The Old Phoenix and His Ashes

Gary woke up from the nightmare in a cold sweat. It was the same dream every night for the past week. He saw a man burning. The burning man was wailing. He reached out for Gary. His flaming hand almost touching his face.

Then Gary would wake up in a cold sweat.

He had just gotten his first job out of college as a mechanical engineer. The company had him move to Philadelphia, and for the next year, he would be helping to design a new generation of popcorn maker for movie theaters.

“It’s probably just the move. I’m in a strange place. That’s it.”

Gary got out of bed, then looked at the clock, and realized it was only 4 a.m. He could sleep for another few hours.

“Nah.” He headed toward the bathroom of his studio apartment. “Just have to keep drinking coffee to keep going.”

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Family Monument

wheel

© Jennifer Pendergast

After five-year-old Barry and his Grandpa were done playing in the park, the little boy stood marveling at the giant, rusty wheel, while Grandpa went to get the picnic basket.

Bubbe had made their favorite split pea soup and they sat eating and reading comic books in the wheel’s comforting shadow.

Grandpa said it used to be a monument, but people forgot what to. For Grandpa, it was a symbol of family, something big and enduring that has no beginning or end.

Grandpa’s latest tests showed he was still cancer free. He and Barry were here to celebrate.

I wrote this in response to the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the photo at the top of the page to write a piece of flash fiction no longer than 100 words. My story today is 98 words long.

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

I know I write a whole bunch of endearing little stories about Grandpas and grandkids. I might have written this one differently if the photo didn’t contain a small child.

This story is very, very loosely based on a “road trip” I took with my son David some years back. He served in the Marine Corps and suffered a number of injuries he believes he should have been receiving disability payments for. The local VA did an evaluation, but David wanted a second opinion, so they sent us to the VA in Walla Walla, Washington.

We made a day of it. My wife really did make homemade split pea soup for us. We told stories during the drive, David played videos on his phone, and I was reading the graphic novel “V for Vendetta” on the trip.

We finally arrived back home in Boise exhausted, but we had a great time. To this day, it’s one of my favorite adventures with my son.

The scene in the photo looks vaguely like the grounds of the VA in Walla Walla, which is a converted fort.

Sorry if I’m writing too many schmaltzy tales, but if at all possible, I prefer happy endings.

Youth

aging

Found at InternetMedicine.com

Friday, September 2, 2016, 6:15 p.m.

Stupid old woman! Why didn’t she use the elixir on herself? She was damn near a hundred. She’d have died of old age soon if I hadn’t killed her.

I don’t understand. Ever since I first heard the rumors, investigated, tracked down obscure sources, and finally found her, she continually refused to share any of it, even when I offered her the most obscene amounts of money. I could have made her rich. I’d have given her half my wealth for the stuff.

She kept saying, “It’s too dangerous” and “It’s a curse, not a blessing,” and nonsense like that.

Well instead of getting rich, she got dead, and I’ve got the cure for everything. I’d better. I have stage four liver cancer and I’m eighty-one. Not much time left.

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The Final Resting Place

daisy may

© Mike Vore

“I know you’ve seen better days, old girl.”

78-year-old Frank Parker patted the rusting hood of the ’49 Chevy.

Replacing the faded American flag hanging from the passenger-side door with a fresh one, he remembered.

“I was just your age when my Pa first bought the Daisy May. Saved up for over a year to buy her.”

“Why do you keep her, Gramps? She’s all broken down.”

“Reminds me of better days, Timmy, when everything made sense. As long as I live, she’ll always have a home here on the back forty.”

He looked down at his great-grandson. “You sure you want to do this, boy?”

Timmy hugged the old man. “I’m sure Gramps. I promise to bring a new flag every month. I’ll watch over her for you.”

Old Frank had the same cancer that took his Pa so many years ago. He was going to Heaven to be with Pa, Ma, and his wife Sarah. The life he lived was his inheritance to his children and their children’s children.

I wrote this in response to the FFfAW Challenge-Week of February 7, 2017. The challenge is to write a flash fiction story in around between 100 and 175 words, with 150 being optimal, based on the weekly photo prompt. Thanks as always to the challenge host Priceless Joy.

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

I know that America has never been a perfect nation nor is it now. And while I’m about a decade-and-a-half shy of being 78, my childhood was full of joys my grandchildren will never experience. If I can give them at least some small sense of history and a world without smartphones, X-boxes, or the Internet, when children played outside all day with their friends, and yes, we rode our bikes without wearing helmets and didn’t die, then perhaps that past won’t die with me (no, I don’t have cancer. I feel fine).

Taking Care of the Family

counterclock

Image: Odditymall.com

It worked. I changed everything for the better. Now my son Charles marries a hardworking, loving wife and mother instead of a depressed lay about. Now my son Chris makes his career decision five years earlier and gets a tenured position before the recession hits. Now my wife has that business she’s always wanted and the franchise money will make her rich. The Time Changer worked, but with one catch. Instead of me being a successful scientist, I’m a divorced drug addict, dying of lung cancer in the local hospital’s charity ward, a total human failure. It was worth it.

I’ve been writing so much flash fiction over the past few days, that when this idea popped up, I thought I’d take advantage. No prompt, no challenge. Just the way my head works.

The One-Way Journey

sleeping woman

Image: Today.com

Monday, September 10, 2018, U.C. San Francisco Medical Center, Oncology Ward

“Am I going to have to wear the electrodes while I’m under, Dr. Manning?”

Alicia Gooding was lying on the modified operating table. She was wearing only a patient’s hospital gown but Steven, one of the nurses, had placed heated blankets on her to fend off the cold of the surgical theater.

“Yes you will, Alicia, but you’ll be unconscious and not notice a thing.” Dr. Manning had a good bedside manner that was to be expected of an Oncologist.

Seven months ago, Alicia had been diagnosed with glioblastoma, a particularly aggressive brain tumor. She had been just beginning to teach her class of second-graders on a Tuesday morning when she abruptly began speaking gibberish and then collapsed to the floor in a full-blown seizure. Days later, the twenty-three year old teacher was on the operating table having brain surgery.

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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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