Flash Frenzy Round 25

Posted: June 21, 2014 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
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Welcome to Round 25!

This weekend, Voima Oy is making her debut as Flash Frenzy judge.

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 courtesy Ashwin Rao

Photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

  1. Forget-Me-Not Hill

    She buried him up on the hill, with a plain wooden marker, a scattering of Forget-Me-Nots and a whole lot of tears. He’d had more life than most, if you measured by love and deeds, but if you counted up the years, it wasn’t all that long. If you asked her, she’d say that it wasn’t nearly enough, but the way she loved him, nothing short of forever would be.

    Still, she liked him there, watching over her little house at the foot of the hill, and sometimes she felt that he was a sight higher still, working with the angels to see that she was done right by. Every morning, she’d throw wide the shutters and see those little blue flowers dancing in the sunlight and know that all was right with the world. Sometimes, she’d trek up there to sit and tell him her woes, and sometimes she just went to talk to him, because that’s what they did.

    This was back when the hill was nameless and the town was just a bump in the road. He’d been a flower merchant and she kept trading, but then came a winter when the fields were ice-scorched, the bulbs all blighted and poor. The little house was still owned by the bank and they had no choice but to call it in, and with no-one else to turn to, she went up the hill and she watered his flowers with her tears.

    And maybe there was something in the tears, or the timing, or the desperate power of her pleas, but the next morning, as she peered through a crack in the shutters, expecting to see the bank’s wagons, she knew he’d heard.

    The whole hill, footpath to marker, was covered in flowers. Tulips and daffodils and every bloom you can imagine, all crowned by a halo of Forget-Me-Nots, and market day brought enough to pay the mortgage and buy the hill too, so no-one could ever build there.

    The other flowers never grew again of course, but the Forget-Me-Nots lasted like her love, and even today, there’s a scattering of little blue flowers, dancing in the morning sun.

    360 words

  2. The Final Resting Place

    The turnout was amazing, people paying their respects, too many for the size of the chapel, some of the mourners spilled out into the car park. The deceased was well loved, she worked in the local corner shop selling all the necessities of life to the neighbourhood, booze, fags, newspapers and the things people forgot to buy at the cheaper supermarket in town. The skies opened drenching those in a quick, sharp shower. The humanist minister turned up late saying his dog had eaten his appointment diary. Had he not heard of electronic diaries?

    My Dad hadn’t a clue who anyone was. My Mum sobbed all through the hymn, turned out my beloved granny sang ‘The Rugged Cross’ loudly all the time. She was mourning Gertie, at that point, not my Dad’s sister.

    The eulogy reminded me of the woman down the road not my Auntie Sheila. Wonder if she’d died and the bloke had mixed up his notes.

    No wake, so when we got back home we had a cup of tea and my mum said “let’s have biscuits” because when she was young it was always tea and biscuits for a wake. So she opened a posh tin of biscuits and we all had a biscuit or two before going home.

    I laid a wreath of wild flowers on the moor and planted a tiny cross with a picture of Auntie Sheila. She’d walked there often looking for her Heathcliffe. Not sure where her ashes will be scattered that’s up to Uncle Fred. If he has his way it will be on the doorstep of the bookies, his first and only love.

    274 words

  3. C Connolly says:

    On The Run

    It had started with the dreams. Now Maddie was trekking in the midday sun, backpack creating sticky patches between her shoulders, clasping Phil’s hand, as his feet dragged in the dirt. Helen was ahead with Kat, Seb piggy backing on her shoulders. “Are we there yet?” Phil asked.

    “Nearly,” Maddie answered, between breaths and a wipe of her brow.

    “You said that last time!” Phil protested. “I’ve counted three hundred steps since then!”

    “Sorry, sweetie,” Maddie said. “We can’t stop. Not yet. We’re still too close.”

    “To what?” Phil demanded.

    Maddie gave his hand a tug. “Just a little further, I promise.” Phil sighed, trainers stumbling on the parched grass. “Okay up front?”

    “Yep,” Helen said, glancing briefly at Maddie. “This is right, isn’t it?” she asked.

    “Think so,” Maddie answered. “No way we could’ve stayed, anyway. Not after Tess and Dan.”

    “Little pitchers, waggling ears,” Helen said tersely. Maddie made eye contact, raising her eyebrows, before letting out a long breath.

    “Point,” she conceded. They were several miles from the village, yet it loomed behind them, in the dip of the valley. Maddie wanted it gone, though that wouldn’t rid her of the memory of makeshift wooden markers driven into arid mud. She sighed again. “Still wish we’d cottoned on sooner. Might have brought a couple more with.”

    “No way to know,” Helen said, “without being psychic.”

    Maddie gave her The Look.

    “Sorry,” Helen said. “Wasn’t really thinking.”

    “It just bugs me,” Maddie said. “Having so little to go on. It’s not like there’s a clear thread through it. Wish there was.”

    “Don’t we all,” Helen responded. “We’re here, though. Let’s work with that. Time to crack on.” She hefted her rucksack, shifting it into position across her shoulders. “Ready?”

    Maddie nodded, trying to clear her head of the missing. She hated that it was kids; that she saw them slip through the cracks, at night. Never a trace by morning; just gone. Prayed that she was right to take them away, to seek to escape it. Couldn’t quite dismiss the image of the flower bedecked crosses atop the lofty hills. She could recall how many there had been.

    (360 words)


  4. Cathy Lennon says:

    He’d led her a merry dance for years. She’d loved him to distraction back then. She’d put up with all sorts. When the baby was born she knew things’d have to change. He wouldn’t though. Still tripped over the doorstep every night, staggered into the kitchen and lit a match under the chip pan. One of these days he’d burn them in their beds. He wasn’t a violent drunk, thank God. But he was still a drunk.

    Her mam said she could bring the baby home. He kept turning up in the middle of the night, out of his head. He’d stand in the front garden, pick bouquets of her mam’s flowers and wake all the neighbours with his pleading and cursing. How many times had they had the police out? The stress was terrible for the baby. She was a sickly, fretful child. So they left, one morning, not telling anyone where they were headed. Even if he’d begged and promised – again – to get sober, her mam couldn’t have given him a clue. Nobody knew.

    It was the worst day of her life when the baby died. The days after were a blur. She went for the ashes and carried on walking. There was nowhere she wanted to go. She walked until the streets finished, and then the footpaths. Up into the hills she went until she couldn’t find the strength to go on. At that place, on the hill, she dug a hole with her bare hands and wept herself raw. She buried the little cardboard box.

    Every day she went back, then every week, then every month. She made a simple wooden cross. She got a job, moved far away, met another man, married, divorced. But every anniversary she made the pilgrimage. Alone, with the wind sighing around her, she remembered her daughter and her daughter’s father. On what would have been the child’s 18th birthday, carrying a rose, she came to the hillside and saw the bouquet of garden flowers on the grave. Her mam said he was sober now. She hoped it was true. She thought it was the least their baby deserved.

    (358 words)

  5. Bart says:

    The Rabbit

    ‘He fell! He fell over the edge!’

    Sara came running into the kitchen, panting, every freckle on her face covered with tears. Her
    mother was about to pour a mixture of golden syrup and butter over a baking bowl filled with oats. Sometimes, when Sara went out playing, she made flapjacks to surprise her when she came back in. Sara loved flapjacks.

    ‘Who fell?’

    The little girl gasped for air.

    ‘T… Toby.’

    She had to push the word out of her mouth.

    ‘What? What happened?’

    Sara buried her face in her mother’s kitchen apron.

    ‘We were walking near the edge of the cliffs and suddenly Toby saw a rabbit so he started chasing after it and I yelled “Toby, no! Stop!” but he didn’t and he ran and I yelled and he didn’t stop and the rabbit made a quick turn but Toby couldn’t stop anymore and he fell over the edge and I’m sorry Mummy I’m so sorry.’

