The Gift

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.

“Marcus?”

His heart best faster as every second ticked away.

“MARCUS?!”

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.

“Good luck!”

But he didn’t hear Hannah. He tapped Kathryn on her shoulder. She turned and immediately stepped back once she saw him.

“Marcus, hi.”

“Hey Kathryn. Mind if I walk you to class?”

“Umm…sure.”

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.”

“Wait.”

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.”

“I’m sorry.”

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.

“Wait!”

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.”

“I know.”

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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.

“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.”

What’s In a Name

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?”

“A-S-H-L-E-E.”

“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.

One More Minute

Courtesy of Flash Fiction Hive on Twitter (@FlashFicHive)

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.”


Surprises About My Writing: An IWSG Post


Hey there. 

It’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group post for the month. As always, thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh and crew for the opportunity for us writers and bloggers to encourage others with our stories about our writing journey. If you want to know more or join us in supporting others, click here

Today, I’m going to answer this month’s question:

Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? 

There are many ways to answer this questions. I can think of a couple of ways. First, and I think it’s the most obvious, I’m surprised at what I’ve written. For those who don’t know, I “specialize” in contemporary short stories. Lately, though, I’ve felt this urge to branch out in other genres. There’s a part of me that has wanted to broaden my horizons. The thing that scared me from trying is that I didn’t know the “rules” when it came to certain genres. The common threads. The clichés to avoid. The differences between casual and hardcore. The ways to incorporate these “rules” into short story writing. All these factors intimidated me from writing in different genres. But friends on Twitter encouraged me to go for it. As one friend put it, “go into overdrive.” As far as the “rules,” everyone said the same thing: the “rules” are more like guidelines than actual rules. So, I took stabs at them. A couple of months ago, to challenge myself, I wrote a fantasy and sci-fi short story. It took some time; more time than I anticipated. But it helped listening to music to put me in the right frame of mind. And when I finished and looked it over, I felt proud at what I accomplished. Sure, they were only first drafts, but I felt this surge of confidence. Like I could write anything. 

Going along with the works I’ve written in the last couple of months, I found I have the capacity to create some interesting stories. For starters, I have to give credit to the Flash Fiction Hive on Twitter. If you’ve read my blog, you know how much I’ve talked about this group recently. I also have been gathering prompts on Facebook and Pinterest. They range from the rooted to the outlandish. The important thing is that the prompts have pushed me to think outside the box. To step up my writing game. This has especially been helpful because for a while, I wasn’t posting a lot of stories. That has changed. I feel like I can post more and be confident in doing so. 

Those are ways my writing has surprised me. What about you? Has your writing surprised you? If yes, how so? Let me know in the comments. I would love to encourage you. 

Until next time, take care…

The Chase (A Flash Fiction Hive Piece)


Good afternoon,

It’s been a good while since I’ve posted a story on this blog. So, it’s about time I change that. Today’s story comes from the Flash Fiction Hive on Twitter. For today’s prompt, I chose a favorite from this month and created a new story from it. I decided on the color prompt (August 4th). Hope you enjoy this one.  Continue reading “The Chase (A Flash Fiction Hive Piece)”

Weekend Coffee Share: Writing Like a Madman

Good afternoon,

Nice to see you all today. Pardon me if I’m a little distracted. I’m at the gym right now and I’m focusing on my steps. As such, I just have water. If you want to jump on the treadmill, by all means join me.

So, if we were walking—running—on the treadmill, I’d talk about school. Continue reading “Weekend Coffee Share: Writing Like a Madman”