Pinned Hopes

Photo prompt © J Hardy Carroll

 

She planned every detail.

The dress. The cake. The decorations.

What games to play. Who to invite. The invitations.

She fretted over treats and props. The seating arrangement.

The day dawned bright. The weather fair.

The flowers gifted blooms. Butterflies came to visit.

The cake turned out close to perfect.

The dress fit well. Even her hair cooperated.

She breathed it in.

She smiled.

She waited.

The only thing she did not foresee

Was no one showing up,

And only her mama there

To wrap a scarf around her eyes

To hide the tears

As she pinned the donkey.

 

 

 

Note: Dedicated to all the children whose parties turn to pain. To those who are all too often left invisible due to social awkwardness, adversity, disabilities visible and invisible, social isolation, bullying, and the myriad ways indifference (let alone direct cruelty) can a child’s soul maim.

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

Dive Right In!

Photo prompt © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 

The water glistened.

Gloria shook. “I don’t think I remember how.”

“Just do it,” Jody said. “It’s like riding a bike. Your body never forgets.”

I never had a bike, Gloria thought,  and there is much I worked hard to have my body forget. Especially since that day.

“It’ll come back to you,” Jody urged. Ordered, almost. “Dive right in!”

It was the edge in the trainer’s voice that did it, and what it brought back was not welcome.

“No.” Gloria pulled her swim cap off. “Not here. Not yet. Not today.”

 

 

 

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Not For The Amenities

Photo prompt © Jean L. Hays

 

“Lush, ain’t it?” The sixteen-year-old shivered in her short jacket.

Frosty patches dotted the monochrome shrubbery. She nudged one with her sneaker. “So, why exactly did you choose this godforsaken nothingness for your midlife crisis? Couldn’t have been the view, or the amenities.”

It’s fixable, Branden thought but said nothing. He’d worry more if Lizzie didn’t quip. And anyway, he knew she knew why they’d had to move.

Lizzie sniffed. He offered a tissue but she leaned into him, seeking a rare hug.

“Mama would’ve loved it here,” she whispered. “Even if we hadn’t lost everything to the medical bills.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers Challenge

 

 

Will The Baby Cry?

Photo prompt: © Roger Bultot

 

“Be there in a moment, Aaron,” Miriam herded her family toward the synagogue across the street.

“Mom!” Ben protested. She drags him outta’ bed, then stays outside herself?

“It’s urgent,” Miriam apologized, eyes already on her phone.

Seven-year-old Jacob glanced at his dad. “Will the baby cry?”

“You screamed like a stuck pig at your Bris,” Ben offered.

Jacob froze. “I’ll stay with Mom.”

“Ben!” their dad scolded.

Staccato bangs echoed. Loud screams.

“The baby?!” Jacob clung to his father’s hand.

“Down! All of you!” Aaron shoved Jacob behind a car and raced to the synagogue. “Shots fired! Call 911!”

 

 

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Fury

Photo prompt © Sandra Crook

 

He retreated to behind the fence during low tides and sharpened his claws on the aging timbers. He nursed his rage on fantasy and fed his fury on abandoned sea-foam. Some days the seething rose a hurricane that only freezing wind subdued into a smolder. He hissed. He breathed. He knew. He waited.

The time would come.

Waiting both allayed and fanned his urgency. He scraped his restless agony into the wood, that hewed abomination they’d forced onto his bay to tame it. As if it, he, could be. Tamed.

When time returned he’d vanquish them and show no remedy.

 

 

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Overreach

Photo prompt © Roger Bultot

 

“I never meant to hurt you.”

Samuel’s words were sincere and still she found herself looking away as to not see his eyes, where a lie was sure to peek.

“The gardener should’ve never let this grow so,” she responded.

Samuel stilled, confused.

She did not explain, for perhaps it was not only the leafy fingers arching over the path and latching onto her living quarters that had been given leave to cross beyond what was sensible.

“Some bridges need be cut,” she added cryptically. “Good-bye, Samuel. Will you send the gardener to my drawing room on your way out?”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

That Night

Photo Prompt: © Ronda Del Boccio

 

That night, when the children went missing, they fanned out, flashlights in hands and a dark crawling about in their hearts, which even the large projector brought out by the local sheriff’s office could not stop the spread of.

They looked in every corner, under brambles and in culverts and in places too small to hide a squirrel, let alone a child. The three had vanished so completely, one could have believed they had been naught but phantoms.

Yet phantoms wouldn’t have left canyons in souls, eroded deeper with the daily grief. For the kids were never found.

 

 

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The Tour

Photo prompt: Sandra Crook

 

“We’ve come a long way from small children crawling under looms,” the proprietor boomed, arm sweeping proudly across the antique refurbished mill.

The group of portly men nodded sagely.

One of them patted a balding pate, florid face sweating in tailored wool. He was gratified to see another man masking a yawn.

The two-hour Textile Investors Tour satisfied requirements for business expenses, but the real draw of the area was a manicured golf course, good wine cellars, and a particularly discreet hotel concierge.

Too bad, the balding man thought to himself. A few crawling kids would’ve been right fine.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

Meet The Rain

Photo prompt: Dale Rogerson

 

“I want to go up, Papa!”

He looked down at the downy head, at the small frail finger pointing at the Big Wheel. “It is too high, Son.”

Your heart can’t take the excitement, he thought but didn’t say. The rain made tracks on his cheeks but he didn’t wipe them. The hospital said he could take the boy home. There was not much they could do for his son anymore.

“I want to go up, Papa,” the child insisted. “I want to meet the rain there. It will be my friend tomorrow … when I go live in the sky.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

  • Dedicated with much love to E., who I’m certain is excellent friends with the sky and the rain … and whose promise to send “hellos with the rain” broke our hearts even as it had become the gift of healing and courage to her parents.

 

Out Played

Photo prompt: © Anshu Bhojnagarwala

 

“It’s an effing eyesore.”

“I don’t care.”

Martin balled his fists but Susan just gazed at him.

She said nothing but he knew: Raise a finger on me and off to jail you go. The judge was clear: Anger-Management or prison. Martin took the former but could swear Susan’s infuriating behavior intended to get him the latter.

He inhaled slowly before turning away. “When Sanitation fines us,” he growled, “it’s all yours to pay.”

“Fine,” she shrugged. “Though I think they won’t.”

He glared. “Why? Got connections?”

“Nope,” she patted the rotting piano. “I’ve registered it as street art.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers