Saturday, October 31, 2015


Today, sitting behind L'Hostalet sipping tea and munching Catherine's savory tarts, we watched the vendors and customers at the marché. They gave us much inspiration for my writing friend and I to do our ten minute exercises creating a flash fiction piece. The only drawback was we know too many people to chat with. And people come first. But I did get one piece written. Here it is unedited.

GINA spent at least 10 minutes trying to decide to buy flowers. She left the marché stand, selected cheese and tomatoes from Jean and Pierre's stalls.

The desire for flowers was too strong. She went back. Lilies were four euros, a mixed bouquet five, and a single rose three.

"Is it a gift?" the vendor asked.

"Yes." It was a gift for herself.

He put the flowers in a transparent film, took yellow and orange ribbons and made a bow near the bottom of the stems. He used a small knife to run down the ends, creating curly cues.

Gina's other errands were mundane, although the smell of fresh bread from the oven made the bakery smell heavenly. The butcher was able to sell her a cheap piece of mutton, that she knew she could stew into tenderness

Back home she put the flowers in a vase on the kitchen table, but then moved them to the living room.

As she prepared the stew, she changed her mind and returned the flowers to the kitchen table. She found herself smiling every time she saw them as she moved from table to counter to stove in preparing the lambb stew.

The kitchen door opened. Thomas stormed in. "What are those?"


"How much did you pay for them?"

She told him.

"God damn waste of money." He went into the living room slamming the doors behind him.

She looked at the flowers and a wave of sadness swept over her not at the waste of money on flowers but the waste that was her marriage.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The stop sign

As my writing pal and I sat in the café, we didn't see anyone (as we call them victim, target or body) walking on the street. We went to Plan B to find the trigger for the next exercise: read a random sentence from a book. It was "All of this was elementary and the most interesting question...?" We were to fill in the blank and write for 10 minutes.

All of this was elementary and the most interesting question was why.

Jack wanted to know why the mayor had refused to put up a stop sign after the public works and deputy mayor had refused.

Frank asked why he had gone to his his car just then. He could have waited for the hot coffee in his thermos instead of abandoning his intersection three minutes early.

Mrs. Miller the fifth grade teach asked why she hadn't paid more attention to Billy.

Alexandria asked why any mother would let an eight-year old go to school by himself. She'd called the child protection agency, but didn't know the outcome.

Darren asked why his friend wasn't in class.

The mayor asked why he hadn't listened about the sign.

Jason asked why he hadn't slowed at the intersection.

Beige Cowboy Boots

My writing pal and I were at La Noisette. A funeral was taking place at the church across the street, when we saw a young woman, dressed as described in the story. We used her as a trigger for the 10 minutes of free write. This is my flash fiction piece.

MOST of the mourners wore dark clothes. As was the local custom, they weren't dressed-up. Sunday-best for these occasions had long ago gone the way of the dodo.

They all turned to stare when Isabelle bounded up the church steps in a white short skirt, beige cowboy boots and a beige suede fringe jacket that would have been more appropriate on the Texas panhandle.

Isabelle knew that would be the reaction of Jacques' friends and neighbors. 

They had never approved of her, thinking she was after his money. His wife had not been dead a month when she started visiting almost daily.

He had not been that well before his wife of 50 years had died, but it was as if he had staved off his own illness to take care of her.

The French don't have a good word for "floozie" but if they did, they would have applied it to Isabelle.

"Disgusting," one woman murmured as Isabelle entered the church. 

Isabelle heard, but smiled. It was not that she was happy that Jacques was gone except for the fact he was now pain free.

She had deliberately selected her cowgirl outfit to honor their love--not of each other but of the American West.

In his last week he'd told her about the Navajo, Genizaro, Apache and Comanche tribes including their customs. He was an expert on cattle raising although he'd grown up in Paris and had never been near a real ranch. The western flora and fauna were more familiar to him than the plants outside his front door.

When he talked, he forgot his pain.

Isabelle knew, even if the others didn't, he would laugh at her costume, and that was worth their censure.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The cabin holiday

This exercise was triggered by the line from a book. "But the water bowls never worked."

But the water bowls never worked. 

And the wood stove? Maybe in olden times women could cook and cook well over a fire. Her? She could undercook or overcook anything.

And what kind of holiday was it anyway when she had to go into the woods to pee or worse and cooking was an almost all day process?

Her husband loved this cabin where he'd spend every summer during his childhood. This was their first trip after two years of marriage. He'd been so excited to show off its wonders.

They had to reach it by God damned canoe, for Christ's sake, their supplies at their feet as they paddled across the icy lake.

Now that was another thing--her choice of feeling dirty or turning blue in the lake.

Sexual fantasies for her holiday? Her fantasy, now, was a hotel with a heated pool, restaurants with stars on their door, churches and museums to explore and maybe a concert.

Her husband's head and shoulders appeared in the kitchen window. "Wonderful news!"

Before she could ask, "We're leaving????" he held up a a fish, one recently dead. "Lunch," he said.

She tried not to cry. "

This was triggered at La Noisette with a woman sitting among several empty coffee cups looking at her mobile phone. Another woman joined her.

Helen checked her mobile. Nothing! While her friends were still there, drinking coffee and complaining about their husbands, she hadn't thought about it at all, a welcome break.

The waiter had not cleared the empty cups.

Aurelie returned from the toilet. Of the three women she met every morning, Aurelie was Helen's favorite.

The four women hadn't started as friends.

About two years ago, Helen had developed the habit of going to the tea room every morning for a coffee and sometimes a croissant.

Marie was usually there, reading The Independent. One morning Helen asked if she'd finished with the paper. They'd talked about the photo of the mayor and how often he managed to get his picture into the paper.

The same with Suzanne, another regular. Soon they never bothered to sit at different tables.

Aurelie was the last to join the group. She was a newcomer to the village. When she was there, they laughed more.

Helen looked at the phone. Still no message from her father at the hospital an ocean away.

Aurelie put her hand on Helen's. "Your mother is in a good hospital with good doctors. What will be, will be."