Far From The One You Love

collage

Collage – no image credit given

“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place, like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and place because you’ll never be this way ever again.” -Azar Nafisi

“You said that to me right before I moved away.” Alex remembered looking into sixteen-year-old Victoria’s pale blue eyes as they teared up just moments before he left her.

“Is it happening? Are you changing?”

“A little, but then it’s hard to notice because nothing’s the same as back home. What about you? Are you any different?”

“Not really.”

“Have you changed your hair?”

“Nope. Still pink pigtails still bunched up in groups. I am wearing big, spiral earrings now instead of tiny pink shells.”

“But I liked those shells, particularly the blood-red arrows painted on each one. They went so well with the blue flowers woven in your hair.”

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The Last Frontier

forest

© Sue Vincent

“What am I doing here? I wanted to get away from it all, but the smoke’s even worse here.” Gary Flowers didn’t hike often anymore, but life in the city and suburbs had been wearing him down over the last decade or so. Married, three children, two grandchildren, divorced, semi-retired, he had in his grasp what people used to refer to as the American dream. Of course, all those who didn’t have the opportunity to seize that dream resented people like him, or maybe they just weren’t in the right place in history he had been when he was up and coming.

Yes, he had grasped the American dream, but then slowly let it slip away. Life had become dull and meaningless. His children were grown and didn’t need him anymore, and besides his grandchildren, he couldn’t say that anything mattered to him these days.

And every summer there were these fires. The governor blamed global warming and the utilities company, and the news agencies blamed the governor’s poor wildfire planning, and his emphasis on social reforms over thinning the overgrown forests.

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For Bubbe

bakery

Daria Shevtsova pexels-photo-1070945

Faye Ballard chained her bicycle to the post and dashed inside just in time for class.

“Ah, Faye. Glad you could join us.” Their teacher Jeremiah Lamb wasn’t the most patient person, but he knew baking like Michelangelo knew painting.

“Yes, Mr. Lamb. Thank you.” She quickly put on her apron and stood with the other students waiting for today’s demonstration. This was the day she had been waiting for, the one that made her sign up for class in the first place.

“Today, students, we are going to learn how to make a classic bagel. The lox is extra of course, but I’ve plenty of fresh salmon available so we can add some flair to all of our brilliant creations. I start with one-half cup of warm water…”

Under her breath, Faye muttered, “This one’s for you, Bubbe.”

Her dearest grandmother turned 86 last week. She was in an assisted living home now, her memory not being too good. All Faye’s life, Bubbe had baked her the most wonderful bagels. She couldn’t anymore, so it was Faye’s turn to treat her. Bubbe kept saying she wished she could have a good bagel with lox and cream cheese again.

I wrote this for week 33 of the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner challenge. The idea is to use the image above to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 198.

My wife is Jewish and our grandchildren call her Bubbe, which means “Grandma” in Yiddish. My Mom is 86 and does have short-term memory loss, and although she’s not Jewish, I think its important for her grandkids to give something back to her as well.

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

As I write this, I’m only the second contributor to this link up, so please consider adding a story of your own. Thanks.

Averie

woman in red

© Anka Zhuravleva

Averie lived in her own little world. I mean, a lot of people are introspective and seem to exist in their personal bubbles, but for Averie, it was the literal truth.

Everyone could see her, but the ordinary human brain couldn’t process her specialness, so they didn’t notice her that much. Averie didn’t often notice other people because, well…they were ordinary.

She didn’t really need a bicycle to get around, but occasionally she indulged herself. A bicycle here, the underground there, a bus, a trolley, it was all the same to her.

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Pushing Back Darkness

light and darkness

© Silvia Grav

“A little bit of light pushes away a lot of darkness.” -Jewish proverb

Racquel always felt nauseous when she tasted darkness. Other people think the dark is quiet, serene, and cool, like a summer’s evening, but it was really bitter, hot, and moist like a swamp, and tiny, beastly things swarmed unseen in the ebony abyss. If she wasn’t careful, she could swallow them, and even one would torment her for days before being eliminated into the toilet.

She wasn’t always like this. It used to be that light was light and dark was dark. The sun rose, she turned on a lamp, she walked into her office building, there was always light. Then the sun set, she left work, went home, went to bed, and turned off the lamp on her night stand. Then it was dark. There was no good or bad to it.

But then things changed.

“If you don’t learn to turn off the lights, our power bill will be through the roof.”

“Shut up, Jason. Shut up, shut up, shut up!” She wanted to scream at him but she never did. Racquel passively nodded her head, and holding back her tears, she’d turn off the lights, one by one, and go to bed. She hadn’t been afraid of the dark since she was very little. Why was she afraid of it now?

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The Girl Who Liked Pteranodons

turu

Title card for the 1964 episode of Jonny Quest, “Turu the Terrible”

“Grandpa, I want to color.” The almost three-year-old girl showed the new box of crayons to the old man.

“But I thought you said you wanted to go to the park after dinner.”

Her blue eyes brightened. “I go to the park.” She dropped the box on the floor and went hunting for her shoes.

“Hey, wait a minute, Danni. Can you put the crayons away?”

She stopped in mid-stride, anticipating her liberty, wheeled around and ran back. “Oh yeah.”

They left by the side door, and she spent several minutes examining the air conditioner before being escorted by her Grandpa out the gate and to the sidewalk.

As the luminous ball of gas lighting the world slid slowly toward the western horizon, he watched her play on slides, climb ladders, and try to imitate a much older girl who was hanging upside down from the bars. Danni didn’t get very far, but she had a lot of fun introducing Regan to her Grandpa.

That night, after the child had brushed her teeth and put on her pajamas, the old man and the little girl shared one of his fondest memories from childhood on DVD; a couple of episodes of Jonny Quest. She really liked the show with the Pteranodon.

I wrote this for the Saturday Mix writing challenge at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. The idea is to take five words and use their synonyms in the body of a story. The original words are:

  1. paint
  2. release
  3. fan
  4. light
  5. clothes

I’ve bolded the synonyms I used in my tale to make them easier to spot.

I thought about the angst I expressed yesterday over what has been perceived as bigotry and prejudice against politically and socially conservative writers by the mainstream science fiction and fantasy industry, and after a lot of thought, and then writing another piece fo flash fiction this morning called The Unknown Children, I realized the world had much bigger problems for me to be concerned about.

The story above is a compressed version of how I spent yesterday afternoon and evening with my granddaughter. Yes, she really likes the old 1964 animated TV series Jonny Quest, which I watched when I was young, and especially one called Turu the Terrible.

If anyone wants to judge me, fairly or otherwise, they can judge me by what I write and by my humanity and compassion, and if I’m still not good enough, then I’d say they have a much bigger problem than I’ll ever have.

Whatever Happened to Eva?

lover

Lover and the wild @ deviantart

Eva had lost count of how many men she’d slept with, but then this was never about keeping score. She rarely encountered Asmodius, her own seducer, the master incubus who launched her on this sad and lonely path of revenge, since she had fallen so deep into her own abyss, she required little encouragement to continue the descent.

She didn’t travel alone, however. There were a trail of formerly virtuous, noble, and even holy men left in her wake, spiraling down into Hell with her. She never felt sorry for them, no matter how piteously they pleaded with her, how they would lose everything, their wives, their children, their careers. It didn’t matter.

The seductress wasn’t responsible for them falling into her trap, only for setting herself out as the bait. She was the temptation, but the sins were on them.

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Koi no Yokan

man on beach

Man on a beach – free stock photo

The sky was a brilliant cyan when she first saw him on the beach. He was staring out at the ocean as if witnessing a tragedy and in spite of her vow of utter celibacy, she experienced an overwhelming sense of Koi no Yokan. Whispering a curse and then immediately regretting it, Merilyn continued her run across the shoreline leaving the solitary young man behind.

The hostel was serving thin Miso soup and fish again that evening when he walked in. Merilyn tried not to roll her eyes as Donn, at the head of the table, was again vaunting about his prowess with the Shinai and how he was sure to win the Kendo games which would begin the next week. They heard a noise at the door and she recognized the man from the beach standing at the threshold. Tradition demanded that even an ego as big as Donn’s cease pontificating so they could greet the visitor.

They each in turn stood and bowed to the stranger, introducing themselves and welcoming him to the competitor’s hostel. He bowed in return in a gradual manner which she would learn was his way in social settings, though most certainly not during battle.

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My Memories Are In The Water

in the water

© Enisa

“You say your Dad used to bring you here all the time, Keith?”

“Yeah. There’s some great fishing in the lake about a mile north, Jerry. The old man loved fishing. I went because I loved him.”

“Lucky you. I was grateful when my Dad would take me to the neighborhood playground. We never hit it off like you and your Dad.”

Jerry glanced over at his newly wedded husband and saw “that look.” “You dreamed about him again last night, didn’t you?”

Keith looked down at the flat stones in the shallow water all around him remembering. Dad taught him how to skip rocks across the pond when he was seven. “Yeah. He was standing in our bedroom door asking how we were doing.”

“I’m sorry. I know you were really close.”

“I just wish I’d have come out to him before he died. I thought we had more time.”

“He wouldn’t have been like my Dad, Keith. You know that.”

“I know. I mean I know now. I really do miss him.”

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge for the Week of February 20, 2018. The idea is to use the image at the top to inspire creating a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 174.

I had a completely different story in mind until I saw the second figure on the left. Then I was stuck.

I had a dream within a dream last night (very rare for me). I dreamed I was dreaming about my Dad. He died last April and my wife just helped my Mom move into a senior care center. The missus brought back some of Dad’s jackets, hats, and stuff including a pair of Air Force flight gloves. He had a bunch of them going all the way back to when I was a kid.

Anyway, two guys in a pond in summer. I put it all together and came up with the story you just read. No, I’m not gay, but my Dad did die suddenly and you always wonder what you would have said or done differently if you have more time before the end.

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

Transience

joy

Image of euphoria

Kimbra was singing in her heart as she executed a series of flawless pirouettes. “We’re going to get married!”

She never thought Sebastian would ask her given the circumstances, and knowing he was a traditionalist, she was determined not to ask him.

But he did, he did, he did and she was walking on air and sunshine and then doing cartwheels. Kimbra had to stop because the crowds at the Village were getting too thick. She skipped and danced between the people, giggling and smiling at each of them, as if they were all the most wonderful human beings to grace the planet.

Sebastian was a total movie geek so the perfect place to have the wedding would be the Cinema. They didn’t have a large hall, just smaller party rooms, but they wouldn’t invite many guests. She still had to decide which of his three favorite movies they’d watch. None of them were romantic comedies which would make it tough, but she didn’t care if he wanted to watch Jaws as long as they watched it together on their wedding day.

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