Response JSW 5-3-2021

The JSW Challenge is open to anybody who wishes to participate. Using the writing prompt, write a flash fiction no longer than 500 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.

The main characters are told that something they have been searching for does not exist.

“Shit.”

“That blows.”

“Are you sure it’s not there?”

“Positive, baby. Look for yourself.”

She scrutinized the paper, turning it over and over as if that might make the thing magically appear.

“But I know I saw it. I know I did!”

“Well. apparently not in this lifetime.”

She tossed down the paper. “That is wrong. I know it. I’ve read it a hundred times, both when I was little and then to the kids.”

“Honey, it’s okay. So the name is different.”

“No the name isn’t different. Why would I remember it wrong?”

“A thousand different reasons, hon. You know how tired you always were at night, getting the kids to bed.”

“I wasn’t that tired.”

“Okay, it doesn’t really matter. It’s the same anyway.”

“No it’s not. Why would my brain remember the wrong name?”

“Why do brains do anything?”

“Don’t give me the runaround, Dan. I’m really worried now about my brain.”

“There is nothing wrong with your brain,” he told her again, gently. “Just because you remember Bereinstein Bears and it’s Bereinstain Bears….”

Friday Fictioneers 2-23-2021

PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

The marshmallow lights stretched across the field like a string of aliens making for the border. Next thing you knew, they’d be asking for asylum because their Moon Gorky was being mean to them.  Well, damn it, as far as he was concerned those aliens could just go back to where they came from.

The touch on his shoulder pulled Jeffrey back from his character’s mind and he turned.

“Jeffrey, will you take Karen on the Merry-Go-Round?”

Oh, please! “Yes, dear, of course……” As if he didn’t have better things to do at his typewriter, what with an alien invasion looming and all…

Story For The Week 4-20-2021

The sadness was all persuasive, wrapped around them like a blanket of fog, holding them all together. Alone they would have fallen and quickly. Together, they managed to prop each other up and hold the grief at bay.

“Why?” was Susie’s endless question.

“How?” Macy’s.

He just wanted to go home and be alone. This was something he didn’t like or want to share, this sorrow. It filled him full, leaving no room for kind words or reassurance of hope and continuation. Dead was dead. The mere fact of the matter took away the last traces from his life. Soon even the memory would be gone, the sadness over.

Maybe, if he hung on tight enough some sprinkle of memory might remain; colored sugar on a cake.

“He was a good man,” Macy said, wiping raccoon eyes. “He never judged me like the fathers of some of my friends.”

“He always supported us in everything we did,” Susie agreed.

They both looked at him so he nodded. “Never said a word when I bought my bike.” The bike that lived in his living room so he didn’t forget. The father who lived with him so he remembered.

“He was hoping you’d get over stupid on your own,” both of his sisters said and laughed.

If only they knew. He hadn’t ridden the bike in over ten years, not wanting to risk more loss. The Doctors couldn’t tell him why the accident wiped away only part of his memory, only that he was lucky.  At least he had something left, some memories, some hold on the world of his past. Not people, but events. Some didn’t. Some people with similar brain injuries simply forgot everything. He might have been left with only 15 minutes of everything. Or 15 seconds. Or nothing.

Lucky meant he only forgot people once they faded from his life. Like birthdays. He remembered the day, the cake, the presents but not the people. He knew people had been there, but they no longer existed. Bare walls bracketed the memories; he the last person alive. Childhood. Christmases. Lovers. Nothing.

The funeral was over. They hugged, kissed, promised to keep in touch before another funeral brought them together again. They wouldn’t, but they pretended for him. He looked at them, his sisters, aching to commit them so deep in his memory he would never forget but eventually, inevitably, he would.

Turning, he walked away.  Why the heck was he in a cemetery anyway?

Story For The Week 4-13-2021

Solitude

Solitude didn’t both him, that wasn’t it, but his brother, Silence, was a different story. Nights when he was the only person alive and the vast silent expanse of the sky cupped over him like a giant’s hand. Those nights he curled up in his blankets and shivered, eyes tight closed, not wanting to see the Nightly Things creeping up on him. If he didn’t see them, they couldn’t see him, no matter how close they crept. Nightly Things couldn’t peer inside closed eyelids, that was the rule.

The Doctor didn’t look over at Mrs. Marshall as he spoke.  “As you can see, he hasn’t gotten any better.”

“Do you know why?”

“The workings of the mind are still mostly a mystery.  There  is so much we don’t know about mental illness.”

“He isn’t mentally ill.”

“Look at him, Mrs. Marshall. He has no connection nor concept of the world.” He paused, feigning sympathy and patience. “He isn’t going to get better. The best thing for him is to put him into an institution so he gets the care he needs…” Droning on until his words turned into blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Care for him yes, but not love him. Not like a mother.

Mrs. Marshall stared through the window at her son. She knew so little about him, his world, but one thing she did know was he was not mentally ill. Those words he scribbling over and over – Nightly Things – scared her. What did he mean? What was he trying to tell her, his mother, the one person who loved him unconditionally?

She thought his words were a cry for help, for protection; to be heard. Something somewhere terrified him. Something, real or not, chased him in his silent world.

On the drive home, she thought about being a mother. Mothers didn’t give up. They didn’t leave their child behind.  She stroked his hair, silky even at ten. Mother’s protected against Nightly Things, whatever they were. Mothers loved. Mothers listened even to the silence.

Mothers didn’t walk away.

JSW 4-12-2021

The JSW Challenge is open to anybody who wishes to participate. Using the writing prompt, write a flash fiction no longer than 500 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.

Copyright csk 2020

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).

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.

JSW 2-8-2021

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.

Use the following line to begin…

“Once upon a time is such a cliche way to start a story but here we are.”

Response JSW 1-11-2021

It wasn’t like the water I was in was boiling hot, steaming might be more appropriate. Nonetheless, it was an uncomfortable situation.

“It’s rude to hold a gun on somebody,” I said, leveling my voice as best as possible.

“I didn’t do it,” I said, using the distraction of my voice to inch my hand towards my coat pocket.

It’s a weird thing to stare down the barrel of a gun. You’d think you wouldn’t see much, the barrel being so small, but it’s like your vision, your life, telescopes down to a single pin-point of being. I imagined I could see down the inside length of the barrel, the spiraling lines which might soon striate the bullet.

“Can we talk?”

I stared down the darkness of the barrel of the gun, imaging I could see the bullet nestled deep inside.

“Look, I wasn’t the one.”

Just a little more time.

“I wasn’t there.”

My hand inched closer.

“”You have the wrong guy.”

My fingers closed around …