Heirloom

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Kayla listened to the sharp, raised voices downstairs and shook her head, climbing higher and higher until she reached the attic. Her siblings had done nothing but argue about her father’s will since the funeral and it was shameful. She was moving away, far from the dysfunction of her family and the disappointing path her life had taken in this dead-end town. The stop at the old family home would be her last. Her father had left her something.

Minutes later, Kayla returned to the van, breathless, loading the large crate into the moving van with her brother’s help.

“What is it?” He asked.  She said nothing.

That night, in her new home, Kayla hung her father’s gift on the wall of her attic. The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, the painting stolen from the Gardner museum when she was a girl. She stepped back to take in its beauty, wiping a tear from her eye. She would keep her father’s secret forever.

 

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For Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers and Story A Day

 

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Assumptions

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One of Gigi’s favorite memories from childhood was the first time she rode the skylift at Sumner Mountain to its peak.  She couldn’t wait to share the experience with her daughter, Alex.

The air was humid, and she could tell little Alex was getting impatient as they waited. Gigi turned to see one of the employees gesturing for her to step out of line.  Confused, but not wanting to make a scene, she complied, telling Alex to stay put.

“Ma’am,” said the worker in a sheepish voice, avoiding eye contact.  “I’m sorry but we’re going to have to ask you to come back on a day when we’re less crowded.  Every lift is at full capacity and there’s…a….errr…weight limit,” he whispered.

Gigi recoiled as though she’d been slapped.  She didn’t respond, just grabbed Alex’s hand and started to walk away.  She could feel everyone’s eyes on her.  They all knew why she was leaving.

“Mommy, where are we going?  I want to ride the ride.”

Gigi didn’t answer.

She felt a hand on her shoulder as they reached the exit.

“Maybe now this will motivate you to model more healthy eating habits for your daughter,” said the stranger, mock concern in her voice.  Gigi stared back, debating whether to tell her about her hypothyroidism, ultimately deciding it was none of her business.

“Come on,” she said to Alex.  “Let’s go got some ice cream!”

Alex cheered, the sky lift forgotten, as they departed, leaving the woman and her shocked expression behind.

 

For Sunday Photo Fiction and the Daily Post

 

Faces

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I don’t make it home often. I prefer the chaos and noise of LA to my sleepy, slow-paced hometown.  I’m a new woman now.  New nose, new jawline, new cheekbones.  New life. I peek through the window of my childhood home before I knock.  My sisters are already there, surrounding my mother in the living room.  I take in the way the skin above their broad, identical noses crinkles as they laugh.  Their distinctive jawlines.  I feel like a stranger.  My youngest sister sees me and rushes to the door, dragging me inside.  They welcome me as though nothing’s changed.

 

The prompt for Moral Mondays this week is Mommy Lessons.  My favorite mommy lesson – you’re beautiful just the way you are.

Sacrifice

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“Mom…I have to tell you something…”

“Can it wait, dear?  We have to go or you’re going to be late for rehearsals.  I can’t believe you got another lead!”

“Well, with Jules still in the hospital it hasn’t been difficult…”

“It’s not because of Jules.  It’s because of you, Hope.  Your phenomenal talent.”

“Don’t start crying again, Mom.”

“I can’t help it.  I love you so much.  Now, come on, let’s get out of here.”

“Mom.  Stop.  I’m not going.”

“What do you mean you’re not going?  You’re the star.  They’re all depending on you.”

“Not anymore. I quit.”

“You what?!”

“I told them all yesterday. I’m dropping out of the musical.  I dropped out of drama, chorus, dance, all of it.”

“I can’t believe this…”

“Mom, this really can’t be much of a shock.  I’ve been telling you this for years.  I hate performing.  I get awful stage fright…”

“But you have such a lovely voice…”

“My talent is my own.  It should be up to me how I choose to use it.  Not anyone else.  I’d rather do something creative behind the scenes…”

“You want to waste that beautiful face and voice hiding the dark?  Do you know how many people wish they had half your looks, your charisma, your talent…”

“Like you?”

“This has nothing to do with me, young lady…”

“Really?  You’ve never even ASKED me what I like to do.  If I even enjoyed performing.  I don’t remember NOT doing it.  You must have signed me up for everything when I was still in the womb.”

“I don’t deserve this from you, Hope.  Do you know the things I’ve done for you?  What I’ve risked?!  Sacrificed?!  So you can be successful!”

“Maybe, one day I’ll see things differently…”

“One day?!  It’s now or never!  This is…what is it, Hope?  Why are you crying?”

“Mom…what did you do…?”

“Hope, we don’t have time for this!  We have to get to the school and tell them this is all a big misunderstanding before they give someone else your part…”

“No, Mom. Answer me.  What did you do to Jules?”

 

For Story a Day and the Daily Post

 

 

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

Happy

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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

Mirage

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She lived in a windmill.  How poetic.  He imagined her beautiful, simple life, the one she’d described in all of her messages. She spent her days taking long bike rides along fields bursting with tulips and painting the many watercolor landscapes that adorned the unique dwelling.

The door opened, and there she was.  The beautiful face that he’d stared at on his computer screen every night for nearly a year.  The face he’d flown over a thousand miles to see in person.  Her smile was friendly, but there was no recognition in her eyes.

“It’s me,” he said hopefully, thinking of the dozens of pics they’d exchanged.   Did he really look that different in person?  Her good manners prevailed and she took a tentative step back to allow him inside.  As she gathered the strength to tell him that she had no idea who he was, she didn’t notice her mother tucking her laptop under her arm and exiting through the backdoor.  She’d decided she needed a long, thoughtful walk in the sun.

For Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

 

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

Last

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Nicole stood on his doorstep, shivering, but not from the cold, the telltale marks still visible on her scrawny arms.  He knew the routine by now – she would tell an elaborate story about how she needed cash for groceries, or rent, or some other dire expense.  So many times, he’d given her the last of his meager funds, knowing exactly how she would really use it.  He could never say no to her, until now.

He saw the shock register on Nicole’s face as he shut the door quietly, ignored the banging and angry pleading that followed.  He would no longer be his daughter’s enabler.

The six sentence story prompt this week is last.

180

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“Who in the world could that be?” Samantha wondered aloud, her face scrunched. She and John had been in the middle of complimenting their daughter, Violet, on the remarkable improvement in her attitude and behavior. She’d gone from a sullen, silent teen hiding away in her room to a delightful kid who practically begged for work to do around the house, particularly yard work, in a matter of weeks. Just that weekend alone she’d pulled all the weeds, helped cut the grass, swept the porches and even cleaned the gutters. John and Samantha had decided she deserved a raise in her allowance.  Their unexpected visitor had interrupted before they could tell her the good news.

Samantha followed John to the door. “Can we help you?” John asked the short, red-faced man on their porch.

“Yes! Teach that daughter of yours some manners! My son tells me she’s been looking in our windows…”

“Now, hang on a second!” John yelled back.

As the men continued to argue, Samantha thought about the family who’d just moved in next door. The handsome son who was about Violet’s age, maybe a year or two older. How Violet’s interest in yard-work had coincided with their arrival.

She heard the familiar sound of Violet’s angry footfalls on the steps, culminating with the loud slam of her bedroom door. It appeared things were back to normal. Samantha sighed. It was nice while it lasted.

For Sunday Photo Fiction