After-Party

Prompt photo: Pixabay

 

They were going to put them there to remember, they said. To frame the recollections of the community, so none of what had happened be forgotten. That’s what they said.

It was meant as a memorial of sort, they said. A referendum of the eye. Intended to draw the faces upwards and lend a sense of a somber chaos, carefully controlled.

Perhaps it was all that. Yet it was so much more.

For the installation was also meant to keep the chairs out of reach. To take away the possibility of seating. To have people stand and look and move on, rather than linger or make themselves oh-too-comfortable. Again.

Because it was the idleness – those in power believed but did not say – that had led to the gatherings and speeches and protests and that weekend party-turned-riot. People got too comfortable in using public spaces as if those were a right rather than a privilege. They sat. They lingered. They huddled together and began to think they should have the power to decide how they passed their spare time, where and who with they sat. Mutiny, it was.

The police were sent to squash it.

And put all the chairs up.

 

 

For Donna’s Sunday Photo Fiction prompt

Ladies In Waiting

Photo by Arun Sharma on Unsplash

 

“It is time yet?”

Prissy frowned. Alia always never had an ounce of patience. “Look around. Does it look like it is time?”

Edna glared at Prissy. That girl would not recognize patience if it sat right in front of her and introduced itself by name.

“Anyone want a snack?” Deena reached into her bag and pulled out an assortment of wrinkled potato chip bags, a crumbling granola bar in a zipped bag, and apple slices that had seen brighter days.

Alia’s look of horror was so comical that even Prissy smiled.

Count on Deena to diffuse the tension, Edna thought.

They all had their roles in every little drama life presented. Whether like players on a stage or play-pieces on a chess board, she wasn’t sure. Only that they slid into their respective places with predictability that was both comfortable and disconcerting.

Perhaps not so surprising they would do so now, when it might be the last opportunity for it. Their dynamics were about to change forever.

As soon as it was time.

A door opened at the end of the hall and they all jumped.

“Alia Marquette?” a uniformed woman appeared. “Your shuttle to Mars is about to depart.”

 

 

For the Sunday Photo Fiction prompt

 

Keepsake

Photo prompt: http://mrg.bz/n22FGA 

 

He kept it all these years.

A memento of sorts. Something to remember things by. A penance, perhaps. Or a tribute. Sometimes he wasn’t sure which one it was. Or both.

Some nights he’d leave their bed, her light breath highlighting the heaviness that had kept him from sleeping, and walk to the garage just to look at it. To remind himself of what is real and what was possible and what should never once again take place.

Even if it could.

It was the only lie he’d ever told her, though in truth it had led to many more lies — of omission, of deflection, of withholding aspects of himself he could not let her know about. Not ever.

Or did he someplace hope to one day let her know?

For why else would he keep it?

Sometimes he thought that his refusal to do away with it was his way of warning. Himself. To not allow himself to fall into an illusion of what he was not. Perhaps a warning to her, too, to read between the lines of what he couldn’t tell her.

Of the damage he could do. Even in accident. To the ones he’d loved.

 

 

 

For the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge

 

Tea For One

Reena Saxena

Photo Credit: Reena Saxena

 

It will be tea for one. Again.

She boiled the water in the pot they’d gotten on their honeymoon in Venice, and she spread the tablecloth he’d always said reminded him of his grandma’s parlor (and had always added “in the best way possible” when she’d frown).

She rearranged the mismatched chairs left from the two sets they’d combined when they moved in together, but then returned the plaid one so it rested half-turned to the table and half-facing the radio. Like old times. Like the many evenings when she’d mend some this or that or mark her students’ lessons, while he’d lean forward onto one palm and watch her from the corner of his eye even as his attention was on his favorite broadcast.

“I have eight favorites,” he’d often chuckle. “One for each day of the week and two on Sunday.”

“But none as favorite as you,” he’d always add, just because he knew it pleased her to be reminded that she mattered more …

 

She turned the burner off when the kettle wailed, a lone wolf in the night. She spooned some of the good tea into the teapot, and poured the water on the leaves to let it steep, then capped the pot and dressed it with the cozy she’d made from his favorite sweater when it had too many holes to patch and too much love to throw away.

“You don’t toss away much,” he’d tease her, and they both knew it was both compliment and understanding. They’d grown with little and later had even less, so she had learned to not let go of things too easily.

“I do keep you around, don’t I?” she’d tease back … some days only half in jest for how he’d manage to so exasperate her. Muddy shoes inside the house and socks that never quite made it into the hamper, and an infuriating tendency to not recall the milk or pay the mortgage. Never mind remembering her birthday or their anniversary.

Or the time he’d strayed from vows … and bore a hole into her heart that never fully mended.

She’d forgiven him for that. Of sort. Or as much as anyone can a betrayal. For she’d come to understand it was based less on his disrespect of her as it was on his embedded insecurities. He’d cried in shame when he’d confessed his indiscretion and she’d ended up comforting him, feeling both tender and resentful.

He’d bought her the tea caddie after that. The hand-carved thing of beauty had cost a ridiculous amount and did little to improve upon the one they’d had already … other than in how it served as a reminder for the cost of pain and of his commitment to penance.

 

She passed a finger over the caddie’s rounded top and felt each curve like a canyon of memories in her heart. When she’d fallen ill after their failed attempt at parenting, and the bills kept mounting, he’d almost sold his beloved radio to make payments. Yet he’d refused to discuss letting go of the caddie.

“It is worth a small fortune,” she had tried.

“And that is exactly why it is befitting of you that it stay,” he had replied.

 

She sighed and sat and poured the tea into her cup and watched the steam cloud the glass as the fluid rose like unabated sorrow.

It was their anniversary. The third since he’d left her, this time to where no tea caddie and no amount of tears could remedy.

“Do not hasten to follow,” he’d begged her promise when they both knew it was time. “Go on and live for me.”

Perhaps she wouldn’t have promised had she known quite how bereft she would be without him. Yet she had given him her word, and she was not about to introduce betrayal into the fabric they had so labored to repair.

It will be tea for one, again. Today.

 

 

For the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge

 

The Perfect Shoes

20190224Photo Courtesy of Susan Spaulding

 

She came across them at the thrift store, squashed in a box along with moth-eaten scarves, a pair of slacks with holes that could tell many stories, two helplessly dented hats, and some fabric scraps.

She was about to lift a shoe to ask about the price when the proprietor glanced in her direction. “Those are by the box,” he drawled. “Take it or leave it. No picking.”

“How much?” She swished her hand inside the box and shrugged, worrying he’d overcharge her if he detected interest.

“Thirty.”

Her eyebrows hiked up on their own accord. The shoes alone were worth ten times as much.

“Twenty, final offer,” he misinterpreted her gesture.

She gazed into nearby containers till her thrumming heart settled down and she could pour something less jello-like into her legs.

“I’ll take it.”

She carried the box to the car fully expecting to hear the shopkeeper’s voice calling her back to point out a mistake. No call came.

Finally at home, she rescued the shoes, stuffed them with tissue-paper, and placed them reverently under Great-Great-Grandma’s bridal gown. Family lore was that she’d had big feet and had to wear men’s shoes. Those were a perfect match.

 

 

For Susan’s Sunday Photo Fiction

 

First Sighting

SPF 10-07-18 CE AYR 4

Photo Credit: C.E. Ayr

 

Frank said he’d show them. They didn’t know what to expect.

There had been noises coming out of Frank’s garage for the last month. Scraping sounds. Creaks and screeching. Odd lights that did not seem electrical. Scents of things they could not place.

“That’s what happens when you indulge a grown man’s folly,” Mirabelle scowled, bestowing wisdom and a sharp tongue on the gathered neighbors. “Tinkering about instead of doing an honest day’s work.”

Rebecca raised an eyebrow in Dave’s direction and he swallowed a laugh. He had no intention of having his wife succeed in making Mirabelle turn her bottomless well of ire onto him.

“He found it,” Tommy whispered. The towheaded boy lived across the street from Frank and was known to make extensive use of binoculars, not always for savory pursuits.

Dave tilted his head in quasi-invitation.

“In the bog. A round thing. Egg-like. Didn’t sound this big before, though,” Tommy fidgeted.

The racket grew and the assembled quieted. Slowly the garage door rose. Something labored out, scraping massive claws on the driveway’s concrete.

Rebecca gasped. Mirabelle fainted. Frank hung back.

Reptilian eyes regarded them, assessing. As food or foe, Dave was not so sure.

 

 

For the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge

 

Treasure Hunters

SPF-10-14-18Joy-Pixley-3

Photo Credit: Joy Pixley

 

It had been a long trek on an oven of a day in what had to be a replica of hell. I was parched half-way to mummification and about as lively as the end result, but Mark seemed as bouncy as a pixie in morning dew.

He checked the map. “Twenty more feet!”

Either he didn’t notice the forest of thorns (and its likely residents) or didn’t care. He was in his element. I definitely was not.

I’d joined THOR (Treasure Hunters Of Renown) a month prior, on the rebound from a breakup. The local chapter was small but Mark’s enthusiasm was contagious and the prospects were exciting. We compared topography maps with old mining records and discussed unsolved mysteries of lost gold from the bandit days of the Wild West. Hunting treasure sounded alluring. It made me feel brave. From the AC.

“I’m not going in there!” I croaked with a drywall tongue as my mind filled with images of scorpions and my ears strained for rattlers. I was sure I’d heard the cackle of ghosts.

If I made it home alive, the only treasures I wanted were a cool drink, my couch, and my remote.

 

 

For Sunday Photo Fiction

 

Hold The Rainbow

April Pearson

Photo credit: April Pearson

 

She’s always loved rainbows. Even if they’d signaled more endings than beginnings and more lost pots of golden dreams than she could count. Perhaps that’s why rainbows were so colorful: They distracted you from the fact that they weren’t much more than a trick of light, air distorted through the sheen of still held tears. Would double rainbows herald double sorrow or a chance at joy?

“I wanna hold it, Mama!”

She glanced down at the curly head and her eyes followed the small hand that pointed at the docks across the narrow inlet. “I wanna hold it!”

“You can’t hold a rainbow, Marly.”

The finger remained trained on the colorful arch, and Laurie didn’t needs to see the toddler’s face to know the little girl was scowling. She recognized the full-body-speak from memories in her own bones.

“Come.” She bent and scooped the child into her arms. She was going to make sure life was different for this one. “Such a pretty rainbow, isn’t it? We can’t hold it, but I can hold you, and,” she reached into the go-bag that held everything they still possessed since they escaped, “you can hold your unicorn.”

 

 

For the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge