Different Sides of the Fence

She saw the fox cubs at the bottom of the garden. Hidden by the dense foliage of the rhododendron bush Jennie watched them play on the sun warmed lawn and felt an odd sense of loss, a primal longing. She wondered if their mother was in the woods just over the fence, watching too.
‘Jennie!’ commanded the voice from the house. ‘Come in, Good dog.’
As she walked back up the garden path she heard the mournful sound of a hunting horn and the thunder of hooves.

Flight to freedom

Last verse from ‘I know why the caged bird sings’ : Maya Angelou

Mr Jones irritably closed the cage door as he went to answer the phone in the hall. Whatever had been said by the caller caused him to leave the house in a temper. The front door slammed and Horace watched the old man climb into his car and drive off in a cloud of hazy exhaust fumes. Turning his head he noticed that the cage door had swung open. And, like a perfect alignment of the planets, a window to the garden was open too.
This was his moment to escape, but faced with the possibility of freedom after five years of imprisonment he was gripped by anxiety. He had no plan; he had never thought of the possibility of escape. Horace irresolute, decided he would go as far as the window ledge and see what it felt like. He could always go back and Mr Jones would be none the wiser. With this decision made Horace left the cage, crossed the table that the cage was standing on and climbed through the window.
Standing on the sill he was stimulated by smell of the air, by the the breeze that gently ruffled his feathers, but frightened by the noise of the cars and buses that rushed along the street. He looked longingly across the street. He had often watched the birds perched on the branches of the trees opposite, standing on the ridges of the roofs or flying freely across the piece of the sky visible from his cage. He wanted to be able to do that sort of thing: fly across the sky. But, right now, for Horace flying would be a problem; He couldn’t remember ever flying.
He flapped his wings experimentally, then throwing caution to the winds launched himself into the air.

***

The prompt for my writing group task was to write a piece on the subject Freedom. As it was Poetry Week I decided to base my story on the poem ‘I know why the caged bird sings’ by the wonderful poet Maya Angelou. Cageing a bird is extraordinarily cruel. I intend developing the story of Horace the parrot……

 

 

Photo Shoot

The bride’s parents looked across the throng of guests at their daughter, radiant beside her new husband. Allah had indeed blessed them.
As the missile was released high in the blue sky to search for its target, a joystick was pushed slightly to the left, tilting the drone in the warm air, allowing it’s onboard cameras to confirm the strike.
In a far off continent, the drone pilot watched the silent explosion blossoming on his screen; a pleasing floral shape.
‘I’ve brought your coffee, Sir.’
‘Thanks Tyler. Heard you’re getting wed on Saturday. You have yourself a real nice day.’

 

Where’s my baby?

The Policeman looked under the van at the mangled wreckage of the buggy. He was thankful that there was no bloody wreckage of a child.
“There’s no child, Sandra!”
His colleague, squatting in front of the mother sat sobbing on the kerb, gently pealed back the fingers gripping a mobile.
“Maggie….Maggie..Speak to me….?” Said a disembodied voice.
“This is Constable Metcalfe. There’s been an accident. Who are you?”
“Mag’s friend, Jean…what’s happened?
“She’s fine. Does Maggie have a baby?”
“Yeah. Little Chloe..”
“Maggie, when did you last see or speak to your daughter?”
“I dunno. Been on the mobile….Oh God…!

***

I recently nearly hit a buggy pushed by a woman chatting on a mobile phone. I often watch people walking along the street do people totally absorbed in a conversation on a mobile totally unaware of their surroundings. Or a child in a pushchair in front of them.

 

Death of the consumers

In the streets below the driverless cars and buses slid soundlessly up to the sidewalk. The passengers surging into the stores mingled with those exiting through the revolving doors. A small child in the crowd stopped, looked up and waved, stirring in the watcher an eccentric emotion, an instruction to respond.

Behind, a metallic voice said. “They consume everything. They are draining the planet. Are we agreed?”

The robot at the window whirred softly as it turned from the window to face the others. “Yes, the humanoids no longer serve a purpose.” It said in a voice devoid of any emotion.

In memorium

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By Laura Driver

 
The sun streamed through the stained glass window casting a myriad of colour across the dreary black outfit Evie had laid out on the bed. Once dressed she gazed into the full length mirror; the dark circles under her eyes, her lank hair and badly fitted jacket confirmed that today she would be saying goodbye to the only person who had ever really understood her.
Staring out of the train window she looked across the glorious green landscape whizzing past. She’d grown up here, she and her brother had spent endless hours climbing trees and exploring. It was a happy time, they’d had an idyllic childhood, but that was before John had got involved in all that stuff with the police.
Exactly two weeks ago Evie had been summoned to her parents’ house where she was told the horrific news. Her brother had committed suicide by jumping off a suspension bridge, his body had never been recovered.
Today was a memorial service, a wretched attempt to say goodbye, Evie didn’t see the point without a body.
The church loomed at the end of the path where her relatives gathered, a mob of black-clad, sniffling miseries. The tinny chime of Evie’s phone alerted her to a text, she stopped and rummaged in her bag for her mobile.
The text message was from an unknown number and as her eyes flitted over it she froze, dropping her handbag, the contents spilling at her feet. Evie’s heart was thumping out of her chest. Her family, a mere few metres away, looked at her with confusion. She didn’t know what to do, she looked down at her phone again, her hand shaking.
The text read “They’ll never find a body because I’m not dead”

****

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This piece is a guest post by my daughter Laura Driver who has joined the writing group that I attend. It is her first fictional story. I began writing by contributing memoirs -stories about her childhood and mine – to her blog http://www.arewenearlythereyetmummy.com. Joining the creative writing group mentored by James Nash forced me out of my ‘memoir’ comfort zone and I have composed poems and written fiction. I hope that through membership of the group Laura too will develop her writing talent.

A night at the Beach View Hotel

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The AA inspector’s opinion of the Beach View hotel in Blackpool was not positive. It was not so much the absence of a beach view, teasingly promised, that had disappointing Derek Sutton.

He had had a virtually sleepless night due to the exuberant and noisy occupants of room 8, on the other side of the thin, woodchip decorated partition that subdivided the once large and elegant Victorian room.

In his acerbic comment on the assessment form he wrote of the rhythmic and persistent thump of the head board on the wall, accompanied by what sounded like a hyena on crack cocaine that stirred a decade old memory of a safari camp on the Serengeti.

Unsurprisingly the guests in room 8 had not slept either.

Tracy, sat up in bed, ignored the admonishing signs and lit a cigarette.

“God, that was brilliant, Tony,” she said, “just like old times.”

“Yeah, fancy meeting up again at the conference.” Said Tony, adjusting his tie.

“It must be nearly three years.” Said Tracy.

“Yeah, must be. I got married the year after.”

“That’s great Tony. She nice?”

“Yeah…Last night, you were going to say something,”

“I was, Tony but we got carried away didn’t we.”

“What was it?”

“I just meant to say.. …bit late now though……the doctor at the clinic told me not to have unprotected sex for at least……..”

“You stupid, selfish cow………….!”

The violently slammed door of room 8 sent a Richter Scale tremor through the building. In the ground floor office, Doris Smalling, listening attentively to the appraisal of her hotel flinched, and a drizzle of dust dislodged from the plastic chandelier caused the inspector to cough.

“As I was saying, the soundproofing let’s you down,” said Derek, “otherwise, we might have be looking at two stars”.

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The challenge was to write a piece of 300 words that included the phrase ‘l just meant to say’.

What watch?

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That posh bloke who arrived in the Bentley was in the bar last night.

I was doing the bar shift. Lucky the place was quiet; he got well pissed. Started ranting on about his wife. Going to divorce him, take all his money, wanted the shirt off his back. A proper bitch he said.

I was still on reception when he appeared in the morning. Looked okay, considering. Going for a walk, he said. Told him rain was forecast but he didn’t seem to give a toss.

“Eric,” he said, “kindly give this note to my money grubbing wife when she arrives.”

Of course, later when I was making a brew, I steamed the envelope open; like you do, and read the message. It said:

Where the path diverges look for the discarded clothing, watch and wallet. That’s the cliff path.

I ran out of the hotel like Usain Bolt.

It was just as he said. A neat pile: pin stripe suit, shoes, shirt, old school tie. And the watch he kept saying was worth fifteen grand. I kicked the lot over the cliff edge. Not the watch of course. He wouldn’t need to know the time where he’d gone.

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The writing group task : write a 200 word story written around a message given to me by another member of our group. Anonymously.

 

The weekend

 

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Hi Beth

We’re having such a wonderful time. Still can’t believe we won the Agatha Christie Murder Weekend competition.

Hotel’s lovely, just as promised on Facebook. All in Art Nouveau style. Even the newspapers in the reception are all dated 27 May 1922, the date of the ‘murder’. It’s like we’ve gone back in time!

Things haven’t changed much. The Daily Mail headline is about Rudolf Valentino being arrested for bigamy! Lenin’s had a stroke. There’s even a report about a fire in this very hotel, imagine tha…………………..

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“The email just stops there.” Said the builder. “Found it under the rubble of the old hotel ruin that we’re clearing. Screen’s cracked, but I charged the it up and found this email. Thing is, it shouldn’t be there. Nothing been disturbed here since the fire.”

Sergeant Simmons, despite the day’s warmth shivered.

“What’s really odd Sarge; the iPad’s date. Look, 1922!!”

The task given to my writing group was to write a piece of 150 words with the title The weekend. I enjoy the challenge of editing such short stories, trying to convey the story line and making the narrative flow with so few words. 

If I could fly

 

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I look up, shield my eyes from the hot sun, and follow the bird as it traverses the ice blue sky, wings languidly caressing the air.

My mind soars with the bird. I visualise below, the patchwork of pastures, a palette of warm colours crosscut by meandering veins of green hedges and blue streams. I wonder if there is a purpose to the bird’s lonely journey. Has it a flight plan, a destination; will it meet up with relatives or friends, here or abroad, Africa perhaps?

The bird diminishes. As it disappears into the horizon’s haze I fall to Earth.