57 plus 23: Words

Posted: 9 September 2021 in 57 plus, 57 plus new fiction, fiction, new fiction, writing
Tags: , , , ,

Once upon a time, I partook in a project called Elephant Words, where a single image would inspire multiple stories from and by multiple authors.

When I decided to honour a promise to an old friend, and write new fiction once a week for the ’57…’ run, the first week’s was based on an image I’d come across serendipitously. And since then I’ve kept an eye out for images that spark something, that provoke the storytelling parts of my brain.

So that every week, I can write something brand new, a story written for this blog that no-one’s ever seen before, sparked by an image I come across entirely by chance.

I came across the following image this afternoon, and it sparked an idea.

And this is what it provoked.


The air was thick with fury, the pair of them letting the angry words settle in the space between them.

He stood, one hand in his pockets, every so often jangling keys and coins. He knew it annoyed her but he’d swear he didn’t do it solely to irritate her. Not solely, anyway. His other hand stroked his bare face; he’d shaved the beard off a decade ago but sometimes when upset he still missed it.

His eyes protruded, slightly, as they tended to when he was angry. And both of them knew it was not a pleasant look. It didn’t help that green eyes under eyebrows of salt and pepper were striking. On anyone else’s face, she knew they would clash, but on his, no.

He took a deep breath, as if to add to the upset, to restate what he’d just said, then he paused, and sighed, shallowly and slowly.

He looked at her, seated and surprisingly small in the fabric covered armchair. Her face was like stone. Unlike her husband, on whose face you could read a book of his emotions, hers was blank, wholly and completely. The best poker players in the world, if sat across from her, he had once said, would see nothing she didn’t want them to. She had thought it a compliment. Maybe it once had been. No longer, though. Now it was merely a fact.

“I…” she started, then fell silent again, judging her words.

When they had first met, decades ago, she had been all whirlwind and energy and extroversion; she’d seen no purpose in hiding what she thought, from anyone. She’d learned in the decades since that, sometimes, discretion was better, was easier.

He, though, had been reserved, insular, quiet. That had changed as her love for him had led him to blossom, to gain confidence in his own love for her, and the public showing of it.

She taught him to express himself. She taught him to free his feelings. She taught him to love. He taught her to appreciate it.

In those days, they could both remember with ease had they ever wished to, the world could go hang; they had each other and nothing else was important. They could recall that effortlessly, had they wished to. In truth, it rarely occurred to either to do so.

She took a breath. Then another, a loud one.

“Anything… else?” She asked, her voice flat.

He took one hand out of the pocket, as he walked over to her. “Just one thing… actually, two.”

Her eyebrow raised, archly.

He knelt in front of her. “You do know I love you, right?”

She tilted her head towards him. “You know that nothing matters to me, without you, right?” he continued. “That you’re the stars and the light and every blade of grass to me. That you’re… what makes life worth it.”

She smiled, gently but knowingly. “I know.”

“That you’re everything to me. The air I breathe, the food I eat, the world.” He stopped, suddenly.

“The food you eat?” Her smile grew wider, and reached her eyes.


“How am I supposed to top that?” She asked, the skin around her eyes wrinkling with light humour.

“You’re not,” he said, and she knew he meant it.

“You’re an idiot,” she said, and he knew she didn’t.

“I know.”

She reached to him, her pal against his face. “You said two things?”

He stood, bent over, kissed her cheek, the argument relegated to the places such things go between people who’ve loved each other with all their hearts for four decades and more.

“Yeah. Do you want a biscuit with your cuppa?”

As he left for the kitchen, she look at him with unadulterated love and admiration. He always apologised. Always. Or she did. She stretched out, wondering how many times it was now that she’d walked out on him without getting out of the chair.

Without surprise, she felt a brief chill on damp cheeks, and knew without looking that he was wiping his own.

The food he eats? She shook her head, bemused with love, and looked forward to the hot beverage, and the evening with him, and the rest of their lives. Together.


© Lee Barnett, 2021



See you tomorrow, with… something else.



Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.

Just dropping this in here, as I was asked by message the other day: the best places to contact me outside the blog are via email at budgie@hypotheticals.co.uk and @budgie on Twitter.

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 up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

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