The letter lay where she had left it on the table, address side down, yawning like a bored professor during a student presentation.
“You opened it,” said her husband, hands folded neatly on the table in front of him.
Leant against the sink she studied him. Her mother had warned her things might end badly, that at some point there might be another woman, or drink or gambling, nothing like this though.
“How long?” she whispered as he picked up the envelope and pulled out the slip of paper within.
“Three months,” he said, re folding the page despite its already crisp lines, “four, the doctor said, if I’m optimistic.”
“You’re a villain Danny, plain and simple.”
Danny’s grin spread as he watched Stephanie nod in agreement to her own words and pluck an apple from the open crate next to her on the dock, juice spitting from the skin as her teeth crunched in.
“You wouldn’t have called me that three years ago,” he said, his mind wandering back to the image of her sprawled across his cabin desk, her scars and marking open to him, her cheeks flushed by the kisses he pressed into her curves.
Stephanie examined what was left of her apple, scowled, and chucked it into one of the empty slips.
“Three years ago we were on the same side,” she said, “but you changed that Danny, not me.”
It’s been ages since I’ve written anything for Five Sentence Fiction, but I felt in the mood for it today. Probably because I should be doing other things, and partly because I’m trying to make sure I write at least a small paragraph for Darkened Daughter every day at the moment. With my dissertation and research projects looming, uni work has got to be my focus right now, but everyone needs a break from time to time and writing is my was to relax. So why not try and get some jump off points set up to work from for when I have more time to look at Darkened Daughter.
Some of you who may have seen older pieces for the novel will know that Stephanie and Danny are old characters, and I was debating cutting at Stephanie altogether. However, I’m going to see how she plays out and decide her fate once she’s done a few chapters and run an errand or two for my darling pub owner Molly. She won’t have the primary role she had in the first few attempts at a complete draft, but she and Danny will still have their wonderful, slightly insane relationship at least.
“It’s hardly a simple decision,” she tells me, hairbrush in hand as she stiletto struts across the room towards my chair, legs lengthening and waist thinning as she speaks.
“You’ve got to choose the right look when morphing, see now, this one…” her eyes shimmer briefly as grey melts into green and her nose thins and shortens, “this body just screams sex, sex, sex, it’s good for nothing else really and when you wear it you have to own it. You don’t wear a body like this to the library!”
I nod my head and pretend to listen, watching as my mother’s face shifts again and another woman picks up her sentences right where the old lips left off. You would think that someone who could take the appearance of anyone would never worry about how they look, wouldn’t fiddle nervously with stray hairs before panic forces them to shake out a whole new haircut only to change it again a moment later, jealous of all those wearing it better.
Roach had never given up on praying, even in the trenches he’d managed to find some hope in reciting the Lord’s Prayer whenever the whistle blew out somewhere along the line even if it wasn’t his turn to go over the top.
Back at home things were different.
He watched the vicar mouth silent words, the sound slipping past as if he was watching the service through a thick sheet of glass and when the congregation knelt his knees seized, leaving him hunched over the pew in front his hands clawed around the carved wood. His wife wrapped her hand around his wrist to pull him down, her voice hissing in his ear that there were people looking, watching, what did he think he was doing?
He didn’t tell her that here in the church their words were mute and wrong, that they did not lend him strength or courage, what would have been the point in telling her any of that when this was all she’d ever known…
I’m going to point out that I myself have a weird relationship with religion. I find it fascinating but abstract which means that I tend to stick with calling myself Agnostic since that is probably the closest I’m going to get to a definition of what I am. However, I am aware of how profound faith can be to some people, and how much of an impact it can have on their lives. My one Grandmother has found Christianity and God to be hugely supportive in some of the most trying times of her life and I know others feel very similarly. We all need a belief to fall back on, what that belief is though is as individual as the person who holds it.
At ninety-five, Margery Yolk was pretty sure that she had made every wish that could be required in life.
She let someone else see to the door, the steady stream of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren parading into her little bungalow in Ipswich, hugs and good wishes in hand. She kept to her armchair and wondered if perhaps she should have at least attempted to find her false teeth for this occasion…
When the cake came she smiled, beckoning the youngest in close to blow out the candles for her.
“You can have my wish,” she whispered.