Feud

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The hundreds-year-old tree between the two houses was the only one still alive who knew how it all began.  Past residents of those houses, Ruby and Dottie, had stood under its wavering, winter-bare branches years ago and argued about some trivial, forgettable, nonsense.  Each woman, seething with rage, had marched inside and told their respective husbands not to speak to anyone next door again.

Ruby and Dottie were gone now. It was Ruby’s four-year-old great-great-granddaughter, Pearl, who decided to defy her mother and venture to the other side of the tree. Leaning against its trunk was Sam, Dottie’s great-great-grandson, who was absentmindedly playing with a pocket-watch he’d found in his attic. There was a folded note inside.  Before the children could open it, the wind picked it up and carried it away.  It was in Dottie’s handwriting, addressed to Ruby, and bore only the words, I’m sorry.

The watch forgotten, Sam and Pearl laughed and chased each other around the base of the tree, as she sighed with relief and showered them with blooms.

For Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Bonds

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A warm, sweet-smelling bundle stirred in April’s arms.  Her precious baby girl.  She thought of her own mother, of all the things she didn’t know. The wild nights, stolen kisses, bad boys, ill-conceived romances, spontaneous road trips, the wind blasting her hair. The hidden scars.  She pictured her daughter years in the future with a head full of secrets, a chasm between them.

“What’s on your mind?”  Her husband asked, playfully tousling her hair.

“What she’ll be like when she’s all grown up.”

He grinned.  “Let’s just focus on today.”

 

The Moral Mondays prompt this week is THERE IS NO FEAR IN LOVE.

 

Delete

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Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

In the first picture, Zoey was screaming, her face beet red, while Jackson’s finger was firmly implanted up his nose. Delete.  Second photo – Zoey shoved Jackson just as the camera flashed. Delete.  By the 10th photo, Zoey and Jackson wore bright smiles, their arms wrapped around each other like loving siblings. Brandi posted it to Facebook with the hashtags: #blessed #bliss #momlife.

In another city, Brandi’s friend Sandra was scrubbing vomit out of her shirt as something crashed in the next room. They’d been snowed in for days. She glanced at Brandi’s latest Facebook update on her phone, and sighed.

 

For Friday Fictioneers

 

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.

 

Lullaby

 

 

“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

Doughnuts

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The world has gone mad.  When I was a kid, if someone brought cookies to share with the class – guess what?  We were excited.  And thankful.  Now, if it’s not gluten-free, fat-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, and taste-free, expect to get the treats sent back home with your kid accompanied by a stern note.  Last month, when I committed the infraction of sending chocolate chip cookies for the end of semester party, Mary, the formidable head of the PTA, informed me that all baked goods sent to the school must be gluten-free, since so many students had allergies.

For those of us who aren’t “domestically-inclined,” as she puts it, she suggests the Sunflower Bakery, which specializes in healthy and wheat-free baked delights.  I think I just threw up in my mouth.  Guess what, Mary?  I’m sending my son to school today with a box of doughnuts I bought from the discount shelf at the low-rent grocery store I patronize, a far cry from the Whole Paycheck Market where you, or your nanny, probably do all your shopping.  And I’m sure he, your child, and all the other delicate little dumplings in the class will be JUST FINE!

“There’s Dylan!”  My son exclaims from the backseat as we pull up in front of his school.

Dylan, Mary’s son? “Is Dylan your friend?”

“Yep.  We’re best buddies.”

Was Mary petty enough to ruin my son’s first friendship because his mother sent low-rent doughnuts to the class party?

Yes, she was.

“Jake, sweetie, I think those doughnuts have gone bad.”  He looks at me strangely but leaves the package on the backseat as he exits the car.

Ignoring the horn honks from impatient parents behind me, I search my phone for directions to the Sunflower Bakery.

 

Written for the Story A Day prompt – First Person

 

Leaving

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Her children no longer spoke to her.  She hated to admit it, but sometimes she preferred it that way.  She couldn’t bear looking into their pained, soulless eyes.

She’d suffered too.  She’d endured broken ribs, countless black eyes, busted lips and bloody noses.  She knew the sound of his broad fist barreling into her flesh so well.  Her children did too.

Her bag was light.  There wasn’t much from this place she wanted to keep.  She would drive across the country, show up on her daughter’s doorstep and beg her forgiveness, hoping she would let her in.

 

The Moral Mondays prompt this week is Better Late Than Never

Whirlwind

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It was only her second time even meeting his kids.  All five of them.  There they all were, lined up in a row, each holding a sign.  Together they spelled out a question – WILL YOU MARRY OUR DADDY?  Her chest tightened when she realized what was happening. Maybe it wasn’t exactly PC to say, but she wasn’t even sure if she liked all of Jay’s kids – that little one seemed like he’d be a handful.  She needed time.

Before Jay could get on one knee, she put her hand on his arm.

“Can we speak privately?”

 

The Moral Mondays prompt this week is:  Don’t Take On More Than You Can Bear

I must have proposals on the brain, my second engagement-related story in less than a week.  It’s that time of year!

View

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“What are you doing, baby girl?”  Michelle put her hand on her young daughter’s shoulder.  Kara was sitting in a chair next to the living room window, staring at the blur of cars whipping by on the highway below.  Her nose was pressed against the cold glass.

“I’m looking for daddy’s car.”  Kara answered without turning her head, never moving her eyes from the road.

Michelle sighed deeply and went to the sofa, picking up a random magazine from the coffee table and starting to flip through it angrily.  “He was supposed to be here hours ago, honey.  He’s not coming.  As usual.”

Kara didn’t respond, just pressed her forehead against the window more firmly so her mother didn’t see her eyes beginning to fill with tears.

“Don’t you have a great life?” Michelle continued.  “A great apartment, gorgeous clothes, the best schools…we did all of this WITHOUT him.  We don’t need him.”

Kara just shrugged, refusing to face her mother.

“Suit yourself.”  Michelle stormed from the living room, slamming her bedroom door behind her.

Kara ignored her mother and the cramp starting in her neck, staring at the road through the blur of her tears.    A robin’s egg blue SUV, just like the one her daddy drove, was coming down the highway toward their building.  She closed her eyes, not wanting to watch it pass her by.

For Sunday Photo Fiction

Illuminated

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Photo – Kent Bonham

The children were afraid.  The wind howled outside and knocked against their front door like a fearsome stranger trying to break it down.  It was one of those nights where Mom would stay gone for hours and hours on end, sometimes not returning until the morning, rumpled and wild-eyed, stumbling to her bed.    They huddled together as the girl reached behind her headboard for the book.  She spread it open across both their narrow laps.  Looking at each other, they smiled as the light from the book illuminated their tiny faces.  They blinked, then disappeared.

For Friday Fictioneers