Below is my submission to Luminous Creatures‘ Summer of Super Short Stories 2, Week One from last week. The tale had to be inspired by the picture on the right and include the line “Tell me a tale.” Let me know what you think of the story in the comments below.
My email account is full of body blows: bills, rejections, petitions demanding that bad people stop doing bad things. Somehow the petitions get me down the most. They are pointless, little more than a sticking plaster on the barrel of a gun. ‘Life’s a bitch and then you die’ has never been truer. I don’t agree with the other version, not because I’m some kind of feminist but because I’ll be lucky if I marry anyone. All my dates are with Jack Daniels and Jim Bean. The two of them watch me over the top of my laptop. I minimise the browser with a stamp on my mouse key. Peace returns, a wallpaper of watercolour trees painted by Grandpa. I remember the day the image came to life, a perfect day of family and storytelling
Ping! Ping! Ping!
My emails re-fill the screen. I wish I hadn’t bloody bothered. Council Tax, rent, gas, electricity, all demands for money I don’t have. I reach for one of the bottles behind. I don’t care which I grab. The glass is cool on my palm. A black square label moves towards me, Jack will be my lover tonight. I spin off the top and watch it bounce away under the table.
Gulp. Gulp. Gulp.
The fire starts before the last slug leaves my mouth; the temperature doubles. Real life can’t take the heat and steps back, the relief welcome. The laptop screen is back up; the emails gone, for now. I stare into Grandpa’s trees, everything else goes fuzzy. The top of the picture starts to melt; colours and lines merge into reflection; sounds of bird song and countryside, a farmer beyond the trees. The almost silence swish of a paint brush on paper followed by the clink of the same brush in a jar of cleaning water. Wellington boots splatter through mud desperate to ask the only question I asked that day “Grandpa, tell me a tale.”