Land of Opportunity

lucy-fridkin

Photo prompt courtesy of Lucy Fridkin

“Look, Salvatore.  New York. New beginnings for us.”

Salvatore grasped Mama’s eager, outstretched hand. Here he would invest the nugget of greatness he knew was within him and make his mark. He wouldn’t shrivel and stoop, lungs destroyed like Papa’s, in the sulphur mines.

Already, at nine, Sal knew what he needed: skilled teachers, opportunities.

Shepherded down the gangplank with his brothers and sisters, Sal felt the weight of his good fortune, his pockets heavy with assets. He’d been lucky during the voyage. He’d gathered rich pickings in carelessly concealed trinkets and cash. There’d be a market in New York.

*****

I’m contributing some historical fiction to Friday Fictioneers this week. I’m not sure why my thoughts flew so swiftly to this particular Sicilian immigrant family arriving in the land of opportunity, but Salvatore certainly did leave his mark, in his own way.

You’ll find more information here.

And you’ll find more 100 word stories in response to this week’s prompt here. Thanks once again to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting Friday Fictioneers.  

Penelope’s Project

ceayr-purple-door

Photo prompt courtesy of CEAyr

The early blossoms were perfect. At first no-one noticed. Helen called a cheery hello as she passed, and George waved good morning as he watered his yellow roses.

Soon the bushes were a riot of purple, and Penelope’s neighbours stared, from a distance. George stayed indoors.

Penelope completed her project. This was who she was – a woman with purple flowers and a matching purple door.

The end was swift. Penelope’s padlocked purple door remained a warning to passers-by that the Ministry of Civic Harmony would not tolerate subversive colour schemes. This was a yellow street. Just yellow.

*****

Once again I’m dragging the chain this week, but hopefully someone will still be browsing through the Friday Fictioneers link-up and drop by to read my story. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this weekly flash fiction event. 

My mother’s dresses

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Photo prompt courtesy of Sandra Crook

I open the chest and feast on the sight of my mother’s dresses. Greens and blues and rich ochres – shades of Earth and sea and sky. I have her colouring. I could wear these now.

Father should have disposed of them all, but he refuses, believing in miracles.

I close the lid and continue to my mother’s couch. We sit together, two black-shrouded figures. I stroke her arm to still the tremor that has lingered since the caning, since the vibrant colours of her skirt glimpsed beneath a wind-blown black burka offended a spying neighbour, and we finally understood the new morality.

*****

This story came to mind after hearing a brief radio news item this morning about ISIS “morality police” in one of their remaining strongholds in Syria being out and about measuring the length of men’s beards. The irony of the phrase struck me anew.

In 2002 I taught English to a group of Afghan men who had been accepted into Australia as refugees. I heard some of their stories of atrocities, and since then the plight of victims of cruel regimes is never far from my mind.

This post is for Friday Fictioneers, a weekly flash fiction link-up hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. You can read the other 100 word stories here.

He can’t stay

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Photo prompt courtesy of Peter Abbey

‘Oh mum, why can’t we keep him? Look at him – he likes it here with us. I promise I’ll look after him. He’ll be no trouble. Can we please?’

‘No, Carolyn. I’ve explained this already. He seems content now but he needs to go back with the others. One day is all they can take. After that they change. They get used to all the attention and start to expect it. Before long they’re thinking the whole world revolves around them.

‘We’ll get your father out for a visit again, but at six o’clock he goes back into the compound.’

*****

Another 100 word story for Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. 

Adrian’s choice

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Photo prompt courtesy of Claire Fuller

Adrian had seen the villagers clustered hopefully below, watching him climb towards the sanctuary. He must pass the Keeper’s test, and beg his protection for the coming year.

Now, on a narrow ledge on the highest peak of High Mountain, he trembled as a tiny, wrinkled man emerged from a cave carrying a collection of dusty objects. ‘Only one,’ came the hoarse command. ‘Choose.’ Adrian reached for a gleaming coin, then hesitated, suspecting trickery, and chose a pebble.

The Keeper laughed, picked up the coin and held it aloft. ‘Bad luck. No fortune this year. Doesn’t pay to over-analyse.’

*****

This story is my response to the photo prompt for Friday Fictioneers this week, but I missed the boat and couldn’t link it in. Here it is anyway, seeing as it’s written. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this weekly flash fiction event. 

There’s the rub …

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Photo prompt courtesy of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

‘We did it. Thanks to you.’

‘And to the power of solidarity.’

‘Without you we’d still be slaves to the whims of self-serving masters, tossed on the scrapheap when our usefulness ended. Who’d have thought we’d find ourselves a union organiser after all these years? You’ve revolutionised our working conditions – sick leave, regular rest breaks, and more.’

‘I only wish I’d discovered you sooner. And I wish we’d held out for shorter working hours. But it’s a start. Now, for what you owe me …’

‘Sorry, only two wishes per customer now and you’ve just had yours. Rules are rules.’

*****

Another contribution to Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. The other 100 word stories in response to this week’s photo prompt can be found here.

Faith

ceayr

Photo prompt courtesy of CEAyr

Wall-mounted speakers crackle to life. Esteemed Leader’s morning exhortation is beginning. We stand as the production line pauses to allow us to concentrate, remember and ponder his wisdom while we work.

His beloved voice is deep, rich, clear: “Our striving is not in vain. Our children will reap the rewards of our sacrifice. Follow me, toward the future. Together we are achieving greatness.”

I am willing. My back is strong. I need no luxuries.

I close my ears to treacherous whispers about our Leader’s expensive cars and sumptuous homes. Everything will be alright. Esteemed Leader says it is so.

*****

This story is for Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields on her blog ‘Addicted to Purple’. The other hundred word stories can be found here.