By The Urban Spaceman Two weeks into summer break and bored out of their minds, Tommy and D.J. rode their bikes two miles to the abandoned church in the countryside. They spent three days chiselling the image of a giant penis into an outer wall, and the rest of the summer giggling over their artistic […]
Wrote this a few years ago for an assignment in my first creative writing class at UCF.
It was their fiftieth anniversary, the golden one. Fifty years ago on this day Theodore and Ethel were married in her father’s blooming garden. It had been filled with red and pink roses, white and purple carnations, purest white gardenias, and orange and yellow chrysanthemums, their sweet aroma dancing in the air around the young and hopeful newly weds.
She had worn her mother’s wedding gown and he had used his mother’s wedding ring. The sun floated in the sky, a brilliant, golden orb. There were only three witnesses to this matrimony, and they were Theodore, Ethel, and Father James. Both Ethel’s and Theodore’s parents were dead. They did not need to invite friends or distant family. They had each other.
After the brief ceremony, Ethel and Theodore remained together in the garden, reminiscing on times past and looking forward to the future. They danced to far away whispered music, hearing the strings of the acoustic guitar being plucked delicately from somewhere within them. Fifty years later, Ethel and Theodore still danced in the garden, appreciating the flowers’ sweet scents and feeling the golden setting sun warm them from the inside out.
“Theodore darling, can you believe it’s already been fifty years?” Ethel asked in a hushed voice and with a smile on her face.
“The best fifty years of my life,” Theodore responded tenderly, stroking her hair with a gentle hand.
“Do you remember the wedding?”
“Like it was yesterday,” he answered softly, a distant look in his eyes.
“You looked so handsome in your uniform.”
“And you were stunning in that dress,” Theodore replied lovingly.
“It was just the two of us.”
“That’s all we needed,” he said.
“We danced all night.”
“I held you just like this,” he whispered.
“We planned our future completely.”
“And all those dreams came true.”
A serene sigh escaped Ethel’s lips. The sun had almost completely set by now, leaving a perfect line of gold on the horizon. She and her husband swayed to the long forgotten melody of fifty years ago. The garden’s blooms were beginning to wilt away, but their fresh fragrance still lingered in the cool, evening air.
“Happy anniversary, honey,” Theodore said dreamily to his beloved wife of fifty years.
“Happy anniversary, Theodore darling,” Ethel replied, exhaling happily.
Hand in hand, they walked out of the garden as they had fifty years ago, and thought upon that golden sun and what it would bring them next.
This is an updated version of a piece of flash fiction I wrote for a prompt. The original is published on my old writer’s blog here.
A drop of sweat rolled down Riley’s forehead. Her eyes darted back and forth. She stared at the hand in her grasp. She swallowed hard and licked her lips as she called the last bet, throwing more of her precious few chips into the pot.
With shoulders tensed and fingers clasping her cards tight, she felt a ripple of relaxation spread around the room, ending with the Cowboy tisking and whispering, “Brave little toaster.” She said nothing.
True, it was only a two pair of sixes and sevens, and the Cowboy might’ve had her beat with a full house or four of a kind…if he was waiting on the river like her.
The river was everyone’s friend and enemy at the same time. Schrödinger’s play. All she needed was the kicker though, and she’d leave with the biggest pot she’d ever seen, on one of the crappier hands she’d ever played.
Small coughs and cleared throats echoed as the players waited for the dealer to flip the last card. In slow motion, he took it from the top of the deck. With a communal intake of breath, he revealed the glossy print against the fuzzy green table top: ace of spades.
Riley peeked over her cards at her peers and watched fingers tap and brows furrow. The last round started and two dropped out, leaving her against the Cowboy.
He raised the bet. Riley called, “All in.”
This is for last week’s prompt for the 52 week writing challenge, “a creation myth.” It got a little poetic, but I like it. Enjoy!
She set her fingers to work, diligent and earnest in her desire to make companions for her blue blanket above the heads of mortals. Oh sweet, sensitive sky, don’t be sad. You’ll be lonely no more.
With a touch of stardust from the heavens mixed with drops of salt water from the ocean below, she concocted the substance that would be the foundation of her new creations. The elixir would not be enough though, as with any sweeping gust or downpour of rain it would disintegrate through the sky’s open hands. No, she needed something to weave the potion into a tangible mass that wouldn’t fly away so easily, but float and hover until the end of time.
She glided over to the trees and asked the birds, May I borrow some feathers, my friends? I need to make companions for the sky, and they shall be your comrades, too.
The birds chirped and shook, dropping scattered feathers for her to gather in all shades of white, grey and black. She nodded her gratitude and brought the feathers back with her up into the blue, moving her fingers nimbly up and over, stretching and twisting the feathers with the stardust and rain mixture until a light and fluffy ball emerged, resting in place and wandering here and there, but never too far.
She smiled and marveled at the little wonder, then repeated the process. Over and over, each time producing a new sky beast. Some were fluffier, and some stretched out longer, but they all emitted a smoky skin and bobbed back and forth, in tune with their brother sky.
As the final puff took its place in the sky, she reached her arms out in goodbye and blew them each a kiss. Keep each other company, and no matter how far you may roam, I always know you’ll come back home.
Still playing catch up on my 52 week writing challenge, and seeing as the year is quickly coming to an end, I need to get on that. Here’s a story I wrote for the prompt “a story about anger.” I do warn there is violence and references to abuse in this story, so proceed at your own risk.
Franny picked up the pencil and set the number 2 lead point to the coarse, beige paper again. Grey smudges dotted the side of her hand and made some appearances on her nose. Her brows furrowed and she breathed hard through her nose, shallow breaths that held back the tears.
They don’t know me. They don’t matter. They’re not worth my time.
Without realizing what her fingers had formed with the pencil on paper, she drew out figures familiar in size and shape, and they started to dance. She gasped. Not again.
She threw the pencil at the wall like it had bitten her. The unshaded, faceless figures shimmied and swayed, waiting for her maestro fingers to tell them which way to go and what to do. No, no I’m not like that. I’m human. I’m only human.
The figures danced and beckoned, their nonexistent faces leering with sharp teeth in her mind’s eye, taking on the sneers of her classmates. The gaping, laughing maws of her teachers. We could teach them. Show them just what freaks we really are.
Franny’s fingers ran over the paper, searching for the invisible wires making her figures move of their own accord, and felt a jolt of electricity. It sparked the memory of the sting of the boys’ hits against her bare skin when they chased her naked out of the girls’ locker room showers, out in the open cold, in front of everyone.
Her breathing quickened and she picked up another pencil, shading in the details, giving each face the eyes, nose and mouths of all the kids and teachers who’d abused her over the past two years. With each burning memory of pain and humiliation she pressed the lead harder until the figures took on grotesque forms of real-life people. No, not people. Monsters.
We are human. They are not. Humans don’t do the things they do. Humans don’t snarl and cackle and taunt. Monsters do.
Franny started slow, curling her fingers back and forth to watch the two dimensional figures flurry back and forth. Then, she made them collide into one another. They laughed when she laughed. BAM BAM BAM. She made them smash one after another. And all the while the figures laughed. They laughed at their own pain. They laughed at their self-destruction as Franny bid them with her invisible, electric strings.
Soon, blooming roses of red paint spread across the paper, dripping from the figures’ grotesque, smiling mouths, and Franny laughed. Now who’re the freaks?
Outside, a commotion caught her attention. In the courtyard a crowd of people gathered, some crying, some screaming, calling for help, others reached out their hands trying to grab at something at the center of the mass of bodies.
Franny dropped her fingers and the figures on her paper went limp. She got up, afraid to see what was out there. She made her way to the window of the art room, pressed a hand to the glass and stood on tip toes. Someone ran in, frantic, startling Franny out of her reverie.
“What’s going on out there?” she asked the student.
“Where’s the phone?” She didn’t answer Franny’s question.
Franny pointed toward the teacher’s desk. The other student made for the phone and tried to dial, but her hands were shaking. Franny recognized this girl. It was one of the kids who hung around the others—the ones who tormented her.
“You’re one of them,” she said out loud, picking up the pencil she’d thrown earlier and walking back toward the desk where she’d left her art work.
“What?” The girl waved her off as she got a response from the other line. “Yes, please send an ambulance. Two kids are hurt. Bleeding so much.”
She paused as she listened to the other voice on the line and didn’t notice Franny return to her seat. The quiet girl put her pencil to paper again and began gliding the lead point, curving and sketching, scratching marks into the surface.
“I don’t know. They just started running at each other. Like wild animals. Wouldn’t stop. Heads crashed over and over. Please, they’re bleeding so much.” The girl on the phone sobbed.
Franny didn’t look up from her paper. “You’re one of them. You don’t say mean things. You don’t hit me. But you stand there and watch as they do.”
The girl looked to Franny again, impatient. “What are you saying?”
Franny stopped now, dropped her pencil, and stared the girl in the eye, her own glowing with rage. “You’re just as monstrous as they are!”
With that, Franny brought a finger down to the paper in front of her, slicing her nail through the thin surface, and before her eyes, the girl on the phone began to gurgle. A wide, gaping wound appeared in her neck and scarlet liquid dribbled out slow at first and then gushed out like a faucet open all the way.
The phone fell from her hand and Franny could vaguely hear the other voice talking, trying to get the girl’s attention. She calmly walked over, put the phone back on the receiver and knelt down by the girl. “You could have avoided this if you’d just told them to stop.”
The girl reached out a trembling hand, her eyes pleading for mercy. Franny had none. She walked out of the classroom and past the crowd. “I’m only human,” she kept whispering to herself over and over again.
Chaos continued behind her. Chaos she knew she’d caused. And now that she knew her power, she’d find her revenge elsewhere. It was time to go home.
For this 52 week writing challenge prompt, “a story that takes place the year you were born,” I decided to tell the story I’ve heard so many times from my mom about the day I was born, in my own words and how I heard the story. Happy Thanksgiving reading!
“GET! ME! TO! THE! HOS.PIT.AAAAAALLLL!” she screamed like a banshee.
“I’m trying!” he hadn’t meant to shout. It was stressful trying to navigate Miami traffic with a woman giving labor in the backseat though.
“Just hang in there, Sony.” Her brother-in-law’s already high pitched voice sounded squeakier and more anxious than usual.
She gritted her teeth and tried to keep the screams down, but it was hard. After nearly 10 months of being pregnant, the same day a C-section is scheduled, the damn baby decided to be born mere hours before she was supposed to be at the hospital.
Her husband ran red light after red light, honking viciously at other drivers to move out of his way. “Damn it, where’s a cop when you need one?” He was trying to get a police officer’s attention to get him an escort to clear the way to the hospital. No such luck this day, though.
As he approached a railway in the path, he didn’t slow down, but instead sped up and flew over the tracks. The motion set another screaming wave from the back seat. “Watch it, you idiot. The baby just almost flew out of here.”
He muttered curses under his breath in Spanish. It shouldn’t have taken this long to get to the hospital, but that’s Miami for you. A simple three-mile route turned into a zig zagging journey through back streets and side roads avoiding traffic and took three times as long to get to your destination.
When they finally got there, her brother-in-law jumped out of the car and ran for help. She got lucky and was put directly on a gurney and transferred to the elevator to get her to a room. The baby was stubborn though, and started crowning in the cramped space shared with strangers. Her worst fear had come true. Her legs spread and her business open to the public, giving birth. She screamed more in frustration and embarrassment than from pain.
The doctor barely had time to get in the room. None of the usual prep for a birthing was done. No time to stand on ceremony. The baby came on her own time, disregarding her parents’ careful plans and strategies.
Nearly an hour later, they held the baby in their arms, the mother sweating and eyes closed, the father’s hands shaking, and the brother-in-law dozing off in the waiting room.
I’ve been doing this 52 week writing challenge all year long, and I fell behind for a bit, so here’s my short piece of fiction for the category “a story with only one character.” Enjoy!
I don’t know how long I’ve been out here. The sun’s brutal and beating down on my bare back. Had to take my ragged and torn shirt off. It just wasn’t working anymore. My mouth is as dry as my aunt’s meat loaf on Thanksgiving. A little rain right now wouldn’t go unappreciated.
No cars have passed through here yet. It’s hard to believe I’m the only soul out here. I’m not sure where here is exactly because I woke up in the woods and stumbled my way to the highway somehow. I’m not sure how I knew which way I was going, but I did. Now whether I’m going somewhere or away from something is a totally unknown variable.
The air is still, but more than that, the world is still. There’s not even a single bird in sight or chirping cricket. It’s dead of day, but that doesn’t mean it should be dead. I’m bent over now, heaving and throwing up nothing. Around me not even a light breeze stirs to calm my sweat and chills.
My arms shake as I grip my knees, trying to keep steady. I don’t know how long I’d been passed out without food or water, and the heat only added to the misery. The back of my throat burns for a minute, but I manage to get over this bout of dehydration. My head spins a bit and my vision starts to double, but I’m still standing.
As I zombie walk along the side of the road, even though I haven’t seen a single car, I put my hand out with a thumbs up. A delirious laugh bubbles up out of my mouth and I descend into a mad cackle. No one’s around to hear me go insane, and it almost feels freeing. Almost.
The laughing turns to coughing and I’m bent over dry heaving again. The back of my neck stings with its raw sunburn. My knees quake and I feel like I’m about to pass out when I finally hear something. It’s distant at first, but it’s rough and it’s there. Like a chugging machine pushing down the hot asphalt.
I look back but only see a shimmering horizon. I turn, squint and see the same thing ahead of me. I must be imaging the noise. I’m so desperate to hitch a ride out of here I think there’s a car coming for me, somewhere on this eternal stretch of road.
Somehow, I keep walking in whatever direction I was going. My feet feel like lead and my head feels like it’s full of helium, but I keep walking. My chest rises, slow, then goes back down, as I try to keep oxygen pumping through my lungs.
It’s been at least two hours since I started walking, and it doesn’t look like the sun’s moved from its original position in the sky. If time has been passing, it should be at a different angle by now. I stop, look around, and try to call out, but my throat is too dry. I start coughing again.
Faint and distant, I hear the thrum of a machine again. I hold my breath, trying to keep the coughs down so I can listen for the car. If it’s not on the road, it must be coming from the woods. But it should have caught up to me by now. Maybe it’s not a car. Maybe it’s a machine on a farm somewhere.
For some reason though, I turn and turn and turn but can’t find my way back to the woods. I keep seeing the trees from my peripherals, but every time I try to look at them head on, they disappear and all I see is road.
I tilt my head and stand with my hands on my hips. I blink rapidly and take a deep breath, thinking it must be the heat stroke and dehydration not allowing me to orient myself. I swallow hard, trying to find any kind of moisture to relieve my dry, stuck throat. Fighting off the wave of nausea that threatens to knock me out, I turn back to the road.
It’s all like a mirage, just shimmering air and a black path that doesn’t appear to come to an end. And a sun that doesn’t move. And trees that keep evading me. A wrack of coughs overcomes me and I can’t stop it. Blood eventually streams from my mouth and the panic rises. The taste of copper is strong on my tongue and it brings back a memory of white hot searing pain in my stomach. That’s when I remember…
I’d been in the woods running from a man who was trying to kill me and ran straight into his partner, into his knife. Then I woke up again in the woods that I can’t find my way back to, because I didn’t wake up at all. This is death. This is purgatory. This the highway to hell.