Friday Fictioneers – Darkness

#rochellewisofffields #flashfiction #fridayfictioneers

Photo prompt from Na’ama Yehuda

Oppression

desperation

claustrophobic disintegration.

I look up and see blue

flossy, puppy clouds

sunny side up

In the glass, reflected back

a total darkness

the oily snake of depression

The world is bleak

people hate-speak

children closet-weep

Darkness speaks.

walls bleed

they weep.

Inside my head

I wail

I flail, dispirited. (51 words)

Thank you Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for continuing to set this 100 word or less challenge. It is certainly a commitment appreciated by many. Other 100 word stories can be read here.

The Thief

‘Right, folks,’ calls our driver. ‘One hour. Grab a bite, hit the shops or queue for the loo. Take yer pick.’

I snort at that last one. No doubt another one-toilet town, for too many anxious women.

‘I thought we were stopping at the roadhouse,’ I say.

“Yeah, we usually do. I don’t know why I chose here. Impulse, I guess,’ says the Irish Bus Driver.

‘Shopping any good?’ calls someone from within.

‘Alright,’ he says. ‘Depends what you’re looking for.’

‘Ooh, darling. An antiques shop,’ coos Bertha, from behind me. I look up to investigate and feel a shock to my stomach.

‘Yeah, nah. I’d avoid that one, missus,’ warns the driver. ‘Not too welcoming.’

The gauntlet thrown, goosebumps, skin tingling, adrenaline piqued.

I’m on this bus today because I’m a thief heading to Melbourne for a fresh start. Away from bad influences, the reputation that haunts me, the criminal environment I inhabit. One throwaway comment though clicks on my opportunity radar. The body replies, challenge accepted.

My heart and soul, however, hold a different opinion.

Standing in the aisle, foot tapping, Malodorous Man mumbling at my shoulder. I ignore him, like we’ve all been trying to do for the last four hours.

When I reach the bottom step, I hover, one foot dangling in space, suddenly afraid. Caught between the urge to return to my seat and wait this one out, ignore the psychic challenge, and the hulking, angry passenger.

‘Another ‘nuthin town on the road to ‘nuthin,’ he growls, impatient.

I drop onto hot, sticky bitumen, eyes glued to the storefront of Gundegai Antiques. I feel the serpent of fear as it slithers through veins, hoovering blood, excited sweat upon skin.

I am unprepared for danger. One moment enjoying sweet harmony with the driver, his dry humour at his passenger’s antics, his amazingly acrobatic brows. Trapped in the twilight world of touring terror, too close to strangers with their snorts and farts and quietly urgent domestic disputes.

And Malodorous Man, whose loud muttering, forehead slapping, atrocious body odour and lack of sense of personal space, makes us uncomfortable.

This was a new chapter, an attempt at a better me, complete with the new job in hospital administration. Arranged by the friendly neighbourhood Klepto Anonymous group I’d fallen into before Christmas, when alone and desperate I’d landed a meeting with legs surrounded by shopping bags celebrating the best places to pilfer gifts.

Good daughter, great friend, brilliant student but pathologically unable to resist the genetic urge to steal. The merest hint that I should not, set me off on the wrong path.

Like a true believer, I followed the anti-commandments as closely as a book of twisted Ikea instructions and the urge to thieve embraced idolatry, jealousy, greed, deceit and adultery.

I’d managed to obey, do not kill.

My life depended on taking a 180 turn, adopting a new attitude, a break away from the straitjacket of expectation. Blue skies, green meadows, fresh start.

Yet here I was. Urged by opportunity to commit a felony, to pilfer trifles, invade the sanctity of the vendor’s domain. And the shop knows it.

It breaths. It waits. Eager. Hungry.

I feared yet wanted it. Danger, risk, reward. The rush. The shop was just another mark, but with attitude.

The paunch of Malodorous Man nudges from behind and I fall against the building, one hand on its window. Glittering treasures call my eye. I peruse the offerings. Junk. Nothing that I want or need. Yet, I hunger.

Vintage jewellery, wooden toys, items of agricultural equipment, scary looking dolls. I hate dolls.

And the building breathes. There’s an audible pop as I push myself away.

Spooked and desperate not to steal, not to cave to the need, I race across the road without checking traffic. A bakery entices for all the right reasons. Delicious wafting smells. I buy a pie and  coke, snaffle a couple of sauces on the way out.

I perch on the outside bench. Directly opposite my opponent.

I eat, and I watch. And hunger.

Neighbouring stores display a collage of advertisements and signs. Loud posters announce touring comedians and musos. Ubiquitous SALE notices. Discounts publicised on oversized star icons.

The antiques store too is covered in paper. Fine print though, too small to read, inviting the unwary closer. Enticing. Curiosity to overwhelm the cat.

I was hardly unwary, but it was working. Spidey senses on high alert, I was still an idiot. The urge to steal versus malevolent warning – not good.

A dry gust of wind, gritty with sand, grabs at the brown paper pie bag. I lurch as it whips away from me, skitters across the road, under the tour bus and splat against the window of the antiques store. It holds, and holds, then slithers toward the door. When it opens,  the bag flashes through and out of sight.

I chew on the pie and pick gristle from my teeth, swallow a grease clearing mouthful of coke and glare at the storefront. Movement to the left, a feral cat. Movement from the right, bored passengers, biding time. Shopkeepers on either side of that haunted store, hover. One sweeps the never to be tamed dust. Another shakes out a rug. The hairdresser leans against the door jamb, with her takeout coffee.

The Irish Bus Driver rests against the grille of his bus, sucking on a cigarette like his life depends on the smoke flooding his lungs.

Malodorous Man sits beside me. I slide further along the bench. He manspreads, and armspreads across the back of the bench, generally taking too much space.

‘Mate,’ he says.

I look in his direction. I hope for glacial disinterest.

‘I recognise the look,’ he says. ‘The eyes of a desperado. What’s your inclination?’

‘Get lost,’ I say. Classy.

‘I can’t work it out,’ he says. ‘I know you’re spiralling, but you’re staring at a bloody secondhand store. Not booze then, not drugs.’

‘Piss off,” I say.

‘Granted, there is something broody about that shop. Have you noticed? Nobody’s gone in since we’ve been here. It’s too quiet.’

A malevolence. It’s not just me then.

I give him proper attention. Turn toward him and gesture a waving hand that takes in his whole being.

‘What’s your deal then?’ I challenge.

‘Too long a story and not your business. But, I’m prepared to say that I’m pulling myself out of a dark place and getting there.’

‘I’m prepared to say, you could use a shower,’ I offer.

‘You’re a bitch, you know?’

‘Granted. Mum would be disappointed,’ I begin to stand, and say ‘I reckon I should investigate.’ Only to discover legs that won’t hold me. I fall into his lap. One large, hairy hand stops me falling further.

The other rubs a filthy handkerchief across his face, removing sweat and crusted on dirt. He’s a decent looking bloke under there.

‘Have you a tenner? It’d be good to have a feed.’

‘Sure. There you go, ten dollars and ah, I picked up your wallet,’ I say digging it out of my bag. ‘If I don’t come back  …’

‘I’ll send in the army,’ he says, grinning. Bad teeth!

Deep breath and shoulders back, I step onto the road. And sink, infinitesimally. I pause and think hot tar. Second step, sink. Lift, but more effort required. Another. Stuck.

I look down at my feet in surprise. The ground appears solid enough. I watch as tendrils of tar reach to hold me in place.

‘Wrong,” I say aloud.

‘You alright, mate?’ calls Malodorous Man.

‘Sticky,’ I call back.

‘Bloody hot, bound to be soft,’ he calls.

There’s intention here, holding me in place, keeping me from the shop.

‘I need to face it,’ I whisper. And step forward.

Freed to go to my doom, I cross the road. A zombie abandoning all hope.

Like a soldier on patrol I sweep eyes across the field of danger. The hairdresser could be my own mother, all compassion and concern. Except for her dead eyes. I falter.

The deli owner leans on his broom, paused in his pointless pursuit of standards. He shakes his head, no. In mute terror.

Under the blazing sun, I shiver, suddenly cold. Fingers of fear creep along my skin, into my hair, jelly replaces my legs.

Now I can read the warning signs that plaster the store. Shoplifters will be destroyed. Enter at own risk. No mercy to be found, here.

An Australian, bastard, building. Direct. No bullshit. Fair warning.

‘I wouldn’t,’ said the hairdresser.

‘You’ll not come back,’ said deli owner.

‘You look like you’re gasping for a beer,’ offered some random.

Walk away, my inner voice warns. You are a lunatic. Yet the store beckons and I obey, like a mindless robot. Hair raised with static, tears falling, lizard brain fighting to be heard, stomach bitching.

I place my hands flat against the window and fall into the heartrending terror of lost souls. Pain, fear, dread. Trapped in fire, twisted, bleeding and flayed. Innumerable. Interminable.

Sucked into a hell of writhing bodies, the soggy mass of bodily fluids, poisonous filth. I can’t move nor breathe.

Vignettes of life flash in the dark. With my parents as a child, on the beach, laughing, burning. My mother birthing a monster, cackling maniacally. Bus passengers peering from windows, faces disintegrating, horror melting away.

A child calls, Mumma! My father calls, Becky!

My eyes open. And there he is, my long dead father. Distorted face, wretched in terror. Howling my name. Armed robber, killed in jail, knifed.

‘Go, baby,’ he howls.

‘Daddy,” I wail.

I try lifting a hand to pummel, to plead for my dad, but I’m stuck. All the strength of my body can’t pull me off.

A psychic energy pulses through me and I push. Beside me, I feel the presence of clean strength. Malodorous and Irish, hands against the window.

A high-pitched whine from the building, pleading No! Windows implode.

A tremendous howling wind blows inward, dragging me over the window frame. I feel the sting of glass splinters as they prick my skin. Then I’m blown viciously away, into the light of hope.

Breathing hard, bent at the knees, fat hot tears land on the pavement.

‘Daddy,’ I whisper.

Strong arms support me, Malodourous Man to the left, Irish Bus Driver to the right.

‘Thank you’, I say.

Dusty and blood streaked they lead me back to the bus, push me gently up the steps.

Hands reach to touch me as I pass. Before I fall into my seat, I hand her iPhone back to Bertha.

Someone hands me an icy coke. I gulp at it, feeling its soothing bite channel a way through, cleansing.

The Mercedes engine hums to life, while around me people settle.

I look out the window, afraid of what I’ll see, but all that is left is a rubble filled space, danger removed, malevolence disembowelled.

The storekeepers stand ghostlike in the street. Covered in dust, or fading away, surplus to requirements.

I stand the winner in this battle for my soul.

‘Thank you, Daddy,’ I whisper, as the bus pulls away.

[1856 words]

Three Things Challenge #833 – Disconnect

Three Things Challenge set daily by Di.

We are presented with three things that may, or may not, be related. Simply read the prompt and see where your creativity takes you.

You can use one, two or all three words in your post, there are no restrictions regarding length, style, or genre apart from keeping it family friendly.

Remember to tag responses with 3TC, #threethingschallenge or #TTC and add the logo if you wish.

***

Words for #883 are: JEER, KETTLE, LEMON

***

The potential for disconnect is real.

Try not seeing your children for two years then coming out the other side with the same familial dynamic.

You can jeer. Children grow away, you say. It is natural.

We all know there are families out there who are more intimately entwined. Whose children visit regularly, no prompting. Who gather around Sunday dinner, no reason. Never miss a birthday, anniversary, Christmas.

Births, deaths.

We already compared ourselves to them, with that sour lemon taste of jealousy.

We struggled to quantify the quality of our familial bond when access was free and easy. By the time normal contact resumes, grown children have developed new norms that don’t include turning on the kettle, because Mum dropped by.

What a drag!

As the parent I can feel that ennui sneaking into my own psyche.

‘Really?’, it asks. ‘You want effort now?’

Simply 6 Minutes – I think I can

#simply6minutes

Decision paralysis.

Daunted by the challenge.

 

Forebears have shown that it is possible.

Paths are clearly marked.

Their generosity of spirit is clear, for all to see.

 

Richness of choice.

Abundance of options.

 

My tiny brain, overwhelmed.

Physicality, tested.

 

I am but a mite at the foot of a behemoth.

To reach that glorious sky. To stand at the top, with pride.

I don’t think I can.

 

My shell is snug and tight. Body protected. Moisture high.

The little snail who could, that’s what they’ll say.

 

I eye the ground ahead. Take the first step.

One slide, in front of the other. 

***

Simply 6 Minutes Challenge Note

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/166652922/posts/14264

  • Set up a timer or sit near a clock so you can keep track of the six minutes you will be writing.
  • You can either use one of the prompts (photo or written) or you can free-write.
  • Get ready and write for 6 minutes, that is it! Can you write a complete story? Can you think of a new Sonnet? Can you write 400 words? 400? 500? There are no restrictions on what kind of writing you do, but you should try to be actively writing for six minutes.
  • After you are done writing, include your word count and then post back to this page #Simply6Minutes or include your link in the comments section. Pingbacks are enabled.

 

Lost to time

W.O.T.D challenge – using Auld Lang Syne 

Viscosity of life

thick, gel-like quality

suffocating, drowning

today at least, to me

represents adulthood

Long gone are the days of innocence

the joy of living

unconditional hope, boundless love, received

lightness of spirit, reciprocated

They sing of years gone by, friends forgotten

olden times fondly remembered.

cherish those memories, those friends, the good times.

I can’t hear love, hope, cheer

it is not possible to tell

body language speaks of togetherness, connectedness

but the tune is mournful.

It prompts in me a yearning

for a return to that childlike state

when concerns were as deep as

what’s for dinner

a smile, kiss, cuddle

I need a return to that peace

to the fluidity and weightlessness

I can no longer trudge through

this suffocating fug

for Auld Lang Syne.

Simply 6 Minutes – If this were Heaven

#simply6minutes #stinewriting #flashfiction

trippy optical illusions

If this were heaven

would I be content

with trippy illusions

and lack of substance.

Perhaps it’s not heaven

but an in-between haven.

Asylum, a refuge

to relax, celebration.

If this were heaven

joy and colour would calm

while I waited for loved ones,

to fall into their arms.

If this were heaven

I’d be excited to meet

authors and actors

who’d passed before me.

What a trip. What a blast.

Shallow, my ass.

Legends never encountered

by this average-Joe lass.

In sub-heaven I could meet

awesome writers who’d inspired

deep thought and introspection

when on Earth’s lonely sphere.

Fulfilled at this way-station

I could then resign

to loving forever

in candyfloss climes.

***

Simply 6 Minutes Challenge Note

Set up a timer or sit near a clock so you can keep track of the six minutes you will be writing.

  • You can either use one of the prompts (photo or written) or you can free-write.
  • Get ready and write for 6 minutes, that is it! Can you write a complete story? Can you think of a new Sonnet? Can you write 400 words? 400? 500? There are no restrictions on what kind of writing you do, but you should try to be actively writing for six minutes.
  • After you are done writing, include your word count and then post back to this page #Simply6Minutes or include your link in the comments section. Pingbacks are enabled.

MLMM Photo Challenge #390 – The Call

#MLMM; #photochallenge; #flashfiction

Photo Credit Dang Ngo

My fellow monks are fearless

As they meditate the power

Of these freezing clifftop waters.

While I wither by the hour.

You can bring Buddha to the boy, but you can’t take away the bogan.

Not without a fight.

Daily and with joy, I pray, chant, and work

Desiring no wealth, accepting what I’m worth

And I glow as I practice giving

Fellowship and love.

When I hear rock and roll, let loose on the street

Watch the mantle slip.

The power of prayer persuaded me to climb to the top of the cliff

To stand in the freaking cold waterfall.

But I’m tired of robes that let wind up my thighs.

I give thanks for the peace, but I’m over the quiet.

Back in black, I return to my roots in the bush

Blasting ACDC to worship with music. [140 words]

Friday Fictioneers – Eye of the Beholder

#fridayfictioneers #flashfiction #rochellewisofffields

Photo by Jennifer Pendergast

Mrs Jones, we must talk about Sarah. Her recent art project.

Oh, it was brilliant! She got a gold star! We are so proud.

The talent is obvious. Colour, logic, planning. Santa pencil dropped mid‑scene caps off the malevolence.

Sorry?

The theme of this work, Mrs Jones. She has created carnage as art. A child as roadkill. Dead, or dying. Either a dog is finishing her off, or a service vehicle is scraping up her remains. I’m not certain ….

She wants to be an Ambo. She likes to practice scenarios. I’ve never thought …

Oh. Right then. [98 words]

Thank you Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for continuing to set this 100 word or less challenge. It is certainly a commitment appreciated by many. Other 100 word stories can be read here.

Simply 6 Minutes – Leapfrog

#simply6minutes #stinewriting #flashfiction

A little late in the week … but here we go!

***

Come on bro, I feel like we missed out on a childhood.

Give me a break. I’ve got stuff to do.

I want to play. The kids in the village are having a great time.

I’ve got the weight of the world on my shoulders, and you want to revert to being a kid.

Yeah, bro. Come on. They call it leapfrog.

Our legs are too short. Arms made for swinging from a tree. Legs made for hold’n on. Not leaping.

Bro, you’re so old. What about hopscotch.

Hop, what?

We mark out some squares and then jump from square to square, something like that. Looks like fun.

Buddy, I’ve gotta sort out the Bellini brothers. They’re fighting over that gal again. I don’t have time for this.

Play with me, Frank. How about soldiers. Or horseback riding. Let me get on your back.

Get off me!! It’s like I’m weighed down by a truck. I’ve enough pressure. Grow up, Buddy.

You’re no fun. You’ve turned into Dad. No, you were turned into Dad.

Someone had to step up …

It didn’t have to be you. You coulda stayed my brother, been my friend. No. You had to be the hero.

Hey, how have we gone from ‘play with me’ to ‘you left me behind’. How did that happen.

Man, you don’t get it. I wanted to be a kid. I wanted you by my side. I still do.

Well, we can get back to that. It’ll need some work, some patience from you. Some support.

But …

Let’s figure out how to play that leapfrog thing.

Bro! [6 minutes, 268 words]

https://christinebialczak.com/2020/07/14/simply-6-minutes-writing-challenge

  • Set up a timer or sit near a clock so you can keep track of the six minutes you will be writing.
  • You can either use one of the prompts (photo or written) or you can free-write.
  • Get ready and write for 6 minutes, that is it! Can you write a complete story? Can you think of a new Sonnet? Can you write 400 words? 400? 500? There are no restrictions on what kind of writing you do, but you should try to be actively writing for six minutes.
  • After you are done writing, include your word count and then post back to this page #Simply6Minutes or include your link in the comments section. Pingbacks are enabled.

Friday Fictioneers – Still Life

#rochellewisofffields #flashfiction #fridayfictioneers

Condiments by Rochelle

They call that a still life.

I believe so.

It’s condiments. Hardly life.

It’s about being part of life, but still. Inanimate.

Oh. Still, it’s not really life, is it? It don’t breathe, or swim in honey. It don’t move around.

No, but still part of life, ain’t it. In life, you need condiments.

Mate, condiments lead to death. For us and them lot. Heart disease and diabetes for them. Honeytrap for us.

Yeah, but they’re still life. Can’t eat a bowl of chips without them.

SWAT!

Bluey, mate. Oh no, Bluey. [92 words]

Thank you Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for continuing to set this 100 word or less challenge. It is certainly a commitment appreciated by many. Other 100 word stories can be read here.