Hello everyone and a warm welcome to Part 1) of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge 2021. Week #32,
Today I’m featuring contributions from entry 1)By John Howell and Entry 2) My own contribution.
Last week I set the following Challenge:
Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing. Maximum word count: 750 words.
This one-line contribution by John Howell.
“I finally found the lantern, Helen. Helen? You out there?”
John Howell can be reached here …
Visit at Amazon.https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell
Here is my own contribution.
They had been walking in silence since parking the car. The velvet softness of the onset of twilight surrounded them.
Mitch watched his friend light the lantern and allowed his thoughts to drift, content in the belief that Cathy knew exactly where they were heading.
Her voice pulled him back to the present, “Not much further now. There should be hot coffee waiting for us at the lake house.”
“It was kind of you to ask me to join you and your family here for the summer.”
“You’ll be made very welcome. My folks like you. Although as I told you, you may find getting used to the restrictions on using social media a little tricky, at least at first.”
“I’ve never really done without it before.But, I can still use my iPhone for an hour a day?”
“Yup, between the hours of three and four p.m.”
“Do you only do the restricted thing when you’re on vacation?”
“Yup. Since I was in grade school. The folks were worried that my sisters and I were spending way to much time on our phones. This rule helps us stay connected to each other. Amazing what eye contact can do for a conversation. It sure makes for some lively discussions. Did you give your folks the landline number in case they need to reach you urgently?”
“They didn’t ask, and I didn’t think to mention it. It’s not likely they’ll have a reason to call me. I think they’re relieved that I’m not joining them in Paris this year.”
The comment made Cathy sorry that she’d mentioned his folks at all. Her own folks would be mortified if they had no way of reaching her. “Wait till you see the 4th of July fireworks. They’re really spectacular.” Her attention was caught by the sounds of laughter coming from just up ahead. “This is it. Let’s go on in, they won’t hear us over the noise they’re making.”
They followed the happy sound across the deck and entered a sprawling sitting room. Cathy put her fingers to her lips and whispered, “They don’t know we’re here yet.”
Mitch was so fascinated by the scene in front of him he barely nodded. He had no clue what they were doing. Cathy’s three siblings and her mother Janice were seated on the floor, and her father was standing in front of them giving strange hand signals while those watching on called out staccato sentences. “So, okay, it’s a movie.”
“First word … um … sounds like?”
Cathy’s father sank to his knees in front of his audience.
“What on earth is that, Howard? … Are you meant to be praying? Or are you about to go into labor?”
The room erupted in splutters of laughter.
Mitch couldn’t help himself. “Cathy what the hell are they doing?”
“They’re playing charades. Dad always wins. I think he missed his calling as an actor.” She giggled. You should see him when we play poker. He has this whole Doc Holliday thing that he does.”
“What are charades?”
“It’s a game. The person standing has to give his audience the name of a song, or a movie or a book, anything really, but he has to do it without speaking. There are signals that mean specific things. I’ll fill you in on all of it later.”
Mitch nodded as Cathy’s mother called out, “The Godfather! It’s the Godfather!”
The man touched the end of his nose. “You nailed it, sweetheart.”
In the days and weeks that followed Mitch learned a great many new things, he’d mastered Monopoly, and was rapidly developing his talent for Scrabble. He’d read some great paperbacks and watched classic movies with the others on wet afternoons. He was learning just how to make a great spaghetti sauce.
Cathy’s father had taught him how to fish, and to skips stones on the lake when the wind was still.
The most precious gift of all was learning how to really communicate with another person, he marveled at the comfort it gave him to make eye contact and feel really connected to someone. Meals were spent together seated around a large dining room table. He began to learn about his companions and rediscover parts of himself. The touch of a hand, or a smile of understanding had turned his world around. It was no longer a singular existence. He valued the lessons. He’d return to his old world and take his new-found confidence right along with him.
Cathy’s father helped load his bag into the car. “If you’re free next summer we’d love it if you joined us again, Mitch.” He pulled him in to a warm hug.
“I’ll brush up on my charade skills and prepare for a rematch.” His eyes filled with tears. “Thank you, sir.”
“I’ve seen the way you and Cathy look at each-other, son.” He smiled his approval. “I’m guessing we’ll see you again well before summer.”
Thanks so much for joining me here today. I look forward to seeing your comments. I will as always featuring each new contribution as I receive them.
I may be reached here …