Sound Bite Fiction

This on-going collection of stories has been and are being written in my current home on the Côte d’Azur.
Many of the tales are based in and around the town I call Medville, others are situated in Scotland, and the remainder take place in less exceptional parts of this and other worlds.

Mysterious and enigmatic, served with a splash of humour, nothing here is ever quite what it seems.

Expect the unexpected.
There is always a twist in the tail.
Nearly.

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The Cat – Six Sentence Story

Artwork by Carolina Sartor
Artwork by Carolina Sartor

This challenge is produced by GirlieOnTheEdge with the following simple rules:
Write 6 Sentences. No more. No less.
Use the current week’s prompt word – METER or METRE*

Click here to hear the author read his words:

The Cat

He saunters, sleek, plump and unconcerned, through the filthy streets, indifferent to the resentful scowls from mangy moggies and ragged urchins alike.

He is known, of course, and no one dare touch him, the most envied cat, the most hated creature, in this dilapidated city.

When a scrawny cur emerges from his home under a pile of junk and moves to attack eager watchers hold their collective breath in anticipation.

The cat barely breaks stride, but his tail stands straight, a full metre* high, every hair of his glossy coat quivers tall, his claws extend and he spits fury.

As the dog slinks back into his hole the cat continues, unmoved, to his place of work.

There his soft fur is stroked and caressed, and his delicate tongue cleans the excess fluid from the breasts of the wealthy young mothers in the maternity hospital.

*How those of us who are non-colonials spell this week’s prompt word

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old

artwork by Phil Burns

Click here to hear the poet read his words:

old

holding my mother’s hand
I’d walk to the swing park
that was the big world
until the day I went to school in a tie
then I puffed my chest out
and thought
wow I am old

no time for holding hands
I discovered football
then rock n roll
and finally girls
until the day I left uni
went to work in a tie
and thought
man I am old

holding my daughter’s hand
I’d walk to the swing park
thinking about career
and mortgage
and divorce
but mostly
hell I am old

no chance of holding hands
I live alone
my children in faraway lands
I think about the past
lost opportunities
some regrets
and finally
now I am old

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of giants and giraffes – Six Sentence Story

artwork by phil burns

This challenge is produced by GirlieOnTheEdge with the following simple rules:
Write 6 Sentences. No more. No less.
Use the current week’s prompt word – VERGE

Click here to hear the author read his words:

of giants and giraffes

I stare at the woman, once again stunned at how some people seem to exist on the verge of stupidity.

My long-time friend, colleague and creative collaborator Phil Burns, artist and illustrator extraordinaire, and I are at the event we have arranged to promote the release of the first book in our Jack the little Giant trilogy.

We, or rather I, have read the little tale to the invited audience, Phil has discussed some aspects of his artwork which, I hasten to say, elevates our creation well above the level of the cheerful children’s rhyme that my words suggest, and we are now mingling.

The aforementioned lady is haranguing me about an aspect of our work that, she claims, stretches her credulity rather too far.

I should perhaps explain that the book relates the adventures of a little Giant, that is to say a Giant who is pretty much a toddler, who sneaks out at night, is tricked by a fox with an unexplained French accent into destroying a well-loved Glasgow landmark, then goes to the zoo and talks to a selection of animals about his mishap.

This lady, seemingly unperturbed by the improbability of these happenings, is upset by a scene-setting couplet which reads, for the sake of rhyme and rhythm,
‘He goes into the city and sees a high tower
The clock at the top shows it’s ten past the hour’
but which, as she stridently berates me, fails to accurately reflect the time shown in Phil’s superb hand-painted image shown above!

* * *

To see the director’s cut of the ‘movie’ of the book, with additional characters and other ridiculous stuff, I invite you to please click here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsELmvd7YSs

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love and butterflies

copyright c e ayr

Click here to hear the poet read his words:

love and butterflies

once upon a time
I saw a butterfly
drifting
floating
flitting
whimsically twinkling
through the brightly hued garden
of life
making me smile
brightening my existence
alighting for but a moment
on each flower in my soul
eclipsing the radiance of each petal
nurturing my wonder
giving pleasure
and
happiness

* * *

by her very nature
her joy-bringing was ephemeral
but in that brief second
I savoured her magic
her elegance
her effortless grace
and I was lifted by her beauty

* * *

what a gift she inspired
just by being
what a gift to teach
with no word
the purest of all of life’s lessons
that which you cherish
but for a fragment of an instant
yet
which
enriches for all eternity

* * *

I held her for that fraction
and
watched the colours fade
too fast
released her
with a smile
and a tear
realised
of a sudden
the saddest lesson
of them all

you cannot love a butterfly
by pinning it to a wall
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Ritual – Six Sentence Story

copyright C. E. Ayr

This challenge is produced by GirlieOnTheEdge with the following simple rules:
Write 6 Sentences. No more. No less.
Use the current week’s prompt word – ETERNAL

Click here to hear the author read his words:

Ritual

My daughter, the solitary star in my darkening sky, takes my arm as my legs struggle to climb the steep slopes towards the hilltop city which was old when Babylon was founded.

Today is her birthday, thirteen years since her beautiful mother died giving her life, and I love my child beyond any words I have ever heard, read or written, and yet my heart trembles that she is with me today.

Because of the wars and the long journeys over mountains, deserts and oceans I am aged far beyond my time, but it is now November 13th in the third year of the decade, which means that ten harsh years have passed since the ritual was last performed.

According to the Book of Eternal Truth, as interpreted by the Elders, we have no choice; this ceremony must take place today, and here, to ensure the very survival of our people.

Weak and weary as I am, there is no other person to whom I can entrust this dreadful task, and so, ignoring the blinding sun and my aching thirst, I drag myself onwards and upwards, wheedle and bribe my way past the sentries on the gates and limp through dank cobbled streets to our destination.

I lean in shadow under the crumbling monastery walls and, as my little angel watches, silent but wide-eyed, I test the blade of the ancient and holy kukri against my thumb while the evening slips by and I pray for an alternative virgin.

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Venice

copyright c e ayr

Click here to hear the poet read his words:

Venice

Sydney Opera House
Edinburgh Castle
San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge
symbols of great cities
which gladden the heart
everyone has a personal favourite
from a thousand choices
history scenery romance
the world over

and there is
Venice
unique mythical silently traffic-less

brings laughter
and tears of joy
alleyways or calle
from piazza to canal
across tiny bridges
uncounted symbolic gondolas

a powerhouse republic
the winged lion
for a millennium
ruled half of Italy
and half of the Mediterranean

cathedrals
magical market-places
waterfront villas of unimaginable scope
Bridge of Sighs Grand Canal
Doge’s Palace Rialto St Mark’s Square
all legendary
known to children
of every land
and every tongue

a city alone
like no other
a city of wonder
a city of dreams

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Shawls and Dolls – Six Sentence Story

Artwork by Phil Burns

This challenge is produced by GirlieOnTheEdge with the following simple rules:
Write 6 Sentences. No more. No less.
Use the current week’s prompt word – PLAY

Click here to hear the author read his words:

Shawls and Dolls

So, my friend J tells me, I gave Sheila this beautiful shawl, created in Russia back in the time of the Tsars, which I inherited from my grandmother (it might have been great- or great-great-grandmother, I don’t know, because I had, to be honest, stopped listening after the mention of Sheila) and you’ll never guess her reaction!

Well, she continues with scarcely a breath-length pause to allow any guess (not that I was about to offer one, but still), she leapt about twenty feet into the air (a pretty unlikely scenario if you happen to know Sheila) and shrilled that she couldn’t possibly accept anything from that inhumane regime.

And so, J goes on, I pointed out to her that not only does she still play, albeit appallingly badly, the works of Mr Tchaikovsky on her painfully out-of-tune piano, but that the current ‘inhumane regime’ comprises the descendants of those who executed the previous ‘inhumane regime’ for being, as you might say, a bit inhumane.

Furthermore, (J is still spluttering indignantly), I reminded her that the current victims of the aggression have a less than spotless record on the old human rights front, and just because a nasty wee bully gets his face punched by a nasty bigger bully doesn’t automatically make the nasty wee bully a good person.

So (and her tale is, I sense with considerable relief, now approaching some semblance of a finale) Sheila eventually accepted my argument and my gift, laying it (the gift, not the argument) on the table-top and turning over its beautiful folds one by one.

Finally I speak, a significant feat when J is in full flow, asking ‘And did she find within it a set of successively smaller shawls?’

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inspiration

copyright c e ayr

Click here to hear the poet read his words:

inspiration

my mind wanders to Venice San Francisco Aix-en-Provence
to the banks of the Somme and the Columbia Rivers
to the Snoqualmie Pass and Glencoe
to Loch Lomond and the Puget Sound
to the Mediterranean Sea and to English Bay Vancouver BC

I think of my grandson
the trees the birds the animals we saw and talked to
of our trips down the Clyde on the Waverley Paddle Steamer
to Helensburgh where we found crabs in rock pools
to the Museum of Transport and the Glasgow Science Centre
to Kelvingrove Park and Museum
the Bird Sanctuary at Lochwinnoch
and the National Museum in Edinburgh

for whom I wrote three children’s books
innumerable poems and short stories
more daft rhymes than you can shake a stick at
even if it is a secret dragon-hunting mammoth-catching super-hydrosonic magic stick

he taught me that every visit to Queens Park
(named after Mary Queen of Scots)
was a new adventure

and I learned from him
that life is inspiration
if only we live it

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My Job – Six Sentence Story

Artwork by Phil Burns

This challenge is produced by GirlieOnTheEdge with the following simple rules:
Write 6 Sentences. No more. No less.
Use the current week’s prompt word – ENERGY

Click here to hear the author read his words:

My Job

The children, cheeks glowing and noses running from the biting cold, tumble into their home, little more than a hovel, and as Father tugs their thin wet coats off their scrawny bodies I do nothing, because it’s not my job.

He shepherds them away from where Mother lies pallid in a corner cot, tries to dry their home-cut hair with a threadbare towel, all the while trying to raise their spirits with his chatter, and I do nothing, because it’s not my job.

Bidding them stay calm, not overly excite Mother, he leads them to her bedside and, although her pain is obvious as she tries to find the strength and the energy to lift her head to smile at her clutch of little darlings, I do nothing, because it’s not my job.

Father goes to the ancient stove, heats a pot containing a thin gruel, and pours it into five small plates along with a chunk of hard bread, while the children whisper sweetly to Mother and I do nothing, because it’s not my job.

When the children have consumed their meagre fare they sit on the floor and sing sweet Carols to Mother while Father bemoans the lack of medicine which I could provide, but don’t, because it’s not my job.

When Mother sighs softly and breathes no more, I step to her, close her eyes, and remove her soul, or spirit, or life force, or whatever you call it in your particular belief system, because that is my job.

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Hallowe’en 2022

artwork by phil burns

Click here to hear the poet read his words:

Hallowe’en

aw Scotland’s scary myths and legends
fae Tam o Shanter tae Sawney Bean
creep and slither yince mair fae the shadows
each year the nicht o Hallowe’en

(interlude)

nae bairn can contain their excitement
as the end of October draws near
each wee brain fair itches
as they think about witches
it is the scariest night of the year

aye Hallowe’en’s a nicht o fear-filled frolics
as long as you ca canny
ye micht see a de’il
or a bogle for real
if you keek in each impenetrably dark nook and cranny

some traditions have lasted forever and ever
some changes we find quite surprising
in the US it’s neat
to say trick or treat
but in Scotland for the past 500 years we call it guising

there’s ay laughter and games for the wee yins
with treacle scones hung on a loosely-strung string
just mind your thrapple
when dookin for apples
in case a wild wean wi a sharp-pronged fork takes a swing

everyone carves out a lacklustre lantern
we use turnips but some folk use pumpkins
we may be old fashioned
but please show compassion
and don’t confuse us with near-extinct country bumpkins

though it’s now all modern and commercialised
we aw continue to do things we’re no supposed tae
it’s still the nerve-numbing night
that causes face-freezing fright
when we walk wi all sorts of gruesome ghouls and ghastly ghosties

Hallowe’en is the annual haunt of the bogeyman
he frightens the bravest bairns out of their hat-disguised heads
he has never been seen
but does that really just mean
he is hiding patiently under your bed?


*Glossary of Terms:

aye – yes
ca’ canny – take care
bogle – a bad thing, a spectre, a goblin
keek – look
ay – always
thrapple – throat, windpipe
dookin’ – ducking, trying to capture from a large basin or bath
wean, bairn – child
tae – to
bogeyman – boogeyman (USA), very bad (hopefully) imaginary person

Posted in Poetry, Poetry, Scottish Stuff, funny and serious | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments