The Last Time

Good day, everyone.

I meant to share this earlier this week, but got busy.

Anyway, last week, the Flash Fiction Hive brought back a favorite: write a scene or story inspired by a song. This time, I decided to take a song from one of my favorite singers, Vanessa Williams. And I actually combined it with a photo prompt a friend posted on Twitter.

Hope you enjoy it.

Rae tipped the taxi driver who stopped in front of her apartment. She sat down on the stairs, slowly unwinding from an unrelenting day of classes. But it wasn’t the classes that exasperated her. It was her ex, Tyler Westwood. He surprised her after her Applied Spanish class, wrapping his strapping arms around her slender body. For a moment, she was taken aback, longing for someone who could fill the emptiness he left behind. But she quickly shook herself free from his grasp. She fled from him without explanation. But it wouldn’t be the last she saw of him. Anytime she was alone, Tyler was there as if he knew where she would be. That was the kind of relationship they had. They would date, then break up and find themselves with someone else. And, like clockwork, they would break up with their partner at the same time, and end up in each other’s arms. It went on like this for three years. Tyler counted it as mere coincidence. Rae was more skeptical. She believed someone was feeding him information about her relationships and eventual breakups.

Rae watched the streetlights flicker and hum. She climbed up the stairs when she heard a car pulling up to the side. An ‘87 cherry red Trans Am. She ran into her apartment and locked the door. Peeking into the peephole, she feared the worst. But she heard nothing. Not the slamming of the car door. Not the brisk steps up to her room. Not the repetitive knocking pattern. Nothing. But she stood against the door, gazing into the hallway. She waited three minutes, keeping her breathing low. She breathed a sigh of relief and walked to her bedroom to change.

A bowl of leftover fried rice, her Seattle mug half-full of coffee, her backpack, and a stack of books were sprawl out across her coffee table. In one hand, she ran her highlighter across her notebook. In the other hand, she scooped up her dinner. A knock on her door broke her concentration. She stood up, shaking her legs to get feeling back in her feet. She peeled into the hallway. In front of her door stood Tyler with his shiny bald head and dressed as if he finished jogging.

“Go away,” Rae yelled, “I’m busy.”

But Tyler stood firm like a statue with his hands in his pockets.

“I just have to say something right quick. It won’t take long, I promise.”

Rae doubted his sincerity, but she opened the door and stood in the doorway. Her mahogany eyes skimmed the man who broke her heart many times before. Even with the intention that she wanted nothing more to do with him, there was a faint sparkle.

“Go ahead. Say it.”

Tyler removed his hands from his pockets, lying limp on his sides.

“Okay. I get that you just want to be friends, but I can’t do that. We have too much history, you and I. We’ve been there for each other, thick and thin.”

That much was true. As much as she hated to admit it, Rae couldn’t deny Tyler was the one person she could always turn to when even her girlfriends let her down.

“That’s why I can’t be just friends. I love you too much.”

Rae crossed her arms.

“Is that it?” she snapped. “All you wanted to say is that we should get back together?”

She huffed and closed her door, but he stuck his hand out to block it. Rae looked back to see her ex enter her apartment.

“This can’t happen anymore, Ty. We can’t get back together. We tried I don’t know how many times and it ends up the same way. We hook up. We fight. We break up and find someone else. We can’t keep doing this.”

Her disdain was only matched by her the tenseness in her body. Tyler slowly approached her, but she backed away with every step he took. Soon she was against the wall, her body coiling up as he stood within inches of her, breathing down her neck. But then, he backed away.

“You’re right. This can’t happen. It can only lead to disaster. But I wanted to say I’m sorry.”

Rae felt the blood coursing freely throughout her body. Her muscles became loose. The veins in her neck subdued. She stared at him wondering what made him change all of a sudden.

“I’ll leave. Sorry.”

Tyler shut the door behind him, leaving Rae puzzled. She lingered on his words, then thought, “Damn it.” She ran into the hallway, trying to catch a glimpse of him before he was out of sight. She ran down the stairs and flung the doors open. Rae saw him about to get in his car.

“Tyler!” she cried. She raced across the street toward him, wrapped her silky arms around his bulging neck and locked lips with his. She closed her eyes as flashes of the good times they shared popped into her mind. When she stopped, she brushed her honey blond hair behind her ear.

“I suppose we could try one last time. But this is the last time. I’m serious.”

Tyler smiled and they locked their lips yet again. If it was the last time, they were going to make sure it was the most memorable last time.


One Up

Good morning.

I haven’t written a story going into this post. I struggled with finding a good premise. I made a call out to all my writing friends on Facebook and Twitter for writing prompts. I got some good ones and did some stream-of-consciousness sessions, blurting out what came to me on paper. Meanwhile, one of my friends tweeted me a link to Chuck Wendig’s blog, Terrible Minds, where he challenges writers to come up a 1000-word short story using prompts he created. Continue reading “One Up”

Why Me?

Two things with this story. One, I got inspired by all the illnesses going on this season, especially with my family (sorry, guys). Two, in my attempt to kill my perfectionism (hint, hint), I took on an exercise from The Write Practice to write a 500-word story as is. In other words, write a story that’s not perfect from the get-go. So even though this will probably be a choppy draft, I have to say I’m pleased with how it turned out. Continue reading “Why Me?”

Rainbow Soup

Hi there.

I was working out the details of my main short story when I read an email from Poets and Writers. Long story short, it was about soup. Kind of fitting because a lot of people have had bouts with the flu. There are a couple of different ways to write about soup. I thought I’d share my take on the prompt. Enjoy.

Quinton always knew that Mason would be a chef. Ever since he was eight, he devoured everything put on his plate. Didn’t matter if it was meatloaf or spinach or fish sticks. Continue reading “Rainbow Soup”

The Stranger

Interesting tidbit about this flash fiction piece. I got the idea from a prompt I found on Pinterest. It was originally going to be a scene for a short story, but I couldn’t get the story to work. I wanted some sci-fi elements into it, but I couldn’t pull it off. I deleted the prompt from my board, but the idea stuck with me afterwards. So I decided to rework it as a flash fiction piece. It may not have the sci-fi element I wanted, but I felt proud seeing this story to the end. Enjoy. Continue reading “The Stranger”

Harvesting Childhood

I must give thanks to Rachel Poli for providing the prompt, Apples and Pumpkins. I’ve wanted to write a story based on one of her prompts for a while, but didn’t find one that fit my style until now. And seeing how I love the Fall season, I find this story fitting. Hope you enjoy. 

Ridgeway Farms is possessed. At least that’s what Mr. Ridgeway tells us. As he drives the tractor, he speaks about how the farm was built on old cemetery grounds, and yet, the crops flourish. Especially the Apple and pumpkin crops. He says around the fall, The apples and pumpkins spring to life while everything else withers and dies. He speaks about the summer of ‘76, when a big fire scorched the grounds. But somehow, the apple trees and pumpkins continued to grow. I chalk it up to dumb luck. He and Mrs. Ridgeway believe otherwise.

Mr. Ridgeway pulls the tractor up to the barn. My sons, Keith and Alex, and I jump out of the car. They circle around me, chasing each other and fighting over God knows what. I snatch them both by their arms. 

“Did you boys listen to anything that nice farmer was saying?”

The boys look at me with shaking eyes. They shrug. I don’t mean to be harsh, but trying to connect with them is like trying to squeeze the last drops of soap out of a bottle. You try and try until ultimately, you throw the bottle away. 

“Go. Go play.”

My boys scuttle along. All I can do is watch and wonder why I bother trying to reach out to them. Things haven’t been the same since Carrie finalized our divorce. I see them every third weekend. It was her that suggested taking them to Mr. Ridgeway’s farm. She says all I do with sit on my butt and ignore the boys. “Going to the farm will be good for all of you,” she says. I doubted it, but went along with her idea.

The boys run to the pumpkin patch. Mr. Ridgeway stands with his hands tucked in his overalls, smiling all the while. He tells them to pick one pumpkin to take home with them. Mrs. Ridgeway watches them while he and I take a break inside. He pours me a glass of his cold homemade cider. Carrie told me his cider is better than anything Starbucks will ever make. He hands me a stick of cinnamon and I dip it in the glass. 

“Let it soak for a moment,” he says. I watch the kids out the window chase each other. I recollect the days working on my grandfather’s farm. I was eight when my parents divorced. I remember Aaron and me staying with him every weekend throughout the summer. He wasted no time putting us to work. Aaron got the easy job watering the crops, while I had the arduous task of extracting weeds. My hands aches for hours and I think I stretched out my back on a few occasions. I didn’t understand why Grandfather made us work so hard. All we wanted to do was play. And whenever we complained, Grandfather always said the same thing.

“I’m teaching you youngens the value of hard work. Believe me, you’ll thank me when I’m gone.”

That was twenty years ago. I turn to Ridgeway. He cradles the mason jar like a child. The sunlight kisses the snowy beard on his wrinkled face. Something inside me wonders why. 

“I wish my kids would come to visit more often and bring my grandkids. They’re missing out on a lot.”

I don’t know what to say, so I nod. 

“Kids these days,” he grumbles. “All they do is sit and stare at a small screen. It’s like they don’t care about the world around them.”

As he speaks, I can’t help but to think about Grandfather’s words. All I wanted to do was play. I wanted to be a kid, but I didn’t have that luxury. I look down at my steeping cider, I think about my boys. I wish they’d take things more seriously. I wish they’d understood the world is not going to hand things to them for free. That I or Carrie are not going to be there for them all the time.

“…but I wish I wasn’t so hard on them,” Mr. Ridgeway says. “I wish I would have let them be kids. Maybe then, they would want to see us more.”

He looks up and I see a glimmer in his eye. I flash a smirk and take a sip of the cider. As I take in the sights of play, I feel a surge of sweetness and tartness down my throat. I feel the bite of the cinnamon. I can’t stop smiling. 

“What did I tell you?”

The screen door flings open. Mrs. Ridgeway pops out. 

“Carl, we need to go to the hospital right now.”

I rush out the house to the pumpkin patch. I see Keith hold his arm stiff. Alex stands over him, crying along with his brother. I kneel down. 

“What happened?”

“I’m not sure. I turned my back for a few seconds. Next thing I knew, the boys are crying.”

I look to the boys. Already I feel my blood heating up.

“What were you thinking? I told you you can’t run around like that.”

I feel a hand on my shoulders.

“It’ll be okay, James. Accidents happen. We’ll get them taken care of.”

The laser stare tapers. My tense body relaxes. I reach for my boys and hug them. 

“I’m sorry. I just don’t want you guys to get hurt. Your mom would freak out if anything happened to you two.”

I hear the car pull up just as the sun begins to descend. I carry Keith to the car with Alex following close by. I strap him in, making sure his arm is not caught up. I sit beside him and Alex scoots beside me. We fasten our seat belts as Mr. Ridgeway closes the door behind us. Once everyone is in, we move. The car shakes as we travel down the bumpy dirt road. I see the innocence in my boys. I smile as I embrace them. It’s in this moment that I decide to release the leash. I can’t hold onto them forever, but I can love them forever.