Mother Dearest

I don’t know why I was surprised every time love started or ended. My mother taught me love could be turned on and off. As a teenager, I could only go steady with a boy for six weeks. She kept track on her calendar. I hated her every time I fell in love. But then, after about five weeks, I’d tire of the boy and happily blame the break-up on my mother.

When she died, so did my excuse. So I became a recluse. Until I met John. He surprised me with his persistence. We met in coffee shops at first. Then his place. I was a good girl and told him no sex until I got a ring. I marked that special day on my calendar. Now I’m in widow’s weeds with a blood encrusted knife holding this year’s calendar on the wall.

 

eyes-394176_1920

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets, where today is Prosery Monday.

Merril is hosting and asks us to use, word for word, the line “I don’t know why I was surprised every time love started or ended” in a piece of flash fiction that is exactly 144 words or less, sans title. The line is from Jane Hirshfield’s poem, I wanted to be surprised. 

Back Again

She’d agreed to this assignment. Put retirement on hold for one more case to smoke out a mole. The honeypot. Dumb blonde stereotype. She still had the body for it, so she gave in to their persuasive pleas. And he’d fallen for it.

Now as he snored, she quietly rolled over, about to get up and finally walk out on this life. Until a cold blade chilled the back of her neck. No sounds except her gasp of shock. There are moments caught between heart-beats. Some see their whole life flash before their eyes. She saw only what could have been.

His hand tangled itself in her hair. Jerked her head back. One last look at that god-awful bare ceiling fixture. It looked different from this angle. More sinister than when she was lying on her back. The yellowed light flickered. Then sputtered out.

eyes-394176_1920

Kim is hosting Prosery Night at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. She asks us to use the line “There are moments caught between heart-beats” from Louis MacNeice’s poem Coda in a piece of flash fiction that can be up to or exactly 144 words. Back Again is 144 words. Photo from pixabay.com. 
YES! Even though dVerse is usually poetry….this is a prompt for flash fiction, using an exact line from a particular poem.

The Trek

We were warned. “There are grave risks to crossing that unforgiving land.”

I set the pace. Our cow, her calf, my daughter, wife, and babe of four months following me. Lips blistered, soles of my feet cracked, I move determinedly toward the border. After thirteen days, we are parched. The calf is emaciated because we’ve squeezed its mother’s teats to near emptiness, claiming her milk as our own. And then, a freak of nature. Torrential rain. Cow and calf tethered to nearby scruff, we huddle as darkness falls. Lightning strikes. The calf slips its noose, rushing headlong into the gully. That rocky dry earth unable to absorb the storm. The cow is screaming across the arroyo as her calf flails and disappears.

We survived that terrible night. Followed that implausible creek and crossed the border: my daughter, wife, and babe of four months.

Posted to dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Today is Prosery Monday where flash fiction collides with poetry. Linda is hosting and we are to include the line “A cow is screaming across the arroyo”  – a line from Jim Harrison’s poem entitled Cow – in our piece of flash fiction that must be 144 words or less, sans title. Photo from Pixabay.com
An arroyo is a deep-sided gully formed by fast-flowing water in an arid or semi-arid region.

September Memories

It’s been years . . . years engrossed in toddlerhood, PTAs, junior high whims and the highschool weaning – mine, not hers. Knowing she’d leave for college. How’s that possible?

I’m really the single mom now. Dropped her off and just kept driving. Back in time to Provincetown. Famous for literary genius and rollicking good times. My first taste of love had sand above his lip. Took me to places that whipped the breath of my soul. Summer seeds of passion. Literally. Back at University, my belly grew. Summer faded and she became my life.

The beach is different in late September. Standing by the ancient wharf’s remains, deserted by history. All these memories were left here with the trees’ ancient pilings. But I found my true compass in Sandy. No regrets. Someday, I’ll bring her here to see where she began.

IMG_2459

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets, where today Merril hosts our 4th Prosery session, a new form created by dVerse. It is “flash fiction” (of any genre) that incorporates a line from a poem — and is not more than 144 words long. Merril selected the line “These memories were left here with the trees” by Jo Harjo, the new U.S. Poet Laureate. This is fiction.

Photo taken on our Provincetown walk earlier this week. There are a number of pilings from abandoned wharfs here — in its heyday, Portuguese immigrants settled here and created a vibrant fishing and whaling center.  

Provincetown was a summer home to many of America’s intellectuals, artists and writers  including Eugene O’Neill, Norman Mailer, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, John Dos Passos, and of course the beloved Mary Oliver.

Provincetown is at the extreme tip of Cape Cod. 

Prosery I

She stumbled through life, nomadic in her search for meaning. Somehow alone when surrounded by others. Even more alone with the one identified by many, as her true love. She finally fled the good life in New York City, to homestead in Montana. Cleared the land, blisters budding on calloused hands. Days passed into nights and nights into days. She savored their rhythm, beginning to understand who she was. Only then did she put pen to paper . . .

