Inside Madammé Flintchet’s Mind

As with last week’s post, this story “outline” (if you could even call it that) comes from many moons ago. How many moons, I’m not exactly sure. Circa 2010 or 2011, if I had to guess. It’s entirely ridiculous and nonsensical and not at all like the kind of thing I write these days– and I just had to share, for the sake of… posterity, I guess. It’s probably best not to question it. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy.

Madammé Flintchet’s Mind – A Tourist’s Guide 

Ageing spinster [Madammé Flintchet] owns her own home in which her middle-aged brother has a room, rent-free. He’s an aspiring comedian earning little-to-no money and always thinking up mad get-rich-quick schemes that never work out.

Francés (Madammé Flintchet) is a retired horticulture teacher who is often inspired with great ideas that come from nowhere – often while she’s about to drift off or wake up.

(Note to Self: comedic tone.

Alternative character names: Nora or Mildred or Millie)

One night, while giving her creaky headboard a thud to shut it up, [Francés] pauses. What did she just hear? It was just her tummy rumbling. Nothing to worry about. Although, she did internally note that there wasn’t the usual vibration to accompany such a rumble.

She muses about cat assassins while following a stray down the path/alley. [????]

One night, upon leaving her room – to ‘make use of the facilities’ as she puts it – she shot high off her feet, startled by her brother returning from a midnight kitchen raid.

SMACK!

She hadn’t noticed him until the words, “What’s the craic?” echoed in the darkness.

Told from the perspective of a ‘person’ working in her mind, on his tea break.

“Oh, look at the time! Must dash!”

“Suduko alert! All working braincells report for duty!”

“It’s been non-stop in here this morning!” etc.

Again, yes, this is indeed how it ends. I’m as baffled as anyone as to why I haven’t gotten a multi-million-dollar publishing deal yet. It must be those inexplicable cat assassins!

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Travel Awkwardness

This evening, I’ve been clearing out some paperwork from my home office. So much of what I found was so old, I’d forgotten ever writing it. Alongside my long-abandoned novel, and a partial script for a random radio play, and drafted children’s book, and doodles for a Christian colouring book were six loose pages.

Two of the loose pages outline a story I will share here next week, and the other four (titled ‘Travel Awkwardness’) form what I’m guessing was supposed to become a blog post. Well, today, I’m going to make that blog post a reality, because it’s (in my opinion) so cringingly funny I just have to share. Below, therefore, is a direct transcription.

I travel fairly regularly – not very far most of the time, but usually just enough that I require a small wheeled suitcase. Other than a suitcase, though, I travel alone, and this comes with a few issues that couples or groups would never experience. Like, when sitting in an airport for a few hours – waiting for a flight, obviously – a common thing to do is to read and/or help yourself to a caffeinated beverage. This is fairly standard, regardless of who you’re with (/not with), but the difference is what happens after this period of sitting but before the period of getting up to sit in a big metal bird: one goes to the bathroom.

Going to the bathroom is not as simple as it sounds, for people with other people. But people without other people have to pack up everything and head to the bathroom with it for fear that it will be stolen (by security guards more likely than actual thieves).

People with people (PWP) can leave their caffeinated beverage half drunk, their magazine open on their table, their suitcase and their toddler behind them for a few brief moments alone to freshen up because – joy of joys – they have a minder.* Meanwhile, I’m getting strange looks reflected in my direction from the lucky “look, free hands!” woman standing by the mirror, taking her sweet time to fix her already perfect hair as I try to squeeze both myself and my case round a tiny cubicle door only to find that, now I’m in, the door won’t shut because me/my suitcase are in the way. Needless to say – it takes some manoeuvring.

As the perfect-haired PWP resumes her coffee/magazine/parenthood I am now faced with the problem of releasing myself [from the space] I’ve just spent the last seven minutes trying to get into. Typically, when I do get out, I discover that – due to the plane being “delayed for unforeseen circumstances” – my pre-flight preparation piss was in vain, as I’ve suddenly got two more hours to kill and will therefore no doubt have to complete the process two more times (a side-effect of all those time-killing caffeinated beverages).

Just recently, I was in Dublin – on my own, of course – and an odd thing happened:

Snoring in toilet.

Unknowledgeable fart.

(Yes, that’s really how it ends.

*There’s an asterisk here in my original notes, but no corresponding footnote. Absolutely no idea what I had been planning to clarify or elaborate on at the end. I was so very good at this!)

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The Accidental Chihuahua

I’m quite convinced my husband and I have the smallest dog in the universe. Here’s the story of how we unintentionally acquired him.

It was the day after boxing day and my cousin Kim, who is quite genuinely one of the most fascinating/hilarious/brilliant human beings in the aforementioned universe, was driving to Dublin to drop off her son with his father.

She invited Steve and I along for the drive and we said yes. It was going to be an early start, and we were both quite tired from all the festivities of the past few days, but it sounded like a fun mini adventure.

Kim said she’d pick us up at six.

At half-seven, when she still hadn’t arrived, Steve went to bed.

I stayed up, knowing she’d show up eventually – this was classic Kim.

And lo, another two hours later, a car appeared in the street. I stepped out of my house at the same time Kim opened her car door and placed four tiny paws on the footpath in front of me.

“This is Beans,” she said, “He’s coming too.” Continue reading

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All That Glitters… (Flash Fiction)

This time last year, during a creative writing class run by R.B. Kelly at the Crescent Arts Centre, I was set the task of writing stories using only dialogue. Below is a little something I wrote back then, inspired by the season.

“All that glitters is half price. If the glitter has fallen off, consider it a feature and double the RRP. If the lights aren’t working, or batteries are missing, include them in a buy-one-get-one-free offer. Any questions?”

“Just one.”

“Yes, you in the back. Speak up. What is it?”

“I was just wondering… are you serious?”

“Serious? Why, of course. Perfectly serious.”

“Right. Follow up question…”

“Yes?”

“Are you mad?”

“I don’t appreciate your tone, Susan. What right do you have to question me?”

“Well, I am your manager, and you have only been working here a week.”

“As if that matters. Business genius should count for everything, you know? Ah, but of course you wouldn’t understand.”

“Excuse me?”

“You’re excused. Don’t worry about it, I’m sure you’ll catch on.”

“Brian.”

“Yes, Susan? You want more business advice?”

“Oh, no, I think I’ve heard enough. I just wanted to tell you your P45 will be ready to be picked up in my office by the end of the shift. Have fun trying to sell yourself in another job opportunity. I’m not sure retail is for you.”

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A Love Letter to Lincoln

For Culture Night Belfast this year, the theme was love. Women Aloud NI had two events in the programme. At the one I read at, each of the readers was given a letter and told to write a love letter to it. I got the letter L, and this is what I made of it:

Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England: the place I lived for three years in my late teens/early twenties.

When I thought about what I wanted to write about for this love letter, there were a lot of options, but I think a part of me will always come back to Lincoln.

While at university there, I learned a lot – a lot of it the hard way and absolutely none of it to do with the actual subject I was supposed to be studying.

I fell in love with the city before I had even visited, having poured over guidebooks, maps, and watched a ton of tourism videos. Then, when I did get to see the place in person, for an open day, I knew it was all going to go well from the moment I slipped on some wet leaves while walking down the big hill and ended up with brown sludge smeared all over my backside for the rest of the day as I met other prospective students as well as my future lecturers.

It was all uphill from there. Then downhill for a bit, then uphill again, before finally going up in flames. Which is to say, my experience in those three years was… mixed.  Continue reading

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Obscure Writing Prompt Responses

A year ago, near enough to the day, Belfast Writers’ Group started up again after too long apart. When we got the gang back together, one of the first things we did was work on a crazy series of prompts that, first time around, had me writing about a dead body in a chocolate scullery. Because we’re wildly obscure like that.

Purely by a coincident of timing, we tried the same writing exercise again last week. This time I was to write about rotting turnips in an interview room made of platinum. Below is the madness I came up with.

Being the most expensive palace in the world that no one’s ever heard of, Killasia had its own version of everything – its own swimming pool and helipad, naturally, but also it’s own prison system and jail.

The only thing it didn’t have, until now, was anyone actually trying to break in – it’s difficult to have people after your goods if they’re secret, after all.

Even so, it was fortuitous that the eventuality of a criminal had been thought of and prepared for, because when Mickey Keystone Lennon happened upon the place and decided to try his hand at breaking and entering, the guards had somewhere to put him.

His eyes were wide as he looked around the interview room with its shiny, cold-to-the-touch walls. He wasn’t entirely sure but, if pressed, he would guess they were made out of solid white gold or platinum.

There were no windows in the room – not even one of those fancy two-way walls of glass that allowed people to look in on interviews – just some air vents stopping the space from being completely closed in.

Even the door had a seal around it.

Mickey was too surprised by the placement of his predicament to be worried; at least, at first. After what felt like an age but was probably an hour or two, he began to sweat.

He’d expected to be released soon after his capture, as soon as they figured out he hadn’t got very far into his crime and hadn’t actually managed to nab anything. The place was so big, after all. A palace the size of a country must be subscribed to the Geneva Convention or UN human rights laws or something, right?

By hour four, he was no longer feeling so hopeful. Not only was he not offered a representative, still no one had actually come to question him. That was bad for two reasons: his increasingly urgent need for the toilet, and the turnips he’d hidden in his socks that had been in contact with the heat of his skin so long, the started to rot.

Mickey cursed his decision to raid his neighbour’s allotment, and his stupid urge to follow the hidden path he’d found under a trapdoor he’d found there. Just look where it had landed him – eternally tapped in a platinum-coated interview room with nothing to occupy him but rotten turnips.

Not exactly your usual Thursday.

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My Problem (Microfiction)

Another short piece written during Bernie McGill’s fiction workshops at the John Hewitt International Summer School, based off the prompt, “A time the teacher caught you doing something you should not have been doing.”

Talking was always my problem. Well, that and maybe not listening. I think that’s what they always used to say anyway. I was always being told off for something. If you ask me, my poor hearing was part of the problem. But, well, no one did ever ask me and apparently it was no excuse anyway.

Anyway, this one day, my ears were real fuzzy – like never before. The teacher was looking at me and I could see his mouth moving, but I thought to myself, surely he can’t be telling me off, I haven’t said a word!

Well, as it turned out, the homework that day was to work on an oral presentation and I’d forgotten. The one time I was actually supposed to say my piece, and I got in trouble for keeping quiet.

Bloody typical!

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Favourite Quotes

Last week, my friend Valerie did a ‘quote challenge’ on her blog and tagged me in it. You’re supposed to share three quotes over three days, but I’ve decided to just share a selection of my favourites here in a single post instead. Just something fun as I ruminate on the bigger, more serious things I want to blog about in the future (it’s been a hard week; lots of think-y thoughts. But more on that later!).

I actually have a notebook dedicated to quotes & song lyrics I love. I like to collect them up to read back; why not share them?

Here’s one: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” (Often attributed to Dr Seuss) – I needed to reread this one, today, even if I am a firm advocate of crying if/when you need to. Maybe it should be, ‘cry because it’s over, but smile too, because it happened.’

Yes, I think I like that more. Inside my quote book – right inside the front cover – I have one that says, “What’s the use of a good quote if you can’t change it?” I don’t know who wrote that. It could well have been me.

What else?

“You are always a little bit wrong,” – Hank Green.

Sadly, sadly true.

I lot of great quotes come from the Green brothers. It was John who said, “Truth resists simplicity,” which is another sadly true fact. (Ah, but if life were easy!)

John Green was also the person to say, “Maybe our favourite quotes say more about us than the stories and people we’re quoting.”

And isn’t that brilliant? Quotes about quotes are terribly meta, and I’m here for it!

Time for a little Oscar Wilde! He said, “Women are made to be loved, not understood,” which I like, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t try for the latter.

It was Brad Meltzer who said, “There’s nothing more intimate in life than simply being understood and understanding someone else,” which is 100% true and 50% of the reason I love my husband (the other 50% is his sense of humour and fantastic beach body).

Genius, apparently (according to EB White, at any rate) is “more often found in a cracked pot than a whole one.” Which I guess is the reason my husband loves me. I’m an excellent crackpot, firmly following the advice of Abraham Lincoln (“Whatever you are, be a good one.”).

And speaking of love. “Love is a condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own,” – Robert Heinlein.

But let’s go back to John Green for a moment, because he shared this and it needs repeating and repeating and being written on walls and tattooed on backsides: “You are helpful and you are loved and you are forgiven and you are not alone.”

take a deep breath, then go back and read that again.

Now leave, I’m done here and returning to my writing. As Frank Zappa said, “So many books, so little time!”

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The Chocolate Scullery (Flash Fiction)

During the September meeting for Belfast Writers’ Group (which has finally got back together after its long hiatus!), we did a writing exercise in which we wrote something based on three prompts: the name a room, a luxurious material, and something that rots. Pictured above are the options I was handed, and below is what I made of them. Heads up, it’s about to get weird.

Dark chocolate wasn’t the material you often found rooms made out of, but this room – a scullery on the side of a cliff – was no ordinary room. It had three walls, half a roof, and only one other room attached to it: a kitchen.

Inside the scullery was a large dining table, also made out of dark chocolate. On it were three matching candlesticks made out of white chocolate, and a centrepiece of lard.

Having only three walls, there was no need for any windows, but it had six anyway. It was soon discovered after the room was built that if you didn’t keep air flowing inside, it would melt. Enclosure didn’t help with the dead body smell, either.

The source of the dead body smell was, as can be expected, a body. That was dead. It belonged to the owner of the adjoining rooms, a man in his fifteen-hundreds who didn’t like you to point out the smell or oddities of his dwelling, thank you very much.

All in all, it wasn’t the weirdest thing about him.

Some people (for, yes, there were frequent visitors) thought the fact that he was lactose intolerant was the weirdest thing but, nope, they were wrong too.

One day – a very hot day, in which half of the kitchen (which was made out of Philadelphia cream cheese) – fell into the sea and the dead body (let’s call him Jim) decided he’d had enough, and melted the chocolate scullery to the ground/rock face.

It got stuck, which made Jim even angrier, and the skulls didn’t like it much either.

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Desire (for National Flash Fiction Day)

It’s National Flash Fiction Day here, in the UK.

To celebrate the occasion, I present to you a super short story of mine, entitled Desire.

Janet licked her lips. Her eyes glazed over as she looked through the window at her soulmate. She’d been sure it was meant to be from the moment she saw the advert online.

Taking a quick moment to preen at her reflection, she stepped into the café, ready to meet her destiny. Bravely, she approached the counter, practically salivating at the shop girl before her. Everything Janet wanted was within reach.

Until, suddenly, someone jumped the queue and took the last doughnut out from right under her nose.

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