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 RITA lay half asleep in the rocking chair in the verandah. She glanced at her hands absentmindedly; thick blue veins criss-crossing thin parchment-like skin! One fine day, just like that, they had suddenly turned this way. It had bothered her then, these unseemly creases. But Vivek had held these very hands so lovingly and the meaning of her life had changed.  

Now, he was gone, but browns and greys no longer frightened her.

“How beautifully leaves grow old!”

The branches quivered in the fading light.  Rita closed her eyes and sank deeper into the rocking chair.

She was not afraid of winter any more.


Please visit Jenny Matlock’s Saturday Centus for more shades of autumn


ANU was nodding her head mechanically in response, her lips twisted in half-smile, half-bewilderment; the ‘conversation’ was one-sided, the argument absurd, as always. It was appraisal time once again, and once more it was the same insincere platitudes that her supervisor was throwing at her while cleverly pointing to her imaginary shortcomings. “You are sincere and hardworking and we really appreciate that, but…” There was always a ‘but’. Her promotion and pay hike would come, all in good time…

 “It’s only words. And words are all I have got. Year after year, too!” she thought, coming to a no-longer-difficult decision.

It was time to look for a new job.


For more on WORDS, go to Week ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY THREE of Saturday Centus


Kashmira placed the bowl of popcorn in her lap and settled down to watch a suspense film on television. There was no fear of being told she was a ‘stupid b….’ and having the remote snatched away. Vishy was gone; she smiled at the thought of the hammer coming down on his head as he watched his favourite game.

Just then the lights went out. ‘Damn!’ she swore as the house plunged into darkness. But wait, why was the TV still on and now switched to Vicky’s favorite sports channel? The room felt suddenly cold as an all-too-familiar voice whispered, “Are you ready for some football?” 


Enjoy more football at Jenny Matlock’s Saturday Centus



Seema’s hands shook as she dialled the number; she shivered involuntarily as the phone started to ring at the other end.

What a shock it had been to know Ma was not her biological mother. No wonder people always said, “Hey, you are soooo UNLIKE your mother.” Who was her real mother, and why had she abandoned her? Perhaps the answer was at the other end of the line, but did she really want to know? Ma loved her and that was all that mattered.

Seema was about to disconnect when a voice answered; “The number you have reached is no longer in service“. It was music to her ears.


More telephone numbers, more stories at Jenny Matlock’s Saturday Centus

Red Umbrella:  Christopher Shay
Courtesy: Magpie Tales


Rusty neighbourhood, rain. Drag pulled on his cigarette and looked out from his damp room on the third storey of a derelict building at the sodden world outside. The floor of the room was littered with cigarette butts; as always, he had been smoking the day away. No wonder the neighbourhood knew him as Drag rather than his real name.

‘What a colourless day,’ the words came out in a mumble and ricocheted off the wall they could not penetrate. He twirled the pistol aimlessly round his finger, loath to put it away.   

Suddenly, the unending grey of the street covered in slush was punctured by a splash of red – a man in a red umbrella was hurrying by, perhaps returning home to his wife and kids after a hard day at work.

Something seemed to stir within Drag. “Love is like a river,” he remembered how She often said that,   quoting from a song. The love had soon dried up, and She had gone her way. As for Drag, before long, he had returned to his life of deceit and shame.   

The red umbrella seemed to be fast moving away. A frighteningly familiar urge rose up in Drag and his fingers tightened on the trigger.  ‘NO, DON’T DO IT,’ he tried to tell himself, but it was already too late.


The umbrella had fallen to the ground and a different red now lay splattered on the dirt-covered lane.


Magpie Tales , Carry On Tuesday, Three Word Wednesday

Aleck Smart strutted into the ATM cubicle in his skin-tight trousers and natty shirt. He had had a fruitful day; he was an ‘artist’ and the auntie-types were an easy target. He made them feel wanted and it always worked, he smiled. Getting the fifty-something woman to surrender her credit card had been a piece of cake. She had even told him her password!

He would withdraw the entire amount permissible, a measly 20,000 rupees, in notes of 1000, slip them easily into his pocket and walk out unnoticed. As he waited for the notes to appear his smile faded, the ATM machine began dispensing twenties…


Find out what happened at other ATM counters @ Saturday Centus

SHE waited to take the lift for the nth time that day. Endless signatures were required from endless number of officials located on completely different floors of the building that was uncompromisingly vertical. She had already been allotted work but no work station or terminal as yet – procedures have to be followed, it takes time, they said. She had joined work with enthusiasm two weeks ago, but hundreds of phone calls, emails and signatures later, all she could feel was exasperation. And it was growing bigger by the minute… she gave a wry smile as the lift failed to stop at her floor yet again.


Experience more ‘growing’ at Jenny Matlock’s Saturday Centus

 Image: Dover Publication’s free sample newsletter
via Stony River


They were so taken by the ‘stone’ that yielded foam they failed to notice both the lifebelt and the incoming tide. Then, it was too late.


For Microfiction Monday

‘Ooh Nani, look what’s in here!’ Sonia held open the box and pointed excitedly at the contents. Mina smiled at her 12-year-old granddaughter as she lifted the stack of letters from the ancient chest. Grandmother and granddaughter were soon engrossed, sliding out the yellowing notepaper from the discoloured envelopes and gently unfolding the now fragile paper.

Nani, you had soooo many friends, and y’all actually WROTE soooo many letters?’ Sonia asked incredulously. A world without email and texting, was it really possible?!

But Mina was already far away; she ran her hands over the sheets, caressing and caressed by memories, happy to once again touch and relive the past.


To find out what the other stacks of letters contain, visit Jenny Matlock’s Saturday Centus

‘Beam me up, Scottie,’ Captain Fox sounded desperate. The howling dog-like creatures on the otherwise barren planet were fast drawing near, but there was no response from his assistant in the spaceship, Loyalty, hovering overhead.

Strange. Scottie, the robot dog, always did as commanded, even when Captain Fox was at his cruelest best.

‘Beam, Scottie,’ begged Captain Fox, panic taking over as he looked in the hand-held monitor – there was no Scottie at the Loyalty control panel.

When and how Scottie left the spaceship, Captain Fox could not say. But there he was, leading the pack that was now close, dangerously close….


Find out more about Scottie and his shenanigans @ Saturday Centus

July 2018
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