creative writing, Evolved Energy Short Stories

#38 Meeting of Minds

The thirty-eighth short story in the Evolved Energy Series

Previous

Around a circular wooden table, the three men hunched together in deep discussion. Steam engulfed them as it rose from mugs of tea and coffee while a plate of biscuits lay untouched. They were an odd collection of folk: a man who could have easily passed for a bear; a tall, lean man with hair as black as the night outside; and a tired, bored looking man who didn’t seem very special at all. 

“Tell us then, Hiccup,” The tired man drawled. “How did the public meeting go?”

The raven-haired man glared. “It’s Henry, and you’d know if you bothered to show up, Saul.”

“Ah but that’s why we send you,” Saul smirked. “You’re like the rapporteur of the group.”

“I’m surprised you know such a big word-”

Hiccup!” The bear warned with a frown. 

Hiccup sighed. “It was more boring than normal.”

“Exactly my point. That’s why you go and not me.” Saul laughed as he reclined into his wooden chair. 

Hiccup ran a hand through his hair before picking at the biscuit plate. “You could have gone to the meeting, Saul, it’s not as though you ever do any work.”

“I open the bar at eventide, Henry.

Hiccup snorted. “And miss the entire lunchtime trade in the process.”

“I don’t want those people,” Saul laughed darkly. “I want the people that come out at night.”

“I’d want the money, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to understand how your mind works.”

“Good,” Saul smirked. “If you could work that out I’d probably be as boring as you are.”

“Saul, that’s enough.” The largest man growled. 

“Ease up, Eacal, you wouldn’t have any fun if the two of us started being nice to each other.”

Eacal shrugged. “I just want to know how the meeting went and then you can do what you like to each other.”

“That’s the most disturbing thing you’ve ever said,” Hiccup sneered in disgust. “And since when have you cared this much about these meetings?”

“Since they started talking about tax increases and-”

“And he needs a divorce.” Saul interjected. 

Hiccup blinked at the two threads of conversation. “Are you struggling to pay tax, Eacal?”

“No,” Eacal’s brow furrowed. “It’s not that. I just think it’s gone up a lot in the last few years. Felicity gets the reduced rate but I’m still paying top bracket. The money we save in the heating bills isn’t as much as we shell out.”

“And if you divorce her you would lose her discount…” Saul considered, mostly to himself. 

Eacal sighed. “I am not divorcing my wife.”

“How would it work if she died?” Saul looked pointedly towards Hiccup. 

Eacal was affronted. “Saul!”

“I mean if it was a terrible accident-”

“Enough!”

“That she wouldn’t recover from and could be fatal-”

“You can’t say these things!”

“Then you’d be a widow.”

Hiccup nodded his agreement. “He’s right, Eacal, widows get tax discount.”

“We are not discussing this.” Eacal stared from one set of innocent eyes to the other. 

Hiccup chewed thoughtfully on a piece of shortbread. “It was only hypothetical.”

“Exactly and she could end up fatally injured in a tragic accident.” Saul chewed on his lip. 

“You’re bad people.” Eacal shook his head. 

“We know.” Saul smiled as Hiccup nodded in complete agreement. 

(All characters, setting, plot etc. belongs to me – Erin Robinson)

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Life, Parenting

Tall, Talking Toddler

I’ve mentioned it a few times, but we’re firmly out of the baby stage and into the toddler years. Gabe is now seventeen months old (going on seventeen years). His character is blossoming and it’s an amazing experience to watch a person’s personality take form. We’re blessed to have a kid who surprises us each day, but the challenges keep on coming.

For one, my kid is huge. That might be an exaggeration, but he’s definitely tall. He was measured last week and comes in at the 98th percentile – so if one was the shortest kid his age, and one hundred was the tallest, he’s the ninety-eighth. We’ve knows this for a while and, let’s face it, he was a fairly massive newborn. A few months ago at soft play, he played with a child a few months older and another child who was literally a day older than him. He towered over both. So much so, that both the other mums thought he was considerably older than their own children.

While some parents would be thrilled their kid is growing so well (and we generally are!) it comes with its own issues. Because our toddler is bigger than the average bear, there is a constant assumption that he is older too. People don’t realise that he’s not even a year and a half old yet, and that he can’t do all the same things as a three year old can do.

Recently the health visitor did his assessment and we had a proud parent moment when we found out he is exceeding both the 18 month milestones and the 2 year milestones. In part, we think this is due to how vast his vocabulary is. He only needs to hear a word repeated two or three times before he’s trying to use it for himself. We’ve learned the hard way that swearing is no longer something that can be done within a two mile radius. He’s also got an attitude to rival some teenagers.

