#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: S for She stood at the crossroads


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: She stood at the crossroads

Provided by: Vidya Sury, friend, fellow writer, and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti

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#atozchallenge : S for She stood at the crossroads

#atozchallenge : S for She stood at the crossroads

They had walked together for five weeks and four days, but it felt like months, decades.

        As if all they had ever done was walk, him leading the way, her following, a little resentful she couldn’t take the lead, and sending up a prayer of thanks she didn’t have to.

         And now, he’d left her standing in the blinding morning light, on the bridge that would take them to the next town. He’d walked away from the bridge, round the bend, and up the hills beside her.

 

The first time they met, she felt a spark somewhere inside her clothes, her stomach, and he felt it too. She saw it in his eyes. But they did not refer to that spark, except in the most roundabout of ways like when he asked if she liked the way rain-soaked earth smelled, and what it reminded her of. She told him it depended, and when he asked the obvious question, what, she pretended to have fallen asleep.

          They talked about Socrates in the beginning, and the death of Camus, and how the large hadron collider would fail. Slowly it became about what rations to buy. She paid for bars of chocolates which she could not eat, because of her stomach ruined by weeks of drinking roadside water, but she had to carry them. After a while each bar seemed like a brick inside her backpack.

           He made plans, drew lines on maps by torchlight, lying inside the tent. She’d put up that tent, while he’d sat on a nearby rock slapping mosquito repellant on his neck and arms. She worked so she didn’t have to watch him. She wanted to watch him all the time, each flex of his shin as he walked, the way his perfect, round butt fitted his shorts, so she kept her eyes to the ground instead, and kept her hands busy. She felt overworked, her body hurt, but she kept at it.

 

Now, she stood at the crossroads, watching the way he’d gone, the shallow slopes that would lead to steeper ones.. He had no time for this he’d said when she complained of backache, wanted a day of rest.

               She could follow him, catch up, say sorry yet again for a tantrum she hadn’t thrown, spend more nights waiting for him to touch her, on his terms, the way he stopped by in the red light areas they’d crossed in the shanty towns on their way. Relieves my tensions, he said, to nothing and no one in particular, when he came back from one of those evening jaunts.

               But she wouldn’t. Nor would she wait for him to come back and find her. When backpacking, you meet people and pay your debts. When the debts get paid off, you part, and that’s that. She flinched at the weight of her pack as she strapped it on. She would walk. Each day, you wake up and walk, putting one foot after the other, he used to say, you make your own way, alone.

               Maybe that’s the lesson she needed to learn. Her back cramped, but she took one step, then another, away from him, towards the lighted bridge.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Ever been backpacking? Had a fallout with a friend or a significant other?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: R for Rather than give in to temptation


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph W. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: Rather than give in to temptation

Provided by: Tina Downey, close friend, comrade-in-arms for the A to Z Challenge

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#atozchallenge :Rather than give in to temptation

#atozchallenge :Rather than give in to temptation

          Mum says it’s evil to steal.

          Sure, the first time you try it, you go Gawd I can’t do this, but then you’ve picked it up and chucked it in your handbag, your fingers shoved into your pockets to keep them from trembling, blood singing in your ears as you wait for the alarms to squeal on you, and then you’re out, striding out into the daylight, and they tell you they’d cut the tags out for you and ask you how you feel, and you tell them you’re doing great, just awesome. You want to do it again.

         Rather than give in to temptation, Mum says, earn your cash, make sure you work to pay for what you want and don’t get into trouble. Gucci shoes, DKNY jeans, any amount of bling, I want it all. So that’s what I do these days. I work.

         No one can see my face, its only shaking my bits at the camera, twirl some panties, shimmying around a bit. Who cares if some weirdo in outer Serbia is jerking off to it, right? I have Paypal, and my Paypal has the zeroes, baby. You can buy anything, they deliver it to you, right where you want it. You gotta love internet! And if anyone gets into trouble, it will be the school, because guess what computers we’re using? lmao

Mum says it is evil to show yourself, but I didn’t fall from the sky, y’know? She must’ve done some showing someplace to get me, right?

       Anyway, what’s good and what’s evil? Who gets to decide which is which? Some day, I’m gonna ask Mum, but I doubt she has an answer.

