Hierarchy

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

The tour guide continued to drone on as Nikki stifled a yawn.  She was only on the Historic Homes tour because of Denise.  She had no interest in this sort of thing, but Denise seemed to be drinking it all in with an intense, almost religious-like, fervor.  She didn’t think Denise had many other friends, poor thing.

Thankfully, the tour guide wrapped things up right on time so Nikki could rush to her next engagement, lunch and shopping with her bestie, Shana.  She felt such pride in herself as she drove away, staring at Denise waving goodbye in the rear-view mirror.

*

“Do you think this works with my coloring?”  Nikki asked Shana after a long lunch at their favorite bistro.  She held a blush pink dress up to her neck.  “Should I try it on?”

Shana nodded and smiled politely.  As Nikki ducked into a changing room Shana checked the time, hoping Nikki wouldn’t try on ten different ensembles before making a choice as she had on their last shopping trip.  She was meeting a group of her best girlfriends for drinks in less than an hour.

 

Written for Sunday Photo Fiction, and also inspired by this scientific study, which says that only 50% of the people we consider friends actually consider us a friend as well.  Interesting read, if you have time. 

 

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

 

Assumptions

156-05-may-15th-2016

One of Gigi’s favorite memories from childhood was the first time she rode the skylift at Sumner Mountain to its peak.  She couldn’t wait to share the experience with her daughter, Alex.

The air was humid, and she could tell little Alex was getting impatient as they waited. Gigi turned to see one of the employees gesturing for her to step out of line.  Confused, but not wanting to make a scene, she complied, telling Alex to stay put.

“Ma’am,” said the worker in a sheepish voice, avoiding eye contact.  “I’m sorry but we’re going to have to ask you to come back on a day when we’re less crowded.  Every lift is at full capacity and there’s…a….errr…weight limit,” he whispered.

Gigi recoiled as though she’d been slapped.  She didn’t respond, just grabbed Alex’s hand and started to walk away.  She could feel everyone’s eyes on her.  They all knew why she was leaving.

“Mommy, where are we going?  I want to ride the ride.”

Gigi didn’t answer.

She felt a hand on her shoulder as they reached the exit.

“Maybe now this will motivate you to model more healthy eating habits for your daughter,” said the stranger, mock concern in her voice.  Gigi stared back, debating whether to tell her about her hypothyroidism, ultimately deciding it was none of her business.

“Come on,” she said to Alex.  “Let’s go got some ice cream!”

Alex cheered, the sky lift forgotten, as they departed, leaving the woman and her shocked expression behind.

 

For Sunday Photo Fiction and the Daily Post

 

Narcissa

 

155-05-may-8th-2015

 

“Cora, hurry!”

Stef knew it was a mistake to include Cora in her scheme.  She was just meandering through the woods as though they were on a routine Sunday stroll instead of a race for freedom.  Stef had been planning this jailbreak for nearly a year.  It was always supposed to be a solo operation.

Cora’s biggest complaint about jail – the lack of beauty products.  She was insistent that she wasn’t going to make it another year without Sephora.  So, when she figured out what Stef was planning, she wanted in.

“A mirror!”  Cora exclaimed.  There was some sort of weird glass structure sitting in the middle of the woods.  Cora couldn’t give up the chance to see what she looked like after being deprived of her reflection for months.

“Cora, I have to go.  I can’t wait any longer…”

Cora motioned for Stef to go ahead. “Fine…fine…I’ll figure something out,” she mumbled, distracted.

Stef turned and fled deeper into the woods.  Her boyfriend was waiting on the other side with a car and a change of clothes for her.  They’d be out of the state before the guards did their count and realized she and Cora were gone.

A month after Cora was recaptured, she got a care package in the mail, which was strange.  She never got mail.  As the guard handed her the open box, she noticed the Sephora label and grinned.

For the Daily Post and Sunday Photo Fiction

Crash

154-05-may-1st-2016

Lara was going to have a place in history.  The first woman to win a racing championship.  Of course, women had won individual races before.  The men had taken pity on them and laid off near the end, letting them race triumphantly toward the finish line as though they’d truly accomplished something.  Lara didn’t need anyone’s charity.

As she lifted her trophy over her head in jubilation, tears streaming from her eyes, champagne spraying everywhere, she could see Cole, her biggest rival, at the edge of the crowd.  They’d been neck-and-neck all season. He was a typical spoiled rich kid, thinking that just because his dad was the most celebrated name in racing that he was entitled to this win.  Not wanting to earn his way.  Cole told the press the night before that the only reason Lara even got the sponsors and publicity she did was because of her looks, not talent.  How she hated him.

Cole placed last today.  A crash took him out during the first lap.  Now, their eyes locked and something passed between them.  An understanding.  He knew what she’d done.

Lara waved to her fans, holding her head high as she descended the platform.  A girl, no more than twelve, crying profusely, fell into her arms.  Lara hugged her tightly, watching as Cole stalked away and tossed his helmet in the dirt.  He was going to come for her now, she knew.  But she’d never be sorry.

For Sunday Photo Fiction

Liar Liar

153-04-april-24th-2016

Have I waited long enough to text her?  Did I wait too long?  He’s nervous as he types a quick message to the woman he hasn’t be able to get out of his head since their perfect first date.

Her phone vibrates on the nightstand.  It’s 6 pm on a Sunday night.  Beauty night.  She has a mud mask on her face, separators between her freshly-painted toes and a stinky conditioning treatment in her hair.  A half-full bag of shredded cheddar cheese lies at her side.  Glamour.

She gingerly picks up the phone.  She expected him to text her back days ago.  What kind of game is this?

“What are you doing?” The text reads.

“I just poured a glass of wine and am about to watch a World War II documentary my friends recommended,” she types one-handed as she stuffs a handful of cheese in her mouth.  The Atlanta Hawks race across the court on the television screen.

“Nice.”  He types back.  She watches war documentaries?  I guess the playoff game I was going to suggest for our second date is out.  “Any plans Tuesday night?”

More cheese and a Kardashian marathon.  “I have a work thing but I can probably get out of it.”

“Great, I have tickets to that new exhibit at the museum.  Some paleontology thing.”  A paleontology thing?  Great, now she’ll really think I’m an idiot.

“That could be fun.”  As fun as watching grass grow.

“So, meet you there at 6?”

“K.  See you then.”

She drops her phone on the bed, her heart racing with excitement.

Hope this guy doesn’t turn out to be another liar.

 

For Sunday Photo Fiction

View

152-04-april-17th-2016

“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

180

151-04-april-10th-2016

“Who in the world could that be?” Samantha wondered aloud, her face scrunched. She and John had been in the middle of complimenting their daughter, Violet, on the remarkable improvement in her attitude and behavior. She’d gone from a sullen, silent teen hiding away in her room to a delightful kid who practically begged for work to do around the house, particularly yard work, in a matter of weeks. Just that weekend alone she’d pulled all the weeds, helped cut the grass, swept the porches and even cleaned the gutters. John and Samantha had decided she deserved a raise in her allowance.  Their unexpected visitor had interrupted before they could tell her the good news.

Samantha followed John to the door. “Can we help you?” John asked the short, red-faced man on their porch.

“Yes! Teach that daughter of yours some manners! My son tells me she’s been looking in our windows…”

“Now, hang on a second!” John yelled back.

As the men continued to argue, Samantha thought about the family who’d just moved in next door. The handsome son who was about Violet’s age, maybe a year or two older. How Violet’s interest in yard-work had coincided with their arrival.

She heard the familiar sound of Violet’s angry footfalls on the steps, culminating with the loud slam of her bedroom door. It appeared things were back to normal. Samantha sighed. It was nice while it lasted.

For Sunday Photo Fiction

Memory

150-04-april-3rd-2016

My brain is filled with useless information.  I giggle to myself as I realize I’m humming the theme song of my favorite childhood cartoon, a show I haven’t watched since sometime in the 1980’s.

Jem is my name/no one else is the same/Jem is my name/Jem! 

I still remember the combination of the first locker I was ever assigned in middle school.  11-1-11.  The full name of the first boy I kissed in sixth grade.  Allen Richard Thornton.  The first thing I ever stole.  A faux leather wallet with a picture of the Spice Girls.

I marvel at my good fortune for the 100th time as I settle into a lawn chair in my secluded, newly-renovated, backyard.  The sun is bright.  It’s a good day to tan.  I chuckle as I think of all those losers fighting for space on the highways and expressways on their way to jobs that are slowly killing them inside.

As I close my eyes, my most important memory plays for me.  My neighbor is standing in his driveway in the middle of the night, dumping a human-shaped bundle in his trunk.  His wife hadn’t been seen for days.  I snapped a photo for good measure, but there really was no need.  Like I said, I remember things.

Even though my eyes are closed, I notice the light above me has changed.  I open them to see my neighbor’s shadow falling over me like a dark blanket, and I shiver.  He is blocking my sun.  I wonder what he wants.

For Sunday Photo Fiction

London

149-03-march-27th-2016

London was just what Sasha needed.  She was stagnated back in the States.  She could barely think anymore or breathe.  Getting up in the morning and doing simple things like shower and dress and prepare breakfast seemed monumental.  She exhausted herself just thinking about it.  But not here.  This morning, she leaped from bed, before Flynn even.  There was always something new and different to experience everyday in this foreign place, and Sasha couldn’t get enough.

They were viewing their 10th flat of the day and Sasha was in love.  An updated sunny kitchen, and a cozy bedroom that got the perfect amount of natural light.  It was just the right size for the two of them.

“I’m sold,” Sasha said to Pippa, their realtor, who nodded her shiny blond head and turned to Flynn.

“I’m not sure.  The bedroom is very small…”

Sasha groaned.  “We’re going to have to compromise on some things, babe.  This is the best we’re going to find in the city.”

Flynn kissed her temple to placate her.  “I’d just like to see a few more places before I make up my mind.”

Sasha relented.  “Fine.”  It was Flynn’s work that had brought them here in the first place.  She owed him.

As the trio left the flat, Sasha missed the faraway look in Flynn’s eyes as he stole a glance at their gorgeous realtor.