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The Estuary

by Chestersmummy 

Posted: 17 March 2017
Word Count: 805
Summary: Entry for flash fiction comp 19/3/2017

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‘So, what happened?’ 
‘Firstly -it was such a lovely day that I decided to take a stroll along the estuary.   Hadn’t gone 100 yards when I found myself lying face down, my nose inches from a puddle.   Hadn’t a clue how I got there but wasn’t hurt - sometimes mud can be a blessing.  Anyway, feeling a perfect fool I scrambled to my feet, hoping no-one had seen.    But low and behold, seconds later a suffocating cloud of lavender and a female voice hitting top C, told me I was wrong.
                ‘Are you all right?  Marcus - you bad dog, how could you?   Here, let me help you up.   Oh no!  Now I’ve made it worse.   I’ve got paint all over your lovely jacket.   How stupid.  You must let me pay for the cleaning costs.’    Her voice rose even higher, chasing larks into the sky.
 I looked at the woman jitterbugging in front of me.   Middle fifties maybe, blonde, plump - I was about to tell her what I thought about her and her damn dog, when I took a second look.   Her clothes were casual but top quality and the pearls glowing in her ears and around her neck were real, I’d swear to it.  So, I bit my tongue and forced a smile.
                ‘Please don’t worry, my own stupid fault.  I wasn’t looking where I was going.   Is this the culprit?
                Now you know I dislike dogs intensely but made myself pat the creatures’ head as it stood drooling in front of me.  
                ‘I’m afraid so.   He’s usually so good but I think he must have seen a rabbit and when that happens, a red mist descends.’
                I nodded understandingly, then I noticed the smudge of blue paint on her nose, an easel and a half-finished canvas.   I made the logical conclusion.
                ‘You’re an artist.’
She laughed, a shrill tinkling sound that made the fillings in my teeth ache.  
                ‘Oh hardly.   I just dabble.   I only took it up after my husband died.’
                 I pretended to admire the widow’s painting.
                ‘It’s very good.’    (It wasn’t, just a mere daub – oh God, the things I do for you.)
                ‘Oh, do you think so?’  Blondie said.
                ‘Absolutely.   It’s just that….excuse me, do you mind?’
                 I reached for a brush and added a couple of thin ochre lines; ‘There…’
                ‘Oh, that is so much better,’ the old girl clasped her hands looking as if she was peeing herself with joy.  ‘Do you paint?’
                ‘Used to but when Mater and Pater fell ill, I had to move out of The Manor.   Care Home fees are so expensive, you know.   Where I live now there is hardly room to swing the proverbial cat let alone store canvasses and what not.’               
                Her eyes widened, she couldn’t have looked more stricken if she’d caught me strangling a cat – or her bloody dog.
                ‘What a terrible shame.   It’s obvious that you’re talented.’
                I hid a smirk and looked sad.   ‘Of course, I miss painting immensely – almost as much as I do the parents.’
                Her voice dropped to a whisper as if she was in the presence of the dead….’ I understand absolutely.   Tell me, what is it that you do?’
                ‘Got a little business going – internet design.   Not doing too badly – in fact I’m on the brink of something world shattering – if I can raise the money to finance it.  Anyway, enough of nasty business talk.   Where do you go to paint?’
‘I belong to a local group, we meet in the village hall.   It’s great fun.   Oh, I’ve a brilliant idea.   Come along and join us.  I’m sure we could learn from you.’
No doubt about that, I thought.  Aloud I said.
‘Do you know I’d really like to.  Take my mind off my business worries.  But, as I said easels and canvasses take up a lot of space.’
She fingered the pearls at her neck and my mouth watered.
‘That’s no problem.  I rattle along in my big old house like a pea in a pod, I’ve got plenty of space.   Come and see.’
I held up two fingers.   So secondly, she dragged me along and wow that house.   Drowning in ivy, glowing in the sun, slumbering under oaks, all the clichés you can possibly think of – and I had an ‘in’.    
I licked my lips and leaned back in my chair. 
‘And thirdly?’  
‘Give me a chance, babe.  Thanks to Marcus, I’ve sown a whole row of seeds, they’ll fruit soon enough.   Anyway, what happened with you?  Did the old goat bite?’
The words were no sooner out of my mouth when a shaft of sunlight coloured her hair rose-gold.   She crossed her long, bronzed legs and lifted one perfect eyebrow.  Stupid question -  wish I hadn’t asked. 

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Comments by other Members

michwo at 18:26 on 17 March 2017  Report this post
You're good at this, you really are!
A husband and wife team of good-looking confidence tricksters, both with an eye to the main chance presumably.
Or have I misread it?
Well done as usual.

Chestersmummy at 18:32 on 17 March 2017  Report this post
Thanks Michwo and you are dead right as usual.

TassieDevil at 19:38 on 17 March 2017  Report this post
Hi Janet,

Her voice rose even higher, chasing larks into the sky

What a great image. And there are others too, like

 Drowning in ivy, glowing in the sun, slumbering under oaks, all the clichés you can possibly think of 

You have a great skill with an economy of words, leaving enough unsaid to intrigue and entice. Thanks for sharing this clever piece with us.

Chestersmummy at 20:05 on 17 March 2017  Report this post
Thanks Alan.   Glad it didn't disappoint.

Bazz at 21:55 on 17 March 2017  Report this post
Hi Janet, you've really got a great touch for establishing characters, I like the way you sketch them, and give us a strong feel for them. The plot develops here through quick concise descriptions, noticably the way he describes "blondie". You really make flash flow smoothly. There's a wry noirish feel here, especially with them trading cons at the end.

Chestersmummy at 13:35 on 18 March 2017  Report this post
Thanks Bazz.

V`yonne at 15:28 on 18 March 2017  Report this post
Oh you write 'bad' so well yes It's an evil plot and very well staged. But most of all I love where you get lyrical

Her voice rose even higher, chasing larks into the sky.


Her voice dropped to a whisper as if she was in the presence of the dead

such emotional blackmail! Perfection :)

Chestersmummy at 15:44 on 18 March 2017  Report this post
Thanks V'yonne (Or is it Oonah?) 

V`yonne at 16:59 on 18 March 2017  Report this post
It's both. They are both my name but I go by Oonah normally in real life.

scriever at 20:59 on 19 March 2017  Report this post
Another story that tells a lot in a few words. I had to read it through twice, but got it then - the second character threw me. Beautifully built and the ending makes me want to know how they get on.


Chestersmummy at 22:22 on 19 March 2017  Report this post
Thank Ross.   I did wonder whether it was a bit confusing;  Three characters in 800 words is a bit busy (and the dog as well, of course).


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