We hit the road at sunrise. Anna complained about packing the bikes in the pre-dawn dark. But we had to make up for the kilometres we'd lost yesterday to punctures and her mishap. Our reward was a crimson landscape when the sun crested the horizon. I rode ahead, and Anna fell behind, as usual.
My class had a lesson on "conservation" at school today. Miss said it's where people reuse old things or use new things more thoughtfully. Or do stuff differently to stop using up the Earth's resources. She said conservation is important because our planet is sick, and we need to help make it healthy again.
"Happy anniversary, Darl." My blank look doesn't wipe the smile from his face. "It's our double anniversary, remember?" he prompts, presenting me with a single red rose. "Nine months since the party and six months since you moved in." My nan taught me to tell the truth. "Of course I remember," I lie.
The photograph is gloomy, and the colours are fading. But it was twenty-five years ago. I'm sitting in the high-ceilinged inner courtyard of the Al-Rabie Hotel in Old Damascus, catching up my travel journal. My wife calls out from the first floor. I stop writing, look up and wave for the camera.
It’s a warm, sunny day and I'm strolling along Brighton Promenade during my lunch break. Seagulls are circling and squawking, and sunlight shimmers on the blue-green English Channel. I look away from the bright horizon and see her walking towards me. Twenty metres and twenty years separate us.
The golden sand squeaks in protest as Megan presses her body more firmly into the beach towel. A gentle breeze carries a salty scent and chills the sweat glistening on her sun-toasted skin, as gulls crawk and waves break in a relaxing rhythm. Megan licks her lips and sighs. And then a phone rings.
Should have done this years ago. But don't tell Pearl I said that because she's been on at me for ages to do a cruise. I kept telling her I didn't want to be stuck on a floating hotel with a bunch of strangers. I'd rather spend our holidays towing a caravan around Australia, where I know the score.
The trip app listed the hotel as an "Exotic Getaway" with "Splendid Views". After the year-long anxiety of COVID-19 and lockdowns, it looked perfect. I tapped BOOK on my phone, entered my credit card details, and texted Sally: "Pack the bags. We're off to the mountains for the weekend."
Kevin caught the news in a chat room on the Dark Web. NASA had detected an unidentified object on a collision course with Earth. He wasn't surprised NASA had kept the news secret from the public. It was further proof of a plan by scientists and elites, backed by billionaires, to create a new world order.
JITTERY. 16-down, “Nervous or unable to relax (7 letters)”. Loud voices in the street drown out the TV. I put down my crossword, walk to the front window and part the curtains. They're at it again, the neighbours across the way. I can see them pointing and shouting at each other under the pale street lights.
Stevie was slumped on the living room sofa when his mum and dad returned home from the shops. Their raised voices drowned out the old gangster movie on the TV. “It’s junk,” Stevie’s mum snapped. “No it’s not,” his dad retorted, “it’s an antique. And a bargain. Only 30 quid!” Stevie slid down the sofa.
Elliot parked at the side of the road close to the beach. He grabbed a brown-bagged bottle of tequila and the lemon and salt shaker he'd pinched from the restaurant where he worked as a kitchen-hand. Tie a Yellow Ribbon was on the radio and Elliot turned it up loud to hear it over the breaking waves.
Between you and me, Lenny, there are more mourners at your funeral with the COVID restrictions than would have been graveside had you died before the pandemic. Streaming it over Zoom helps boost your numbers. Mind you, most of the faces on my computer screen are strangers, or I haven't seen for ages.
"And now the piece de resistance," the old Colonel announced, leading his younger guest to a sunlit garden. "What do you think?" he enquired, waving his walking stick at the garden's centrepiece. There stood a life-size marble sculpture of a man and woman, hands caressing each other, lips fused in a kiss.
FIVE logged onto their first Zoom meeting. "Right-o, can everyone hear and see me?" asked Julian, who, as the leader, had scheduled the meeting and emailed invites, with help from his clever-clogs cousin, George.
Five Meet On Zoom is a short story from TallAndTrue.com, written and narrated by Robert Fairhead. At the end of the episode, Robert provides a writer’s insight into the story, inspired by Enid Blyton, which he wrote...
Tall And True Short Reads is an audio fiction podcast featuring original short stories from TallAndTrue.com, written and narrated by Robert Fairhead. At the end of each episode, Robert provides a writer’s insight into the story, why and how he wrote it.
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