Can You Vague That Up For Me?

Bronwyn Green's Random Thoughts

Archive for the category “Flash Fiction”

Flash Fiction #58 – When the Wind Blows

 

flashficsong

 

This month’s song fic is When the Wind Blows by The All American Rejects. Here are the lyrics and the video if you want to give it a read and/or listen.

I stood in the middle of the living room and stared at her. She was playing with the dog. It was always the fucking dog. I didn’t have anything against dogs–even small, yappy ones like that–but the dog had become her way of brushing me off. Any time I brought up something she didn’t want to discuss–or even hear–she’d start playing with the terrier.  Like now.

“Does Bella want a treat? Does she? Does mommy’s baby want a treat?”

Predictably, Bella began dancing and yapping at Shellie’s feet, drowning out everything else in the room, and our conversation would be conveniently forgotten. I turned and went into the bedroom. I knew when I’d been dismissed.

I used to think we’d get back to our discussions–that she’d get a handle on her distractibility. Instead, Shellie would navigate around whatever we’d been talking about in the first place, avoiding it like it was quicksand. Then, she’d just act like nothing had ever happened and expect me to play along. I eventually realized that this wasn’t markedly different than the rest of our relationship. Bella had just made it easier for Shellie avoid stuff she didn’t want to deal with and made it more obvious to me. I supposed that little mutt had done me a favor.

I unzipped my backpack and started packing. It wasn’t like I had a lot there. One drawer in the dresser and half a shelf in the medicine cabinet. Unplugging my laptop and phone I shoved them in my computer case and grabbed both bags.

Shellie looked up at me as stepped into the living room, and her brow furrowed. “Where are you going?”

“Home.”

“I thought we were going to watch a movie.”

I grabbed the bag of dog treats off the end table and shook it. Bella danced around my feet, putting her little paws on my thighs. “Does Bella want a treat? Does she?”

“Karen? What are you doing?”

“I’m giving Bella a treat,” I said, keeping my gaze fixed on the dog. “Aren’t I, girl. Yes, I am. I’m giving the puppy a treat.”

I gave her two. I figured owed her for being instrumental in figuring shit out. Tossing the bag back on the table, I pulled open the front door.

“When are you coming back?”

The dog darted for the open door, but I gently nudged her back. “Who’s a good girl? That’s right, Bella is,” I crooned to her in that same annoying voice Shellie insisted on using.

From the corner of my eye, I could see that she’d stood. “Karen?

“Bye, Bella.” I shut the door and walked down the front steps.

I could breathe again.

That’s it for me this week. Be sure to see what the other bloggers came up with. Kayleigh, DeelylahKris, and Siobhan.

Flash Fiction #57 – Avebury

flashficphoto

05-2017

“Maddy!” I hollered. “C’mon! We have to go now!”

I stopped moving to to listen. There was nothing. Well, there were a few birds singing somewhere in the distance, and the scrabble of claws against rough bark. But there was nothing to tell me which direction my little sister had headed. No cracking twigs or rustling leaves or muffled giggles.

“Madeleine, this isn’t funny.”

Something that might have been a laugh sounded from the right. It sounded again–this time from the left. It could have been a laugh,  but it also could have been rusty bedsprings, tossed out in the woods with the rest of the forgotten junk.

My sweat-damp hair clung to my neck and moisture trickled down my spine, but I shivered, anyway, goosebumps peppering my skin. Whatever the noise had been, it definitely wasn’t a seven-year-old girl.

I crept slower now, moving quietly through the trees, following the barely visible deer path and searching for any sign of Maddy in that ridiculous red and white polkadot dress she’d insisted on wearing. The one with the red satin sash around the waist. Instead, all I saw was an endless sea of green and brown. Trees and bracken. Leaves and brambles.

I was far enough away from town that I hadn’t stumbled across any other trash piles. And I hadn’t seen an empty beer can or liquor bottle for what seemed like ages. The forest was darker here, letting in very little light through the shifting leafy canopy above.

Movement up ahead caught my eye. Movement and a flash of red. “Madeleine Margaret, get yourself back here right this instant, or Mama’s gonna ground us both!”

I moved faster, breaking into a run, as the trees became sparser. That creaking laugh that might have been a person or might have been the scrape of rusted metal sounded again as I emerged into a clearing.

An old woman, tottering on a rickety wooden ladder was stretching up to reach a branch in the tree above her. Now that I was still, I could hear slight flapping sounds. Ribbons of every color and length, snapping in the wind. My gaze drifted back to the old woman who was humming to herself.

Dread crept over me like a shadow, chilling my blood as it moved sluggishly through my veins. She was tying a knot in a long red sash.

The woman stared down at me, eyes milky blue. “And what have you brought for my tree?” she asked, her voice like scraping metal.

That’s it for me today. Be sure to check out Jess, Deelylah, and Siobhan’s stories, too!

Flash Fiction #56 – Ever the Same

flashficsong

Okay, so we’ve got to new blogger for the flash fiction posts–please welcome Siobhan Muir! Yay, Siobhan, we’re glad to have you!

This month’s song fic is Ever the Same by Rob Thomas. Here’s the video and here are the lyrics if you’re interested.

Laughter bubbled from her, and she clapped her hand over her mouth–as if she were just as unfamiliar with the sound as he was. Her hazel eyes sparkled with bits of brown and copper and gold mixing with brilliant green as they captured his gaze. He couldn’t look away from her. How had he ever thought she was plain? He  was obviously a fucking idiot.

“Hey, after we clean up here, why don’t we…” he began, but his words died as soon as they hit the air.

Her eyes widened, fixed and unblinking as she stared over his shoulder.  The blood drained from her face almost as fast as her smile faded. Her head dropped and she appeared to stare at the table between them, but he could see she was staring through the curtain of her hair. Glancing behind him, he didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, and he turned back to her.

“Are you okay?” he asked, laying a hand on her arm.

She jerked her arm away from him as if she’d touched a live wire. Her gaze flew briefly to  his. Her pupils had blown so wide they’d all but swallowed the irises, and her breath was far too rapid and shallow. Her fingers had turned white from clutching so tightly to her phone. “I have to go. I’ll text your driver. I’m sorry…I can’t–”

Whatever she couldn’t do, he wasn’t going to find out any time soon. She was race-walking toward the bookstore exit, and there wasn’t a goddamn thing he could do about it, he still needed to finish the Q&A portion of the evening. As much as he wanted to chase after her, he couldn’t. These people had waited here all night. He glanced down. Her purse was still under the table.

He texted her, but there was nothing from her, and it seemed to take forever to finish answering questions for the assembled readers. Thankfully, he’d signed the bookstore stock earlier in the evening, so he could just grab his rucksack and Eliza’s purse and go. He continued to text her, but there was no response. He had no idea if she wasn’t getting his messages or was just ignoring him. As soon as he cleared the building, he started calling her. And as he expected, the calls went straight to voicemail.

As soon as he was in his room, he tossed his backpack and her purse on his bed, went to the doors of their adjoining rooms and knocked. No answer. “Eliza?” Nothing. He called her again. She didn’t answer, but he heard the muted sound of her phone ringing. She’d at least been there.

Worry sat like a boulder in his gut and he knocked again. What if she needed help? Crossing the room, he grabbed her purse rifling through it until he found her wallet. Her keycard was inside where he’d hoped it was. She must have gotten another card from the front desk. Heart in his throat, he walked into the hallway and knocked on the outer door. When where was no response, he called out, “Eliza, I’m coming in.”

Sliding the key into the slot, he sighed in relief when the lights flashed green and the lock disengaged. He pushed open the door and felt around for the lightswitch in the darkened room. When the overhead light flickered to life, there was no sign of her. The blackout curtains had been drawn, the bed was neatly made, and the bathroom was empty. He looked around for her phone thinking there might be some clue there as to where she’d gone. When he didn’t see it, he called her again.

He startled slightly as her ringtone sounded right next to him then was silenced. He turned and slowly opened the closet door. Elliza was huddled in the corner on the floor. Clutching her phone so tightly her hands shook, she glanced up at him, eye wide and face tear-stained. Her breath still came too frantic and fast.

His heart ached at the expression on her face. How many times had he seen that same haunted look on his sister’s face? Moving slowly, he stepped into the closet and sank to the floor, squeezing in next to Eliza. He slid the door along the track, closing them away from the light, and pulled her into his arms. She was stiff for an endless moment, then she sank into him, burrowing close, but she continued to tremble and gasp.

