Flash Frenzy: Round 12

Posted: March 22, 2014 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , , , ,

Welcome to Round 12!

Happy Spring! This week  multiple-time winner Karl A Russell is returning for his second round of judging, so be sure to bring your A-game (as if you’d bring anything else!).

Before we get started, here’s a brief reminder of the rules.

Deadline: Sunday at 6:00pm MST. You all have 36 hours to create your best work of up to 360 words (exclusive of title) and post it into the comments below. Please include your word count (required) and Twitter handle if applicable. For complete rules, click here. 

The winning author and their story will be featured as Wednesday’s Hump-Day Quickie, receive a winner’s page, and be crowned Flash Master of the Week.

Here is your prompt.

Photo by TheShakes72

Photo by TheShakes72

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Comments
  1. “What It Means To Make Something”
    @CaseyCaseRose
    329 words

    “I want to be in the garden.”
    “Of course, Mom. Should we order a bench or a plaque or something?”
    “Just scatter me in the garden. That’s all.”
    With a sigh Beth’s mother closed her eyes again, sagging into the pillows with a weight her diminished frame shouldn’t have allowed.

    When she was finally gone Beth’s mother was cremated, and her ashes presented to Beth for their final resting place in the garden.
    The funeral over, Beth tucked the small urn against her chest and left to go to her studio.
    Once inside she set her mother/not-mother on a work table. She immediately shed her black dress, leaving it like an oil stain on the concrete floor as she paced around in her underwear gathering supplies.

    She worked for days, all time in the studio real time, all time outside it, something illusory and unreal.
    She had asked about a marker of some kind, any kind, and her mother always demurred as though it wasn’t necessary, that a garden alone would ensure that Beth wouldn’t lose track of her.
    But Beth need a focal point.

    The structure needed to be strong, like the unwavering shoulders of a mother that carried a family’s weight. It needed to be soft and full of light, like the woman who stopped to show her daughter perfect spiderwebs in the sunlight and brushed loving fingers against stray hairs on her daughter’s brow.
    If she built the sides like climbing bars, an integral trellis, she could add clematis and let the garden become part of the structure.
    She fought constant frustration and limits of physics again and again to bring a sense of infinity to the shape, connecting parts of the structure for a more seamless whole.

    Beth poured her grief, her memories, her untethered life into her work.
    When she was done soldering, molding, bending, and making she had softened the edges of her sadness and allowed them to become something beautiful.

  2. @stellakateT
    355 words

    Yoghurt

    Wasn’t sure what this structure was? Appearing in the park a few months ago I speculated it was modern art, a child’s climbing frame or a load of junk gleefully dumped. I hung from the bars for a whole five minutes before dropping to the ground. My hands ached with the strain or maybe it was the arthritis that daily tortured my joints. I furtively looked around hoping no one had seen me. An old boy walking past with his mange dog tipped his cap with a cheerful “Good Morning Madam”.

    I’d seen this advert on the TV with a young woman doing a backward roll after eating one of those yoghurts with live bacteria thriving in it. I remember saying to my husband I’ll be able to do that soon. When he stopped laughing he couldn’t understand why I was so affronted. Hadn’t I been religiously eating two and sometimes even three of those yoghurts a day?

    The next spring, large flowers sprouted behind the Gerbil Wheel, that’s what the locals called it now. I’d been a widow for six months, sprinkled my husbands ashes at the base of the structure. His final resting place seemed so apt. I’d gained my strength here, hanging a few feet off the ground, dreaming about that backward roll.

    The day I decided to have a go I didn’t realise he was looking under the sofa for a missing jigsaw piece. I did a perfect score ten backward roll and in the process managed to knock him off balance. He cracked his head against the solid base of my grandmother’s welsh dresser. The coroner said it was unfortunate that he had a very thin skull that hadn’t shown up before and recorded his death as accidental. I didn’t mention my new found gymnastic skills or my new friend Bill. He still says “Good Morning Madam” when he wakes me each day with a cup of strong Yorkshire tea. Tommy his dog looks better too, with a strong brush through his coat and a monthly bath. Tender loving care is all you need not disapproving husbands with no imagination.

  3. Jacki Donnellan says:

    Happiness

    “What about this, Honey?”

    She looks over at the tall, yellow block that he is walking around as he looks for a price tag.

    “Bit small, isn’t it Dad?” she says, frowning. They both stand, heads cocked at forty-five degrees, observing the block.

    I watch them with distaste for a few moments. They look utterly and completely normal. That’s what makes my skin crawl.

    But I’m here to do my job.

    “Good morning!” I say, approaching them with a smile. “Looking for something special today?”

    Of course they are. But I enjoy making them say it.

    “Yes,” says the Man. His smile is incredibly genuine. He’s obviously had it upgraded. “It’s my daughter’s birthday soon,” –(I work hard not to smirk at both “daughter” and “birth”)- “and I’ve promised to buy her some…”

    His voice trails away, and he looks at me, finishing his sentence with his eyes.

    For a moment I’m taken aback. I know what the missing word is- of course I do- but that level of ability to communicate non-verbally staggers me. I mean, how can you be that sophisticated, and yet still be here, in my showroom, trying to buy…

    “Happiness!” I say, with a slick, professional smile. “Yes, of course.”

    They seem to flinch a little when I say it out loud, almost as if they’re aware that trying to buy their humanity in this way is the most un-human thing that they can do.

    My showroom is designed, naturally, to stifle any such misgivings; to dazzle them into spending their credits with me. “Come this way, please!” I say.

    I lead them outside, to the end of my row of high-end stock. “Here we are!” I say. “Might I suggest, sir, that this radiant, colourful model is the Happiness that your daughter deserves? Simple, yet complex. Elusive, yet obvious. Our most beautiful and most authentic design to date.”

    And most expensive, of course, but no need to point that out. I mean, they could convert its price to yen or calculate my margins quicker than I could blink.

    “I’ll take it!” the Man says. He gets out his card.

    His Daughter looks happier already.

    360 words
    @Donnellanjacki

  4. David Shakes says:

    “Drones.”

    Despite extortionate prices and the stuttering journey across a clogged city, they loved the botanical gardens. An oasis of calm in their hectic lives.
    They’d join other young professionals picnicking on the grassy embankments whilst their children played freely in the artificial safety of this walled utopia.
    At some point in the afternoon one of the couples would dutifully round up the offspring and march them to the play area. The other parents would lie back, enjoy the sunshine and tales of their mutual success.
    Dave was feeling great. His teaching career was taking off and the long summer stretched out before him. Least he could do was give the others a little break.
    “I’ll take the kids over to the discovery garden.” he announced.
    His wife glared. It wasn’t their turn and she was particularly tired.
    “Just me,” he said to placate her, “unless someone else wants to tag along?”
    “You’re qualified mate!” said Graham, smiling and raising a cold bottle of bud to his lips.
    It was agreed. Dave would phone if there was an issue.
    He felt like the pied piper as he marched his little troop of preschoolers down the path to the children’s garden.
    It was a brilliant part of the facilities. Every aspect geared up for kids. There were instruments, jigsaws and clamber over sculptures.
    Today there was a new area. Fake plastic flowers towered above an iron sculpture. ‘See your garden as an insect would!’ announced the sign. The heart of the sculpture contained two multi-lensed eyes.
    The children were already peering through them, transfixed.
    They stood silent and uniform. Dave came behind them and looked for himself.
    The world was a fractured collision of colour and line. A kaleidoscope world -dizzying and chaotic.
    Little wonder, reasoned Dave, that the insect world tried to create order from the chaos if this is how they saw things. The busy little worker drones buzzed about, building hives and farms and walls to mute the cacophony of the outside world.
    He thought of the other parents, drinking and laughing in the summer sun. He looked at their children, who today saw the world as it was.

    David shakes. 360 words.

  5. Image Ronin says:

    The Boy With A Thorn in His Side

    The installation had seemingly emerged overnight; a monument to spring’s banishment of winter’s monochromatic brutality. Inevitably Steve, an aspiring artist with Banksy-esqe delusions, castigated the work as ‘poncy art shite’ whereas, due to the legacy of my Desmond from Bristol, I found myself declaring an appreciation for the artist’s appropriation of organic space.

    Alex just sat on the bench watching us chimps throw shit backwards and forwards. Finally he dug out his battered hipflask heralding our standard pre-pub/club ritual. Steve with a magicians flourish pulled out his golden pack of B&H, tossing a cigarette in my direction. I lit up enjoying the sensation of the smoke filling my lungs.

    The wind carried sounds of a birthday party, singing voices serenading celebration as a balloon escaped. Racing upwards, red splitting blue aside.

    That’s when Alex spoke, his hesitant confession turning the taste of nicotine into acrid fear within my mouth.

    His cancer had returned.

    Colour drained from the world, Alex becoming the centre of the universe.

    It was terminal.

    Twenty-five.

    No words, I looked to the horizon, focusing on the children in the distance cartwheeling on jade carpets.

    Time passed.

    Alex stood up, decrying us for our solemnity, drinking deep from his flask.

    It was time to mark such an occasion.

    He demanded it.

    I recall little of what followed. A dreamlike maelstrom of alcohol, class As, tears, dancing and kebabs.

    The next morning I awoke to find myself on Alex’s sofa. Steve snoring on the floor, traffic cone nestled in his grip. I kicked out, waking him. Needing someone to share the fear that had consumed me in the weak morning light.

    That Alex was lying dead next-door.

    I budged up, Steve joining me on the sofa, straining to listen through the walls for a hint of existence.

    Nothing.

    Steve booted up street fighter to delay the inevitable checking on the corpse scenario.

    Huddled in duvets, stinking of last night’s hedonism, Steve’s chin tainted orange from his kebab, we forced pixel to pummel pixel, all the time listening out for Schrodinger’s cat.

    Then the corpse wandered in, fingers scratching at bald scalp.

    ‘Fucking hangover, cuppa anyone?’

    @imageronin

    356 words

  6. ladyhazmat says:

    **Host Entry – for your reading pleasure**

    Untitled
    @LadyHazmat
    355 words

    The green house was prettier than Sissy could have imagined. Silver-blue glass walls stretched up into the sky, glittering in the sun like a fairy castle. Behind the glass, flowering plants painted the aisles, and out front, was a shrine to those that made the plants possible.

    “Why do they have to live inside the glass house?” Ingrid asked her older sister.

    “Because they are the only ones left, and they have to be kept safe.”

    “Where did they all go?”

    “Mom says we were selfish and wouldn’t share our space so they went back to their hives in the sky.”

    What Mom had actually said was that they—they being humans—had killed the bees. Nearly driven them to extinction with a combination of pesticides, urban development and technology. Now the last surviving colonies existed in heavily-guarded greenhouses and the produce yielded by these farms were coveted by the malnourished masses.

    “Do we get to go inside and see the trees?”

    “I don’t know. Maybe.” Sissy would have loved to see a real live tree. Maybe eat some of its sweet fruit. She looked to her mother, twenty yards away, bartering with the Guardians.

    Their mother usually made the trip to the farm on her own, leaving Sissy to look after Ingrid and the twins. But that morning she’d called old Mrs. Henderson to watch the twins and insisted that Sissy and Ingrid accompany her on the errand.

    “Look! Mommy’s waving to us.” Ingrid raced across the lot toward the sparkling green house. Sissy followed.

    Their mother held two large baskets of fruits and veggies. There were some asparagus, zucchini and a few ears of corn. Sissy hated zucchini, but it was the twins’ favorite.

    Ingrid bounced up and down, clapping. “Mommy says we can go inside, Sissy!”

    Sissy looked at her mother. “Really.”

    “Yep. The trees have fruit on them. You can go pick your very own. Go ahead. Mommy will wait for you.”

    The girls followed armed Guardians into the green house, eager for their special treat.

    Neither saw their mother turn, clutching her baskets of produce, and walk away.

  7. Rx
    342 words

    “Are you sure this is safe?” Jamie asked as she twirled the red pill around in her fingers.
    “Of course it is! I took it from my mom’s medicine cabinet. A doctor wouldn’t prescribe it to her if it wasn’t safe. Stop being such a baby!” Her friend Amanda replied.

    She popped a few pills in her mouth and turned to Jamie. She was waiting for her to make a move. Something didn’t feel right. It seemed a little dangerous. But Amanda seemed fine and it did come from a doctor’s office. It was better than buying something from a dealer. Amanda took a deep break and placed the pill in her mouth.

    At first, she felt fine. The girls gossiped as they watched their little sisters play on the monkey bars. Then the drug kicked in. Jamie felt her senses become keener. The world became brighter and more vibrant. The reds and pinks of the flower pedals glowed like lights. The laughter of the children echoed through her ears and sent vibrations throughout her body. The breeze gave her goose bumps and made the hairs on her body stand on end. It was magical. It made her life seem dull, as if she wasn’t alive before. Jaime savored these new sensations, praying it would never end.

    They expanded. The flowers shot up like rockets and grew ten times their size. The monkey bars twisted and turned until they formed a strange wheel. Her heart began to beat rapidly and her breaths became shallow as the world around her continued to change.

    Jaime tugged on Amanda’s shirt to get her attention. She wanted to share the experience with her. However, she couldn’t get the words out. She sank onto the ground. Amanda and several others hovered over. They were talking to her, but she couldn’t make out any of their words.

    She looked up at the others and smiled. The flowers had grown so high they were blocking the sun. Jaime closed her eyes. It was getting too bright for her anyway.

