Thursday 25 April 2019

Leaving Home

The exercise this week is to write about somebody packing a suitcase.

The Vanity Case

I’m packing your vinyl vanity case, the one you hated, the pillar box red, square, awkward to handle. Not hospital bound this time. I’m all out of charity, watching the sexagenarian antics of the pair of them. You wouldn’t even have shortlisted her for the role. Too sociable, what with the bingo, bridge, knitting circles, book clubs, and a domestic diva- her lemon meringue, the ultimate, not a soggy bottom in sight. Not much like your bread and butter pudding. And she makes her custard and mayonnaise from scratch. I don’t think a bar of soap would make her birthday present list, what with the personalised prosecco and the blissful spa day. I found a drawer full of your soaps afterwards, avocado oatmeal, aloe-aloe, bamboo charcoal, typical of you not to even open them. Too nice to use, you’d say. She’d have washed them all down the drain if I hadn’t salvaged them. I’m taking them with me, with your scarves, the ones you only wore on Sundays; she wears scarves every day, with a French twist over her Calvin Klein gold tune necklace. And I’m taking your faux pearls; he bought her the real deal. You should have set the bar higher. I cried all the way through their ceremony; not that they noticed. I suppose they did know each other for a long time, her being his work mate and all, and maybe even his bit on the side, we won’t go there, but the mourning period was short and for all her lady-like squeaky sweetness she’s a piece of work and he’s all calf eyes. It’s puke churning to watch, and you were right about this case, it doesn’t hold much.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2019

Tuesday 23 April 2019

The Call

Still week 6 of flash fiction course and following on with Point of View. Have rewritten Emily from two points of view.

The Call

If I don’t answer the she’ll say, “You were nearer. Maybe somebody died.” If I do answer, it’ll be, “You know it’s always Emily. Why do you bother to pick up?” I hold the receiver and listen to her low dulcet tone imploring me.
“It’s nobody,” I tell the wife, joining her in the kitchen. “Let’s do the crossword. Nine across, six letters, money lender who charges exorbitant interest?”
“Emily must have nothing else to do,” I add. That makes her chuckle.  She should do sex-chat, the wife suggests. What would the wife know about sex-chat? When’s the last time we even did it? Menopause and dwindling libido. Maybe I should listen to Emily; Fred Marsh spent three grand listening to Emily. “Good for him. There’s life in the old dog,” I say to piss her off.

Can’t he hear that ringing? He’s definitely losing it. Wish he’d get a hearing aid. Not that he wants to hear anything. Not that he wants to listen to me. Not that I have much to say. “Is it her again?” I roar from the kitchen. For Christ’s sake why doesn’t he just hang up? It had to be somebody. It was probably her. She’s probably reversing the charges. “You should have hung up immediately,” I say. We used to talk to each other, now we do crosswords. Usurer, why doesn’t he know that? He used to be sharper.
“What would you know about sex-chat”? he asks. Let him wonder. He knows that’s not what I mean about Fred.
”If the phone fraudsters used a person instead of a pre-recorded tape you could tell them to sod off,” I say. He says they’ve done that. I’ve done that.
“Persuade with promise of reward? Five letters?” he asks. Definitely Emily.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2019

Thursday 18 April 2019

Different Perspectives

Week 6-Flash Fiction. Looks at Point of View.
The Exercise is to give two points of view of same incident in 300 words.
Here I am using a short short story I wrote before and manipulating it a bit.

 The Walk

He wore a pink tie and he was carrying an umbrella with a pointed ferrule and a long shaft -with twelve stretchers at least.  He looked like he might know -an older man with a real umbrella –bound to have some experience of it.

I shouldn’t have said, “We’re early on the road.” I must have sounded like one of those carers in the ward who addresses everybody in the first person plural, when they really mean you.

When he raised his hands and said what he did I thought of a priest calling on the congregation to stand for the gospel. What was it he said? And as if summoned, the injured bird took flight -its beak no longer frozen in fright.

“Ha”! he exclaimed with the thrill of it.

We watched it rise and dip and then rise again, and on we walked, the older man and me, around the whole periphery of the park.                                                       

Today a woman, not young, stopped me in the park. She was cupping a fledging in her fingerless-mittened hands. I suppose she asked me because of my halting gait, as if my years might know. The bird looked uninjured, no open-mouthed shock or fixed eye, its wings intact, peagreen-skyblue sinewed feathers.

The only time I held a bird in my palm I was ten, a baby thrush that had fallen out of its nest among the hedgerows that lined the pathway to our front door.

“I don’t know why it doesn’t just fly,” I said and raised my hands in mock take-off.

Perhaps it was my tone or my waving hands, for the fledgling rose, cleared the bushes and landed on the topmost branch of an ash tree.
And so I tipped my hat to her, the not-so-young woman, and walked on.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2019

Tuesday 16 April 2019


This week the task is to write about an uncomfortable subject. This one is topical.


He was into threesomes. And he had slept with his best-friend’s mother. His ex-wife hooked up with his brother and he hooked up with his brother’s ex-girlfriend. A lot of incestuous ex-cross-sex. 

So when he suggests they visit his best-friend for a night’s craic,something in her gags.

His friend loves the colour of her hair, pearl blonde, and the fact that she is bare-faced, no makeup, and the sylph-like contour of her foot. He sits beside her, removes her sandals and fondles her toes, tracing the thread veins in her ankles. Glasses clink. She’s already drank a bottle of Chardonnay and her boyfriend is mixing cocktails. His friend is still stroking her leg, his whiskeyed breath whispering in her ear, “He never shares anything with me anymore. He used to share everything, and he owes me; I could tell you a thing or two.”

Inside her head she’s screaming, I already know about your mother.

A glance between the men and her boyfriend disappears. The friend’s hand begins to climb her leg. She grips it firmly, but it’s stuck, like a bloodsucker, and she meets resistance when she tries to stand up. Room spins. Steady on! He’s stroking her thighs, his fingers clenching and pinching her crotch. The rim of a glass strikes her teeth. Her lips part, she gulps, vodka drips down her neck. His tongue licking, worm-like crawls into her mouth. Her head spins and she blanks.  

Beneath her a woman is pinned beneath a man. She is screaming, but no voice comes.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2019

Friday 12 April 2019


Week 5- The exercise was to vamp up a piece of flat prose. you could take any scene from any book and decide which are the important elements. Then do a rewrite under 300 words.

The Queen of Baked Alaska

A shadow eclipses the wedding shot of Lady Reece Beverly to Squire George Winthrop. Maisie Taylor clicks her tongue and swivels her head to view the orbiting source of this hiatus in her perusal of last month’s copy of Hello. Ethel Stillman’s frame fills the doorway of Dr Henry’s surgery and from behind her, a quart to her pint-size, her husband Arlen Stillman emerges hugging a crooked shoulder.

No caps tip to Her Highness today. Most of the patients are blow-in yokels who don’t know that Mrs Stillman has aspirations. Aspirations and one seat to share with the quart-size. Maisie watches the sixty-plus matron scope out the territory before directing her foot soldier to the three-legged stool at the end of the corridor that passes for a rural doctor’s waiting room.

Her elastic smile belies the eruption flaring across Ethel’s neck and the lour that follows her sighting of Albert Sweeney sprawled across the battered two-seater, eyes fastened to the Dandy. It’s few Dandys that lad ever sees in his piggery, so not even a cosmic event like Ethel is likely to scupper his gaze.

Maisie strokes the feather in her lapel, abandons the newly wed royals, happy to forgo the fopperies of Hello would-be celebs for the foibles of a local one.  For Ethel, resident queen of the County Fair Baked Alaska Competition, is her arch rival and Maisie knows something that Ethel doesn’t.

Quietly steaming as the matron is now, fur rising on her faux-fox collar, hackles will soon eject at high speed. For Maisie Taylor is advised to keep her varicosed legs raised at hip level, and when Joe Carbery beside her goes in to get his weekly blood check, she plans to moor her right calf to the next available chair.

295 words
Copyright with Cathy leonard 2019

Tuesday 9 April 2019


Week 5 ; the exercise is to take an abstract, a line of speech that relates to it and write a 300 word piece. Mine is a bit short.

The Catch

“Just don’t tag me!”

She gives her best smile, exhibiting her orthodontically straightened teeth, white strip polished. She’s had her eyebrows threaded, eyelashes tinted, hair highlighted and curl-tonged. The fake tan is an alpha beta glow pad gradual glow and her dress was ordered on-line from Blingalicious, a specialist in the business. The accessories glitter in their pearl beaded coordination, the Sahar Pumps from Shoedazzle and the online bag from zazzle. With her head tilted at an angle that implies insouciance, equanimity you wouldn’t discern her unease. She can vouch for the outfit, the tan, the teeth, even the hair, but the camera is merciless.

The digital versions of herself she can edit, splice, zoom, cut, enhance, even detag.  The Parish face book page she could possibly hack. Livefeed no worries and the you- tube version is at least ephemeral; whatever number of hits it attracts. 

But this photographer with his panoply of lenses and tripods looks like the hardcopy hardass album option. The stalwart. She watches him scanning, arranging his frames, his telescopic vision pinioning her to his reel. She smiles and wriggles, light waves bending her to his gaze. She tries to evade, but he snaps and scoops. Calibrated, he will add her to his stash, his facebook eyrie, his studio mausoleum.

The problem with group confirmation photos is that she could end up, tagged, in the front page of the weekly mass bulletin under the indelible scrutiny of peers, parents and parishioners for perpetuity.

 Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2019

Wednesday 3 April 2019

Obstacles to Love

Found this site useful- a story generator site. Follow

Here is a flash piece on Obstacles to Love

He was meant to be a Rhett Butler, a charming rake, or at least landed gentry like Mr Darcy. Right? That’s what they all said. Loaded with pistol shot, roguish tongue or a large dollop of pride, a country estate in Derbyshire, a townhouse in Grosvenor Street or Hanover Square.

She’d been stalking romantic heroes all her adolescent life, even problematic ones, the likes of Heathcliff replete with venom and revenge and an inferiority complex. To be fair her stalking was usually virtual, before virtual was a buzz word, apart from the Science teacher.

Her mother warned her she’d wear herself thin shadowing his every move about the town. She did. And when she dreamt of riding off into the sunset with her beloved she was vicariously acting out a sequence from a Robert Redford Western or an Onedin Line episode, or onstage with Gilbert O’Sullivan who, to her crush- tinted eyes, bore a resemblance to the victim of her imaginative peregrinations.

It was hardly her fault. She was fed a diet of Hollywood Greats, Romantic English Classics and a splice of Mills and Boon. And at least she wasn’t hankering for a Bogart; that would come years later with the anti heroics of Luther and Dexter. Real love was a decade or two away.

But once she acknowledged her condition, underwent a detox programme, refrained from imbibing books, film or media, suffered the inevitable  irritability, sweating, vomiting and fatigue she was on the road to recovery, deliverance, even salvation. 

But she did marry a man who, even they said, looked like James Onedin.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2019