Friday Fictioneers – Sub Hell

Photo courtes - Hardy Carroll

Photo courtesy – Hardy Carroll

Sub Hell

Word count: 99

 

Michael’s knees cracked as he crouched.  At six feet two, he felt it would be kinder on his body to be level with the phone than bend for the duration of the conversation.

After inserting the quarter, he dialed and waited.  Schoolchildren gawked as they passed, hiding giggles beneath cupped hands.

“Hello?” She answered.

Michael hesitated.  Everything he wanted to say vanished.

“Hello?” She repeated with a hint of sarcasm that he missed dearly; she had a quick wit and a lively mind.

“Miranda…I can’t do this anymore.”

“Mike, you’ve been a substitute for a week. Suck it up.”

Friday Fictioneers: Eardwulf’s Emporium & Curiosity Shop

in-the-light

Photo courtesy: G. L. MacMillan

 Eardwulf’s Emporium & Curiosity Shop

Word count:  96

Naomi browsed the display. The shopkeeper had said that each bottle caused a different effect; just read the labels. She brushed aside a strand of hair and chewed her lip. What did she want to change? Did she want to be taller? No; she was just the right height. Did she want to be thinner? Not really; Naomi liked her figure. She plucked the smallest bottle from the top shelf, read the label and smiled impishly before knocking back the contents.

Soon, her friends noticed. “Naomi, you eat ALL the time! How do stay so slim?”

 

Storybook Corner: That Old Feeling

Storybook Corner

100_2056

 

That Old Feeling

Word Count:  499

Beth and Nicky played in the cul-de-sac every day. Sometimes the twins, Joey and Thomas, would join in when they were done their chores. I watched them playing tag, or using fat pieces of chalk to draw stick figures on the road. Even in the dullbuzz of summer, they’d be out there. Sometimes Beth’s Mom would put the sprinkler in their front yard (which was the last yard before Magpie woods) and the kids would squeal and laugh, and cool off in the spray.

I lived in the house opposite Beth, and the kids knew me as Mrs. Z; I had cultivated the persona of the street Grandma. Sometimes they’d straggle over and I’d have pitchers of lemonade waiting, or ice pops ready in the freezer. They’d plop down around my kitchen table with red, sweaty faces, gawking at every single thing for as long as they visited. Beth liked my porcelain cocker spaniel collection. Nicky was partial to the faded ladder of notches in the kitchen doorway with the dates and ages. Joey and Thomas always sat close to one another, and ate and drank with a real desire to hightail it back outside. I didn’t mind; I know kids can be flighty. They’re like cats; make them think you’re not looking, and they relax.

One day, Nicky was standing in the doorway, intent on those grooves in the wood.

“Hey, Mrs. Z?”

“Yes, Nicky.”

“These dates and ages don’t add up.”

The twins crammed together on one seat, with a straw in each mouth, darted looks back and forth between Nicky and me.

“How do you mean, hon?” I was ready with my lie.

“Well, the first one… down here,” he pointed to the oldest one about a foot off the floor, “says three sixteen sixty four, and age seven, but the next one up says twelve twenty two sixty eight, and age six.”

They all looked at me. The twins were done sucking, but had forgotten to remove the straws from their mouths.

“Well, Fred, God rest his soul, and I, used to adopt cats. We had tons of them; strays, housecats, and barn cats. They never lasted longer than seven or eight years though. That’s all.”

“What happened to them?”

“Something must’ve got them in the woods,” I cocked a thumb in that direction, “that’s my theory.”

I watched his finger trail the lines. He looked through the side window of the kitchen to the tree line, and for a moment I thought he would ask another question, but he just shrugged. It was enough to break the daze, and pretty soon the kids were slurped and done, and back outside to play.

I kept an eye on Nicky for the remainder of the day, reveling in the old killing feeling, wondering if I could do it again, without Fred. And, forever grateful for his stern advice:

“Meryl, you tryin’ to get caught? Dates and ages is fine, but do not add the kids’ names!”

 

Storybook Corner – Going Forward

img_20140222_145628

 

(Time to expand the old horizons with a 300-500 word challenge. Storybook Corner if you are interested in participating.)

Going Forward

Word count:  500

 It’s bloody freezing.  Margaret reached out a thin, leather-gloved finger to activate the handicapped access. She pressed hard before replacing her hand underneath the blanket draped across her lap. She shivered and wished her husband would hurry up parking the van; Margaret dreaded going into this doctor’s office more than any other, and she’d rather not face it alone.

The door didn’t open.

Irritation drove her hand forward again with more effort. Nothing. Margaret craned around from her spot in the chair to see if Gerald was nearby but he wasn’t. Panic crawled from her stomach to envelope her heart; she didn’t know what to do. She felt stupid calling for help and a glance at the windows revealed how exposed she was to strangers’ stares. Worse, even without seeing them clearly, she knew the pity-ripples that would cross their faces. Margaret had seen the look from many people since her accident, and it always made her feel like a child, as if she were incapable of doing anything without assistance.

“Help.” She said with an impatient eyeroll, and not nearly loud enough, she knew.

Where is he? She turned her head to look for Gerald but still, no sign. Margaret couldn’t understand; he’d left her at the entrance, and the disabled space was what, fifty feet across the parking lot? She released the brake and wheeled around, pushing tentatively toward the curb. From the edge she would be able to see the van, and Gerald, who was probably fussing over something inconsequential like the elastic netting in the back, or maybe righting one of his work folders that had come loose from its place in the stack on the back seat.

The van wasn’t there. Neither was Gerald.

Panic flipped to fear. Margaret couldn’t wheel the chair any further forward without falling over the curb, and where the sidewalk joined the tarmac seamlessly was too far down the side of the building. She couldn’t comprehend, and prompted by alarm bells inside; she felt the heat wave rising in her face followed by the crest of tears.

Taxed by the whirl of emotions, Margaret grimaced with the effort of moving the wheelchair back to the entrance. There, she repeatedly jabbed the button, choking out unintelligible words of confusion. She glanced from the door to the road until finally, after hurtling through imaginings so terrible, of a life of paralysis without any help, Margaret cried out.

The door opened.

Margaret propelled herself forward without question, creating a ragged scene inside, but her breathing calmed when she noticed the warm and inviting atmosphere. It was definitely not the doctor’s office.

Serenity settled in and she understood that Death, who had previously missed his opportunity, had returned for them. How it happened was unimportant; she knew with absolute clarity that this was her crossover point.  Margaret rose and took a step forward.

It’s true then, that the soul goes unencumbered by anything physical. She smiled and walked to meet Gerald at the light.

A first short(ish) story.

My first short story.

It comes in at just under 4,700 words, has been rejected once and since then, I let it stew for a while.  I revisited it today with more revisions and editing.  The style feels amateurish and juvenile but I give myself some slack since it was my first full effort.  I’m not altogether sure why I’m posting it here but something tells me that it’s ok to do so.

If you take the time to read it, I am incredibly grateful.  Any feedback, positive and constructive would be welcomed also.

Just Write.

rollerskate

I read This blog yesterday and felt the familiar “Yes!”  ohmygod, yes!

Ideas for stories pile up in my head, occasionally filtering through enough to enable a creative outlet and the start of some kind of story…be it flash fiction, a short story or who knows what else, how long or where it’s going.  Too many ideas up the wazoo and I am frustrated lately with the lack of propulsion.  My Springpad is filling up with unfinished work, stories that race great out of the gates but quickly lose steam.

After reading the above blog, I thought perhaps I had strayed too far from the point.  Taking advice too deeply to heart.  Holding tightly to the notion that no-one wants to read a life story because what might be fascinating for the writer, may not necessarily be so for the reader.  But, perhaps it’s all in the telling.

I have pieces and portions, events and happenings, some of which might shock or provoke tears or elicit a resounding mental “Bravo!” and so I began writing about a quick thing that happened many, many years ago.  After composing the story from two different angles, I’m astounded at how the memory has sprung to life… from a faded thirty-three years ago to now.  The colors are vivid, the characters leap from my mind, the touch of a person, the feel of the day, the utter dumbing numbness that encompassed me.  I have rarely given it thought over the years.  How surprising to find that it is all still intact but if you asked me what I had for dinner last week, I would falter.

It’s the kind of piece that makes me wonder what the people in my story are doing today.  Do they remember?  Do they remember me?

And, how can I trust myself to get it all down in such a way that it doesn’t resemble the page of a confused ten year old’s diary?  To bring it to life without going overboard on prose.  To simplify it.  To describe it in its stark, summer-filled way.

Take a step back and observe.

Much like the strong emotions in life – bearing witness as opposed to immersion in any event that invokes strong emotion, helps work it through.

Be honest and true to human nature, in all its ugliness and darkness.

Write.  Just write.