Friday by Jane Dougherty

Diane:

A gentle poignant story to end the first week of Literally Stories. Lovely writing Jane – thank you.

Originally posted on literally stories:

There are some lives that don’t begin in earnest until they are almost over. Time is almost used up before the moment is reached, the decision taken that will give life some meaning. Until that moment, only holiday snaps show that time has moved at all. Children grow up, then move away and there are no more holidays, no more snaps. Time passes unnoticed.

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Meet and Greet

This story is based on a true event but all names, times and locations have been changed.

 Meet and Greet

Heathrow airport was the usual frantic scramble as Sarah searched the faces around her looking for Fliss.  There she was, in her turn spinning slowly and scanning the crowd.

“Cooee – Fliss,– over here.” The two women embraced lightly.  “What a crowd, come on let’s get coffee.  You look lovely, is that a new dress?  The blue really suits you.  I had to come straight from the hospital; I hope Sammy won’t mind me meeting her still wearing my uniform.”

“I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if you turned up in a sack as long as you were here when she came through the gate.  Quick there’s a table, grab a seat and I’ll get the drinks.  Coffee Okay?”

“Yeah great, cappuccino if they have it but anything really.”

“I can’t wait to see them Fliss.  Three weeks seems such a long time.  Why do they have to go off like this?  When we were kids, a family holiday at the beach was all we expected and now all the students I know are going off to India or America or Thailand.  I really didn’t want her to go you know, then when you said that Tom was going to be there some of the time as well, it made it so much easier.”

“I know love.  Anyway from the post cards they sent it seems that they have had a great time and soon we’ll have them back here.  Back to college for both of them next week and a bit of normality for a while.”

“Lovely.  What time is it due, have you looked at the board?”

“Yep, on time, arriving eleven twenty seven. That’s only another fifteen minutes shall we have a trawl around the shops and then make our way over to the arrivals?”

“Smashing, but don’t let me spend any money, Dave’ll go mad if I buy anything at the prices they charge here.” Gathering their belongings, they threaded between the tables.

“Fliss, what do you think that means.” Sarah pointed to the information board.  “Look the arrival details have disappeared from beside the plane number.”

“Oh no, I’ll bet it’s delayed.  Typical. Lets go and ask at the information desk.”

The uniformed receptionist stared straight  ahead, she looked tense and As the two women approached, she visibly straightened and pinned a forced smile onto her lips.

“Good morning ladies, may I help you?”

Sarah took the initiative, “Yes please, we are here to meet some passengers on your flight from Mexico and the arrival time has disappeared on the board. Is it delayed?

“I’m meeting my daughter Sammy – Samantha Carlisle and my friend here is meeting her son Tom – that’s Tom Reddy.  They met up while they were there and then they are coming back together.  They’ve been there for three weeks.”

Sarah consciously stopped herself, she always gabbled in these situations, filling the spaces with totally irrelevant information.  “Giving too much away Dave called it.” As they stood a moment in silence the young girl in front of them glanced around before calling to a uniformed man standing close by.  “Mr Barr, these ladies are meeting passengers from Mexico.”

Sarah and Fliss glanced at each other.  They both had a quick thrill of disquiet.  This was odd – there was an electric charge around them, an intuition. They had unknowingly clutched each other’s hand.

“Good morning ladies, my name is Steve, Steve Barr.  I am the customer liaison officer, could you come with me for a moment.” Steve put his hand under Sarah’s elbow and gently began to shepherd her away from the desk.

“What, come with you, come where, we just want to know the arrival time.  Why do you want us to go with you?  What’s going on?”

“I’m sorry madam, if you could just bear with me for a moment; we need to go over here to the VIP lounge.”

Sarah glanced at Fliss, her brow wrinkled in puzzlement.  She spoke more firmly. “Mr Barr, all we need is the arrival time.  We have to get down to meet the kids.”  He turned and looked directly at her for the first time, “We have a little problem at the moment and it would be far better if you waited in the lounge.  There are already some other people in there and we want to speak to you all together.” Now, his eyes held the truth.

“Oh God.” Sarah’s hand flew to her mouth as tears sprung to her eyes and she gripped Fliss’s hand even tighter.  It was wrong, all wrong, this was not a delay this was so very, very wrong.

Dazed they followed Steve Barr across the terminal building, they no longer saw the hustle and bustle, all either of them could see was the smiling faces of their babies.  They sat together in the lounge clinging to each other’s hands, linked in fear.

Now, it comes: A uniformed employee appeared at the front of the room, a young woman in a nurse’s uniform stood beside him.  He tried a smile, it was forced and ghastly.  “Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Peter Smart, I am a senior customer service representative.  We have asked you to come in here because I’m afraid we have some worrying news.”

Sarah gasped, her lungs had shrunk, she couldn’t get enough oxygen into her body, her heart pounded and the world spun.  She glanced at Fliss who was motionless, her face chalk white, tears streaming unchecked across her cheeks.

“Our flight from Mexico, which you have all come today to meet, has, at the moment, vanished from the Air Traffic Control Radar.  Somewhere a woman screamed, a man sitting beside Sarah groaned “No, oh no.”   Somewhere else in the room another woman spoke out “What do you mean it’s not showing on the radar, what does that mean.  Where is it?”

“I’m sorry at the moment we have no more information, all I can say for certain at this time is that the plane is not showing where it should be.  I know that this is extremely upsetting, we are doing our very best to get as much information as we can.  Please try and keep calm and we will be back to you with more news as soon as we have it.  Miss Kershaw,” here he indicated the nurse, “is here to help if anyone needs anything.”  With this, he hurried away leaving a room suspended in disbelief, denial and despair.

The sound of Ravel’s Bolero speared the air and in her pocket Sarah’s phone vibrated.  Automatically she dragged the tiny grey handset from her jacket.  The screen was lit, with a miniature picture of her beloved daughter, – “Sammy calling”.  She had jumped from her seat and was half walking, half-staggering to a quiet corner as she jabbed at the receive button.  “Sammy, Sammy is that you – Sammy.”

The line was weak and noisy but she could hear the precious voice “Mum, hello – Mum it’s me Sammy.  Mum, I’m so sorry, can you hear me? Don’t get mad Mum please.”

“I won’t get mad, are you Okay, Sammy is everything all right.”

“No, not really, I am such a fool Mum.  I missed the plane.  I am so sorry I went to the shops in town to get some last minute bits and then the taxi got stuck in traffic and we were late and they wouldn’t let me check in.”  Sammy was crying at the other end of the feeble connection.  “I am sooo sorry Mum, I can’t get another plane now until tomorrow and you’ve come all that way.”

“Is Tom with you Sammy?”

“Tom no – we were meeting at the airport.  He went straight from the hostel, I should have done that. He’ll be nearly home by now I should think. Mum I am so stupid, will you still pick me up tomorrow.”

Sarah looked up and back into the room.  She saw her dear friend in the middle of a group of other relatives.  Anguish swirled around them, unbearable pain was etched on their tear drenched faces as they clutched each other in mutual hopelessness.  The airline reps moved amongst them with lists of passengers from the downed airliner.

“Oh Sammy, I will be here, just come home.  I will be here whenever you arrive.”

“Mum are you OK, I’m sorry about this – are you alright you sound funny.”

Now wasn’t the time to tell her, she would know soon enough.  “I’m fine my love, just come home as soon as you can. Just come home now.”

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If you enjoy short fiction don’t forget to visit our new site Literally Stories. 

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The Bargain by Diane M Dickson

Diane:

My first story for Literally Stories.

Originally posted on literally stories:

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I want to show you a picture of me, before.  When I was young, well truth to tell maybe not so young but oh I was a looker, a real looker.  I bet you won’t believe it was me and you’ll think how did she end up like this, now?

Ha, I guess you can say it was greed did it, or just plain wickedness.  Yes, to be fair it was greed.  I just wanted more, more of everything really but mostly time, but even that wasn’t enough.  I wanted time that was unspoiled, without the slow rot.  So there we have it, everything has a price, and a time comes to pay and so it did.  I’ll tell you now, just what it was like.

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Madam Panagoulias and the Pithos by Adam West

Diane:

Our second day. yesterday was exciting I hope today we do even better.

Originally posted on literally stories:

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“May I?”

The man took a step towards the jar.

“You will be careful with it, won’t you?”

“A closer look, that is all. I know it’s worth a small fortune, what, at least…”

“…At least a jolly large amount I shouldn’t imagine and wouldn’t like to say.”

“Well I will say, Madam Panagoulias. Put my cards on the table so to speak.”

“As you wish.”

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Post by Jenny Morton Potts

Diane:

It’s live – Congratulations Jenny on being the first of our authors.

Originally posted on literally stories:

Final credits. Show’s all but over. One last tune from Ed’s iPod and the crematorium doors widen. I’m going where the sun keeps shining, through the pouring rain. Randall lurches outside, wobbles in a thank-god patch of sunshine. Going where the weather suits my clothes. The family shuffle themselves into a line-up: the deceased’s mother reaching just the shoulder of the deceased’s wife. Ed’s brother next? Very tall and looks a little like him. Ed’s children, the daughter only up to her uncle’s waist. A face she loves interrupts the protocol and the little girl’s smile slashes the dark fabric of today. Ed’s son, adolescent and alone at the end, arms meshed over the outrage in his gut. Here now we see the stiff bar chart of the family, offering some kind of analysis.

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Literally Stories – Countdown

Diane:

It’s been a lot of work, a lot of fun and now it’s getting exciting. Adam Hugh, Nik, Tobias and I are really looking forward to getting this thing going. Have a look at the submissions page – have you got a short story that you would like us to publish?

Originally posted on literally stories:

Monday, 17th November, 2014, Literally Stories will publish its first short story. Tuesday, 18th, our second story will appear here.

A new story each weekday and then the Editor’s favourite from the week, featured on Saturday.

On Sunday we aim to put our feet up. Read the paper. Take the dog on a long walk. Play Scrabble. Swim the Channel.

Okay – you’ve seen our bios and none of us – you’re thinking – look anything like long-distance swimmers?

True. We just like making things up. Telling stories.

We hope you will enjoy reading those stories, that they will enthral and entertain you. Scare you. Shock you. Make you think – brilliant protagonist – wonderful plot – original idea – slick narrative – didn’t see that coming – awesome (or whatever superlative you usually use) or just make you think. In fact, you might enjoy reading our stories so much…

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The Glorious Dead

The Glorious Dead

The poppies bloomed in Flanders fields that day

As blood red mud besmirched the sullen ground.

Now all too late to hope or wish or pray

cacophony of death the only sound.

And so to find our friends and brothers each

We left the dreadful hole in which we slept

From trench to pit to wire and then to breach

To serve the solemn oath that must be kept.

Our hands made slick on gore and gut and spew

Our ears turned deaf to desperation’s cries

We fought to save the men that once we knew

Or at the last to close their dying eyes.

And when the silvered moon rose overhead

It didn’t seem so glorious to be dead.

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Heroes

“This bloody coat isn’t any use, mind how could a coat be any use, poor coat, dripping, muddy and mouldy.  I’ve put a coupla extra layers on but still I’m shivering.  I tried to put some more socks on earlier but my boots are too small, one sock boots these.

I think we’re okay in here mate, we’re okay, safe now for a bit anyway.  God I’m cold, are you cold, well of course you are.  I wish I had a blanket for you Jack, I wish I had a blanket and a dose of morphine I’m sorry mate. Continue reading

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What I’ve been doing

I haven’t been around as much as usual but that’s because I’ve been working on a new project with some writer friends.

We are getting there and we are getting excited.

Watch out for news soon.

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A Darker Moon

It was a full moon last night. I went to lock the doors and moon shadows painted on the grass caught my attention. The trees at the bottom of the garden are pines, dark coloured in the summer and black in the winter moonlight. Between them is darkness, pits in the fabric of reality. I watched the shadows deepen as they took on a quality richer than before. The moonglow tumbled into the void, silver sliding into a black hole.

It seemed to me then that the blackness crept forward; a treacly slithering across the dark lawns. At first I believed it to be nothing more than just the reaching branches casting shadows in a new direction.  It advanced beyond the reach of the greatest limbs. Continue reading

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