Hunter’s Moon by Sebnem E Sanders

Hunter’s Moon

A freelance journalist and photographer, Ali had been on the road for six hours. Although he had intended to reach his destination in Izmir that night, he almost dozed off as the head and taillights from the motorway traffic danced before his eyes. Sipping coffee from the thermos no longer kept him alert. He decided to stop for rest and took the next exit marked, Altınkum 50 Km, a seaside resort on the Aegean, famous for its golden sand beach.

The idea of driving another fifty kilometres sounded challenging. In hope of finding some kind of accommodation on the way, Ali followed the country lane that snaked between vast olive groves on either side. His thoughts drifted to the past, long before the motorway to Izmir had been built. The old road meandered through quaint villages and lively small towns, then. Coffee houses full of men sipping hot drinks and chain-smoking, children playing football in the narrow cobbled streets.

Ali opened the windows and inhaled the clean air, carrying the aroma of fresh herbs and wild flowers. The soothing sound of cicadas evoked memories. More than thirty years ago he’d been here for the first time with her, on the way to Çeşme for a seaside escape. Soon after, they had parted, never to meet again.

 Immersed in thoughts, Ali spotted the flickering lights of a hamlet ahead. He hated motorways, uniform, devoid of character, polluted with engine fumes and noise. Disappointment swept over his face as he cruised through the deserted streets of the village without seeing a single soul or an open coffee house. It was almost midnight, and everyone had gone to sleep. Hopes for a warm drink abandoned, he drove back onto the road and parked in a lay-by beside the fields. Lukewarm coffee in the thermos tasted appalling. He munched on biscuits to relieve the bitter tang in his mouth, and stepped out of the car to stretch his legs. The leaves of the olive trees shimmered under the silver rays of the Hunter’s Moon on a warm October night. 

Ali returned to the car and locked the doors. A window lowered for ventilation, he curled up on the back seat for a nap. Fatigue took him into deep sleep. He awoke to the sound of someone knocking on the glass.

Half asleep, his gaze met the stare of a young boy, his expression one of panic. A bob of curly blond hair shone like a halo over his head under the moonlight. Pale blue eyes beckoned him as his cupid’s lips mouthed, Help me.

Ali unlocked the door and stepped out. “What are you doing here at this time of the night, child?”

He looked to be five, maybe six years-old in his outfit of navy-blue shorts, a Batman t-shirt, and sports shoes over white socks. “I’m lost,” he said, with tears in his eyes. “Please help me find my Mum.”

“Where is she? Did you have an accident?”

He nodded and said, “I’ll show you.”

 Ali grabbed a torch and followed the boy into the olive grove, wondering how a car could have had an accident so far from the road. About 100 metres in the depths of the orchard, they came to a clearing bordered with a copse of tall oak trees. The child stopped next to one and pointed to the ground. “It’s here. Please tell Mummy.”

“Where is she? What’s your name?”

“Emre,” he said, and disappeared. 

Ali searched the woods, calling his name in vain. It was still dark when he found his way back to the car as though in a trance. He climbed back on the driver’s seat, switched on the engine and the headlights, before turning the vehicle towards the orchard. He scanned the area. Nothing. The boy had vanished. He waited, staring at the grove. After a while, he turned off the engine and fell asleep, his head resting on the steering wheel. 

Ali opened his eyes to the first rays of dawn. Discomfort from a stiff neck and a parched mouth made him question his freelance occupation. Then, he remembered the boy and wondered what happened to him. He returned to the village to find food and make enquiries. After devouring a full breakfast with eggs and pastries, he asked the owner if there had been any car accidents in the area recently.

“Not that I know of. The traffic here is slow, mainly families going to the seaside. They drive carefully, not like the lunatics on the motorway.”

“Any kidnappings?” 

“No, but you can ask the village chief. He’d know more.”

The Chief invited Ali to his table and answered his questions. Regarding kidnappings, he said, “They’re all over the country, not only here. They kidnap children for ransom, for the organ mafia or take them to the mountains to turn them into terrorists. Why do you ask?”

“I saw a child last night. He asked for help, then disappeared.”

“Maybe you had a dream?”

Ali wasn’t sure it was a dream. The internet newsfeed search didn’t provide him with any relevant information. He called his lawyer friend, Ahmet, in İzmir and told him the story. After noting down the details, Ahmet said, “I’ll ask my investigator to consult the police records. When will you be here?”

“By lunchtime.”

For the next couple of days, Ali worked on an in-depth interview with one of Ahmet’s clients, a rich heiress whose son was murdered by his lover. On the third day, the investigator came to him with information gleaned from police records.

“In 1999, two children of a prominent businessman were kidnapped for ransom. Before making contact, the abductor took them into his car and drove far away from the crime site in Ayvalık. He collected the ransom in İzmir, and dropped the daughter in the area. Later, he was arrested while trying to rent a car. The seven-year-old girl identified the kidnapper. She also said he took her younger brother, Emre, into a forest at night and returned without him. The abductor never confessed to murdering the boy, but insisted he ran away. The man’s still in jail.”

Tears blurred Ali’s vision, the boy’s innocent face vivid in his memory. “I-I must see his mother. I promised him.”

(1045 words)

This story first appeared in Ripples on the Pond.

Short Bio

Sebnem E. Sanders is a native of Istanbul, Turkey. Currently she lives on the eastern shores of the Southern Aegean where she dreams and writes Flash Fiction and Flash Poesy, as well as longer works of fiction. Her flash stories have appeared in the Harper Collins Authonomy Blog, The Drabble, Sick Lit Magazine, Twisted Sister Lit Mag, Spelk Fiction, The Bosphorus Review of Books, Three Drops from the Cauldron, The Rye Whiskey Review, CarpeArte Journal, Yellow Mama Webzine, Punk Noir Magazine, Flash Fiction Offensive,  and The Cabinet of Heed, as well as two anthologies: Paws and Claws and One Million Project, Thriller Anthology. She has a completed manuscript, The Child of Heaven and two works in progress, The Child of Passion and The Lost Child.  Her collection of short and flash fiction stories, Ripples on the Pond, was published in December 2017. More information can be found at her website where she publishes some of her work:

https://sebnemsanders.wordpress.com/

Ripples on the Pond

The X Factor by Sebnem E. Sanders

The X Factor

Notting Hill, London

Scarlett gazed at Frank, lying next to her in bed.  His tousled hair covered part of his face, eyelids framed by dark curly lashes fluttered in sleep. She stroked his hair. He opened his eyes and looked into hers.

“Good morning,” he said, yawned and stretched, and kissed her on the mouth.

Scarlet sighed and held his hand. “Why do you always disappear?”

“Because I’m a spy.”

“Liar, if you were, you wouldn’t tell me.”

“True, but it could be possible — the X-Factor.”

“There’s something spooky about you. I can’t put my finger on it, but you go away for a long time, never call, then you surface and ask me out.”

“I told you. My job requires me to travel.”

“Why don’t you call when you’re away?”

“What’s the point? I won’t be able to see you.”

“Is that what this is about? Spend the evening together, make love, and vanish afterwards. You never tell me you’re leaving town. Last time you were gone for three months.”

“I never know in advance. Once I get new contract, I must leave immediately. IT matters can’t wait.”

“Are you married, with a family in another country?”

“No. You already asked that.”

“Come here,” she said and wrapped her arms around him. “Promise to be with me on Valentine’s Day.”

“I’ll try.” He caressed her ivory skin, partly veiled by her flaming locks and held her chin. Looking into her green eyes, he crooned. “I love you, Scarlett.”

The Y Factor

Bullseye arrived at Fiumicino Airport and took a taxi to Via Veneto. He checked into the hotel, and looked out the window of his room, which faced the American Embassy. He changed into casual clothes and trainers, and went out for a long walk. After dining at Cafe de Paris, he returned to his room. He made a few calls to set up the meeting for the next day, before settling in for an early night.

Next morning, he drove a rented car to a small town outside Rome. The Alfa Romeo parked at a convenient spot, he took a racket bag out of the boot and headed for Giorgio’s shop. In fluent Italian, he spoke to the salesgirl. “Buongiorno, signorina, ho un appuntamento con Giorgio.”

The girl phoned the boss. “He’s waiting for you, sir. This way, please.” She led him up the stairs to her manager’s office.

Bullseye entered the room and shook hands with Giorgio. He sat in a pressed leather chair, its ornate legs akin to the paws of lions, chewing on a cigar. “Long time, no see. Come va?”

“Fine, thanks. Do you have the merchandise?”

“If you have the cash?”

“It’s all here,” Bullseye said, pointing to the bag.

“Va bene.” Giorgio rested his cigar in an ashtray on his desk, pulled himself up from the chair, and stepped across to the door, which he locked. Stepping back across the room, he approached a reproduction of Botticelli’s Venus, swung it away from the wall, and reached into the safe set in the wall cavity behind. After keying in the combination, he opened the door, took out a bulky parcel, and laid it on the table.

Bullseye unwrapped the package and examined the contents. He assembled the pieces, looked through the lens, and turned to Giorgio. “Untraceable?”

“Completely. Abandoned terrorist stuff, with the bullets.”

“Hope it justifies the price.”

“All good things come at a price.”

Bullseye dismantled the gun and wrapped the cloth around the pieces. He stacked the bundles of cash from his bag on the desk. Giorgio counted the money and locked the bundles of notes in the safe.

“Ci vediamo,” he said to Giorgio as they shook hands.

Bullseye drove back to the hotel. The racket bag placed safely in the wardrobe, he grabbed his camera and wandered passed designated places on the streets of Rome. Each night, he downloaded the photos taken onto his laptop and magnified them to highlight the details. Late at night, he assembled the gun, crept to the window, and peered through the lens.

The day of the grand reception at the American Embassy arrived. Sitting at the open window in his darkened room, he watched the approaching cars, checked number plates and focused on the guests. The slow procession at the gate made them the perfect, slow-moving targets. The limo he anticipated appeared and stopped behind a car, dropping off dignitaries in formal eveningwear. The Mercedes with the CD plates moved forward. The target stepped out, talking to the man accompanying him. They paused at the gate, for the security check. Bullseye aimed at the man’s head and fired the first shot. The target jolted, but before he collapsed to the ground, Bullseye fired another shot into his chest.

Hand steady and breath imperceptible, he closed the window, dismantled the gun, and placed it inside the racket bag. He picked up his holdall, left the room, took the lift to the lobby, and checked out at reception. In the underground car park, he dumped the bags in the boot of his Alfa and drove into the side street by the exit. In the rear-view mirror, he could see the flashing lights of police cars by the entrance of the embassy.

Lugano, only six-hundred and fifty kilometres away, he cruised the Alfa at a moderate speed of 80 km/h. Under the cover of darkness, Bullseye dropped the gun and the bullets in a convenient lake that lay just before the Swiss border. Flashing a fake passport at the border control, he drove into Switzerland and headed for Zurich airport. His vehicle left at the arranged agency, he boarded a flight to London, using his British identity papers.

The Love Factor

Notting Hill, London

Scarlett awoke on Valentine’s Day with a solitary question in her head. Will he or won’t he show up? Preoccupied with this thought throughout the day, she attempted to pass the time in the evening by watching the X-Factor on TV.

At 8:31pm the doorbell rang. Her heart leapt when she saw his smiling face through the peep hole. She opened the door and her eyes misted at the huge bouquet of red roses he held out to her. In his other hand, two bottles of Dom Perignon. Speechless, Scarlett took the flowers, as he stepped into her flat. The bottles and the bouquet placed onto the table, she embraced him and sobbed, burying her face in his chest.

“Hey, don’t cry. Look at me.”

“I … I’m over the moon, thank you for coming,” she said, gazing into his eyes.

They kissed. He reached for the champagne bottle and popped the cork. As the fizz rushed out, Scarlett squealed.  He poured the golden liquid into two flutes.

“Cheers, my Scarlett Valentine.”

As the bliss of each other’s company warmed their hearts, he extracted a small box from his pocket. He lifted the lid and held it to her. An emerald-cut solitaire gleamed at Scarlett. Her eyes widened as he took it out and slipped it on her finger. She admired the exquisite stone and lifted her eyes.

“Oh, my God, really?”

“Yes, really, my Valentine.”

“You mean it, seriously?”

“Seriously, one of these days we’ll go off together and settle down somewhere remote. I’m getting tired of travelling.”

The Fate Factor

Tired of his job, Bullseye wanted out, but wasn’t sure whether his past would follow him. The last contract he had accepted was his most profitable. Shooting prominent politicians was not everyone’s game. Great skill and experience was required to escape the scrutiny of the CIA, MI6, FSB, MOSSAD, and INTERPOL. Tempted to accept one last assignment, he viewed it as something that would bolster his retirement pot. Never having to worry where his next dollar would come from meant he could live carefree.

Doubts filled his mind. Could he? He had more money than he could possibly spend in a lifetime. In possession of countless identities equivalent to those of the residents of a small village, he could hop from country to country. Passports, language, appearance, and profession changed, he could cross many borders with ease. Though he made certain no trace of him was ever left behind, he did not take the worldwide intelligence agencies lightly.

He simply wanted a life with Scarlett, the woman who had stolen his heart. He no longer wished to lie to her, or be without her for long periods. He had already made her a promise and slipped a solitaire diamond on her finger during a Valentine’s Day rendezvous. He could take her to Toscana, but Italy was not safe, and the Adriatic, too risky. The Pacific was also eliminated as a threat as he could be easily exposed. His gut feeling indicated Central or South America. Costa Rica? He could buy protection there.

The trigger pulled, a bullet penetrated the victim’s skull, leaving their brains to spatter the air. Bullseye vacated his elevated position. He jumped into his car and drove to Switzerland from France, changing his passport at the border. Hire car ditched, he procured another once in the neutral country.

Taking refuge at a Swiss mountain resort, he called Scarlett on the mobile he’d given her. “Pack light, pick up your passport and meet me in Vienna in two days. Tickets, funds, and details will follow. Don’t try to call me until then. I love you.”

Disguised as an American tourist, wearing a baseball cap, a colourful t-shirt over jeans and a camera around his neck, he left the Swiss village and drove to the German border. In Munich, he changed the car again and entered Austria as a German Catholic priest. On the outskirts of Vienna, his contact met him with a different vehicle. At home, taking on the appearance of a middle-aged English Professor, he stepped into the lobby of Hotel Sacher, and headed for the Café.

In the opulent decor of the Café, Scarlett’s red hair blended into the colour of the fabric on the walls and upholstery. Forking the generous slice of Sachertorte in front of her, she raised her head and smiled when their eyes met. “Very appealing. Silver hair suits you, my love.”

He kissed her and sat down.

“Enjoy your cake and coffee. Then we’ll be leaving.”

“This is more delicious than Fortnum’s, but I couldn’t possibly finish it. Would you like a taste?”

