The Promise

 

“It’s not much,” Eric noted.

“That it isn’t,” Morris agreed. “Still …”

Eric nodded. It was better than their tent in the woods. “Walls look sturdy.”

“That they do.” Morris circled the dilapidated farmhouse, hands clasped behind his back. A habit left from years of teaching and one he wasn’t particularly happy to be reminded of.

It still hurt. To have been cast aside. To not be wanted anymore.

“So, she just left it for you?” Eric tried to keep the eagerness out of his voice. He’d hoped for some juicy details ever since Morris had told him about the inheritance.

“That she did,” Morris replied.

He remembered her, of course. Juliette, the brunette. They’d been a couple, in a manner of speaking. “What’s mine is yours,” she had promised. Years ago.

Then they’d parted.

Not once had he thought it to mean anything beyond what she’d shared with him then.

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Out Of The Blue

Photo prompt: © David Stewart

 

The streets still shone with wet but the dome of sky stretched clear above. The wind had swept away the clouds.

She shivered even though the air was warm. Perhaps it was the damp that had her reaching for her shawl.

She hugged herself and wondered if she’d ever know whether he had left because he wanted to or because he had no other choice or because he did not know any better.

“Where are you?” she whispered.

She jumped when the fountain unexpectedly came to life and bathed the roundabout in blue.

It felt like a hello. From Hugh.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

Elbow Grease

Photo prompt © C.E.Ayr

 

“It’s been a while since they lived here.”

I nodded. The place was filthy. A bit stinky, too.

“Nothing a little elbow grease won’t fix.”

I wished she would shut up. The property manager’s eagerness to sell the place was obvious. Her neglect of the place was, too. She might’ve spent a bit of elbow grease before showing the space.

No matter. The sorry state of the cottage might lower her price to my range.

“Why aren’t these garbage bins outside?” I ventured.

“Oh,” she fidgeted, “those are … um … kind of urns. They’d wanted to be buried in them, indoors.”

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

Sentry Sign

 

“Can you believe this weather? The sun is …” she stopped cold, her jaw frozen in mid-sentence. Her heart thundered, threatening to escape the confines of her chest.

“Mauve?”

Eric’s voice sounded as if filtered through molasses. Someplace in her stunned mind she noted to herself that she finally understood why cartoonists slurred speech and movement into agonizing slow-motion during moments of high-drama. It was as if the world itself spun differently. Time simultaneously lingered and lost all definition.

Her finger labored against a suddenly-too-heavy gravity. She pointed at the gravestone.

“The swirls,” she managed, her tongue was a parched brick in a desert.

She forced herself to breathe and swallow. Paradoxically the motion released some moisture back into her arid mouth.

“It is the mark of my ancestors,” she whispered. “A sacred, secret, rarely-used Sentry Sign. I’d only seen it once. I didn’t even know they’d been to this land.”

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

 

The Gazelle

Cheeky Deer AtaraKatz

Photo: Atara Katz

 

She has come to inspect

The tent

The snacks

The gear

The rest.

A gazelle

Wearing smiles

And she’ll stay

For a

While.

Entertainment

It seems

Can be found

On a whim.

 

 

 

For the Word of the Day Challenge: Gazelle

 

The Key

michael-dziedzic-1bjsASjhfkE-unsplash

Photo: Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

 

It was the key that would change everything.

He only found it because Cooper, ever disobedient, had slipped the leash and ran off the trail and into the thick of the woods. Again.

Deena thought his walks in the forest were cruel.

“It is his breed’s nature to hunt scents,” she’d inevitably complain about the leash, ruining what calm there was to be had in an afternoon walk. “How can you chain him to you when he’s meant to run where his nose leads?”

In Leigh’s view, walking the canine on paved sidewalks where there was no loam or crushed insects or chipmunk poo for Cooper to breathe, was actually far crueler. And so, like they often did when it came to disagreements, they ended up taking the easier way out by splitting the walks between them.

Deena would walk Cooper in the mornings in the neighborhood, where the most the dog could sniff was garbage cans and the occasional fellow leashed-pooch’s butt. Leigh walked him after work, and almost always in the direction of the woods, where in some ways they were both of them at home and both straining against some kind of leash.

It wasn’t perfect and sometimes it was lonely, but he preferred it that way. Quieter. With none of Deena’s nattering about minutia that he found excruciatingly boring to listen to and only slightly less indecent to ignore.

Not that he’d say that to her. Life was better when some observations were kept to oneself.

Like about keys …

He’d been running after Cooper when he tripped on an exposed root. A stream of words he’d learned while serving on a Navy ship spilled out of his mouth, when a shape manifested on the leaf-strewn forest floor. And it was as if a switch flipped and turned his mouth dumb.

He swallowed but there was nothing. His body shuddered with the memories of how quickly a mouth can turn devoid of moisture. That, too, he’d learned while serving on the ship.

He shook it off to make the involuntary shaking into an act of volition. Still his heart whooshed in his ears as he took a knee to the wet ground and reached for the key.

He didn’t know how long he remained frozen, fingers hovering without actually touching the bit of metal. Long enough for Cooper to return to investigate. Because the next thing  Leigh was aware of was Cooper’s wet nose, sniffing at the object of his master’s interest, licking Leigh’s fingers, breathing on his cheek.

“Move,” Leigh nudged the canine gently out of the way.

And Cooper, for once respectful without bribery, obeyed, and stretched with head on paws, his tongue dangling and his long body smeared with something Leigh noted to himself in passing would need scrubbing off with soap before being allowed back indoors.

“It’s the key, Cooper,” Leigh whispered. He was awed. He was aghast. “But how?”

It’s been eight years, five months, and two days since he’d lost it. On a different continent, in what felt a different world, in the middle of a battle, and not two hours after he’d sworn to his dying best friend that he would guard it with his life and bring it home to the fiance Mark had left behind.

“It was to be my wedding gift to Deena,” Mark had gasped, fighting for every breath. “She doesn’t know about it. I was waiting to tell her. It’s the key to my safe.”

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS prompt: Key

 

Kiss Bliss

Frog Ready for a kiss AnneToet

Photo: Anne Toet

 

Time had arrived

To make the shift

From frog

To handsome

Prince,

But then the kiss

When it was dished

Kept Frog’s

Amphibian

Bliss.

 

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Fantasy

 

 

All Caught Up

IMG_0192a

 

She leaned back, took a long look around, and sighed in satisfaction.

He’d love it. She was sure he would.

It took three full weeks and dozens of hours, but now every piece of paper he’d ever owned was alphabetized and catalogued. The photos organized by color, location, and main character. The receipts tagged and ranked by preference: favorite things first, the things he’d never order again, last.

He was due home by nightfall. She could only imagine his delight.

The office was transformed. So was the garage. She even organized the nets and oar for an artistic touch. Bronzed all his mementos so they matched.

No more desk and drawers. No more folders. No more boxes with a mishmash of photos and cards. Goodbye to letters stacked together by arbitrary designations of correspondence, when they could be more logically sorted by zip code (or when there was none noted, ordered alphabetically by addressee’s given name and divided by paper-type).

It had been a Herculean task, but she was undaunted. Who but her would take it on to help him out?

She couldn’t wait to show him how she’d got him all caught up.

 

 

For Keith’s Kreative Kue #236

 

 

Do Not Engage

Photo Prompt © Roger Bultot

 

“It’s covering its eyes.”

“Say what?” Sergeant Frank was always gruff but Leon knew a warning when he heard it. He could (almost) visualize his superior in his boxer-shorts, remote in one hand and beer in the other. One did not get between the Sergeant and his beer.

“The new statue, Sir. In Rockefeller. It’s covering its eyes.”

“Leon, are you drunk?!”

“No, Sir. The hotdog man saw it, too. And a bystander.”

“Statues don’t move, Leon. That’s why they’re called statues.”

“This one did, Sir.”

Silence.

“Sir?”

Sigh. “I’m sending Marco. Meanwhile, Leon … sit tight and … do not engage …”

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

Fashion Statement

Fashion Statement Nicaragua InbarAsif

Photo: Inbar Asif

 

For some reason it seemed

This ensemble

Should work …

To select

Or object

Or someone’s cash

To collect.

 

 

For the One Word Sunday challenge: Fashion