The Photograph – Flash Fiction

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The Photograph

Dearest Papa,

I hope this letter finds you well and you continue to enjoy teaching the piano to your eager pupils. Yes, praise for your skills and patience in this pursuit has spread far beyond Mayfield.

As you see, I have sent you a photograph, which I found whilst inspecting the contents of an old chest that had been stored, forgotten, in my attic these past ten years. I hesitated to send it for some weeks for fear of causing unwanted memories to surface, but my darling Arthur assured me that your memory of my mother’s death would have diminished after almost fifteen years, and the photo of the three of us may bring you joy.

I remember that evening so well, Papa. Mother sang like a nightingale; your piano playing enthralled and the applause from the audience made me proud to be your daughter. Later that week Mother broke your heart.

You never believed I didn’t know what Mother intended to do, but it was true. None of us knew she had a lover. My heart was broken two-fold when we found her letter after she’d fled to Brighton. To see you so distraught caused me far more grief than Mother’s absence.

Rest assured, Papa, my lips remain sealed regarding your journey to Brighton on the day Mother was stabbed in her apartment. Even Arthur knows nothing of that. Mother’s murderer was never found and her lover simply disappeared. Though the man was never located, the police drew the obvious conclusion…

I chose to believe that the knife concealed in your dresser was simply an unwanted gift. I’ll take that belief to my grave. As you will, doubtless, take your secret to yours.

Your loving daughter,

Dottie

*****

I must thank my daughter, Louise, over at An Enchanted Place for the use of her photo, which is one of many taken on a lovely day out we all had to Warwick Castle a few years ago. (I scrounged a photo from Lou because her pics are SO much better than mine!)

I am currently in the middle of putting together another 85 stories for A Second Dash of Flash and hope to publish it later this year. This is one of the stories I’ve already written for the book – which, like Book One, A Dash of Flash, is an eclectic mix of stories of varying lengths and genres. It will make a nice change from writing historical fiction for novels for a while.

Rainbows, Roses and Raindrops

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This is a little story I wrote 20 years ago! I wrote it for some competition at the time for a well known brand of tea here in the UK which uses little Tea Folk as part of its advertising campaigns. (I’d better not name this tea – I don’t want to be accused of advertising!) But I never did anything with it and the other day, I found the manuscript in an old file I’d kept. The paper was all yellow round the edges, reminding me of the way schoolchildren try to make stories and treasure maps look authentic by staining the paper with coffee or tea. Well, I didn’t need to do that. Anyway, I made the characters into gnomes, gave them different names and changed a few details and typed it up.

I love the film Gnomio and Juliet and am quite partial to gnomes. My husband refuses to have any in the garden, so I have to use my imagination. On one occasion, my mischievous daughters, Nicola and Louise, bought a few gnomes and hid them around the flower beds. My husband’s growls as he found each one, were quite hilarious.

So here’s the story:

Rainbows, Roses and Raindrops

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One warm and sunny summer’s afternoon, the Garden Gnomes of Greenwich were relaxing in Gerald’’s favourite tea garden. Horace was brewing the tea and Michael was sharing his plans for his next detective story, when a sudden flash and a puff of smoke made them all jump.

Seven pairs of eyes blinked as an odd little man, no bigger than a nearby plant pot, became visible through the smoke. Seven gasps of astonishment caused the little man to wobble precariously on the rock he’d landed on at the edge of Gerald’s delightful fish pond.

‘You’re a leprechaun!’ young Freddie blurted, pointing at the tiny figure.

‘Of course I am!’ the indignant elf snapped in crotchety Irish tones. ‘Sure, isn’t that plain fer all t’ see?’ He brushed down his velvety green jacket and breeches then, holding on to his tiny green cap, he sprang from the rock like a grasshopper before he found himself spluttering with Gerald’s goldfish beneath the lily pads.

‘B…but how did you get here? I mean…er…where did you –?’

‘Do stop burbling Freddie,’ Gerald reprimanded. ‘Remember your manners. That’s no way to greet a guest to our tea garden, no matter how he arrived!’

Samuel, the kindly grandfather gnome, decided it was time to intervene. ‘Won’t you join us for a nice cup of tea, sir? I didn’t catch your name…?’

The leprechaun proudly stroked his shiny, golden beard. ‘Me name’s Leopold,’ he replied, his beady eyes scanning the garden. ‘I’ve followed the rainbow all the way across the Irish Sea t’ this very garden. Me crock o’ gold must be here somewhere. So now I’m going t’ find it!’

Leopold clicked his bony fingers and six garden spades magically appeared, hovering over the beautiful flower beds, ready for work. Gerald’s face turned a ghastly white as he imagined his cherished roses in tatters.

Just then, a mouth-watering aroma of baking wafted across the garden. Leopold’s nose twitched and his tiny tummy gave a loud rumble.

‘My delightful cakes must be ready. Do excuse me.’ Tanya smiled at Leoplod, then rushed off towards the kitchen.

Gerald, tactful as ever, took the opportunity to repeat Samuel’s earlier invitation to Leopold, who now gratefully accepted.

Over a refreshing cup of tea, with a morsel of one of Tanya’s delicious cakes, the little leprechaun even managed a smile. Michael opened his notebook to jot down suggestions for helping Leopold to search for the gold, without spoiling Gerald’s roses, when a few glistening raindrops plopped in the middle of his page.

They scanned the clear, blue sky for the offending cloud, just as another few raindrops tinkled onto Horace’s teapot. A stifled chuckle drew everyone’s attention towards the fish pond, where Cyril was perched, with his fingers in the water. ‘Just my Rainy Day joke,’ he chortled.

Then, as he looked down, Cyril’s face took on a puzzled expression. ‘There’s an odd-looking goldfish in your pond, Gerald. It isn’t swimming about like the others.’

Gerald hurried over to investigate. ‘My goodness!’ he gasped. ‘I see what you mean, Cyril. But…wait a minute. That isn’t a goldfish…but it is gold!’

Later, Leopold stood clutching his crock of gold, his elfish grin stretching from ear to ear.

‘How did your gold get into our pond?’ Freddie asked.

‘Leprechaun magic,’ Leopold replied, tapping the side of his tiny nose.’ Now I’ll be thankin’ yer all an’ making me way home. The cup o’ tea was just what I needed. Following rainbows is thirsty work.’

With another click and a flash, Leopold and his spades vanished.

‘He must be travelling across that rainbow,’ Cyril remarked, pointing up at the sky.

Freddie now looked really perplexed. ‘But rainbows only come after it’s been raining…don’t they? And it hasn’t been raining!’

Everyone looked at Cyril, and laughed.

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