MY 218TH BLOG POST SINCE MARCH 2020 – TIME FOR A BREAK!

I’m taking a break from blogging for a while but I plan to be back later in the year.

In the meantime, here’s a piece of flash fiction I wrote for a competition set by my writers’ group – watfordwriters.org

The subject matter was, “The Mistake”. This story can be read on a number of levels – where do you think the mistake – if there was one – was made?

Thank you for following my blog and for all your feedback over the past months.

I am always pleased to receive your comments and likes. See you again soon!

FLASH FICTION – THE MISTAKE

Cathy could hear the happy shouts of the children playing in the garden.

The phone rang.  “Mrs Collins?” It was an unfamiliar voice.

“Yes?” Cathy tentatively replied. Not another cold call!

“Your husband has been having an affair with my wife.”

Cathy laughed in disbelief.  “You’ve made a mistake. You must have the wrong number!” She put the phone down.

It rang again.

“I’m sorry if I’ve given you a shock Mrs Collins, but this is not a wrong number. There’s no easy way to put this. Your husband Gary, who works at Ridgecombe School, has been having an affair with the teaching assistant Janice, who happens to be my wife.”

Cathy was shocked into silence.  Outside she could still hear the children playing but she felt that her world had stopped.

She remembered how Gary always seemed in such a hurry nowadays to get to work. He’d also been quite short with her of late.  Was it possible? Could he be unfaithful?

 “Are you still there Mrs Collins?” said the voice.

“Yes, I’m here”, she replied weakly. “How do you know this?”

“I received an anonymous letter. I confronted my wife and she confirmed it was true. I thought you’d want to know.”

Cathy put the phone down. She was shaking.

Gary would soon be home from work. Should she confront him? He’d be bound to laugh it off. And she would laugh with him. Just some silly prank caller. Maybe a former student who had a grudge against her husband?

Cathy threw herself into household tasks. Somehow she managed to give the children tea, get them bathed and into bed. 

Not long after she heard Gary’s key in the door. What should she do? Should she say anything at all? Why should she believe someone she’d never met?  Yet, the more she thought about it, the more convinced she was that it could be true.  Gary had changed towards her in the past months.  And he’d been coming home late quite often – staff meetings he said.

After dinner, over the mundane task of stacking the dishwasher, she casually asked,

“Do you know someone called Janice?”

Gary looked startled.

“Why do you ask?”

“I received an odd phone call today. A guy who said he was her husband. He seemed to think the two of you were having an affair.”

Gary took his phone out of his pocket and began fumbling with it. His eyes did not meet hers.

“Are you having an affair Gary? Are you?”

Cathy gripped the steak knife angrily in her hand.

“Look at me!” she screamed.

Gary looked up and she could immediately see from the guilty expression on his face that the caller had been right.

*************************************

ONE YEAR LATER

Cathy Collins visibly trembled as she was escorted into the crowded courtroom.

“Catherine Elizabeth Collins – do you plead guilty or not guilty?”

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

POST #212. 350 W0RDS ON DREAMS.

Watford Writers were challenged to come up with ideas for a short story around the theme of “dreams”. 

We were restricted to 350 words.

Here’s what I wrote:

REALITY

George felt himself perspiring under the hot lights.

“What’s the crowd like tonight?” he asked Jenny, as she dusted his forehead with powder.

Jenny made a face. “I was making up tonight’s contestant earlier and she asked me to make her beautiful. I can’t perform miracles my dear, I told her.”

A roar came from the audience behind the curtain.

“Tell us your dream! Tell us your dream! Tell us your dream!”

The show’s theme music began. George stepped forward as the curtains parted.

“Good evening folks. Welcome to Tell Us Your Dream. Tonight we’re going to make someone’s dream come true. Who’s it gonna be?”

The arc lights swept over the studio audience, many of whom were standing and waving their arms in the air.

“Me! Me!”

The music pulsed louder and louder and then stopped as the cameras zoomed in on a bespectacled middle aged woman.

A disembodied voice yelled, “Audrey Fisher from Luton. Tell us your dream!”

Audrey’s face lit up as eager arms propelled her forwards and up on to the stage.

There was an uproar from the audience who were all on their feet.

“Tell us your dream!”

George smiled at Audrey.  She was a plain old thing, he thought. A trifle nervous, but that was to be expected.

The music pulsed again. And then fell silent.

George smiled. “Welcome Audrey to Tell Us Your Dream.”

“You know the format. You tell us your deepest hopes, desires and wishes and the Dream Team here will help make them come true. Now don’t be shy.”