He pulled her over his lap to sit between to sit between his thighs and drew his legs up so they bracketed her. Her skin was chilled and clammy against him. Keeping his arms wrapped tightly around her, he pressed a kiss to the back of her head, and murmured, “It’s okay. I’ve got you.”

She took a shuddering breath that nearly broke his heart. “I — I’m sorry.”

“Shh. You’ve nothing to feel sorry for. But you need to slow your breathing before you pass out.” He took a long, slow breath, letting her feel the rise and fall of his chest against her back. “I want you to match your breathing to mine, okay?”

She nodded jerkily, hot tears splashing onto his forearms.

He took another deep measured breath and held it for a few seconds, hopeful as she tried to do the same. “Just focus on my voice and and the sound of my breathing. Those are the only things I want you to think about, now.”

She nodded again, still shivering almost violently.

He continued with his drawn out, exaggerated inhalations, quietly encouraging her as she gradually relaxed into him.

“Do you want to talk?”

She tensed.

“It’s okay. We don’t have to.” He smoothed his hands up and down her arms. “Whatever you need. I’m here.”

Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ posts: Kris, Jess, Deelylah, Paige, Siobhan, and Gwen.

Flash Fiction #55 – Steampunk Dude

 

Octavia turned up the flame in the gas lantern mounted on the wall of the subterranean workshop.  There was barely enough light to see, but she couldn’t risk bringing her work upstairs. If the guild realized what she was attempting to do, they’d stop her. And she couldn’t let that happen–not when she was so close.

Sliding her goggles over her eyes, she turned on her headlamp then wiped her greasy hands on her oilcloth apron. The last thing she needed to do was drop the soldering iron and bust it before she had a chance to use it. Activating the tiny hydraulic arm that swung the magnifying glass back and forth, she moved it out of her way so she could focus on securing it to the base, careful not to let the solder bead up and run onto his skin. Jules was already injured so badly, she didn’t want to make it worse by burning him with molten metal.

It was possible he wouldn’t feel anything no matter what she did. Sudden tears clogged her throat, but she swallowed hard, forcing them away and focused on her repairs.

Once his favorite accessory was secure–he’d be furious if he woke up and couldn’t use it–she gently pushed his hair from his face, exposing the tiny gears that now worked to open and close his left eye. Swapping out the soldering iron for a set of miniature screwdrivers, she made infinitesimal tension adjustments to the the roller chain around the helical cogwheels, until they spun without sticking.

The sound of metal hitting stone echoed above her, and she startled, dropping the screwdriver. It rolled under the workbench Jules sat motionless on.

“Octavia!” he father roared.

She glanced toward the tiny window set high in the heavy wood door. Lights bobbed as her father and several other guild members descended the steep stairwell. She was out of time. Dropping to her knees, she quickly turned the large clock key that protruded from Jules’ chest. It took both hands and all of her strength to fully wind it.

Fists pounded against the aged wood, almost drowning out the sound of the clockwork heart ticking to life. Jules slowly lifted his head, and her hands fell away from him as she sat back on her heels. Lifting his hand, he adjusted the magnifying glass and peered around the room, his left eye opening and closing perfectly.

“Jules?”

Tracking the sound of her voice, he turned toward her and stared, slowly blinking. There was no recognition. He saw her, but there was nothing there. Nothing left of her Jules.

That’s it for me today. Be sure to check out the other photo flash fic by clicking the names: Jess, Kris, Deelylah, and Kayleigh.

Flash Fiction #54 – What are You Waiting For?

 

flashficsong

Okay, so this month’s song fic was chosen by our resident Canadian and number one Nickelback fan. The song is What are You Waiting For? Here are the lyrics and the video.

Through the open door, Molly stared at what she’d been convinced was the answer to her prayers. It was all there in front of her. Their first apartment together–the one-bedroom loft above the town’s only bar. She glanced at the woman who’d brought her here–to her past, and she smiled benevolently.

Molly had thought the woman was full of shit when she’d told her that it was possible to go back to a time when she as Christopher had been happy. That she could have a do-over and go back to prevent things from ever going wrong in the first place.

As she drew closer to the doorway, she recognized her old leather coat hanging over the back of the chair shoved under the cheap formica-topped kitchen table. He’d always hated that jacket. She frowned. Was that why she’d decided to get rid of it?

She glanced around the rest of the room, smiling at the hideous cow-shaped salt and pepper shakers sitting on the counter next to the hand-me-down coffee pot from her sister. There was the spider plant rooting in a jar in the kitchen window along with a collection of cobalt blue glass bottles. Those had survived a bit longer than the jacket, but all but one had been smashed to pieces in a long ago arguement.

The calendar on the wall next to the microwave read March 1999. If she remembered correctly, they’d only been in that apartment for six months, at that point. There were so many memories here. And most of them had been good. Like Halloween parties they’d thrown or the Christmas feasts they’d invited both their families to. The book club she and her sister had started and the nights they’d spent gaming with their friends.

Molly crept closer to the doorway–a niggling sense that something was wrong. Almost as if something was out of place. But she couldn’t put her finger on it. From her changed vantage point, she could see past the kitchen doorway, through the dining room and into the living room. Christopher was sitting on the couch playing some Xbox game, and a younger version of herself, looking ridiculously dressed up for an evening at home, sat curled up in a chair reading.

Only she wasn’t really reading. She was sighing and staring at Christopher who didn’t seem to have any clue that she was even in the room with him. Nope…he knew. He’d just asked her to get him a beer. Another beer from the looks of it as she noticed the the three empty bottles by his feet.

Past Molly got up and grabbed him a beer from the fridge looking just as dejected and defeated as she currently felt. He barely acknowledged her when she handed him the bottle and returned to her chair.

“What are you waiting for?” The woman at Molly’s side gestured to the open door.

Molly had forgotten she wasn’t alone. “What?”

“I said, what are you waiting for? This is when you wanted to return to, right? The time when things were still good between you.?”

Molly’s gaze landed on the calendar again. On the day that had a big heart drawn in the center of the square–March 20th–their one year anniversary. The day that he’d decided he’d been too stressed with school and work to acknowledge their anniversary. Sure, he’d attempted to make up for it later, but she realized now, he’d never really been sorry. Like the majority of his attempts at amends hadn’t really been about her or their relationship. He’d just been looking for a way to make his current situation more comfortable, and often that meant appeasing her.

How had she been so stupid not to grasp that it had been this way since the beginning? She glanced around the apartment and was again struck by the onslaught of memories. And she realized that almost all of the positive ones were ones that included other people.

Molly looked at the woman. “I just realized that I’m in the wrong time. This isn’t the right door. I need to go to January, 1998–the seventh, I think.”

In a blink, Molly stood outside O’Toole’s Pub, the biting wind blowing in off the river and the snow swirling in eddies around her feet.

“Is this where you wanted to go?”

Molly nodded as she watched her past self push her chair away from a table full of her friends. Grabbing the cold metal handle, she pulled open the door and entered the bar, the woman following silently behind. Molly rapidly crossed the floor, cutting off her past self as she headed up to the bar, and the two collided.

Molly stopped stopped in the middle of the floor, a sudden chill skating up her spine. She glanced around noticing a vaguely familiar woman by the door. Molly shook off the chill–must have been a blast of cold air from when the woman came in from outside–and walked up to the bar. It was her turn to buy the post finals rounds.

As she waited, trying to catch the bartender’s, a cute guy to her right said, “Let me guess—you just finished your last exam?”

She smiled. “That obvious?”

“Me, too. My name’s Christopher. Can I buy you a drink?”

She stared into the prettiest blue eyes she’d ever seen and shook her head. “Thanks, but I’m here with friends.”

He nodded. “No worries.”

As the bartender took her order, she couldn’t help but feel that she’d dodged a bullet.

Okay, so that’s it for me today. Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ stories by clicking on their names. Jess, Kris, and Deelylah.

Flash Fiction #53 – The Room

flashficphoto

19861754_s

It’s time for another photo flash fiction, and I have a feeling this one is going to be pretty short–partially because of the idea I have, and partially because of the million and twelve things I need to accomplish today because I’ll be out of town all day on Sunday when I usually start writing these. I should also mention that this story was inspired by this picture in conjunction with another photo a friend texted me yesterday morning. So, Amanda…this one’s for you.

***

Amanda sighed as she headed toward the last cottage on the lane. There had been rumors that someone was living there after hours, and based on what some eagle-eyed teenagers from one of the local school tours had pointed out earlier that afternoon, she had a good idea of the squatter’s identity.

