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.
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.
The house was dark, empty of the long forgotten sounds of life. Had it been dark when the family lived there or had it been filled with light and love and laughter?
He touched the yellow crayon with a finger-tip; lifted up the fragile photograph of the man. Had he ever seen him before? Face all angles; body skin over bones; the living dead?
What if the phone rang, calling for somebody who no longer existed?
Outside the thump of boots, the “Alles Klar?”
He let go of the picture. It fluttered to the floor, a bird with broken wings.
Please excuse my translated German if it is grammatically incorrect. The phrase is “All Clear?”
PHOTO by Roger Bultot
“We’re going to be late for the funeral,” Susan nagged, pulling her coat tighter around her body.
His forebrain heard ‘blah,blah, blah, blah,’ but somewhere in the back of his mind, in the small primitive reptile brain, she was heard.
“I don’t know if that is how they do it,” it said because the primitive brain knew how to protect.
“Do Jews have funerals?”
“Oh, for Christ’s sake.”
“Wouldn’t it be Allah’s sake?”
Rolling her eyes, she stormed away.
“What,” he asked, bewildered.
He approached the black garbage bag. Police officers weren’t supposed to be afraid, but the recent murders went beyond his understanding.
It was a small bag, so a child.
Stepping across the street and into the snow bank beyond, he slit the plastic, turning his eyes away from the gore bound to spill across his sturdy black shoes. Please, please, please don’t let the child be disemboweled, but he didn’t believe in God, not after all these years.
He looked back, plastic plates and cups scattered around his feet.
He began to cry.
PHOTO PROMPT Ronda Del Boccio
The fires were burning now, popping up in various places in the valley below. Soon her prey would be flushed and it would be over. And yet, nothing came and nothing came and nothing came.
She moved into the valley, determined for this to end. The fires, no longer hers, flashed to life, surrounding her in an instant. And beyond, nothing’s eyes, and nothing’s eyes and nothing’s eyes.
PHOTO PROMPT ©Sandra Crook
Come into my parlor said the spider to the fly…..and an interesting parlor it was, thick with the smells of machines and dyes, the loud clacking of a thousand and one spools running in synchronicity.
“I was sad to hear of your father’s troubles with the law.”
“See the intricate way the threads interweave,” said the son, motioning the man closer.
With one touch, Mr King fell into the machine, spun into a web of a thousand and one spools.
PHOTO PROMPT ©Dale Rogerson
PHOTO PROMPT © Anshu Bhojnagarwala
He walked into the run-down store. “Evening. Nice planter.”
“You want that piano, son? Ain’t worth nothing.”
He frowned. “Did I say that?”
“Gonna take a while to fix that one.”
He nodded distracted. “Not much chance of that.”
“You know who played that piano? Fats Waller.”
“Really?” He glanced back out the window at the piano, seeing it through different eyes “How much?”
“Son., you make that piano play again, you can have it for free.”
“Thanks,” he said, holding out his hand.
They shook and music history was reborn.
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
PHOTO PROMPT © Jean L. Hays
“Thoreau? Wasn’t he in Maine or something?”
“So he didn’t have a thing in New Mexico?”
“So what did he have?”
“He sold Coors from a pond?”
“No. He was a writer and philosopher learning to live a simpler life. It’s a famous book.”
“Red Mountain Market and Deli?”
“No. Walden’s Pond.”
“So New Mexico must have been really different for him.”
“He didn’t……. yes, I’m sure New Mexico was a shock after Walden’s Pond.”
“Cool. I didn’t know Grant had a tire store….”