"Shy Feet: #ShortStories Inspired by #Travel" by Frances M Thompson @BushBirdie #Contemporary

Posted on Friday, March 14, 2014

The following is an extract from The Flowers Sleep Tonight, one of the twelve short stories in Shy Feet: Short Stories Inspired by Travel.
I chose an empty table and waited to find out which of the square’s restaurants was going to look after me. A waistcoated man with a dark frown eventually approached and I ordered quickly. The Rioja was fiery, the patatas bravas left my lips tingling and the chorizo was beautifully blood red.
My plates removed and my belly full, I started to daydream about the ocean and how its cool spray would linger on my face when I walked my mother’s dogs along Curl Curl beach. I imagined my sister up on the CentralCoast, raising chooks and children against the soundtrack of the kookaburra. I could return to either of these places to reclaim a life, or I could set up in a place of my own. Melbourne or Perth, perhaps? On my own. I was starting to think I’d be okay with that.
My thoughts were interrupted by a foreign voice speaking English and I assumed it was the waiter offering me coffee. But when I looked up, there was the shock of a familiar face.
“Can I sit down?”
She blinked and it seemed to shimmer down her body. It was a shudder; she recognised me.
“May I…?”  I asked again.
Her mouth gaped open, but she gestured to the chair next to her.
“Thank you.” I sat and smiled. “How are you?”
“I’m… I’m okay,” she replied in a whisper. “How…” She coughed. “How are you?”
“Good. Thank you.” I kept my backpack on my lap because of what was inside. I knew she’d forgotten my name. Maybe she never knew it.
“Well, this is a… coincidence.” She reached for her glass of wine, her lips twisting into a smile I’d never forget. I ordered a beer.
“No, it is not a coincidence,” I said.
Her forehead gathered in a frown and I noticed new freckles on her nose.
“I knew you were in Barcelona so I came here to find you,” I explained.
“You came to find me?”
“You left Mexico so quickly after we… after we were together. I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.”
She leaned back abruptly, knocking her back against her chair. “But Mexico was… It was just a… Mexico was a long time ago.”
“Five months and three weeks.” I let the time hang in the air.
“It’s Thomas, isn’t it?” Memories started to flood back in uncomfortable, wild waves.
He nodded, pretending to not be hurt.
“So, what are you doing here?”
“I told you. I saw that you were here and so I came to find you.”
“From Germany?”
“No, Italy. I was working there, but my contract finished yesterday.”
“What do you do?” I didn’t have the first clue.
“I’m a cameraman.”
“Yes, and I also do some other things, film producing and editing.”
“Like, for movies?”
“Kind of. Well, no. Not big films. Not Hollywood.” His nose twitched when he smiled. “Some short films for friends. But I’ve actually been trying to do other things too so I can work as I travel.”
“You didn’t go back to Germany after Mexico?”
“No, I’ve not been back to Germany for over two years.” I noticed that his eyes were very dark, almost black. They clashed with his mousey crop of hair.
“You’ve been travelling this whole time? And working as you go?”
“And what are these other things you’ve been doing?”
“Photography, that’s what I want to do. And it’s much easier to do while I keep travelling. I don’t need to look for contracts. I just have to sell my photos.”
I pinched the stem of my glass. My cheeks were warm from the wine, but I was thinking clearly. He scared me, just like he did in Mexico. I ran away from him back then. I could do it again, if I wanted to. This time it would be easier, I knew where I was going next. I was going home.
“And you never go home?”
“Define home…?” He faced me and I felt his stare slice into me. I shivered again despite the warm, sticky air that cloaked us.
“So, are you any good? At photography?” I changed the subject.
“Would you like to see some of my photos?” he asked, his eyebrows raised high over those deep, dark eyes.
Now was the time. Now was when I did what I came to do. Five months, three weeks, two days. I was within breathing, touching, finishing distance of her. It was time to show her.
"This collection of stories is like a blanket woven from 100% wanderlust under which you can hide as Frances M. Thompson tucks you in with her words and keeps you warm with her descriptions of characters you'll love and places you can tell she knows by heart." Gesa Neitzel, www.bedouinwriter.com
Shy Feet: Short Stories Inspired by Travel is a collection of twelve quirky, charismatic and touching tales of travel.
The inquisitive Ruth tells the story of The Lost Children of Gatwick Airport and in Max's Holiday we learn what a seven-year-old boy considers a "proper holiday" to be. In The Flowers Sleep Tonight, we meet Thomas and Carly, two solo travellers whose paths keep crossing... because that's exactly what Thomas wants. A spontaneous plan to elope is revealed in The Runaways and Homes from Homes is about the lessons Patricia learns from the hotel bellboy she has a fling with. Oh, Henry is the story of how a dream holiday can mean two different things to two lovers and Katie's Maps is an offbeat love letter to a vast collection of maps. Extracts from a travel journal tell one woman's life story in All the Beaches are Made of Pebbles and find out what Australia and underpants have to do with Claudia wanting to leave her husband of forty years in The Road is Long.
From the unforgiving Australian Outback to the jagged beauty of the Amalfi Coast, along the pebbled beaches of Brighton & Hove and down the busy streets of late night Barcelona, this collection of short stories highlights how travel intersects and enriches all of our lives, often without us realising it...
"Shy Feet: Short Stories Inspired by Travel transports you to exotic locales without leaving your armchair and leaves you wanting more... Frances M. Thompson has a novel in her and I can't wait to read it." Nathalie Harris, www.acooknotmad.com
Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – Short Stories, Contemporary Fiction
Rating – PG13
More details about the author
Connect with Frances M Thompson on Facebook & Twitter


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