Oliver

I was going to post a longer piece I wrote, “Oberon.” It’s about 1,000 words, but I really need to work on it some more. I originally wrote it for Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds Flash challenge, but I decided not to post it, because it needed more than 1,000 words.

Instead, I wrote a story about Oliver today for Flash!Friday. The setting had to be in a kitchen. And here is the photo prompt of a Prison Guard from the public domain.

Prison Guard

Tuber Tears
@laurenegreene
209 words

“Oliver, chop up the onions,” Momma said.

She stood near the stove, stirring the soup. Poppa was on duty again, and had been for the last two days. Momma worried about him. The phone was secured to her ear, the cord cutting a trail through the kitchen.

“Oy, weapons made out of pencils. That’s what killed Solomon, I heard. Ian’s job is going to give me a heart attack. I swear, I’ll kill him if gets hurt and leaves me to fend for these eight kids on my own.”

Tears streamed down Oliver’s face. He wiped his eyes with the sleeves of his shirt. His sister toddled in, and Oliver pushed her out of the galley kitchen that seemed crowded with him, Momma, and the voice of Aunt Tessa coming through the phone.

“Is this enough?” Oliver asked, his eyes red-rimmed.

“Why you interrupt me? No—we have to take some up to the prison too, Oliver. Keep cutting and keep your snot out of the food. Tessa—yes, sorry. Why God didn’t grace me with a girl before number six is beyond me.”

The tears burned his eyes now. He thought of Poppa with a pencil stuck in his neck as he scraped the onions into the soup.

Intuition

I’ve always been one to trust my intuition. If something seems off, then I leave the situation. I think that’s why I’ve succeeded in surviving unscathed as long as I have. I haven’t ever been in a situation in which I feared for my life, or felt like I might be killed. Sure, I’ve ended up in situations where these things could have happened, but I always trusted my instincts enough to remove myself from the situation before something bad happened.

Once, when I was in high school, a bunch of us went down to a place called Thirteen Bridges. Supposedly, if you walk across all thirteen bridges then turn around when you come back there are only twelve. It’s one of those haunted in Alabama places, where teens loitered to imbibe, hang out, and partake in various other sultry activities.  It was also private property, but that never stopped us from trespassing.

The night we were there, it was so dark, and we hadn’t brought flash lights. We were walking blindly, just chatting and having a good time. All of a sudden, I stopped dead in my tracks.

“Guys, we need to turn around and go home right now.”

My boyfriend joshed on me and told me to suck it up. They wanted to walk all the bridges. My friends tried to cajole me.

“Come on, Lauren. Let’s go. Don’t be a party pooper.”

“I’m not going further. We need to turn around.”

I can’t explain how, but I knew we shouldn’t go any further. We had walked all the way to the ninth bridge. We turned around and started walking back. We passed some youths with alcohol. When we reached our car, the police were waiting. They gave us a slap on the wrist and told us to get out of there.

The next day, my boyfriend and his friend drove out there. They were determined to walk all the bridges.  He called me that afternoon.

“Lauren, you have some crazy intuition or something. The tenth bridge had fallen in. If we had kept walking we would have walked right off an incline.”

Trust your intuition. It’s usually trying to tell you something!

And for my fictional part of my post, I wrote for Flash!Friday today.  The character was supposed to be a spy (again, I have no experience with writing spies. I took a different route). The photo was of a bum holding a coffee cup. Enjoy!


Undercover Ops
@laurenegreene
210 words

A good spy must trust his intuition.

Coffee cup is pouring over with change today. I jiggle it just to hear the clink of coins against each other. I smile at the worker bees. The great masticators missing instead of secure in my mandible.

I catch the eye of the next passerby and before he can step off the curb into the safety of the street, I yank him toward me by his coat sleeve. A ticket floats to the ground—the rays of sunlight gleam off its shiny surface.

“Let go of me,” the man says, trying to reach for his fallen ticket and escape my grasp.

“I know who you are, but do you know who I am?”

The man pulls away and brushes off his coat as if I have contaminated him. George runs out from the Italian market behind me.

“I’m sorry. He means no harm. Old fart thinks he’s an undercover operative or something.”

“Well is he?” the man asked.

“I’m Agent P! He’s the one, George. Wrestle him to the ground.”

George shakes his head, hands the man his fallen ticket, and they both walk away. There’s always tomorrow. I shake coffee cup, and the next man drops a dollar in. My lucky day.

Just Desert

Pun intended. Years ago, when I was just a college kid, I drove across country with my friend Jon and his sister Cass. We had gone to high school together, and we decided to go on this little adventure together. We stopped at Bryce Canyon in Utah. Utah has amazing scenery–so different from the greenery of the North, a lot red.

Thor's Hammer at Sunset

I  read about the desert. I just knew it was hot during the day and cold during the night. So we pitched our tent, and we went for a hike. Then we came back to our campsite, baking in the 100+ degree heat and complaining about it too. I told my friends it would get cold during the night, so we zipped up the tent and snuggled into our tents and baked like burritos, because the temperature never fell.  You see, even though it’s in the desert, the Bryce Canyon campground is at the bottom of the canyon, and it traps heat. I’ll admit it: I was wrong.

Today’s story, I wrote yesterday for Flash!Friday. The theme needed to revolve around a blunder, like the one I made in Bryce Canyon. And the photo was of a desert. And just a warning, there is some profanity in this post. I mean, I for one would be cursing up a storm if this happened to me!

Mirage
@laurenegreene
208 words

Bloody blunder that’s what it was. Bollocks. I could have sworn, I was signing up for a trip to Mount Desert, Maine. All-inclusive. When I showed up to the airport, I was surprised to see my plane was going to Africa. I mean, who doesn’t look at their tickets? Me, that’s who.

And now, here I am, running down a freaking hill for my life. And it’s hot, dreadfully. They’re chasing me, but they’ve fallen far behind. My marathon days have served me well.  I didn’t even know hills existed in Africa. Who invented this horrid place anyway? A sadistic god content on torching his fallen people, that’s who.

Thank God I packed extra water today. I stop for a minute, look behind me. There’s no trace of the errant tribe; I stumbled upon their sacrifice by mistake, but there’s no way I’m going to be their next victim.

I come to the bottom of the hill, and I’m surprised to see a road off in the distance. Blurry, weathered, but a road. And I hope to fucking God it leads me the hell out of here.

When I get out of this place, I’ll be content if I never see another grain of sand in my life.

Flash!Friday: We meet again!

Today, for Flash!Friday the story element this week was conflict, specifically (wo)man vs. self. And the photo was of the first all women jury in 1911. It was strange to me that the first jury was in 1911, and women were not allowed to vote until 1919 (ratified in 1920). But, these two elements made my creative juices flow, and as such I came up with two stories.

Story # 1: 

Proof
@laurenegreene
203 words

The trial was simple: did she or didn’t she kill herself? Six months pregnant with another man’s baby. The plaintiff’s lawyer said it was all very clear that she jumped.

Katie sat in the front row of the juror box and listened. She understood the need for self-harm. She’d been doing it for years. Sitting here, amongst these women, most who were older and wiser than her, she didn’t know if she could come to a conclusion. The wickedness of self-doubt always sitting next to her.

The three piece suit and top hat droned on. Katie pulled back her sleeve to count the marks she’d made on her arm; six now. One was precariously close to the artery. Jack had found her that time, the baby crawling around with red knees, in their tiled bathroom. He seemed relieved when the summons had come for the jury.

“It’s remarkable, Katie. You’re making history. Baby will be fine with Nurse Delores.”

And now the doubt crept in again. If the woman who died felt as lost as she did, felt the fear and anxiety of the world on her shoulders, then maybe, just maybe she threw herself off the building. Where was the proof otherwise?

Story #2

Only A Woman
@laurenegreene
206 words

The first words out of Ethel’s mouth were, “I can’t.” Ethel believed she couldn’t do much. Her parents believed she’d inherit the world.

“You’ll see, Ethel, dear. One day women will even have the right to vote,” her mother said.

But Ethel was too busy telling herself she couldn’t pass her history test. Her parents had sent her on to college. She would be educated, this child of their old age.

When the summons came, Ethel was shocked. She was even more shocked when she saw the all women jury.

“What if I’m the one who causes a hung jury,” she asked the woman next to her.

Ethel took detailed notes throughout trial. A pig theft. She didn’t even know there were pigs in Los Angeles. Ethel finally felt like she was overcoming her fears. Fears she had carried within her like an overstuffed suitcase her whole life. Fears of “I’m not good enough,” and “I’m only a woman.”

She was named foreman, and in the end she was the one who handed down the guilty verdict. Self-doubt scoured away like scum from a bowl. She went on to be a leader in the Suffrage movement, so more women could reach their potential as she had.

Chasing Fireflies

Flash!Friday made me nostalgic for long, hot summer nights. For playing basketball with my brother and sisters in our driveway. I didn’t have a boy next door that I liked (my neighbor was a bully). But I had a great playmate who lived behind our house, and I used to creep over to his yard to jump on his trampoline, play marbles, and spend hours in his playroom. My sisters and I would swim so long in our pool, we thought our skin would look like prunes for days. I took wagon rides down Mrs. Joseph’s hill, the sick sensation of fear mixed with pleasure roiling in my stomach. I went to Mrs. Tidmore’s house and watched her make flag, and played with her daughter’s dollhouse–her daughter who was grown and had left. I whispered secrets to my neighborhood friends, wrote in diaries, spent countless hours playing wiffle ball, even with the boys who beat me up next door. I’m not sure my foot ever graced the doorway until dinner time.

Today’s Flash!Fiction story is a little bit about that, and a little bit about a sticky kind of love. Enjoy!

Chasing Fireflies
@laurenegreene
Word Count: 193

Growing up, I had a crush on the girl next door. She lived in the massive white house with columns. When I was little, my dad would talk about Richard Nixon and the White House, and I thought Amanda was the president’s daughter. She wasn’t the typical girl next door—no plain Jane.

She had a tongue on her, Amanda did. First, it was pigtails, mud pies, and wiffle ball games—she always beat me. Later she used that tongue, stuck it in my mouth while playing H-O-R-S-E. I hadn’t even made the first move. She had our marriage planned before I was eighteen. I was just strung along.

We live in a white house now, one without columns. My son is obsessed with his own girl next door. I told him to be careful, before she traps him the way his mother trapped me. But honestly, I don’t mind. My best memory is of us sitting on top of her Ford, catching fireflies and staring up at the moon, with her hand securely tucked into mine. Hopefully, my son’s girl next door will be as bold as mine was, and still is.

The Great Distractor

Writing for Flash!Friday today.

1) Use “aspiration” as a theme.

2) Photo Prompt

Whetting Interrupted

Whetting Interrupted, 1894. Public Domain painting by Jose Ferraz de Almeida Junior.

I usually follow the prompt, almost to a tee, but today I didn’t. I used it as a jumping off point. And as a writer/author, I’m all too well aware of distractions that can pull you away from your goals.

The Great Distractor
@laurenegreene
205 words
Sharpen the blade. Akin to sharpening the pencil, in some ways at least. When he met Adele she whetted his appetite. Instead of focusing on his writing, he spent countless hours staring into her blue-gray eyes listening to stories of her youth. He focused on unbuttoning her dresses and rolling around in bed instead of molding his characters.

He had always wanted to be a writer. And by the time he met Adele, he had achieved that goal. But she was a distraction—albeit a pleasant one. After Niels called and told him he’d missed another deadline, he decided writing wasn’t for him. Too much pressure, too much time locked up in a lonely room, away from her soft, pliable body.

She was the one who suggested they get away. Her father had a cabin in the woods. They could spend six months there, and he could focus on his writing again. Walden Pond, he thought. But when they’d arrived there’d been no electricity. He had to write everything out in long form. He had to cut up firewood just to heat the stove. He and Adele stayed under the down comforters snuggled together most days, as his dream of writing slipped further into oblivion.

Fly Me To The Moon

I had fun with this one today, and it’s actually put me in the mood to maybe write something more. The prompts came from Flash! Friday. There are a lot of super talented flash writers who write for Flash! Friday, and I love to go out and read what they have to say after I finish my story. So here’s mine:

Fly Me To The Moon
@laurenegreene
210 words

Sitting on the corner of hope and despair, chin resting on her hands, suitcases loaded to the brim beside her, Charlotte looked up at the moon. The clouds passed in front of it, in and out, changing the shadows around her.

She knew Tad was up there, somewhere, bouncing around on the new settlement. She wanted to see him. She looked back at the door behind her, hoping against all hope it wouldn’t open. It wasn’t the first time she’d thought about leaving, and it wouldn’t be the last. She kept telling her mom she wasn’t a child anymore. Twenty-Six years old and married.

“To a spaceman, yar?” Her mother chuckled the words out beside the cigar that was perpetually stuck in her mouth.

Charlotte stared at the moon, imagining Tad hoeing away at a garden in a biodome, stuck in space. She hadn’t heard from him in months.

“Probably screwing some space chick,” her brother had said.

The taxi cab pulled up.

“Where to?”

“Fly me to the moon?”

“Can’t go that far,” the man said, scratching his beard.

“Take me to Plasco Station.”

“You might get a pass,” the driver said. “I heard they were opening it up to civilians again.”

That’s what she’d been hoping to hear.