Flash Frenzy Round 33

Posted: August 30, 2014 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , ,

It’s Saturday, and you know what that means!

Welcome to Round 33, and thanks to the esteemed Karl A. Russell for judging.

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

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Comments
  1. Happiness
    339 words
    @stellakateT

    He’d stood there like a statue for hours. Contemplating suicide? No the water’s only two and a half feet deep although I have heard you only need your nose and mouth covered to drown. Should I bang on the window, attract his attention and yell “Oi what you doing?” When you get to my age a little decision can be so stressful. For one thing my brain at times feels like cotton wool. A thought just gets lost trying to fight itself through that tight wad of fibre.

    Over the years I’d seen a lot going on at that fountain. Saw the VE celebrations, Mother wouldn’t let me go down and join in, said it wasn’t for the likes of us. I was only ten but I so desperately wanted to sit at a trestle table with the other children and tuck in to the party food. Then as I got older I watched the Teddy Boys strutting around, then the Mods and Rockers fighting each other. It all got televised but I saw it for real.

    I’d got polio when I was young, spent time in an iron lung and then walked with limp, graduated to sticks, now I’m in a wheelchair. My life has been this room and the fountain. Mother told me never to grumble.

    The thought finally burst through the cotton wool and I banged on the window. He glanced up. He looked like a young version of Burl Ives, spent many a happy time singing along with him on the radio.

    He beckoned me down. I shook my head and whispered “I can’t”

    But somehow I did. Mother would have said it was a miracle sent from Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque. It was a long time coming. One minute I was in that old wheelchair the next I was by his side. He took me in his arms and we waltzed around the fountain. I laughed, feeling out of breath with happiness, this surely must be heaven. If only Mother could see me now.

  2. David Shakes says:

    Tuppence
    David Shakes
    @theshakes72
    360 words

    Water glistens serenely in the early morning sunlight, bright rays softening the edges of everything his broken heart.
    Resting a foot on well worn concrete, he gazes into the shallow pool. The fountain is inactive.
    Beneath its shimmering surface a thousand wishes twinkle. Some fresh – their copper or silver still vibrant. Some golden – the offerings of the desperate, the ostentatious or the bemused tourist.
    His wish must still be there, he reasons. Buried beneath the algae and bird shit lies his own coin. His crazy offering to council owned deities.
    He remembers the day.
    “Go get a coffee, and not the hospital crap. There’s a stand across the square. Fetch me an espresso. I need a pep.”
    She smiled. It lit up her face. Despite the dark circles of her eyes and livid patches beneath the last whisps of her hair, she was still so beautiful. He began to protest:
    “The results are coming. What if I am not here?”
    She gently placed a withered digit on his lips. He saw her wince as the digit brushed stubble.
    “Coffee!” She demanded.
    He’d acquiesced. Ashamedly, there was a part of him glad to be away from the smell of disinfectants and the wheezing banalities of the other patients.
    The girl at the stand took his order and placed the Styrofoam cups on the counter. He paid and she handed him change. Tuppence. She must have noticed him looking for a tips jar.
    “Why don’t you make a wish?” she’d said, nodding towards the fountains.
    “Excuse me?”
    “A wish…with your coin.”
    That’s the first time he’d noticed the coins in the water. They shone with a wild hope.
    As he passed he’d flicked the coin and as it turned in the air he’d wished.
    He’d wished harder than a child with a Christmas list.
    Back at the hospital the doctor was leaving. When she saw him tears welled in her eyes. Fear gripped his heart.
    “What?”
    One word: ‘Remission’.
    She’d died peacefully yesterday, and whilst he knows the intervening years had everything to do with the doctors and nurses and little to do with wishes, he whispers anyway.
    “Thank you.”

  3. jbertetta says:

    Joshua Bertetta
    355 words
    @JBertetta

    “Setting things Straight”

    Freud destroyed me, and turned me into someone I am not. Made me repulsive and worthy of contempt. And since Freud, others like him have chopped me up, tried to dissect me and gave me names like “Aggressive” and “Corporate,” “Malignant,” “Destructive,” and even “Sexual.” They don’t understand. They go to school to become authorities, telling us what is normal and abnormal. They think their intellectual acumen justifies their putting me into little boxes. But they don’t understand, they don’t know me. They’ve judged me and taken my name and turned me into an “ism.”

    Maybe if they’d actually read my biography they wouldn’t be so quick to judge and so quick to project their own faults onto me. If Freud had done his job and actually listened while he had me on the couch maybe I wouldn’t be the poster-boy for vanity and self-fixation.

    They take their own idea of image and thus call me superficial. They don’t understand that image holds the essence and that is all I wanted to get to, to get down to the depths of who I am. They put their own crap on me and gave people my name as if my name could define them.

    If they’d read my biography they would know why I did what I did. Yes, I understand I spurned the young woman, and perhaps I acted hastily. I knew she was in love with me, but how could I possibly love another when I couldn’t love myself? If I knew then what I know now I could have explained myself. I could have told her that as a hunter I really sought myself.

    Such was the task set before me in the beginning, the part of my life everyone seems to forget: That from the beginning, my path was for me to know myself and the only way I could come to know myself was by looking at myself. I look at myself not to fall in love with myself, but to know myself, so that in knowing myself I can come to love myself and in loving myself, truly love others.

  4. streetej says:

    It All Floats By
    @EmilyJuneStreet
    360 words

    They come singing; they come praying; they come tallying their sins, and they come eating peanuts.

    Thousands of penitents squeeze into the city for the romería.

    “Jesus is with you,” banners read over the pilgrims’ path. “And so is Coca-Cola.” Peddlers sell snacks from boxes strapped around their waists: homemade tortillas, candies, bottled water.

    They come, crawling and prostrating belly-down, over and over, coating their clothing in rusting earth. Begging for mercy or notice?

    They come in a line that stretches beyond the hills, trailing trash. They come in cars spewing filth; they come through a cloud of smog. When the haze burns away they gaze upwards, beaming, believing God himself has lifted the pall.

    They leave offerings in the Basilica, silver charms shaped into ears and eyes and hearts, prayers for healing. They confess secret maladies. They weep. Daughters and mothers kneel together to beseech favors from the statue of the Virgin. She remains opaque and unmoved.

    A lone man finds some breathing room at the fountain. Noontime bells chime as the tropical sun blazes down. He observes the spectacle. The penitents astound him—their faith, their earnest belief in God’s power, their submission.

    He is a doctor; he does not believe that prayers have any power to heal.

    He peers into the fountain. The water—though holy?—is not clean. It carries the crowd’s debris: peanut sacks, cigarette butts, refuse and ash. It all floats by.

    A legless beggar shakes a tattered shoebox as the doctor turns from the fountain.

    The doctor offers his spare change. “Lo siento por su aflicción.” I’m sorry for your affliction.

    “¿Aflicción?” The legless man smiles.

    Awkward silence stretches between them. The doctor finally murmurs, “Sus piernas, señor.” Your legs, sir. He flushes.

    The beggar replies, “Dios los llevó a salvarme.Toda aflicción es una bendición.” God took them to save me. Every affliction is a blessing.

    The doctor frowns. He fancies that an unearthly aura glows around the beggar. The doctor rubs his eyes, moves on, and buys a Coca-Cola. He glances back once to see if the aura illusion remains, but it is gone.

    Only a trick of the light, he thinks.

  5. Voima Oy says:

    Exit Strategy
    @voimaoy
    360 words

    Already in the plaza, a rain of yellow leaves falling into the pool by the fountain.

    Such stillness under a sky of cloudless blue. Autumn is coming, he thought to himself. Me, too.

    Of course, he had seen it coming. New faces in the hallways. Memos not addressed to him. Sharp words–hollowing out– moving target acquisitions. Then, the final cut, from the new guy in Human resources. “I’m sorry, Jerry. It’s nothing personal. You’ve given so many years to the Bank. Believe me, it’s appreciated.”

    He looked down at the desk between them, their faces reflected in the smooth black surface of the glass. Quick and painless, is that what death feels like? He could feel himself disappearing.

    It was a long walk down the hallway. The news had already spread among the cubicles. He could cut the tension in the air like a knife. They all pretended to be busy, but what was there to say. They had all seen it coming. With each step, he began to feel lighter, more free.

    As he cleaned out his cubicle, he could see Esther in the corner office. She couldn’t wait for him to leave. Too bad he had come with her new job. Still, it had been kind of her to let him stay in charge of the rounding errors. No one cared about ten thousands of a cent here and there. No one had ever noticed.

    “Some day, Mary,” he used to say, “we’ll retire to Tahiti.” Was it too much to ask to grow old together? No time for that now.

    The elevator opened and there was Clark, rushing from the Copy Center. “Mr. Poole, I just heard the news. ” He fumbled awkwardly with some folders. “It’s been an honour, sir. Stay in touch, okay?” They shook hands, and a card passed between them.

    “It’s been a pleasure, Clark. Good luck with your music.” The elevator doors hissed open. He turned and waved. ” Be seeing you.”

    Now he stood by the pool and the fountain. By the time they found out, he would be gone. A coin on edge. A plane in flight, he disappeared among the zeroes.

  6. drmagoo says:

    The last time he’d been here, Stan had to strain to see over the ledge, his little legs as much pudge as muscle, but his dad hadn’t helped him up. The other kids pulled themselves onto the carved stone all by themselves, and Stan was held to no less a standard, son of a Colonel or no. The water portal had been new then, and the bridge to another world was a temptation no four year old could resist.

    Now, of course, the fountain was filled with ordinary water. The Great Emigration, The Invasion, and The War, all locked into the past, as unreachable as the Caithan’s world, a number of light years away that was large enough to make Stan’s head spin.

    Despite the prohibitions, the bottom of the fountain was scattered with remembrances – dog tags, a rosary, a cameo of a lover, lost forever when the portal had been abruptly closed. But there was nothing in the water to commemorate Stan’s father. Stan himself only came here under heavy secrecy and with a new face. He loved his father, but it had finally become too dangerous to maintain any public connection to the Butcher of Caithan.

    When President Rodgers had announced the closing of the portal and the end of the war, she had said that the decision was irreversible – that the mechanism used to sever the connection made re-establishing the link impossible. She’d even had some physics guy standing behind her with projections and charts, so that it made no sense to anyone. It had come out in the trial that she’d hoped to avoid impeachment, even though there were millions who’d never come home again, but that attempt had failed, and her name was as much of a curse as Stan’s father’s.

    Of course, as with all things said by politicians, it was a lie. Nothing one person did was truly irreversible, if another worked hard enough. Stan fingered the transmitter in his pocket and smiled. It hadn’t been easy, figuring this out, but now he had the power to reopen the portal. And humanity had unfinished business on the other end.

    359 words
    @drmagoo

  7. […] Prompt: https://theangryhourglass.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/flash-frenzy-round-33/  […]

  8. Mark A. King says:

    The Street Faerie of Kolkata
    By Mark A. King
    @Making_Fiction
    360 Words

    The Daemons watch from the surface. They gaze through the water of their fountains like it’s a deep ocean.

    They lust for flesh, and crave uninhibited violence. They long to consume the souls of the weak and vulnerable.

    They puncture the membrane separating the worlds. They are not interested in the clean water where the sharks play, or the dusky levels of healthy quarry; they seek the lower levels. They seek the seabed where the pressure of the entire ocean is contained, where the crustaceans feed on the dirt and the waste. The Daemons transform into human shapes, and as men, they stalk the infinite dark of the Kolkata slums, where children, like me, live in the forgotten squalor of humanity.

    My brother, Sai, provided for me since ma and pap passed. He was wise, he knew where we could hide; for the spirits possess so many. They seek boys or girls, they sometimes offer them money, but mostly they just debase us, unchallenged. It is normality that they break children and let their cohorts join in, or watch. Sai, knew all about the Daemons, but talked of angels too. They also come from other places, they float through the city streets, healing the weak, protecting the damaged; children then grow into angels. This is what I dream of when the screams infest my nights, and the voracious dogs and gluttonous rats circle my makeshift bed.

    Sai had been talking to new people. They were helpful and kind. The women made him happy, it was nice to see him happy, he had not smiled for many months. But they were slaves for other masters, they were concubines of the spirits.

    Sai protected me when the Daemons came. I am in so much pain I can barely see his raggedy and lifeless body. If there is a god, I prey the end was quick and they do not take his soul.