    @triffic_tinika

  8. No Ordinary Morning
    @RASmith2014
    360 Words

    “Yet another morning,” he said to himself. He laughed with the realization of the repetitive, ritualistic pattern these mornings had taken. It seemed far less than twenty four hours ago that he was standing in that same spot, saying the same thing to himself, the same motions. Saying the words out loud had become a morning mantra. He took a deep drag of his cigarette, lifting his coffee cup to his lips. Alternating actions, smoke, sip, smoke and sip. Repetitive actions, life had become all too repetitive.
    He looked at the sculpture that sat in his garden, something he had crafted with his own hand two decades prior. He had been a different person then; full of confidence, so sure of himself. Though he had made a six figure salary for sometime now, he missed those bygone, innocent times. Anything, everything seemed possible. He created with his hands and mind, with total disregard as to where the cards fell. Not really caring if fortune smiled upon him, if he’d be able to afford to eat that week, as that had only seemed a small part of the equation.
    Now he worried about second mortgages, retirement accounts, if his teenage daughter had been fucking the young man who cleaned his pool, his wife’s most recent face lift recovery, what that meant for his sex life, getting his BMW washed every Monday morning, alternate pool cleaning services, should call off his meeting with his secretary at a motel room in the valley on Saturday afternoon, her naked form in the afternoon light, her incessant inquisitions if he’d ever leave his wife, leave his life?
    He took another drag from his cigarette, glaring at his sculpture, his creation. Was this the path he should have traveled?. True, he wouldn’t have had the toys he had now; the trophy wife, the house, the car, his whore daughter, the whore he had become; a different reality, possibly a more fulfilling reality would have taken its place. What could have been?
    He threw his cigarette in the garden, something he had never done in the past. It’s never too late. It was time to live again.

  9. Tinman says:

    “Birdie Attempt” by Tinman
    351 words
    @TinmanDoneBadly

    If you close your eyes you can almost hear the voice of David Attenborough:

    “And here. In the long. Grasses the male slowly. Fans. His tail.”

    Almost is the important word, though, because David Attenborough has never observed the mating ritual of the male golf ball. No-one has.

    People assume that golf balls are manufactured, despite the fact that no-one lives near a golf ball factory and that no-one has ever met anybody who works in one. In fact the golf ball is an animal, and one of the most remarkable species on the planet.

    Their natural habitat is the golf course, where they are equally at home in deep sand, underwater, or stuck halfway up a tree. Their breeding ground, though, is in the long grass known as “the rough”, for reasons lost, probably thankfully, in the mists of time.

    While salmon struggle upstream to their breeding grounds, and while birds fly through rain, shotgun pellets and small children’s escaped balloons to theirs, the golf ball is clever enough to get humans to drive them to theirs. They have developed remarkably tough hides, and the thump of a golf club feels as gentle to them as a pat on the rump does to a horse. The resulting high-speed journey is so exhilarating that as they leave the tee you can hear them shout “wheeee!”

    The humans, without fail, hit the balls into the rough. Nature has programmed them to do this.

    When a male golf ball meets a female it fans its tail. The tail looks like a shuttlecock covered in gaudy flowers, and to be honest makes the male look like a bit of a pillock, though in this he is no different to any other male in any other species trying to show off in front of a girl.

    If the female is attracted she responds by showing her dimples.

    What happens next is unclear, and rightly so. No-one ever asks, for instance, how giraffes do it without toppling over sideways. No-one asks about the sex-life of the hedgehog. Or the Dalek.

    Some things should just remain private.

    • All Seeing Eye
      by @JamesBrinsford
      360 words

      I’m the all seeing eye according to Chloe and up here on the window sill, there’s not much that get’s by me. I have to strain to hear what goes on outside Chloe’s bedroom though. Wish I had an all hearing ear to go with my all seeing eye.
      I love hide and seek. I am just the right size to tuck myself in to little nooks where Chloe has no chance of fitting. There, I can keep an eye on her as she creeps around the room performing seeking duties. We’ve played it a million times but when she starts that slow count to ten my heart still pounds so hard I worry that my stitching will hold. It’s always a mad dash around the room looking for the perfect place.
      Under the bed is out of bounds. That’s crammed full of Chloe’s last three bedroom tidies. I’m surprised her Mum hadn’t realised how she goes from chaos to clean in less than five minutes. I’ll prompt Chloe to thank God for valances in her prayers tonight as it’s been her saviour on more than one occasion.
      The door downstairs slams suddenly with such force I’m surprised there’s some frame left.
      “Chloe! You had better come down here; your father wants to talk to you!”
      It seems that the seeking has been postponed.
      “Mum, what’s going on? Why are you arguing?”
      Chloe’s voice was soft and trembling compared to the ferocity of her Mum.
      “Go on; tell her, you need to tell her”
      “Tell me what?” Chloe has added a sob to her soft and trembling voice.
      “Just shut up a minute Marian, you’ll make her hysterical. Always over the top. No wonder we’re all miserable”
      “Well go on, leave and see if we care! We don’t need you! It’s not like you did anything for us. There’s the door. Don’t look back”
      “I’m sorry Chlo-bear, I’ll always love you. I’ll be in touch. Don’t blame Mum for letting me go. I’ll tell you why when you’re older”
      “I need you Dad, please Dad, don’t …” the door closes shut quietly as if he didn’t want to disturb anyone.

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