Tag Archives: fiction

Garden Victory Part 3

garden-victory-part-3

Kayla sat in the parking lot.  Twice she opened her car door, but each time slammed it shut.  She kept looking through the restaurant window, seeing the girls clustered around a table.  They laughed and smiled, scooping up ketchup with French fries and slurping on sodas.  It was no different than the cafeteria at school.  Not one of them seemed to have a care in the world.

Kayla sighed, looking at her body.  She never knew what to feel about it, what with half the posts on her Facebook feed celebrating a big and curvy female body and the other half telling her she could get rid of her muffin top in as little as 21 days.  But Kayla liked her muffin top.  It gave her something to hold on to when she was feeling shy – she could cross her arms and hold herself tight – and then maybe she could get through whatever it was she needed to.

For right now, though, Kayla felt sure that getting past the girls inside was not something she needed to get through.  So she stayed in her car, turning it back on.  As she headed to the drive through she put down her window.  Just then, two of the girls came out, drink cups held in their hands like trophies.  They snickered as Kayla drove by and stopped a few feet ahead of them, waiting for the cars in front of her.

Kalya pretended not to notice as the girls strode past.  But she couldn’t ignore their calls of greeting.  “Hey Kayla,” one said.  “Watcha gonna get?”

Kayla shrugged, but the girl didn’t give up.  She pulled a dollar out of her pocket.  “Here,” she said, throwing it through the window and laughing.  “Keep it to their dollar menu.  Maybe then you won’t get so fat.”

The girl didn’t wait for Kayla’s response, which was good because Kayla didn’t have one other than to turn bright red.  Once the girls had gotten into their own cars and driven away, Kayla pulled her car out of the line and drove off in the other direction.

After a few miles, Kayla realized that she was lost.  She hit the GPS button on her phone and waited for its instruction.  “Turn left onto Hummingbird Lane,” it commanded, so Kayla did.

A quarter of a mile down the road, Kayla stopped.  There in front of someone’s yard was a beautiful display of cut flowers.  They were all propped up in paint buckets with the words 25 cents each written in black marker.  The buckets spanned the entire length of two picnic benches.  At one end was a metal box with an opening. Honor System it said.

Kayla grabbed the dollar bill on her seat.  She picked four sunflowers in various shades of reds and yellows and gave the dollar in payment.  She smiled as she got into her car, thinking that flowers were better than French fries anyway.

Garden Victory Part 2

Margie dragged the last of the empty paint buckets to her garage.  She would take them out to the curb later.  Back inside, she flopped on her couch and stared up at the ceiling.  She nodded in satisfaction.  Painting all her ceilings had been the right choice.  It took three long weeks, but what else would she have done with that time?

A little voice told Margie exactly what she could have done with that time.  For a second Margie considered knocking on Stella’s door.  They had been neighbors on Hummingbird Lane for over 10 years and best friends ever since.  Well, except for the last month.

Margie still wasn’t sure what happened.  Half-hoping, half -joking she asked if Stella would consider chopping down her weeping willow tree.  Margie’s new pool turned out to be one big hassle, especially the daily cleaning of debris.  Most of it came from Stella’s weeping willow.

“How dare you,” Stella yelled.  “Matthew planted that tree 30 years ago when we moved in!”

“I’m sorry,” Margie told her.  “I didn’t think….”

“That’s right you didn’t.  Just like you didn’t think when you decided to get that piece of shit pool in the first place.”

Their fight escalated after that with a lot of sweeping generalizations, over-exaggerations, and dredging up of the past as is wont to happen when two people who have a long history and love each other get into a fight.  Margie and Stella had not spoken since then, so Margie had plenty of free time on her hands.  Enough, to paint her chipped and cracked ceilings which Stella had pointed out made her house look run down.  As Margie continued to stare at her ceiling, her phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Margie?  It’s Sophia.  Listen, I know you and my mom haven’t talked much lately, but could you check on her?”

“Is Stella okay?

“No.  It’s my dad – he was diagnosed with cancer a month ago.”

“Jesus,” Margie breathed.  “I had no idea.  I’ll call her.”

“Margie, it was fast spreading.  The doctors said there was nothing they could do.  Dad died this morning.”

In a split second it was as if their fight last month had never happened.  “I’m going over there now,” Margie said and she hung up.

Margie found Stella laying in her garden, only it wasn’t a garden anymore.  Every single plant was hacked to shreds with the colorful blooms scattered everywhere.  She saw the weeping willow high above Stella’s house swaying in the breeze.  Margie’s own tears now echoed its sadness.   

“Come on,” Margie said as she picked up Stella from the ground.  “Let’s get you inside.”  As they walked to the house, Margie lamented the flowers they trampled on.  Then she remembered the empty paint buckets in her garage.  They could hold dozens of flowers.  Perhaps their beauty wouldn’t have to be wasted after all.  Margie gave Stella’s shoulder a squeeze.  “And don’t you worry, I’ll take care of this mess.”

Garden Victory Part 1

Stella stood among the sunflowers, daisies, peonies, hydrangeas, and roses.  The tears that rolled down her face hit the ground.  She looked around to see if her sorrow had been absorbed into their roots.  But the flowers didn’t wither and die.  Instead, they stood tall and luscious; the sun showering them with vibrancy and life.

“Traitors,” Stella muttered. “It’s like you don’t even care that he’s gone.”  Stella reached down and pulled her gardening apron to her, wiping the remaining tears from her eyes.  As she did a pair of shears fell out of the pocket.  She knelt down to pick them up, but stayed on the ground paralyzed by the flowers towering over her.  Were they really as callous as they seemed?

Stella turned the shears over and over in her hands.  The ground felt hard underneath her, but somehow that did not encourage Stella to get up.  What would Matthew say about her sitting in the garden, she wondered.  Would he behave in typical Matthew fashion and call her silly, laughing as he pulled her up? Give her a hug and a kiss on her forehead?

Well I’ll never know, Stella thought.  Matthew is dead and I’ll never know what he would think about this.  I’ll never know what he would think about anything again. 

Stella continued turning the gardening shears in her hands.  As she did, the words, Matthew is dead, turned over in her mind.  The words and movement both seemed involuntary and she didn’t know how to stop either.  She started squeezing the shears together, just for something different to do.  Then, as another torrent of tears was unleashed, Stella began hacking the flowers closest to her.  Down came the roses.

“Bravo,” they seemed to shout, taunting her with every snip of her shears.  “Now you’re getting somewhere.”  So, she kept going.  Down came the hydrangeas, then the peonies, and the daisies.  Last, came the sunflowers.  She did not stop until every flower laid on the ground, their remaining foliage and stems at half-mast of where they had once been.

Stella looked at her work.  “There,” she cried, sobbing into her hands.  “Now you’re dead, too.”  Stella wasn’t sure if she meant the garden or herself.  She sank to her knees again, but this time the ground wasn’t so hard.  The flowers cushioned her like a bed, soft and welcoming.  Stella laid down.    Maybe if she lay there long enough, the summer sun would somehow bring her back to life.  So she closed her eyes and waited.

 

Garden Victory Part 2

garden-victory-part-2

Margie dragged the last of the empty paint buckets to her garage.  She would take them out to the curb later.  Back inside, she flopped on her couch and stared up at the ceiling.  She nodded in satisfaction.  Painting all her ceilings had been the right choice.  It took three long weeks, but what else would she have done with that time?

A little voice told Margie exactly what she could have done with that time.  For a second Margie considered knocking on Stella’s door.  They had been neighbors on Hummingbird Lane for over 10 years and best friends ever since.  Well, except for the last month.

Margie still wasn’t sure what happened.  Half-hoping, half -joking she asked if Stella would consider chopping down her weeping willow tree.  Margie’s new pool turned out to be one big hassle, especially the daily cleaning of debris.  Most of it came from Stella’s weeping willow.

“How dare you,” Stella yelled.  “Matthew planted that tree 30 years ago when we moved in!”

“I’m sorry,” Margie told her.  “I didn’t think….”

“That’s right you didn’t.  Just like you didn’t think when you decided to get that piece of shit pool in the first place.”

Their fight escalated after that with a lot of sweeping generalizations, over-exaggerations, and dredging up of the past as is wont to happen when two people who have a long history and love each other get into a fight.  Margie and Stella had not spoken since then, so Margie had plenty of free time on her hands.  Enough, to paint her chipped and cracked ceilings which Stella had pointed out made her house look run down.  As Margie continued to stare at her ceiling, her phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Margie?  It’s Sophia.  Listen, I know you and my mom haven’t talked much lately, but could you check on her?”

“Is Stella okay?

“No.  It’s my dad – he was diagnosed with cancer a month ago.”

“Jesus,” Margie breathed.  “I had no idea.  I’ll call her.”

“Margie, it was fast spreading.  The doctors said there was nothing they could do.  Dad died this morning.”

In a split second it was as if their fight last month had never happened.  “I’m going over there now,” Margie said and she hung up.

Margie found Stella laying in her garden, only it wasn’t a garden anymore.  Every single plant was hacked to shreds with the colorful blooms scattered everywhere.  She saw the weeping willow high above Stella’s house swaying in the breeze.  Margie’s own tears now echoed its sadness.   

“Come on,” Margie said as she picked up Stella from the ground.  “Let’s get you inside.”  As they walked to the house, Margie lamented the flowers they trampled on.  Then she remembered the empty paint buckets in her garage.  They could hold dozens of flowers.  Perhaps their beauty wouldn’t have to be wasted after all.  Margie gave Stella’s shoulder a squeeze.  “And don’t you worry, I’ll take care of this mess.”

Garden Victory Part 1

Stella stood among the sunflowers, daisies, peonies, hydrangeas, and roses.  The tears that rolled down her face hit the ground.  She looked around to see if her sorrow had been absorbed into their roots.  But the flowers didn’t wither and die.  Instead, they stood tall and luscious; the sun showering them with vibrancy and life.

“Traitors,” Stella muttered. “It’s like you don’t even care that he’s gone.”  Stella reached down and pulled her gardening apron to her, wiping the remaining tears from her eyes.  As she did a pair of shears fell out of the pocket.  She knelt down to pick them up, but stayed on the ground paralyzed by the flowers towering over her.  Were they really as callous as they seemed?

Stella turned the shears over and over in her hands.  The ground felt hard underneath her, but somehow that did not encourage Stella to get up.  What would Matthew say about her sitting in the garden, she wondered.  Would he behave in typical Matthew fashion and call her silly, laughing as he pulled her up? Give her a hug and a kiss on her forehead?

Well I’ll never know, Stella thought.  Matthew is dead and I’ll never know what he would think about this.  I’ll never know what he would think about anything again. 

Stella continued turning the gardening shears in her hands.  As she did, the words, Matthew is dead, turned over in her mind.  The words and movement both seemed involuntary and she didn’t know how to stop either.  She started squeezing the shears together, just for something different to do.  Then, as another torrent of tears was unleashed, Stella began hacking the flowers closest to her.  Down came the roses.

“Bravo,” they seemed to shout, taunting her with every snip of her shears.  “Now you’re getting somewhere.”  So, she kept going.  Down came the hydrangeas, then the peonies, and the daisies.  Last, came the sunflowers.  She did not stop until every flower laid on the ground, their remaining foliage and stems at half-mast of where they had once been.

Stella looked at her work.  “There,” she cried, sobbing into her hands.  “Now you’re dead, too.”  Stella wasn’t sure if she meant the garden or herself.  She sank to her knees again, but this time the ground wasn’t so hard.  The flowers cushioned her like a bed, soft and welcoming.  Stella laid down.    Maybe if she lay there long enough, the summer sun would somehow bring her back to life.  So she closed her eyes and waited.

Garden Victory – A Flash Fiction Story in 422 Words

garden-victory

Stella stood among the sunflowers, daisies, peonies, hydrangeas, and roses.  The tears that rolled down her face hit the ground.  She looked around to see if her sorrow had been absorbed into their roots.  But the flowers didn’t wither and die.  Instead, they stood tall and luscious; the sun showering them with vibrancy and life.

“Traitors,” Stella muttered. “It’s like you don’t even care that he’s gone.”  Stella reached down and pulled her gardening apron to her, wiping the remaining tears from her eyes.  As she did a pair of shears fell out of the pocket.  She knelt down to pick them up, but stayed on the ground paralyzed by the flowers towering over her.  Were they really as callous as they seemed?

Stella turned the shears over and over in her hands.  The ground felt hard underneath her, but somehow that did not encourage Stella to get up.  What would Matthew say about her sitting in the garden, she wondered.  Would he behave in typical Matthew fashion and call her silly, laughing as he pulled her up? Give her a hug and a kiss on her forehead?

Well I’ll never know, Stella thought.  Matthew is dead and I’ll never know what he would think about this.  I’ll never know what he would think about anything again. 

Stella continued turning the gardening shears in her hands.  As she did, the words, Matthew is dead, turned over in her mind.  The words and movement both seemed involuntary and she didn’t know how to stop either.  She started squeezing the shears together, just for something different to do.  Then, as another torrent of tears was unleashed, Stella began hacking the flowers closest to her.  Down came the roses.

“Bravo,” they seemed to shout, taunting her with every snip of her shears.  “Now you’re getting somewhere.”  So, she kept going.  Down came the hydrangeas, then the peonies, and the daisies.  Last, came the sunflowers.  She did not stop until every flower laid on the ground, their remaining foliage and stems at half-mast of where they had once been.

Stella looked at her work.  “There,” she cried, sobbing into her hands.  “Now you’re dead, too.”  Stella wasn’t sure if she meant the garden or herself.  She sank to her knees again, but this time the ground wasn’t so hard.  The flowers cushioned her like a bed, soft and welcoming.  Stella laid down.    Maybe if she lay there long enough, the summer sun would somehow bring her back to life.  So she closed her eyes and waited.

Play – A Flash Fiction Story in 692 Words

play

“Wanna play?”  Eli asked.  He didn’t wait for a response then said “What’s your name?”

“Chrissy,” the girl replied.  Eli took that as confirmation they were now playing together. 

“Come on,” he shouted as he ran towards the playground.  He looked back over his shoulder and saw Chrissy look at her dad, who nodded. 

“Okay,” Eli said taking charge.  “The first one to the top of the mountain is the winner.”

“What mountain?  Chrissy looked around.

Eli eyed her as if she had just asked where the sun was.  He threw his arm out in the direction of the big bales of hay, stacked high enough for playful climbing, but not too high for catastrophic falling. 

“Oh,” said Chrissy.  She stood there as Eli charged her.  She shrieked, then stepped aside. 

“No, no, no,” Eli told her.  “You’re doing it all wrong.  You’re supposed to stop me.  Where’s the fun in you just stepping to the side.”

“I dunno,” shrugged Chrissy. 

“Okay, we’ll try it again.  Let’s start back here.”  Eli grabbed her arm and pulled her maybe 20 yards back near where their parents were sitting on benches.  Eli noticed Chrissy’s father staring at them and he waved, then turned his attention back to Chrissy.  “Ready, set, go!” he took off like a rocket.

It only took Chrissy a moment to get her bearings then she tore off after him.  Eli was nearly to the haystack when Chrissy caught up with him.  But she was not faster than Eli, who with the finesse of a panther had already jumped up two bales, so Chrissy just stood there and watched.

“Come on!” Eli prodded when he noticed she had stopped.

“I can’t catch you,” Chrissy said. 

“So?  You can at least try!” Eli jumped down from his bales of hay.  “Let’s try one more time,” he said, dragging her back to the benches. 

When they got there, Chrissy’s dad was waiting for them.  “Mind if I give Chrissy some pointers on this go around?” he asked.

Eli shook his head.  Chrissy’s father pulled her to him by the elbow and then whispered something in her ear.  Her eyebrows inched closer together until they almost looked like one long caterpillar.  “Are you sure?” she asked her father. 

“Definitely,” he said.   

“Ready?” Eli asked her and then he counted “One, two, three, GO!” This time they took off for the haystack together, but Eli again got there first.  As he was just about to jump up on the first bale he felt Chrissy come up behind him.  WHOMP!  Chrissy tackled him into the hay so they bounced off and tussled to the ground. 

“Yeah!  That’s the way to do it!” Eli shouted.  He hopped up and grabbed her hand.  “What’d your dad tell you?”

Chrissy smiled.  “He said I should imagine what you would do if you were the one running behind me and then just do it.”  She seemed really pleased with herself. 

“Good,” Eli said.  “So now that you really know what you’re doing, let’s do it for real this time.  All the way to the top.  First one is the winner!” 

Eli and Chrissy ran back to the benches where her father stood smiling.  “I’ll count,” he told them.  “Three, two, one, GO!”

It started out with Eli in the lead, then Chrissy grabbed his arm and threw herself forward.  Then they were neck and neck.  Finally, Eli broke free and in three, two, one, he had scrambled up the hay bales, leaving Chrissy in his wake on the ground.

“I’m the winner!” came his cry of victory.  Then he held out his hand to Chrissy.

“I can’t come up there,” Chrissy told him.  “You’re the winner.”

Eli shook his head.  “Just because I won doesn’t mean you can’t come up here, too.  Besides, then we can be explorers.” As he said this he circled his hands together and held them to his eye as a telescope.

Chrissy climbed to the top of the haystack.  They stood together looking out around them.  “You’re right,” she said, making her hands into her own telescope.  “We’ve got a lot of exploring to do.”   

In the Morning Light – A Fable in 637 words

in-the-morning-light

“So beautiful,” came the woman’s voice.  Rose almost didn’t hear her.  The sky had turned from bright blue to streaks of soft pinks, purples, yellows, and oranges.  For a fleeting moment, jealousy stabbed at Rose’s heart as Mother Nature turned the horizon into a watercolor painting.  It didn’t seem fair, she thought, that she was relegated to the same colors day after day, yet the sky offered a blank canvas for the most spectacular of creation.

But then the woman’s voice broke through Rose’s indignation as she called to her friend, “You have to see this one.”

“Wow!” came her friend’s response, leaning over Rose to get a better look.  “Just gorgeous.”  She was so close, Rose could feel the woman’s hair slightly tickle her.

Rose felt mollified by these words, though she often heard the same sentiments every day from visitors.  From the time she was a bud, Rose had always been showered with praise: people photographed her; traced her satiny petals with their fingers; inhaled her sweet scent.  She knew she was the most beautiful flower in the garden, but instead of feeling grateful for this honor every morning and night Rose cast her gaze upward and compared herself to the beauty she saw in the sky.  Her only solace was she knew if she could never win this competition, then no other flower would either.   Rose relegated herself to second place status and stayed that way for a very long time.

Then one morning as Rose stewed about a particularly glorious sunrise, with fluffy purple, pink, and yellow clouds, she heard one of her usual compliments, “I’ve never seen such a beautiful flower!” What was unusual about this compliment, however, is it was not directed at Rose.  The voice came from three bushes over.

“How dare you!” Rose thought and she straightened up her stem and fanned out her petals in defense.  Only she didn’t straighten up fully – there was a slight droop to her – and some of her petals now crinkled with brown.  She couldn’t even see the other flower that had received her compliment.  How do I compare? she wondered.

The uncertainty ate away at her for the rest of the day and deep into the night.  Rose didn’t even notice the sunset that evening.  But she couldn’t ignore the sunrise the next morning, for she was again greeted with compliments directed towards someone else.  “Perfect,” said the voice.  “See how the morning light hits the petals?”

“Yes,” Rose heard another person say.  “I bet this photograph wins first place in the garden’s annual contest.”

Rose recoiled at the words.  Never once did anyone suggest she would win first place.  She again tried to puff herself up, but it was in vain as even more of her petals had now withered.  Rose’s stem slumped even further than the day before, but that could have been due to the realization of what was happening as much as it was due to time.

“Oh, please,” Rose begged as the sun ascended higher in the sky.  “Just let me go back to how I was.”  She kept it up all day and into the night.  By the next morning, nothing had changed, though, except for a few more withered petals.  So, she tried a new tactic.  “Please, give me back my beauty.  This time I’ll appreciate it.”  Again, Rose pleaded with Mother Nature for the rest of the day and throughout the night.

The next morning rang out with a sunrise so rich and beautiful it reduced Rose to tears.  She no longer begged, as there was not much left to her – just shriveled petals and a limp stem.  But her tears were no longer of sadness.  “Thank you,” she said.  “I’m so glad I got to see such a beautiful sunrise one more time.”

Call Me Bear – A Flash Fiction Story in 496 Words

Call Me Bear

“Adorable!” I hear my human squeal from the deck.  She pulls her phone out and snaps a picture of me.  I keep running, but I suppose I can’t blame her.  I am an exceptionally good looking dog.

My official name is Bear; she hardly ever calls me that.  More often than not it’s Big Bear — one of my many nicknames.  Pooty Butt I don’t really care for.  Not only is it unbecoming of a Berner, but my butt is pretty clean as far as dogs go.   But now is not the time to think about my butt.  No, there is something in the yard that shouldn’t be here.

I got the scent of it all the way in the house.  I had to scratch at the door three times before she let me out.  In that time, the interloper absconded.  All that’s left is a faint trace.

I stake out under the deck.  I will stay here for hours if I have to.  I dig a hole, just in case that’s true.  The dirt helps keep me cool in the August heat.  Just as I settle down, I hear a voice above me.  “Num nums,” she calls.  “Big Bear, come and get some num nums.”

I wish she wouldn’t call them that – what am I, a puppy?  I guess she still sees me that way, even though I now weigh 100 lbs.  But she ponies up for the good stuff and I might need my strength later, so I go get my treats.

As she goes back in the house, the unwelcome scent nips my nose.  I leap off the deck and run like a greyhound to the edge of the garden.  Then I freeze.  I see our uninvited guest.  Its black body coiled like rope.  The head raises.  A soft tongue slips out in a hiss.

This creature is not my friend.  Nor is it my enemy.  Still, I know my human would rather it not be here.  I cock my head, trying to get a good measure of it.  Its tongue is still tasting the air, weighing the situation.

I want the snake to retreat back into the woods and find a new home.  But how to convey that without scaring it to attack?

I take a step forward, then another.  I do not bark; I do not growl.  I inch ever so closer.  Another lash of its tongue.  I wait.  Every muscle in my body alert, I am ready.  Yet I do not want to preemptively strike.

The snake uncoils like a ribbon and retreats, slithering away.  I watch until it disappears.  The female calls me again.  “Bear, time to come in.”

“There’s my Pooty Butt,” she says as I run to her.  More like snake whisperer I think as she scratches my head.  But she doesn’t know.  She’ll never know if I have my way.  I love her.  And she loves me.  We just have very different ways of showing it.