‘Are We There Yet?’

On a sunny August morning when powder blue skies stretched out as far as the eyes could see, the Stanley family were commencing their annual summer vacation. Bags were packed and crammed into the boot of their car including a large beach ball.

Mum Stanley and dad Stanley were tired from a year of toiling at their low paid jobs. Dad Stanley worked as a hospital porter and mum Stanley worked as a cleaner at the local school. Kids, Toby, Lily and the family dog Bruno, were seated in the back raring to go.

Fair to say everyone was looking forward to a week by the sea. All were super excited. Except maybe dad Stanley. He was short fused by nature, a burley man who perhaps worked too hard for his money. Truth be told, the family budget couldn’t really afford this break away, but he wanted to give his kids some happy memories. You see, dad Stanley’s childhood wasn’t too happy and his family couldn’t afford a getaway – ever!

So it was on this hot day in August that the family saloon rattled along the busy streets of London, leaving behind all manner of hustle and bustle for a week of sea air, fresher food and lots of ice cream.

Mum Stanley turned out in her best jeans and cotton top, now gave her kids clear instructions.

‘Toby and Lily, when we are in the car, whatever you do, don’t bother dad too much. You know what he’s like. So best behaviour please.’

‘Yes mum,’ Toby and Lily replied in unison.

‘And whatever you do, don’t say those four words,’ she added, ‘you know how much it annoys your dad. Got it kids? We don’t want him to cancel the trip or anything.’

‘Yes mum,’ the Stanley children replied again obediently.

Even Bruno the dog, ears pricked was listening attentively, as his grey tail wagged from side to side.

*

‘Anyone need to stop for a toilet break?’ dad hollowed to all and sundry after a couple of hours on the motorway. ‘There are some service stations coming up soon at the next junction.’

‘Yes please dad,’ Lily Stanley said in a small voice.’

‘Ok, there in five minutes, but don’t take too long, we don’t want be late.’

Ten minutes later, the family saloon pulled away from the stop and was back on its way to the seaside. The car had seen better days, but it was all they could afford for the moment.

By now, after several hours of driving everyone was beginning to get restless. They were so looking forward to being there now and eating their first ice cream.

So when a tyre blew out, it was to everyone’s annoyance. Their groaning was very load and resounded around the vehicle. Luckily they were able to stop so dad Stanley could replace the tyre without too much trouble. But it added to the journey time.

Toby and Lily looked on as their dad lumbered back to the car, their faces full of crumbs from the crisps and sweets and sandwiches they were eating. Mum Stanley hadn’t done much eating or drinking and was in fact nodding off in the passenger seat.

It was hard work cleaning schools and the journey seemed to be taking forever!

Then, when the Stanleys were approaching their destination, there was a diversion along the motorway taking them away from the most direct route. It added another hour to the trip.

‘Blast,’ dad Stanley muttered, ‘I don’t need this.’

The kids and Bruno looked on perturbed, silence befalling the car. They could almost smell the sea air. Just then, Mary Stanley’s eyes opened with a look of disorientation on her frazzled face. She turned in her seat and looked at her husband and said:

‘Are we there yet?’

The Stanley children gasped and gulped their eyes like saucers. They looked from one parent to the next, horrified.

‘Oh no mum, you said it!’ Their voices were scared.

Dad Stanley, gripped the steering wheel, his eyes bulging angrily.

Mary Stanley shrunk back in her seat, as the car came to a shreeching halt. Amos Stanley looked like he was about ready to explode as he turned menacingly to his wife.

They were moments from the seaside…

The End.

**********

Thanks for stopping by!

Happy holiday season!

Until next time, Sharon.

The Strange Disappearance of Norman Findlay

Pretty Sleepy – Pixabay

************

Norman Findlay woke up that morning with his wife’s face bearing down on him. He opened one eye and then the other hoping against hope that he was not going to get the inevitable. Norman groaned.

‘Norman,’ Tallulah Findlay bellowed, ‘and I want you to cut the grass and put the rubbish out while I pop to the shops.’

‘Yes love,’ Norman replied more calmly that he felt.

‘Don’t forget, Brian and Molly are coming around later on this afternoon.’

‘Yes,’ Norman said, wondering why he needed reminding, they were his kids as well. Norman groaned inwardly for the second time and fell back on his pillow. He had two measly days off from his government job and he wasn’t allowed to do as he pleased for once.

‘And once you have done that, could you get the potatoes ready, you know Brian likes his roast potatoes,’ Tallulah went on oblivious to the look on her husband’s face.

‘Are the grandkids coming?’ Norman said, brightly.

‘Of course they’re coming!’

‘Yes of course, silly me,’ Norman replied getting up from bed sluggishly, seeing Frankie and Jack, would be a treat. They were growing up fast and before long they wouldn’t want to bother with old grandad.

Later that evening as the sun set and Norman had done the washing up and clearing away he pondered for a brief moment.

‘A penny for your thoughts dad,’ he son Brian said settling down on the sofa with Norman.

‘It’s nothing!’ Norman, lied.

‘I’ve just heard mum tell Molly she wants get a new kitchen.’ Brian said changing the subject.

‘What!’ Norman choked on his beer. He slammed it down on the side table. ‘We’ll see about that!’

‘Yes, that’s right dad,’ said his daughter Molly joining them on the other end of the sofa. That should keep you busy,’ she continued to Norman’s annoyance.

‘Oh hold on,’ she said getting up again, ‘I’ll just go and check on Frankie and Jack.’

‘They’ll be all right,’ Norman said reflectively, they love it here, he continued thinking of the small flat his daughter lived in with no garden.

Later that evening after everyone had gone home, Tallulah said, ‘so what do you think of pale green?’

‘What for?’ Norman replied puzzled.

‘Our new kitchen.’

‘So you’re serious about that then?’

‘Yes I am.’

‘But Tallulah, we haven’t a great deal saved up, and what we do is for the kids,’ Norman went on miserably.

‘So what are we working for then?’

‘Have you stopped to think about what I might want Tallulah?’ Norman snapped. There’s nothing wrong with the old kitchen, it’s practically new! Besides, he went on, I thought I would book a golfing holiday in Scotland, me and a couple of the lads from work.’

‘No, you’re not wasting money on that Tallulah,’ went on. ‘It may as well be on something we can both enjoy like a trip to the Mediterranean or a cruise.’

Norman’s mouth was set in a grim line. The prospect of being stuck on a beach or a large boat with his wife horrified Norman beyond words. So this was his life he thought bitterly. He could have wept.

She certainly wasn’t the woman he had married all those years ago. It was as if she had been cloned and turned into someone he didn’t recognise. Still, it could always be worse, he mused. He knew many of the lads at work were going through divorces after years of marriage and losing everything. Even their own kids gave them a wide berth.

Exactly one week later, Tallulah was sitting on that exact sofa she had sat on with her husband so many times weeping. Both her children were sitting at either side of her, trying to console their mother.

‘So how long do you think he has been missing?’ WPC Donna Thomas was saying sympathetically to Tallulah.

‘He didn’t come home last night, which is so unlike him, so one night.’

‘One night is not a long time, he could have stayed at a friend’s place and gone back to work from there,’ the other police officer was saying now.’ Have you phoned work?’

‘Yes, we have,’ Brian Findlay said clearly shaken, ‘they told us he has not been into work for a fews days, that he called in sick.’

PC Terry Dobson shook his head, also in sympathy. If he got a pound for every case like this he could retire early.

‘So did you have an argument or anything, tell us exactly what happened the last time you saw him. Did you notice anything unusual at all?’ the WPC was asking now.

‘No, that’s the thing we hardly ever fought, he always came home and if he was staying out late he would phone to say what time he would be home,’ Tallulah explained. ‘Something has happened to him I can feel it here,’ she sobbed some more touching her tummy with shaky hands. ‘Someone has killed him and buried his body. This sort of thing happens, it’s always on the news.’ Tallulah was sobbing more loudly now.

‘I wouldn’t go jumping to conclusions like that Mrs Findlay,’ he will probably turn up and explain what has happened. ‘Now, do you have any recent photographs of him?’ the male police officer was saying, ‘we’ll do everything in our power to find your husband and bring him home safely.’

Tallulah nodded and rose unsteadily to her feet. She left the living room and came back a few moments later. She handed a photograph to the police officer. WPC Donna Thomas looked at the photograph and nodded. Regular looking guy, brown hair, brown eyes, quite handsome really.

‘Does, he have any distinguishing features?’ she continued.

‘Yes, he has got a slight limp,’ Brian Findlay said, ‘his left leg is shorter than his right, he was born that way.’

*

Somewhere on the other side of the world, a man answering to the name of David Bennett, exited his sunlit apartment whistling. He had blond hair and brown eyes. His skin was lightly tanned. He was accompanied by an unknown younger woman, they looked to be in love. He walked with a slight limp.

************

Thanks for stopping by

Until next time, Sharon

4 min read!

An Enchanted Moment

Pixabay

***********************

The touch of a hand,

so a balloon rises

high into the sky.

The twinkling of an eye

sends hearts soaring,

someone else catches their breath

caught between one moment and the next.

*

Two glasses clink

two pulses quicken.

And then

whispers in the dead of night

of promises for today and tomorrow,

yesterday ceases to matter,

and melts out of the way…

The brush of a cheek

caught between heaven and earth

until

there is only one soul.

************

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time, Sharon

The Rise of the Indie Market

***************

Have you ever wondered why the indie market is doing so well, and came into existence in the first place? Why hosts like Smashwords, Amazon and indeed our very own WordPress have nailed it for the independent voice?

Well, that’s exactly it. The individual voice the one that has something unique and original to say. In case you were wondering, that’s you and me.

For years I tried to break into the traditional publishing markets and got nowhere. I often felt like square peg in a round hole. In the meanwhile, I was becoming increasingly demotivated and downright fed up with the way things were going. Until that is, indie publishing emerged and all of a sudden there was more than one way to break into publishing on your terms, your thoughts and ideas could gain exposure before they grew stale, withered and died a sad death.

Does that sound familiar? I’m sure it does. Don’t get me wrong, if you are lucky enough to get offered a lucrative deal through traditional means, you should consider taking it, as this route is tried and tested. But the likelihood of that happening is getting slimmer and slimmer.

The reason for this is fierce competiton and consider the reasons why books or magazines get published in the first place. Book publishers rely on the tried and tested, new talent is a huge financial risk for them. Traditional magazines depend on the advertising revenue for a large part of their financing. So unorthodox submissions will probably get rejected, over concerning themselves with artistic integrity!

Hence the gap in the market filled beautifully in my opinion, by the indie market, home to the unusual and more original take on things. So our, poems, short stories, novels, book reviews, articles, prose, photography, travels and experiences can be shared with others like you.

It all amounts to a massive contribution which in my view is priceless! Indie publishing can also be quite lucrative if you are willing to do the work and be consistent. Please do check out my post https://sharonswriterstidbits.wordpress.com/2017/04/26/adam-croft-her-last-tomorrow. Adam Croft is a British self-publishing success story who is going from strength to strength! What more inspiration do you need!

So, if you want to see your name in print, and the conventional way isn’t working out, consider publishing it yourself.

Good luck!

Until next time, happy writing!

Sharon

Country Living

NatureFriend – Pixabay

*************

When life gets too much

rushing here and then rushing there

I can think of going back to that place.

When the traffic is at a standstill

beeps and horns, yelling –

where busy feet scuffle and scrape the sidewalk

the cacophony is deafening.

The rise of pungent food odours

mingle with the death knell

of tobacco smoke, blue and hazy, rising , whirling to the heavens.

A huddled figure, crumpled in the shadows

the world has gone and left behind.

A grimy palm, held out in despair –

a single utterance, all guttural,

‘buddy can you spare a dime?’

Yet people scurry by oblivious,

a stampede to get home in time

to start another day on the morrow.

And when all this has played out –

I can go back to that place of serenity

where peace and silence fills every space

where emerald green grass stretches out beyond the horizon

and blue skies press down to welcome me

where the rhythm of nature progresses on undisturbed

and where the darkness of nightfall holds no menace

Ah, country living – that’s the place for me!

***********

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time, Sharon

Secondhand Love – A Short Story!

Ksenia Chernaya – Pexels

Tulip Simpson waited nervously at the new cafe in town. It was one of those modern places all brightly coloured with chrome tables and sparkling décor.

For a moment Tulip wondered why she had agreed to this meet-up with a perfect stranger but Brenda her best friend at the warehouse where she worked, had insisted she meet the guy. Brenda assured her they would get on like a house on fire.

Tulip adjusted her glasses on a somewhat plump face and hoped her make-up looked right. Just enough but not too much.

She sipped her coffee and grimaced, it was still too hot and frothy. She would have preferred a nice big mug of sweet tea, but wanted to appear with-it and trendy. Considering what she had paid for it, Tulip was determined to drink the beverage down to the last drop.

She sipped gingerly and looked down for a moment. Brenda had talked her into getting a manicure which she reluctantly agreed to. Now, she hoped her sparkling red nails would somehow add to her appeal.

When she looked back up a guy in a beige sweater was standing hesitantly by her table.

‘Tulip?’ he asked uncertainly.

‘Malcolm?’ Tulip replied.

‘That’s me,’ Malcolm James said before pulling out a chair, ‘don’t mind if I sit down do you?’ He continued.

‘No, no,’ Tulip responded sounding more calm than she felt. Tulip stole a glance at him over the rim of her glasses. Mousey brown hair, a boyish face with a few fine lines under his eyes, hinting at his real age.

He appeared pleasant enough, not exactly movie star looks but then, she was no Julia Roberts either.

After Malcolm’s coffee arrived they chatted lightly about various things. And to her surprise Tulip began to warm to Malcolm’s dulcet tones and easy but firm manner.

‘So,’ Tulip said at length ‘how do you know Brenda?’

‘Brenda?’ Tulip nodded, causing her hair to float across her vision momentarily. She brushed it away delicately. ‘She knows Linda at the local state school where I teach maths,’ Malcolm explained.

‘I see,’ Tulip said mildly beginning to relax even more.

‘Linda teaches English, but Brenda lives a few doors down from her.’

‘Neighbours.’

‘Yes, that’s right,’ Graham said. ‘So which do you prefer Tulip, cats or dogs?’

‘Cats, I like cats.’

‘Oh, that’s a shame, I prefer dogs, they’re more loyal.’

A look of mock disapproval flitted across Tulip’s face.

‘So what are you like? Fifty?’

Tulip dropped her spoon in her coffee and gulped. She nodded her head, pondering on the boldness and quite frankly rudeness of the question. All of a sudden Tulip felt foolish, the clatter and the din of the other diners grew louder to her adding to her distress.

‘Is it that obvious? Tulip quaked

‘No, no not at all, I was simply wondering, that’s all.’

The next day at the canteen Brenda enquired optimistically. ‘So how did it go with Graham?

‘He thinks I’m too old.’

‘What!’ Brenda shouted as she spooned sugar into her tea and stirred vigorously. But he’s the same age as you!’

Tulip shrugged. ‘Says he is still hoping to have kids one day.’

‘Really,’ Brenda exclaimed, not stating the obvious.

Tulip knew what Brenda was thinking and didn’t blame her. Brenda’s two kids were grown up and gone, and as blasé as Brenda liked to be about them at times, Tulip knew she wouldn’t be without them.

‘Did you slap his face?’ Brenda asked now.

‘No,’ I didn’t, ‘what for?’

‘You can’t go around asking women their age, it’s rude.’

‘I know it is.’

And so it was that Tulip Simpson found herself childless and single at fifty years old and living at home with her mum. She had been married before, but that ended when Dave had announced one bright and breezy morning that he wasn’t in love with her anymore and had met another woman.

Friends had tried to set her up with other dates over the years but there was always something she didn’t like about them. And it was only because Brenda was sure they would get on that she agreed to meet up with Graham. And look how that had ended. Tulip resigned herself to a life of being single.

That same evening Tulip thought she might pop into the local supermarket to get her and mum something special for dinner. She deserved a treat and was actually looking forward to whipping up something nice.

As Tulip made her was down the vegetable isle she heard a male voice call her name. Hand poised over the tomatoes she looked up found herself looking into the face of a man she found vaguely familiar.

‘Tulip Simpson, isn’t it? I thought it was you.’

