A Sweet Mistake by Denny Jace

A Sweet Mistake

Denny Jace

 

I offer my upturned fists to you; “Left, or right? You choose”.

You hesitate and smile, enjoying the game, “Right”. 

I uncurl my fingers revealing the earring that’s not mine.

Your smile slips, the game changes as recognition reaches your eyes and I watch your mouth begin to lie.

This is not serendipity; the flip of a coin, the turn of a card. 

You chose someone else thinking I’d never know; I’d have played along too if you had chosen the correct hand. 

The left fist held a Love Heart sweet saying ‘Mine Forever’. 

That would have been my choice.

 

About the author: Denny Jace started writing in 2019, finally fulfilling a lifelong ambition to do so. She lives in Shropshire with her two (grown up) children, husband and dogs. The dogs, Maude and Stanley, listen to her endless attempts at stories all day long. Follow Denny on Twitter: @dennyjace

September 2019 Micro Fiction Shortlist

September 2019 Micro Fiction Shortlist

We had another brilliant selection of entries to pick from this month and really impressed with the variety of these final ten. Well done to all the writers on the longlist and especially to all whose stories appear here. VOTING IS ANONYMOUS so please don’t tell anyone what your story is called if it appears here.

Voting is open until 23.45 on 23rd September 2019. Results will be announced on the 24th. Now it’s time to read and vote for your favourite!

A Sweet Mistake

I offer my upturned fists to you; “Left, or right? You choose”.

You hesitate and smile, enjoying the game, “Right”.

I uncurl my fingers revealing the earring that’s not mine.

Your smile slips, the game changes as recognition reaches your eyes and I watch your mouth begin to lie.

This is not serendipity; the flip of a coin, the turn of a card.

You chose someone else thinking I’d never know; I’d have played along too if you had chosen the correct hand.

The left fist held a Love Heart sweet saying ‘Mine Forever’. That would have been my choice.

 

Falling In. Falling Out.

If I stay, will it change?

That question’s doing wheelies in my brain.

Tonight, every night, his snore keeps rhythm with our old dogs.

We don’t touch much anymore. Don’t reach out to each other in the long liquorice nights.

When we talk about it, words get stuck down my throat. His too, I hear them, then he puts the telly on.

If I leave, I’ll miss him. It’s not about love.

It’s morning. The kettle’s on. He pops bread in the toaster. He’ll spread one with marmite and one with jam.

What would it feel like to forget that?

 

Lists

There were just three days to go when I found Tom’s list.

And by then, every damn detail had been confirmed: venue, guests, dress, rings, bells, hair, music, speeches, food, cake, wine, chairs.

On the back of a receipt from the dry cleaner’s, in Tom’s messy scrawl, the pros and cons of marrying ME were set out.

Cons: slightly fat, short(ish), snappy (PMT?), unsure about having kids

Pros: good SOH, pretty face, very independent (perhaps a con?)

I read it many times, looking to forgive. Looking for that absent word: love.

This morning I wrote my list: cancel wedding.

 

Lunch in Llandudno

‘Where would you like to sit?’ Everything about the waitress was thin: her hair, body, skin, voice.

I knew my wife wanted the window table, where we’d be able to watch the gulls bomb-drop onto tourists, harvesting ice creams and sausage rolls. I knew my wife would examine the menu and pat her belly out of habit. I knew my wife would choose something safe, like ham or coronation chicken; she’d say rain and pity and remember. I knew she wanted the window table so she could look out, and not at me.

‘Somewhere at the back, please,’ I said.

 

Reality Raw

‘So…?’ he said and grabbed at my hand.

And I nodded and chewed on my gum.

‘I like you too,’ I said, when he took me to Brown’s. And I breathed in his Fahrenheit and flecks of old age, beamed at the pop of champagne.

And we slurped and chomped and slurped some more.

His voice was slurry as we arrived at my flat.

‘So..?’ he said as he grabbed at my heart.

And I nodded and chewed on my gum.

His blubbery body. My gauzy dress. His darty tongue and pinprick eyes.

Reality raw as the morning sun dawned.

 

Tin Man

A bird flaps in the cavity where his heart used to beat. Its wings tattoo against his chest, echoing through the forest. Beyond reach, the oil can mocks. Rust lines stain his weather-worn cheeks. He longs for the axe to fall.

A girl skips along a path. Singing softly to herself, she catches the reverberation of the wings, and stops.

Ahead of her, the path forks. Curious, she chooses the right one.

As she skips towards him new tears add burnt sienna to the lines on his face.

Reaching him, she oils his joints with clumsy precision. The axe falls.

 

The scream

Sometimes, Josie finds choosing difficult.

