Blog, fiction

The Message – A Fiction Piece

Arnie pushed her auburn hair behind her ears. She found her hair annoying at this length but there was no need to worry about a haircut now. The message was clear, perhaps the clearest she had ever received.

She scooted her stool close to the window and pushed aside the blue and yellow flowered curtains her grandmother said would be perfect for her room. “You will always have a breath of spring in your room!” The sky was baby blue with cotton-ball clouds In the distance. Other than her curtains, spring had faded away. Summer arrived with warm days and cool nights. Everyone seemed anxious to get outside and enjoy the warmth of the sun but Arnie was conflicted.

Jack Rose, Arnie’s father, paused by her door. “Gorgeous day, isn’t it?” The question was rhetorical of course as her father continued toward the stairs that would lead him to his morning coffee. Grandmother Rose moved in with them when Arnie’s mother passed away. Three years had passed but it still felt like it happened yesterday. People had been kind, but Arnie never wanted to see flowers again. She could no longer tolerate their syrupy sweet smell.

Of course Arnie knew of her mother’s looming fate before anyone else. The message was the first one that frightened her and she clung to her mother hoping it would sway the imminent message. All she could do was wait until others learned what she already knew. Sadly, there was no changing the result. The drunk driver was never caught, but Arnie knew that would be the case.

Arnie quit trying to talk about the messages long ago. Everything was conveniently whisked in the category of coincidence. Arnie was not mature enough to articulate what she knew so she just quit talking about them. Over the last few years the frequency of the messages had decreased. She knew as soon as her mother died she would lose her playroom so Grandma Rose could have a nice room of her own. She packed up her most important books and the stuffed bunny with the floppy ears her mother gave her long before her father explained the need to consolidate her belongings.

She smiled at the squirrels jumping precariously through the oak tree out front. She slipped on her sandals and went downstairs to join her family.

“Your pancakes are ready, my dear.” She loved the way her grandmother smiled with her eyes. “I even warmed the syrup just the way you like it.” Her grandmother kissed Arnie on the forehead as she handed her a plate with three large pancakes. “I hope you’re hungry.”

As she ate her pancakes, Arnie listened to her father and her grandmother talk about the weather. It was a perfect day to just relax with no errands to run and no work to be done. Arnie tried to compartmentalize her thoughts. Should she tell them? What purpose would it serve other than turn a perfectly glorious day into a catastrophe?

After breakfast, Arnie went outside and climbed into the curve of the oak tree. It was a perfect place to give into her thoughts. She thought about her mother and wondered if this was what she felt? Did she know on that day she would breathe her last breath or did it come as a complete surprise?

Who does one tell, when the entire world faces the same fate? Who would believe a thirteen year-old child if she told them today would be the last sunset for the entire planet? Who would believe the sun would lose its grip on this beautiful earth forcing it to be flung into space?

From the tree she watched her father practice on his makeshift putting green. Her grandmother clipped the rose bushes, cutting off the dying blooms. She closed her eyes and wondered if today she might see her mother again.

A hawk appeared out of nowhere and scooped up a small squirrel scampering across the yard. Sunset had come a little early for that little guy.

fiction

Meredith – A Fiction Piece

This piece was inspired by the following photograph. It is outside of my normal style of writing and stretches me out of my comfort zone as it is a little otherworldly. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea.


Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

Meredith’s mother did not approve of her afternoon walk to the forest. None of her mothers had approved of most things Meredith did, but they never argued. They were wary of her, their feelings bordering on fear. She knew the time was approaching. These human bodies wore out quickly, and each time the process started over. The first had lasted only six months. The second almost two years. She had lost count. Each time she shed the human shell, she observed the look of relief on her mothers’ faces. Her new mothers were elated, but the elation soon turned to sadness. As the new body grew and stretched, the mother’s anguish increased.

This time she made it 12 human years. This body had nothing left for her to take. The transition time was near. She always wished it could happen here, alone at the edge of the forest, but she knew the process. Luckily, this time, the neighbor’s wife was with child, and that child would be relinquished and the process would begin again. All her prior transitions had been within hours after the human birth. This time, she wanted to be there from the start. She had the power to transition before the birth now, but it required more time preparation, as the sun relaxed its hold on the energy she needed to survive.

**********

”Thank you for coming, Simone. This child has been a difficult one.”

”She has such a high fever. Have you sent for the doctor?” Simone thought Meredith was such a beautiful child – she hoped her child would be as lovely.

”No, not yet. I hoped she would come around. It’s such a long trip for the doctor and she might recover on her own.”  Constance was tired. 12 years she had tried to love this distant child, but something about Meredith was foreboding. Even as a young child, mothering her was torturous. Maybe it was best to release her, but these were words she would never utter out loud. No one could understand. She decided it was best to let nature take its course and hope this would be the end.

“Let’s let her rest. How about a cup of tea?” As they walked toward the kitchen, the house grew dark and a bitter chill fell over them.

Simone stumbled as she made her way to the table.

“Oh, honey! Are you okay?” Constance held her arm and helped her into the chair.

Simone tried to gather herself. The baby moved so suddenly it caused a sharp pain to rip through her abdomen.

“Could I have some water?”

After a few minutes, Simone seemed to regain her composure.

“You scared me. It’s too soon for labor. You have another six weeks to go.” Constance rested her hand on her neighbor’s shoulder.

“I think I should get back to the house. Sam will be home soon and I’d like to lie down for a bit.” Simone stood slowly. “I hope your angel gets better soon.”

**********

The next morning, the sun broke through the window early. Constance rose to check on Meredith. She had not moved since the prior afternoon. She entered the room and glanced at her daughter. Her eyes were open, but her body cold and white. Constance sat down on the side of the bed and gently closed her eyes, putting a penny on each one. She breathed a sigh of relief as she felt the release of 12 long years of frustration and fear.

“I don’t think you were ever my child, really. I’m not sure where you have gone, but I’m relieved you are no longer here.”

She closed the bedroom door and waited for the doctor to arrive.

Blog, fiction

33 – A Short Fiction Piece

cottage
Image by Stanly8853 from Pixabay

The walk to the mailbox was never a pleasure for Carrie. There were no letters from friends or a note from home. Not even an invitation to one of those dinners where they gave you free food in exchange for a too-long marketing presentation about a timeshare she could never afford. She wondered if anyone had invented a combination mailbox/trash-can since most of her mail ended up there anyway.

There it was, the long white envelope of death. Carrie knew what it said before she ever opened it. Even so, she still held her breath like a little girl waiting to see Santa. She slid her pinkie under the flap and tore it open. Her eyes skimmed the page dimming as she read the all too familiar words.

“Thirty-three ‘we regret to inform you’ in less than 60 days. This could be some sort of record.” As painful as it was, this was the only mail she kept.

The breeze picked up speed and shifted directions. It would be raining soon. Carrie sat on the porch swing and watched the thunderstorm building in the distance.

Darren was right. Darren was always right. He was older and smarter and had a good head on his shoulders. She had listened to these accolades most of her life, but especially since her father died her senior year in college. Darren swooped in and carted their Mom off to his place in the city. He saved the day. Again.

It was no wonder he was successful in business. He was cutthroat and a bully. Dad always saw it but Mom never could. When she died only a year later, Darren was named executor and in charge of Carrie’s distribution from the estate.

Luckily, Dad’s sister – Aunt Irene – could see the handwriting on the wall. She deeded her small cottage and it’s adjoining two acres to Carrie and moved into a small condo in Florida insisting she never liked the place anyway. Otherwise, Carrie would have been 25, on her own with no place to live.

There was no mortgage and the sales from her small organic garden kept her afloat. She often felt like giving up, but her father’s words always kept her going. “You’re going to be a great writer someday”.

Someday? After 33 reject letters from 33 different sources, she was beginning to doubt it. She had completed a book she loved but finding an agent and a publisher these days was tough. She thought about self-publishing but Darren made sure that would not happen.

”I cannot let you spend your inheritance on such frivolous pursuits, Carrie. This is why Mom left me in charge. It’s time for you to grow up and get a real job.” She could not manage her share of the estate until she turned 30. That seemed so far away.

Carrie filed her new reject in the filing cabinet, the folder already bulging. Why was she keeping those stupid things? As she closed the drawer, another folder caught her eye. It was simply labeled “Dad”. She pulled it out and opened it, seeing the letters her father wrote her when she was away at school. He challenged her, asked the rhetorical questions designed to inspire her. As she read them, they made her think deeply about her life and her opportunities  – even if they had not done so before.

“Damn, I miss you. Your positive outlook. Your reassurance. Your inspiration.” She stared at the folder. “Why did you have to leave me?”

Over the next few months, Carrie buried herself penning a response to each of the 60 letters. It was therapeutic and made her feel less alone.

*****

As the autumn leaves reached their full color, Carrie walked to the mailbox as she had done almost every day since she moved in. Another letter from a publisher, but this one felt different. Thicker somehow. Her palms were sweating as she tore the envelope open.

The publisher loved the proposal she sent them. The samples of the letters and the responses she had written to her father were compelling. They wanted to see more. They wanted her to work with an editor.

No matter what happened from here, she knew she had found her voice and her way. She now understood why she had received 33 reject letters. For the first time, she had been brave enough to leave her heart beating on the page.

She smiled pressing the letter to her chest. “Daddy, everything is going to be okay.”

Blog, fiction

Writing Challenge – Two Points of View

I am posting another writing challenge if you care to join in. This week, I found a great photo on Pixabay. In looking at the photo, I could imagine many different scenarios that would fit the scene. So, the challenge is to write two short pieces about the scene as seen or described from two different observers.

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Image by skeeze from Pixabay

It could be written from the perspective of the shark, or one of the divers, a narrator, or the photographer even. Just run with it.

Feel free to link back here if you would like to share your work. I will be writing mine on Thursday.

 

Blog, fiction

Opposite Writing Challenge

If you have not seen my earlier post about this writing challenge, check it out and feel free to join in. I will post links to all participants’ blogs next week.

Here’s my take.


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The Accident

Tears ran down Peter’s cheek as he listened to the doctor. Carrie was in rough shape. It had been a really bad fall. She had two broken ribs, a hairline fracture in her clavicle, a broken wrist, and a number of severe cuts and bruises. He managed to insert pins to reconnect the fragile bones in her wrist and hoped she would not suffer any loss in range of motion.

The doctor suggested Peter go home for a bit and give her a chance to rest. Peter shook his hand and thanked him profusely. He was so worried. She looked so broken lying sprawled out at the bottom of the steps; She was unconscious and he was afraid to move her. He was relieved when the paramedics got her into the ambulance.

Once home, Peter pulled off his jacket and tossed it across the back of the couch. The blood stained carpet and pieces of splintered banister made him nauseous. He walked upstairs to see what would be required to repair the broken railing.

As he knelt down he caught his reflection in the hall mirror. He barely recognized the face looking back at him.

”I’m so sorry, Carrie. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I will change, I promise.”


The Date

It had taken a while but Margo finally shed the extra 20 pounds she put on during her pregnancy. She had a difficult delivery which led to an emergency C-section, but Lexie was a happy and healthy child so she was thankful. She insisted on breast-feeding but had not realized what a toll the constant on-demand feedings would take out of her.

When it came time to return to work, she found herself paralyzed. The doctor diagnosed her with post-natal depression. Her six week maternity leave turned into two years, but she was finally back to her old self. Six months back on the job and she was again filled with joy.

Margo was so excited she could not stand it. She had been looking forward to Friday night all week. It had been so long since she enjoyed dinner at a fancy restaurant with hors d’oeuvres and adult beverages! She found time on her lunch break to run by the cleaners and pick up her favorite little black dress.

Rex was a kind and understanding partner. He had the ability to anticipate her needs before she ever spoke them out loud. He was going to die when he saw her in that little black dress. It was going to be a great evening and she even anticipated a little romance at bedtime. Margo was slipping into her heels just as she heard Rex open the kitchen door. She gave herself an approving glance in the mirror, grabbed her purse and walked out of the bedroom.

”Wow! You look fantastic!” Rex smiled and gave her that same wink he used when they first met six years ago. Margo walked toward him and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “And you smell great, too.” He smiled. “Are you sure you want to go out?”

Margo chuckled, took her keys off the hook and opened the door leading into the garage. “Of course I’m sure. The girls are waiting”. As she waved, Rex smiled and closed the door behind her.

He turned when he heard the giggle in the hallway.

”Daddy, you ready for our date?”

Rex fought back the tears. He had been looking forward to tonight all week.