dazzling smile at his own joke.
I could have knocked those perfect teeth out, but what’s the point? I knew I couldn’t win. Even Luce had failed. You can never beat this system now, it has been going too long.
Gabe just looked down his long, flawless nose at me and pointed me to the door.
I shuffled over to it, pausing to look out at the fields beyond.
‘Grace’, Gabriel called, using the full power of his voice for the first time. ‘Leave your wings behind please’.
They lifted off my shoulders to flutter disloyally to his outstretched hand.
I stomped out into the real world, marvelling at how weak full sunshine seemed in comparison to the light I’d become used to.
The wet grass was cold on my feet. I lifted the skirts of the shimmering gown, forced to keep it out of the mud - now I could no longer fly.
This sucks!
Fallen angel, indeed!
This is so unfair!

 This story was written for Week 139 of Daily Picspiration - a site where a group of writers create stories from photo prompts. Each day features a different writer with his or her own picspiration. You can visit each day for a new story.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Stairway to Heaven
Rain (Liberia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica). CC2.0 photo by NannyDaddy.

Stairway to Heaven

The storm was a wild one.
Just as I hoped.
Thunderheads barged across the sky, jostling and bouncing off each other, like gang members steaming a train. Their shouts were the thunder, born of those gale driven collisions, and knives flashed as sudden lightning.
The rain, my constant companion, lashed me with its spiteful force, drenching my clothes and stealing my body heat.
My shoes, leather slick and greasy from their soaking, squelched and slipped with every step on the flooded flags.
I carried the umbrella high, heedless of the miniature torrents streaming from its spikes with every change of angle as I walked.
The umbrella wasn’t for the rain, it was for the lightning.
They say it never strikes twice in the same place. I hoped the old wives tale was not true here.
Reaching the centre of the deserted square, I turned a slow, deliberate circle, peering through sodden, blinking lashes for any trace of others.
No. For the first time, I smiled to be alone.
I was sure, with the unshakeable certainty of a dream, that if I could only be touched once more by the flaming finger of the Gods, I would be transported as she had been.
I would be with my love again.

 209 words

This story was written for Rebekah Postupak's Flash! Friday challenge Vol 3 - 9. Read all the other stories written to this prompt here

A Summer Picnic
PHOTO CREDIT– Copyright – Melanie Greenwood

A Summer Picnic

Giggles and squeals wake the garden, sparking rays of children’s laughter lighting up its darkest corners.
“Ooh, a maze!”
Tiny feet stampede to the siren call.
An excited murmuration bubbles up as they jostle and squeeze through its inviting entrance.
Voices fade within the entangling puzzle, muffled by writhing, rustling greenery.
Leaves turn to thorns, cries to screams.
Finally, shining sylvan silence once more blankets the beguiling pastoral scene.
One ragged, bramble ripped urchin scrambles from the maze’s exit. He peers towards me then frantically away.
“No, Boy. You’re mine now. I’m Jack.”
I extend a gnarled, knotty, green hand.
100 words

This story was written for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields' Friday Fictioneers Flash Fiction Challenge.
Find all the other stories from this week's prompt here.

Losers' Weepers

Photo Credit

This story is a follow-on (though not a sequel) to Finders' Keepers that was written for my last Daily Picspiration. Read it HERE

Losers' Weepers

Squinting past the spotlight, I peer at the upturned faces of the people who have come to see me die.
Well, people, have I got a show for you.
I draw a steadying breath and leap from the platform.
Tumbling, twisting, the whirling kaleidoscope of my view shows me the roof above, then the sawdust strewn floor below.
I am flying.
But not for long.
I stretch out and feel the wrench of my shoulder muscles as my resin swiped palms grasp the bar of the trapeze.
The crowd’s roar is tinged with disappointment.
We don’t work with a net. Just like real life.
Anyway, the marks don’t like it.
I flip to anchor my feet into the ropes and dangle upside down.
On the third swing I clap once, to establish the rhythm of the routine, and extend my arms for the next upswing.
Rebekah jumps into space.
Empty space.
I am not there.
But I will be - as her fall and my swing coincide.
My wrists feel the familiar strength of her grasp and my hands hold her.
Safe from harm. Just like real life.
Her eyes bore into me, from two arms length, still angry.
A tear rolls down my face and falls glistening into the darkness far beneath her.
I release her to catch the second bar and she somersaults to the far platform.
Screw her. If anyone has a right to be angry, it’s me.
I swing back and catch Tony.
He grins up at me.
The same dazzling, boyish grin that has always protected him from the consequences of his actions. Well not this time, brother.
I know what I saw, despite her denials.
I flip him to the second bar and the main part of the act begins.
Tony and I flip Rebekah back and forth between us.
In one moment she clings to me, in the next he holds her close.
Just like real life.
Taking a break on the platform before our finale, I look down at the marks.
Our world is more honest than theirs.
Only a few of them come to admire the skills on show. Most, even though they will not admit it, even to themselves, come to see Death. It is the same urge that makes cars slow down to gawk at a car crash.
As showmen, we know this and the show is built around our seemingly impossible dice game with the Grim Reaper. We let the marks glimpse a world more visceral than their own, more vivid; a world where one small mistake could carry the ultimate consequence.
They pay us to tweak Death’s nose on their behalf.
Well, here goes.
Our finale is simple really, despite all the drum rolls and flourishes. Despite Rebekah’s scanty, provocative poses and painted pouting at every man in the place. Despite Tony’s preening and winking at all the girls.
It works like this.
First swing. Tony jumps to my catch. I launch him to the second bar.
Second swing I catch his ankles after his double somersault back to me. In the mean time Rebekah jumps to the second bar and then leaps on towards us.
Third swing, we both swoop back for Tony to ankle catch Rebekah’s second jump.
The twist is that, on that third swing, I ‘lose’ my grip on one of his legs, apparently forcing him to flail wildly and make a late, despairing, one handed grab for her.
The marks lap it up.
We bask in their applause for having taunted and cheated the Old Man once more.
The old clown once told me.
“Deep in their darkest moments, people still cling to their primitive beliefs that their rituals and rabbits’ feet can protect them. Give them power over Death. We know the truth. Death is always with us, walking half a step behind, idling along, capriciously choosing one over another for no other reason than he can; like you choose to step over one ant while crushing another. No-one controls his power.”
Well, Father, you were wrong about that.
I launch the wind up swing to begin the finale.
Tonight I have that power.
I decide who pays the ferryman.
My second swing, or my third?
My brother alone, or my wife as well?

720  words

 This story was written for Week 137 of Daily Picspiration - a site where a group of writers create stories from photo prompts. Each day features a different writer with his or her own picspiration. You can visit each day for a new story.