‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #18 Entry Part 5) by Roberta Eaton Cheadle @RobertaEaton17 #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 5)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #18. Today I’m featuring a contribution from Roberta Eaton Cheadle
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.

Here is the image prompt and Roberta’s Contribution.

music-sheet-5117328_1920

The vintage music books lay in a neat pile on top of her old vinyl records. Reaching out, he picked one up and looked at it. The paper was slightly yellow from age.

I can’t believe she’s still got these books, he thinks. I remember how pleased she was when she found them in an antique shop in Greymont. I’d just passed my Grade 4 practical music exam and she was hopeful I would learn to play some of the songs.

He’d started music lessons at four years old and had learned to read music fluently before he could read. He remember his mother telling him that he had initially struggled to learn the alphabet and to read because it was like learning a second language for him.

She had done everything she could to encourage him with his music. Listening to him practice every morning before she went to work and taking him to lessons in the afternoons when she got home were built into her long list of daily activities. He’d been having three hour-long lessons a week before elected to give up music; one for singing, one for theory, and one for practical piano.

When he’d reached high school and decided to stop playing the piano, his mother had hidden her disappointment and allowed him to do so without an argument. She’d accepted that music was something that no longer interested her tall, academic son. He was not a creative and she couldn’t live her life through him. She let it go and he’d pursued maths, science and IT.

He’d been grateful for her understanding, especially as he knew she would have loved an opportunity to learn to play when she was a girl. One day she’d told him that a next-door-neighbour had started teaching her when she was nine years old. Her family had moved a few months later and she’d never had another chance to learn.

He turned the page of the top book and it opened to ‘My Favourite Things’ from ‘The Sound of Music’.

Mother’s favourite song. She always said she wanted me to play it at her funeral one day. Of course, she didn’t expect to die of a stroke just before her fiftieth birthday. Didn’t know that her blood pressure was a ticking time bomb due to years of work-induced chronic stress.

A tear slipped down his cheek and plopped onto the page.

I can’t play it at her funeral myself but I can see that it is played. This song and Morning has Broken will definitely be included in the order of service at her memorial.

~~~

Contact Roberta Here …

Roberta Writes Blog.

TWITTER

AMAZON.COM

***

Thanks so much for stopping by! I look forward to reading your comments.

I can be reached here …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #18 Entry Part 4) By Jacquie Biggar @JacqBiggar #IARTG #ASMSG #writingcommunity #WritingPrompts

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 4) of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #18.

Today I’m featuring a contribution by Jacquie Biggar.

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.

Here’s the image prompt and Jacquie’s contribution

LOVE’S TEMPO.

He was at it again. She rued the day she’d allowed him to buy the baby grand. Day and night, he lived for those damn ebony keys. He didn’t even share their bedroom half the time, preferring instead to sleep with his infernal music.

It was their tenth anniversary and she’d worked all day to create the perfect meal; chicken cordon bleu, garlic and chive mashed potatoes, savory roast vegetables, and his favorite dessert, bananas foster. And through it all, he’d played. She’d tuned out the actual melody years ago. It was either that or go stark raving mad. It was the same song, over and over and over again.

At first, she’d tried to take an active interest in his… let’s call it what it was–addiction. She’d join him in the den, offering input into the music. In return, He’d give her a vacant smile and continue the way he was, dark head bent lovingly over the keyboard.

Then she’d gone the opposite direction, ignoring him, going about her day as though everything was perfectly fine. Making excuses for his negligence. Alone, and lonely.

But, tonight was the end. She couldn’t do it anymore. He was turning her into a bitter shrew and she didn’t like it. After dinner, she was going to give him the separation papers.

“Hungry?” she asked with forced gaiety.

“Hmm?” he murmured, penning some notes onto the sheet music.

“It’s our anniversary. I made dinner.” Not quite as cheerful now.

“Can it wait? I’m close to a breakthrough.” He glanced up with a smile.

Her heart did that stupid leap, still affected by him after all these years. “Please.” She hated the entreaty in her voice.

“Sure, babe. I’ll be right behind you.” He turned back to the piano and she slowly returned to the kitchen. Picked up the heavy butcher’s knife, and waltzed toward the den, buoyed by the harmonious chords bursting down the hall.

She was surprised by how easy it was, the cold steel sinking like warm butter into his back. The tune he was playing turning strident, a cry for help echoing in her head.

Then nothing.

Blessed silence as the ivory keys turned red and his precious music died with him.

She yanked the knife free, his body slouched over the keyboard, and gouged deep lines in the shiny black finish. The shriek of steel becoming cries of agony- hers. It was his fault- all of it. He’d destroyed their love as easily as she’d just ruined his beloved piano.

Finally, she circled around to the sheet music, and was about to rip it to shreds when the title stayed her hand.

Love’s Tempo- an pledge to my beautiful wife, who loves me far more than I deserve.

Yours forever, honey

Slowly, painfully, she sank to the floor near her husband’s head and sliced her wrists. As she grew faint, their blood melded into an eternal chorus–the day the music died.

~~~~~~~~~

Jacquie may be contacted here …

Blog: Jacquie Biggar- USA Today Best-Selling Author

On TWITTER

Books On Amazon.Com

Thank you so much for stopping by. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. I’ll be posting further entries as I receive them.

I may be contacted here …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #15 Entry Part 9) by Karen Ingalls @KIngallsAuthor #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 9)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” WEEK #15

Today I’m featuring the contribution from  Karen Ingalls.

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.

Here is the image prompt.

lost-places-3035877_1920

This Contribution By Karen Ingalls

A SHATTERED LIFE

My life before you

Was in shambles and lonely

But now it’s healthy

 Because your love and goodness

Give me strength, joy, and courage.

~~~~

Karen may be contacted here …

Karen Ingalls Blog.

On Twitter:

Karen Ingalls Author Page Amazon

On Facebook

***

I can be reached here …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

Thanks so much for stopping by! I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’ll be featuring all entries as they are received.

 

 

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #15 Entry Part 7) by Mae Clair @MaeClair1 #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 7)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #15.

Today I’m featuring the contribution by Mae Clair.

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.

Here is the image prompt.lost-places-3035877_1920

This Contribution by Mae Clair

Atonement

Julian St. Croix. stood on the first step, testing the weight of the rotted tread. Behind him, Rexmont kicked through detritus littering the floor­—slivers of wood, dried leaves, tattered scraps of paper. Small puffs of dust wafted from his shoes, tickling the sensitive tissue of Julian’s nose.

He sniffed and dragged a sleeve across his face. “Second floor’s off limits.”

Rexmont stopped long enough to raise his head. “How come?”

“This step feels like rice paper and the others look as flimsy. Too much dry rot to risk it.”

“That sucks.” Rexmont wandered closer. He craned his neck to gaze toward the landing where shadows nested in a pocket of charcoals and grays. “Up there’s where he hung himself.”

“You’re sure?” They’d only been in the abandoned house forty minutes, and already Julian felt the drain on his energy.

“I did the research.” Rexmont swiped a paw over the back of his neck. He was a big man, twice Julian’s size, with massive hands, a chest like a double-wide freezer, and close-set eyes the color of motor oil. Most people labeled him a gorilla, but he was every bit as gifted in intellect as brawn, which was why Julian valued him so highly. If there was friendship between them, it straddled the line between employer/employee, still too new to venture deeper.

“No choice then.” Julian gripped his cane, the anchor that kept him from crumpling when spirit energy deserted him and all that was left was mortal stamina. “You stay here.”

“You’re the boss, but…is that wise?”

“The steps would never hold you.” Julian tested the first one. He was a trim man, not quite six feet, all lean muscle and bone, but still the wood groaned its fragility. Using his cane, he prodded each tread before adding his weight. When he reached the second-floor landing, he paused to glance down at Rexmont. “It’s an old house, but the structure is sound.”

His hired muscle snorted. “You’re two centuries older, at minimum. What’s that say about you?”

Julian’s lips curled. On his worse day, he could still pass for late thirties. “Let’s pray my fortitude is every bit as resilient as this structure.”

Without waiting for an acknowledgement, he ambled down the hallway. Over moldy carpet, once a rich burgundy, now frayed and discolored by grime. Fat cobwebs clung to the ceiling and sprouted in the corners. He followed a pulse of dark energy to a room on the right. The furniture had been cleared out years ago, but Sight allowed him to see the area as it had once been—a king-sized bed, ebony bureau, standing wardrobe, and roll-top desk.

His stamina wavered and he closed his eyes. When he looked again, the desk lay face down, papers and books scattered over the floor. A toppled ink well left a stain like blood on the paisley carpet. Above, suspended from the rafters, hung the body of a thirtyish man with white-gold hair. He had not died easily, his face bloated and purple.

Julian drew a breath to center himself. He bowed his head then murmured a prayer in middle English. When his voice faded, the specter’s form shimmered, outlined by tiny points of light. Within seconds, it vanished.

“Boss?” Rexmont appeared on the threshold. He glanced around the room. “That was quick work.”

Julian nodded, unwilling to say more. The ritual of releasing a spirit in bondage resurrected ugly memories. “How did you manage the steps?”

“I didn’t. I found a second stairway off the kitchen. Are we done?”

“For now.”

Rexmont frowned. “I still don’t understand why it’s your job to hunt down these ghosts and release them.”

“Because they deserve the peace that eluded them in life.” Something he’d yet to achieve.

Thoughts of his young wife and her lover filled his head. Visions of the blood he’d left them lying in before he’d flung a rope over a crossbeam and hung himself. Julian walked toward the door, his cane thumping hollowly against the floor. There was no erasing the sins of his past. Penitence would have to suffice, along with the hope that someday his spirit—like those he freed—might move on.

He paused and faced Rexmont. “I do it for atonement.”

“For you?”

“And them.” For the wife who’d broken their marriage vows, the brother who’d betrayed him by sharing her bed. He did it to erase the violent killer he’d once been. “I do it for my soul.”

