Posts tagged ‘short story tuesday’

Flash Fiction Fridays: The Wait

Waiting area at

Waiting area at (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Wait

by Voni Harris

They were waiting. Their college son’s plane was en route after repairs, with no official word when it would arrive.

So they waited.

She untied and retied her new pretty orange scarf over her hair. She hadn’t been able to resist browsing the duty-free shop in the waiting area.
She was a patient person. But Henry was not. He’d pulled out his smart phone over an hour ago and was working away, plugged into the wall.

She looked at the people arriving from other flights. Arriving for a family reunion, she imagined, as she saw a large group of people pass hugs amongst themselves like candy.

She rose and walked to the water fountain. A little girl darted in front of her, mother in hot pursuit. Maybe the pair traveled cross-country on a long flight to see Grandma, and the little one was taking advantage of finally being off the airplane.

Imagination was sometimes better than life. Definitely less boring.

Her orange high heels clicked on the floor as she walked back to her place next to her husband.

He hadn’t noticed she was gone. But such was the way of life for a CEO’s wife.

She laid her hand on his. He smiled at her, then returned to some Very Important Email.

She noticed a young man standing at the exit from the secured area with an elaborate bouquet of flowers of rich and varied colors.
He was dressed to impress in all black, complementing his tidy jet-black hair and olive skin. Self-assured, he craned his neck as each new group of arrivals passed.

One elderly man rolled by in a wheelchair. “Those flowers for me?” he boomed.

The young man threw back his head and laughed. “For my fiancée, sir.”

“Good job, son!”

Fiancée?

She turned in her seat so she could watch the reunion.

The young man’s wait stretched thirty minutes, yet he kept his place with the patient watchfulness of a sentry.

Once, Henry would have waited for her like that. She traced the grooves of gray tile floor with the orange toe of her shoe.

She’d missed the big moment, for now the man and his fiancée stood at the exit, kissing, the flowers forgotten on the floor. The fiancée grazed the young man’s face with her fingertips. The young man’s sparkling black eyes held her soft brown eyes and would not let go.

Perhaps the girl had been gone for a year…caring for an elderly mother.

She rose and walked toward the couple, as though they stood in a magical circle of love.

But of course there was no magic circle of love in reality.

Turning, she untied her scarf and draped it around her shoulders.

The click of her heels echoed through the waiting area until she stood in front of him. “You don’t bring me flowers.”

He looked at her like she’d sprouted wings. “You want flowers? There’s a florist shop just past the newsstand.” He stood and pulled out his billfold. “Roses?”

She gazed down for a long time down, tracing the gray tile.

She looked up into her husband’s impatient eyes.

“Henry. I like sunflowers,” she whispered.

Flower

Short Story Tuesday: Shadow and Sun


(“Rainbows and Dust” by Marc Hermann courtesy of PhotoBotos)

 Leila pedaled fast and furious down the dirt path under giant trees that dappled the sunlight and made shadows tickle past their eyes. 

“Shadow, sun, shadow, sun, shadow, sun,” she sang, trying to match her rhythm to the pattern of the tree’s shadows on the ground.

Her little sister giggled and screamed on the seat in front of her, legs flying giddily. “When can I pedal and you be the rider?” Isabelle shouted back to her.

Leila laughed. “When you are big enough, little sis! When you are big enough!”

Together they chanted, “Shadow, sun, shadow, sun.”

The moment of freedom, riding like the wind, was rare. Their family worked hard together to put food on the table. But today, Mama had smiled, ruffled their hair, and shooed them out of the house. “I’ll cook dinner tonight. You work enough. Go be little girls.”

They had decided on a bike ride, to a field they knew where they could pick some flowers for Mama. The bonus was the downhill just before they got home.

Leila lifted her feet from the pedals and let the bike speed down the hill, smiling at Isabelle’s shrieks. They slid into their front yard, engulfed by a cloud of dust flung up by the bike. They fell to the ground in a tumult of  shrieking and giggling.

As they paused to catch their breath, Leila suddenly realized something was wrong. Isabelle caught her eyes, a worried frown in her eyes. Something was very wrong.

It was too quiet.

The girls picked up the flowers and hurried in.

“Mama! Mama!” called Isabelle.

There. Out of the room came Mama.

Only it wasn’t Mama. It was Papa.

“Papa, what are you doing home?” Leila asked.

Papa swallowed hard, “Oh girls.” He swallowed hard again. “My girls.” 

A tear crept down Isabelle’s face, and Isabelle felt a spasm of fear sluice down her spine at the sight of Papa’s red eyes. Something was very wrong.

“Sit, sit,” he said, motioning weakly to the couch.-

They followed him into the living room, and sat on the couch. Leila felt like she was facing a judgment or something when her father took the opposite chair. She grabbed Isabelle’s hand.

“Girls, while you were gone, your Mama died.”

Isabelle gasped and crushed her head into Leila”s arm. Leila wanted to gasp, cry, scream…but instead she took Isabelle into her arms.

“It was a heart attack, girls. While you were gone.”

“Maybe we could’ve saved her.” Leila’s voice sounded weak to her own ears.

“No, my girl. If you had been here and called the doctor right away, there was still nothing you could’ve done.” Papa came over to the couch and crushed them in one of his bear hugs. “I love you, Isabelle. I love you, Leila.”

“Oh, Papa,” Leila whispered. Isabelle began moaning. “I’ll take care of Isabelle. You go do what you need to do.”

Papa hesitated, then sighed. “Okay, sweet Leila. Take care of her.” He went back into the room he and Mama shared. Used to share. Leila could see the doctor and a couple others around Mama’s bed, but she could not see Mama.

Leila carried Isabelle into their room and set Isabelle on her bed. “You cry. You grieve, Isabelle. Remember Mama loved you, and you still have Jesus. You still have Papa. And me.”

Knowing she could not burden Isabelle with her own grief, Leila left the room and went outside. She crawled under the porch, where she and Leila had put some blankets for picnics. She curled up against the house and sobbed. It felt like a dam bursting loose.

Finally, finally she could breathe again.

She used the bottom of her shirt to wipe away the tears. She crawled out into the sunshine, and took a deep breath of the fresh spring air, gazing up into the sun. She squared her shoulders, and went inside.

Papa was holding Isabelle and rocking on the couch. Isabelle’s face was red and blotchy, and her sobs were as loud as they had been when she’d put her on her bed.

Tears streamed down Papa’s face, too. “I can’t help her, Leila. I can’t help her.”

“Let me, Papa,” Leila told him with a gentle touch on his shoulder. She sat next to him on the couch and lifted Isabelle onto her lap.

“Shh, shh, little sister,” she said, rocking her like Papa had done.

“I want Mama.” Isabelle’s voice squeaked, her throat obviously raw from crying. A sob escaped from Papa at the words.

“Shh. I know, Bella.” Leila could do nothing but hold her close. Then an idea came to her. “Bella, do you remember our bike ride today?”

“Y-y-yes, Leila.”

“Remember the tree’s shadows?”

Isabelle nodded.

“Bella, what came after the shadow?”

“The sun.”

Leila smiled. “That’s right, little sister. Shadow, sun, shadow, sun. We are in the shadow now, but the sun will come next. God always gives us the sun.”

Leila nodded to herself. Shadow, sun, shadow, sun.

They just had to wait for the sun.

The end

This is a flash fiction piece based on the photo writing prompt posted at lsengler.com. Give it a try yourself. What story would you write, given just this picture?

Blessings,

Voni

Short Story Tuesday: Flash Mob

Grandma’s Bucket List: Flash Mob

Flash Fiction by Voni Harris

3-13-12

(Click  on “Flash Mob” above, if you don’t know what one is. I promise not to tease.)

Ever since her teenage granddaughter, Jewel, had shown her a video of a flash mob on the internet on TubeYou—or whatever it was called, it had been on the list.

It was just what the senior center needed to spice things up from the usual Bingo and quilting routine, so she had dragged Jewel around—constantly urging her to quit giggling and attracting attention of the others—to show the video to a few of her friends.

All five agreed: walkers, wheelchairs, Ben-Gay, support hose, sensible shoes and all.

So there they sat, eating their ham and scalloped potatoes for lunch separately, each pretending nothing special was going on. Jewel sat with her. She’d smuggled her portable stereo and her Eye-Pod—whatever it was called—in her backpack for them.

She watched the clock like a hawk. Five more minutes, then three, then one. Then the clock finally showed 1:07. She grinned at Jewel and stood up, with the other five, praying they wouldn’t give anyone a heart attack. They pumped their fists in the air and yelled into the quiet of the lunchroom.

“BUCKET LIST FLASH MOB!”

Then Jewel started her Eye-Pod, and the music came through the stereo, pumping a strong beat.

She and her friends stomped, danced, rolled wheelchairs back and forth, twisted, and turned. Just as they’d practiced. She let the music take over. Certainly she was far too old for cool dance moves, but she could enjoy the music. It was her bucket list, after all.

The other seniors first gaped, then one at a time, they began laughing and clapping along.

But it was when she saw Jewel in corner with her Eye-Pod laughing so hard she was crying, that’s when she really started to have fun.

THE END

Blessings,

Voni

Short Story Tuesday: Hearse Wish

 

MY FLASH FICTION INSPIRATION:

The author of the Unphotographable website (linked below) posts description of photos he DID NOT take. Very inspiring. I enjoyed this entry in particular.

http://www.unphotographable.com/archives/2012/01/tornado_warning.shtml

 This is a picture I did not take of a black hearse with tinted windows traveling at speed down a country road toward an oncoming storm as the morning sky darkened in advance of a tornado watch, and as the hearse sped through incoming rain toward the storm and the edge of Alabama, it was chased by an intrepid State trooper, lights blazing through the now downpour, police siren wailing as the wind of their chase passing twirled piles of wet leaves at the roadside into small spirals, eddies of their own.

 MY FLASH FICTION STORY:

 Grandma’s Bucket List: The Hearse

Flash Fiction by Voni Harris

3-6-12

She hadn’t reckoned on the rain. Nor the tornado warning. But she was almost there.

The fact that her high-speed vehicle of choice was a hearse with tinted windows made it all the more exhilarating. She’d never driven one before, but when Eddie suggested it, she knew she had to say yes.

The whole discussion had happened so fast.

She was driving in light rain, but the clouds ahead were black. She didn’t want to spin out on the wet leaves girding the road, but she couldn’t slow down if she wanted to wanted to reach her goal. And she needed to reach her goal. The Alabama state line was the agreement—even if that’s the direction the tornadoes were coming from.

95 miles an hour…check.

State troopers in pursuit…check.

So far, so good. There it was. The welcome sign to Alabama. She gave the gas an extra push as she crossed over.

 Alabama state line…check!

 She eased up on the accelerator, let the hearse slow down easily, then gently crossed the median and drove herself sedately back across the state line to where the troopers were waiting indignantly.

She tried not to smile at their angry faces as she pulled to the side of the highway.

 She tried not to grin when they gaped. She must have been quite a sight with her gray hair, her old-lady sensible shoes, and her apron, still floury from baking bread with her granddaughter, Jewel.

 “Hello officers.”

 “Lady, what do you think…” The deputy teetered on the brink of indecisiveness, between the need to issue a lecture and the need to respect his elders. She could see it in his face.

 The second officer closed his cell phone and interrupted. “Sir? Dispatch just called. Eddie did give her the, uh, use of his hearse. It’s not stolen.”

 She smiled primly. “I understand you will be giving me a speeding ticket, and perhaps a ride back to town?”

 Just then, on the other side of the highway, her nephew Eddie and his wife pulled to the side of the road in his VW bug. Jewel was in their back seat, rolling with laughter.

 Eddie got out of the bug and walked over to the her, and she tossed him the keys to his hearse. “Eddie Jenkins Funeral  Home” it said on the side.

 His wife scooted over to the VW’s driver’s side, and Jewel scrambled to the passenger seat. They honked and waved at her.

 The looks on the officers’ faces begged an explanation.

 “I’ve always wanted to be in a high-speed chase,” she explained as she headed toward the police car.

 Then she raised her hands, lifted her face into the rain, pumped her fists and yelled. “BUCKET LIST!”

English: 1959 Cadillac hearse, Janowiak Funera...

 THE END

Blessings, Voni

Short Story Tuesday: Photoshop


(Image courtesy of Five-Minute Getaway)

PHOTOSHOP

Flash Fiction by Voni Harris

2-28-12

[AUTHOR’S DISCLAIMER: This story is completely and totally fictional.]

Rachel arched her back to stretch the muscles that were tense from a day at the computer, editing photos for her client, as Hannah played quietly nearby. They’d have to go to the park tonight; it took so little to make her daughter happy.

She clicked on the perfect color of turquoise to match the pillows on the white rattan chair to the shallow water of the ocean. And the beach bag. She clicked cerulean for the padded water bottle sitting on the lounge chair, to match the blue of the deeper ocean water.

She faded the sky to almost-white on the right side of the picture, just to carry through the white of the lounges and the—she stifled a giggle—egg chair. She’d sat in it while she was on site, and it was actually comfortable, even if it did look like an egg.

She clicked save. Typed an email to her client. There. The job was done.

It was a nice scene, really, sure to attract tourists to the posh resort. Only she knew of the seagull droppings she had photoshopped out. Or the blind panic of the one-day photo shoot itself, once storm clouds were detected on the horizon. Neatly photoshopped out, too, thank you very much.

 Rachel sighed.

If only she could photoshop out the storm clouds and seagull droppings in her own life. It had taken nearly five years–five years!–to edit out her abusive ex-husband. Yet Craig remained as a ghostly imprint on the picture of her past, a memory that just wouldn’t leave—like a bad-mannered guest.

She glanced up at Hannah, who was stretched out on her belly on the floor, quietly creating her own six-year-old artwork. Hannah had chosen to plop down on the shag carpet right in the sunny spot beneath the window. Rachel should take a picture, but she didn’t have the energy to go get the camera.

Instead, she walked over to ruffle her girl’s hair and look at her drawing. There was a weird dot, a blob of paint, right in the middle of the sunny sky.

Kind of like a blue seagull dropping.

Hannah wrinkled her nose. “I spilled some paint there. But it’s a pretty blue.” She thought for a moment, then she picked up her brush, and turned the dot into a rain drop, and added a few more. She looked up with a grin. “Just like the other day when it rained and sunned at the same time. See, Mama? My accidental dot made a cool picture after all.”

“Very cool. Awesome picture, my girl,” Rachel said. “I’m glad you thought of  it.”

If Craig was a seagull dropping in her life, then Hannah was the rain.

Photoshop was highly overrated, anyway.

 THE END

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4 (NIV)

[This story was inspired by the Flash Fiction Friday writing prompt posted by l.S. Engler at http://lsengler.com/, where I found the picture I included at the top of the story. Thanks, L.S.!]

Flash Fiction: THE CONFRONTATION

Flash Fiction by Voni Harris

2-14-12

(Inspired by this Flash Fiction photo prompt at http://lsengler.com/)

 

The Confrontation

The  lights of the kirche gave it a warm glow that radiated down onto the street. The surrounding businesses also had turned on their lights against the growing night.

Hilda stopped at the corner and looked up. Yes. The lights were burning in the second office from the right on the sixth floor. He was there as promised. She looked down at the sidewalk, a dazzle of light reflecting the sky’s deep purple and the warmth of the lights spilling out of doorways and windows.

Then she lifted her head and stiffened her spine for the coming confrontation.

For it would be a confrontation. It must be.

Frederick himself answered the door.

He looked different for his time in prison. There was a sadness around his eyes that had never been there before. Before that drunk driving accident that mangled Hilda’s life and even shook her faith for a while.

Hilda walked in and stood, waiting for him to close the door.

Frederick offered to take her coat.

“That will not be necessary.” She dared not stay long, the way her heart was pounding out of her chest.

He sat down at the chair next to the one she stood by. “Please, have a seat, Hilda.”

“That will not be necessary.” She’d never make it through this if she acted as though he were a friend.

He stood again, embarrassed. Or nervous.

Hilda took a deep breath, whispered a prayer. The moment had come. “You killed Ilsa, you killed my sister.”

His head bowed and his shoulders slumped, giving him the look of an abandoned rag doll. “I know. Your sister begged me to pull over that night, but…I didn’t…I didn’t listen.” He looked up into Hilda’s eyes. “I truly loved Ilsa with all my heart. You should know that.”

“Well, there’s something you should know.”

He waited as a condemned man before his executioner.

The black hate in her heart suddenly threatened to overwhelm her. The silence in the room grew stifling as she struggled to form the words she had to say to fight back the darkness.

Then there was sweet release as she found the words. “Frederick, I forgive you.”

“For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?” 2 Corinthians 2:15-16  (http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=2Cr&c=2&t=NIV#7)

THE END

Blessings, Voni

Short Story Tuesday: THE VILLAGE

 
 THE VILLAGE
 Flash Fiction by Voni Harris 2-7-12

 “This village doesn’t belong here,” she thought, drawing her garments closer to her in the cold.

Three floods. Three re-buildings. And now another. Four in four years.

Sometimes she didn’t understand the town fathers. Sometimes she didn’t understand her own father. Which made sense, since he was one of the village leaders.

He carried on his own shoulders the battle to keep the village intact. Why, she could not fathom. Bitterness grew inside her as she floundered through the knee-high mud and debris in her home, looking for anything that could be salvaged.

First she’d lost her mother, then her home. Over and over and over again.

It was though the river hated the village, hated her. Anger snapped at her soul, like a wolf nipping at her heels. “What is there left, Father?” she spat into the empty house.

“Nothing, Maura. Nothing.”

His voice startled her; she’d thought she’d been alone. She spun around. “I’m sorry, Father. I didn’t mean…”

He silenced her with a finger. As she gazed into his eyes, she saw something there she’d not seen before, not in the eyes of her oak-strong father. Pain.

“Your mother…” His voice cracked and his shoulders slumped.

“I know, Father.”

“I fought hard for our village after each flood. I needed to be near the woods, the river, the trees that brought her such joy. I thought you needed it, too.”

“I know, Papa.” Somehow in that moment, her childhood name for him felt right.

“But you need a home, not…” He gestured wearily over the wreckage of their house.

“Oh, Papa. I have Mama here…and here.” She touched her heart, then her head. Suddenly shy, she looked out the window. “And…I have you.”

“Yes.” He straightened himself and put a tender hand on her shoulder. “Maura, the town fathers have decided to disband the village. We will go to your mother’s hometown and move in with her parents until I can build a cabin for us.”

“Yes, Papa,” she said, then impulsively put her hand over his. “I love you, Papa.”

English: Moclett Pier, Papa Westray The ferry ...
Image via Wikipedia

The End.

 
Blessings
Voni