NOTE: I thought I’d be able to log stories as separate posts in this section, blogging novice that I am! But I can’t. Pages can only be edited. So if you enjoy short stories, I will be adding them on periodically, so do keep coming back to have a mooch to see what is new – and do a leave a comment if you’ve enjoyed them : ) PLUS don’t forget to click on Tiny Tales either here or under the category menu on the left hand side. Some of them were penned in 10-15minutes flat.
Thanks, Yasmin x x
This was a short story I wrote about five years ago, I was really happy to rediscover it a few months back. Hope you enjoy it..
I was told I’d always been a water baby; apparently I’d even swum around gently in my mother’s womb despite the confinement of space. I’d rarely lain still when they’d gazed at me lovingly from the outside, looking in, as she lay in hospital, mesmerised by her distended belly transparent on the screen.
As a toddler I’d be the first in the bath, when she hollered for us all to go up and get ready for the nightly ritual. I was the only one out of the three of us that never needed to be told twice.
Mary was the one who would have to be lifted in kicking and wailing. She had a morbid fear of the shampoo getting in her bright little eyes, but I think she just didn’t like the water . I liked that I could choose the ‘flavour’ of mine. It felt like a very serious choice when you were four years old. Monica was the quietest of the three of us. She would occupy the furthest corner. I liked to be in the middle, which was kind of apt as I was the middle child.
There were no boys in my family, only my Papa, and he left the nightly ritual to Mama. As we got older, we of course learned to do this on our own, and my desire to lie in there, and float would often be disturbed with the anxious knocking on the door from a sister checking to see I was okay
I had a habit of drifting off into dreams and had often woken chilled and in the dark. My flesh puckered by the water, shivering and surprised. It never hurt to be safe.
So really did it come as any surprise when I reached the age of ten and I noticed these tiny little flaps starting to blossom beneath my budding little breasts? My mother later noticed it when she saw me dressing for school
She peered at me curiously and then pulled me to her to gently stroke the smooth, serrations over my ribs with her work worn fingers. ‘ What are those?’ she murmured to herself. ‘ I don’t know’ I replied, nervous of her gaze.
‘I have to go to school’ I said buttoning my blouse. She let me go in silence, a furrow creasing her brow.
Each night I looked at the marks on my ribs and touched them. They didn’t hurt and with time I noticed they grew and when I breathed in deeply they opened and closed. It was a very strange thing indeed, I decided, but I liked being different.
I would lie in the bath, and one day I fancied I was a fish. One hot summers day when I was 11 years old, I was the only one home. My parents had taken my sisters out to buy some shoes, and I’d decided to stay in and read a book. After eating a very sticky peach I went into the bathroom to wash my hands and thought to myself, how lovely and refreshing it would be to sink into pure, cool water.
Why not? I wouldn’t be disturbed, and there wouldn’t be any interruption. I could already feel the ripples of water, wet and silken flowing over my skin. I put in the plug and flooded the white, iron tub with tepid water and busied myself undressing.
I dropped my clothes at my feet, my vest, my cotton underwear. I’ve never been very tidy. I stretched my arms up skywards and felt the satisfying crackle in my limbs, a sign I had been curled up for too long with my book. This was going to feel lovely.
I pondered whether to use any oils, fragrant potions, salts and bath milks. For once I fancied something pure and plain. So after the bath was half full, I wound the tap shut and climbed in, sank down smoothly with a sigh into the water.
My hair was shoulder length and according to Mary, my best feature. But in the summer it often became a bother, especially in hot weather. My mother was blessed with an equally thick, abundant head of hair. Papa unfortunately was not, but I had his beautiful bright green eyes, which twinkled when he smiled. Monica told me I would be a beauty when I grew up with my ebony locks. Her hair was curly and short.
I lay back in the bath and stretched out my legs, and noticed I needed to cut my toenails. My scalp prickled pleasurably as I sank further back, submerging my head until I lay prone and unfettered. I gazed up to the bathroom ceiling.
Papa had let us paint clouds on it on Mary’s tenth birthday. He was a creative soul that was why Mama loved him. He was an artist, so it only made sense that we might have that in us too.
I closed my eyes and breathed in and sank under the water. Peace.
And it felt so good and so cool.
I opened my eyes and looked up at the blurry land above me. The clouds rippled through my watery gaze and I blinked. There were no bubbles to sting me, otherwise I never opened my eyes like this
I fluttered my hands in the water enjoying the motion as my body warmed the water around me. It was lovely to feel this serene. I’m not sure how long I stayed like this, but my head didn’t get that feeling like it might explode if I didn’t sit up to breathe and I wasn’t cold, so I let myself stay down there.
I peered over my breasts, to my ribs, and watched mesmerised as those marks opened and closed but wider than I’d ever seen them do before. My mouth opened in surprise and I panicked as the water flooded in. I cried out, but it was a gurgle as I was sure I would choke, unless I sat up, but it didn’t happen, it seemed to flood out of my body from somewhere. God.
This was cool.
I had gills.
Real life gills. Wow. I was a water baby, truly. Mama hadn’t lied then when she called me that.
I touched them again and smiled. Lay back in my watery bed and breathed. Enjoyed my hair swirling around me as I cradled my arms underwater and then eventually closed my eyes.
I didn’t mind what it meant. I smiled and drifted off into sleep. I didn’t hear them come home, or call my name. The rumble of voices was very far away from me. It was only when Mama walked into the bathroom and shouted my name that I awoke and my eyes flew open.
I could see her through the water, her hands around her face looking so upset. I opened my mouth to reassure her I was fine, but of course she couldn’t hear me.
She leant over to me and grabbed my arms to pull me up. I was embarrassed that she was seeing me naked and put my hands over my chest and curled up my legs
‘ Melanie, what happened?!’ she cried.
‘Nothing, I was asleep, I was just taking a bath.’
‘ I thought you’d drowned!’
‘No I’m fine, what time is it?’
‘It’s 8 o’clock’
This surprised me.
I was sure I’d gone in just after lunchtime. So I had been in there for six hours. I looked at my skin. I was smooth, no puckering, no wrinkles, and though my hair was wet. It didn’t feel bad. My head was still sleepy, so it was hard to think.
‘ I’m hungry, can we have dinner?’ I eventually said. Mama still looked confused, as if she was trying to understand what had happened. She reached across and gently moved my hands away from my chest and looked at my gills.
‘Melanie, I had no idea this was going to happen, do you understand what’s happening?’ she said quietly. ‘ I have gills, like a fish’ I replied matter of factly.
‘ How do you feel about it?’
‘ It’s fine, I can breathe underwater, I can swim like a fish and my skin won’t go all bad if I stay in for a long time.’
She looked relieved at that, but still a bit worried
‘Mama, I don’t mind, I like swimming.’ I was really hungry, I just wanted to get out now and I looked for a towel.
Mama still looked unsure but she gave me a towel and gave me a cuddle and dried my hair for me like she did when I was very little, but I could feel she was still thinking.
I put on my clothes and felt as I was still in a little bit of a dream as I floated downstairs. Mary was trying on her new shoes and walking up and down the hall. They were black T-Bar Mary Janes and very smart, but I liked sandals most.
My Papa was putting away cans into the cupboard and he smiled when he saw me come in, ‘ Good bath Melly?’
Mama whispered something urgently into his ear and he listened intently, but when his smile went away that made me nervous.
Papa’s smile is one of my favourite things. It lights up a room when he does it.
He looked at me silently, put the last cans away and came over to me.
‘ Your Ma says you have gills, like a fish, is this true?’ he asked. I hadn’t been worried before but now I was. I wasn’t sure if my gills made him happy or sad, or angry like I had done something wrong. I loved my Papa and I wondered if he would love me if the answer wasn’t right. Now I was afraid, and I could feel tears prickling in my eyes.
Mary stopped walking in the hallway and watched. Monica came in and sat down holding her colouring pens.
‘ Yes, Papa I have gills’ I muttered feeling guilty, but I didn’t know why I felt guilty, I didn’t make them happen.
Papa closed his eyes. ‘ It’s because of puberty’ he said, ‘ you’re growing up, it’s nothing to worry about, we’re just not used to it, your Mama and I, it never happened when we were young. Kids were just kids’
I tried to understand, but he didn’t really make much sense. Mary came in and sat down, she didn’t look upset and she had heard everything too. She was fourteen and much taller than me, her blonde hair was almost white, it was so pale and beautiful.
‘ I don’t understand’ I said to Papa. His smile came back and he sat down and held my hand ‘ You’re the first of your kind, all the new children born in the last fifteen years were all genetically engineered so you would be born in the best way you could be, the most healthy, the most strong… Melly you will never ever have any serious health problems. You are going to have a wonderful life, my love. What they didn’t tell us was about the genes that had been added in and what they might do when all these babies grew.’
‘ That was the bit the doctors left out,’ Mama said sighing, joining him.
‘So I have gills because I have a little bit of fish in me?’ I said feeling amazed. ‘ That’s why I love the water so?’ I wondered if when I grew up I would be like ‘The Little Mermaid,’ like in the cartoon.
Mary looked at me with her pretty blue eyes and blinked limpidly and I felt as if I was looking at my sister properly for the first time. She was still Mary, she was still my lovely big sister with a pink, little smile and her bendy body that was so good at ballet.
But, when she leaned in close, I thought I heard the hint of a cat’s purr in her throat when she said,‘ Melly… do you like my new shoes?
I really enjoyed writing this! I think it was written on a couple of bus journey’s. I’m a huge fan of writing or reading on the hoof, for me that is time VERY well spent. It was the year The Wrestler was knocking Tinseltown for six ; )
The Devil’s Breath
One day, the Devil dug himself up from hell because he was lonely. Everyone in hell was so sycophantic, he didn’t believe anyone gave him the genuine truth anymore. They just trembled in fear of his wrath, it really was boring. He wasn’t that bad when you really got to know him.
But that was the problem, no one really knew him.
Lucifer had had a good bond with God, but it had really ended badly, and though God was everywhere and unknown to his believers, really did ‘walk among his flock,’ it was harder for the Devil to do the same. He’d tried hanging around the den of iniquities but found sinners were on the whole amazingly superficial people and their guilt often took the fun out of a conversation over a drink.
His preferred tipple of choice was a good brandy. It kept the flame in his soul burning bright and when he was away from hell, he needed all the heat he could find. He had terrible circulation and he found the oether thing that went down well was a good, potent vindaloo curry…
And this was where his problem lay. The Devil was in love – with a restaurant chef called Harshita Khan, but she didn’t know he existed. Well she knew ‘of’ him, of course, but she didn’t know ‘him.’ He was sullen that he was in awe of her beauty. She actually intimidated him. What a joke, but he had nothing to tempt her with, as she was genuinely content with her lot. She worked really hard, and didn’t seem to date, and seemed utterly oblivious to the admiring stares her swift forays into the dining room generated.
Maybe she was gay? Well that was a sin according to a dozen religions, and for once, one that would actually leave him crestfallen if it were true, as he was all man, well at least he was at heart.
So he watched her with a furrowed brow in his minds eye as he got on with the night. She stirred the pots, directed the staff, and at night dropped her shoes with a sigh and stroked the cat that languorously rubbed its cheek against her slender ankle. Lucky, lucky pussy the Devil thought.
Then he got an idea, all he wanted was five minutes with her. He just wanted her attention, a little time with her. He just craved contact, he’d never given what was possible any thought beyond that.
‘Harshita,’ he sighed. On Friday 13th November 2009 – he got special dispensation from his team of acolytes to hang out all evening. It was a special day of fear and apprehension on Earth and he said he wanted to make the most of it.
So he became a fly on the wall in her restaurant, Monsoon, and watched Harshita arrive with an armful of flowers, his jealousy shot through the roof when he imagined they might be from a lover, but then she handed them to Nick her head waiter and he arranged them in several vases. Phew! The Devil sighed with a smile. He watched her eye up the menu, write down the specials on the board, pep up her team, and fasten a white apron around her petite waist.
He followed her into the ladies and watched her roll up her beautiful, long, black hair and fasten it with a pin. He longed to stroke it but didn’t want to frighten her. She smiled into the mirror and his heart skipped a beat imagining it was for him.
When she came out diners had started to arrive. And one stood out to him, but he couldn’t be sure why. It was a man with a Panama hat and a crumpled, white linen suit. He had a handsome, broken face reminiscent of a bruised peach. Maybe he’d been a boxer in a past life. He felt he’d seen him before. Maybe he was an actor or a boxer, he was broad and big. The Devil hovered above him and thought, ‘ hmmmm.’
He felt around the man’s soul and came across arrogance, pride, ego, sensitivity and the tendency to act first and think later, an impetuosity and a love of hot food. Perfect! Enough sin for him to blend in, a damn good fit, if he said so himself. The Devil eased in and went ‘aaaaah.’ The man flinched a little when he felt a shiver down his spine and put it down to sobriety. He clicked his fingers at a passing waiter and barked, ‘A bottle of brandy and one glass!’
Wow, the Devil thought, and I didn’t even have to prod him to do that!
The waiter nodded curtly and scurried off. His name was Samuel and his heart skipped a beat when he clocked the man. He was a famous actor who’d experienced a massive second wind in his career – cemented with an Oscar nomination.
He burst into the kitchen and rushed upto Harshita. ‘ You won’t believe who’s dining here tonight!’ Harshita had seen many famous people dine in Monsoon and tuned out.
The Devil looked at the menu hungrily through the famous man’s eyes and his eyes lit up when he spotted a fiery, hot dish called ‘The Devil’s Breath.’ Fantastic! I want that he told the man in his ear. The famous actor nodded. Samuel came back with his brandy and poured him a glass.
‘Are you ready to order Sir?’
The actor nodded. ‘I’d like the Devil’s Breath made with langoustines , served with kulcha naan and a King Prawn Butterfly on the side, and a double serving of ras malai to finish.’
‘Wonderful Sir,’ Samuel said with a smile.
He wondered into the kitchen and excitedly said, ‘ He wants THE DEVIL’S BREATH!’
Harshita raised an eyebrow – that was her hottest dish made with a dozen red chillis. It had been her dad’s favourite, but she’d never yet met a man who could eat it. He’d always told her, she’d know who the man for her was if he ever ordered it, ate it and thanked her for it at the end.
She prepared it herself smirking, it was impossible, there was no way a non-asian could handle this. She’d never seen it attempted.
‘Samuel, it’s ready. Here you go,’ she said with a smile, craning her neck out the door, but all she could see was the back of the man. Harshita got on with her cooking and listened out for a scream, a gulp, a huge inhalation of breath – the usual things the consumption of the Devil’s Breath bought on – but there was nothing.
Twenty minutes later, Samuel came to her side. ‘Mr Mickey Rourke would like to pay the Chef a compliment in person,’ he whispered. Harshita grinned, he was one of her favourite actors.
She was so pleased he’d made a comeback. She wiped her hands clean and marched out onto the dining floor.
The Devil saw her coming out and his heart leapt in the actor’s chest. She was even more beautiful than he’d ever imagined. Look at that smile. He was lost for words and she was beaming. Say something, anything.
‘This dish, I loved it. I just had to say so, All those chillis. It was perfect. Thank you!’ he managed.
Harshita’s eyes widened with joy. All these years she’d been waiting and who would have thought it.
‘Really, you didn’t find it too peppery?’ she checked.
‘No, I love pepper!’ the Devil said melting in her presence.
‘Me too,’ she said blushing. ‘In fact, I’m working on a few new dishes,’ she murmured,’ would you be interested in trying them out for me do you think?’
The Devil almost passed out with joy, and was thrilled when the actor nodded for him with a grin. Possession was always so much easier when the host was on board.
Harshita walked away with her fingers crossed and raised in triumph…
‘Thank you God!’ she exclaimed.