Flash fiction 300 – Late Mail

Late Mail

My phone pinged with a message. I expected it to be a friend, checking in after David’s funeral.

‘Hello Lauren. You think you’ve got away with it, don’t you?’

It was David, but it couldn’t be, we’d just cremated him. Someone had hacked his account.

‘Who is this?’

‘Did you really think you could murder me and not be caught?’

Nobody knew what had really happened other than me and David, and he was dead.

‘David’s death was an accident. Stop this cruel joke now or I’ll report you to the police.’

They police had questioned me, maybe suspected me, but I claimed never to have taken the tiller before, that I was confused, that I was trying to stop the boat. Putting it into reverse was judged by the coroner as an accident. 

‘I saw you looking at me, you knew what you were doing.’

‘You’re not David. Please stop this.’

‘Would the police have believed you if they knew you spent every childhood holiday on a canal boat?’

My stomach lurched. My childhood and my father’s abuse was a closed book. I spoke to nobody about it, other than David, I had trusted him, until he made a joke of it that day, one he paid for with his life.

‘Whoever you are you’re crazy.’

‘Not crazy, but I am angry. And you’ve made one mistake.’

‘You can’t be David, you’re dead.’

‘You still have those photographs.’

I should have burned them. Photographs of me as a teenager, at the tiller, threading my father’s narrow boat into a lock.

I’ve emailed Detective Connery. He knows where the photographs are.

There was a knock on the front door. I looked through the window and Detective Connery was outside, with three other officers.

“Open the door please, Mrs Baker.”

Flash fiction 500 – First Love

First Love

Mary started painting again when she retired to a small village on the coast. She joined a local art group who met in an old chapel. She never saw herself as talented, despite three years at Art College in her youth, but she enjoyed the way the brush moved on the paper, leaving a trail of colour in its wake. Her husband had died the year before and she was now free to express herself in ways that would have previously been viewed as frivolous.

They never had children. In latter years Marcus thought more of his garden than her, treating the lawn with studied care, cherishing his chrysanthemums with the same tenderness of touch she had once enjoyed.

“That’s very good Mary?”

The voice of the instructor made her start. Mary hadn’t been thinking about what she was painting, but on the paper in front of her was the face of a young man, one she recognised even though the nose was a peculiar shade of blue.

“It looks like Peter.”

Mary didn’t know who Peter was. The face before her had been stored in her memory for fifty years. It was David, a boy she had dated and fallen in love with when she was sixteen years old. He moved away with his parents when his father was offered a promotion. For a few months they had exchanged letters, but the interval between each communication grew longer. He never replied to her last letter in which she had enclosed a pressed flower, a silly gesture.

Curiosity drew others to her painting. Mary wanted to cover it with her hands, but let them rest on the table.

“It does look like Peter,” said a woman she thought was called Anne. “You must have met him?”

“It’s just a face,” Mary said.

All agreed that it was an astonishing likeness and someone said that she must show it to David.

“David?” She repeated. Her throat contracted.

“He owns the Three Ducks, Peter is his son. He works there at weekends. You must have seen him.”

Mary hadn’t been in the village inn. She had no objection to alcohol and enjoyed a glass of wine, but Marcus had not been one for socialising.

“Oh I couldn’t show it to him. I don’t even know him.”

“Join me,” Anne said, I often pop in after class.

Mary wasn’t sure, but accepted the invitation.

She wondered where David’s life had taken him. Would they even have stayed together had he not moved away?

“But don’t mention Peter’s mother, she left when he was ten.”

“I wasn’t going to interrogate him.”

When they entered the Three Ducks, the barman had his back to them. Grey hair suggested it wasn’t Peter. He turned and indeed it wasn’t the boy she had drawn, but the man he had become. Behind his shoulder, propped on a shelf, was a small frame holding a dried flower. Many years had passed, but it had somehow retained its colour.

Miss Chatham

picture in a park for Miss Chatham poem

They walk together in the park
at three fifteen each day.
Miss Chatham and Euphorbia
quietly make their way.
One loved in life, one never held,
both showing time’s decay

Some note quietly, as they pass,
this singular mismatched pair.
The lady clothed in Sunday best
and her friend’s wild wispy hair.
Both alone, but twinned for life,
Miss Chatham and her teddy bear.

The Last Party

paperback book cover or e-book with two women

Anonymity of protagonists
Many writers intentionally give very little physical description of their main characters. I have often asked what ‘Sarah’ looks likes only to find the author doesn’t really know. So if you really want to feature two characters on the cover you’re better not to show their faces. So this image is useful in that respect – unless one of the characters happens to be blonde.

This is a royalty free image and the main typeface is Base 02. The original photo file came from unsplash.com.

Book cover design costs vary depending on whether it’s an ebook or paperback but around £80 ($100) is a good guide.

If you need a cover for your new novel or if you’re short of an idea for a plot? Browse these imagined book covers and strap lines for ideas.


Adoption

Image of children's drawing of children

She holds a distant memory
of when a heartbeat matched her own.
A summer secret locked inside,
a child barely known.

A small, now faded picture holds,
a truth in grey and white.
A daughter held for one short day,
one silent tear-torn night.

To give a life, to hold a life
to bear but never see,
the future that the world might hold,
for the child she set free.

Two lives diverged, two stories cleft,
one lost one led away.
But the incense of a child’s warm hair,
still holds her to that day.

You left

teddy bear left alone

You left cold sheets one side of our bed
A book laying open, partly read
Silences, where once we talked
Grass now growing, where once we walked

You left a picture of when life was bright
The shape of your body when I held you tight
Your touch, your laughter, your every way
The colour you cast on the greyest day

You left rooms that echo of the life we knew
Nights much darker when I think of you
Words you whispered in our bed
And tears on the pillow beneath my head

You left

Moousse

ebook or paperback cover with a cartoon cat

This is an imagined book cover, created with a royalty free image. The main typeface is Celebrate the Day.

Contact me if this image would be suitable for your novel (title and author changed of course) and if you’d like to use this design. Costs vary depending on whether it’s an ebook or paperback but around £80 ($100) is a good guide.

Short of an idea for your novel? Browse these imagined book covers and strap lines for ideas.

The original photo file came from pixabay.com. It was charming but the lurid yellow might not have worked as a book cover. The colour is easy to change.

original image used for mouse book cover