SPF: Childhood Joys

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Photo prompt © Eric Wiklund

Childhood Joys

Imogen’s hands shook as she brushed the gathered debris away from the miniature village, her reeling emotions slow to calm. She righted a fallen bench and straightened a leaning signpost. Despite her best efforts, a clinging miasma of neglect remained. The place felt… empty.

It was an emptiness with which she was only too familiar.

Sometimes it seemed like only yesterday that Elsie had played amongst the overgrown shrubbery, her imagination transforming the secluded corner into a magical wonderland. Her carefree laughter had never failed to enliven Imogen’s spirits. 

The village had always been Elsie’s work. It had first taken form when she’d still been a toddler – merely a higgledy-piggledy collection of sticks and stones, and pilfered toys that Imogen then had to embarrassedly return to their owners. “But the fairies need them, Mummy,” Elsie had protested. To halt her daughter’s burgeoning kleptomania, Imogen had gathered an array of craft materials, and she’d encouraged experimentation. Elsie’s own creativity had then taken over.

Imogen sighed, remembering those happier times. Everything was different now. Her delightful little girl was gone. In her place was a brooding, door-slamming impostor.

And Imogen wasn’t sure just how many more teenage outbursts she could stand.

Word count: 200 words

To read the other entries, or to submit your own, click the little blue frog.

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This post is for the Sunday Photo Fiction flash fiction challenge. I haven’t written much flash fiction recently, but how could I resist Eric’s wonderful photo prompt?

I have to admit that, as I was writing this story I thought it would end with Elsie being either dead or stolen by the fairies. I even had a little scene in my head with fairy Elsie appearing by her shoulder and asking “Why are you sad, Mummy?” The ending that I actually wrote caught me somewhat by surprise!

Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed it.

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Monochrome Monday: Small Comforts

Beds

Small Comforts

Cara dropped onto her bed, tugging the blanket over her shoulders as weariness pinned her to the mattress. Sleep soon began to smother her thoughts. She welcomed its oblivion after the backbreaking work of the day.

The voice of the new girl jolted her back to awareness.

She was tempted to respond – irritably – but tiredness held her silent. She gritted her teeth, trying not to listen as the girl whined about the harsh conditions and the uncomfortable bed. At least the brat had a bed, as hard as the thing might be. She ought to just be thankful for that and save her whinging for the issues that actually mattered… Unfortunately, the girl would probably be learning about those soon enough.

Cara pulled her blanket over her head. She’d spent too many nights huddled in whatever shelter she could find, with only newspapers and a thin coat for warmth, to not be thankful for the small comforts she’d been granted. At least here they were out of the elements. And away from the predatory men who stalked the city streets.

Most of them, anyway.

The new girl fell finally silent as the door creaked open. Heavy footsteps crossed the room.

Word Count: 2oo


That story suddenly became far darker than I intended it to be. :\

Sorry

The picture is another one taken at the Southwell Workhouse. I think the light and the bleak setting tends to lend itself well to black and white photography. And to rather dark stories.

Monochrome Monday: The Darkness Within

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The light that poured in through her window was the only source of illumination in an otherwise dismal existence. They said her harsh treatment was deserved, that her idle ways had led to an inevitable conclusion. Only she knew just how hard she’d strived to avoid such a fate. She tried not to let bitterness consume her as she remembered the long days she’d spent seeking any work available, and the unpleasant tasks she’d undertaken for a few meager pennies. But the work had simply not been there – not for someone like her, without education or experience.

She held on to her sense of self-worth through the darkest times. Like the light through the window that brightened her days, hope cast its rays into her soul, giving her the strength to continue. Someday she’d be able to leave the bleak confines of the workhouse. With the new skills that had been thrust upon her, employment could surely would be found. Someday, she prayed, her life would be better.

let the light pour in

bright rays alleviating

the darkness within



Like last week’s picture, this is another photograph taken at Southwell Workhouse. If you’d like to know more about the workhouses of Victorian England, check out Millie Thom’s post here.

FFfAW: The Touch of his Hand

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The Touch of his Hand

“Are you coming, my dear?”

Millie looked up at the sound of his voice. Tommy stood in the doorway, his hand outstretched, waiting for hers to join it.

She still remembered the first time their hands had touched, all those years ago. She’d shyly slid her fingers into his as they’d walked into the picture house – barely believing the handsome boy had chosen her. He’d squeezed her hand and given a flirtatious wink, setting her heart aflutter. That had been their first date. Many more had soon followed.

The touch of his hand had swiftly become the most important thing in her life: his caress set her senses alight; his support carried her through the hardest days. When his long fingers had slid the ring, the symbol of their devotion, onto her own, she’d known she was complete.

His death had left her adrift.

She’d simply marked time the since his passing, knowing she’d see him again soon.

“Of course,” she said, rising to her feet. Without any hesitation, she slid her fingers into his.

Word count: 175

To read the other entries, or to submit your own, click the little blue frog.

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This post is for Priceless Joy’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge. This week’s prompt was provided by Artycaptures.

In remembrance of my grandparents, Millie and Tommy – gone but never forgotten.

FFfAW: A Mother’s Grief

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Photo prompt © Jade M. Wong

A Mother’s Grief

“We didn’t do anything to it, Ma,” Aeliene said, a waiver in her voice that broke Shylie’s heart all over again. “We were just playing. It came out of nowhere and attacked us. Baen tried to stop it, but, he… he fell… and… and…”

Shylie gathered her daughter close.

Grief encased her as she beheld the body of her butchered son, leaving her as fragile as eggshells. The slightest movement could cause her to shatter, spilling her emotions out for everyone to see. But beneath the sorrow, anger began to burn.

“Are we going to continue like this?” she demanded, turning to the rest of the tribe, gathered nearby in silent respect. “How many more children must we lose before we do something about these monsters?”

They might be pacifists by nature, but fire smouldered within each and every one of them. Her people spread their wings and gave a mighty roar.

Those puny humans wouldn’t stand a chance. Not now.

For the dragons were going to war.

Word count: 173

To read the other entries, or to  submit your own, click the little blue frog.

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This post is for Priceless Joy’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge. This week’s prompt was provided by Jade M. Wong. Thank you, Jade!

FFfAW: The Name on the Stone

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Photo prompt © Yarnspinner

The Name on the Stone

Kaeri murmured a prayer and dropped the stone into the urn, calmly meeting the gaze of the priest on the temple steps. He watched her with narrowed eyes, his attention unwavering until she moved out of sight.

She’d performed the ritual every day for years. Each stone had borne the same name, inscribed in uneven script: Hoenn – the man who’d caused her life to disintegrate.

But Jia, goddess of the downtrodden, had yet to deliver her promised vengeance.

Unsurprisingly.

Everyone knew it was the priesthood who judged the guilt of those named, choosing the punishments they deemed suitable. Only a few names were ever offered for the divine Lady’s attention. And no matter what crimes lay at his door, their own high priest would never be included in that number.

Kaeri had grown tired of waiting for her prayers to be answered.

Finally unobserved, she entered the temple and began her hunt, dagger concealed in the folds of her skirt. Soon high priest Hoenn’s blood would coat the blade.

Today she’d claim vengeance for herself.

Word count: 175

To read the other entries or to submit your own, click the little blue frog.

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This post is for Priceless Joy’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge. This week’s prompt was provided by Yarnspinner. Thank you, Yarnspinner!

FFfAW: Lessons Learned

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Photo prompt © Artycaptures

Lessons Learned

Hunger gnawed, growing increasingly harsh and insistent as hours dragged by. The dish of food remained frustratingly out of reach.

Finn scowled, trying again to rise. This was ridiculous. He didn’t know what she’d done to him, but the old woman was clearly deranged. “If you wish to eat,” she’d said, “use the power of your mind to draw it closer.”

He’d protested such nonsense, but she’d dismissed his objections, claiming he had to have ‘abilities’ to have found her. She’d then rambled about teachers and students before leaving him alone – to starve, it now seemed.

Abilities? He had no abilities! He was just an ordinary bloke unfortunate enough to meet her, and stupid enough to accept her hospitality.

At first he’d tried to leave, but his body had refused his commands. Fear had then overtaken him, gruesome scenarios running through his mind. Finally, defeated, his options depleted, he gave in and humoured her madness. He directed his fear and anger outwards, willing the bowl to move. Emotion overflowed…

The dish smashed to the floor.

Word count: 175

To read the other entries, or to submit your own, click the little blue frog.

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This post is for Priceless Joy’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge. This week’s photo prompt was provided by Artycaptures. Thank you, Artycaptures!