Every day is filled with choice. It starts with breakfast. Toast? Porridge? Eggs and soldiers? In supermarkets she stands blankly in front of shelves. Organic? Cold-pressed? Welfare-friendly or free range?

Yesterday, spag bol and fish fingers skipping dementedly in her head, she’d said If I have to think about another meal I will scream.

Now, in a fancy restaurant, Dan droning about cars, the waiter hovering –

Just a moment, she says, diving into the ladies’.

The other diners pause mid-forkful; wonder at the distant sound of a woman’s scream; then resume their meals, unconcerned.

 

The Flame

Mom and Russ leased the Dodge four-door, so we took it to my birthday dinner. They sat close
on their side, like always, flushed with secrets. During cake, they gave me keys to his car from
before – a pine-green Pontiac with flames down the hood. I must have winced, because Russ
drum-rolled the table. Choose it or lose it!

At school, I parked behind the dumpster. You came along later, picked the lock and
placed daisies along the cracked leather dash. Seeing them there, stems intertwined, shielding
each other from a hot September sun, showed me what love could do.

 

There Must Be a Better Word for It

There must be a better word for it.

For the times you try to carry everything upstairs at once, knowing two trips is more efficient. Spilling stuff on the floor as you persist.

Or when you struggle with the wrong tool, instead of taking time to find a better one.

Or when you pop out of the house, for only five minutes. Quicker than taking the children with you.

There must be a word for it. These choices, this behaviour.

A better word for it than guilt. A better word for it than grief.

 

When I Remember Sally September

We were loose kids, Sally and I. Our escape came beside the railway, enfolded together under willowherb five feet tall between the ballast stones.

Summer holidays became autumn weekends. She’d roll in the leaves, face flushed, feeding me sun-warmed blackberries picked from the hedges. Hungry eyes watching me take mine straight while she balanced the rest on her hand, undecided on the taste.

The last time, before her parents spoke to mine, she was angry and crying, stamping her fruits into the tracks. I saw the pulp fly and the juice run, and pretended I understood. I was nowhere close.

 

 

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Never Buy a Car from a Shaman by Andrew Boulton

Never Buy a Car from a Shaman

Andrew Boulton

 

Because my dad’s an idiot, he bought my car from the shaman.

Now, as well as smelling like a pond’s arsehole, whenever I press in the cigarette lighter, Tom Hanks appears in the passenger seat.

I was into it at first, because it was a young Tom Hanks and we did some kissing and he’d tell me about celebrities who were shitty.

But then, don’t ask me why, he started telling me to run people down. Once he tried to grab the wheel.

I know I could just stop pressing in the cigarette lighter. But really, what would that solve.

 

***

 

About the author: Andrew Boulton is a creative advertising lecturer and copywriter from Nottingham.

If you’ve enjoyed Andrew’s story, please leave a comment below letting him know!

The Problem with Seven by Sally Doherty

The Problem with Seven

Sally Doherty

 

There are seven leaves on the new pillowcase. My breathing quickens, as if the pattern of vines entwines my chest. I divert my attention. Eighty-two leaves on the duvet cover. Forty-six spots on his pyjamas.

Seven. Seven.

Seven: your age. Seventh: the date. Seven: the number of minutes late the ambulance was.

I run to the garden. Thirteen paces to the pear tree. Grasp a plump leaf. Pluck. Thirteen paces back.

Your brother sleeps on, his breathing rhythmic. One, two… I count till seven passes.

There are eight leaves on the pillow. My body loosens. Eight will keep him safe.

 

About the author: Sally Doherty lives in leafy Surrey with her two-legged husband, three-legged Labrador and four-legged Jack Russell Terror. She recently started dabbling in flash fiction with pieces published by Reflex Fiction and Spelk Fiction. She was also delighted to win Retreat West’s June Micro Fiction competition. Primarily, Sally writes middle grade novels. Her debut TOBY AND THE SILVER BLOOD WITCHES will be published by March Hamilton.

 

Summer by Charlie Swailes

 

Summer

Charlie Swailes

 

In the summer I gather leaves. Fagus sylvatica, acer campestre, elm, oak. Then I undress them. With loving care, my fingers peel the succulent, green flesh from around each groove, leaving the thin veins beneath.

I did this as a child. Portions of green and red and brown littered the house during the summer months, as I left the dainty, delicate wisps of seams and stems on windows, in books, on the fridge. My sister hated them. “They’re like skeletons. It’s gross. It’s like you’re dissecting them and leaving corpses around.”

When she died, I covered her coffin with them.

 

About the author: Charlie Swailes is a secondary school English teacher in West Yorkshire, where she lives with a husband, two little boys and an antisocial cat. Writing flash fiction in the little free time with the little free energy she has gives her a lovely warm sense of accomplishment.