Relative Safety

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 

“Should be safe to rest here,” Ron lowered Percy’s carrier. The straps left red gouges on his shoulders. The boy was too big to be carried but we had to leave the wheelchair behind.

Ron rolled his neck, glanced at the underpass’s puddle, and reached for the tablets. “I’ll purify some water.”

“Will they find us, Mama?” Percy put words to my heartache. He’d endured silently through miles of jarring terrain.

“We’ve been careful,” I looked into his worried eyes as I massaged the contracted limbs. “Also, new laws or not, we won’t let you be taken by Leave-Only-Abled-Children raids.”

 

 

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Good Enough

PHOTO PROMPT © J.S. Brand

 

“Do you really think you can do it?”

I nodded into my coffee but my heart fluttered an I-don’t-know.

“You’ll ruin the whole thing.” Stacey stuffed the last bite of bagel in her mouth and grabbed her bag, leaving me the clean up. How symbolic.

I rinsed the pot and the grounds swirled like time into the sink.

My eyes gazed out the window. We hadn’t touched Dad’s stuff. The almost-finished totem. His tools.

“You’re good at this,” he’d once said.

His praise had sustained me, but was I good enough to complete the carving that now he never would?

 

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She Checks, Mate.

PHOTO PROMPT © Jeff Arnold

 

Matt tapped his lip and danced his foot but I knew it had nothing to do with planning his next move.

“Is your mom home?” he grumbled.

“Yep.”

“So?”

“She’s not going anyplace,” I answered.

“Not like she understands any of this.” Matt was too proud to admit that her presence affected his concentration.

“Tammy’s staying.”

He scowled but must’ve heard the edge in my voice, and dropped it.

No one messed with my little sister. Nonverbal doesn’t mean stupid. Also, Tammy was memorizing all his moves. She’d show me, and next time Matt and I play, I’d win.

 

 

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Sail Away

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

 

It was taking so long.

His uncle had instructed him to not leave the hall till he returned. He knew better than to defy the order.

He circled the room and looked at the paintings. He imagined conversations among sailors on the merchant ships, between soldiers on the frigates. He polished the marble counter with his sleeve. When he tired, he sat against a lamppost and pretended it was a smokestack.

The hall echoed emptiness.

He was getting cold. He was growing hungry. He needed to pee.

Only when night fell did he finally cry.

His uncle had sailed away.

 

 

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Birthday Surprise


PHOTO PROMPT © Jilly Funell

 

Her heart fluttered in her chest. She wiped sweaty palms on her jeans and tugged her cap lower on her head to manage jitters and glare.

She’d worked on this all summer. In secret. His birthday surprise.

She moved closer to the building, automatically scanning the terrain even though she knew it like the back of her hand.

There he was, waiting.

“Hi Dad!”

His face lit up and he and turned toward the elevator. “I’ll call it for you.”

“It’s okay, Dad,” she grinned and pushed up from the wheelchair. “Just give me your arm. I can walk up.”

 

 

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The Loophole

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 

“Why would anyone choose this tomb?”

Sally’s voice ricocheted in the clearing. I felt my face flush and dug my nails into my palms to keep from responding.

“I realize they don’t need light, but what do they have against air?”

“They’re blind, you know, not deaf,” Mark noted dryly. I could’ve kissed him.

Sally shrugged. She leaned forward and slapped the wall. “Thick walls. I bet they’re as good as.”

“Or not.”

Sally boomeranged off the wall as if electrocuted.

A hand waved out of an arrow slit, two inches from her waist.

I grinned.

“Come right in. Dinner’s ready.”

 

 

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The Gift

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

 

She left him a gift.

She knew he wasn’t likely to acknowledge it. It was possible he wouldn’t know or care where it had come from. It didn’t matter. Or perhaps it did – and terribly – but she could do nothing to change it. Where others sought connection and cultivated relationships, her father’s world revolved around rocks, shells, sticks, pebbles, stones. Those he caressed, inspected, studied, catalogued.

She’d learned to expect nothing. It was the only way to lessen heartbreak.

She left the coral piece on the table. Perhaps if he kept it, it would be as if he saw her.

 

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The Service


PHOTO PROMPT © Yvette Prior

 

All was set for the service.

Programs lounged on chairs in the next room. The adequately melancholy music played. Discrete tissue boxes rested at either end of the first row.

She waited as heels clicked on marble and black fabrics swished and the somber faces of acquaintances, rearranged for the occasion, nodded at her. She endured the hugs and shoulder pats and too-long handshakes. She breathed through the words.

The room quieted.

She rose and stared at the ornate urn on the dais before turning to face the living.

“You should know,” she began, “that Dad was not a good man.

 

 

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In Case Of Rain

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

 

It was their anniversary, and once again he was late.

The office manager held him up for nonsense that could’ve easily waited for tomorrow. Mr. Billings often did so when Gary was in a rush. It was a cruel little game he played, knowing that with previous ‘insubordination’ records in his file, Gary could not afford even the slightest reprimand. No job, no health insurance.

His phone buzzed as he rushed to the restaurant. A text.

“Lost?”

Mary. Gary’s heart sank. He ran faster. His phone vibrated again.

“I’m under a blue umbrella. You know, in case of rain.”

 

 

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The One Thing


PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

 

“It’s the one thing I want.”

His siblings’ squabbling over their late mother’s items woke memories he preferred to not revisit. He wondered if not leaving a will was her way to continue their jockeying for her perceived affections even after she was gone.

Linda fixed her suspicious gaze on him. “Why?”

He shrugged to feign indifference. “I find the carvings interesting, and,” he pointed at his black clothing, “it’s kind of Goth.”

He wasn’t going to tell them about the hidden compartments. Or their contents. Grandpa had shown him. “Black sheep need help, Son. In case of hard times.”

 

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