Tulip looked at him, a ruggedly handsome face with a quick smile, dark hair with a few streaks of grey.

‘Yes, it is,’ Tulip answered curiously.

‘It’s Phil Taylor. I remember you from college. You haven’t changed much.’

Tulip took his outstretched hand and shook it, noticing his strong grip.

That was when she remembered him. Tulip remembered also that all the girls had a crush on him including her, but he had his eyes on the very pretty Susan Saunders who he later went on to marry.

‘Yes, I remember you now,’ Tulip heard herself say, ‘how have you been?’

‘Can’t complain,’ Phil beamed. ‘And you?’

‘I’m ok,’ Tulip replied tightly.

‘Good, good. ‘You do look well, am I allowed to say?’

‘Do I? How is your wife?’ she chanced now.

‘Oh, that didn’t work out. She was more interested in taking selfies and keeping up with celebrity gossip than looking after a family. I’ve got the kids now.’

After a few pleasantries, Tulip then said, ‘it was nice to see you again Phil. Might bump into you again.’

‘Actually, Tulip, I would like to get to know you better this time. Could we meet up again? Dinner maybe?’ Phil asked eagerly.

Tulip nodded, more than a little surprised.

‘Hope you don’t mind me being secondhand, so to speak.’

‘No,’ I don’t,’ Tulip declared sweetly, ‘I was married before myself!’

************

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time, Sharon.

Approx 4 mins

Man With The Coiled Beard

Eric Masul – Unsplash

He sits on a chair as old as time itself –

a throne?

could be.

Surveying the world through liquorice eyes

blinking away the visions of being caught between this world

and the next.

Blinking away a tear

as the tragedy in all its grimness emerges

a tarnished, disturbed earth

Could be so perfect…

Another day dawns dazzling and bright.

Nightfall descends and plummets further and further

into the dimness

he feels the pull of the sea behind him, calling him,

from whence he came.

But still he sits, motionless

until with a final view, he rises slowly

and heads back to the sea

where he submerges and is consumed by the deep deep watery expanse

until nothing exists, but a stillness…

*********

Thanks for stopping by

Until next time, Sharon

Husband, Where Art Thou?A Sonnet

Swapnil Sharma – Pexels

Besieged with the same question

Rain down the same answer

‘I don’t know’, yet a smile I still plaster,

Hands wrung, oh this life’s predilection!

Songs sung to the moon and the sun

Oh, to be like many a couple made

A voice earnest and sweet ‘please send me a date’

I, comely of dress and yet a dapper prince, there is none.

Alas, dinner for one, could that be so bad?

A solo glass of wine to befuddle my senses

Rushed nuptials, entrapment, the lover’s plight

A life clouded by shadows; one of life’s trenches

No, not for me, how that would give me a fright.

For more moments in springtime. Ah, a maiden’s delight!

**********

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time, Sharon

The Waiting Room – A Short Story!

Maria Orlova

Burt Jarvis pushed open the door to the waiting room and took a seat. It was like any other waiting room in the average dentist or in some such waiting area. There was one man in there before him. Burt gave the man a cursory glance, took a look around and then fixed his gaze on nothing in particular.

‘Who are you waiting for?’ the man enquired.

‘I don’t know, I was just told to come here. I got a letter but it didn’t say who it was from,’ Burt replied.

‘That’s funny, I was told the same thing,’ the older man said.

‘So, what do you do?’ Burt asked for no reason in particular.

‘Well, that depends…’

Burt thought for a moment, then he said, ‘depends on what?’

‘Well,’ his voice had an echo about it, ‘that depends on you Burt.’

Burt felt a finger of fear run down his podgy spine, how the heck did the guy know his name. He sure as hell knew he wasn’t wearing a “My Name is Burt” T- shirt printed on the front. He sat back in the plastic chair puzzled. Maybe he remembered him from school, then the ages didn’t seem right.

Burt glanced at the other man more closely noticing his long black coat, black trousers and well-worn looking black shoes. It did occur to Burt then that a long black coat in the middle of summer was strange, but kept that to himself.

Aside from his clothes, Burt noticed his black hair had streaks of grey. All in all, a fairly well-kept guy.

He shifted uncomfortably in his seat as he pondered, scratching his chin.

‘So,’ the man’s voice broke into Burt’s thoughts.

‘Have you given it any more thought?’ the man asked in a voice that at first seemed croaky but then appeared to get louder.

Burt swallowed before speaking, all of a sudden his throat was dry, his lips even drier. His mouth opened and then shut, but nothing came out. He looked around the room as if that would contain the answers to questions that died a death in his belly region.

An ordinary room, low level square tables, tatty looking magazines, a few small windows that were surprisingly closed on such a warm day. Probably explained why Burt could feel damp patches forming under his armpits. His trousers felt tight and uncomfortable.

‘When was the last time you saw your kids?’ the man asked pointedly.

‘How, how…’ Burt squealed.

‘That’s not important Burt, ‘what’s important is that you see them. I mean, how long has it been?’

‘About twelve years,’ Burt replied obediently.

‘That’s a long time.’

Burt thought for a while as beads of sweat trickled down the sides of his forehead. Who was this guy? How could he know so much? Telling him, Burt Jarvis what he thought was good for him. It didn’t make any sense to Burt, maybe he was caught up in some sort of TV programme where they revealed your secrets and habits, and before long there would be cameras and lights flashing in his face. Burt looked around again nervously, but saw nothing in the room that would lead to that. Strange.

The man’s voice boomed when he continued, ‘what about those times you cheated on your wife?’

‘That was just the once,’ Burt lied.

The man arched a greying eyebrow. ‘What about all that money you have been stealing from your firm?’

Before Burt could think he blurted out, ‘do you know how much it costs to keep your mother in a nursing home? It’s bloody expensive. What he didn’t add was he would be happy when she dropped down dead.

‘I could go on Burt, but you know the wrongs you have done over the years, so I say this. Do you repent?’ he shouted.

‘What!’ Burt screamed. ‘Are you some sort of Jesus freak?’

The man pointed a slender finger at Burt. He chanted repeatedly ‘are you sorry?’ His eyes rolled upwards and Burt could see a spray of spit coming from his mouth.

Burt made to get up but his legs wouldn’t do his bidding. The room began to spin around as if it wanted to consume him. The magazines on the table began to flap open and close. Burt fell to his knees and clasped his hands in the prayer position.

‘Let me out of here!’ Burt sobbed.

He then had a clear vision of who he was. A dishonest accountant. A paunchy man with a bad comb-over who had no principles. He hadn’t given his behaviour a moment’s thought. Until now. Then he saw himself sick, alone and in agony as he died in screaming pain from some unknown illness.

By now Burt’s chubby body was trembling with fright. He managed to get himself back to his feet and wobbled to the door. He gripped the handle, but it wouldn’t open. He began thumping it and twisting the handle.

‘Please, please,’ he pleaded, ‘I don’t know who you are but ‘I’ll do anything you ask. Let me go and I promise to do the right thing from here on in! I swear!’

‘Good,’ said the man, in a voice that was now almost a whisper. ‘You see Burt, I didn’t listen and I have been in torment ever since. ‘My work is finished here,’ he then added.

A confused look swept across Burt’s sweaty face, and in that moment the door opened and the room settled back to what it was before, an ordinary looking waiting room. Burt chanced a look backwards, but to his surprise the man was gone.

Burt hurried from the room as fast as he could into the bright sunshine.

********

Thanks for stopping by

Until next time, Sharon

4 mins

The Ageless Heart

Zach Jarosz – Pexels

Worlds may collaspe

oceans ripple and journey through the earth.

Time passes slowly,

ebbing away the stuff of mere mortals,

seasons come and seasons go,

until two worlds collide.

From there. Somewhere. Undefined.

From the depth of existence,

something ancient yet modern bubbles to the surface…

Hark! A heart no less.

It knows nothing yet remembers a distant echo

remembers waiting for that moment…

Quell this longing, soothe this ache, silence those whispers,

renew me with your vigour

sweep away the solitude

for my ageless heart recalls that glow, that honour.

Whilst everything around me turns ashen and withered,

my heart awaits and knows no boundaries.

It quivers in anticipation

counting down those moments

when by force of nature,

a whirwind approaches .

And we unite…

******

Thanks for stopping by

Until next time, Sharon

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