When I teach my daughter about Lemons. She’ll say, ‘they are sour, and need loads of sugar before you use them.’ I will pour her a homemade lemonade, sweetend with Agave. I’ll tell her how lemon juice can cure heartburn, it’s the only, citrus fruit that turns alkaline once joined with saliva. While passing her a slice of my lemon drizzle poppyseed cake, I clean my glass to a sparkle with a used lemon skin as we speak. We will chat about life and love as I slice lemon and freeze them, for days when there are no more.
August 27, 2020, flash fiction prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features Lemon Queens. Maybe it’s an ancient fairy tale or a modern brand name. What ideas seep into your imagination? Is there a character or place involved? Go where the prompt leads!
My response to Charli at the Carrot Ranch was a no brainer because Lemons are magic.
‘What do you use yours for?’ Answers in the comments please, I hope to find some new things to do with the queen of fruits.
My palms are wet. I can’t stop the leg twitch. A silver trail glistens on my sleeve. I sniff and step up. My stone I polished smooth, under darkness when all stood still, and only stars watched. Between fingertips and thumb, I roll three times, kiss and release. A clink as my stone stops dead. I suck my breath and hop clean over. Both soles thump together, out and in, all eight slapped with plimsolls. A cheer lights my eyes and pinks my cheeks. A wobble threatens to bury me in a puff of chalk dust.
Me and Jed head to head. I’ll have him. He won my best Alley yesterday and won’t give me a rematch. I challenged him to the grid. “It’s a kid’s game,” he said. A smile like the common lizard’s twitch escapes me. “Fourteen and still playing?” He nodded at me as he wiped the drool from his chin. “Yeah, I’m just a dumb girl.”
His marbles come from his brother’s stash, he was a champ, before he left school to muck out stables. Too grown up now, thinks he’s special. A flick in my mind and we are back behind those bike sheds, fumbled hands and warm lips. I thought I wet my knickers; I know different now. No lad will get the better of me again.
A crowd gathers as I drop on eight: one, two, it’s over. Quick as a blink. A twist of my head and there’s Jed. He kicks the trim off his pumps, a glob of spit hits the ground. I grin, and nod; I got him good. They lift me and I float above the lot. My fingers grip at heads; greasy hair and dandruff will never feel so good again. Not bad for just a dumb girl.
On the day in question, she took the black tarmac path that snakes behind the row of terraced houses. Houses with their postage stamp gardens that are secreted away behind red brick walls. They sit prettily on the edge of the small English market town. Across the width of the path are the allotments. Every forty or so feet of its length are gates, if you stand still enough, you can sometimes hear the squeak and crunch, as rust drags itself across the warped hinges. The home owners can slip out of the doors of their walled gardens, and walk to their patch. Sectioned plots of land just big enough for fruit, vegetables and herbs to grow. Each one has a wooden shed, some are used for hiding Dads from noisy homes, while others are potting and tool sheds. Some, are the holders of secrets, places where illicit pairings take place.
Old Jack, wanders the allotment with a paint kettle, and a blackened gnarled brush. “A ten pound note will get your shed protected” he calls waving the brush. Jack sleeps wrapped in bubble wrap and cardboard; close to the Brazier. Often he rests inside unkempt sheds that he tidys in return. He blows and snorts as he splashes his face at the ice cold pump. You can see where his stained hands are dried on the threadbare seat of brown corduroy trousers. The scent of Creosote wafts around him like midges beside a Scottish loch. Often people smell Jack long before they see him. A harmles but important character of the allotment.
As she walked, she looked at the bustle going on both in and around the allotments. Old men nod in acknowledgement to each other; men with no need to waste words on pleasantries. Years of shared knowledge and friendship, camaraderie and memories have passed between them. Women with their hair covered, and gloves protecting their hands, lean on wheelbarrows and forks. Girls laugh at secret stories. A young woman colours as she looks about; checking she wasn’t overheard. An elderly couple stop what they are doing to smile at each other, and touch fingertips … A shared silent moment. Father’s dig and tend the early veg. Cutting curly spring cabbage for dinner, digging in Manure, sold to them all by old Jack. She scans the scene spotting a damp steamy pile at each shed as she passes, pressing a fine linen handkerchief to her nose.
Life goes on around her as she continues on the path. The sun shone on the crisp morning, birds sang and dogs wagged their tails. A boy on a micro scooter passed her; head down, furiously concentrating on the pounding of his white trainer against the path. A cough pushed spit from his mouth as he passed her. It slapped against her stockinged leg making her gasp. The woman wiped it with her handkerchief, curled her lip in distaste as she lifted her head and screwed her eyes. He poked up a middle finger and snarled back. A moment or two passed before she straightened her collar and went on her way.
The path comes to a halt. Cobbles trail a curve around the periphery of the luscious green patch of neatly manicured lawn. Several keep off the grass signs are the only things to mar its perfection. A dozen impressive buildings stand around the edge like sentinels. Her eyes scan the area and her brisk steps echoed as she looked for the large black door of number 5; the doctor’s surgery.
