Yesterday

music

© Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Santiago set his guitar on its stand, and then closed the cover on “the Beatles complete easy guitar” book. This small upstairs room was his refuge, someplace where he could visit his youth. Aging fingers would never be as nimble again, nor his voice as clear.

He whispered,

“Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away…”

Hearing a car pull up, he walked across the room to the window that overlooked the driveway and smiled. His children and grandchildren were here. Today, he turned sixty-four and would let himself rejoice in the present and whatever future he had left.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for writing a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 99.

When I saw the songbook (I looked it up on Amazon to verify the title), I immediately thought of Paul McCartney’s Yesterday, but since I turn 64 next month, When I’m Sixty-Four also came to mind. Growing older is often a mixture of anticipation and regrets. You can never go home again, but you can sometimes visit.

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

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The Old People’s Plant

house plant

© Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

“You’ve got to be kidding.”

He was smart enough not to say that out loud because his wife had just put the planter on their kitchen table.

“So what do you think?”

She’d asked a question almost as bad as “Do these pants make me look fat?”

He decided to take a risk. “I like the crystal, but I’m not sure about using it for a planter.”

“Me either. Karen gave it to me while she’s having her kitchen remodeled. Not really my style.”

He registered an internal sigh of relief. “Yes, we’re older, but we’re not that old yet.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields flash fiction challenge. The idea is to use the photo above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

It looked to “ordinary” for me to think of anything besides a “slice of life” piece. No research involved.

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

A Great Time to Be Alive

moon base

Scene from the 1968 film, “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Jason Fields sat in the Common Area of Lunar Base Five (LB5) sipping his coffee. He got there early enough to get a table by one of the windows. He liked looking out at the rest of the base and the wild and empty Moonscape beyond. He was pleased that the construction of Dome Three was progressing ahead of schedule, and could remember being one of the young men in a spacesuit building the first habitat for humans on the Moon. 2018 was great time to be alive.

Later, he planned to phone his son’s family back on Earth. His eight-year-old Grandson Billy gave a report in class yesterday about the Moon Base Program using some of Jason’s personal experiences and he was anxious to see how it went.

As one of the original engineers on Lunar Base One back in the 1980s, his contribution earned him permanent residency on the Moon in the colony of his choice. Taking another sip of coffee, he mused how he never thought he’d actually retire up here. He probably wouldn’t have if Cindy were still alive, poor soul, but cancer took her far to early in life.

“Hey, Jase.” He looked up at the man joining him at his table.

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The Rose Stem

rose stem

© Marie Gail Stratford

The rose stem was another sign that the world was shutting down, except that a small spider had chosen to use it as a platform for dining. The grass was still green but all of the leaves were making their stately transition to reds and golds. He was entering another autumn as he continued through the autumn of his life. He could hear his grandchildren screeching and giggling as they playfully chased each other across the lawn. They were his spring now, no matter how bitter the coming winter.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the image at the top to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is (amazingly) 89.

I looked up “rose stem” on Google and only came up with a skin cream. The blossoming of roses is variable but generally they bloom from mid-spring through fall. The scene reminded me of the beginning of autumn here, still pleasantly warm days with a bite in the night air.

So I chose to write another “Grandpa” tale about the “life cycle.” Not much drama to be sure. Just a few moments of reflection as winter continues its relentless march toward an eventual spring outside of my home.

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

The Dish We’re Served

plate

© Yarnspinnerr

“What are you eating, Grandpa.”

“Ashes, apparently.”

Elizabeth was twelve and still enjoyed visiting her Grandpa for the holidays. Mom and Dad would be up in a few days but this time was just for the two of them. Lately though Grandpa had been acting strange.

“I can make you a sandwich for lunch if you’d like.”

“No, sweetie. This is the plate set before me and this is what I’ll eat.”

“But what is it, Grandpa? It doesn’t even look like food.”

“It’s what’s left of your dreams after the magic’s gone. Dried up like autumn leaves. Good for nothing but throwing away.”

“Oh, Grandpa.” She slipped up behind the old man and hugged him as he sat at the table. You still miss Grandma, don’t you?”

The old man reached up and gently put his hand on the girl’s shoulder.

“She was my dream. Now God’s taken the magic away.”

Elizabeth sat in the next chair and put her arms around him. “I miss her too, Grandpa. I promise. I’ll always love you.”

I write this for the FFfAW Challenge-Week of December 12, 2017 challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

I have no idea what’s on that plate and it really made it tough to think of anything to write. I thought about aliens, the supernatural, some sort of tie in to Christmas or Hanukkah, but nothing really clicked. What I wrote above is the best I could come up with. Dining on dead and dried up dreams after the magic has gone. The family members one generation older than me are getting sicker and some have died this year. Looking back, I realize I’ve been looking death in the face. The only thing that gives me hope is the children who will come after us.

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

Life in Ruins

Renwick Ruins

© Roger Bulltot

I like it here. I know, there are more reasons to tear this place down than to preserve it. And yet I find the aging, crumbling walls have their own beauty, especially in the way that nature has chosen to integrate herself in this place.

I have a confession. I like it here because it reminds me of me. The Renwick Ruins and I are the same, aging, decaying, and yet seeking our own place in the world. There are reasons why I should be torn down, too. We are both old. Does that mean we should both die?

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is exactly 99.

The image is titled “smallpox hospital” and it didn’t take much “Googling” to discover that the photo is of the ruins of the Renwick Smallpox Hospital on Roosevelt Island in New York.

In some ways, this blog post is related to one I wrote on a sister blog late yesterday. Both are about the examination of an older life struggling to survive and somehow remake itself. Like the Renwick Ruins, it might not be possible, but who knows.

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

Mom’s Secret

auto aftermath

© Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

“What the hell happened to the car, Mom?”

“Sorry, Mark. I thought I had enough clearance pulling out of the parking garage. I must have hit something?”

“Hit something? Mom!”

Since Dad’s death, Mark was trying to help Mom out, but she was getting more forgetful and disorganized each day. Clearly she wasn’t fit to drive, but getting her to give it up was going to be tough.

“Damn! That last invader agent hit my car with a disruptor blast before I could get away,” she thought. “Hate lying to my son, but he can’t learn my secret.”

I wrote this in response to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ Friday Fictioneers writing challenge. The idea is to use the photo prompt above and write a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My story’s word count is 98.

My Dad passed away about three weeks ago. Afterward, my brother and I helped my Mom deal with a lot of the details in settling Dad’s affairs. My wife and I came back to help out some more, and Mom continues to have problems remembering important details. Eventually, we plan on having her move in with us, but giving up her independence will be hard for her.

No, she hasn’t had any car accidents, but then again, she doesn’t need to be driving either. In my wee bit of flash fiction, I recreated Mom as having a secret that makes being absentminded just a ruse. Would that this could be true.

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

Book Review: Transhuman

transhumanI know I’ve read one or more science fiction novels written by Ben Bova before, but I can’t recall which one(s). However, the cover of Transhuman, published in 2014, boasts of him being a six-time hugo award winner, so this should be a pretty good novel, right?

Turns out, all six of those awards were for Best Professional Editor when he was working at Analog, not for any of his written works, although he is certainly a prolific author.

I was interested in this tale because it involves a grandpa and his little granddaughter. Being a grandparent myself, I know I’d do anything to protect them, which is exactly what 74-year-old Luke Abramson does for his eight-year-old granddaughter Angie.

You see, Angie’s dying of an inoperable cancerous brain tumor. She’s got six months or less to live. But Luke is a cellular biologist and believes a new technique he’s developed can cure Angie’s cancer.

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New Brain

brain

Image: Fox News

Alec Reed was at the end of his rope. At age 62, he could no longer keep up with the younger software developers at Intellidrive and accusations of “ageism” or not, if his performance fell too much further, he’d be out of a job.

Before the divorce, he’d have just put in for early retirement, but when Neena left him, she took just about everything including a non-trival percentage of their savings. Now he needed to keep working another five years at least if he hoped to maintain even a halfway decent portion of his current standard of living once he decided to retire.

Getting older was a curse in an industry of the young. Alec’s thinking, reasoning abilities, problem solving skills were all lagging behind the twenty-somethings that were being hired at a startling rate by Intellidrive.

Seniority and a generally good work record kept Alec at the company for the past twenty-two years, but his new, young supervisor wasn’t letting him rest on his so-called laurels. Alec was supposed to produce on par with his junior peers and if he couldn’t, he was easily replaced.

That’s why he had stolen his son’s supply of New Brain.

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Ascending Sparks

sparksThis experience, to give life, to watch it grow, to be torn apart by it, to receive pleasure from it, and to give life again—for this the soul descended from its ethereal heights.

And when it shall return to there, enveloped in these memories, it will finally know their depth. And with them travel ever higher and higher.

“Life’s Memories”
-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
Based on the wisdom of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory
Chabad.org

I’m so tired. I can’t remember when I didn’t feel exhausted. I wake up exhausted. I barely have the strength to lift a spoonful of soup to my mouth. My bladder only can hold on so long anymore before I either make it to a toilet or embarrass myself. I have a hard time remembering what I did last week or even yesterday.

I am so old.

But I do remember many things before yesterday and last week.

I remember watching “Gunsmoke” when I was five, and trying to outdraw Marshall Dillon with my toy six-shooter (I never could).

My Dad was in the Air Force and we lived in Spain near Seville when I was little. Instead of Santa Claus, one of the Three Kings from the Bible (well, not a real one) would ride the streets of our neighborhood in a horse-drawn wagon. I got my picture taken with him once.

My Dad pointed up to a shiny thing in the night sky and told me it was called “Sputnik”. I didn’t find out until decades later that the satellite couldn’t be seen by the unaided eye and what we were looking at was one of its rocket boosters tumbling end-over-end in low orbit.

I remember when we had vinyl 45s and to play them on a record player, you had to put this funny disk thing in the big hole in the middle so it could fit on whatever the little stem sticking up in the middle of the turntable was called.

I remember the one-eyed, one-horned blind purple people eater.

I remember my Dad growing roses in our yard when we lived in Spain.

I remember getting sick on the airplane when we flew back to America.

I remember getting lost after my first day in first grade when we lived in Omaha. My Dad came and found me. I was so scared. I was only six.

I remember always getting picked last for sports during recess at school because I couldn’t run very fast and I was lousy at throwing and catching.

I had a crush on a girl when I was in the second grade. I got teased about it a lot.

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