Charli Mills has set us down a strange path this week.
March 18, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story to reveal a characters symptoms. It can be something the character is oblivious to, or terrified about. It can be a character concerned for a pet or a motorcycle. The symptoms can be what ails society. Go where the prompt leads. Or sleep on it, and see what a dream brings to you!
This is the first anniversary of her Carrot Ranch Prompts. I’ve only been involved for some of that year but I’ve accumulated some tremendous knowledge of the flash process in that time. And for a large part I’ve devoted myself to Mary and her unfolding story.
This week I’ve been here and there, blog wise so I’m late to the party. However that has meant I have had a chance to read the other contributions that are in so far. And a few have a BOTS element to them. Based On (a) True Story.
And, as so often happens that made me think of mum.
My mother coped with losing her partner/lover/irritant/best friend/husband of 53 years pretty well, all things considered. She took three month for some self reflection and then told me ‘Time I had my knee done.’ When she’d recovered from that it was ‘Time I moved somewhere smaller’.
She involved me in all her major decisions if only in a consultative role, listening to advice and extracting that which she thought suited her needs (‘Mum, you cannot need thirteen mixing bowls’ – she could and did).
All? Well all bar one. ‘I’ve bought a new car.’ The family Rover was a classic, if only in the sense it was beyond vintage and she had hated it for at least ten years. ‘What did you buy?’ ‘A Peugeot – don’t tell your father.’ Mum didn’t believe in any sort of afterlife except when it came to doing things she knew he would have hated – and buying a French car slotted into his top ten things not to do (along with towing a caravan, cutting the Forest verges (destroys habits), drinking keg (as opposed to cask) beer, saying you didn’t mind if the Welsh won at rugby (ditto Germans at football, Australians at cricket), buying any produce from anywhere other than GB if there was a GB option (he allowed three exceptions – French Brie, decent reds and Belgium truffle choclates), not voting in any election and littering). In such a case she was sure there would be some payback which she could only avoid if the particular crime was not stated overtly but merely alluded to.
‘Why did you let her buy another car?’ This from the Textiliste. ‘She should have given up.’ This for the Archaeologist’s wife. Everyone knew mum’s driving was on the wane and the reason she bought the bungalow she had was to be in walking distance of the shops. But while conversations along the lines of ‘shall we walk to the shops’ and ‘it’ll be good to save the petrol money’ had been tolerated we got nowhere, the Archaeologist and me trying to persuade her to either give up, or at least move to an automatic. If we managed to provoke a reaction all we received by way of response was ‘I learnt to drive in 1944’ as if longevity leant her supernatural driving abilities.
No one drove with her and, frankly her two cowardly sons merely hoped disaster would not strike. It never did but we can only really thank Lady Luck.
About six months before she died she called me. ‘Darling I’m really cross with the garage. They tell me I need a new clutch. I should have listened to your father and bought British.’
I admit I was surprised. The car was 18 months old, maybe 20. ‘A new clutch? Really? It must be under warranty.’
‘That’s what I keep saying but they say it isn’t. I’ve only had this one three months and…’
‘Three months? I didn’t know you’d had a new clutch before?’
‘I told you darling. It’s the trouble with not listening to your father. He wouldn’t have let me buy French.’ I ignored the dig at me.
‘Do you want me to speak to the garage. They can’t give you a clutch that lasts just three months.’
I was ready to do battle for my 83 year old mother. I called the garage and was put through to Mr Gates the proprietor. ‘Hello, Mr Le Pard. Is this about your mother’s car?’ He sounded very tired.
‘Yes. Surely it’s not right to expect her to pay for a new clutch. I understand the last one was only three months ago.’
‘Three? Yes that’s about right. We did suggest she might prefer an automatic. She’s heavy on the pedals.’
‘Oh come on Mr Gates. You can’t blame her. The car is eighteen months old and to change the clutch twice is…..’
‘Twice? Is that what she told you?’
I felt a conversational gear change coming on. ‘Yes Twice.’
I heard him tapping at his key board and a long slow expellation of air. ‘Up to this point and ignoring the work we need to do this Peugeot 206 has had five new clutches..’
‘And two new gearboxes. Are you still there Mr Le Pard?’
She did stop driving after that. Not the easiest conversation. I asked her how it was that she never heard the engine roaring and the clutch plates shredding as she rode the car’s guts to destruction. ‘Oh well, as I’m always alone in the car I turn off my hearing aids to save the batteries…’
Mary this week is having bad dreams…. This is the story so far….and this is this week’s flash
Know your father
In her dreams, Mary saw her father standing by the rockery while an unidentified man buried the child’s torso. Even in the dream she knew her father wasn’t involved in the killing or the mutilation but why was he there at all? She told her half-brother.
‘He trusted people. They took advantage.’
At first Mary thought Rupert mad but after a while she saw what he meant. For a year after her mother died he would help anyone who needed it – a charity overload. For a time the house was full of all sorts. Maybe one of them..