    Her mother stood there, shocked. And angry. She had warned Sara plenty of times not to play near the cliffs. She had been living in Shetland for long enough to know it was dangerous.

    Sara continued to sob. Her mother peeled her off of her apron, moist from tears, and held her in her arms till long after she became silent.

    In the evening her father climbed down the rocks. There he found Toby, his spine snapped. When he came back up, he dug a grave on the hill leading towards the cliffs. He put Toby in it.

    The next day they all held a short ceremony at the grave. That was the least they could do for Toby, who had been their Border Collie for over five years. He had arrived in the family as a present for Sara’s third birthday.

    As time passed by, everyone felt ready to move on. Sara got another Border Collie puppy. She called him Charlie.

    One day she went outside with him. Her mother took the golden syrup out of the cupboard.

    ‘C’mon, Charlie, c’mon! Let’s play “Catch The Rabbit”!’

    Sara put a ball in her pocket and ran towards the cliffs.

    360 words

  6. zevonesque says:

    by A J Walker

    Her death was not sudden, not unexpected, she’d finally left Sarah for good now. Fertilizing the barren earth.

    Sarah dribbled the last of the precious water into the soil, hoping it would give the delicate flowers a fighting chance to survive a day or two in her god forsaken homeland. There is always some beauty in the day, something to coddle the soul and Sarah had needed to mark the spot with something pretty. Their translocated life was sure to be short, but they were doing an essential job.

    She stood back leaning on the spade watching the flowers flick in the sporadic breeze. She thought she should have picked flowers more often, brighten up the home with splashes of life. But they never lasted long before curling up and dropping their dead leaves and petals on to the floor. Life could be such a messy business, especially when it came to the dry death.

    There could be beauty anywhere, but there usually wasn’t any for Sarah. Her life was hard and all kinds of ugly out here. Now she was alone.

    The water had quickly dried up from the dusty soil and Sarah was holding little hope that the plants would be getting much help, they’d barely last a day she thought. Still, that was fine, she could go now, leave this place of death and hopelessness and never look back.

    In the house she washed the soil from her hands and rinsed the sweat and grime of her face. She’d thought one day she’d try out west somewhere, and now there was nothing holding her here, there was no time like the present.

    The next day she left the house, purposefully avoided passing the grave, wanting her last image of the resting place to be those beautiful flowers. A remembrance of how delicate and beautiful life is.

    (309 words)

  7. Secrets

    The sky glowered over the plains. Reg turned his collar against the shrill wind and stuffed his chapped hands into his pockets. His knees complained with every step, and his back ached with the cold. He almost skipped the trudge this year, but duty drove him out of the house.

    When the hill came into view, Reg paused. His stomach clenched with dread. Guilt. Shame. “What difference would it make?” he said. “Who would know?” He imagined his chair, his coffee, his fire. He remembered his promise. At least the wind blew at his back now.

    He struggled for breath as he crested the hill. Bent over, hands to thighs, he rested. When his breath came more easily, Reg stood. “What the hell?” he hissed. Someone had tied a cross to the weather-beaten wooden stake that Reg had hammered into the ground thirty years before. Fresh flowers lay beneath it. Reg scanned the area; he was alone. Who could have known? He had told no one. Sarah had insisted, and his love—and pity—for her had outweighed his sense.

    Reg knelt to a chorus of cracking joints. Someone had cleared the ground before laying the flowers. Sarah would have liked these, he thought. They’re nice flowers. He sat back on his heels, despite his knees’ protests. When the wind stilled, peace settled over the hilltop.

    “You chose a lovely spot.”

    Reg whipped toward the familiar voice.

    “Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.” Joan strode toward him. Without waiting, she sat. “Sarah told me,” she said. “Just before she died.”

    Reg stared at her, speechless.

    “She was so ashamed,” Reg’s sister-in-law continued, looking at the grave. “And worried that you might forget.”

    “I never missed a year,” Reg protested.

    Joan smiled. “I know.”

    “How long—?”

    “How long have I been coming here?”

    Reg nodded.
    “Since after Sarah’s death. She made me promise not to tell you.” Joan waved her hand, a dismissive gesture. “My sister wasn’t very fair to you. It’s a heavy burden to bear alone.” She smiled at Reg. “Maybe next year we’ll visit together?”

    Reg stared at the flowers. “I’d like that,” he whispered.

    359 words

  8. Image Ronin says:

    The Return

    From Ogden’s vantage point aside the grave the blanket of flowers stretched out as far as he could see. A rich chromatic tapestry that had long ago consumed the tiled rooves, roads and cars of his village that lay in the valley below. Green tendrils, luxurious petals that Ogden knew had stretched out to all corners of Britain, obliterating the dyadic of humanity and nature. Now all that remained of civilisation was the hint of what had once been. Vague shapes crafted by petal and stem.

    Ogden gently pulled a tendril off of the simple wooden cross that marked his sister’s grave. It had only a fortnight since she had succumbed to the rare cancer that had corroded her lungs. The specialists that their father had sought help from unable to offer anything aside from soothing apologies.

    Finally, driven by despair their father had gambled everything, hoping his genetic research into plant regeneration could provide Byrony an escape. Ogden had been the guinea pig, injected with an emerald liquid. Their father delighted at the way Ogden’s system responded.

    Then he injected Byrony.

    That same day she succumbed to her illness. Their father, wracked with grief and guilt, had convinced Ogden to help him bury her in the copse overlooking their village. Then he had retreated to his scotch, oblivious when the first flowers emerged from the grave.

    Ogden had found his body, bottle in hand, slumped in the armchair, thick green tendrils wrapped around his throat.

    Some small green flowers, emerald like Bryony’s eyes, opened around him. Releasing yellow grains of pollen up into the air, seeking lungs to corrode. By the time anyone realised what was happening it was too late. The government had tried, yet air strikes and tanks soon fell silent. Then the television became just white noise, finally the power failed.

    Everyone was dead.

    Except Ogden.

    Maybe it was the test that protected him, maybe his sister’s love. Either way, the rage that Byrony had for a world that would inflict such pain and misery on a thirteen-year-old girl was unstoppable.

    Ogden lay down, feeling her tendrils caress and envelop his body.

    Together again.

    (360 words)


  9. For The Love of A Chocolate Bar

    At Christmas I received six chocolate bars, the good kind that are rich with flavor, not the shabby drugstore Santas that always tasted like they were made in the dark ages. And I got to eat one of those bars. One. Because of sisters.
    I had tried hiding them behind some books on my shelf, but soon, one by one, four small noses and four sets of annoying small, quick fingers came and took them from their hiding place.
    I’m in the middle of a hellish sister sandwich with two girls older than me and two younger and as the only boy I am generally treated as an invisible source of goods- I am ignored at every opportunity, maybe that’s why the have no qualms about taking my stuff, it’s not theft if the person doesn’t exist.
    After losing chocolate bars, a favorite book, twenty three dollars in various bills and change, comic books, and who knows what I else I decided that I must find an impenetrable location to hide my best things.
    And then I thought of Prunella Fluffens.
    When Prunella died I was sad but the girls carried on for days, lamenting the loss while drooping onto couches and crying over the empty food bowl.
    They had placed flowers over the grave but had shuddered, gasped, and shrieked over the actually dead body and averted their eyes as the cat entered the ground.
    I decided that I could dig a little ways down, not so far as to meet dead cat, and hide my most treasured items there, all with a very convenient marker.
    Weeks later as I sat on the sunny hillside, reading my comic book and eating a chocolate bar with dirty fingers I smiled and sent a silent thanks toward the sky, to Prunella Fluffens.

    301 words

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