100 words for #SmallTales on the keyword ‘shrink’

I was bigger when I was four.

I was a dinosaur hunter, an astronaut, I single-handedly tamed the Wild West. In the morning, while painting my third artwork of the day, I would relate how the knight in the picture (me) slew the fearsome dragon.
Half an hour later I would be a tiger, prowling the jungles of India and my ROAR could be heard throughout the land.

This morning though I am an ant in a suit on a train going to the ant city to work.
I didn’t grow up, I just shrank.


A #FairyTaleFriday story in half a thousand words

“You expect me to swallow that !?!” she asked, the disgust floating on the top registers of her voice like skin on cooling custard.
“We were working late. We missed the last tube. We had to be back in at seven. It was easier and cheaper for her to walk to my flat than try and get her a cab out to her home and then have her commute all the way back in in the morning.”
“Lies. Stinking filthy cheating bloody lies. You were in the same bed !”
“The sofa’s awful – no-one could sleep on that thing. There were pillows in the middle. She was still mostly dressed.”
“MOSTLY ? You and some whore get pissed and because you can’t even wait to get her fully undressed to fuck her you expect me to be happy because she was only in her slutty little pants ?”
She wasn’t calming down quite as quickly as he would like.
Julie changed tack.
“You didn’t answer your phone. I was worried.”
“I know darling, but we were trying to get the deal prepped and none of us were taking calls. I’m sorry you were upset, but I was working.”
“How am I supposed to know that my husband isn’t out pouring champagne into some young floozy and cheating on his miserable bloody wife ?”
Hot fat tears were bubbling up now, splashing one by one over the rim of her eyelids.
“It’s four O’Clock. You’ve driven two, three hours to get here and you’re tired and upset. Why don’t I call the Hilton and we can check in and try and get some sleep ?”
He put his hand out as if to touch her shoulder. She recoiled as if he had punched her on the arm.
“I am not going to a hotel with you.”
He slowed his breathing.
“In the morning, in three hours in fact, I am going to lead my team in to close the biggest deal of my career.
If I am successful I will earn the biggest bonus this firm has ever paid.”
“Well bully for you !”
“Or not. If I fail, I and my brilliant but expensive rainmakers will be out on our arses. We will suffer. Our families will suffer. All because my wife sat at home and started thinking terrible things”
“Things that turned out to be true !”
“That turned out to be easily misinterpreted”
“I’m checking into a hotel and I’m putting it on the joint account”
“That’s fine Julie really it is.” He walked her towards the door and opened it.
“and I’m going shopping tomorrow in London”
“Goodnight darling”
He closed the door behind her and walked back to the bedroom.
“It’s OK, she’s gone”
“I knew you could sell anything” said the glossy haired beauty in his bed, “but I never thought she’d buy that.”
“She’ll be fine” he purred as he stroked the back of her neck. “Bond Street heals all wounds.
“Now about mine – these claw marks need some attention.”
She chuckled deeply as he pulled her head downwards.


100 words on the keyword ‘capacity‘ for #SmallTales

It occurred to George as he prepared his latest robot, that people often confuse the words ‘capacity’ and ‘volume’.
Not just his physics pupils messing about with water containers, but ordinary people messing about with love.
Jenny had been described as having ‘a great capacity for love’ as if that meant she had a lot of love to give.
In truth it meant she had a large space for love which she expected someone to fill.
The volume of love she had to give seemed … scant.
Humans were so hard to measure accurately.
Perhaps Jenny Mk. 2 would fare better.

Digging a big hole

“I’m going to dig to the centre of the Earth” said Brian,
“and I need a bloody good spade.”
“That’s a big ‘ole you’re gonna make there Brian” said Chandler,
“You’re gonna shift a lot of diggins.”
“That’s why I need a bloody good spade innit. Now you going to sell me one or not ?”
“Alright alright” said Chandler and he reached for a Hawkins No. 9 Digging Spade.
“The Hawkins No. 9 is a solid old thing, but she’ll shift a mountain without complaining and comes with a warranty says they’ll replace her if she wears out in less than three years.”
Brian took hold of her, hefted her up and down to feel her weight and admired how the grain of the ash handle was so perfectly aligned down the length of her shaft.
He ran his fingers down her. She’d been oiled to make her supple and so the water would run off her. Her blade was clean shining stainless steel with broad, forgiving shoulders that would be kind to your sole as you repeatedly struck into the earth together.
He noted happily that her blade was secured to the shaft with straps, not a socket and he knew with the utmost certainty that this was the one digging partner he would ever need.
Before, he thought he was going to be facing the big dig on his own. Now he knew she’d be with him he felt his confidence soar.

