Showing posts from 2014

An Alternative

“Sorry mate, full up.” “What do you mean, full up?” “Just what I said, full up!” “Haven’t you seen the state of my wife?” The innkeeper eased his copious figure further around the door frame and cast an indifferent eye over the tiny, tired woman with the blue shawl sitting on the donkey. “She seems pretty far gone. Oh well. It’s a shame but it’s not my fault you know. If we had a room I’d give it to you mate. It’s this silly census business - bloody Herod with his petty bureaucracy. He just loves it, doesn’t he? All this paperwork. Oh well. Keeps the Romans busy, anyway.” “Yes, but what about my wife? She’s not going to give birth out here in the street, is she? It’s Christmas for God’s sake!” “It’s what?” “Oh nevermind. Look, don’t you even have a stable or something?” A Roman soldier appeared in the doorway and pushed past them, reeling. He wove a few steps into the street, singing, before he fell and lay face down in the mud, giggling to himself. Joseph and th

The Giggles

At first she didn’t fully notice. Like shadows, the grinning faces flickered in her vision. When she stopped at a crossing, she heard the snicker. It was almost like snorting: the hideous sound when somebody extrudes laughter and tries to inhale at same time. Like a pig! she thought, disgusted. The people behind her were whispering, as if sharing an inside joke. As the traffic lights shifted, she hurried to get away. The blisters on her feet were making her walk awkwardly. Yet she was determined to ignore the pain. The laughter pursued her, like an echo of every clunky step.  Wearily, she carried on. She had been on her feet for hours, without caring where she was going or what street she was on. The strap of her bag cut through the jacket and into her shoulder. It felt so heavy, as if every hour of her aimless journey had added more weight to carry around. A boy came towards her. As he passed by she saw him grinning, pressing his lips together to muffle his giggles. No,

Not Noughth Week

It's not noughth week for me A minute mile and a decade east Baby braced to my breast babbling Bubbly bliss to the morning mist. It's not noughth week for me No rimey bike seat mark on jeans Midas dust on shelves of everything A blinking I on open window screen.  In not noughth week no essay looms Rumbling billow to be blown by breath Fresh on the marks of a maizey margin Pencilled thoughts that pulse past death.  Here, a decade away, I no longer get to press reset for yet  another noughth week. I keep counting.  by J.W.

What kind of stories fascinate you?

All of us grew up with some stories and they keep accompanying us throughout our lives as adults. Whether they are neatly bound in a book, put to moving pictures, sung on the radio or whispered on the phone -there are stories everywhere. Which kind of stories do you like?   I asked Afia Nkrumah, a London based writer and filmmaker, who has also contributed stories here at Cafe Aphra, the same question. Barbara: Afia, what kind of stories fascinate you? Afia:  I  am quite broad in my tastes when it comes to stories, if a story moves me, or makes me see life in a different way or challenges my assumptions then I am interested. I grew up hearing Ananse stories and other traditional tales, as well as my family history. Learning to read at the age of ten, was for me was a magical thing, I thought and still do today that it is a form of telepathy. One person puts their thoughts on paper and another person can read those thoughts across time and space and kn

Fashion Care Packages to Alaska

The land of mullets, that was Alaska to a T (with a long tail hanging down from the flat top) and particularly the case in Clam Point, a small community on the peninsula south of Anchorage. Fashion was traditionally twelve years behind Paris, Tokyo, New York and London (grunge only hit in 2003) but recently cable TV and the internet had resulted in people's clothing and hairdos being only a decade behind. That's when Molly, 17, asked her cousin to start sending care packages from London. Molly, atypically concerned with grooming in a state where fishing hip-waders counted as semi-formal, insisted that Carrie send her large packets bubble-wrapped and swaddled in brown paper, labelled A FASHION CARE PACKAGE TO CLAM POINT, ALASKA in big red letters, so the post office folks would realise that they were living in the style equivalent of an Alaskan glacier (inching forward while always regressing into the inevitable mullet) and, in Molly’s opinion, might do something about th

Taking Turns

I will grow up and then your turn will come.   In the garden. Stillness. On soft grass under trees, jacket for pillow, hand under head, Sons and Lovers, Late afternoon birdsong.   Door bangs. Door slams. Hurricanes out in heavy shoes, my father, red-eyed, hurls down steps. Hammering hands draw leather, rain lashes.   No rain in lashes. Lightning and thunder and stinging and strapping and cutting and bleeding. No soft rain in lashes.   Nose in grass, hands over head. ‘You saw her go. You did not stop her.’ Brown beer breath. Brown leather lashes. Heavy shoes, stomps steps. Door slam. Door bang. Hurricanes in.   Now only me, face in grass, Wet smell. Green smell. Red eyes. No more listening to her yelling and shouting and swearing and crying her pain. But soon –   Soon I’ll be grown up.  My fist drawing brown leather. Soon I’ll be your size And then your turn will come. by Joy Man

Rainbow Weather

"Rainbow weather," Jan sniffed. "Can't make its mind up."  She stood at the sink, rubber gloves dripping. Shirts hung limply over the lawn: white crosses in a cemetery. There used to be little dresses flapping and a school uniform mucky from football.   "I’d take the washing in," Tom grunted, turning a page. "Looks like rain."   It wasn't her fault. Everyone thought the bruising was from the playground. Then the social worker called her in, asking questions. They took Anna out of school. She was so tired and washed-out, all that running around. Needed a good rest.   Tom thought she was anemic, said they should take her to the doctor's. Jan shuddered at the thought of all the prodding and poking, waiting rooms full of other people’s germs - so they took her to the seaside. The air would get her appetite back, put some colour in her.   The weather was kind at first, glorious sunshine and seagull

The 2014 Café Aphra November Challenge

Last year, inspired by the annual Na-No-Wri-Mo Challenge, Cafe Aphra decided to hold our own version to encourage, motivate or just kick ourselves and our followers into some sort of regular writing activity over the month of November. The 2013 was a great success with people committing a range of writing pursuits and finding that setting themselves a goal reaped rewards. Some decided to write for certain amounts of time each day, whether it was ten minutes first thing or an hour before bed. Some wanted to start or finish projects that had stagnated in the planning stages for far too long. Instead of writing some chose that other put-off activity of editing – taking words out can be as challenging and painful as putting them in. So how about we do it again? What are you delaying, avoiding, hiding in the dark recesses of your desk drawers or hard drives? What have you promised yourself you’ll do one day? What have you put to the back of your mind until the time is ‘right’?

Mighty Silver

A ramrod streak tore across that blue canvas sky With a mighty silver roar It bellowed its beauty from high Metallic heart of aluminium Jet propelled fusilage Pulsed with electricity That wonderful flying bird visage I watched from where I stood Those dead wings fixed in flight At boiling white tail feathers And try as I might I could not move my eyes From the miracle I saw That distant bird above Sucked my soul up from the floor I pledged my heart to it there and then Before that dreadful bleak Moment it was gone forever Mighty silver ramrod streak by Derek Dohren

Taking a decision

It was a small advert, flickering on the right hand column of Stacey’s screen, but it spoke to her. Played on her mind. After another evening of silence - sat next to each other, eating off trays on their laps, kind ‘good nights’ and rolling away to their own thoughts - she’d had enough. She called the number, made the appointment.             “You’ve been coming here for a few months now, do you feel any differently towards your husband?” asked the kindly looking old man with a pointy grey beard and half moon glasses. She shook her head.             “No. It’s the same. But, well, I haven’t told you everything.”             “For this to work, you need to be honest.”             “I know.”             “So?”             “I’ve been seeing someone else.”             “Having an affair?”             “Yes.”             “And how does that make you feel, Stacey?”             Stacey squirmed. “Excited, alive... guilty.” The psychologist didn’t say anythin


“Dave!” Ann took a step backwards. “It isn’t your business where I am.” She sashayed across the marble floor on her Jimmy Choos and pressed a button. Georgy, sitting on a black leather sofa in red Armani casuals, could now hear the conversation. “What the hell have I done with what?” Ann’s neck jutted forward. “Polite, Dave. We’re divorced now.” She wiggled her hips over to the sofa and sat on its wide armrest. Georgy’s large hand cradled her buttocks. “You had your netsuke collection valued? The best pieces have been replaced by copies?” Ann laughed. “You told the judge you don’t have a netsuke collection.” Georgy patted Ann’s buttocks. “Like you didn’t have a Jag. Remember? A year before the divorce. You changed it for a Fiesta and told me you’d lost all your money.” She stalked over to a cabinet and chose a small object. “Polite, Dave, or I’ll put the phone down.” Ann fluttered her eyelash implants at Georgy. “If you do have a Jag and a netsuke collection, we’ll have to go before t

FFF goes fortnightly...

Greetings all! Just to let you know, for those of you who may not have noticed, we have decided to run our Cafe Aphra Flash Fiction Fridays series on a fortnightly basis from now on. Looking forward to reading your work and posting up some beautiful polished gems every other Friday! Please do check our Submissions guidelines before emailing us your work.  Also, Cafe Aphra now has a Twitter account... so for those of you who tweet, check us out and follow us on Twitter! See you soon...