She stretched her neck from side to side as she walked, trying to loosen the perpetually tight muscles. Why had she thought managing a historical reenactment village was a viable career change? More importantly, why had she thought hiring David Mulder was was a good idea?

She supposed she’d fallen prey, much like the majority of actresses in the village, to the effects of the last residual bits of stardom that clung to him no matter how much shit he rolled in. She’d been stunned when the washed up television actor had shown up for the open casting call, and of course he’d nailed everything he’d read for–Washington, Jefferson, Madison. But he’d insisted on taking the smaller part of Paine. Said he didn’t want to be a distraction. And he’d smiled that crooked grin–the one that always seemed to reach his heavy-lidded eyes, and she’d hired him on the spot. She was a moron.

Pausing outside the cottage door, she lifted her hand to knock, but thought better of it. It wasn’t like this was someone’s private residence. Shaking her head at herself, she opened the door and immediately regretted it.

David lifted a teacup in her general direction. “Hey, bosslady.”

She opened her mouth, but nothing came out. David Mulder, former star of various sci-fi shows and crime procedurals, was sitting, bare-ass naked, on the kitchen counter, holding a historical reproduction teapot and matching cup. The coordinating creamer was sitting in his lap. A half-eaten pizza was to his right, and an empty sandwich bag was next to his hip.

“I made tea,” he added unnecessarily.

“I see that.”

He blinked at her, a slow, lopsided smile lifting his lips. “Want some?”

Whatever the hell was in there would likely get rid of the tension she’d been carrying for months, but she said, “I’m thinking probably not.”

He shrugged. “Suit yourself.” Tossing back the contents of the cup, he poured himself another.

“We need to talk.”

He frowned. “Is this about Abigail Adams’ boyfriend? I didn’t even know she–”

“No,” she snapped, interrupting him. “And her name’s Brittany.”

“Right. Right. Brittany.”

She knew he wasn’t going to remember the name. “This is about the rumors that someone is living here after hours. And,” she added, her voice growing louder, “the weed growing in Benjamin Franklin’s garden.”

He frowned. “I was just going for historical accuracy.”

“Look. I gave you a chance. You’re gonna get me fired.”

“Pffft. Nobody’s gonna care about this.” He slouched against the wall and took another drink.

She sighed. “As soon as one of the parents from today’s tour group gets wind of your horticulture project, I’m jobless. And so are you.”

He didn’t say anything, but he didn’t look at her, either.

“You can’t stay here after hours,” she continued. “You can’t grow weed here. And just to remind you, this is an education center, so this entire property is smoke free.”

“I’m all over that last one. I gave up smoking.”  He lifted his cup and grinned. “Makes a damn fine tea, though.”

She stalked over to him, grabbed his cup and gulped down the cooling liquid. “Put your fucking clothes on, David.”

That’s it for me today, be sure to check out the other bloggers’ stories. Jess, Deelylah, and Kris.

Flash Fiction #52 – Glycerin

flashficsong

This month’s post was inspired by Bush’s Glycerin. Here are the lyrics and the video.

Thanks to Edna and her loathing of maraschino cherries, I rushed into room 406, bright red spots marring my scrubs and far later than I should have for the evening med round.

“Hey there, Hector,” I said as I cleared the threshold.

“Don’t let the days go by.” His voice sounded like a rusty tin can being opened–all metallic scrape and rasp–but he didn’t look at me when he spoke.

His words were so unexpected and startling, my hand convulsed around the styrofoam cup I carried. Water splooshed through the  now-cracked sides, wetting his paper-thin pajamas and the tiny paper cup of pills I held in my other hand, dissolving them almost instantly.

I should have been more worried about what the Sadie, the charge nurse, would say when she found out I’d screwed up the med schedule, but it was the first time I’d ever heard him speak. I’d been working in the head trauma unit for nearly four months, and he’d never uttered a word the entire time. He just watched the sharp angles of sunlight travel across the gray wall, slowly turning his wheelchair as he marked the progress. On overcast days, he just stared at nothing. Or maybe it was something. I wasn’t in his head, so what did I know?

“What did you say?”

He lifted his head and stared woodenly at me, blinking slowly, as if he were looking straight through me. This was more like the guy I was used to.

“Cathy?” And just as quickly, he changed again.

“Nope, I’m Dani.” I grabbed a towel from the bathroom and dabbed at his water-soaked knee. “I’m really sorry about this. I’ll get you some fresh PJs.”

His fingers, dry and papery, but still surprisingly strong closed around my wrist. “Could’ve been easier on her.

“On Cathy?” The question was out of my mouth before I could stop it. We weren’t supposed to engage about anything that had the potential to upset them, and the way his hand tightened around my wrist, I knew I’d just blown that directive.

“Tell her I’m sorry.” He stared into my eyes then his hand finally fell away from my skin. “I couldn’t change.”

“I’m sure she knows you tried.” I glanced at the clock on the wall behind his head. Shit. I was almost twenty-five minutes behind schedule, and I still needed to get him fresh meds. “I’ll be back in a few, okay?”

I needn’t have bothered speaking. He was already back to staring through me. While I waited for Sadie to sign off on a new med cup, I asked, “Hey, who’s Cathy? Hector mentioned her.”

Sadie’s eyes widened. “He spoke?”

“Yeah. Said he could’ve been easier on her or something.”

Sadie counted and recounted the pills in the paper cup. “Cathy was his daughter. She didn’t make it.”

 

That’s it for me. Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ stories. Jess, Gwen, and Deelylah

Flash Fiction #51 – Red Cape

flashficphoto

44148085 - mysterious woman in red cloak

I peered through a broken window in the once spectacular public museum. They were coming. Hooded cloaks and greatcoats hiding their identity as they walked along what had once been the portico to one of the most amazing libraries in the entirety of North America.

It was hard to believe that only three years ago this had been building had been full of life–full of students, professors, families, even tourists. Now, it was a shell. The books that hadn’t been destroyed by the oppressors for containing “treasonous content” had since been used by the homeless as kindling. And we were all homeless, now. Well, more of us than not. There was nothing left for us anymore. No jobs. No way to pay back our mountains of student loans for degrees we’d never use. We were all surviving as best we could.

In the basement of the library, searching for the blueprints for the subways and sewers, I found something else–something that had become our last hope. Shoved out of sight, under a desk in the staff area of the special collections room was a wooden packing crate. I pried it open with the tire iron I never let out of my sight. After society had crumbled, I’d learned the hard way that I could never let my guard down. Not any more.

Inside the crate was a single book–large, ornate, and very, very old. Not having read anything but the propaganda pamphlets the oppressors bothered to drop on us every few months, I couldn’t bear to burn the book. I shoved it inside my backpack and dragged the crate upstairs to burn.

Keeping clear of the oppressor’s foot soldiers and those who’d turn me in for a day’s worth of food rations, I read the book. It was nonsensical–a spellbook–but that didn’t matter. The symbols on the page became words and the words became images in my head. And the images birthed thoughts I hadn’t dared think in far too long. Thoughts about fighting back. Thoughts of resistance. They were so powerful, that were so intense, they hammered on the inside of my skull. They clawed at my graymatter. They slipped into my dreams until I woke, gasping for breath and my heart in my throat, repeating words I hadn’t realized I’d memorized. Repeating the Spell of Gathering. 

The woman in the red cloak stepped over the debris strewn across what had once been a beautiful mosaic floor. She glanced toward the others who’d gathered then approached me. “We’ve been waiting for your call.”

My confusion must have been clear on my face. She pushed her hood back. “We knew the book hadn’t been destroyed. And we sensed when it had been found–when you found it. But until you spoke the words, we couldn’t narrow our focus.”

Swallowing thickly, I pressed the book into her hands, not wanting to relinquish the words I’d come to depend on, but knowing I must.

She cradled the book to her chest. “Can you get us to the roof? ”

I nodded then turned to lead the way to the access stairs in the rear of the building. The woman in red followed me and her companions fell into step behind her. We climbed in near-silence, the rustling of fabric and the shuffling of feet the only sounds. In the darkness, I felt something that felt a lot like hope.

It was a hope I was afraid to examine too closely. Afterall, if the book was to be believed, I’d just summoned an army of witches to fight the greatest evil ever known–an utterly corrupt government led by an egomaniacal despot and his collection of  pet monsters.

As I led the witches out into the moonlight, the woman with the book smiled grimly at me and took my hand. That tentative feeling of hope grew a little bit stronger.

 

Okay, that’s it for me today. Be sure to check out the other bloggers stories, too. Deelylah, Jess, Kayleigh, and Kris.

