Dueling Holidays

christmas wordle

Image found at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie

“Oh come on, Dave. Certainly during this Yuletide holiday you can celebrate with your family a little, put a present or two under their tree, herald the coming of your Savior. I’ll even wear mistletoe on the front of my waist tonight the way you like it.” Suzanne, winking naughtily, was pulling out all the stops to get her husband out of his recliner in front of the smoldering fireplace in the cozy living room so they could drive the fifteen miles to his brother’s house.

Instead, he just looked up at her with a forlorn expression on his forty-five year old face. “We sent Bob’s family a card, and they know we don’t celebrate Christmas. I mean, they do the whole Santa, reindeer, stocking thing.”

“Get up.” She grabbed his arm forcefully, and he let her pull him to his feet. They both were already dressed for the festive meal his younger brother and their family had every Christmas Eve, so it was just a matter of her getting him to the car. “I don’t care if they put Christmas pudding in the ears of all their elves on their shelves, we’re going.” The forty-two year old software developer gripped Dave with all the strength her gym weight training produced.

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Santa Lives in Arizona

desert christmas

Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

Seventeen-year-old Humberto knew they’d never make it if they stayed with the mob, so hours before dawn, he took his Mama, his pregnant older sister Esmeralda, and his ten-year-old brother Joaquin and slipped into America just a few miles northwest of Nogales.

“We are lost, Niño.” Mama was always worried. If they could make it to Tucson, Uncle Carlos would take them in.

“No, we aren’t. Rio Rico is just a few miles ahead.”

“Humberto, I have to pee.” Joaquin had walked hundreds of miles, but he was still just a kid.

“We’re in a desert. Go anywhere.” Humberto turned to Essie. “How are you doing?”

“I’m only five months along. Stop acting like I’m going to give birth any second.” Mama catered to Humberto, and she resented him acting like Papa.

“Mama! Mama! Look it.” The child was jumping up and down excitedly. “It’s Santa’s house. Look.”

The squat home with the low rock fence was decorated in red and white, but it was the fat old white man with the bushy beard smiling and waving them over that convinced Joaquin.

“You’re welcome to stay here,” he said in spanish. “It’s Christmas and I’d love to celebrate with company.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge of 23 December 2018. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

Yes, it looks like Arizona, regardless of where the photo was actually taken, so I looked up “Arizona news.” Among other stories, I found one chronicling the arrest of hundreds of migrants that had come into the state across the border near Nogales, so I based my we tale on that event. After that, I tried to “Christmas” it up as much as I could, given the theme.

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

Summer Reflection

reflection

© Sue Vincent

Twenty-nine year old Melanie Snyder stood sobbing at the shore of the lake where her Grandpa’s ashes had been scattered two years ago. She purposely had one hand inside her coat touching something precious she was wearing around her neck. The first rays of the April sun were just now creeping over the eastern horizon illuminating reflections of thin clouds, a pale azure sky, and the gnarled, barren tree under which he had taught her how to fish when she was five.

“I’m sorry I…” sobs shook her slender frame which was enveloped in the dark blue pea coat that sheltered her from the cold. “I’m sorry I didn’t visit…didn’t call that last year. I was so afraid of what I’d see…of what the cancer had done to…”

Long blond hair being slightly fluttered by the breeze, Melanie lowered both arms to her sides and clenched her fists in resolve, determined to finish her confession.

“You were always my hero, always strong, brave, kind. After Mom and Dad divorced, I could talk to you about anything, how I felt, how mad I was. You always understood. I thought you’d live forever, that you would never leave me.”

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Escaping Paradise

road

Photo credit: Jodi McKinney

“Are you sure this is the right move?” Sixteen-year-old Erin leaned forward against her seatbelt so her Dad, who was driving, could hear her.

“It’s too late to ask now. All our stuff’s moved to the new place in Glenbrook, the house in San Francisco finally sold, so Nevada is our new home.” He chuckled until he saw his wife giving him “the look,” which the middle-aged executive consultant could see out of his peripheral vision.

