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?”
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”
Since everyone is doing a Christmas story, I thought I’d do the same. Enjoy.
Marcus Tillman smiled as he observed Kathryn opening her locker from afar. Kathryn Flowers, with her golden locks and pearly symmetrical frame. It didn’t seem fair to everyone else. And yet, Marcus believed it was destiny, especially since she broke up with Jesse Evans.
He had his proposal rehearsed. He repeated it to himself a hundred times until it was right. He was all set to go until Busby Barker jolted him from his dreamy glare. Kathryn strutted away from her locker.
“Whew.” Busby pushed himself away, fanning his hand.
“So, do you have it?”
Marcus pulled a sapphire box from his coat. He opened it, revealing a sterling silver necklace with a snowflake charm. The charm held a round sky blue stone in its center.
“Kathryn’s going to love it,” Busby said. “But are you sure you don’t need any help?”
“I’m fine,” Marcus replied.
“I don’t know. All that cologne you’re wearing reeks of desperation.”
Marcus sniffed around. He didn’t seem to care how much he lathered onto himself.
“It’s her favorite.”
“Ok, if you say so.”
Marcus closed the box and hid it in his pocket. The school bell rang.
“You’d better make use of those legs, Mr. Track Star.”
Busby jogged off. Marcus went the opposite way.
It would be lunch before he saw Kathryn again. She sat with the rest of the cheerleaders in the courtyard. Marcus squinted and popped his knuckles. He felt the perspiration in his hand stuffed in his coat pocket.
His heart best faster as every second ticked away.
He gasped at the second mention of his name. He turned to find Hannah Whistler shaking his shoulder.
“So when are you going to ask her?”
Marcus puffed his chest, then let out a blast of air. He relinquished his fists and shook his hands.
“Now,” he said. “Right now.”
But Hannah tugged his arm.
“Listen, Marcus. Don’t rush it. You gotta be smooth about it. Don’t let her see you sweat. It definitely doesn’t look good on you men as it does on us girls.”
Marcus shut his eyes and took another big breath. The bell rang, ending their lunch break. Kathryn and her crew split up to their separate classrooms. Marcus heaved once more and strutted out onto the court.
But he didn’t hear Hannah. He tapped Kathryn on her shoulder. She turned and immediately stepped back once she saw him.
“Hey Kathryn. Mind if I walk you to class?”
It was perfect. Their classrooms were in the same building, on opposite sides.
“What’s going on?”
“Not much. Just getting ready for the holidays.”
“I know. It’s so crazy. I still have to shop for my little sisters. I have no idea what to get them.”
“They haven’t told you?”
“No, and I don’t know why. I’m the favorite sister.”
Marcus smiled as she spoke. He wanted to reach for her hand, but held back. Not before he gave her the gift. They stopped in front of Kathryn’s classroom.
“Well, I have to get going. It was nice seeing you.”
He reached for her. Kathryn’s hazel eyes widened.
“I wanted to give you something.”
“Meet me at the parking lot after school.”
Marcus let go of her arm and she sauntered into her class. As the door shut, Marcus grunted in frustration. He couldn’t believe he let his opportunity slip through his fingers. But he released his fury with a burst of air. He nodded at her words. After school. It was perfect.
The final bell rang. Marcus beamed in delight. He rushed to his locker and retrieved what books he needed for homework. He shut the door and Hannah appeared.
“Jesus, you scared me.”
Marcus reached in his pockets for the box. Hannah shot a doleful look to him.
“Listen, Marcus. I don’t think this is a good idea.”
“Wait. You were all for it. What changed?”
“It’s just that I saw Kathryn…and…”
“What? She left?”
“No. I’m sure she’s at the parking lot. But she’s waiting…”
“Look, I gotta go. I’ll let you know how it turns out.”
He gave her a peck on her cheek and rushed out. The parking lot was on the back side of the school. Marcus ran as fast as he could, weaving his way through the student body. He saw Kathryn sitting on the hood of her car. Marcus brushed his shirt down and ran his hand across his short hair. He let out a breath and walked across the street until he saw Jesse Evans approach. He saw him pull something out of his pocket and Kathryn clasped her hands in shock. His body started to shake. She hopped, then leaped toward Jesse and they exchanged a long kiss. He shuddered as his destiny wrapped herself in her on-again boyfriend. He walked back across the street. His head lowered, he didn’t notice Hannah at the corner.
“Marcus. I’m…I’m sorry. I tried to tell you…”
But Marcus walked past her, his box still in hand. She followed him to the courtyard where he stopped in front of a trash can, still shaking. Hannah screamed as he raised his hand.
The voluminous voice startled Marcus. He turned and saw Hannah sticking her hand out. She approached him and spread her arms out. Marcus didn’t understand why, but he approached her and she hugged him tight. His sobs turned to full-blown cries. She caressed him as he released his tears.
“It was supposed to be me. Not Jesse.”
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.
“Luna Transport Z52 to West Gate. Luna Transport…West Gate.”
Reception started to fade an hour before sunset every day. But the stranger didn’t need the radio. He shut it off and climbed to the perch on the West side of the wall. He scanned with his binoculars the broken road that stretched beyond the canyon. The sky turned crimson as the sun began its descent. As the stranger scanned the vast wasteland, he saw billows of dust kicking up along the road. It had to be Luna Transport Z52. The stranger signaled the operator to launch the siren.
The stranger watched the transport speed toward the fortress. He noticed more dust clouds heading in the same direction.
“Hey,” the operator yelled, “there are leeches surrounding the transport. We have to—“
The stranger raised his hand. He unlatched the case and flung it open. A plasma rifle lay nestled between the cushioning. He plucked the rifle and the silencer from the case and assembled his weapon.
The siren continue to screech. The stranger slung his assembled firearm across his back and climbed to the top of the gunner’s perch. The canopy shading his dark skin. He shook off the desert camo cloak, revealing a torn olive tee. He aimed his silver rifle at the transport and the surrounding dust clouds. He spotted the leeches. Creatures with the head and smooth skin of a hammerhead and the compact body of a boar. They ran with the speed of a stallion.
He found five of these leeches running along both sides of the transport. He turned his rifle to the leeches to the right. He breathed out as he squeezed the trigger. A pellet of energy shot out of the turret, striking the leech through its cranium. It stumbled for a moment before it fell to its death. The stranger cocked his rifle and aimed at the second one on the right. He fired again. This shot zoomed into its chest and it rolled a few yards before it collapsed. He then turned his attention to the pair on its left. The further one leaped onto the transport, fixating its sickle-like claws on the trailer. He knew he had to work fast. It would only be a matter of time before they ripped through the trailer. He cocked his rifle and rang out a shot. It hit its paw. He fired a second shot that rang through his mouth as it screamed. The transport was two thousand feet away. The last leech altered its course, running up a hill. The stranger had to time his shot just right. As the last one leaped, he fired. The pellet zoomed across the sky and burrowed into the creature’s skull. It dropped onto the trailer, then keeled over.
The stranger lowered his rifle. He turned the radio on.
“Luna Transport Z52 to West Gate. We are in the clear. Repeat, we are in the clear. Tell that stranger we owe him one again.”
Last month, I wrote a flash fiction piece on the parameter that it had to be told using dialogue only. I forgot where the prompt came from, but it was an interesting challenge. So, here’s my story.
“What do you mean?”
“Exactly what I said. We do not have an order for you.”
“Look…Lara. I put in an order three days ago for three dozen shamrock donuts to be picked up today. I have a receipt saying the order would be ready today. And now, you’re telling me I’m not in the system?”
“You don’t need to yell, sir. I can see the receipt. And it was sent to this location. I don’t understand what went wrong.”
“Let me talk to a manager. Right now.”
“Yes, sir. I’ll be right back.”
“I can’t believe this. I know I put in the order right. I may not be a techie, but I know my way around a computer. I know I put the order in right.”
“Sir, this is my manager, Derrick. He can help you.”
“So, there’s an issue with an order that was placed.”
“Long story short, Derrick, I placed an order for three dozen shamrock donuts for my daughter’s class three days ago. I got a receipt from your website that the order would be ready today. Now, she’s telling me that the order wasn’t placed when you can clearly see that it has.”
“Let me check my computers.”
“Could you please hurry up. My daughter’s expecting the donuts today.”
“What was the order under?”
“Ashlee. Frank Ashlee.”
“And how is that spelled?”
“Ah. I see what happened. The computer corrected the spelling on our end. It didn’t recognize the spelling. And I see the order is ready. I’ll get them for you.”
“Thank you, Derrick.”
“I’ve never heard of anyone who spelled ‘Ashley’ that way.”
“I get that a lot. Believe me.”
So, how about you? I believe you can write a story using dialogue alone. Post your story in the comments. I would love to read them.
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.
“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.
The Flash Fiction Hive Started a new series of prompts for the month of October. Here’s my latest story.
Natalie had a problem with handling sandwiches. The bread crumbs. The juices from the slices of chicken. The knives covered in mixed mayonnaise and mustard. All this messiness overloaded her OCD brain. But still, it’s what Hannah wanted. And she thought it better handling sandwiches than venturing into her daughter’s germ-ridden bedroom, sick as a dog. Natalie cut the sandwich in triangle halves, just as she always done since she was five. She never understood why it had to be that way.
Natalie traversed across the hall, carrying the plate with her sandwich. She stopped in front of Hannah’s door and slipped on her mask. There was no telling what kind of germs would want to invade her space. But she thrust the door open anyway. Her forest green eyes were wide and droopy. She had not gotten even an hour of sleep. But she was willing to sacrifice it in order to make sure Hannah was comfortable. She saw her daughter sprawled out in her bed, with only her nightgown covering her.
“Hey sweetheart. How you doing?”
Hannah could only life her hand flat, shaking it side to side.
“I got your sandwich, just how you like it.”
She set the plate on her lap. Hannah reached for the sandwich closest to her, but couldn’t hold on. She lacked these strength and her hands were as frail as dried out branches. Natalie wanted to brush her thinning hair, but it was as if she was being repelled.
“It’s okay, baby. You don’t have to eat it now.”
She fretted leaving the plate on her bed. The crumbs could fall out and spill onto the comforter. But she resisted. It wasn’t about her and her commitment to cleanliness. Hannah was more important. She kept repeating that statement to herself. She pulled the sheet toward her chest, brushing it out so that it resembled some kind of order. The door bell rang, startling them.
“I’ll be back.”
Natalie ran to the door, peeked through the peephole. A team of white-coated men and women stood in front. Natalie lowered her head. These were the last people she wanted to see. There was still so much she wanted to do with her daughter. She was ten years old. She shouldn’t be this sick.
“Mrs. Alstott,” one of the men shouted. “It’s time. We need the child.”
Natalie banged her head against the door. She felt the tears running down her cheek.
“Mrs Alstott, we talked about this. You had your time. Now it’s time to do our job.”
Natalie shook her head. She wanted one more minute. But the man was right. It was time. And there was no getting out of it. She opened the door and the team entered single file. One rolled a bed into the house. They made her way to Hannah’s room. Natalie shoved her way past the white coats.
“Let me speak with her about what’s happening. She deserves that much.”
“Ok. But be quick.”
Natalie slid into her bedroom and kneeled in front of Hannah. She explained the situation she was going to face. Hannah started to cry. Then she cried. She pulled her close, and cupped the back of her head. All the while, she repeated the sentence. “Hannah is more important.”