He nodded and ordered a coffee to complement the dessert.

Scarlett knew not to ask questions. She had trained herself over the years. After sharing the rich chocolate cake, they left.

Bullseye drove them to Budapest, changing passports at the border and again at the departure point of the airport. They flew to Frankfurt, and onwards to Mexico City.

By the time they landed in San Jose, Costa Rica, Bullseye and Scarlett had used several identities and disguises. She arrived as a brunette with a stylish short cut. He portrayed a Scandinavian with corn-silk hair.

They drove to the Gulf of Papagayo on the Pacific coast. He had rented a luxury villa in the hills. Bullseye never invested in property or cars. He believed in cash, the majority of which he kept in bank vaults scattered across a dozen countries.

Surrounded by high walls, monitored by security cameras and full-time staff, the property would provide a safe haven. Scarlett was delighted with the panoramic views of the bay and the amenities of the house. Designed by a renowned architect and decorated with exclusive taste, the indoor living area and the grounds displayed an exquisite selection of furniture and fittings.

A week later, Bullseye took Scarlett to a hacienda where their wedding took place in a small church. She wore a white dress and his wedding present, an emerald pendant necklace that matched the colour of her eyes. Finally, her dreams had come true.

He sorted his business at the Bank, and showed her the contents of his safe in the vaults. Cash in hard currencies, gold bars, and several passports for both of them. Joint accounts and authorized signatures allowed Scarlett to access their assets in case of an emergency.

That evening, while sipping drinks on the viewing deck above the infinity pool, Scarlett gave him a mischievous look.

“So, I was right all the time. You are — were, a spy.”

“It’s best you know nothing.”

“Hmm, what’s your real name, Frank?”

“I’ve forgotten it. I have so many, call me anything you like.”

“You are my love.”

“You are my love, too.” He smiled and held her hand.

“Maybe I should call you by a different name every day.”

They hired a boat and sailed around the bay, enjoying fishing, water-skiing, or windsurfing. Life was good. Bullseye counted each day as a gift. The number of days they spent together had now surpassed the number of lives he had taken. Scarlett took photos, painted watercolour sketches of the exotic views and the colourful flowers in the area.

While celebrating their first wedding anniversary on the terrace, Bullseye strolled over to the edge with a champagne glass in his hand. He stopped to admire the view.

Scarlett watched him, her heart beating with the excitement of the news she would be giving him as a present. She stroked her belly.

A crimson sunset painted the sky, his silhouette ethereal against the colours. He turned and smiled to her, raising his glass.  A cool breeze ruffled his hair. He jolted and collapsed like an empty sack, the glass in his hand shattering on the tiles.

Scarlett rushed to him, dropped to her knees and hugged him as the blood oozing from his chest stained her white dress in patterns of haphazard batik. She sobbed and screamed in silence, rocking back and forth, her arms clenched around him.

She stared at the solitaire diamond on her finger and swore to remain solitaire.

This story first appeared in Ripples on the Pond.

Short Bio Sebnem E. Sanders is a native of Istanbul, Turkey. Currently she lives on the eastern shores of the Southern Aegean where she dreams and writes Flash Fiction and Flash Poesy, as well as longer works of fiction. Her flash stories have appeared in the Harper Collins Authonomy Blog, The Drabble, Sick Lit Magazine, Twisted Sister Lit Mag, Spelk Fiction, The Bosphorus Review of Books, Three Drops from the Cauldron, The Rye Whiskey Review, CarpeArte Journal, Yellow Mama Webzine, Punk Noir Magazine, Flash Fiction Offensive,  and The Cabinet of Heed, as well as two anthologies: Paws and Claws and One Million Project, Thriller Anthology. She has a completed manuscript, The Child of Heaven and two works in progress, The Child of Passion and The Lost Child.  Her collection of short and flash fiction stories, Ripples on the Pond, was published in December 2017. More information can be found at her website where she publishes some of her work:

https://sebnemsanders.wordpress.com/

Ripples on the Pond

The Song of Spring by Sebnem E. Sanders

The Song of Spring

 

Belma

Belma watched over the crowd gathering in the courtyard of the mosque. On the altar, stood a coffin. Draped over its raised head, a muslin scarf with a crocheted edge, and a small wreath of white and purple freesias placed upon it. Her favourite flowers. The men were lined up before the altar and the women, their heads covered, assembled on both sides. Belma scanned their faces. They all had tears in their eyes. She recognized most of them. Friends, relatives, colleagues. Someone must have died, a woman. She saw her mother, her best mate, and her cousins. Her eyes searched the congregation. Where’s Aila? She jabbed a finger at her mother’s shoulder and whispered in her ear.

The sweet aroma of the freesias reminded her of the Song of Spring she used to sing to Aila when she was a little girl, and how Aila accompanied her, trying to remember the words. That song was theirs, mother and daughter, the lyrics etched in their hearts. It gave them comfort in moments of pain and sorrow.

Belma hummed the melody as the imam began his prayers. She raised her voice and sang in a high soprano tone. She could hear the orchestra playing in the background, as the images in the courtyard blurred.  Little Aila’s voice joined her in the chorus, transporting her to another place, one of tranquillity and lightness, away from the chaos.

