Camera Obscura

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Written in response to Fandango’s Story Starter #44 and Flash Fiction Challenge #167.

He wandered aimlessly through the museum, seeking any form of distraction to avoid his mother. She was running loose with her camera, even though taking photos of the exhibits was strictly verboten. And rather than be discreet and use her phone, she was waving around a piece of apparatus that was probably in vogue when the Titanic sank. Bloody hell, thought Clifford, all she needed was the wooden tray of magnesium powder and a black cape over her head.

He caught up with her in the diamond room. And watched a security guard bearing down on her as she snapped off photos, the flashes bouncing off the assembled rows of jewels like a disco ball.

By god, it was working! He stepped back in disbelief as the guard politely but firmly told her off. His mother played a blinder with her confused, deaf, little old lady routine. He edged closer, as with fumbling hands, she tried to take the film out of the camera and spilt the contents of her handbag all over the floor. Quite the crowd was gathering. Even the CCTV monitors had turned their blank eyes to watch the fun. He nodded and positioned himself in front of the display containing the Noor diamonds.

A heartbeat later, the alarms started, and he felt a hand slip into his pocket. People screamed in shock as the gates slammed down. In the chaos, he brushed past his mother and what followed was textbook perfect.

The security guys calmed down when they discovered nothing appeared to be missing, and everyone in the Noor room agreed to be searched. Mother joined the queue, but the guards waved her away.

“Off you go, Granny,” said one of them. “You were with us the whole time.”

They escorted her from the building and even called her a cab.

Clifford grinned at the thought of five million pounds worth of precious gemstones making their way to an abandoned office block in Neasden.

The Philosopher’s Stone

Photo Credit: Anita Creations at

For the visually challenged writer, the photo is of a woman with a pensive expression on her face as she sits upon a large, mossy rock deep inside a forest.

Thinking time
Thinking space
Time to think in space

Freeing her mind
To permutations
And indecision

She sighs
and shifts

Realising now
Her mother was right
Sitting on damp rocks
Will give you piles

Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge 162

Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #151: The Spelling Bee

Image Credit: Darius Bashar at

For the visually challenged writer, the photo shows a woman sitting at a desk writing something down in a notebook. She’s sitting inside and is framed by a window.

Hazel sat back in her chair, glaring out of the window, whilst feral kids charged about, yelling at the tops of their voices. If she wasn’t so drained, she would have done something about them ages ago. But she had little left to give.

Why were some mother’s so ruddy useless? Couldn’t they teach their annoying progeny better manners than this? But no, they sat around, laughing and gossiping while their ankle-biters ran riot. So much for taking a quiet moment to recharge herself.

She grimaced as one brat barrelled into her table, sending a wave of hot chocolate spattering across her notebook. Hazel got him when he pelted past again. She itched to do worse but could only clench a fist and smother a grin as the rug-rat tumbled arse over tip on the hardwood floor.

One of the mother’s, his presumably, darted over and hoisted him to his feet. Hazel made a shooing motion and tilted her head. The woman paused for a second, then loudly informed her friends she was taking Charlie home. There was a flurry of kisses and goodbyes, and she left with another child in tow.

Hazel concentrated, and within minutes they’d all gone, leaving messy tables and upturned chairs. The soothing sounds of gentle conversation, interspersed with the delicate clinks of cutlery on china, washed over her. She smiled with relief: this was just what she needed. Hazel closed her eyes and flexed her right hand: Nothing happened. She frowned and tried the left hand. It wouldn’t move.

“Not working, is it!” A gleeful voice whispered behind her. “And it won’t, not while I’ve got strength in my body.”

Hazel struggled to turn around.

“Oh, no, you don’t!” The unseen speaker continued. “You ain’t going anywhere until you pay me for loss of earnings.”

“What are you talking about?” Hazel spoke with great effort.

“The Mummy Club. They were good for another fifty quid this afternoon, but thanks to you, they’ve all buggered off.”

“Sorry,” Hazel panted; it really was getting harder to talk. “If you release me, I can go to a cash point.”

“I don’t want your money.” Hazel felt a light pressure on the back of her neck. “You’re not the only one who knows the art of regenerative assimilation.”

A low hum filled her ears, and her vision faded. “You’ll be fine in a minute or two. Just don’t expect to do anything like this for a very long time.”

The last thing Hazel heard before she lost consciousness was the voice hissing: “And that’ll teach you to pick on children.”

Flash fiction inspired by:
RDP Monday prompt: spatter
Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge 151
Ritu Bhathal’s prompt of chocolate for JusJoJan 10th Jan 2022

Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge: Faceache

Inspired by Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge

You would watch
As I worked
I would sing
You would frown

You watched
As I rested
I smiled
You frowned

You would watch
As I played
I would laugh
But you, you frowned

You never watched
As I cried
But your frown
Was always there
Unlike me