Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers-Bits of paper

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Bits of Paper

Sam slowed down whenever he cycled past the big bookstore. He usually cycled around the block a couple of times before he got up the courage to stop, lean the cycle against the lamp post and walk right in. Mr. Roy, the burly bookshop owner would not even look up from the cash register to acknowledge Sam.

Sam would get down to work right away. Sweeping, dusting, rearranging, always fearful, looking over his shoulder furtively, tingling with the anticipation of the routine beating that he seemed to invite. Still, he had courage enough to gather the bits of brown wrapping paper and stick them in his waistband, underneath the jacket, for his baby sister to play with. Life under the flyover was cold, bare, hungry but the paper bits made her happy.

Word count : 132

Posted in response to Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge.

The Wedding Bells- Part 13

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Once again, a group of writers from different geographical regions gather together to create a wonderful story. The photograph above serves as the inspirational theme for the 6th Flash Fiction Chain hosted by Jithin of Photrablogger. Give his beautiful site a visit and feast your eyes on the inspirational photos or read about his adventures.

A comprehensive list of characters in the story: (Main)

Anna Brighton- 32 year old CEO who owns and runs a publishing company

Alex Burns – well established author, Anna’s ex, Toby Blackwell’s cousin

Melissa Doyle –the bride, Anna’s dear friend

Toby Blackwell – co-owns the Blackwell estate, Alex’s cousin

(Supporting characters)

Jenny- Anna’s secretary

Adam – Owner of Adam and Eve’s

Harrison – Melissa’s fiance.

Percy Tuppence – Owner of the ring shop

Part 1 : Written by Sona

Part 2 : Written by Yinglan

Part 3 : Written by Priceless Joy

Part 4 : Written by Frenesthetist

Part 5 : Written by Dr. KO

Part 6 : Written by Sweety

Part 7 : Written by Tobias

Part 8 : Written by Ruth

Part 9 : Written by Austin

Part 10: Written by Rashmi

Part 11: Written by Phaena

Part 12: Written by Manvi

Do read these parts before mine to get a clear picture of the story!

The Wedding Bells-Part 13

Anna waved furiously to the newly wedded couple in the gleaming red limousine, about to leave. She held one hand up to her temple, pressing it with her perfumed handkerchief. Perfumes always made her ill; it was no doubt she had a headache. Why on earth had she worn a perfume instead of her usual deo she could not fathom herself. She looked down at her now crumpled dress held together at the back rather cleverly by pins that Alex helped her with.

“God! What a mess”, she thought. “One dress, two wardrobe malfunctions in a single wedding ceremony! Wonder what my luck would be at my own wedding”, she half muttered as the smiling flower girl, Sara skipped towards her. “Hey, Anna! You have crumpled the bouquet too much! It is good luck! You are the next to get married!”, chirped little Sara.

Anna squinted against the afternoon sun to see who had overheard them. She was in a group of people all excitedly chattering about the just married Melissa and Harrison, now off to their honeymoon destination. Anna felt a strange emptiness. The anticipation of the wedding was now over, and so was the adrenaline pumping through her body all morning because of her journey to fetch the bride’s ring and her subsequent encounter with Ms. Beaumount which turned ummm.. rather violent. Anna was amazed at herself. She, the sensible businesswoman, away from all matters of the heart and frivolous behaviour was at that very day been acting like a… giddy teenager!

She coloured a bright crimson at the thought of her stolen kisses with Toby and the memory of their physical closeness and the possibilities made her go weak in her knees all over again. At the same time, guilt stabbed at her, for she could not get Alex’s speculative look out of her mind. His tenderness as he helped her with her dress zipper the second time it came apart was too sweet to be dismissed. No sparks flew; his fingers did not linger on her body; his breath was not hot and urgent but his face screwed up in concentration with pins in his mouth reminded her sweetly of their high school dating years. She could hear their shared laughter and innocent jokes as they walked hand in hand beside the lake near her parent’s house.

Anna came out of her reverie with a start. There was raucous laughter behind her as the group of Alex’s friends and cousins came closer. She heard Toby before she saw him. He was obviously drunk with a wild look in his eyes. They were making jokes about the married couple and Toby’s smirk left her shaken.

” Miss Brighton, there is a call for you on the telephone in the house”, managed the breathless housemaid. Anna stared at the flowers in the maid’s hair as she followed her back into the rambling Blackwell Estate. It was difficult for Anna to locate the library where the telephone was situated on her own. The entire staff was dressed in their finery on account of the wedding reception, the remnants of which were being cleared from the mansion’s grounds.

“Dad!”, Anna shouted into the telephone receiver. “It has been the best wedding ever and Melissa looked such a stunning beauty!”

“Yes, Dad, they received your congratulatory telegram and I miss you and Mom so much.”

“Yes, I can visit you now that I am here, nearer home but I need to get back to office to work out things. My business is suffering.”

“Umm, OK, I suppose so, if this means just another day… but I can make it some other time. There are deals that need to be signed”, intoned Anna weakly as it brought to her mind the contract that had been signed with the eminent author Alex.

“Uh, Dad, just book my flight for the next day from home. I sure must come and see you both”, said Anna twisting the telephone wire around her fingers.

” Damn”, said Anna angrily as she ended the call and tried to reason her own elation at seeing Alex again at work. She badly needed her parent’s comfortable and sensible presence to pull her out of this vortex of emotions.

Anna raced up the stairs to her own room to get her cell phone. She had to inform Jenny, her personal secretary of her absence of another day and to find out if there were any other pressing issues at work.

As she pushed open the door to her room, Anna staggered back in shock. There was Toby, unmistakably charming with ruffled hair, kissing the housemaid. She stared at the now crumpled flowers in her hair, her head spinning.

“Ah, Anna! I was looking for you”, smiled Toby, slurring his words. Anna felt her cheeks flush from the anger in her.
“You are drunk. You are kissing the maid in my room”, said Anna coldly.

” Just looking for you, darling!”.
“And as you said, I am a little drunk, so the confusion”, winked Toby at the housemaid, patting her bottom. The maid rushed past Anna to go out of the room.

“Out”, said Anna to Toby gesturing at the still open door, her voice cracking a little. She was losing her composure again, she realised.

Toby lurched towards Anna and held her waist in a vice like grip, almost leering. That was when she heard someone walk in. She turned with a desperate look in her eyes and saw Alex.

To be continued by Yinglan

The Wedding Bells-Flash Fiction Chain # 6

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The beautiful photograph above serves as a photo prompt for Flash Fiction Chain #6 hosted by Jithin of Photrablogger. In this chain, many authors from around the world and from different time zones participate, writing consecutive parts in a beautifully orchestrated story telling.

The present chain chronicles a love tale.

I am writing the first part of the story.

The Wedding Bells

Characters in the story

Anna-a 32 year old publisher

Alex- a well established author

Jenny- Anna’s personal secretary

Anna walked briskly among the cubicles nodding her greetings to her coworkers. She could hear her desk phone ringing even as she swung open the door to her office and flicked the light on.

“Anna Brighton”, she said in a clipped accent.

She listened on, frowning and then relaxing a bit. “Fine, in that case I will get in touch with Alex and sign him on”. Next, Anna dialed a number from memory and tapped anxiously on the table, waiting for her call to be answered. The phone went unanswered and she slammed down the phone receiver.

“Bastard”, she muttered.

There was a tap on her door and her personal secretary, Jenny walked in. “Here is today’s mail and this bunch needs immediate attention.” Jenny placed two piles of mail on Anna’s table. She also slid that day’s newspapers across the huge mahogany desk.

Anna liked to peruse many newspapers and magazines to keep herself updated. As the founder-CEO of the publishing house, she had to be sharp and in tune with the market trends. This business was her baby and her passion. She had nurtured it and fought a competitive battle to bring it to this enviable position.

The day wore on; and it was a typical day for Anna. Strategy meetings, operational decisions and the day to day running of the company. Anna lunched alone, at her desk, one hand holding a sandwich and the other some business papers.

” Come in”, she intoned as there was a knock on the door but no one entered. Then the door opened noiselessly, and in strode a tall man with chiseled features.

“Alex”, she gasped, almost springing out of her chair. “Anna”, drawled the man. They stared at each other for a few moments before Anna broke the silence. “I called you this morning”.

“And that is the reason I am here”.

” Ah, I thought you did not want to talk”, said Anna with a suddenly dry throat.

“I could not take your call but I understood it had to do something with the contract I am going to sign with your company. So, I dropped in.”

“Yes, please take a seat”, said Anna recovering her composure. She asked Jenny to come in with the contract that had been made ready. Anna’s heart beat fast. Alex was one of the most sought after authors and his association with her publishing house would catapult her into the big names of the business. But that was not the only reason Anna was excited.

Anna’s association with Alex went back to her school days. They were together at school and even lived in the same neighbourhood. They had a common friend circle. Although they played together as children and went to the same church with their parents, they were not particularly close. But that changed when Anna entered her teens. Suddenly aware of her popularity amongst the opposite sex, she became attentive towards her more ardent admirers. And Alex was one of them.

The attraction was mutual and they were a couple when she graduated from school. Life soon took them their separate ways as they pursued further education. They had gotten over each other, she thought and maybe he felt the same, Anna rued but the attraction wasn’t completely dulled whenever she went visiting her parents and met him in their hometown. And now their paths had crossed once again with the future indicating more interaction and collaboration.

Alex finished signing the papers and walked out after shaking hands with Anna. That little touch alone made her nerves tingle. The unexpected encounter had left her emotionally unsure and on edge when the musical tones of her cell phone sounded.

“Dad”, Anna nearly shouted into the phone. “How are you?”, she asked joyfully. After a long and animated conversation with her father, Anna called in Jenny and announced, “I would be out for 3 days.”

“Three?”, Jenny was surprised.

” Yes, best friend’s wedding”, said Anna twirling her short black hair that framed her youthful face. “I am going to be away from my work after a long time”.

“No, this is the first time you are going to be away”, said Jenny firmly with a smile in her voice.

“Anyway, I am rather looking forward to it. Melissa is such a dear and she deserves all the happiness of this world. She is marrying her childhood sweetheart. The wedding is to be held in their private estate and I am sure to run into more of my friends”, said Anna dreamily.

“Ah, just a hitch! My mother goes crazy at the sound of wedding bells. She starts talking of when I am going to get married-as if I have the time!”, said Anna rolling her eyes.

“Well, have a great time”, said Jenny as Anna turned to go out of her office. “You might meet someone interesting”.

“Let’s see”, laughed Anna which was a rare sound.

Would Anna meet someone special? Would love blossom for her here at the office?
Read on. The next part is by Yinglan.

The Tiny Soldier-Part 2

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The following story is part of Flash Fiction Chain # 5 hosted at the wonderful Photrablogger. The chain is inspired by the photograph above which is just one of the bunch of amazing photos and posts about travel, photography and life on the blog.

Part 1 has been written by Abirami. Please read it to understand how the story progresses.

The characters are

Rick- a not so ordinary ten year old

Jenna- a social service employee

Mrs. Montgomery- the foster mom

Jake- Mrs. Montgomery’s only son

Rick was a surprised boy. The monkey sat on one of the low branches. Rick looked up curiously, cautiously. Mrs. Montgomery never did mention any monkeys around here. Macaws, yes and mockingbirds. This was good, this was fun. Rick swung his arm with the banana in his hand. The monkey chattered for a while and in one swoop took the banana from his hand. Rick nearly cried out for the touch was as if an electric current had passed into his body.

Now, how did he know electric currents? Jake, ma’s (for that was what all the children called Mrs. Montgomery) real son, had once set up some wires across the field. Two boys tripped over them-and there were such a hell lot of them in the house ma kept- and got some nasty burns. Rick was one of those boys and it made him swear revenge. Jenna saw his burn on one of her visits and her eyes were oh so round! But Rick lied about it. Jenna had been a rock in his short and troubled life. Going beyond the duties of a social worker, she was maternal and caring. Rick almost lied about ma too. He did not want Jenna to know how much he had come to like ma. “Wouldn’t Jenna be jealous?”, mused Rick as he practiced skipping stones on the surface of the muddy still pond behind the dingy house.

Soon, the sun was overhead and Rick felt drowsy. He sat in the shade of one of the nearly bare trees. To get the scanty shade, he twisted his legs around a dried, fallen branch. Sometime, this piece of wood too would be taken away for burning in the kitchen. The memory of the kitchen smoke started his eyes smarting. His eyes were always red these days. And watery. One of the boys in his room-there were only two rooms for the boys-hit him with the enamel jug used for washing themselves in the basin and called him a devil. Rick had felt the anger rising in him but he stayed quiet for he saw Jake looking on. He could not risk a fight and be ratted upon.

Under the tree, Rick felt a soft touch on his head. He stirred sleepily. He felt something moist put into his hand. Reluctantly, he opened his eyes and squinted against the afternoon sun. A banana peel! He bolted upright. As the leaves rustled overhead, Rick shouted. For there was the monkey again! Returning the banana peel! The monkey playfully swung from one branch to another and perched on one of the higher branches on the tree across. Rick looked at the monkey for some time. For a boy who was only interested in books and the make believe world, Rick spent a long time peeping at the monkey through his half closed eyes.

Ma rounded up all the children soon after. They were to wash up before the evening meal. As the boys sat down on the hard floor in rows, Jake and Ben took turns to pour the thin gruel into the boys’ soup bowls. Rick sloshed about the gruel in his bowl. There was a loud screech from the yard and a flurry of screams from the boys sitting near the window. A hazy brown shape came in and kicked over Jake’s bowl. And then it was gone.

“Just a wild monkey, children”, ma tried to soothe the boys. But Rick smirked. The monkey was an ally. It had taken his revenge on Jake.

Before getting in the bed that night, Rick crept to the barn outside where fruit and vegetables were kept. He hid a small bunch of bananas under his shirt. Rick then walked in to ma’s room to kiss her goodnight and to get an eyeful of the whimpering Jake. He got in the bed with the bulging bunch under his shirt. “Tomorrow, the monkey shall be given good food. What a soldier! Coming to my rescue”.

The moon was as bright as a round, clean tin plate. It peeped in the open window of Rick’s room. Shadows of the leaves danced on his face. He rubbed at his itchy eyes in his sleep. He felt, rather than heard the booming voice. “Give me the bananas”. Rick’s red eyes flew open and there was a rounded shape at the end of his bed. A soft furry hand reached under his shirt and pulled out his bunch! Rick screamed but no voice came from his dry throat! He watched in amazement as his soldier peeled the fruit one by one and devoured it. “It gets mighty difficult to get something to eat in this dry bush. Too little water in the rivers to make the land green and fertile”, said the booming voice.

“Fertile?”, croaked Rick. “What does that mean?”

“You don’t read many books, do you?”, said the monkey.

“Oh, I do. Nobody can read as well as I can here. Ma makes us study for two hours in the morning but I alone read for four, five hours”, said Rick proudly.

“Hmm.. but you still do not know enough. I shall have to teach you myself”, said the monkey in that booming voice of his. Rick looked around nervously to see if anybody else was awake by their conversation but amazingly, everybody slept on.

“A talking monkey“, thought Rick incredulously. Was he really talking to a monkey? Was he going bonkers or was this just a dream??

Part 3 by Yinglan

The Shadows on the Wall- Part 5

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The following work of Flash Fiction is in collaboration with my fellow blogger friend, Jithin of Photrablogger. The picture above is his creative photography which inspired this series of flash fiction writing. Do check out his blog to read about his adventures while travelling and many lovely pictures.

Character List:

Margaret or Maggy- a 19 year old girl, out to search some truths

Steve- the caretaker of the mansion, a man in his fifties

Robert- the house cook

Grandpa- Maggy’s grandfather

Part 1 by Sweety

Part 2 by Traveling Hat

Part 3 by Saya

Part 4 by Moses

You are now reading Part 5 of the story. Please read the parts that came before so that you can enjoy the story and understand the flow.

Maggy sat up in her bed abruptly, shaken from the vivid dream she just had and saw Robert, sitting in a chair opposite, looking at her speculatively. Dawn was breaking outside. She saw the trees of the woods take form in the growing light. The cold light of the day did nothing to dispel her fears or to allay her apprehensions. She pressed her fingers to her temples. She felt overwhelmed by the turn of events.

She had arrived in her Grandpa’s mansion the previous night in the hope of uncovering his mysterious disappearance a year back. But, the bloodcurdling scream in the middle of the night and the encounter with a shadowy form had left her nerves frayed.

Maggy swung her legs out of the bed but moaned as she tried to stand. Robert jumped up to help her. Maggy felt a vague discomfort as he steered her with his hand at her elbow. The touch of his soft shirt sleeve evoked memories of a childhood when she and Rob played in the kitchen, in the house and in the woods near the enormous mansion. The look in his eyes as he appraised her were cool but she could not forget the warmth of his gaze just the night before.

Maggy freshened up in the bathroom hurriedly and changed her clothes. “I would like to go for a walk”, she announced weakly. Robert excused himself, saying he needed to be in the kitchen to plan the day’s meals. With trepidation, Maggy walked out of the side door of the living room to the large and now unkept garden. The fringes of the once magnificent garden were slowly being encroached by the surrounding woods. Her grandfather had regaled her with fascinating stories of the woods when she was little. With a start, she remembered her dream, where she was in the dungeon of the mansion. “Is there really a dungeon here? “, she wondered aloud. Her sound sounded hollow even to herself.

Maggy walked on. In her misery, she hardly looked at the tiny wild flowers growing in the bushes. The birds chirped, but her ears echoed with the sound of her Grandpa’s voice, calling for help. She felt as if she were walking in a dream. As the bushes grew denser and the trees blocked out light, Maggy realised she had walked farther than she had realized. She turned to go back. Trying to distangle her clothes from the thorns of a plant, she noticed strange marking on one of the tree trunks.

Surprised, she came to herself with an alertness she had not felt before. She reminded herself of the reason of her visit to the mansion. She had to find out what had happened to her beloved Grandpa. Brushing the leaves off her clothes, she looked around keenly. There was another tree trunk with a similar mark on it. And another… if it was a trail, it seemed to be leading deeper into the woods. She would lose her way, Maggy realised. “I must come back with someone, maybe Rob”.

Her heart quickened at the thought of Rob. With brisk steps, she walked back to the edge of the garden. Some of the beautiful wild flowers were trampled! Was she careless while entering the woods? Or had someone else been here, after her? Following her?

Maggy quickly entered the house through the small kitchen door. Robert was drying the dishes with a towel. Last night’s mess had all been cleared away. The door of the cabinet they had hidden in last night was ajar. Following Maggy’s gaze. Robert walked over to close the door. All of a sudden, Maggy heard a deep, rumbling sound coming from the cabinet? Or was it from beneath the wooden floor of the kitchen? No, she was not mistaken because the vibrations traveled through her body.

Shocked, Maggy looked at Rob but his expression was masked. “Rob”, she blurted out, “Is there a dungeon underneath the mansion”?

“Dungeon? No!”, he said almost harshly. Maggy felt lightheaded. As she swayed on her feet Rob shot out a hand to help her and she saw the crushed petals of the wild flowers on his shirt sleeve…

Can Maggy trust Robert? Where does the trail in the woods lead to? Is there really a dungeon under the house?

To be continued by Manvi