 

Aila

Aila gazed through the small opening and glimpsed the night sky beyond the bars. A crescent moon complemented by bright stars illuminated the darkness. A beam of light filtered into her chamber, landing on the single bed. She watched it linger on the white sheets as the wind howled, swaying the branches of the barren tree outside the window. Shadows of monsters played tricks on the walls. She sat on the cold floor, her back against the wall, eyes glued to the gap that gave her access to the world outside. Aila sought comfort from the faint light seeping into the pitch darkness of her surroundings, and rocked, playing the scene over and over again, in her mind.

The wind stopped. Silent, powdery white specks dotted the patch of sky behind the bars. Gradually, the snow muffling the sounds coming from the other cells, decorated the branches of the tree. She imagined a white blanket covering the dismal surroundings with its magic, making everything clean, pure and innocent.

Aila remembered playing in the snow with her mother in the garden of their suburban two-storey house. They gathered the snow, shaping it into balls, and rolled them across the lawn, buried under the deep, crunchy whiteness to make a snowman. A carrot, a scarf, a hat, and pebbles for the eyes. Recalling the Song of Spring they sang, she began to hum it, her mother’s smiling face completing the picture.

The scene rewound in her mind and she wept.

“Mum, I need cash.”

“Why do you need cash, sweetie? You have your credit cards.”

“They don’t take credit cards everywhere. I need cash.”

“Let me see how much I have. Will a hundred do?”

“I need a thousand.”

“Aila, you know I don’t carry that much. Tell me truth. Why do you need so much?”

“I owe money.”

“What for? You haven’t, not again?”

“Just shut up and give me the cash or something valuable I can trade.”

“Why, Aila, why? You know how long it took for the treatment. You were dying of hypothermia and ended up with pneumonia. Remember the days in the hospital and the trip back home? I’m so glad to have you here. You went to rehab willingly and suffered through hell trying to deal with the addiction. Why, sweetheart, why?” her mother asked with tears in her eyes.

“Don’t call me, sweetheart, you stupid bitch! Your world is fake, perfected with your silly dreams and illusions. You think you can make everything right with your Pollyanna approach. You dream of happiness, but you’re not happy either. You stink of self-delusion and lies.”

“Not again, please, Aila. I can’t deal with this anymore.” Belma threw herself onto the settee, covered her face with her hands and sobbed, her shoulders shaking.

“Give me the money. I’ll go and never come back.”

“I can’t. I won’t. I cannot help you kill yourself.”

“I need a fix. You will or I’ll kill you.”

“Do it then, Aila. Do it, and end my pain. I can’t take anymore. I’m done.”

Something flipped in Aila’s mind. She leapt towards her mother and struck her in the face. Blood trickled from Belma’s nose and her broken lip, mixing with the tears running down her neck. She screamed and howled, trying to fight back. Aila picked up a cushion and pressed it over her mother’s face, with all her might. Belma resisted, her arms flying through the air in helpless struggle, her voice now muffled under the weight on her face. Aila pushed, harder and harder, until Belma’s limbs stopped moving and her legs dangled limp from the side of the couch.

Time stopped. She didn’t know how long she pushed until her arms gave in and she lifted the cushion. Belma lay lifeless on the settee. Beneath the blood and muck staining her fine features, an eerie purple whiteness began to spread, her sightless eyes staring at Aila.

Aila held her hand. “I’m so sorry, Mum. Please wake up.” She shook Belma in vain. Nothing changed. She kissed her face. “Forgive me. Please, please, forgive me. Oh, God, what have I done?”

She sat by her mother and shivered, her shoulders rocking with tremors, teeth chattering. She wailed and hugged her mother, burying her head in her bosom.

The Song of Spring flashed in her mind. She rose in a trance, picked up the phone, and called the police.

“I … I killed my mother.”

 

 

First publisted at Twisted Sister Lit Mag, then in my anthology, Ripples on Pond, this story is inspired by true events. All details are imaginary.

 

Short Bio

Sebnem E. Sanders is a native of Istanbul, Turkey. Currently she lives on the eastern shores of the Southern Aegean where she dreams and writes Flash Fiction as well as longer works. Her stories have appeared in various online literary magazines: the Harper Collins Authonomy Blog, The Drabble, Sick Lit Magazine, Twisted Sister Lit Mag, Spelk Fiction, The Bosphorus Review of Books, Three Drops from the Cauldron, The Rye Whiskey Review, CarpeArte Journal, Yellow Mama Webzine, Punk Noir Magazine, Flash Fiction Offensive, The Cabinet of Heed, as well as two anthologies: Paws and Claws and One Million Project, Thriller Anthology. Her collection of short and flash fiction stories, Ripples on the Pond, was published in December 2017. More information can be found at her website where she publishes some of her work:

https://sebnemsanders.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

Ripples on the Pond

 

 

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Shirts by Sebnem E. Sanders

Shirts

  

Sandy had a fetish about men’s shirts, especially white ones. French cuffs and cufflinks as additional attractions, she hunted males wearing elegant bespoke suits, lately hard to find. Not fond of the current fashion trends, she loathed modern jackets which looked as though their owners had outgrown them. Why did men want tight outfits? Didn’t they understand generously cut pieces made them look more masculine? Body clinging clothes were for women to accentuate their figures. Men needed to look like men.

Her secret fetish was the period shirts musketeers wore, the ones without buttons, loosely styled to tuck inside their breeches. Having discovered an Italian company that manufactured them, she’d ordered half a dozen to try them on her lovers. If the relationship lasted more than a night, she asked them to wear one and watched them parade before her as the pirates and highlanders of the past came to life in her world.

Disappointed with the outcome of her fling with the white shirt males, mainly liars, cheaters or adulterers, she decided to go for blue, opting for jackets and trousers instead of suits.

Blue shirt guys turned out to be another letdown. Most suffered from depression, anxiety, and lack of confidence. Efforts to share their troubles, a failure, as she slipped into their darkness with every shade of blue.

She’d had enough, and was afraid of pink and orange, thinking they might gay or bi. ‘Stripes, perhaps,’ she thought. ‘A compromise.’

After several stripes, checks, and patterns, she decided to let it go, as her hopes for finding the right guy diminished.

She stepped into a bar and contemplated her losses, while drowning them with shots Tequila

A man wearing a washed black t-shirt and jeans with holes, settled next to her. Dirty blond hair tied in a ponytail, he had muscular arms, and wide shoulders. She imagined him in a pirate shirt and smiled.

“I’m Sam,” he said, as he joined the Tequila queue.

Sandy didn’t remember laughing so much for a long time. He was a storyteller and charming, despite the dirt under his nails. Perhaps he was a labourer, but she no longer cared. The alcohol made her relax, forget her obsessions.

 

Sandy woke up in a big room, a loft, still in her clothes from the previous night. She rose and scanned her surroundings. An artist’s easel stood in one corner, the smell of coffee from a percolator filling her nostrils. Sipping the brew from a mug, Sam stood behind a canvas.

She peeked at the painting, a composition of surreal elements. Bold colours and lines. She perused his work, hanging on the walls, the question lingering on her mind.

“We didn’t, last night?”

“You could hardly walk and I didn’t know where you lived. So I brought you here and slept on the couch.”

“I’m sorry. Thank you. Very gallant of you. I suppose I’d better get going.”

“Can I see you, again?” he asked.

Sandy didn’t know what came over her, but said, “Here’s my number.”

 

Nights later, they met at the same bar, and began to see each other frequently. Spending the night at her place or his, they kept clothes at each other’s homes.

She’d given him a part of her wardrobe for his t-shirts, jeans, and underwear. One morning Sam flung open the wrong door and came upon a section where several men’s period shirts hung on padded hangers.

He took one out and asked. “Where on earth did you find these? I adore them.”

“I’m obsessed with them and sometimes wear them to bed.”

“May I try one?”

“Sure, but they won’t go with jeans.”

“Then, I’ll have to buy breeches, won’t I?” he chuckled. He slipped into one and they time-travelled into the world musketeers, pirates, and highlanders.

Short Bio

Sebnem E. Sanders is a native of Istanbul, Turkey. Currently she lives on the eastern shores of the Southern Aegean where she dreams and writes Flash Fiction and Flash Poesy, as well as longer works of fiction. Her flash stories have appeared in the Harper Collins Authonomy Blog, The Drabble, Sick Lit Magazine, Twisted Sister Lit Mag, Spelk Fiction, The Bosphorus Review of Books, Three Drops from the Cauldron, The Rye Whiskey Review, CarpeArte Journal, Yellow Mama Webzine, Punk Noir Magazine, and Flash Fiction Offensive, as well as two anthologies: Paws and Claws and One Million Project, Thriller Anthology. She has a completed manuscript, The Child of Heaven and two works in progress, The Child of Passion and The Lost Child. Her collection of short and flash fiction stories, Ripples on the Pond, was published in December 2017. More information can be found at her website where she publishes some of her work:

https://sebnemsanders.wordpress.com/

Ripples on the Pond

sebnam e sanders

 

The Muse by Sebnem E. Sanders

Sharma’s passion was writing, but she had to toil at a boring job. She devoted any free time to her work in progress, trying to adhere to her daily word count target of 1000. Always scribbling in her notebook, at lunch break and after dinner at home, she immersed herself in stories instead of going out with friends or watching TV. At weekends, she transcribed her work onto the computer and spent her time editing.

On a sunny weekday, she could be found on a bench in a remote area of the park, next to the woods. It was a niche, a pocket, surrounded by trees, with a small opening in the front. Sharma considered this to be her private patch, since visitors preferred to mingle on the wide lawns with the lunchtime crowds. Sharma felt comfortable, undisturbed by the commotion beyond. Sometimes she would close her eyes and listen to birdsong or gaze through the trees, lost in thought.

There came a day when she saw a lady, wearing an elegant wide-brimmed hat. Crunching the dry autumn leaves underneath her feet, she strolled in the woods. Sharma immediately felt a closeness to her that she could not explain. Another lover of nature on a solitary walk.

After seeing her a couple more times, Sharma noticed the mysterious lady always wore the same outfit. A charcoal hat over blonde hair pulled into a chignon, and a long, black coat. The next time Sharma escaped to her den, the woman was sitting on her bench. Her bench. Pale blue eyes looked up at her and the lady smiled. “Good afternoon. It’s a gorgeous day, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” Sharma said, unsure whether to find another seat.

“Come,” the woman said, patting the bench. “Sit by me and let’s talk.”

Sharma obeyed.

“You’re a writer,” the lady said.

“I try to be.”

“But you have little time, right?” The woman raised her eyebrows.

“Yes,” Sharma nodded.

“I’m Marsha Vavenza. Nice to meet you-”

“Sharma, Sharma Wells.”

“An Indian name?”

“I was born there. My father worked with an IT company in Mumbai.”

“Charming. The story you’re working on, do you need help?”

“How?” Sharma asked, pushing back a wayward dark curl from her forehead.

“I’m a retired editor. I only take on works by reference.”

“Really?” Sharma clung to her bag, holding her notebook.

“I can edit your work, but only if you wish me to.”

Sharma budged in her seat, looking into the pale blue eyes of the handsome woman.

“It, it’s only in shorthand, unedited, raw. For my eyes only. I couldn’t.”

“Dear, girl. I’m used to deciphering writing more obscure than hieroglyphics, more illegible than those on medical prescriptions. Most people didn’t use computers until the late 80’s, and impoverished writers couldn’t afford one.”

“I see, “ Sharma said, still resisting, yet her gut feeling said to trust her. Though showing her scribbles to a stranger seemed odd, something made her pull out her notebook and hand it to Marsha.

“Thank you for trusting me.” Marsha smiled, as she fished a pen from her handbag. She skimmed through the pages, writing notes in red. By the time Sharma had to leave, she had finished reading the entire contents. Marsha handed the notebook to Sharma and winked. “See you at the next chapter.”

At the weekend Sharma read over Marsha’s notes and edited her work. Marsha’s handwriting was clear, her comments and suggestions worth taking into consideration.

 

Winter had already arrived when Sharma finished writing her story and handed the last chapter to Marsha. After reading and jotting notes, Marsha said, “If you need me, this is where I live,” and wrote her address on the notebook. “I shan’t be resuming my walks in the cold. See you again in springtime, perhaps.”

Marsha walked into the woods and disappeared into their depths.

Sharma had Googled Marsha’s name, but hadn’t been able to find anything during the past two months. Marsha Vavenza did not seem to exist.

After editing and submitting her work, Sharma went to the address Marsha had written on her notebook. The residents at the block had never heard of her. Sharma was intrigued and asked around the neighbourhood, going in and out of the shops.

A pub called Angel’s Bliss looked old, perhaps Edwardian. The man behind the till, most likely the landlord, from the way he managed the staff, appeared to fit the old worldly scene. Sharma ordered a drink and a packet of crisps, and tried to attract the man’s attention. When their eyes met, she asked, “Excuse me, sir, do you know anyone called, Marsha Vavenza who lives in this area?”

“Why do you ask?” The man stared at her.

“I have an address, but no one seems to know her. Here,” she said, pulling out her notebook, and showed him.

The man’s eyes darted between the writing and Sharma’s face. “Who wrote this?” he whispered.

“Marsha,” Sharma replied.

“It’s not possible. She died in 1988 and is buried in the cemetery by the woods.”

Sharma’s heart pounded. She shivered and goose bumps covered her arms.

“I-,“ she said, but something made her stop. “Did-did you know her?” she asked, voice quivering.

“She was my lover. A great woman and writer I lost to cancer.”

“I’m sorry.” Sharma, said tapping her fingers on the bar.

“You saw her?” he muttered.

“Yes,” she whispered, holding his wet-eyed gaze.

 

Sharma placed a bouquet of flowers underneath the tombstone and read the engraving. “M.V. Clarkson, writer, lies here. 1938-1988”

A warm breeze touched her face. She closed her eyes and whispered, “Thank you, Marsha.”

 

Short Bio:

Sebnem E. Sanders is a native of Istanbul, Turkey. Currently she lives on the eastern shores of the Southern Aegean where she dreams and writes Flash Fiction and Flash Poesy, as well as longer works of fiction. Her flash stories have appeared in the Harper Collins Authonomy Blog, The Drabble, Sick Lit Magazine, Twisted Sister Lit Mag, Spelk Fiction, The Bosphorus Review of Books, Three Drops from the Cauldron, The Rye Whiskey Review, CarpeArte Journal, Yellow Mama Webzine, and Punk Noir Magazine, as well as two anthologies: Paws and Claws and One Million Project, Thriller Anthology. She has a completed manuscript, The Child of Heaven and two works in progress, The Child of Passion and The Lost Child. Her collection of short and flash fiction stories, Ripples on the Pond, was published in December 2017. More information can be found at her website where she publishes some of her work:

https://sebnemsanders.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

Ripples on the Pond

 

 

 

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17427985.Sebnem_E_Sanders

https://Facebook.com/sebnem.sanders

https://Twitter.com/sebnemsanders

https://Instagram.com/sebnemsanders

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sebnem-sanders-b3593263/

Désirée by Sebnem E. Sanders

 

deseree

I met my old friend Tom at an all-night bar I’d never been to before. He’d said, “Come before midnight on Friday, and we’ll drink and talk till we drop dead.” I found him sitting at a table for two, opposite the mahogany long-bar. Relishing an expensive malt, we chatted about work, women, and adventures since we last saw each other a year ago. The place was packed with trendy women and men, all eyeing each other and looking for a good catch.

Shortly after midnight, a rare beauty walked in and the spotlight of every eye lit her like an actress on stage. The other women disappeared into the void, as her stilettos clacked against the wooden floor in tune with the beat of the soft music. Dressed in black, fishnet tights, a leather mini-skirt, and a shawl wrapped around her, she strolled towards the only empty seat at the long-bar with a reserved sign. Slipping off the shawl, she tied it around her narrow waist, like a belly dancer, before settling on the stool.

“Who’s she?” I asked Tom.

“Désirée. They say she’s an actress, but I’ve never seen her in a play or in a movie.”

“Maybe she’s a chorus girl.”

“Who knows?” Tom grimaced. “Perhaps she shape-shifts after midnight and looks for prey here. She talks to the barman as men drool over her. If she likes someone, she asks them to dance with her, then she chooses one and takes him home.”

“Have you ever?”

“I’d be terrified I might become a victim.”  Tom fingered the rim of his glass.  “I’ve seen her moves too many times. I just enjoy watching how men gawk at her fishnet stockings.”

“I must see her up close.”

“Do you dare?”

“Why not?”

“Just be careful.” Tom warned. “Though I’ll keep an eye on you.”

By this time, the crowd of men around Désirée had completely blocked her from my view like a wall of bodyguards protecting a celebrity. Thinking it would be difficult to ease my way through the mass of bodies in heat, I decided to make a horizontal approach from the other end of the bar. I proceeded slowly behind the seated and standing customers, trying not to swing too far from the fountain of intoxication. Stopping to order a drink, I chatted to a couple of guys and women, while heading for my target. As I did, I caught snatches of conversation.

“She’ll chose someone and take him home tonight.”

“Lucky guy.”

“Not sure about that. The word is no one ever sees the men she leaves with again.”

“A myth, probably. Is she a vampire? Perhaps, she ties them to a pole and takes her pick at random.”

“Who knows? It’s a mystery.”

About a couple of paces away from Désirée, I paused to sip my drink and had a good look at her. Dark hair cascaded down the shoulders of her long-sleeved, black t-shirt. Her slim fingers caressed the stem of a champagne flute while she spoke to the young man next to her.

Then, she turned and our eyes met. A smoky, hazel gaze that pulled me into its depths. Awakening from her spell, I made my approach and stood in front of her. The deep V of her body-hugging shirt revealed a generous bosom and a perfect ivory complexion.

“Désirée, I’d like to dance with you, but I’m lame.”

She looked at me, then grabbed me by the lapels of my jacket and pulled me towards her. Her spicy perfume that hinted of cinnamon, apples, and cloves inebriating me for a second,  I came to my senses.

“Désirée,” I whispered in her ear,  “I desire you, but I love my life more.”

She pushed me away and glared at me. I could see revenge and anger clouding her hazel gaze, as she licked her rosy lips with a snaky tongue. She blew invisible smoke from an electronic cigarette, and turning her back to me, resumed her conversation with the young man next to her.

Walking away from the chain-gang around her was easy. I sipped my Bloody Mary, being careful not to spill it on my white shirt.

“What’s with the limp?” Tom asked.

“An act to save my life.”

Short Bio

Sebnem E. Sanders is a native of Istanbul, Turkey. Currently she lives on the eastern shores of the Southern Aegean where she dreams and writes Flash Fiction and Flash Poesy, as well as longer works of fiction. Her flash stories have appeared in the Harper Collins Authonomy Blog, The Drabble, Sick Lit Magazine, Twisted Sister Lit Mag, Spelk Fiction, The Bosphorus Review of Books, Three Drops from the Cauldron, The Rye Whiskey Review, CarpeArte Journal, and Yellow Mama Webzine, as well as two anthologies: Paws and Claws and One Million Project, Thriller Anthology. She has a completed manuscript, The Child of Heaven and two works in progress, The Child of Passion and The Lost Child.  Her collection of short and flash fiction stories, Ripples on the Pond, was published in December 2017. More information can be found at her website where she publishes some of her work: https://sebnemsanders.wordpress.com/

 

Ripples on the Pond

 

 

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17427985.Sebnem_E_Sanders

https://Facebook.com/sebnem.sanders

https://Twitter.com/sebnemsanders

https://Instagram.com/sebnemsanders

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sebnem-sanders-b3593263/