Barriers


22April

Copyright Madison Woods

Genre: Fiction

Word Count:100

Barriers

‘Dad, there a truck outside full of barbed wire, d’you know anything about it?’

‘It’s for river meadow. I’m sick of that bloody woman’s dogs worrying our sheep, time to get tough.’

‘You don’t know her dogs are to blame, more likely a fox.’

‘It’s her fault!

I don t know why he hated her. Since I bumped into her in the village, we’ve got on really well. She liked the fact our hair is almost the same colour.

My mother left us when I was small; it’s good to have a woman to talk to occasionally.

Dad wouldn’t understand.

 

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Tuneless


Thankfully the rain has ceased, but now the bright, crisp, frosty mornings come as a shock to the system.  Where did I put that de-icer? I know there’s a can here somewhere…

Many thanks to Rochelle  for continuing to inspire us and, this week, thanks to her husband, Jan, for the photo prompt.

22 January

Copyright: Jan Fields

Genre: Memoir

Word Count: 100

Tuneless

‘I want to learn the piano.’

‘You would like to learn the piano.’

‘Sorry. I’d like to learn the piano.  Please?

‘We can only afford one lesson each week and your sister asked first.’

I remember that conversation so well, though it took place a lifetime ago. My sister was my mother’s favourite then, and could do no wrong.

I was a tomboy. I bit my nails, climbed trees, ran wild and played with the boys.  Definitely not mother’s idea of a pianist.

The piano took some punishment for a few months, until my sister discovered the local ballet class.

 

The First Step


My thanks to our leader Rochelle for being here every week, whether the road is rocky or smooth we follow wherever she leads.

Thanks also to Amy Reese for the photo this week.

15 January

Copyright – Amy Reese

Genre: Memoir

Word Count: 100

The First Step

I smile, accepting their mild applause.  I’ve been out of my comfort zone in front of this class of restless fifth form girls, delivering a talk entitled – ‘Succeeding as a Woman in Business.’ Questions follow. Though I am enthusiastic, questioning their reasoning, hoping to provoke engagement, the poverty of aspiration astounds me.

Struggling to understand their attitude, I walk towards my car.  Tamara, the quiet girl who said she wants to be a hairdresser, stops me.

‘My family’s been out of work for years. How can I be any different?’

I tell her she has just taken the first step.

___________________________________________

I attended a local school, at the invitation of the Head of Business Studies, to speak to fifth firm girls about my story, how I got to where I am. The girls’ lack of aspiration that day still concerns me.

Waiting Room


Thanks to Marie Gail Stratford for the unusual photo for the prompt this week and to Rochelle for her unswerving dedication to Friday Fictioneers.

 

Copyright Marie-Gail Stafford

Copyright Marie Gail Stratford

Genre: Fiction

Word Count: 100

Waiting Room

Children play quietly with toys in the corner, they look up as a parent or grandparent walks from a consulting room to the x-ray department. I watch them as I wait for you to come back to me.

Not able to sit still, I join a line of worried relatives at the coffee bar. We buy coffee, tea, cake – anything to fill our minds, to give us a moment free from doubt and fear. No-one mentions the word we all dread, but ‘what if’ is whispered and hands are clasped tight.

Then suddenly, you’re walking towards me.

And you’re smiling.

Making Tracks


I’m late, I’m late… thanks Rochelle for keeping us on the straight and narrow and to Dawn for a lovely photo from her trek to Machu Picchu – it’s on my list…

Copyright Dawn Q.

Copyright Dawn Q. Landau

Genre: Fiction

Word Count: 100

Making Tracks

The juiciest blackberries grew alongside the tracks; with a sick husband and five children to feed, Anna happily accepted nature’s help. Becky snatched the pail from her mother, furious the others were never sent picking.

At lunchtime Anna set off to look for her. Though her eldest child might have womanly curves, she was still a child. Anna found the half-filled pail, but no sign of her daughter.

In a car heading out of town, Becky smoothed her new dress.  She felt the driver’s eyes on her body and smiled.  She could handle him, just like the boys in school.

 

 click Mr Frog to read more great stories

 

Sending warmest congratulations to Rochelle on having her second book accepted and to Claire Fuller whose debut novel ‘Our Endless Numbered Days’ has received some great reviews.  I am full of admiration for them both, it is lovely to share their company and their well deserved success, they have set the bar very high for us lesser mortals…

Setting The Scene


The photo reminds me of a house we once rented in France. We had a very enjoyable holiday but as we left I mentioned to the owner that she should really tell prospective holiday makers that part of the house is overlooked by the neighbours.

With a Gallic shrug she replied ‘but Madame, that means the house stays cool in the summer, why is this a problem?’  Hmm…

Copyright Jan Wayne Fields

Copyright Jan Wayne Fields

Genre: Fiction

Word Count: 100

Setting The Scene

‘Darling, the Meissen table centre.’

Not again

‘We had to sell the Meissen.’

‘Who?’

‘Mother, we had to sell it all.’

‘Sell what?  Oh poor darling, put out the Lalique the one with fairies.’

How many times will we have to do this?

‘That’s gone too. James has been ‘investing’ your money, hardly anything left.’

If I could get my hands on the bastard

She stares at me, narrowing her eyes.

‘My dinner table must look beautiful.’

We wait for imaginary dinner guests. When she sleeps, I put away the remnants of her golden days, praying she will soon forget them.

 

 

  and read more stories, you know you want to…

Thanks to Rochelle for overseeing production and to Jan Wayne Fields for setting the scene. (See what I’ve done there, of course you do)

 

 

Almost A Family


Copyright – Bjorn Rudberg

 

Almost A Family

Genre: Fiction

Word Count: 100

They stood facing each other in the bare, dimly lit room.

‘Do you want this?’

‘Yes, they are my family.’

He tossed the album into the box labelled ‘’Irina”.

“What about this?

He held up a grubby blue teddy bear, waving it menacingly from side to side as he walked towards her.

‘Don’t, please not again.’ The blow knocked her to the floor.

‘I would have had a family too, if you hadn’t lost him. Now you’re trying to leave. You were very careless Irina, what shall I do with you?’

He lunged for her.

And never saw the knife.

 

Read more stories here 

The dark cloud from last week has lifted – yay!  However, the photo from Bjorn reminded me of a story I read in the press a while ago, about a body being discovered in an abandoned, almost derelict house. The authorities had a very tangled web to unravel to discover what happened.  So colour me ‘dark’ again this week.

Thank you to our ever patient Chef de Mission – Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and to all the other Friday Fictioneers who write such brilliant stories each week.

 

Before applying for that job vacancy – Are you sure you are ready for work?


 

JobSeekDuring the past few weeks I have spent a lot of my time interviewing candidates for a vacancy we had in our service department.  When you cut away all the job description jargon, the job is basically one of providing the best in customer service.

The ability to write clearly, spell most common words and know what numbers are, is a distinct advantage in this and I would dare to suggest, in most other jobs.

On-site training is provided, so an ability to understand and assimilate spoken instructions is also essential.

In the past, to save time, we have used recruitment companies to help find us the ‘perfect candidate’. My experience of using this method has left me very cynical.  Despite talks of ‘criteria’ and ‘job positioning,’  I find that inevitably I receive lots of CVs that bear no relation to the original ‘perfect candidate’ we first spoke about.  It seems sometimes that the recruitment company’s idea of finding the right candidate is a bit like testing if spaghetti is cooked, if you throw enough of it at the wall, some is bound to stick!

A recent article in the local paper about the level of unemployment in the 17 – 24 age group  pricked my social conscience and I placed an ad in the local job centre, giving a full description of the job and what was needed for a candidate to be successful. I was heartened and also saddened by the 145 replies I received via email.

I have often been criticised for being ‘too grammatically correct’ when writing an email – I tend to use capitals at the start of a sentence, proper words and spell them correctly and, horror of horrors, I break my message down into paragraphs to make is easier for the recipient to read.

This is an extract of one of the emailed CVs I received:

 I’m writeing about the job you put in the job centre as I think I could do it.  I am working as a carer at present but the moneys not much good and im a bit fed up and could do with a change.the only thing is the advert said I’d have to work some Saturdays and Friday night is mostly when I see my mates down the pub so I couldn’t do many Saturdays I hope that’s ok with you

There were a few that were really good, but too many were like the example above. They had no idea what a prospective employer was looking for. No grasp of how they should present themselves.

I asked about twenty people to attend interviews. Five just didn’t turn up or bother to get in touch; six were already receiving unemployment benefit and had no intention of working for me, just wanted me to sign their sheet to say they had turned up so their payment would continue. Surely this can’t be right?

Of the remaining nine, they all turned up on time and were reasonably well presented. I offered the job to a young man who I thought would work well with our team; he was young and bright and with training I thought he would do well.  I arranged some training days for him and spent some time re-organising the service reception area, setting up another work station in time for his first day. He didn’t turn up for work.  I rang his home to enquire if he was ill and his mother told me he had taken a job at a nearby Call Centre as ‘the money was a lot more than what you offered him.’

All this left me wondering just what happens these days when teenagers are getting ready to leave school. What sort of advice do they receive about the world of work?  Do they really have any idea what will be expected of them?  And, most important of all, do they get any advice or help from their parents and immediate family?

It’s all well and good government telling the private sector to buck up and take on more young people, whilst I fully  expect to offer them training to do the job, I don’t expect to have to give them training in basic courtesy and common sense.

 

 

 

Jake and the Dolphin


Thanks to Rochelle for shepherding the Friday Fictioneers throughout the year.  I have thoroughly enjoyed posting a story almost every week, and thanks to constructive comments from some very talented writers, I feel my writing has improved a great deal. The lovely photo this week is courtesy of Jean Hays – I seem to remember having another of her beautiful stained glass panes as a previous prompt.

 

Not long now until Christmas, only five sleeps as youngest son told me (he is 36).  So, may I take this opportunity, whether you celebrate Christmas or your own particular special celebration, to wish you all peace and happiness and a wonderful holiday with friends and loved ones.

 

Copyright - Jean l Hays

Copyright – Jean lL Hays

 

Genre: Fiction

Word Count: 100

Jake and the Dolphin

 

Every year Jake’s parents took him to Florida for Christmas, hoping the holiday sunshine would help him.

‘We’re going to swim with dolphins this trip.’

Jake didn’t react; that wasn’t unusual.

Late in the afternoon on Christmas Eve, as they splashed about, a dolphin appeared alongside. Gently nudging Jake, it guided him through the water. Jake held him tightly. People stopped to watch the boy with the dolphin, seemingly playing together.

When he was put to bed, Jake turned to his mother and whispered ‘Love you’

She stared momentarily, not believing her ears, then hugged him.

‘Jake, you can talk.’

 

This is based on something that happened to a friend’s son. He was diagnosed with autism, a most cruel affliction, when he was two years old. He had no speech at all and although seemingly happy in all other ways, his frustration at not being able to make himself understood, gave rise to terrible temper tantrums that affected all the family. It got so bad that at times they just couldn’t take him anywhere.

When he was nine, he went swimming with dolphins and a short time afterwards, he was able to speak.  Not fluently, but enough to make himself understood.  The medical team was very doubtful that the dolphin had anything to do with it.  His mother believed that the dolphin had helped her son and I like to think so too.
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