Monday, August 29, 2011

Brolly Folly

I’ve never tried a Magpie Tale before. Niamh Boyce and Brigid have written some
pretty impressive pieces, based on the picture prompts. Here’s my humble attempt:

Bree flicked her red umbrella shut and shook it fiercely to rid it of raindrops. She gazed up from the doorway of the bar to see a haggard man standing, mouth agape with a cigarette dangling from his cracked lips.

“You… you… just landed here from the sky. How did you do that?”

She chuckled as she leaned her umbrella against the wall. Then she entered the cave. Before she could stop herself, Bree scrunched her nose against the stench of stale beer and desperation. Recovering, she squared her shoulders and sashayed to the bar.

The only woman there, she felt every pair of eyes burn through her tiny dress.

“What’ll it be, Miss?” the stereotypical bartender asked, pouring a beer from the tap for another customer. He had the kind of face that invited customers to spill their secrets. Wouldn’t he like to know hers?

She opened her mouth to reply when the man from outside stumbled over to where she sat and took the next stool. “I saw what you did.”

Bree chuckled again, and again turned to the bartender. “You choose for me.” Men loved thinking they were in charge. When she opened her crimson handbag, the bartender waived his hand dismissively.

The haggard man stood and shouted, “This woman, she appeared out of thin air, right out of the sky.”

The men roared with laughter.

“Bill’s had too much to drink.”

“Who’s gonna take him home tonight?”

“Not me. I’ve wiped his vomit out of my car for the last time.”

Too drunk to be offended, he asked Bree, “Was it you who did it? Are you a witch? Or was it a magical umbrella?” He leaned in, his breath reeking worse than the bar. “I guess you could’ve enchanted the umbrella. I bet you’re a witch either way.”

“Maybe she’s freakin’ Mary Poppins.”

“Something like that.” Way back when she was respectable, she had been a nanny, but it paid like dreck. She held her mug up. “Cheers.” The haggard man skulked away.

“What do you do?” The man, who had on previous occasions wiped up vomit, asked.

“I’m a fortune teller.”

“Oh yeah? Tell me, am I gonna get lucky tonight?”

Just then, Bree spied a crack of light leak into the room. An ornery women in the doorframe looked squarely at her. Bree pretended she hadn’t noticed, cleared her throat and said, “I predict you won’t get lucky for some time. Your wife is going to be furious.”

The ornery woman marched over to the man who had just hit on Bree. A shouting match ensued between the couple. The inebriated men believed she had predicted it. Soon they begged for her to tell their fortunes. When she was done, the “fortune teller” had bamboozled over $200 from the men and gotten a few free drinks.

A success.

When Bree stepped outside, it was dark and clear. She reached down to retrieve her umbrella, but it was gone. Surely no man, even a drunk one, would be caught dead with a bright red umbrella. Then Bree realized her handbag was no longer on her arm. Maybe she’d had too much to drink. She hurried back into the nearly empty bar to retrieve her bag holding the cash…

… just as the haggard man ran off in the back alley of the bar, handbag in one hand, umbrella in the other.

He floated away.


  1. I love this! It was so much fun and beautifully written.

  2. Now you think a man with a red umbrella and a handbag would get noticed?! Bet his shoes clashed. :)

    Seriously, not feeble at all. We need to work on your self confidence. :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  3. I love the magical realism in this! And the twist was totally unexpected.

  4. This is wonderful, Theresa! I hope you'll post more pieces like this, for you have a gift for this on top of being an incredible writer.

  5. This is great because you fully enveloped me in the scene. Awesome job!

  6. A little intrigue... a mix of fun...

    charming piece.

  7. ha. like your haggard man character...mysterious...nice build up and misdirection here...

  8. Haha, love the ending! What a cute idea!

  9. Ugh. Darn. That's $200 gone! Bree could have bought lots of books with that! :(

    I loved the story, Theresa. Could this be a start of another MG novel? :) I think it's a good idea for a storyline :)

  10. Good job. The narrative has a distinct mood that is in synch with the setting.

  11. Pretty impressive yourself, Theresa.
    This was great: sassy and dark with a hint of magic realism. Welcome to the Magpies.

  12. Cool Story!!!

    Fine play of words and humor!!

    with warm regards
    Another Author

  13. Great story. Loved it. Loved how you could tell such a complete story in such a short space. Didn't see the end coming.

  14. Heheheh... That was fun! Roundly conducted bit o' story telling there. :j

    The whole while I was waiting for you to have a man walk off with the umbrella and the bag. The picture tells all.
    So, where did Bree get the umbrella?

  15. @ Heather, thanks for the compliment.

    @ Jules, looks like black shoes in the picture. Besides, he snuck out the back. Less likely to be spotted!

    Self confidence? What's that?

    @ Janet, thank you!

    @ Lydia, I'm beginning to think I can't write a short story without a twist.

    @ Michelle, thank you for the sweet words. You gave me a much-needed boost!

    @ Alleged Author, I'm glad you became enveloped in the scene. Thanks!

    @ Reflections, thanks for visiting!

    @ Brian, thanks for the comment!

    @ Meredith, thank you. It was fun to write.

    @ Len, YES, she could've bought loads of books! But they may have weighed her down when flying.

    Maybe it will turn into a bigger piece. Never know.

    @ Katie, thanks. Your comment is so literary!

    @ Brigid, thank you. I'm glad you approve since you're a Magpie Tale expert. I don't know why I did this one or if I'll do any others. It was fun!

    @ AllMyPosts, thanks for the nice comment. I appreciate it!

    @ Natalie, happy to hear my short, short story feels complete. It's about 550 words. Also happy the end surprised you.

    @ Alesa, before I wrote this piece, I read Niamh's version, which talks of a woman. But I squinted at the picture and thought it might be a man. Brigid viewed the person as a man. Until I was about halfway through, I thought I was going to have the woman leave with the $. You saw the ending before I did!

    As for the umbrella, Bree keeps her secrets.

  16. Excellent Theresa. Your plot twists kept me guessing.

  17. What a great read Theresa. Really great! A bit of a chuckle too. I had to look up "dreck", never heard or saw that word before. Always the educator!

  18. Hi Theresa .. great Magpie Tale .. loved it - especially the ending .. a definite to be included in an anthology .. cheers Hilary

  19. Wonderful and it looks like you had fun doing it!

  20. Some nice descriptions in here. I like the "ornery woman" who looks "squarely." :)

  21. Wonderful twist at the end!! I love how the umbrella is truly centre stage and completely amoral as an umbrella truly is! Whoever has it, gets its power. Lovely! take care

  22. I love this, loved the ending, the image of the haggard man floating away is brilliant, so witty, an unexpected! Really glad you are doing the magpies, they're great fun:)

  23. This is great! Beautifully written!

    I'm sorry I haven't been around on the blogs lately, but I found some time today and wanted to drop by. Any news on a job for next year? Really hope something works out for you!

  24. what fun! you make iti look so easy. I'm not good at prompts at all!

  25. Wow, this is a wonderful story! I really enjoyed reading it, great imagination. Well done! :)

  26. So not feeble! I love how everything comes together at the end to fit the picture. I also like how Bree isn't really explained. She's just like a snapshot at this moment in time, with no history that we can know and no back story that you need to tell. It's a great example of a picture prompt.

  27. Nicely written but you need an adverb munching machine to go through there and munch unneeded adverbs.

  28. @ Slamdunk, glad to hear you were guessing. Thanks for reading!

    @ Ann, I had to find out "brolly" when Talli used it. Now it worked in nicely with my title.

    @ Hilary, if I find the right anthology, I'd love to submit it. Thanks!

    @ cleemckenzie, I did have fun doing it. Thanks!

    @ LR, happy to hear you like some of my word choice. Thank you.

    @ Old Kitty, an amoral umbrella. That may be the American title since most Americans probably don't know "brolly".

    @ Niamh, I don't know if I'll do more of 'em, but I enjoyed doing this Magpie Tale.

    @ Shelley, don't worry about not visiting. Job stuff is a little crazy right now. I should have a better answer by tomorrow or the next day. I hope.

    @ GigglesandGuns, thank you!

    @ Tamara, thanks. I used to avoid prompts like the plague. But sometimes the right idea spring in my head.

    @ Julie, I appreciate your comment.

    @ Marlena, what a nice compliment. Thank you!

    @ Michael, I thought for sure you'd complain about adjectives over adverbs. I thought I'd been spare. Oh well!

  29. *clap* *clap* *clap*! That was highly entertaining. Brilliant!

  30. A treat... I enjoyed the surprise ending.

  31. Good one...didn't expect the piece

  32. Very good storytelling. Hope to meet you here again.

  33. Theresa! I am so glad you decided to write a Magpie, because this is marvelous. You combined fanciful storytelling with true-to-life bar imagery and I am so impressed. It ties one other for my favorite this week.

  34. This was awesome. It was fun and well written. Thanks for sharing with us!

  35. Awesome, Theresa! I really enjoyed reading that. Now, can you explain to me exactly what a Magpie Tale is? (Forgive my ignorance :))

  36. Lol, what a fun story and liked the twist.

    Oh, and I'm with Susanna, what's a Magpie Tale?

  37. Beautiful short story, a welcomed change from the poetry from others. You held us spell-bound all along until at the end when the man got the answer. Thank you for visiting.


