A Snapshot of Destiny | Flash Fiction

The fortune teller has been glaring at Polly for 10 minutes, and Polly hasn’t dared to look away. There’s something in the woman’s eyes that makes it impossible. Something almost threatening that tells her not to break the silence.

And yet, despite the hostile atmosphere, Polly’s feeling a little bored. She’s also more than a little peeved that she’s spent £45 just to be stared down by a woman with cold, hard eyes. She came here to be told of her future. She expected a crystal ball at the very least.

The fortune teller blinks, shakes her head, and finally looks away. “Gotcha,” she says. “Here. Take this.” She pulls a cardboard tube out from beneath the table and hands it over. “There’s a picture in here which depicts your future. Don’t peek until you get home. And don’t get too upset… we can’t all have the perfect life.”

Polly nods as she takes the package. “Thanks,” she says.

The fortune teller grunts. “My commiserations.”

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A Conversation from the Washing Line | Flash Fiction

“I can’t believe that dumb bitch put me in the washing machine.” Silk Shirt takes in the dark grey sky and her rage grows. “If it pisses it down on me now, I swear I’ll shrink on purpose just to teach her a lesson.”

“Give it a bloody rest, will you?” mutters Holey Old Band Tee. “There’s no wonder she treats you like crap when you’re so hoity toity and full of yourself. If you ever want to bag yourself Favourite Garment status, you have to relax. Roll with the punches. Pitch yourself as reliable. Comfortable. Cool. And make sure you age gracefully. That’s what I did. 20 years she’s been wearing me. My hem’s all raggedy and I have five holes and counting, but I still look fucking awesome. I’ve been through more wash cycles than I can count, andI’ve been left out in the rain at least six times a year since she first bought me. Do you catch me complaining? No. You’ll only ever catch me looking totally rock and roll. That’s why I’m her favourite.”

“It won’t last,” says Paint-Splattered Jeans glumly. “I was you, once. She never wanted to take me off. She wore me everywhere. We saw the world! Then one day, all of a sudden, I was relegated to DIY.”

Silk Shirt gasps. “What happened?”

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The Tat Shop That Scammed Me | Flash Fiction

The shop across the road looks like it sells a load of old tat, but it sure looks more appealing than trying and failing to put pen to paper. I down the last frothy dregs of my cappuccino, tuck my notebook and pen in my bag, and head out to kill some time.

The door jangles to announce my presence, and in seconds the shop owner appears before me with a wide grin stretched across his face.

“Looking for anything in particular?”

I shake my head. “Just browsing.”

I look at the shelves and take in the junk. Twee wooden figurines. Cheap plastic flowers arranged in even cheaper plastic vases. Cutesy signs with naff statements like God Bless This Mess and Dust is a Country Accent. Dachshund draught excluders with blue plaid bellies and cartoonish eyes. Floral aprons and floral tea towels and floral oven mitts and floral cushion covers and…

“Perhaps I can point you in the right direction,” the shop owner says, his megawatt grin not faltering for even a moment.

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Nice Pair | Microfiction

“Nice pair,” said the checkout boy.

The customer gasped. “How dare you? That’s completely inappropriate. I came here to shop; I don’t expect to be drooled over by an employee who is at least half my age. Disgusting. I want to speak to your manager immediately. What a rude young man.”

The checkout boy pointed to the produce in her basket. “I meant your fruit. The pear? Looks good. They’ve just come into season, right?”

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She’s Nine, She’s Not an Idiot | Short Story

“There’ll be hell to pay.”

“Looks like it.”

“She had it last when we were at the supermarket. You’ll have to go out and look for it.”

Dad groans. “Have you seen the time?”

“She won’t sleep without it. Which means we won’t sleep without it.”

“She’s far too old for a blankie, anyway. Maybe it’s an opportunity for her to give it up. We could tell her that now she’s nine years old, her blankie knows she’s far too grown up to need it anymore. And that it’s gone out into the world to find a new little baby to comfort instead.”

Mum snorts. “She’s nine, she’s not an idiot. Look, she can give up the blanket in her own time, but I will not be having a tantrum on a Saturday night just because you were too lazy to go out and find it.”

“Why can’t you go out and find it?”

“Because there’s a bottle of wine in the fridge with my name on it.”

“Have you got blankie yet?” comes a forlorn call from the bedroom upstairs.

Dad sighs. “I think it’s in the car, sweetie,” he shouts back. “I’ll go out and get it. Hold tight.”

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Blame the Parents | Microfiction

It was with sheer desperation that Ally called the Life Coach.

“I can’t make friends,” she blurted down the phone as soon as her call was answered.

“You can’t make friends?”

“No matter how hard I try, no matter how many times I strike up conversation, no matter how kind or funny or interesting I try to be, I simply can’t make friends. People can’t get away from me quick enough.”

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Wild Things My Grandma Told Me | Short Story

Grandparents have secrets. And trust me — you don’t want to know what they are.

My Grandma was 87 years old when she revealed her secrets, but nobody would have pegged her anything beyond 75. She had a few lines and wrinkles here and there, sure, but you’d never guess she was pushing 90. And if you spoke to her without seeing her, you’d think her in her 30s. She could talk a mile a minute and she swore like a trooper. She knew her stuff when it came to modern music and the latest blockbusters. She had an iPhone and a Snapchat account and thousands of followers on Instagram.

