The Wishing Tree

wishing tree

© Sue Vincent

Little Mari, a year younger than five-year-old Zooey Davidson, took her by the hand as they ran toward the wishing tree. In their free hands, they each held a colorful cloth provided by Tala, who looked like she could be Mari’s teenage sister but wasn’t.

“Danilo helped me put my first one up. Now I’ll help you.”

“Did your brother tell you what it is?”

“Of course. It’s a wishing tree.”

“What do you wish for?”

“Anything you want.”

“Can I wish to go home?”

“I don’t know. A lot of the kids don’t want to go home.”

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One Last Hill

uphill

MorgueFile April b5afa0fad12c0fc6b1d0bf8cc983d6e4

The hill seemed to get steeper everyday, but then, it really wasn’t the hill, it was him. He was getting older, always older, each and every day. He couldn’t remember the last time he could actually ride his bicycle up the hill on his way home. Was it last year? No, maybe it was five years ago? How old was he? It didn’t matter.

“Half way up.” He huffed and puffed. He got out of breath more easily these days, and he was just pushing a bike up a hill. “Have to make it home.” Home was at the top of the hill. If he could get there again, he’d be safe.

“Wait. Need rest.” He leaned against the wall. The old man couldn’t breathe and there was a terrible weight on his chest.

Then he was six years old again and racing his bike up the hill with his mates Jerry, Tommy, and Little Sam. They were all laughing and zipping between the parked cars. He made it. He was home. He was free.

I wrote this for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner challenge for 2018, Week #22. Once again, the idea is to use the image above as a prompt to create a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 175.

I couldn’t read the sign in the photo, even magnifying the image, so I couldn’t use that to influence my writing. Instead, I concentrated on the (presumably) old man pushing his bicycle up the hill. I let my mind drift and this tale is the result.

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

As always, you are invited to contribute a wee tale to this linkup.

The Non-Memorial

Berlin Holocaust Memorial

Berlin’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Credit: Getty Images

“I don’t get it, Sheldon. What’s the big deal? It’s just a bunch of blocks.”

“Great place to party, though. It’s like a maze in there, Linda. Get a bunch of people together, bring some weed, and no one can find you.”

“We didn’t come here to party, Sheldon. We’re touring Holocaust Memorials in Europe this summer. But this one in Berlin doesn’t even vaguely mention Shoah.”

“Quit living in the past, Linda. Loosen up.”

The young girl looked down at her shoes, fighting back the tears. “I can’t”. Her Bubbe died just four months ago. Linda could still hear her voice singing her to sleep when she was little. The image of the tattoo on Bubbe’s arm, the one the Nazis gave her when she was a girl, never left her.

Linda looked up and in the distance to their right, she saw a group of young Neo-Nazis laughing.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw photo writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image as an inspiration to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150. Today’s challenge takes us to the city of Berlin.

This news article at Haaretz explains the controversial history of the Berlin Holocaust Memorial, so I won’t include the details here, except to say that we must never forget Shoah and we have a duty to not only remember the past but to make sure we never repeat it.

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

The Funny Looking Bird

eagle

© A Mixed Bag 2012

Generalissimo Ramon Carlos DeLaVega, his revolution successful and his dictatorship now well established, ordered his family symbol placed upon all government buildings to inspire the public’s fear and awe of him.

The largest one was placed on the wall over the main gates to his compound. He had lights and cameras positioned to record how everyone reacted when seeing the powerful avian predator.

“Why are they laughing?” DeLaVega asked the same question day after day as he reviewed the morning videos showing the children walking to school. They would all stop in front of the gates, point up, and laugh, then gleefully skip along.

Unfortunately, Generalissimo DeLaVega’s family symbol bore a striking resemblance to the muppet Sam the Eagle. The children loved muppets.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction – June 18th 2017 writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 123.

Yes, the first thing I thought of when I saw the photo was the muppet character Sam the Eagle.

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

sam the eagle

Found at muppet.wikia.com

The Hunter Goes North

portal, nd

© Google 2014

There’s not much in Portal, North Dakota. The population is a little over a hundred, but it’s one of three ports of entry from Canada. It’s also in the Bakken Oil Field region, which makes it expensive as hell to live here. Fortunately, I’m only visiting.

I found his hiding place in an oversized load on the back of a flatbed on Railway Avenue. It’s just after dawn, so I know it’s safe to approach him. His wealthy mother hired me to find him after she discovered what happened. Being a vampire hunter isn’t much different from being a private eye, except the weapons are different. I’ll dispatch him, provide photographic proof for my client, collect a nice fat fee, and remind myself that I’m also doing a public service taking another bloodsucker off the streets.

I wrote this for the “What Pegman Saw” photo prompt writing challenge, which this week takes us to Portal, North Dakota thanks to Google Maps street view.

The idea is to use the photo as a prompt to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 137.

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

The Fall of the Saints

photo prompt

© A Mixed Bag

The Milan Cathedral, a once majestic landmark, was in ruins. He never thought to visit this ancient structure, anathema to his own nature, an artifact to a once vast empire. He looked up at the Saint and the Priest. The Priest was struggling to keep the Saint integrated, but his powers were weakening, his prayers growing more faint each second. He was the last Priest. The revolution had effectively crushed their dominance. She was the last Saint, and the reluctant Magician’s target. He had no wish to harm her, but their hold on the world must be completely broken.

He began his magical rite to the horror of the Priest. An unexpected look of serenity appeared on the Saint’s visage. She knew her time was done.