~~~

Mae Clair can be reached here …

Twitter:

Amazon Author Page:

Mystery, Suspense & Urban Legends | BookBub | Newsletter Sign-Up

Website & Blog | Goodreads

~~~~~~~

Thank you so much for stopping by. I’ll be featuring other posts as they are received.

I may be contacted here …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #15 Entry Part 6) By Jacquie Biggar @JacqBiggar #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 6) of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #15.

Today I’m featuring a contribution by Jacquie Biggar.

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.

Here’s the image prompt.

lost-places-3035877_1920

This Contribution by Jacquie Biggar

The Stories These Walls Could Tell.

The wallpaper hangs in jagged strips from the walls, faded jacquard prints of a more dignified time. Cobwebs drape from the dilapidated ceiling, and I try not to imagine how big the spider is that created them.

Tom and I won this house at auction, before…

The floors creak beneath my sneakers and are gray with dust and grime, but they look original to my weary eyes. The drive took hours and all I can think about is a warm bath and soft bed- neither of which I’ll find here. I’ll go back to the small town I’d passed through soon, but first I need to finish what I started.

“We did it,” I tell my husband, sure he can hear me wherever he is.

The baby moves beneath my breasts and I gently rub the spot, my throat tight when I feel a tiny heel. Tom wanted this child so much. That and the home he’d grown up in. It’s bittersweet to know we’ve succeeded.

“It’s everything you said it was,” I say, continuing my one-sided conversation. “The fireplace is huge. No wonder you thought Santa got stuck up the chimney.” I trail a finger along the mantle. “Baby’s stocking will look lost on here.”

The tears that are never very far away wet my cheeks. It’s been five months, but I miss him still.

I always will.

With renewed determination, I climb the surprisingly sturdy staircase and enter the first room on the right- Tom’s childhood bedroom. A warm sensation flows over me and my tears dry as peace descends. He’s here, I can feel him.

The room is empty, other than an old blue chest shoved under the stained window. My heart flutters wildly and I’m suddenly scared of what I’ll find.

“Go,” a ghostly voice intones, his breath warm on my ear.

I startle and stumble forward. “Always so bossy,” I grouch with a smile.

The lid is heavy. I have to work to get it up, and then I sneeze as a musty fog rises from the interior. “Geez, Tom, you could have warned me.”

He chuckles from over my shoulder. I can almost feel his arms around me and baby.

His baseball hat from seventh grade sits on top the pile of memorabilia. My fingers tremble as they trace the Saints emblem. Who would have thought he’d go on to have a successful career in the NBL?

Alongside the hat, lay an autographed baseball bat, and below that, the reason I’m here. A leatherbound journal. My husband’s thoughts and dreams in his messy script fill the pages, front to back.

The house will be baby and my future, but this journal? It’s my link to the past and is truly priceless.

The baby rolls, creating a wave across my stomach and my dearly departed husband laughs.

His family is home.

~~~

Jacquie may be contacted here …

Blog: Jacquie Biggar- USA Today Best-Selling Author

On TWITTER

Books On Amazon.Com

Thank you so much for stopping by. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. I’ll be posting further entries as I receive them.

I may be contacted here …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge Week#15 Entry Part 4) by Mark Bierman @mbiermanauthor #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 4)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #15.

Today I’m featuring a contribution by Mark Bierman.

 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.

Here is the image prompt.

lost-places-3035877_1920

This Contribution by Mark Bierman.

“Grandma, are you sure you want to go up there? They’re in bad shape, and your hip.”

“Oh, pish posh,” Rosemary waved dismissively. “Should have done this years ago and those were built when quality counted.”

“That was seventy-seven years ago. This place has been abandoned for—”

“Twenty years, other than some vandalism, the bones are solid.”

“Maybe, but yours aren’t. Please, just let me have a look. The third floorboard from the back wall of the closet, right?”

Rosemary patted Emily’s hand. “I need to do this myself, with a bit of help from you.”

Emily wiped a tear and hugged her grandmother. “I understand. You were eight and you’ve waited this long. It was your only hope. All these years . . . ” Her grief soaked the purple shawl.

“Shh . . . I’ve made my peace. This must be done before I see him again. I pray God will allow it in Heaven. Father has the other half, that’s why they never found it on him.”

Rosemary’s eyes stung but she must show restraint, be the brave girl that her father had said she was just before he left for the Great War. “Let’s continue, shall we?”

“Yes, I’m sorry.” Emily broke her embrace and took the tissue from Rosemary.

“But you must let me check each tread before you step on it and let me guide you. Those are my rules, I’m sorry. I love you too much to lose you.”

Rosemary nodded. “Agreed.”

They moved ahead, arm in arm, with Emily sweeping away the debris with her foot to clear a path. At the base of the stairs, she tested the railing and was satisfied.

“You see, built to last. The stairs will be the same, though the third step might creak. I learned to avoid that one when I’d sneak downstairs after bedtime to grab an extra cookie.” She pointed to the room they’d just left. “My parents would be sitting in their chairs, Mother with her nose in a book, while Father would be asleep. I never got caught, but sometimes I think Mother knew.” Rosemary smiled.

The stairs proved to be every bit as resilient as promised, but every tread protested the disturbance.

The hideous orange and white floral-patterned linoleum flooring installed by the last tenants had chunks missing and revealed the hardwood underneath. Decay wasn’t always bad.

Emily gingerly walked her grandmother across the tripping hazard to the first room on the left. Time had left only a thick layer of dust, cobwebs, and a musty smell in the barren room.

“Hmmm . . . used to be a lot bigger,” Rosemary said. She blamed her watering eyes on the dust and mold. “I loved this room, but after Father was gone, well, we had to move.”

She sighed deeply and shuffled towards the tiny closet. Emily’s hand went to grab her arm, but she brushed it off. “I’m good for now, but I’ll need you to help me kneel.”

The old woman reached the closet and Emily helped her to her knees.

Rosemary struggled to remove the floorboard and Emily offered to help.

“No! I must do this!” Her face softened and her tears splattered into the floor dust. “I’m sorry, dear, I didn’t mean to snap. This arthritis is making it hard. Did they nail it down?”

After what seemed an eternity, the board yielded, and was hoisted with a collectively  held breath. Would it still be there?

Emily handed over the flashlight. The small beam illuminated only cobwebs and dirt. Rosemary dug frantically to clear them, and the light reflected off a silver object lying in between the floor joists.

Rosemary picked up the necklace with shaky hands. Emily gasped, for there it was, the legendary object that she’d heard about since early childhood.

A heart, with one half missing, the other half perhaps lay on a faraway battlefield.

Rosemary clutched the jewelry to her heart, and then wept loudly. Emily rushed to her side and tried to console her grandmother through her own tears.

It took several moments to recover, and Rosemary showed her the inscription in the heart. Because of the shape and the missing piece, it read, ALW TOGE . . . Always Together.

“Oh Grandma, is that true? Do you really believe that?”

