Perpetual Motion


Hi. Call me Merle – it means ‘blackbird’, if it matters. I realise that this is not a common name. It gets worse. I wasn’t born here. My beginnings were in the south of France, a rural idyll where my family and I spent all our time out-of-doors, come rain or shine.

I suppose you could describe me as an immigrant, but I didn’t really ever want to come here. I’ve tried to fit in, I really have – no I promised I wouldn’t cry. I think the hardest part is that I haven’t been able to fulfill myself.  Everyone has a purpose and I have been tantalisingly close to completing mine several times, but I have been denied. Instead I have been passed from hand to hand as a gift, as a prize.

My troubles, and my travels, began when I was packed in a cardboard box with five of my sisters.  For days I did not see the light of day, but heard the occasional chink as we were jostled in our box.  The lid was opened suddenly and I saw a much greyer sky than I was used to.  I was added to a display, and watched as bottles and cases were bought until finally, many months later, my turn came and I was part of a mixed case, sold to clear the way for new stock.

Again the journey, much shorter this time; again the display, here a wine-rack rather than the shop-window; again seeing my friends go before me.  At last, I thought my time had come – I was taken from the rack.  But no.  Instead of being placed on the table in the dining room, I was put on the table in the hall.  This was at least something new, but what next?  I journeyed again, this time peeking out of a bag perfectly fitted for me. I was handed to someone else, amidst much hugging – and then I was forgotten by the door.

Here I stayed for a few days before being passed on again, this time with less ceremony.  Over the next year I was to change hands 27 times.  I was donated to four different fêtes over the summer.  I listened to discussions by three different bookgroups.  I was a house-warming present eight times.  I have been so jostled around I am probably completely undrinkable.

In all my travels, the closest I came to absolute despair was the time when I was with some man who I had seen once or twice before.  I hadn’t realised it, but he had clearly noticed me.  Whilst most others simply reached for the nearest bottle and I had been unlucky, this pig carefully marked my label in an unobtrusive but unmistakable way.  He talked to himself as he did it saying that he wondered if I would ever come back.  Then, with cold calculation, he passed me on.  I never saw him again.

What is wrong with you people?  Can Merlot somehow have gone out of fashion?


© David Jesson, 2017

(500 words)


Genie for Hire

So, tell me – what can I do for you?…On the other hand, I am an honest businessman these days…

I quite like the concept of #FlashFiction, but I’m very bad at going out to look for the prompts…so I’ve invented #TortoiseFlashFiction.  I make a note, usually of whatever it is that Debs has spotted, of the key thing that springs to mind and then try and write it up later.  Today’s was prompted by Deb’s Free Genie.




Come in, come in.  Do have a seat.  Can I get you anything?  Tea?  Coffee?  Trisha my dear, refreshments please!  And do bring us some of the good biscuits.  There.  Are you comfortable?  There is always so much to do, but I always say that if you can’t make time for your clients then your clients won’t be clients for very long, ha ha!

Yes, yes, that is a magnificent bottle is it not?  I tell the more gullible that it is a carved ruby, but that would be clearly impossible!  It is far too large…but small enough if it was your home.  And indeed, that was my home, off and on, for a thousand years.  Mostly on, especially after Shlomo lost the franchise.  But that is all in the past, not worth dwelling on.

So, tell me – what can I do for you?  I must warn you that there are limitations.  I cannot access my full power these days – the world has moved on, you know, and I have spent too much time in this plane of existence.  On the other hand, I am an honest businessman these days – you will not need to phrase your request like a Jesuit practicing casuistry, and you need not fear that I will claim your soul or some such.  I am a free agent these days, and do you know, I quite enjoy the pleasures that this world has to offer.  But they are expensive and so I must needs charge for my services.  You may be assured that the workman is worthy of his hire though.  What else must I say?  Hmmm.  No wait, let me stop you before I embarrass us both.  Your need is clearly great, or you would not be here, and whilst prison holds no particular perils, I will do nothing that is illegal.  I have been known to bend a few laws, but my conscience is unblemished.

I am sorry, so sorry.  I did not mean to offend you, but many desperate people have sat in this office and I have to make it quite clear in advance what it is that they can expect.  I did not mean to imply that your business was less than honest.  So.  Well then.  I should probably also say that my fee is dependent on the time scale your wish needs to operate over.  For example, there was that athlete who I helped: my support for him was relatively modest.  He had talent aplenty, but he was mortally afraid of being injured.  I protected him for his entire career…well, until he forgot a payment.  The traditional palace is quite popular as well.  That usually requires some on-going support, but the big expense is right at the beginning.

So then.  What is your desire?  A novel, of 500 pages, that will top the best seller lists for 25 weeks, cause young women to throw themselves at your feet, and will lead to handsome advances on further works.  And for this you are prepared to pay…?  Make it 16 weeks and ladies in the 25-32 bracket and your wish is my command!

(521 words)

© 2016 David Jesson