57 minus 21: [ ] and candour

Posted: 27 July 2021 in 57 minus, fast fiction, fiction, writing
Tags: , , ,

It’s Tuesday, so a couple of more ‘fiction from the vaults’ posts.

A couple of fast fictions, both from 2010 this week.

Two stories, as different as can be, though both with an undercurrent of ‘regret’, one expressed rather more healthily than the other, maybe? I leave you to decide. And no, that’s not a mistake in the title; Jess chose (as one other person did in the history of the fast fiction challenge) not to give me a word to use in the tale, merely a title.

A decade and a half ago, I threw out a challenge. and then repeated it thereafter whenever I felt like it. The challenge was the same in each case:

Give me a title of up to four words in length, together with a single word you want me to include in the tale, and I will write a story of exactly 200 words.

That’s it. The stories that resulted always included the word, they always fitted the title, but usually in ways the challenger hadn’t anticipated. And they were always exactly 200 words in length.

Enjoy them…

Title: I Always Hated You
Word: [none offered]
Challenger: Jess Nevins
Length: 200 words exactly

I never liked the way you were always at home in any social setting: how you’d walk into a room where there were thirty different people, none of whom knew each other, and half an hour later, there’d be six or seven different conversations going on, with you drifting from one to another as if you’d known them all your life. All the time, that smug half-smile on your face that others found endearing and that you swore was merely relief at getting through it.

I loathed the way you pretended not to know how attractive the other sex found you; you couldn’t not have known, not with the way you responded to every person who wanted your ear, acting brash with one, bashful with another, flirtatious with a third… and each of them convinced they knew the real you.

I found it contemptible how effortlessly you found it, settling down with me – how could you have genuinely been happy settling for a wife and children when you so obviously enjoyed the spontaneity that familial obligations denied you?

And then you died, you bastard, before I could tell you again that I loved you.

And I hate you for that.

© Lee Barnett, 2010

Title: The Hour Before Dawn
Word: candour
Challenger: [Livejournal: Avril_Says]
Length: 200 words exactly

I dreamed a city once.

Minutes before I fully awoke, my mind full of possibilities, I dreamed a city. Broad walkways, tall spires, millions of people.

And then I witnessed decay and destruction; high buildings tumbling, crushing those beneath; roads collapsing where once lovers had walked; I knew that negligence and disregard were to blame.

I dreamed a lover once.

Golden hair, wide eyes of deepest midnight blue, flowing chiffon almost disguising her femininity, features that left me dumb in awe.

And then I saw her grow old, and her beauty fade, and her charm evaporate, and I was wholly aware that apathy and neglect were entirely at fault.

I dreamed a life once.

Liked by friends, loved by family, respected in my chosen profession. A deeply caring, productive life.

And then, with the passage of time, it became ordinary; friends found other amusements; family became a chore for all involved; my career was merely prostituting meagre talent. And selfishness was the default first option instead of a reviled last resort.

And then I cried in candour at the realisation that the last was neither a dream nor a nightmare, although I wished beyond hope that it had been either.

© Lee Barnett, 2010


See you tomorrow, with… something else.



Fifty-seven days. Fifty-seven posts. One fifty-seventh birthday.

I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

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