Flash Frenzy Round 76

Posted: August 29, 2015 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , ,

And the baton is mine! Welcome back, Flash Dogs. I know you’re tired from MicroBookends, FlashMob, and Flash! Friday, but we’ve got a great photo prompt this weekend and Marie McKay is eager to read your work. So take a breath, stretch those muscles, and get ready for Flash Frenzy!

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. Richard Edenfield says:

    The Boy Who Fished in Raindrops

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Casio was 9 and wore a large red hat. He lived in the Amazon with his family and would fish inside raindrops for magical fish. He talked to the fish he caught and they imparted great knowledge.

    Ralph was a pigeon. Ralph was the only known pigeon in the rainforest. He came from a cargo ship whose port of call was America. He stood out with his gray coat in the multicolored arena. Ralph was Casio’s friend.

    Casio’s little hut was next to many others. He was far removed from the machines that ate the forest with loud metal teeth.

    The rain came down hard in large chunks. Casio walked with Ralph. He would set himself up in a tree and hold his pole out. Ralph perched above and watched. The magical fish were as aerodynamic as a wish moving with a silky grace between the long branches. When Casio got a tug he would reel in the prize.

    “How can we make the men leave?” He asked the fish, referring to the ones who destroyed the trees.

    “They will not leave on their own,” the magical fish stated. “We must do a very magical spell on them.”

    Back at the hut, Casio told his father about what the magical fish had said. “There are no magical fish,” he said with fatherly certainty. Casio then went to his mother who prepared him a large bowl of soup made up of non-magical fish.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    The men who killed trees had inexplicably left. His father was dumbfounded.

    “Where do the magical fish go?”

    “They go back to the river,” Casio said as if it was a silly question.

    In a very private moment, when he was sure no one was around, Casio’s father went down to the river and bent his arm and cupped some water in his hand and looked very earnestly to see if he could observe any magical fish. But only little boys could see magical fish, little boys with imaginations as real as the sun. And he let the water run from his hand not knowing his son was a wizard with a fishing pole as a magic wand.

    (360 words)

  2. davidshakes says:

    ‘We Can Make The World Stop.’
    350 words
    @theshakes72

    There it is, right there, nestled in the palm of this leathered hand – and who’s to say things won’t turn out differently this time?

    Call me the eternal optimist.

    How many days has it been?

    Do not think that I measure my days in hours and minutes – ours is a measure of aeons.

    A weariness has settled in my bones and time laid waste to my ambitions. I simply long to be finished.

    This is the fifth day.

    Each time the fifth day.

    On the fifth day I do this, and I see that it is good.

    On the fifth day, it’s always good.

    I have worked so hard. Separating the waters in which we stand from the sky took work.

    Yesterday the sun, moon and stars *again* – placing them spinning in the firmament. I started the seasons and set their days in motion.
    There it is, right there, nestled in the palm of this leathered hand – a simple bacteria whose circular genomes will be engulfed by the early ancestors of your eukaryotic cells.
    Within these vast oceans it will spawn the creatures of the sea. I will then create the birds of the sky.
    All of this will be good.
    I should stop.
    I can’t stop.
    I never stop.
    I could drink the sea and be done, wait for the sky to fall but what good would that do?
    It is written (I wrote it) that on the sixth day I create land animals and Man.
    Man *will* fall.
    On the seventh day I will rest. By the time I awaken, they’ll have made a holy mess of it and it’s all downhill again.
    I’ve reconciled myself with that.
    But you?
    You can do it.
    You *can* convince them.
    Would I sacrifice my only begotten son were I unsure?
    This time will be different son, I’m certain.
    It had better be.
    They’re handing the lab over if I fail again.
    God alone knows what will happen then.

  3. Richard Edenfield says:

    The Spiritual Car Wash

    ***************************

    Miracles were illusions created by soulful longings for a brief interlude of knowledge’s deadpan void. That was what he thought. He also thought that the odds of finding the meaning of life, in life itself, was the same as trying to find a particular raindrop that had fallen into the ocean during a hurricane; to walk the path and know the path at the same time was like trying to stand in a rainbow while patting your stomach and eating Cracker Jack. But in reality there was no separation, and this was not just a fly-by-night stance by hundreds of years of poets – this was the art of breathing. Touching. Being love falling in love. He saw his soul as an automobile.

    And GRX was what he called his haunted soul that he steered using his halo.

    It handled life’s twists and turns, well. 0-60 faster than imagination.

    Golden yellow with a cool stick. Sound system that made air into a 3D dream symphony of Mozart moaning love serenades. Woman loved it.

    An alarm called conscience; if it goes off, direction changed.

    Enlightenment gas; spontaneous childhood petroleum.

    It’s driven by the universe and is the inspiration for all art. And the whole thing is a convertible, as if driving nothing but the reflection of the sun in a lake.

    ****************************

    The water connected to his hand with a long string of invisible pearls. A miracle parade. An umbilical cord plugging us all into the nature of things. But a fuse had blown. A spark plug. He had to find the connection, again. The spare in the sky was fading. He saw his reflection in his palm and realized the world needed a spiritual car wash.

    (284 words)

  4. A V Laidlaw says:

    @AvLaidlaw
    358 Words

    Naraka

    The sun here is so small but so white that the desert cracks with fissures wider than the palm of his hand. Rajat strips off the orange jumpsuit, stuffs it under the broken rocks, and staggers on although the guards won’t follow him. They know there is no place to go outside the camp, only the dust and ashes that clothe this world in its funeral robes. And Rajat knows nothing at all, only the rumour heard from the old man, one of the first crew with skin blackened so dark by this sun that he seemed to exist only as an absence.

    This world has an official name, strings of letters and numbers for the reports, easily forgotten by those back on Earth. The prisoners call it Naraka. The last destination for a sinner, a cock-sure boy who stabbed his gang’s rival in a fight. He had no choice, Rajat tells himself over and over like a mantra, the man was gangster who would have killed first. But Rajat sees his slothful eyes that barely flickered in the alien stars at night, feels the heat of his blood on skin in the blaze of the small white sun. They call this world Hell.

    Yet even in hell there is a rumour of forgiveness. And as Rajat clambers over the ridge it becomes more than a rumour, a great river running through the desert, the ripples glittering in the sunlight as wide and beautiful as the Ganges herself. He runs down the banks, arms and legs flailing as if tumbling, until he falls into the water. The water washes over him. It washes away the dead skin from the blisters, the blood from the scratches, the ancient ache in his bones.

    He stands and scoops the water into his hands to drink. But reflected in his palms Rajat sees the face, the dead man’s face staring back at him with the unblinking eyes of the betrayed. They have taken him too far from the source of the Goddess. There is no forgiveness in this river, there is nothing sacred in this world.

    Along the ridge, stand the guards.

  5. Holly Geely says:

    Brain Freeze
    @hollygeely
    341 words

    “What’s wrong with him, doctor?”

    The young man was understandably troubled; he’d just seen his boyfriend collapse.

    “I’m afraid he’s suffering from…” Here a dramatic pause; after all, Doctor J. had earned his medical degree during his soap opera phase, “…brain freeze.”

    The young man gasped. “Is it serious?”

    “That depends on what he was drinking.”

    “He scooped up some of the water. We’ve never had it fresh before.”

    Doctor J.’s heart went out to the young couple. Two vibrant young men who had been born into this dying world. Earth 37 was faring no better than Earth 1; he would have thought people would know better by now.

    “Brain Freeze is an Earth 1 concept, lad. You get a headache if you drink something cold too fast. He’s going to be fine.”

    “Why’d you act like it was a big deal, then?” the young man demanded.

    “To teach you a lesson. This is why you kids should stick to the tour group,” Dr. J. said. “Kid” was a loose term he used to describe anything under the age of 500.

    “Did people really used to have their drinks that cold?”

    “They did. I saw it with my own eyes when my people rescued the humans of Earth 1. They were down to their last reserves, but they even froze bits of it and put it in their cold drinks to make them colder.”

    “Weird.”

    “You can go and see him now,” Doctor J. said. The young man thanked him and shook his hand.

    “Well, Flippin,” he said to his faithful pet dust mite, “We may have cured all the major human diseases, but I’ll never be out of a job.”

    “Wrrzzt?” Flippin asked.

    “Brain freeze might have been the worst thing they’ve ever had to worry about, but their generation will be just like all the others. They’ll take and take and we’ll have to find Earth 38.”

    “Blrrrp.”

    “You’re right, of course. Let’s get a large warm margarita and chill in our lavish mansion. Ah, humans. I love them.”

    • Geoff Holme says:

      Ah, Holly. You paint a clever tableau of an alternate universe – a brainy frieze! (I wish I hadn’t said that now… 😦 )

  6. Richard Edenfield says:

    Hummingbird

    ~~~~~~~~~

    His reflection made an oil spill like two lovers kissing at midnight in Paris.

    Photograph inside a camera you flutter. Not knowing which way to go – up or down. The finger hesitates over the button

    The water joined like a record album rippling out in grooved seance. Not science. A turntable of air you balance on and sing.

    A sample of a lover like a kiss. You need proof before you dive in. Your wings move so quickly that they are silent. You speak in bedroom whispers of sheet flag surrender.

    Your body is an arrow. You bow to the target. It runs from your fingers. Then flies away.

    (110 words)

  7. Richard Edenfield says:

    Moves like a Panther
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “When did you first come up with the idea?”

    “When I was alone in the jungle.”

    “You thought of trapping it then?”

    “Yes. I thought of caging it in some way to bring it to the people.”

    “It was not rare like let’s say… a Siberian Tiger.”

    “No, not at all. Very common like a Brazilian glass butterfly.”

    “That is not common at all.”

    “I know. I was just making light of the fact that it’s ordinary.”

    “Like light through a window.”

    “Exactly.”

    “You found it in its natural habitat?”

    “Yes. It roamed wild. It moved like a black panther. It was very sleek. Sort of uniform.”

    “What weapons did you use?”

    “At first? My hands.”

    “Then what?”

    “That is a secret.”

    “What did you feed it?”

    “Nothing. That was the beauty of it.”

    “Nothing?”

    “Sometimes lemon.”

    “Lemon?”

    “Yes.”

    “Did it ever die?”

    “No. Not really. Just sort of disappeared.”

    “When did you realize that it would turn into a multi-billion dollar business?”

    “When I got thirsty. You see, I was running in the forest and I thought if I just had a bottle of water everything would be just great. Then I went down to the river and went in and cupped the water in my hands and thought, eureka… I’ll bottle this shit.”

    “Now you live in a house in Malibu.”

    “Yes. With my lovely wife Amber and my 14 kids and three Rolls and 7 vacation homes.”

    “All from bottled water.”

    “Yes. ”

    “What are your plans for the future?”

    “I am going to bottle air.”

    “Where will you find it?”

    “In the dreams of butterflies.”

    (273 words)

  8. stephellis2013 says:

    A Father’s Love

    358 words

    @el_Stevie
    #FlashDog

    Samil watched his sons with his all-seeing eye. He had contrived many tests to decide which of his children should succeed him in his shadow world. Now there were only two of them left in the Hall of Sons.

    “When you hold even a drop of water, you hold the world in your hands. When you take a mere sip, you drink in all the life of the world. That is the human weakness, man is not blood, he is merely water,” said Aliah. “Drink.”

    Ubel eyed his brother warily.

    “This is not a trick,” said Aliah, as if reading his mind. “I am merely offering you a drink.”

    So Ubel drank. And his thirst emptied the Nile and the Congo, the Limpopo and the Zambesi. He tasted rock and stone, bone and blood and elements synthetic and vile. In front of his eyes he saw the land wither and die; deserts replaced jungle and life vanished. Aliah had spoken the truth.

    “And when you spit it out?” asked Ubel as he tasted the bitterness of the impurities, felt the weight of his thirst.

    Aliah laughed at his brother’s discomfort. “Try it and see.”

    So Ubel opened his mouth and the water poured forth. The deluge swamped Asia, triggered flooding in Europe. Continents became islands and islands disappeared.

    Then Samil stepped out of the shadows. “And what have you learned from this, my sons?”

    The brothers raised their heads from the scrying bowl. Ubel reached for a jug of wine, no doubt to rid himself of the sourness that remained on his tongue but Samil stayed his hand. The youth had failed the unspoken rule and already the toxins from the world below were ravaging his body.

    “You have drunk poisoned waters without thinking,” said Samil. “Since when did I teach you to trust your brother?”

    He saw horrified realisation dawn on Ubel’s face but it was too late; there would be no answer. He closed Ubel’s sightless eyes.

