I’ll Hold Him – Flash Fiction

I’ll Hold Him – Flash Fiction

Everyone says he’s too big for me to carry now.

It’s probably true. His legs in his favorite Superman pajama pants (the ones that are way too short and ragged) dangle past my knees when I carry him piggyback, and I can’t run with him like I used to.

But I’ll carry him until he stops asking…

‘Cause I know that one of these days he’ll stop begging to be close to me. One of these days he’ll stop giving me butterfly kisses, chubby arms tangled around my neck, almost choking me. One of these days my shoulder won’t be the one he clings to and bawls on when his little heart gets broken.

One of these days he’ll think he’s stopped needing me.

I’ll hold him while I can.

Photo by Bethany Beck on Unsplash

Stop Hiding – Flash Fiction

Hello, friends! I have another flash fiction for you today. Actually, it has a very similar theme to this poem I wrote a few months ago! I hope you enjoy it.:)

“Stop hiding.”

The girl stares back at me blankly. Arms crossed, lips resting in a sullen droop. Unconvinced. Waiting for me to say more.

I hesitate, then take a breath. “How can you expect to be understood when all you’ll give them is a false front?”

“It’s safer this way.” She swallows and breaks eye contact, studying the linoleum.

“Maybe.” I stare at her and she stares back, chocolate eyes pooling with tears. “But… don’t you want people to know who you truly are?”

“Yeah, but…” she pauses, and a tear falls from her lower eyelid. Her toe traces circles on the floor.

I wait. I know her well enough to know that she’ll talk when she’s ready. And she does.

“My story isn’t worth knowing.”

“That’s not true… every story’s worth knowing.”

“Mine isn’t.” Another tear splashes onto her dusty foot.

“But… what if… other people have stories like yours? And they need to know they’re not alone?” I wrap my arms around myself. “What if you’re the one who needs to let them know that?”

Silence aches on for several moments. I can hear her breathing… deep, searching breaths facing down near-terror. She watches more tears paint damp circles on her toes.

Finally…

“Okay.” She sniffs and blinks, her fist smearing tears on her face. “I won’t keep hiding.”

I nod and turn away from the mirror.

Alone

Alone

I wrote this flash fic piece from the perspective of one of my favorite characters in the novel I’m writing.

And don’t worry… he’s gonna be okay.:)

The room is warm. Stifling. I would open the window if the breeze wouldn’t carry the scent of lilacs and an onslaught of memories.

I can’t sleep.

I kick off the sheets and stumble to the window, leaning my forehead against the cool glass. Respite from the heat seeps from the smooth pane into and across my forehead, providing a touch of relief from the oppression that coats my body in a thin film of sweat.

I keep my eyes wide, afraid of what my mind’s eye will see if I close them again. Rather, afraid of how my heart would respond.

I suck in a breath and stare through the glass. All I can see is inky darkness – the firm silhouettes of barns and treelines that straggle across a horizon the sun abandoned. These are silhouettes I could trace in my sleep. I’ve lived most of my life to see new skylines… why does the skyline of my childhood so fascinate me now?

It beats staring at the untouched pillow next to mine.

My breath fogs the windowpane and I twist my head to the side, cooling my cheek against the glass while heat burns behind my eyes. I don’t fight the tears anymore… at least not when I’m alone.

Alone.

I clench my jaw against the word. A year ago it meant independence. Freedom to do whatever I wanted to do. Freedom to go wherever I wanted to go. Freedom to choose the future I wanted to live.

Freedom to choose someone who would be taken from me.

It is not good for the man to be alone…

My hands tighten into helpless fists and I slide to the floor, letting my head fall back against the wall. Tears trickle into my ears as I lift my face to the ceiling.

God…

He knows what’s coming. It’s all I’ve been able to say to Him since…

 I bow my head. I’m sick of saying it. I wonder if He gets sick of hearing it. But I have to tell Him. Our lines of communication can’t go down, and so… I whisper.

Why?

Photo by Iván Barcia on Unsplash

A Glimpse of Sky

A Glimpse of Sky

I have a bit of flash fiction for you today! This piece is the first I’ve written in the dystopian genre…

I knock lightly on the door, inserting the key labeled 1039 in the doorknob and twisting the deadbolt. The heavy metal barrier swings open, and I stare into a monochromatic room. The only splotch of color in the cell is the blond head that’s bent over a tiny desk in the corner. I cough. “Here’s your dinner.”

The man spins, and his eyes shoot blue anger into mine. Blue.. like the snatches of sky that slip through the tips of skyscrapers. Even in the face of their venom, I stare into the eyes almost hungrily.

Color.

“What are you staring at? I thought you had my dinner,” I snap. The impatient tone doesn’t surprise me anymore. I’ve grown accustomed to it, like I’ve grown accustomed to this room… cell. I snatch the first word from my thoughts, furious that I dignified this residence with a term that smacked of life before… this.

You’re weakening…

I shake the thought from my mind and rise to take the tray of food from the little girl. She doesn’t seem to notice that I yelled at her. “Thank you,” I growl, whipping it from her hands to the papers on my desk.

“You’re welcome.”

I know that I should leave now – my job is over – but I can’t help but stare around the room. It’s so different from the rest of the cells. For one thing, it’s twice as large. There’s room for a man to take four paces across and seven paces along the wall, leading to…

I gasp. “You have windows!”

I snort. “That’s a generous statement.” Windows indeed. Glass-filled holes in the wall, shaded on the outside so I can’t see the sky. Yes, the government was very generous to permit me the one room in the prison that has “windows”. They hardly do any good; I can get much more light from the fluorescent bulbs that line this edge of the ceiling. I wonder if they’ve allowed me this semblance of normalcy to assist in crumbling the walls of my soul… bit by eroding bit. To ever remind me of what has been lost.

“What are you working on?”

I shove my hands over the papers full of equations, protecting them from her searching eyes. “You did what you came for.”

“Is that a bird?” Her eyes grope at a corner of paper my hands failed to defend.

I can’t remember the last time I saw a bird… but I think that’s what the figure in the little ink sketch is. “It’s so pretty.”

“Do they pay you to talk?”

“I’m sorry.”

I turn my back on her kindness. After the door closes, a question rises from somewhere deep inside… perhaps a dying gasp from the man I once was.

Why?

Because I can’t remember how one responds to kindness? Because the days of being complimented on anything other than intellect – and grudgingly, at that – were buried long ago? I shove away the tray of food and rise to stare out the window at the gray cement of the prison next door.

What does it matter? The kindness was momentary… swallowed now by a sea of ever-present numbness. Best to get used to it. Taking up the sheet of paper, I rip off the corner and sink to my knees. Staring up and out of the window, I strain my eyes and my soul to catch a glimpse of sky.

I’ve done this every day and have never succeeded… so why do I keep up this madness? I can solve the most complicated equations… but I can’t solve this riddle.

I sigh and tuck the inked bird into my pocket.

For Being Scared – Flash/Fan Fiction

For Being Scared – Flash/Fan Fiction

Happy Monday, all!

So today’s piece of fiction is half flash fiction, half fan fiction. Flash fiction because… it’s short. Fan fiction because the two characters featured in this scene are from the novel I’m writing! (Can you write fan fiction for your own characters? I don’t know, but today we’ll pretend you can.:) )

Look at the ceiling… out the windows… at the cold stone of the floor… at anything but what’s right in front of you. Look at anything that could make you forget the pain.

Myghell gritted his teeth and turned his head to the side, staring at the dirt ground into the shoulder of his shirt. He looked at the stone blocks of the castle wall against which he leaned. He stared at his left arm resting on his knees, determined not to see his right arm where he cradled it against his chest.

“Myghell!”

He groaned and smiled all at once. The little girl was barreling towards him with brow furrowed and arms pumping. He moved his left arm in an attempt to cover the bloodied cloak that he’d crudely used to bandage his wounded arm. Too late. “You’re bleeding!”

“A little.” “You need someone to take care of you.” She looked around the great room full of groaning men and scurrying medics, and Myghell shrugged the shoulder of his good arm. “No one’s available right now, but it’s alright. It’s just a scratch.”

She frowned, crossing her arms. “Scratches don’t dump blood all over your cloak. Lemme see.”

“I’m fine, Kahtcha.”

“But I want to take care of you!” She got down on her knees and poked at his bloodied cloak, pouting when he brushed her hands away.

“You’re not even supposed to be in here.”

“Blood doesn’t scare me.” Her brown eyes glowed defiantly. “How was the battle?”

Myghell smiled wryly. She asked the question as though she were asking about a peaceful flight across the Shire. “Bad.”

“You lost?”

“We did. But the war isn’t over.” Myghell bowed his head. “It won’t be over ’til we win.”

“What was it like?”

Myghell hesitated, remembering the frustration of times past when he’d been shut out from conversations and retellings that were deemed to be unsuitable for his young ears. “It was loud… and bloody… and… frightening.”

“But you weren’t scared.” Kahtcha sat on the floor next to him and hugged his good arm, proud of her mighty warrior.

“I was.”

“But you aren’t scared of anything!” “Everyone’s scared of something.” “I didn’t think you were,” Kahtcha murmured, scooting closer to him.

Myghell grinned. “Guess for the first time, you’re wrong about something.”

Kahtcha giggled and leaned her head on his arm. His eyes scanned the room, then he glanced down at her. “Close your eyes, sweetie. I don’t want you to see all this.” She obeyed so fiercely that her nose wrinkled up. “But I can stay?” “For now.”

They sat in silence. When she finally spoke again, her words startled him.

“Thank you.”

He turned and saw that her eyes were still closed tightly. “For what?”

“For being scared so I don’t have to be.”

Reluctant Hero – Installment #3

Reluctant Hero – Installment #3

If you’ve enjoyed the previous Reluctant Hero stories… here’s the next one!

Before dinner I was charged with the care of three hungry and clamorous little hooligans. Now after dinner I am charged with the care of three jelly-smeared and butter-bedecked clamorous little hooligans.

Prospects are bleak. I have two hours to go.

I s’pose I should start by cleaning them up. I grab some paper napkins and go to work. Only it doesn’t work. Holly giggles and Cameron yells as I smear the jelly in larger and bleaker circles on their faces. “Mommy gets it wet first!”

For good reason. That works much better. Now that the little tyrants are clean enough, I lean my elbows on the table. “So… what do you guys usually do after supper?”

“Mommy reads us books –”

Cameron rudely shoves his words on top of Holly’s. “We sing songs, too! Old MacDonald had a farm, e-i-e-i-o!” He bobs his whole body along to the song as I cover my ears and Holly tugs on my sleeve. “I want more water.”

“Okay, I’ll get you some.”

“Me, too! I want some water!”

Nothing like being followed by bouncing children wherever you go.

Two soaked t-shirts, a shattered glass and a few tears later, I set the dirty dishes in the sink, put the applesauce in the fridge, and pull the kids onto the couch with me. They’ve filled their little fists with all the books they can hold, and I feel a sudden wave of fatigue.

Oh, help.

“This one’s my favorite; read it first!” Cameron shoves a tattered paperback three inches from my nose. “Whoa, buddy; hold on a sec.” Holding the book at a more comfortable distance, I read the title. “Caps for Sale.”

“Read it, read it!” The couch is shaking with their maniacal bouncing, and even Jake’s tear-streaked face mellows a bit. “Okay…”

When I open the book, something magical happens. I can hardly believe my ears and eyes. Are they actually… calming down? I start reading, slowly. They stare, eyes wide and hands still. Page after page after page, until I close the book and they throw another one at me. And another. And another…

Somehow, being suffocated by a pile of children isn’t half as bad as I thought it would be. Even when Jake falls asleep with his face squished up against my chest, drooling all over my shirt, I don’t really mind…

What’s happening to me?

Reluctant Hero – Installment #2

Reluctant Hero – Installment #2

Last Thursday I shared a little piece of flash fiction (you can read it here). I got a couple of suggestions that it could be a series… and since I enjoyed writing the story so much, I decided to write a second installment!

If you’d like to hear more about poor Ryan and his trials and tribulations, let me know, and maybe you will.:)

***

“Guys, this is Ryan. He’s gonna babysit you while Mommy is gone. Ryan, this is Holly, Cameron, and Jake.”

I try not to show my terror as I sweep a brief glance across the three little faces. “Hey, guys.”

“Hi, Ryan! Wanna wrestle?” Cameron screams. Holly stares at me blankly. Jake takes one look at me and bursts into tears. Oh, to be young enough to show my true feelings.

“I’ll be gone for about two and a half hours… that’ll work with your schedule?” The mother of the little brutes speaks in the tone of voice I imagine a prison guard uses when pleading for time off. I decide against asking if two and a half hours will work with my mental health, and instead say, “Uh… yeah.”

“Perfect.” Her sigh of relief is enormous. “Thanks so much for doing this. Bye, guys! You be good for Ryan. Oh,” she says, turning back with her hand on the front door knob, “Supper’s on the table. Have fun!”

Because that’s what you say to a kamikaze pilot.

The door slams behind her with a dismal finality. I turn slowly, muttering prayers for deliverance under my breath, and force myself to make eye contact with my charges. “So… you guys hungry?”

“I don’t like the crusts,” Cameron yells, racing Holly to the table. Jake stares up at me from where he sits on a blanket on the floor, eyes teary and lower lip trembling. Seeing that he isn’t seeking food with the vicious enthusiasm his siblings express, I guess he’s not old enough to walk yet. Honestly, I wouldn’t be able to walk if my legs were that chubby, either.

So how does one go about picking up a baby? I stare quizzically at the mini monster. I consider calling my sister, but laugh at myself after a few minutes of consideration. What am I thinking? I can do this! You probably just… grab him. Under the armpits, maybe?

Holding him at arm’s length, I begin to question the wisdom of this method. He’s starting to cry again. Food will help. I rush him to the table and plunk him in the small chair that sits up higher than the others. I assume it’s some sort of baby container – it has restraining straps and everything. Oh, thank goodness. I don’t have to hold the thing on my lap and have him dribble applesauce and drool all over my arms.

 However, the kid lets out a primal yell when his chubby leg gets pinched in one of the buckles.

“Quiet, Jake! QUIET!” his siblings scream in unison, banging their spoons on the table. I try to take deep breaths. It’s gonna be a long night.

Reluctant Hero – Flash Fiction

Reluctant Hero – Flash Fiction

Just another little flash fic piece… I hope you like it!

“No. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. You cannot make me do that.”

“Ryan, I need you to do this for me. Please.”

“Uh-uh. No way am I gonna spend my Saturday night in torture. I hate noise. And sharp things. And being scratched and spit on and crowded and laughed at. No way.”

“Ryan, it’s not as bad as it seems. Really. You’ll survive… besides, it’ll be good experience. Just think of all the content you’ll have for your stories after this!”

“If I live to write them.”

“Look, you’ve gotta be there at seven o’clock sharp. Got it?”

“Lillie, they’re going to kill me. Kill me.”

“You’re a good man, Ryan.”

***

My knuckles are white on the steering wheel. How in the world did I let my kid sister talk me into doing this? Sometimes I wonder if she lives to put me in terrible situations. When we were little it was the thing with the dog and the airhorn… then the thing with the sled and the watermelons and the nursing home. And now it’s… this.

Is she trying to get rid of me or something?

I check my watch. 6:54. Plenty of time. At least I’ll die knowing that I held up my end of the bargain. I’ll die for my sister’s sake – like a hero. Will they mention something about that at my funeral? I turn onto Galloway Avenue, wondering what my funeral will be like. Yuck… I hope they don’t put flowers all over the place. Maybe I should leave a note: Nix the flowers.

Here it is – 666 Galloway Avenue. The 666 unnerves me, and the driveway is lined with the bony fingers of dead maples reaching to seize me as soon as I leave the safety of my car. Honestly, I’d rather die here in the darkness at the hands of the trees than at the clawing hands of the monsters that await me inside.

The ancient porch creaks and groans as I step onto it, and my fist reaches out to make a confident-sounding assault on the door. Shrieks and screams leak through the windows, and the edge of a curtain is pulled furtively from the window. I quickly turn my eyes to study the doorbell I neglected to see before.

The door swings open. I straighten my shoulders and smile weakly.

“You’re Lillie’s brother? Thanks so much for watching the kids tonight.”

Like Me – Flash Fiction

Like Me – Flash Fiction

I shiver. Had I known it would be this cold up here, I would have swiped another sweater from that clothesline. But I didn’t. So I shiver.

I can hear Tommy hissing in my ear now: Serves you right. You deserve worse. Knowing I should be in the clink only makes things worse, and my legs are shaking so badly now I can hardly move… but I’ve got to. I’ve made it this far, and I’m too close to the hope of a new life to turn back now.

But a tiny whimpering stops me. The scrubby bushes on my left tremble slightly. Scrambling on my hands and knees, I search. There’s a puppy, small, damp, spotted, and dirty, staring out at me with brown eyes too big for his body.

He’s alone. Like me.

“It’s okay, buddy.” I inch my hand towards him. My arm won’t stay still… but the cold’s not to blame now. I think it’s the foreign feeling of letting my guard down around another living being.

The little fellow whines again as I grasp his ribby body, but he doesn’t try to run. That’s a first. His eyes are glued to me as I lift him out and hold him close. He’s shaking, too. “It’s okay, buddy.”

While I unbutton my coat and slip him inside, he’s shaking and crying. “Shh… shh. It’s okay. It’s okay, buddy.” I let myself stroke the hairs on his tiny head. They’re matted and grimy. “Are you lost, too?” He just looks at me. He still doesn’t run.

Maybe some company on this trip wouldn’t be so bad.

Photo by Joe Dudeck on Unsplash

Stones and Souls – Flash Fiction

Stones and Souls – Flash Fiction

Rolling, plunging, falling, pounding… the roaring of the falls gave voice to the storm raging inside.

He stared at the white foam that billowed where the water hit the rocks. Veiled by mist though they were, they were there all the same… bare, silent, cold. They sat in helpless immobility, the rushing waters stripping them of life.

He felt a strange affinity.

Crouching, he let his fingers brush the thick and thriving moss that clung to a nearby boulder.

Perhaps someday…

Photo by Kyle Cesmat on Unsplash