. . . Please know, we never could be, even when we were. My voice was too matched to yours. I am not who you heard or saw. I never was. Do not search for me. When far away, an interrupted cry reminds you of that last night, please know that cry, from wherever it comes, is my spirit thanking you, for letting go.

Word Count: 144. Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Today Bjorn hosts, and begins, a new category of writing for dVerse: Prosery. Prosery is similar to Flash Fiction, but with a dVerse spin! Writers must write a piece of fiction with 144 words or less, that includes a particular line of poetry, provided by the dVerse host. For the inaugural Prosery prompt, Bjorn asks us to include the line “When far away an interruped cry” taken from the poem acquainted with the night by Robert Frost.

Lost Bell

School was officially out for the summer. But somehow, Bell was lost. A precocious first grader, tall for her age, she’d ended up in an empty hall. I can’t miss my bus! Ma will be so mad! Where is everyone???

She saw a weird machine-thing hanging on the wall. Climbing on it, standing tiptoe, her hand just reached the window. Oops. The black handle-thing fell off. The machine buzzed. Bell pounded on the window and screamed for help. Standing by her small charges in the driveway, Mrs. Verizon heard the ruckus. She hurried inside to find the distraught Bell.

phone-booth-jhc

Word Count: 100  Written for Friday Fictioneers where the inimitable Rochelle Wisoff-Fields presents a weekly photographic motivator for flash fiction (a story of 100 words or less). Photo credit: J. Hardy Carroll. 

Urgent Plea

Standing in lunar light, hands extended to cloudy, star studded skies, I scream to the heavens. Silhouette me!

This cursed disease. It is a time machine with rusted levers. Disengaging cogs cranking ever more slowly. They will stop far too soon. I cannot leave shadows behind. Dark thoughts of what-ifs and could-have-beens. Family and friends who will only remember the deep hollows of my eyes. The chaffed dry skin pulled tautly across these brittle bones.

They deserve better. I deserve better. Realign your celestial scrim! If there be Ursa Major, then let there be me. A forever galaxy of light.

freedom-1330003_1920

Originally written for a Flash Fiction challenge/competition I saw — to write a piece of 100 words or less, using the word “silhouette.” Unfortunately, I waited too long and the deadline was past. Assurances to my readers: this is fiction. Photo in public domain at Pixabay.com

I Was, I Am

She stood outside the car, the driver impatiently snacking on pistachio nuts inside. The waiting seemed interminable. She’d come so far for this moment. Found the certificate stuffed in her mother’s journal. Attended the funeral, dry-eyed, in shock. This was her destiny. Would he recognize it as his?

How could a name inscribed on a document, assume fatherhood after a lifetime in absentia? She held the document in shaking hands, ready to show him the proof. She could see the trail of dust far down the road, kicked up by the approaching vehicle. A new reality was about to materialize.

vw-in-israel-wmq

Written for Friday Fictioneers where the talented Rochelle Wisoff-Fields poses a photo prompt each week. Classified by some as “flash fiction” we are to limit our text to 100 words or less. Word Count here = 100  Photo Credit: Kent Bonham

 

A Telling Tale

He looked back one last time. No one noticed as he left. People milling about mistook the bright wormhole for a full moon. But he knew. They’d come back for him.

He was not of this time. But because of her, he desperately slithered toward the machine. He’d shapeshifted somewhere between town and this desolate field. She’d touched . . . what? His synapses? Some seed of humanity roiling within these tentacles? He’d followed orders. Assessed the creatures.

There are more good than bad! She and I can turn this earth! The energy field engulfed him. They would never know.

dale-rogerson4

Flash Fiction (exactly 100 words) written for Friday Fictioneers where the masterful Rochelle Wisoff-Field provides a photo and challenges us to create a story for it. This is actually from last week’s challenge. Have not done fiction here for quite a while. A good change of pace! Photo Credit: Dale Rogerson.

Why hast thou forsaken me?

…and Namrah spread his wings as I clung tightly to his undulating spine. He took me to the place last inhabited by my kind.

He landed on dry encrusted earth; trails of criss-crossed steel nearby. His massive head nodded to the open door and he watched as I ventured in. Rows and rows of emptiness. Benches of once polished oak, gathering the dust of ages. A transport station. Hope long since depleted.

Tears streamed from my eyes as I sought Namrah’s fold. With a keening guttural dirge, his one tear joined mine. And he lifted me, soaring, into the clouds.

jhc7

Word Count:  100.  Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ Friday Fictioneers. Rochelle is the master of flash fiction (a story of 100 words or less) and challenges writers each week with a photo, posted on Wednesdays. Photo credit: J Hardy Carroll.  Stop by and see some of the tales garnered from this photo!