Tag Archives: fiction

Magda’s Luck – Short Story


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Picture by Barbara W. Beacham

Mondays Finish the Story is a unique flash fiction challenge where Barbara Beacham provides a new photo and the first sentence of a story each week. The challenge is to finish the story using 100-150 words, not including the sentence provided. This challenge runs from Monday to Sunday.

Magda’s Luck – Short Story © JKLeahy

At first, it looked like an ordinary marble, but it was far from it. Magda got to it, reached down awkwardly and picked it up. It was big and heavy.

Years of factory work damaged her back. Magda longed for an easy way to survive. The ball was larger than a cricket ball yet smaller than a soccer ball.

“Perrr-fect!” she smiled to herself and wiped off the red dirt.

This was a sign. She closed her eyes in prayer. She has seen it done in the markets with no truth in it and told Chek. Besides, who would know? Her husband Chek died last year.

With her gypsy olive skin, a pair of wild gooseberry eyes set against her greyish black hair, Magda was ready.

She pushed her Coles trolley to Brisbane’s West End markets. Already she could predict her own future. Her years of struggle are about to end in a few hours when she starts her new career  – predicting people’s futures.

The Eye of the Storm – Short Story


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Picture by Barbara W. Beacham

Mondays Finish the Story is a flash fiction challenge by Barbara W. Beacham. Here is my story for this week’s prompt in the first sentence below and in reference to the above picture. 

The Eye of the Storm ©JK Leahy short stories

Zeus was not having a good day and he made sure everyone knew it. Mack was a mess as soon as Zeus got going.

“Get me a cleaver…”

“Nooooo! Pleease! Oh god – I’m sorry!” Mack sobbed and gurgled as I ran to boss’s collection for a blade. I almost dropped it; my legs could barely keep up.

As Zeus’ knuckles tightened to white around the knife handle, I desperately avoided his predatory gaze, leering at me through the lightning bolt tattoo across his right eye.

“Now, get out” he growled. I didn’t linger.

Mack had hidden Zeus’s package as well as the money. He lied. I warned him that Zeus would not buy it. The kid messed up.

I wondered why you’d risk losing some fingers for a few bucks, and then I heard a chop. Mack’s screams battered the walls of the warehouse, and the echoes shook my bones. I guess you never quite get used to working for a psychopath.

(149 words)

A Twill Weave – Short Story


A Twill Weave – Short Story by JLeahy ©

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Picture by Barbara W. Beacham

Mondays Finish the Story is a weekly flash fiction by Barbara W. Beacham which runs from Monday to Sunday. This week’s prompt starts with the quote in the story below and the above picture. I hope you enjoy my take on this one. The stories have to be 100-150 words.

A Twill Weave

“What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”, someone had scrawled in bad handwriting. Humidity and stench made the cell unbearable but I wondered who the writer was. Had a moment of epiphany or remorse released those words?

Months have flown by, but I knew after the bundle was found on me, my five years of trafficking ended. The door turned.

“Mr Chris Dam –ass?” he pronounced Dameche.

“Yes”, I said relieved to get interaction after 24 long hours in the transit cell.

“Follow me,” he said with no emotion.

We walked down the hallway, opposite to where I was first led in. My heart sank.

“Where are you taking me?”

“To another cell, we have someone coming in…to use that one” he said.

At the hallway end, he unlocked a cell.

It was smaller. I looked out and through a tiny grilled window. A huntsman is putting the finishing touches on an elaborated web.

The Carménère Moment – Short Story


The Carménère Moment©JLeahy Short Story 

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Picture by Barbara W, Beacham

Mondays Finish the Story with Barbara W.Beacham

“The only residents remaining in the small town of Miners Hill are spirits.” Uncle Joseph said.

A tear rolled down his wrinkled tired face. The Eastern Belt explosion left several hundred dead last week. The town was evacuated. I watched another tear form and my eyes salted.

“My first thoughts were Josepha, Maria, and Antonia”.

“Where were you?”

“We sat for dinner. I went down to get a bottle of wine from the cellar – only minutes away”, he covered his face with bloody bandaged hands and wept.

My 50-year-old uncle cried as I rubbed his shoulders.

“I…I heard a single explosion, it sounded so far away. I thought it was the daily blasting at mine site. I should have come up. Antonio wanted a Carménère to celebrate Maria’s first communion. I couldn’t read the labels…suddenly I heard the crumbling, screams upstairs and everything went black”.

“Don’t cry, please uncle. They are with God now”, I whispered, as I cried with him.

(150 words)

 

Brooding Storm – Short Story


Mondays Finish the Story by Barbara Beacham

This is a flash fiction challenge where Barbara W. Beacham offers a picture and the first sentence of the story. Based on the photograph and the first sentence, one must come up with a 100-150 word short story.

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Picture by Barbara W. Beacham

BROODING STORM © JK. Leahy

The crew of the Angel Flame received orders to head out. When Yakov and Marishka reach the secluded Russian base, most men had already boarded.

Marishka wiped her tired eyes as her husband walked to the submarine, leaving her, their newborn Polinka and their sick two-year-old, Boris. It was a dreary Friday at 5am; three lost seagulls skirted past Yakov, fleeing the brooding storm.

After Yakov’s head vanished into the submarine, Marishka left – four hours later the snowstorm hit. The radio announced that nobody was hurt. Marishka medicated and monitored Boris’s temperature.

The next day at 7am she heard a knock. It was persistent. Unwrapping herself from Polinka, she reached for her gown.

Marishka caught a glimpse of a man in uniform through the winter-frosted glass and threw open the door with a grin. Expecting to fall into Yakov’s arms, her stomach sank when instead she met the gaze of a stone-faced man carrying Yakov’s personal effects.

“Mrs Vladimir?”

“…Yes?”

 

 

The FourJs – Short Story


Musicians

Mondays Finish The Story

Little did they know when the photographer took their picture that they would find themselves trapped in a painting.

“Smile please” the photographer ordered with a devilish grin.

The FourJs, brothers Jim, John, Jack and Jonathan brushed themselves and stood proud. The camera flashed, before it went pitch black. For half hour, Jonathan, 17, the youngest of the FourJs Band, tried to move, shout and even blow his trumpet. Nothing came out. He reached for his oldest brother John, 25. John’s arm felt cold. Jim and Jack were frozen too. People passed them in the street, throwing coins into the tuba case. Traffic hummed. The woman with the funny smell passed quickly, her high heels clicking sharply on the footpath.

“Jonathan! Jonathan! Jo-na-than!”

“Yes!” Jonathan murmured and looked into John’s face.

He had one of those attacks again.

“You, to the doctor” John said, relieved his little brother was ok.

 

Pushing Up Daisies


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Chapter One: Casting Shadows continued

Viola flung the rest of her stale drink into the garden and carelessly dropped her glass on the day table. She turned and watched the remaining yoke of the sun slide away and as quickly, the darkness enveloped her. The evening breeze caressed her, nudging her silk cream blouse under her full breasts. Her navy linen pants hung loosely about her short fat legs. It felt weird but nice. No-one has touched her for so long. She made no attempt to rejoin her guests inside. The time had crawled to 6:30pm, when the automated sprinklers were due to start spitting. She paced the verandah to check if the entire irrigation system had come on to water her beloved garden. Her mind went back to events earlier.

Nora had asked her if she was all right – the stupid girl. Viola felt anger rising in her like bile, but swallowed it, only responding with “good”. For years, she had been telling her friend about how ‘he’ had treated her. Nora knew. Just like she had, Viola gritted her teeth and told Nora everything was good.

To Viola, “good” was a great word. When people ask how she was, she would reply on a reflex, “good”. According to Viola, the word good was so vague and final that anyone who asked could not ask any other questions. They left her alone. The word ‘good’, Viola thought, had protected her all these years. Kept her safe from the pity and concern that exhausted her so. Viola hesitated, as she paused and put the lights back on. They instantly flooded the lush bushes enclosing two carports and her guests’ extra two cars parked next to her black BMW and his silver Nissan 280Z. He would catch the $150 cab ride home tonight. She felt glad, she was not picking him up from Brisbane airport.

Over the years, she had kept all her feelings deep inside her, in the smallest pocket of her heart, layered with obligations and responsibilities as the daughter, mother and wife. But tonight, she was going to tell him everything when he came home. She would tell him she has had enough. She began thinking of her plan. Letting the scenario play out, she strolled back to the front of the house. Viola noticed at the end of the verandah that the sprinkler at her rose garden, nearest to her neighbours was off. Without thinking, she stepped bare feet onto the dying lawn and walked straight across towards the dark shadows to turn the sprinkler on. The light switch was near the tennis courts.

To read part one, see my earlier post and for more – visit my Wattpad:

http://www.wattpad.com/myworks/27925992-pushing-up-daisies

 

Pushing Up Daisies


Friends in creative writing group and I have decided to do a writing challenge within the Wattpad Challenge. The Wattpad challenge requires 2000 words per day to reach 50,000 words. We are writing 200-500 words per day. I hope to post as much as I write so I may miss some days, and post more words other days. This challenge would keep the creative juices flowing and keep us in practice until we resume our workshop next year. It is all in good fun and who knows, a good story or two may come out of it. I have decided to write fiction. I plucked my protagonist, Viola Gregg from one of my old stories and gave her a new life. Let’s see how she survives. I am making her story up as I go, so this story is completely unplanned. You can visit Wattpad for the rest of the story, as I write it. Here, I share with you, part of the opening chapter I posted a few days ago. Please feel free to comment here or on Wattpad and remember, these are drafts.

Pushing Up Daisies

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Chapter 1 Casting Shadows

Fiction JKLeahy

Viola rested her gin and tonic on the long wooden ledge. The 90z thick rock glass was placed exactly where the blue paint had stripped off, leaving a naked, grainy, and dull patterning. She noticed, dusk had dawned on her. The ice cubes clinked the glass before the clear liquor and ice stilled. The slice of lemon looked tired and hunched over the ice-cubes. Viola had had enough. The scent of cut lime hovered between the mess behind her and her glass. As she withdrew her cold and wet right hand from the drink, and placed it against herself, warming it in her other hand, she caught a moving blurred white car. The car was driving away from her street towards Moggill Rd. Viola did not know where the car came from. She did not hear it. Her eyes fleeted across the acreage properties and returned to the mess on the glass table near her, on her verandah. There were empty chips, nuts and cheese packets with some half eaten dips. Empty bottles and wine glasses stood discarded. Ants had gathered. Soon, the possums would appear boisterously to help themselves at her Mount Crosby home.

The drinks had started out here, on the verandah at midday today and had stretched the hours, her guests’ behaviors’ and her patience. She was ready for her guests to leave two hours ago. Too drunk and too stupid to notice, her friend Nora Gritty did not pick up Viola’s hints that the party was over. Nora loved parties. To think Nora had the nerve to invite herself and her friends, then not bother to leave after drinking all the alcohol but now Nora is talking about stripping and jumping into the pool. Viola had excused herself, and left the room.

“Where are you going?” Nora noticed her walk outside.

“I need some air”, that was all Viola said.

Viola did not care about the alcohol. She wanted time. Time to herself, and time to think before he got here. Today was the day. Everything had been set. She watched the sweat run off her glass and instantly stained the old timber. Most of the chilled run-off soaked into the timber grains. Her own sweat made her feel clammy.

“What’s happened with your make-up?” Nora had asked her earlier.

“I am not wearing any”.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing, I’m good”, Viola lied.

On the verandah, a feeling of despair came over her as darkness loomed and shadows peaked. She wanted to ask the guests to leave but she could not. Nora told Viola, she had kept to herself for too long. Viola felt trapped. She leaned into the ledge and looked over the lawn to the neighbours. In the background, her guests giggled and laughed; she could hear someone switching the lights on, throwing her own shadow forward to join the tall dark house on the lawn. Viola looked at the deserted road, knowing she could not turn back. The giggles and laughter became louder and Viola knew these were performances, fickle and simulated to get her attention, and this angered her. Her thoughts went to what she had planned for her husband and a slight chill ran through her. Viola wished she could dissolve into the grains of the old timber ledge and disappear with the water.

Over the verandah, her eyes, matching the brownie-green of the dying manicured lawn followed the edging of the garden to the leafy bottle tree. By now, the last week of Autumn, the tree should be flowering. It had been three years since she planted the semi-grown tree in 2011, just before the Queensland floods. Now, instead of being completely covered with its fiery, gorgeous red grandeur of flowering, like everything else, the bottle tree did not flower, but kept its deep dark green leaves. The sinking orange sun dusted the dark green leaves. As a slight breeze brushed the day away, the tinged leaves rustled into a dance drawing Viola’s eyes further to her extended creation, a garden bed of crusted rusty bark. Inlaid into this crusted bed neatly, and now flowering, were her pretty large white roses. These light delicate blossoms were blackened by the harsh, dense, lurking shadow. From the rose bed, Viola peeled her eyes away and looked up. She felt cold and she shivered as she gazed into the looming house that casted this thick dark shadow to her. The house was at least 50 metres away, but the shadow of the tall house bounced over the flat brownie-green lawn, visually, and almost touching her own shadow, linking her to her mysterious neighbours. She has not seen a single soul emerge from that house since the neighbours moved in six months ago.

Check here for JKLeahy Pushing Up Daisies updates:

http://www.wattpad.com/86132034-pushing-up-daisies-casting-shadows?utm_source=email-uploaded_story&ref_id=41515979

Unwanted Fall


Short story, JLeahy, Tribalmysicstories

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Thirteenth floor. Picture courtesy Ash Fouwad

I stepped outside the doctor’s room into the surgery. The air felt warm even though the air-condition was on. It smelt clinical and I felt nausea. My mouth dried and suddenly, I felt I needed to drink a whole tank of water. From the red seats, amongst the other sick patients, and their loved ones, Bill dutifully stood up. He walked to me. I saw the water cooler near the receptionist but resisted the urge to stop and drink. A toddler, covered in bandages was crying in pain. I needed to get out.

Bill wore a black T-shirt and a pair of old Levis. His hair was messy.
“Yes?”, he asked when his eyes met mine.
I didn’t reply. I walked past his glaring eyes to the lift. I felt his previous night’s anger slicing through my back as I stopped in front of the lift.  The lift arrived on the 13th floor, and I stepped in. I pressed the green “G” button set on the silver squares inside the lift door. I tried to get a space as far from Bill as possible. It was close to midday and already the lift was full of office workers and sick people.

“What did the doctor say?” Bill asked as he squeezed next to me. He reeked of Old Spice and alcohol. I turned away.

“I’ll tell you at home”, I mumbled as I looked at the people in the lift.

A beautiful 5’ foot 7” blonde with popped China Red lipstick gave me a weak sympathetic smile. Her make-up was flawless. She had my height, but her red high heels put her at least two inches taller. An old Muslim lady, head covered in pink cotton stood next to the blonde. The old lady only reached three-quarters of the blonde’s height. In contrast to the blonde’s green slimline dress, the old lady wore a brilliant blue Mama-dress, and a pair of flat, soft, black shoes. The old lady was holding onto two girls, about three, and five years old. The three had beautiful olive skin and deep-set eyes. The girls were looking at the blonde. The old lady looked at me with no expression.

“Why don’t you tell me now?”, Bill broke my thoughts.

“I don’t want to”, I said.

The middle-aged man, Indian, dressed in a fine, light grey Cashmere suit stared at me. He was on the other side of the blonde, and directly opposite. I looked down. The Indian man’s right hand-held
a briefcase by his sleek pants. He should look at the blonde, not me, I thought. On the floor, next to the Indian man’s black Italian leather shoes, my eyes caught a pair of white crocodile-skinned shoes. It had a pointy tip, just like a real crocodile’s mouth. Who wears crocodile skin shoes?, I wondered. My eyes travelled back up his green tight vinyl pants into the eyes of some 17-year-old wacko with pink shirt. He had stood his pale two-inch blonde hair up in an attention with strong gel. He slipped me a fake smile when I caught him starring. Croc-shoe boy wore a small gold earring on one ear, and a diamond stud plunged into his narrow flat nostril. He exaggerated his eye lines with some make-up. The croc-shoe boy’s friend was twice his size. He seemed to be the same age but looked unhealthy. He was pimply, scruffy and dirty; a complete opposite to the croc-shoe boy. They were saying something and giggling. They both looked at me, mocking. Why is everyone looking at me?, I wondered and kept my eyes down.
“Is everything alright?” Bill asked me again, and the lift jerked off and glided down towards the front of Wickham Terrace, Brisbane.
I ignored Bill. I felt the lift stopped. A tall young man stepped in, and greeted the blonde awkwardly.
“Lunch?” he asked smiling. She blushed.
The lift took off and did not stop on the next level, nor the next. The Indian man in Cashmere tried to press the buttons. The lift kept going, and accelerated.
“It is not stopping!” he yelled.
It felt like the lift was falling into empty space and my gut was going in the opposite direction. I heard screams. My mind went into slow motion.
BANG! The lift crashed into something hard and stopped. We must have hit “G” Level. Everybody kept screaming. The lights went off and came back on. Some people fell on the floor. Bodies crashed onto me. The two girls screamed for their mother. They grabbed the old lady. The alarm went. I felt sick. I turned into the cold silver wall and let myself slide onto the floor. The last thing I saw were the white crocodile shoes.

“Jess! Jess!” I heard Bill calling.
“Jessica! Wake Up!”
I came to. It was very hot; I was drenched in sweat. It smelt. Different smells of people smell, both good and bad. I must have passed out. I could vaguely see the others in the room but they felt close. They were in various moving shapes. I didn’t know what had happened.
I felt like throwing up again and tried to focus. Slowly, everyone came back into form. I could hear the two little girls crying softly into the old woman’s dress. She was speaking very gently to the girls in a foreign language. The awkward young man, looking concerned, had his arms around the beautiful blonde. The blonde was pale. Her lipstick smeared. The Indian man had taken his jacket off, revealing a sky-blue cotton shirt teamed with a pin-stripe tie. In a large “V” shape, sweat soaked and darkened all his front chest. He looked crumpled on the floor with his briefcase in his lap and jacket rolled in a ball.
“Jess!”
My eyes turned to Bill’s face hanging over me and I looked away. I had leaned into the lift wall with my head resting on the croc-shoe boy’s shoulder. The croc-shoe boy and his friend were cursing nervously. I felt awkward. I could not move myself so I turned and looked at Bill. In place of his 40 years of age, I saw a sweaty 55-year-old wrinkled man. His unshaven face matched his salt and pepper hair. His eyes were bloodshot and his jaw line was tight. Now the Bourbon was obvious on his breath. His eyes continued to hold the question as he spoke.
“The lift is stuck. There is someone coming.”
There was no emotion in his recount.
“You have to stay awake,” he changed his tone.
What is wrong with you?”
I had no more strength to hold it back.
“I am pregnant!” I said aloud.
Bill’s jaw dropped. He stared at me in disgust, speechless. Everyone in the lift looked at me as if I had announced I had smallpox. I had kept this for three months. Bill and I have not had sex for at least three years.

Where My Eyes Are From


Where My Eyes Are From

 

I turned to face the door and sat down in the centre edge. It was the softest part of mama’s large queen-size bed. I ran my large grey eyes over the bed. Papa had built this bed. The bed was rustic but sturdy. Because of the many years in the timbers, the bed talks like an old man when you are on it. Right now, the bed is not talking because I am not moving. The white cotton sheets were crumply and warm. I wanted to climb into the sheets but I could not.

We had buried mama at 3pm. The day had been long and tiring.

The few friends and family returned to our small two bedroom cottage on the edge of town in the hills of Mt Crosby. The offering of sweet tea and cake to the mourners wrapped the day. However, the sweet tea did not change the taste in my mouth. Soon, they left papa and me. We sat together on the small veranda and did not speak. At 15, I knew half of papa was buried with mama this afternoon.

The day hurried passed. Soon, it burnt orangey into dusk. The ambers from the remains of the daylight pierced through the small cottage.

“You can go to her room” Papa had said close to 5pm.

I saw the small clock on mama’s bedside as I sat down. Mama’s room smelt like Vanilla with faint coffee. I had tried to shut out the noises with the door, but I could hear the puppies. All five of them ready for their milk. They needed their mother. A sharp pain went through me.

My hand felt under the pillow slip and I found it. The small white envelope mama promised before she took her last breath. I gazed back at the door. I waited. My heart started to race.

Through the gaps in the window I caught the late breeze approaching carrying bush smells of Gum and Acacia. I could hear my father humming “Gershwin’s Summer Time” and rocking in the old chair. The chair squeak was rhythmic and soothing. It re-assured me of his location. I did not want him to come in.

The house seemed to mimic Papa’s humming and suddenly I felt the sadness heavy in my chest. Papa was a real sweet man. Not only did he lose his woman, but his best friend.

I sat still and held mama’s envelop; firmed by the content of its small card. In this envelope was something mama wanted only me to know. My stomach did not feel right and I knew it was something I do not wish to know.

The room held on to the last of day light. In this dim light I read my name written neatly across with dainty curls. Mama always made a point of making big long tails in letters ‘y’ and “g”.  My name was Margaret Meadows. Mama shortened it to “Maggy” with a “y” instead of an “ie” like in other Margies which was short for Margaret.

I brought the card closer to my nose. It smelt of Vanilla too. This made me smile and my eyes salted. I felt that weight in my chest move up to choke me. I looked at mama’s photo of us in a white frame by the bed. Tears rolled down my eyes. Slowly, I pinched the corner of the white envelop and slit the end through with my index finger. This forced the white envelope open to reveal a small red card.

I eased back on the bed. I felt I needed some support and security before I opened the red card. I let my shoes drop on the wooden floor. I starred at the door; hoping papa would not come in. I need to be alone when I read this. That was what mama wanted.

“My Love Maggy,

You were born a beautiful baby of glorious soft honey skin, pink lips, fair hair and long legs and arms. You were a fairy with piercing eyes. I swear if you had had wings, you would have flown away. Your eyes were a mysterious twinkle to your father and me. When you were little I had wondered if you were worried or just curious about your eyes because you asked me many times why your eyes were different from your father’s and mine. As you know, we both have brown eyes.

I need you to understand that Paul Meadows loves you like his own daughter. There is not a single person that loves you more and not a single reason to be ashamed of who you are.

Your grey eyes came from a man named Peter Sullivan who was once your father Paul’s best friend. Last year, I found out that he died in a car accident while driving back to Brisbane.”