       And d’ya know we’ll do today? We’re gonna be good girls! We’ll dress up all lush, the nipples, y’know, and today it’ll be the real deal, a reeeal Man, and I’m supposed to…I’m not telling you! Lots of Syrup heads, and tons of snow, that’s all you need to know…that rhymes, lol

         So excited, don’t know what to think ATM, but I know I’m gonna be evil, baby, and it’s gonna feel soooo good!! We might even get it on. What does Mum know, she doesn’t get JO, or TDTM, or 420 or even PIR, poor thing.

          But I love her so. She tells her friends I’m a good girl, and I am, right? Right.

           Mum says it is evil to lie…here I am, telling you the truth. OK, PIR, so gtg, ttyl!


~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Do you have teens at home? Do you get teenspeak?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: Q for Quotas had never been easy to achieve


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph W. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: Quotas had never been easy to achieve

Provided by: Daniel Antion, blog-friend and tech-whiz.

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#atozchallenge : Q for Quotas had never been easy to achieve

#atozchallenge : Q for Quotas had never been easy to achieve

      One of the signs you’ve truly grown up is your shoes fit your son.

        What if you have no son, what then, you ask, officer? But I have a son, see. Had, you’ll tell me, but that’s just grammar.

        I have a son, and he’s good. He loves the outdoors, the shy sort, handy at the spread with the hatchet, in the woods with the gun. All those bear and wolf pelts you see? He brought home every last one of them. Shot his first wolf that winter he turned fourteen. Fifteen years ago, that was. I taught him.

       Why didn’t I go? My eyes don’t see so good. A bit nippity out and my bones would freeze in the snow, that’s why. What’s that gotta do with this, you say?

       I’ll tell you. All they found is a piece of blue cloth. Some blood. Pig blood for all I know. Yes she was wearin’ a blue jacket, but that’s neither here nor there. That’s a shed, those nails and hooks on the posts are to chain Slow Elk with. Cows, officer, not women. Why would my son want to chain women? And why this blue-jacket woman don’t stay home? That’s where the trouble starts, if you ask me, women strayin’ from home.

       Why isn’t he back yet? He’s out hunting all November now, that’s why. He hasn’t called, but didn’t call year before last either. Came back home the same, in January, four wolf pelts, six coyote. Good shot, my boy.

       We need to save our range maggots, officer, put food on the table. Quotas had never been easy to achieve, not twenty years ago, not now, when those blasted wolves are eatin’ our lambs to the ground. Spendy thing, too, that shootin’ license. My son wants to get most of the harvest quota in our county. Shoot as many of the thievin’ bastards he can, all right?

       No. He’s a shy boy, never seen a woman with him. And for the hundredth time, he’ll be back, soon. Tomorrow, maybe. He’ll be back, I betcha. That’s all I know.

       If you’re done, I have some pigs to feed now. Nice speakin’ atcha, officer. Call me if you hear from him.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? What’s your take on wolves? On hunting? What do you make of the man in the story?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: P for Postponement is not an option


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: P for Postponement is not an option

Provided by: Jemima Pett, friend, fellow writer, and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti

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#atozchallenge: P for Postponement was not an option

#atozchallenge: P for Postponement was not an option

     I sit on me front porch, thinkin’ Sunday morning thoughts, when they drive up, the two fat coppers.

     Where’s Moses?, the taller of the two hooks his finger on his belt, and don’t waste our time.

     Only Moses I know, I tell them, parted the Red Sea.

      No punchin’ the toadstool around me. Moses he turn me ‘to a fairy if I squeal. Better put out for coppers than Moses.

       My nose bust next second, one long whine in me ears, blood on me mouth, warm ‘n icky. Usual stuff.

       The other copper, sliding behind, he throw me against the porch wall. You wan’  to do them Moses you’self? Where’s you’ gi’lf’iend?

           Why cops look more ‘n more like we these days? This one got a missing front tooth. It make his words come all funny.

            He take Angela, Moses do, I want to tell them, ‘n she go with him.

        Every Sunday Angela she take me to church, Be a good man, Jerry, she say, let the Lord save you. You ne’er took a life, the Lord He forgive you, ask for His mercy.

 

Last night she run, not with a good man, but Moses. Moses of stick-ups ‘n blagging, pimp, cop-killer, Mac daddy that drive around Sunday e’enings high on shrooms, or eatin’ coke, lookin’ for bitches to rape.

         Postpon’ment is not an option, Moses say, his big fancy words, you got one life. Take what you want.

         I wanna tell these coppers all that. But what’s the point? She make me wear the mushroom suit every time I do her, there’s the truth of it. Angela want his big brawny spawn, not mine. I’m puny, she say. Some more, these coppers don’t do their jobs, oughta patted me down before slammin’ me.

         I pull out the nine Moses thrown at me last nite, laughin’ in my face, ‘n I fire, once, twice. I fall back, more whine in me ears. The nine it hit me back, but it drop them sure. Then I sit me down, and watch the red slide outta their mean little heads. Ne’er bust a cap, and now this.

        Moses he got it right. Always a first time, and live only once. I’m havin’ me some different Sunday morning thoughts. With a nine, I’m as tall as Moses.  The Lord can save me no more, Angela. I’m comin’ for you.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? What associations do mushrooms have for you?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: O for Only once did she stop and think..


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph W. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: Only once did she stop and think..

Provided by:  Csenge Virág Zalka, friend, fellow writer, storyteller, and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti

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Only once did she think

#atozchallenge: Only once did she stop and   think

           She woke up to his pictures on Facebook. Not on her timeline, you understand, but a stranger’s, a woman she’d met at a party the night before, her latest Facebook friend.

           He’d put on weight. Flecks of grey and white had touched his hair. His smile, though. His smile looked the same. Or did it?

           Her fingers traced the screen. If only she could enter it, stand beside him, hold his arm as he smiled at the camera, lay her head on the suit that hugged his shoulders.

         Could she once again be the reason he smiled, just like on that spring morning when his fingers had combed her curls? They had danced and sung and chugged down too much wine the evening before, and he’d taken her headache away. He’d played with her dinner clothes, taken them off, let his hands and the sun warm her. What day was that, the day after a friend’s wedding, or Fourth of July? That day when all seemed hazy, only them, their bodies, had a certain ripe solidity– too full, with too much of life. She couldn’t remember.

 

 Yet here he was, tagged in a stranger’s photo, smiling up at her, arms around his fleshy, grinning wife. A middle-aged man, after all. Not a young man with whom everything seemed possible.  A father, a businessman, no muscled demigod with dreamy eyes.

          She stared at her own profile photo. She didn’t look all that different from his wife, with her baggy chin, her flabby arms. She no longer had the nimble walk of that day, nor those breasts he had bared to the sun. Wrinkles lined her eyes, not kohl. Her jeans did not fit her as well today. Her hair had begun to thin out, she now wore it short.

Those two, those mesmeric people from that day, they had long gone.

She removed her Facebook profile photo, turned the settings on her albums to Private. Once, only once did she stop and think, and then, with slow fingers she clicked Unfriend.

She had seen him, but he must not see her. She wasn’t ready to wear her years, not yet.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Met any old flames on Facebook?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: Never in her life did she think..


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph W. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: Never in her life did she think…

Provided by: Anna Tan, friend, fellow writer, and one of the magnificient Seven of #TeamDamyanti

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#atozchallenge : N for Never

#atozchallenge : N for Never in her life did she think…

       The poppy fields of her lost summers, she wanted to see them bloom again.

       Those red, black-hearted blossoms, nodding and dancing in the breeze, lying crushed under her as she moved with her husband, coloring the air in opium– she wanted them back, those fields where they had made her son.

         She drove slowly in the dusk, her eyes on the distance, on the road below her with its moving stream of traffic. The lights, a river of cars, a slow-moving river of light on a Friday evening, people going home or out of town for their weekends. Everyone had a right to joy, to life, as did Robbie, sitting beside her, tall and strong like his father. Eyes closed, he danced his head to the music from his earphones, lost to the world, unaware his father was alive and looked for him. The breeze mussed his hair, so unlike his father’s crew cut.

 Somewhere out there, in all that light, sat her husband, his heart dark with intent. She remembered his clothes that smelled of gunpowder and blood, his very posture, erect, as if challenging the world. Never in her life did she think she would fall for such a man, a man who left his pregnant wife in the name of duty, never looked back. And now he wanted their son. Easy for him, he had given life, but received only pleasure in return. This was her son, not his. She had borne the pain so her baby might come to this world, safe. She had watered him with her blood, fed him, given him color, life. 

Tomorrow, with the first light of the sun, she would take Robbie to those fields for a walk. No one would feed her that patriotism crap, replace her boy with a bunch of red poppies. She fingered the 9mm Smith & Wesson in her pocket. Her husband had taught her to shoot, but he didn’t know she’d kept practicing, that she could bring poppies to bloom. She drove on, to the red poppy fields of her youth, right beyond the hill. She smelled spring in the dark night air.

            ~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Watched traffic lights at dusk? What do poppy fields mean to you? Ever walked in them?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: M for My mind wanders every now and then..


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: My mind wanders every now and then..

Provided by: Jemima Pett,friend, fellow writer, and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti

#atozchallenge : M for My mind wanders

#atozchallenge : M for My mind wanders

Sometimes, when I lay down next to her, making lazy eights and circles and lines across her spine, I think of you.

             It is not a deliberate thought.

 

 I do not think, for example, of how you used to lie, spent, just like this, after we’d made love. Or of that afternoon when we wrote our names next to each other on the sand each time the waves washed them away.

              I do not think of the evening I came back home early to surprise you, and you surprised me instead, in our bedroom smelling of sweat and candles and musk. I would have killed him, had you not looked at me with those big scared eyes. I did not want to scare you, ever, not even when you ran a knife through my heart.

 

Much as I try to hold it back, my mind wanders every now and then, to you, and you snake through me like lightning.

             The feel of your dry, soft hand holding mine at my mother’s funeral and not letting go, not once. Your snorting with laughter at a joke on TV with all those tubes connected to you. The plopping sound the earth made as it dropped from my hand on to that smooth wooden box they put you in.

 

She asks me, what are you thinking of? I shake my head, drawing her up for a kiss. I do not tell her I wonder how it would feel, lying down next to you, letting the earth rain down on me. I smile, and let my mind wander again.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Write or read fiction? What sort of stories do you like best? Does this story being back memories– how do memories affect our present lives?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: Lately he’d been feeling


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’m posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: Lately he’d been feeling…

Provided by: Anna Tan, friend, fellow writer, and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti

A to Z Challenge: L for Lately he'd been feeling         Saturday nights like this, Don returned early, and tried not to get wasted. Martha didn’t like it.

          But today they’d filled his glass each time he’d drained it, and he could smell whiskey everywhere, on his sofa, his clothes, even his socks and shoes as he tugged them off. He felt, warm, fuzzy on the outside, but the booze hadn’t dulled the shrapnel of pain caught in his chest.

         Not that he wanted to talk about it, but lately, he’d been feeling like a dinosaur at a fun fair– on display, paint chipped in places, no choice but to stay put.

          He’d tried quitting, but not very hard, because that might get him iced. In the last few months, on a job, when taking the stairs, he’d catch his breath after each flight. His hands didn’t hold steady on the boom stick no more.

         Slim, Nugs and Toddy eyeballed him every fucking minute, waiting for him to slip from his rung, so they could step up. He didn’t blame them. At twenty he thought the old papi running him a dick wad, who needed topping off.

            If he hadn’t fallen for Martha, taken the slow road because of her, they’d have made him the boss by now, his own plush office, what rum or whisky he wanted, two gun-toting fellas tagging him everywhere. Instead, here he sat, in his underwear, petting the boom stick by the bed. The steel barrel felt cold in his hands, but it remained his only friend, the one thing he could trust.

           The Mac Balla had taken Martha, popped her off at church, and he had to get the slick who’d done it. Each Sunday he was in town, he’d met her at the mass, for the last fifteen years. She wouldn’t marry him, she said, till he changed his ways.

          Now she was gone, leaving the ghost of a bullet hole in his chest. It was covered with skin on the outside, and full of fucking veins on the inside, gushing blood. Don unscrewed the bottle by the bed, tossed the drink down his throat. He willed it to find this bloody spot where Martha had been inside of him, pour whiskey on it, or burn it with hot iron, so the pain would come once, hard, and then be gone.

                 He heard the latch on his back door turn. One of the boys come to do him in, after drowning him in drink? The Mac Balla? He took the boom stick in his shaking hands and pointed it at his chin. He won’t let someone else’s bullet take him. He pushed the cold ring of steel in the jowl under his chin, felt his flesh spill around it.

                 Martha’s scent filled him, the smell of her hair when she washed herself after they’d ‘lived in sin’ each Sunday night. He listened for the next footfall, the whisper of cloth against curtains, the cocking of a pistol.

                He waited. He would find Martha, one way or the other.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? How would you connect today’s prompt and picture?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: K for Kiss me if you can


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: Kiss me if you can…

Provided by: Samantha  Redstreake Geary friend, fellow writer, and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti

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#atozchallenge : K for Kiss me if you can

#atozchallenge : K for Kiss me if you can

By then, I was too far gone.

I watched Susie paint her lips in a smudged hand mirror, sitting in my car. Her hair needed a comb,  she needed someone to stop her, and I needed to be that man. Call it drink, call it being newly wed to a woman I wanted nothing to do with, but I had made up my mind. Don’t go, not tonight.

Don’t be daft. She opened her mouth, her spice-red lips, in a circle then a pout, turned this way and that, examining those lips I’d kissed not ten minutes ago. Her lips had flamed up with my kisses, why did she need more color?

Come on, what would a night hurt?

What about your wife? And do you think I do this cos I enjoy it?

She worked a roller on her short black wool skirt, stripping away bits of lint. I’d laid her up on one of the white tablecovers in the pantry, too much in a hurry, too desperate, too scared someone would find us. But that was not the only thing that made my heart gallop so hard.

We watched the train tracks that would lead her far away, and the tall fir trees that flanked it, straight and solemn like soldiers at a comrade’s funeral.

A row of fir had watched over us as we played together, Susie’s cousins and I, at the church garden that summer afternoon. We had all learned about a boy kissing a girl, and twelve-year-old Susie had volunteered to be that girl, as long as we struck to lips, no touching anywhere else.

I don’t remember our exact words, but I remember we asked why we would want that. Two years older than the eldest of us, Susie gave us a sly smile in response. Just like that, she said, but make sure you don’t forget.

And then she broke into a run, like a skittish colt across the green, Kiss me if you can, she sang, and turning, let out a shriek when we followed her. Did we catch her? Again, I do not remember.

But today, I wanted to catch her, hook her to me, keep her bound. I reached for her, but she had already opened the door. I could hear the rumble of the train on the tracks, its distant whistle.

She stepped out and ran, this time without looking back.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Kisses you’d like to talk about? :)

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: J for Just when she thought she was safe


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: Just when she thought she was safe..

Provided by: Jemima Pett,friend, fellow writer, and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti

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#atozchallenge : J for Just when she thought she was safe

#atozchallenge : J for Just when she thought she was safe

That morning, like any other, Martha stopped by the church instead of walking with her friends to the Starbucks where they picked up their donuts and coffee before work.

Should we get you something? they asked her, though they knew her answer.

I’ll only be a few minutes, she waved at them as she walked up the steps, drawing her coat close about her in the morning chill. You go on ahead, she said, but they had already left.

As she pushed the door open and began walking up the aisle to her regular pew a few rows from the front, she felt peace steal over her.

She bowed her head in prayer– and when she looked up and thanked the Christ for His grace, for the health and happiness given her, He seemed to look upon her and smile.

Martha kept looking into His eyes, and did not notice the gunman when he entered. The first shot that felled the priest she took for a cracker, and at the second, she turned but did not see the source of noise.

She bowed her head again to give thanks. The third shot cracked into the pew in front of hers, just when she thought she was safe, because who, after all, could hurt her in the house of God?

Roses blossomed all over Martha and burst the next moment, quite like the red blooms at the feet of Christ, who continued to smile through the noise, silent,  as if He’d just witnessed a Baptism, or wedding.

Martha lay on the floor in between queues, quivered  a few times like an animal long past its prime, then went still.

~~~~~~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Been to a place of worship lately?