  38. Lol I LOVE this! Hopefully the thief gets blown into a tree. ;-)

  39. fun story.
    But I'm sorry you made her lose the encounter with the drunk. Women in bars need all the luck they can get.

    I certainly believe that they should always 'get way' with it.

  40. @ Nicki, thank you. I feel like I should take a bow.

    @ Christine, thanks. I appreciate it!

    @ Julie, thank you very much.

    @ Laurie, I'm happy to hear the twist at the end worked. Seems like only one person was expecting it, so far.

    @ Susie, thank you. It was fun to write.

    @ Lucy, thanks for visiting. I hope we meet again too.

    @ Lydia, what a wonderful compliment. Thank you. I'm encouraged to try more magpie tales.

    @ Ciara, thank for reading it!

  41. @ Susanna, thank you. I know a magpie is a bird. The link "Magpie Tale" is above. It's periodic pictures that writers can use for inspiration for short stories or poems. I don't know where the term came from.

    @ Isis, thanks. Here's what I wrote for Susanna: I know a magpie is a bird. The link "Magpie Tale" is above. It's periodic pictures that writers can use for inspiration for short stories or poems. I don't know where the term came from.

    @ Kaykuala, I'm intimidated by poetry. Short stories seem to be my thing. Thanks for visiting!

    @ Misha, I don't feel too bad for her because she did swindle the bar out of that $. But, you're right, he shouldn't have stolen the bag or the brolly.

    @ Talli, thank you. I credit you for teaching me the British word for umbrella, so I could entitle my piece "Brolly Folly".

    @ Friko, don't feel for the woman. She went in for the con!

    @ Christina, thank you very much!

  42. Delete the 'A' lol Must have fallen from the sky. ;-)

  43. Awww, I know she's a con artist, but I sort of want her to get her umbrella back.

    Great story, Theresa!

  44. Whimsical and delightful! Good read.
    Thank you for your kind comment on my blog.

  45. great opening - wonderful story!
    I love writing to photo prompts ... I should do more of it

  46. hahaha, I loved it. It is a wonderful story that pulled me right in. :)

  47. Now, every time I see a red umbrella I will think of you. Then, I will steal it.

    Fun story. Thank you.

  48. Oh this is good - loved the ending.

    Anna :o]

  49. @ Paul, the con was conned! I don't think he planned to con her. The lure of the magical umbrella + the humiliation got to him.

    @ Medeia, I was rooting for her too.

    @ Nicholas, thank you and your welcome. I appreciate your visit.

    @ Michelle, thanks. I should do more writing prompts too.

    @ Lynda, I'm happy to hear you were pulled right in. Thank you!

    @ Missed Periods, ha! Let me know if you snag a magical one.

    @ HyperCRYPTICal, thanks! I appreciate it.

  50. What a magical first Magpie....! Conning another artist made for a great ending. I'll look out for more Magpie's of yours in the future!

  51. Welcome to Magpie Tales...excellent write!

  52. wow, Theresa! This is fantastic, and I read the whole thing so quickly! VERY GOOD!!! I'd say at least she got $200, and lOL at the haggard drunk floating away... wonder where he'll end up~ :D

  53. This is a great story. It really caught my attention.

  54. Oh! Very cool. Perfectly done twist.

    Happy Weekend :)

  55. Great story! Okay, What is going to happen next?
    Now you can have a nice enjoyable weekend, knowing that come September 6, you are employed!

  56. Oh, I think this is wonderful! And desperation really does have a smell.

  57. @ Trellissimo, thank you!

    @ Lena, thanks for the compliment. I think I'll attempt to write more Magpies.

    @ Tess, thank you. I've been enjoying seeing these prompts for a long time. Thanks for hosting them.

    @ LTM, thanks! He'll probably end up in a field somewhere far from home and bust the umbrella.

    @ Angela, I'm glad to hear my story caught your attention!

    @ Carol, thank you! I appreciate the feedback.

    @ Choices, thanks. I have to call my old district to have myself removed from the sub line. YaY!

    @ Julie, thanks. I think desperation has a smell too.

  58. I love the turnaround at the end! I wonder what will happen to the haggard man, now . . .

    Great piece. :)

  59. Ah, no, the poor girl! What will she do next? And heck, what's *he* going to do? I'd like to know what else is in that bag!

  60. Love the twist & the way she 'covers' as a "fortune teller"...;)

  61. @ The Golden Eagle, thanks. I think the haggard man will muck it up. He always makes the wrong choices.

    @ Sharon, thank you. I appreciate it!

    @ Deniz, hmmm, what else is in that bag? Good question! I was thinking her wallet and key to her house, but the possibilities...

    @ Jodi, thank you. It was fun to write.