Ultimately, things are going well on the parenting front. We’re run off our feet trying to keep up, and every day is a learning curve. But it occurred to us over the last couple of weeks that at some point we said goodbye to the baby stage without ever realising it. We packed up the tiny baby toys, and the piles of clothes that will never fit him again. The next stage is so exciting but it’s bitter sweet to say the least.

creative writing, Evolved Energy Short Stories

#37 Routine Interruption

The thirty-seventh short story in the Evolved Energy Series.

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As an unspoken rule, the only people who lived in the housing of the Legal District were politicians, and lawyers. Overall, this made sense: it meant these people had shorter commutes and there was no overcrowding in an area with relatively low housing stock. The first thing Henry O’Reilley had done after finishing his training was buy a third floor flat on the quietest street. 

Over time he’d grown accustomed to the quirks of the building. Directly below his home lived a retired politician who had a vast collection of cats. On the bottom floor lived another lawyer who specialised in drug cases – something Henry found amusing given that she spent most of her days intoxicated. 

It was a nice flat, in a nice building, on a nice street, in a nice area. It was all very nice. At the time of purchase, that was all Henry had been looking for. Now, he wished he’d found something with a bit of character. 

Every door was painted a clinical white. Every wall was ivory and slate. Every door knob was brass. Every window was sized according, exactly, to the council specifications. 

However, on this day, he arrived home to a scene that was quite the opposite of nice. Sprawled on his floor with a bulging bruise over one eye, drops of blood sliding down his face, and a series of rips in his shirt, lay his best friend. “Hey, Hicc.”

“I.. What… You’re bleeding on my carpet.” Henry spluttered. 

The other man exhaled heavily. “I think I am, yeah.”

“What happened?” Henry glared as he fought to regain his composure. “Why are you on the floor?”

 “Got a bit dizzy. Took a bit of a knock to the head.”

“Yes I can see that.” Henry hissed.

“Sorry.” He mumbled. 

Henry flicked his wrist and the towel he required slid into his open hand. Kneeling on the floor, he scrunched the material into a tight ball and pressed it against the oozing wound. “Please tell me you walked into a lamppost.”

“Not exactly,” A weak smile played on his lips. “I had a conversation with an iron pole.”

Henry’s eyes darkened into satanic slits. “Who hit you, Eacal?”

“He was shouting at Saul-”

“Saul can look after himself!” Henry boomed. 

Eacal shrugged. “I just removed the guy from the bar, Hicc.”

“Yes because Superman just had to intervene.”

“You think I’m Superman?” Eacal grinned foolishly. 

Henry ran a hand through his hair. “How bad was this hit to the head?”

“Didn’t see him coming.”

“You didn’t sense him?”

“No,” Eacal rolled his eyes. “I didn’t see him.”

“What do you mean you didn’t….. you’re drunk.” Henry sneered and pushed the towel a little too firmly into the cut. 

“Ow, Hicc, for the love of-”

“You get into some kind of bar fight and think it’s a good idea to bloody up my carpets?”

“It wasn’t a-”

“I don’t want to know, Eacal.”

Eacal struggled to meet his friend’s eyes from beneath the towel. “I’m sorry about the carpet. I’ll pay to have them cleaned.”

“Just go home, Eacal.”

Henry stood and stormed into his bedroom, slamming the door behind him. His carpet would never be the same and the sight of congealed blood would linger behind his retinas for weeks to come. 

(All characters, setting, plot etc. belongs to me – Erin Robinson)

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Life, Parenting

A Childless Week

Recently we took a step as a family which was pretty intense. Mr Robinson took Baby Robinson to Yorkshire to visit his side of the family while I went to Manchester to spend some time with my best friends. It was the first time I’ve spent longer than a weekend away from my kid. An entire week apart. I was woefully unprepared for this latest milestone.

As a stay at home mum right now, this trip was supposed to give me a break. Lately I’ve needed some time to be myself without the added worry of a toddler. All in all, it was a fun time spent with great company. But I still missed my baby. A lot. Like more than I thought was physically possible.

Ultimately the whole experience has left me with a conundrum. Half of me despises being away from my child for longer than 24 hours. Meanwhile, the other half has come to the realisation that my brain is nowhere near stimulated when parenting is my only role.

Honestly it’s not a completely new realisation. I already wrote, and draw to keep my mind active but in a day-to-day basis I’m, quite frankly, bored. There’s only so many times one adult can watch teletubbies or Sofia the first or Pj masks before they can feel their intelligence seeping from their eardrums.

The worst part is the knowledge that if I’m bored, then my son is most definitely bored. We’ve been blessed with a highly inquisitive child who is learning at a rapid pace. The downfall is that he needs constant mental and physical stimulation or he gets into mischief.

If this trip has taught me anything it would be that our daily routine needs an overhaul, and my baby is not spending a week away from me for a very long time!

creative writing, Evolved Energy Short Stories

#36 Crossroads

The thirty-sixth short story in the Evolved Energy Series

Previous

Saul sat on his disintegrating sofa, pen in hand, as he read the Sunday paper. It was a past time that had initially helped to give him a sense of order in his otherwise chaotic life. Now it was an obsession. He’d read front to back, then start over. He’d check the obituaries, he’d laugh at the comic sketches, he’d consider purchasing some items from the advertisement section. Then he’d lay out the crossword and sudoku it page on the coffee table to be consulted over the course of the day. Except today was different. 

Today he’d lingered, for the first time, on the Employment section. Twenty little boxes of possibility. An entire page dedicated to a change in direction. 

The biggest problem was that Saul wasn’t convinced he needed a change in direction. He owned his bar and his flat outright. All his bills were paid. Unbeknownst to everyone in his life, he had a comfortable amount of savings hidden under the floorboards of his bedroom. 

But he was lonely. He’d tried to convince himself otherwise. For months he’d allowed anyone with a sob story to collapse on his sofa, he’d fill his bed with a series of women that never lasted longer than a few weeks, he’d spend his days catching up with friends, and he’d spend his evenings drinking with strangers. He was surrounded by people, but he was lonely. 

Never would he dare admit that his Father may have been a tiny bit right about his lifestyle. In this neighbourhood he couldn’t truly be himself: though wasn’t that the whole point? He had anonymity but it meant he lacked identity. 

With this in mind, he marked the newspaper with crosses and circles. He was dismayed to find that nearly every job wasn’t suitable. No experience. Not enough qualifications. Lacked the necessary skills. He also wasn’t sure who could be coerced into giving him false references. 

That left only two options: refuse collector, or toll booth operator. In both cases, Saul was firm in his belief that he’d rather stay close to where he kept a steady supply of beer. 

(All characters, setting, plot etc. belongs to me – Erin Robinson)

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creative writing, Evolved Energy Short Stories

#35 Food For The Soul

The thirty-fifth short story in the Evolved Energy series

Previous

Twinkling candles arranged in large glass balls hung from the ceiling above each table. The restaurant was popular but tonight it was nearly empty. This was partly due to it being that time in the month when most of the population were waiting for payday, and partly due to the downpour of rain. The only two people who had dared to venture out had been put in the furthest away corner near the pizza ovens.

“I can’t believe you ate that pizza and the pasta.”

The larger man shrugged. “It could have all gone on one plate but you objected to me putting the pasta on the pizza.”

Claudio objected to you putting pasta on the pizza.”

Over the course of eight years, it had become tradition for the two men to meet at the cozy Italian restaurant every three weeks. As a result the patron, Claudio, had become a close friend. Hiccup now served as the man’s lawyer, and Eacal was always first on the scene at the slightest scent of criminal activity in the neighbourhood. A tall, willowy man with deep brown hair appeared from the shadows. “Dessert?”

Hiccup shook his head despairingly but Eacal’s eyes glittered. “Absolutely, tiramisu – two spoons.”

“We’re sharing dessert?” Hiccup’s fingers had commenced their steady tapping against the table.

Eacal blinked innocently. “You can’t expect me to eat it on my own. I’ve just had pizza and pasta.”

“So why are we ordering tiramisu?”

“Because Claudio will be offended if we skip dessert.”

Claudio was just about to shake his head in denial of this accusation when a jolt of pain exploded in his ankle. He quickly changed course. “Ow-Of course. You must have the tiramisu. It’s good for the soul.”

Hiccup gave Eacal one of his trademark frowns but said no more about it. There was no use in trying to stand between his best friend and food. Better men than Hiccup had tried and failed. A few seconds later Claudio reappeared with a bowl of tiramisu, a cup of coffee, a mug of Earl Grey tea with two sugar cubes on the side, and two spoons. The tray was placed between the two men and as Claudio backed away, all but one of the candle-lamps extinguished. Hiccup sneered at the change in atmosphere. Eacal didn’t appear to notice.

“This is nice.” Eacal smiled, spoon in hand.

Hiccup regarded the situation with a sigh. “Maybe we should hurry this up. Looks like Claudio wants an early night.”

“Claudio will wait,” Eacal smirked with a mouth full of creamy dessert. “I think he wanted to give us some privacy.”

“For tiramisu?”

Eacal hummed in agreement. “It’s really good. Have some.”

Reluctantly, Hiccup gripped his spoon and skirted around the edge of the bowl. Cream, coffee and cake were scooped up carefully and guided into his mouth in such a way that there would be no chance of it landing on his clothes. Eacal watched with amusement. “Told you it was good.”

Hiccup licked a smudge of cream from his lip. “You’re going to be the death of me.”

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creative writing, Evolved Energy Short Stories

#34 The Petition

The thirty-fourth short story in the Evolved Energy Series. 

Previous

In the doorway to the kitchen, Wyatt clutched a small bundle of crumpled paper. His eyes were set in a show of determination that Eacal would later describe as ominous. The older man eyed his son with suspicion over his morning cup of coffee. 

“Dad we need to talk.” Wyatt stated firmly as he walked into the room and sat down at the table.

Eacal groaned. Nothing good ever came of ‘we need to talk’. He often thought it should be a phrase that was banned from use entirely – especially on Sunday mornings when a man is only on his first coffee of the day. “Can it wait?”

“No, it’s important.” Wyatt scrunched up his nose. 

“Is it about school?” 

“No.” 

“Then it could probably wait.” 

Wyatt levelled a death glare at his Father. With an open palm, he concentrated and watched with delight as the carton of orange juice from the counter shot into his hand. He was particularly pleased to note that the carton didn’t explode this time. 

“Wyatt don’t be so lazy – you could have picked that up.” 

The eleven-year old shrugged. “I thought talking could wait.”

“Don’t be smart.” Eacal sighed. 

“I thought you wanted me to be smart,” Wyatt smiled innocently. “You’re always saying it’s good to be smart.”

Eacal put down his coffee and looked directly into the boy’s eyes. Sunday morning rituals were not usually disturbed. In fact, since hitting the age of ten, Wyatt had rarely risen earlier than noon on a Sunday morning: especially not with an inclination towards conversation, and definitely not holding a pile of paper. 

“If we talk, will you go away and let me finish my coffee in peace?” 

Today Eacal wasn’t hoping for any parenting points. He wasn’t likely to win Father of the Year in the near future. Besides, he was sure he could be forgiven for wanting to enjoy one moment of child-free bliss on his day off. 

“Deal.” Wyatt brightened immediately as he sat up a little straighter in his chair. 

Eacal rested his arms on the table and gestured for the pile of papers. “Let’s take a look then.”

“You should see all the names I’ve got,” Wyatt explained. “Then it’ll tell you what they signed for.”

With a growing sense of unease, Eacal scanned the names on the paper. He was surprised to find his friends’ names amongst the signatures, alongside the names of his work colleagues, his wife, his boss, and a handful of people he’d never heard of. By the time he reached the ‘proposal’ section, he was fairly sure he’d been cornered. 

“How’d you get your Uncle Hicc to sign this?”

“He thought I had a good point.” Wyatt smiled: deliberately leaving out the forty minutes of incessant whining that had been required to break his Uncle’s sanity. 

Eacal sniffed, sighed, and dropped the paper onto the table. “You’re not getting a dog.”

“But why?” Wyatt groaned. 

“Because I asked you to water the plants three months ago and now I have a collection of dead plants.”

Wyatt gaped in outrage. “That’s not fair. They’re not the same thing. Pets are much cooler and plants are boring and you could have watered the plants. They weren’t my plants.”

“Well done,” Eacal smirked. “You’ve made my argument all by yourself. You’re not getting a dog because when you get bored of it, it’ll be me looking after it.”

Wyatt seethed. “I would look after it. I could walk it and play with it and everything.”

“And feed it that nasty smelling stuff that comes out of a tin?”

“Yeah if that’s what it eats.”

“And pick up after it when it goes to the toilet?”

“My friend Toby picks up after his dog and if he can do it then I know I can do it.”

“You’re not getting a dog.”

The palm of Wyatt’s hand landed on the table with a sharp slap. “Why am I never allowed anything?”

“Wyatt,” Eacal’s voice dipped dangerously low. “Drop the attitude. You get pocket money, you get sweets, you get comics, you have your own computer, and I let you buy as many books as you want. The ‘woe is me’ act won’t fly here.”

“But that’s not a pet.” Wyatt muttered. 

Eacal sighed and stared at the ceiling. “You want a pet?”

“Yeah.”

“Then I’ll buy you a pet and if I hear a single complaint, you’ll suddenly learn about real hardship.”

Wyatt reluctantly agreed to this compromise in the sincere hope that his Dad wasn’t going to return home with a goldfish. He was acutely aware that pet did not necessarily mean dog

(All characters, setting, plot etc. belongs to me – Erin Robinson) 

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