Thanksgiving

© Sue Vincent

Twenty-eight-year-old Lance Cain watched as Tamara’s ashes floated away over the small waterfall and down the frigid stream. As a veteran of the Talsan War and one of the few survivors of the Prog Lozab campaign, he had long since learned how not to cry, regardless of how harshly his emotions were twisting in his chest.

But somewhere inside the hardened fighter pilot, a little six-year-old boy was sobbing. That’s how old he was when his Mom died pulling him out of the fire that took his two brothers and three sisters. That was the day he swore no one else would die because of him.

The day he graduated officer’s training (and at the memory, he had to bite down on the inside of both of his cheeks, since Tamara was standing beside him at the ceremony), he not only took an oath to defend the Republic, but to defeat the alien horde that had sworn to eradicate humanity from existence, including his beloved fiancee Miranda, the girl he left behind on their homeworld of Senegale.

“Hey, Dancer. I don’t mean to interrupt, but we’ve got to get going. The sun’s setting, and in an hour it’ll be ten below.”

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It’s Not a Scarecrow

scarecrow

© Anurag Bakhshi

“You know, I don’t think the flower bed is in danger from crows, Lindsey.” Kurt stood with his six-year-old daughter admiring their handiwork.

“I know that, Daddy. I just thought the flowers could use some company when we’re not around.” She stood, hands on hips, pride written all over her face.

“Well, you sure made good use of those old clothes we were going to donate to the thrift store.”

When she didn’t answer, he looked down and saw tears in her eyes. Kneeling, he put his arms around her and Lindsey held onto him tightly. “I know you miss her.”

“Why did Grandma have to die?”

“That’s why you wanted to make this, didn’t you? So we wouldn’t give away her clothes.”

“I miss her.”

“It’s okay. I miss her, too. We’ll keep anything of hers you want. I promise.”

I wrote this for the August 19th edition of Sunday Photo Fiction. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 141. I know. I usually push the word count to the limit, but I didn’t need so many this time around.

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

Fairy Dust

stacks

© Sandra Crook

He had let the garden go after she died. Erin was six when she was hit and killed in a crosswalk. She believed fairies sprinkled magic dust on the plants to make them grow.

After Jared and Paulette divorced, it had been just the two of them. Now he was alone in the backyard at night.

At first, he thought he was dreaming when he saw them. He walked closer to the stacks and got on his knees. They were little people with wings spreading dust. One came nearer, right up to his face. The little fairy smiled. “Hi, Daddy.”

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

My wife buys a lot of things at yard sales because they’re cheap. This includes a ton of children’s books for our three-year-old granddaughter. We have several books in the Pinkalicious series (no, I’m not kidding), and my granddaughter loves them.

In one of the books, Pinkalicious believes fairies come every night to sprinkle dust on their garden to make it grow, and she and her brother Peter, not only camp out in the backyard at night to see them, but build the fairies a pretty impressive little house.

That’s where I got my basic idea.

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

Bobbie Jo’s Comeuppance

fake prada

Found at vogue-element.cn

Bobbie Jo wouldn’t know class if it crawled into her knockoff Prada and went home with her. Of course, along with adopting ersatz haute couture, she made everyone call her Roberta after graduating from Einstein University in Sagan City. But a deal was a deal, and since her home colony world Drake had paid for her free ride tuition to Einstein, including passage to and from Epsilon Eridani, she was obligated to return to what she now called “a provincial backwater wasteland.”

“Welcome back, Bobbie Jo.” Omer Thorpe was the President and CEO of Biosynth, the world’s one and only bioengineering company, and they desperately needed skilled medical engineers. “I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.”

“I can’t say it’s good to be back Omer, but for the next ten years, I’m yours. Oh, and please call me Roberta.” They shook hands, and although the Grandfatherly man was impeccably clean, she still felt like she was touching something that came out of the rear end of a rat.

“Oh, you’re just spoiled by all that high life on Campbell. I hear Sagan City is quite a gem compared to any of our local communities.” He continued smiling and winked at her. He’d been teasing with Bobbie Jo ever since she was in pre-school. Everyone in Tysonville knew each other and always had since it was founded three generations ago.

“You have no idea.” She looked around the lobby, which was as bright and modern as the lobbies of any corporation she’d visited on Campbell, but after six years on the premier colony planet, coming back home was a major let down, coloring her every perception of life on the fourth planet orbiting Tau Ceti.

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Stones

park

© Michelle De Angelis.

The beautiful park, the gentle couple strolling just ahead of him, the cool of the summer evening only made a dull impression on him, all because her blood had added one more stain to his soul.

“She was only three years old, God. Why did that butcher have to murder her?”

Detective Keith Simmons was due to retire soon. This would be his last murder investigation and he thought he’d seen it all. Then he saw the blood and her torn, battered body.

He suppressed sorrow and summoned rage. Prison was too good for that scumbag. There was a better justice.

“Excuse me.” He looked up and saw one of the people who had been ahead of him. “I believe you could benefit from this.”

Keith mutely accepted the note she was holding. As she turned back and started walking with her companion again, he unfolded it and read, “The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them.”

Tomorrow, he’d visit the child’s family again. It was his first stepping stone.

I wrote this for the 172th FFfAW Challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for creating a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

Yesterday, I read a news account (actually several) about how a man with a knife attacked nine people, six of them children, at a girl’s third birthday party. The three year old died.

After reading it, I wrote my own commentary, feeling the hope being drained out of life because of such events.

Today, I’m trying to be a bit more optimistic and not let things like this defeat my spirit. It isn’t easy.

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

Is There a God in the Moon?

dark moon

Photo credit: Duks Visuals

Tristan Schaefer wasn’t sure if this was magic or just the drugs kicking in. Vixia’s single moon Tatis always seemed unusually large in the sky when it was full, especially compared to Earth’s, but now it was impossibly reflective, as if the forest were perfectly mirrored and inverted on its surface.

“Izola!” Where was she? His wife had been with him just a second ago, but she had vanished and so had their campsite.

The Ambia Country spiritual excursion was supposed to be the highlight of their tour of the colony planet. Only one person out of two who entered the park were allowed to inhale the Mist to seek out the Way, the conduit to the spirit realm. Izola was supposed to keep him rooted in the physical plane so he wouldn’t lose himself in the vision. She promised she would be with him every second, but it couldn’t have been more than fifteen minutes since he first inhaled the psychedelic they’d purchased with their tickets at the park entrance . Where could she have gone?

“Merhaba, Traveler.”

He’d been staring at a flight of birds crossing the gray and black moon and hadn’t noticed the man approach. He was an Indigenous. No one knew what they called themselves, and the colonists had to call them something.

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A Black Matter for the King

vietnam war

Found at the Vietnam War page at Archives.org

His smile was like some kind of magic, but that’s not why she chose to talk with him.

Natalie Sanders Pena sat next to the shy young Marine near Gate B14 at Denver International Airport. He was heading back to Pendleton after his leave, and was due to be deployed to Vietnam within the next two weeks. The airport PA system was issuing a seemingly endless stream of advisories, but someone nearby had a transistor radio playing the Beatles’s “Penny Lane.” She hadn’t heard that song in a long time, but for her newfound friend, it was practically brand new.

“You miss your wife and little girl already, don’t you?” She looked down at the photo of the young woman and four-year-old girl he was holding near his lap.

“Yeah, I guess I do.” His Kentucky accent was tremendously apparent, and it was one of the few things she remembered clearly about him from her childhood.

“That’s perfectly normal. I’m sure they miss you, too.”

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He’s Not Here Anymore

desert

© Jan Wayne Fields

“What did you hope to find after a year?”

The question was rhetorical or maybe self-indulgent. He was alone, unlike a year ago when they all gathered to scatter his Dad’s ashes over the land he loved so much. He thought about leaving another rose, but it would just wither and serve no one.

What then?

“Maybe this is all there is, Dad. Maybe it’s just you and me sitting together for a quiet hour, alone with each other.”

He listened to the wind and finally realized what it was telling him. His Dad wasn’t here anymore. He’d moved on.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields flash fiction writing challenge for April 27th (although the URL says May 11th). The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

My Dad died a year ago last week. The scene somewhat reminds me of Nevada where I grew up, and also of the area in Utah where my Dad liked to fish.

We actually put his ashes in a hole near his favorite high desert lake. Hardly a secluded spot, but then, it really wasn’t my choice. Thinking about going back produces an empty feeling. It’s just water, rock, sand, and sagebrush. Dad isn’t there anymore. His spirit has moved on.

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

No More Tears in Heaven

tears in heaven

Promotional art for Eric Clapton’s 1991 chart, “Tears in Heaven.”

“I don’t care what you do with it, I just want it gone,” Alex said, pointing at the dollhouse.

Beth was on her knees, her arms around Nicole’s favorite plaything. “Oh please, Alex. We gave it to her for her seventh birthday. She loved it more than anything else. Don’t make me throw it away.”

He stood defiantly at the threshold to Nicole’s bedroom. “Then give it away, a children’s hospital, the Goodwill, whatever, but I need it gone. I’m going to work now. When I get home, the dollhouse better not be here.” Then he spun and almost ran down the hall. He seemed so furious but Beth knew he was terrified. She should have been too, but she missed Nicole so much, she’d take her back anyway she came, even as a ghost.

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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.