Thursday Thriller – Dark Horse

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He rode up on a dark horse this morning, just as the sun rose through the line of trees that faced the house. I was on the front porch, wiping sweat from my brow as I sat in a rocking chair. I needed a rest. I’d been working all night.

He told me I didn’t have to worry any longer, that I was safe. He would take me far away from this squalid house, my unfulfilling marriage. He was going to rescue me.

Then his eyes widened as he saw the deep, brownish-red stains on my white apron, the perspiration on my face, the hole dug at the edge of the property. The sun shone in the window of my house, illuminating what was lying on the floor of the front parlor. He blanched as he looked back at me with eyes full of fear, not pity, for once, and my chest swelled.

I don’t need rescuing.

Friendship

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I can’t go inside.  Andrea parked in front of her friend’s home, watching the silhouettes move behind the curtains.

Kent moved out a week ago.  She twisted the gold band on her finger nervously. There was nothing shameful about being single. Nothing at all.  She just couldn’t handle the questions, the pity in everyone’s eyes.  Not today.

The curtains moved.  She’d been seen. She had to get out of the car.

Kent answered the door. “We’ve been waiting for you,” he said, extending his arms. She hugged him tightly, thankful, at least, for his friendship.

 

The Moral Mondays prompt this week is THERE IS NO “I” IN TEAM.  

Thousand

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She’d been writing the same book since college.  The story was a beautiful one that had come to her in a dream.  She’d sprung from bed in her tiny dorm room, startling her roommate, and run to jot the idea down before she forgot it.

Today, the girl with the eager smile and a head full of dreams was gone.  She was a mother.  A wife.

A thousand words.  I need a thousand words.

“Coming to bed, babe?” Dean asked as he passed her office in the hall.

“Not yet.”  She blew him a kiss, then opened her laptop.

 

The Moral Mondays prompt this week is FINISH WHAT YOU START.

 

 

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

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.

Breath

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We left her behind.  The baby Willa took.  Willa was beside herself, clawing at me, pulling at her clothes, her hair, begging to take the child with us.  But I won’t inflict that pain on anyone else.

They will be looking for her soon.  It won’t take long for the authorities to connect the dots that lead straight to our home.   We have to run.

Willa isn’t well.  The truth is unavoidable now.  It’s no longer hiding, the storm just beneath the surface of our marriage.  She will never recover from our loss.  I should get her help.  I should.  A better man would.  But I won’t survive without Willa.  She is the breath in my lungs.  I will watch her.  I will keep her from wandering.

We stop to rest, and I fall asleep with her in my arms, exhaling softly against my chest.  In the morning, her side of the bed is cold once again.

 

For Story a Day and the Daily Post using characters from yesterday’s story.

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