Newfound

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(Photo: Jon Tyson on Unsplash)

She lay in bed and let the day’s words wash over her.

A soft stream in the mayhem.

“You’re a tenacious child,” her teacher said, eyes smiling. “You’ve tried and tried and made this grade your own. Not everyone would have continued, but you did. I am so proud.”

Tenacious, she mouthed into the dark and tuned off shouts and thuds and cries. So proud, she curled into the glow of newfound understanding.

 

 

For Sammi‘s Weekend Writing Prompt: Tenacious in 73 words

 

Don’t Blink

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“Is he asleep?” Andy’s small head spun toward Elisha’s, but only for a second. The boy did not dare, or couldn’t bear, to look away. What if in the one second that he wasn’t looking, he would miss a blink?

Elisha shook his head, and Andy, eyes already on the ice, felt more than saw the movement. He shuddered in part-awe, part-terror.

The last time they met was in summer, when Uncle Morris and Aunt Samantha came with Elisha for a visit. Andy hadn’t quite believed Elisha’s stories about ponds that swallowed giants and ensnared them under icy waters, leaving them forever blinking at the sky.

The eye, however, proved it.

 “Can he come out?” Andy croaked. His throat felt frozen.

“Not before spring,” Elisha soothed, sated by his younger cousin’s fear and feeling a tad guilty for it. “And you’ll be home and far away from here by then.”

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Seeking Silver Linings

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Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

It wasn’t about giving up. It was about silver linings.

Or about looking for them. At least.

Better than seeing the mess inside her mother’s house. The junk that kept arriving, accumulating, suffocating. Better than listening to the endless arguments between her parents. Or to the cries of the neighbor from across the street. The police there every other week. Mostly on payday, when the neighbor’s husband was drunk. Fancy neighborhood. Broken lives.

So, she curled up by the window, eyes to the sky, watching fluffy clouds drifting by.

Perhaps the silver lining will ride in on the next one.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers (I mean, how could I NOT participate when Rochelle chose to use one of my photos today?! Happy, healthy, and a BETTER 2021, everyone! And to all the children in homes-of-crisis: Hang in there, it gets better, you are worth it, you are seen!)

 

Elfie’s Solution

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“Not every elf can be on a shelf.”

Elfie heard this all his life. From his teachers at the Santa Academy. From his parents, Elfonso and Elfinia. From his judgy Aunt Elfisia. And now from his insufferable brother Elfonso Junior (who everyone called EJ), who just had to rub in the fact that he had gotten into the EFS (Elves For Shelves) program, while Elfie did not.

“But what if I want to be an elf on a shelf?” Elfie protested.

“It’s not about what you want,” his mother scolded. “It is about your Efltitude Score.”

“…and,” EJ added with an elfin smirk, “as we all know, you don’t quite measure up.”

If it weren’t for his mother’s presence, Elfie would have tossed EJ under a reindeer.

Thinking of reindeer. And reins … gave him an idea.

No shelf? No problem.

He’d hang out as an elf by himself.

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Not A Bird

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“Hey! At the bottom of the cliff to the right. What do you think this is?”

Lisa adjusted the focus on her binoculars. “Can’t tell. A bit of junk?”

They were supposed to be cataloguing the different bird species they could find along their stretch of beach, but the seagulls were tiresome, and the sandpipers were too fast, and the wind had whipped so much sand around that she would certainly be carrying another pound of it just in her hair. Lisa wanted to go home. She wanted a nice bath, dry clothes, and a hot cup of tea.

“Perhaps a miners’ rail box.” Deena, binoculars glued to her face and hair tucked under a maddeningly practical cap, seemed oblivious to the stinging sand or Lisa’s rumbling stomach.

“Not a bird,” Lisa tried.

“No, but sure is a mystery!” Deena rose and pointed at the narrow trail. “Let’s go investigate!”

 

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Watch Out

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“See that thing?” Holly whispered.

