Bourbon

covered-bridge

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

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Ocean

 

bird
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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

Lullaby

 

piano
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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.

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Dimensions

plane
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I have waited years for this day.   My sister Val turns to me and grins.  She is the sun – bronze-brown skin glowing, a bright smile spread across her gorgeous face.  She indirectly got us the gig since she knows the guy that ran the annual air show that was held in our small city every spring.  We are going to get to perform five of our new songs near the entrance as people are milling about, waiting for the show to begin.

“Hi guys!” Val’s friend, Adam, approaches the stage as we’re setting up.  Val hugs him and thanks him for giving us a chance.

“Wait – what’s with all the equipment?” Adam asks.  “I thought you guys were like, you know, that old singing group Beyonce used to be in.  A bunch of singing and sexy dance moves.”

I look down at my flannel shirt, tank top and battered jeans.  Not very conducive to sexy dance moves.

“Val didn’t tell you?” I ask as I strap my guitar across my chest and shake my long braids out of my eyes.  “We’re rockers.”

I start warming up, breaking into my favorite guitar solo, as the entire park seems to pause for a moment and stare.

For Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner

Inspired by this news item.  While I agree that Prince was one-of-a-kind and there will never be another like him, I think there are many innovative, talented people from all walks of life who are waiting to shine, if we only give them a chance to be themselves.

 

Happy

car
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I’m sure that the little girl in that back seat is waving at us.  She looks like me as a child.  Brown eyes big as saucers, frizzy pigtails with loose ribbons, a crooked, mischievous smile. Thinking about that girl, the girl that I once was, emboldens me.  I turn to my mother.

“So, I have some news…” I begin.

“What is it?”

“They called me yesterday.  I got it!  I’m going to be a travel writer.  Getting to travel the world and write – that’s my dream!”

“Oh, that’s nice, I guess.”

“You guess?  Mom, this is my dream job!  I’m going to get to see the world for free and write about it.”

“I know, honey.  I was just hoping that…maybe…you and Brian…”

“Mom, I told you that Brian and I broke up weeks ago…”

“But, all of my friends are grandparents now.  They always ask when you’re going to settle down and I don’t know what to say…”

“Tell them I’m happy.”

The light turns green and I signal for a right turn.  The car in front of us keeps straight and I blow a kiss to that little girl as it disappears around the curve.

For Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner

Viral

rocks
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Jamie had known that Ethan was planning to propose for months – it was just a matter of when and where.  So, when she woke up that morning to a note from Ethan telling her she was being treated to a day of beauty, and a chauffeured car outside at the curb, she did an excited twirl.  Her day had finally arrived.

After a day of primping and shopping, she was driven to Brimham Rocks, a collection of beautiful rock formations.

Jamie tapped the window, confused and annoyed.  “We’re going here?”

The driver shrugged.  “Those are the directions I was given…”

He led her to Ethan, who immediately dropped to his knee and proposed.  Jamie accepted.  It wasn’t perfect, but at least she was engaged.

“Uh…Ethan?”  The camera guy that had shadowed Jamie all day interrupted the moment.  “Sorry, camera wasn’t on, missed the big question…”

“Ugh!  Ethan!  What kind of person did you hire!  What’s the point of this if no one sees it?!  How will people even know we’re engaged?!”

“We’ll just do it again.  Right, guys?”  Ethan turned to the crew, who were nodding in unison.  He slipped the ring off Jamie’s finger and stood.

“And action!”

 

For Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner

Read more about over-the-top proposals here.

Hakuna Matata

rodent
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“Hey there!  Minor disaster over here.  The baby is getting a rash and I was wondering what brand of diapers you think I should use?”

“Hmmm…well, my sister uses cloth diapers and loves them, no rashes.”

“Really???  That’s awesome.  But doesn’t all the washing get annoying…”

“Not sure.  I’ve never heard her complain.”

“What does she use for formula?  Sammy has so many allergies.”

“She breastfeeds exclusively, I think.”

“Oh, I’d love to do that for Sammy, but my milk never came in.  I worked with that lactation consultant in the hospital till I was practically raw…”

“Wow…”

What is that smell?!  Oh, Sammy!  I just changed you!   Could you hold for a moment?”

Before the person on the line could protest, the phone was put down.  Hakuna Matata, the famous song the meerkat and the warthog sing to Simba in The Lion King, could be heard the background as little Sammy’s diaper was quickly changed, his mother narrating the entire operation in graphic detail.

“Okay, I’m back.  That was a nasty one…soooooooooooo where were we?  Breastfeeding!   Could you recommend a good lactation consultant?”

“I can’t ma’am, and I have to clear the line.  911 is for emergencies only.”

 

For Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner

Read more about nuisance 911 calls here.

I Am A Thief

light blinding
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Rhonda shielded her eyes from the blinding light as she stepped from the dark subway tunnel.  The sun was high.  The first person she saw was a stranger, standing in the middle of the sidewalk.  “I AM A THIEF,” read the sign he wore over his chest.

Rhonda, overcome with curiosity, approached him.  “What did you steal?”

“Some DVDs.”  He spat into the gutter and Rhonda tried not to recoil.

“From where?”

“Wally-World.”

“Why?”

He shrugged.  “Done it before, thought I could get away with it again.  Make some quick cash.  Judge said 30 days in jail or wear the sign all day.  Picked the sign.”

Obviously.

A car zipping by honked the horn and he waved, like a politician angling for votes.

“Well, it’s pretty hot out here.  Want a drink?”

He shrugged.

Rhonda ducked into a corner store and grabbed a water.  As she meandered through the aisles towards the counter to pay, she stopped, dropping the bottle in her purse and heading to the front door, a subtle smile on her face.

“Ma’am!”  A stern voice called out.

As the cops led her away, the man looked at her briefly, then recoiled, as though he were disgusted.

For Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner

Detached

paint
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“This was the first time I had ever had to sign for a letter addressed to ‘Female Occupant.’”  

It was Claudia’s second time at one of the wine and paint classes that were popping up all over the city.  There was never really much painting taking place, just gossip.

“What was inside?”  Tess demanded, on the edge of her seat, her paintbrush stationary in front of her mostly blank canvas.

“A short note fell out, it just said, ‘I thought you should know.’  No signature.  It’s probably one of the neighbors.  Anyway, a bunch of photos fell out, a woman coming and going from my house during the day while I’m at work, when Jack is supposedly ‘working from home.’  Really young, maybe a college student…”

Tess gasped so loudly a few people turned and stared.  She glared back.

“What are you going to do?”  Marie whispered.

“I don’t know.  I can’t just leave.  Can I?  I have four children…”

As Claudia babbled on, Marie reminded herself that she had done all she could, the rest was out of her hands.  She turned her attention to her painting, rushing to make hers as perfect as the instructor’s.

For Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner

Today

trash
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Malory swiped the sweat from her forehead as she looked out at the parking lot.  Despite her youth, her back ached, her legs burned.  It had been a grueling job, but they’d finally finished. She and a few neighbors had worked practically nonstop the entire Saturday.  Together, they’d removed months’ worth of trash and junk, old furniture and broken toys, fast food wrappers and drug paraphernalia.  Malory was tired of looking of the window of her tiny apartment and seeing a wasteland.  She was tired of asking for help and getting only silence in response.  As far as the government was concerned, this was the middle of nowhere, they were nobodies, forgotten.  Change had to come through them.

Maybe tomorrow the lot would be trashed again. Maybe the government would never hear them.  Maybe no one cared.  But today, their neighborhood was beautiful, if only for a little while, and people were smiling at one another again.  Even the cynical neighbors, who told her that nothing mattered, that there was no point, poked their heads out of their smudged windows and marveled at the change.  Today, even if it was only temporary, they had won.

For Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner

Malory is a character in my manuscript, The Wildflower Project, a dystopian story set over 200 years in the future.  Read it for free here.