Friday 20 January 2012

Friday Flash - Fold

Becky and Karl sit opposite one another. A naked bulb hangs above the table, casting a harsh circle of light across the game. Becky reaches forward and tosses another handful of poker chips onto the pile. Karl displays his cards - three of a kind. Becky groans and drops her cards facedown onto the table.

March 23 1997. Becky and Karl walk down the street, discussing ways to celebrate their six month anniversary. They pause at the cinema, scanning the posted list of film times. Becky wants to see Liar Liar, having seen all of Jim Carrey's films so far. Karl insists they see the special edition of Return of the Jedi - he doesn't much care for Jim Carrey. Becky points out she hasn't seen Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back. Karl replies that he is paying for the tickets, so it should be his choice. Becky spends the duration of the film counting the number of times Karl uses money to get his way.

Karl looks at the hand he has been dealt and scowls. He swaps out two of his cards with the third player, a silent figure who sits in the shadows. Karl's expression morphs from annoyance to hope. Becky ups the ante and calls it. Her Royal Flush beats his two pair.

August 13 2004. Becky and Karl discuss their wedding plans. Karl wants a small civil ceremony at the local registry office; Becky wants a big church wedding, followed by a lavish reception. Karl argues about the guest list - he doesn't want to make a fuss. Becky sulks, asking if she isn't worth that much to him. Karl relents, not wanting to start married life under a cloud. They are married at St Martin's, with the reception for two hundred people at the local country club.

Karl pushes his stack of chips around the table as stares at the cards in his hand. He glances at the silent figure. Becky adds more chips to the pile in the centre of the table. A bead of sweat bursts forth on Karl's forehead, and trickles down the clammy skin to be lost in the foliage of his eyebrows. Becky calls it. Karl knows his lowly pair will be beaten; Becky rakes the chips across to her side of the table.

November 30 2008. Becky asks Karl why he spends so much time at the office. He claims he needs to put in the overtime - if he doesn't do the work, they'll find someone else who will. He thinks of Sara, the receptionist with the short skirts and see-through blouses. Becky threatens to leave if he doesn't change jobs. Karl thinks of the expensive dinners and lavish holidays, paid for by Becky's trust fund. He calls a recruitment consultant.

Karl takes two new cards from the silent dealer, slotting them into the fan in his hand. He struggles to suppress a grin - the new King and Queen fit in well with his existing cards. Becky notices the flicker at the corners of his mouth and bites her lip. She calls it, choking back a sob to see Karl's Full House.

May 18 2009. Becky goes to see her sister's new baby, and realises she is broody. After spending the afternoon with her niece, she goes home and tells Karl she wants to start a family. Karl doesn't want children - he feels that they're too much of a commitment. Becky insists that they try anyway. After six months, she visits the doctor, and discovers she can't have children. Karl commiserates with her, and celebrates with his friends.

The third player drops a handful of cards onto the table. A Full House. Becky looks at her mismatched hand, and Karl frowns at his lowly pair. An equal pile of chips sits on either side of the table. Becky and Karl fold, stand up from the table, and walk away.

September 12 2011. Becky and Karl sign their divorce papers.

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Mid-January Update

Yesterday I introduced myself again over on Write Anything - albeit myself as a writer, not as a person. It's part of their project to get the readers of the blog to get to know the contributors. I like to think that the two are actually fairly closely linked, but it got me thinking again about how little I actually include of myself on my blog. I read other blogs in which people discuss their lives and let their readers get to know them, but unless you're a subscriber to the theory that a person's soul is laid bare in their fiction, or you 'read' the images I use as photo prompts, then I guess I'm a bit of a shadow of myself online.

Maybe I should use 2012 as the time to change that? Well we're halfway through month one, so how has the year been treating me so far?

As well as my introductory post I've already mentioned, I've also had a post on Write Anything about why writing needn't be a chore, and posts on Fuel Your Writing suggesting ways to get back into your writing routine after Christmas, and also why writing what you know shouldn't be taken so literally.

I've posted two Friday Flashes in 2012 - Spot the Mistake, a slice of silliness, and The Bell, a Gothic tale set on a lonely moor. If that weren't enough, Metro Fiction were also kind enough to publish my short story, The Hen Night. It's not my usual genre but then again, considering I've posted fantasy, horror, steampunk, historical and even science fiction, who's to say what "my genre" actually is? The Guns of Retribution is a pulp Western, after all!! I'm just not a writer who wants to get hung up on what genre I should, or shouldn't, write. I understand the marketing implications but sorry, I'm not going to quit writing what I enjoy just to satisfy a few hardcore genre fiends.

Speaking of Westerns, I can now say that paperback copies of Guns are available from A Reader's Heaven in Lithgow, New South Wales, if you're in the area and want to pick one up. I'm thrilled to see the copies on an actual bookshelf! With any luck they'll appear in UK stores this year too but fingers crossed on that. Work is progressing on the sequel, and my beloved bounty hunter, Grey O'Donnell, is now giving me ideas for short stories as well as novellas, so hopefully 2012 will be a year in which he meets even more people! My current plan is to get book two written by May, in order to start work on book three in the summer.

But so far, all I've been talking about is writing. What else have I been doing? More of my spare time than I'd care to admit has gone into playing World of Warcraft (I know, I know, I got sucked in) but work is well underway on the infamous PhD, as I work my way through reading existing texts on the topic in order to compile a literature review. Best of all, I've booked a holiday in Venice! I last visited the Italian city in December 2006 and I've been itching to go back so I am very, very excited at the prospect of visiting again. My camera and I will be inseparable!

Monday 16 January 2012

Photo Prompt 68

New prompt available!

If you want to use the prompt, all I ask is that you include a link to this entry and a credit to me for the photograph, and that you post a link to your story in the comments box below so I can see what you've come up with! If you don't comment on this entry, then I can't comment on your story.

The 68th prompt is Frost.

Frost-bitten Rose

All photo prompts are my own photography - you can find more of it on Flickr. You can also buy my prints from Deviantart. 20% of all proceeds go to charity - the other 80% go towards my PhD fees!