Thursday Thriller – Warrior

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Part 1 – Intruder

She could feel his breath on the back of her neck.  She felt the shift in the air as soon as he stepped inside.  She had to think, while she had this tiny, secret moment.  If she failed, she’d be proving all the naysayers right.  The family members who said she had no business living alone, especially somewhere so remote.  That she’d come running back to mommy soon enough.

Should she run?  Somehow try and contact the authorities via her laptop without his noticing?  Then she saw it, the silver letter opener, it’s shiny handle sticking out from under the stack of mail.  She exhaled softly as she slowly moved her hand toward it, until her fingers were wrapped around its handle.  She squared her shoulders, took another deep breath, then, with a guttural cry, jumped from the floor and swung her body toward him in one fell swoop, aiming for his neck.

Later, as the man lay bleeding on her living room floor, she went outside and sat on the porch, remembering the look of fear and surprise in his eyes, and smiled.  She could see the red and blue lights through the trees.

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Hierarchy

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The tour guide continued to drone on as Nikki stifled a yawn.  She was only on the Historic Homes tour because of Denise.  She had no interest in this sort of thing, but Denise seemed to be drinking it all in with an intense, almost religious-like, fervor.  She didn’t think Denise had many other friends, poor thing.

Thankfully, the tour guide wrapped things up right on time so Nikki could rush to her next engagement, lunch and shopping with her bestie, Shana.  She felt such pride in herself as she drove away, staring at Denise waving goodbye in the rear-view mirror.

*

“Do you think this works with my coloring?”  Nikki asked Shana after a long lunch at their favorite bistro.  She held a blush pink dress up to her neck.  “Should I try it on?”

Shana nodded and smiled politely.  As Nikki ducked into a changing room Shana checked the time, hoping Nikki wouldn’t try on ten different ensembles before making a choice as she had on their last shopping trip.  She was meeting a group of her best girlfriends for drinks in less than an hour.

 

Written for Sunday Photo Fiction, and also inspired by this scientific study, which says that only 50% of the people we consider friends actually consider us a friend as well.  Interesting read, if you have time. 

 

Bourbon

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It was too hot to sleep. The air was so still in the bedroom that sisters Cora and Emily had shared growing up that they decided to move to the screened in back porch, praying for the slightest breeze. They hadn’t spoken in months. Their father’s funeral had drawn them both home, but only for a night. In the morning, they’d leave, continuing on  opposite paths.

Hours later, they were still awake, and restless, when Cora began to recall a memory. Their father, tiptoeing out of the back door in the middle of the night, venturing to the covered bridge that bordered their property. He would emerge an hour or so later, wearing a mysterious smile.

Barefoot, the women tiptoed through the dewy grass in their nightgowns, giggling, their arms around each other.  It was really dark those nights, but I’m pretty sure this is the place,” Emily said as they looked around for their father’s secret treasure. They easily found the shallow hole he’d dug. Inside – a half-empty bottle of his favorite bourbon.  Emily dusted it off and took a long swig as she sat in the dirt, passing it to her sister who followed suit.

They leaned against the dirty wall in silence, as a cool breeze began to encircle them.

For Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner

Thursday Thriller – Intruder

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She was born into a world of silence.  She’d never known any different, so she never viewed it as a disadvantage.  She cherished the friends she’d made, the community that had embraced her, the life she built herself.

She spent her days walking the grounds of her secluded estate, dreaming and jotting ideas for future novels in her journal.  When the weather didn’t cooperate, she sat indoors near the window, clicking away at her laptop.  That’s what she was doing when the man entered through the carelessly unlocked back door.  He made as much noise as he pleased entering her home; he knew it didn’t matter.

When he reached her living room, where she sat with her back to him, he stood close enough to see the hairs on the back of her neck, the dots of lint on her well-worn sweatshirt.  He would wait for her  to turn around, to see him, her eyes widening with fear and surprise.  Then, his game would begin.

Read Part 2 – Warrior

Ocean

 

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I’ll never forget my first trip to Costa Rica.  The rain forest.  The lush landscape.  The gorgeous tropical birds, dashes of bright color weaving through the trees.  I’d been there to volunteer, to help others, but ended up falling in love with a beautiful local boy, Marco.  How handsome he was – coppery skin darkened by the sun, dark curls falling into his oversized deep brown eyes.  We spent that summer together, but my home city, work, responsibility, all the trappings of adulthood, called me back.  I never saw him again.

I’m standing next to my husband in an ornate restaurant, surrounded by our family and closest friends.  It’s our 25th wedding anniversary.  My daughter, visiting from college, beams at me from her table.  My husband is giving a speech about how blessed we both are to have found our perfect match.  “We never do anything halfway,” he says, as our friends chuckle. I smile and nod and laugh at the appropriate parts, but I’m not really there. I’m hearing the call of the birds, feeling the balmy breeze in my hair, as Marco slips his rough hand in mine and leads me to the ocean.

 For Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner

Thursday Thriller – Sick

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My children are crying for me.  They’re all cuddled upstairs in bed like three adorable peas in a pod.  All flushed cheeks and runny noses, sweaty foreheads and chapped lips.  So tragically beautiful.

News of my little ones’ health has reached every corner of our state.  Hundreds of people are talking about them, praying for them, missing them.  My children.  My babies.   People fold crisp dollar bills in my trembling hand when I encounter them on the road, they listen, enthralled, as I recount my story, our story, with tears in my eyes.  My table is laden with covered dishes and treats from the neighbors and friends.  Baskets of muffins and fruit, casseroles, pies, tins of homemade cookies.  I’ll pack the food away for now.  I know what my children need.  I know why they cry.

The soup is almost done.  It’s their favorite.  My own recipe.  One I’ll never share with anyone.  I add a little pinch of my most special ingredient before ladling large helpings into three identical, bright yellow bowls.  My babies will be beloved forever.

 

Thursday Thriller – Peace

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“I’m fine!  I don’t want any of your help!” Julie knocked over a glass of wine on the coffee table as she sprung to her feet, nostrils flared.

“Julie, we care about you.  We’re just concerned,” her sister, Heather, implored, extending an arm that Julie quickly shrugged away.

“Let us help.”  Her brother, Tate, stood next to the front door, trying to block her path.  His eyes searched hers for the sister he once knew.  She looked away, pushing past him.

“Please don’t contact me again.  Just. Leave. Me. ALONE!”

When she got home, he was waiting.  The guy everyone warned her about.

“Where were you?” He approached her in a slow, deliberate way that made her shiver.

“My family…they…they…called me…”  She backed away, farther and farther until she was pressed against the wall.

“You really expect me to believe that you were with your family this entire time?”  He never raised his voice, but each word filled Julie with an urgent, desperate terror.

She couldn’t respond with words.  She nodded frantically, swiping at the tears racing down her cheeks.  He was standing right in front of her now, so close that she could see the drops of perspiration forming at his temples.  She focused on his eyes, searching them for the man she loved, as his hands closed around her throat.  His shoulders released as she slid to the floor.

He left her there, in the peace of her dark, quiet apartment.  The phone never rang. She had no visitors.  She’d been left alone.

Mother

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It had been one of those perfect days. Blue sky, puffy, white clouds floating lazily over their heads. She and her beautiful little boys spending a day at the zoo, childish laughter in the air.  Maybe that’s why Lacey had let them run ahead. My instincts told me it was safe. I just let them go. She’d been smiling when she heard the scream.

There was Zack down below, who’d somehow fallen into an enclosure. A huge reptile was charging him. Her youngest, Ben, screamed for her, his eyes wide in terror. Lacey held him close as she yelled for help. The shot from the zookeeper, the one that killed the creature, filled her with relief and sorrow.

Now, the world knew her name. She had no idea the creature that died was one of a rare, endangered species.  The backlash had begun. Lacey was a bad mother.  Her child should have been shot instead of the animal. She should have been shot. She was an idiot. A welfare mom. A drug addict. A loser.

There was a knock at the door.  Her next door neighbor stepped inside and she braced herself for another attack.

“I’m glad you and your kids are okay.”

Lacey collapsed into her arms and started to cry.

For Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner

Last Brunch With the Girls

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“If you hate them so much why are they your friends,” Jim had asked as I prepared to leave our cozy little bungalow on a rainy afternoon, headed for brunch with the girls.  It was a monthly tradition, every third Sunday, five of my old sorority sisters and I met at a restaurant in the city to pick at dry salads and compete in the clandestine game of frenemies everywhere – Whose Life Is Better?

I’m thinking of Jim’s question again as we begin the sudden death round of our ridiculous little competition – Who’s Skinniest/Healthiest?  The salad ordering kicks off with each woman trying to one-up the last – one asks for dressing on the side, another asks for no dressing, yet another asking for no protein or dressing, just limp salad greens.  Camilla thinks she’s won, as she has countless times before, when she just asks for a hot water with lemon, claiming not to be very hungry when she looks smugly at me.

“Burger and fries,” I say to the waiter confidently, drawing glares from my companions as I realize it’s time I took myself out of the game.

The Six Sentence Story prompt this week is Draw.

 

Lullaby

 

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“Let’s play hide and seek, mommy,” Cat said, half covering her eyes with her pudgy hand.  Ashley knew that Cat was afraid and wanted to delay her bedtime as long as possible.  Her father had been the one that banished the monsters and other imaginary creatures that went bump in the night.  But she only saw him twice a month now.

“How about we sing instead?”  Ashley scooted so Cat could sit next to her on the piano bench.  She played a few notes of Cat’s favorite lullaby, whispering the lyrics in her ear.  She could see her daughter’s eyelids getting heavy.

After Ashley did the best job she could ridding Cat’s room of monsters, she tucked the little girl into bed and kissed her goodnight, wishing her sweet dreams.

She tiptoed to her own room and turned out the light.  The bed seemed to swallow her.  Alone in the still darkness, she had to admit, she was afraid too. Sleep seemed so far away.  Why is this so hard?  She considered turning on a light, or the television, letting white noise fill the quiet, but decided against it, falling back against the pillow.  Slowly, her eyes began to adjust to the dark.

For Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner