Brother’s Ashes

The ink of my tattoo contains my brother’s ashes.

In death he is set free.

Sitting on the bench we used to share, I look over the water and miss him.

In death he is set free.

Living was difficult for him: his friends abandoned him; our family shamed him.

In death he is set free.

Yet now I am left alone.

He is free and I am lost.

Inspired by the below photo for MindLoveMisery’s Photo Challenge #62, Birds & Cages

- Paulix8

– Paulix8

The Company Line

I kissed her cheek and secured my overcoat.

“Don’t do anything that may kill you,” Ann pleaded. Her concern was justified; four had fallen to their death only yesterday.

I walked out the door without comment. She hadn’t seen the bruises on my shoulder or mentioned the cuts on my knuckles. She did not need to know that I had fallen too.

It was nearly sunrise and the half-constructed monstrosity loomed in the distance. Our duplex, like all Company funded homes, lined the street leading up to the project. With our shelves empty, it did not matter if I came home bruised and broken. I only needed to come home less destitute than when I left.

The overcoat pressed against my bruises as I wrapped it close, blocking dust from unpaved streets. Pavement was a luxury and there were no luxuries here. I thought of the dustcastles Marlon and Marie made and of their smiling faces.

It may hurt, it may diminish my lingering pride, but I needed to provide for them.

I walked up to the site and under the morning light I could see the sign on the fence:

Occupancy Full – No Workers Needed.

I stumbled to the ground. We would go hungry tonight.

Written for Flash!Friday where the twofold prompt was:

1) Theme: Defeat

2) Incorporate this photo:

Construction of the Statue of Liberty's Pedestal

Can’t Get You Out Of My Head

“Soap, John. We need more soap!” The walls are thin and I hear his wife’s shout like it is meant for me. In a way, it is.

It means John’s leaving.

I hear the screen door slam and count to ten before I pull on my boots. The snow crunches as I walk around the corner.

John is leaning against his truck, a small smug smile across his face.

“It took you long enough, Charles.”

I growl and grab the loops of his jeans, pull him in close. “I’ve been waiting all goddam day.”

“Where can we go?” John asks, nuzzling my neck.

“She’ll never find us at the opera.”

Written for Micro Bookends where the prompt chooses your first and last word, you write the rest!

Photo Credit: gfpeck via CC.

Photo Credit: gfpeck via CC.

Liar’s Delight

“My mother died when I was six.” It is a lie, a fun new lie for me to play in. I watch their faces transform into sympathy and a thrill of excitement shoots up my spine.

“I would have lived with Daddy then, but he’s still in prison.” My father is a security officer, but this crowd does not need to know about my boring reality.

“What do you do for Holidays?” A boy my age asked.

I thought for a moment, but not too long. The point is to make it look like a memory. “Well, whatever I want.”

Written for Warmup Wednesday. Prompt: Include a Bad Habit

Sibling Sprint

“Slacker!” She yells from across the field. Yes, my little sister was outpacing me on the track…again.

I inhale before cracking my knuckles, shaking the tension out of my hands. I need to catch up, need to beat this squirt who thinks she can be my verbally abusive trainer just because I am a little overweight.

But, it is hot. My stomach cramps and exhaustion cloys at my gut. With every step forward, my body aches. My sister is now at the finish line laughing. The only small mercy is that my flushed skin prevents the world from witnessing my embarrassment.

I may puke.

In fact, I am going to puke.

My sneakers skid on the track as I reverse in the direction of a hose I remember seeing a couple strides back. The pewter nozzle shoots out cool, amazing, gloriously refreshing water.

My brat of a sister shows up moments later, stepping in a way that blocks me from the sun. She’s already in her jeans and her eyebrow judges me enough that I don’t need to look at the rest of her face. I want to tweak the nozzle and leave her like a bedraggled wet dog, just to shut up her judgmental face – she still hasn’t said a word, though.

She is browsing her phone instead.

“You did better,” she tells the screen.

“Shut up.”

Wordle #62 – Use at least 10 of the words to create a story or poem. The words can appear in an alternate form:

Tweak; Cloy; Jeans; Browse; Reverse; Pewter; Nozzle; Bedraggled; Stria (a slight or narrow furrow, ridge, stripe, or streak, especially one of number inparallel arrangement:); Truculent (fierce; cruel; savagely brutal); Knuckles; Slack;

Barefoot Life

I spend my youth barefoot.  Tanned toes and weathered heels.  Later in life my children will pick at the dead skin, but that’s decades away.  Presently, my toes are gripping the grass as I laugh at something forgettable a cute boy is saying over a keg.

I marry a different boy years later.  Barefoot, with rose petals like satin under both of our soles.  We play footsie during our vows.

But my poor old feet, I look at them now and remember: purple toenails and jewelry, burgeoned veins and loosened skin, tickling and foot rubs – a life well lived.


The Hurricane

She woke up in a closet, which was strange because she had fallen asleep in the bed next to her sister. To her sleep-deprived mind it looked more like a fort than her parent’s walk-in.

Lightning cracked across the sky, overpowering the winds, and she gasped in response. Thunder followed in a deep rumbling far louder than any other rainstorm, which made sense since this was a category 5 hurricane.

It wasn’t her first hurricane, but it was the first that required the walk-in closet.

A crash, suddenly, and their eyes flew to the door.


He should have installed the shutters but the storm was supposed to turn north, supposed to miss them, supposed too. Now, it’s on top of his family.

He gripped the doorframe as the lightening cracked and caught his wife’s eye. They were both scared; they were both barely holding it together.

Then, the crashing noise – window broken, or worse, part of the roof.

“Go, I’ll stay with the kids.”

The hallways were dark, powerless.  He walked blindly towards the noises he shouldn’t be hearing: rain too close, wind too fierce.

Glass littered the floor and where there once was a window he saw a wall of rain, a waterfall, coming straight towards them.

Flash!Friday today! The two-part prompt is:

(1) Conflict between Man v. Nature and (2) Photo of a waterfall

The Speech

Fear grew in her gut. She knew she didn’t fit in, knew yellow teeth belonged to her alone in this sea of pearly whites.

But when it came to ideas, there were more important factors than pretty packaging. Ideas were her currency.

She climbed the steps that led to the stage and stepped into the spotlight.

“Don’t smile, don’t smile.”

All eyes turned towards her. She counted the faces that winced: four men and three women. Those were only in the first few rows.

Then she began her speech. She watched as their expressions changed, like they always did, towards thoughtfulness.

That was it, she was flying.

Inspired by Fear [Micro Bookend] Flying.

Sixty Seconds with: Ashley Gardana

Flash! Friday

Ten answers to ten questions in 20 words or fewer. That’s less time than it takes to burn a match*.

(*Depending on the length of the match and your tolerance for burned fingers, obviously)

MatchlightOur newest Flash! Friday winner is Ashley GardanaRead her winning story here. Then take one teeny tiny minute to get to know her better in the super quick interview below.

1)What about thepromptinspired your winning piece? It had rained earlier; I added the Chief and saw a spiritual journey. The drug use came into play without thought: I’ll blame my fingers and keyboard for that one!

2) How long have you been writing flash? I started a few months ago as an exercise to keep practicing during my work breaks. I quickly became addicted.

3) What do you like about flash? In one sitting I can create a complete…

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Tamer in Training

“We don’t feed the tigers,” The Great Tamer, explained.

The Great Tamer was my Grandfather and his word was law.

The tiger nuzzling at my neck seemed to think differently.

“They only receive food when they successfully complete a trick.”

“That doesn’t seem fair,” I replied. His fur was soft under my fingertips. His tail flicked with delight.

The Great Tamer snapped his whip against the floor, my tiger didn’t even flinch. I bent down to give him a kiss.

It was easy then, hidden by my shadow, to slip him a cube of meat.

I swear my tiger smiled.

This week’s 100 Word Warmup Wednesday challenge: Include a broken rule.

Circus. CC2.0 photo by net_efekt.