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Thursday, 18 September 2014

Love of My Life











I really wanted a Snickers but the love of my life was too much of an opportunity to miss, so I put the coin in the slot and pressed the button.





I don't know what I was expecting. I was on a deserted platform in the middle of the Scottish Highlands and hundreds of miles away from home. I turned towards the strange little vending machine and searched for the returned coins button and that's when I felt a small tug on my sleeve.




A girl of about 10 was stuck to me like a barnacle.




'Is it you?' she said.



'I beg your pardon.'


She seemed to be highly amused and excited about something.



'Which button did you press?' she said.



'That one,' I said, pointing at the love of my life button, 'But I have a feeling it's not you.'



'Of course not silly,' she said, 'because you're my new Dad.'


'What?'



She pointed up at the new dad button and then at me. I hadn't seen that one and was sure it wasn't there when I looked the first time.



'I'm not your Dad.'


'Yes you are. I pressed the button and then you came.'



'Don't be ridiculous,' I said, 'I've been here all along. It's you that just appeared out of nowhere.'


'No. You're here because I pressed the new dad button.'



'And I asked for a lover, not a daughter.'


''It works every time,' she said.




'Where's your mum?' I asked.


'Haven't got one.'


'Then who are you with?'


'You,' she said.




She had Sarah's blonde hair. And the more I looked there were other similarities. Her stubby nose. Her pale features. And freckles. I was being ridiculous but the resemblance was uncanny.




'Why do you keep looking around?' she said.


'In case the love of my life makes an appearance.'




'You didn't ask for a lover,' said the girl.


'Yes I did. I want my money back.'


She laughed. A familiar laugh that took me back eight years.




'No you didn't. You pressed the Love of your life button.'



She had a point but it was screwing with my head. When Sarah died it wasn't just a wife I lost but our hopes and dreams for the future. And we hoped to have children.



I looked straight at the kid and I saw Sarah looking back at me.



'This is ridiculous,' I said.


'Is it?'


She walked back over to the machine, placing another coin in the slot.



'Don't press that button,' I said.




'Yes'




I had seen that button from the beginning but hadn't had the nerve to press it. It was a word that filled me with dread and excitement in equal measures.




'No. Please don't press it. It's not right.'






She pressed it and we both held our breath. And waited.












                                                         (C) Ally Atherton
                         
                                                                       2014







Written for  Sunday Photo Fiction






























Monday, 15 September 2014

Thinking Into the Stone


                 Image courtesy of Janssenfrank and taken from Wiki commons


                     



                               

                      Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be



                                                            Robert Browning





     

           


                           'Slept with her yet?'




That's how abrupt he was. But I had grown accustomed to his ways in the short time I had been visiting him. He didn't want to know what I'd had for breakfast, he wanted to know if I'd fucked her yet.


'No.'


His silence betrayed his disappointment so I placed my hands on his cold grey shoulders and let him have it.




'What's that?'


'Strawberries,' I said.


'What?'



The miserable old bastard could get what he was given. I wasn't about to stop eating all the things I wanted just to please him but I think he enjoyed it because his gravestone had gone blank. He was wordless for once and that only happened when he was eating or drinking or thinking of something shitty to say.



'You never had Strawberries?'


'Of course I fucking haven't,' he said, 'In my days you were lucky to get bread and butter for supper and a slap on your backside for dessert.'



I didn't argue, he was probably right.


'What else have you got for me?'

I thought for a moment. Then decided to do it.




'A kiss.'



'A kiss?'


Now I knew he was interested. Women and ale was all he was ever interested in.



'Go on. Do it,' he said.




I closed my eyes and thought about last night.



Mary's lips that tasted of the strawberries we'd been eating from the basket at the back of her Aunty Veronica's house. Her rosewood hair that would never do anything she wanted it to when she wanted it to. And then her tongue. Her tongue finding mine for the first time. And my hand wandering nervously down the crease of her back. Slowly downwards. Mary closing her eyes. Mary gasping. Mary's gap-toothed crooked smile.




That would do. I removed my hands from his gravestone and turned to walk home.


Let him stew for a while. Dirty old git. That's all he was getting.





I got as far as the gate at the end of the church yard and looked back to see what he had written on his stone. I had to squint but I could just about make it out.





'Thanks Son.'






                                                 


                                                      (C) Ally Atherton

                                                                    2014







 364 Words








Written for this Monday's Light & Shade Challenge. Take a look and join in if you like.




http://lightandshadechallenge.blogspot.co.uk/







Thursday, 11 September 2014

Red or Blue?






He'd seen it in the movies hundreds of times but here he was with the fate of the human race balanced between his fingers.


If he chose to cut the wrong wire he wouldn't be receiving any more Christmas cards from God and his maintenance man days would be over.



So red wire or blue wire?




If he chose correctly the Jesus circuit would be fixed and everybody's sins would be forgiven.




But if he chose incorrectly the Holy Trinity would be lost forever. Wiped from the face of the Earth with one cold sharp snap of a wire.







                                                                   



                                                                     (C) Ally Atherton


                                                                                2014





99 Words

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The Other Side






                                                                 


                                   'Hello I'd like to speak to Nan please.'






Today they were playing 'Stairway to Heaven' on a loop, great song, but it was a bit much after over an hour of waiting.


Thank you for waiting, if you'd like to call back later the phone lines are open until 5 00 pm.


It was always nine till bloody five. Every Sunday without fail, nine till five. You couldn't complain though because it was a great service. Unbeatable.


There was a website too. Heaven.com. You can write a message at any time of the week, you just don't get a reply. But that's what the phone lines were for. But leaving a message on the website helped. It helped Bryan. He liked to know his loved one's were receiving his messages. It was an incredible comfort and all his spare time was spent on there.


Thank you for waiting, if you'd like to call back later the phones lines are open until 5 00 pm.


He was always on edge when he was waiting but you left your request and waited. There wasn't anything else you could do. Most weeks he wanted Nan and got Nan. She was a phone-a-holic when she was alive and she didn't seem to have changed much on the other side. But occasionally she was unavailable but there was always somebody waiting to talk to him.


Waiting costs money but he didn't have to worry too much about that side of things. He had a well paid job and it was well worth every penny. It was £3.50 a minute but that was still cheaper than paying some middle aged (and probably very overweight and hairy) woman to talk you through a decent wank.


Thanks for waiting, if you'd like to call back later the phones lines are open until 5 00 pm.



Mind you the phone got answered a damn site quicker on the sex lines.



'Nan? Is That Nan?'


'Hello Bryan, no it's Madge Honey.'


Madge again. She was answering the phone a bit to much recently. He didn't mind too much, anybody was better than nobody, but he hardly knew the woman. Some relative of his Nan's, three or four times removed. He'd never even met the woman but she seemed to want to know him inside out.


'Hi Madge. How are you?'



She was belting. She was always belting.Say what you wanted about Madge but she was always belting. She didn't half go on a bit though in her broad, if a little put on Northern accent. She could talk the head off a vacuum cleaner salesman and spit him out again before you could get two words out.

She didn't half sound like Nan though. Funny that. And Aunty Irene and Aunty Beatrice and Great Nan Esther. I guess they all grew up around the same area or maybe Heaven does that to you. You end up talking the same.


'Madge, can I ask you a question?'

'Yes Dear of course but you know we can't tell you too much. Some things are meant to be secrets.'


Bryan had been thinking about this all night and he didn't hold up much hope but there was no harm in trying.


'What do you do?'

'Pardon?'

'Well what do you do up there in Heaven? Do you work? Do you have fun? What's it like?'


Bryan waited. It wasn't like Madge to hold her breath for more than two seconds. But there was stuff that he really wanted to know. Eventually you got to the point where a conversation with a loved one wasn't quite enough.You wanted, needed more.


'Bryan you know we can't talk about things like that.'


'Well why not? All you all seem to do is ask questions about me and what I do. Can't you tell me a bit about what it's like over there instead?'


'Please Sweety you know we can't.'


'Please? Can't you tell me a little bit?'


'No Honey but go on tell me, how's work going? How's the family? Is your mum still going to badminton on a Wednesday?



She wasn't biting but he was half expecting it. So it was time to try out something else.



'Nan, do you remember when we all used to turn up at your front door at Christmas.?'


'Yes Dear.'


'It was fun wasn't it Nan? The whole family sat around your front room table eating the biggest turkey in the whole world.'



'It sure was Sweety.'






'That's good but I thought you were Madge, not my Nan.'





There was pause and something incomprehensible was mumbled on the other side of the receiver.



'Madge?'


'Madge?'







Thanks for waiting, if you'd like to call back later the phones lines are open until 5 00 pm.





                                                                   

                                                                  


                                                                              (C) Ally Atherton


                                                                                   2014


                                       


                     799 Words




Stairs aren't a problem











                    Stairs aren't a problem as long as you stick to the rules.





It was always left foot first for Kathleen. On small step at a time but always the left foot first because that's the way it had always been.




And then there were doorhandles. The briefest of touches. A tap of a finger would do but it was important, potentially life threatening. She knew the kind of terrors that awaited her if there wasn't that touch on the handle before leaving a room or that left foot first on the stairs.

Small things but important things.Anything to avoid that phone call in the middle of the night or that knock on the door. She had learned the hard truth at an early age.





When she was eight she would always avoid the red flags on the playground


until one day her foot slipped. None of the other kids noticed anything out out the ordinary but at that very moment the Earth stopped spinning, the ground fell from beneath her feet and her father decided that she was old enough.







                                                 (C)  Ally Atherton 2014



                                                                                 180 Words





I wrote this for  Sunday Photo Fiction. A new writing challenge that I have stumbled upon.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Broken



                            
                     Image courtesy of Messi and taken from the Wiki Commons








It wasn't the monster under my bed I was worried about. It was the monsters inside my head and they were never a problem until the day they decided to escape.





Most people have nightmares but I think there's a switch or a circuit that keeps them from getting loose and mine is broken. I have a broken switch and my broken switch is responsible for so much crap in this world it would be better if I ended it right here and now.

I remember the first time it happened. One turned up at my school and killed two teachers and fifteen children. It was all over the news and there was nothing I could do but hide. That first one killed itself so my secret was safe but every time it happens I'm scared that my monsters will dob me in. They know where they have come from and I have to live with that and my fear that the police could turn up at my door at any hour.



I'm 43 now and my little monsters are everywhere. Over the years many of them have been imprisoned or executed and a few of them are still awaiting trial at the Hague. But I worry about the ones that have disappeared. The ones that are still out there. I turn on Sky News and they stare back at me with their blank, nightmare eyes. I open the newspaper and they fall out like adverts for shampoo or hair extensions.




But what scares me the most are the ones that are trying to get back inside. I hear them banging on my front door at night. I see their twisted faces through my window. They stand at the end of my bed at night and stare. But they can't get back in because the switch in my head is broken.






The switch is broken. Every morning they creep out but can't get back in. No matter how many times I pick them up and try to shove them back in. And for that I'm sorry. I'm so terrible sorry. Because I'm the reason your world is so fucked up and the reason why your monsters no longer stay under your bed but walk alongside you instead.






                                                    

                                                      (C) Ally Atherton 2014



                                                                                       377 Words







I wrote this for this Mondays Light & Shade Challenge. Please take a look and join in if you love to write, whether you are published or not.




http://lightandshadechallenge.blogspot.co.uk/




Thursday, 4 September 2014

Pill



          

                       'When I was sick, you gave me bitter pills; 
                                          And I must minister the like to you'
                            

                                 - Two gentleman of Verona, William Shakespeare





          
I placed my palm against the screen and waited for it to tumble into the slot.





We are allowed one a day and today I chose a total body healing pill. I have been feeling run down lately and my usual 24 hour orgasm pill would have to wait till tomorrow. I placed it on the tip of my tongue and it dissolved.


I didn't hang around. There was a queue. There is always a queue. We are a nation of waiters but we do it peacefully and in silence. We don't plan our silence, we are forced to swallow a spoonful of silence every morning. It's the first thing we do every day but I don't mind because I am normally in the middle of a rampaging orgasm.


I recommend that everybody takes a total body healing pill at least once every six months. I think of it as a six monthly MOT but most people don't bother. They are too busy experimenting with the new line of pills that are coming out. People these days are obsessed with their slow release sense of humour capsules and their nostalgia capsules and those new pills that make you devastatingly attractive to everything that walks and crawls. Nope. I'll stick with my 24 hour orgasms. Take my word for it, there's nothing better. Once you've tried it you'll be hooked. The rest is junk.




Anyway they get me through the day and I go to sleep with a smile on my face. But we work hard. They make sure of that. Everybody has to pull their weight and they only provide us with the pills so that we don't stop to think about how crap this life is. Because there's nothing else to look forward to here. They work us until our hands bleed and our backs break. We work and we wait and we take our pills and we stay silent, but most of all we wish that we had behaved ourselves when we had the chance. When we were living.





                                    

                                                             (C) Ally Atherton 2014







I wrote this for this weeks Light & Shade Challenge. Please take a look at the link and join in if you like to write. It's fun and it's a community of lovely people.