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Archive for the tag “Siobhan Muir”

Flash Fiction #71 – Place Setting

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Hayley fussed with the place settings for the the forty-seventh time.

“Oh my god, would you quit obsessing, already!”

She startled, and I tried to soften my words by wrapping my arms around her from behind and pressing a kiss to the back of her neck. She quit fussing with the  ribbon and lifted her hands to rest on my forearm where it rested across her chest.

“I’m sorry. I just want it to be perfect.”

I kissed her again. “There’s no such thing as perfect.”

She sighed. “I know. I guess I keep hoping that one of these days, they’ll realize I’m not the antiChrist.”

The only way that day would come is if she turned into a straight white male–preferably with a job in finance or real estate. No bisexual, mixed race social workers need apply.

I hugged her tighter,  and she snorted.

“What?”

She shook her head. I was just thinking that would take a Christmas miracle.”

Out in the driveway, car doors slammed followed by muffled yelling. Hayley and I both drifted to the window.

“He didn’t…” I muttered, watching my younger brother trying to corral an apparently drunk woman in a skirt shorter than I’ve ever seen.  As she slipped on the icy sidewalk and my brother caught her, she flashed her bare ass at my parents.

“He didn’t what?” Hayley asked. “And who the hell is that with Nate?”

The expression of horrified loathing on my mother’s face was too much, and I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Seriously, Vanessa, who is she?”

“Last time I talked to Nate, he said that his hot math tutor was a theatre major, and he was going to try to hire her to play the worst girlfriend in existence.”

Hayley’s mouth dropped open. “He did not.”

“Of course he, did. He adores you. I think he’s hoping this will help our parents will come around, too.”

I watched as the love of my life blinked back tears then pressed a kiss to my lips. “You and Nate and whoever that chick is are all the Christmas miracle I need.”

That’s it for me this week. Be sure to check out the other stories, too. 

Jess  *  Siobhan  *  Kris

Flash Fiction #70: Flaws

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Today’s flash fic song is Flaws by Bastille. Here are the lyrics and the song.

Despite the cold, damp weather, the minister at the graveside service droned on and on. It was almost as if he were part of her grandfather’s habit of making his descendents as uncomfortable as possible. Clutching a small stack of photos, Angela shifted from near-frozen foot to near-frozen foot, willing the feeling back into them. The wind shifted, and the sleet slashed sideways beneath the protective canopy, pelting her face to slide miserably down her neck.

As Becca, one of her cousins, stepped up near the casket to read a poem, Angela flipped through the small stack of photos she held. His voice whispered through her head with each image.

“You’re too old to run in the sprinkler.”

“Sure you need that second piece of cake?”

“I can’t believe your mother let you go out looking like that.”

“What did you expect wearing a skirt that short?”

“Why’d you cut your hair? You look like a boy.”

“What do you mean, girlfriend?”

Angela’s mom elbowed her then nodded toward the open grave where casket had just been lowered into the hole, and the rest of her cousins were gathering around the edge. Swallowing hard, Angela stepped forward to stand at Becca’s side, pictures clutched in her hand.

At the pastor’s nod, her cousins each scooped up a handful of dirt from the mounded pile, and one by one, threw it in the hole. The partially frozen earth hit the top of the coffin with a hollow-sounding thud. When it was Angela’s turn, she tossed in the photos, watching them flutter and land like dying butterflies.

Her flaws could be buried with his.

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

 

Flash Fiction #69 – Girl by the Pond

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52888757 - shot of a gothic woman in a forest. fashion.

Gwyndon had no idea how she’d ended up at the pond again. It didn’t seem to matter when she decided to go for a walk or where she was when she decided to go. She found herself on the shore of this same body of water every single time. It was as if her conscious brain shut down and her subconscious kicked in. And for whatever reason, her subconscious thought this pond was a great idea.

She stared over the glasslike surface, the reflection of earth and sky–an impressionistic painting come to life. As it had since she’d been coming here, the water perfectly mirrored the world around it. But no matter how close to the surface she got, she never saw her own image. It was as if the water swallowed all traces of her.

She wished that were possible. That she could just disappear into the nearly perfect likenesses of bare branches and gunmetal gray clouds that marched slowly across the sky. It wasn’t that she wanted wanted to die or anything that dramatic. She just wanted a fucking break from all the stress. From wondering if her parents could continue to afford her brother’s medical care now that her dad had lost his job and their health insurance. From wondering if she should just drop out of college and get a second job. From wondering  if there would still be a world when she woke up in the morning or if the so called leader of her country would have plunged them straight into a nuclear war. What she wouldn’t give for just twenty-four hours of not fucking worrying about every little thing. But that would take some kind of miracle at this point to clear out the governmental corruption.

As she stared at the pond, an anomaly near the center caught her attention. It looked like a metallic point had pierced the surface of the water from beneath. And it was moving slowly toward her, barely creating a ripple. Worry twisted her gut, but her feet were rooted to the spot. She couldn’t run if she wanted to.

As the piece of metal drew closer, it rose farther from the surface, and she realized it was a sword blade. Eventually, the water and weeds sluiced away from the figure carrying the weapon, until a woman dressed in a long flowing white gown, tinged green by algae, emerged completely from beneath the surface. Rivulets of water streamed from  her hair like liquid ribbons, and her eyes slowly opened, pinning Gwyndon with her unwavering blue-green gaze.

She wanted to believe she was dreaming, but she knew she wasn’t. The cold damp of the ground chilled her feet through her canvas shoes, and the bite of the late autumn air sliced through the weave of her sweater. Her nose was cold enough that it had started to run. Yeah, she was definitely awake and in the middle of some fucked up mythical scenario.

“And the time would come…” The woman’s voice reverberated throughout the forest as she continued to hold Gwyndon’s gaze. “When the kingdom’s need was greatest, the sword would rise again and find its way into the hands of the king,”

She stared at Gwyndon expectantly, and Gwyndon blinked a few times. “I…I’m not sure you’ve got the right person. Or…even the right country.”

The woman frowned. “Do you deny that the land is in chaos? That the people are embattled? Tormented?”

Gwyndon shook her head. “No…that’s pretty accurate.”

“Then do you wish for the tyrants to continue to rule?”

If she could have moved, she would stepped back. “God, no!”

The barest hint of a smile curved the woman’s lips. “At times, the health of the body requires the diseased limb to be removed. Are you prepared to excise the illness.”

Gwyndon thought of her brother struggling to breathe, taking only half the dose of medicine he’d been prescribed in an attempt to make it last longer, and she nodded. And she thought about hearing her mom cry when she thought everyone else was asleep. Yeah, she was willing to do some excising if it would make things better for her family–save her brother’s life.

“I’m in.”

“Then take Excalibur, and remember: you and the land are one.”

Gwyndon stepped forward and wrapped her hands around the hilt, as a jolt of energy surged through her. Her back straightened. She’d do whatever it took. Hoping that Greyhound didn’t have a policy against taking medieval weapons on cross-country road trips, she watched as the women walked backward, vanishing beneath the water as silently as she’d appeared.

That bit of randomness is it from me today, be sure you check out the other bloggers’ stories.

Siobhan  *  Gwen  *  Kris

Flash Fiction #68 – Call Me Crazy

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This month’s flash fiction song is one I’d never heard before this challenge. It’s called “Call Me Crazy” by Travis Collins. The video is here and the lyrics are here if you’d like to give a listen/read.

Content warning: some violence and allusions to abuse. 

The dirt was clay. She fucking hated digging into clay. It was wet and cold and almost slimy. It sucked at her shovel, stuck into the treads of her too-big, borrowed boots, and made it difficult to get any real power behind the tool, but she’d manage.

Despite the damp chill of the October evening, she was starting to break a bit of a sweat, but that’s what digging a three foot deep hole would do to a person. Dusk settled like an old musty blanket, muting the changing leaves, and dulling the sky. Soon, the only light would be the running lights on his truck.

He’d be pissed if he knew she was letting it run with the doors open so she could hear the music while she worked. Of course, it was so old, it didn’t even have a cassette deck. And it was stuck on that fucking country music station. But, it was better than the eerie near-silence of the rapidly approaching winter–nothing but small animals rustling through the dried grasses and the honking geese up and leaving this desolate place, flying to warmer climes. She’d always wished she could do the same. But, maybe now, she wouldn’t need to.

She straightened as she surveyed the hole. It was finally deep enough. A shiver snaked down her spine as the chorus of one of his favorite songs drifted to her from tinny-sounding speakers. An audio ghost haunting her from a lifetime past. She pushed through the chill. Maybe it was appropriate this song was playing tonight. Though, it was more of a eulogy than he deserved.

Planting the shovel in the mounded clay, she walked to the back of the truck and dropped the pickup’s gate. Thankfully, the tarp-wrapped body hadn’t moved much on the drive out here. Rolling it to the edge, she dragged the deadweight over her shoulder, and hoisted it in a fireman’s carry. Bastard was heavier than she would have thought, but she’d gotten him this far, she could move him a few more yards.

A muffled groan startled her, and she nearly dropped him, but she kept going until she could fling him into the hole. There was a sickening crack as he hit the bottom, then nothing but the tail end of his favorite song and her harsh breath. She filled in the hole then drove over it, repeatedly, for good measure before shifting the fallen tree to cover the signs of disturbed earth. The same one she’d moved to dig the hole in the first place.

Sure, someone might find him someday. If they cared enough to look. But they’d also find the evidence of everything he’d ever done to her–every photograph, every video tape–all sitting in the middle of his kitchen table. Along with his muddy boots on the mat by the door and his truck parked in the driveway.

And she’d be gone. Long gone where the ghosts of the past had been laid to rest.

Okay, that’s it for me this week. Be sure you check out the other stories by clicking on each blogger’s name. 

Jess * Siobhan * Gwen * Kris * Deelylah

Flash Fiction #67 – Forest

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46036540 - colorful dreamy; foggy autumn forest scene background.

I’ve decided to do something I don’t do often, and that’s continue an existing flash fic story, but I think this photo prompt will do nicely. I’m hoping that you’ll be able just pick up here and read if you haven’t read the others. But, just in case, here are parts one, two, and three.

Eion’s muttered “fuck me” was still ringing in Hollis’ ears as she blinked, trying to make sense of what she was seeing. Somehow, in this room, in the sub-basement of the university’s library, was an entire forest. At least, it looked like there was an entire forest.

It not only looked like there was an entire forest, it smelled like it, too. The sharp fragrance of fallen leaves mingled with the more pungent scents of long decayed vegetation and dank earth.

Brilliant red oak leaves blanketed the forest floor, while mist slithered through the tree trunks and the bare, low-hanging branches. The sky was that odd greenish-gray color it only ever seemed to turn in autumn–right before an early snowstorm. A cool, damp breeze brushed her cheek, lifting her hair slightly and sending a chill down her spine. She pulled the sleeves of her oversized sweater over her suddenly cold hands. There’d better not be an early snowstorm while they were…wherever they were.

She glanced at Eion. His blue eyes were wide, and his lips were parted slightly as he looked around, seemingly taking in everything around them. “What the actual merciless fuck is this place?” His tone accusatory, he turned to face her.

“How the hell would I know?”

“You’re the one with the bloody key.”

“Well, I didn’t know it would lead here.”

He reached out, and his fingers brushed across her neck as he caught the cord the key hung on and pulled it from inside her sweater. She tried not to shiver again.

“Where did you get this, anyway?”

“My grandmother kind of willed it to me when she died.”

Standing far closer to her than was entirely comfortable, he turned the key over and over in his long fingers, inspecting it from every angle. “How does someone kind of will something?”

Hollis explained about her cousin and the trade they’d made in the lawyer’s office.

Eion frowned. “Who would have a tantrum about an inheritance?”

“Kylie Edgerton. Back row of the eight am session of History 101.”

Eion laughed. “You two share DNA?”

“Not willingly,” she muttered, snatching the key from his hand and turning away. She needed to put some space between them. He was even more attractive up close, and the last thing she needed was for her TA to realize yet another college freshman had a crush on him.

Glancing up, she realized that the mist had crept closer, swallowing the few evergreens that grew in amongst the oaks. “Eion?”

“Yeah?”

“I think it’s getting darker.”

He glanced around. “It’s definitely getting creepier.”

“Maybe…” she willed her voice not to shake, “we should come back during the day?”

“How do I know you won’t come back without me?”

“Really? You think I’m going to go to a spooky magical forest by my damn self?”

He looked at her as if she’d lost her mind. “I don’t recall anyone forcing you to sneak down to the sub-basement and open one of these doors, love.”

Okay, he wasn’t wrong about that. “Well, I don’t know that I would have gone in if not for you and whoever was coming down the elevator.”

Crossing his arm over his chest, he raised an eyebrow at her. “Right.”

“Fine,” she mutttered. “I promise I won’t come back without you.”

“Good.”

They turned back toward the door, and Hollis’ lurched forward, her head swimming violently. Eion caught her, tugging her into his side as they both stood there and stared. The door they’d come through was gone as if it had never been there.

The door was gone.

The wall was gone.

There was nothing but blood-red leaves and creeping fog all around them.

That’s it for me this week, be sure to check out Jess and Siobhan’s stories, too.

Flash Fiction #66 – Criminals

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This month’s song fic is inspired by Criminals by Ms Mr. Here are the lyrics and video if you want to give it a go.

 

Doug looked around the conference table, not letting his gaze settle anywhere for too long–not even on Vanessa. How in the hell had they ended up here? Christ, he wasn’t even sure if he meant the two of them or the nation as a whole.

“Look,” Tony said. “I’m just saying, it’s hurricane season. There’s probably not a better time to roll this out.”

Vanessa nodded. “And it’s the start of the school year. According to our our studies, anxiety for both parents and students–not to mention teachers–is at an all time high.”

Doug’s skin crawled, and he shifted uneasily in his chair. That uneasiness grew when the guy from marketing, whose name he could never remember piped up.

“With all of the on-campus protests and demonstrations, not to mention the rise in shootings, we’re golden.”

“Don’t forget all the marches held by the general public,” Katy said. Ticking them off on her fingers, she added, “Trans rights, women’s rights, Black Lives Matter, healthcare, LGBT rights, marches for and against white supremacy. Eddie’s right, we’re golden.”

Eddie. That was his name.

“And there’s always the threat of nuclear war,” Tony said. “I don’t know anyone who isn’t worried about that. ”

At least eight people frantically scratched notes on pads of paper or typed rapid-fire on their laptops, others nodded thoughtfully.

Someone Doug didn’t recognize added, “We may have to work with the media to amplify the coverage some of these, but there’s really no better time to roll this out.”

Murmured agreement flew around the table.

Vanessa leaned forward and smiled at Doug, then addressed the room at large. “I’d like to introduce you all to Doug Freeman, one of our top scientists and developers here at PharmaCaresNational. He’s going to explain how the drug affects brain chemistry and neurotransmission.”

How was his wife–the love of his fucking life–sitting here, completely at ease in this meeting? How was he still in his seat, let alone in this company?

Tony gestured toward the wall. “We’ve got a whiteboard here, if you need it Doug.”  Turning to the others, he said, “Pay close attention everyone. If you have questions for Doug, save them until the end. And remember, if you’ve got an idea for marrying the effects of this drug with any of these specific fears, jot them down. There’s a lot of money to be made here, people.”

Doug’s stomach lurched violently, and his hands began to sweat. Jesus-fucking-Christ. They were all criminals.

_________

No…I’m not feeling cynical, this morning. Why would you even ask that? Anyway, be sure you check out Kris and Siobhan’s stories, too.

Promptly Penned: Traitor

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Prompt: They say I’m a traitor. Maybe I am. All I know is that I did what I had to do.

 

“Hi, I’m Roxanne,” I said when she answered the door. “We spoke on the phone earlier.”

“I’m Alicia.” We shook hands, and warily, she invited me inside, leading me to her dining room table. I carefully moved some macaroni artwork off the chair before I sat.

She smiled, but she kept shifting in her chair as if she were considering running away. “I’m a little nervous. Can you tell me a little more about how this works? I mean how did you even get into this…business?”

I studied the woman across from me. Her hair was falling out of her messy bun. It wasn’t a cute Instagram messy bun. It was a straight up mess, complete with what looked like crusted baby food in there. Squash, if I remembered my pureed vegetables correctly.

I looked like her not too many years ago. Exhausted, frantic, inside out shirt, and a leaking nursing bra. Though, my kids prefered to slime me with peas.

“To be honest, I didn’t even intend to make it a business, but my brother-in-law left me no choice.” I sighed. “I don’t want to sound cold. I’m actually pretty fond of him, but when his kids were little and his wife was out of town, he’d drive for five hours, show up on our doorstep with his infant and toddler, and basically move in until his wife was back from her business trips.”

“He did not.” She looked furious on my behalf. I liked her already.

“Oh, he did. And he and my husband would sit around and play video games and I was stuck with five kids under the age of four. But my favorite was when my husband was at work, and my brother-in-law decided that that meant it was naptime for him.”

She leaned forward. “I have to know. Did you kill them? I think I would have killed them.”

“Honestly? I came far closer than I’m comfortable with. That’s when I started studying the occult.”

Alicia got up. “Keep talking, I’m going to get us some coffee. You want creamer?”

“And sugar, please.”

“Okay, so tell me more about how the occult figures into all this.”

I shifted in my seat. I was pretty sure I was going to stick to it when I stood up. “Well, I didn’t go full bore. I started out looking for protection spells and binding rituals. And while I was researching, I discovered sigils.”

Alicia placed a huge cup of steaming coffee in front of me. “I wanted to make a mocha, but all I had was Hershey’s syrup.”

I took a sip. “You know what? This is great. Trust me, I’ve made much worse. And I drank it anyway. Because caffeine.”  I took another sip then shook off the memory. “Where was I?”

“Sigils.”

“Right, sigils. These things are so incredibly versatile. You can use them for protection, hexing, attraction, but as far as I’m concerned, their best use is warding. It was getting so bad, that my brother-in-law was coming up two or three times a month and staying for three to five days at a time. I snapped. I couldn’t take it any more.”

“What did you do?”

“Dude is a pig. Seriously, doesn’t pick up after himself at all. So, I took a pair of his dirty underwear he’d left wadded behind the door and hair from the shower,” I shuddered, “various herbs and oils, and boiled it together under the light of a full moon. Then, the next time he called to tell use he was coming, I took a small brush and painted warding sigils on every side of the house, the garage and the cars. And I waited.”

Alicia had slid forward in her chair, her eyes wide. “What happened?”

I tried not to smile, but it was almost impossible. “He called a few times. Said he was lost. My husband thought he was pranking us, but nope. He turned around and drove the five hours back home.”

“No.”

I nodded. “Couldn’t find the place at all.”

“That’s brilliant!”

“When my husband pisses me off, I do it to him, too.”

She laughed and clapped her hands.

“These days, I let my brother-in-law visit every two to three months. And now that I’m not stuck at home with nursing babies, I leave, and let my husband and his brother parent all the kids.”

Alicia shook her head. “I’m impressed. Seriously impressed.”

I shrugged. Some people would say I’m a traitor to family togetherness.” I shrugged. “Maybe I am. All I know is that I did what I had to do.”

“You absolutely did. And,” she added, “you didn’t go to jail for murder.”

“Exactly.”

I pulled my spellbook out of my purse. Technically, it was one of those planners with all the stickers for things like doctor’s appointments and soccer practice, but it doubled and a mighty fine spellbook. And hey, I’m a busy mom, makes sense to combine the weekly menu with my side gig.

“Now,” I said, clicking my pen. “Who are we warding against? Tell me everything.”

That’s it for me this week. Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ stories, too.

Kris * Jess * Siobhan * Deelylah

Flash Fiction #65 – VW Bug

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17241577 - color shot of a vintage car in a forest

I pulled the giant handknit sweater over my head. It was way too big for me, but I didn’t care. It was warm and cozy and something about it made me feel safe. It wasn’t even my sweater. My mom had knitted it for my brother, Kevin–hence the giant-ness–but he’d left it at my apartment a few years ago, and I’d never managed to remember to get it back to him.

I scooped up my keys and phone from the table and headed toward the door.

“Cat? Where are you going?” Jesse called from the other room.

“Just out for a bit.”

“Will you pick up milk while you’re out? The other jug went bad, and I want cereal.”

You could always get off your ass and get it yourself.

I didn’t answer, just pulled the door shut behind me and jogged down the stairs, eager to get out of the stifling heat of the apartment. Jesse constantly complained that he was cold, hated to have the windows open, and turned on the furnace at the first sign of an changing leaf.

The cool crisp air swirled around me as soon as I stepped outside, and my hair immediately blew in my face, catching on my balm-slathered lips. Tucking the strands behind my ears, I squinted into the weird autumn light. There’s no other time of year when the entire sky can look like the inside of a dull pewter bowl but the leaves glow as if they’ve been lit from within, because somehow the sunlight is still managing to get to them even though, there’s no sign of the actual sun. It’s surreally beautiful, but eerie and unsettling, nonetheless.

There was something about September… Maybe it was the start of the school year and that anticipation that pervaded the neighborhood whether you were in school or not. Maybe it was the swiftly turning leaves or the weather that grew chillier by the day. It could be the scent of woodsmoke in the air. Or the pumpkins ripening in the field. Whatever it was, it made me restless.

Too restless to walk down to the party store to get Jesse’s milk. Too restless to walk to the park. I wanted to go farther than that. I needed to go farther than my feet could comfortably carry me. I wasn’t even sure where, but I needed to go.

My phone’s text tone chimed, and I glanced at the screen. Will you get Poptarts, too?

I tossed my phone in the passenger seat of my ancient VW Bug. Well, like the giant sweater, it was Kevin’s, too. But he was gone to god knew where. On September 26th, it would be three years.  No one knew where he’d gone. No one had heard from him. Not even our mom.

I started the car and put it in drive. Maybe he’d been restless, too.

That’s it for me this week. Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ stories.

Jess * Siobhan * Kris

Flash Fiction #64 – Ghost

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This month’s song fic was inspired by Ghost by Halsey. If you’d like, you can read the lyrics here and/or watch the video here. 

“What are we even doing?”

Ryan sighed. “We’re trying to get some sleep because we have an early flight.”

A car drove slowly down the street, its headlights bouncing around the perimeter of the bedroom, and I shifted against the pillow I had propped up against the headboard. In the temporary illumination, I stared down at the man in my bed. My husband, I supposed.

It was weird. Like I was looking at him from a distance despite the fact that if I shifted, I could feel him next to me. But it was still as if I were looking at him through inches-thick plexiglass. Trick of the light or trick of my broken heart? The car fully passed, plunging the room into darkness again.

He wasn’t the same man I’d married. Though, to be fair, I wasn’t the same woman I was ten years ago, either. I knew why I’d changed. If you spend long enough kissing someone whose mouth is always full of lies, it poisons you. Changes your perception of everything around you–even yourself.

I missed the guy I’d fallen in love with, but more and more lately, I was wondered if he ever existed. The soul I’d loved had vanished, and in its place was an empty shell I didn’t recognize. And even more important, I didn’t like him.

His breathing had deepened and evened out as another car passed, illuminating the room again. The white fabric of his t-shirt seemed to glow. He was a ghost sleeping next to me.

But I was done trying to sleep. And I was done swallowing lies.

Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ stories. Hopefully, they’re a little more upbeat.

Jess * Kris * Siobhan * Kayleigh * Gwen * Deelylah

Flash Fiction #63 – Beach People

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42086649 - beach, party, summer.

“Emily! C’mon! You’re missing all the good shots! I want pictures with all my bridesmaids!”

It wasn’t that I didn’t like the beach. I liked it fine. And it wasn’t that I didn’t want to be there with Rosalind or our other friends. I liked them just fine, too.

“I’m coming. Hold your pants on!”

I liked the beach.

I liked my friends.

But I’d been in love with Rosalind for the last three years, and watching her getting ready to marry Brad was nothing short of torture.

That’s it for me today – super short flash fiction. Be sure to check out Jess and and Siobhan’s stories, too!

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