Cindy Sage Went To The Dance

From a series of short form fictions taking inspiration from collage

“You’re not going to the forest dance party tonight Cindy, I forbid you!” Sean Murphy glowered at his young girlfriend, recently showered and now towel-wrapped stood in front of him. In the six months of seeing each other, these were the first crossed-words that had passed between them.

“I’m sorry Sean, sorry for you.” She turned away, proceeding to wipe condensation from the bathroom mirror. “You don’t have control over my decisions. I’ll go wherever I choose. I don’t require your permission or approval.”

Jealousy rose up inside him – a familiar sensation of coldness he wished would leave him forever. He watched as she leant forward slightly over the hand basin, massaging a light moisturiser in circles across her pinked cheeks.

“They’re all Hippies, there’ll be drugs and everyone will be getting drunk. You could get into all sorts of trouble, probably set-off a wildfire.”

Sean…” Applying eye-liner, Cindy examined her reflection closely. “You may have met some of them in passing, but you don’t actually know my friends from college. They don’t do anything more than smoke a little weed. And, you can’t really enjoy a good night’s dancing if you’re completely off-your-face drunk.”

He fell silent. He had no response. He knew he was being unreasonable and Cindy had intuitively sensed his conflicted internal struggle.

“Look,” she said, adopting a conciliatory tone, “why don’t you come along? It’s a beautiful evening for it – have you seen how wonderful-looking the sunset is? You can start to get to know my friends better. Mary, John and Peter will be there – I’m sure you’ve met those three before briefly, and Peter is a great talker. He’ll talk to anyone!” Cindy cocked her head to one side and beamed an affectionate smile to Sean.

“I don’t want to come along. I don’t want to ‘get to know’ your friends and Cindy, I don’t want you to go tonight.” These were Sean Murphy’s final words on the matter.

Can I Really?

From a series of short form fictions taking inspiration from collage

“Can I really? Can I stay to help you? Will you let me?” Although Princess Marrigova hardly knew the young man, a mystery concealed within his gentle gaze gave reassurance. Today, she thought, would be the beginning of a new chapter in her life.

“Your Royal Highness, your father be King. He is Head of State across three-quarters of the Developing World and ownership of all these isles. Has he not controlling interests in leading industries, are not universities and schools dedicated to his name? This land is his land and all the land as far as we can see, stood still right here.” Hooking a wayward straggle of blue hair back in place to the rear of his earlobe, he continued. “Ma’am, if you want to pick up litter with me on this chilly morn, you need not ask. I merely say nod your head once like a pony and it is done.”

The young man was correct in his assertion relating to the temperature. Marrigova held herself each time a cold breeze whistled by, barely managing to preserve a gracious smile all the while.

“What is your name?” she asked, “On many occasions in the past I have heard it called across the courtyard, yet have never quite caught it clearly.”

“Antonius, Ma’am.”
“An-tone-nius. What a delightful name! I will refer to you as so from this very moment forward!”

Marrigova clapped her hands together above her head in excitement and spun around until she wobbled unsteadily on her feet. With all the deft of a fit, young ballerino’s footwork, Antonius slid behind the princess – thus defying gravity of it’s wicked way. Instead, the princess fell gently backwards and into his waiting open arms.

“Ma’am! I have you!”

Marrigova felt the strength of hands devoted to the tasks demanded by manual labour. Each finger exuded sublime confidence, while in unison they firmly encircled her rib cage and offered safety. At that same moment, despite his inscrutable countenance giving little away, Marrigova knew this man to be her future husband. It would be this man – her darling Antonius, who would come to father the numerous children she’d planned for – ever since she’d been but a child herself.

“Antonius! Antonius!” she cried aloud, “My love, Antonius!”

Different To The Others

From a series of short form fictions taking inspiration from collage

“Are you following me?” He called out, in an off-hand manner.
The voice – familiar as it was, sounded close behind me. I turned around startled, “Am I, following you?” I said, conveying a degree of the confusion I felt regarding his question. “I could ask you the same, Peter.” If I didn’t know him, if at that moment I hadn’t felt an immediate and inexplicable chemical attraction towards him, there – stood staring down at his shoes with his hands in his pockets… I would have described the situation as unnervingly creepy. “I’m going to the show. Peter – what are you doing here?”

I Can Explain

From a series of short form fictions taking inspiration from collage

“I’m not accustomed to being referred to as ‘Love’, thank you very much.” Samuel Shepherd, sheep-herder ancestral, turned away from the headstrong young man. “And, despite your good luck with herding the flock this afternoon, I’m sorry Henning, but I do not see the future of sheep farming being assisted by rotary wind aircraft.”

Frustration simmered inside the rookie pilot’s guts, but he knew if there was any chance to win the old man over, gentle diplomacy was key.
“Okay, but please – at least let me try to explain. What say we go back to the farmhouse, have a discussion and if after ten minutes of chatter there’s no change of heart, I promise not to raise the subject again.”

Samuel’s whistle contained a precise rise and fall in pitch. Laid prone on a patch of lush grass, his dog cocked her head anticipating a new instruction from the farmer.
“Cybill, time for your teatime. Good-girl!”
A second whistle and she tore-off ahead of the two men, following the muddy path leading back to Ovis Farm.

“You need to understand that life is different here in the countryside. The people are different. What might work in the city-“
“Oh, your daughter has told me so, many times Mr Shepherd.” Henning shook his head, feeling the weight of his task begin to sink in.
Watched over by a pairing of red kites mapping circles above the field, the farmer came to a stop and proceeded to button-up his coat.
“A slower rhythm, patience, time taken, these characteristics don’t mean we’re backward. Do you understand what I am saying?”
“Of course I do, but if work can be accomplished more quickly, more efficiently – utilising technology, what have you got to lose?”
“Look around you. You can’t see I have anything to lose?”

The farm cottage came into view, pale wisps of smoke drifting from the chimney stack. Henning felt a sudden desire to be inside, for a strong coffee and for a piece of the shortbread Mrs Shepherd had been preparing earlier, before they’d left.
“The temperature has really dropped, hasn’t it?” He said, hunching his shoulders together and thrusting his hands deep into his trouser pockets. Up ahead, he could make out the form of the farmer’s wife, framed by the kitchen window. “How long have you and Mrs Shepherd been married?”
“Dolly and me? Thirty-seven years next spring. Darling buds of May we were – and still are to this very day. How long have you and Mary known each other for?”
“Um, well let’s think. It must be reaching something like… six months now?” Looking skyward into the grey, Henning wondered if it might rain again. He pulled out his phone, tapping in the digits for his date of birth to unlock the screen. “We worked for the same PR company, you might know that?” No signal. A weather report would have to wait.
“No, I did not.”
“Right, okay, well, same company, different offices. I was based on the South Bank, Mary – West Hampstead. We first met at a launch event for an environmental group about to announce a new manifesto – or something. Mary had been involved, although to be honest, I’d just gone along for the champagne.”
“I see.” said Samuel Shepherd, sheep-herder ancestral, “I see.”

But Next Day

The first instalment from a series of short form fiction; inspiration taken from collage by pedrov_dog

Mother said there’s no point learning to drive, but next day this man arrives saying he’s my driving instructor. There’re things about him I don’t like. I don’t like his clothes or his beard, how he talks to me in that over-familiar tone. Like he owns me or something.

And I don’t trust him. If I am going to learn how to drive with anyone, they need to be someone I see as trustworthy. What if he gets me to run people over, zig-zag across pavements taking out unsuspecting shoppers, leaving them maimed for life? What if he’s got a loaded gun stashed under the front passenger seat?

I don’t know. I’m bored by the whole idea of learning to drive and I’m not sure Mother really has my best interests at heart. I’m not sure she’s ever had my best interests at heart. I wonder if there’s some sort of secret history between Mother and ‘Rick’? Not that I care two jots if there is… frankly.

I want to go back to reading my book, which I have to finish by Tuesday and return to the library, because I’ve run out of renewals. How can I tell this weirdo to leave me alone? Okay, here’s what I’ll do. I’ll just stand up – not say a word to either of them, climb the stairs and shut myself in my bedroom for the remainder of the morning.

In The Sandwich Shop

Green eyes and brown hair she greets me.
Straight-off my hunger ignites.
Hot panini – goats cheese and roast veg,
A combo designed to delight.

“An artist?” she asks me directly,
With candour remarkably free.
“Well, collage sometimes,” words stumble-out.
“While lately there’s been more poetry.”

“You know Simonov, Konstantin?
His war poem lament Wait For Me?”
“I don’t,” I say, “will look him up
Online, a translation, I will seek.”

Relaxed, we spoke of language, prose and verse,
Goals strived for, ahead of growing old.
Aware the queue had stretched out through the door,
I set off with my take-out, now stone cold.


Adrift, by myself alone,
In the wintery city,
This alien largely remained,
Cheerful, polite and witty.
Carried atop the crest,
Of a rapid retail crusade,
Onward toward the centre,
And where the profits are made.

Here, the markets are bulging,
With clothing, books and food.
A delightful melange for the senses,
One’s spirit is lifted and wooed.
Watch as transactions are bartered,
In full orchestral grace.
This cooperative demonstration,
By the sapien race.

Sellers shout and declare,
In a strangely sounding tongue,
Draw out each of their words,
Into a rhythmical song.
Preparing myself to purchase,
Using a new currency,
Decorative discs in my pocket,
I find, mean nothing to me.

With no idea, nor clue,
Of what I can really afford,
Through brief negotiation,
We near a peaceful accord.
Slow down the exchange process,
Stop Earth spinning around.
Until finally sealing the deal,
Then take home, what I have found.