Tuesday, 9 June 2009

A Dish Best Served Cold

A (very) short story by Frances Wookey

Ralph the Mason lovingly fondled his chisel. It was one of his favourite tools, handed down to him by his father; it was narrow and sharp, and he could use it for the finest carving. With it he had produced delicate leaves, bunches of grapes, even angels’ wings, but now he was imagining a very different use. He could feel himself sliding it between Eric the Fletcher’s ribs, seeing the shocked look in his eyes and the gasp of pain as he slumped, dead, to the floor. It would be better than he deserved after what the bastard had done to Ralph’s daughter.

Elizabeth had been only thirteen when Eric had seduced her with his lies. How was she to know that he already had a wife and three children, and that his promise to marry her was just to get what he wanted from her? When she told him that she was with child, he had laughed in her face. Ralph had thought that she would never stop crying, and it broke his heart as well; she was still his little girl, his first-born, and he could not bear to see her so unhappy. As her belly had expanded, she had gradually stopped grieving for her dreams of nuptial bliss with Eric, and started to worry about what the neighbours were saying about her. She refused to go out, or have anything to do with her friends, and turned from a lively, fun-loving young girl to a sad middle-aged woman in the space of a few weeks.

When the baby was born, he was a cheerful bouncing boy who fitted well enough into their household. He was only two years younger than his own youngest child, and Bess was already caring for her grandchild as if he were her own. Ralph had promised his wife and daughter that, when this job was finished, he would find work far enough away that they could make a fresh start, where no-one knew of Elizabeth’s shame. But he had promised himself that before then he would have his revenge on Eric the Fletcher.

Taking the chisel purposefully in his hand, he gently began to tap its wooden handle with his small mallet. Gradually marks appeared a on the block of stone, and once more in his imagination he could see Eric’s all too handsome face. But this time it was distorted into an ugly leer, grinning backwards over a large, round, naked arse. Ralph was not going to jeopardise his life in this world, and his immortal soul, for the sake of scum like the fletcher; and he could make him suffer far more than the momentary pain of the chisel’s blade in his ribs. Once the carving was in place, all he needed to do was to point out its likeness to a few of his friends, and Eric would never be able to walk down the street again without being followed by lewd shouts and pointing fingers.

There were always one or two comic carvings in the stonework of a new cathedral, and this one would stand as a monument to Eric’s lust and treachery until the end of Time. Yes, Ralph’s chisel would give him his revenge.

This week, I have followed Jon Strother's idea of using the Writing Adventure Group exercise to write a piece of "flash fiction" to be publicised on Twitter for #fictionfriday. If you want to know more, follow the link below to Jon's blog below. If you are interested in joining the Writing Adventure Group, there is also a link for more information.

“WAG #15: Best Tool For The Job” Thanks to Paige for the topic idea! Paige’s idea was to have the topic this week be about writing tools such as a keyboard or favourite pen, but I’d like to expand this to be any type of tool, whether it’s a gardening tool or a jackhammer or a toenail clipper. Describe a favourite tool in concrete terms, but also show how you (or whomever it belongs to) feel about using it, and how it leaves an individual or particular mark on the end product.

How to Join the Writing Adventure Group

Contributors to the last WAG exercise - "Do overs"
Nancy Parra
Nixy Valentine
Dan Powell
Frances Wookey
Paige Bruce
J.M. Strother - Mad Utopia
Peter Spalton
Christine Kirchoff
Brenda M
Mickey Hoffman


  1. Frances this is brilliant, - seriously. You must send it to a magazine. I'm a bit out of touch on current markets, but there will be several who will lap up a short twist-in-the-tail story like this.

  2. Oh, this is wonderful! I just did a quick word count and it is under 1000 words. If you have not yet entered a piece in the Editor Unleashed Flash 40 Contest you really should consider it with this one. I really mean it when I say this is wonderful. And mabey worth $500 (if it would win). Just fix the one typo I saw first: "Gradually marks appeared on a the block of stone." Other than that, this is perfect!

    Thanks for taking part in the #fridayflash event. Hope you come back as often as you can.

  3. Neat revenger's tale. Well done for using the prompt to create a fully formed piece of flash fiction.

  4. Very impressed, indeed this is flash fiction and very imaginative from the prompt.

  5. Thank you very much for your very kind comments.

    Unfortunately, Jon, life was too hectic to act on your suggestion instantly and I missed the deadline which sadly was only just after your comment was posted.

    I will see if a magazine is interested, thank you, Jane.

  6. Hi Francis. I have fond memories of this story, and would love for you to consider the #fridayflash anthology. No guarantee it would get picked, but I think it stands a good shot. I miss your short tales. Join back in the fun anytime.

  7. Thank you Jon - I'm very honoured! This comment came through as an email from you, so I responded directly yesterday.