Tag: Friction

FRICTION: Traitors at the Gate By Sally Madison

Words: 484
Traitors at the Gate
By Sally Madison

Mary stood near the window, peering around the gold fringe of the emerald green velvet draperies that hung on the tall windows in the parlor of the mansion where she and her husband, the Lord Mayor, lived. Her handkerchief turned slowly, as she fingered the embroidered ‘M’ on each corner, as she watched a crowd gather outside the gated walkway.

Looking for comfort, she was drawn to the fireplace, her slippers bumping the hem of her ermine-trimmed, blue and silver brocade gown as she walked. Normally, she would not wear this ornate gown, but it was the only one that fit her atrophied body. “I must visit my dressmaker… one of these days,’ she thought. She plunked down on her favorite chair and stared at the fire. The mesmerizing flames brought tears of sadness, depression, frustration and, now, fear. For a few minutes, she wept, then dabbed her eyes.

A slight knock at the door announced the butler. “A message for the Lord Mayor, from the governor’s messenger, Miss, I brought it to you in his absence,” he explained, handing the envelope to Mary.


She sat straight upright in the chair. Her jaw clenched, her eyes bore into the flames, matching fire with fire. Her hands began to twitch, as she gathered her handkerchief, crushed it, and then tugged it, again. Over and over, she crushed and tugged, faster and faster. A soft knock at the door announced the butler with the tea service. Setting the tray down on the side table, he asked, “Is there any…” She jumped to her feet.

He was stopped with gaping mouth, as she shouted, “They should shoot Thomas Paine for instigating this friction! Don’t people realize Cousin George could have his British Army crush them, in an instant?!”

The butler remembered the words of his wise grandfather who said, “Sometimes the right answer is: no answer”. He took two large steps backwards and left, unnoticed.

Mary had returned to the window and was looking out. The crowd had now become a mob. “There she is!” she heard a man shout. “Where is the Lord Mayor? We want him, too!” yelled another. The blood drained from her face, her flesh turned clammy, her heart beat raced, pounding in her ears, and her hands trembled. Quickly turning on her heel, nauseated, she backed out of view, into the velvet drapery.

Her husband entered the room. Seeing her distress, he rushed to embrace her. When he crossed in front of the windows, a shout rang out, “There he is!” The shattering of glass was heard when the first stone broke the window, then a second and a third flew into the room. Now inside the gate, they pounded on the door and stormed through the broken windows. “Tar and feathers is good enough for the likes of them!”

FRICTION: Flashy Frozen Friction Featuring Fantastic Fantasy By Maggie Robertson

Word Count: 440

Flashy Frozen Friction Featuring Fantastic Fantasy
By Maggie Robertson

The day was bright and sparkly, and bracingly cold. The trees shimmered with Nature’s own decorations. Wind howled bitterly, with each gust raining twig-studded diamonds onto the amalgam of ice and powder that painted the world white.

It was April.

Spring waited, still coiled beneath the frost in corms and roots and seeds tentatively reaching upward, like a timid child who is not quite sure he has the correct answer.

The Winged Ones were returning, daring Winter to stay in their midst. First the Honking Ones, floating South to North across the valley. Then the Soaring Ones, silently watching from above. Now the Twittering Ones, flitting from frozen branch to frozen branch, filling the frigid mornings with Nature’s music, and adding a flash of color here and there. As if the beating wings were blowing warmth into the valley, the white gave way to brown.

April was till wearing March’s clothing when she saw Winter walking down the street toward her, his icy stare daring her to show a little sunshine and warmth. Snow Faeries descended lightly from the still-bare trees, dancing and swirling behind Winter’s arrogance, entreating the silver-grey sky to release the rest of their troupe.

Wind rolled into the valley in a fickle fury. Wind didn’t choose sides, instead he embraced chaos and uncertainty. Sometimes Wind aided the ones in power, and other times sided with the rebellion. This time, Wind was bitter and cold, but even so, April knew from experience to never curse Wind. (One Spring she had, so he stopped blowing. Relentless heat seared her soul and melted her spirit to a puddle.)

April stood her ground. Secretly, she had a crush on Winter, falling for his aloof “bad-boy” persona. She sought excuses to keep him around, turning off Sun’s alarm clock, and scheduling out-of-town meetings for May. She slipped posies into his pockets, small white and blue blossoms that were delicate in appearance, but held forth against his seeming indifference. She found herself inviting him into her home.

Winter, seeing an opportunity for conquest, was all too willing to accept April’s proposition. He slipped into her bed, sending chills of anticipation between the sheets. Their tryst raged night and day for weeks, tumbling blankets of snow with sheets of rain. Wind and the Winged Ones provided their music that was at once tumultuous and titillating, the friction between them egging on the Lovers to each reach the heights of their own soul-bending ecstasy.

One morning, April awoke and knew she had had enough. Handing Winter his cloak she whispered “It’s not you, it’s me” and pushed him out the door.

FRICTION: Friction at Work by B.A. Sarvey

Word:Friction Friction at Work
Word count: 499 B.A. Sarvey

The friction of his hand sweeping crumbs from the counter whispered a rebuke. Wishing he could as easily brush the episode from his thoughts, he sloshed some coffee into his mug, grabbed the toast, and headed for the terrace. Maybe he could write her out of his head.
Focusing on a point in the distance, he inhaled the salty sea-spray, held it for a moment before expelling it, as though by forcing air from his lungs he could cleanse himself of this boss, this nemesis. It wasn’t that she was a woman—he’d worked for women before without problem. Had she been a man, it would have made no difference. They were like two sticks rubbing together, their friction combusting, causing a firestorm, destroying everything and everyone within proximity.
Today, he had slammed out of her office, oblivious of the horrified stares of his colleagues. Nervous silence followed him from his desk, where he snatched his folio and coat, to the exit door. What did he care? These paeans didn’t know anything. If they wanted to put up with her ridiculous demands, that was their choice. He was done trying to please her. ‘Jump!’ How high? ‘I said green!’ It is green. ‘Not the right green!’ Not good enough!
Okay, he wasn’t proud of his behavior.
“She was like the surf,” he wrote, “slapping the shore.” No. Delete that.
“Like waves crashing on the rocks, the force of her personality inundated him, bashed him, battered his psyche against her determination.” Not bad.
Tapping at his laptop, he watched the magic of letters appearing across the screen. The very act of typing relaxed him. The thought processes of forming words and sentences took him to a different level of consciousness. The more intently he considered her, and the more devoutly he broke her down into emotions, sounds, metaphors, consonance, the calmer he became. An hour ago, he was on the verge of tendering his resignation—without a clue what his next job might be. The steady roar of the water below, the fortifying cup of caffeine, the sea gulls’ lonesome songs—these things helped, sure. But the new oblivion—not the obfuscation caused by anger, but the blanketing caused by peace—this came from words on the page, a place where he felt safe, where he had sought solitude and refuge before. This woman, this boss, became a character in a story. The story had a plot, as well as a moral. Rereading his words, he learned something, because the best writing teaches, even if it only teaches us humility.
Maybe he wouldn’t quit, after all. If he still had a job.
“Bruised and nearly lifeless, he washed up onto the sand. But like a broken wine bottle, he was no longer just jagged pieces. The friction of sand and water had polished the rough edges, created a satin finish. Now, here he was, a handful of weathered gems deposited at the cliff base. Not destroyed. Just changed. Maybe better.”

FRICTION: Simultaneous Organism By Terry Rainey

Word Count 499
Simultaneous Organism
By Terry Rainey
Sister Mary Xavier, Sisters of the SPC (St. Peter in Chains), commanded us to open our science books to chapter 7, Friction. My book had lost its cover and was held together by brown construction paper, softened with frequent handling. It had been in OLPS parochial school longer than I had. The front page of the book had a list of years and students with familiar last names, running from P. Mitchell 1958-59 to my scribbled name 1968-69.
Some of the notes in the margins were doodles from kids in my older brothers’ classes. The science books, with their lessons on gravity and matter and reproduction, were a constant presence in OLPS. But the larger constant was Sister X, who cleared her voice in her rumbling manner and began to teach us friction.
I was the fourth in my family to have Sister Mary Xavier. Behind her back, she was Sister Mary X, Sister X, or just X. The name we used depended on our proximity to her. She was most certainly Sister Mary Xavier in person. One classmate, whose father was a Colonel stationed at the Pentagon, once even blurted out “Sister Mary Xavier, Sir!”
Sister X droned on about Friction. After a few minutes, she sensed that very few of us were interested in acquiring knowledge. She paused. Stonily, she challenged us to supply real life examples of friction. Everyone hunched, focused on the book. No one wanted to make eye contact when Sister was staring.
I noticed Herman, stooped in the desk next to me, leafing through his book, way past Chapter 7, toward the Index. Herman was always looking at the class dictionary, appearing smart, but I knew he only looked up words he considered dirty, like posterior and orgies and buxom.
Knowing his weakness, I enjoyed titillating Herman with racy-sounding phrases. I was relentless, especially when I found expressions that he aggrandized into flabbergasting scenes involving knowledgeable, experienced, skillful women. At recess today, I’d casually mentioned the words Simultaneous Organism.
Herman’s finger ran down the Index page, hand holding the book so firmly that I could only make out the large, bold page headings. The page started with Rhizomes and ended with Terrarium. I smiled. I’d gotten him again.
It occurred to me — in a moment of joyful scientific discovery — that Herman’s face, as he searched for the elusive simultaneous organism, was a perfect example of someone whose mind was experiencing friction, the conflict between what he hoped for and what he found, between unbridled curiosity and cold, hard facts, between impulse and reality.
The class was silent as a church mouse. I crooked my eye toward the front, thankful that X was not looking at me. Her square shoulders, black and implacable, slightly heaved. I sensed a hint of exasperation, perhaps an indication of friction between Sister Mary Xavier, SPC, and all of us in Science class this afternoon, and all those who had come before us, forever and ever. Amen.

FRICTION: Not the Swearing Kind By Sam McManus

Word Count 500
Not the Swearing Kind
By Sam McManus
He had Tourette’s, but not the swearing kind. In fact, if you didn’t know him very well you wouldn’t even suspect he had any issues. If you looked closely, however, you might notice the trembling in his right hand, the clicking of his tongue slamming repetitively against the back of his teeth, or even the twitching of his left eyebrow in time with some hidden drummer in his head. It was at once both familiar and reassuring, but also supremely frustrating to him. It had only caused him real trouble twice in his life: the one time when he accidentally voted for Jill Stein, and the other when he wet himself at the urinal at City Hall. Both times had been quite embarrassing. He had vowed not to let either one happen again.
He was a tour guide at the Museum of Modern Art, one of the fifty white-jacketed walking encyclopedias of the history of painting, with some sculptural knowledge on the side. When he was on his feet, using his hands to gesture at the works on the walls, he sometimes forgot the shaking that consumed him at all other times of the day. It was as if the motion lulled his brain into a sense of comfort that nothing else could. He wished he were able to bottle that feeling and keep it with him all day long, but he knew it was as impossible as Easter on the Fourth of July.
When he did swear, it was absolutely intentional, and with as much vitriol as possible. He figured if he was going to do it, he was going to do it right, just as if he were a normal person, with normal feelings. He knew others made fun of him. He heard it in their whispers, just loud enough for him to get the gist. He saw it in the shadows of their hands over their mouths when they thought he wasn’t looking. Or maybe they just didn’t care. So he swore with wild abandon, to himself, as he stared into the mirror above the sink in his postage stamp-sized bathroom. It didn’t make him feel any better. Especially when at the same time his toothbrush rattled in its holder because his hands wouldn’t stop vibrating.
His friend Kenny said it was all in his head. Kenny thought this lame joke was gold, and he told it about as often as they got together. But he forgave his friend because Kenny was his only friend, the one person outside of his own family who would tell him the god’s honest truth, no matter if it hurt. Everyone deserved a friend like that, he fervently believed. Of course, sometimes he would have preferred the lie, the friction of the half-truth rubbing against his conscience, but solid enough to give him some solace.
When he thought about it all, though, he still felt the worst when he thought back on how he could have ever voted for Jill Stein.

FRICTION: The Night the Horrors Came By Mike Cecconi

Word Count 500

The Night the Horrors Came
By Mike Cecconi

They ripped one of my arms off, the monsters, and all I could do was stand there, frozen in place, unable to even scream my shock and pain. Loping squishy things, the howling shambling sacs of meat looking on my shattered limb with some rudiment equivalent of pride. But how could such grotesques be proud of anything, the large one bellowing deep, the smaller shrieking in higher pitches as they gathered around to hold in foul regard my broken arm? Was the rumbling thing their leader? Their chief, their general, their king? I doubted such things complex enough to be that organized, the creature most likely simply the largest, leading by force, strongest only from getting the choicest parts of some slaughtered goat. Or whatever they ate, the big dumb bastards.

They took my detached limb to a nearby clearing, with a tone of almost reverence, where I could see a pile of other broken arms, some still weeping life-blood, others long-dry. They held it up to the sky and seemed to be selecting a worthy mate for what was once of mine. Picking “the right one” out of their savage collection of leavings. God, what was I looking at, so frozen in my fear, was this a rite, was this why they left me so destroyed? Was this their crude attempt at a faith, a butcher’s gore-soaked communion with divinity? It was difficult to imagine them that intelligent or a conceive a god or goddess quite that hard-hearted.

The big lump eventually found his match for that wrenched from my flesh, held them up to the sky, for the little ones to witness or maybe to better be seen by the elemental sky and then, of all things, started rubbing them together. Rubbing, rubbing, faster, faster, first the booming one and then all the shrill ghouls too, they started chanting out a word, maybe the name of their dark god. “Fric-TION, fric-TION, fric-TION!” Maybe it was a name, anyway, maybe “friction” was their word for supplication or to call down some cruel glory. “Friction” as their hallelujah, “Friction” as their wailed hosannas, as their holy creed. “Friction.”

Then the damnedest thing of all, there was smoke where my limb met the other and finally a fire there amidst their chants of “friction”, some eldritch demon set those arms ablaze and when they caught in full, in rapt jubilation they threw them into the pile and sent the entire horror show up into a roaring wicked flame. These half-sketched creatures and their heartless lord that took my arm in tribute, for all their mindless terror, they did know some terrible magic after all.

And so I remained there, rooted to the ground, amazed and afraid, as I watched them celebrate their inferno deep into the night as the embers faded and when they left their foul encampment that next morning, I could only pray to my own gods that they would never would return to my forest with their “friction”.

FRICTION: Laurel Doves Chapter 2 By Sharon Collins

Word: Friction
Word Count 499
Laurel Doves Chapter 2
By Sharon Collins
Geneviève’s restless mind settled on her youngest traveling companions. Both girls had been waiting under the sacred Laurel Tree on that tragic day. The sprite-like Lisette and the very, very quiet Giselle had each been trained in The Way and were also under Père Jean’s protection. Despite their unusual ways, she had grown to love and trust them. Lisette, who spoke with spirits and Giselle, who spoke with horses became her fast and true friends on their two month journey away from Montsegur to their new home at Le Couvent of Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte Baume. Now that she had met Virginie, and discovered the owner of the sixth, sacred laurel leaf, Genevieve believed the circle of their sisterhood to be complete. They were anonymous now; they had each other, and they were safe.
Letting her musings deepen into memory… Geneviève’s was once again atop Montsegur, and dawn had not yet broken on July 22nd. Grand-mère was fretting, and her Grand-mère did not fret. Combing the tangles from Geneviève’s waist-length hair, she grumbled under her breath. “C’est impossible! We are beyond the reach of La Malvoisine!” Montforte’s trebuchet, nicknamed the Bad Neighbor and his brutal, summertime attack thirty-four years ago on Minerve, the city of her birth, still brought nightmare visions to Grand-mère’s sleep. She had been away that terrible summer visiting family with her infant daughter, Geneviéve’s mother. Upon her return she had dared to climb down into the deep gorge to mourn at the grave of more than 150 beautiful Cathar souls . The horror of their charred and scattered remains brutally trampled into the riverside mud, nightly haunted her dreams.
“We have the protection of the nobles; we are safe from the Pope’s fires. The soldiers cannot reach us here, not at Montsegur our safe-mountain!!!” Each exclamation was punctuated by another rake of the wooden comb, the friction causing sparks to snap and crackle along its length. ‘My braids will last an eternity,’ she was tempted to tease, but the sorrow in Grand-mère’s sighs kept her silent. The tension building within Montesegur’s walls, the last of the Cathar strongholds, had reached a breaking point in recent days. As difficult as the ten siege months had been, that morning’s air of utter despair, was far, far worse. The Perfecti had stopped smiling and humming. No matter the chill or hunger, the Teachers had always warmed the air with gentle smiles and filled the ears (if not the bellies) of the few Cathar children sheltered among them with song. Geneviève was both freezing and starving that morning.

Finally finished with the second braid, Grand-mère gave one last, sharp tug. “Such a lovely chestnut is your hair, granddaughter, anot faded red like mine. It is blessing to be sure.” The only girl within the stronghold walls lacking the signature auburn or blonde hair of so many Cathar women, Geneviève rued the plainness of her brown tresses. Thus Grand-mère’s odd compliment, although precious to her tall and solemn granddaughter, was tainted with foreboding.