Market #FridayFictioneers

For the first time in two months the market was awake once more.

People set up their stalls under a orange-yellow sky, greeting each other. Plastic and paper rustled in the breeze whilst the heavenly scent of fresh bread, cakes and pies called to be tasted. 

Harriet and her mother set up their small farm’s produce stall. There were eggs laid by their chickens. Homemade jams, marmalade and chutneys using fruit and veg from their field. Golden honey from Harriet’s beehives and goat’s cheese from mother’s goats.

The nervousness in the air was broken by the first customers arriving. Harriet let go of the breath she was holding. It felt like things were returning back to normal.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2020/06/24/26-june-2020/ with thanks)

Food! #FridayFictioneers

Pausing for a moment, I rested on top of blade of grass and scented the air. I could smell flowers and something else….something that sent a tingle through me and called for attention.

Setting off, I followed the scent as it grew then I found myself on something different. The land rose and fell then I came across my prize.

I half rose in the air and sent the signal out to the other workers; food here! Food here!

They came in a drove, eager to see what I had found. Then together, we carried everything back to our hill and our Queen.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2020/06/03/5-june-2020/ with thanks).

 

 

Shortage

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Everyone had gathered on the wave breaker wall, squabbling over space whilst the sea rushed across sand and shells in the background.

‘Quiet! Quiet!’ Storm screeched.

With some gibbering, the gulls hushed.

‘Right, we all know the problem; lack of food!’

‘Aye! Aye! Cor! Cor!’ the gulls cried.

‘So,’ Storm hollered, ‘we need to move inland!’

‘Aye! Cor! Cor! Aye!’

There was a squall as the gulls all spoke at once, ‘Chips, ice cream, fish! Bread, meat! Sweet fluff cloud, sticky things, chocolate!’

Storm flapped his large grey and black tipped wings and let out a massive scream to silence the chatting.

‘Right troops,’ he spoke once they were quiet enough, ‘let’s go find the humans!’

Xertz #AtoZChallenge

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Xertz – to gulp something down quickly and/or in a greedy fashion.

The picnic was spread out on the blanket thrown over the grass. He couldn’t help himself as he walked by and saw no one around. Where had the family who owned this offering of food gone too?

There was a distant call of music from behind the trees and he guessed people were gathering to the bandstand and the brass band playing there.

There was enough of the picnic to go around and he was sure they wouldn’t miss a couple of sandwiches, a slice of cake and an apple…..

The family came back, delighting over the band to find a strange man sat on their picnic blanket eating all their food.

‘I’ll have you, I will!’ the father roared.

The man stuffed the remaining food into his mouth, gulped down the last of the pink lemonade and rushed off into the trees the father chasing after him.

(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)

Wayzgoose #AtoZChallenge

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Wayzgoose – an annual summer party held by a printing house for all its employees.

It was too warm and the cocktails had gone to my head all ready. I dipped my feet into the cool outdoor swimming pool of the hotel and watched everyone else. Everyone from work I knew was here, it was a work do after all! and there were people from other departments I had never seen before.

Everyone from the printing house seemed to be here; the big cheeses, the receptions and the kids who worked in the post room. Everyone was drinking or eating, talking and enjoying themselves.

It was good to be not at work in this four star hotel for a weekend party. It was the annual tradition of the business. A reward for everyone and a celebration of last year’s best selling books and online articles.

I hated it. I loathed shifting through the paper and online submissions. I grimaced at simple spelling mistakes and rolled my eyes at grammar errors. For years, I had read other peoples’ writings whilst mine had slipped away like shells out to sea.

‘So, I heard you’d handed in your notice….’

I looked up at the sound of the voice, frowning and scrunching my face up because the sun was too bright. It was Naz though, no doubt about it.

He sat down next to me and dipped his bare feet into the water. He was wet from a swim and there was a towel around his shoulders.

‘This isn’t a pool party,’ I joked.

Naz laughed and shook his wet dark hair, ‘everyone’s too drunk to care!’

I pressed my lips together and kicked my feet under the water. He was right, everyone no one cared and the drinks were flowing too much. Not even the Christmas party ended up like this.

‘So, is it true? You are leaving me?’ Naz uttered.

‘Yes. How did you find out?’ I asked.

Naz tapped his nose and laughed.

‘I leave at the end of next month.’

‘So you got on that journalism course then?’

‘University at the age of thirty-one here I come!’ I cried and swung my arms up.

A few people glanced at me then got back on with their conversations or nibbles.

‘Go get ’em girl,’ Naz said, ‘fancy a drink to celebrate?’

‘No, I’ve had too much.’

‘Come on!’ Naz half shouted and got up splashing me with pool water.

I watched him go over to the bar and a part of me wanted to get up and go, make Naz come back with two drinks and discovery himself alone. I couldn’t though, we had known each other too long.

He came back soon enough with tall glasses and something pink and fizz inside. I sipped it through a paper straw and found it fruity and sweet. We didn’t talk for a few minutes, just sat and watched a group of men try and push each other in the pool. Someone give at last and splashed in, followed by another man he had snatched the arm of as he fell.

Laughter and shouting rose up as people swamped the pool. The men got up and everyone distributed lured by the music coming from the marque on the lawn.

‘Party’s kicking off now,’ Naz pointed out.

I rubbed my head, feeling the growth of a headache. I should get something to eat and then maybe slip off back to my room. I wasn’t in the mood for dancing, having my bum and boobs grabbed at. Also, I didn’t want to end up in someone else’s bed tonight like a lot of these people would do.

I turned to Naz and saw him waving at someone, ‘Cherry in accounting, Let’s go say hi.’

‘You go. I’ll see you at the buffet table,’ I replied.

Naz nodded and hurried off.

I got my wrinkled feet out of the pool, back into my red flat shoes that matched my red cocktail dress and went to get something to eat.

There wasn’t a queue though there was enough people getting food to bump elbows with. Most people had gone off dancing. I got a paper plate and selected a few things, not really fussy over the trays of food.

I found a table outside and ate slowly, enjoying the setting sun and the lights coming on in the gardens. Noise echoed around me, the booming of the disco music, the shouting of the people. A woman was screaming somewhere- I guessed in delight as she was chased by a suitor? Or maybe a murderer? I didn’t care.

I finished eating and went back to the buffet table. I gathered some sandwiches, fruit, mini blueberry muffins and a few other things to eat in my room. Then acting like I was looking for somewhere to eat or perhaps the friends I had left a few minutes ago, I sneaked back inside the hotel.

It was a long way to my room and I was grateful not to meet anyone. Either the whole hotel had been booked for the company or the other guests were sticking in their bedrooms. I took the elevator and walked along the corridors until I made to my door.

Once in, I put the food on the desk next to the gathering of bottled water and fizzy drinks I had brought with me. A few packets of sweets and chocolates were there too. That had been my plan for night; far from the party and by myself.

I sat on the bed and turned the TV on. I nibbled on a sandwich and sipped some water.

What a way to spend my last work’s summer party.

(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)

Golden Dragon

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There was a buzz in city. The streets smelt of Chinese spice and stir fry vegetables as cookers worked over gas burners in little marquees. Red paper lanterns were strung up and gold steamers waved above the crowds.

Music echoed, drums beating and cymbals crashing. Gasps rose from the people and they parted like a breaking wave as along the road came a golden dragon. He was rising and falling with the beat of the music. Bells that decorated his flashing scales tinkled and his yellow mane blew in the breeze.

He fixed his large eyes onto the crowd then downwards as a child darted before him. The dragon regarded her slowly then he opened his mouth wide. The child placed a red envelope on his tongue and the dragon clamped his teeth shut.

A joyous cry roared through the crowd. The dragon shook his head and started to dance once more, welcoming the Chinese new year in.

The Real Thing #CCC

It was the same old thing and Dan had had enough. He threw his spoon into the bowl of artificial milk and porridge then declared to his family, ‘we are going to get some real food!’

‘Where from?’ his wife laughed, ‘everything is made in a factory. There is no ‘real’ to anything, not even our children!’

Dan huffed, didn’t reply and instead bundled everyone into the car.

They drove for hours, far from the city then they spotted a sign; Proper milk, eggs and beef. 

‘There!’ cried Dan, ‘real food at last!’

 

(Inspired by; https://crispinakemp.com/2019/12/11/crimsons-creative-challenge-57/ with thanks).

 

Punch (Part 1)

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It was Chester’s last fete. No one was interested in Punch and Judy shows anymore. They had grown scary and not politically correct. Soon, he imagined, that everything would be offensive and no one would be able to speak for fear of saying the wrong thing and being put in jail.

Packing the puppets away, Chester knew he would keep them all. He would sell everything else- the red tent, the Italian style back drops and the small van he transported around in. He was in constant need of money and the puppets would have sold for a fair bit but he couldn’t part with them.

He put the doctor, clown and constable in one case. In the second went the crocodile, the dog with his string of sausages and the skeleton. The third was for the baby, Judy and Punch and his whacking stick. The four case, bigger then the others, which he hadn’t opened for this show contained the lesser used puppets of; the hangman, the devil, the ghost, the lawyer and the beadle.

Chester placed Judy then the baby inside. Finally, he picked up Punch. Feeling the weigh in his hands and studying the puppet, Chester felt the deep connection he had always had to this character.

Punch was wooden like the rest of the puppets and dressed traditional in a jester suit of red and yellow trimmed with a matching cone hat complete with pompom at the end. He had yellow painted stockings, red and shoes. His face was hand painted with a long hooked nose which was bright red end, wide teeth flashing grin, red lipstick lips, red circle cheeks, staring blue eyes and just the hint of flock grey hair coming out from under the hat.

Chester slide his hand inside the puppet and brought him to life with simple movements. Whispering words in Punch’s squeaky, high pitched voice, Chester felt like he was saying a final farewell to what had been his life since he could first remember.

The shows had been his grandfather then his father’s trade and naturally Chester had followed them. The puppets, who had been repaired and repainted over the years had belong to his grandfather. It was hard to get good looking traditional puppets like this now, collectors went crazy over them.

