Monday’s Finish the Story – “Relationship Secrets” – Flash Fiction

This is my story for Barbara Beacham’s Monday Finish the Story weekly challenge.  Each week, Barbara provides an image and a first sentence, and the task is to complete the story in 100-150 words.  Click on the InLinkz frog below to read others’ stories and, if you’d like, to add your own!

Photo by Barbara W. Beacham

Photo by Barbara W. Beacham

Relationship Secrets

(1st sentence + 150 words)

The old typewriter had a mind of its own.  It refused to produce the stories she wanted.

She tried to sneak up on it, typing at odd times of day and switching between poetry and prose.

She tried to placate it, having it serviced by a technician who specialized in such things.  She whispered compliments about the delicate look of the keys and the sonorous “bring” at the ends of lines.

The machine would not be appeased.  It wrote drivel.  She thought maybe it laughed at her when she turned her back—a subtle sound—a settling of the keys.

Before long, she was begging.  The typewriter should have known that desperation is dangerous.  When it failed to respond to her pleas and stood unyielding under her tears, her desperation hardened into anger.

The typewriter found itself in the trash bin.  There, in the dark, among the coffee grounds and crumpled tissues, it told its secret stories to itself.

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“Attention” -Friday Fictioneers & Belated “Love in Four Words” challenge

This is my contribution to Rochelle’s weekly Friday Fictioneers challenge.  Check out her blog and click the InLinkz frog below to read other stories based on the same prompt!

(Photo Prompt – copyright Marie Gail Stratford)

Attention

(99 words)

Daniela ordered the crystal on a whim.  The jewelry store was failing; anything might help.

When it came, Daniela gasped.  Huge, garish—she hated it.  Still, it was costly, so she put it in the window.

The first to stop was a girl, pointing and tugging her father’s hand.  He asked its price.

“Not for sale,” Daniela said.

He bought a charm bracelet.

The second was a woman who said, “Keep that, and you never know who might come.  Be prepared.”

The third came in a cloud of smoke.  When he left, the crystal was gone.  So was Daniela.

Also, I want to give a shout-out to Erin J. Bernard, who was kind enough to nominate me for a Liebster award recently.  She is a great writer and photographer–take a look at her blog!  Thanks, Erin!

Millie Thom, another talented writer whom I’m sure you’ve read in these flash fiction challenges, asked me to take on a prompt she accepted–to describe “love” in four words, ten times.  This is the description of the challenge Millie posted:

hashtaglovebooks decided to do something interesting this Valentine’s. A challenge or tag where you write ten “what is love in four words” sentences about what you love and what you believe is love. Then state one of your favorite love quotes from a book, a movie or a famous person and then tag ten other bloggers to do the challenge as well.”

Feel free to write your own version.  Check out Millie’s description here.  Mine is below.  Thanks, Millie!

Love in four words…

remembering shared moments fondly

holding hands bringing comfort

cradling vulnerabilities, bolstering strength

standing together under stress

dreaming new lives up

reevaluating, changing, revising ourselves

telling truths and listening

weaving old into new

feeding familiar passion’s flames

blueberry pancakes with syrup

“Lost” – Monday’s Finish the Story – Flash Fiction

This story was written for Barbara Beacham’s Monday Finish the Story weekly challenge.  Each week, Barbara provides an image and a first sentence, and the task is to complete the story in 100-150 words.  Click on the InLinkz frog below to read others’ stories and, if you’d like, to add your own!

mondayband

Lost

(1st sentence + 150 words)

Little did they know when the photographer took their picture that they would find themselves trapped in a painting.  On seeing the photo in the school paper, the students became obsessed with music.

Will was a natural trumpeter.

The problem was the volume.  When his parents fought, they didn’t want him to practice—and there was the new baby.

He loved the physical effort the trumpet demanded.  When the field trip group played together, the music surged, and they felt strong.  Afterward, they were breathless, spent.

They visited the painting.  There were children in it now, faintly visible in the brush strokes, but getting clearer.

Will’s parents shouted nightly, and things crashed against the walls.  The baby cried.  He shut them out, playing.  When they pointed their rage at him, he willed his soul through the metal, up into the air.  His father took the trumpet and stomped.  Will collapsed.

After the funeral, the children pointed at Will, playing in the painting, and shivered in anticipation of joining him.

Poem: At Least Someone’s Having Fun…

Humphrey snow

Building momentum, we dig in

with metal shovels scraping

and the wind blowing gentle snow

back in our faces as ice.

*

The dog surges into a snow bank,

and then approaches,

tail wagging.

He samples snow

from several sections of the yard.

Tail wagging,

he pees

on the walls of the tunnel

we’re attempting to create

from house to driveway.

*

We work, pausing

to breathe, pace ourselves

before the weight and the

bending down and hauling up

resumes.

*
He checks on us, counts us:

one…two…

one…two.

He paws at a shovel,

tail wagging.

“Threshold” – Friday Fictioneers – Flash Fiction

This was written for Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers challenge.  Check out her blog and click on the blue Inlinkz frog to read other takes on the photo prompt (copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields).

ffporch

Threshold

(98 words)

Catherine’s father waited on the porch.

Jacob clenched and unclenched his fists, approached.

“How is she?”

“Why are you here, son?”

Jacob colored.  “That’s my baby in there, and the woman I love.”

“Not your wife.”

“I’d like her to be.”

The older man leaned on a plantation column.  “Don’t think she feels the same, Jake.  Not that I understand it.  In my day, a wedding was the only way.”

“She said that?  She doesn’t want me?”

“She said…you aren’t reliable.  Wants to depend on herself.”

Jacob shifted.  “Can I see the baby?”

Catherine’s father shrugged.  “Come on.”

“Decision” – Monday’s Finish the Story – Flash Fiction

This is written for Monday’s Finish the Story.  Be sure to click on the InLinkz frog to read other flash fiction responses and to add your own!

2015-02-09-bw-beacham

Decision

(First line + 119 words)

Dropping her line into Fool’s Lake, she patiently waited for something to bite.  Sarah refused to think about the argument.  It wasn’t her fault.

Fishing had always calmed her.  Her grandfather had taught her about the morning quiet, the stillness, the meditation of fishing.  Though that had been back home, not here, Fool’s Lake.  How fitting—she certainly felt like one.

Carl had accused her of cheating, or as good as.  He’d been through her email, her phone, sent a threatening message to her boss at work.  She had done damage control at work, but she couldn’t control what was happening at home.

The line pulled, and Sarah started to reel it in, muscles working, feeling her grandfather’s arms around her, guiding her.  Time to leave Carl.  She’d be all right alone.

“Playing Fair” – Flash Fiction – Friday Fictioneers

Here’s my contribution to this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt run by Rochelle here.  This picture (copyright Melanie Greenwood) made me wish I was a kid who could play there!  Visit Rochelle’s website weekly to check out her work and participate in her writing challenge, writing a story in 100 words or fewer based on the photo prompt provided.  Click on the InLinkz frog below to read other wonderful stories based on the same prompt, or to add your own.  Also, be sure to check out the Micro Bookends 1.17 results, posted later today.  : )

maze

Playing Fair

From the balcony, Sophie saw her son in the center of the hedge maze.  Christopher hugged his knees and moved his head slightly, as if speaking and listening.

Later, making lunch, Sophie asked, “What were you playing, bud?”

Christopher shrugged.

“Who were you talking to in the maze?”

“Max.”

“Max?”

“A boy.  He lived here before.”

“In this house?”

Christopher nodded.  “But he fell off the balcony.  He stays outside now.”

Sophie froze.  “Does he scare you?  Is he nice?”

Christopher grimaced.  “We play hide-and-seek, but he disappears.  That’s cheating.”

Sophie cleared her throat.  “You’re right.”

This prompt reminded me of another maze-related piece of writing I worked on about trying to write when feeling blocked.

Micro Bookends Flash Fiction Contest Win and Judging this Week!

I’ve been having a lot of fun participating in writer David Borrowdale’s weekly flash fiction contest, Micro Bookends. He provides a photo prompt, along with the first and last word, and writers have to fill in the middle with their stories of 90-110 words.

This week, I was chosen as the contest winner with my story, “Shifts.” I was very excited.  I may or may not have squealed in the middle of a very intense Scrabble game with my husband.  I lost that game, by the way.  My husband, though not an English major or writer, is annoyingly brilliant at Scrabble.  I love him anyway.

I’m very excited to be judging this week’s Micro Bookends contest, and can’t wait to read the entries at the end of this week!  Today, Micro Bookends published an interview with me–I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts there and to be part of Micro Bookends.  I hope you’ll stop by David’s website to read the wonderful fiction there, written by David and others, and to share your writing!  You can also follow David and Micro Bookends on Twitter.

“Temptation” – Monday’s Finish the Story – Flash Fiction

Well, it’s time again for Monday’s Finish the Story.  I was nervous when I saw the prompt this week!  Though I have seen a few Westerns and enjoyed them, I don’t know the genre very well, but I had fun with this!  Check out other stories written for this prompt by clicking on the InLinkz frog!Diamond Jack

Image copyright Barbara W. Beacham

Temptation

(First sentence + 149 words)

“Diamond Jack had his hideout next to the Rattle Snake River.  That’s where the sheriff got him.  They say his ghost still wanders, following the very river you see out your window.”
“Nicely told,” Beverly said, sipping her wine.
John eased closer.  “Scared?” he asked.
Beverly shrugged.  “I don’t see why the ghost of Diamond Jack would bother with me.”
“Maybe he’ll want this,” Don said, reaching into his pocket and dangling a necklace in front of her.  A single diamond shone in the candlelight.  Beverly reached for it.
Later, the two lay together in the rustic log bed, blankets heaped on their naked forms.  As the fire died in the woodstove and the cold crept in, so did something else.
Beverly stirred in her sleep, and the diamond caught in the hollow of her throat.
An invisible hand closed around it.
In the morning, Beverly woke, smiling, and felt along the chain with her fingers.  The diamond was gone.

You still have time to write a story for “Tuesday Tales,” run by Lisa Pais at The Enchanted Notebook.  My entry is below.  : )

Tuesday Tales – “Reunion” – Flash Fiction

Hello! This is my submission for the first-ever “Tuesday Tales” prompt, run by Lisa Pais on her blog, The Enchanted Notebook. The prompt requires writers to use the picture below, as well as the words “snow shovel,” “purple,” and “worms” in a short story between 25 and 300 words.  Give it a try and post on Lisa’s site or via the InLinkz button!

lisaworms

Reunion

(276 words)

Ron tossed the black-and-white photo onto the desk.  “That was taken right before Will left.  Pie-eating contest.  Will’s on the left—big for his age.”

“Why’d he go?”

“Well, your grandfather, my Daddy, was mean.  He used to hit us kids, and Will the worst.  So one day, Will packed a bundle, wrote us a note, and left.”

“Oh.”

“You know what I remember most about Will from when we were kids?  One time, he dug this hole in the yard and he gathered up a bunch of worms.”

“Worms!” Ellie squirmed in delighted disgust.

“Yes, and he chopped ‘em all up and put them right in the purple blueberry pie filling your grandma was making.  See, your grandfather always ate the whole pie, and we thought it was so funny, getting back at him.  He made us work—we’d do the whole driveway with the snow shovel in winter, then take care of the animals, then we’d come inside and catch hell from him anyway.  What?”

“You said ‘hell.’”

“Sorry.”

“When do we get to see Uncle Will?”

“Today, Ellie.  He has a little girl, just your age.  This’ll be the first time I’ve seen him since the day we ate those pies.  Your grandfather wasn’t there that day—long day at work—and my mother said she’d make the pies just for us, only we had to eat ‘em fast, before Daddy got home.”

“Who won?”

“I did, even though I was smaller.  I think Will was already half-way out the door in his mind.”

“Let’s have pie.  The other little girl will want pie.”

Ron laughed.  “OK.  What kind?”

“Blueberry.  But no worms.”