Here is another installment in the life of the hapless Candice. Previously I wrote A Trip to the Zoo for those who may wish to remind themselves of her dating history. Enjoy!
Another day, another date; but Candice had high hopes for this one. Blind dates could be risky, but she trusted her best friend Zoe’s instinct that she had ‘tons in common’ with Toby, her newly single work colleague. Coffee in a quiet café just outside the city centre had seemed a safe choice- what could possibly go wrong? Dating disasters had become rather an unfortunate pattern for Candice. Ever the optimist however, she remained firm in her belief that ‘Mr Right’ was out there somewhere, it was just a question of locating him.
Finding she was the first to arrive, Candice ordered a skinny chai latte and took a seat at the back of the room where she had a good view of the door. Groups of students lounged about on the leather sofas around empty coffee cups, and a solitary bearded man tapped on a laptop at the next table. He seemed totally absorbed in his work and oblivious to Candice; his too-small jumper was riding up, revealing a large expanse of hairy back. Impossible that he could be Toby, Candice decided with relief; she had been assured that Toby was tall and quite good looking.
Just then, the door opened and a tall, muscular, Scandinavian type walked in and looked around. Kitted out as he was in some kind of work overall and high-vis jacket, Candice didn’t get her hopes up that he was her date; although she did like a man in uniform it was true.
Looking at her watch, Candice noted with dismay that her date was now over twenty minutes late. Muttering curses under her breath she checked for phone messages and resolved to give him ten more minutes of her time.
Nothing arrived on the message front. Obviously, punctuality wasn’t his strong point, but he’d have to have a pretty good excuse for this she thought, frowning. Pausing to check her phone one last time, Candice drained the last of her latte and stood up to leave. Quite why she had agreed to this she did not know; maybe online dating wasn’t so bad after all. Retail therapy would lift her mood she decided as she strode purposefully to the door. She pushed it gently with her shoulder, and when it didn’t move, kicked it sharply in frustration, straight into the face of the handsome stranger on the other side.
“Unfortunately, yes. Very sorry I’m so late, terrible traffic,” he said dabbing at his bloodied nose.
“Well, let me get you some ice, a tissue, I’m so sorry, sit down!”
“X-ray might be more in order,” he smiled. “You must be the Candice I’ve heard so much about,” he said giving her wink.
Zoe had been right; he is charming, Candice thought as she nodded and took his hand.
As before, I have followed the 26 sentence A-Z structure; hope it doesn’t come across as too contrived. Let me know what you think. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com
Here is another recent non-winning Ad Hoc Flash Fiction entry; the prompt word was ‘flex’.
Just a Small Prick
I clocked him in the busy waiting area as I hurried through to my clinic room. He was berating the receptionist; something about parking, in a hurry to get to work. Isn’t everyone? I thought, hoping he wasn’t my patient.
“Mr Lee,” I called out. My heart sank as he stood up. He dwarfed me with his bulk. The veins in his neck stood out like electrical flexes, and the thin white cotton of his T-shirt strained against his huge biceps. He regarded me with an expression of contempt.
I showed him to the couch in my room, and took the form he thrust at me. No point attempting small talk with this one, I thought as I washed my hands.
I turned to face him. One glance at the needle and he keeled over like a stone monolith, his face an ashen white.
Sighing, I pressed the help buzzer.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/9532150@N02/15396133187″>the needle</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>
The moon hung as if suspended in the cloudless sky. A dog howled somewhere, and an owl shrieked in admonition, cutting through the crisp night air. The road I walked along was dark and deserted. This must be why she likes it here, I thought.
As I rounded the bend, I arrived at the driveway and her house came into view. A soft glow emanated from an upstairs window, but otherwise the house was at rest. I crept along the driveway edges so as not to disturb her sleep, then slipped through the side gate to the garden.
I found the rock I was looking for and wrapped it in my scarf.
Another non-winning Ad Hoc Flash Fiction entry from last week. (The prompt word was ‘crisp’). I know, I know, clearly I should have given up on this long ago, but for some reason I can’t help myself!
Here is my attempt at a story inspired by the prompt suggested by Nik Eveleigh making use of the phrase “if that was in the Olympics you’d win gold.”
This slice of domesticity may seem a little stereotypical, but I have drawn on some inspiration from life for this one (of course hugely exaggerated and bearing no resemblance to actual persons living or dead..) so hope it will strike a few chords! Let me know if you think it works or not.
Wallpapering Over The Cracks
“Sport, again?” Kelly sighed and slumped her shoulders. Another Saturday afternoon looked set to be dominated by Gary’s insistence on watching every sporting event in the calendar.
“But it’s the Olympics Kelly, it only comes around every four years!” He was making himself comfortable on the sofa, settling in for a long session of beach volleyball or whatever it was. His trainers were lying where he’d thrown them after walking the dog, and he’d opened a huge bag of tortilla chips when they’d only had lunch half an hour ago.
“But can’t you watch it later? I really wanted to go shopping; we need to choose wallpaper for the spare room and we can’t go next weekend because your brother’s coming.”
“Oh, that’ll work out great. You and Jen can go wallpaper shopping while me and Dave can go to the pub and watch the football. You don’t mind do you? I don’t see him very often. It’s not like I’m out every weekend?” He was doing his best ‘how can you be angry with this innocent’ face. It wasn’t working.
“Football! For God’s sake it’s never ending; first the Tour de France, then the cricket, then the Olympics, now football! Don’t you think you could give something a miss? It’s totally taking over our lives at the moment.” Gary was brushing crisp crumbs from his stomach onto the floor. She noticed his toenails were yellowing and needed cutting and he hadn’t bothered to shave.
“Look, it’s just, unfortunate timing that’s all. In a few weeks it’ll all be over and then you can choose what we watch and we can get on with all the decorating then. Autumn is a much better time to be stuck in doing wallpaper anyway.”
She knew he was probably right about that but she wasn’t about to let him off the hook that easily. “Well it’s got to be done by Christmas and I know what your rate of progress is usually like.” Damn. Now it seemed like he’d won the argument. “And move those shoes, they stink!”
“Honestly Kelly, if nagging was an Olympic sport you’d win gold!” He stomped off, she heard a clunk as he hurled the trainers into the hallway cupboard.
“I wouldn’t have to nag you if you just did what needed doing without having to be asked fifty times!” She shouted.
“Oh, never mind.”
Kelly went upstairs to read her book, but soon found herself unable to concentrate. Why on earth was she living with a man who was obsessed with sport when she hated it? Why was he happy to just waste away the days this way, when there were things that needed to be done and the sun was shining outside? She sometimes wondered if they had anything in common at all; did they really have the same goals and aspirations? He never seemed as motivated as she did to get the house finished. It was as if he had a completely different concept of time. The unwritten timetable in Kelly’s mind was slipping off schedule and it made her anxious.
She lay back against the pillows, and noticed with some annoyance the discarded socks, magazines, old receipts, loose change and other detritus gathering like tumbleweed by his side of the bed. How many times had she asked him to tidy it up? She’d lost that battle long ago. How many more before she had to admit that there was no point fighting any more?
“I’m going out.”
He was staring at the figures on the screen who were performing elaborate somersaults on parallel bars, whilst picking his teeth with his fingernails.
“I said I’m going out!” She began turning for the door.
“What? Oh, where are you going? Are you passing the supermarket?”
“I’m going over to Mel’s house for a bit, and no I am not going to buy you beer before you ask.”
“I wasn’t going to ask that. Well, maybe just a couple…” That innocent smile again. “I was wondering if you could get some ginger and coconut milk. I was going to make us a nice curry. We could watch that film you wanted to watch?”
Kelly refused to meet his eyes.
“Come on Kel, I’m trying here.”
“Tomorrow? Tomorrow it’s the men’s 10,000 metres.”
“And… I will absolutely strip all the wallpaper in the spare room before that starts. I promise. We’ll do it together.” He smiled at her again, that smile that always won her over even when she was determined that it wouldn’t. Actually, the unshaven look quite suited him, annoying as that was.
“It’s going to take more than a curry to get you back in my good books again.” She walked out, trying not to smile as she did so.
Here is another (non-winning!) story I wrote a week or so ago for the Ad Hoc Flash Fiction weekly competition. The prompt word was splinter.
Emma said I shouldn’t tell him what I’d done. She was right; what would be the point in telling him now that it was over? Why upset everyone? The time for talking had passed.
But I couldn’t get rid of the pain I carried in my heart. Like a large wooden splinter was stuck there becoming infected, the pain grew worse, not better each day. The burden of guilt was too heavy for me to bear alone.
Emma said I needed to move on with my life. ‘What’s done is done’, she said. She was right, but it’s never that simple. That’s why I decided to tell him in the end. He was the only one I thought would understand my loss. Our loss.
He cried. But as he held me afterwards, I felt the splinter finally begin to shift. I knew I was no longer alone.
It was noon before I finally made it out of bed. I had woken with a thirst, and could not claw back the bliss of sleep no matter how hard I tried. The events of the evening before were returning to me in scattered fragments that I struggled to piece together.
I shuffled into the kitchen, my dishevelled appearance reflecting in the hallway mirror as I passed. My head was clear, but the memory of what she had done confused my thoughts and I wondered how much longer I could put up with it all. Would it be too much to expect her to behave with some decorum, occasionally?
It had all started out so well; her ability to match me in drinking capability had impressed me, and she was always up for a big night out. She never had a problem finding someone to join her. I knew she rarely attended her lectures, but even that, her rebelliousness, had seemed attractive, before. That, and the fact that she was gorgeous. I’d been flattered she had chosen me, and we had fallen into a relationship of sorts.
I eyed her cinnamon tea bags, which had found a home amidst the assorted detritus on my kitchen worktop. I made a strong cup of tea and set the grill to heat up; bacon sandwiches were definitely required today. I needed a good meal before I could think straight; to work out how to tell her it was over.
I opened the front door to take out the kitchen bin, and nearly tripped over the object that had been left there. This wasn’t the first time she had left a peace offering; what would it be this time? I wondered.
Inside the tin was a large chocolate cake. Well, I had to hand it to her; as olive branches go, she had at least made an effort this time. The fact that she’d managed to get all this done by lunchtime was also… impressive. How could she be so capable, and yet so out of control? The literal icing on the cake spelled out her apology further: ‘Sorry’ it read in looping white letters.
I sat at the kitchen table and tapped out a text message. ‘Thanks for the cake. This time we need a serious talk. I mean it.’
She agreed. I knew she was lying. I cut myself a slice of cake as the bacon sizzled.
First published here:
For National Flash Fiction Day 2016
Image courtesy of pixabay.com
Thanks also to Nik Eveleigh for helpful comments on this piece!