Ballycorona

Ballycorona  sits very nicely between the strip of water that lies to the west of Galway City wedged between the city and the Connemara Natural Park. This island is mostly forgotten by the world at large and for the most part the citizens of this small island are very happy about that. Their mayor, for want of a better title, especially so. It allows him the freedom to do what he wishes, and rule his kingdom his way.

On first meeting this auspicious gent, you would be forgiven for falling into his sugar coated promises and statements, as all about him appear to behave as one unit in their agreement with whatever he says and does.  As you will learn, unluckily for me I remembered, eventually that the sweeter the person appears to be the more cautious and fearful you should be.

“Your sense of direction is dreadful,”  Steve my husband of fifteen years told me. I nodded and agreed adding, “Perhaps it would have been better for you to take the lead on this outing.”

Silence greeted that statement. For a while the peaceful sound of our oars cutting through the  petite waves was the only sound we could hear then a voice, deep and authoritative cut through our dilemma. “You must be lost. We haven’t seen anyone out this far in a curragh for many years.”

Steve did not hesitate with his reply, “It’s a kayak, don’t you know the difference?” He swivelled about in search of the speaker.  But there was no one to see. More worrying still there was no boat.

“All I know is that you almost whacked me with that lump of a stick and interrupted our training night.”

Now we both raised our oars and let the boat drift as we looked into the water. Still nothing.

“Not down there you numpty up here.” He sounded exasperated.

We promptly raised our heads and looked above us. The guy on what we presumed was a para glider was easy to spot  not because  he  should have been attending a slimming world class but because his para glider looked as though it had been made by a quilter. As though reading our minds he said, “No reason to worry, this is perfectly safe, I have this covered I have been doing this for years and know what is what.”

As he spoke he did a superb summersault worthy of a Russian gymnast and dived like a cormorant straight into the water beside us. Unlike the cormorant he did not reappear with a fish in his mouth. In fact for two whole minutes he did not reappear at all. Steve who had leant overboard and grabbed some of the lines coming off the colourful fabric parachute was tugging frantically at it and yelling at me to do the same.

I obliged and slowly we reeled him in. Grabbing him by the shoulders and legs we hauled him across the boat and checked for a pulse.

“He is breathing, I don’t know how, but he is lets head for shore” Steve shouted.

I looked around and discovered we were a hundred meters from land of some type. We headed for it balancing the guy in the space between us. It was easy to keep him there as it was a tight fit.

When we reached the rocky beach I was relieved to discover there were six men standing waist high waiting for us. With a nod at both of us they leant across the kayak and yanked him off it.  We got out and followed them to see how he was doing. I was a little perturbed to hear their words of wisedom as we trudged after them.

“Spectacular dive.” The tallest man declared.

“His best yet” A burly grey haired man confirmed.

“How high was he this time?” A youngster asked.

“Oh all of twenty feet but he will add another hundred to it. You can bet your life on that when asked by the reporters for this weeks paper.”

“He usually comes around by now, my da will be all right won’t he?” The teenager, the youngest one in the group sounded anxious as he hovered about them.

“He will in a minute, give us some room Tommy, step back.”

With that the tallest two men in the group grabbed our failed hero; unzipped some of the dry suit, then as they held him by his boots dangled him upside down,

The whoosh of water was spectacular and the coughing of the guy in the suit was continuous. They simply looked at one another and dropped him to the ground where he dragged himself into an upward position and said, “Only for those two gobshites in the boat, I would have been fine.”

With a toss of their heads all agreed  “it is time for a pint,” they left us to it.

Bob – The Reindeer

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It was four days to Christmas day. Mrs Constance Claus was in a dither.  Enda, Chief Elf, was no help. He was moving fast making her head spin.

“Enda, stop moving and help. Where did he come from?” Mrs. Claus was red-faced, her voice loud, both unusual for her.  Enda looked up recognised the danger signs of a temper about to blow and stopped beside her. The list of must do’s trailed across the yard and into the workshop. Elves were skipping and jumping over it. He noted Leslie’s big jump and made a mental note to include him in the hop skip and jump the barrel competition.

“From his mum.” Enda said before he thought about it.

“Woof” said the dog.

This got both their attention. “Is he talking to us?” Enda looked at Mrs C. His hat had slipped to the side of his head and it fell from his head straight onto the dogs. Delighted with this game Bob, the dog, started to dance about in a circle.

“Hey you have a note tied to your tail. Give.” Mrs. C said in her best no-nonsense voice.

Bob stopped moving and waited while the note was removed, unrolled and read. He decided to have a nap.

Mrs. C read it aloud, “Dear Santa, I would like to send you my dog to help you at your busiest time. Bob is smart he knows stuff. He is strong and he may help you to get this list to the family who live beside Bob’s house.  I put in a drawing of the family drawn by Sean. He put their list written in a bubble above our heads. Bubbles are handy aren’t they, ask Bob.”

Yours miles of smiles.

Enda snatched his hat off Bob’s head and said, “Well I never. This is a first. I wonder who this smiley guy is?”

At these words Bob sat up and stared at Enda. Mrs. C laughed “well it must be this boy Sean’s idea. It is clever and different.”

“What age is Sean ?” Enda demanded.

“Six and three-quarters.” Mrs C referred to the letter written in bright red crayon. She squinted at the letter. ”

“How did you get here?” Enda muttered.

“That is not our problem but him being here is, you know Santa is allergic to dog fluff and this is one large fluffy dog.”

At this moment Enda’s brothers, Slim, Noel and Sam arrived.  Sam bent down and hugged Bob. “Ahh, we always wanted a dog, can we keep him please?”

Bob moved between Sam and Noel.  “We can’t keep him he belongs to someone,” Mrs C said. Then she looked at the three elves. They looked sad. There were tears in their eyes. She sighed. “Okay we will find a way to keep him out of Santa’s sight. He is stressed enough without having to worry about his allergy.”

So for the next two days, Bob was in heaven. He got to meet the Reindeer,  Rudolph he knew about cos of the red nose. The reindeer are:Dasher, Dancer, Prancer,Vixen Comet, Cupid,Donner, and Blitzen.

They laughed when they learnt why he had come to the north pole. Dasher said, “you are one heavy-looking dog, you will have to sit in the back of the sleigh.”

Bob patiently explained he had come to help pull it. The reindeers thought this was hilarious. They rolled about in the snow laughing, then went back to eating. Bob left them to it and went to find Slim, Noel and Sam. They were eating dinner. “Hi Bob, would you like some dinner?”

Slim said,

Bob sat beside slim and ate a dinner of fish, potatoes and green beans. Enda noticed and shouted over, “hey he can’t eat that.”

Slim smiled then said, “Too late he has and he enjoyed every single bite.”

Bob wasn’t listening he went to sleep. He needed his energy because he had a plan to prove to the reindeer he could do anything they could do.

Next morning he got up early. When the reindeers went out for exercise they got a surprise. “What is it?” Rudolph asked.

Bob said, “It is an obstacle course you have to get from point a to point b and no cheating for this one. No flying over things. You have to run, jump, crawl and climb.”

Vixen looked madder than usual. “Climb. How can any of us climb?”

Bob didn’t answer just looked at Noel, who had helped him build the course. Bob said “Woof.”

Noel let a shout at the group. “When I say go, I mean run, walk, climb just get to the end.”

The reindeer didn’t look happy but they lined up beside Bob. Noel shouted, “Go” and they did.

The first obstacle was easy it was a simple jump over a gate. They sailed over it leaving Bob behind. He wasn’t worried. He jumped over it.  At the next obstacle a low muddy patch under a large flag the reindeers held a meeting about how best to get under it and survive. Bob lifted the edge and slide under it then he was heard grunting as he walked through the muck.

Rudolph said, “Dasher you hold up this end I will follow Bob and when I get out I will hold the other end up and you can walk through. Easy.”

Bob was now at the tree. He sat and looked back at the reindeer they were carefully tip toeing through the mucky patch. He gave a small leap on to the tree trunk and two swift strides had him onto the lowest branch. He walked onto it and then leapt to the ground landing on some nice soft hay.  Then he trotted to the finish line and lay down to wait on the group.

When they eventually got to the tree they had another meeting. “He said no flying but we could jump.” Dancer said flexing his hoofs.

“No anything over four-foot is considered a flying movement.” Noel told them.

He went to join Bob and they watched the fun. Eventually the reindeers jumped onto Donner’s back from where they stretched up and grabbed the branch, this took a while as they did it one by one. Then Donner was left stuck on the ground.

The others trotted up to Bob. “Okay you won. But you can’t fly? So how can you help us pull a sleigh.”

Bob gave a grunt. Stood up and shook the snow off his fur. Closing h is eyes he took a deep breath and floated gently off the ground. Rudolph shook his head. “Well I never. Okay so you are in. We need to fit you for a harness and teach you the signals for turning right left and flipping.”

During this time Bob heard a lot of arguing and disagreement among the elves and reindeer. Most believed they could manage without this large hairy  dog who seemed to smile a lot. The main argument was they didn’t need him. So Bob waited until they had loaded the sleigh and were doing a test run before Santa appeared.

No matter how much the reindeer dug their hooves into the snow the sleigh didin’t move. Enda shook his head. “There were a lot more toys this year than normal and the new electronic stuff is not as light as we supposed. We need help.”

Everybody swung around and looked at Bob. He walked to his spot in the middle of the group and waited while his harness was clipped in with Vixen and Cupid. Vixen snarled at him and Cupid batted her eyelashes. Bob said “woof”

When Enda took the reins in his hands this time the sleigh took off without a hitch and they did a neat lap of the north pole landing to a huge round of applause.

Christmas Eve Santa was being patiently helped into his seat by the four brothers who were shoving and pushing as normal. Slim muttered, “I thought you were on a diet Santa.”

Noel said, “he was, a see food diet.”

The giggling elves were pushing but trying not to squish the great man too much they heard the words they dreaded hearing him say. “Hang on who is that between Vixen and Cupid.”

Enda looked at bob who was wearing a light weight pair of antlers and had a bright green nose stuck over his own nose. “That is Smiley. Our newest reindeer. He is amazing you will like him.”

Then as Santa landed in his seat Rudolph gave the command and the sleigh took off. Santa’s last words to Mrs C and Enda were “But why does Smiley sound like a dog?”

 

 

The Tattoo

 

I’m staring at my arm. I blink. Blink again, in the hope that I will wake up. I have to be dreaming. The painful, carefully drawn dragon that I paid good hard earned cash for some days ago, has vanished.

It began this morning. While showering, I noticed that the ink was fading.
I attempted to reason the hows and whys of this happening. Had I been conned? Money exchanged for a simple cheap tacky job. But no, I couldn’t call it either tacky or cheap and it hurt.

The tattoo was to mark the turning point in my life. I was free from him. My husband. This was to be the start of my new life and to mark it I went out and did something incredibly stupid. I got a tattoo. I had always said tattoo’s were pointless and not for those over thirty. But here I was at thirty eight complete with tattoo.

Except for one small puzzling fact. It was disappearing.

dragon

Dragon by Sara M.

I decided to return to the scene of the crime – the tattoo shop. It was small, crowded and busy.

A fact not to be ignored given that thousands of us (Irish people) rant and rave about taxes and the loss of income, many of us compound our misery by acquiring a tattoo.

Anyway, the door bell jangles as I enter. He looks up. Squints, at me, which should have been off putting given his employment asks for keen eyesight.  He scowls, then flicks the cigarette butt into a can sitting on a shelf and grunts. The current victim sitting in the chair is young, pale faced and clutching a tin of alcohol. I grimace, turn from him and face my problem.
“Lo.” He grudgingly acknowledges my presence and waves his implement of torture at me.
“I….” Clearing my throat I start again. “We have a problem. The tattoo you gave me is disappearing.”
He smiles. This is not a pleasant smile. It is a horrific metal smile. Cool and ugly.
“I want whatever you are on.” His throaty reply brings a squeak from the boy in the chair.
“Can I have some? Does it make the pain go away?”
I ignore the artists latest victim and focus on my problem.

I stare at him but he is staring at my arm. I l discover, that once again, I have a tattoo of a dragon on my arm.
“I think you should go for a sleep and relax. It looks like a nice clean job, swelling has already vanished. You will be fine.” He dismiss’ me and turns away.
I am staring at the dragon and feel the blood drain from my face. ” It’s back.” I whisper ignoring the giggling of the other occupants. I leave as quietly as I can.
However two minutes later, cutting through the park, I glance down. No tattoo. This is madness. I head for a park bench.
“I must be crazy.”
“You are not but I wouldn’t class you as being un-crazy either.” The voice is pleasant, elderly but pleasant. I look around and see nothing. Not even a cat lazing in the bushes or a bird tweeting in a tree.
Now I know I am losing my sanity.
I feel a tweak of heat on my arm and I glance down. The dragon stares up at me. He is approximately three inches tall and is breathing fire at an amazing rate.
“Please don’t do that.”
“Why? I’ve lain amongst the pages of that blasted book for ever and now that I’m free, why not?’
I shrug my shoulders and consider my answer. To give him his due I can understand his need to escape. “But it’s my arm and I would rather not be burnt.”
He smiles at me . “I’m George, by the way.” As he speaks the fair hairs on my arm are singed.

