L is for Lockdown


Today’s post is a bit of flash fiction that came from a writing group prompt. I was delighted it was ‘Highly Commended’ in two different writing competitions. One locally here in South Wales, and one at home in Dublin. Hope you enjoy 🙂

The Perfect End to Lockdown

Kay slammed the boot of the car. “That’s it, Janice,” she said. “You wouldn’t get a bus ticket in there now. So, if there’s anything else, you’ll have to put it on your knees.”

“I think that’s it, except for this,” replied Janice, emerging from the house with a dustbuster.

“Well done you. I never would have thought of that,” said Kay, getting into the driver’s seat.

Janice tapped the side of her head. “You see? Watching all those old quiz shows has kept my brain alive.” She opened the back door of the car and a suitcase fell out. Janice picked it up and wrestled it on to the back seat, shoving the dustbuster in and slamming the car door, in one move. “Right,” she said. “That’s definitely it. We have everything.”

Janice got into the car and Kay started the engine. They exhaled a little sigh of pleasure as the engine of Kay’s Ford Escort came to life. “She never lets me down,” she said. “I knew she’d wait patiently.”

“And we’re off,” said Janice, as Kay drove out on to the main road.

Passing familiar landmarks of their hometown, they remarked on them as if they were new. The local pub had had a coat of paint. Much needed, Janice remarked. Old Mr Jenkins’ eyesore of a shed was gone, and a pretty small wooden construction was in its place. The flowers in the park had obviously been tended, and the friends gasped and laughed at the newness of some of the old places.

They drove past Kitty Jenkins’ house and fell silent. Kitty was the only other person they knew who loved crosswords and crocheting as much as they did. They were broken hearted to hear she contracted the virus and died only days later, then was buried with just one or two mourners.

After a while the travellers brightened up again and resumed their lively chat. They came to a junction and stopped at the red light. A police car pulled up in the next lane and Kay could see the occupants looking and pointing to her over-crowded back seat.

“Don’t look at them Kay,” said Janice. “Keep looking straight ahead.”

They sat like statues as the light went amber, then green, and both cars pulled away.

Kay freed the breath she’d been holding. “That was close, that was so close.”

“You know, I’m actually sorry, they didn’t stop us,” said Janice. “I would have loved one of the policemen to say, “And where do you think you’re going madam?” I would have answered, “Anywhere I blazes well want. The Prime Minister said I could.”

Janice cackled with laughter and soon Kay was laughing at the thought of it.

Before long they reached their destination.

“I have been waiting for this day for so long,” said Janice.

“Me too. I can’t quite believe we are here,” replied Kay, looking at the entrance with elation.

There was a queue waiting to be admitted, but they were happy to wait, and when they got to the kiosk, a slightly frazzled looking middle-aged man in a hi-vis jacket snorted a greeting and snapped, “NAME?”.

“Well I’m Kay, and this is my friend Janice.”

“Hello,” Janice sang, leaning across Kay and waving wildly.

“Booking name, I meant.”

“Oh, I am sorry, booked in the name of Kay Cavandish.”

“And what have you got with you?”

“Suitcases in the back seat there. A couple of small bags of electrical items.”

“Anything in the boot?” He snapped again.

“All cardboard,” said Kay still smiling

“OK,” he grunted, “Skip four for the cardboard, electrical items next in six and the cases in the last one, number ten.”

“Thank you so much,” said Kay.

“Yes, thanks for your help,! said Janice throwing herself across Kay again.

As they drove through the main entrance of the Recycling Centre Janice said, “I think the council staff are getting younger and ever more pleasant as time goes on.”

“Oh, I agree, said Kay. “They must be glad to be back here, because I certainly am.”

“Me too,” said Janice dreamily as they approached skip number four.

G is for Gang of Four


Based on childhood memories, this piece of flash fiction is inspired by my mother and her sisters. It’s based on a writing group prompt, Gang for Four

Gang of Four

They sat around the table every week, with strong opinions, loud voices, strict rules, and plenty of money. Purses bursted with coins. But no brown money. There would be no coppers in this game. On the table was a deck of cards and a bottle of brandy. In the fridge were salad sandwiches, and some fizzy orange for Aunty Teetotal.

They had grown up together in the same house. Shared a bed, clothes, pencils.  Then work and family life stretched their bond, sometimes almost to breaking point. It was never severed though; the tie of sisters rarely is. They were all married when they stared to meet on a Saturday night. Kids old enough to fend for themselves, husbands happy to watch the football or go to the pub. Over the years they became widows in turn and their connection deepened, returning to its childhood level.

Saturday nights were for playing The Queen, Trumps and On the Bus. The games were not to be taken lightly, though they laughed throughout.  They broke for sandwiches half-way through the evening, and it was time to sort the money out.

“I owe you a fiver.”

“Well I owe you seven, so you give that to her and I’ll only owe two.”

“But don’t you owe me ten?”

“I did, but then I paid for the raffle tickets, so you owe me six. Actually, you all owe me six.”

“I paid you for mine, didn’t I? I got you the round mince.”

“Right so, you give that fiver back and I’ll give you…”

The fiver would be passed around the room, more often than not, ending up back in the purse if came out of. When all was totted up, often only a pound or two was ever actually owed, but it had to be put right.

Watching and listening from the stairs, or if we were quiet, on a small stool near the table, we learned fairness, responsibility, the importance of fun and family, and the bond that four sisters can have throughout  a lifetime.

This gang of four did not change the world. But they made our world and we are grateful for it.