“Well George,” responded Audrey, not at all shyly.  “I’ve had a secret passion for a long time now. Someone I really fancy.  I know that if he only had the chance to meet me, to spend the night with me that he would realise that I am the one for him.”

“OOOH!” shrieked the audience. “Audrey! Audrey! Audrey!”

George turned to the audience.  “You know we have no prior vetting of dreams. We never know what’s going to come up or who is going to come up on to the stage.” Then, turning to Audrey he said, “Now tell us more about this chap of yours.”

“Well George,” volunteered Audrey, “he’s not conventionally good looking but he‘s got something. That certain je ne sais quoi.”

“OOOOOH!” screamed the audience not understanding a word.

“Tell us your dream! Tell us your dream!”

“After the break,” George announced, “we’re going to let you in on the lucky chap’s name. Back in a mo!”

“Audience please don’t leave your seats!” someone shouted. “The show will be starting again in three minutes.”

Jenny came back on stage to dust George’s shiny, sweaty head. And whispered something in his ear.

George continued to smile at the audience but he turned pale.

“That’s crazy,” he murmured. “I’ve been set up. It’s just not possible. I can’t do it.”

Audrey looked up at him and smiled adoringly.

“Are you ready George to make my dreams come true?”

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

POST #210 – “MEN!”

I last posted this piece of flash fiction in 2018. At that time writing short stories was a new thing for me so I was really out of my comfort zone!

The writers group I belong to (watfordwriters.org) regularly runs a flash fiction competition where we have to write to a specific topic and word count. The subject here was “The Party”.

If you enjoy reading my story, please let me know. Your feedback really means a lot to me. Thanks!

SOMETHING IN COMMON

The party music was deafening.

“I can’t hear myself speak above this noise,” Jenny said to no one in particular. Then, turning to the woman nearest to her, “I hate works parties don’t you?”

“Makes a break from home” yelled the other into Jenny’s ear.

The music stopped for a second and the two women smiled at one another.  “I’m Jenny”, said one, “from the Hertford office”. “Donna,” volunteered the other, “Camden branch.”

They moved into the adjoining room where it was quieter and found some seats.  “Can’t wait to get these off”, said Donna slipping off her high heels. Jenny nodded in agreement.  “I’ve given up killer heels. It’s trainers for me from now on.  Much easier for school runs with our three.  You got kids Donna?”

“We have a dog. Hubbie doesn’t want children. Trouble is he’s away so much on business that I’m the one that has to walk it every day.

“It’s the same for me” Jenny sighed. “I do all the work – mine’s never around!”

“Men!” they exclaimed in unison.

“Yet we can’t live without them can we?” smiled Donna. “And mine’s not so bad.  He still knows how to give me a good time.”

“You’re lucky”, Jenny responded. “It’s different once you have kids. At the first hint of anything that needs doing, mine’s off.  Disappears for days!  Even at Christmas! Sometimes I feel like a single mum.  Even when we’re away it’s the same. Always self-catering and it’s all down to me. I might as well be at home.”

Donna nodded sympathetically. “Yes, I am lucky Jenny. We’ve had some fantastic holidays. Ever been to the Maldives?”

Jenny shook her head dismally. “The most we’ve ever had is a day trip to Calais.”

Donna was busily scrolling through her photos.

“Look – this was taken outside our holiday bungalow last Christmas.”  Jenny looked at the photo. Took off her glasses, cleaned them and peered at it again.  “I must have had too much to drink – your bloke looks just like my Dennis”.

“Dennis!” shrieked Donna. “My husband’s name is Dennis!”

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

POST 209# FLASH FICTION

Yes. I’ve posted 209 poems, thoughts and short stories on this blog since March 2020. Quite a feat even if I say so myself!

The task in our writers’ group this week was to write 500 words on the topic of “The First”.

Here’s what I wrote. Please let me know whether or not you like it. Thanks!

DIPLOMAT

Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m a peace loving guy. 

I’ve always been the diplomatic sort. Whenever there’s been a confrontation of any kind I’ve turned my back and walked away.

It’s harder when you have kids.  You want to take sides but I’ve always tried to be fair. This has led to the children thinking that their mother, Sally, is a cow and that I’m a saint. But there you are. Can’t be helped. Best not to get involved.

It was different for me growing up. We all lived in fear of my dad once he got going. I would run to my room and hide under the bed until the screaming stopped.  I couldn’t leave home fast enough.

I kept my head down at uni, studied hard and obtained a good degree. 

At work I kept my distance from colleagues.  The boss liked me because I never took sides so I soon achieved promotion.

Now they’re grown up, my children still keep in touch. It’s been difficult in the past year with Covid but I’m hoping they’ll still visit me whenever they can.

It was this time last year that the wife and I were in the car on the way to her sister’s on the Sussex coast. Sally had wanted to go on her own but I insisted on driving.

Like most men, I like to drive in peace.  I prefer to concentrate on the road but Sally does go on and on talking.  I normally ignore her but this time it was different. She just didn’t know when to stop.

All these years, she was saying, you’ve never supported me. You’ve always taken the children’s side against mine. Why? They adore you and they hate me and it’s all your fault.

I found this hurtful and said so. In fact, I told her to shut up. But she didn’t. Just kept on and on, going at me.  You did this. You did that. She was a saint of course. Never said boo to a goose. At least, that’s what she’d have you believe. 

We were getting close to her sister’s house and I did something that I’ve never done before. I pulled off the road thinking I would have it out with Sally once and for all. She sensed something was wrong and undid her seatbelt before I’d even stopped driving. Next thing I knew she was out of the car and running away from me. Such a stupid thing to do when she knows I’m so much bigger and stronger than her.

I chased after the silly bitch and caught up with her right by the cliff edge. You’re not a real man, she sneered. Well that was it. I saw red. I kicked her as hard as I could and she sailed over the cliff edge like an inflatable ball. I didn’t look down. Just got back in the car and drove off.

It was the first time we had ever argued.  

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

100 WORDS ON FREEDOM

This is my 190th post since the start of lockdown.

I wrote this piece over three years ago. It is barely a story. More like a paragraph.

The task was to write 100 words on the topic of freedom.

I first posted this nine months ago but thought it worth blogging again now the subject is so topical. At the time it was simply meant to be humorous – who knew how prescient it would turn out to be? It was written with my tongue firmly in my cheek and I trust it won’t offend any Royal watchers.

Notes from a diary

The security guy had slipped out for a smoke.

“Come on”, I said. “This is the moment we’ve been waiting for.”

She had tears in her eyes. “Can I really only take one suitcase?”

“Yes, hurry up!”

“Well”, she said, “at least we’ll finally be free of your awful stepmother – not to mention your dad. We’ll miss the kids though.”

We ran to the station.

“I can’t believe we’re free Meghan. I’ve waited so long for this.

You do love me, don’t you?”

“Harry,” she replied, “I’ll follow you anywhere if it means freedom from your ghastly family.”

Those of you who follow my posts will know that I’ve been blogging regularly since the start of lockdown. 

I know many of you look forward to reading my blogs and I’ve been touched by the kind remarks and support I have received. 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please do continue to let me have your feedback, comments and “likes” – it means a lot to me.

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

 

 

 

POST #182. REMEMBER THE GOOD TIMES.

One of the things we all can do to get our spirits up is to remember the good times. Like travelling to far flung places – although getting to them wasn’t always fun.

This short story is based on something that really happened – though not to me and not necessarily on an EasyJet flight! 

Uneasy Jet

Jim was ruffled.

Why was it taking his wife so long to put her case in the overhead rack?

If he wants me to get a move on, he should do something to help, thought Cathy – not for the first time in 30 years of marriage – but that’s Jim. Happy to complain but doesn’t lift a finger.

Another traveller kindly helped her lift her suitcase. She beamed a thank you and glowered pointedly at Jim who had already settled himself into his seat.

“I don’t want anything”, said Jim, when refreshments came round.  “Well, I wouldn’t mind a drink,” retorted Cathy, but the stewardess had already gone past.

Jim pressed the call button and the stewardess reappeared. “What drinks do you have?” Jim demanded.  “Look in the brochure”, was her reply.

It was getting dark and Jim reached up to put on the reading light. The stewardess appeared again looking rattled.

“Is there a problem?”

“I’m just putting the light on,” replied Jim.

“You pressed the call button. This is the light switch. The one with the picture of a light bulb on it.”

“Ah” – said Jim. “I’ll know next time.”

When they were ready to land, Jim couldn’t get his seat upright. He rang the call bell.  There she was again – his favourite hostess. “What is it now?” she questioned, not very politely, he thought.  He explained and with one touch of the button, the hostess moved his seat back.

Cathy closed her eyes. She was beginning to wonder whether this weekend break was such a good idea.

Later, the shuttle bus dropped them off at their hotel. Jim had chosen to stay close to the airport as it was cheaper.

They collected their key and took the lift up.  But when they got to their room the key obstinately wouldn’t open the door. They both had a go but with no luck.

All of a sudden the door flew open revealing their air hostess in her underwear. Behind her, spread-eagled naked on the bed, was the pilot.

“You again!” she snapped, “Still looking for the call button?”

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems