The Crack

 

"Her Story Written in Disappearing Ink." CC2.0 photo by Michael Shaheen.

CC2.0 photo by Michael Shaheen.

The truth is in the crack. It is the clue. Follow it and you will see, none of this is what it seems. The well-worn pavement, the chipped brick walls, an entryway – an illusion. The grand persuasion because, as is says, ‘a beautiful girl lived here’, an emerald green doorframe beckons, why wouldn’t you peak your head in to see?

What did that beautiful girl leave behind?

But the truth is in the crack. A crack can mean many things: poorly constructed pavement, heavy traffic, a sinkhole underneath. Or, it could mean that something is below, something – and every heated exhale from its scaly snout hits the backside of the pavement, a crack forms and its beady lizard eye can see. It waits, simmering, for you to poke your head in and see what’s through the doorway. Because then, it’s dinnertime.

The truth is in the crack.

~~~

Written for the final Flash Friday. The prompt was to include the photo and a dragon.

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;

Envy

A Flash!Friday Tale:
—–
Those kisses used to be mine.

As she bends, I catch a glimpse down her blouse. The sight of her breasts used to spark hot arousal but now they bring only anguish. Instead, I let my eyes fall on her soft, warm, loving lips as they caress the bare cheek of my heir.

I should not be envious, but I am. He gets her attention now, he gets her time. I get half-forgotten smiles.

She looks at me, Henry on her hip, her words callous. I barely hear them. Her mouth twists in disgust at my silence, or maybe at the mere sight of me.

“Were you listening?” She demands.

I nod. “Of course.”

Then she leaves with him. The door slams in her wake and I am left alone, again.

Treasured

The gold means nothing without you here. ‘You’ could be anyone: a lover, a parent, a pet. He lost the will to care about the source of his attention and affection. Not all the gold in the world can buy genuine love.

He sailed into this cave alone and he will sail out quite the same.

“You will be my friend, now.” He told a piece of gold.

Rough stone scrapped where the soles of his shoes wore thin. He’d be able to buy new ones soon, and he tried to let that thought excite him forward, excite him enough to leave the cave and its vast treasures.

Except, he knew he couldn’t take it all. “My new friends, why should I abandon thee?”

The piles of gold were large and endless, towering over him and nearly touching the upper curve of the cave.

The man bent over, untying the laces of his leather shoes and placing them in the boat. He then walked over to the piles of gold, let the cool metal press between his toes. It had been so long since something touched him as sweetly, so long since something this beautiful gave him attention.

He could sail out of this cave with a bag full of treasure and change his life forever.

Instead, he turned to the gold and with a childlike glee he never experienced as a child, he leapt off the balls of his feet and into the treasure.

He could leave tomorrow, too.


Character: Adventuring Sailor
Theme: Rags to riches

Written for last week’s Flash!Friday

Home

I know this drive. I lie in bed during late, sleepless nights and run it through my mind like a film on repeat. The seemingly endless road between who I am now and who I once was – they say you can never go home again.

My high heels hit gravel as I close the door of the rental. This is when momma would run out onto the porch, screen door almost slamming daddy’s face as he followed. He’d catch my eye over momma’s shoulder, smiling while she pressed me close.

The wind blows gravel over my heels, scuffing them. The screen door shakes in the breeze; it’s worse than silence. I shouldn’t wait for the warmth of her hug or the comfort of his laugh –

Flashes of the twenty-four hour news cycle burn through the memories. The train crashing, the fire absorbing the cars, I cringe and try not to imagine them screaming as heat chars their skin and takes them away. I try and fail.

The weathered wooden porch creaks under my heels and for a moment my hand pauses on the doorknob. The house, the porch, the drive, the hometown – it’s all too different, it’s all exactly the same.


Written for last week’s FlashFriday

Silent Awakening

Excitement bubbled inside her belly as her fingertips trailed along the velvet seat. It was worn, a telling sign of many tales told. It may even be the exact seat she sat in when she first saw this silent film many, many, years ago.

Agnes had been about ten, then. Going to the theater had been a privilege that her father bestowed only when she had behaved her best. She remembered how her hand felt in his larger one as they crossed the street to the shining lights of the movies. The bulbs had dimmed in the years; the painting had chipped as well. Her father had passed away decades prior.

Agnes had read of the re-release of A Heart’s Love in the newspaper – the most interesting thing she had read in the papers in over a decade. Her own heart had raced just from the two lines of text because she easily recalled his face, his laugh, his Hollywood smirk. The actor on screen that had taught her exactly what a man could do to a girl’s pulse.

In that moment many, many, years ago, Agnes had learned what attraction meant.

The lights dimmed. Agnes held onto the velvet seat and fell in love, again.


Written for this past week’s FlashFriday. The prompt was twofold – (1) Set in a theater and (2) incorporate a black and white photo of an attractive man.

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

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 Journey

I watch the droplets trail down the window from inside my boyfriend’s car. The water makes rivers across the glass, distorting the gray skyscrapers.

We’re tripping on shrooms.

I know, I know, we shouldn’t be driving. I told my boyfriend this, so that excuses my own irresponsibility. I nod at the skyscraper as if they can nod back in agreement. The festival is downtown, so downtown is where our journey takes us.

Plus, the shrooms haven’t even kicked in yet. Well not entirely.

We pull into a spot. My boyfriend slides his hand into mine as we walk along the gray sidewalk nestled between the gray skyscrapers and gray street. The rain soaks our hair and clothes and leaves me with the desire to twirl on the sidewalk, so I do.

“What is a rain dance when it’s already raining?” A man asks me from inside my own mind. It’s a gravelly voice and for a moment I smell campfire smoke.

My thoughts flutter, from gray to vivid, colorful images. As we approach the festival, the man’s voice returns, the shrooms kick in. “No river can return to its source, yet all rivers must have a beginning.

I nod with the man in my head and enter the festival.


Written for this week’s Flash!Friday and as always, the piece follows a two part prompt…

1) Setting in Downtown

2) Photo to incorporate:

Navajo man representing the Yebichai god Zahabolzi/Zahadolzha. 1904 PD photo by Edward S. Curtis; image retrieved from Wellcome Images.

Navajo man representing the Yebichai god Zahabolzi/Zahadolzha. 1904 PD photo by Edward S. Curtis; image retrieved from Wellcome Images.

Lawyered

It’s Friday and that means Flash!Friday! (Edit – This story received Second Runner Up!)

The challenge is to write a story with the topics found on the bottom.


It’s the type of worry that makes a person nauseated. She’s surrounded by loan statements and unemployment checks with a child, her child, sleeping in the other room. Sandra tried to calm the rocking of her stomach with deep breaths. It wasn’t working.

The rising panic, the crash and burn – when had she taken out so many loans? It’s 2009 and the stock market crash caused Wall Street to explode and, suddenly, being a lawyer is like being a leper.

The beat of her heart races up her throat. Eyes blur before she can calculate what she owes this month. The fridge is empty, Sarah needs school supplies, and none of the hundreds of employers she contacted responded.

Her hand reaches for the doorframe, uses it to pull herself up onto shaky legs. The papers crinkle under her feet as the panic attack swells inside her body. All she can hear is the thumping of blood in her ears as she stumbles to the bathroom and she’s going down, down, down, forehead to porcelain.

Her sparse dinner ends up in the toilet and Sandra immediately thinks of the wasted money, the wasted calories.

Her diploma hangs in the hallway by the nearby, mocking.


(1) Required story element (this week: character. If you want your story to be eligible for an award, the below character type must be central.)

Lawyer

(2) Photo prompt to incorporate:

1943 crash landing on the USS Enterprise. PD photo by the US Department of Defense.