Flash Fiction #50 – Albatross

flashficsong

I can’t believe this is my 50th flash fiction. I mean, I know there are people out there who write a piece of flash fiction every day. I, however, am not that person, so I’m gonna go ahead and be impressed with and delighted by 50–especially since, when we started doing this, I was so weirded out by the idea of throwing unedited fiction out into the wild. Now, my attitude is more like, “Welp…I hope it doesn’t suck. But…if it does, it does. I can always come up with something better next time.” Okay, it’s laced with more anxiety than that, but I’m getting better about it. 

Anyway, this month’s song is Albatross by Susan McKeown and The Chanting House. It’s one of my all time faves, and wouldn’t you just know it? I have absolutely zero ideas for what to write. *sigh* But you can hear this gorgeous song: here and read the lyrics: here. I’m gonna go listen, too…in hopes of coming up with something. 

 

“You listening for the mermaids, girl?”

I smiled and nodded like the grizzled sailor expected and turned my face into the headwind. There was only one song I was listening for–one voice–as the sun sank low and red on the horizon, setting the clouds on fire while lightning flashed violently to the east.

“Watch your head, girl,” the first mate barked as he tossed a coil of rope past me to where some of the crew was busy lashing cargo to the deck. “You should go below with your sisters. We’re headed for weather.”

“I’ll go down before the rain starts.”

I’d traveled often enough with my father that the ship’s crew felt comfortable speaking to me almost as if I were one of their own. I didn’t demand the deference my sisters did. Actually, I didn’t demand anything at all which was probably why they liked me. There were some among them who disliked the idea of my father marrying me off to a fellow merchant as much as I did.

The first mate frowned, then shook his head. “See that you do, lass. Yer father wants you chapel-ready when we dock.”

Forcing myself not to allow the shrieks past my lips–the wails that had been trapped in my lungs since my father had announced my betrothal–I nodded and turned back to the open water. Ignoring the the frantic preparations behind me, I crept closer to the bow and listened for the sound of her voice carrying over the waves.

Thunder rumbled and lightning illuminated the now choppy water. I’d never seen her in seas so rough. But she’d promised if I ever needed her, she’d find me. She promised she’d come for me.

“Where are you?” I whispered. The tears I’d willed myself not to cry every time I thought of my husband-to-be finally slid free, loosed from their mooring, and fell into the churning  water below. Closing my eyes, I could almost feel Ianthe’s lips on mine as she’d said goodbye. And then she’d vanished beneath the waves.  The last I’d seen of her had been the iridescent, flashing scales covering her tail, shimmering in the sunlight as she dove to who knew where. That had been nearly three years ago…on my fourteenth birthday.

The ship pitched violently as a huge wave slammed into it–the hull creaking beneath me. I fell hard against the rail as the rain exploded from the sky in sheets. I smiled grimly as my hair clung to my face. So much for being chapel-ready.

The ship begin to rise awkwardly, and I clung to the rail, preparing for another swell. Suddenly, through the noise of the storm and the shouting of the crew, I heard it–her voice. I couldn’t tell where it was coming from, but I’d recognize it anywhere. It had been burned into my memory.

As the wave hit, I let my fingers uncurl from the rail and allowed the motion of the tilting ship carry me over the side. Icy water enveloped my body, stealing my breath. From somewhere up above me, I heard the sailors shouting, but it didn’t matter. I was free. Whether Ianthe came for me or not, I was free.

My sodden skirts dragged at me, pulling me inexorably down. I slipped beneath the surface and let the anchor of my clothing carry me lower. As the water closed over my head, lightning streaked across the sky above, illuminating the water–illuminating her delicate features as she swam to meet me and brushed her lips across mine. And together we sank lower still.

That’s it for me. Be sure to check out the other blogger’s stories: Deelylah, Kris, and Jess.

Flash Fiction #49 – Northern Lights

flashficphoto

40557114_s

Annie woke with her face pressed against cold glass. Slowly sitting up straight and peeling her face off the window, she swallowed. Clearly something had crawled into her her mouth and died while she was out. And where the fuck was she, anyway? She rubbed her hand across her crusty eyes and  came away with a smear of glitter and mascara as she blinked, trying to make sense of the landscape outside the car.

She glanced around the car’s interior. Around the car that had a One with Nature BPA-free water bottle in the center console and a peace sign dangling from the mirror.

Lizzie. 

The clock read 2:38 am. Blinking and trying to ignore the brutal throbbing in her head, Annie focused outside the car, at the glowing dome tent. Where the godforsaken hell had her little sister brought her? She unlocked door, pushed it open, and forced herself to her unsteady feet. After finding the little tent empty, she stumbled to the top of the nearest hill and found her sister sitting on a thermal sleeping bag with another wrapped around her shoulders.

“You’re awake. Good. How are you feeling?”

Annie crossed her arms over her chest. “There’s a tent over there.”

“And?”

“We talked about this. My idea of being outdoorsy is having a glass of wine on a screened-in patio.”

Liz lifted a bottle from her open backpack and held it out to Annie. “I have wine.”

Annie wrinkled her nose and took the bottle from her sister. “Screw top? Really, Lizzie?”

She shrugged. “You weren’t complaining on the way up here.”

Sighing, Annie handed the wine back to her sister. “I was drunk. I obviously didn’t realize the difference.”

“Exactly. Which is why I wasn’t about to drop seventy bucks a pop on your usual brand.”

“That’s fair.” Annie sat next to her sister on the sleeping bag and nodded toward the bottle. “No wonder I woke up with a horrible taste in my mouth.”

Her sister laughed, but it sounded a little brittle. “It’s either that or all the puking you did in and out of the bar.”

Heat rose to Annie’s cheeks. “That bad, huh?”

“It wasn’t pretty.”

They sat in silence, and she tried not to shiver as Lizzie dug through her backpack. Eventually, she handed Annie four Motrin and yet another BPA-free water bottle. This one said, Respect your elders. (And your oaks, pines, and maples, too.) 

Annie unscrewed the lid and tossed back the pills and a couple of mouthfuls of water. “Thanks.”

“No prob.”

“So…” Annie ventured. “What are we doing?”

“You’re sobering up. And I’m watching for the northern lights.”

Annie wrapped her arms around her knees. “I don’t even remember you coming to get me.”

Liz snorted. “I’m not surprised.” She looked at Annie. Her confusion must have been clear on her face because her sister’s expression softened. “Chelsea called me. Said the manager was threatening to call the cops on you.”

“Awesome.”

Liz scooted closer to her and draped the sleeping bag around them both. Annie clutched it gratefully.

“It was only seven o’clock when I got there.”

Annie rested her chin on her knees and stared out at the darkened landscape. Jesus. How pathetic was she? Kicked out of a bar on New Year’s Eve? Five hours shy of midnight? That was just sad. Familiar pain welled, but she pushed it down before it could seep through the cracks and bubble up through the surface.

“I’m sorry,” she murmured. “I’m sure babysitting your drunk-ass sister wasn’t how you’d envisioned spending your New Year’s Eve.”

“Not really. But it beats bailing you out of jail.” She took a deep breath. “Or identifying your body at the morgue.”

Annie winced. She’d been there. Done that. She wouldn’t wish that experience on her worst enemy.

“I’m sorry I had to drag you up here,” her sister was saying. “I was just worried about leaving you alone.”

“I get that. And I do appreciate it.” She rested her head on Liz’s shoulder.

Liz laid her head against Annie’s. “I know you do.”

Annie cringed. Her sister sounded so tired. So defeated. Annie had been putting her through this shit for almost as long as she’d been putting herself through it.

“I just miss him so much,” she whispered, and her voice cracked.

“I know, honey,” she said as she slid her arm around Annie’s waist. “But what you’re doing…it’s not going to bring him back. You know that, right? And it’s not going to help you forget. Not permanently, anyway.”

She nodded, her head brushing Lizzie’s, hat-covered temple and her own shoulder. That was for damn sure. A shimmer of purple and green flickered along the horizon, and the sound of diffused static filled the air along with an occasional, quiet pop.

“Is that…?”

“Yeah. It’s starting. I know you hate nature, but I promise, you’ll never see anything more magical than this.”

The sheen of colors spread in waves across the night sky, stealing Annie’s breath.

Liz offered Annie the bottle of wine, but she shook her head, her eyes on the undulating light. It was beginning, and so was she.

That’s it for me, today. Be sure you check out the other bloggers’ stories. Deelylah, Paige, Kris, and Jess.

Post Navigation