One More Day

Light contrast on wall

‘Look at that light. So pretty.’

‘Yes.’ Linda paused. ‘I understand, Mum. It’s your choice.’

Nothing more to be said. The silence and the light came together, ingredients of a brief, inconspicuous perfection. Then it passed, and dusk drew in, and the night would be long and difficult.

The form of consent was signed, everything sorted. Only a matter of time, and her mother’s decision.

Winter was coming. Soon the sun would be too low, the light no more on the wall. Through all her pain, would she find something else to be pretty? One more day…


In response to Matt’s Flash Fiction Foray, which had the song One More Day as a prompt.

Thursday Interview: Carol Calorie

Hi, Carol. Just to clear up something straightaway, when I asked your agent for a picture of you, she said she didn’t have any. Why’s that? Are you shy? Don’t like the way you look? Or you just want to cultivate the mystery?

None of those. I’m an abstract entity, that’s why. I’m just an amount of energy. Specifically the amount it takes to raise the temperature of a gram of water by one degree Celsius.

Oh. So you don’t actually look like this?  carol

Not at all. That’s just how you imagine me because you think I’m responsible for making you fat.

Well, you are, aren’t you? If I didn’t have so many of you, my abs would be more like abs.

So it’s my fault if they aren’t? Don’t forget I’m also responsible for keeping you alive. You can’t manage without me, you know. Just not quite so many of me, I’d say. Especially if all you do is sit in front of a computer. But whether you go for a chocolate diet or an apple is entirely up to you. I’m neutral in all this. I’m not even restricted to food – I’m everywhere. There are 7,004,684,512 of me in a ton of coal.

Wow! Explains why I felt so bloated after eating that sack of anthracite.

Ha, ha! The good news is that even a sedentary writer gets rid of about 70% of me just by breathing and thinking. Assuming you do think, that is.

Oh, yes, never stop. That’s cool. But what do I do about the other 30%?

Exercise. A lot of it. Eat a banana  and you’ll need to walk a mile. As for a big mac, I suggest you start training for the triathlon.

Mmm, think I’d rather forego the burger, thank you. Or maybe go on a diet?

Waste of time. Just eat a bit less and move a bit more. 90% of people who go on a diet put their weight back on within three months. Plus some, in fact, so it’s fair to say a diet makes you fatter. Still, that doesn’t stop people in the UK spending £2 billion a year on diet books, pills and magazines.

We’re not all equal, though – it’s easier for some than for others. Hardly very fair, is it?

Life’s not fair, I’m afraid. But whining burns up even less calories than writing.

Very true. I’d better get back to my novel. Thanks for sharing!

Thursday Interview: Dead Rat

– Now, you’re far from your average dead rat which not a lot happens to apart from getting eaten by crows. You were selected to get sent through the post. What was it all about?

– Well, you’d have to ask the person who sent me to get the whole story. All I know is I hadn’t been dead for long, I was still in reasonably good nick, minding my own business as it were, when he scoops me up and –

– So it was a man?

– I’m assuming. I didn’t get a good look. I dare say a woman could do it but it seems like a man’s thing to me. Anyway, he puts me in a box, pretty wrapping paper and all, and next thing I know I’m in the Post Office sorting room. Not a clue where I’m bound nor why. A present for someone? Well, even I would admit there are pleasanter things to receive. Turns out I’m destined for this literary agent, Vivienne Schuster, not a gift at all, but an act of vengeance from a writer she rejected.

– Wow! What was her reaction?

– Well, you can imagine. Shrieks of horror, gasps of amazement that anyone could do such a thing. Eventually everyone laughed and the story became part of literary agency lore.

– And how did you feel about it all?

– It made a change from the usual, I must say. Normally we’re just left to become food for maggots. Even if I did get tossed into a dustbin straight after, at least I got my fifteen minutes of fame. My fellow dead rats were quite envious. And then a few of us got together and set up our own agency, Rent-a-Rat, with the slogan, Bearing a grudge? Give us a nudge! Unfortunately it didn’t catch on.

– No, I don’t suppose many people would actually go through with it, however angry they felt.

– Yes, that’s what our marketing consultant concluded. It’s a shame. It would have been a great way to raise our profile. We suffer from a very poor image. I know a dead anything has a bit of an image problem, but we have a far harder time of it than a budgerigar, say.

– Well, given where you hang out when you’re alive, it’s not all that surprising, is it?

– Personally, I was a field rat. Healthy outdoor life, feeding mostly on grain. Only went inside this house to get warm and then I got poisoned. It’s the ones that live in the sewers that give us all a bad name. I’m not blaming them, mind – we don’t all get our choice of habitat. I’ve heard that some of you lot live off rubbish tips, just like us. But sewers, yeah, it’s a huge handicap to overcome when you’re trying to establish a brand.

– And let’s not forget the plague. That didn’t help your reputation either. I mean the Black Death wiped out a third of the population of Europe!

– And it was started when Mongol forces catapulted a load of dead bodies into the port of Caffi. One of the first recorded instances of biological warfare. So if you want to blame someone, blame the Mongols, not us. Besides, I’d like to point out that we don’t transmit bubonic plague. It comes from the fleas we carry. But being more visible than them, we became convenient scapegoats. We sued for defamation afterwards, but nothing came of it of course.

– Well, it seems you’ve always been singled out for anything ignoble or revolting. And it’s still going on today, if that writer’s anything to go by. Would you agree, though, that if one’s looking for a literary agent, it’s a very bad idea to send them a dead rat?

– I don’t suppose they’d fare any better with a dead budgerigar, frankly. But we’re perfectly lucid, you know, we don’t expect cremation or prayers or what have you. I mean, personally I’m an atheist, so what the hell? But a little respect, I think that’s only reasonable, don’t you?

– Indeed. Thank you, Dead Rat, for your insights.

– My pleasure. Most dead rats aren’t very talkative, you know, so it’s nice to get the opportunity.

The BTTS Committee

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– OK, you guys have designed a fruit, have you? Let’s hear your pitch.

– It’s a jackfruit. Scrumptious and wholesome and –

– Hold it! Save that for the Yummy Yummy Committee. We’re BTTS.

– Sorry?

– Blood, toil, tears and sweat, as someone will say one day. Because paradise is over. Finito. You know, that whole no-need-to-work-there’s-food-in-abundance thing. They screwed up. Boss is angry. Really angry. I didn’t get the details – something about a snake and an apple – but the upshot is, He’s throwing them out.

– But how will they fend for themselves? They’ll die!

– No, no, He won’t allow that. He created them in His image, after all. Maybe He’ll send the occasional disaster – Fire and Brimstone Committee’s working on that – but they’ll survive. It’s just from now on, it’s a struggle. Nothing without a cost, you know? So that’s what we’re checking on, the BTTS level. Right, let’s have a look. Wow! That’s a whopper!

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– Yeah, we decided to go for size. They can reach 80 pounds.

– Hang on – they grow on the trunk like that? All they’ll need do is reach out and grab it? No, that’s no use. Where’s the toil? The blood? Add a few thorns and we’ll consider it. You know, like blackberries – great concept there! Scratched all over for a handful of berries – brilliant! We even accepted cherries the other day, after a big debate, mind. Far too easy. It’s just like… well, picking cherries from a tree. Designers said the branches weren’t strong and they’d fall out of the tree. But hey, these guys are sapiens, you know, one of these days they’re gonna invent the ladder. Anyway, the cherry’s the lowest BTTS we could go. This jackfruit thing, no chance.

– Wait a minute, hear us out. It’s not the picking, it’s the preparation. Because once you cut it open, it’s full of this really sticky gluey stuff. And you have to get each bit of fruit out individually and you end up with this incredibly gooey mess. And inside each fruit is a seed, which is edible too, but it’s got this husk which you have to peel off and it’s a nightmare! You know when the eggshell doesn’t come away in one piece and you spend ages picking at little bits? Like that, only worse. And the seeds – get this – are OK when they’re cooked, but if they’re undercooked, they’re toxic. Ho! Ho! By the time they figure that one out…

– I like it! I like it! OK, you’re in. Very original design. Now let’s see, what’s up next? A coconut? Looks pretty easy – where’s the catch?

Another helping of sirloin?

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So Christmas is finally over. I don’t mean the cards and twinkling lights and presents beneath the tree, all of which were kept to reasonable proportions. I mean the meal. There was only one, really. It lasted a month.

The main course was meat. In fact it was meat the whole time, pretty much. Pheasant, beef, duck, lamb, pork. And haggis for good measure. And then some more pheasant. Followed by Chistmas cake in case we were still hungry. Which we weren’t, of course, but we ate it anyway, as it made a break from the meat.

Why such gorging, you ask? Well, once upon a time there were three sisters, who came from the most carniverous family in the most carniverous region of France. And I married one of them.

When they get together, the kitchen becomes a slaughterhouse outlet, strewn with bones and slabs of flesh and goose fat and carcasses, while they discuss the merits of roasting versus grilling, or saignant versus à point. Don’t worry, it’s just how they bond. They’re rediscovering the wonders of their childhood.

Which is all very well, and mighty tasty too, but after a while my system screams for a halt. Mercy! No more! And I understand the appeal of becoming a veggie. And of course, it’s not just to unclog the fat from my body, but to save the world.

Will I ever convince the sisters? No. But when it’s just the two of us, Madeleine is at least amenable to the idea. Occasionally, if my veggie dishes are succulent, original and subtle, she’ll go for a whole two days without so much as a quail. But then, just as I’m rustling up a quinoa stir-fry with kale chilli and nuts, she’ll open the fridge door and say, ‘You know, I fancy a nice entrecôte.’ Saignant, of course.