Unforgettable

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The Funky Monkey was her favorite bar.  Or her new favorite bar.  Everything lately was brand new.  New supermarket, new manicurist, new apartment, new friends.  New life.

She was certain her boss had just replaced her on the sales floor when she hadn’t come in a few days in a row.  Her so-called friends had probably shrugged and ordered another round of drinks.  And Jared, the boyfriend she neglected to dump before she left town, had likely deleted her number and called one of his many admirers.  Good riddance.

She nearly fell off her barstool when she saw Jared speaking at a press conference on the TV above the bar, flanked by police officers.  The screen changed, and she saw her own face, a photo taken by Jared during a perfect day at the lake.  She looked nothing like that now.  Her hair was shorter and dyed jet black, her skin deeply tanned, colored contacts in her eyes.  She blinked away tears.

“You know that guy?”  The bartender asked.

She nodded as she downed another shot.

 

For Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers 

 

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Wall

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Mary Shipman

“You’re so sweet to always volunteer to close the store!”  Madison poked her bottom lip out in a bizarre show of solidarity.

Bree straightened an antique clock.  “You’ll make it up to me.”  Though you’ve never tried.

“Stop by the bar when you’re done if you want to hang out!” I never do.  Madison gave her one last pitiful glance before leaving.

Bree finished her duties quickly, then leaned against the back wall in the secret place the store’s owner had revealed to her.  The wall slid away, and Bree hurriedly descended the dark stairs.  Her true friends were waiting.

For Friday Fictioneers

 

Under

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“So, I have something to tell you.”

“Really?  What is it?”

Please don’t say you’re pregnant again.  Please don’t say you’re pregnant again.  Please don’t say you’re pregnant again.  

“I’m pregnant again!”

Of course you are.  You lazy, irresponsible, silly girl.  You can sit next to a man on the subway and get pregnant.

“That’s wonderful!”

“Thanks.  I know it’s probably not the best time…”

Ha!  That’s an understatement.  How old is your youngest?  Six months?  Your husband can’t keep a job to save his life.  All six of you in a tiny apartment.   And yet, how long have I been trying now?  18 months?  Two years, maybe?  And nothing to show for it but an exorbitant bill from a fertility specialist, two miscarriages and a drawer full of negative tests.  You’ve been blessed four times and treat it like a trip to the convenience store.  I hate you.  

“An unexpected blessing.”

“I’m sure your turn will be soon.  I always tell you – you just need to relax.  It will happen.”

Relax?!  Relax?!  How can I do that with you getting knocked up every year like clockwork?  Everyone complimenting you on your ripening belly while I sit next to you like an old dried up prune?  People staring at me with pity in their eyes.  Me smiling like everything is okay.  Which it isn’t!  Because you’re pregnant again.  You, who couldn’t even afford a crib for your last baby!   And you tell me to relax?  Screw you!

“I’m sure it will.”

She reaches over and clutches my hand.

“Thank you for your support.  It means a lot.”

You disgust me.

“Of course.  You’re my best friend!”

 

Pictures

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The phone vibrated in her purse.  Another notification.  Celia had posted a gallery of photos on Facebook from her London trip.  Nora scrolled through the pictures, trying to smile, but it still stung, that she hadn’t been asked to come.  True, she probably would have turned them down- the expense, the crowds, the cold, it was all too much.  In fact, she usually turned them down, but the truth was, though she’d never admit it, was that she liked to be invited.  Why couldn’t they ever do something she could do?  Something quiet and peaceful, affordable, less chaotic.  Her friends were slipping away.

Nora crawled into bed, her phone still in hand.  She commented under a photo of the Shard, London’s tallest building – Gorgeous!  Glad you guys had fun!  Lunch tomorrow?   She put the phone on the pillow next to her and hoped for a response by morning.

For Sunday Photo Fiction 

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.

 

Harm

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A girl had fallen in the snow.  Sara ran down the road, breathless, wanting to help.  There was no one else around.  People were locked up inside their homes, waiting out the storm.  When the girl looked up with a grimace, Sara gasped. It was Taylor Stokes.  Taylor was the reason why she’d had to change schools. The reason why she’d cried herself to sleep every night her freshman year. The reason for the jagged scars on the inside of her arm.

They limped slowly down the street to Sara’s warm house.  When they came through the door, Sara’s mother, Faye, was waiting.  She hadn’t seen Taylor since that awful day in the principal’s office.  The morning after she’d caught Sara with the nail scissors.  They’d moved to a new school district to keep the two girls apart.  And now here she was, in their home, needing help.

Faye iced Taylor’s ankle and elevated it, then called her mother, who said she would be there shortly.

“What were you doing out there in the storm?”  Faye asked.  Taylor looked sheepish.  They realized suddenly, she was there to do something nasty.  There had been little pranks, every once and a while, since Sara had moved.  A rude name spray-painted on the garage door or the driveway, an egg splattered on the car.  Faye said nothing.  Taylor’s mom arrived shortly after, full of humility and gratitude, and then they were gone.

“Why did you help her?”  Sara asked Faye later.

“Because it was the right thing to do.”

That night, Sara reached for the secret pair of scissors she kept under her mattress and threw them away.

For Sunday Photo Fiction