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

 

Not A Bird

ccc109-1 CrispinaKemp

 

“Hey! At the bottom of the cliff to the right. What do you think this is?”

Lisa adjusted the focus on her binoculars. “Can’t tell. A bit of junk?”

They were supposed to be cataloguing the different bird species they could find along their stretch of beach, but the seagulls were tiresome, and the sandpipers were too fast, and the wind had whipped so much sand around that she would certainly be carrying another pound of it just in her hair. Lisa wanted to go home. She wanted a nice bath, dry clothes, and a hot cup of tea.

“Perhaps a miners’ rail box.” Deena, binoculars glued to her face and hair tucked under a maddeningly practical cap, seemed oblivious to the stinging sand or Lisa’s rumbling stomach.

“Not a bird,” Lisa tried.

“No, but sure is a mystery!” Deena rose and pointed at the narrow trail. “Let’s go investigate!”

 

 

 

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.

 

Watch Out

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“See that thing?” Holly whispered.

“What thing?” Harold mumbled, eyes barely lifted from the miniature screen of his new smart-watch.

That thing!” Holly covered her brother’s wrist with her hand. “Over there.”

Harold sighed and looked around. Old metal fences that once cordoned lines of people. Rotten concrete. Musty dankness. A deserted skating rink. What’s to see?

“Nothing,” he shrugged.

Holly exhaled exasperation. “That bird,” she hissed.

“Oh. A brown pigeon. Unusual coloring.”

His sister’s fingers tightened around his wrist and he grimaced at the pressure on his watch. It was new. She’d ruin it before he could show it off. “Hey, let go! What?!”

“I don’t care about its coloring. It is staring at us!”

“It’s just a bird.” He scrutinized the gate. His friends were very late.

“Yeah? Bet you won’t say that when it calls millions of its friends to dive in and peck us to death!”

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Going Green

mallard-drake CrispinaKemp

 

“No way Jose!” Jessie’s arms were folded in what was half stubborn refusal, half terrified self-preservation.

Derek laughed and wiggled his toes, which were caked with mud and muck and unidentifiable stuff that was best left well outside of sniffing range.

His sister groaned. “Do you have to be so gross?”

“What’s wrong with a little bit of nature, eh?” he teased. He took a step and bent to touch the carpet of green algae that covered the pond. It looked like velvet.

“Are you nuts?!” Jessie looked ready to lunge and probably would’ve pulled him back if it weren’t for the fact that it would require getting closer to the pond’s edge.

“Chill, Sis,” Derek shook his head. “It’s not like I’m gonna be eaten by Nessie.”

“Imaginary monsters don’t worry me,” Jessie’s lip curled in disgust. “Salmonella from those mallards and whatever else in this water sure does.”

 

 

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)

 

 

 

Barry’s Safari

 

“Don’t look!”

Melanie’s voice was low and urgent.

Naturally, I tried to look.

“No!” she hissed. “Stay still, Bethany! Don’t move!”

Naturally, I disobeyed. No way I was letting Melanie see something interesting and miss out on it! Bad enough she was born thirty minutes before me, and had to constantly remind me how she “was normally positioned” and I was “the butt-instead-of-head” one.

I looked … and almost had a heart attack! Not that I was gonna let her see it. I molded my almost-shriek into a grin. “Cool!”

“Bee!” she hissed.

She rarely used her baby name for me. Perhaps she was genuinely terrified.

“It’s fine, Meh-Meh,” I returned. The syllables felt simultaneously odd and soothing in my mouth. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d used my baby name for her. Being the younger twin, and always the smaller, I’d been self-conscious about not appearing babyish.

“It’s a rhino!” she mouthed.

“A baby rhino,” I tried hopefully. “I mean, I think it is.”

“Babies have mamas and even that so-called baby has a horn,” she shuddered. Her voice shook.

Suddenly suspicious, I chanced a look around to seek Gary. A moment earlier, our safari guide had ‘conveniently’ needed to go get something from the truck.

Even his silhouette appeared smug.

“So, Gary!” I called out, eliciting a gasp and a fetal position from Melanie. “Who’s that little one?”

The khaki-clad man stepped into the light of the fire he’d lit earlier. More for ambiance than for warmth. His grin was someplace between satisfied and embarrassed.

“It’s Barry,” he chuckled, clicked his fingers, and pulled a carrot out of his back pocket. “Our resident rhino.”

The gray beast sauntered closer. If Melanie could have drilled herself into the ground, she would.

“You terrified my sister,” I glowered at the guide.

I wasn’t really worried about her. I could see that she was trying to regain her composure (if not her self-respect). In fact, I was definitely going to get a lot of mileage out of this. But … she was my sister to torment. No one else had the right!

“Sorry,” his voice was only marginally contrite. “Barry is an unofficial part of the tour.”

“For those who survive,” Melanie muttered under her breath. She was still shaking.

The rhino lipped the carrot and chewed it noisily, then took a step in our direction. Melanie squeaked.

Well, those who come out butt-first apparently have stronger constitutions. I stood up. “Got more carrots?”

 

 

For Keith’s Kreative Kue

 

 

Untended

 

“He gets the room behind the bush,” Mama ordered.

“But Mama,” Samantha tried, “we’re in the country now.”

Mama shook her head.

Samantha swallowed a sigh. This was the middle of nowhere. No neighbors. No roads. Old growth all around. Barely a dirt path to the cottage from behind the barn.

There will be no arguing with Mama.

She caught Daniel’s eye. He did his little special wink at her and she wanted to cry. He was comforting her even though it would be he who will be stuck in a room with barely light and zero view.

His eyes flicked toward the barn, and she understood — at least in the house he’d be warm, where she could keep an eye. At least Mama wasn’t hiding him in the barn.

Mama could not stand his disfigurement. Reminder of the fire she did not tend. The baby she let burn.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

The Farthest Ride

They were going to make a race for it.

Sherry frowned.

Why did everything have to be a race with them?

She knew there was naught a thing she could do to dissuade them. To the contrary: if she tried to, they were almost certain to up the ante, in bravado and a bit of spite.

Older sisters were never listened to. Even if they were ran to later with the scrapes and bruises and secrets that had to be kept from parents and the like.

Lots more than scrapes and bruises at risk here, though.

“I’m going to ride,” Thomas bragged. The paddle-board he’d rescued from the trash was his pride and joy. Pitiful in looks, with masking tape to hold the bits together, but serviceable. For ripples. Not for this.

“Nah, I swim,” Teddy said. “I’ll reach the farthest wind turbine before you get half-way to the first!”

 

 

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