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A Handle at One End, a Spout at the Other (three free flash fictions)

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A Handle at One End, a Spout at the Other

three free 500-word(ish) short stories

by Morgen Bailey

The three stories in this mini collection were inspired by prompts supplied

by the winner, second-placed and third-placed

of Morgen’s December 2015 / January 2016 500-word challenge.

The prompts are listed after each story in case you don’t

want to know what they are before you read.

Shakespir Edition

ISBN 9781310812996

Copyright 2016 © Morgen Bailey

Discover other titles by Morgen Bailey at Shakespir.com.

Shakespir Edition, License Notes

Thank you for downloading this free eBook.

Although this is a free book, it remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be reproduced, copied and distributed for commercial or non-commercial purposes.

If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy at Shakespir.com, where they can also discover other works by this author.

Thank you for your support.

 

Winner: A Handle at One End, a Spout at the Other (565 words) – prompts by Susan Jane Jones

 

“Oh, Danny, you are funny.” Penny Fruittle giggled as her friend Danny Boxtart polished the old silver teapot until it almost sparkled.

“Why?”

“Blinking. It’s really funny.”

Danny didn’t think it was funny at all. He couldn’t stop blinking however hard he tried. He did it when he was nervous and today, he was really nervous. It was Granny Boxtart’s will reading and he was worried he’d lose out on something he cherished.

As if reading his mind, Penny asked, “Why did you want that…” She pointed at the teapot. “…when there are so many other things your granny could have left you?”

Danny brought the teapot up to his face and smiled at his reflection. The smile wasn’t a sincere one as he thought he’d aged more than the three weeks since his beloved grandmother had passed away, a week since he and Penny had gathered on the cliffside facing Chicken Rock and sung ‘Danny Boy’ – Granny Boxtart’s favourite traditional song after ‘Happy Birthday’ – as Granny’s ashes whipped over the Irish Sea before finally settling on a discarded Gregneash Groceries shopping trolley half sticking out, one wheel running for its life but destined to never go anywhere other than the scrapyard if Mickey O’Flanagan got hold of it.

“Danny?”

Danny looked up. “Huh?”

“The teapot?”

“Memories.”

Penny giggled again, a giggle that Danny usually found endearing but today had tarnished a little, unlike the teapot that Granny had polished on the first of every month. Today, the first of February, Danny was continuing the tradition.

“Go on…” Penny sat on the sofa that Granny had hardly used, favouring the battered chair that her husband had watched ‘Pointless’ from every weekday afternoon until he’d died eighteen months before.

“We should go,” Danny replied as the clock chimed. “Half an hour. Don’t want to be late.”

They walked the ten minutes to the solicitors’ office in silence, the teapot left on the mantelpiece to keep the clock company.

 

Danny and Penny also returned to Granny Boxtart’s house in silence, the enormity of the previous twenty minutes sinking in.

“She left you her house too!” Penny squealed when they were standing outside, Danny stroking the key in his right hand.

He just nodded and opened the door.

Penny put on the kettle then went to pick a china teapot from one of the kitchen shelves but Danny put the silver one in front of her, in between blinks. “One last time?”

“Are you sure?”

Danny nodded again. “But be careful. The museum won’t thank us if we damage it.”

“Are you sure? I mean, about giving it away. It’s worth so much.”

“That’s why it should go there. It’s safer, and I have the memories.” Like how Granny Boxtart had convinced a five-year-old Danny that it wasn’t really a teapot but Aladdin’s lamp. She’d shown him pictures, old faded ones, and he had to admit that they had looked similar; a handle at one end, the spout at the other. Of course the story about Granny’s maiden name being Badroulbadour and how she’d been married to an Arabian Prince many years before she’d met Danny’s grandfather Tommy Boxtart, had made Danny laugh, giggle even, and he’d dismissed it as another of Granny’s wild tales.

He smiled as Penny poured the tea into the two mugs he had bought Granny the previous Christmas. “Want to hear a story?”

 

*

 

And Susan’s prompts were:

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p<>{color:#1A1A1A;}. Character name/s: Danny Boxtart and Penny Fruittle

*
p<>{color:#1A1A1A;}. Location: Isle of Man

*
p<>{color:#1A1A1A;}. Object: 100-year-old teapot

*
p<>{color:#1A1A1A;}. Dilemma: Do they sell it or keep it or give it to a museum

*
p<>{color:#1A1A1A;}. Character trait / emotion / quirk: Danny… blinks a lot… Penny… giggles endlessly

*
p<>{color:#1A1A1A;}. Colour / shade of colour: sparkling silver

*
p<>{color:#1A1A1A;}. Other comments: A beach needs to be in there, and a harsh Northerly wind that almost blows everything away. A time slip would be good as well.

 

 

Second: Don’t Cry, Don’t Cry (504 words) – prompts by Paula Friedman

 

It was the red-gold of the leaves that caught Mara’s attention. Jaime had gone off to book the skiing sessions and no doubt got chatting about which runs would suit them best; the black for him, the green, perhaps blue, for Mara. It was late in the season so they’d probably agree on green. Mara had wanted to go to the Andes but looking at the weather reports, they’d plumped for the Pyrenees – a less romantic choice in Mara’s opinion but safer… colder.

She nodded as she spotted Jaime beckoning her into the café next to the booking centre. She waddled over, feeling much fatter than her size twelve frame in her new bronze all-in-one ski suit.

“Quick cuppa before we head out?”

Mara hesitated. They’d not long had breakfast and she didn’t want to go to the toilet again. It had taken her ages to get into the suit and she knew how keen Jaime was to get out on to the snow – not so keen that he would forego another Café Allongé and petit pain au chocolat. Mara would have waited for as long as it took to go back to the runs, even the green one, after the previous time, but Jaime had worked so hard right up to the holiday, that she didn’t want anything to spoil it. Don’t cry, don’t cry, she told herself as she reached the building.

“Café, Madame?” Jaime teased, holding open the door.

“Mais oui. Merci, Monsieur,” she replied, smiling at the swish her legs made as she shuffled through the doorway. A family of five: parents, two teenage boys, and a toddler dressed head-to-toe in pink, were waiting to leave, the boys clearly the most impatient. “Pardon,” Mara said, stepping to one side.

“Pas de problème,” the mother said, ushering out the rest of the family, then clipping one of the boys as he mumbled something.

Nervous enough at the prospect of hurtling down a frozen mountain at over forty kilometres per hour, Mara could feel her body temperature rise. She imagined her suit being made of the same substance as picture-changing mugs, and dreaded to think what she now looked like. She hoped it would be a pretty autumnal scene with red-gold leaves.

Mara spotted a small table free and waited for Jaime to appear with the drinks.

 

As he came towards her holding a tray outstretched, she squealed at an ornate silver coffeepot which accompanied the ski slope-white cups.

She declined his offer of sharing the pastry and sipped the coffee slowly enough so he’d not notice if she didn’t finish. While Jaime told Mara how much he was looking forward to conquering the black run, she looked at the coffeepot, wishing she could rub it, like Aladdin’s lamp, and escape the inevitable. But then Jaime lifted her chin, got down on one knee and, producing a small velvet box, opened it to reveal a stunning ruby ring inlaid in a simple gold band.

Don’t cry, don’t cry.

 

*

 

And Paula’s prompts were:

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p<>{color:#1A1A1A;}. Character name/s: Mara, Jaime

*
p<>{color:#1A1A1A;}. Location: dry mountainous countryside, perhaps in the Pyrenees or the east slopes of the Andes

*
p<>{color:#1A1A1A;}. Object: a silver cup or teapot

*
p<>{color:#1A1A1A;}. Dilemma: How to escape, and whether to risk telling the other

*
p<>{color:#1A1A1A;}. Character trait / emotion / quirk: fearful, cries easily, yet determined

*
p<>{color:#1A1A1A;}. Colour / shade of colour: red-gold

 

 

Third: No one, Nothing (516 words) – prompts by Tony Tibbenham

Hugh had come to the coast as an escape. He knew Jean wouldn’t miss him but it still felt like he shouldn’t be there. She would have laughed if she’d known.

They’d come to Lowestoft for the previous twenty-three summers, always around the weekend of their anniversary and today, it seemed odd to be there in the winter, the wind even more bracing in February.

As Hugh left the town centre, clasping a Wetherspoons’ pre-breakfast Cappuccino, he reached the A12. He couldn’t remember the name of the main road that sweeped along the coast, but knew where it led in either direction, a walk he and Jean had done many times, mostly together but sometimes on his own when she’d preferred a lie down back at the hotel. He’d even picked the same place for this trip; the Silver Inn. He’d have preferred the Travelodge but she’d always wanted central so they only used the car when exploring the coast. Hugh had been tempted to say that’s exactly what they could have done during their trips in and out but he knew better than to argue with her. It just wasn’t worth it.

Hugh tutted as he walked past what should have been the first of several life-saving ring stations but only the container remained, and battered at that. OK, so it was out of season and he doubted anyone would have been swimming in the near-freezing North Sea. To Hugh, the rings always amused him because he suffered with Deuteranopia or Protanopia – his doctor couldn’t decide – but Hugh would have preferred being a deutanope than a protanope regardless of the difference – so even the multi-coloured beach huts that Jean marvelled at left Hugh cold; them all appearing blue or yellow to him, Jean’s favourite colours. But then Jean said most things left him cold.

As Hugh left the public beach for the dog-walking area along the barely-winding path, he tutted at the paint-peeled huts abandoned for the winter. If anyone else planned to visit them that day, it was too early even for the bravest of souls.

Hugh waded through the grassy heather scrub – imagining Jean marvelling at the shades of purple – and came to the beach. The bashing of the waves reminded Hugh of the start of Orff’s ‘O Fortuna’ which he’d played full blast in the car on the drive in. Jean preferred easy listening classics such as Matt Munro or Nat King Cole. She usually talked over them so the words didn’t make a difference to Hugh; he’d pretend to concentrate on driving, even on the mind-numbingly boring motorway. Jean was a nervous passenger so Hugh guessed the gabbling was a diversion.

He sighed as another wave crashed against the pebbly beach. He looked left: no one, nothing. He looked right: no one, nothing… except for a motionless bundle of yellow-blue rags snaking the sand. Hugh frowned as he leaned his face forward, clicking the back of his neck. He pursed his lips as he recognised the pattern. A smile spread across his face as the sun finally broke through the clouds.

 

*

 

And Tony’s prompts were:

*
p<>{color:#1A1A1A;}. Character name/s: Hugh

*
p<>{color:#1A1A1A;}. Location: A wave-washed coastline

*
p<>{color:#1A1A1A;}. Object: a missing lifebelt

*
p<>{color:#1A1A1A;}. Dilemma: Is that a body?

*
p<>{color:#1A1A1A;}. Character trait / emotion / quirk: red-green colour-blindness

*
p<>{color:#1A1A1A;}. Colour / shade of colour: purple

*
p<>{color:#1A1A1A;}. Other comments: Can Hugh see purple?

 

***

 

 

Do let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you and be grateful if you would leave a review here on Shakespir and / or email me at [email protected].

 

About the Author

Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey is a freelance editor, writing-related blogger, creative writing tutor for her county council, and the author of numerous short stories, novels, articles and some poetry. She was also the annual HE Bates Short Story Competition Head Judge for 2015/6, and a RONE Judge 2015.

When not researching for her teaching or writing, Morgen is a British Red Cross book volunteer and walks her dog (often while reading, writing or editing) and reads, though not as often as she’d like, and mostly to review.

Everything she’s involved is detailed on her blog http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com and she can usually be found chatting away about all things literary on Twitter, Facebook (where she is morgenwriteruk) and LinkedIn, amongst others.

You can discover other titles by Morgen Bailey at Shakespir.com.

Note from the Author

Thank you for downloading ‘A Handle at One End, a Spout at the Other’.

The idea to run a 500-challenge came to me as a way for me to write more than I do (and short stories have always been my first love) and who doesn’t enjoy giving away prizes?

I already give away my online courses on [+ https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/100-word-free-monthly-competition+] and I provide an editing service so I thought what better way to combine writing and editing by creating [+ https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/500-word-flash-fiction-challenge+].

I welcome feedback on any aspect of writing, and you can either find me on the links listed under ‘About the Author’ or via email: [email protected].

Susan, Paula, Tony and I would appreciate you leaving a review to encourage other visitors to read these short stories. Thank you.

 


A Handle at One End, a Spout at the Other (three free flash fictions)

In December 2015, I started a monthly competition challenging my blog visitors to provide me with prompts for me to choose my favourite and write their story in around 500 words. The three pieces published here are the winning prompts submitted from 16th December to 15th January, as well as those that came second and third in that month. The prompts supplied can be found at the end of each story. The winning story, 'A Handle at One End, a Spout at the Other' features Danny and Penny, and is about two friends, a grandmother's will, a silver teapot and an abandoned shopping trolley stuck in the sand, one wheel running for its life but destined to never go anywhere other than the scrapyard if Mickey O’Flanagan got hold of it. The second-placed story, 'Don't Cry, Don't Cry', is of a couple, Mara and Jaime, skiing late in the season but making a pitstop of a Café Allongé and petit pain au chocolate, their encounter with a French family, and Mara trying to keep her composure. 'Sweeping the Coast', the third-placed story, features Hugh, a disillusioned deutanope (he suffered with red-green colourblindness) whose escape to the coast doesn't go according to plan... not that he had one.

  • ISBN: 9781310812996
  • Author: Morgen Bailey
  • Published: 2016-02-04 16:50:08
  • Words: 2260
A Handle at One End, a Spout at the Other (three free flash fictions) A Handle at One End, a Spout at the Other (three free flash fictions)