Old Jack squinted, and blinked. His green eyes followed the woman. Drawn to her composure, he followed at a distance along the track. Something bothered him, like an over-wound clockwork mouse with no control of her speed. He watched until she pushed on the heavy black door.
Inside they were very efficient. Fifteen minutes later it was over, Her chewed raw fingers struggled to push the three oversized buttons through the fastening’s of her best coat. Fingertips twitched, she pressed her palms into the worsted fabric to still them. Silently she tugged on the cuffs of her pristine leather gloves. A sound, a crisp snap made her flinch as the door closed behind her. Standing for a moment, she took a shuddering intake of breath, placed her smart shoes one in front of the other. She walked the cobbles in the same manner she came. Controlled, back along the tarmac path. But old Jack saw the difference, he saw her legs tremble, the tightening of her lips. Oblivious, she concentrated on the rapping sound her shoes made against the tarmac surface … Click-clack, click-clack. Holding her head high she blinked furiously a fixed determined expression on her face gave nothing away to the onlooker; the passer-by. So she thought. All was changed for her. Her world had tilted in a sentence. But life on and around the path continued. Birds sang the sun began to shine as the wind dried her lashes. He watched, until she closed the gate that shut herself behind those red brick walls. He listened for the clink of keys opening her door. His view obstructed not by the walls or the door its self … but the clouds in his eyes. Jack shakes his head slowly as he logs another look at life along the footpath.
What do you think happened? Leave me a comment I answer quick smart.
Looking out my back door I see the well, my eyes are drawn in its direction. I hear a clinking of the chain. A bitter taste hits my tongue, sticky liquid begins burning the back of my throat. I stare harder until the frosty air pinches my nose and makes my eyes water. I push my feet into the wellies left by the door. Again the chain shakes, a frantic determined rattle. With sweaty palms pressed into my dressing gown pockets, I place one foot on the deck and slowly creep forward.
My ears hurt at the clatter! The heavy lid begins to rise, only an inch, but enough to for me to see gnarled fingers at its edge. There’s a scream, then I realise it came from me. pyjama clad legs get cold, my wellingtons fill, which force fogged air to escape. I wobble as the stench of urine made me gag! The lid slammed closed. Forward I go across the lawn, trembling, with each crunch that the morning frost makes underfoot. One more sudden rattle and fear for myself vanished. Faster I ran, and as the sound became louder my breath quickened. The rusted chain stilled as I put out my hand. I tugged the heavy lid upwards. Both hands grasped the rusted ring. It raised a crack. “Whose there? Can you push? I can’t lift, it’s too heavy.” I cried. I feel veins bulge in my neck and blood pump in my ears as I force the lid, blood filled my mouth with each tug. Teeth biting down on flesh. Gritty rust particles bore into my hands biting, burying deep into my soft flesh.
I run to the shed, face wet with sweat and tears, grabbed a hoe to wedge its handle through the ring. With all my strength I pushed, until finally, it lifted. I leap back at the sound of a splsh, and scan the crystal clear water beneath. Bubbles broke the surface, then a sigh. Two Newts were the only occupants of our well. When John wakes he won’t be best pleased, having to repair the hinges and mend the cracked oak lid. Frowning I looked once more into the abyss below, but there is nothing, just cold, clear, water, and a pair of Newts. As I turned to face the door I whipped back my head, just in time to see deep rents in the underside of the lid begin to fill, until they vanished …
That was my response to the #RagTagDailyPrompt which today was, ‘ looking out of my back door’ press hereto join in or read other fantastic tales.
Did I scare, did I paint the picture clear? Answers in the comments, please. P.S. what would scare you?
I dropped, into the soft velvet sofa, pulled the leg rest over, and scrolled through until I found the film we chose. Well, we had a thumb war, and I won, as I would. I chose the Prodigy, lets see how my little brother and his nerdy pal enjoy a real horror.
Tom, sat next to me, pushed his glasses up his nose and gave a squeaky laugh. I muttered ,”Freak.” And paused the credits until Jack arrived. A few minutes later I said, “We will watch the trailer until dweeb features gets here.” I press play, stomp to the door and shout. “Gamer boy, hey, we are starting without you.” Then cozied back into my corner. I stretched the gum with my tongue and slid my eyes sideways without moving my head to see if Tom was scared yet. A screech made him jump and he grabbed my hand. I sat stock still. I could feel wind get in my eyeballs because they were stretched in shock. I didn’t blink or move, then a blob of saliva emerged from behind my teeth, and hovered slowly, it spilt over. I tried in desperation to suck it back; too late, it splashes. A wet patch began to spread at the end of my right breast. Unfortunately, I am bra-less, and my nipple twitched at the change in temperature. This is awkward.
Watch a movie with your brothers nerdy mate, he gets scared, grabs my hand, I dribble. He now thinks I fancy him … my nipples harden which he thinks is my reaction to him holding my hand.
