Purpose

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She told her mother she was taking a walk.  She barely looked up as Rebecca walked out the door, busy with Rebecca’s father and brothers, homework questions, dinner prep, chores.  It was a loud, rowdy home.   Rebecca had no place there.  She served no purpose  besides being in the way.

She sat on a bench and looked out at the city skyline, her teeth chattering as a bracing, cold wind whipped around her.  Despite the temperature, she unzipped her baggy hoodie, desperate to see it.   Her secret.   She peeked at her belly, a round orb, pulsing with alien movement.  She had no way of knowing if her child would be male or female, but she imagined a little girl.  She and her daughter, holding hands, swapping secrets, living in their own shared world.  This was her purpose.

For Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Reversal

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Another chapter in the neverending saga of Paul and Alexandra, Katie thought as a perfectly good wine glass shattered against the far wall, red wine streaming down the stark white paint like blood.  Alexandra, the glass-thrower, screamed at Paul that he’d never loved her, that no one wanted him there because he was an awful person.  Paul retorted that Alexandra was over-the-hill, desperately, pathetically, trying to hold on to her youth and failing miserably.  Katie stood, throwing her hands in the air.

“ENOUGH!”  Katie shrieked, rattling the windows.

Alexandra and Paul immediately quieted, turning to face Katie in shock.

“Haven’t the two of you ruined enough family gatherings?”  In the preceding years, Katie and her siblings had gone to ridiculous lengths to keep their bickering parents separated, and she was fed up.  She turned to her mother.

“I invited dad here. I’m getting married tomorrow.  He has as much right to be here as you do.”  She faced them both sternly.  “Both of you should be ashamed. Your children are embarrassed of you.  If you behave this way tomorrow I’m having the both of you thrown out on your butts and you can argue in the back alley like a couple of hillbillies.  This nonsense,” she swirled her finger between the two of them, “is over.  Do you understand?”

Her parents stared back at her in stunned silence.  She stepped closer.  “I said – DO…YOU…UNDERSTAND?”

Paul and Alexandra looked at each other, then responded in unison.  “Yes, ma’am.”

For Sunday Photo Fiction

 

MWC-Emails from the Edge

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Dear Jane,

I hate the suburbs.  All the people, wandering around with brainless smiles on their faces like they’ve been lobotomized.  I miss the anonymity of living in a big city.  I loved never knowing, or caring, who my neighbors were.  Here, people know you’ve closed on your house before you’ve even moved in, and are outside waiting with baskets of muffins as soon as the U-Haul pulls up. I feel like I’m slowly being driven insane.  Maybe this is some Truman Show-esque experiment?

Right now I’m lying on the floor of my generic but spotless master suite, drinking chardonnay straight out of the bottle.  How am I supposed to smile while I make vapid small talk with Muffy and Buffy or whatever-their-names-are this afternoon if I’m not a little  bit drunk?   Don’t judge me.  Anyway, gotta go.  Time to pick up the girls from school.

Miss you,

Tracey

The prompt for the Miniature Writing Challenge this week is foreigner.

Misunderstood

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Sandra Crook

“Incredible,” says a woman to her companion, staring at the structure before them.  They are at a garden party celebrating the work of their favorite local artist.

“I agree,” says the man.  “It’s so powerful.  I think this might be her best yet.”

“Indeed.  A reminder of the fleeting nature of time.”

“Excuse me,” says one of the caterers, wearing a white smock and holding a sharp knife in her hand.  The couple gasps as she cuts into the structure delicately, removing a slice and sliding it onto a small, crystal plate and offering it to the woman.  “Cake?”

For Friday Fictioneers

 

Kindred

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Lisa had said months ago it was a bad idea for the zoo to invite 35 rambunctious kindergartners for a private, behind-the-scenes tour.  And as usual, she’d been right.  A child had wandered off.  The zoo was locked down.  Every employee on hand was searching the property for the missing kid.  And she was annoyed.  It wasn’t that she didn’t like children.  She was just mystified by them.  She’d blocked out most of the memories of her childhood for self-preservation.  There wasn’t much worth remembering.

Lisa was racing past her office on the way to search the playground area again when she saw the tiny feet peeking out from under her desk.  She noticed the window she’d left open to let in the fresh spring air.  Just a small crack, but big enough for a tiny body to wiggle through.

“Are you Josh?” Lisa asked, kneeling next to the boy, who blinked back tears.  He nodded.  She extended her hand to help him up, but he shook his head no.

“I don’t want to go home.”

Lisa groaned inwardly.  I don’t have time for this. She was about to go ask her assistant, Charity, to coax the boy out when she noticed the tiny black marks on the inside of his arms, a few of them were fresh, the size of cigarette butts.  Her eyes ran over his face, taking in its gauntness.  And then she understood.

She yelled for Charity to call the police.

 

For Sunday Photo Fiction 

Drawed

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“Bubba….when it comes to six-month old Mahdisyn….you ARE NOT the father,” the talk show host declared on the television screen.

“Ha, I knew it,” Connie laughed, popping a handful of cheese curls in her mouth.

She heard the engine of the school bus idling outside, followed shortly by the squeak of the front door opening, her six-year-old son Kevin coming up the steps.

He entered her bedroom clutching a sheet of construction paper, wearing the same downtrodden expression he had since his father moved out of their home.

“Here, mommy, I drawed a picture of you today,” Kevin said, handing her a picture of a blubbery woman lying in bed holding an orange bag, the floor around her littered with garbage.

Connie stood from bed, turned off the TV and stretched, deciding it was time for a run.

The prompt for the six sentence story challenge this week was draw.

 

 

Bench

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Ady

 

I need a break. I’ve escaped to the backyard, lying across the little red bench tucked away in the corner.  Dinner is continuing without me indoors.  I hear the clink of silverware and glasses through the open windows.  The clash of angry voices.  My stomach starts to clench.  My head swims.  I won’t be able to sit upright.  I wonder how long it will be before they realize I’m not in the bathroom.  I’ll never understand a person that enjoys spewing bile and hatred, who favors confrontation over harmony.  How do you tell someone that they don’t fit in your life anymore?  That being around them literally makes you physically ill?

A few deep breaths later and I am finally able to stand.  I hear my name being called inside.  I rush around the side of the house to where my car is parked, thankful I thought to bring my purse with me.  As my turn my car in the direction of home, I realize that I’ve found my answer.

For Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

MWC – Fair

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The theme for the Miniature Writing Challenge this week is Fairness & Justice. Write a short story, poem or haiku that would express your interpretation of this theme.

“It’s not fair!”  The children shouted in unison, banging their fists on the desks and stamping their feet, filling the classroom with sounds of chaos.

“Why did Priscilla win 1st place for her project?” Bobby asked, standing up from his seat, crossing his arms over his chest defiantly.

“Sit down, Bobby!”  Ms. Vaughan commanded.   When he complied, she continued.  “I thought Priscilla’s project was the most creative and showed the most attention to detail.”

The last bell rang.  Once the classroom was empty, Ms. Vaughan slipped off her shoes and put her feet up on the desk.  Bobby’s project really was better than Priscilla’s.  But he was a little smart-mouthed brat, always giving her a hard time.  Until he adjusted his attitude, he wouldn’t be getting any prizes from her.  Priscilla made her job easier.  She unwrapped a chocolate from her secret stash, looked out the window, and counted the days until summer.

Thursday Thriller – Girls

GIRLS

We don’t like Erin.  I can’t remember why.   We just don’t.

One day, Mina sat down at our lunch table and just started talking crap about her.  Her clothes, her voice,  her hair, her family, even.  Erin was out sick that day.  Mina never told Kristin and me why she stopped liking her.   Mina sets the tone for our little group.  It’s a miracle she even befriended us.  We were nobodies before she came here.

So, Mina invited Erin to come out tonight.  She knows Mina is mad at her, so she must have been shocked when she got the call.  Her parents never let her out on school nights, but they must have made an exception.  Because it’s Mina. Her parents are crazy strict but they love Mina.  All parents do.  She’s smart and funny and gorgeous and charming.  As my parents say, she’s “going places.”

Kristin and I are hiding in the closet in Mina’s bedroom.  She is going to trick Erin into saying nasty stuff about us, then we are going to jump out of the closet, surprise her, rough her up a little bit.  Nothing crazy.

I hear our cue from Mina.  I nod at Kristin and we leap from the closet.  Erin screams.  We pounce, punching and slapping and scratching.  Erin  tries to fight back but it is pointless.  It’s 3-on-1.  This is epic!  Is someone recording this?

Mina emits a guttural scream, then slams Erin’s head against her heavy oak headboard.  She’s knocked out cold and we all laugh.  When she still isn’t moving minutes later, Kristin checks her pulse with trembling hands.

Hours later, I’m in a cold interview room at police headquarters with a hardened female detective.  She sits across the table from me and asks, “Why did you girls do this?  What were you thinking?”

I shrug and lean back in my seat.  “We just didn’t like her.”  The detective’s mouth forms a long thin line.  “When do my parents get here?”  I ask with a sigh.

“Really soon.”  She gets up and leaves the room rapidly, shutting the door with a slam, leaving me alone with my thoughts.

 

Road Trip

Inspired by this week’s Story A Day prompt.

Angie’s long shift was finally over.  She stretched her legs and poked her bare feet out of the open car window, enjoying the breeze as the cars and trees whipped by.  Her mom told her she was crazy to post a flyer at the college looking for someone to share a ride across the country.  What if a crazy person responds? 

Angie thought that most people would consider her to be the crazy person.  She insisted on taking her large German Shepherd, Susie, with her.  A retired police dog, she looked scary but was as docile as a lamb.  At the moment, Susie was curled up on the back seat, snoozing, seeming to smile in her sleep.  After a long life of forced labor, Angie wanted Susie to enjoy her golden years.  She had a bag full of homemade snacks for Susie at her feet, and insisted they stop every two hours so Susie could go for a short walk.  She worried she’d get claustrophobic stuck in the car all those hours unless they took frequent breaks.

Joe agreed to all of her terms.  He was the only person to respond.  The only person going the same direction she was.  He said finding her flyer was destiny, telling him it was time to finally meet his true love, starshinegal08 aka Mara.  They’d been playing StarShine, an online game, for years alongside each other.  Their avatars had been on countless adventures together.  They’d spent hours chatting late into the night about their lives.  But they’d had yet to lay eyes on each other.  Not even a picture.  Mara thought that would make it more romantic when they saw each other in person.

On the side of the highway, waving frantically, was a girl wearing a dress covered in pink feathers and clear high heeled shoes that increased her diminutive height by at least five inches.  Her white blond hair was in what Angie believed was called a bouffant, piled high and unmoving, despite her efforts to flag them down.  It was a either a gravity-defying freak of nature or benefiting from an obscene amount of hairspray.  Angie noticed Joe was slowing down, that the car was veering to the right.

“What are you doing??!!”  Angie sat upright.

Joe shrugged.  “She looks like she needs help.”

“She could be deranged!”

“Does she look dangerous?”

“Neither did Ted Bundy…” Angie mumbled under her breath as the car came to a stop.  The girl leaned in the open window.

“Thank y’all so much for stoppin’!”  She spoke in a Southern drawl.  “I was on a cross country bus trip with the Miss Magonlia USA pageant.  I’m Miss Georgia Magnolia…” she indicated her pale pink sash “…and well there was some trouble on the bus and I seem to have lost my ride.  Could I trouble y’all for a ride to the next town?  I hear there’s a bus station.”

“They ditched you?”  Joe asked.

The pageant queen lowered her eyes and nodded.

I wonder why, Angie thought, crossing her arms.

“That’s horrible!”  Joe was incredulous, clearly unaware of all the ways girls like that employed to torture each other.  “Sure we can give you a ride.  If you don’t mind sharing the backseat with Susie.”

“Oh, I just adore dogs! I don’t mind at all.”  She scurried around the front of the car and hopped in the backseat, while Angie glared at him.

“It’s just for a few miles.”  Joe insisted.

Susie sleepily eyed her new seatmate, before closing her eyes and putting her head on her lap.

“Where are my manners!  My name’s Lola.  Really Magnolia, but everyone calls me Lola.  Mama knew when I was in the womb I was gonna be Miss Magnolia USA.”

“Hi Lola.  I’m Joe and this is Angie.”

“Nice to meet y’all!  Thanks so much again!  I don’t know what I would have done if y’all hadn’t come along…”

Lola’s damsel in distress act was growing thin, so Angie popped in her earbuds and turned up the volume, letting Adele lull her to sleep.

She woke again when she felt the car come to a stop, opening her eyes to see a huge hot dog statue in towering in front of her.  Home of the Six Foot Hot Dog!  The sign above the statue declared.

“Lola was hungry,” Joe offered as explanation when he noticed Angie’s confusion.

Well, we can’t have America’s Sweetheart’s stomach grumbling.  Angie stumbled from the car, opening the door to let Susie out as Joe and Lola made their way inside the diner.  After walking Susie, Angie went inside to peruse the menu, noticing that the only item that accommodated her vegetarian diet were the french fries.  She ordered a large basket of fries with a soda and reluctantly joined Joe and Lola.  At least the fries were perfect, hot, crisp and salty.  She noticed Joe seemed distressed as she sat.

“…so you’ve never seen this girl, this Mara?”  Lola asked, a cruel twist to her voice

Joe shook his head.

“…not even a picture?”

“She thought it was…romantic, I guess…”

Lola screamed with laughter, her hot dog forgotten.  “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to laugh, but that is just the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.  But I mean, I guess that’s the only way some people can meet…”

Joe winced.

“..and you.”  Lola turned to face Angie.  “Driving cross country so your dog can see the ocean for the first time?”

“You told her?!”  Angie yelled at Joe.

“She asked where we were headed.  I didn’t think you’d mind…”

“I’m sorry, but that is just the most pathetic thing I’ve ever heard.  A vacation with your dog.  At least Joe has someone to meet at the end of this trip.  Allegedly.”  Lola brazenly grabbed a french fry from Angie’s basket before hopping up.  “I need to go to the ladies’ room and then we can get back on the road.  Y’all excuse me.”

Lola sashayed down the aisle to the restrooms, reveling in all the male attention she received along the way.

Joe tried to wipe his wet eyes without Angie noticing.  She noticed, but didn’t say anything.  He’d been humiliated enough.  Instead, she said, “Let’s ditch her!”

“What?”  Joe asked, a smile slowly forming across his face.

“You heard me.  Let’s go.  Come on, hurry!”

She grabbed his hand and they ran back out to the car.  Susie was roused from sleep as they screeched out of their parking spot.  Lola burst through the front door, screaming some language very unbecoming of a Miss Magnolia USA at the retreating car.  Joe and Angie laughed so hard their stomachs hurt.

“Oops,” Joe said a mile down the road, still chuckling.

“What?”  Angie asked, wiping tears of mirth from her eyes.

“I think we left her with the bill.”