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.

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Happy

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I’m sure that the little girl in that back seat is waving at us.  She looks like me as a child.  Brown eyes big as saucers, frizzy pigtails with loose ribbons, a crooked, mischievous smile. Thinking about that girl, the girl that I once was, emboldens me.  I turn to my mother.

“So, I have some news…” I begin.

“What is it?”

“They called me yesterday.  I got it!  I’m going to be a travel writer.  Getting to travel the world and write – that’s my dream!”

“Oh, that’s nice, I guess.”

“You guess?  Mom, this is my dream job!  I’m going to get to see the world for free and write about it.”

“I know, honey.  I was just hoping that…maybe…you and Brian…”

“Mom, I told you that Brian and I broke up weeks ago…”

“But, all of my friends are grandparents now.  They always ask when you’re going to settle down and I don’t know what to say…”

“Tell them I’m happy.”

The light turns green and I signal for a right turn.  The car in front of us keeps straight and I blow a kiss to that little girl as it disappears around the curve.

For Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner

Hope

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Everyday she watched the keys attached to his belt.   As she listened to the clanging just outside the door, the unlatching of multiple locks, she wasn’t sure how many, she fingered the shard of broken glass she kept hidden behind her cot.  It had been there for months.  It would be her salvation.

She could see it in her mind, she played it over and over.  Her brandishing the weapon, attacking him swiftly.  His shriek of surprise, then labored moans of agony.  Her grabbing the keys, opening the locks, running from the decrepit shed, the home that had been forced upon her for months.  Shouting.  Fresh air on her dirty face, jagged rocks under her feet.  Free.

He was in.  He turned and locked the door behind him, as he always did.  This was her chance.  But too quickly, he turned to face her, the doors secured behind him, wearing that same detached, sinister expression.

Minutes later, she listened to him locking the doors outside.  It began to rain as her dinner grew cold at her feet.  She reached for the shard again.  It felt so heavy in her hands.

For Sunday Photo Fiction

Bellissima

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Why had she always been so afraid to do this when she was in her twenties?  Her first solo trip had been glorious.  She’d completed nearly everything on her list except the last two items – tour the ruins, which she was doing now, and meet a mysterious man.

There was a black-clad figure standing at the top of the ancient steps.  His back was to her, but as he heard her behind him, he turned to face her, his eyes crinkling in surprise.

“You are very beautiful. Bellissima,” he said in a heavily accented voice, delicately kissing her hand.  It was a line, all of it an act.  Something he probably said to women traveling alone all of the time.  But she didn’t mind a few pretty lies.

As he led her through the old structure, she looked at her other hand, raising it slightly and turning it over, noticing that the sun had darkened the winding line around her finger so much that she could hardly see it any longer.

 

For Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Level

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Anna, the most intimidating boss Jamie’d ever had, had scheduled a meeting with her.  As if Jamie’s nerves weren’t already frayed enough!  Anna always had a way of making her feel like she was an idiot, twisting her words to make her inconsequential, a nobody.

Anna strode through the office door, wiping her hands on her pants leg, wearing her usual solemn expression, but Jamie suddenly felt relaxed, knowing once and for all that Anna was no better than she.

“Jamie, thanks for coming in,” Anna began, as if Jamie had a choice.

“Of course, Anna, but before we begin, I should tell you – there’s toilet paper stuck to the bottom of your shoe.”

The theme for the six sentence story challenge this week is fray.