Flash Frenzy Round 55

Posted: February 14, 2015 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , ,

Hello, hello, hello, and Happy Valentine’s Day. This weekend I’ll be engaging in a three-day editing extravaganza, but come Monday, I shall break from my writing duties to judge your entries.

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. “Monochrome Memory”

    Light and Darkness reflected in delicate balance
    Beauty in the Light, Black used as Negative Space
    Image sharper and more distinct Beauty without Flaw apparent
    Illuminating Shadow play along collarbone and cheek
    Visual response of perfection, of Complexity
    Model of Ideal and Foreign delicacy

    Transpose color to chase away Shadow and what remains?
    Violent flesh color invites overflow from Container of Dark versus Light
    No longer the only possibilities
    Societal boundaries crowd close to the edge
    Jockeying for position—
    Black? White? Citizen? Fashion reflected? Spoken language? Political sides?

    Variations of dark and light create
    Art and physical unquestioning beauty and mystery
    Add possibility beyond monochrome dreams has
    Power to shatter artistic vision and gather criticism


    Word Count: 116 words

  2. mrmacrum says:

    The Pilgrimage – 360 words

    Jose climbed the broken steps of his ancestral home and gazed at what was left of Hacienda Grande. It had been one of the oldest ranches in Columbia. Quality cattle, coffee, and grain lifted it above the rest. It was the Coca plant that destroyed it. Gone was the main house, the granero, and all the corrals. Instead, squatter shacks were scattered about. The residents were probably eking out a living tending the coffee plants on the slopes of the Andes to the west for some agri-business based in Cartago.

    He had heard the stories. A perceived insult to one of the cartels some said. Others were positive it was when Jose’s grandfather stopped growing their coca. The truth of why did not matter now, 25 years later. What mattered to Jose was his birthright disappeared the day the cartel Sicarios came. They dragged his grandparents and 3 of their 4 children from their home and shot them dead. Burning and ransacking all the buildings just to emphasize to other growers how seriously the notion of loyalty was taken.

    The cartel made a mistake. They failed to find Jose’s mother, who was attending college in California. When word reached her, she disappeared. Unknown to her, she was one month pregnant. And now Jose stood on this old killing ground trying to make sense of it all.


    Startled, Jose turned around. Facing him was an old man he assumed was a mestizo, probably a resident of the tin shack village near the tree line. “No Habla Espanol. Do you speak English?”.

    The old man replied, “Si Senor, a little.”

    They stared at each other. The old man spoke. “You have her eyes.”

    “Her eyes?”

    The mestizo handed him a photograph. “I pulled it from the rubble.”

    It had to be his grandmother, the most famous Flamenco dancer since Carmen Amaya. Another family fable had risen from the grave.

    “You knew my grandmother?”

    “Si, I was head vaquero.”

    Both became silent. Jose said, “Thank you for this, my mother had no pictures.”

    The old man stared at Jose. “You must avenge her senor.”

    “I will. ………. Count on it.”

  3. Mark A. King says:

    Babes in the Wood


    360 words


    Wayland Wood is a place of folklore, enhancement and magic. Others use the ancient name, the Wailing Woods, and talk of a place of dark fairy-tales and death.

    The spring equinox is a time when darkness fights light and in their annual war, they call an uneasy truce, that can last but only one day. In this dalliance of daylight, the children that never lived, or barely lived, will live for just one day, and by nightfall they will be gone.

    The boy watches her from behind the shadow of the giant oak, cushioned underfoot by the drooping whites and structured yellows of spring.

    The girl has seen him, she knows he hides, but she continues to twirl in the hushed winds of the Wayland. She dances as if today is the only day.

    He approaches her. Softly offers his hand.

    “Tommy,” he says.

    “Isla,” she smiles.

    Then she turns and runs.

    He chases.

    By rising steam of the mid-morning sun, the two children who never lived are awkward teenagers. Stumbling and avoiding what is obvious and inevitable.

    They hold supple and unwrinkled hands. They embrace, but they are too young to kiss.

    By midday, the memories of their first kiss are but distant echoes in time. They no longer play in games of children but enjoy the exploration of young, invincible adults.

    She dresses for him. Her hair is long and falls from her like the abyss of an endless night; a night they’ll never see. In the sky, the gaps between the canopies conjure stars made of pure sunlight that shine more brilliantly through the cracks than the glittering nebulae of the Milky Way. She fans the leaves of the maple tree and looks at him like he is everything to her. Everything.

    By afternoon, they are tired. They lounge on the warm carpet of bark and soil. Isla rests on his rising and falling chest. And in the rhythm of his contented heartbeat she dreams of nothing but this moment in time.

    By dusk, they hold hands that are weathered. They look through eyes of grey.

    Before nightfall, they sleep.

    In the autumn equinox, it starts again.

  4. F. E. Clark says:

    352 words
    F. E. Clark – @feclarkart

    Inheriting the Mask

    “I have painted this mask for over 50 years now” she announces, inhaling a long draw from her cigarette.

    “Every day” she tips the fag ash onto a saucer.

    “It was my style, my verve, my signature, but now it is just me.”

    Lola stares mutely at Josephine whose eyeliner is almost perfect, only slightly bleeding into the creases of her face.

    Lola adjusts the shimmery cocktail dress she is wearing, pushing up the green fedora on her head, meets Josephine’s glaring kohl-rimmed eyes.

    “I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of people who have seen me without it in the last, oh, forty years, and of those handful; several have left the land of the seeing” Josephine mutters. She takes another draw from her cigarette.

    Lola stops her wriggling, stills, she herself knows that she is one of the remaining few who have seen Josephine without her ‘mask’, though she thought that this was her own secret.

    “Barefaced, I am a vague impression of reality, or is that only vaguely impressed by reality? I digress….” Josephine, as she often does, seems to be talking to someone else.

    Lola thinks Josephine is perhaps thinking out loud, and stays very still, watching. Maybe she has gotten away with it. Maybe it will be ok….

    “And YOU, young lady! Where do you imagine you are going at 9am in the morning dressed in my best dress and hat? Which, I must say, should NEVER be worn together. And, what is that on your face? The idea is to accentuate my dear, not paint bruises on oneself.”

    Lola cringes, busted. “I just wanted to look like you Nana Jo…..”

    “How many times have I told you, not to call me that – I am JOSEPHINE! Do you hear me? Josephine to one and all. A nana is a fruit, and a rather phallic one at that.”

    “Sorry” Lola whispers.

    Josephine stubs the last of her cigarette out on the saucer, surveys the six year old before her and says, “Come here then girl. Let me show you how to do it properly”.

  5. Observing The Rules

    It began in death, beneath the world; in suffocation and shadow. The search was quick – easy – though I had thought it likely long. “Come,” I said to her, pleading. “Return with me. See light and life again.”

    My Izanami spat loudly – violent – cloaked beneath darkness. “Too late,” she said. “Famished, I was fed. Now I am one with the dead. I belong below. There is no reconciliation for me now.”
    “Please,” I said. “I am here. They must let you go. The rules were observed.”

    “By you,” Izanami said. “I ate. Now I belong. One rule superceding another. You see how it is, my lost love? How was I to know you would come?” A pause. “I was hungry! Starving! How should I have known?”

    “No matter now,” I said, quiet. “I am here. This rule supercedes their other. We shape the clauses of our return together – whether they will or no. The magics have their flaws. Isn’t it so? Didn’t we say it many times – before?”

    “It is. Sometimes. Not always,” Izanami said. “Though you must catch them on the turn, to catch them at all.” A silence. “We will return to the world above darkness together – though shadow must prevail as we journey. Will that be so?”

    “As you will, love,” I said. “Pitch broken only by torchlight to see our feet.” So saying, I set light to the wooden comb plucked from above my ear to set us on our way, an urgent whine in my ears. Light cast itself onto what once was my Izanami – what was left of what once was. Her ravaged carcass rotting; overrun with maggots – labyrinthine paths scaled throughout the remaining flesh hanging neglected from the underlying bone. Things unnamed poked from between ribs, playing peekaboo, before the quivering flame shivered – guttering out; blackness reigning supreme. I shrieked, wordless and started to run, legs pounding.

    “Together!” Izanami screamed, behind me. “You promised!”

    Close. Too close.

    “You wanted a return!” Izanami said, plaintive. “There was no mention of terms. What should I do now when I cannot go back, save follow your promise?” Pleading, “I’m hungry, my love.”

    (360 words)


  6. voimaoy says:

    Beyond the Barrier
    350 words

    Am I to be discarded, useless as a summer fan?  He has been gone two months, I’ve watched the changing moon.  It changes, like his feelings. Barely two months gone, and his letter speaks of a parting of the waters. How should I reply?  Outside, the messenger is waiting under the falling leaves.

    My sister says it’s different beyond the Barrier.  It’s another world. The people beyond the Barrier communicate  instantaneously, almost mind to mind. They send letters on screens.  She says  they came and go as they please. They don’t dress at all like we do.

    If I ask her how she knows these things, she can’t answer me. It’s  like a dream, she says. She has never been beyond the Barrier, but she has been there, walked along the wide, white  streets where the lights change.

    I think  these stories come from jealousy. What else could it be? I  know she wants him for herself. She has always been the one to copy me, my fans, the length of my sleeves. She even steals my poetry.

    Go on, I say, you can have the poems. Maybe they will help you find someone who isn’t interested in your looks. I shouldn’t have said that, because she tore out a chunk of my hair in her rage. She almost cut it all off.

    And now, she’s telling our mother she wants to become a nun. She wants to cut her hair and pray to the Goddess of Compassion, to understand her visions.  She says I should become a nun, too. This world is all illusion. She has seen beyond the barrier where life lasts for a breath.

    How should I respond?  She is my sister, but I do not want to leave this world. I want to wait for him, until  my hair grows thin, and the cold wind shakes the screens.

    The messenger is flirting with my sister. I pass her one of my poems. In my letter I say, when you come back we can speak of parting. Tangled words on mulberry paper, folded around my favorite comb.

  7. Foy says:

    word count: 360

    Love Out of Japan

    Roland was transfixed. Since it downloaded, teasingly in rows of pixels, his eyes hadn’t lifted from the screen. She was gorgeous. A ten to his five, easy.
    “If I’m dreaming,” he muttered. “Now would be a good time to realize.” Or maybe not. He’d had his doubts about entering the 21st century, putting his heart on the web, and joining “Set-U-up.” Now it looked like the smartest thing he’d ever done. Well, technically, Sam did it. He didn’t realize how much he talked about his ex until quiet, even Sam exploded.
    “Roland, you’ve got to move on! Everyone goes through break-ups. Find someone, join a dating site, get a doll, for all I care, just…stop.”

    The next day, she’d handed him a notepad, her eyebrows daring him to protest.
    “BatmanLover?” He asked, staring at the username scratched in blue. “And my password is…pizza?”
    “You can change the password, not the username. I tried to be honest.”

    When he checked his profile, he wished she were less dedicated to the truth. Which was more embarrassing, being thirty-six and single, or the fact his baby-sister set up an online dating profile for him? He changed his password to Pizza1.

    At first, it was slow-going. He’d get home from an endless day of stale memos, and stern invoices, nursing a florescent-bulb migraine only to find his inbox empty.
    “Reach out.” Sam admonished. “Be bold.”
    He’d stalked the forums only to receive rejection and shrugging off.

    Then one day, a message.
    She was Japanese-Polish, thirty-four, living in Osaka, and single. He’d written back. They talked about Japan, her family, and the weather. Her English was atrocious but in a cute way.

    Weeks glided by. Then it smacked him. He was in love.
    “I want to visit you…”
    Roland’s finger hesitated. Send. He waited. Minutes dragged and those six innocuous words, morphed into THE stupidest thing he could’ve sent. Like proclaiming love on a first date stupid.

    “Weather is good to visit, Darling.”
    He stared at her response, uncomprehending. Copy, paste, he sent a few exchanges to Sam’s email, subject line: “Read this?”
    Seconds later, his cell rang.
    “Criminy, Roland, you’re dating a Virtual Cupid!”

  8. Amy Wood says:


    352 words (I think, counted the old fashioned way as I don’t have my laptop right now)

    The Fool

    Was ever a fan wielded with such soul-slicing precision? Were eyes ever oh-so-coyly flashed over painted flowers? Did a more bewitching smile ever lurk behind wood and fabric?

    Sadly for me, no.

    Giulietta di Marco. The jewel of the king’s court, beauty supreme and my downfall. How I loved her. Night and day, desire ate at me, burning my very soul, tearing at my senses. What a fool I was, what a blind fool.

    Love is a glorious thing, the poets say, beautiful and sweet. I say love is poison, stealing into hearts and minds, ensnaring free will and destroying rationality.

    Giulietta stole my free will, along with everything else I possessed. What a web she spun around me, how her coils drew me in and squeezed me until my breath was no longer my own. I was her willing slave and she knew it.

    ‘Never trust a beautiful woman’. My father’s favourite piece of wisdom. My mother was beautiful. She ran off with a shepherd, so I imagine Papa knew well what he spoke of.

    Giulietta was more than beautiful, I forgot Papa’s wisdom. Her eyes lured me in and her smile teased gold from my purse. Foolish me.

    “I need new dresses, Pierre,” she’d say, or “I want that emerald so much, my love.” Always accompanied by glances to melt my heart.

    I never questioned why no jewels or dresses appeared in her apartments. Until the night the king’s guard came for me.

    Naked swords and grim faces escorted me to the local gaol. The sergeant at arms knew me and looked away.

    “Funding anti-Royalist movements is punishable by death. Sentence to be carried out immediately.”

    I cried out, protested my innocence, struggled and cursed to no avail.

    A chill, grey dawn and rising mist from the marshes were my final view of the world. Love is a splendid thing but how easily it can bring a man to his knees, the axe poised in the air above him.

    Farewell, beautiful Giulietta with your bewitching fan and sinful eyes. My treacherous sweetheart. May you burn in hell, my love.

  9. joshbertetta says:

    “Lost in Translation”
    359 Words

    Even an alibi full of her favorites and more than a spoonful of applesauce couldn’t convince my air-tight fire alarm to button shine while everyone else gave the knee. My blue serge just stood there, pulled her fan to her face and the door on the bank.

    Charlie with his cheaters screamed “Get hot! Get hot!” as his keen little floorflusher in her glorious regalia and lamp posts wrestled to the whangdoodle. I was more than ready to blouse the blow.

    I ain’t normally a billboard, let alone a sharpshooter, but that night I had all the prunes. I’d gandered myself up and took her to the finest nosebaggery before I, already goofy after our first date, asked her to drag a sock.

    She’d said yes and smiled, the color on her lips as pronounced as her hips. “Well ain’t that the monkey’s eyebrows!” I’d said and ran outside to call for a ten cent box.

    I followed her eyes and understood why she overdosed on the shellac.

    A ten minute bust loomed with his nut cracker.

    “My ex.”

    Even a box of chocolates full of her favorites and more than enough flattery couldn’t convince my date, a recent divorcee, to dance close while everyone else danced cheek to cheek. My sweetheart just stood there, pulled her fan to her face. There’d be no kissing or petting tonight.

    A man with a moustache and glasses encouraged his attractive, insatiable, flamboyantly dressed and ostentatiously bejeweled girlfriend as she shimmied to the jazz. I was more than ready to leave the dance.

    I’m not normally a flashy man, let alone one who spends a lot, but that night I had all my money. I’d dressed myself up and took her to the finest restaurant before I, already in love after our first date, asked her to dance.

    She’d said yes and smiled, the color on her lips as pronounced as her hips. “We’ll isn’t that great!” I’d said and ran outside to call for a cab.

    I followed her eyes and understood why she wore too much makeup.

    An exceptionally tough prize fighter stood there with his nightstick.

    “My ex.”

  10. […] first story for The Angry Hourglass in quite some time is based on prompt below and received runner up. I tried a little something […]

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