“Yes, Emily, all of my life I knew he was there, and soon I will get to see him again and this heart will be whole.”

~~~

Mark can be reached here …

Twitter

Blog Mark Bierman Adventures in Writing

Amazon.com

***

I can be reached here …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

Thanks so much for stopping by! I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’ll be posting further entries as they are received.

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #15 Entry Part 1) John Howell @HowellWave and Suzanne Burke @pursoot #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to Part 1)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #15.

Today I’m featuring contributions from entry 1)By John Howell and Entry 2) My own contribution.

This is the 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.

Here is the image prompt.

lost-places-3035877_1920This ONE-LINE Contribution by John Howell.

“Daddy’s home.”

John Howell can be reached here …

Visit at Amazon.https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

 Twitter:

Author Blog Fiction Favorites:

***

MY CONTRIBUTION.

lost-places-3035877_1920

The Pulse of The City

By

Suzanne Burke

Virginia Alden briefed her camera crew, downed her third cup of coffee, and began her morning.

The live show began. She started walking through each of the broken, damaged, and abandoned rooms of what once was a neat four-bedroom home in a family-friendly neighborhood.

She spoke into the camera. “Good morning, and welcome to this week’s edition of The ‘Pulse Of The City’ Let’s begin today’s journey in the sitting room. This room would have born silent witness to most of the dreams and plans of three generations of the one family that lived here. Living with mutual love inside what once were warm and comforting walls. This room now lay bent and broken by layers of decay and the odor of rotting ideals.

This house once expanded with all the warmth of its occupiers. There was once laughter shared here until the world beyond their safe barricades intruded.”

She moved through into the kitchen, “The aroma of joy still lingers in a room that saw over thirty Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts being prepared with care and love within its boundaries. The grandfather always carved the turkey. He had been such a proud and positive man. He’d taught his children and grandchildren the gift of patience. He’d prayed that he’d also taught them how to be resilient. He doted on all of them and loved spoiling his young granddaughter. But the lessons counted for nothing when two of his grandsons went off to serve their country on far off foreign soil. One returned emotionally shattered and the other came home in a flag-draped coffin. The outspoken voice of the grandfather fell silent.”

Virginia inhaled deeply and walked up the stairs.

“The master-bedroom ceased being a place of soft whispers shared in the night. It became a battleground, as a man destroyed by the loss of his youngest son began diving into a bottle of whiskey. Until his only coherent thoughts centered on where his next drink was coming from. The woman who’d born him those children held on for as long as she could. She began working two jobs in an attempt to hold what remained of their family together. The bank foreclosed on their overdue mortgage. It finally broke her spirit.”

The camera revealed the sadness now exposed on Virginia’s expressive face as she continued walking along the upstairs hallway. “This small bathroom was busy in those early days, the daughter was always given her way on those far away mornings, her brothers giving in to their kid sister’s sweet smile and granting her first access. The death of her older brother seemed to make the bathroom almost redundant for a father too drunk to care about hygiene, and one surviving sibling who could no longer bear to look at his own unclothed and damaged body.”

She pulled herself together and the crew readied themselves as she walked through a small hallway and out to the yard.

“Here in the corner is where the bodies of all the pets that had shared their loyalty and love with the family are buried. And over this way is where the pergola once stood with ferns sheltered from the hot summer sun, the family had sat here in the shade and drank down the sweet homemade lemonade the mother was so proud of.”

Virginia cleared her throat, “Let’s take this back inside to the living room, folks.”

She looked directly into the camera.

“And now, on a personal note. So many of our viewers have commented on the excellent research apparent in all our shows. Please know, I had no need to research this show, for this house was my family home. This was the home I grew up in. It’s such an easy thing to pass judgment and affix convenient labels to people we’ve never met. Perhaps we all need to ask ourselves what would happen if we had to walk a mile in their shoes. Would your own hopes and dreams remain intact? My dreams did. I have just purchased the house back and I will rebuild it in loving memory of the people that once shared its walls. This will be my new home and my dreams will grow within it.”

“I am Virginia Alden, and this has been “Pulse of The City’ I thank you for joining me.

The scene grew silent as the director called cut. Virginia walked back through the house to stand in quiet reflection as the echoes from the past wrapped themselves like a blanket around her. She smiled as she cried.

Thanks so much for joining me here today. I look forward to seeing your comments.

I may be reached here …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #14 Entries Part 7) by Mae Clair @MaeClair1 #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 7)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #12.

Today I’m featuring the contribution by Mae Clair.

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.

Here is the image prompt.

concert-2566002_1280

Flashback

By

Mae Clair

Clay Rocket downed a double shot of Scotch. Stupid name, Rocket.

He remembered when he’d been Clay Clodfelter, but Clodfelter had no star power. His managers had stripped him of his Pennsylvania Dutch surname, packaging music with his looks and a shiny stage name when he was only twenty-three. He thought he’d landed in Utopia, long days of plowing fields in Adamsville behind him.

His parents had fretted over his contract, but Mary couldn’t have been more excited. She’d baked him a cake, a simple confection of airy white layers with peppermint icing. They’d toasted with champagne and talked about their future long into the night. He’d wanted to make it permanent, proposing marriage despite the lack of a ring, but she’d insisted he establish himself.

His gut twisted.

He guzzled another shot, the alcohol burning his throat, pumping his courage. Even after thirty-four years, he knew her number. Couldn’t forget the familiar seven digits etched in his memory, though they hadn’t spoken since his screw-up at The Plaza.

He picked up the phone, fingers like ice. Huffing out a breath, he paced to the wall of windows overlooking New York City’s skyline. The sleek lines of his penthouse gleamed in the night-blackened glass, overlayed by strings of lights from towering hotels and bridges ablaze with traffic. Before he could lose his nerve, he punched out Mary’s number.

“Hello?” The voice on the line was young, childish.

“Uh…” His tongue felt thick. “Is Mary there?”

“Grandma.” The boy gave no warning, just left Clay hanging while he shouted into the background.

A shuffle of footsteps.

“Hello.” Her voice.

He struggled to swallow the char in his throat. “Mary?”

“Who is this?”

“I…it’s…” He lost the power of speech, forced his cumbersome tongue to move. “It’s Clay.”

“Clay?”

“Clay Clodfelter.”

“You mean Clay Rocket.”

He sank into a chair. “How are you?”

He wondered what she looked like now. If her hair was still glossy and dark, her figure trim, eyes like shaded pools at twilight.

“Why are you calling me?” Her voice was cool, not frost or ice, but frigid enough to take him down a peg. “Now, after all this time.”

He swallowed, wished he had another Scotch. “Do you know what day it is?”

Silence.

“Mary?”

“I have no clue.”

Was she lying? “It’s the anniversary of the day we met. All those years ago. You were carrying a basket of peaches from the general store. I tripped and sent them tumbling.”

He expected her to laugh at the memory. Him fumbling and apologetic, her forgiving and accommodating. Such innocence before the world grew jaded.

“I’d forgotten.” No change in her tone.

He inhaled through his nose. Knew he was getting nowhere. “That girl at the Plaza…she meant nothing.”

“And you don’t see how that made it worse?” A long pause. “Your first major concert. First success, and you abandoned me.”

His gut tightened. He’d been such an ass. “I’m sorry.”

A burst of static came over the line. He imagined her shifting, pacing as she digested his decades-too-late apology.

“I could never hold a candle to the girls who tempted your fidelity.” Her voice was thready. “You proved that as soon as you had success. It’s why I left.”

He considered the empty glass in his hand, the crystal as barren as his heart. He needed something to fill it. Ease the sting, if even only temporarily. “Are you married?”

“Happily.” Warmth now. “I have three children and seven grandchildren. My husband and I are nearing our twenty-eighth wedding anniversary.”

All the things she couldn’t have with him.

He glanced to the framed photographs on the wall. Image after image of his successes on the stage, hand thrust in the air, microphone high, fans clamoring to embrace their idol.

“I’m happy for you.” He didn’t know what else to say. When she didn’t answer he cleared his throat, apologized for disrupting her evening, then made noise about needing to call his manager. Mary bade him well before leaving him listening to a dial tone.

He’d always thought happiness came with fame, but he’d left any chance behind with his one-night stand at The Plaza hotel all those years ago. Strange, how it had taken him decades to realize what he’d lost.

Clay slumped onto the couch. He poured himself another Scotch and toasted his success.

Tomorrow, when he wasn’t drunk, maybe he’d mean it.

***

Mae Clair can be reached here …

Twitter:

Amazon Author Page:

Mystery, Suspense & Urban Legends | BookBub | Newsletter Sign-Up

Website & Blog | Goodreads

~~~~~~~

Thank you so much for stopping by. I’ll be featuring other posts as they are received.

I may be contacted here …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #13 Entry Part 1) @pursoot & @HowellWave #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity.

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to Part 1)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #13.

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.

Here is the image prompt.

michael-dziedzic-1bjsASjhfkE-unsplash

ENTRY 1) One line contribution by John Howell.

“So give me the key, Richard, and keep an eye out for that giant Python while I open the chest.”

John Howell can be reached here …

Visit at Amazon.https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

 Twitter:

Author Blog Fiction Favorites:

***

Entry 2) My Own Contribution.

michael-dziedzic-1bjsASjhfkE-unsplash

If ever I would leave you.

By

Suzanne Burke

Annie stood on her front porch gazing out at the pouring rain, she sighed and resigned herself to forgoing her walk this morning. Then she smiled and reminded herself that she still had plenty to do in the kitchen before the family arrived.

She lit a welcoming fire in the sitting room, enjoyed two cups of coffee in front of it, then dressed and pulled on her favorite apron.

The sounds of the cars coming up the long drive a few hours later had her hustling out onto the porch to greet them.

Her two boys pulled her into their bear hugs and her daughters in law smiled on and gave her their own loving greeting.

“C’mon in out of this cold, my darlings. Lunch won’t be too long, grab yourselves a freshly brewed coffee and sit by the fire.”

Her twin grandsons gave her a smile, “Do we have time to go down by the lake, Grandma?”

“There’s always time to do that. So long as your folks are happy with it. But you’ll need your gumboots it’s a might muddy out there.”

The boys pleaded successfully, and their father told them to be back inside half an hour.

Annie lovingly declined all the offers of help in the kitchen, and her sons and their wives settled down to talk comfortably in the living room.

***

Thirteen-year-olds Thomas and Travis skipped stones across the lake, happy as always to be in each other’s company. Travis looked at his watch, “We need to head on back, don’t want dad havin’ to come get us again.”

His brother grinned at him and said something, but Travis was distracted, “Hey, what’s this?” He said as he stooped to pick up the shiny gold key.  “I think this belongs to Grandma.”

His brother nodded, “She must have dropped it on her daily walk. Let’s get back. I’m betting she doesn’t even know she’s lost it.”

***

The boys went in through the mudroom, removed their gumboots, and entered the kitchen, “Hey, Grandma. We found this down by the lake. You must have dropped it this morning.”

Annie smiled at them and shook her head, “But I didn’t go on …” She stopped mid-sentence as she recognized what Travis was holding out to her. She reached for it and held it without speaking.

Thomas glanced at her with a worried frown, “You’re not gonna cry are you, Grandma?”

She sniffled as she responded “Oh, no, my darlings. I’ve been peeling onions. Thank you for returning this to me, now scoot and wash up ready for lunch.”

***

The adults were laughing with pleasure as the men shared memories of their escapades here at the lake house with wives who smiled on indulgently as though they hadn’t heard the stories before.

Daniel stopped laughing and turned toward the kitchen. He put a finger to his lips and whispered, “Hush … Listen.”

Annie’s sweet soprano voice carried out to the room as she sang.

Daniel felt his throat constrict with tears, “Oh, God. She’s singing. I haven’t heard mom sing like that since dad passed. I believed I’d never hear it again. This is a good day.” The smile lit up his face.

***

The hours that followed were joyous and it was late when the sleeping boys were roused, and everyone headed off for home.

Daniel kissed his mother’s cheek, “I’ll call you tomorrow, mom. It’s been so great today. Thank you.”

Annie gave them all a hug and waved her farewells from the porch.

She inhaled deeply and finally removed the key from her pocket.

She climbed the stairs to her bedroom, lit the fire, then slowly walked across to the dresser, and removed the ornate box from its safe place. Henry had given her this on their wedding day, ‘We each hold the key to the other’s hearts safe in our keeping, my darling.” He’d said.

Annie held her breath as she opened the box. One gold key lay in its red velvet place, but the space beside it was empty. Henry had been carrying his key on a chain around his neck as he’d done for forty years. He was wearing it when he left the house on the day he passed. Annie had searched for it everywhere and hadn’t been able to find it.

Her hands shook a little as she lovingly replaced the key alongside her own where it belonged.

The record player beckoned, she removed the old LP, cleaned it, and gently placed the needle down on the track she wanted.  They’d danced to this at their wedding. The haunting sounds of ‘If ever I would leave you’ from Camelot lit her face with a sweet sad smile. Henry was right here still watching over her. Today had indeed been a good day.

~~~

 

As so often happens with these prompts for me, the image conjures music I haven’t heard in a very long time. I enjoyed hearing this again. I hope you enjoy it too.

Thanks so much for joining me here today. I look forward to seeing your comments.

I may be reached here …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #12 Entries Part 6) @dlfinnauthor #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 6)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #12.

Today I’m featuring a contribution from D. L. Finn.

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.

Here is the image prompt.

bryce-barker-cIcX_aO9LPo-unsplash

THE CLOCK

By

D. L. Finn

I gently shifted my weight in the chair, trying to pry my bare legs off the brown vinyl. Several deep breaths did nothing to relieve the tension in my shoulders. I pulled my sweater tightly around me with the realization it wasn’t wise to be dressed for a hot summer day while sitting in a cold hospital room. There had been no change in the last few hours. The constant beeps continued, and the oxygen flowed in and out with a gentle whoosh.

I shook my head at the tragic irony of a man needing me after how he treated me growing up. My father had an undiagnosed mental condition. He hid it well, so only those who lived with him knew his explosive violence under the shrewd mask of a family man. No one saw the marks; they were never on my face. He was careful even when he had lost control. The war and his parents had hurt him so deeply that when it bubbled to the surface – it hurt us. He never seemed aware of his faults, so there was never an opportunity for him to seek any help. My family spent every waking moment, trying not to upset him in the hopes all would be well. It wasn’t.

I sighed loudly and took the protein bar out of my purse. Though I wasn’t hungry, I didn’t want to pass out and end up in a hospital bed, too. I washed the crunchy honey oats down with a bottle of water. The nurse entered the room right after I finished. I pretended to be asleep. There was nothing new she could share with me.

Finally, she was gone, and I sat up staring at the lump of a once proud and cruel man. We were the only two left from my family. Alcohol and drugs took everyone down, except me. I knew when to quit. The man lying in bed had upped his intake of drinking until it was all he did. Today I watched them remove twenty-one bottles of liquid from his abdomen, relieving his labored breathing. He had no idea it was happening.

A flash of light caught my attention, and I quietly got up to investigate. It was coming from the nurse’s station where someone had placed a small golden clock that looked like a holiday ornament. It was the same as…a chill shot through me.

It looked exactly like the clock from my dream last night where I was boxing up my father’s belongings. My only thought had been he wasn’t dead. Then, in one box, was this device. It had a clock face on all four sides as it gently spun in a circle playing my father’s favorite Hank Williams Jr. song.

“Can’t be,” I whispered, hoping I’d seen it the day before.

A loud conversation cleared that up.

“Did you see what that patient in 202 left us today, Sissy?”

“I’ve never seen a clock like that before. How sweet of him.”

I gulped when I saw the time was the same as my dream. Unsure what to do, I stood there frozen until a sudden warmness wrapped me in its wisdom. I quietly closed the door and stood over my father.

“I forgive you, father, even after all you did to us. You weren’t happy here on earth, and I hope you’ll find some happiness where you are going. Please know I’m doing this in love, and I believe it’s what I’m meant to do. Rest in Peace.”

I picked up the extra pillow and held it tightly over his face. He never struggled, but at the last moment, his bloodshot eyes opened. I saw approval in them, as the machines went silent. His eyes closed. I put the pillow back and pushed the nurse’s button right as they threw the door open. Mercifully, they couldn’t revive him.

Later, when I left his room, I hurried past the clock still set at the same time, 11:53. After a long wait for the elevator, the clock began playing my father’s favorite song. I held back a smile when I saw the hands had moved to noon, which only justified my actions.

No one knew what I did that day. I was okay with that because he was free, and so was I.

***

D.L.Finn can be reached here …

Blog site:

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE:

On TWITTER:

On FACEBOOK:

Thanks so much for stopping by! The image prompt for Week #13 is now live. I look forward to reading your comments.

I can be reached here …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.