Sliding Punch off his hand, Chester placed the puppet in the case. He closed the lid and wondered if he would ever get the puppets out to perform again.

He took the cases to his grey van then drove back to pack up the rest of his show. As he did so, he noticed some of other stalls packing away too. It had been a good crowed for the autumn harvest festival in this farmer’s field and the weather had held too.

The smell of pies, cakes, cheeses and burgers had filled the air all afternoon. Children had ran about laughing, holding balloons, candy floss and over sized stuffed toys won from the game stands. The music and noises of the fairground rides in the field next door had become background to everything else.

Chester drove his van back to the car park, made sure it was locked tight and walked back to the field. He brought a few last minute things – a pie, some cheese and a fancy bottle of fruity wine. He walked passed the craft and snack stalls into the tea tent.

They were still just about serving. He got a cup of tea and a slice of lemon cake. Sitting at one of the empty tables – of which there were many- he people watched and listened to the chatting.

The creeping feeling of being alone came across him. He was an old man now in his mid-sixties. His wife was dead, his only son moved to Sweden for work then stayed due to marriage and two children. Chester had meet his grandchildren once or twice. He didn’t have a good relationship with son or his wife, there was too much bitterness there. Nor was Chester a fan of being called ‘farfar’ the Swedish for grandpa.

He kept his distance, just like he had done with other family members. They had frowned at his career choices, said he was too close to his puppets, thought he was odd and the black sheep of the family. He was best written out and forgotten about.

Chester sighed and finished eating and drinking. He sat until the tea tent closed and an old woman shooed him out.

The fete was slowly closing but Chester walked through the prize flowers, veg and fruit and autumn themed displays as they were packed away. It was always nice to look at the hard work of other people and celebrate their achievements which were so unlike his own.

After, he crossed fields and wandered around the fairground. There were many rides all being lit up as the evening darkness arrived showing that though the fete might have ended the night was still young here.

The air smelt of greasy burgers, hot dogs, chips, melted cheese and burning donuts. There was also a smokiness from all the grills and the sweet smell of sugary treats.

Adults, teenagers and children crowded the muddy pathways. Their voices raised above the booming music to point out a ride they wanted to go on or a food stall they wanted to visit. Ticket booths had queues outside and there was an atmosphere of a party.

Chester walked passed the rides, noticing ones he recognised from his youth; whirling waltz, bumper cars, carousel, helter skelter, haunted house and the ferries wheel. 

He looked at the game stalls. Grab a duck win a goldfish! Throw three darts pop a balloon for a prize. How many hoops can you score? Tin can alley knock down them all. Ladder climb, ring the bell at the top to win! Bingo. Horse Derby Racing. Whac-A-Mole and finally, the one he wanted; Shoot ‘Em Out

He paid for three rounds, heaved the air rifle to his shoulder and aimed at as many targets he could. The rife give a kick back he recalled from the real thing. In a flash, Chester saw himself in the woods with his grandfather and father shooting deer, rabbits and pheasants.  

Chester focused on the moving targets like they were real animals. His score came close the first tine. The second and third rounds, he shot down enough to win two medium or a large prize.

‘What do you want?’ the grumpy looking vendor man asked Chester and began pointing out the stuffed toys as he named them, ‘a tiger, a unicorn, a panda, a dog or one of these kids movie characters?’

Chester looked across to the other prizes and the vendor continued, ‘the medium ones are a fish, a turtle, a teddy bear, a rabbit….whatever.’

The vendor shrugged his shoulders then crossed his arms over his stained waist coat. 

‘Two teddy bears, please. One white and one brown,’ Chester replied. 

Begrudgingly the the game’s owner handed them over. Chester thanked him and walked away. He would keep the teddies to send to the grandchildren for Christmas. He started to head back to his van but his stomach growled at the scent of food. 

Why not? It’s a two hour drive home now, Chester thought.   

He brought a burger then some chips which tasted much better. For the trip home, he got some bottled water, sweet rock pieces, sticky toffee and hard humbugs.

Back in his van, he sucked on a black and white, minty humbug and tried not to feel tried. Starting the engine, Chester looked in the rear view mirror into the back of the open van.

‘Right, Punch,’ Chester spoke, ‘I hope you’ve had a good last show because it’s time to go home for the last time now.’

To Be Continued…

Autumn Stores

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The squirrels were stealing nuts I’d put out for birds then burying them around my garden as a winter storage.

Last #CCC

He walked down the dirty road, the only sounds his movements and wind in the grass. He had been out hunting – if you could call it that. In his rucksack were rusty cans of vegetables, stewed meat and bottles of clear river water which he still had to boil before drinking.

Arriving back at the farm house, he checked on things – animals and crops good – then he sat at the worn table and ate a tin of peaches. He found them good but too sweet, still he savored them, knowing they could well be the last just like he was.

 

(Inspired by; https://crimsonprose.wordpress.com/2019/07/10/crimsons-creative-challenge-35/ with thanks).