The Birthday Girl – Friday Fictioneers, February 2021

Copyright Alicia Jamtaas

There had never been a railway line here; but then there had never been a forest either.

Her birthday had promised enchantment from the outset.  Rosy fingers had crept surreptitiously along the horizon as she’d toddled outdoors, patting aside the pastel-coloured balloons with which her family had festooned the rambling garden in readiness.

For a short while the day had sustained its promise.

But now she wanted breakfast, her birthday cake, her sisters, her kitten.

Yet clickety-clack echoed ever closer, a mournful whistle postulating some other outcome.

And the garden pond sang softly…

Come closer, birthday girl.

 

I had two endings for this, one anodyne and the other… was the one I opted for.  Thanks to Rochelle for her continued leadership of Friday Fictioneers – sorry to have missed last week – I sent a note. 🙂  

 

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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54 Responses to The Birthday Girl – Friday Fictioneers, February 2021

  1. neilmacdon says:

    What a wonderful first line. And what a menacing last one

    Like

  2. ceayr says:

    My day brightens when I see you in the Squares, and you rarely disappoint.
    Neil mentions the fist and last lines, both superb.
    But so are all the others.
    Excruciatingly exquisite piece of writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reena Saxena says:

    The first line just draws one in, closer to the pond.

    Like

  4. Sue says:

    Oh dear, has me thinking of Nic Roeg’s “Don’t look now”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Sandra,

    Glad to see you back on the squares. 😀 I find myself wanting to run and snatch her away before…well done as always.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dale says:

    Oh, my heart cracked from the first line until it broke at the last. Well done, as you always do with your gift of storytelling!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Tannille says:

    Punched with the first line and double punched with the final. Well done.

    Like

  8. Iain Kelly says:

    The garden pond sings in a very sinister voice.

    Like

  9. granonine says:

    You took us from the heights to the depths in only 100 words. Excellent.

    Like

  10. Will she, won’t she. We can only hope the call of the kitten is more tempting.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Love “clickety-clack”. It both draws you in and makes you want to pull away.

    Like

  12. Dora says:

    And the rest of the story just writes itself! Wonderfully eerie, Sandra.

    Like

  13. Bear says:

    Ohhh, I liked this one. I half expected it to be the approach of a train to take her to a concentration camp…. that would have been interesting, dontcha think? Still I love this. Great read on such a snowy morning.

    Like

  14. liz young says:

    And it all started so well…

    Like

  15. pennygadd51 says:

    Ow! Why do your stories so often make me wince? (In a good way, that is!) You’ve written this with such precision, focussed like a laser beam. And Neil’s right – that first line is an absolute cracker!

    Like

  16. plaridel says:

    the pond must be home to a frog waiting to be turned into a prince. let’s wait and see. 🙂

    Like

  17. I could almost hear the compelling whisper of the pond. Very eerie and tragic, Sandra, and told so well as always.

    Like

  18. mjlstories says:

    This child has definitely wandered into an adult tale – and the sort I’d try to resist but wouldn’t be able to! Menacing…

    Like

  19. James McEwan says:

    The first line transports this story directly into a different world from the birthday party. I would say like a sinister “Alice in Wonderland” scenario. Well what would the outcome be ? Taken away with a magical train to a place of great imagination.

    Like

  20. A powerful slow build-up of menace. Good job.

    Like

  21. Nobbinmaug says:

    As seemingly everyone else mentioned, great hook and knockout blow. Very ominous.

    Like

  22. Mike says:

    Clickerty clack reminds me of those plastic toy windmills. A cold wind blows through this story

    Like

  23. draliman says:

    This got gradually darker – I fear it’s not going to end well for the birthday girl.

    Like

  24. I really liked your story, ghostly with a lightness of touch. Reminded me a little of a MR James story in tone.

    Like

  25. ahtdoucette says:

    Wow, you had me at rosy-fingered dawn. And then jabbed me in the heart with “toddled” meaning this is a child! By the time I got to the end, I was hoping against hope – but no it is that kind of Homeric epic. I will choose to believe she comes back after a long and tortured journey to find everything changed but the same. Very well done in so few words. Kudos.

    Like

  26. subroto says:

    Ooh a hint of menace at the end turns a sweet scene into something more sinister. Nice one.

    Like

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