Memories

I hesitate before I open the wardrobe. Fingertips on the cheap chrome handles, I feel it would be more neurotic to stop myself at this point than to give into my curiosity. After opening the doors, I kneel down and hunt through the debris at the bottom of the wardrobe; khaki shorts, tangled shirts, stray socks, grey-smeared trainers. The disturbed dust makes my eyes water.  I pull out an old shoebox, dark green with a fox logo, and place it on the bed.

Opening the box feels indulgent. They say that people now prefer to spend their disposable income on experiences rather than goods. A good memory is like good wine, it becomes more valuable as it ages, and so creating and preserving such memories is an investment. It’s more pleasurable to examine your mementos when it has been some time since you last did so. Digging out this shoebox, I’m not only letting my current emotions ruin what should be an enjoyable session of nostalgia, I feel that I’m permanently cheapening my memories.

I don’t cut to the chase. I carefully leaf through all the photographs, reread all the important cards with loving words of encouragement. I look through old loveletters, sketches, and cinema ticket stubs with mindful devotion, giving them the time they deserve. I try to let myself pretend I’m not just doing this for one reason. When I find what it is I’m really looking for, I place it face down on the duvet until I’m done with everything else.

Finally, I examine the photograph of me, Amy Gladwin, and Charlotte Foster. It’s Amy that I focus on.

“It’s so awful,” I say out loud, to no one in particular. But I had to say it, because I can’t say it to her directly, no matter how I wish I could. Before everyone found out about what happened, I wondered whether I should get in touch. We were connected online, so it would have been easy. I enjoyed seeing her photos and updates, but when she became semi-famous, I didn’t want to be that old friend who crawls out of the woodwork when they smell success.

I still don’t want to be that old friend. I wonder how many people are doing what I am doing right now. You are not special, I tell myself. Up and down the country, right now, there will be old classmates, student flatmates, colleagues, all digging out photographs and thinking about the connection to Amy they once had. Looking at an old photo of a girl I was best friends with, it’s easy to forget that I barely know the woman on TV.

As a teenager, Amy Gladwin was an unambitious student who somehow did nothing but knew everything. Her specialty was doing the bare minimum in class whilst probing those sitting next to her for news. She was a professional shit stirrer, knowing exactly what to say and which buttons to press, and so she was an entertaining friend to have. Despite knowing their secrets would be around the school by the end of the day, people still talked to her, because she always made the process of spilling the beans feel wonderfully cathartic.

Amy Gladwin, 27 year old journalist and media personality, was one of those funny people on panel shows who aren’t well known but make the most controversial jokes. She wrote opinion pieces for newspapers about austerity, feminism, the media, education, and all sorts of other things. She ran the London Marathon and recently went on holiday to Brazil.

Last week, someone stabbed Amy in the back and left her to die in the kitchen of her apartment.

Friday Fictioneers – Salty

Waves

Copyright – Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

An 100 word entry for Friday Fictioneers, the writing challenge set weekly by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, who this week used a photo of her own. Please follow the link to find the rules and also more 100 word stories based on the above photo prompt.

Patrick rolled beads of risotto on his tongue, letting the buttery sauce carry flavours of garlic and white wine around his mouth.  It was good, but not yet perfect enough for his fickle restaurant customers.

“More salt,” he eventually said.

“Are you sure?” Claire asked, brazenly. He narrowed his eyes at the only person in this kitchen who thought she could challenge him.

“Remember when we were in Sicily, and we spent that one evening on the beach?”

A red flush appeared above Claire’s collar. “Yes.”

“I remember the risotto we ate in the restaurant beforehand better. Make yours like that.”

Share Prices are About to Fall

PHOTO PROMPT © CEAYR

Used with Kind Permission of CEAYR

Please follow the link to find the rules of Friday Fictioneers, and to see more imaginative 100 word stories.

The board of ARK Water Mining stared at Lila, expectant.

“The good news about our discovery is true,” she began, smiling. “I estimate that it will only take twelve months before we profit from our newest water source. If our rivals haven’t found anything by then, we’ll be the sole water supplier. We’re expecting profit margins of at least 500%”

After the meeting, Lila looked outside at an empty lake, connected by dry riverbeds to an ocean which no longer existed. Her attention was seized by a dark mass in the sky, the like of which had been unseen in decades.

A raincloud.

Friday Fictioneers -The Optimist

 

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

Copyright – Roger Bultot

Of course, the urge to complete a Friday Fictioneers entry would only come upon me this strongly when my university dissertation is due in a week from now… If you also have a desperate need to procrastinate, please follow the link and read lots of of other fabulous short stories or find the rules for completing your own entry.

Jenny stepped onto the rusty balcony for the last time, protectively gripping her coffee. Over the lip of her mug, she surveyed the incoming fog and looked forward to disappearing into it.

This is the first time she would leave somewhere and not fondly think back on it. She wouldn’t miss anything, not the run-down house, not the underfunded exam factory she worked at which called itself a school, not the anti-social neighbours, and definitely not the bird crap on her car every morning.

Jenny used to be an optimist. Somewhere else, Jenny thought, I still might be an optimist.

Sunday Photo Fiction – Living Tarmac

142 02 February 7th 2016

Copyright – Al Forbes

A piece for Sunday Photo Fiction.

A strange dust began pervading the air above the roads, accompanied by an oily scent. Over the course of some months, the haze became dense and unbreathable. When the newspapers told us the air could be cancerous, our family of four packed our things.

As the dust was presumed to be a result of urban activity, we went to live with my grandmother and her dog, who resided in a remote village. The lack of mobile signal made it difficult to know how my friends were doing, and there was nothing in the news besides the health warnings we already knew.

One wet morning, three weeks after we had moved, I was walking the dog in the nearby woodland. I noticed an odd smell. Lots of trees seem to have fallen over, even though the storm the night before had been mild. After climbing over the wreckage, I saw the cause.

An irregular strip of tarmac stretching as far as the eye could see, fingers of asphalt forking away like growing branches.

C: Friday Fictioneers – Tradition & Rebellion

Kitchen Window

Copyright – Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

An entry for this week’s Friday Fictioneers challenge. Please click the link if you would like to participate or read other stories. I’d like to thank everyone who left feedback last week, it was very helpful and I am extremely grateful that you took the time to give your opinion.🙂

After drying my hands on the pink towel, I catch the fragrance of rose-scented soap. I inhale deeply, letting the odour transport me back to the old days, when I was a young perfumer.

Florals had returned to popularity back then, with people rejecting the musky orientals in favour of delicate, blooming smells that reminded them of their mothers. When I retired, smoky Opium was back in fashion thanks to that notorious Sophie Dahl advert. Confident, powerful women wore dirty, sexy perfume. Clean scents were for your grandmother and her hand soap.

I get gift sets for Christmas every year.

Sunday Photo Fiction – Thin Tights

134 12 December 13th 2015

Copyright – Al Forbes

A quick entry for Sunday Photo Fiction. Ready, steady, go!

The sports hall is as cold as ever. I’m surprised my breath doesn’t fog up as I exhale it into the still, silent air. My skirt and thin tights are offering approximately zero protection from the temperature.

Tables fan out around me, their occupants fidgeting and pale with nerves. I’ve seen all the invigilators who are handing out papers before, but only know them by their nicknames.

Blonde Bombshell writes the name of the exam on the whiteboard: Introduction to Thermodynamics.

Mr Potato’s deep voice rings out clear across the hall, “You may now begin.”

I turn over the first page, and slowly decipher a jumble of words and numbers. So, I’ll need that equation.

I slowly slide my skirt up while I check there’s no one looking, and glance down at the notes written on my thighs.

C: Friday Fictioneers – Run Away With Me

PHOTO PROMPT © Luther Siler

Picture Copyright – Luther Siler

For this week’s Friday Fictioneers entry, I’ll be joining the ConCrit sub group for the first time. I’ve definitely been struggling lately, so some hints and tips would be much appreciated.

In a back room, I pull the ridiculous costume over my head, and I’m enveloped in the sweaty, cigarette-tinged odour of the last person who wore it.

There’s a knock on the fire exit. I turn and see her behind the glass. There’s something regretful in her mischievous grin.

“Forget what I said! Forget this! Come with me!” she shouts. She sees my hesitation. “Are you a chicken or aren’t you?”

I grin. I rip the suit off, damaging the zip, snapping the wings, and violently kick it to the other end of the room.

Breathless, I barrel through the exit.

How to be a Completely Unambitious Writer

It’s odd to think that, as recently as 2013, I had enough self-discipline to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days.

Shortly after that, I wrote my series of vignettes for the Library Book Project. I still feel that series is possibly the best fiction work I’ve ever completed. At that time, I had absolutely no issue with calling myself a writer. There were stories I wanted to explore, and it felt so good to get them all down on paper.

While I never really had grand ambitions in terms of getting published, I felt like I was definitely improving and developing a skill. There were so many times growing up where I didn’t feel that I had a “talent” like other kids, and finally I felt like I could be really good at something if I just took the time to practice.

Unfortunately… things happen.

There’s a number of factors involved, but the truth is that I really regret dropping the ball. Being out of practice has meant that I’ve lost some faith in my ability as a writer. It doesn’t feel the same as it did before.

Another problem currently is that I’m also so stressed I find it difficult to actually relax and enjoy writing. Like, I’m really stressed out. Final year and graduate application rounds are totally kicking my arse. And, I get it, there are probably people who have lives exponentially more stressful than mine, and you have to be resilient, but, I’m seriously stressed out.

So, writing might not be my biggest priority right now.

BUT

I’m not going to give up. I’ll try things from different angles, maybe start some smaller projects, and keep talking to the people who I know will motivate me. I’m confident that one day, I’ll get some writerly mojo back.

 

 

Friday Fictioneers – A Stranger Calling

Copyright – Roger Bultot

A 100 word entry for Friday Fictioneers, hosted by the super-patient and very talented Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

They told me to go to London and do the job I had been trained to do.

On the flight, I could barely keep still in my seat. My veins seemed to crackle with the energy I’d amassed over the past four years through supplementations, incantations, rituals, and prayers to mysterious Gods who imparted their power to me.

On a neglected rooftop garden, I called for him, master to master.

I made him bow like rushes in the wind, and then I cut him down. I never hesitated, never asked why.

Years later, my power fades. A stranger calls me.