Dither and Delay Tactics …. 1/2020

How many of you realised, as I did not, how often I dithered and delayed at VI …. so the number of excuses for not writing a piece of fiction were considerably more than I expected to see when I glanced over the headings of my author’s blog.  So a new set of headings – see above – especially as it was the length and demands of the festive season prior to and after the first day of 2020 which has kept me from writing any fiction,

Short stories and poems had shuffled, not even half-baked, aside while I wrote Christmas greetings to a hundred sundry folk, issued and accepted invitations and correspond about a bleak election in a mild winter. Then I wrote thank you letters and sent New Year salutations. I wrote the last entry into the Christmas Book I have kept for 27 years and retired it to the trunk under the guest bed. I wrote to dear friends to make arrangements to meet in April. I wrote minutes and notices and lists.

And then there was a lull! I wrote a review for my science fiction blog. And I wrote a very small short story for Oswestry Writing Group which I copy below.  Yes, yes, yes! I actually wrote something:

Empty Bottle

Ben clattered the bottle as he shoved open the front door. It spun at his feet as if it had been flicked by a boy hoping to win a kiss. It was a green wine bottle with a white label and it was empty.

Ben felt a sneer disfigure his face and words bubbled furiously off his tongue. ‘Bloody hell, Paula! Bloody drinking again!’ The rage, which had been fed by his run-in with Baxter at the office and engorged by close encounters with incompetent drivers on his way home, surged and he booted the revolving bottle with savage force.

The bottle flew along the corridor and smashed the opaque glass door at the end of the corridor. The explosion threw shards of glass back as far as his feet.

For a moment Ben was aghast. He was shocked by the violence of the rebound. Then he realised the bottle, the damned bottle which had caused him to lose his temper, was still intact resting atop the glass fragments of door. His rage came roaring back.

‘Paula!’ he bellowed. ‘Look at this mess. Look at the damage your bloody drinking has led to. Again!’ He waited a few scant seconds. ‘Paula. Paula!’

Ben shouted his wife’s name so loudly his voice cracked. He fell quiet. For a moment he thought he might cry. His heart was seesawing in his chest and his head thundered with blood. He blinked his eyes until the sting subsided and the jagged mess of glass came back into focus. The wine bottle was glinting poisonously in the light from the kitchen.

Ben picked a careful path over the glass in the corridor and he paused to pick up the empty bottle which he held like a club in his right hand. The kitchen was as empty as the bottle. There was not a dish out of place and clean surfaces; spick and span just as he liked it and yet it was unsatisfactory.

It took Ben several moments, swinging the bottle around like a Geiger counter, that there was no food! The fruit bowl, the jars which normally held nuts and dried fruit, the sugar bowl and the butter dish were all empty.

Ben carefully placed the bottle on the melamine table top, walked across the kitchen and opened the fridge. Empty! The freezer was just a white cavern and the cupboards were bare.  Ben gulped down a hysterical giggle. His breathing sounded more like panting.

‘Paula?’ and his voice trembled. ‘Paula, he whispered. He turned around and around in the kitchen like a windmill; his arms flailing as he tried to grasp the totality of the emptiness that was engulfing him. A waving arm caught the neck of the empty bottle and tottered to the edge of the table, fell and smashed apart on the kitchen floor.

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