The spell completed, the Priest collapsed, exhausted, and the Saint vanished from her holy vestibule in the cathedral. With her passing, so did the age of religion pass. It had taken Prospero long centuries to accomplish his task, but he had finally restored the age of mysticism across the world. Now his daughter Miranda would be free of Sainthood and return to rule as the Duchess of Milan.

This tale was written in response to the Sunday Photo Fiction – March 19th 2017 challenge hosted by Al Forbes. The idea is to use the photo prompt above to write a short piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words. Mine comes in at 194, and I confess, it was only around 140 words in its first draft. I was delighted to discover I had more “room” to add details to my mythic story.

The minute I saw the photo prompt, something reminded me of William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest”. I’ve never seen it performed or read it, but there was an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation which began with the character Data (played by Brent Spiner) performing in the play on the holodeck as the character Prospero. Data, being a very literal person, had trouble understanding the character and Shakespeare’s symbolism. Captain Picard (played by Patrick Stewart), explained it this way:

“Well, Data, Shakespeare was witnessing the end of the Renaissance and the birth of the modern era, and Prospero finds himself in a world where his powers are no longer needed. So, we see him here about to perform one final creative act before giving up his art forever.”

I thought it would be interesting to reverse things, and have the modern era and the church attempting to perform its one last creative act in the face of Prospero, who was determined to end its reign. In the play, Miranda is Prospero’s daughter, and in addition to being a magician, Prospero is the Duke of Milan. In the play, he was attempting to restore his daughter to her rightful place. In my story, he succeeds.

To read more stories inspired by this prompt, to go InLinkz.com.

The Old Astronaut

spacesuit

© A Mixed Bag 2012

I finally made it. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Never thought I’d get the chance to visit. I always wanted to see all these exhibits. I spent my childhood, my whole life really, admiring astronauts and their accomplishments. I used to spend hours pretending I was wearing a spacesuit, just like the one I’m standing in front of now.

It doesn’t look as impressive in real life, but then, it’s just an empty suit. What makes spacesuits heroic are the men and women who’ve worn them, who were blasted into space, who walked on the Moon. I was in high school when Neil Armstrong wore this suit and declared, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

I wish I could have had my shot at even sub-orbital space. I can afford a tourist’s ride on SpaceX now, but I’m too old.

My grandson’s not, though. Next month he and five other astronauts will be launched from the Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station, and from there, they’ll board the Ares One spaceship to Mars. I’ve got my shot into space because my grandson will always be in my heart. Thank you, boy.

I’m writing this in response to the Sunday Photo Fiction – March 12th 2017 hosted by Al Forbes. The idea is for authors to use the photo prompt above to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words. My story is exactly 200 words long.

Oh, I really did grow up with the NASA manned space missions, from Mercury, to Gemini, to Apollo, and beyond. I even got a chance to see and touch (I wasn’t supposed to touch it) one of the Apollo command modules once, although I’ve never been to the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum (I wish). I’ll never go into space, but my grandchildren’s generation will. To the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

To read other tales based on the photo, go to InLinkz.com.

The Lost Steinway

piano

© Mike Vore

Of all places, she found it in the first floor public men’s room in a deserted hotel in upstate New York. It was Monday, September 2, 1985, 4:35 a.m. In less than two hours, the demolition crew would be here to level the place. They would have destroyed this priceless treasure.

NaCumbea placed her hand gently on the tarp covering the old Steinway. “I know a couple who would love to take care of you, beautiful.”

She expanded the field radius of her time jump suit to include the piano and set her coordinates for the distant future in a parallel quantum reality. Wyatt Ellison and Josue Hunter were protectors of rare historical artifacts. NaCumbea knew they’d take good care of the last piano Bill Evans played before he died.

It didn’t exist in their reality, but it did in hers, so she agreed to find it for them. After all, she owed them one.

I’m probably cheating a bit since these flash fiction stories are supposed to be stand-alones, but I couldn’t help leveraging not only my Martin Fields and NaCumbea time travel stories, but also a separate series involving the characters Wyatt Ellison and Josue Hunter, who I also referenced in my recent story Unraveling.

The photo prompt is from FFfAW Challenge-Week of March 07, 2017 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the prompt above to create a story between 100 and 175 words, with 150 being the ideal target. My story is 156 words long.

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

The Listener

clouds

© Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

I always feel better when I talk to you. I don’t know what’s kept me away so long. Well, I guess I do. The same things in my life that I should bring me closer to you. My worries, job pressure, my son’s relationship with that horrible woman, all the things I am absolutely powerless to change.

I guess it was looking up, seeing the sunlight filtered through the clouds, it reminded me of you, reminded me we haven’t talked in a long time.

I’m back, God. I need you to listen. I need your mercy. We all do.

Written in response to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ writing challenge. Based on the photo above, the author is supposed to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. Mine came in at 99.

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

A Kindred Spirit on the Farm

calf

© majesticgoldenrose

The little boy approached the calf timidly. Grandpa thought little Teddy would enjoy visiting the farm. He’d lived in Seattle all his life and this was his first trip to Idaho. He’d be here all summer long before having to return to his Dad.

“It’s okay, boy.” Grandpa crouched down beside the child. He won’t hurt you. Go ahead and pet his nose.”

Teddy walked forward. He looked back at his Grandpa, who smiled and nodded reassuringly. Then the boy slowly reached out to the calf, which obediently let the child rub the fur above his nose. Teddy smiled for the first time in months, and then giggled.

Now maybe the healing could begin. The calf knew what it was to lose a mother, too.

Written in response to the FFfAW Challenge-Week of February 28, 2017 hosted by Priceless Joy. The challenge is to use the photo prompt above to write a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words, with a word count of 150 being ideal. My story came in at exactly 125 words.

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