NEW FANGLED BIRTHDAYS

This is a second piece of Flash Fiction I wrote yesterday for our church magazine, in response to the theme of Birthdays.

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NEW FANGLED BIRTHDAYS

by John Yeo

  I will be reaching a milestone age this year and I have been racking my brains about how to celebrate this occasion. I have a loving generous family and some wonderful friends. The main greeting lately has been, “Hi! What would you like for your birthday?”

Well, to tell you the truth, I don’t know what I would like. We are not poor or extremely wealthy. I can’t think of anything I desperately need. I have enough already with the privilege and the good fortune to have such a nice family and some good dependable friends.

Always one to think out of the box and do the unexpected or the unusual. I have come up with a plan to make this a birthday to share with at least 50 other people.

I want to do exactly the opposite to the norm on this extra special birthday.

I propose to take £100.00 into the local branch of any bank in town and ask them for 50, £2.00 coins.

Then I will walk through the streets of Norwich our nearest city.

For many months I have been shocked to see how many destitute people are begging or sleeping rough on our city streets.

I will then place a £2 coin in their hat or another receptacle they use as part of their attempt to stave off hunger.

I will then smile and say, “It’s my birthday today, have a lovely day!”

I know the usual reasons for not encouraging begging. “Oh, they will only spend it on drink or drugs. You are wasting your time and your money doing something stupid like that!”

My reply to that will be. “What about the people who beg because they are desperately in need? It’s my birthday and I’ll do what I want to.”

 Any £2.00 coins left in my possession at the end of the day will be placed in charity boxes that are usually left in the church, or in many other areas where the needs of the hungry homeless are recognized.

I know at the end of this special day I will have a warm feeling of having done my best to share my birthday widely.

Perhaps I will have started a new fashion where the idea would be to give and not receive gifts on a birthday.

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

 

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A Special Birthday

This is a piece of Flash Fiction I wrote yesterday for our church magazine, in response to the theme of Birthdays.

 

Seventy

Image courtesy of google.com

 

A Special Birthday

by John Yeo

   It was a special occasion for Em. she would be 70 years of age today. She was quite philosophical about reaching this grand old age, threescore years and ten, a milestone in her life.
    As she woke in the clean comfortable cabin aboard the luxury cruise liner, she mused on the implications and the meaning of this grand age.
      “Who would have thought I would get to be as old as this? When I was a little girl I remember thinking 40 was really quite ancient. Both my parents lived to be well into their nineties. My Mum used to say they were blessed to have lived so long. She would sometimes quote the passage in the bible….
Psalms 90:
‘The days of our years are threescore years and ten
and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years,
yet is their strength labor and sorrow;
for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.’

     At this point, there was a knock at the cabin door, “Room service!” The cabin steward had arrived, with their early morning cup of tea.
Jay answered the door and came back with a tray of tea that was conspicuous by the birthday cards that were balanced against the teapot.
    “Happy Birthday Darling! We have a special day ahead. Lunch in a waterside pavement cafe. Then we return to the ship to lounge in the sun on the deck, before we change into our formal evening clothes for dinner on the Captain’s table. We will dance your birthday night away together in the Ballroom.”

    “Wow! I hope I can keep up the pace Jay,” said Em, smiling broadly. “I know exactly which dress I intend to wear for our dinner tonight with the Captain.”

      “Of course you will be the star of the evening my beautiful birthday girl.” Replied her husband grinning broadly.

  The day passed slowly in the sun-drenched French port and the evening found Jay and Em, busily preparing for the night of celebrations ahead.

  Soon there was a transformation.
Em looked stunning in a royal blue dress and Jay wore a white dinner jacket, complete with a blue bow tie and cummerbund to match.

  They attended a pre-dinner cocktail party in the lounge, then met up with Sally, the social hostess, and four other couples.
 Sally introduced everyone and led the party to the Captain’s table.
  A richly decorated round table with an ornate floral arrangement and individual place names of each of the invited guests.
  The Captain arrived with apologies, grinning broadly and took his seat at the table.
A pleasant meal followed as the waiters and the wine stewards, served six courses with wine to taste.
  The conversation flowed freely, and the Captain and Sally managed to converse freely with everyone at the table.
 After the plates from the main course had been cleared away and despatched to the galley. The Head waiter appeared with a guitarist and eight smartly attired waiters. Then followed an amazing performance of Happy Birthday, sung loudly and enthusiastically by the waiters as the surrounding diners clapped along and joined in. The ship’s photographer was present snapping away to record the moment as Em smiled. The Captain offered congratulations and everyone clapped to recognize this special moment.
As everyone was leaving the table after this splendid meal, the Captain said, smiling.
     “If I ever write a book I will call it, ‘Tales from the Captain’s table.” There was a momentary silence before anyone noticed the twinkle in the Captain’s eye as he uttered these words.
  Em and Jay then made their way to the ballroom, where they had a wonderful evening dancing and celebrating.

   Em turned to her husband Jay and said, “I’m tired now. I will never forget my special 70th birthday celebrations. Thanks, darling.”
  Jay smiled and said, “You wait until you see what I have planned for when you are 71 next year. Life begins at threescore years and ten.

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

A SURFEIT OF ORANGE

This is a piece of Flash Fiction I wrote yesterday for our church magazine, in response to the theme of Orange.
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Image © John and Margaret

 

A SURFEIT OF ORANGE

by John Yeo

 

 The day started with a fantasy flow of colours liquidizing the rising sun’s reflections on the clouds. Reds combining with yellows creating a dominating orange that filled the sky to herald the start of a brand new day.

 

   “I’ll have to get the pupils interested in the distant past by bringing the past back to the present. We need to get the feel of antiquity by enacting the period physically.”

Mr. Smithers, the History master was addressing his dog Pooch. An exercise he frequently carried out since he had lost Matilda, his late wife of 30 years, to the dreadful scourge of Cancer.

 

“Fire in the sky needs the purification of fire on the Earth.”  Intoned the mystical tribal shaman, as he rubbed two pieces of tinder together to create a flame. The members of the community watched spellbound as the fire took hold.

 

 A spark found its way to some bone dry ferns in the outskirts of a small town in Spain. Wild fire instantly took hold and spread fast. Orange flames dominated the fire devastating the growing foliage on the edges of a forest with many species of wildlife, scared and vulnerable. Fleeing the flames, predators, and prey running together, oblivious of everything but survival.

Birds feeding on the orange berries of a Rowan tree flew up with a cloud of fluttering wings above the heat and fumes emitted by the orange flames that incinerated everything in their path.

The orange uniforms of firefighters were highly visible as they lined up, desperately trying to control the blaze and stem the greedy red, yellow and orange flames.

The firefighters gradually brought the blaze under control then still alert, yet relaxed, they took a break under a green tree that showed flashes of a ripe,  remarkable orange fruit. Sweet to taste with luscious fleshy, juice-filled quarters. Orange segments were distributed to the firefighters for much needed liquid refreshment, and to build up reserves of energy.

Meanwhile, an orange emergency helicopter landed on a field surrounding an impressive church, to rescue a heart attack victim.

The rescue personnel rushed to give CPR to the victim, who happened to be the mayor of the local town.

 A service of thanksgiving was performed in the church as the townspeople and the rescue personnel gave thanks to God for the survival of everyone in that tiny community, in the face of wildfire.

 

 Mr. Smithers the history teacher was visualizing the Shaman dressed in a traditional fiery orange loincloth.

 “Yes Pooch, Today, I’ll have to teach them to respect the dangers of fire.”

 

 The day ended with a fantasy flow of fiery colours from the setting sun’s reflections on the clouds. Reds combining with yellows creating a dominating orange that filled the sky at the end of another day, leading to the last day of the future.

 

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Image ©️John and Margaret

 

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

 

THE AFTERMATH

The Aftermath 

by John Yeo

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The four walls of a large empty house, can be dreadful to a lady of quality. Since the Admiral had passed on to the high seas of the unknown, his good lady was left high and dry, as it were. Elspeth was terribly upset and it was several months of wearing the required mourning black, and privately drowning her feelings in waves of tears, before she was able to begin to socialise again. Her two children and their families had been wonderful, rallying around and visiting her sporadically, but over the months the visits became more and more infrequent. Then the terrible, shockingly unbearable, loneliness, began to set in. Every knock at the door of the large four bedroomed, detached house, set well back from the road, sent a jolt of expectation resounding through her very being.

 Elspeth missed Admiral Theo, her dearly beloved husband, tremendously; she missed the sociable rounds of meetings with the officer’s wives and the pomp and ceremony of the Naval get-togethers.

  Elspeth wasn’t strictly a religious person. Devout in her own unique way, she would attend church when the need arose. This always seemed to coincide to the times when her feelings of abject loneliness began to take hold and she needed to reach out for human contact.
 The fact was, Elspeth was on the verge of an unmentionable solution to her myriad problems of lonely heart wrenching solitude. 

 One Sunday, a new face appeared in the pews of the fairly isolated village church and a lady dressed in dramatic black arrived alone. Elspeth immediately approached and introduced herself, sensing a kindred spirit.
  “Hi! I’m Elspeth: You’re new here. A warm welcome to you, come and join me on my pew. We must have a chat after the service. They serve a wonderful cup of tea here.” 
     “Oh! Of course. Thank you so much, I would like that it will be so nice to have someone to talk to. I’m Gill, I have downsized our house and I have moved into a cottage along Honeysuckle Lane.”
     “Welcome Gill.” whispered Elspeth, At that moment the Priest led the choir down the aisle to commence the service.
 Elspeth’s mind was racing during the service, she sensed a friendship forming that could blossom into something that could change her life, rescuing her from the intolerable loneliness she had endured recently.
  The two ladies met and conversed intimately after the service. Finding they had a great deal in common, Gill said.

       “Why don’t you come and have some lunch? You will be welcome to join me before I leave.”
 Elspeth instantly agreed, however her face fell when her new found friends words sank in and she realised the implications.
      “You are leaving!” She interjected quickly. “”Already, it seems you have just arrived. Where are you going?”
       “Oh! I’m going on a long sea cruise to the Caribbean, I don’t believe in letting my sorrows overwhelm me. I intend to take the bull by the horns and live life to the full! We only buried my poor darling, Henry a month ago and it has been such a rush moving house and now getting ready for this cruise. Henry and I talked about going on a cruise a year ago and I know he will be with me in spirit all the way.”
  This stunned Elspeth to the core. ’A cruise! I hadn’t thought of anything like that.’ she mused…. 

Then she thought, ‘Dare I? What would people think of me if I suddenly announced I was off on a cruise? What about the children and my adorable grandchildren? Rags, my faithful four-legged friend is bound to miss me.’ 
Then she was about to speak, when Gill suddenly said.

     “Why don’t you join me? I am sure the cruise line could find room for you. They have some spare cabins and we don’t leave for a couple of weeks. Plenty of time to make some fast arrangements.”
       “Wow! Let me think things through Gill, I’m tempted to say yes straight away. Anything to get away from this lonely life, however I must speak to the children, although I don’t see much of them these days.”
    “Sure thing.” replied Gill. “Look,” she continued. “I’ll phone the cruise line and see if they will fit you in, I’m sure they will. You speak to your family, and if you are ready. Let’s go and have some fun.”
   Finally these two new friends, who had hit it off so well from the start accompanied one another on that first sea cruise together. Thus began the many highs and lows and scrapes and narrow escapes of our two sailing friends who traversed the world on the high seas together. 

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

 

ORPHAN

This article was written for “QUINTET,” our Parish magazine, requesting submissions on the theme of  ~ What’s in a Name?

 

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Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

 

WHAT’S IN A NAME

ORPHAN

by John Yeo

   Our name is the handle by which we are handled.
The childhood is a time of a happy innocent vulnerability. My early childhood was spent in idyllic peaceful happiness, I was an only child brought up by two wonderful parents. Tom, my father was a gentleman farmer. This self-styled title always amused him as he worked from dawn to dusk on the land.

    “I’m a farmer and a gentleman, ask my wife Molly, how gentle I am.”
My Mother, Molly would gently smile and nod in agreement.

  What’s in a name? Certainly a contradiction, as far as my Dad was concerned.

    “Aren’t gentlemen supposed to be rich and lead a luxurious, cushioned wealthy life?” I asked grinning. At eight years old I was as sharp as a razor and very cheeky.

    “Come on Tom-junior eat your tea. Mind you finish those greens they are the secret of good health.” said my Mum smiling broadly.
Mum was a hard worker helping Dad on the farm. She somehow found the time to support the local WI. Sometimes the farmhouse would resound with her ladies busy chatting together, earnestly discussing matters of great importance.

   Such was our family’s happy life until the day of that terrible road accident that changed my life forever. We were out for a Sunday drive to the next village to visit my Uncle Bob when a huge tractor pulling a trailer full of heavy logs crashed into our tiny family car. My Mum and Dad were killed instantly and I was trapped…. Upside down in the back seat; still alive.

    At that moment my life was to change forever, I instantly became an eight-year-old orphan and a problem for the Social services. Uncle Bob and Aunt Millie took care of me for a few weeks but they were unable to make this a permanent arrangement as they had four children and very little space.

    I had become an orphan, now this is a name that due to our vivid Victorian literature has become irrevocably linked to poverty and pity. A state of unwantedness that generated much hardship and sorrow.

     I was fostered by several kindly families at the start of my new station in life and finally, I was adopted by a nice family.

    Mr. and Mrs. Smithers and their four children, all boys older than me, lived in a huge sprawling house in an acre of beautiful gardens with woods and fields stretching towards the horizon.

     The next few months passed in a blur as I quickly became accustomed to my new station in life. It was a slow degenerative process as I became that orphan, who was not really one of us. Quite unworthy to be a real part of the family. I was bullied by the children and ignored by their parents except for when I was expected to wait on them.

     “That boy will do the work! The orphan will clear the table!” said Mrs. Smithers.

 Somehow I had become a person without a name, a legal slave, fed and watered and expected to wait on the family hand and foot.

      ‘The orphan will do the job!” Was the favourite saying of the oldest son, a cruel vindictive fellow.

  I became insecure and frightened to get up in the morning. I refused to go to school in case I said something that would get me in trouble at home later.

     Eventually, I ran away and made my way back to my childhood family home. I was shy and reluctant to knock on the front door and I made my way around the back. A dog started barking loudly and a lady who I vaguely recognised, exclaimed;

    “Hello young Tom junior; what are you doing here? Come inside and have some tea.”
  At that I burst into tears, this was the first time I had encountered such familiar kindness for ages.

     “You must recognise me I am Rose, we used to come here for our WI meetings to see your Mum. My hubby and I bought the farm. Don’t cry Tom, come inside you are welcome.”

    That was five years ago now. I shudder at the memories of that period I spent as just a nameless orphan.

    I now live here in my old/new home with kindly new parents who have made me welcome. I feel secure in the knowledge that there is always an essence of our departed loved ones around guiding us in spirit.

 Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

FICTION NOTICE
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

RUTH

A prompt response for Master Class ~ Assignment 

JAILED INNOCENCE 

http://ourwriteside.com/assignment-jailed-innocence/

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Image courtesy of pixabay.com

RUTH

by John Yeo

“Innocently trapped in a prison of her own construction.”

  The sky was a mottled gray, cloudy with a stiff cold breeze. There was a dank autumnal smell of decaying leaves in the air.

   Two women were waiting at the imposing secure gates of Turney Abbey. An attractive young lady conservatively dressed in a gray suit and a middle-aged lady in a maroon coat with the collar turned up.

   There were tears in the eyes of the older of the two as they waited.

   “Auntie Eleanor; I know what I want! I have decided to follow my strong beliefs and give myself to God. My heroine is Mother Therese. I want the peace of worship and the satisfaction of working and making friends with people of a like-minded faith in God.”

   “Mary! Do you realise that once you have committed yourself to this way of life; it will be extremely difficult to leave after you have made it past the solemn or perpetual profession of the holy vows.”

     “Yes; but Auntie Eleanor: I never want to get hurt by anyone again. I know you will say that is not a good enough reason to enter a convent but I am a devout Christian and I want the peace and security to worship unhindered.”

    “My darling, I will tell you a story of a distant relative in Ireland who became a nun and died of a twice broken heart that destroyed her faith and led to an early demise.” The elder of the two women cleared her throat and began to relate a tragic tale.

    “Ruth was an attractive young lady who got good grades in college and was headed for a career in nursing. She fell in love with a young man from the same village. Sadly he was a fraud and left her brokenhearted to face a lonely future without the means of support and little chance of furthering her studies or getting work.

    Ruth decided to take the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and follow the path into a convent. There was no one to counsel her about this hasty decision and she was soon admitted to a convent.”

   At this moment there was a cacophony of noise from the rookery behind the high imposing walls of Turney Abbey. As if something in the vicinity had interrupted the silence of the afternoon and spooked the Rooks.

     “Aunt Eleanor, please go on, what happened to her? How did she die?” asked Mary.

   “All went well for the first few months and she took the solemn vows. Soon the harsh mundane reality of life in the convent began to tell on the intelligent young lady. Restricted to a wholesome but limited diet, there was never enough food to sustain her completely. Worn down by the drudgery of long hours of hard work and prayer. Restricted to the company of her fellow sisters, Ruth began to pine for her former life.”

  Eleanor stopped for a minute to wipe a stray tear that was running down her cheek.

   Taking a deep breath to compose herself, she continued.

   “Then she made the mistake of confiding in Sister Agnes a sister who worked alongside her in the kitchen garden. This was a sad mistake, Sister Agnes was a bully and a vindictive person who took advantage of the situation and made Ruth’s life a misery. Threatening to expose her as an evil charlatan who had lost her faith in God. Taunting her that she would finish up in hell if she broke her solemn vows. Ruth became frightened of the consequences of leaving and became too worn down to argue.”

   Mary gasped and said. “She was trapped in a way of life that became a prison. A never ending sentence for the rest of her life!”

   “Yes Mary; She pined away and a few months later, she was discovered dead in her bed. The official cause of death was diagnosed as a mysterious virus that had struck her suddenly and she had been called to God. Unofficially we all knew she had died of a hopeless, helpless, broken heart. Sister Agnes was unrepentant, but the strange thing was, she was found dead in her bed from heart failure exactly one month later.

  At that moment the gates to Turney Abbey swung open and a kindly looking nun smiled and said, “Can I help you?”

  “No thank you!” exclaimed Mary “We are just passing by!”

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

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ANXIOUS PEACE

A prompt response for Master Class ~ ANXIOUS PEACE

http://ourwriteside.com/anxious-peace/

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Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

 

ANXIOUS PEACE

By John Yeo

The fighting was bloody, countryman against countryman. Explosions were tearing the country to bits. The stench of death and blood was so close it turned the stomachs of the most battle-hardened warriors.

   The stone farmhouses were dilapidated and dirty providing a temporary lodging place for the refugees from the war.

  Amy’s husband was away fighting on the borders.

   The birth pains were terrible Amy struggled and pushed as hard as she could, but the child refused to enter the world. This reluctance was causing a great deal of anxiety to the village midwife who was begging her to really try hard.

    “Push darling, push harder. Your baby is almost here!”

  Finally, a healthy baby was delivered, closely followed by another.

    “Two!” exclaimed the village midwife. “You have two wonderful strong young twin boys.”

   Sadly there was no reply from the mother. It was a difficult birth and the midwife was unable to save Amy, who died from a massive hemorrhage.

  A fire broke out in the kitchen of the farmhouse where the two young men were born. Villagers rushed to help the rescuers evacuate the inhabitants.
The guns were getting closer, the fighting was fierce. This internecine war had been going on for years. The leader said we would have to evacuate our homes and leave.

   The refugees suffered much deprivation and hardship as they traveled across the country seeking sanctuary.

  The babies were separated and taken to different parts of the war-torn country.
One brother, Amin went north to a small township, where the war quickly changed the ruling faction and he was raised as his dead father’s enemy. A father he would never meet.
Emir was dragged south and raised by a family loyal to the reigning powers.

   They grew to manhood separately, raised amid the hardship and deprivation both quickly becoming strong quick adults.

   There was a gasp from the assembled hierarchy when the two leaders of the warring factions met.
The two sides met to begin a peace process. Separate histories, separate beliefs. Yet brothers by birth who would begin to try to do the seemingly impossible and strive to begin life in an anxious peace.

   They were identical, in looks. Two people who had never met, yet they had risen to command two different factions. Fighting the same war on opposite sides. Peace negotiations began between twin siblings separated at birth who were both chasing the same dream from different parts of the country.

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

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