While JD is wading some mountain stream in search of Moby-Trout, or at least that’s what he told me to say when the FBI come by asking questions about him, he’s entrusted our Friday flash fiction fandango to me. No Black Friday crowds here. Just a place to share some words.
Or, in a passage I stole from his website:
Hey, writer-type folks. AND PEOPLE WHO JUST WANT TO PLAY BUT DON’T IDENTIFY AS ‘WRITERS’ – all are welcome here! Every Friday, we do a fun free-write. For fun. And Freedom!
Write whatever you want in the ‘comments’ section on this blog post. Play as many times as you like. #breaktheblog! You have two minutes (give or take a few seconds … no pressure!). Have fun. The more people who play, the more fun it is. So, tell a friend. Then send ’em here to read your ‘two’ and encourage them to play.
Here’s one to start us off:
The air cooled a few degrees, and that’s when I knew she’d arrived. So I snuck up the back stairs, and at a safe remove on the balcony, I readied myself to eyeball the intruder. Rumors had been flying about her—her beauty, her feline grace and charm that belied a volcanic temper. But before any polite introductions could be made, before we could circle each other and stake our claims, I had to see for myself. Evaluate the potential trouble.
And she looked like trouble. Green eyes widening, she flattered the hosts while scoping out the room, hunting her next mark. I knew that game. My muscles went on alert, a ripple of tension beneath my skin, tiny hairs standing on end like tiny field agents reporting to command. No. Boundaries must be set. There could be no room for misinterpretation, here. This was my turf. I’d been deftly ingratiating myself to these people for years. I had them just where I needed them, each step of the plan clicking neatly into position, and I could not allow some slick interloper to get between me and what I deserved.
They were calling for me. I set my expression. Welcoming, but cool. Calm, but alert. One that spelled delighted to meet you, my dear, but no need to make yourself comfortable, because I’m sure you won’t be staying long enough to even learn what kind of soaps are in the powder room.
Ready, finally, because I would not be rushed, I sashayed down the stairs. And on the second from the bottom, I froze. She had her nose in my food dish. In. My. Food. Dish. The hairs on my back shot to attention. I did not care a whit how lovely she was. This meant war.
It would be a case of deny or remember.
Give way to performed joy or acknowledge the inner grief.
Put a spot on everyone’s day or point out the elephant standing in the doorway.
I choose the latter.
Hugged the elephant and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Shed a few tears and laughed at memories. I chose to remember.
Releasing us all to breathe free and show happiness.
Missing Mom, but life goes on.
Ey, so poignant and beautiful… thank you for sharing.
Thank you for reading.
Poignant and lovely. Thank you! “Hugged the elephant…” Nice.
Laurie, your piece is brilliant…. and Angelo, Maggie, and Misty agree with me… delightful twist at the end!
Thank you, Leland! Inspired by a true story. 😀
The ladder to the attic seemed more rickety this year. He’d been meaning to get a new one, but somehow there was never enough time, never enough money. Four boxes held the season’s ornaments, Four trips up and down the ladder.
He’d bought the tree the night before, just like always. Let it stand overnight so its branches would stretch out like arms to embrace the world.
Like arms, to embrace the world, and him. He was out of shape. Four trips up and down a ladder shouldn’t have winded him, but it did. He took a few minutes to imagine where the lights would hang, where each special ornament would go.
Finally he began. He tested the lights before they went on the tree. Only two bulbs needed replacing. Then the ropes of pearls and tinsel. No strings of cranberries or popcorn this year. No paper chains of construction paper, either.
The clock struck eleven. How could he have been at this for three hours already? He began unwrapping the ornaments from their red and green tissue paper. The unwrapping of the memories associated with each ornament took a little longer. The one from their honeymoon in Vermont. The one from the museum in Chicago. The one she made when she took that godawful ceramics class. Heavy as a rock, that one. An ornament for each child, for each year.
As the sparkle overtook the tree, his smile grew, tracing the path of a life well-lived, a lifetime of legacy. At last, all the ornaments, save one, were on the tree. He paused long enough to make a cup of cocoa. His doctor said he shouldn’t, but what are the holidays without chocolate?
On second thought, he added a shot of peppermint schnapps. Like she used to do. He savored the smell of the chocolate and peppermint and evergreen, and then he put the cup down.
He opened the last little box, peeled apart the tissue paper, and held the top ornament in his hands. From their trip to Switzerland just last year. She’d insisted, though he was certain the ornament would be broken before they got home. Miraculously, it had survived.
He placed it carefully on the tree, and a beam of sunlight from the dirty window illuminated it.
Switzerland, where they’d gone for some sort of miracle treatment for her cancer.
It wasn’t the ornament that was broken. It was his heart, when he returned home alone.
He plugged in the lights. The beam of sunlight also illuminated a tear as it traced the wrinkles of a life well-lived, of a broken heart.
Oh, so bittersweet. I can smell the evergreen and cocoa, and feel all of his pain and fatigue. Wonderfully done.
Awwww, so much life is always wrapped in a Christmas tree. No matter how new it is, the years embrace and cling to the branchs as if their memories were always there.
I was going to run out to the store and do some errands I’d been putting off since K is in Fla and I’m on my own and then it occurred to me, now just wait a freakin’ second there, Princess, warren’t yesterday Thanksgiving not that you would know it around here and yeah doesn’t that make this day the day *after* Thanksgiving why it shorley do and that means any sane person considering going out to run errands in stores is quite obviously no longer sane or at the very least not paying attention, guilty on both counts, thank you very much. I have seen the light before it was too late.
All three stories I have read this Friday are wonderful!!! I hope there are more soon. Each brings a different perspective and emotion to expand my heart on this day.
thanks so much for reading them, Shelly!
Thank you, Shelly, and thank you for visiting! 😀
-giggles- As a woman owned by many cats, I loved this one!
Thanks for reading, Meeks. 😀 I may be part cat, at this point.
It would explain the affinity. 😉
I almost changed my mind then. The house was much more well-to-do than I’d expected and the voice…the voice was from someone much younger than I’d thought. Barely more than a child. Everything just rang wrong.
“I’m Bryce. I’m here about the card your mom left. She posted it in the mall. She’s a therapist. A masseur. Someone to help me ease an ache I’ve got.”
The girl giggled. “It sounds like you came to the right place. I’ll buzz you up.”
The grille beside the button blew a metallic raspberry and the door to my right clunked; the heavy bolt sliding back with a thud.
The door was much thicker than I’d expected; wooden panels disguising the steel core within. It swung easily though and opened and closed behind me without a sound. Beyond, the hallway was lined on both sides with art; the pottery and paintings obviously expensive, even to my eyes. Making an effort to walk directly down the hall so as not to disturb anything, I followed the carpet, trying each of the doors but finding none that’d open.
“I’m up the stairs.” The voice again. Sounding amused still. Or maybe even more so.
Turning the corner at the end of the hallway, I stepped softly up the stairs, the carpet and the heirlooms still very much in presence. The house was completely silent and the only thing I could hear was my own breath; shallow and irregular as I passed the portraits to my left.
“I’m coming,” I said.
Of course, this prompted more giggles and I found it easy to follow the girl’s voice; the stairway leading up onto a landing and then another flight of steps before I found the level where she’d settled.
Magda was laying on a modern wooden bed, the frame bleached pine and the sheets nothing more than a simple cotton. She was older than she sounded but still nothing more than thirty. The bed had been made and there was nothing to suggest it might be a boudoir; the digital clock and the half-drunk-and-then-left cup of tea on the nighttable made it look more like a room in a hotel than anything else.
“So, you made it up here. It’s just me today; the parents are out and not due back till way past dark. You want a drink?” She picked up the tea and then grimaced. “There’s a kettle and the makings in one of the cupboards. I only have to find it. I’m not usually in here, you see?”
“It’s nothing. I never expected anything like this.” Locating the room’s only chair, I folded myself onto it, clutching my knees and then folding my arms while I watched her fumbling about in first one and then the other nighttable on the opposite side of the bed. “We’ve never even said anything about money,” I said.
“Money?” Magda’s face reappeared above the bed, her face somehow older. “Whoever said anything about money?”
“I…I…I thought there’d be a charge. A price or a tariff for services. I…” I stopped, recognising ‘the look’; knowing I’d said something wrong.
“I’ll let you take the lead,” I said.
Fascinating… and I am curious where this all leads… good strong writing!
Uhmmm hmmm… Sure hope she isn’t into misery.
The feelings started to overwhelm her again. She could always tell, because her mind became a runaway train that felt thisclose to jumping the tracks any second. They couldn’t understand. The other empaths could, most of the time, but regular people just didn’t get it. They didn’t understand the snowball effect that took place within her if she didn’t find some way to release the pressure on a regular basis. She had to get her fix.
She ran away from her professors and friends and enemies and obligations as soon as she could the next day. When she reached the locker it glowed with a holy light, and she handled the contents as carefully as she would sacred objects. Once she was alone with the backpack she carefully pulled out her salvation. It was plain by most kid’s standards, but that didn’t matter. She lifted the lid and listened to the hum of the machinery as her laptop booted up. She sank into a chair and tapped her fingers against the table as the word processor booted up, and then she dove, head-first, into another world. Katrina didn’t know why writing had the power to sooth the beast inside of her, but she didn’t question it.
If she went too long without writing her whole world was a horrible, scary place. As long as she took some time to create a place that was better, more interesting, or even less random than her own life, the monster stayed calm and happy. She didn’t try to explain it to anyone. Who needed to understand? Who would?
😀 I get it!
Man, that’s the same beast that disturbs my sleep, keeps me three paragraphs behind oral conversation and tends to make others believe I’m a little dimwitted.