Self Employed

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“This is not what we invested all that tuition money for, Robert.”

His mother’s voice remained soft, even pleasant. One may think she was but mildly annoyed.

Rob knew better.

It was the same voice that had sent his boyhood self to the attic without dinner for the slightest infraction. That left a small child to shiver there through endless winter nights. That told his father to retrieve the paddle and “do what needed to be done to make a man of an ungrateful son.”

“I am sorry, Mother,” Rob bowed politely in her direction. Bowed just enough to let her know that he no longer cared nor feared her. “I had made it clear that your plans did not fit mine.”

“Your father expects a partner,” she stated. Ordered.

“That ship had sailed, Mother,” he replied. “I bought the farm. I’ll be my own man. Chart my own course.”

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Arranged

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(Photo: Ben Rosett on Unsplash)

 

There was not much to do but wait.

And hope.

The lots were cast,

Though she had very little trust

In such.

It was not for her

To decide.

Now it was just,

The drip of minutes

Through childhood’s hourglass.

Dreams slowly fraying

Into dust,

While growing worries,

Poke trembling shoots

Into her heart.

Will this unknown,

Chosen for her

Husband,

Will he be

Kind?

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Challenge: unknown in 65 words

 

Refusal

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“Not all orders ought to be obeyed.”

The old man’s head was bent over the leather, but Owen read more than concentrated focus in the bony shoulders, in the jab of awl then needle bearing sinew through the holes.

“They said ‘Everyone’, Grandfather,” the youth fretted.

The fingers stopped moving and rheumy eyes met his in shared cornflower. The hue used to comfort him. A confirmation of family and familiarity. Now Owen wondered whether it also reflected the age he may well not live to be. Especially, he thought, if he did not obey …

“Look up,” the elder’s chin bobbed.

Owen squinted against glare. White sun on milky skies and swift-moving darker clouds of gray.

“You can no more change the sun’s course than a moral compass,” Grandfather noted. A cloud blotted the sun and a chill traveled down Owen’s back. “Do not obey evil. Fight it, or hide.”

 

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Topper

 

‘Twas the best spot in the woods and he was keeping to it.

Sure, it had almost no leaves and practically no protection from the wind. Sure, the branches whipped around in every breeze and let the cold sneak under the most primped up feathers.

It none of it mattered.

When he could perch up at the very top.

Surveil. Keep tabs. See things first. Unhindered by masses of pine needles or large floppy green things hiding one’s next dinner.

“See Topper there?” he heard a winger chatter at another. “He thinks he’s top banana.”

“Not banana,” Topper retorted, and puffed his chest for emphasis with not-so-hidden indignation. “Top crow!”

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto Challenge

Photo prompt: Sue Vincent

 

 

Tested

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Photo: Andy Feliciotti on Unsplash

 

Perhaps they did not know when it would come, or what it would require to what end. But they had to know they’d face the crucible that will reveal a moral fiber, if they had one.

They’d have to choose then: good or bad, peace or harm, truth or falsehood.

It would appear an easy choice, to go for better judgment. And yet they had so tangled themselves in the net of lies, that extrication meant losses they weren’t quite prepared to reap. Not when they hoped for revenue from crouching behind flags of insurrection.

They capitulated.

Dark history, revisited.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Crucible in 100 words

 

 

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

 

Better Happy Than Sad

 

“You think he’ll win?”

Shlomi shrugged. Elections or not, he was distracted by the scents wafting from the cart across the stone-paved alley. His wife would kill him if he drank any of the juices. Diabetes would kill him, too. So it was just a matter of whether it’ll happen on his terms.

Or not.

He sighed.

“Get that pomegranate juice,” Abdul urged. “You know no one makes it like my father does.”

Better die happy than sad.

“Abu Abdul,” Shlomi called across the narrow alley. “One pomegranate?”

“For sure, Habibi,” the old man grinned. “Want that fake-sugar in there?”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers 

 

 

Another World

Photo prompt: © CEAyr

 

“See the lamppost?”

Nick nodded.

“See that reflection?”

Another nod.

“You walk into that store and you’ll be in another world.”

The younger boy shook his head, hair so severely cut it almost looked shaven. Ruben fed him, but everything had a price. True in the orphanage. True on the streets.

“Your loss,” Ruben shrugged. “If you prefer life as it is now …” he drew the last word out.

Nick tried to see through the window. It was like a mirror. He didn’t like what he saw.

“I’ll go,” he said.

“Hat on. Bring out something good. Don’t get caught.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

Them Poor Bushes

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Photo: Burst on Unsplash

 

She figures it would be okay.

She figures it would do.

She’ll find her schedule and get back,

Within a month or two.

She figures she could do the task.

She figures it is fine.

She’d done a thing like that before,

Not quite, but in outline.

Still, she figures it a breeze.

She figures she’d succeed.

Even when history, at best,

Is wondering if indeed.

She figures this, she figures that

In neutral all her wheels,

And it becomes impossible

To not begin to feel,

That maybe it’d be easier

To let them bushes be

They’re beat from hedging here and there

And wishing they could flee!

 

 

Note: This was really just for fun and isn’t about (ahem) anyone … So similarity to any individual is (sort of) coincidental … 😉 Dedicated to all the ‘he’ and ‘she’ and ‘you’ and ‘they,’ who won’t say yea and won’t say nay, and leave us all in limbo every day …

For Linda Hill’s SoCS challenge: figure

 

 

Choosing Dandelions

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Photo: Hasan Almasi on Unsplash

 

I wake and turn my back on the clock and seek the comfort of the dream that is still floating like a bubble, already fragile, above my head. It pops and disappears and there is nothing but a vague sense of something lost. I wanted to go back into it … and yet the choice, when it was made in some subterranean neurological net within my mind, was that sleep was to escape.

The day to unfold.

Still, and throughout the mundane tasks of morning, small search-parties like tentative roots into hard-packed sand, send shoots into my consciousness to try and capture whiffs of the dream. A hope that perhaps a fleeting dandelion seed of recollection will find purchase and regrow a stalk.

A place of in-between. Perhaps a corner of my mind is still in slumber. Perhaps if I find it, I will come across the dream, robust in puffy bubble-hood, still tethered to my insides, waiting to be seen.

Sometimes writing helps.

I have too much to do.

I will ignore.

Will choose to sit and breathe and let my mind and fingers wander where they may, the sands of time, the depths of grief, the dawns of days, the fluttering delights, the warmth of recognition, the sorrows of injustice. Currents of discovery of what’s already there. A sea of tethered bubbles like a field of hot-air balloons, straining at the anchors to let loose.

I wrote of a blimp just the day before.

Was that the origin or the reaction to the imagery of bobbing thoughts and fullness so tangible it turns air into rising power? Was the blimp the source or the reflection of the fragility of any skin if pulled too tight, of the leaking deflation if seams are untended, the world upended as it spirals out of flight?

I write. I breathe.

I look pointedly away from the pink sticky notes and the open documents holding forms awaiting filling for a speaking engagement and another for an upcoming presentation and a list of emails needing a response.

I make a choice.

To chase a dandelion.

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS Challenge: Choices