The New Woodsman

The New Woodsman

They said the new woodsman had broken the bank, crashed his Jag, killed his wife. And I said, they said too much.

Springtime I traded my ex-husband’s discarded jacket and a bottle of whisky for a sack of charcoal. Later he mended my fences.

They said the new woodsman slept on a bed of moss, never washed and had a tail tucked down his patched old trousers. When I saw him rise naked from the river, shaking ribbons of sunlight from his shaggy mane, I knew at least two of those were untrue.

And I said, second time lucky. Maybe.

Miranda Lewis

Welcome to Friday flash fiction here on a Wednesday, hosted by the indefatigable Rochelle and with a great photo from Alicia Jamtaas that sent me straight back to a little woodland tale/tail of yesteryear. So it’s Friday reprieve time – hope you enjoy it.

Thanks to all who visit and most especially those who stay to comment. For more woodland frolics from around the globe click here.

Your Fortune, Your Choice

Your Fortune, Your Choice

May your Love be beautiful and your children industrious.

May your days be short and your nights long.

Or vice versa.

And when that petrol guzzling, pollution spewing, metal box
you insist on driving finally gives up the ghost
may it not be with a crunch of brick on metal on glass on bone on soft tissue,
but with a gentle splutter
beside a meadow,
where you will walk
through wildflowers to a perfect little stone house
with June roses blooming around the door,
a fruit orchard beside
and a For Sale sign holding up the rickety gate post.  

Miranda Lewis 2021

Welcome to Friday Fiction, with our esteemed host Rochelle. Thanks to all who visit and especially those who stay to comment. Thanks to to Liz Young for the photo.

(For more instructions do visit Rochelle’s post on the link above. Please don’t post the photo for any other purpose than to join the fun.)

I have been reading Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones and loved her description of setting up a poetry stall at an event in her local town and just writing…. no re-reading, no revising just writing off the top of her head for the recipient and the universe.
SO, I’m having a go at writing fortunes just straight off, 5 minutes max – a photo is a great start. I did have to revise this one a little because it came in over the word count, but mostly it is as it is…Good practice for writer’s block, writer’s perfectionism and all sorts of common writing aliments and now yours for the taking – your fortune, your choice…

The Trees are coming…

The Trees Are Coming

Lucky us – a beautiful house in a tree-lined road! The gutters filled with Autumn leaves, but we bought a strong ladder.

You gave me that look when I said the old Lime Tree out front was growing too quickly. Its branches clawed the windows. You too stopped sleeping. The road split in two, masonry fell from houses. A sapling appeared in the sitting room.

If I wake at night now, it is to fox call or grunt of badger. Blackbird greets my day. That ladder takes me from sleeping platform of salvaged floorboards to mossy forest floor, where I sit… and breathe.  

Miranda Lewis 2021

Greeting Friday Fictioneers, from this cold London Wednesday. The sky is blue, the clouds are perfect and the narcissus are managing to push through the frozen earth and remains of snow. Whatever else has turned upside down in this world, it’ll soon be spring.

Thanks as ever to our host and reader/writer in chief, Rochelle and to Alicia Jamtaas for the wonderful photo. For more home-grown tales click here. Thanks to all who visit and most especially those who stay to comment.

Also posted in Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Planet

Under the Pier

Under the Pier

My older sisters were both stunningly pretty. I claimed awkwardness and the sort of shy cleverness that upsets most people.

‘Look out for each other,’ Mum would call as we left for the beach. As if.

He looked after the dodgems noon until midnight, breaks around four and eight. Sometimes I met him for both. My cheek against his ribcage, I’d listen to his heart. He smelt of sweat and damp caravans.

‘Reckon she fancies him,’ one sister quipped and the other flicked back her hair. They turned and as he winked I licked the salty taste of summertime from my chapped lips.

Miranda Lewis 2020

Welcome to Friday Fiction where, as we hunker down in the Northern hemisphere to our various (vastly curtailed) mid-winter festivities, a gentle summer breeze blew through my sitting room. For more salty tales from around the globe click here.

Thanks as ever to our host Rochelle whose story definitely inspired mine this week. What is it about fairgrounds and pleasure gardens, throughout time and location, that allow their visitors to cross class barriers and other taboos?

Thanks also to Roger Bultot for the phot and to all who visit, most especially those who stay to comment.

Dinner and Delusion

restaurant

Dinner and Delusion

You should have seen their faces.

Gavel parked the Rolls outside the restaurant – more of a pub really. He held the door and I lifted my silk gown high over the melting snow. We’d already had a cheeky sherry and giggled our way inside, Stefan so handsome in that old suit with the lapels.

I quickly realised how drunk Stefan actually was – a sherry or half a bottle of vodka? He could hardly sit up, let alone order. So much for our romantic dinner.

What was it that girl said to me? ‘You with Steve?’ ‘Stefan,’ I corrected and she laughed out loud.

Miranda Lewis 2020

Welcome to Friday Fiction and to my 100-word tale that can be read alone, or indeed in a small gathering of family members or friends isolating together. It can also be read as the third in a series, the first episode written in February 2017 and the second in February 2018. If I’m planning on turning this into a novel I probably won’t live long enough.

On that cheery thought, if you have been reading thank you. Do come right in and comment.

For safe travel around a world of stories click here. Many thanks as ever to our host Rochelle. And to Dale all hale for the snowy scene. (And actually Dale if you’re visiting, you also provided the snowy photo back in February 2018.)

Notes for Writers of Historical Twentieth Century Fiction

Notes for Writers of Historical Twentieth Century Fiction

writers-life

1.2 Social Interaction

Greetings: during the twentieth century people greeted each other with handshakes, hugs, upper arm grabbing and kissing on various facial parts, including the lips. (Huge potential for disease transference and death of minor characters.)

Alcohol: could be consumed in restaurants, pubs, parks and other public spaces. This could lead to carousing, sentimentality, revealing of vital plot secrets, dancing on tables and break up of superfluous relationships  in which the writer has lost interest.

Relationships: the following were possible precursors to marriage – hand holding, dinner dates, getting carried away during the polka, long lingering looks, sexual congress and actual countryside walks.

Miranda Lewis 2020

Day 3 of London lockdown and I’m reading, writing, gardening – what’s not to love? All very ordinary; all very strange.

Greetings Friday Fiction buddies around the world (no kisses of course, except virtual ones) and many thanks to Rochelle to whom I raise a glass of red – or I will later since it’s still early afternoon here and standards must be maintained. (photo copyright Jeff Arnold)

Stay well my friends. x

(For previous nonsense writers’ handbook entries click here.)

Pretending to Care

This short story was written as part of a writing project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and associated with the Sutton (South London) Past on Glass project.

The story is based on one of the thousands of images of local people taken by photographer David Knights-Whittome, between 1904 and 1918. To find out more about the discovery and preservation of this amazing local archive of places, events and most of all the local residents of Sutton, visit the Past on Glass wordpress blog.

Below is the lovely Miss Daly, photographed in 1905, who inspired my story for the project. I don’t know Miss Daly’s first name, but to me she is, now and forever, my little Iris.

Pretending to Care is entirely fictional and is not based on any real people, places or events.

Pretending to Care

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Chestnut Avenue Care Home, 2010

They like to pretend they care. That’s why it’s called a care home, I suppose.

Yesterday it was the one with the eyebrows serving the mess they call lunch.

I’d have been an opera singer, if it hadn’t been for the war.

That’s interesting, Iris, she said.

She couldn’t care any less if she tried. Thinks I don’t know the difference.

Chocolate pudding, Iris dear.

It’s the skinny one today.

Thank you, I say. My favourite.

This one at least has a bit more wit behind the orange war paint. It used to be the thing to be pale. A lady stayed out of the sun. All nonsense of course. Bodies, appearance; all vanity. All useless in the end.

Is it your favourite, Iris? Chocolate pudding, really?

No idea, I reply.

Body worn out, or almost; mind like a frayed ribbon.

So what’s the tastiest pudding in the whole wide world? If you could have anything you wanted. Have a think, Iris.

I can’t help giving a snort. But I never did like to disappoint people. A people pleaser they call it nowadays, as if it’s a condition, a bad thing. Perhaps they’re right.

Parties, I say. Birthday parties.

Me too, I love parties, she says. So what food did you have? Jelly? Trifle?

Blind man’s bluff, I say. And piggy-in-the-middle.

She kneels down on the floor next to my chair and pats my hand.

Shall we go back there? See what’s for tea?

As I said, I like to please. She looks so keen, I can’t just tell her to get lost, can I?

Sardines all over the house. Oranges and lemons say the bells of St Clement’s.

Presents too. Nicest one ever was a fur coat, soft as a kitten’s paw, from my dear Papa. A gorgeous fluffy hat to match. I was as cosy as an Eskimo. Papa tweaked my cheek and sent me down to the drawing room to show all the family. ‘Look at Iris!’ my brother Lionel shouted when I trotted in, so eager to please the gathering of aunts and uncles. ‘She’s a roly-poly Swiss roll, with a mighty meringue on the top!’ They all laughed of course. It’s what grown-ups do. I can still see their vile faces. Double chins wobbling, false teeth rattling. And the children laughing too. Fat cousin Francis with his tiny eyes shining, like buttons stitched into a cushion. Even my adored mother smiled, though she pretended not to when I hid my face in her lap.

I wake with a jolt. The skinny one is shaking my shoulder.

Wakey-wakey, Iris! Naughty thing, you fell asleep on me. We’ll never find that favourite pudding!

Meringue, I say. A huge, fluffy white meringue.

That’s wonderful. You remembered. Shall we see if we can make it for you sometime?

I nod. This one really does care. Gets it all wrong of course, but she tries.

I never could stand my brother Lionel. He was a bully to the core. Christmas, summer, I’d count the days until he went back to school. I found a baby rabbit once, kept it in a box in the gardener’s hut. It wouldn’t have lasted I suppose, poor little motherless thing, but I loved it nonetheless. Lionel let the dog in deliberately. Bit its neck right through. Baby rabbit head left on the floor for me to find.

The day Lionel went for good it felt as if the whole house sighed with relief. I can picture him now, suddenly apprehensive in his officer’s uniform. Would the bully be bullied, or worse? I covered my face with Papa’s handkerchief to hide the fact that I didn’t care if I never saw him again.

So you see there’s nothing new you can teach me; I know all there is to know about pretending to care.

Miranda Lewis 2017

Exit Stage Left

icy steps

Exit Stage Left

I still like to look my best – my red coat with the high collar, a decent heel. It’s a smaller audience nowadays of course, but there’s the usual flutter of applause, the appreciative twitter. I bow my coiffured head in acknowledgement and reach for the rail to descend the stairs.

 

‘You’ve gone really pale.’

‘It’s that old crow at the end house. Says here she slipped and died in her own garden.’

‘What was she doing outside in this weather?’

‘Feeding the birds, it says. She was an understudy to the stars, there’s an old photo.’

‘Wow, what a beauty!’

Miranda Lewis 2020

Well this is a first, sending out my Friday Flash Fiction on the Wednesday…

Greetings to all those stepping out around the world and most especially to our leading lady, Rochelle who also provides the photo this week.

Thanks to all who visit and especially those who stay to comment.

Once a Teacher…

rivington-st-shul-roger-b

Once a Teacher…

After more than thirty years of teaching – passing on the intricacies of arithmetic, explaining the wonders of algebra, illuminating the paradoxical properties of polygons – I am ready for a restful retirement. I have loved teaching, but it’s a tough job that needs courage and commitment.

At the kitchen window I sip my tea. In the Autumn sunshine birds are singing fit to burst, but somewhere out there I know towns are flooding, forests are burning. We are at war with our own world. And war needs courage – education, love, courage and commitment. We can’t ignore it.

Always a teacher…

Miranda 2019

It’s Friday already so I’m rocking up late at Friday Fiction. (It’s difficult to explain I know…) And as seems to happen these days the real world has intruded and I am all out of fiction.

Thanks to Roger Bultot for the strange and wonderful photo in which I immediately saw a polygon with all its external angles beautifully illuminated. You can take the teacher out of the school….I do still see Maths everywhere (and I do love a polygon!) but I also see other things outside my window these days and they feel more urgent.

Thanks as ever to Rochelle and to all the Friday crew.

Devils or Angels?

ssi-lights-of-jerusalem

Devils or Angels?

There are devils everywhere, stirring up trouble, turning young minds and compelling them to acts of disruption and stupidity. The old are infected also, and mothers whose instincts should be to nurture not alarm. Their fuel is anger, jealousy, resentment of your ordered lives. Guard your pride, lock your doors and windows, check your own children are safe inside.

There are angels in the streets. Their feathers are sometimes ruffled and their flight not always true. But look into their eyes, if you dare, and feel their fierce love. Be curious, be bold, be afraid because maybe you are an angel too.

Miranda Lewis 2019

Welcome to Friday Fiction hosted by our own angel, Rochelle who also provides the photo this week.

The streets of London have been disrupted these past two weeks by the noise and confusion of climate crisis protests. This time last week I walked those beautiful car-free streets and strolled through a peaceful park full of tents to see for myself. Devils or angels? I know what I believe.

Thanks to all who visit and especially to those who stay and comment. Visit other fictioneers here.

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