The Jewelled Locust


The Jewelled Locust

The room was almost unbearably hot. A ceiling fan stirred the soupy air listlessly.

My grandmother’s face when she turned to me was yellow, skin taught over sharp cheek bones, eye sockets deep pools of purple.

She indicated the box of jewels. ‘For you and you alone. The very best.’

All I saw was the blood and toil of others, wealth won with deception and malice.

Outside, I opened the lid and handed a brooch to the child who guarded the decaying lobby. Fake emeralds, nevertheless valuable.

Unknown to my grandmother my half-sister and I still speak: different box, same lies.

M J Lewis 2017

Very late to the Friday Feast of Fiction this week, but such a stunning photo, thanks to Shaktiki Sharma. Thanks also, of course, to our esteemed host, Rochelle, and thanks to all who visit, especially those who stay to comment.


The Soft Young Down of Her


The Soft Young Down of Her

The days were short and the trees bare by the time he returned to the village in the valley. Twelve long months away, living hand to mouth: working the land, birthing lambs – whatever he could get.

He’d thought of her all year like no other – the soft down of her arms, her budding breasts, her spirit bright and nervous as a newly fledged Dunnock. But so young – and what had he to offer?

Now her face told it all: frosted ice over deep water. In his absence someone had taken what he hadn’t dared to touch. He was a fool.

M J Lewis

Arrived very late last week at Friday Fiction and apologies for doing hardly any visiting and commenting.

Thanks to Rochelle for all her hard work keeping us in order week after week and for also providing the photo this week.  To visit more stories inspired by this photo prompt click here.

The title of my piece is a line taken from The Farmer’s Bride by Charlotte Mew.

Go or Stay?


Go or Stay?

Two am: one last time, you ask the hollow-eyed girl in the mirror that simple question: Go or stay?

If you could follow it back, hand over hand, when did it go wrong? Was it one day, one hour, one moment when doubt crept in? Or was it built layer upon layer, the whole sad, human edifice of seemingly insignificant details?

Don’t come to the airport, I might die of sadness, I said.

Meaning: Come to the airport, I’m already dying.

He sleeps on; scrumpled face, mouth slightly open. Sweet, vulnerable. But then love was always the easy bit.

M J Lewis 2016

Flying in very late to Friday Fiction, hosted by the writer Rochelle Wissoff -Fields at Addicted to Purple, with photo prompt from Rich Voza.

This post is not an allegory, a metaphor, a whatever – it’s just a piece of fiction. On the other hand, I did go to bed Thursday night here in London, UK, Europe and woke up in Little England. Frankly, still stunned!

America – watch and learn. Donald and Boris? Don’t even think it, only now I have.


Young woman of impeccable character and neat appearance required as schoolmistress for village school


Young woman of impeccable character and neat appearance required as schoolmistress for village school

Must be: disciplined, self-assured, modest, patient. Skills to include: a fluent hand, flawless arithmetic, clear singing voice (soprano or alto), love of the bible and traditional literature of an improving nature, knowledge of the British Isles and her dominions. A passion for clouds and the still air at dusk; for bluebells in sun-dappled woods; your hand on my breast, a gasp in my throat. And forever a longing for the girl I left bare-headed under the wide blue sky, beyond the squeak of the chalk, the dusty depths of the ink wells and the high, barred windows of the schoolroom.

M J Lewis ©2016

Friday already, so this means of course I’m late for Friday Fiction. (I love a paradox!) And such an interesting photo, thanks to J Hardy Carroll. Not a school I’m assuming but, although the chairs are plastic and metal nowadays, I will forever associate wooden seating with schoolrooms.

Thanks as ever to our gracious host Rochelle and to all who visit. For more stories click here.

Spring Clean


Spring Clean

A picture-perfect spring day: brisk breeze and fluffy clouds, hanging high against a nursery-blue. I climb the ladder to the loft to unfold stubby limbs of softest cotton, descend to wash away decades of dust in virgin suds.

They’re flapping on the line in tiny congruence. This one, and this I never dared to name. Ignore the idle chatter of forget-me-nots, the brash indifference of the tulips. Attend the bluebells, who nod their scented heads and say, it’s time. And I agree, as every mother must.

So one by one, unpeg them all and let them fly. At last.

M J Lewis ©2016

This is my hundred-word story for Friday Fiction, hosted each week by the gracious Rochelle. This strange and enigmatic photo comes from Mary Shipman. For more stories from around the globe click here.

Thanks to all who visit and especially to those who take the time to comment.

No Title


No Title

Monday: Forgot my husband’s name. Surprisingly easy to cover.

Tuesday: Couldn’t remember the route to work. Somewhat trickier.

Wednesday: Stayed home.

Next day: Somewhere a wardrobe door swung drunkenly on broken hinges; a bookcase toppled, spilling its entire contents.

Another: Curtains sleepwalk from open windows.

And another: I am kneeling in the garden, someone‘s gnarled old hands holding my trowel. A young man bearing a beautiful mauve flowering plant is crossing the lawn.

He turns the label towards me and I read, ‘Phlox Paniculata, Purple Kiss. Names are so important don’t you think…’ He indicates the sticky label on his pullover. ‘Henry. What a considerate young man you are. Your family must be very proud.’

He grins. ‘Especially my Grandma.’

The wardrobe door gently closes; the bookcase temporarily rights itself. The windows are secure, the curtains still as I smile into his handsome face, recalling momentarily the first day I held him, rosy and new: my very own grandson, Henry.

MJ Lewis©2016

(Flash fiction 160 words)

Lost and Found?



Lost and Found?

Decades ago a face would have been reconstructed physically, painstakingly layered onto the skull, the techniques of theatre and make-up artistry as much in evidence as science.

Today the construction is in a computer program, the one running on my office computer; although of course the small skull itself is still handled, each tiny bump and indentation carefully calibrated.

I am in the canteen. I cannot move from my seat. Next to my office computer is the faded photo of my baby brother, with his halo of sun-bleached toddler curls. My boss is pushing open the swing door. I exhale slowly.

M J Lewis©2016

An atmospheric and provoking picture this week at Friday Fiction, thanks to Erin Leary, who gives us her hundred-word story and an explanation of those odd stumps. Thanks are also due, as ever, to our wonderful host Rochelle.

My story was written in a spirit of experimentation, to see if I could find something hiding deep in the swamp of my imagination and take myself in a different direction – I don’t usually add to the Friday Fiction body count! So what happens – I seem to have written about family, loss, love…in other words the same old themes.

Thanks to all who visit.