“I’ll give you twenty quid for it” he said.
Chandler snorted.
“Twenty quid !? It’s not a bloody gardening spade. It’s not for planting bloody roses ! That’s a proper hole digging spade ! It’s a Hawkins Number Nine for God’s sake. Twenty quid indeed. Forty and I won’t take a penny less.”
“I suppose I could stretch to twenty five.” Brian shrugged and counted out five fivers, slowly.
One … two … three … four … inhale deeply … fiiiive …
“Oh for God’s sake, thirty quid and you can have it”
… and six.
“Thank you” said Brian, heading for the door.
Chandler muttered “bloody dwarves” under his breath and he opened the till to put away his hard won cash.

Brian walked back to the woods whistling. On the way to Chandler’s his gait had been a solid trudge. Walking back to his clearing with his new spade he floated. His sturdy frame seemed to weigh nothing and he found himself leaping across puddles and playfully kicking pebbles along the path.

Brian arrived at the clearing and took it all in. The planks he had made from the trees he felled to make the clearing were stacked around the perimeter ready to shore up the walls of the hole.
He walked to the very centre of the clearing, to the square patch of bare earth where he had cut a stamp of sod that morning and he carefully lined up the shining blade of his new spade against the grass edge.
“Now then Miss Hawkins, ” he put his foot on her shoulder, “let’s see what you can do.”


100 words on beatify for #SmallTales

Dave wanted Emma badly.
“Look, I’m no saint”, he said
“but if a saint is what you want, then you’re going to have to help me.”
Emma knew his reputation, but she decided to let him go on.
“To be a saint, first I have to be dead – and I have to be in a state of bliss.”
“But I can’t kill myself because that’s a mortal sin.”
“So the way I see it, you’re going to have to sleep with me, kill me, and then get the Pope himself to tell the world I died happy.”
“Emma. Baby. Beatify me.”

Please do not feed the birds

I arrived in London with a full heart and an empty stomach. I was just twelve years old.
It was to remain that way for several days (being hungry I mean, not being twelve – that lasted all year) until I developed a taste for pigeon. London fattens up a pigeon beautifully.
I’ve lived here now for thirty one years.
I’m not a rich man, but my needs are simple
Never did find no streets of gold, but I have written a best-selling cookbook.
Perhaps you’ve heard of it ?
101 ways to cook a pigeon.

If I’m honest with you, my favourite recipe’s still the very first one : Kentucky Fried Pigeon.

A word about catching pigeons. Don’t kill the first one you catch. He’s probably sick and he don’t make good eating. Him you got to keep alive. You ties a bit of string round his leg and then you lets him wander around near your feet. Now your pigeon’s a real nosey birdie, so them other pigeons is looking at him thinking “Coo I wonder what he knows what we don’t know ?” and soon enough their curiosity gets too much for them and they’s got to swoop down and find out what your first pigeon’s doing.
That’s where you come in with your net. You want a nice big old net, about three foot square so you don’t have to be too accurate with your throwing. A bit of lead shot tied into the edges and you’re ready to snaffle a right good feast.

Now you has got to kill your pigeon. It’s not nice, and I know there’ll be squeamish little birdies out there who don’t like the idea of putting a thin wire around the neck of a wild bird and pulling it hard until it slices clean through the sinews and bones of the pigeon’s neck … But that’s what it takes to slaughter your own pigeon. Besides they squawks rotten if you try and cook ’em live.

Once you got their head off of course the rest is easy.
You gives him a good plucking, then a quick slice with your knife down the front of the chest so he’s opened right up, then a nick at the naughties and a good delve and you’ve got his innards in the palm of your hand.
If they don’t come out first time, never mind. Wet your forefinger (get him good and wet mind, your pidgy wont thank you for bad lubrication) and shove good and hard up your pigeon’s posterior, and pull. His innards’ll be his outwards in no time.
Don’t throw ’em away mind, cause they makes for a very happy cat … and if you’re buying my second cookbook, you’ll be needing a lot of happy cats.

Now. Coat your pidgy in lard and flour, douse him generous with salt and pepper, then bung him in the vat of bubbling lard till he’s golden scrumptious.
Kentucky Fried Pigeon. It’s finger licking good.


500 words on the keyword “Forbidden” for #FairytaleFriday

Gerry goes to the library at break time. The other boys go back to the dayroom and talk about Mr Ralph’s impossible maths tests or who’s got detention this Thursday. There are pints of milk downed and handfuls of digestives shovelled into hungry mouths. It’s loud and boisterous and to all the boys in the dayroom, perfectly normal.
Gerry’s in the library. He didn’t turn left on the way out of the classroom block. He didn’t jostle down the hall through the house next door to his, bouncing the fire doors off their buffers into the boys behind. He just clutched his books to his chest and without even looking up, walked forward into the cloisters, opened the oak door at the bottom of the library steps and then ran, two grey stone steps at a time, up to the library. He walked in, was relieved to see that one of the four big chairs in periodicals was free, grabbed Time magazine and sank into the seat.

Time magazine … dense articles about American politics, opinionated news about goings on in the world from an American point of view. Fantastic photography that transported you to Berlin or Moscow or Oregon – as if they all had equal heft in the scales of global politics. Gerry didn’t pretend to understand politics, to be honest he didn’t even pretend to be interested in it, but he was interested in being out there in the world, through the thin, grainy pages of Time magazine following the waves of oily vapour that seemed to float off the newsprint to somewhere that wasn’t bloody here.

The red second hand on the electric clock on the wall didn’t tick from second to second. It smeared around the face with no respect for the orderly division of time. As it swept past twelve the minute hand woke up and jumped forward a step before settling down for a well earned rest. The hour hand was just plain sneaky. Obviously it was moving, because if you ignored it for a while it wasn’t in the same place as when you last looked, but you never actually saw it move. Devious.

Time magazine was not distracting enough today. It was coming second to a timepiece in an attention grabbing race. American elections were disappointingly bloodless and pointless compared to British politics. It seemed to Gerry that the protagonists just wanted to move the dials on tax and welfare to their own favourite spot, and not where the other lot left it.

The minute hand whittled another notch out of breaktime, another step closer to French and Latin.

Gerry straightened his back, lifted his head and took a deep breath.
Never mind. Term ends in eight weeks.
He could fly home then and see Mom and Dad and the girls.
He stood, put Time back on the rack.
No tears now. Not here.
Not ever.


A few words for #SmallTales on the keyword Waste

Flecks of ink or pixels
Thrown against the page
Jackson Pollock pictures
Incandescent rage

Blobs with tails or swishes
Jetsam from my mind
Circles joined or severed
By sweeping looping lines

Hemingway used pencil
Graphite mixed with clay
Wrapped inside a cedar case
Shavings thrown away

I don’t scratch on paper
Fingers tap on glass
Hit delete repeatedly
My errors never last

My hours spent in writing
Are reality not faced
My accountant says, unsmiling
They’re basically a waste

Roobarb, When the Fairytales Vanished

Roobarb woke up to the most terrible clattering cat in the garden.
“Hear Ye ! Hear Ye !” went the caterwauling feline,
“Today is Fan Fiction Friday ! Fairytale Friday has fleetingly flitted. It’s Fayn Fickshorn Fah-rydayee !”

“What horrible howling,” thought Roobarb, “and what sad news. I’m frightfully fond of Fairytale Friday, I’m afraid Fan Fiction Friday feels fearfully feeble next to fabulous fairytales.”
“I shall go outside and give that moggie a piece of my mind”

Roobarb opened the door and stepped into the garden.
There was Custard the Cat, stomping up and down the path, banging on a saucepan lid with his wooden spoon and yelling about fans and fairies and generally making what they call a disturbance of the peace.
Roobarb harrumphed and huffed and told Custard
“You can’t go around here making all that noise,” he said, “and you can’t go cancelling fairytales. A lot of us rely on the fairytales to keep our spirits up”
“Keep your spirits up ?” asked Custard, “That’s ghost stories isn’t it ?”
Custard laughed the kind of snorty snarf of a laugh that made you want to stroke his fur from tail to head, with an axe.
“I’ll thank you” said Roobarb huffily, “to keep your snarky snout out of my Friday”
and he threw open the door of the shed and swept dramatically inside.
Moments later a loud banging and crashing could be heard from the shed and it was clear to anyone with ears that something important was being created. Mainly out of metal things that made a satisfying kerlashing sound when hit with a hammer.
The birds in the branches were getting grumpier and grumpier – first they had had to contend with a clattery cat, and now they were having to put up with a canine Caractacus Potts.
After what seemed like an hour and forty five minutes, if you were the sort of person who owned a watch and kept tabs on that sort of thing, the shed door swung open and there was a loud “BANG! Churtle parp parp” followed by a steady “chuggerter-chuggerter” noise and an eight wheeled contraption came puttering onto the path.
“Behold the Hydraulic Automatic Fairyfactor !” declaimed Roobarb proudly.
At the front was a shiny knight’s arm wielding a broadsword, next to that was an iron dragon’s head, rhythmically belching smoke. Then a tall tower of tin cans and right at the very top a tin foil princess waving a frilly hanky and a recording (sounding a lot like a dog with a high voice) repeating “Help me ! Help me ! Set me free !”
The sword went swish, the dragon belched, the princess wailed. The fairyfactor shook alarmingly. The whole contraption was shuddering and chuntering and right there in the garden it shook itself to tiny little bits right in front of Roobard, Custard and all the birds.
Custard started chuckling to himself, snickeringly.
“Well that’s THAT fairytale fried eh ?” he muttered.

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The Explanation

100 words for #SmallTales on the keyword “Recipe”

The discovery, at boarding school, that he could be more alone in a roomful of people than he ever could on his own.
Years spent hiding in the library where no-one spoke or in the pub where nothing mattered.
Learning to submit to the fear of failure, rather than trying to do what he wanted to do.
Actively discouraging intimacy, making sure no friend or lover could ever touch the open nerve endings at his core.
“That,” my wife told her best friend over a large vodka, “is what makes him behave like that.”