So I've been published online again recently: two flash fiction stories this time. Most recently:
BIG NEW BUMP - https://www.101words.org/big-news-bump/
and before that:
HOURGLASS - https://www.101words.org/hourglass/
I wish to thank 101 Words: a tremendous website for tiny creative gems; so much variety, many better than my own admittedly meager offerings. Your fantastic promotion of my work keeps me writing. You can surely expect more from me in the future.
In the meantime, why not pay them a visit?
Tuesday, 12 January 2016
Friday, 1 January 2016
Kelly scoops up some of Mrs Eastwood's yellow hair, holding it taut between her fingers. She brings the scissors to it.
'This is a lovely colour now,' she says before cutting. She turns back to Jackie at the other end of the room. 'Well done, girl.'
Mrs Eastwood stares at them both through the mirror in front of her. 'Doesn't she usually do dyes then?'
'Not really for such fair hair.' Kelly lets the trimmed hairs trickle to the lino floor.
Jackie switches off the taps at the rinsing sink. 'Usually just touch-ups, you know?'
Mrs Eastwood nods. Kelly loses grip of her hair.
'Sorry, love,' her customer says. 'It looks lovely.'
Kelly returns to her original grip and carries on cutting.
'Ooh,' Mrs Eastwood remarks suddenly. 'You know Leigh?'
'It's her 51st today!'
'You sound shocked.'
'Sorry. If I'm honest, she always seemed older than that.'
Mrs Eastwood waves her hand. 'Everyone says it. I think it too from time to time.'
Jackie wanders past. 'What do you mean?'
Kelly pauses, sharing a conspiratorial look with her customer. Should we let her in on the tragedy, Kelly's slow blink asks. I prefer to think of it as an in-joke, Mrs Eastwood's raised eyebrow replies.
She holds Jackie's gaze through the mirror as she rummages around in her trouser pocket. Eventually she pulls out her phone and flicks through some pictures before settling on one.
'Here,' she says, passing the phone to Kelly who passes it on to Jackie.
'God,' she mutters, 'I mean, Oh, bless.'
Mrs Eastwood laughs. 'She's a sweetheart. She just looks tired.'
'She must have led an exhausting life,' Kelly says.
'Actually, no,' Mrs Eastwood replies, wagging her finger, 'It's hereditary. Leigh looks much like our aunt did. Unfortunately she didn't get as far as fifty.'
'Oh dear,' Jackie sighs, passing the phone back.
'Yes. We Sedgwick girls go grey early.'
'Not you though.' Kelly holds up some of Mrs Eastwood's hair.
Her customer shakes it loose.
Jackie arrives at the front counter. 'It's horrible what ageing does to some people. Can't be just genes, there's got to be some cruelty to it.'
Mrs Eastwood smiles sweetly. 'Well, all I know is that it happens regardless. So don't you go wasting that bright, soft skin and beautiful red curls!'
Jackie fingers a strand. She's a natural blonde but Mrs Eastwood wouldn't know that. Jackie checked the roots just this morning.
'And you,' Mrs Eastwood says to Kelly, 'You have the right idea, love, you found yourself a handsome entrepreneur.'
'Hank's just setting out on his own.'
'Still. He's not a brickie.' Mrs Eastwood's husband was a bricklayer. 'You used your supermodel cheekbones well. I wasted mine.'
Kelly tries to figure out the best way of denying this; to say that Hank was more beautiful without implying that he doesn't quite love her the same way, to state that his job doesn't really come into it without giving away that things aren't really going so well for him at the moment.
'Can I see that photo again?' she asks instead.
Mrs Eastwood brings out her phone with the picture on it. Kelly examines it closely.
'It is unfair but if you let your hair go that poorly-treated you're going to look permanently exhausted.' She resumes her scissor position. 'Hair becomes a silvery ghost of itself if you don't keep it up.'
Mrs Eastwood puts the phone away. 'I'll be seeing Leigh in a few hours. Of course, I won't pass on any comments.'
'Thanks.' Kelly smiles. 'Tell her our door is always open.'
'And our appointment book is currently wide open,' Jackie mutters.
Kelly glares back at her but then sees the clean, white pages she is flicking through.
During this distraction, Mrs Eastwood finds herself frowning at her reflection. Underneath her golden tresses she can feel her hair curling up and slowly giving in. It is, of course, gone as soon as Kelly turns back around.
Kelly cuts in thoughtful silence for a while, pretending to focus on each lock of her customer's replenished hair.
Jackie closes the appointment book and straightens up. 'I had my first grey hair recently.'
Both Kelly and Mrs Eastwood look up.
'I won't say where it is.'
They all laugh.
The amusement brings on a rush of truth in Jackie. 'I've also started to wear slippers a lot.'
'Oh dear,' Mrs Eastwood says.
'Bless,' Kelly adds.
Jackie shrugs. Solidarity.