Posts tagged ‘Short story’

Flash Fiction Friday: That’s All It Took?

Balloon ride

THAT’S ALL IT TOOK?

Flash Fiction by Voni Harris

He was nervous.

That’s why he slopped the dollop of mustard down the front of his shirt. Went perfectly with the already stinking baby spit-up from his last client’s baby.

He’d shouldn’t have stopped at the sidewalk vendor on his way out to his car, even if it was destined to be a late dinner. Now there was no time to change before he met her.

Fortunately, there was an extra shirt in his car.

Unfortunately, it was his yellow shirt with large dots of many shades of green. Perfect for alumni events, with jeans. Not so perfect with his blue pin-striped suit pants.

Better than smelly baby spit-up and a mustard blotch. He quickly switched shirts at the side of the road. Glancing at his watch, he saw he was cutting it close, and he needed to impress tonight. She was looking for romance tonight; she’d made that clear.

He pulled up outside her office. She gave his clothes a quizzical look through the window, then waved and came lightly running out to the car with a smile, full skirt flowing behind her. He got out and walked around to open the door for her…

…just in time to knock her off the curb and send her rolling onto the lawn.

“Are you okay?” he asked, reaching to help her up.

She dusted the grass off her backside.

“Perfectly fine,” she answered, then frowned. “However, my shoe is not.” She held it up for his inspection. The heel of the left shoe was rolling in the gutter.

“Sorry about that,” he mumbled, embarrassed.

“That’s okay.” She opened her voluminous purse and pulled out a pair of flats. “I came prepared.” She slid onto the car seat and slipped on the flats, tossing the heels in the back seat.

Great. Just great. This date was supposed to knock her socks off, not break her shoes!

He closed her door for her, then walked around and started the car. She teased about his clothes, chattered about her day, and there had never been a faster 45-minute drive. With her in the car, even the pot holes after they turned onto the dirt road didn’t annoy him.

This was a woman he intended to impress and keep impressed.

 

They pulled up in front of a barn and parked. She took one look at the sign and squealed. “A hot-air balloon ride? Seriously? I can’t wait.”

Score!

She dug a ponytail holder from the depths of her purse and pulled her hair back to combat the wind while he walked around the car and opened the door for her.

The balloonist came walking over. The man rocked back and forth on his heels as he greeted them. “Sorry to give you bad news. I was hoping this wind was going to die down by the time you got here, but it increased instead. It’s too heavy for us to go up tonight. We’ll have to reschedule.”

He looked up to see her face fall, and his stomach fell to his feet.

“I’m sorry.” he told her, grinding his toe into the dirt.

“Not your fault.” She deliberately put a smile on her face. “Nor yours,” she told the balloonist, who smiled back in relief.

She turned to look at him. “Now what?” she asked.

He hoped she didn’t just write off the whole date. “We could go on to the restaurant. I was a little worried we wouldn’t make our reservation, anyway, and it’s quite a drive.”

“Let’s do it!” They waved to the balloonist as he drove away and slid into their seats.

That’s when the car refused to start. It wouldn’t even turn over. He got out, muttering a prayer, and looked under the hood. He saw the problem and hooked the loose wire back up.

The car still wouldn’t start.

He got out of the car again. That is when he noticed the pool of liquid under the gas tank; one of the pot holes must have caused the obvious hole in the tank.

At least they came across a field of wild flowers as they walked around, waiting on the tow truck. A girl seeking romance had to have flowers, right? He picked her a mess of them and hoped she’d not notice that he’d forgotten to order a bouquet for the night.

Sitting between him and the tow truck driver on their way back into town, she rubbed her arm where she’d been stung by the bee he’d unwittingly picked along with the flowers. Loud and twangy country music on the radio kept them from any conversation, but she did he reach over and take his hand.

They left the car at a repair shop near the restaurant and walked down the street, still holding hands.

That’s when they were deluged by the storm the wind had been blowing in. They took off jogging and pushed into the restaurant soaking wet.

The maitre d’ inside looked them up and down and gave a self-satisfied smile as he tapped his notebook. They’d missed their reservation time after all.

They ran to the restaurant next door. The wait was over ninety minutes. She tapped his arm, “It’s getting late at this point. McDonald’s is across the street.”

McDonald's

McDonald’s. I am such a clod.

But he couldn’t take her home hungry after all he put her through. He sighed in agreement, and they ran through the rain once more.

McDonald’s. So this is where our perfect date ends up.

Fifteen minutes later, she took a huge bite of her burger as she ran her fries through a pile of ketchup.

She threw her head back in laughter. “This has been the most perfect date night!”

His jaw dropped.

“I love being married to you,” she said, her sky-blue eyes sparkling.

With no idea what to say, he just grabbed her hand. And held on.

 

The end

 

Blessings,

Voni

 

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Flash Fiction Friday: The Valentine’s Mistake

iphone

“Will you be my Valentine?”

His hand paused above the send button on the text message he’d just typed; it was shaking, if you looked hard enough to notice.

He looked around his office. Empty. Through the open door he could see several people gathered at the water cooler, but no one was watching.

He clicked send, then tossed his phone on the desk.

Quickly turning to his computer, he got back to work, putting out of his mind the consequences of what he had just done.

Two minutes later, the phone buzzed, alerting him that a text had come in.

The consequences.

His whole body felt like a giant exclamation point. He shook it off.

I’ll check it later. I’ve got work.

And he did work.

For about forty-seven seconds.

Could be that text I’m expecting from Mr. Houghton over at Houghton Associates.

Unable to ignore the firm’s biggest client, he pushed his chair away from the computer and picked up his phone.

It was from his wife. What does Sheila want to nag me about now?

Suddenly, his body went on high alert.

Consequences.

But how could she possibly…

He rotated his shoulders to relieve the sudden tension. Might as well get it over with.

He clicked through to her text.

“Yes! Of course I’ll be your Valentine, Samuel! You’ve been sooo distracted lately, but then I know how your job can get when you’re closing a big deal. How about we go to Italiano’s for supper? I’ll call Debbie to babysit. She could keep the kids at her house for the night.”

Frowning, he pulled up his original text.

Yup. He’d sent it to Sheila.

He’d meant to send it to Allison. Kind of an icebreaker for the obvious attraction between them.

He returned to Sheila’s message and was surprised to find himself smiling. She’d always insisted on calling him Samuel and not Sam. With the smile, a thought dawned on him.

He grabbed his phone before the idea could leave and began tapping keys.

“Call Debbie, but instead of Italiano’s I think we’ll go through the driveway at McDonald’s and eat in the car at the harbor and watch the ships come in. I love you, Sheila.”

He found himself blushing at the remembrance of taking her to the harbor for the first time on their first date. McDonald’s included. He’d been embarrassed at his lack of funds.

But they’d stayed there in the car, talking, until 2 AM.

Scrolling to Allison’s name on the contacts list, Sam quickly punched “delete contact.”

He’d have to find a different spin class.

He wasn’t going to make this mistake again.

 

The End

Blessings,

Voni

P.S. My Barometer Mountain 52-week Photo Challenge will be posted on Monday. Unless I post it on Tuesday like I did the last two weeks. 🙂 At any rate, please check it out! No guarantees, but there may be sunshine in this picture.

Flash Fiction Friday: Rory’s Story Cubes, Week 3

Rory3

The shadows grew like monsters behind the little boy as Jeremy took his hand. They went deeper into the alley, ducking under the clothesline where the boy had been playing.

Jeremy wanted to ask, where’d you get that tattoo on your hand, but thought it better to ask, “What’s your name?

The boy looked at him oddly. “My mama has your cell phone.”

Great. The cell phone with my passwords and bank account apps, and my credit card info. “Where’d you get that tattoo on your hand?” Jeremy asked.

The boy shrugged. “Where’d you get yours?”

“I don’t have one.”

The boy looked at him oddly. This time, Jeremy gazed back at him. Just in time to walk into a spider web. He brushed it from his face quickly with a fling of his hand.

Like Alice falling down the rabbit hole! Nevertheless, he decided to try the conversation again. “How much further?”

“Not much.” The boy made it sound like Jeremy should know how much distance was left.

Sighing, Jeremy made one last attempt. “How old are you?”

The boy looked at him oddly. “Here we are.” He took a sudden left and brought Jeremy up some crumbly concrete steps into a brick house with blue trim standing on the corner of the alley and the main drag toward which they’d been headed.

They stood in a run-down, but clean, living room, with the only light coming from a naked bulb overhead. The TV, or was it a radio, spoke softly from the next room.

“Mom! We’re here! The man stirred.”

The radio came off, and out came a woman, drying her hands on an apron as she entered the room. It was the woman with the parachute. And the Box-L tattoo.

“But, Mom,” the boy continued, “he didn’t know how old I was.”

She cocked her head in mild confusion. “He’s six,” she informed him.

Jeremy opened his mouth to make introductions, and the woman did too, but they didn’t get a chance.

“Mom, the man didn’t even know my name.”

How could I? I’ve never seen you before!

The woman looked at Jeremy oddly. Runs in the family. He rolled his eyes.

“His name is Ari.”

“Short for Antares,” the boy piped up. “You know, the star? In the Scorpio constellation? The Breast of the Scorpion?”

Jeremy opened his mouth to politely compliment the name, but the boy wasn’t finished talking.

“Mom, he said he doesn’t have a tattoo!”

“What? He doesn’t?” The woman’s ears turned red, and she pursed her lips.

Jeremy recognized the dare in her eyes from the rooftop parachute jump and didn’t dare move. Ari ran into the other room and returned a few seconds later with a flashlight that burned blue with some sort of black light.

“Show me your palm,” Parachute Woman demanded. She held out her hand like a mother checking her child’s hand cleanliness before a meal.

I am a grown man! “What are …”

“I said, show me your palm.”

Tune in next week for more! And check out the Rory’s Story Cube app on your phone. What fun! You’re welcome to share your own results in my comments section.

Blessings,
Voni

Flash Fiction Friday: Rory’s Story Cubes Week #2

Rory2

And there are the images from Rory’s Story Cubes that I am using to create today’s continuation of the story I began last week…. Welcome to my imagination! (If you see only a small rectangular image above this paragraph, click on the rectangle to see the Story Cubes picture)

Rory’s Story Cubes #2

The strange woman’s footsteps had long faded, but Jeremy still stood in the middle of the alley behind City Tower, unable to tear his eyes away from the message on his phone.

How did his account have $39 million dollars?

But then, how had he parachuted from a high rise office building?

But then, how had he escaped a gunman?

Just then, he heard a noise coming from above. The gunman swung himself down from the fire escape, dropping easily to the ground beside Jeremy.

Jeremy stepped backwards into the shadows as the man looked around, but he knocked a glass bottle to the ground. The man was on him before the glass finished shattering.

Jeremy kicked wildly and tried to scream, but the man had an arm around his neck.

The man picked up a steel pipe and struck Jeremy over the head.

Jeremy collapsed.

When he awoke, he was sheltered in the dark recess of the doorway nearest where he had fallen in the alley. But it was daylight. He could see the remnants of blood on the ground where he had fallen, and didn’t dare touch the back of his aching head to see where it had come from.

“Hi!”

Jeremy drew himself up to sitting and looked to the right. A little boy was playing with action figures a short distance down the alleyway, under a clothesline stretched across the alleyway. He stood up and approached.

“Are you stirring?”

“What?”

“Mama said to bring you to her as soon as you stirred. Are you stirring?”

“Mmmph. I guess I am.”

The boy held out his hand. “Well then, come with me.”

Jeremy patted his pocket. Empty. Cell phone. Gone. With no other choices in a strange city, he reached out to take the boy’s hand.

That’s when he saw the boy’s tattooed palm…

A square with a block letter L.

Tune in next week for more!

Blessings,

Voni

Flash Fiction Friday: The King’s Things

English: Theobald I of Navarre

English: Theobald I of Navarre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The King’s Things—a proverbial fairy tale

“Who’ll go with me?” Prince Edwin yelled to the cheers of the crowd in the courtyard below the balcony on which he stood. His long blonde hair blew gently in the breeze, and his skin glowed in the rising morning sun.

King Theobald, standing back in the richly decorated room that led to the balcony, felt his chest rise in pride over his son. His son’s deep voice rose in response to the crowd. eyes wandered to the empty spot where his great-grandfather’s bow and arrow once stood. Then to the spot above the fireplace where the commissioned painting of his late wife once stood.

“To steal from my father is to steal from the kingdom! We cannot let King Baldric’s thieving goons steal the kingdom from under our noses. We must retrieve the gold and valuables that were stolen from King Theobald.” His voice rose to a crescendo, “WHO WILL GO WITH ME?”

Men from throughout the crowd surged forward, kissing wives and girlfriends good-bye, raising fists in salute, the thrill of coming victory shining in their eyes. Theobald recognized most of them, and was glad his son would have such good men in support of the mission.

A moment later, his son strode back into the room. “We are ready to go, Father. The men are gathering below.”

“I only wish you could ride Hercules.”

“Ah, Father, we’ll get your horse back from those thugs. I shall ride Hercules in the next battle. Unless you do.”

Theobald rubbed his gimpy leg. “He shall be yours if you are able to bring him home, Son.”

Edwin’s eyes twinkled, and he bowed his head in acknowledgment of the compliment and challenge. “As you wish, Father. Those thieving men of  Baldric cannot be far ahead. Perhaps I shall be home for supper. Breakfast tomorrow at the latest.”

“Make it so, Edwin,” the king said, thumping his son on the back.

His son strode out, his hand tapping the sword buckled at his side. His footsteps on the stone floor echoed through the room.

Theobald sat down on his wide, plushly covered throne. He smiled as he thought of his late wife nagging about his slouching. She would be proud of their son’s leadership and maturity. Hopefully, Edwin’s anger at the “disgrace” of his mother’s portrait would find outlet in the hunt for the thieves. A servant stirred up the fire, then left the room. The fire’s warmth stole over him, and he dozed.

~~~

Someone gently shook his shoulder. “King Theobald, Sir?”

He straightened gruffly in the throne. The was was low in the sky, the fire had gone out, and his neck was sore. “Why are you waking me at this hour?”

A sudden suspicion crept over him.

“How goes the battle, boy?”

“Your Majesty, it’s your son. You must come. The carriage is being prepared for you as we speak.”

The pageboy held out the royal cloak, and Theobald shrugged into it.

“Let’s go.”

It was a silent ride next to the pageboy, though not quiet. The carriage rumbled over ruts and gravel and grass and tree roots.

Finally, it lurched to a stop. He jumped out and saw Edwin immediately. He lie under a spring-green tree, red running from his side. The beautiful white Hercules lie stretched beside the boy.

Gimpy leg forgotten, Theobald ran over to Edwin.

No.

No.

No.

There was no breath.

No heartbeat.

“We routed Baldric’s thieves, Sire, and the missing items have been found,” one of the men offered.

A screaming moan ripped from his throat and he dropped to his knees, pulling Edwin’s head onto his knee and curled his body around his son’s.

He thought about the stolen gold.

His great-grandfather’s sword.

His late wife’s portrait.

The other things the thieves had taken for Baldric.

Things.

They were things.

Just things…

 

The End

Blessings,

Voni

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: Flash Fiction Poetry: Date Night

DATE NIGHT: Dinner and a Play

Him…

Dressed up; didn’t see the stain.

Benz broke down; had to drive the Ford .

 Bought her roses; dropped the vase.

Made her dinner; burned the steak.

 Made a joke; she didn’t laugh.

Wrote her a poem; it didn’t rhyme.

 Asked her to dance; ruined her shoe.

His wife giggling, “I love you.”

 

Her…

Failed haircut

            Pantyhose ripped

Missing shoe

            Babysitter late

Tickets forgotten

            Cranky words

Sudden rainstorm

           Her husband’s silly grin and warm hand in hers.

Ever have a date night like this, when everything goes wrong? It’s worth it at any rate to take that time to reconnect with your mate. What was your last date night? When is your next one? I’d love to hear!

Blessings,

Voni