The Cherry Blossoms Are Blooming

garden

© John Brand

I used to hate gardening, but that was before. Now I find it gives me a sense of peace. I remember that he liked gardening. He found it relaxing, even in the heat of the day, which used to drive me crazy.

I wear his old gardening hat. The brim shields my face and removes the glare from my eyes.

It’s springtime, the season of life. The cherry blossoms are in bloom. I have to clean them up of course, but now instead of just being work, it’s a duty and a privilege. I use his old wheelbarrow, the one that reminds me of the difference between belief and faith.

I hadn’t realized how deep his faith ran, while all I had to fall back on was belief and an intellectual’s arguments to defend it.

His death shook me in a way I hadn’t anticipated. It’s tremors disturbed my beliefs and threw me into the deep waters of faith. I drowned in that faith, and rose again like my Dad will someday in the resurrection, just like trees bloom again in the spring.

I wrote this as part of the Sunday Photo Fictioner challenge. The idea is to use the photo above as a prompt to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 183.

As some of you may know, my Dad died suddenly last Wednesday afternoon. My brother and I have been going through Dad’s things and our Dad never seemed to have thrown away anything. It’s been quite a chore.

But it has let us know our Dad in a way we never really did before. We discovered his passions, his habits, and how he saw his life. Unlike the story above, he wasn’t quite the avid gardener I’ve painted, but in viewing the green and growing things in my parent’s house, and now it’s my Mom’s house, I find hope for the future, a transition from belief to faith.

Oh, in the body of the story, I included a link to an essay I wrote based on a parable of a man who pushed a wheelbarrow across a tight rope. I think it is quite illuminating.

To read more stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

Quit Putting Dragons on Clocks

dragon clock

© Jade M. Wong

Charlie Wise had been stopping by the Curiosities Shop every Thursday afternoon for the past ten years. This time he saw something different.

“Antique clock, Phineas?”

“I have a terrific new repair guy working for me.”

“Yeah, but a dragon?”

He keeps adding dragons to everything.”

“You know, I’d buy the clock if it didn’t come with a dragon.”

Phineas leaned on the counter and pushed up his bifocals. “Come around next week. I’ll see what I can do.”

“Okay, Phineas. Have a good day.”

“You too, Charlie.”

After closing, Phineas went into the back, took out his keys, and opened up the workshop.

He was still hard at work.

“You know, I could have sold that clock you worked on today if it didn’t have a dragon on it.”

Everything he’d worked on had a dragon on it.

The old Elf, who had been starving after becoming stranded outside of the Fantasy realm, looked up. “Sue me. I like dragons. Everything you have me work on is so…ordinary.”

Phineas slammed the door shut and locked it.

He muttered to himself, “I’d toss that pointy-earred bum out on the street again if he wasn’t so good at refurbishing antiques.”

I wrote this for Sunday Photo Fiction – April 16th 2017. The idea is to use the photo prompt above to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. Mine came in at 196 (after quite a bit of editing). I realized that the natural response to the photo would be to have the dragon come to life. I decided to try a different approach.

To read more stories written for this prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

For the Love of Cynthia

viking

© A Mixed Bag

The fake Viking boat was the only unusual thing about the park. It overlooked Suisun Bay to the north and bordered the Point Edith Wildlife Area. Cynthia always felt safe in the reserve, which is why she told Richard to meet her here each morning after it was over.

Early on a Monday morning, the park was deserted, though there was plenty of evidence that hundreds of children played here the day before.

Cynthia always loved children, but they were never able to have any together. Small wonder given her unique nature. How would she ever carry a pregnancy to full term?

The full moon was just about to set so she’d be coming soon. In his left hand, he had the rucksack with her clothes in it.

The wolf appeared out of the bushes to his left. Even knowing who and what she was, Richard still felt afraid.

Moonset. She collapsed on the grass and started writhing, her shape twisting, fur vanishing. In moments, she was his beautiful wife again.

He ran over to her now shivering form. “It’s okay, darling. It’s over. I’ll take care of you.”

Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction – April 9th 2017 hosted by Al Forbes. The idea is to use the photo prompt above to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. Mine came in at 189.

I’ve written werewolf stories before such as The Wolf’s Mate and Violation, so this is merely a continuation of that theme, though with different characters.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

I’d Give Everything I Have for You

pier

© Jules Paige

It had finally stopped raining when Jack Bishop reached the little used pier. He wanted to sit down, but he couldn’t. He had to get to the end, to where Billy and he used to fish when his son was little.

Jack stopped and looked down. His right hand was pressing against the bleeding wound at his gut as hard as he dared, shot thanks to a mugging gone wrong. He was a goner, but he had to reach the end of the pier.

Lance Corporeal William Bishop was killed when his vehicle ran over an IED near Baghdad on August 13, 2011. The magician said that if Jack could reach the end of the pier before dying, he’d trade his life for Billy’s.

“Made it. I love you, son.” Jack sat on one of the benches, his life coming to an end. “I’m here for you, Billy. You’ve got the rest of your life to live. Make it a good life.”

******

twilight zone

From the 1963 Twilight Zone episode “In Praise of Pip

Billy sat on the bench and helped his five-year-old son Todd bait the hook on his fishing line. “God, I wish your Grandpa were here to see this. I miss him so much.”

I wrote this in response to the Sunday Photo Fiction – March 26th 2017 challenge. The idea is to write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 200 words based on the image above. I made it at 195 words.

This story isn’t exactly original. It’s loosely based on a 1963 episode of The Twilight Zone called In Praise of Pip. Actor Jack Klugman plays a small time bookie named Max Phillips who’s in deep with the mob. The only light in his life is his son Pip, who is serving as a soldier in Vietnam. Fate gives Max a second chance, but it involves trading his life for Pip’s, who otherwise would be killed in combat.

The ending scene with actor Robert Diamond playing the adult Pip, alive and well, having survived serving in ‘Nam, talking about how much he misses his Dad still breaks me up.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

The Fall of the Saints

photo prompt

© A Mixed Bag

The Milan Cathedral, a once majestic landmark, was in ruins. He never thought to visit this ancient structure, anathema to his own nature, an artifact to a once vast empire. He looked up at the Saint and the Priest. The Priest was struggling to keep the Saint integrated, but his powers were weakening, his prayers growing more faint each second. He was the last Priest. The revolution had effectively crushed their dominance. She was the last Saint, and the reluctant Magician’s target. He had no wish to harm her, but their hold on the world must be completely broken.

He began his magical rite to the horror of the Priest. An unexpected look of serenity appeared on the Saint’s visage. She knew her time was done.

The spell completed, the Priest collapsed, exhausted, and the Saint vanished from her holy vestibule in the cathedral. With her passing, so did the age of religion pass. It had taken Prospero long centuries to accomplish his task, but he had finally restored the age of mysticism across the world. Now his daughter Miranda would be free of Sainthood and return to rule as the Duchess of Milan.

This tale was written in response to the Sunday Photo Fiction – March 19th 2017 challenge hosted by Al Forbes. The idea is to use the photo prompt above to write a short piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words. Mine comes in at 194, and I confess, it was only around 140 words in its first draft. I was delighted to discover I had more “room” to add details to my mythic story.

The minute I saw the photo prompt, something reminded me of William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest”. I’ve never seen it performed or read it, but there was an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation which began with the character Data (played by Brent Spiner) performing in the play on the holodeck as the character Prospero. Data, being a very literal person, had trouble understanding the character and Shakespeare’s symbolism. Captain Picard (played by Patrick Stewart), explained it this way:

“Well, Data, Shakespeare was witnessing the end of the Renaissance and the birth of the modern era, and Prospero finds himself in a world where his powers are no longer needed. So, we see him here about to perform one final creative act before giving up his art forever.”

I thought it would be interesting to reverse things, and have the modern era and the church attempting to perform its one last creative act in the face of Prospero, who was determined to end its reign. In the play, Miranda is Prospero’s daughter, and in addition to being a magician, Prospero is the Duke of Milan. In the play, he was attempting to restore his daughter to her rightful place. In my story, he succeeds.

To read more stories inspired by this prompt, to go InLinkz.com.

The Old Astronaut

spacesuit

© A Mixed Bag 2012

I finally made it. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Never thought I’d get the chance to visit. I always wanted to see all these exhibits. I spent my childhood, my whole life really, admiring astronauts and their accomplishments. I used to spend hours pretending I was wearing a spacesuit, just like the one I’m standing in front of now.

It doesn’t look as impressive in real life, but then, it’s just an empty suit. What makes spacesuits heroic are the men and women who’ve worn them, who were blasted into space, who walked on the Moon. I was in high school when Neil Armstrong wore this suit and declared, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

I wish I could have had my shot at even sub-orbital space. I can afford a tourist’s ride on SpaceX now, but I’m too old.

My grandson’s not, though. Next month he and five other astronauts will be launched from the Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station, and from there, they’ll board the Ares One spaceship to Mars. I’ve got my shot into space because my grandson will always be in my heart. Thank you, boy.

I’m writing this in response to the Sunday Photo Fiction – March 12th 2017 hosted by Al Forbes. The idea is for authors to use the photo prompt above to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words. My story is exactly 200 words long.

Oh, I really did grow up with the NASA manned space missions, from Mercury, to Gemini, to Apollo, and beyond. I even got a chance to see and touch (I wasn’t supposed to touch it) one of the Apollo command modules once, although I’ve never been to the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum (I wish). I’ll never go into space, but my grandchildren’s generation will. To the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

To read other tales based on the photo, go to InLinkz.com.

Is That You Talking?

urns

© Dawn M. Miller

I bought the one that said “Corona Extra” on it because it looked cool. Now that I’ve got the place to myself, I decided I wanted to be able to make a small fire on the back patio for those cold evenings when I needed to be comforted.

“Ouch! That’s hot!”

It’s the first time I try lighting a fire in the urn.

“What did you say to me?”

“I said the fire’s hot.”

“But that’s what you’re for, to burn a fire in. Look, it’s a cool evening and I’d rather enjoy a warm fire while sitting on the patio.”

“Too bad”. The thing actually closes its mouth and smothers the flames. I toy with the idea of calling over my next door neighbor to witness this strangeness but decide against it.

“Oh don’t be surprised I can talk. You’re so lonely, you’ll believe anything can keep you company.”

“You mean…?”

“Call your son and his wife. I’ll bet they’ll be glad to bring the grandkids over.”

“But I thought…”

“Just because you’re divorced, doesn’t mean your kids don’t love you anymore. Go on. Make the call.”

I pick up my cell and the urn goes silent forever.

I wrote this for Sunday Photo Fiction – March 5th 2017 hosted by Al Forbes. The challenge is to write a piece of flash fiction no longer than 200 words based on the photo prompt above. My story is 199 words.

To read more stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

Rediscovering Serenity

koi pond

© Sora Sagano, Nemichi-Jinja, Seki, Japan

It had been years subjectively since Tamara had been to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, years since she’d let herself relax and stare at the serene Koi pond. For the last ten years, she struggled, on the run, hiding from Slaver Gangs, scrounging for food, making alliances, and often being betrayed.

Then she found the bunker. She’d traveled further into the Forbidden Zone than she ever had before, further than anyone dared. The disaster that caused civilization’s collapse started here. She found a breach in the bunker that led to the Temporal Accelerator. The power source still worked. Tamara had been a physicist at the Lawrence Livermore Labs before the collapse. She figured out how to opeate the controls.

She went back before the collapse, back to a more peaceful time in her life, a time when her Mom and Dad used to take her here, to this pond, to the Zen Garden. She used the time machine to send her on a one-way trip to the past. Tears streamed down her face as she watched her parents holding her hands. She was only five years old. “I miss you both so much.”

I wrote this small piece of flash fiction in response to the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner – 2017 Week #05 challenge. The photo prompt is at the top of this page.

Stories can’t be more than 200 words and mine comes in at 197.

To read other stories based on this prompt, visit InLinkz.com.