Henrietta Maddox Webloner


Zooming out
August 19, 2011, 6:14 pm
Filed under: Telling stories, Writing | Tags:

The small, happy family gather in the kitchen. Teenager, Jessie sits texting on her mobile at the table while her mother prepares vegetables at the counter.

“How’s your new bike working out for you, love?” Emily hears herself say.

“Thanks, Mum. I love it – I’m using it every day. You should see me zooming through the city at full speed. Those big old buses seem like gigantic elephants and make me feel like a clever little mouse scurrying between them.””

Without looking up from peeling the carrots, Emily’s smile turns to a slight frown. “I hope you’re careful on the roads.”

“Mum, don’t be silly, of course.” She stretches her whole body out, “I just love the freedom of it. And just think, I’ll be driving next year, it’s going to be amazing.” She claps her hands together and gives off a high pitched squeal.

Still shaving vegetables, Emily giggles, “You sound like your father when he got his camera. I hope you’re getting all this, John?”

“Yes, dear.” he mumbled. Jess munches on a carrot and headed towards her father, her eyes lit up, “Dad, can I have a go?” Suddenly, she’s frozen in time.

The thick parallel lines of the pause symbol cover the left corner of the screen. Emily stands over her television, tears rolling down her face, taking everything in from the image of her beautiful daughter.

Emily takes a handkerchief from her black blazer and blows her nose, trying desperately to pull herself together. She feels the warmth of John’s hand on her shoulder as he takes her in his arms. She buries her tear soaked face in his chest, trying to muffle her bawls.

The cries stop. The couple are frozen as they comfort one another in funeral attire stood in the living room, their television behind them.

Two ad men sit in an editing suite. One sips on coffee, the other on diet coke.

“Let’s take a break, we’ve been here for hours.” He says.

“It’s been worth it, though. It’s going to be very effective” The other says.

© Vicky Bigmore 2011



Circulation
August 5, 2011, 8:39 am
Filed under: Telling stories, Writing | Tags: , , , , ,

Slice of life of a ten pound note

The door squeaked, she turned, her lover entered, she rose to kiss Tom hello. He looked defeated, Gail expressed concern, he explained. He forgot to grab the ten pound note from the cash machine. “I hope the machine ate it back up again.” he concluded – so had the ten pound note.

As Tom had walked away, a teenager skated past and with no hesitation grabbed the tenner without stopping his zoom. Placing it in the pocket of his baggie, skater trousers, he raced along the high street until he got to the yellow door of his drug dealer. Effortlessly, Jay flipped his skateboard up, under his arm and text to alert Skinny Frank, “I’M OUTSIDE”.

Skinny unlatched the door, Jay walked in, a thick cloud of smoke swirled and puffed around his head. The smell was delicious; the chilled tones of reggae and dubstep chugged out of the speakers. Trading the goods and the cash, Frank laid the tenner on top of a pile of notes and chilled with his friend on beanbags, playing on his XBOX.

Hunger pangs followed, Jay left, Frank grabbed the money, ran out to the corner shop. The shopkeeper exchanged the note for the grub, pinned it in his till and carried on stacking. Next morning the shopkeeper paid paperboy, George. Smiling at his very first wage, he held it tight all the way home.

Putting it on the kitchen table, he stared at it in awe till he needed the loo. His mother mistook it for her own and drove off to market. For a big bag of potatoes, she handed it over to a stall minder but a strong gust of wind snatched it from her pinch.

Fluttering high above their heads, the ten pound note raced far from the woman, until caught safely in a tree. There the ten pound note rested, at dusk a magpie nipped it , soared high above the streets, and released the note into a park.

Strolling just twenty paces behind it, Gail and Tom followed the path, hand in hand. Spotting the tenner, a plump girl pushed through them, plodding up to her prize. “Look Mom,” she said in a shrill, American accent, standing in the middle of the path “Look what I found!”

© Vicky Bigmore 2011



Unforeseen

Three Blind Mice

“Right, I’ve checked all under the floorboards, mother, and they’re not there.” said Mr. Blockman, reaching for some cheese from their brick table. “They must have gone through the hole while we were out.”

His wife began to cry, “Oh, Alfie, they won’t last five minutes out there. They’ll either be the cat’s lunch or the piranhas’, if Mrs Higgin’s has anything to do with it. I’ve seen her chuck all sorts in that tank.”

“Well, there’s only one thing for it, Avril, my love.” Without hesitation he shot through the hole, his claws scraping on the farmer’s wife’s terracotta tiles. The kitchen was empty but a mess. Scanning the room, Alfie saw smashed plates and dented pans strewn across the ground. Looking harder, his face dropped when sprawled on the floor he saw three tails with bloody stumps. Lifting his head past the cupboards dripping in dough, the sharp corner of a carving knife reflected in his eye.

Behind him came a high pitched squeal that made Alfie spring in the air. It was Mrs. Blockman hovering in the doorway of the hole, she began to sob. “They’re gone. My darling little boys must be dead in the ground…I mean water.” She mumbled through her tears as her husband tried to compose himself.

Alfie rolled his eyes and landed his sights on something that made his back straighten and his chest puff out. “There’s still hope, Avril, look,” he said, pointing at a blood trail leading out of the kitchen, through the wide open back door.

Racing outside, their hind legs flicked through scattered straw, following the track of red ahead. Outside the paddock, they took a breath, both squinting at a bright blue lump in the distance, lying by the fallen oak tree that rested in the field. “That’s Mrs Higgin’s. She looks like she’s sleeping. What the hell is she doing?”

Inspecting the scene once they had neared the old woman, it was clear that the farmer’s wife had tripped on a large piece of flint wedged in the ground. Slowly, brave father mouse edged towards the fat, ruddy woman who lay flabby cheek squished in the mud. Trembling claw, he tapped her tummy a few times until Avril tutted loudly from her spot a few yards away. “You’re not going to find out if she’s alive like that, darling. Try her nostrils.”

Reluctantly, Mr. Blockman walked towards the human’s face and taking careful steps, placed himself infront of her nostrils. A breeze snorted out of her nose, shaking his whiskers. He backed away. “Yes, she’s alive.” he said. A chorus of squeaks sounded nearby. He scurried around the motionless body to see his little angels struggling to pull away from the dense weight of her belly.

“Dean, Frank and Bing, you’re here. Oh Dean, Frank and Bing, you’re ok. Mother, Avril, Mother, come see, come see, your boys are here. Don’t worry, my darlings, we’ll get you out.” Their Dad ran back around to a long, thick black hair protruding out of Mrs Higgin’s chin. With all his might and one sharp yank, he pulled it out. Fat, old Higgins shuddered from head to toe setting the boys free. Their parents gave a loud cheer.

Still keeping her distance, a slightly perplexed Mrs. Blockman watched as her children dizzily scampered out from Mrs Higgins and each whacked their heads on the colossal trunk of the fallen oak tree. Avril and Alfie sprinted over to their dizzy boys who were all trying to get their breath back. Dean shouted out, “Dad, is that you?”

“Of course it’s him,” said their Mum, “he’s right in front of you. What are you talking about?”

“We can’t see anything, Ma.” said Bing, “haven’t been able to since she fell on us.”

A silence passed until Alfie approached his wife and stroked the top of her head with his chin, Dean lifted himself on his hind legs and said, “Mum, Dad,” said the mouse, “Don’t be sad, it might be temporary. What we need is for you to lead us home and nurse our stumps. We can follow your voices.”

“They’re alive, April,” said Alfie, softly, “that’s all that matters.”

“Alright, boys, follow the voice of your father” said Avril, “Careful of manure, Alfie.”

© Vicky Bigmore 2011

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This Friday Flash came from the Write Anything site and was:

Write a story using a nursery rhyme (Mary had a little lamb, Three Blind Mice, Jack and Jill, Three Pigs etc.) as your inspiration. Write it from a secondary character’s point of view. I chose:

Three blind mice. Three blind mice.

See how they run. See how they run.

They all ran after the farmer’s wife,

Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,

Did you ever see such a sight in your life,

As three blind mice?



Making Happy
June 16, 2011, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Telling stories, Writing | Tags:

Illuminated whizzing wheels of gold mesmerised the crowds that stood in wads of mud anticipating more. Wows and cheers from the audience coalesced into an amplified sound each time the multiple bursts of colour exploded through the sky. The display got everyone’s attention successfully except for one overwrought man and, beside him, a little girl with arms crossed holding a sulky expression of contempt.

Harry thought celebrating Guy Fawkes Night would give his daughter a chance to come out of herself; reconnect with other children and with him. But since her mother’s death she didn’t show interest in anything. Weary eyed, he looked down at his little girl, “Isn’t this great, Ems?” he said, desperately trying to fashion a smile, “Aren’t you happy we got out into this fresh air?”

