Katie’s story: “After we kissed for the very first time, I felt a little lighter, less blue than before. It was the first French kiss I’d ever experienced and admit, it’d seemed rather novel, leaving me feeling somewhat mysteriously stirred and happily bemused.” Katie giggles.
Bradley’s story: “When she agreed to a date, I determined in my mind that should she give consent, I would kiss her with my speciality, slow-repeater tongue-tip poke, kiss technique. I already knew it as a winner, with all the other girls I’d tried it on.” Bradley beams.
As a spectacular, high summer holiday sunset splashed red across the sky, a glockenspiel-version of their joint favourite Ramones’ song played out from speakers, atop the departing ice cream van. However, already all was not as well as appearances might suggest, evidenced moments earlier outside the door to number 12A, Fulchester Lane.
Tom was no fool and had read a significance into their most recent kiss. If honest with himself, it’d begun to bug his brain. Managing only to poke his tongue into Brooklyn’s mouth for but a brief second or two, their dry lips parted, leaving him momentarily lost for words and uncertain what exactly to say next.
Of course, we’d found much more to talk about than work. Then I’d let him see me home, that was my first mistake. We’d reached the door to my apartment and although it was late evening, the town lights had lit up the whole scene around us. “Joshua.” I said, admiring his finely formed facial structure, responsible for a pair of prominent, killer cheekbones. “Jakob?” “Joshua, you-know I’ve had a great day, a great evening…” As I said those words, with the crashed intonation at the end of the sentence, I stood stock-still staring at Joshua, wondering. Did he fear what was coming next? Could I detect an outward appearance suggesting anticipatory dejection? I decided it best to press on. “A really, really great, fun time with you, Joshua. However, I am not the person you probably think I am, or perhaps had hoped me to be.” Still, his precise demeanour I could not decipher. “You mean, you’re not actually gay, are you Jakob?” Reading his expression in the light of the streetlamps, I came to understand Joshua as being a little ahead of me in the plot. This realisation left me somewhat taken aback, feeling foolish and naïve. “How did you know?” I spluttered, “What we did together earlier, under the altar table in the church. This, followed by the restaurant meal afterwards and then the cocktails and dancing in that flashy, basement bar.” I quickly regathered my thoughts together. “When did you know? How exactly, did you work it out?”
“Doctor, how do you expect me to take you seriously? It can’t be who you say it is.” Nurse Anna Kuznetsov declared. “It’s the year 1955, was he not supposed to have died nearly ten years ago to-the-day and in such a fashion as to leave no trace of his body?”
“What did you just say?” Professor Quentin stiffly looked up from his morning newspaper, disbelief ringing throughout almost each syllable of his query. Easily distracted since birth, nagging jagged thoughts began shifting neurological gear cogs through his mind, engaging with more questions. Such as, when would his wife notice his empty side-plate? Would he be likely to receive additional slices of freshly toasted bread? What’d happened to the whereabouts of the small, glass jar of delicious orange and lime marmalade he’d received recently, as a gift? Would she accuse him of having finished it off yesterday all by himself, just as she had done every morning of this week so far?
The following is a study piece for an online Future Learning course, “Start Writing Fiction”. I, um didn’t bother with doing the first exercise that was set. So, um, this time, I’d thought perhaps I’d better had.
Superhero Brilliant Becky stood in the kitchen of her small flat, preparing a herbed tomato sauce to serve with a soya-based, breadcrumb coated burger. Earlier, she had ignored the pile of dirty dishes, bowls, mugs and cutlery climbing higher and expanding outwards across all available surfaces. She rested her hand on the surface of the fake marble worktop, allowing the chopping knife to roll out from her grip as she sighed deeply. Gazing through the kitchen window looking out onto communal back garden mostly laid to lawn, she considered her future. Since the pandemic lockdown, her work had entirely dried up. How could it not? Not officially recognised as a “key-worker” and being a law-abiding citizen, how could she justify defying the imposed restrictions and leave the flat – even if it was to bring about the downfall of evil syndicates and defeat crime?
Alfrid had sight of him: location Gallery 2. Using the zoom function on the security camera monitor, he watched awhile, as the man lightly stroked a high value piece with his fingertips. “Excuse me sir!” Alfrid yodelled, skidding to a stop on the polished gallery floor. “You can’t touch this.” Surrounded by non-figurative paintings on the walls were five sculptures, located near the centre of the room. Each, human-sized in scale, formed from richly veined marble and oil-finished ash timber, broadly cylindrical and smooth. Bored into the sides, round-shaped holes added interest, some through the marble, other holes appearing in the wood. Naturally, the sculptures called out to be touched and the man doing the touching, stood dressed in full military fatigues. “I sanitized my hands thoroughly.” He said, pulling away sharply from the sculpture he’d been caught fondling. “At the entrance, when I came in.” He held his hands up in front of his chest, palms showing, his long fingers stretching outwards. “Well …” Alfrid hesitated. Abstract words collided with each other inside his mind, while he tried to formulate a coherent sentence. “I thought the problem with touching, had to do with dirt and grease from people’s hands, transferring onto the sculpture.” The army man looked at the gallery custodian, appealing for a judgement. “Coupled with the passage of time, it’s these minute abrasives and oils which cause the damage.” “Look, it’s just, if I say ‘yes’ to you,” Alfrid’s voice vibrated with a conciliatory tone, “you know what I mean?” “Others will think it’s alright to touch the exhibits too?” “That’s right, sir.” “Although,” the military man countered, “there’s no one else in here, just you and I. No one else will see me touching.” Both men threw glances around the room, unnecessarily. Alfrid placed his hands on his hips; he felt close to conceding the point. Staring out through the shopfront earlier, had demonstrated the street outside as empty. No cars, no people, no stray dogs, no vapour trails intersecting across the blue sky. Following the second-wave onslaught of the virus pandemic, this had become the new normal. The telephone at the reception in Gallery 1 rang. “One moment, please.” Alfrid said, raising a relaxed index finger up in the air, as he backed out of the space.
“Yes, well when I read your advert on the local web directory,” Eva seated herself on the park bench, “under the eye-catching title ‘Cry Baby Counsellor’, I immediately thought to myself, ‘Yes, that’s for me!’ Next, I followed the link and filled out the appointment form.” “Did you find the process straight-forward?” Counsellor Diana Thebes asked, “And, you read all the information about how I operate, no problems as far as you are concerned?” “No, none at all my dear, and I read them all again in your email reply.” Eva looked around the immediate vicinity, “I think it’s all rather novel, outside in the park, the fresh air, next to the river having a counselling session, with the old mill factories situated opposite. It’s rather scenic, I’d say.” She undid the top two buttons of her coat and placed her handbag next to herself on the seat. It had turned into a warm and hazy, late-summer’s day. “What will you do in winter? It won’t be much fun in the rain and snow, will it?”
Much to Mandy’s relief, the 4.47 PM sleeper train from Aberdeen to London, left exactly on time. The air inside the compartment felt cool, a man in unusual dress, had already made himself feel at home. With the emergency pandemic regulations in force, two people per sleeping compartment had become the new norm.