In the Hallway

Written for Cracked Flash:

She bolted down the hallway, the children screaming behind her. Behind them was a man, a man with a water hose.

He held the nozzle down and the screams turned to shrill laughter. She barely got away, dashing through the bathroom door. She poked her head around the corner and observed her children under the kitchen fountain’s stream. In the moment, it did not matter that they had carpet or that they would need to dirty a clean towel.

Her son spun under the spray, head facing the ceiling as the cool water broke through the summer heat. Her youngest sat next to him, having fallen in her escape. Her hands rose upward and feet kicked in delight.

And over their shoulders, behind the nozzle, she met the eyes of the partner she loved and realized that in this moment lived her happiness.

Kiss the Sky

“I want to kiss the sky!”

“Honey,” Amber paused mid-step, catching her breath. “You’re not supposed to take that song literally.”

Charles ran back from where he led the hike, humming Purple Haze as he circled his parents. Amber envied his energy.

“What does it mean then, mom?

She met her husband’s gaze. The corner of his mouth twitched into a smile. “Go on, Am, explain to our son the deep meaning behind Jimmy Hendrix’s most infamous song.”

She snorted a laugh. “Nope. You’re right Charles, It’s about kissing the sky.”

“No it’s not! You’re lying!”

Amber sighed, grabbing her husband’s hand. They broke into a run, so close to the peak of the mountain. Their sunrise hike almost complete. She used to have the same energy levels as her son and willed her legs to remember that fact.

Her husband laughed next to her, pulling away. He lifted Charles up and tucked the boy under his arm. Charles squealed in delight.

“Almost there!” Amber led the hike now, cheeks flushed. The early morning had provided enough light to let them climb up the mountainside but only now had the sun begun its rise along the horizon.

“I want to kiss the sky!” Charles repeated from his father’s hold. “I want to kiss the sky!”

The boy kicked and kicked until his father let him go. Then he rushed to the edge of the mountain, blowing kisses towards the clouds. The golden rays framed her husband and son, washing her little family in a glow.

Her husband approached, arms wrapping around her torso as he started to kiss along her neck. He whispered in her ear, “You know what I’m thinking?”

Amber shook her head.

He released her, quietly sneaking back behind Charles. He perched behind the boy and waited a moment before attacking with wet, sloppy, noises.

Charles screeched, “Dad! What are you doing?”

“Forgot the sky. Excuse me while I kiss the son!”

They both dissolved into a heap of laughter and kisses as the sun rose over a new day.

- NEKNEERAJ

– NEKNEERAJ

The Tree

Prompt: Favorite tree
It was a tree born from death, my daughter’s swinging tree. With thick curving branches that dip low to touch the grass and a trunk that requires three of us to link arms just to reach around.

From my spot on the porch I can see three of the eight simple crosses marking the passing of my family. Grandaddy and Grandma, bright under the summer sky. The corner of my own mother’s own freshly painted wood, almost invisible in the late afternoon shadow.

I’ll be buried under this tree some day.

The shriek of Rosemarie’s laugh and I lift my hand to see the silhouette of her frame as limbs fly through the air. The old plank and rope swing had it’s last ride five summers ago. Now rubber and chain propel her with a sure trajectory.

I can’t stop the small smile even as I wipe away the unexpected tear.

The tree is inescapable. Just as Rosemarie lands, she is running back too it. Using the makeshift ladder constructed by my own brother three decades ago. Rosemarie calls it her Stairway to Heaven. It goes higher than she would dare. She settles instead on a low branch where I know she’s hidden a handful of toys. It’s wide enough to sit comfortably, nestled within a canopy of leaves. I can hear her playing.

The clouds move and the sun floods through the branches. I can now see Auntie and my baby sister, both weathered by time. I wonder where my spot will be underneath the tree.

A foot emerges, Rosemarie’s sneakers, only the size of my palm. She’s walking down carefully with berries in her hand and pride on her face. She uses one to crush along the ladder, painting the wood piece a bright blue. She pops another in her mouth.

This tree born from death creates life, my daughter’s swinging tree.