The Key

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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

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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

 

Wagon Trail

wagon trail PhilipCoons

Photo: Philip Coons

 

Hitch the horses to the carriage,

Pack the trunk

(Or wagon) full.

There’s a lot yet to discover,

As we hit the road.

Now pull!

 

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Road

 

 

Keen Green

Praying Mantis Dvora Freedman

Photo: Dvora Freedman

 

Hello there,

How are you, Ma’am?

I’ve missed a spot?

Oh well, oh damn.

There’s no perfection

On the lam

And I’ve really

Got to scram.

Have you seen some

Elves around?

I’ve been told to

Look for rainbows

At the end of

Traffic jams,

(And yes, I know the

Gold’s a scam

But I’ll still give it

An exam).

 

 

 

For Terri’s Sunday Stills: Green

 

Unexpected Sales

critter beach naamayehuda

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

I did not quite expect,

On the beach, in the sun,

A visit from dinos

Puppeted by a man.

Granted these all were smaller

Than the ones I would fear,

But I still did not really

Want them too near.

 

My eyes must’ve

Been wide

As I waved

Him aside,

But two chairs

To the right

He sold three

With delight.

 

 

For the Lens-Artist Photo Challenge: Unexpected

 

Scouts Honor

Photo: © Ted Strutz

 

“Where exactly does your uncle live?”

“You’ll see.”

I narrowed my eyes. Larry relished building tension. Perhaps mandatory in magicians, but guaranteed to annoy offstage!

“This better not be a trick!” I warned.

“It’s not,” he responded. “Scouts honor.”

“You’ve been kicked out of Scouts.”

He laughed.

We traipsed through deserted woods. No house anywhere. Not even a cabin. Just scraggly trees, weeds, and a spooky car wreck. Larry made for the latter.

I followed warily, smelling trickery.

“Here,” he reached under the hood, pressed something, unveiled stairs. “Ta-da! Uncle’s Red’s subterranean house!”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers