Window

window-691542_960_720

Mother loved Louisa best.  Once again, Louisa had successfully convinced Mother to blame Gemma for one of her own infractions, sending Gemma to her room without dinner.  “I don’t want to see you again until morning,” Mother had said, clutching Louisa, who’d stopped fake-sobbing long enough to stick her tongue out.

Gemma opened her bedroom window and let in the sweet summer air.  She listened to the sound of her friends playing, families laughing, food sizzling on backyard grills.  She grabbed her sketchbook and pencils, gifts from Dad, and let her mind run free.

 

The Moral Mondays prompt this week is FREEDOM IS A STATE OF MIND.

Thousand

typewriter-1031317_1920

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.

 

 

Swimming Lessons

water-103817_960_720

I open the back door and step onto the deck, the sticky summer heat moistening my skin, and step gingerly into the refreshing, frigid, pool.   My mother insists that babies are too young to swim; I didn’t learn until I was in my twenties.  I clutch my six-month-old daughter to my chest, her head resting in the crook of my neck, until the water is chest-level.  I carefully let her go, my arms outstretched to catch her, just in case.  Fearlessly, she ducks her head underwater, her tiny legs fluttering like a bird’s wings.  I dive under and rise to meet her under the rippling blue surface, kissing her cheek.

 

The Six Sentence Stories prompt this week is Deck.

Mother

alligators

It had been one of those perfect days. Blue sky, puffy, white clouds floating lazily over their heads. She and her beautiful little boys spending a day at the zoo, childish laughter in the air.  Maybe that’s why Lacey had let them run ahead. My instincts told me it was safe. I just let them go. She’d been smiling when she heard the scream.

There was Zack down below, who’d somehow fallen into an enclosure. A huge reptile was charging him. Her youngest, Ben, screamed for her, his eyes wide in terror. Lacey held him close as she yelled for help. The shot from the zookeeper, the one that killed the creature, filled her with relief and sorrow.

Now, the world knew her name. She had no idea the creature that died was one of a rare, endangered species.  The backlash had begun. Lacey was a bad mother.  Her child should have been shot instead of the animal. She should have been shot. She was an idiot. A welfare mom. A drug addict. A loser.

There was a knock at the door.  Her next door neighbor stepped inside and she braced herself for another attack.

“I’m glad you and your kids are okay.”

Lacey collapsed into her arms and started to cry.

For Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner

Glass

broken-glass-1569217

“You were supposed to be here an hour ago!”

Kacey put the phone on speaker so her sister, Kenna, could hear.”We’re almost there, Mom!” Kacey zipped around the corner in the luxury car her parents had just given her.

“Go have a Xanax,” Kenna added.

“Byeeeeeeeeeeeeee,” Kacey yelled as she ended the call, tossing the phone in her Gucci handbag.

“The same crap every Sunday.  I’d rather eat glass.”

They rushed inside as their mother emerged from the kitchen carrying two plates, each covered with tiny, broken shards.

“Your purse called me back,” Mom said with a tiny smile.

 

For Moral Mondays – The prompt this week is Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child.

Purpose

photo-20160530071502073

She told her mother she was taking a walk.  She barely looked up as Rebecca walked out the door, busy with Rebecca’s father and brothers, homework questions, dinner prep, chores.  It was a loud, rowdy home.   Rebecca had no place there.  She served no purpose  besides being in the way.

She sat on a bench and looked out at the city skyline, her teeth chattering as a bracing, cold wind whipped around her.  Despite the temperature, she unzipped her baggy hoodie, desperate to see it.   Her secret.   She peeked at her belly, a round orb, pulsing with alien movement.  She had no way of knowing if her child would be male or female, but she imagined a little girl.  She and her daughter, holding hands, swapping secrets, living in their own shared world.  This was her purpose.

For Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Forks

place-setting-1056286_960_720

Madeline was starving.  She’d been too nervous to eat the entire day, her stomach churning as she sat anxiously in her work cubicle, waiting for 5 o’clock.  Now, it seemed as though all of the hunger stored up from the entire day had decided to take over her body at once.  I hope no one heard my stomach growl.  But she was sure someone had.

Her foot tapped a silent beat against the plush carpet.  She made up a recitation to go along with the rhythm.  Which-fork-do-I-pick?  Which-fork-do-I-pick?  Which-fork-do-I-pick?   She couldn’t remember.  Her mother had mentioned it to her long ago in passing but hadn’t made a big issue of it.  Clearly she hadn’t thought Madeline had too many formal, black tie dinner parties in her future.  Madeline had never seen so much silverware at one place setting in all of her life.  Do I start at the outside and work my way in?  Or is it the reverse?  She didn’t want to look like a fool.

David had introduced her to his parents only about a month ago.  His mother, Claudine, had seemed decidedly underwhelmed by Madeline, coolly taking in her off-the-rack clothes and scuffed shoes before offering her a dry handshake and a tight smile.  David had told her not to worry when Madeline fretted that his mother didn’t like her, and sure enough, a week later Claudine had begun planning a dinner party to introduce Madeline to all of their closest friends and family.  It was their coming out party.

One piece of advice from her mother that Madeline did hold on to – if you’re ever unsure, watch to see what the other dinner guests do first.  Great advice, except no one had begun eating yet.  Claudine was in the middle of a lengthy anecdote, something about her and her husband’s recent visit to the South of France, and they all seemed to be hanging on her every word.

David was seated at the opposite end of the table.  He’d warned her this would happen.  Traditionally at dinner parties, he’d explained, couples were separated to give everyone a chance to meet someone new, make new acquaintances.  Madeline didn’t see the point. To her right, David’s great-aunt Dorinda was already lightly snoring into her uneaten garden salad.  To her left, the wife of David’s best friend from high school, Tiffany, kept leaving her seat every five to ten minutes to make suspicious trips to the powder room, wiping at her nose upon her return.  Is that going to be me in a few years?  Madeline wondered as she stared once again at Tiffany’s retreating form.  It also wasn’t lost on her that David had been seated next to his beautiful ex-wife, Elisa, who put her hand on David’s forearm and laughed lustily every time Claudine made a joke, or what passed as a joke in this house, anyway, tossing her hair back and leaning into David as though he were still hers.

Screw this.  Madeline raised the fork she thought was meant for the salad course and decided to go for it.  The salad was dry and underdressed but it was the first sustenance she’d had all day.  She bit down on a huge chunk of carrot and a loud crunch seemed to echo through the dining room.  Claudine stopped mid-sentence and every eye turned on her.  Seriously?  How do these people eat carrots?  Do they pay someone to have them pre-chewed?

Sheepish, Madeline, unable to remove her eyes from Claudine’s steely glare, went to set down the fork on the side of her salad bowl but accidentally knocked over her water glass and a glass of red wine, dousing the front of her dress and splashing poor Aunt Dorinda, who still didn’t wake up.

Are you okay?  David mouthed from across the room.  Madeline nodded as she rose from the table, gathering all of her confidence.  “I’m sorry to disturb you.  Excuse me for a moment, please.”  She rushed from the room as quickly as good manners would allow, making her way to the powder room Tiffany was exiting, glassy-eyed.

As she scrubbed at the front of her dress with a towel and made little headway, there was a gentle knock at the door.  Her heart lifted.  David.

“Come in!”

But it was a fiery-eyed Claudine who opened the door, quietly shutting it behind her as she stepped inside.

 

Today’s Story A Day prompt is Write at Your Natural Length.  

  • Today I give you permission to write a partial story, a scene, and extracts from a longer tale. It doesn’t have to feel complete, like a short story should, but it should still have something of a story arc. Use today to practice that.

I decided to write a scene instead of a complete story.  Instead of writing a scene from the novel I’m writing, I decided to write one using characters from a short story I wrote a while ago.

Read Part 2

A Grain

woman sad

My daughter has the best of everything. Her clothes are from the finest boutiques in town, her wardrobe rivaling mine in size and quality. Her hair has been highlighted and cut by my own stylist from the time she was small.    I’ve given her everything she’s ever wanted. Things she didn’t even know that she wanted. Private dance tutors, acting classes, beauty pageant wins, cosmetic enhancements.  We want her to be happy. I thought she was happy.

When her teachers told me that Riley’s interactions with another girl in school could be considered bullying, I dismissed it, taking it with a grain of salt. Didn’t all teenage girls argue? But then I met the girl, Cassie, and her mother, in the principal’s office, and I saw something I recognized in her sad eyes. Riley laughed the whole thing off in the car on the way home, and I joined in, wanting to make her happy, to reassure her I was on her side, but my heart wasn’t in it.

Cassie is gone now. When I found out the news, I locked myself in my bedroom and cried the rest of the day. Visions of my own youth tortured me. Disdainful looks from the pretty girls with their perfect skin and shiny hair. My desperation to be accepted, only to have doors slammed in my face at every turn. I thought about the day I gave birth to Riley, when I promised her that she would never endure one moment of suffering.

Today, I dried my eyes and got on the phone to find my daughter a lawyer. They want to put her in jail, but I can’t let that happen. She’s my baby.

For Story A Day

Reversal

157-05-may-22nd-2016

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

 

piano
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