    Samil had one son now. One whose treachery would make him a worthy successor. He would have to tread with caution.

    The Hall of Sons was no longer needed.

  9. Pattyann McCarthy says:

    @PattyannMc
    WC: 359

    Seal Trappers

    Odern, a peaceful fisherman, was taking a soothing dip in the crystal waters of the Tasman Sea. Hair in a traditional matted ponytail, a loincloth wrapped around his waist, he watched sparkling drops run between calloused fingers. Life was calm and peaceful, but he knew the Seal-trappers would come, and then troubles would begin for him.

    Today, the sea was placid, gentle waves lapped the shoreline. Mountains rose in mild slopes inland; the air bright and sweet.

    Months rolled away. He and his tribesman worked the waters, selling to fishmongers that visited frequently for fresh sea fare. He and his people chose not to move inland during the fall and winters.

    October came with cooling temperatures when Odern’s friend, Kolya spotted the vessels heading towards Bass Strait where the seals bred on the rocks.

    “We can’t let them take our resources this time,” Kolya said, approaching Odern. “We must do something, or they will strip us of our seals.”

    “I know, my friend. How close are the boats?”

    “They are just coming over the horizon. We must make hurry before they dock.”

    The two gathered men from the tribe, loaded their Dugout canoes of silver Sycamore with weapons of spears and axes, and made haste for the Strait. They reached it before the seal-trappers. Hiding their canoes behind the boulders, they laid in wait, roaming seals tolerating their presence as if they understood the tribe came to help them.

    As twenty seal-trappers docked and set foot on land, Odern and his tribe attacked, spears flying among the screaming seals who joined the fight against the trappers. Odern’s eldest son, Balunn was among the fighters, his ax swinging round, finding purchase in the flesh of the trappers. Odern tried to keep his eyes affixed upon his son during the struggle, but lost sight of him.

    The fighting lasted hours, the remaining trappers defeated, pushing off in their boats. Odern looked for Balunn and found him lying on the other side of the boulders, bleeding from his head, dying.

    “I’m sorry, my friend,” Koyla cried.

    Odern hung his head as he oared Balunn’s lifeless body home, saying his farewell through tears.

  10. Stella T says:

    @stellakateT
    59 words

    The Nature Of The Beast

    Washing his hands in the sacred river, he prayed to the Gods. It was a thankless task. His hands were sore from the pollution, his eyes tired of seeing the terrifying sights, his mind slowly unravelling with the anarchy of it all. His spirit at breaking point, his heart crushed whilst the Sins of the World kept coming, unabated.

  11. Rebekah Postupak says:

    Act Now, Don’t Wait, Guaranteed to Work

    You know how they say that stain remover stuff advertised on TV can get anything out?

    It’s a lie.

    Take the birthday you gave me a yellow shirt (you didn’t know yet to avoid giving me pastels) and then, foolish girl, handed me a popsicle.

    “Bonus party favor,” you said, grinning, as a cherry-colored, duck-shaped stain suddenly appeared on my chest.

    This meant trouble: kids already loved tormenting me for my ubiquitous stains. I tried explaining my precarious situation to you, but you just made quacking noises until you were laughing so hard your quacks devolved into hiccupping snorts.

    I scrubbed and scrubbed (it really was a great shirt) but, though the shirt doesn’t fit anymore, the duck still waddles, like it imprinted on someone hiding just past the seam.

    Then there was the time I was housesitting for Mrs. Schauer.

    “Merlot!” you said when you showed up, wine in one hand and a shopping bag with Camembert and chick flicks in the other. Not once did you tease me for being scared in that big house by myself. You were less merciful, however, when an hour later I kicked my glass over on the white sheepskin rug and subsequently cleaned it so thoroughly, the spot glowed.

    “I didn’t know Mrs. Schauer’s sheep were grey!” you said.

    “Club soda next time, okay?” I grumbled. You stuck your tongue out and poured me another glass.

    Things only grew worse. Your emergency caramel macchiato I tipped over on my master’s thesis. Your byline-splashed newsprint smeared on my fingers (and then nose) before my first job interview. The ketchup-and-fries you snuck in transformed into a mini Picasso on my wedding dress. Even the delicate bottle of Giorgio celebrating my Halima’s birth became a perfumed ochre garden on my sofa.