So when pneumonia took her down we were all surprised. None more than her, mind.

“I’m too young for pneumonia.”

“You’re 87,” my Mum told her.

“People like me shouldn’t get pneumonia. Haven’t had so much as a cold in decades. Only time I get sick is when I overdo the whiskey sours and that doesn’t count — that’s self-inflicted. Are they sure it’s pneumonia? I don’t believe it.”

“It’s true. So you’ve to keep quiet, be on your best behaviour and cooperate with the doctors.”

“Yes, dear. I will. Best behaviour.” And then she saw me clock her crossed fingers and threw me a sly smirk.

I visited her as often as I could. I got the bus from the hospital straight after college every weekday, and I went in the morning and again in the afternoon on Saturdays and Sundays. She’d always have a tale to tell about the time that passed during my absence. How she initiated a group singalong of Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic throughout the ward. How she invited the charming 28-year-old hospital porter out for drinks. How she’d given one of the specialist doctors a lesson on achieving the ultimate orgasm. How she’d sneaked into the hospital kitchen to add chilli powder to the meatloaf mixture. On and on it went — miniature adventures which transformed a drab old stay in the hospital into a thriving chapter of her life.

But after the second week on the ward, the adventures became less frequent, less exciting. Her retelling of the few escapades she did manage — having a cheeky squeeze of a handsome nurse’s bum, for example — became less animated. Her cheeks grew paler. Her voice grew weaker. The wheezing and rattling in her chest grew stronger. Her skin was almost translucent.

“Not long for this mortal coil,” she croaked at me one day.

“Don’t say that, Grandma. You’ll be alright. Keep your chin up.”

“It is up, it is. But we’ve all got to go someday. My time’s coming up and that’s alright. Just promise me one thing.”

“What?”

“Invite Michael Bublé to my funeral. His number’s saved in my phone. He might not come, but I’d like for him to have the opportunity to say his goodbyes. He only knew me briefly but… well, he knew me rather intimately.”

I didn’t ask for details. “I’ll invite him,” I said, though at that stage I didn’t mean it. I didn’t believe she’d ever even met him.

“Thank you, dear.” She sighed, shook her head slightly. “There’s a lot you don’t know, young lady. A lot that nobody knows.”

“What do you mean?”

“My life. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but it was bloody colourful.”

“So tell me about it.” That was my first big mistake.

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No Such Thing as Can’t | Flash Fiction

‘I can’t do this,’ she whispers.

She retrieves a pair of smart black trousers from the wardrobe and lays them out on the bed. Shirt next. She has one in mind. It’s newish. Plainish. Smartish. First day material. It will help her blend in. But it isn’t where it’s supposed to be.

Hangers screech as she slides them left to right and right to left on their rail. It has to be there. It has to be hiding. It has to be.

She lunges for the wash basket, flips back the lid, and rifles through stale garments. It’s there, right at the bottom, crumpled into a ball.

Tears want to spill but she breathes and assesses the damage. She shakes the shirt out and examines it, front and back. Lots of creases. No stains, at least. A tentative sniff decides it; quick iron, spritz of Febreze, splash of perfume, and it’ll do the job.

She stubs her toe on the bed frame as she gathers up her outfit.

She traps a finger in the stiff hinge of the ironing board as she erects it.

She scatters bottles of cleaning products across the kitchen floor as she retrieves the iron from under the sink.

The iron is dead. The little light won’t turn on. It doesn’t get hot. Something inside it rattles when she shakes it.

She clenches her jaw. ‘I can’t do this.’

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Questions for Kids | Flash Fiction

“…so the pig offered a piece of his meat for the bloke to use as a muscle in his leg. That’s why they call it a hamstring.”

“Cool! Thanks, Dad.”

Kids are inquisitive. Too inquisitive, for Jez’s liking. They ask a lot of questions to which nobody really knows the answers, but if you try to fob them off with an “I don’t know, pet,” they’ll witter on and on and on until you’re about ready to lose your mind.

Jez came up with a solution to this problem. Just make shit up. Easy…

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Apples and Oranges | Flash Fiction

“Ally is quieter than Annie, wouldn’t you say? Annie’s got a touch more confidence. She’s a smidge taller, too. Other than that, they’re exactly the same.”

Ally and Annie’s mother glowered at her friend. “They’re completely different. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. They’re each totally unique.”

Her friend laughed. “They’re identical twins.”

“And they have some similarities, of course. But they’re each unique in their own ways. I don’t want my daughters’ identities to be dismissed as one and the same.”

“Fair enough. Sorry I spoke.”

Ally and Annie pulled their ears away from the wall of the next room.

“That bitch,” Annie said.

Ally nodded. “Yeah. Absolute bitch.”

“We’re identical twins. Of course we’re identical in every way. How could she say we’re not?”

Ally’s eyebrows twitched. “Yeah. How could she?”

“And I’m not taller than you. We’re exactly the same height. You just have a habit of slouching. Stand up straight, raise your shoulders.”

Ally obeyed.

“I’m sick of that old cow always insisting we’re different. Being twins is our thing. It’s our novelty factor. It’s our… our…”

“Hook.”

“Right, exactly. But we’ll put a stop to it. Won’t we?”

Ally mimicked her sister’s vicious smile and crossed her fingers behind her back .“We’ll put a stop to it…”

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