Grimacing with pain, I lean over and pluck a leafy twig from the nearest shrub. “Try this.”
He does and is happy with the result which is a black shriveled up mess in my hand. How do I know he is happy? Because he begins to dance, tap dance by the amount of pain he is inflicting on me, all the way up and down my arm and finally moves along the seat I am sitting on.
A shadow looms above me and I look up. The park keeper is standing glaring at me. “Why would you do that?”
“What?” I am really puzzled.
“Set a twig on fire.” He has yanked off his cap and is mopping his brow. His bald head is a shining example of cleanliness.
“I didn’t..” I begin.
“It was me.” George explains as he jumps onto the arm of the bench. To re inforce his point he lets out a bellow of fire that catches the end of the park keepers hanky that protrudes from his hip pocket. It goes up in smoke. He looks at me and at George. He faints, landing on the ground with a nice thud.
Standing up, I step over him saying, “looks as though life has lost its boring factor. How would you like to meet my ex husband?”
George smiles and I leave the park with him sitting on my shoulder.

Story originally posted on CC as part of a weekly challenge. – Maria.

 

 

Maria’s Stuff: Flash Fiction: Mysterious Mirror

Lorna stood at the market stall sheltering from the downpour. Her mission was to find a mirror for her newly decorated bedroom. She scanned the assortment of jumble before her.   Her snub nose wiggled in distaste.    Lorna was seeking an unusual piece.

“Which item has attracted your attention, pretty lady?” The stall holder’s twinkling dark eyes regarded her.

Lorna knew she was pretty. A label she earned by merely entering into this world.

“I’m sure one of my special hand made pieces …..” His hands swept across the colourful hair combs, scarves swirling with colour and hand stitched purses carefully set out to attract attention.

She sighed, she suspected he would keep badgering her until she relented. Her cold blue eyes pierced him.  “I have enough tat.  You do not have what I am searching for – a special mirror..”

An elderly lady looking for  shelter jostled Lorna who snapped at her, “there is no room.”

Before the lady moved away, the stall holder  said, “please take this seat. You are welcome.”

When the rain stopped Lorna left with his words reaching out to her, “may you find what you are looking for, pretty lady.”

Lorna  tried every furniture store in the town but didn’t find her mirror.

Taking the shortcut back through the market hours later  a familiar voice asked, “did you find your mirror?”

She shook her head intent on walking home.

“Wait, you may like this one. It was given to me in exchange for some bags and shoes.”

With a sigh she turned. He was holding , her perfect mirror. Intricate surrounds in ornate gold completed the black framed mirror. It would look stunning in her room.

“A stunning piece for a stunning woman.” He told her.

Lorna didn’t haggle but paid the modest price . She was correct, it did suit her room. It sat on her dressing table. She frequently stared at her reflection.

She discovered it was addictive to stare at the frame, running her hands along it then touching the smooth glass which showed her perfect image .  In the following days, she devoted time to the mirror.

“Perfection,” she murmured.  “You and me, we were made to be together.”  The words were spoken with conviction.

The air hummed. Her arms and body shook. Gently she was scooped upwards to float  through time and space. She closed her eyes opening them only when she felt firm ground beneath her feet. Lorna shivered. Her world had changed. She was in a cold dank space staring out  of a window frame into a perfect room. She reached out but her hands hit off a barrier.

It wasn’t a window frame but the frame of a mirror. Her scream shook nothing but her thin body.

Time passed. No one came into the room.

One day the mirror was taken down and examined by a pair of familiar dark eyes. A gentle voice chided,  “now where shall I put you?  You look old and spent no one will enjoy looking in a mirror that is cloudy and glazed. I’ll put you in the dark cool attic for the time being. You will like it there.”

Lorna’s screams echoed but went unheard..