“What thing?” Harold mumbled, eyes barely lifted from the miniature screen of his new smart-watch.

That thing!” Holly covered her brother’s wrist with her hand. “Over there.”

Harold sighed and looked around. Old metal fences that once cordoned lines of people. Rotten concrete. Musty dankness. A deserted skating rink. What’s to see?

“Nothing,” he shrugged.

Holly exhaled exasperation. “That bird,” she hissed.

“Oh. A brown pigeon. Unusual coloring.”

His sister’s fingers tightened around his wrist and he grimaced at the pressure on his watch. It was new. She’d ruin it before he could show it off. “Hey, let go! What?!”

“I don’t care about its coloring. It is staring at us!”

“It’s just a bird.” He scrutinized the gate. His friends were very late.

“Yeah? Bet you won’t say that when it calls millions of its friends to dive in and peck us to death!”

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Blindsided

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“Once you’re out the other side you’ll be one of us.”

Marco hiked his chin to try and eye the larger boy through the slits of light underneath the tight blindfold. He wanted to take the stupid thing off. It was scratchy and smelly and made him feel sad.

But to do so would be to give up and be left out. He didn’t want to be left out. Again.

“What if I crash?” he tried but didn’t quite manage to keep the quiver out of his voice. He was afraid of the dark. And of falling. The others knew it. That’s why this test. To weave a skateboard, blind, through the concrete blocks in the underpass.

“Then,” Roberto replied haughtily, “you will have only yourself to blame for not being good enough.”

Marco blinked. It sounded wrong.

Before he could pull the blindfold off, someone gave him a push.

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Not Invisible

 

He crouched by the lockers.

Feet swarmed by. Sneakers, sandals, loafers, tennis-shoes. The hallways rang with voices and a smell wafted from the floor. A mix of sweat, old puke, and industrial cleaner. The smell of school.

It was odd. To be invisible.

Not literally, but still. A new kid in a city with more kids in this one building than in the whole town he’d come from.

“Hey, you,” a foot in a shiny Mary Jane nudged the edge of his bag.

He looked up.

“You Mark?”

He nodded.

“Cool. Come with. I’m Clara. Welcoming committee. Show you around.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers 

(Photo credit: J Hardy Carroll)

 

Going Green

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“No way Jose!” Jessie’s arms were folded in what was half stubborn refusal, half terrified self-preservation.

Derek laughed and wiggled his toes, which were caked with mud and muck and unidentifiable stuff that was best left well outside of sniffing range.

His sister groaned. “Do you have to be so gross?”

“What’s wrong with a little bit of nature, eh?” he teased. He took a step and bent to touch the carpet of green algae that covered the pond. It looked like velvet.

“Are you nuts?!” Jessie looked ready to lunge and probably would’ve pulled him back if it weren’t for the fact that it would require getting closer to the pond’s edge.

“Chill, Sis,” Derek shook his head. “It’s not like I’m gonna be eaten by Nessie.”

“Imaginary monsters don’t worry me,” Jessie’s lip curled in disgust. “Salmonella from those mallards and whatever else in this water sure does.”

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Outed

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“What is this place?”

“An outhouse?” Marti sniffed, perhaps for clues.

Barbara wrinkled her nose. Marti always did have a potty brain. “It would not make sense without a door, now, would it?”

“Ventilation?” Marti doubled down. “And anyway, a door could be removed.”

“No hole in the ground,” Barbara pointed out.

“Could have been filled in or covered.”

Barbara shook her head. Even covered in leaves and mud, the floor of the small structure looked too evenly tiled for that.

“So, if you such a genius,” Marti sneered at his know-it-all cousin, “what do you think it is?”

Barbara inspected the arched entrance, the partially enclosed back wall, the proximity to the ancient manor’s fence. A guard post, she thought, but did not say. There would be no fun in that.

“A portal to Avalon,” she stated loftily.

“Ah,” Marti retorted. “As I said, it is an outhouse, then.”

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge