Bonds

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A warm, sweet-smelling bundle stirred in April’s arms.  Her precious baby girl.  She thought of her own mother, of all the things she didn’t know. The wild nights, stolen kisses, bad boys, ill-conceived romances, spontaneous road trips, the wind blasting her hair. The hidden scars.  She pictured her daughter years in the future with a head full of secrets, a chasm between them.

“What’s on your mind?”  Her husband asked, playfully tousling her hair.

“What she’ll be like when she’s all grown up.”

He grinned.  “Let’s just focus on today.”

 

The Moral Mondays prompt this week is THERE IS NO FEAR IN LOVE.

 

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Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

In the first picture, Zoey was screaming, her face beet red, while Jackson’s finger was firmly implanted up his nose. Delete.  Second photo – Zoey shoved Jackson just as the camera flashed. Delete.  By the 10th photo, Zoey and Jackson wore bright smiles, their arms wrapped around each other like loving siblings. Brandi posted it to Facebook with the hashtags: #blessed #bliss #momlife.

In another city, Brandi’s friend Sandra was scrubbing vomit out of her shirt as something crashed in the next room. They’d been snowed in for days. She glanced at Brandi’s latest Facebook update on her phone, and sighed.

 

For Friday Fictioneers

 

Thursday Thriller – Sick

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My children are crying for me.  They’re all cuddled upstairs in bed like three adorable peas in a pod.  All flushed cheeks and runny noses, sweaty foreheads and chapped lips.  So tragically beautiful.

News of my little ones’ health has reached every corner of our state.  Hundreds of people are talking about them, praying for them, missing them.  My children.  My babies.   People fold crisp dollar bills in my trembling hand when I encounter them on the road, they listen, enthralled, as I recount my story, our story, with tears in my eyes.  My table is laden with covered dishes and treats from the neighbors and friends.  Baskets of muffins and fruit, casseroles, pies, tins of homemade cookies.  I’ll pack the food away for now.  I know what my children need.  I know why they cry.

The soup is almost done.  It’s their favorite.  My own recipe.  One I’ll never share with anyone.  I add a little pinch of my most special ingredient before ladling large helpings into three identical, bright yellow bowls.  My babies will be beloved forever.

 

Mother

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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

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“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.

Doughnuts

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The world has gone mad.  When I was a kid, if someone brought cookies to share with the class – guess what?  We were excited.  And thankful.  Now, if it’s not gluten-free, fat-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, and taste-free, expect to get the treats sent back home with your kid accompanied by a stern note.  Last month, when I committed the infraction of sending chocolate chip cookies for the end of semester party, Mary, the formidable head of the PTA, informed me that all baked goods sent to the school must be gluten-free, since so many students had allergies.

For those of us who aren’t “domestically-inclined,” as she puts it, she suggests the Sunflower Bakery, which specializes in healthy and wheat-free baked delights.  I think I just threw up in my mouth.  Guess what, Mary?  I’m sending my son to school today with a box of doughnuts I bought from the discount shelf at the low-rent grocery store I patronize, a far cry from the Whole Paycheck Market where you, or your nanny, probably do all your shopping.  And I’m sure he, your child, and all the other delicate little dumplings in the class will be JUST FINE!

“There’s Dylan!”  My son exclaims from the backseat as we pull up in front of his school.

Dylan, Mary’s son? “Is Dylan your friend?”

“Yep.  We’re best buddies.”

Was Mary petty enough to ruin my son’s first friendship because his mother sent low-rent doughnuts to the class party?

Yes, she was.

“Jake, sweetie, I think those doughnuts have gone bad.”  He looks at me strangely but leaves the package on the backseat as he exits the car.

Ignoring the horn honks from impatient parents behind me, I search my phone for directions to the Sunflower Bakery.

 

Written for the Story A Day prompt – First Person

 

Whirlwind

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It was only her second time even meeting his kids.  All five of them.  There they all were, lined up in a row, each holding a sign.  Together they spelled out a question – WILL YOU MARRY OUR DADDY?  Her chest tightened when she realized what was happening. Maybe it wasn’t exactly PC to say, but she wasn’t even sure if she liked all of Jay’s kids – that little one seemed like he’d be a handful.  She needed time.

Before Jay could get on one knee, she put her hand on his arm.

“Can we speak privately?”

 

The Moral Mondays prompt this week is:  Don’t Take On More Than You Can Bear

I must have proposals on the brain, my second engagement-related story in less than a week.  It’s that time of year!

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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

Sweet and Sour

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Ted Strutz

“Here you go, mommy!” Spencer thrust a bouquet of wildflowers into her hands.  Maggie was so touched by her son’s thoughtfulness, but couldn’t help but notice that the stems were a bit damp, and that the blooms smelled a bit…sour.

“Thanks, buddy.”

“Welcome.  I dipped ’em in the toilet before I gave ’em to you so they’d smell good.”

Maggie shrieked and ran to the bathroom, dropping the flowers on the floor.  As she scrubbed her hands in scalding water, Spencer appeared in the doorway, confused.

“But, Mommy,  I thought you liked toilet water.”

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For Friday Fictioneers

Selfie

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Photo Prompt @ Uday

Driving through her old hometown was more depressing than Rayna thought it would be.  Most of the old storefronts in what used to be downtown were closed forever.

“Mommy?  What’s a ‘photo center?'” Marnie, her seven-year-old daughter, asked from the backseat, pointing to a locked, crumbling building as they passed.

“Oh, when I was a kid, grandma and grandpa had a camera that used something called film.  It sort of…errr…remembered your pictures for you after you took them…”

“Remembered them?” Marnie scrunched her face in confusion.

Rayna chuckled.  “Mmmm-hmmmm.  Then they brought the film here to the photo center where they turned it into pictures.”

“Wow,” Marnie said in amazement.

Rayna smiled as she thought of all of the childhood memories brought to life in that old building.

“I have an idea.”

Rayna lifted a giggling Marnie onto her hip as they posed in front of the old photo center.  She posted the selfie of their goofy, happy faces to her Instagram with the caption, “End of an era.”

For Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers