Tag: Flash Fiction

BANE: Harry’s Bane By G. Ackman

Word: BANE
Harry’s Bane
By G. Ackman

Hi. My name is Harry. Sometimes it is “Hurry up Harry” or “Come on Harry.” I don’t move very fast, I know. I just don’t see the point in rushing through life. If you go too quickly, you miss so many wonderful things to see and smell. I don’t see as well as some do since I only have one working eye, but that’s okay. It doesn’t hurt me like it used to. Before, when I was in that mean house and then that noisy place, it burned all the time and always felt like I had something in it that wouldn’t come out. Then the spotted dog came to me in my dreams. He told me that someone was going to come visit me and that he wanted me to go with her. He said that she was still sad that he had to leave and she needed a new best friend. She had been a great mom to him and would be to me too (I didn’t know what that word “mom” meant at the time, but I believed him). He had funny eyes too. His both worked but one was brown and one was bright blue. He said he chose me because we are alike in many ways and it is just what this mom person needed.

Sure enough, a few days later, she walked into the noisy place. The spotted dog, who told me his name was Izzy, whispered in my ear, “That’s her,” so after she sat down on the grass, I walked right up to her and licked her on the nose. I was confused because she left without me. She came back the next day though with another dog named Oscar. I was okay with that. Izzy had already told me about him. He’s got a good heart but can be annoying at times. After a few scuffles, I let him know when to leave me alone. We play together now and I guess I would miss him if he weren’t here. I guess I even love him a little. He’s my brother (but still annoying at times).

I heard horrible stories from other dogs in that noisy place.  Some had been so mistreated.  Broken bones, shotgun wounds, starvation.  I could smell sickness and fear and desperation on them. Just like me, no one loved them.  One dog, though, came in telling stories about being loved and always feeling safe and warm and happy.  None of us believed him.  We thought we were always supposed to be unhappy or hungry or scared or hurt.  Now, though, I know what he meant. Now that I have a mom who puts stinging drops in my eyes that make them feel better.  A mom who holds and loves me.  Those who hurt us are the bane of the world.  I wish every dog could have a mom like I do.  Thank you, Izzy, for bringing us together.  I'll take care of her for you.   

SOUL: god interrupted By Mike Cecconi

Word: SOUL
Word Count 497

god interrupted
By Mike Cecconi

God not as a Norse-Christian hairy thunderer nor hippie-dippy New Age cosmic muffin but God, God as the ocean, God as the sea. God, vast bottomless ancient insanely powerful, powerful in a way that changes shorelines on whim, provided God has ten thousand years after that whim but also, in the moment despite its power, in a given moment just kind of there in background, as the waves lapping at the same patch of sand you saw it lapping against as a child and you will see it lapping against when you’re old. God, never changing in your lifetime because you get about as much breath as a mayfly but on a scale of eons able to change anything. God ocean, ancient and powerful and vast but not sensate in any way we comprehend, too long-lived, too many trillions of waves made, too many trillion more to make. God as something like that.

Someone takes a paper cup, scoops water from the sea, into a cup from a fast food joint and it’s such a small amount compared to the briny blue but ultimately, it’s the same stuff same water as the ocean, a little in one place separate from the rest for a while, small and differently-shaped but still the same as the sea. Inside that cup, that’s you, what you’d call your soul, self-contained and unable to shape continents but made of the exact same stuff, microform in paper cup, that’s you.

Maybe you get lucky and live to eighty and you start to think that you are the cup or that your water and the cup are something inseparably the same. Maybe you have come to think that the words on the side are your name, maybe you think that you are “burger king”, not water pulled out from sea. Someday, though, a long time later, your water will be cast back into sea and you will remember, you were always the same as the ocean. You were always made of water, you were a tiny part of that water, taken away for a little while and you realize that your name was not “Burger King” after all. You realize the real that you were always ocean waters and you will
blend back in, indistinguishable again, you will be the same thing as God again in time.

God, God as the ocean, God as the deep blue ancient ocean. The soul, your soul as a fragment of that ocean, separate and small for a little while, to learn about what it is to be separate and small
then you rejoin that endless ancient sea.

This is the God I want to believe in, this is the soul as I want it to be, that is the God I hope there is, this is the soul I’m looking for, God as the ocean god as the sea, my soul as a little cup of me,
this is how I’d want it to be. I hope.

SOUL: Perfect Harmony, Part Four: The Overture of Elodie and Leo Josh McMullen

Word: SOUL
Words – 499

Perfect Harmony, Part Four: The Overture of Elodie and Leo
Josh McMullen

Elodie had known Leo since their first days together, by sheer coincidence, at the babysitter they shared. Her name was Lacey and she sat in the background as Elodie and Leo grew up together. Even so, she could swear that the two were forever destined to be intertwined. From the moment they were set down for a nap together, she swore up and down she saw Leo smile at Elodie.

Maybe it was her bright aquamarine eyes or the fact that it was someone to pay attention to him, but Lacey knew (even before the two of them did) that their souls just fit together, like two puzzle pieces stuck together in the cosmic box.

Even as they headed to school, Elodie and Leo were inseparable. The two would play in the corner, Leo keeping Elodie entertained while she read the whole classroom library and played on the toy piano that was more like a xylophone. Elodie wound up helping Leo learn how to not only read, but read music as well, which earned him the lead in the kindergarten’s play “The Alphabet Family Goes To The Zoo.” Leo, in the starring role of “Papa L,” managed to bring down the (admittedly biased) house with his rendition of the alphabet song.

Despite that, Leo continued to find his niche in baseball. He set town records in just about every category and managed to graduate from tee-ball before he made it to first grade. No matter what, though, he always invited Elodie along with him for the post-game ice cream cone. Sure, he took some barbs from his teammates, but eventually, Elodie (despite the fact that she had no idea what was going on) was accepted as almost a member of the team.

Everything was fine, until one day after Leo’s team suffered a hard loss in the championship game. Elodie had just come from the bathroom when she overheard someone talking about her.

“Why does she have to come all the time?” one of them said. “She’s not a part of the team.”

“She doesn’t even say anything,” another said. “She just sits there. Man, she’s weird. Doesn’t he know what’ll happen if he keeps hanging out with her?” After saying that, the first kid started shuffling around like some kind of zombie.

He didn’t get much further as Leo stormed in, a flurry of fists. Before anyone knew what was happening, the bullies were rolling on the ground with him, shoving and punching each other before the adults came in to break everything up.

“It’s not my fault,” Leo said to the parent who was herding him to one corner of the room. “They were making fun of Elodie,” He kept repeating to anyone who would listen.

All Elodie could do, all the way home, was look at him and smile. Sure, she had gotten him grounded and benched for a week, but someone had defended her, and that was enough to make her heart and soul full.

TRAINING: Outshined By Mike Cecconi

Word: TRAINING
Word Count: 495

Outshined
By Mike Cecconi

Proxima and Rigil, two of the sisters Centauri, two of the closest stars to our very own sun, they like to watch us from afar sometimes, up there in the night sky. It isn’t night to them, of course, there’s no such thing as night for a star, even know they know that on planets and moons there’s the concept of “night”, they know that places where they can never be, it can sometimes be dark.

When you’re a star, all you are able to do is burn, heat and light everything anyone near you for eons, as long as you can. When you’re a star, that’s your job, that’s your life, you coalesce from gases and then you burn. You burn and burn and burn for a few billion years and then you burn out and collapse or explode or just slowly cool and then fade away.

But when you’re a star in the sky, you have a whole lot of time to think and a whole lot more time to chat with the other stars up there beside you. The Sisters Centauri, sometimes they’ll look out toward the humans on Sol’s little blue third planet and one will say to the other:

“Animals that talk, can you believe it? Animals that can talk to each other, don’t that beat all?”

“Look at those amazing little miracles on Earth,” Rigil might mention to Proxima, “what would it be to live a life like that? They’re born and live and die so quickly. It’s like they’re blinking in and out of existence down there, they come and go so fast.” Maybe Proxima agrees but adds her own insight too, “people blink in and out so quickly that I swear I sometimes see them twinkle.”

“They look so small from far away,” one will say to each other, “they must be gigantic up close.” They study the patterns we make in our movements and pretend that something so fascinating yet so far away might be a way to read their own futures in us. They joke that their own fates may be told out in the fleeting little ways we live and love and die, they make their predictions based on our movements as a way to pass their burning years up there in the heart of space.

“Animals that can talk,” they’ll say to each other with awe and wonder, “who could ever believe it?” Proxima and Rigil Centauri, they watch us from their perches in the darkness, telling each other and their other sisters up there little stories of our wonders as we go.

They think of us as tiny itsy miracles, not knowing that when we have spent our little flitting twinkling years, we all will join them up there in the sky and burn ourselves up too, lighting the way for others to someday do the same.

They don’t know that we human things are just in training to be stars ourselves.

INUNDATED: Inundated by the Day by G. Ackman

Word: INUNDATED
Word Count 497

Inundated by the Day
by G. Ackman

She sat at her desk and stared at the stacks of papers littering its top, each representing a task on her ever-growing “to do” list. She didn’t have enough time to finish any one stack, yet all were clamoring for her attention. Head in hands, she picked up one paper but her eyes blurred and she could not focus on what it was saying. Before she could try again, a rustle of fabric at her side let her know that someone was standing beside her desk. She turned her head slightly, pasting a façade of pleasantness on her face as she did so. Just as she feared. A colleague wanting to “chat,” as if she had nothing to do but spend time with this person who she only knew between 8 am and 4:30 pm Monday through Friday. She listened to the inane prattle for a few minutes, nodding in the proper places and making noncommittal noises until finally, blessedly, the intruder gave a little waggle of her fingers and wandered off to bother someone else. A deep sigh and she once again tried to attack the endless, repetitive, and fruitless tasks in front of her. Throughout the course of the day, she accomplished nothing, being interrupted at least four other times by people wanting to know how she was, how her weekend had been, what her plans were for summer, and did she want to see the picture of their new kitten? No, she did not. And she didn’t for one second believe that they really cared how her weekend was. Part of her wanted to explode with the truth – it was a crappy weekend, followed by an even crappier return to work this morning, and now I’m listening to your crappy stories. Are you happy you asked? But of course, she didn’t say that. She said all the proper things, the shallow responses that everyone expects. It was a good weekend. I feel quite well, thank you. What a cute kitten.

The alarm on her phone interrupted her absolute lack of productivity to remind her of the meeting at 2:00. Great. Another wasted hour of everyone having ideas that no one will implement. She sat unmoving until the second reminder sounded with a distinctly chiding tone. She pushed back her chair, squared her shoulders and headed towards the conference room. At the door, she hesitated for an imperceptible moment and then, without thought or intent, kept walking. Down the hall, into the elevator, out the door, and into her car. She drove home with neither thought nor remembrance of the drive. At home, the washer and stove called out her name, identifying more repetitive, senseless tasks. Her newly-retired husband snored loudly in the chair, his dirty socks on the floor. The sink, overflowing with dirty dishes, mocked her. She looked around, inundated with things that destroyed her selfness and, suddenly unfamiliar with any of it, turned, got back in her car, and drove far away.

INUNDATED: Her Pen By Peg Scarano

Word: Inundated
Word Count: 461

Her Pen
By Peg Scarano

She had always loved to write. As a teen and young adult she and her pen vented her emotions through writing prose and poetry. Sometimes, her words would meander through pages and pages filled with emotions running the gamut of euphoria to despair. Not only did she have her own roller coaster love-life to solve, her parents were suffering through their own mid-life crises. She had to juggle her mind and actions so as to not take sides or hurt feelings. Then there was all the high school drama followed by the initiation into college life with all of the academic, social and economic decisions that period of life entails.

Her pen was her escape from reality. Once the passion was on a written page, it belonged to someone else. It was like the ebb and flow of the high and low tides. The fullness of her heart and mind with chaotic thoughts was lessened as the turmoil flowed from the psyche through her pen to the page. It was cathartic but chronic. It was personal and private only to be shared with her pen.

Life eventually moved on. Coping became the new normal. As she matured, she learned to muddle through her problems or she allowed herself to let them go as she prioritized her days in order to survive. Somewhere along the way, her personal needs took a backseat to the physical, emotional and mental needs of others. There was no time to share sentiments with her pen or to escape from her reality. Books written by others helped, but it wasn’t the same. There were her children, her husband, her job, household duties and obligations to other family members. The dream was still there, but it was sleeping.

The golden years snuck up on her as mid-life slipped away. But suddenly, she found she had time on her hands to enjoy the ebb and flow of those tides. Her major obligations were set aside. She could pursue her dream with her pen. However, her life was no longer a roller coaster ride. Where was her inspiration? She eventually found her memories were the key. Look back. Remember. Recreate. She did it. The memory flashes came to life, one story at a time. She compiled them all into a book of memoirs and submitted it to dozens of publishers. Then she waited.

After what seemed like an eternity, she received a letter. And then another. To her amazement, she was inundated with acceptance letters! Multiple publishers wanted her manuscript. They wanted HER stories! Her heart overflowed with emotions – gratitude, happiness, satisfaction, fulfillment and the best feeling of all – success! She did it! With the help of her pen, she had actually lived her dream!

Then I woke up.

INITIATE: Unwilling Initiate By B.A. Sarvey

Word: INITIATE
498 words
Unwilling Initiate
By B.A. Sarvey
This was a club of which he did not want to be an initiate. ‘Really,’ he thought, ‘I have no business being here.’ But in reality, the onus was entirely his.
The officiant’s voice droned on, specifying whys and whereas’s, party-of-the-first-part, party-of-the-second-part, the privileges he would lose, those he would retain; Listening for signs of absolution, somewhere in the tangle of rules and regulations, his attention lapsed. The voice was lost in a mumbo-jumbo of rhetoric and ritual. The mouth kept moving—a mouth, he felt, more suited to radio than television, or in this case, public display—the lips too full, too fleshy, leaning to a ruddiness generally associated with too much drink or too much sun. A certain largesse of living. A cottony fleck of spittle, or toothpaste, collected at the left-hand corner. Gagging slightly, he quickly looked away.
The room was richly appointed, as one might expect of such an exclusive enclave. An abundance of leather, worn just enough to create a comfortable atmosphere, not so much that it became shabby; wainscoting, heavily framed—well-polished walnut, from the look of it, nearly the same hue as the club chairs and davenport. Sconce lights gleamed back from its surface. A trace of lemon oil hung in the air.
Lemon oil. Made him think of home. That he had been coerced in this matter irritated him, as he considered ‘home’ and his present situation, this rite of initiation into a select group of men he had no wish to fraternize with. Fraternize. Perhaps a poor choice of words, since fraternization was what, indeed, had set him up for membership. Even after all this, he maintained his dalliances were harmless. His wife didn’t see things the same way, however. She had no proof of anything, other than whispers; no proof of prior offences. But in her eyes, he was culpable, if only for the embarrassment and public humiliation. It had never, despite the titillating talk, (trumped up allegations,) amounted to sex.
Adultery was such an ugly word. So was entrapment. He couldn’t quibble over his intentions, though. Even if it hadn’t been a full-blown affair. How was he to know the woman was his wife’s hairdresser? The club where he initiated her acquaintance was another high-class, exclusive establishment. Certainly not the normal haunt for a hairdresser. He had never intended more than an occasional drink and flirtation, something to ease the chill of his tired marriage. For this, he blamed his wife. If she had upheld the ‘love, honor, cherish’ part of the contract, he wouldn’t be here now.
Refocusing on the fleshy lips, he said, “Fine. Let’s just get this over with so I can move on. Give her whatever she wants.” The lawyer slid the papers across his desk with the ease of one who has performed this ritual for countless supplicants. He signed on the dotted line, accepting the rules of initiation into the club, and the scarlet ‘A’ which was part of the trappings.

SECRET: The Secret Becomes Known by G. Ackman

Word: SECRET
Word Count 450
The Secret Becomes Known
by G. Ackman
It started out with minor incidents. Ones that happen to everyone. Ones that they would share a laugh about. Like when he could not find his keys anywhere. They looked high and low, then gave up and got the extra set. When she started to pack her lunch, she grabbed the ice pack from the freezer to put in her lunch bag, and there were his keys. He was embarrassed, but she just waved her hand. We all do those things, she told him. I once got in the passenger seat when I came out of the grocery store. I sat there for a few minutes before it dawned on me that I was driving. They laughed and moved on.
But then it became more frequent, more disruptive, more worrisome. He could not remember their grandson’s name. He no longer knew how to make coffee. He left the car running when he came back from the store. After that, she hid his keys and when he said he wanted to go somewhere, she enthusiastically wanted to go there too, and never mind, I’ll drive, she would say. Soon, his long habit of getting in the driver’s seat was replaced with him getting in the passenger seat.
She never said anything to him or to anyone else; she just quietly made sure that his life ran smoothly. She covered over his mistakes and filled in the gaps for him when he could not find the proper words. She allowed him his dignity, the greatest gift she could give.
But now, she was gone. She had kept his secret all those years and now she was gone. He stood in the middle of the room holding the red and gray….what was it?…oh yes, shirt. That was it. Shirt. He looked at it and could not see how to put it on. He picked up the phone. She had programmed all the special numbers in it and worked with him until it was second nature for him to push 1 to call her. 2 for their son. 3 for help. He looked at the phone, its numbers mocking him for a moment until he reached out a gnarled finger toward the keypad. He would call her. She would come in and help him and then maybe they could have a peanut butter cup. Those he remembered.
His finger hovered over the one, but then the kernel of himself that remained at the core of his being recognized that she would not answer and moved his finger to the 2. As he listened to the distant rings, a single tear trickled down his cheek.
At his son’s hello, he quietly said, “I need help.”

INITIATE: Traditions By Peg Scarano

Word:  Initiate

Word Count: 498

 

Traditions

By Peg Scarano

 

Traditions were not a large part of my childhood.  Oh, we had a few, but nothing really retains a special place in my heart.  So, when my husband and I started our family, we were determined to initiate some traditions our girls would carry with them throughout their lives and, more importantly, pass on to their children.  

 

Every Memorial Day and Labor Day, the Scarano family (usually 12 to 18 people) would all gather at General Herkimer Home for a day-long picnic.  It was probably one of the longest days of the year for me because once we got home, everyone needed to be cleaned up for school the next day. We made a tradition of Rock being the first person in the pool each summer.  The 4th of July always meant fireworks – from the littlest of sparklers to the huge illegal bombs that scared me to death.  In the fall, there was the dreaded “leaf day” tradition – when all five of us would be put to work with rakes, brooms, a blower and bags to clean up the leaves in the backyard.  On the first day of school, we had to get up 10 minutes earlier so there was time for the dreaded photo shoot on the front porch.  Every night before bed was story time.  We read a story to each of them until they were old enough to read on their own.

 

Many of my newly established traditions revolved around Christmas, including baking Christmas cookies; making every Christmas memorable with one special gift among all of the necessity items; stockings filled with little treasures; reading The Night Before Christmas together every Christmas Eve (by phone if necessary); Rock would deliberately stall present opening Christmas morning by telling us we all had to eat breakfast, while he showered, shaved and polished his shoes.  A fire needed to be started in the fireplace before they could even peek at the tree.  When they were really little, we had to go and get my great aunt and in later years, my mom or Rock’s mother before we could open gifts.  They suffered through them all.

 

Over the years, the girls developed their own tradition of friendly and ferocious competitiveness.  They made a competition out of everything!  Whether it was who could make their bed the fastest, win the Nintendo game of choice or stay up the latest – you name it, it was a competition and it continues despite the fact they all live in different states.

Since we are still awaiting the birth of our first grandchild, the success of my particular established traditions has yet to be determined.    At this moment, I can only pat myself on the back for the fact all three girls bring homemade cookies to share over Christmas and that this will be the 38th year in a row we have read The Night Before Christmas together.  I have initiated play.  Now let the games begin and may the best mom win.

 

INITIATE: Ahhhh, Men By Sharon Collins

Word: INITIATE

Word Count 466

Ahhhh, Men

By Sharon Collins

As there are Altars of Estrogen, namely TJ Maxx and Pier One, at which many a husband dread the yearly Christmas-kneeling, there is also such a Temple of Testosterone to which I am a recent initiate. This temple of hewn pine and leather, aka Bass Pro, I have shunned, wise feminine-heretic that I am, for years.  Of late though, I was required to break my vow of abstinence, as Himself requested we enter this Crypt of Tackle and Camouflage together ; thus my pilgrimage began.

Needless to say, like any sensible novice, my senses were on high alert. I planned to watch with devotional intensity for any item, this impossible-to-buy-a-gift-for-man’s, hard-to-please-eyes might linger on for more than two seconds. This nearly prayerful-focus is the reason I bypassed the Man-Cave-Nave. Well, that and my purse got snagged on the turnstile. (The marketing genius who came up with the idea of a turnstile at the entrance deserves a raise. What genius. It separates, literally separates, the incoming congregation, thus giving Himself the desired Alpha Male positioning.

But back to the Man-Cave-Nave. Now I have seen and even complimented stores on the occasional Husband’s Bench, but Bass Pro has taken the Husband’s Bench concept to Martha Stewart-heights. (Forgive me Martha, for taking your name in vain, but I can’t remember the names of those cute twins on HGTV right now.) There to my right, illuminated in the halo-glow of Birch-bark lampshades, lay in an entire chapel of comfort: leather sofas, a huge stone fireplace, and I wager a fridge, camouflaged as a fallen log coffee table, to hold the communion beer. Sadly, though, I did not see this sanctuary until we were leaving. If I had, I would have plunked myself down on a piney pew and whipped out my knitting, which would have broken several commandments I am sure, but heck, I have socks to knit for Christmas.

Said temptation was avoided and confession thankfully unnecessary. Because, if you will recall, my purse and I had penance to perform at the turnstile. In hindsight, however, I am glad that I missed the Man-Cave-Nave, as I would have retreated there for the duration of the service and missed the muskellunge large enough to eat me, more green and brown mottled clothing than I believed existed in the entire world, and an architecturally perfect suet feeder. Finally someone built a suet feeder that can support more than a nuthatch or downy woodpecker. We get the larger, hairy version and an occasional  Flicker. So even though I might have been excommunicated for my lack of appropriate awe, I am so glad I finally decided to worship there.  Oh, and no,  I didn’t find Himself a Christmas Present…I may have to make another piligrimage to  that other temple of testosterone, Tractor Supply.