Three Takes on a #FF Photo Prompt

Pismo Beach at Sunset

Jonno slowly made his way through the gallery, checking that everything was in order. Part of his hindbrain was telling him that he should be in a daze, but whilst he was conscious of the event that was now only – he checked his watch for the three hundredth time that day – 90 minutes away, he pushed it away as much as possible and gave his attention to the scene before him. Attention to detail was one of the things that had made all this possible, and brought all of this to bear: every picture in the gallery hung straight and every piece of objet d’art was displayed to best advantage in the lighting available. Even the dressing was perfect, designed to emphasis a particular piece, or to show the link between one piece and another. Jonno had coined the term ‘anti-focus’ for a piece of dressing that was the opposite of the focus: it drew the observer in whilst being itself completely unobtrusive.

At 15, Jonno was acutely aware of this being a BIG DEAL. It had all started with an Auction of Promises. His father had managed to acquire three lots, one each for Tophe, Jonno and Tom: each was perfect for the boy it was given to. Jonno’s had been a week of lessons with a professional photographer and artist. He’d been impressed with Jonno’s work and had very kindly included some of Jonno’s pictures in an exhibition that he’d mounted. Jonno and his family had received VIP tickets for the event, and on the evening there had been a number of conversations between Jonno’s parents, the artist, and the gallery owner. All of which led to today: the gallery owner had been persuaded to run a charity event for Jonno’s school, with work by Jonno on display to anyone who had received an invitation. Jonno was trying hard not to think about this, since he knew who at least some of the invitations had gone to: the gallery owner was well connected.

The collection was astounding: not only had Jonno taken every photo, painted every picture, cast, carved, welded and worked his way through myriad techniques, but he had framed and mounted every piece himself, having made even these from scratch. He selected every material himself and went to great pains to match the material, style and finish to the piece. He stopped for a moment in front of one of his favorites.

Last summer, the whole family had gone to California, where his mother had been temporally based for work. They’d all had a marvelous time. Comparatively little time had been spent in San Francisco or Los Angeles, but rather they had taken in the parks and the National Forests at Shasta-Trinity and Los Padres. Death Valley had been on the itinerary too. But it had been Pismo Beach which had been the highlight of the trip for him. He’d not been able to take all the kit that he wanted, but his lessons had paid off and he’d been able to take some remarkable pictures with a rather ordinary camera. He’d not had long, as the sun sank into the horizon and was swallowed by the Pacific Ocean. Tophe had been building a fire on the beach itself for a barbecue, aided by Tom. There was a picture of the fire elsewhere, odd-coloured flames from the salt encrusted wood dancing in the night. But it was this picture, with the sun setting the sea alight, that always held Jonno’s attention for a little longer.

© David Jesson, 2018


 

Staircase to Nowhere

“So, this staircase, what does it look like?”

Marsha was sat opposite a wizened old man with the kindest eyes she’d even seen. He was asking about her recurring dream. The one which had been steadily driving sleep away.

First her Jim had begged her to get help, then her boss Mr Mack had taken her aside for a private word. His concern for her had shone through so much that, against their usual practice, she’d crossed the line and talked to him about personal stuff.

First about the dream, then about her fears of what it meant. She’d cried whilst telling him how worried she was about seeking help, fearing being taken in by some sort of charlatan. He’d patted her hand kindly and agreed that was something to be avoided at all costs. Then he’d dug around in his desk and pulled out a business card.

The man was a psychotherapist, but his area of speciality was dreams. Mr Mack said he’d helped him. Smiling, he’d admitted he’d only gone because his wife had put her foot down.

Marsha described the staircase. Slowly, a picture was formed, with the gaps being filled in by her responses to his gentle questions.

“Hmmm, so we have a beach, at sunset, with a spiral staircase that is old and rusty. But this staircase, it goes nowhere. This last is what causes you to be frightened, no?”

Marsha nodded her assent.

“You will not be surprised to learn that staircases are indicators of change, of transition. You are imagining – I think – that this one is portent of change which will result in an unexpected, unwanted, even abrupt ending, yes?  Yet, from our previous conversations, I don’t believe that you have an abnormal fear of death?”

Again, Marsha nodded.

“So, let us look to the condition of the stairs – old and rusty, huh? This leads me to look to the past. To ask maybe what you have buried away? Something you are ashamed of perhaps? Something that didn’t end as you planned?”

Marsha burst into tears. Handing her a box of tissues, the therapist waited for her to speak.

“I don’t know if I’m crying out of relief that whatever this dream is about is in the past, rather than my future. Or whether I’m crying because your question has struck a chord within me. Either way, I feel so much better.”
“Good. So, shall we work together to uncover this … whatever this is?”

Marsha nodded, this time with a smile. A small one, but a smile nonetheless.

© Debra Carey, 2018


 

The Tomb

Thompson’s treasure had loomed over their heads for five years. Wayne Marin was Spanish, but a descendent of the Incas. The treasure they were in pursuit of belonged to the long-lost Inca Empire. “C’mon Wayne, you’re the explorer. Hurry up I’m almost at the beach”, Kyle barked. The hike through the mountains had been treacherous but they had made their way through the rocky cliffs and finally to what they hoped would be their final destination. Marin stood at the edge of the cliff leading into the final descent before the beach. His map consuming him, he ignored Kyle completely. His brow furrowed, he glided his finger across the map. Pencil marks and annotations made it incomprehensible to anyone else. Kyle never bothered guiding them through their quest. He was an accomplished map reader himself, but a lost Inca treasure was Wayne’s area of expertise. “C’mon get down here, one hell of a view!” Kyle’s voice echoed up the mountain trail. Wayne heard him this time and began descending. His feet followed the loose dust and gravel preceding them. The final path twisted and turned slightly but he eventually reached the bottom. His right boot sunk into the sand followed by his left. He had reached the beach. The silence was strange at first but soon became very addictive. Uncharacteristically, Kyle hadn’t said a word since Wayne had caught up. He sat on a rock staring into the sea. Wayne walked up to him. The view was spectacular. The sunset immersed the sky with red and orange. Ripples of colour across the sea seemed never ending. Untouched by people, civilization and time. Neither man wanted to interrupt the others tranquillity. Wayne shuffled slightly. He knew they had to continue. There would be another puzzle set by the pirate William Thompson they had to solve. The sand under his feet shifted causing Kyle to drift out of his daydream. “Hell of a view right”, Kyle said. Wayne nodded as he removed the notebook within his pocket. “Cheer up. We made it. How many years have we been talking about this. Crack a smile? Please?”, Kyle maintained the grin on his face not doing well to hide his excitement. The edges of Wayne’s lips stretched out into something that resembled a smirk. “Knew it. Mr solemn and serious finally shows emotion”, Kyle joked. “Now where is the next clue”, Wayne said. He fiddled the folded map out of his pocket hoping for something.

Two hours had passed, and they had gotten nowhere. Wayne’s patience was waning. He paced along the beach whilst Kyle sat looking at their notes on the sand. Kyle looked up at Wayne. He didn’t hide his frustration very well. He let out a cry of anger and threw his compass onto the sand. Realizing he had to stay calm, he bent down to pick up the compass and gazed at the sunset one more time before giving in to surrender. The rocks lay in the sea aligned in front of the sinking sun. Where had he seen that before? He frantically slapped his pockets trying to find his notebook. He couldn’t contain his excitement. “Kyle! Get over here now! See this?”

“Uh yeah sure…”

“Kneel here and look between the rocks towards the sun”

“Ok? So?” he was dumbfounded

“Look at the shadows”. They swayed across the water. Kyle followed the shadows up to their tips. They all converged at one point. The rocks weren’t far from shore. They swam up to the convergence. The seabed was slightly raised right there but only just. You would only have seen it if you were looking for it. Wayne rested his hand on the sand, instinctively tracing the Inca symbol for abundance and prosperity. A flower.  Eventually his finger found some sort of button. He pressed it without hesitation despite the risk of a trap. Behind him metal groaned. The spiral stair case rotated into the ground. Sand began to fall into the orifice left behind by it. The two explorers clawed their way towards it. As they reached the circular hole in the ground, they realised it was a tomb. In big, gold encrusted letters on the wall, it was proclaimed. THE FINAL RESTING PLACE OF THE PIRATE WILLIAM THOMAS, DECEIVER OF THE ENTIRE SPANISH EMPIRE.

© Adi Gajendragkar, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#FF Photo Prompt

 

staircase to nowhere

One of my resolutions for this year is to include more photo prompts, so let’s kick that resolution off with this one.

As some of you writers are gearing up for next month’s A-Z Challenge, I’m going to keep the word count on the low side for this one.

Have fun!

Word count: 100-500
Deadline: 2pm on Friday 9th March 2018

 

And if you can’t make this deadline, don’t forget our #TortoiseFlashFiction page!


A reminder to new readers/writers, please post on your own site and add a link in the comments section below.  If you don’t have your own blog or similar outlet, do send us your story via the contact form on the About page and we’ll post for you, with an appropriate by-line.  

Two caveats if you want to go down this route: if you want to retain the copyright, then you will need to state this, and this is a family show, so we reserve the right not to post anything that strays into NSFW or offends against ‘common decency’.

 

Flashfiction -Photoprompt

We’d made the campfire, had something to eat, swapped yarns: the whole thing was quite festive.

The fire was dying down, so we lay down and looked up at the night sky, continuing our discussion about how Earth-like the planet was, complete with the rock shaped by wind and water.  The night-sky was both familiar and unfamiliar – we could still make out the Milky Way, but none of our familiar constellations.

As wreckage from our spaceship made shooting stars,  two questions were in everyone’s minds: How were we going to get home?  Did we want to?

© David Jesson, 2017 (100 words)

Guide to identifying a time-traveller

About Time

I looked out of the high window to the street outside.  The rain poured down, not torrentially, but with an insistent persistance, that left the pavement devoid of pedestrians, and road itself almost barren of of vehicles.  What should have been a quiet summer’s evening was a complete wash out, and I was glad to be inside.  I turned from the window and picked up my glass from an antique occaisonal table.

“Not a time to be outside” I stated to the room at large, not really expecting a response.  The four of us had, as was our wont, adjourned to the Library after dinner, scowling concertedly at a new member who had the temerity to ty an join us.  The Library had been ours for time immemorial.  Greywood had plomped into ‘his’ armchair and, tumbler of single malt not withstanding, had fallen asleep.  None of us could really understand how he did it.  He was demonstrably asleep, with light purring snore emanating from around a large fluffy moustache – that we would often joke had a life of it’s own – and yet not a drop of whisky would be lost from the glass, all would be consumed before the evening’s end.

The Commonwealth Club (we often called it the  Prune Club – being elderly curmudgeons was our raisin d’etra) is an anachronym, looking like something that Phileas Fogg might have belonged, hundreds of years before.  But even in our supposed modern world it has its place.

Darbishire and Memana were bickering over some item or other that they had read in the news as I was looking out of the window, but they broke off as I made my comment on the weather outside and Darbishire said “that reminds me of a joke: time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana!”

Memana groaned and I looked round for a pillow, or failing that a book, that I could throw.  Greywood huffed through his moustache and fixed Darbishire with a steely gaze.  This was another of Greywood’s traits that we had never fathomed: no matter how deeply asleep he seemed to be, he always knew what was being talked about.  We waited for the inevitable anecdote from his time in The Service.

That was a truly terrible joke [said Greywood], and besides which, it is factually incorrect.  Fruit flies may, indeed, like a banana, but time does not fly like an arrow. Every moment in history is available to us if we had but the means to access it, and what we experience is merely the brain trying to make sense of all this time happening at once.  During my time in The Service, I was seconded for a period to the Bureau of Anomolies in Time and Space.  Some boffin or other had managed to crack a limited form of time travel, and whilst the Government had tried to keep it under wraps, a boot-leg version had leaked out to the criminal classes.  There were two issues with this technology.  One, whilst you could jump a reasonable amount of time into the past or future, you could only do so for a few seconds, a minute at most and you would come back to where you jumped from as if you were on a bit of elastic.  The other was that the process of jumping had a physiological effect and all the muscle fibres in the body would contract a small but significant amount.   As a result, the technology was all but useless for espionage, and the technology was suppressed lest it fall into the wrong hands. Suppressed badly, and inevitably it did fall into the wrong hands.

The head of BATS was not a complete fool – you don’t get to head up such a specialist group if you’re an idiot.   He acted promptly, called in extra support as required and the team were able to track the leak and find the criminal group who were planning to use the equipment.  They had had some plan of using the  technology to gain information on sporting events.  We managed to catch up with them in the midst of their first attempt and scooped them all up, with the exception of the time-traveller.   Police records indicated that we had the whole gang as far as was known and so it was no simple matter to find our lost waif.  We did not know what he (or she) looked like, we did not know where they had jumped from, how far into the past or future they had jumped, or when they had returned to our time.  As I say, the head of the team that I had been seconded to was not a complete idiot and, as he had seen me at work before, he called me in early.   A job like this is tricky in so many ways, but I was able to tell the team reviewing the CCTV footage from the venue what to look for and the Police were able to pick up the, as it turned out, man before he had got too far.

Greywood sipped his whisky, wiped his moustache, resettled himself into his chair and started to fall back to sleep.  There is only one thing to do at such times and we all knew the drill.  Memana was closest and kicked Greywood’s foot.

“Hey! Oh no you don’t!  How did you know who to look for?”

“I would have thought it was perfectly obvious – I told you about the technology, and it’s physilogical effects.  All they had to do was look for the person who suddenly had serious problems walking – time wounds all heels, you know”.

© David Jesson, 2017

 

One man’s now is another man’s history

Sonia awoke to a persistent beeping noise: “What the hell is that?” she muttered. She’d told her team not to wake her under pain of death and they’d never not complied. That’s when she realised it wasn’t her phone but the Gadget. Pulling open the drawer she read the message flashing in fluorescent letters: “Report immediately.”

Punching in her entry code – not her birthdate (she’d terrorised all her staff with instant dismissal if they used that) her’s was the date her dog died – Sonia strode into the office.. She found them all sitting round the coffee machine, feet up and chatting. “Up!” she yelled in her best sergeant major voice and enjoyed the scampering response. “We’ve got a top priority alert. A suspect on his way from Boston. Time Traveller. Someone down there goofed and he used a ray gun on the senior security guy who’s now gone all ga-ga.”

Her team looked decidedly unhappy with that news: “Erm boss, how’re we supposed to handle that without getting fried ourselves?”

“We’re just running interference” she reassured them. “We announce a delay with the refuelling truck which gives them enough time to get a specialist out here from Boston. Everyone needs to keep calm, act natural and it’ll be just fine.”

It’d been Sonia’s suggestion that they use the excuse of the refuelling truck as a delaying tactic. Here in Anchorage, the conditions meant they frequently needed to handle freezing weather and today was certainly cold enough to freeze the proverbials off a brass monkey.

Sonia changed out of her uniform into something a bit more unchallenging and low level before making the announcement about the delay. Her announcement was greeted with the expected groans, so she announced that free hot refreshments were available. She took the opportunity to move amongst the passengers and engage each of them in brief conversation, but no-one was triggering her spidey senses.

Her phone rang “John’s landed” she heard in her ear. This time it was her turn to groan. Really, her little brother? They’d had to send the doofus to handle this on her territory? Sonia flashed her best smile to the cute looking guy in the Bruins sweatshirt and excused herself. Pity this wasn’t a real delay, she could’ve pulled there.

Pulling on her outdoor layers and boots, Sonia crossed the runway to where John’s plane was taxiing to a stop. Bundled up, John emerged first and hurried down the stairs. “Hi Sis, it’s the guy in the Bruins sweatshirt. Have you spotted him yet?” “Don’t be ridiculous” she snapped in response, “I’ve just been chatting to him and he’s just an ordinary guy.” John grinned, “Yeah he is exactly your type, but he’s the guy, I promise you.” “So why didn’t you stop him at Boston then?” John sighed, he could feel his big sister assessing him cooling, expecting him to confess that he’d messed up. “I identified him, but while I went to get my kit to put him down, the head of security persuaded my boss that he could handle it without any fuss himself. Seems he was wrong.”

“What this ray gun he’s using?” Sonia enquired. “We don’t know yet. It’s the first of its type we’ve come across” John admitted. “They usually just knock you out, but these ones seem to make their victims loose their memories and their mental faculties.” “Sounds nasty.” “Yup, that’s why I put out the instruction to just delay him. I didn’t want my big sis getting into any trouble she couldn’t handle” grinned John.

Swiping him round the ear, Sonia asked for details of John’s plan. “Well, he’s seen me before, so …” “He’s seen you before? That’ll make it more difficult. How well would he know you?” “We chatted for nearly an hour, so it’s a risk. I’m going to need to disguise myself. Any thoughts?”

Sonia pondered as they walked across to the airport terminal. Going to her office, she signalled a cleaner pushing a mop and bucket to join them. There John and the cleaner switched outfits, including the glasses and knitted hat the cleaner was wearing. Sonia walked round John and admitted “I’d not recognise you even if I was expecting to see you.” “Perfect” said John and got his kit prepared. Pulling on thick heavy cleaning gloves, he pushed the mop and bucket across the terminal building and into the lounge. John pushed the mop around in the guy’s eye-line and when he was confident there’d been no reaction, he moved round behind him. Looking over the top of his glasses, John picked his spot carefully and plunged the needles into the guy’s neck. The guy startled, but collapsed before he could get his hand into his pocket. Sonia and her team raced in, removed his ray gun carefully, and cuffed the guy.

Later, as they were walking back to his plane with the prisoner, Sonia asked “I forgot to check, how’d you know it was him in Boston?” “Usual thing, I got an instinct …” “Oh come on” said Sonia “this is me remember, I know how your mind works. What was it that trigged those instincts?

“There was something wrong I couldn’t put my finger on, so I struck up a conversation with him. We talked ice hockey ‘cos he was wearing a Bruins shirt. He knew facts and figures, but there was no colour, no opinion. Even though he said he was a long-term fan, there was no passion. So I asked about more stuff. And he was the same – all facts and figures, but nothing personal.”

“Time travellers need to get their cultural references right, especially when they come from the future. My guy sounded like he was reciting history … not talking about life.”

© Debra Carey, 2017

Dreamcatchers

 

dreamcatcher

Writing prompt:
Every so often a dream catcher must be emptied of the dreams it has caught. Who does it and what do they see?

My first reaction on reading this was ‘oh no, a bit of hippy dippy nonsense’. But, I let my mind drift and here’s what I came up with:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Everyone dreams” my Freudian tutor was saying, “if they say they don’t, they’re lying, or there’s something wrong with them.” “I don’t, but it’s just a vitamin deficiency, nothing dubious” I interjected, then realised I was getting those looks, you know the ones, where people are thinking ‘delusional’.

I realised the amateur mistake I’d made and hastily revised my statement: “well, OK, of course I do dream, I just never remember them. I haven’t done for years.” My tutor gave me an unfathomable look and wrote something down in her notebook.

Some weeks later, as class ended, a woman came in to speak to the tutor. Whilst chatting, I became aware that both were looking at me and nodding. It wasn’t a comfortable feeling so, despite being pretty desperate to go to the loo, I decided to walk with Therese to the station. Once there I raced down to my platform, catching the early train. It would mean a longer wait at changeover, but that would give me time to find the loo.

Opening my book, I was soon engrossed in Freud, scribbling in the margins and highlighting passages. Reaching my changeover station, I quickly packed up and hopped off, seeking a platform attendant to direct me on my now hugely urgent visit. Relieved, I emerged onto the platform to await my train, only to realise that the woman who’d been talking to my tutor was there and she’d spotted me.

Feeling more than a touch uneasy but drawing re-assurance from the crowded platform, I headed on down to wait or my train. She approached me, asking: “are you going through to Leatherhead from here?” I sighed, realising she’d done her homework and knowing that I’d have to trust my tutor wasn’t selling me into the slave trade, I agreed that I was. She offered me her hand and introduced herself: “Sarah Jane Compton, Sleep Specialist.”

We hopped on the train and she spoke to me about my dream recall, or rather, the lack of it. She was particularly interested in the vitamin deficiency thing and I told her it had been discovered during the years when I was seeing a nutritionist regularly. That we’d even tested it out. When I supplemented for a minimum of 4 weeks, my dream recall returned. But as the lack of it was doing me no harm and I didn’t naturally consume those food stuffs high in it (one of the B vitamins, I don’t recall which now), I simply didn’t bother anymore.

Sarah Jane was making notes as we talked, then our conversation moved more generally onto psychology (which I was studying) and my plans for the future. At that time, I had no fixed plan. I knew that the subject was one of great fascination for me, but I had yet to chose my specialism. Sarah Jane asked if I would be willing to participate in a sleep study – nothing arduous – they would simply measure my brain activity over a couple of nights and interview me on waking and later in the day. She stressed how helpful it would be and I agreed, subject to it taking place out of term time.

Some weeks later, I attended Sarah Jane’s sleep study where I was also invited to sit in on a few therapy groups. It rapidly became clear that the groups were for those whose sleep was disturbed. In some cases, it could clearly be traced to known trauma and the normal therapeutic options were providing succour and improvement. In other cases, there was no known reason for the deeply disturbing dreams being experienced. Children, in particular, were terrified of sleeping which was having a deterimental impact on their lives. One of the administrators had cautiously suggested trying dream catchers and – much to everyone’s surprise – they were experiencing a remarkably high level of success with them.

Whilst I was finding this entirely fascinating, I couldn’t help but wonder what part Sarah Jane saw me playing, when suddenly she came out with it. The dream catchers stopped being effective after a time and whilst they’d experimented with changing them for new ones, the children – in particular – took an overly long period of time to settle down with the replacements. Someone suggested that what was needed was for the dream catchers to be emptied. A few had volunteered, but as this involved viewing the contents, it had proven hugely distressing for some time afterwards and all ended up having to go into therapy because of what they’d seen. Sarah Jane wondered if I’d try. She was hoping that my lack of dream recall would make me immune to the dream catcher’s contents.

Unsurprisingly, I agreed. I did start to suffer from disturbed sleep myself. I’d wake up with a start, or wake up crying, or shouting out. Of course, I’d have absolutely no idea, no recall of why I felt the emotion, simply that I was feeling it – whether that be a terrible fear, absolute horror or terrible grief.

As this whole concept had originated from outside the box thinking, I decided to take a punt and suggest that – maybe – we should experiment with using dream catchers on those who lived happy lives and dreamed of pleasing things, you know, in the hope they’d provide a suitable balance? So, if you have happy dreams that you’re willing to share, do give us a call …

 

 

© 2016 Debra Carey

Just a Man

The prompt:
He is just a man.
He will fail.
You will make sure of that.

 

small man

“Good morning Miranda”, said Gerry, “how are you feeling about our first session?” Miranda smiled, “a little nervous, but pretty excited. I’ve spent so much time talking this through with my group of girlfriends and getting absolutely nowhere with it. So, yes, nervous and excited.”

“I’m wondering” said Gerry, “if there’s something in particular that made you decide to seek professional help with this issue? Something more than the fact it’s been the subject of multiple conversations.” Raising her eyebrows at the unexpectedly on target question, Miranda responded: “I wasn’t planning to mention this quite so early,” she said quietly, “but my last boyfriend sent me this lengthy dissection of our relationship and what he perceived as my unreasonable expectations. I ended it that same day, but it’s been niggling away at me, probably because it’s written down and I can go over it, again and again, and torture myself with it.”

Gerry was nodding and making ‘I’m listening’ sounds, so Miranda found herself continuing: “I thought we could look at the problem overall before addressing the very specific points he raised.” “But the email upset you?” asked Gerry. “Not so much upset me, more came as a surprise. I thought we were doing fine. Well, apart from the usual niggles single people have when they’re transitioning into a couple, but I hadn’t spotted anything more … and I usually do.” “You usually do?” echoed Gerry in a slightly questioning tone. “Yes” agreed Miranda, “I’ve always been the one to examine the relationship, to check its temperature, where it’s going, whether I’m happy, whether I want more … or less. But that’s pretty normal isn’t it? The woman doing the relationship stuff whilst the bloke just putters along.” She laughed ruefully, “apart from the commitment-phobes, of course, who never let you get that far!”

“So, you ended the relationship when the e-mail arrived” said Gerry, “even though it was going fine. Why do you think that was?” Miranda recoiled as if struck, she’d never considered there was any other option open to her and she said as much. Keeping his voice very gentle, Gerry asked “you didn’t feel you could have a discussion about it?” “No,” said Miranda, “I didn’t feel he deserved me as he’d taken the coward’s way, sending an e-mail rather than talking to me in person.” Gerry’s facial expression seemed to say ‘fair point’.

Miranda noticed that each session with Gerry contained more of these unexpected and on-target questions. Despite feeling she’d addressed them well, she’d found herself thinking about the questions, over and over, and wondering if her responses were just a bit too pat, a bit too clever, a bit too deflecting? She decided to share her thoughts with Gerry, only to be rewarded with a broad smile and a suggestion that they discuss her ruminations in more depth.

These discussions began to feature in Miranda’s dreams, which provided interesting fodder for her weekly discussions with Gerry. When Gerry was away for two weeks, Miranda continued noting down her dreams. The night before her next session with Gerry, Miranda had a most memorable dream: She was in a big white room where twelve men and women ranged down one side, sat on ornate gold seats. Miranda approached each in turn only to find herself being asked, “why are you still single?” Miranda became more distressed with each question, finally blurting out to the last one: “You’re the wise ones, the all seeing ones, if you don’t know, how will I ever find out?” “You’ll have to ask Her” said the last one indicating a woman sitting on a far off cloud.

As Miranda got nearer, she recognised the woman as her mother. “Do get on with it Miranda” she heard her mother say impatiently. “But, but … I don’t understand”, blubbered Miranda, “what’s going on Mummy?” “Oh for goodness sake Miranda, you’re not a little girl, call me Mum, or mother, even Brenda?” Miranda shuddered at the thought of calling her mother ‘Brenda’ but took out a hanky and blew her nose. “Mum” she asked, “why am I still single? Why can’t I find a man to settle down with?”

Brenda snorted: “don’t be ridiculous Miranda, it doesn’t matter who you go out with. He is just a man. He will fail. You will make sure he does” and with that Miranda’s mother waved her away. Miranda stood there, her mouth gaping: “But Mum …” “Oh for goodness sake Miranda, what on earth do you think I was doing all those years whilst you were growing up?” Miranda looked how she felt – genuinely bewildered. Sighing heavily, Brenda continued: “I was training you to make sure the male species suffered, the way your father made me suffer. And I can see that I’ve done a good job. Now, hurry along, there’s a good girl. Just keep up the good work and do stop wasting money with that dreadful (Brenda spat out the next word) Man, Gerry, who asks you all those impertinent questions.”

 

© 2016 Debra Carey