    And now, you insolent wench, despite knowing better, you’ve really done it: crossed the Great River and smeared a violent mark across my heart.

    I’ve scrubbed with bleach, peroxide, vinegar, and baking soda til my hands are raw and bleeding.

    Cruel, heartless girl, leaving me all these stains, but nothing to get them out with.

    351 words
    @postupak

  12. feclark says:

    TAKE ME TO THE WATER

    “Take me to the water,” is what I say when anyone asks me, “Just take me to the water.”

    Marly is my favourite.

    Oh I know I shouldn’t have favourites, but I suspect we all do it. I am not sure that I was anyone’s favourite, well maybe once. I remember warm kind eyes, the touch of a hand. I dive into the memory, sweet and caramel toned, but my full attention burns it out, and it’s gone. Maddeningly I search and ache, but it is gone.

    You’ve gotta come at these fragments side on, feign feline indifference. Hah, I was always a dog person. I pounce and it’s gone.

    Marly. She’s got vim, that girl.

    The first time I had asked, she returned the next day. Basin of scented hot water, rose petals – imagine – soft towel – soaked my feet, painted my nails Red Hot Chilli Mama – I ask you.

    I hope Marly did not see the tear that ran down my face. I had sighed my appreciation, but oh, it was all wrong. It is not warmth or beautification I seek now.

    “Take me to the water.” My voice sounds so feeble, I could almost believe it is someone else talking. Oh Marly, why don’t you understand? Is it so impossible that we should go from this place? Just once.

    In the dark I remember one who had promised to take me to the water, such a long time ago. Anytime it pleased me, he had said, we shall go. He had been strong and hearty. I had truly felt blessed.

    My poor feet burn and ache, I cannot sleep, a wave of memories rise and crash over me.

    Coming round the corner and seeing that first glimpse, always a different blue. The sparkle of the sun on the water, the rot-stink of the seaweed, the grit of the sand beneath me; sacred and free. The lick of salt on your skin. The cry of the Curlew.

    Visits to celebrate, console, mark time; in every season the shock of the cold water on my bare feet.

    I ache.

    I imagine I could make the entire ocean boil now.

    360 words
    @feclarkart

  13. THE DISCOVERY

    Bha-aal studied the substance that encapsulated him up to his chest. It was bluish, almost transparent. He couldn’t move freely in it, like when he walked the earth. The substance created a resistance for his limbs, but not an unpleasant one. In fact, he felt good in it, refreshed. That came as a surprise, because in his experience, things you didn’t know usually got you killed.

    He cupped the substance in his hands. How strange. Like nothing is there, but still it is there. Then he turned around to his tribe, standing on the shore. Bha-aal lifted his hands in the air, showing this new, exciting thing he discovered. The members of his tribe nodded and grunted approvingly. And then it happened: Bha-aal closed his hands and the substance splashed his face. Confused he stared at his palms. The substance was gone. Again he cupped his hands and filled the space with the nothingness. Again he closed his hands and again the substance escaped his grasp. He looked back at his tribe, who were shaking their heads in disbelief.

    Now Bha-aal just stood there. The substance was all around him, as far as he could see. Should he take a few steps forward? He had already come this far. What could go wrong? In a bold move, Bha-aal didn’t walk, but instead he plunged his head in the substance, eyes wide open. It was the most amazing thing he had ever seen. Scaly creatures were gliding past him, green plants covered the sandy bottom. Bha-aal was so amazed he forgot to breathe. And when he finally did, the substance filled his mouth, shooting down his windpipe, choking his lungs.

    Bha-aal emerged from the substance, coughing violently. He stumbled backwards, falling into it again. His instincts kicked in and as soon as he reemerged, he raced to the shore. In panic, his tribe took a few steps back, not sure whether to help Bha-aal or not touch him at all. He gestured he’d be fine. Then he decided to try again tomorrow, but with Na-Nuhl. Though he didn’t tell him yet.

    350 words
    @bartvangoethem
    #FlashDog

  14. voimaoy says:

    The River
    @voimaoy
    295 words

    They were walking on the road when Rana caught a flash of light through the leaves. She paused, sniffing the air. There was the faint smell of wet earth, a rushing sound like swishing grass. Close behind her, Arum sensed it, too.

    “I will go,” he said. “Stay here.” Rana waited for the others, the young mothers and men, the children so easily distracted with the wolf puppy they insisted on keeping after they had found it with its dead mother by the last watering hole. What if they could not trust the water now?

    “I will go with you,” Rana said. He knew better than to argue. Together, they followed the sound until they came to the river. It was wide and slowly moving, reeds along its banks. Sunlight sparkled on the water. They could see turtles sunning on the rocks. The river looked so peaceful, whispering secrets to itself.

    On the other side, they could see the ruins of tall buildings stretching to the horizon. They had come to the end of the world.

    Vines were slowly reclaiming the city. Great roots of trees wrapped around the buildings. Was this where the gods lived? There was only the sound of moving water. A bird flew overhead.

    Arum scrambled down the embankment, Rana following close behind. Startled, frogs jumped in the shallows. They could see fish moving in the shadows of the rocks. Rana raised her palms to the sky. Arum ran his fingers through the water, as if he were stroking the back of an animal.

    Before Rana could stop him, Arum was wading in the river, cupping the water in his hands.

    When he turned to her, his smile was brighter than light on water. He reached out and pulled her in.

  15. C Connolly says:

    The Inner Isle

    Imre strained to hear the Maister as the sky rained tears and chaos cracked thunder clouds overhead.

    “It needs sea salt adding pre fermentation,” the Maister said, gesturing towards the pot on the table. “From the spray nets.”

    “Why?” Imre asked.

    “Don’t you remember?” the Maister asked. “Bitter to balance the brew. Sorrow has a part to play. Some must partake. Joy is pre-bottled already to distribute.”

    “For who?”

    The Maister shrugged. “That’s for the Other. I understand the selection’s random. As it must be. Some receive more one than the other.”

    “Why?” Imre asked, again.

    “It simply is. We are what we must be, playing our part.”

    “Can we taste it then?” Imre asked, voice rising.

    The Maister shook his head. “’Tis for the Outer Isle; not your mouth. Inner produces; they partake.”

    “Why?”

    The Maister glanced at his apprentice, smiling slightly. “Chance dictates our role, as theirs.”

    “What of choice?” Imre asked.

    “You’ll understand I hope, my son, once you’re older,” the Maister said, ruffling the boy’s dark hair. Imre’s brow creased with the dishevelling of his locks.

    “Hmmph,” he said.

    “Will you add anger?” the Maister asked. “Careful, now, with it. The mixture has proved temperamental, at times.” He gestured towards a dark, murky mixture to the boy’s left. “Just a touch, mind.”

    Imre took the glass gingerly – tipping a few drops into the waiting receptacle. It bubbled as he did so.

    “As I said – strong,” the Maister commented. “Don’t let it affect you. Keep a clear head.”

    “What happens when one wants another’s mix?” Imre asked.

    The Maister grimaced. “’Tis better not to ask, my son.”

    “What if I want to, though?” Imre persisted.

    “That is a matter of Outer, not Inner,” the Maister said. “You can’t do so here, whether I’d keep you or not.” He opened a door, letting a wind of wonder whistle through, before fading. “Swim forth, if you must – or stay awhile and learn better.”

    Imre looked at the older man, lips trembling, before walking slowly towards the lapping sea of grief, intermingled with waves of regret and wading in.

    “Time to blend another one,” the Maister sighed. “Less curiosity, perhaps.”

    (360 words)

    @FallIntoFiction

  16. Iskandar H. says:

    @iskyhaggarty36
    Word Count: 354

    Oliver
    ~~~~

    “Really, Oliver? It’s 4am.” I murmur.
    “Perfect, we can be alone.” He answers, not skipping a beat.
    I sigh.
    “Alright, gimme a sec.”

    The sky is a shy shade of pink, as if the sun weren’t yet convinced to rise.
    Oliver dips his legs into the slightly coral-colored waves.
    “It tastes like love.” He says, closing his eyes.
    The Empire State Building shimmers slowly on the surface of the waters.
    “Swimming runs in the family.” He says. I sip my coffee. It’s getting cold.
    “That’s my favorite swim,” He points at the Throgs Neck Bridge, “from the island out to the pylons and back, about six miles.”
    I let the coffee slowly trickle out of my cup, making clumps of gray sand by my feet.
    “Although it can get a bit hazardous, since the people in their motorboats don’t normally expect swimmers in these waters.”
    He goes quiet for a moment.
    “Especially late at night.”

    The smell of gas is thick inside the pickup truck as Oliver drives away from the now bright-orange shores.
    “Mother was never much of a swimmer, you know. Only Pa.” he says. The white hairs in his beard shine golden when they catch the sunlight.
    “She held several English records in the standing long jump.”
    My empty coffee cup jostles in its holder as we hit a speed bump.
    “A very un-Edwardian thing to do.”
    I try to let out a slight laugh, but I only manage a grunt.

    Oliver walks me back to my door.
    “Hey,” He grabs my shoulder, “thanks for coming. I really do enjoy our mornings together.”
    “Me too, bud.”
    “The sunrise was beautiful today.”
    “Sure was.”
    No one spoke for a long time.
    “I feel quite sad.” He whispered.
    “Oliver, why do we always go down to the water at dawn?”
    “Swimming runs in the family.”
    “No, Oliver. The real reason.”
    He smells of sea salt and petrol.
    “My stoke is long, powerful, and almost entirely underwater;” He says, a tear rolling down his cheek, “One of my neighbors once mistook me for a migrating whale.”
    Silence.
    “Perhaps it’s my destiny to die harpooned.”

    • Iskandar H. says:

      A fictional account using actual dialogue between journalist Lawrence Weschler and his lifelong friend, Writer and Neurologist Oliver Sacks (Who died today. May he rest in peace).

  17. Sonya says:

    Missionary

    ‘I’ve got my Bible and my pocket knife, just in case. I shall see you later.’

    Just in time for dinner. Even if she hadn’t announced she’s carrying a knife, I’d have to foil Gran’s plan. I try the gentle approach.

    ‘Why do you need those?’

    ‘The heathens are holding a ceremony by the lake. I will lead them back to the flock by reading to them.’

    I bite my tongue. She keeps returning to her time as a missionary when I look after her. It’s as if she remembers that I went astray and she wants to save my eternal soul. A couple of weeks ago, I got into an argument with her about letting the heathens believe in what they want, and not calling them heathens in the first place. It made things worse. I promised Mum I’d not overreact again.

    ‘What’s the knife for?’

    ‘What knife, dear?’

    She looks at me as if I’m the one about to head into the bush in my slippers.

    ‘Never mind. Are you hungry? I’m making shepherd’s pie.’

    ‘Lovely, dear. Why don’t I read you the Shepherd’s psalm? I seem to have my Bible handy.’

    @_supersonya
    (194 words)

  18. zevonesque says:

    Backwash
    A.J. Walker

    We all leave ripples and backwash however insignificant we feel we are. I affect you, you affect me.

    I killed a man. His wife. Their unborn child. That’s not a ripple, that’s a tsunami.
    I saw the hole in the road washed away by the weekend’s rain- too late. I swerved. They didn’t stand a chance. I clipped the oncoming car it careered into a tree, overturned in a ditch. Backwash.

    I kept going. No sense to stop here, where guilt is presumed. There was nothing I could do for them anyway.

    That was a year ago to the day. I still cannot sleep – for the unborn child speaks to me each night. I cannot help but listen. The water fills me eyes like gushing springs.

    The ripples slap into me now as a boat passes by. This cleansing river, this holy river, is rotten with the filth of the city, I am tide marked by laundry foam. I was cleaner before I entered, but I’m not here to clean my ragged body I am here to clense my soul.

    I felt something hit my shin – bang, bang. Can it see me in this murky liquor? Bang again. Three times; one for each life. The backwash from an eel flicks up as it breaks the surface in front of me. Three times it came to me, now it is gone.
    I know I will never be clensed of that night. There is no river, no place, so holy; so forgiving. I cannot be forgiven; I cannot forgive myself.
    Dislodged by the wake from a fishing boat, my sandals float past me, heading away from me on a journey to the ocean. I watch them bobbing away, disappearing into brownness.

    I have no use for sandals anymore. There is only one way this water can help me now. I walk until I can no longer feel the sludgy bottom. I taste its gritty truths. I add my self to the filth of this fetid artery; maybe in my next life I can atone but at least tonight I will sleep.

    (351 words)
    @zevonesque

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