“Phil,” Esther hissed, adding emphasis.

“Sorry, Erin. I know you miss your friends, your school…”

“Everything,” she moaned. Erin’s six and ten year old brothers Matt and Chad were asleep next to her. “Am I the only one who cares what this move will do to us?”

“We’ve talked about all this.” Esther turned around in the front passenger seat to look at her daughter. “Your Dad’s right about what a mess things have become in the Bay Area. Look at this move as an adventure. I promise that in a year, it’ll be a lot better.

I wrote this for the 195th FFfAW Challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 173.

I haven’t lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since the early 1980s, but I do keep up on the news. Most of it sounds pretty bad. The article I read this morning is called Videos shows Santa Con attendees trashing popular SF restaurant, reporting how two women tore a restaurant apart because the payment for their food orders was in dispute. I had to look up Santa Con, but vandalizing an establishment and assaulting an employee doesn’t seem much like the spirit of Christmas.

I also read recently how people from expensive portions of California, including LA and the Bay Area, are leaving in droves going to much lower cost Nevada.

In 1994, my family moved from Orange County, California to Boise, Idaho for similar reasons, but mainly because the nearest drive by shooting was a mile and a quarter from our house and we didn’t want our (then) little children to get shot, or involved in drugs and gangs.

Life isn’t perfect here, but with each news story I read, I must say I’m glad I’ve lived here for the past 24 years. My daughter, who is now 30, made the decision to move to Northern California, but so far, both of my sons are still in Boise. I’m pretty sure David will always live here, and maybe Michael too, although I think he’d like a place where the politics were more “blue.”

Oh, Glenbrook, Nevada is pretty small, but it’s really a bedroom community for Carson City and Reno. It’s right on the shore of Lake Tahoe, and according to Google maps images, it’s really pretty.

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

Family Day

veterans day parade 2018

© James Pyles

Yesterday, my son texted me at work and suggested spending Saturday together. He had a very specific agenda.

So this morning, I met him at his house, and we got the kids ready to head into downtown Boise so we could attend the annual Boise Veterans Day Parade (hence the image above). The parade has been held since before my family and I moved here 24 years ago. I can remember when my kids were in marching band in Junior High and High School, they’d perform in the parade each year.

We picked a corner near the start of the parade and met a lot of nice people, including a woman whose 13-year-old daughter was in it this year.

I took a ridiculous number of photos (and fortunately for you, I posted only one). The air was cool and crisp and if you were dressed properly, it was a great day to go to a parade.

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A New Home for Diablo

chicks

August MorgueFIle 139596857318u1t

“Bubbe! Baby chickies!” The enthusiastic three-year-old girl let go of her grandmother’s hand and ran over to the heated glass enclosure. She pressed her palms and nose against it and then pulled back. “It’s hot, Bubbe.”

“It’s okay to look, but don’t scare them, Dani.” The sixty-year-old bent over and put her hand gently on the child’s shoulder.

“Look, a kitty-cat.” The toddler spun to her left when she spied the black feline out of the corner of her eye. Surprisingly, when she zipped over to the edge of the counter to pet it, the cat didn’t even flinch.

“Your cat is amazingly calm,” the grandparent said to the young cashier.

“Yes, and he needs a new home, unfortunately. The former owners had to move and couldn’t take Diablo with them.” The woman’s raven hair was as dark as the cat’s fur.

“Diablo?” The older woman quickly pulled her phone from her purse as her granddaughter continued to pet the cat. “Jim. It’s me. How would you like to give an abandoned cat a new home?”

I wrote this for week #42 of Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 176.

I admit that the photo didn’t immediately inspire a pulse-pounding, dynamic tale of action and adventure, but I remembered my wife telling me that she took our granddaughter to a local gardening and feed store the other day, and they did have a cat there needing a new home. On a separate occasion, I’ve visited another branch of the same store and saw chicks in a heated case, so I put the two events together.

And no, we didn’t adopt the cat. I made that part up.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com. As of this writing, I’m the first to contribute, so please consider adding your own wee tale.

Thanks.

Brothers

flagon

Found at “The Flagon” twitter account

“One for sorrow, two for mirth.” Tom raised his flagon of ale at the bar, smiling at his brother.

“Aye, brother. Here’s to mirth.” Chris raised his as well and clumsily pressed the two together. Then they both drained their drinks by half and slammed them down on the counter before them.

Tom leaned over and hugged his elder sibling. I’ve missed you, Chris. You don’t know how boring things are when you’re not around.”

Chris broke from the clinch and patted Tom on both shoulders. “I must admit the same. Life just isn’t as much fun when you’re not with me. Whoa.” The large blond had to grab the edge of the bar to keep from teetering off his stool.

“Had one ale too many, eh, brother?” Tom took another drink, but just a sip.

“Not at all, Tom. The stool must be faulty. Here. Another toast. To family.” He again lifted his flagon.

“Yes, dear brother. Family.” Tapping their containers together, they both took another long swallow. Then setting his drink down, Tom said, “Of course, there isn’t much family left. Our father…”

“Yes, the dear departed. I miss him a great deal.”

“In spite of the lies he told?”

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The Last Hrtedyp

fall

© Sue Vincent

There were tears in seventeen-year-old Latoya Kelly’s eyes as she hiked toward the small waterfall and realized this would be her last Hrtedyp. It was always held on the first full day after the Fall Equinox, precisely at 4:33 p.m. She had only been five when she had her first Hrtedyp, and that had been by accident. She had been camping with her parents and grandparents, and the tiny child wandered off. She had been lost, and hungry, and scared, but by the time Daddy found her, she was full of Bueno Nacho, Everlasting Gobstopper, and was laughing and singing in a language nobody knew anything about. She tried to tell Mommy and Daddy about the Hrtedyp, but they thought she’d fallen asleep and had a dream.

Every year, they’d camp in the same place to welcome autumn, but she hadn’t been able to sneak away again to attend the Hrtedyp until she was eight. Then, she always made an excuse, year after year, to go on a hike alone, always from just before four until right after sunset.

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What’s Important

baby

© James Pyles

I’ve been thinking about what is and isn’t important lately. Yes, there are a lot of arguments on the web positing this cause or that as important, and the authors declaring anyone who isn’t wildly enthusiastic, embracing, and endorsing of their project as horrible, terrible human beings.

Oh well.

I admit to being caught up in all that from time to time…okay, most of the time, but then I stop and realize that for the sake of my emotional and mental health, I can’t let other people or groups wind me up like I’m their toy doll. For instance, occasionally, I’ll get a troll in my one of my social media feeds attempting to rile me, but when I confront him, he denies it, saying he was just trying to understand my position more.

So it goes. Most of the time, I don’t even respond to him. His presence is almost always one where I can predict what he’ll say and even on which of my posts he’ll respond. A few others like him who used to do something similar, while remaining my Facebook “friends” or following me on twitter, otherwise are absent, but I must admit, I have also “muted” them as well, again because I don’t need the aggravation (and now that I’ve satisfied the requirements of Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie’s Opposing Forces challenge, on with the show).

So what is important? Lots of things, but I’m going to focus on my three-year-old granddaughter. My son and his ex are divorced and one week the kids stay with their Mom, while the opposing week they stay with their Dad (and with us much of the time).

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The Loneliness Disease

grandpa

From the March/April 2014 issue of Discern – No photo credit provided

Charles felt his forehead calescent and damp. Struggling to free himself from the comfort of his bed sheets, he staggered to the window. Pulling open the blinds, he unlatched and then lifted the frame, letting the cool morning breeze into his bedroom.

A violent paroxysm of tremors accompanied by dizziness seized him, forcing the older man to kneel on the carpet, resting his head on the window sill.

After a few minutes, he felt his temperature go down a bit, and he risked trying to stand. Hesitantly, he made his way into the kitchen and put the tea kettle on. As the water heated, he opened his back door and several more windows attempting to cool his stiflingly warm house.

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