Invasion

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The library was closed.  She locked the doors, shut down the front desk, put away the last of the books that were left behind on the tables.  When the work was done, she pulled her own book from her bag and curled up on the couch by the windows, reading by the waning light of the late afternoon sun.  She heard her phone buzz again in her purse, but ignored it.  Was that the tenth missed call?  The eleventh?

She read until it was too dark to make out the words on the page.  That’s when she saw headlights in the parking lot, heard the angry, urgent pounding against the front door.  She closed the book, pulling up the collar on her shirt for the 100th time that day to conceal the blue-black finger marks on her neck.  She fumbled in the dark for her phone and with trembling hands, for the first time, she dialed 911.  He’d invaded her last safe haven.

For Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Ocean

 

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Source

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

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

 

Lullaby

 

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Source

 

“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

After

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The first 22 years of my life have been a frantic race for this day.  I dreamed of it as a girl, talked about it endlessly it as an adolescent, and after I met him, started planning it in secret.

The car stops in front of our new address, a gorgeous showstopper of a home.  I stand in our mostly empty living room, my heart slowly falling into my belly as my new husband tromps up the stairs. The decades in front us stretch endlessly into the unknown as I slide to the floor.  What happens now?

The six sentence story prompt this week is Address.

Wanderer

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Willa is gone. Her side of the bed is chilly this morning when I roll away from the sound of the alarm. I expected her to tiptoe in sometime late in the night, returning to me as she does after all of her wanderings. She’s always back before morning. Something is wrong.

Outside, our street is quiet and empty. Her car is gone. I speed toward the center of town, searching the sidewalks for a glimpse of her. I see a woman, her hair pulled to the crown of her head in a tall, curly bun, as Willa’s worn hers nearly everyday for the past year. She has on one of those wispy, ankle-length dresses that fill Willa’s closet. I stop in the middle of the road and the car behind me barrels into my bumper. I leap from the car, ignoring the other driver’s profanity-laced protests.

I look into every storefront, down every alley, inside every passing car, but she is gone. I see a police officer on patrol, and I practically accost him, telling him all about Willa, that she’s missing, that I think I just saw her but lost her again. He listens, but in an impatient, condescending way, and tells me that I can go to the station to make a report, but it sounds like Willa left of her own accord and will come back when she’s ready. I wander through downtown for hours, hoping to see her again, but she’s vanished.

When it’s dark, I walk home, knowing that my car is probably impounded. Willa has never had many friends, but I will call everyone, anyone with whom she’s ever conversed, if needed, until I find her.

Her car is in the driveway, parked at a strange angle. I rush inside to see her sitting on the floor in our hallway, a baby with my eyes and her dark, curly hair on her lap. She is cooing at the child, a detached smile on her face.

She looks up at me as though nothing unusual has transpired. “I’ve found her,” she says to me in an elated whisper. “I found our baby.”

“Willa,” I say, taking a tentative step closer, putting my hand on her shoulder. “We lost the baby.  Remember?”

For the Story a Day prompt – tell a story using the Hansel & Gretel story structure.

Fog

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The click of his keys in the front door.  What’s for dinner?

“What’s for dinner?”

“Pasta,” she says, slicing vegetables.

Yummy.

“Yummy!”

She looks out of the window at the car they painted together during the heady early days of their marriage.  Their road trip car.

“Let’s drive to San Francisco!”

He laughs.

“I’m serious.”

“Now isn’t a good time.”

“Why not?  We have savings.  We’re still young.  No…kids…tying us down….”

“We have work tomorrow…responsibilities….”

She begins to fade, thinking about the ugly house she hates that will probably be her coffin, the same restaurant they visit every week for date night, all of the trips not taken and the babies that never came and the stink of garbage and dirty dishes and musty, closed-in guest rooms and there’s an explosion.  Screams and flashes of red. She emerges from the fog to see him at her feet, bleeding and unmoving.  She drops the knife, shivering with fear and disgust and grief, yet grateful that finally, something was different.

 

For Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Green Eyes

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The cows did her in.  All through dinner with her daughter, her ex and his new wife, she’d been internally patting herself, and her ex, on the backs.  What mature parents they were, still getting along years after their divorce.

Now that Sean had remarried, to a girl 10 years younger than she no less, everyone asked Sonya if she was angry, or jealous.  Her answer always was the same – she was thrilled for him.  Madison made Sean happy, and she was a wonderful stepmother to their daughter.

They moved to the living room, Sean’s and Madison’s living room, for dessert and there they were, sitting on the mantle.  The pair of psychedelic ceramic cows, the ones she’d found in a flea market on their honeymoon.  She loved those cows.  They’d gone missing during the last years of their marriage, and at some point she’d just stopped looking for them.  But now they were here, on Madison’s mantle.  Her heart caught fire as she blinked back tears, staring at Sean’s hand on Madison’s slim thigh.

 

For Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers  and inspired by one of my favorite songs about heartbreak, Green Eyes.

Detached

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Source

“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