Tommy’s Sign

(Photo prompt © Roger Bultot)

 

She was never going to be ready. There was never going to be the ‘right time.’ He tried. He really tried. But he couldn’t stand it anymore.

When she left to visit her mother, he took it downstairs. The recycling truck should pass before her return, and by then it will be done. It was for the best. She’ll come to understand.

The key in the door in the morning. “I took an earlier flight. And, can you believe it? Someone tossed a highchair just like Tommy’s! I know it is a sign from him to hold on to ours!”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

Nesting

tokens SueVincent

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

 

At Arm’s Length

gy-row-at-night CrispinaKemp

 

“You cannot avoid her forever,” Mom’s sewing barely paused as she cut the thread and got another length through the eye of the needle, “not when Alice lives but an arm’s length away.”

I hunched miserably over my own sewing, the tip of my tongue lodged against my teeth where it would not show but can still provide me some security. The ‘hidden’ stitch kept sprouting comas of thread on the side of the hem one wasn’t supposed to notice any. I was hopeless at needlework. Mom still insisted.

I avoided you finding safety pins in my hem, I thought to myself, and our cramped quarters allow even less than arm’s length.

“I’ll go around,” I tried.

Mom actually snorted. “You think Mrs. Munster will become your thoroughfare?”

I shrugged. Mrs. Munster’s house bridged the alley. She was a dragon, but I just couldn’t face Alice. I was too ashamed.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

 

 

Backseat Jostling

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Photo: Thais Ribeiro on Unsplash

 

“Mama, he’s touching me!”

She tightened her grip on the steering wheel.

“Mama, he’s breathing on me!”

She inhaled.

“How come he always gets the window?”

She sighed.

“I don’t have room!”

She braked.

“Stop this or you can all walk home!”

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Jostle in 42 words

 

 

The Two Towers

PHOTO PROMPT -Copyright-Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Photo prompt: Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 

“He’s gonna do WHAT?!!”

Oh oh, never should have said nothing. I swallowed and inspected my sneakers. Found a stain. Hopefully mustard.

Mom grabbed my shoulder.

“Marcus Anthony Jeremiah Rivera, what did you just say your brother was up to?”

Her face told me it’d be as bad for the messenger if I didn’t confess. I was toast. Benito was gonna beat me up soon as she was done with him.

“See those towers?”

Her eyes narrowed.

“Benito saw a big rope between them and he said it’s perfect for zip-lining.”

Way Mom ran, she should’a been in the Olympics.

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

 

The Twins

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Photo: Syd Wachs on Unsplash

 

They are twins but

They are not one

Being.

Identical, so many call them,

Breathless with

Duplicated magic.

But underneath the outward

Appearance

They are

Anything but.

Individually

Tempered

By the nuanced

Realities of who they

Really are.

 

 

 
For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Nuance in 38 words

 

 

Space To Roam

dark-clouds-on-a-sunny-day SueVincent

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

When they first left the city she was devastated.

She knew it was the better choice. That the twins’ sensitive lungs could not function in the pollution. That Mark’s temper improved whenever he had something green to look upon. That there will be less pressure on her to perform.

And yet … she mourned.

She worried that they will be terribly lonely. That the twins’ needs will drive her to distraction and that there will not be enough there to keep her mind from wandering into the darker corners of herself, especially in the days each month when she was already prone to the morose. She worried she would hate it. Hate him. Resent them.

She couldn’t have been more wrong.

The rolling meadows became an endless canvas of interest. The twins spent hours in the fresh air, content to watch the play of light and shade as clouds raced across the sky and birds fleeted and hares scampered and hawks floated languidly above. They did not cry nearly as much. They slept. They began to respond. It gave her time to know them. Their facial expressions and appetites and unexpected curiosity.

She was learning to know Mark better, too, and she liked what she was getting to know better than what she’d believed she’d liked when they first met. He was kinder since they moved. More patient. Less ashamed.

She knew he’d blamed her for the twins. For their impairments. For trying to birth two babies together and then doing it so poorly that she not only gave them damaged children, but was not likely to birth again.

In the city the children were a constant reminder of his imperfections. He was saddled with them yet found little comfort in babies who were sickly and odd-shaped and would likely never walk by his side. He was “the man with the cripples,” and though he never outright said it, she knew he resented the children for that. She knew he resented her, and that he hated his family for gifting them this exile.

But in the small estate in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by hills and bogs and streams and all manner of wild things, her husband seemed to find compassion. For himself. For her. For the children.

He calmed.

He took long walks.

He discovered fatherhood.

Neither of the twins smiled much, but when they did it would transform their wizened little faces into absolute delight.

In a moment of unexpected impulse, Mark discovered that he could make Tommy smile by spinning him high in his arms. And after that he could not get enough of Tommy’s dimple. Or Ronny’s laugh.

She could not get enough of Mark’s.

And she knew she would never forget the morning when she found Mark asleep in the nursery, draped on the daybed with the children cradled one to an arm. She loved him then in a way she did not believe possible.

So yes, when they first left the city, she had been devastated.

Yet in the vast open spaces of a fresh start, their grief diluted, they found a place to roam.

They found each other.

They found home.

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

Ice Cream Tim

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Photo: Brendan Church on Unsplash

 

Tim had a serious thing

For

Ice cream.

No matter the flavor

It was something

He’d favor.

His mama thought it

Extreme

To hold a lone food

Supreme,

So she came up with

A scheme

That worked wonders on

Tim:

Every new food she’d

Mix right into the

Ice cream.

So she fixed it with okra

And kale

And some beans,

And added an olive

And handfuls of

Greens,

And for his dessert

Even mashed in

Sardines.

And the boy ate the lot

Smiling full to the

Brim.

It was not until college

He caught on to the

Theme.

 

 

 

For RDP Sunday: Ice Cream

 

 

Her Reflection

silver-1 SueVincent

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

She walks along the dunes. There had been very little time away from others. So very few opportunities to be alone. She needs this more than air.

Morris agreed to keep an eye on the children. They were not enthused.

“He’s boring, Mama!” Ethan complained.

“Yeah, and his breath smells!” Lilly pouted.

“You don’t have to kiss him,” she replied. “And if you are bored, I can leave you some chores.”

They skulked away, displeased, but there was nothing for it, grumpy neighbor-as-babysitter or not. She knew she was becoming increasingly impatient. She did not want to cross the line into unkind.

It wasn’t their fault that Paul left. It wasn’t their doing that their dad did not see fit to shoulder any responsibility. She knew they missed him. He didn’t even think of calling on their birthdays. She knew Ethan cried for his dad in his sleep.

She almost took them with her to the dunes. Almost made it a family outing. Lilly loved running in the sand. Ethan’s eyes always lit up at the space. Like her, he loved the breeze and silence.

But she could not. Not this time.

This time she needed to replenish. For herself. For them. They needed a sane mother. She was running low on how.

 

She walks and breathes and ruminates and lets the worries and the sorrows stream out and flow down her cheeks and neck and chest till they evaporate.

There was a time she had hoped to have a house on the dunes. There was a time she had a dream of living in the solitary calm of gulls and tides and estuaries.

It wasn’t that she regretted having the children (marriage was a whole other story, given what non-partner Paul turned to be). She did not. Not once. She couldn’t imagine her life without them. Just for this morning, though … she needed to let be a part of herself that did not have them in its center.

She walks as if in daydream. The light shimmers and the estuary glints silver in the shrinking distance. It gives her peace. A reminder of how every stagnant-looking pool may in fact be only a pause in flow.

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto challenge

 

 

No Quarter

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Photo: jurien huggins on Unsplash

 

She would give him no quarter.

Heed no pleas or demands.

He will have to obey.

It was how it was done.

No experience? No matter.

He will not fall

Behind!

First the tasks,

Then the chores

And more lessons to mind.

Math and science

Books and rhymes.

This was school,

Not play time!

 

 

For RDP Monday: Quarter