A Departure – FFftPP Week 18

What follows is a piece inspired by the prompt at Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner. The key elements were the photo below, the phrase “I had waited years for this day…” and no more than 200 words. 

A Departure – 181 words

I’d waited years for this day.

In preparation, I logged so many flight hours my hand ached from squeezing the throttle. I’d become more at home in the cockpit than in my own car. Through the years, I’d planned and executed missions ranging from simple flyovers to complicated rescue attempts, and, most importantly, each time, I brought my crew and passengers home safely.

There’s nothing like the feeling of flying—no matter if you’re cruising at 20,000 feet on a recon run or skimming the tops of trees in a crop duster. Momma used to tell me I needed to get out and live a little, but to me, the only living was flying.

In the hangar, I closed my eyes to take it all in. Jet fuel scented the air, and the gentle pulse of engines vibrated up through my feet. I was at home.

“You ready to leave those video games behind and try flying a real plane?” the man in the grease-streaked coveralls asked as he gave the propeller a yank.

My throttle hand tingled.

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Keep Walking – FFftPP#13

What follows is a piece inspired by the prompt over at Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner. The key elements were the photo below, the phrase “a blinding light,” and no more than 200 words. 

**I did cheat just a bit this week by switching the phrase from “a blinding light” to “the blinding light”–sorry!

Keep Walking – 200 words

My stomach lurched when I saw the blinding light of the flare.

Fiona had told me I should stay a mile or so behind her. “No need to risk us both. If there’s trouble, I’ll send up a flare.”

We’d walked this 90-mile route from Kalamazoo to Michigan City more than I could count in the year after the blast. Fi was certain her husband and daughter would look for her along that route, and I didn’t have anywhere else to go.

Early on, I-94 was filled with cars as people tried to get somewhere safe. Now that it was clear there were no more safe places, the highway was a reminder of what once was, an artery connected to a heart that no longer pumped.

We’d been watching a curl of smoke in the sky for two days. Fi believed people wouldn’t light a fire if they didn’t want visitors. I remembered the family whose crumpled bodies we’d found in a ditch the month before.

As Fi headed toward the faint light of the fire in the distance, she looked back over her shoulder at me. “Gotta keep walking,” she said, and then melted into the night.

A Woman’s Worth – FFftPP#10

What follows is a piece inspired by the prompt over at Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner. The key elements were the photo below, the opening sentence/phrase and no more than 200 words. 

A Woman’s Worth – 197 words

“I know it’s only been three weeks, but I want to go home,” one of the new mill girls said when I found her gazing out of the window. The first month was always the hardest.

“You signed a contract for a year,” I told her, but my stomach twinged. She looked about the same age as my ten-year-old sister, Sarah, the only one of us girls still at home. The mills were hiring girls younger and younger these days.

She stared outside, the whirring of the factory behind her. “My mama needs me on the farm.”

I’d heard so many new girls say the same thing over the years. “Your family needs your pay more than you,” I told her, “otherwise they wouldn’t send you here.” It sounded cruel, but the truth helped them settle in faster.

The girl’s eyes flashed in my direction, anger then betrayal and finally resignation. Her body sagged under her surrender.

I held out my hand. It was all I had to offer. “Let’s get you back to your machine before the supervisor notices you’re missing.”

She glanced out of the window once more and then took my hand.

 

I find this little part of American history fascinating. For more on the Lowell Mill girls, The National Park Service has a great site: Lowell National Historical Park

The Fine Art of Negotiation – FFftPP#9

What follows is a piece inspired by the prompt over at Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner. The key elements were the photo below, the opening sentence/phrase and no more than 200 words. 

The Fine Art of Negotiation – 145 words

Nothing is ever as easy as it looks, I thought, watching my son Sam’s face turn red and then a shiny plum almost the color of an eggplant.

“You…can’t…throw…away…my…barn!” he cried between heaving sobs.

I started by commiserating: “Sweetheart, I understand how hard it is to say goodbye to an old toy.”

I appealed to his mature almost-six-year-old self: “Honey, you’re too grown up to play with that barn.”

I attempted reason: “Little one, just think of the room you’ll have for other toys you play with more.”

Eventually, I resorted to bargaining: “Baby, if we throw away the barn, I’ll buy you a new toy.”

Sam hugged the barn. He sniffled. He looked up at me with betrayal in his eyes.

“Okay, fine. Keep the barn,” I said, sneaking a broken firetruck into the trash bag.

It Wasn’t Me – FFftPP

What follows is a piece inspired by the prompt over at Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner. The key elements were the photo below, the opening sentence/phrase and no more than 200 words. 

I almost missed the deadline this week, but late is better than not at all, I suppose! 

It Wasn’t Me – 183 words

“…For the thousandth time, I promise you, it wasn’t me!” I try to get you to look at me, but you stare at the flooring ad in the magazine on the coffee table. The dog in the ad stares back at you, pulling your attention away from me.

That’s how things are now. Every time I speak, you look away, rifle through your purse, or feign a reason to leave. It’s been like this since you drove by the bank and saw me holding hands with my ex-girlfriend.

Only it wasn’t me holding her hand. I keep telling you that. I was nowhere near the bank that day, but you won’t hear it. You just look away.

You look away even when you speak, like you’re talking to the dog in the magazine and not to me. “It doesn’t matter,” you say.

But it matters to me and I try to tell you that, my chest tightening like my lungs are being shrunk in the dryer.

After you leave, I wonder what you saw in those glossy eyes you couldn’t see in mine.

Hunted – FFftPP

What follows is a piece inspired by the prompt over at Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner. The key elements were the photo below, the opening sentence/phrase and no more than 200 words. 

Hunted – 199 words

“You lookin’ at me?”

Adrian tried not to bite her lip because she knew it annoyed Johnny. “Well, I was thinking—”

“You ain’t allowed to think, woman—’less it’s about gettin’ me somethin’ to eat.”

“My ma wants—”

“Didn’t you hear me? I said get me some food, and stop lookin’ at me like that.”

Adrian stepped past the man she’d lived with too long to call her boyfriend yet not legally her husband. “I can microwave some of venison from dinner last night, if you want.” She pulled the plate from the refrigerator.

“You lazy slob!” Johnny slapped the bottom edge of the plate, flipping it against Adrian’s chest. “I work all day, and you can’t even make me dinner when I get home?”

Adrian tensed the muscles in her face. Tears made him angrier. She stared at the mount of Johnny’s trophy buck on the living room wall. She’d hated that thing when he brought it home the week before. Its eyes always judged her, almost like Johnny himself was there. The only good thing about that deer was the gun Johnny’d bought for hunting—the rifle that now lay waiting on Adrian’s side of the bed.

Endless Possibilities – FFftPP5

What follows is a piece inspired by the prompt over at Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner. The key elements were the photo below, the opening sentence/phrase and no more than 200 words. The photo made me think of Florida and the beach… Must be too much snow, cold, and gloom here in Michigan for me this week! 

Endless Possibilities – 197 words

The last time, everything fit in three duffles…one each for her, Tom, and the kids. They’d traveled light, bringing only swimsuits and a change of clothes on the flight to Florida.

This time Suzanne checked into the Miami hotel with two suitcases so heavy she needed help from the bellhop—not that she minded. He was cute. She was newly divorced. The possibilities were endless—and so had to be her wardrobe choices.

“Ma’am?” the bellhop let her into the room and followed with the bags.

She flipped her hair in his direction. “Call me Suzy.” She held his tip just beyond his reach. “When do you get off work?”

“Well, I—”

She leaned against him, trapping him against the wall.

“Ma’am, I can’t—”

She held the money against his lips. “’Ma’am’ sounds so old. I’m Suzy this weekend. Now when does your shift finish?”

Disney’s “Let it Go” issued from her purse. “Don’t move,” she said, fumbling for her phone. “Hello? Yes, honey, I’ll be home Monday. No, I can’t help you with your math homework right now. Dad’s new girlfriend doesn’t hate you…”

The hotel room door closed with a soft click behind her.

Freak Blood – FFftPP4

So I’ve been revising a novel, which is a slow, draining process for me. Anyway, I decided I needed to do some writing to keep myself from getting bogged down by revising. Rather than getting pulled into another big project, I went looking for some flash fiction inspiration. I found some great sites online with just the sort of prompts I needed.

What follows is a piece inspired by the prompt over at Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner. The key elements were the photo below, the opening “Enough is enough,” and no more than 200 words. My piece got rather dark, but I like the ambiguity of the ending. What will Ramsey do? What would I do?

Freak Blood – 193 words

“Enough is enough.” Ramsey strode across the parking lot, kicking up gravel like a bull pawing the ground before charging. He clenched and unclenched his fists, letting the tension build.

He’d watched when Bryan and Paul lit his brother Jed’s homework on fire in the boy’s bathroom. He’d turned the other way when they poured orange juice on Jed’s pizza at lunch and made him eat it. When their mom asked, he’d said he didn’t know why his brother came home from school crying.

It was easy pretending not to know the kid they called “the freak,” his brother with the eye patch and only one ear.

It was easy until the afternoon they grabbed Jed by the loop of his backpack and dragged him across the parking lot toward the trees behind the school.

Ramsey watched with his classmates, wiping his sweaty palms on his jeans.

Paul was the idea man. “Whatcha got under that eye patch?”

Bryan held the pocket knife. “Let’s see what color his freak blood is!”

Ramsey caught them at the trees.

When he saw him, Bryan grinned and held out the knife. “You wanna cut him first?”