On the Top of the Hill

A hand shook Ann’s shoulder, pulling her from a deep sleep. “Mama?” she asked through a yawn. “What is it? It’s the middle of the night.”

Mama’s eyes were bright, a toothy grin spreading across her face. “Wake up, there’s something I want to show you.”

“I’m sleepy,” Ann whined. Didn’t Mama know tomorrow was a school day? Mama usually cared about those sorts of things…

“This is more important.” Mama clapped and Ann started to sit up, only to have a pile of clothes land on her head. “Get dressed.”

Ann followed her Mama’s orders right out the door of their tiny home. The darkness had waned a little, the pitch black transforming into a dark purple.

“I’m very excited for you, Ann,” Mama explained. She swayed on her heels as Ann pulled on a jacket while Mama got them flashlights. When we were both ready she snapped her fingers. “Come on, chase me!”

And then Mama was off and Ann remembered her bed, and wondered if this was still a dream. But still, she followed Mama and ran.

On the top of the hill, the dark purple had changed to a dusky blue, if not for the flashlights, Ann would not know where they were. “This is where we lost our relay race.”

Mama turned, face unreadable until Ann shined the flashlight in it. Even Mama’s squinting couldn’t detract from her smile. “Oh honey, this is where a lot of things happened.”

“Like what?” Ann asked, still unable to forget the sting of defeat.

“Well, for one,” Mama held up a finger. “This is where I first felt you kick in my belly.”

“Really?”

“Really, really.”

“What else?” Ann looked around the hillside, the first bits of sun rising over the horizon.

“It’s where you Papa first told me he loved me.”

“What else?” Excitement ran through Ann now, because Mama was looking towards the horizon, as if she was expecting something.

“Well, sweetheart. In just a few minutes the sun is going to rise, and you know what’s going to happen?”

Ann pulled at her sleeve until Mama wrapped her arms around her, rocking Ann against her body. “What?”

A car rumbled in the distance and Mama leaned low, pressing her lips against Ann’s ear. When she spoke her voice was barely a whisper. “We’re going on an adventure.”

—-
 Words: Sunrise/Elated/Lost
Mood: Hopeful

Nah Nah Naan

“What do you mean you’ve never had curry before?” Jane stirred the pot, in more ways than one. “Do you only eat fried food that’s the color of beige?”

Charles gaped. “That’s pretty limiting. I eat lots of things!”

“Name me something you’ve eaten in the past week that contained a spice other than salt or pepper.”

“Hey!” Charles crossed his arms and leaned against Jane’s kitchen counter. He spun at the spice rack instead of answering and Jane wondered if he knew how much any of them could add to a meal. “I don’t cook much.”

“Nay.” She pointed the cooking spoon at her friend. “You don’t cook at all.”

“Well…that’s true.”

Jane sighed, turning back to the curry and using her hand to waft its smell to her nose. “This may cause some irreparable damage to our friendship.”

“The fact that I haven’t had curry?”

“Yes.”

“Well, you’re about to remedy that so…” Charles smiled, wide and contagious, and Jane had to look away or else she’d return it.

“It’s always up to me to better you.” The scent of coriander and cumin filled Jane’s small kitchen. “Grab the basket of naan. This is almost done.”

“Nah, nah?” Charles questioned, looking around the room. “What’s that?”

Jane switched off the stovetop and blew her bangs with an exasperated breath. “It’s literally the only thing in the room in a basket.”

Charles smirked. “I’m obviously kidding. I know what a basket is.”

“You’ve never had curry before! How am I supposed to know what you do and do not know? Just grab the basket you basket case. I’m about to open your culinary horizons.”

—-
Words: Curry/Basket/Irreparable

James and the Tiny Prince

The fabric caught on the callouses of his hand but James didn’t care, he just scrubbed harder. He wanted to look perfect, needed to look perfect; and he wouldn’t let the smell of bleach distract him. The prince was coming and James couldn’t help bouncing his feet as he stood by the sink.

When the white shirt was clean, or as clean as a farmer mid-season could make it, he pinned it to the line and rushed back inside. His wood cabin was small, but tidy, and he could offer the prince variety of cushions to sit upon. As he patted a gold and red one, a flush grew in his cheeks. He hoped they weren’t too big for his majesty.

The sun fell over the horizon, the colors of sunset shining into the cabin through the window. He was almost out of time.

James was panting by the time he made it back outside, the shirt damp as he slid it on. And then he was standing at attention by his front door, his farm on display and his house tidy. James knew there were better, more affluent subjects in the prince’s kingdom, but he chose James and who was James to question it?

The trumpets were the first thing he heard, followed by the rolling carriage wheels. The carriage was large, larger than James’ cushions, so some of the stress eased from his shoulders.

The carriage came to a stop. A man hopped from the front with another brass instrument. “Presenting!” He blew into the horn. “His royal highness.”

When the door opened, James fell to the ground. A sign of respect, to lower himself under the prince. Above he heard the sticky steps as the prince hopped down, made his way to James.

“Rise,” the prince said.

James did, grasping the princes hand to place a kiss on the slimy, suction cupped skin. “Ribbet,” James saluted.

“Ribbet.”

The Clown Murderer – an Origins Story

In a dark corner
of an equally dark mansion
swung a framed portrait
of a clown.

No one could recall
when it arrived in the corner
but it smacked mistress
and she died.

After that we knew
of the framed clown that swung at will.
Our house versus the clown,
a battle.

Soon, it turned bloody
the clown killed the heir and the spare
and then the butler.
We brought fire.

Oh, how the clown screamed
trapped in his frame, as he melted
and we did not laugh,
at this clown.

But then the next day,
in the same spot, a frame swinging
and a new clown face
murderous.

We blocked the corner
kept away the remaining child
who laughed at the clowns
with intent.

Who placed this mansion
under such a malicious curse?
We would never know.
The child grew
as most children do,
yet, he had vengeance in his heart
for he’d decided,
kill them all.
All clowns, even those
who did not swing from frames at will.

Perfectly Bowed

Her sister wrapped all the Christmas presents, every year, forever. Even if Nina tried to help, her mother would swat her hands with a rolled up newspaper.

“Don’t you touch your sister’s perfect bows,” their mother would say.

It wasn’t fair. Just because Carla could bend the ribbons with delicate precision, didn’t mean she was Santa’s Freaking Helper. How would Nina learn, if no one let her practice?

With a pile of wrapping paper covering her lap, Carla asked her little sister to pass the tape. Nina threw it. It hits Carla’s knee and ruined her meticulously constructed bow.

“I thought you wanted to help!” Carla snapped.

Nina surveyed the wrapped boxes in the corner – not a single crease.  She wanted to kick and stomp on them, do things that would definitely put her on Santa’s naughty list. Instead, she picked up the tape and handed it to her sister.

Prime Ape

The apes part as he walks through the Valley (or, what passed as a valley in this shit-hole of a zoo.) Once, he had a pack of thousands. Now, he had five idiots and a two-way mirror. “They” didn’t think he’d notice the people on the other side. “They” were idiots.

Ugh, people; smelly, fleshy, people. The humans no longer threw peanuts as tokens of admiration in this new cage-like Valley. It had been a weak token, but it was something.

He sits on his boulder and waits; no tokens, no gifts. Just his youngest descendant coming forward to pick fleas out of his hair. At least someone knew their place.

The Horror!

“You saved my life!” The sheets shriek when Ana pulls at the pile to reveal the flushed face of her little sister.

“It was an accident, I assure you.” She drawls, dropping the sheet to cover the face again. “What are you even doing?”

The pile moves into a seated position, shifting until her little sister’s head emerges from its depths. “It’s fort time! We’re working on the blue prints. The engineering held strong until you switched on the ceiling fan and then it all came tumbling down. Bear lost a leg and Suzie may never recover but I’ve escaped unscratched and ready to build another day.”

“Right,” Ana says then starts pulling at one sheet then another, bunching them up into separate piles.

“What are you doing?” Her sister screams. She grabs at one sheet and then another, all slip through her tiny fingers. “You’re destroying my world! That’s the draw bridge – no, not the kitchens. You save my life only to take it all away. You monster! The horror! Not Bear’s tower, Bear needs his tower. All see, Ana the Horrific!”

Ana snorts and reaches for the sheet, beginning to fold. Her little sister stomps over until her feet hit Ana’s knees.

“We will avenge our lands, Ana the Horrific.” She bends low and tries to meet Ana’s eyes. “Of this we swear it.”

A head appears in the doorframe to their right; their mother’s smile is tired but still reaches her eyes. “Everything all right in here?”

Her little sister snarls and throws herself onto the carpet. “Ana the Horrific!”

“Yup,” Ana replies, meeting her mother’s eye as they both pointedly ignore her little sister. “Almost done with the laundry.”


 

Inspired by:  Cracked Flash: Year 1, Week 27

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

“I’d like a wife,” her noon appointment explained from across the desk. His hand already held his check book. “Do you have a pen? I’d like to get this started sooner than later. I’m a very busy man.”

“I’d like a husband,” her one o’clock appointment explained from across the desk. She reached for the tissues as her eyes teared up. “I’m almost thirty, still a virgin and –.” The rest of her sentence disappeared in a mess of sobs.

“My mother says it’s time for a wife, so I came here,” her two o’clock appointment explained from across the desk. His eyes remained glued to his cellphone, his finger kept swiping left, right, left. When he looked up and saw her raised eyebrow, a sheepish smile formed on his face. “What? I’m lining up my tinder-mistresses.”

“I need to find a husband for my daughter,” her three o’clock appointment explained from across the desk, eyes wide with panic. “She’s hopeless, almost in her mid-twenties and her longest relationship was with the Harry Potter series. Help!”

She took a late lunch in the garden and tried not to reevaluate her decision to become a Professional Matchmaker.

Written for: Flash Friday

Theme: Marriage // Characters: mother desperate to marry off her daughter; a handsome, slightly snobbish landowner; a cad;

Perfect Penelope’s Pressure

“Perfect,” she sneers. “How is anyone supposed to live up to that?”
Her reflection stays silent in reply.
“I don’t know why they have to build me up, put my face on the side of a building, on the taxi cabs, on buses. I don’t know why they need to tie that word to me, just because my name is Penelope!”
Her reflection stays silent in reply.
“They can’t think of anything more creative so they go with the easy alliteration.”
A knock on the door breaks her focus. “We need for a sound check, time to find perfect Penelope’s perfect pitch.”


Written for: Micro Bookends