The Saturday Shed: Smother Love

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This is a scheduled post using the word FORGIVENESS for inspiration.
For those with the time or inclination: Feel free to join in!
The prompt next week is

“The rhubarb is coming through.” Babs burst into the kitchen and dumped a muddy trug on the table. “I’ll pick some after lunch.” She threw her gloves on the draining board and began scrubbing her hands. “We could make some wine.”

“If you like.” Doris frowned and moved the colander of potatoes draining in the sink.

“Oops!” Babs laughed. “Sorry about that. But a drop of water never hurt anyone.” She reached for the towel. “You’ve done sausages, you star!”

“They’ll be cold by now. But if you could just clean that table, I’ll dish up.”

Babs grabbed the trug and plonked it in the laundry basket. Doris bit back her reprimand as Babs tucked a napkin into her shirt collar.

“You cook marvellous bangers.” She grinned through a mouthful of food. “Can’t think how I didn’t starve before I met you.”

Doris glanced at the photograph on the wall between the dresser and the fridge. A sweet face stared back at her. Babs’ mum. A woman who made it a holy mission to protect her daughter from pain, failure, and discomfort until the day she died.

“I’m sure you managed,” Doris murmured, spooning homemade tomato relish onto her plate.

“Not as well as I do now.” Babs laid down her cutlery. “You know how I was when we first met. But now…” Her voice trailed away.

“The food is still warm; would you credit it?” Doris chewed thoughtfully.

“Sorry,” Babs whispered. “I promise you; I do try.”

“Sometimes, I wonder if it’s another mother you want rather than a lover.”

“No, Dodo.” Babs stretched out a hand. “You are oxygen to me, but sometimes I get lightheaded and act like an idiot.”

Doris wrapped her fingers around Bab’s calloused palm. “If I am the air you breathe, then you are the blood in my veins.”

Babs blushed and attacked her food with gusto. “I’ll do the washing-up after we finish. And this afternoon, I’ll make a start on your herb garden idea.”

“What about the rhubarb?”

“It can wait until later, and I’ll make you a rhubarb crumble for tea.” Babs grinned at the thought.

“I’d like that,” Doris smiled.

The Saturday Shed: Keeping it up Your Sleeve

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This is a scheduled post using the prompt SLEEVE for inspiration.
For those with the time or inclination, next week’s word is STUBBORN

“Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?” A female voice murmured. “She always wears long sleeves.”

“And you never see her in shorts, even on the hottest of days.” Another voice piped up.

Evelyn ignored the whispered comments as she passed the women sitting by the pool. If only they knew, she thought. But summer was the worst season: How she longed to shed the kaftans and expose her limbs to gentle sunshine. But the ugly lumps and bumps were only just fading, and there were plenty more where they came from. With a sigh, Evelyn pulled out her keys and climbed the steps to her holiday apartment.

“Where have you been?” said Owen, as she opened the front door.

He reached for her and dragged her inside. Evelyn stifled a scream as she tripped over the mat.

“Oops-a-daisy!” Owen hoisted her up and kissed her on the nose. “Didn’t mean to startle you, but the lady at the chemist suggested you try this.” He pulled a small tub from his pocket. “Guaranteed to reduce the swelling.”

“And the itching?” she said with a hopeful smile.

“Allegedly. Now, where shall I start?”

“You do the insect bites on my legs, and I’ll do the ones on my arms.”


Later that evening, wearing her customary coverups, Evelyn sat by the pool, watching Owen playing in the water with their son. A heavy smell of DEET and citronella clung to her. She tried not to hear the gossiping women she’d ignored earlier.

“There goes Dana, smothered in fake tan, as usual.”

“Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?”

The Saturday Shed – Sex on the Beach

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This is a scheduled post using the prompt FUN for inspiration.
(I’m just trying to stay ahead of the game and have a Saturday lie-in).
For those with the time or inclination, feel free to join in the fun!

“A finger, a thumb, a kick up the bum, stand up, sit down, keep moving.” Jack’s voice echoed up the stairway, getting closer.

Stacey rolled over and pulled the covers over her head. Strong hands gripped her ankles.

“Ho-ho,” yodelled Jack. “You can run, but you can’t hide, my pretty.”

“Fuck off, darling.” She wrenched her legs free.

“Shan’t, I’ve got the devil in me today. Come on, hands-off cocks and on socks!”

“Cut the cliches and go away. And do not return until you revert to a normal human being.”

“Ain’t never gonna happen, sweetheart.”

“Bastard!” Stacey screamed as he tipped her onto the floor in a flurry of bedding. “Can’t you leave me in peace?” 

“I’m bored, and you said you wanted to go to the beach today.”

“Not at five in the morning,” she said, crawling out from a tangle of sheets.

“Why not? We can have a picnic breakfast, watch the sunrise, and take a swim with no one else to annoy us.”

“Does sound tempting.”

“I’ve packed our bags and made up a hamper. I even ironed your frock.” He handed her a summer dress. “All you need to do is go for a wee and get dressed.”

“I’ll pee at the beach.” Stacey slipped the dress over her head.

“What no underwear?” Jack leered.

“Won’t need it when we get to the dunes, will I?”

Z is for Zoetic

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An attempt to produce a poem or story from now until the end of April (except Sundays).
The theme for the 2022 A to Z Challenge is the human condition.

I have a photograph I carry around in my purse. The one of my dad on his fiftieth birthday. Mum and I clubbed together to buy him a hot-air balloon ride. In the picture, he is grinning like a kid on Christmas Day. You can see his excitement as he hangs over the side of the basket. His hands are a blur, but his eyes sparkle with two-dimensional joy. The face staring at me now is nothing but a ghost of that man.

“Look, he’s smiling at you!” Nurse Tina announces when she spots me standing in the doorway. She means well, but does she honestly believe that this dribbling wreck is capable of recognising his daughter?

Right from the start, even when my father still had some of his marbles left, her fluffy bunny act grated on the pair of us. She never realised she was dealing with a pair of heartless cynics. Neither of us wept at my mother’s funeral, bereft though we were. The fact my little brother hasn’t spoken to any of us since he left home twenty years ago, we take on the chin. No time for sentimentality; we liked our lives to be real. Nurse Tina, with her uplifting quotes and soft manner, was anathema to my father. So was being treated like a baby.

“Would you like to feed Dad?” she said on that first day, a beaming smile on her face.

“No,” I shrieked, ready to run from the room. My father’s eyes implored me not to assist. He managed a shake of the head. Nurse Tina probably thought it was just a muscle spasm. She pushed a dish of something gooey and pale at me. Invalid food, for my father, the invalid. Once a man of action, dreams and laughter, now reduced to a twisted jumble of limbs. Sitting on his bed, holding his hand and reading the latest Stephen King, no problem, but spooning gloop into his mouth, no way.

“Leave him some dignity,” I said without thinking. “He’s my dad, not my baby son.”

“Lunch will be over in half an hour.” Nurse Tina’s smile faded at my callousness. “Come back then.”

She dismissed me with a curt nod, and I wandered off to the garden, where I smoked a cigarette and resolved to avoid visiting at mealtimes. I would hold Dad’s sippy cup and pop peeled grapes into his mouth, but nothing more personal. We weren’t that kind of family. After a few weeks, he regained some control of his right hand. Now I could help. With Barney propped up next to Dad, all I had to do was cut the food and hand over the fork while Dad fed himself and his grandson with aeroplane and train noises.

Nurse Tina approved. “It gets easier, doesn’t it?” she would say and pat my shoulder. And I would smile back while stealthily wriggling out of her grasp. She was too used to touchy-feely families; bless her! When she told Dad about the room next door and how the wife would feed and toilet her ailing husband. Dad rolled his eyes and mumbled he would rather die.

“You are dying!” I said.

“Behave, or I’ll use your inheritance to pay for a trip to Dignitas.”

“You can’t: I’ve got power of attorney,” I reminded him. “And large fluffy cushions.”

“Do you hear that, Nurse? My daughter’s planning to kill me,” Dad slurred between snorts of laughter. “Don’t you dare try to stop her.”

Tina smiled in the way of one who will never get the joke, but hopes it is one.

Before I left that day, I told her Dad had a dark sense of humour and enjoyed shocking people. Not a total lie, but Nurse Tina relaxed. Although she has never been completely happy around me.

Today, she is wearing her compassionate face because my father is unlikely to last the night. His life force, the vitality that made him my dad, is ebbing away. Even I can see it.

I take my customary seat and clasp my father’s hand in mine. When Nurse Tina squeezes my shoulder, this time I don’t shrug her off, but I reach up and entwine my fingers with hers.

T is for Therapy

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An attempt to produce a poem or story from now until the end of April (except Sundays).
The theme for the 2022 A to Z Challenge is the human condition.

Eighteen years of my life are gone, just like that.

How could you do this to me?

I was always there for you. Through the tax evasion, the bank robbery, and even the murder, I stood by you and defended you from your critics.

People said you were no good for me, and I should stop seeing you, but I couldn’t. You fascinated and beguiled me, and I loved you with all my heart.

Now, you’re gone, and I am bereft. But not alone. There must be other people experiencing this same pain. Maybe, I can find an online support group…