The Touch of a Woman (Friday Fictioneers, November 2012)

This week’s fascinating photo prompt came from Joyce Johnson. Not an easy one!

There was no mistaking cousin Fester’s house.

Martha dropped her suitcase, tutting as she used her shawl to wipe the dust and cobwebs from the bronze face by the gate.  Such vanity, she thought grimly.

Within 24 hours, the house was unrecognisable.  Windows gleamed, mahogany doors glowed, and sacks of wine bottles, empty beer cans and girlie magazines were stacked outside on the pavement.

And shortly after, Martha stormed out again, red-faced.

At the gate, the bronze smiling mask wore a ferocious scowl, and the pointing hand had revolved anti-clockwise, ninety degrees.

The middle finger was now extended.

About Sandra

I used to cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and wrote fiction and poetry. Now I live on the beautiful Dorset coast, enjoying the luxury of being able to have a cat, cultivating an extensive garden and getting involved in the community. I still write fiction, but only when the spirit moves me - which isn't as often as before. I love animals, F1 motor racing, French bread and my husband, though not necessarily in that order.
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50 Responses to The Touch of a Woman (Friday Fictioneers, November 2012)

  1. yepiratesays says:

    Brlliant!! I laughed and laughed at the end!! You managed to let us see what she was thinking as well, not just portray her movements – but the end!! And interesting, so different to the previous battery jar story you wrote, that haunts still, like a novel.


  2. Linda says:

    I love it – just goes to show you shouldn’t always just assume that you are welcome somewhere πŸ™‚


  3. I was about to try to email you and tell you your link wasn’t working but thankfully you’d posted one that worked so I could enjoy your story. “Tutting” conveys so much!!

    Happy Thanksgiving!


    • Forgot to add that your title is as they say “all of a piece” with your story. You used it well.


    • Sandra says:

      Thanks for that; I was sure I’d tested the link after I posted it. What threw me was that two people had already commented, and I know if the url you’ve posted is the ‘admin’ link they can’t do that. Then I realised they were ‘followers’ who’d have received the correct link anyway. Thanks for your comments, appreciate your persisting.


  4. Abraham says:

    Cousin ‘Fester’ eh? πŸ™‚
    I know a house that could use Martha’s touch.
    Hopefully she will not leave red-faced


  5. claudia says:

    Loved the character, and I wish she could visit my house! But the ending was a hoot!


  6. Hi Sandra,
    Very funny story, brought a grin to my face. No good deed goes unpunished! Ron


  7. rich says:

    first, can i have the magazines? thanks!

    also – “the bronze smiling mask wore a ferocious scowl, and the pointing hand had revolved anti-clockwise…”

    i think you meant to say “counter-clockwise.” also, you can save a few words and have a more “active” voice if you write “the bronze, smiling mask scowled ferociously” instead of “wore a ferocious scowl.” overusing adverbs is dangerous – but in this type of writing we have to go with it to save words. for regular writing, i really prefer how you wrote it, but to save a few words, i’d go with the adverb version.


    • Sandra says:

      I didn’t mean to say ‘counter-clockwise’. I’m a Brit, and that’s what we say, (anti-clockwise) as do Kiwis and Aussies, according to Wikipaedia, who also describe ‘counter-clockwise’ as a synonym of ‘anti-clockwise’. I’m ambivalent about your second point, I don’t think either reads particularly well due to the pressures on word count, but on balance I’d probably prefer to keep distance between the two opposites – smiling and scowling.
      About the magazines – there’s a waiting list for them, but I’m happy to add your name, and for a small fee, (payable in sterling :)) I could advance you towards the top of the list. πŸ˜‰


  8. Fester is festering…
    Cousin Martha’s too sensitive.

    What could have happened that made her leave so red-faced?

    Great fun tale with a finely fingered and facial twist.
    Happy Thanksgiving


  9. Anne Orchard says:

    Love it Sandra! Now you mention it, it does look like Fester. I like the way you left the details of exactly why she left unspecified.
    Mine is here this week


  10. Dear Sarah,
    I support your use of anti-clockwise. It made me miss a good friend from New Zealand who lives in Perth. As for the rest of your story, I laughed out loud. Good job!


  11. wmqcolby says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! Too funny!!!! Great job, Sandra!


  12. This is great, Sandra. Your excellent descriptions of Martha and Fester made your characters come alive. Wonderful work this week!


  13. Dear Sandra,

    I knew your anti-clockwise was what you intended and it added to the color of your character, as did your great ending digit manipulation. Well done.

    I’m glad you came back and thanked Rich for his comments. The give and take, the discussions, the ideas that flow, is what makes this forum so addictive to me. He’s one of the most genuine in sharing his thoughts.




    • Sandra says:

      Thank you Doug. Yes, I do like thought-provoking comment, it gives me something to think about. For me the jury is out on the active/passive debate, (maybe I’m a bit of a Luddite) but I’m always prepared to entertain this, and similar concepts. And Rich is a great source of debate, though it won’t get him further up the magazine waiting list unless he coughs up the old moolah! πŸ˜‰


  14. unspywriter says:

    This was great! Thanks for the chuckle of the morning!

    Here’s mine:


  15. writeondude says:

    Wonderful as ever. Sounds like my place on dustbin day. Except I only throw out the wine bottles and beer cans. πŸ˜‰


  16. You had me at Fester!


  17. rgayer55 says:

    I was suspicous from the start, but didn’t expect the finale to be so grand. Beautifully done. If you aren’t careful, Rochelle will move you to the back of the bus with me and Perry.


  18. brudberg says:

    Fester and I had the Addams family in my mind. But it worked out very well. Got a good smile out of this story.


  19. Brian Benoit says:

    Ha, a really funny end and a good portrait of the both of them, really. Great stuff!


  20. Joyce says:

    Ha Ha. Brilliant. I bet Martha was one very scared ‘lady’. Obviously, his spirit was still alive and did not like her cleaning up after him, or his parties, and rearranging his house.


  21. tollykit says:

    Brilliant. Great take on the prompt. πŸ™‚


  22. Oh, I love the middle finger in the end. I wished I could have worked that it in. Funny story and nice details. Well done!


  23. Sarah Ann says:

    Now I want to know why Martha’s storming out all red-faced. What else is going on in that house?


  24. vbholmes says:

    First: All that in only 24 hours? I want her, I want her! Secondly, I have some old National Geographics which will rival any of Fester’s girlie magazines–What am I offered?


  25. You are definitely not talking to yourself. I love the irony, Animation – very original.


  26. Judee says:

    *grins* I guess cousin Fester had the last word. I love how even in such a short piece, you create atmosphere and characterization all in one small package. The use of the word “tutted” gave me such a clear picture of Martha. And Fester, well, his name says it all. πŸ˜‰ Always such a pleasure to read your work!


I'd love to hear your views; it reassures me I'm not talking to myself.

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