    Through the blurs, I see shapes. An angel speaks.

    “We will take care of you, my street faerie.”

    “Are you an angel?” I ask.

    “No. My faith is weak,” she says, smiling, “my name is Anjezë, they call me Teresa.”

  9. Image Ronin says:

    The Thinker

    The alarm went off, stirring Arthur awake. By the time he had fully awoken he was dressed, sat with a mug of tea watching snow flicker on the television.

    His thumb traversed channels, yet nothing but snow fell, like it had done for the past week. This was good, he had eaten the last of his bran, drank the last of his coffee.

    True, he could go to the supermarket, scavenge again.

    Really though he should go join the others.

    Arthur wasn’t a timid man, an accusation his mother leveled at him before leaving. He was just circumspect, born of a life spent preaching, seeking assurances to questions as old as time. He had watched the news with Mother when the first had begun to leave, walking silently into dark waters. Some hand in hand, young and old, families and friends.

    None returning.

    Arthur had sought answers on the Internet, but there was nothing but conjecture. No one knew who was the first to enter, or even why, yet each day more left. Till only Arthur and a few careful folk remained.

    Outside the air was chill causing Arthur to zip up his coat as he wandered past abandoned cars. Windows that once shone with light were now dark dead eyes, staring down from the tower blocks of the estate.

    Somewhere off in the distance a dog howled, answered by fellow canines. Arthur cut right away from their presence, fingers tightening around the hammer in his pocket.

    Today was the day.

    The lake wasn’t far, a young Arthur had spent many mornings throwing bread for ducks. Now there were only the silent dark waters, interrupted by the pulsing threads of white light that emanated from somewhere deep within.

    The water was cold as Arthur slowly waded in up to his knees. Deep within the water distant stars shone, they were waiting for him, everyone.

    Yet.

    Arthur retreated back out of the water. Wet footsteps following him back to the supermarket. Hopefully he’d find some tea bags, maybe a pot noodle.

    Then tomorrow he’d dive down into the dark water.

    Tomorrow.

    He was just being circumspect.

    Definitely not timid.

    360 words

    @imageronin

  10. […] Also submitted for Flash Frenzy Round 33 (see the rules at this link) […]

  11. Faded Memory
    by Maryann Holloway
    @ma_holloway
    200 words
    http://mholloway63.wordpress.com/2014/08/31/sunday-photo-fiction-challenge-faded-memory/

    “Please tell me what has you upset,” said Dan.

    “It’s nothing Dan. Let’s just have a nice dinner,” said Greta.

    “I don’t like to see you so sad. Maybe I can help.”

    The waiter came and took their orders. Afterwards, Greta took a deep breath and began to speak.

    “Remember when we first met I told you that something traumatic happened when I was seven years-old. So traumatic that I blacked it out?”

    “You said you saw a therapist.”

    “I’m still seeing the therapist Dan and something happened today that triggered a memory so vivid I ran out of his office.”

    “Tell me.”

    “My therapist has this desktop pendulum. You know silver balls strung on wire and once you start them swinging, they don’t stop. When I went to sit down, I bumped the doctor’s desk and started the pendulum. I watched the silver balls moving back and forth. In a trance, a faded memory played out like watching a movie.”

    “Did you see something from that time long ago?”

    “We were in a deserted park near a fountain. My father was arguing with a woman then he held her head under the water. Dan, she looked just like me.”

  12. Payment

    354 words
    @caseycaserose

    He awoke, but struggled to open his eyes against the penetrating sun.
    There was a heavy metallic taste in his mouth.
    His fingers swept across the ground beneath him. Concrete.
    He sat up, a crumpled question mark in dirty jeans and a flannel.
    He adjusted to the sun and looked around.
    There was a circle made of stone squares, surrounded by a foot high concrete edge. It was like a fountain in reverse; a circular stone island in a sea of water.
    And he was in the middle of it.

    He stood and looked in every direction but saw nothing but more water. The water rippled under the influence of the light breeze. He noticed that the breeze brought neither the earthy tang of a lake or the sharp salty smell of the ocean.
    The water smelled chemical, medicinal.

    Not knowing where he was at present he searched for “before”.
    He placed a foot against the stone lip.
    He closed his eyes.
    He pleaded with his memory to provide him with something.

    He saw a girl in a lemon yellow dress riding her bike in circles on a driveway.
    Her hair streamed our behind her in pigtails and when she saw him she waved.
    He saw a woman in jeans and a blue button up shirt push loose strands of hair off her face with her wrist before she sank her hands back into the damp earth, making a new home for the loose plants beside her.
    He smelled cherry pie and the leftover hints of coffee from much earlier in the day. He saw wide glass windows that lit up at night with warm orbs of lamplight.
    He saw and smelled the habits of a family.

    But then his memory provided him the smell of blood and acrid gun smoke, the sounds of broken glass and female crying. He saw blonde hair, attached to nothing, between his fingers.

    He understood that it was not his family he was remembering.
    He was a cause to someone else’s effect.

    He did not know where “here” was but he suspected why.
    Alone with his memories.
    Endlessly.

  13. Tom Smith says:

    The Fountain by Tom Smith

    @sunderland101

    words- 359

    “What kind of sick bastard wishes for that?” Disgusted, Yasel dropped the coin back into the fountain.
    This had been his job for centuries and he had grown tired of the selfish wishes attached to the coins in his wishing fountain. He wasn’t always this moral, he provided the sixties with most of its decadence, but now he searched for that rarest of beasts, a selfless wish.

    Yasel absently minded draped his hand into the fountain, dragging it along the bottom, touching the coins “Greed, revenge, money – hold on” Yasel pulled a coin from the fountain “This is the one”

    Yasel stood in front of a house, like he had always been there.

    Ratta-tat-tat.

    He tapped on the thinnest part of the door, worried; it was a childs voice attached to the coin, how could he justify visiting a child he did not know?

    “What?” An abrupt man answered the door.

    “Hello sir, I’m from the scouts –“

    “Luke!” He didn’t let Yasel finish his lie before exiting, having fulfilled his role as a go-between.
    Luke, six or seven maybe, came to the door. “It’s my big sisters birthday” Luke felt it necessary to explain his pink, pointy paper hat.

    “That’s why I’m here, I’m sure you’re a little jealous of all the attention she’s getting today but you still wanted to give her something special for her birthday, didn’t you?”

    “How do you know that?”

    Yasel explained who he was. “When the cake enters her mouth it will turn into a delicious chocolate almond cake, just like you wished”

    Luke flung himself at Yasel, throttling his legs. “Thank you, mister”

    “Thank you, I had all but given up on humans, until I heard your wish” A calm washed over Yasel. “Why don’t you go watch your sister eat her favourite cake?”

    “It’s not her favourite cake”

    “Then why…”

    “She’s allergic to nuts.” Luke slammed the door shut, in time to see his sister collapsing to the floor; the panicked screams spilled from the house into the street.

    “Little shit!” His parting words uttered Yasel returned to his fountain where he remains, forever searching for that one selfless wish.

  14. The Maker

    I am an artist.

    I began as a sculptor in stone, working in the classical tradition. Under my hands deities, nymphs and fauns were shaped.

    But the city had enough sculptures. The gods slumbered in my workshed, their nakedness muffled in cloth. I couldn’t afford to buy a humble soapstone, much less eat.

    The main problem, though, was that I wanted my creations to live, to move. My statues were spellbound, frozen.

    Strangely, satisfying my base need for food led me to my life’s work. Night had fallen long ago, and I was in a back alley, picking through the rotting fruit and vegetables beneath even the servants’ contempt. I bit into an apple and recoiled at the taste of decay and a wriggle against my lips. I spat, ran to the babbling spring at the alley’s end, and gladly drank. As the water washed the foulness from me, I saw my sculptures as the conduits for healing streams.

    My first fountain was simple: a group of water nymphs outside the bath-house, themselves bathing and pouring water. On its unveiling, the crowd gasped as sparkling water splashed and played, making rainbows in the sunshine.

    My next commission was a fountain for the park. I spent many days and evenings there, observing. Children jumped up and down and couples squeezed hands as the water jets embodied the swoops and dives of my wheeling flight of swallows.

    Perhaps I should have stopped there. However, the Mayor made me a very generous offer. I toyed with several ideas – I tried to resist – but my art called me.

    The fountain came to life and water soared upwards, joyful and free. I gasped at my own creation.

    The Mayor wept. ‘It’s true, isn’t it?’

    I had denied nothing, but I nodded. Leo had saved himself with his confession. While the hand was his, the intent was all mine. My chains clanked as I was led from the cemetery garden.

    The Mayor has already administered my main punishment by breaking up my masterpiece. What follows is a release.

    Soon I will be free as the water, ascending, a soul in flight.

    356 words
    @lizhedgecock

  15. C Connolly says:

    Drowning Deep

    Gazing into the murk over the flagstone clad edge, Lee wonders how it feels to drown – that surface struggle near-vertical, gasping at non-existent air and holding of breath whilst bobbing up, then down; further still, cloth soaked floundering, arms grasping, windmilling, emoting mute bubbles; face tilted up towards what little shafts of light might make their way into the water’s midst. He considers how long it would take him to sink towards submergence before he would be beyond saving. He thinks he could hold his breath for perhaps thirty or so seconds – maybe slightly more – sixty? – ninety, max? – before being forced to inhale as his body betrays him, self-preservation’s survival kicking in, like his legs beneath him, though he would be weighted to drag himself down, choice pre made, for what that would matter then.

    Splutter. Cough. Inadvertently imbibing more water. Reflexive laryngospasm tearing and burning its way through his chest. Squeeze slipping softly into a euphoric blanket of tranquillity – no movement now. Unconscious sinking slowly towards a bottom he cannot see from his current vantage point – it is beyond him; far below and into the deep down depths. He doesn’t know precisely how long it would take to hit rocky resistance; to reach his eventual end; he would be blue; a disappearance beyond recognition by that stage, in any event. Finally a true water baby, colour gilled at the nail beds; liquid’s kiss at the lips. He sees – knows – how it would be, at his conclusion. Lee draws in air, pulse beating faster, heart pacing, as he considers the permutations in their possibilities. The water laps beside him, silent companion in his contemplation.

    Lee takes a further deep breath – a beat – filling his lungs with air, expelling it slowly again – wholly, completely. Again. Another. Now that he is certain, finally, Lana is not going to surface again, he feels free to walk away from the jutting ledge, pulling his toes from their previous curled position at its perimeter. He doesn’t look back after he turns.

    (342 words)

    @FallIntoFiction

  16. pratibha says:

    Cell Mates

    I would only see the top of his head, the snug cap hugging his head and his pensive stance. Day after day, he stopped by the fountain and gazed into the dark swirly images as if he was stirring the pot of memories, memories that bubbled to the surface and disappeared in the crevices. I knew nothing about him, but something about his stance dug deep into my heart. I felt compassion, nay a kinship with him. I watched him through the window of our tenth-floor apartment.

    I wanted to run down and strike a conversation with him and ask him about his troubles. Ask him, talk to him, talk to anyone on the yard, anyone on the street, anyone! Any living soul. The cold steel latch on the door mocked me. The double pane windows kept the harmful air out dared me to break the glass and shout at him, at the world! I didn’t exactly know what was wrong with the air, but I knew every time I stepped outside and said hello to anyone, my world would crumble around me. Guillaume would not approve, and I knew what his disapproval entailed. I had lost my strength to endure one more outburst of his spewing lava. I needed to heal my scars before I should venture out again.

    One afternoon, when the rays of the sun, angrier than Guillaume’s eyes, shone in the window, I rose in defiance and turned the latch and ran down the stairs. Elevator lights blinked at me in wonder as I rushed past them. The sterile air of the afternoon had eradicated every human breath around the fountain. I stared in the water for a good long time hoping to unlock the secret of the mystery man. The mascara in my eyes melted and ran down my cheek. The clock on the square jingled and let out five strong beats. Just as I turned to return to my window cell, I spotted the small note on the ground.

    “Dear Window Angel, you have made my last few days on the earth bearable. Thank you and good bye!” It said.

  17. Apologies
    Beth Deitchman

    She said she’d be there by noon. Andrew checked his watch. 12:30. He scanned the square, hoping to spot that shock of red hair. The lunch crowd had already thinned. A woman hurried past him, head bowed, heels clicking. Andrew paced to the other side of the fountain. “Dammit,” he whispered, but he could not bring himself to leave. At any moment she could come bursting toward him. It was like Ellen to be late. He imagined her light-hearted apology and excuses—an irresistible side street, a busker playing Beethoven, a sudden craving for tea—rushing out of her in a breathless hurry, all while smiling into his eyes. He cringed knowing that he would forgive her without question.

    Disgusted, Andrew turned toward the fountain to watch the water rise, suspend, and fall. Calmed by the fountain’s rhythm, Andrew exhaled and leaned forward. Little waves rippled toward him, hitting the stone barrier and curling backward on themselves. Light played on the water’s murky surface. Across the circle, a pigeon strutted on the fountain’s edge, a piece of bread clamped in its beak. Andrew removed his hat, scratched his head, set the hat back in place.

    12:45. “Fuck.” In fifteen minutes he had to return to his cubicle. Still no red hair bobbed toward him. Andrew shook his head. A food truck stood at the edge of the square, the lunchtime line diminished. He headed over for a sandwich. He would have to eat at his desk again. Anger fueled his strides.

    “Andrew!” On he walked, his pace quickening, his fists clenching. “Andrew!”

    The fear in her voice stopped him. He turned, arms at his sides. Ellen raced across the square, wrapped her arms around his torso, and clung to him. For a beat, Andrew’s arms dangled, heavy. At war with himself, he held his breath. Ellen tensed against him. Then Andrew inhaled her scent, pulled her close, kissed the top of her head.

    “I’m sorry,” Ellen murmured into his chest. Andrew closed his eyes, ready for the excuse. “I’m sorry,” she repeated, louder this time, no laughter in her voice. Eyes clamped shut, Andrew nodded.

    355 words
    @beth_deitchman

  18. Amy Wood says:

    LoveStruck

    @jujitsuelf
    357 words

    “See him, that chap there?” Cupid Angelo nudged Cupid Brian and pointed at a man staring listlessly into a dreary fountain. “He’s hopeless. Complete and utter waste of time. Three times I’ve set him up and he’s still single.”

    “Maybe you’re setting him up with the wrong girl,” Cupid Brian shrugged, stealing Cupid Angelo’s ice cream. “Or he might be gay, did you think of that, genius?”

    “Tried that.” Angelo plucked the spoon from Brian’s grasp. “He experimented but screwed that up too. The pen-pushers are punishing me with this guy.”

    “Well, there was that thing with the bloke and the donkey and the Vestal Virgins back in Rome…”

    “I know,” Angelo winced. “I was young. Surely that wasn’t bad enough to warrant getting saddled with Mr Useless-at-Love.”

    Brian swiped Angelo’s latte.

    Angelo rolled his eyes. “Okay, I’m officially asking for help. What do I do with this guy?”

    “Try a donkey,” Brian said, smirking. “He might like them.”

    “Not helpful,” Angelo snapped. “Hold on…”

    Useless-at-Love took a coin from his pocket and rubbed a thumb carefully over it before flipping it into the murky water. Barely a second later another coin landed in the same spot. A blonde girl glanced at Useless and smiled, all bashful dimples and doe eyes. Useless smiled back.

    Brian grinned. “Feel that?”

    “Yeah,” Angelo nodded slowly.

    The familiar flutterings of newborn attraction wriggled pleasurably in his stomach. What would it be like to feel that and know they were nobody’s feelings but his own? Angelo thrust the thought away. Not the time.

    “Looks like they don’t need us,” Brian said, settling back in his chair. “You lost one, mate. Useless found love all on his own. Not good for your portfolio.”

    “Bugger off,” Angelo frowned and nicked Brian’s Danish pastry. “It’s not my fault.”

    “Keep telling yourself that, mate.”

    Angelo munched the pastry and watched Useless flirt with the blonde. Maybe love really did conquer all. Maybe one day he’d get to try it for himself. Maybe one day he’d tell Brian just how much he enjoyed being on assignments with him. But not just yet.

  19. Marie McKay says:

    The Meeting

    His heart beats loudly in his own ears. He’s struck a casual stance but wonders if, in fact, it looks too posed.
    They had written to one another- small talk in longhand- way out of fashion.

    She is now late- or she’s stood him up. He wouldn’t blame her. He had almost cancelled the whole thing himself. He felt too old; too self-conscious. He was seventy, after all. Who was he kidding?

    But he had thought of the empty chairs opposite him wherever he went, and he had thought how wonderful it would feel to look into someone’s eyes rather than into empty spaces. Then he had dressed and given himself an encouraging nod in the mirror, before heading out on his blind date.

    Blind date. That word makes him feel ridiculous again.He looks into the water.
    ‘Daft, old fool,’ he says to himself. ‘She’s not even turned up.’

    ‘Harold? Harold? That’s you, isn’t it? Sorry, I’m late…’

    Before looking up, he gives his reflection one more small nod.

    (170 words)

  20. A Little Dip

    He leans over the water’s edge, all of his life swimming before him in an endless tide of self-importance, baleful self-reflection struggling against the tide. It sparkles on the surface, invites him in to join the struggle… But that would be foolish. And he knows it. No fight left in this one.

    It’s his lunch break, he’s got time to kill before he returns to the number-crunching and the arse-kissing, before another day is claimed, catalogued and reduced to hundreds, tens and units – not his life, not anymore.

    Another day like this will kill him, he thinks, but he thinks this every day.

    Then again, that water looks so damn fine. Something stirs. He loosens his tie, reaches for his belt buckle. Today he will take the plunge, naked and free, at peace with the existence, now more an ordered table of unspent earnings than real human experience. He checks his watch – habit wrenches him back to reality, whatever that is.

    Lunch break over. Back to work, little maggot.

    Same time tomorrow.

    175 words

  21. A Little Dip

    He leans over the water’s edge, all of his life swimming before him in an endless wave of self-importance, doleful self-reflection struggling against the tide. It sparkles on the surface, invites him in to join the struggle… But that would be foolish. And he knows it. No fight left in this one.

    It’s his lunch break, he’s got time to kill before he returns to the number-crunching and the arse-kissing, before another day is claimed, catalogued and reduced to hundreds, tens and units – not his life, not anymore.

    Another day like this will kill him, he thinks, but he thinks this every day.

    Then again, that water looks so damn fine. Something stirs. He loosens his tie, reaches for his belt buckle. Today he will take the plunge, naked and free, at peace with the existence, now more an ordered table of unspent earnings than real human experience. He checks his watch – habit wrenches him back to reality, whatever that is.

    Lunch break over. Back to work, little maggot.

    Same time tomorrow.

    172 words

    Forgive me, I’m a noob and I had to re-post with alterations.

  22. Carlos Orozco says:

    Memories
    @goldzco21
    357 words

    He stood at the fountain, alone, in the grey afternoon. It had been five years since the fountain had been turned off. It was around the same time the small town had been turned off. It died slow. The few people still residing within the city were too proud, too poor, or too old to leave. John was afflicted with all three ailments.

    He believed the remaining citizens could breathe life back into the town, passing it off as a quiet, quaint mountain retreat. He’d heard of people loving to vacation in places like these, but he had neither the resources nor the youth to perform the sort of work necessary to resurrect a dead town. So instead he would stand and look at the fountain.

    It was stunning, even in its now defunct condition. The four stacked, white marble tiers contrasted beautifully with the green, pooled rain water they held. The wide concrete basin was filled with water from the winter’s bountiful snows. The scene before him was haunting. Looking around the small square, he could see the ghosts of people past, when each Sunday they would gather and celebrate the ordinary. He saw the children making wishes and throwing coins into the water, the young lovers sitting on the ledge, making vows of everlasting love, and the elderly on benches telling stories from their youth. Happiness was ubiquitous then.

    A sudden melancholy pulled his mind back to the present. If only the world could see the town’s ghosts like he did, then the masses would trample one other for a chance to be part of this town. But unfortunately the ghosts lived in his memories, only meant to haunt him.

    John wondered when the last time he’d wished on this fountain was. He couldn’t remember so he climbed on the ledge and pulled a coin out of his pocket. He inspected the silver shell. This was the only thing that could bring life to this town.

    “I wish the world could see the same ghosts I do,” he said.

    Then he placed the silver coin on his tongue, jumped in the water, and stayed there.

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