“It’s too cold. I want to go home.”

“It will all be over soon. Don’t you want to see the final display?” he said.

“Is Aunty Hannah coming?”

Offering a white lie, Harry told her that his sister in law couldn’t come because she was too tired. The truth being that since his wife’s death, Hannah and Harry argued constantly over the best thing for Emily’s future. For Hannah, her niece coming to live with her in France was the most practical option. Harry wanted Emily with him but couldn’t make a decision yet, fearing he wouldn’t be able to bring her up to her full potential. Every time he even looked at Emily his head filled with anxious susurrations.

“Please, Daddy, can we go now? I want to play at home.” she whinged, the winds scrambling her hair across her face.

A riotous spark shot through the air with a shrill whistle as Harry finally threw his hat into a puddle and shouted, “For fff..floosies sake, Emily, we’re staying here till the end.”

The winds changed to reveal something worse than a strop; vulnerable little Emily staring at him with blank, confused eyes, barely holding back the trembling pools of tears. It made him feel like a big oaf for losing his temper. He went to comfort her but his welly got stuck in the mire. Before he could gain balance his foot slipped out of the overlarge rubber boot. Trying to avoid shoving it in the sludge, he fell face first into it, instead.

Ungracefully struggling to get up from the slippery gloop, he felt two little hands softly grasp his arm. His face softened when he saw Emily smiling at him, helping him up. Just managing to stand, now covered in mud, he felt a surge of lightness permeate in his chest. Smiling at his giggling daughter as he reluctantly shoved his foot back in its welly, he said, “You know, I’ve just had an idea.” He reached out to her.

Pausing for a few moments, Emily looked at his hand with a pensive gaze, before grabbing it with both of her little mittens. They bought a box of sparklers and found a space to light them up. Harry went first and wrote her name in big letters and drew cartoon pictures of dogs and old men with big noses to make her laugh.

“Look, Daddy.” She shouted, wanting to show off her own skills. An anchor of his eternal love for his wife, Emily emanated back at him. As she drew a big, bright heart midair with her sparkler, he realised she belonged with him.

© Vicky Bigmore 2011

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This piece was inspired by two tweeters from the #fridayflash group: Icy Sedgwick and John Wiswell.

John recently wrote a post on Happy Endings.

And Icy Sedgwick with her photo prompt 37: light trail (photo above). All photo prompts are her own photography – you can find more of it on Flickr. You can also buy Icy’s prints from Deviantart. 20% of all proceeds go to charity – the other 80% go towards her PhD fees!



Pan’s Strife
June 12, 2011, 2:25 pm
Filed under: Telling stories, Writing | Tags: ,

Below is a challenge set by Lily Child on her blog: Lily’s Friday Predictions

THE PROMPT WAS TO WRITE 100 WORDS MAX USING THREE WORDS: FLUTE, PHOBIA and ARCH.

As a child, Pan suffered from melophobia. From the luxurious lounges of heaven, the gods worried that he would never fulfil the prophecy of becoming the god of rustic music. Thor thought the thundering sound of his mallet would help but he accidentally whacked the invincible mirror of destiny. Warping out of the reflection a pipe shaped instrument flew across the heavens, into Pan’s hand. His eyes sparkled with glee, examining the flute and his being glimmered as he played soft, captivating tunes. From that day on and for eternity he would be seen as the arch-instrumentalist.

WORDS: 99

© Vicky Bigmore 2011



Déjà vu
June 8, 2011, 8:45 pm
Filed under: Writing | Tags: ,

Guided only by the erratic lightning, he came out of the woods onto a sleeping suburban avenue. He raced past one quaint, detached house after another, ignoring the mixture of rain and sweat that drenched him. In the near distance, Billy could hear the relentless barks of the dogs and their masters’ shouts to each other.

With no time to think of what he left behind or time to feel the scratches and scrapes on his body, he had run for what felt like an eternity.  Struggling to breathe, he took shelter under an apple tree in one of the front gardens. Lights were starting to come on in houses and he knew he needed somewhere to hide.

An old, unkempt house blanketed in winding ivy and meandering vines stood before him. No light came from there. As he approached the front door, he scanned the rest of the house, looking for signs of life through the window. A flash of lightning exposed a young woman standing inside the window.

Although the initial split second made him jump, the loving smile and tender eyes she possessed, gave him a warm sense of comfort in the after-moment. Another flicker of lightning found Billy inside the dwelling. Obscured by darkness, he followed the ticking of the grandfather clock down the hallway. He stopped, hearing creaks coming from upstairs.

An orange glow expanded on the wall at the top of the stairs and then two figures began to creep down them. The old lady’s face glimmered from the candle she held.  With her other hand she gripped tightly to her grandson, both descending to the ground floor, oblivious of his presence. Slightly panicked Billy froze. From the corner of his eye, he saw the shine of the white dress and turned to see the woman from the window urgently gesturing him towards her.

The woman disappeared as the grandma and the child reached the bottom of the stairs. The boy looked up to see Billy in the corridor. Screams came from the wide-eyed innocent and he grasped hold of his grandmother’s leg, clamping his eyes shut.

Swiftly, Billy went after the woman in white, his only hope. Another bolt of light showed a solid, red door in front of him with twin iron pull handles. The open-mouthed ornamental dragon heads protruding from the top of them seemed to twist and squirm with writhing snake tongues in the uncertainty of the shadows.

Pins and needles took over his body as he went to grab them. The tongues morphed into dark green vines and wound themselves around his body, slithering around his neck. He tried to shout out, tried to wail but nothing came out of his mouth. Fighting for freedom, Billy wriggled and stamped but the handles just kept pulling him in until he turned into smoke and dissipated into the ether.

Instantaneously, the storm was over and there was calm again. The old lady consoled the frightened boy who sobbed into her bosom. “It’s ok, Ash,” she said, stroking the back of his head, “just echoes of time.”

© Vicky Bigmore 2011

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Big Up to Icy Sedgewick for inspiring this story with her photo promt 35: Door Handles (photo above). All photo prompts are her own photography – you can find more of it on Flickr. You can also buy Icy’s prints from Deviantart. 20% of all proceeds go to charity – the other 80% go towards her PhD fees!



Wall Flower
June 2, 2011, 3:45 pm
Filed under: Writing | Tags: ,

Alice felt rotten, almost as if she was falling apart. She had been hanging in the bar for about an hour now. Even though she had no recollection of how she had ended up there, she was content to lean back against the wall and observe the people enjoying themselves in the cosy, little pub.

Strutting over to the control box, the hefty bar maid dimmed the lights as moonshine approached the windows. It was a warm, modest space with six dark wood tables and a mismatch of red suede covered stools and old farmhouse chairs surrounding them. Although the wallpaper had started to peel and there were occasional blotches of damp, the vintage adverts for brews and ales plastered above the bar gave it the kind of character that Alice liked.

Overlapping murmurs filled the room from the farrago of friendships with intermittent spurts of laughter from one table or another. At the table closest to her were two balding men leaning into their glasses of murky brown ale. The stockier of the two sat with his legs astride, hand on one knee, elbow pointed to the ceiling. “It was a good night, a very good night.” he said taking a sip. “But I’m feeling it today. Never drinking that Old Thumper ale again. Knocked me sideways.”

He gave out a hearty laugh that slightly startled the prim, wide-eyed woman sitting at the next table with her quiet, bashful looking boyfriend. They were holding hands under the table but did not seem to have much to say to each other. She spent most of her time admiring the melange of classic paintings above the fireplace. Whilst he was looking in the direction of three giggling teenage girls lined up at the bar anticipating getting served.

The girls nudged each other as the bar maid came over and pushed out their chests trying to look older. Watching them, amused grin across his face, was a dashing man with one arm propped up on the counter. Alice liked the look of him more than anyone there. He was the only person in the room who had noticed her. Every now and again he had looked over with a look of admiration combined with familiarity. She wished she did recognise him, with his lean yet muscular stature; lustrous, mane of black hair; and whirlpools of blue eyes.

Alice felt stiff as a board when she realised he was walking over. The closer he got, the more his image seemed to take over her entire being. Then he stopped and stood face to face with Alice. He turned his head back to the bar and shouted to the bar maid in a thick London accent, “She’s nice, Georgie. Loving the details. Is she new? ” he asked, looking at her, admiring his clean shave.

“Yeah,” said Georgie, playing with her hair, “We bought it in a car boot sale, this morning. You wait till we get a new frame for her, Frank. She’ll looks even better” She carried on serving drinks to the never-ending queue of enthusiastic customers whilst Alice sat reflecting on what had just happened.

© Vicky Bigmore 2011