Subdued Sacrilege

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“Simply look down instead of up,” Manny pushed his hands deeper into his pockets and hiked his shoulders up against a chill no one else probably felt. It was 99F outside.

“But the basilica is right here, and so beautiful!” Danielle exhaled wonder.

My point exactly, Manny thought, but did not say. Recruiting was a subtle thing.

Instead he nudged the water with his shoe, rippling the surface to distort the reflection of the edifice. Almost spitefully the puddle settled back into the sharpest mirror, and Manny half expected his superiors to appear in frowning disappointment at his dismal conversion pace.

“What it is?” Danielle responded to his sigh, her eyes still gazing in the opposite direction of the Netherworld, and therefore opposite to where he needed them to be.

“Nothing,” he muttered, deflated.

Her softly luminescent hand appeared. “How about we go into the church and pray about it?”

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Elfie’s Solution

ccc110-elf CrispinaKemp

 

“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

 

Sniffers

img_1924-ccc108 CrispinaKemp

 

“This won’t do,” Tina sighed. “You have got to sniff better.”

Spinner tried, but there was nothing. Or at least, nothing he could make heads or tails out of. And making tails was the whole idea.

He shrugged and spun around. Perhaps he’ll glean a clue from his surroundings. Perhaps it’ll settle the tension that trying to sniff things often awakened.

Tina groaned. “Mama was right. You will never amount to anything.”

“Hey!” Spinner whined.

Tina lowered her head. That had been below the belt. Still, it was true, and someone had to confront Spinner now that Mama was no longer there to instruct them.

“Look, Spin,” she tried to soften her frustration with a bit of guilt. “It really shouldn’t be so hard. You sure there’s nothing wrong with your sniffer?”

“I think it’s broken,” Spinner whispered, shamefaced. “What kind of a dog can’t tell the smell of poop?”

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

Note: Anosmia, or the lack/loss of sense of smell, is a real condition that was made famous by the pandemic but is certainly not limited to the current virus. Nor is Anosmia limited to humans. Like humans, dogs can live without a sense of smell, though for many of them it carries a significantly higher ‘sensory price’, because their sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 more acute than that of humans.

 

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

The Catch

 

“What’s with the basket?”

Sharlynn’s lip curled up. “For the catch.”

Robert raised an eyebrow. “Thought you went vegan.”

“I did,” Sharlynn grinned. “But Bertrand resists, and I thought I’d shock him and prepare fish for his birthday dinner. It’s not every day that a man turns half centenarian.”

Robert groaned. At forty-nine, he was next in line.

“So,” Sharlynn’s eyebrow matched her brother’s. “May I come aboard?”

“Sure,” Robert waved in half-invitation, half-defeat.

“Don’t look so worried,” Sharlynn laughed. “I’m gonna clean’em up myself. Also, Bertie’s getting kale quiche. What I truly hope to ‘fish’ is some fresh seaweed.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers  (Photo prompt © C.E.Ayr)

 

 

 

Going Farther

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On the tenth visit on the tenth week following her tenth birth day, she took ten additional steps beyond the Big Tree Boundary.

She went Farther.

At first nothing happened. The woods looked as they had before. The trees no different in the Farther Realm than they were in the land she’d known and was allowed in until then: Green branches, a ground springy with the fallen leaves, wind whispering in the tree tops, birds’ song.

Then the light shifted and the air shimmered with a sense of something else. A being with.

She shuddered. Not in fear but with expectation. Not everyone went Farther, and none she knew spoke of what they’d found.

She stilled. The world around her blinked. The forest floor awoke.

Her heart raced and she inhaled. Her soul spoke. She knew it! She knew it! She’d be among the few allowed to see Fair Folk.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Definitely Not Pie

 

“Is that where it goes in or is that where it comes out?”

Shirley thought it was obvious, but it was true one should not assume, let alone when something appeared to be mundane but could be the exact opposite. She took a step forward and leaned closer.

“Step back, you fool!” Daniella pulled her neighbor away from the bin that had just manifested onto their shared driveway. She should have known Shirley would be impulsive. The woman once cut into her own potentially-prize-winning rhubarb pie before the contest was even over. “Are you trying to get abducted?”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

Photo prompt © Rowena Curtin

 

 

Zany Blayney

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(Photo: Krisffer Aeviel Cabral on Unsplash)

 

He copied how his father walked.

He mimicked his older sister.

He laughed at jokes nobody heard.

He scared the babysitter.

He wouldn’t do a thing

That wasn’t done by others.

He was an endless mirror

And annoyance to his brothers.

He drove them all to near insane

Till finally came the time

When he left to get

Hired as a mime.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Zany in 62 words

 

 

 

Still Summer

(Photo by Sam Marx on Unsplash)

 

It seems as though you are still summer:

The leaves still green atop your trees

Waves still warm inside your eyes

Sunrise haze in your sky

Sunset late to bed

As sleep lights in

Your soft breath

Upon

Mine.

 

 

NONET prompt: “It seems as though you are still summer” (Merwin)

For dVerse poetic 9

 

 

 

Nesting

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Photo: Sue Vincent

 

“Why did they leave these things here?” Farrow scratched his head with a sharp talon.

“Decoration?”

Farrow glowered at the brown excuse for a mate. She lay good eggs and she did not complain when the worms he’d brought home to the nest were torn or half-eaten. He had to give her that. But she never did learn to keep her beak shut when rhetorical questions were posed. Where someone with a bigger birdbrain would know to quietly wait for him to impart wisdom, she thought she had something to contribute. It was exhausting.

“There is no such thing as decorations, Ferrolina,” he attempted a didactic tone, perched atop the side of the nest and peering downward at the log below them. “All actions have a reason, and even those that end up beautifying have another motive underneath.”

“There’s moss underneath,” she quipped, egging him on.

Oh, she knew he held himself in puffed regard and thought the lesser of her. He could be tedious. But she had the best nest location in the area, and his pride meant he could not let her (or the offspring, when they hatch) go hungry. It was enough. And under all his bluster he was not cruel, only vain. Better than the lowlife who’d left her mama half starved and the lot of them freezing in an exposed nest when she was growing. Two of her nest-mates hadn’t made it, and the dud was unceremoniously rolled out to splat frighteningly to the distant ground. None of that was going to happen to her four egglings. And she was adamant all four would make it. She knew it in her heart that none were duds.

He narrowed his eyes at her. Sometimes he thought he’d detected some snark mixed in with her idiocy, but her expression was so mild he determined it impossible. He must be putting wit where there was naught but simple-mindedness.

“Yes, there is moss there indeed,” he noted, as patiently as he could muster. Mates were a lot like younglings. You couldn’t fault them for what they did not have. “Some concepts are too difficult for females to understand. You are better suited for the nest, to concentrating on keeping the offspring warm.”

Ferrolina swallowed a chirp. He was so easy to poke. “They sure are pretty to look at,” she added. “But they will not fill tummies.”

Farrow straightened. It was his expression, oft repeated, that she had finally managed to internalize. It deserved a reward. “Indeed,” he nodded his head and preened a moment. “And I shall be soon back with something that will.”

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto