When Choosing Isn’t Really An Option #writephoto

This week’s #writephoto prompt is

Celia Footpedal looked left then right. This was definitely off. Not a moment ago she was in Naomi Pleasedimple’s garden, enjoying some of her fruit compote surprise. Now she was in a field of some sort.

‘It’s disconcerting, isn’t it?’

‘What?’ Celia spun round, but there wasn’t anyone there.

‘It’s deliberate, of course.’

She spun back. This was crazy. There wasn’t anyone…

‘Over here.’ In the far distance to her left it looked like someone was waving. Celia squinted, but she couldn’t make out any detail.

‘You need these?’

Celia took her spectacles and put them on. ‘Thank…’ There wasn’t anyone there. This was madness.

‘Nope, you’re not mad. Have another guess?’

This time the voice seemed to come from her right, but even with her specs in place she couldn’t see anyone. Maybe it was a hidden microphone.

Celia toppled back and sat with a thump. A huge stack of speakers, of the sort Darren Dimnobble, her boyfriend of the time had tried to climb during a set by the Fairly Bland at Knebworth shot out of the grass and towered over her. Sitting on the very top, about 1000 feet up, a blond woman in a blue onesie and red shoes smiled down. When she saw Celia looking, she waved her white gloved hands and jumped off.

Celia screamed and began to scrabble back to get out of the way of the plummeting woman. The poor soul would be squished.

Two hands slipped under Celia’s armpits and helped her up. She was shaking, blinking away tears as she looked for, but couldn’t find the woman’s shattered body. ‘She’s gone!’

‘Tricksy, that one. Never trust a jumper.’

Celia hadn’t noticed the person standing next to her. When she looked, she began stumbling back again. It was the same woman.

Once again two hands slipped under her armpits to stop her falling. This time Celia was prepared for the two white gloves. She took a breath, made sure she was upright and didn’t feel faint. Then she turned very slowly.

The woman wore a dark blue business trouser suit, a lemon yellow blouse and the same red shoes and white gloves. She studied a clipboard, peering over gold rimmed half-moon glasses. Occasionally she made a note with a small pen.

Celia folded her arms, and waited. And waited. And waited. ‘Oh, for God’s sake. What nonsense is this? I can’t believe Naomi would set up anything this ridiculous. Was it Martin?’

The woman kept making notes.

‘Terrance. Those speakers are the sort of thing he’d have in his garage.’

The woman looked up. ‘Speakers?’

‘The stack tha…’ Celia’s hard won composure deserted her. Where was it? It definitely grew out of the ground, not ten feet away. But there was nothing, not so much as a broken grass stalk.

The woman had her arm around Celia’s shoulders. She wore the sort of faux fur coat her granny had worn when Celia was small and needed comforting. It even smelt of granny, that mix of lavender, sandalwood and urine. Celia buried her head into the fibres.

‘It must have been a nasty little dream, sweetie pie.’

Celia felt the tears flow and pulled her face away. Looking down at her the woman in the blue suit and yellow blouse tapped her pen on the clipboard. ‘Or maybe not.’ She swung her free arm in an arc. As she did so multiple stacks of speakers shot up out of the ground, before bursting into an incredible display of fireworks.

The woman tapped the clipboard again and it stopped. She glanced at her notes and then at Celia. ‘Celia Footpedal?’

Celia managed a nod.

A hand lifted her chin; the woman’s face was millimetres from her own. ‘It’s customary to say yes or no.’

Before Celia could blink, the woman was back, looking at her notes. ‘Celia Footpedal, of 127 Mingewarble Crescent, Drunk Piddle, Dorset?’

‘Yes.’ Celia’s normally stentorian tones were reduced to a reedy warble.

‘And your preferred hereafter is…’

‘Hang on. What hereafter?’

The woman sat on a bench next to Celia, a brochure open in front of her. Celia didn’t remembering seeing a brochure. The woman said, ‘It is a bit unusual but not unique. Most know where they’re going. Heaven, Valhalla, Nirvana, Empryean, Paradise… All the usual. Even the atheists are clear it’s a dead end. But your opinions seem to have stayed open. That’s why you’re on the choice plan.’

Celia looked at the double page spread in her lap. On it there was a field much like the one she’d seen ten, no twenty… she couldn’t remember how long ago. But this field was bisected by a forked path. Celia looked up and there was the forked path. She looked down but the brochure had gone, she was standing at the apex of the fork and the woman was beside her.

‘That path,’ the woman pointed left..

At the end of the path there were a set of gold shimmering gates giving of a sort of opalescent light. Celia nodded. ‘Pearly Gates?’

‘Good. The other,’ the woman’s hand moved to point right…

There a large brick arch stood through which you could see… nothing.

Celia looked at the woman. ‘Am I dead?’

The woman pointed at Celia’s feet. Until that point she thought she had been standing in a field, but now she could see through what looked like a glass floor onto Naomi’s garden. There she saw herself, prone, while three or four people mingled around.

‘Why aren’t they trying to save me?’ Celia looked at the woman who shrugged. When Celia looked back she saw her husband carrying a dish towards the kitchen. ‘What’s he doing?’

Then, ‘how did I die? Do you know?’

By way of an answer the imagine below her zoomed in on the plate being carried by her husband. ‘The fruit compote?’

The answer, once again was via the images at her feet. It now showed what appeared to be an earlier scene in which Celia’s husband and Naomi could be seen kissing, followed by one of them picking some red fruits. Both were wearing thick rubber gloves.

Celia looked at the woman, whose expression remained unreadable. ‘I don’t suppose you can tell me how much time they’ve got together, can you?’ She looked at her feet but it was just grass, waving in the wind.

The woman raised a questioning eyebrow and titled her head towards the paths.

Celia looked at the Pearly Gates and the Endless Void. ‘After that?’ She headed for oblivion.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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10 Responses to When Choosing Isn’t Really An Option #writephoto

  1. Excellent! I drunk piddle in Dorset many years ago!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not sure I’ll ever understand British humor. It’s like I missed something in translation. Quite the fun story though.


  3. willowdot21 says:

    Love it Geoff , I reckon she will enjoy oblivion after that hairy stay in purgatory!


  4. V.M.Sang says:

    Oh, I enjoyed this one. And I love the names!


  5. noelleg44 says:

    What a clever story – and a fun read! Love, love the names!


  6. A dead or alive romp. “not so much as a broken grass stalk” is a clever detail


  7. Marsha says:

    I can’t believe you got that story from a picture of red flowers, Geoff. I definitely have a non-fiction mind. 🙂


  8. KL Caley says:

    Ooh who can resist a fruit compote too, The devils! Thank you so much for joining in the challenge:


    KL ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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