Friday Fictioneers – 3-12-2021

PHOTO PROMPT © CEAyr

He’d come to the beach to stay. Time didn’t matter. Nothing mattered but the beach.

Sometimes he fished, but he always let them go in the end. He didn’t like to see them in such pain.

Sometimes he walked, but the walking got harder as the days went by.

Sometimes he sat and watched the ocean. Daydreamed he could fly out under the waves, a thousand miles in a moment; freedom.

Sometimes he sat and slept. Dreamed about the salt in his blood mixing with the waves, the ache of faraway places.

One time, he just walked into the water.

JSW 3-8-2021

The JSW Challenge is open to anybody who wishes to participate. Using the writing prompt, write a flash fiction no longer than 200 words and post to your page. The Challenge starts on Monday and runs through Sunday each week. Please remember to link your story back to this post so everyone can read your entry.

JSW – 3-1-2021

(For some reason this didn’t post)

The JSW Challenge is open to anybody who wishes to participate. Using the writing prompt, write a flash fiction no longer than 200 words and post to your page. The Challenge starts on Monday and runs through Sunday each week. Please remember to link your story back to this post so everyone can read your entry.

“On the corner of main street/Just tryin’ to keep it in line/You say you wanna move on, and/You say I’m falling behind/Can you read my mind?” – Brandon Flowers, The Killers

He stopped playing, fingers poised over the piano keys as the next verse of the song rolled into his mind and, a moment later, out his fingers onto the keys. The melody had been in his head for days just waiting for the words to come.

He was alone in the studio. He preferred it that way now, not like when he was young and they first started the band. Then, the more chaos the better. In all the ruckus, he could create all day.

Turning on the bench, he started out the floor-to-ceiling windows at the Northwest forest beyond. Dusk was settling down over the trees like a blanket and he could hear the first, faint, call of an owl.

Another marriage down the drain and he just didn’t want to do it anymore. It was easier to be alone and find a companion when he wanted company. Companions were a dime-a-dozen. Love, well, was overrated. Even if the decision made his heart hurt.

Dark hung over him, kissing the room’s corners and elbows, whispering among the furniture and drapes. He was alone. Truth was, he didn’t want the companionship either. He wanted…. darkness. The world was moving on. He was falling behind.

Could they read his mind?

(This story is purely fictional and has no resemblance to the actual author and band).

Response – JSW 2-22-2021

The JSW Challenge is open to anybody who wishes to participate. Using the writing prompt, write a flash fiction no longer than 200 words and post to your page. The Challenge starts on Monday and runs through Sunday each week. Please remember to link your story back to this post so everyone can read your entry.

“That’s what they all say.”

He didn’t look over, wasn’t anything more over there to see than in front of himself. Mud, mud and more mud. He lived in a suit of mud.

“So who is the enemy now?”

Daniel looked up, across the calm office to the man sitting behind the desk. He thought they were supposed to come out from behind the desk to seem more open, more approachable, more friendly, but what did he know? He looked at his hands as if the answers lay somewhere in the creases in his palms, but all he could see was the mud.

“What do you see?”

“Mud.” He gave the same answer everytime. Nobody believed him about the mud, how they’d lived in it and breathed in it and died in it as the battle wove all around them. Different mud different times. Same story.

His socks had rotted away and now they were mud. His pants, his coat, his rifle…. all mud. The trench sank deeper and deeper into the mud. They wallowed to their groins in mud.

“What is beyond the mud?”

Daniel looked at him for a moment, head cocked, jerking once. “Mud.”

It was all mud. Mud. Mud. Mud. Mud. Squishy. Crawley. Madding mud.

“It would help if you could wipe the mud away and see what is beyond.”

“There is no wiping away the mud,” he said with a shake of his head to dismiss the distant toll of bells. “The world is mud.”

The therapist sat in silence for a moment, looking at him. Daniel looked back, eyes tracing the mud along the man’s trousers and cuff, coating his desk and living on the wall beyond like a shroud.

The therapist tapped a finger on his notebook, glanced at his watch. His muddy watch. “We’ll take this up again next time.”

Careful not to slip on the mud, Daniel rose, flicking away mud oozing down his sleeves, onto the chair and the floor and the world. He squished out without speaking because if he opened his mouth, the mud would fill him, too. The enemy crawling inside.

The therapist went home and had a nice dinner with his wife and friends.

Daniel drowned.

The Blame Game 2-13-2021

Dan strode back and forth in his tiny one-room apartment, teeth clenched, fists opening and closing.

What had he done? Nothing!

Nothing! He’d done nothing to make her treat him like this.

He stopped at the far wall, staring at once blue wallpaper.

What had he done?

Nothing. He’d done nothing to justify this, but he’d also done nothing to avoid this. To make things better between them.

He dropped his head, forehead touching the cold wall.

This was his fault. What had happened to the flowers he’d once given her daily? The odd card now and then? The dinners… the nights out dancing.

The truth was, he’d forgotten as the years passed by. What with work and kids and a house to pay for and maintain and upgrade whenever she felt the need for something new.

So why was this his fault? It wasn’t really. She’d forgotten, too. What happened to the nights of passion? Coming home to find her wrapped in a bow and nothing else? The nice dinners on the table at 6:00.

Kids were what happened. This was their fault. They would have been just fine if they’d never had kids. Plenty of nights for passion without the endless loop of ‘I’m tired,’ or “I have a headache.” Dinner out every night maybe. Candles on the table. He would have been able to afford the flowers every day. Could have afforded nice vacations, trips to Mexico or England.

No kids to slow them down, to take their focus away from each other.

All that money down the drain.

But he loved his kids. Sarah and Tommy. God, the day they were born. Delirious with joy and fear. Where he’d expected one baby they now had two. Could he afford two? How was he gonna pay for the house and the bills and food and diapers and…

So he’d worked longer hours. Had to, really. He couldn’t let his family live on the street. He was the man. It was his responsibility to take care of his family. To feed and clothe and support them.

Long hours worked. A second job for many years. Too tired when he came home to play ball with his son. Tea parties with his daughter. Damn too tired to talk to his wife. Eat dinner and collapse in front of the TV for the night while she bathed the kids and put them to bed. And then went to bed herself.

So it was her fault. She’d never come down, never tried to engage him…

But she had. Night and night after night and he’d been too damn tired to try. Snapped at her enough to give up.

Somewhere between one kid and the other, they’d gotten lost.

Tears burned his eyes, pain stabbing through his belly all the way to his toes, flowing out around him to envelope him in a greater loss than he’d ever known before.

Who would have thought the one thing they’d wanted more than anything would destroy them?

Maybe he could blame it on the dog. Just one more mouth to feed, one more responsibility on his plate. Not like he’d done much with the dog. It was her dog. She walked it and fed it and took it to the vet and spend money they didn’t have on teeth cleaning and removals, medicines for kidneys and stiff joints, and things for which he’d never received medicine. Couldn’t afford it so he went without.

Now his kidneys didn’t work very well and his joints were stiff. Hurt like a dickens when it rained but the damned dog didn’t suffer. Not even dying.

There was a knock at the door and he turned, terribly afraid. She stepped inside in the blue dress she’d been wearing the first time he’d seen her. So beautiful. Long thick brown hair. Brown eyes sparkling like sunshine. Full lips.

“It’s okay,” she said with the smile which had won his heart. “It isn’t anybody’s fault. It’s life. We did okay.”

All he wanted to do at that moment was hug her. Hold her tight and close and never let her go. Take back all the years they had lost, all the moments which could never be replaced. But, as he held her, she slipped silently away, to sunbeams then to smoke, and then gone.

He had buried her that morning.

A Funny… Weird… Sad Thing Happened on the Way to the Armchair 12/12/2019

And no, I don’t mean funny ha ha. I mean funny as:

“differing from the ordinary in a suspicious, perplexing, quaint, or eccentric way: peculiar” as quoted from the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

And maybe, I don’t even mean that.

Maybe I mean weird in the same “suspicious, perplexing, quaint or eccentric way.”

To be honest, I am not sure. My brain hasn’t processed enough to understand something which is, ultimately, not understandable.

I do know I mean sad. As in the sadness and shock of my world being changed in an instant.

Yesterday, in the middle of a normal, everyday, day, a co-worker with no health problems, no signs of anything wrong, collapsed at the office. After getting her heart started again three times, the rescue squad spirited her away.

She didn’t make it.

I only knew her as a familiar voice on the phone over the years I have been at my job, both at the hospital and now at my current position. She was always happy and friendly. Happy, I guess, just to be alive. Phone co-workers, phone-friends, even if we never met face to face.

Until last week. Last week, I spoke with her on the phone and discovered she works in the same office building as I do, just around the corner. I asked where she sat so I could come say hi. You see, I’d seen her at the office, but I never put the name to the face. At the end of the week, she walked by my desk and waved. “I’m Betty(not her real name).”

Now she is gone and something inside me is gone, too. Maybe not forever, but pushed down by the shock in which I’ve been moving these last hours.

How does this happen? How can somebody be there one minutes, fine and whole and healthy, and the next, gone? I don’t understand and I don’t like it.

The truth is, none of us are safe. Our lives can change in an instant, both because of those around us and us ourselves. Life is not forever. Life is a butterfly soaring on fragile wings until that one moment when a wing breaks and all is over.

Should we hold those dearest to us close and never let them go. Should we remember to show our love in every day and in every day? Should we never take anything for granted?

Yes, yes and yes. We should do all this and more. I should hug my child every day and tell him I love him. I should call my child living an hour away and do the same. I should call my father, my sister, my friends.

So why don’t I?

Because, in the end, we all willing wear blinders to hide us from the truth. Not out of indifference, but out of fear. We are afraid of death and afraid of the vacuum left behind at another’s death.

I am feeling this sadness because of the suddenness of her death. It was another day, just any old another day, so how could it change so fast?

I don’t have that answer. Maybe, I never will.

Right now, I need to hug my son and my puppy and my cats. Right now I need to celebrate being alive…..

Sunday Photo Fiction 9-23-2018

Sunday Photo Fiction

SPF 09-16-18 Anurag 1

Photo Credit: Anurag Bakhshi

Icarus

It was a familiar fantasy, one he’d had for years. Driving. Driving. Guardrails flashing past. Trees. Signs. Winds through cracked windows. Feel in his belly like a roller-coaster up the first hill. Clackety. Clackety. Clackety. Body filling with air, with fear, with joy.

Sweet fear as he raced forward. Faster. Faster. Inch by inch by mile. Feeling in his belly growing and growing….. faster. Faster. Expanding like a balloon until he would explode.

Fear. Fear. Fear. Fear. Fear. Steering wheel clutched in sweaty hands. Cold hands. Fear hands. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

Faster. Faster. Faster. Then bump and trees and….. freedom!

 

Word of the Week 8-8-2018

arctophile

[ahrk-tuh-fahyl]

noun


Definition

a person who is very fond of and is usually a collector of teddy bears.


Examples

Arctophiles and children should make time for Teddy Melrose, the teddy bear museum, tea room and workshop …

—Juliet Clough, Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio)30 June 1996


Origin

from Greek arktos bear + -phile (denoting fondness for a specified thing.)


Dictionary.com

Collins English Dictionary

 

 

Sunday Photo Fiction 7-28-2018

Sunday Photo Fiction

SPF July 22 2018 (2 of 1)

Photo Credit:C.E. Ayr

The ride wouldn’t be hard, not physically, but mentally? Frankly, I had no desire to bike across any state with Marcus. Who would? Not many people like to be controlled and Marcus was a whiz at control.

When he’d first shown up, I’d felt sorry for him and so I’d invited him to hang. I’m such a chump. All my friends say so.

We left at dusk, riding several hours into the night before he would allow a stop. The sky was a spectacle. The night cold. I lay all night fantasizing about sneaking away.

Did I?

Five days which would have melted the Devil was enough. After midnight, I rose, quiet, and snuck away, wheeling my bike beside me. Hitched a ride home after ditching the bike.

Never biked since.

Always told people he moved away, decide to bike the world.

Who knew?

 

 

 

Word of the Week 6-27-2018

sennight

[sen-ahyt, -it]

noun


Definition

Archaic. a week.


Examples

It had taken them only a sennight to travel from Sentarshadeen … into the heart of the lost Lands to face the power of Shadow Mountain.

Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory,To Light a Candle, 2004

She that I spake of, our great captain’s captain, / Left in the conduct of the boldIago, / Whose footing here anticipates our thoughts / A sennight ‘s speed.

William Shakespeare, Othello, 1622


Origin

The archaic English noun sennight means literally “seven nights,” i.e. a week.

The Old English form was seofan nihta.

Middle English had many forms,including soveniht, sevenight, seven nyght, sennyght.


Dictionary.com