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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Image ~ Courtesy of pixabay.com

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

 

ANGEL INVESTOR

A prompt response for Inspiration Monday ~ ANGEL INVESTOR 

http://bekindrewrite.com

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Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

ANGEL INVESTOR

by John Yeo

   Billy tightened his coat against the biting cold wind. Winter winds were blasting the trees on the avenue, leaving a trail of leaves and small branches all over the pavement. Billy pulled his knapsack over his shoulder, he wouldn’t be sorry to get to shelter today.
    Billy was officially homeless now, a person of no fixed abode.
Whenever he was asked his address by the innumerable officials and interested parties he would sullenly reply, “NFA.”

    Billy lived in the basement of a large crumbling mansion just outside of town. The locals avoided the place, considering it to be haunted. Rumour had it the mansion’s owner lived abroad. An eccentric millionaire who had bought the place with his wife, who died shortly after. The owner had disappeared and left the place to rot.
Billy seemed undisturbed by the rumours and stayed put, sheltering from the elements in the basement.

      The Postman, Tom Banks was the first to be curious about the empty house, he delivered innumerable letters there and they were mysteriously collected. Once he had bumped into Billy after he had delivered the mail.
“Hi! I guess you have a forwarding address for the owner?”

   “No sorry!” replied Billy. “A chauffeur comes to collect the lot every now and then.”

“Oh! they allow you to stay here rent free then!”

“Yes!” Was Billy’s monosyllabic response.

 An old newspaper blowing down the road caught Billy’s eye. ‘Hey something to read, he thought.’

  The headlines screamed about an unknown startup company that had just patented a new product that would provide endless cheap energy to feed the starving millions in the vulnerable parts of the world.
Billy smiled inwardly as he continued to read the story. Apparently an unknown investor working through a third party had financed the whole deal. Profits from the investors stake were paid into a Swiss bank account. Curiously no one knew who this third person was.
Several new and thriving ethical businesses had received finance from this mysterious investor and the curious business world was desperate to get any information. Apparently rewards were on offer for information.

 Down at the local pub around the corner from the mansion, Jim, the local policeman was chatting to Tom, the postman.

   “A tramp you say, collecting the mail you deliver! Doesn’t sound quite right to me, I might just keep an eye on the place for a while. Let me know if you bump into him again.” said Jim.

   “Sure thing, Jim.”

   Several days later a large 4×4 car with blacked out windows roared up to the old haunted mansion and to the amazement of the hidden watchers. An unkempt old man climbed aboard and the car roared off.

   If the locals were interested before they were openly curious now and a large party gathered at the gates to the mansion with the intention of questioning anyone who came and went.

    Of course no one was ever seen coming or going again and the mystery is still unsolved.

   Six months later the crumbling old mansion was put on the market by a local estate agent and quickly sold for a price well under its market value.

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

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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.

JANUARY BLUES

This article  was written for “QUINTET,” our Parish magazine, requesting submissions on the theme of January Blues

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Image © Copyright John and Margaret ~All rights reserved

JANUARY BLUES

Sowing the Seeds of Recovery

by John Yeo

    Uplifting Christmas carols and music. Sparkling, colourful lights have now been replaced with  the shock of the after-effects, and the  cold gray  winter weather of January.

   A moment of taking stock, counting the cost of the revels that have gone before.

  This time of the year can be a lonely time after the celebrations are over and the family have all left and gone their separate ways

  We plan to visit several people, neighbours, and friends who we know will appreciate a chat and a few moments of company. A cheery word in the right ear can bring magic to a sufferer of January blues.

  For some, January is a time of reflection on the past year, with high hopes for the future We feel the lowness of mood, that follows the high Christmas cheer, of the celebrations with friends and neighbours.

    January is a month of gloomy darkness.

  Cold, dreary weather,  when the blue of the skies is obscured by gray cloud, midwinter frosts, and freezing temperatures.

  There is a recognized uneasy mood affected disorder around, known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD for short. Light therapy is a way this disorder is treated by exposure to artificial light.  

  Perhaps another way to combat SAD is to bask in the benefit of the light that the enlightenment of the epiphany has revealed, by the special relaxed calmness that can be obtained through prayer and having faith that the future is a mystery that has yet to be solved.

  Another way to chase the blues away is by planning a holiday, this is one of the most popular ways to combat the January blues. Just seeing piles of brochures with photographs of beautiful blue skies,  and impressive surf with waves pounding into some golden sands is certain to lift the most downtrodden spirits.

    Sadly the alluring TV adverts and seductive  brochures, that drop through many of our letterboxes, can actually contribute to a deep feeling of depression, especially when some of us will never have the financial means or health to take advantage of them.

    Again this is a time to be considerate and cautious, with the sure knowledge that things can improve with the reaching out of a warm connecting smile.

  As a gardener and an avid grow-your-own enthusiast on my allotment. Easily the most satisfying, rewarding and entertaining way to spend those long January evenings, is with an enormous pile of seed catalogues and brochures; planning the growing year in advance. I can picture myself in the Spring, sowing tiny minuscule seeds, taking care of the seedlings to promote growth. I can close my eyes and picture an array of wonderful flowers in full bloom. I can picture fresh wholesome tasty vegetables that will bring a smile of satisfaction to my face with the sheer joy of accomplishment.

  The January blues will swiftly become a faint memory as I look into the gardening future.

 “Cheer up my friend Spring will certainly arrive. How are you today?”

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

THE GIFT OF LIFE

This article  was written for “QUINTET,” our Parish magazine, requesting submissions on the theme of Christmas Presents

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Image ©️Copyright John and Margaret ~ All rights reserved

THE GIFT OF LIFE

by John Yeo

 The Jackson family were well-known to everyone in the village, regular churchgoers they had made many friends over the years. Speculation had it that branches of the family had resided in this village since the days of William the Conqueror.
Tom Jackson had passed away five years before; he had been a churchwarden, chairperson on the Parish council and his wife Gina had been the hon.treasurer.

Their two sons, Ricardo and Ernesto had been a great comfort to their Mother.

Ricardo became a special forces soldier, serving in Afghanistan, with the SAS. Infrequent letters would arrive, describing the horror of war and his narrow escapes from the enemy. “We are involved in battles before they are officially fought, our undercover forces are on the attack. Our forces are involved in dogfights all over the city,”

One fateful day in November a telegram arrived Ricardo was missing in action, a hero who had saved many lives.

 Gina was devastated, many parishioners rallied around offering help and support. The situation for the family was looking grave, with Christmas the season of goodwill just around the corner.

 Then, without any warning Ernesto, her younger son was diagnosed with advanced kidney disease forcing him to undergo dialysis three times a week. Gina was absolutely shattered and asked for his name to be included in the church prayers list. A kidney transplant was the only solution.

Then one memorable day there was a knock on her cottage door and Ricardo her eldest son stood in front of her smiling. “Hello, Mum! I’m home! I escaped and I have some leave to use up.”

Shocked, Gina could hardly believe her eyes. “Welcome, home son!” Was all she could say with tears in her eyes.

When Ricardo heard about the plight of his brother Ernesto, he was quick to offer one of his own kidneys, which was obviously a perfect match.

Christmas Day arrived, and old Jeb the gardener displayed the perfect Christmas rose in Gina’s garden. “What an unbelievably beautiful rose, they say everything comes in threes. I have been blessed with three perfect Christmas presents.”

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved