Invisible Brackets

“Hi Terry, Long time, no see. How you doing?”

Terry stared at the message for a long time, she didn’t know how to respond.
She wanted to say that things had been hard lately, that she wasn’t coping, that she needed someone to tell her everything was going to be all right, and mean it. She wanted to say her world was falling apart and she didn’t know where to turn.

Amy knew her message had been seen, but an hour had gone by. She began to wonder if Terry wanted to talk to her. She didn’t know that Terry had typed and undone every attempt so far. Eventually, a message popped up”

“Hey Amy, It has been a long time, hasn’t it? I’m fine. How are you?”

It wasn’t much for an hours work. All those deleted words screamed to be put back in.
As Terry had pressed send she began to worry that it didn’t say enough, would Amy have been snubbed by the wait? But the weight of things unsaid felt too heavy to send in a message. Especially the first message in a long time.
It felt sometimes as if she lived her true life between invisible brackets. Amy would never hear her tone in a message. ‘I’m fine’ in person would have sounded entirely different. I’m fine in person would have read:

“Hey Amy, It has been a long time, hasn’t it? I’m fine. (except I’m not, and I don’t want to bother you, but I could use a friend right now) How are you?

Amy’s heart had sank as she read the response. It was a short, impersonal reply showing that time had separated them so much that neither knew what to say to the other. Suddenly replying seemed the hardest thing to do in the world. She knew what she wanted to say, but Terry had said she was fine. If Amy opened up it might be an intrusion on Terry’s life. After a short pause, she typed the socially accepted response spoken between strangers. It was like a code that acknowledged other people’s existence, without getting to know them. It marked them as no longer friends, even though they might both try to pretend.

“Glad you’re ok. I’m all good too. We should catch up soon.”

Terry was afraid of the lack of response from her friend, was worried that she had upset her with her short message, but she didn’t know how to fix it. If only Terry could have read Amy’s invisible brackets she would see:

“I’m not ok. I reached out to an old friend hoping to bring back memories of the good days, but it’s been too long and our conversation here feels weirdly strained. I wish I knew how to talk to you, but I’m a different person now. I don’t know if we have anything in common any more. I hope that we can regain our friendship in time, but I don’t know how to do that, and I don’t have as much energy as I thought I had to figure it out.”

Terry braced herself to leave the final response. After some thought she added an exclamation point to make sure she sounded excited about her life, not wanting to seem to be full of dread.

“We should totally catch up soon, so much has happened since we last spoke!”

With a seemingly leaden finger, Amy pressed the like button in response.

The invisible brackets were full of screaming.

The Monster

Image ©J.R.Bee 2018

A three-toed claw gripped the branch, the noise startled a group of villagers out for a night walk. They looked up and spied massive eyes shining brightly in the darkness.

A breeze rustled the leaves sending shafts of moonlight scattering across the creatures face. Bits and pieces of its fearsome visage were revealed in stages like a grotesque jigsaw puzzle. A long hairy snout, large protruding yellowed teeth. Its face was mostly hairless and looked pitted in the shadows of the leaves, it’s sparse fur was slick as if with sweat. But those eyes, big and shining, eyes that seemed far too big for its head, seemed to bring down a terrible judgement to all who looked upon it.

The villagers saw this creature and fled.

‘Monster’ they called it, bringer of death. To see one meant terrible things were coming to your family. Loved ones were held closer after a sighting, and misfortunes were blamed on that terrible fiend. The creature must be slain, for if the creature were no more then death and disaster could be kept at bay. Or so they thought.

That the creature only ate bugs and had no care for human concerns made no matter. The creature looked scary, and therefore it must be evil. Must be slain.

And so Death did come, and it came for the monster of the bugs.

 ©J.R.Bee 2018

Monster Art available HERE

Note to self.

The song Isn’t it ironic, isn’t it ironic that it’s not ironic?

Did I get that right?

A short story in which I used a random word generator to pick the topic.

The word was Irony.

“Yes, that’s fine,” he said. “Next year will be just perfect”

“Ok, that’s excellent. See you next year!” piped the girl enthusiastically.

“No! Wait!”

But only the Bloooooooooo of the tone dial greeted him.

“Note to self- lay off the sarcasm,” he muttered darkly.

The Dancer

Image ©J.R.Bee 2018

A short story in which I used a random word generator to pick the topic.

The word was Figure.

He had the figure of a dancer; lean and muscley, with a that poised, straight-backed walk so common with those who dance professionally.

I didn’t think he would be a pole dancer. It was a shame he had to make his performances at Goggles for Gals, he wouldn’t have looked out of place on a major stage. A short conversation in the line for coffee informed me he had once been the lead male in Swan Lake, but the work just wasn’t there anymore. The strip clubs the only ones hiring.

“At least,” he said wistfully, “I still get to dance.” He picked up his coffee and walked with dignity out of the door and exited stage left.

 ©J.R.Bee 2018

That Dream Is A Nightmare

Image ©J.R.Bee 2018

Down by the shoreline ran a cliff battered by many storms and punished by the relentless onslaught of the sea.

It had once been home to a hermit, or a wizard, who had once banished/ summoned some young dragon. There was maybe a sacrifice to a fire-breathing maid. The legend changed dependant on who told the story, as these things often do.

The beach must have been relatively young; its pebbly surface was littered with massive rocks yet to be whittled down to pebble size. It was considerably uncomfortable to walk across, but because of peoples need to be beside the sea they suffered it anyway.

Across its painful surface, three young girls gingerly waddled their way across the hot rocks, oblivious to the many cuts and scratches that were afflicting their young feet. Autumn was just beginning, and whilst the sea was now too rough and cold to swim in the beach was still pleasant enough to draw in the locals who had avoided its shores in the busy tourist-laden summer.

They were heading for the cave, a place they had been many times before. That little hollowed out cavern with its single window had been Merlin’s cave, a dragons den, a mighty castle, and a dingy dungeon.

The trio knew it well, and the cold, damp air with its intense salty smell of dried up seaweed seemed like a friendly greeting.

They were of course forbidden from going in there. Something about needles and the iron rods that jutted from concrete chunks that had drifted in from goodness knows where. The rods made excellent swords.

“Let’s play pirates!” Said the smallest of the three excitedly.

“Nah, that’s dumb,” said the taller blond kid, the unofficial leader of the group, “let’s climb up to the window.”

The window was old and crumbling, and the walls up to it slippery. The youngest felt her enthusiasm for the day flee, leaving only anxiety; whilst the third, darker haired girl agreed at once. Forever her partner in crime.

The two girls sped over to the window, leaving the third to saunter nervously behind them. She wasn’t much of a climber, it wasn’t that she couldn’t get up, it was getting down, and the thought of coming down at speed made her mentally wince. But she daren’t complain, she knew she was at the bottom of the pecking order in this trio and any reluctance would be seen as weakness and would be mocked.

In a trice, the two taller girls had made it up to the window,

“Come on Sal,” the blonde girl grinned down at her.

Sally knew the moment she made it up there they would immediately get down again. She didn’t think they meant to torment her, she felt sure they saw it only as teasing, but it it was sure hard not to take it personally.

“I’m getting there,” replied Sally with as much gusto as she could manage.

Slowly but surely Sally climbed the wall, taking more time than the others as she thought through each hand and foothold, changing her mind often when the rock felt too slippery.  The other two above her chatted away about the things they could see out of the window, and occasionally snickered at her slowness.
When Sally reached the top she realised with a jolt that she didn’t have room to manoeuvre to pull herself up onto the ledge. The thought of going down so soon did not appeal, and neither did the thought of staying put.

Perhaps noticing her sweaty brow and pale skin Elle took pity on her and budged aside, but Charlene merely laughed at Sal’s feeble attempts to join them. And then everything seemed to be happening in slow motion. Sally’s fingers slipped,  she was falling backwards. Char’s laughter rang in her ears, and the backlit heads of her friends made them look like they had halos, but shadows hid their faces and they seemed more like a pair of angelic demons watching her fall from grace.

The landing didn’t hurt, which surprised her so much that it took a few moments before she even thought about trying to move.

Charlene and Elle were scrambling down the wall, almost falling themselves in their panic.

Sally stood up, grinning with relief, and vaguely wondering why there was blood on her chest. Something like a metal rod was sticking through it, but it didn’t hurt.

In conusfion, she looked up at her friends, but they were staring wide eyed and open mouthed at the ground, but Sally couldn’t see anything there.

“We’ll be in soo much trouble!” whined Char,

“Trouble?” Cried Elle, as if that was the last thing on her mind.

“It’s ok,” said Sally, as she continued to stare at the metal rod in her chest, “we can pretend it didn’t happen here.”

“We have to pretend that it didn’t happen here,” said Char bossily, as if she hadn’t heard Sally. Sally felt a surge of anger, Char often did this, and every time she felt that deep-seated anger that never managed to burst past the surface, and this time she was standing here possibly bleeding to death and they wouldn’t even look at her!

“Oy!” She yelled, but they didn’t even flinch.

“But why Char? Why’d you push her?”

It was like someone had turned the sound off. Sally remembered now, Char had been holding her hands and playfully shoving, laughing at her fear and her pleas for Char to stop until she stopped pleading. She stopped because she fell.

Sally drew herself up to her full height and slapped Char hard in the face, but her hand went straight through. Char’s eyes widened in shock as if she’d felt something, but her shock was nothing to Sally’s.

She stared at her hand as if seeing it for the first time, was she? Could she? Had she… died? But why couldn’t she see her own body, would she even want to? Perhaps as confirmation that she wasn’t dreaming. She poked Elle’s arm, but her hand went straight through feeling nothing but a slight warmth. Elle, on the other hand, shivered and rubbed the spot she’d been touched.

She looked at Char and knew the girl was more worried about what would happen to them than what had happened to Sally. It was then that Sally decided that if she were to be a ghost then Charlene would never know peace again.

 ©J.R.Bee 2018

So this prompt came from a dream. Most people would call it a nightmare, but I merely awoke thinking “I could totally write that.”

Which begs the question: Can writers truly have nightmares, or do they merely have a productive nights sleep?

Alls We Need Is A Little Traction


Image ©J.R.Bee 2018

A short story in which I used a random word generator to pick the topic.

I have to admit this microfiction ran away with me a bit.

The word was Traction.

Tyres slipped and skidded in the mud, the engine revved and squealed shooting out plumes of black smoke from the exhaust. Defeated, the truck rolled back exhausted, overheated metal ticked and steamed in the fridgid air.

A pair of well-worn boots landed in a muddy puddle, their owners cursing everything from the sludge, to the truck, to his boss for sending him on this fool’s errand to the back end of nowhere.

He trudged away from the truck onto the slightly less muddy road he’d been trying to get on, bashing the slop from his boots, despite the fact that the act was a useless gesture; the cold wet mix had already saturated his socks.

His faded green body warmer, fraying at the seams and speckled with paint flecks he didn’t remember getting on it, had always realiably failed to keep his hands warm, so as he shoved his already chilly hands into his inside pocket he winced.

A muttered “sh*t” denoted the lack of reception. No mobile, no internet.

He eyed the truck, loathing the thought of wading back through the muck to get his map. It was a paper map, unlikely to run out of batteries, and would only truly stop working when it became too creased and coffee stained to be legible.

Just when the gloomy thoughts of having to trudge miles to the nearest town or village with sopping wet feet began to set in, he heard an engine.

Hope flickered in his chest as a truck rounded the bend, it died again when he saw the state of the vehicle, rusted, pitted, chugging away as if it were on its last legs.

The vehicle squealed to a halt in front of him.

A toothy old timer stuck his head out of the cab, looking like a toothy old dandelion.

“Need help there lad?”

“Yeah, I need a tow,” he replied trying not to look too doubtfully and the clanking mess in front of him.

“Oh, no worries, I can getcher out, alls we need is a little traction,” s’s whistling merrily.

Despite his doubts, he readily agreed to the old timer’s offer of help. It was better than no offer at all. His doubts flared up twofold as the older man stepped out of his cab, a mouldy old rope in hand. Tall, painfully thin, and slightly stooped he looked more like a dandelion bowing in the wind than ever before.
He dumbly acccepted the end of the mouldering rope and tied it to his truck, whilst the old man did the same to his.

It didn’t take long, and soon he was back in his cab, his sodden feet misting his windscreen up in the slightly warmer atmosphere.

Both engines started up, and slowly, but surely his truck was pulled free. The rickety old cab seemed to be trying to shake itself appart, the rivets desperately trying to hold a cab of rust together.

With a bounce and a lurch his truck was back on firmer ground. He got out to thank the old timer, but the cab was gone.

Puzzled his looked up and down the road, but there was no sight nor sound of the old man in his cab.

He pulled into a pub in the nearest village, which turned out to be ten miles down the road and told his tale to the gleaming eyed bar man, who smiled knowingly to his regulars.

“So you met Tom then,” said the bartender as he polished a glass, “always  said if he came back, it’d be with his truck.”

“Came back?”

“Ar, Tom’s been dead nigh on 50 years now. He looks good on it though.”

 ©J.R.Bee 2018


Image ©J.R.Bee 2018

A short story in which I used a random word generator to pick the topic.

Every time I worry I won’t be able to write anything, and every time I surprise myself. Just goes to show; don’t concentrate on can’t, concentrate on doing.

The word was Burn.

They said it was an accident. Like that made it any better. Surely the loss of all my worldly possessions, a lifetime of memories should be at the result of some great sacrifice, not because of an ‘accident’. The word ‘accident’ seemed to mock the severity of my loss. An accident that my house has become a tomb for memories I had built there, most of which I might now never recall without the aid of the photographs now transfigured into clumps of charcoal. The smiles from friends long ago burned away as if they had never been. As if my mother, young and carefree had never been, as if she had arrived old and wrinkled and careworn, the evidence of her youth burned away.  Those little details are the things that fade from the mind, however much I try. I know them by their absence, they leave a warm scar of nostalgia burned deep into my very being.  They said it was an accident that I now had nowhere to stay, no place to call my own. I gave it another name, I call it careless, I call it unfair. I call it “faulty wiring.” Well, whose fault was it?

No-one died in the fire, no-one was hurt; no-one was even there. That is the blessing that I keep repeating to myself to cover the shock of finding how much I relied upon the things lying in a damp charred pile. It would seem that memories burn easy. All it took was a spark.

 ©J.R.Bee 2018


Image ©J.R.Bee 2018

A short story in which I used a random word generator to pick the topic. Because I haven’t written for so long it has helped loosen up my writing so that I could get back to my main project.

The word was Flutter.

It fluttered briefly and then lay still.
A small boy approached armed with nothing more than curiosity and a stick. He poked the thing gently at first; as if he were asking a question, but he received no answer and so he prodded- the thing remained unmoving.
Slightly more emboldened the boy gave the thing a sharp thwack, it made a wet squelchy noise and started to ooze. The boy was disgusted and delighted in equal measure, he hit the thing again and again, each time the thing oozed more and made a variety of satisfying smacking sounds. But then there came a deep droning hum, the sound of too large wings in flight, mother had arrived and mother wasn’t happy.

©J.R.Bee 2018

I Endorse This Soul

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 I missed last weeks post, but I had wanted to Drabble again because I enjoyed the last one so much. I can see them becoming a regular thing unless I have something specific I wish to say.

I used a random word generator.

The word was Endorse.

I Endorse this soul. Although it may be cracked in places, and a little worn, I can see that it lived its life to the fullest. Every graze a lesson learned, every tear a reminder of where they have been hurt in ways that cannot be mended, and all that’s left over the heart is a tattered mesh that looks for all the world like a semi-worn through sock; which shows that they loved hard.


The Last Biscuit

Sometimes there must be cookies, cookies, stick man, stickman, graphic design, art, need cookies, cooky craving, cartoon,

Prints, totes, shirts and mugs available on Society6 Image ©J.R.Bee

For this weeks post, I decided to try a little drabbling. Just to see what arose from it. I used a random word generator.

The word was Last.

There was one left. It just sat there looking at me. It made no sound but I could hear its siren call. No-one would mind if I ate the last one surely, but it just wasn’t done. The last one was always left to go stale out of sheer politeness.