I found a new Flash Fiction Challenge! It is over at Musings of Alyssa Leonard. This one is a 26-hour challenge on Tuesdays called Finish That Thought.
Today’s thought is “I’ll tell you what you need, and that’s a [rocket scientist].”
Gloria tended her grandchildren as she did her roses: enjoying the beauty, avoiding the thorns. And Chelsea seemed to be more thorns than beauty these days. When she wasn’t staring into space, she was openly defiant and refused to participate in school. When she did her homework, she didn’t turn it in. Gloria wondered if Chelsea would have to repeat first grade.
Homeschooling would be the solution. This child needed more attention, more nurturing than a cold classroom afforded. She would never bloom in that school. Chelsea was a rosebud that needed coaxing to shine, like her father.
Mountain climbing was more than a hobby for Jack. He designed mountain-climbing equipment. He taught rock-climbing classes in his free time. Marie had had no more concern about the Alps than she did about his favorite rock two miles away.
His partner, Sam, said Jack had a pained look for a second, and then let go. If he had a seizure, like the autopsy said, why was this the first time? Jack had never had his brother’s difficulties with seizures.
As Marie stared up the cliff wall, she squeezed their newborn son, fearing what was in store for him.
This week’s Flash! Friday prompt is a beautiful picture of Victoria Falls. A little Google led me to a tourist destination called Devil’s Pool in Zambia, where people can sit at the edge of the waterfall. I wonder about the people who are brave enough to do that day after day as tour guides.
I love the images used as prompts for Flash Friday, but I find today’s especially poignant. It depicts a culture that is foreign to me, yet rings more true than my own.
A million suns shine on the grass. Many suns illuminate a stick, a rock that flies with the speed of a stallion. In the nighttime, people do not sleep. They laugh, they shout, they hiss, all to what purpose? This is no god that they worship, but a pastime that is given the weight of religion.
The beasts herd like buffalo, colorful in their skins. They stampede away, all charging at the exit at once. Like buffalo, they would follow another off a cliff. Unlike buffalo, these beasts have armor that cannot be pierced with a bow and arrow. They yield no meat, no leather for clothing. Their hides make poor shelter. Despite their failings, they are given care worthy of horses.
People are strangers. They do not know one another by name, have not watched their children grow. Their circles have no center; distance, travelled so swiftly, separates each from his neighbor.
Give me the land as it was, with rivers running clear, space for beasts to graze. A symbiotic relationship, not the parasites people have become. Taking everything for themselves, giving nothing back, discarding waste like dandelion seeds. Here, even the dogs cannot run free.
This week’s Carrot Ranch Prompt:
In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that shows a hard place and a connection. It could be a prisoner who discovers friendship; a cedar that grows from a crack in a cliff; an abandoned dog rescued by a homeless teen. Maybe it is a reconciliation or connecting with students during a turbulent time. Is the hard place part of something larger in the scope of a character’s development? Or is it a plot twist?
Kate and Cecilia have some reconciling to do, but before they can do that, they each have to face their own pain. Cecilia’s pain comes from twenty-year-old grief, and she balls up like an armadillo whenever she has an opportunity to address it. Here, Kate is trying again to impact Cecilia in her grief.
“We are concerned, Mama,” Kate said. “You spend too much time alone. I found a widow’s support group that might help you …”
“I don’t need a support group,” Cecilia said.
“You need friends.”
“John’s been gone too long. My pain is stale.”
“Pain doesn’t go stale, Mama. It fades away, and yours hasn’t.”
Cecilia sighed dramatically. “I’m going up to bed. You know where the door is to leave.”
Before she had time to answer, she heard the stairs squeak as her mother climbed up to her bedroom.
For the first time, Kate’s arrows had pierced Mama’s armor.
The air was thick as Kate stepped off the airplane in Atlanta. She hadn’t contemplated her next steps until the cab driver said, “Where to, ma’am?”.
Kate hesitated. “Are there peach orchards nearby?”
The drive to the closest orchard was longer than the plane ride. After the taxi drove away, she closed her eyes and inhaled. The scent of peaches and honey. The buzz of bees and the feel of peach fuzz.
When the sun set, Kate was drowsy from peach syrup. She sat on warm grass, finally grounded. In the morning, she knew she could go home again.
This week’s Carrot Ranch Prompt was about peaches and cream. Carli’s prompt:
In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that is a snapshot of spring. I realize that some Rough Writers are riding into autumn, and I hope this isn’t a disadvantage to focus on a season we are not collectively sharing. We could think of it as “spring eternal.” Warm, renewing, new life, hope.
Let me know if you write one too!