Unwelcome

Photo prompt © J Hardy Carroll

 

They left for the summer and came back to find new neighbors had moved in.

The intrusion wasn’t noticeable at first. They’d come home at night and were busy settling back in after a long absence. It wasn’t till the next morning that Abby screamed and they ran upstairs to see the child frozen in terror, hands still on the windowsill.

A swarm of buzz swirled around her.

“Call 911!” Simon pushed his wife out of the room before slamming the door behind her and grabbing the blanket from the bed. “Tell them a nine-year-old has disturbed a hornet’s nest!”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

Nest Egg

a view of the island of tortolia, british virgin islands

Photo: silvervoyager

 

It was the view that caught his heart when they’d first visited Tortola. The twins had just turned ten. He’d gotten a miserable case of traveler’s diarrhea and spent two days cocooned inside Aunt Essie’s cottage while everyone else was at the beach. He’d initially felt sorry for himself, but then the quietude enveloped him, and he found himself cherishing the time away from chit-chatter and the demands of the children, love them though he did.

He’d recovered sufficiently by the third day, and the shore was fabulous. Still a piece of him remained on the cottage’s porch, gazing into the horizon, sipping bland tea, and feeling a calm he hadn’t known possible.

They’d visited several more times over the years and when Aunt Essie died, she left him the cottage to sell, “for a nest-egg.”

The boys were in college. Bernice had moved on. He decided to move in.

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: British Virgin Islands

 

Not a Hare

Photo © Anshu Bhojnagarwala

 

“Mama,” Benny shook me. “Something’s in the bushes!”

I must’ve dozed off.

It had been nice to have the campgrounds for ourselves.

Till now.

“Perhaps a hare.” I tried. Would a campfire keep out cougars? I felt for my utility knife. Our only weapon. Ridiculous.

Benny frowned. “It’s crying.”

It was. My heart thumped as I stalked toward the sound.

My flashlight illuminated the tear-stained face of a child. A child?! She had to be younger than Ben. Alone?!

I gasped.

She shivered. Fear or cold or both?

“Come, Sweetie,” I cooed. “We won’t hurt you. Let’s get you warm.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

The Cost of Living

smallpox hospital Roosevelt Island IngeVandormael

Photo: Inge Vandormael

 

She had come to make a new life.

She found illness. She found death.

And life, perhaps, hiding in the shadows

Of her convalescing sorrow,

Waiting

To take hold.

 

She had come in search of meaning.

She found a babble of confusion.

Within. Without.

Rising skyward. Buried underground.

She found hope, too. For things she didn’t know

Even had names

But sprouted meaning

In the corners of what she believed

Was ruined,

But had in fact been opened

To allow in the winds of change.

 

She came seeking answers,

And found the cost

Of living

Paid for little more than added questions,

And that she had to look

Quite closely

At what wasn’t there,

To find

What she did not even know

She had been searching for.

 

 

 

Photo: The old Smallpox Hospital on Roosevelt Island (a narrow island set in the East River between Queens and Manhattan).

For What Pegman Saw: Manhattan Island

 

First Sighting

SPF 10-07-18 CE AYR 4

Photo Credit: C.E. Ayr

 

Frank said he’d show them. They didn’t know what to expect.

There had been noises coming out of Frank’s garage for the last month. Scraping sounds. Creaks and screeching. Odd lights that did not seem electrical. Scents of things they could not place.

“That’s what happens when you indulge a grown man’s folly,” Mirabelle scowled, bestowing wisdom and a sharp tongue on the gathered neighbors. “Tinkering about instead of doing an honest day’s work.”

Rebecca raised an eyebrow in Dave’s direction and he swallowed a laugh. He had no intention of having his wife succeed in making Mirabelle turn her bottomless well of ire onto him.

“He found it,” Tommy whispered. The towheaded boy lived across the street from Frank and was known to make extensive use of binoculars, not always for savory pursuits.

Dave tilted his head in quasi-invitation.

“In the bog. A round thing. Egg-like. Didn’t sound this big before, though,” Tommy fidgeted.

The racket grew and the assembled quieted. Slowly the garage door rose. Something labored out, scraping massive claws on the driveway’s concrete.

Rebecca gasped. Mirabelle fainted. Frank hung back.

Reptilian eyes regarded them, assessing. As food or foe, Dave was not so sure.

 

 

For the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge

 

New Passage

Photo: © Renee Heath

 

It had been a long night. It will be a long day and night still.

The old man sighed and watched the spirits paint the sky.

The youth had spent the night secluded in silent contemplation. The elders had kept vigil not far from the tent.

Some elders frowned at the arrangement. “Right of passage should require complete solitude,” they’d argued. “How else will there be quietude enough to hear the whispers of the land?”

“Times had changed,” he’d stressed. “The current world requires the tent’s protection as well as our watchful eye. Surely the spirits, in their wisdom, understand.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

Tempting Karma

estonia-96312_1920

Photo: canesjurij on Pixabay

 

“I’ll be building what?”

“Holzhausen. Firewood stacks.” Brother Joosep pointed at several rounded structures that looked like hermit huts (and that I had desperately hoped were not accommodation for trekker volunteers).

I didn’t know whether to be happy these weren’t meant as my lodging, or to be terrified at the prospect of having to produce one of those. The contraptions had to be twenty feet tall, and I could not imagine how anyone pulls out a piece of wood without the whole thing toppling on their heads. The mere thought of the Karmic penalty for causing the death of a monk was giving me palpitations.

“Do you need anyone to peel potatoes?” I tried.

The monk grinned. “Brother Ruuben, our cook, has all the hands he requires at the moment. However, we might need you to bring in some wood later. It helps ward off the evening chill.”

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Estonia

Trivia: Holzhausen are a centuries old European method of stacking firewood. Many are about 2 meters tall (6-9 feet), though some – as in the above photo from a Monastery in Estonia – can be upward of 6 meters in height (~ 20 feet). Holzhousen are self-standing structures that are reportedly quick to make and don’t need to be braced. The circular format is not only self-supporting but provides good airflow for split wood to dry quickly. As the wood is stacked, rows are angled down slightly toward the center. This helps drain rain and melted snow and helps support the tapering of the stack.

 

The Slow Cooker

train-731357_1920

Photo by Pixabay

 

It wasn’t going to work.

Didn’t matter. She was going to make it work. Somehow.

She threw a bit of this and that into the pot and set it. She hated that slow cooker from the day he’d given it to her. Nightmare to clean.

Down at the basement, she dug out the red four-wheeler. Dragged it upstairs. Helter-skelter added in clothing, shoes, and what-not. Grabbed her purse. Almost forgot her passport. Searched for it. Panicked. Had he hidden it?

Finally found it in a shoe box. Found money, too. Keys to who knows.

On the way out, she checked the pot. Least she could do is leave a last meal.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Helter-Skelter in 111 words

 

Scouts Honor

Photo: © Ted Strutz

 

“Where exactly does your uncle live?”

“You’ll see.”

I narrowed my eyes. Larry relished building tension. Perhaps mandatory in magicians, but guaranteed to annoy offstage!

“This better not be a trick!” I warned.

“It’s not,” he responded. “Scouts honor.”

“You’ve been kicked out of Scouts.”

He laughed.

We traipsed through deserted woods. No house anywhere. Not even a cabin. Just scraggly trees, weeds, and a spooky car wreck. Larry made for the latter.

I followed warily, smelling trickery.

“Here,” he reached under the hood, pressed something, unveiled stairs. “Ta-da! Uncle’s Red’s subterranean house!”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

Radium Springs Roulette

radium springs ga casino pc

 

“Well then,” Mom exclaimed.

She was going over Poppa’s papers while I boxed seemingly endless books.

I looked up. There was an album in her lap, black pages empty but for an old postcard.

“He denied it when I’d said he’d taken me there,” Mom whispered. “I was young and believed him, but my heart knew all the same.”

I shook my head. Poppa was as straight-laced as they came.

“He gambled,” she explained. “A salesman meant frequent traveling. He used it to hide visits to casinos.”

She fingered the card. “Radium Springs Casino. I knew I hadn’t dreamed this place. The deep blue water wove tightly with the wheel.”

I gazed at the memento. At my mom.

“I was not-yet-four,” she sighed. “Thomas was just born and Dad took me to ‘work’ so Mom could rest. He played the roulette. … Perhaps his keeping of the card was another gamble.”

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Radium Springs, GA