“Tom! sicko, let go!” He snatched his hand away, dropped it into his lap with a funny choking noise. That was when I knew. “Oh God” that was when I knew. He couldn’t take his eyes off my boobs, and his hand wasn’t big enough to cover the reason for the fear on his face. I grab the remote as I stand, and the screen goes black. No more movie, or comfy sofa, just painful silence. The sort you feel crawling up your neck, under your skin.
My slippers slapped hard against the oak floor as I ran to escape. “Shit,” I swear, as I click the door closed. I lean my forehead against it, still holding the knob. My breath slowed, my face cooled and my leg twitched.
Just then, Jack leaps the last two stairs. He went to push by me.”What’s up sis, too scary for ya, such a loser, wimp.” On my bed, in a bra and clean sweater, I have space to think. Movies will never be quite the same.
My first try at a YA piece, did it work? Practicing different styles, for a different audience is tricky.
This was a rag tag prompt press Here to join in or read.
Feed back is what I need. Question, “did it read as if an adult (ole fossil) wrote it, be honest, with your comment. Please?”
Having a chin wag means to chat, talk or gossip. I try to paint a picture of an area of an industrial town in Northern England in the 1950s. I am using a smattering of dialect to paint a picture.
My question is was it enough? Would it be better without? Looking forward to your answers in the comments. “As I am known to enjoy a bit of a *chin-wag* with you.”
There they were the two of em, hanging over the garden fence; arms folded. Florrie’s were under her tiny breasts; maybe to push them up; pretend like, making out she had more. She was long, stringy almost, she wore a pinny and a cotton square covered her hair. Mum, thoughshe was no better than she should be … flaunting her coral lip stain and seamed stockings. What I could see of it her hair was yellow, oh and them teeth … they jiggled about as she spoke; *me mam* said it made her retch. Then Mum would.
Mavis well she was different, Gramps would say “like chalk and cheese those two” I love Granddad, Me Pops as I call him, he had lots of funny sayings. If he liked something he would slap his knees double-handed and call out “That’s champion *lass*, rite *champion*.”
‘Anyhow, back on track, where were I, Oh yes, Mavis. Short n’ stocky with fat knees. You’d see them knees, when she cleaned the windows, dimpled like dumplings. The lads down the Ginel said they looked through letterbox last Summer, seen her naked thighs as she washed by the kitchen sink. “Like *gert* big hands of ham they were” laughed Smithy. My Mum says it isn’t often you’d see them knees … because she’s not too particular about the housework. Then Mum would, she has a sharp tongue, my Mum. Mavis has pin curls peeking from under her scarf. Tinged, more of a dirty grey colour, from the coal fire I expect. That lass is as short as she is wide, wears a fancy wrap around pinny; not many had one of them. I can’t help me sen, so I snigger at her wrinkled stockings and get a clip round the *earlug*; a backhander for doing so. Her roundness comes from having ten kids. Six were lads, all gone and grown now. We live in back to back houses, terraces with Ginels behind. On Monday Morning if School was out, I’d sit astride the sill with a book; the sun warms my skin right through the glass. Mum told us when we were kids “It’s God kissing you.” I am not so sure about that.
They, Florrie and Mavis, think I’m reading. Really I am watching, and listening, you’d be surprised what I hear; looking down at the backs. Those two, over the fence putting the world to rites … having a good old chin-wag. Got to go now, Mam’s got my Pop’s snapping ready, I’ll take it up the allotment to him, he is busy after all; digging us tea. I better have my wits about me in the Ginnel, that Smithy boy, he’d likely have his hand in my liberty-bodice if I loitered. Catch you another time tatty bye.
This post was very different first time around. Reworked, new dialogue and a new character in Old Jack. I hope you enjoy the changes as much as I. “comment please it is fun to talk.”
*earlug* = ear, *Gert* = big, *Champion* = magnificent, *Tatty bye* = farewell, for now, *Ginel* = secreted alley, *lass*= young girl, Having a *chin-wag* = a gossip or a chat.
I wished I hadn’t seen him, I squeezed my eyes and prayed that he would disappear once I unscrewed them.
In the forest, Granddad always carried his loaded gun; broken of course, but … shot ready. “Just cos you a girl don’t mean nowt” he would say. “You needs to know, and to do.” Each time I nodded my head, I secretly begged not to find him. In the clearing he glistened with snow. Head held proud, no hurry to go. He looked back the way he had come. I darted forward; a distraction technique. Without a breath his gnarly hand caught my nose and cheek. A backhander he called it, a gentle reprimand. Grabbing my lobe he dragged me, not releasing for a second until home. My face wet, my heart bled but … my conscience clear. We never spoke of our last hunting trip. We neither repeated or apologised. Our last meeting was on his deathbed, our eyes met one last time. Silently he closed his lashless eyes, and nodded his naked head.
Press the thanks to join in or read other responses to the #WritePhoto prompt. Thank you Sue
Do comment please. “Have you had a moment? when you stuck to your guns?
Eric Sinclair - optimist, author, Stroke Association volunteer, occasional chorister - all views my own but fully endorsed by the whippet. "Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional"