Memories of rolling down the dusty road in the blistering heat and kicking back by the campfire kept Julie awake. As the children slept she would creep through the house, open a cool beer, sit on the porch and daydream. To her children and husband it was a rusty heap of junk but in her eyes it was everything that she used to be, beautiful and free. With little money for the month, Julie considered her only choice. Hidden beneath the trees and overgrown grass, the truck’s decaying body looked sad and neglected. Julie knew it was time to let go.
“Can we turn back?” Sue and Daniel had been battling through the forest for hours. Now as the sun set the trees grew tall and dense against the pale yellow sky
“Just a little further” Daniel pulled Sue through the prickly hedge as the branches clawed at her jumper. Sue felt tired, her ankles ached and the landscape was completely unrecognisable.
Energy fading, they climbed over a small stone wall and paused. Feeling the butterflies of youth swimming in her stomach Sue’s eyes welled up with tears.
“Was it worth it?” Daniel turned to face Sue, rubbing her shoulders as she nodded gently.
Back at the water’s edge where they first kissed 40 years ago, Daniel carefully eased down on to one knee. And she said yes.
Today the hills look more like mountains and the light drizzle is refusing to be deterred by my waterproof jacket. Shivering, I push back the sleeve to look at the time on my wrist and I instantly feel disheartened. Despite it only being five in the morning the day already seems bleak and I start to dread what I have let myself in for. The brochures promised sunshine, blue skies and picturesque gentle hill walks. I had no idea that I would be up earlier than when I have to endure the daily commute through the city. This holiday was supposed to be a break from the daily grind but I just feel like an alien who has landed on the wrong planet.
I look across at Alan. His glasses are steamed up and rain is pouring down his face, scrunched up by his tightly pulled hood but I never seen him so bloody happy. Sometimes it is of great wonder to me how my husband and I ever managed to walk down the aisle with so little in common. Give me a large jug of sangria and a sun lounger by the pool over hill walking and rain any day.
The group gathers together under the tree and pull out their water proof maps, making sure they are stocked up on Kendal mint cake, plasters and flasks full of coffee.
“I hope by this point you have walked in your walking boots” heckles the guide and I question whether he is referring to me, the naughty girl at the back. Little does he know that my feet are already walked in thanks to years of pounding the streets in six inch heels, blisters have nothing on me.
“Today’s walk will start off with steady and gentle incline. After a few hours it will increase a little but if we keep at strolling pace we should be up and back down by tea time without too much strain.”
Alan joins me at the back still beaming.
“This is just perfect isn’t it?”
I would like to say ‘no’ and ‘get me back to the hotel and a hot brew’ but ever since he returned from hospital, Alan has been desperate to complete the walk he fondly remembers from his childhood. For the months we have compiled The List and this was placed as the first challenge. You could say people always compile mental lists of hopes and aspirations for their future. Although the intent is there, time and life somehow gets in the way. However now life and time are no longer a luxury to Alan and I and so The List has become our guide. Together we are clinging on to borrowed hours, days, months before we part. Now at the bottom of Snowdon, soaked through and shivering with cold there is nowhere else I’d rather be than with my husband. He takes my hand and smiles as we begin the climb up our mountain.
This is a little late as have had a busy day and only just managed to sit down. I have also managed to obtain a cold, so feeling rather rubbish. Anyway here is my Friday Fictioneers piece courtesy of Madison Woods. Brownie points to those who know what this was inspired by besides the photo prompt.
The morning light plays with the tiny particles of dust as it pierces through the curtain break. It would almost look magical if I cared but instead I pull the bed covers above my head, unsure whether I have the strength to face another day. My husband wraps his arms around me and softly whispers ‘time to get up beautiful’ . I feel nothing. There is no desire left in me to wash, eat or dress. Feeling his presence in the room I open one eye, the dog is sat in the corner with his lead at his feet. Adjusting his posture and sticking out his chest, I can see that Charlie hopes that today will be the day but I am not so optimistic.
“Want me to walk him again?” asks my husband
“No it’s okay. I’m going to get up.”
I haven’t been paying my attention to my blog this week mainly because my evenings have been taken up by what I have fondly named a ‘social life’. I’m not complaining, I love a social life as much as the next person but when you are desperate to dedicate a few hours a day to writing it does tend to get in the way.
At the moment I am putting pressure on myself to produce at least three flash fiction pieces a week as well as working on several short stories and a long-suffering novel. Unsurprisingly I am lacking focus and find myself starting a new story before I have finished the last one. This week I read that until you have completed a story, you are not a writer. I am not sure I agree with this but it has spurred me on regardless to introduce some structure and become a bit more productive.
My aim over the next month is to complete the following:
- Cut down the ‘on-the-go’ short stories by culling those that aren’t going anywhere
- Complete two short stories by the end of March to submit for either publication or competitions
- Write one flash fiction for blog each week
- Revisit novel and revise plot
- Experiment with crime and young adult fiction
I don’t know if this is achievable yet but I really need to focus on short stories if I want to become published this year. Lets see what happens.
Here is my third Friday Fictioneer’s story courtesy of a photo prompt from Madison Woods. If you want to join in, visit her blog to view the photo prompt and try to write a story in 100 words. Once you’re done share your story by posting a link as a comment on her blog.
She calls my name but I won’t come out. In here I am safe. The air is cool and the sun won’t burn my skin. Moving my hands around the dirt I push my whole body into the shadows. It wasn’t always like this. During my earth years I would run along the beach just to see the sun rise. Now immortality reins my soul and the new world comes alive when the moon lights up the dark sky. I hear her body slide down outside my tomb where she waits for me. “They’re coming for us” she whispers as the ground starts to tremble with the footsteps of a hundred men.
Stephen thought carefully about the last conversation he had with Mark. He was a detective and should know how to identify the ‘underlying issue’ but when Mark told him that the situation was under control he believed him.
Leading a double life as an undercover cop had always been risky but when Mark called off the search for justice it confirmed his birth into the criminal underworld. Staring off in narcotics as routine light cover Mark quickly became embroiled in the deception and lies that stood between him and his profession. When Jake was born Stephen hoped that he would reconcile with his old life and withdraw from the operation but five years and a crack habit later all lines had been crossed and there was no turning back.
Stephen turned up at Mark’s home weeks before their disappearance. Jake was playing with his toys on the floor whilst his wife Tina stood over the stove, stirring a pot and sipping red wine. Mark, although thin and gaunt seemed like his old self and Tina and Jake adored him. The only difference now was that his leading role was no longer a devoted husband and father.
“I’m worried Mark. Even your CI is showing concern.”
“You dumb shit you’ve spoken to my CI?” Stephen hushed him, they were standing outside in the garden and although the neighbours were away, he didn’t want to risk their conversation being heard. Mark looked around and lowered his voice but not his intensity
“For gods sakes you realise what you could have done?”
“You need help Mark. The streets talk and there are some pretty strong rumours going around that you are funding your habit by distributing police information. This is serious, you have gone too far.”
“And where did you hear that from? Some junkie, some lying parasite junkie?” Mark was twitching, moving back and forth on his heels. Stephen felt in his pocket and passed him the crack tightly wrapped in plastic. Mark delicately unravelled the bundle in seconds and rubbed the powder into his gums. Sinking back into his chair he lit a cigarette and slowly blew the smoke into the cool night air.
“The DEA and FBI have been prying into my internal affairs. I am pretty sure they are about to figure out what is going on and in all honesty I don’t think I can keep this up for much longer.”
“Oh so that’s the reason for your visit. Top detective Stephen Vega could lose his shield. “
Stephen took a deep breath and sat down in the chair next Mark, remembering not to get angry. It was true that his neck was on the line but his brother may be facing the rest of his life in jail and eternally be linked to the most prolific drug trafficker LA had ever known. Something had to be done, even if it risked Stephen going down with him.
“Steve, I am so close to getting the indictment” Mark looked into Stephen’s eyes and gently gripped his kneecap with his hand.
“I am not going to let seven years of my life and an addiction all be for nothing. I promise it will be over soon. Just a few more days”
Stephen prayed that Mark had taken the wrong path for the right reasons but deep down he knew the disappearance was the beginning of an untold story and the hope that his brother, Tina and Jake were still alive was fading.
He walked outside to the garden where they had talked weeks before and heard a small vibrating noise. Switching on his torch he looked around and walked over to the plant pot where a light was blinking beneath the soil. It was Mark’s cell phone, he picked it up watched ‘withheld’ flash across the screen. Pressing the green button Stephen put the phone to his ear and listened as the small shallow breathing.
“Hello?” It was a child’s voice “Uncle Steve?”