Don’t look down

Photo by Roger Bultot

‘Grandma, look!’

‘Don’t stare, dear. I know – it’s distressing. Concentrate, now. Don’t crash on your first lesson.’

‘But who did that to her?’

‘Someone who claims to love her. When I was young it was common. We’d just discovered what was possible, found our wings. Some of us went a bit silly with the joy of it; and who could blame us?

‘They said it was unnatural. Snapped on real chains where we’d previously only had the chains in our own minds keeping us on the ground.’

‘I’m scared, Grandma.’

‘No need. Spin those pedals. Plenty of space up here. Let’s fly.’

*****

I struggled for an idea for this week’s Friday Fictioneers link-up, and then came May the 4th – International Star Wars Day, with a feast of John Williams’s music on my favourite classical music station (ABC Classic FM), and a passing reference to this scene – not from Star Wars.

And it’s not such a fanciful idea, it seems. Here’s the proof.

Thank you to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting Friday Fictioneers and posting the weekly prompt.

Lions

This week’s photo prompt is by Sandra Crook.

The lions’ throaty roars before dawn would send Ngabo scampering to his parents’ bed.

“Don’t be afraid,” Mother would whisper. “It’s just mama lion, keeping her babies safe.”

On Sundays Father taught him how to run silently through the jungle, to a dark, mossy gully they called the hiding place.

Now, a lifetime later, Ngabo walks beside a restless ocean, where a distant headland seems to him to be shaped like a crouching lion.

He has slept poorly, his dreams haunted by the night the men came with machetes, and his father’s strangled voice: “Run, Ngabo, to the hiding place.”

*****

This is my offering for Friday Fictioneers. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this weekly flash fiction link-up .

Left behind

Photo prompt courtesy of Dale Rogerson.

“You give the signal if anyone comes,” my brothers would say. “You’re too little to come in.”

They played ‘snowman’. They’d throw the powdery stuff around until they became three pale ghosts. Standing guard near the gaping fence where they’d clambered through, I’d listen to their breathless laughter. 

For years afterwards they’d reminisce, reliving their antics in the derelict factory that was demolished before I grew old enough to join their game.

Tonight I’m on guard again, at another hospital bedside, listening as the last of them struggles for breath.

Outside, soft drifts of snow have turned the world white. 

*****

This is my contribution to this week’s Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

Cluster sample

This week’s photo prompt courtesy of Roger Bultot

The University was once the pride of the city. Its students excelled, its faculties co-operated and its specialists collaborated.

And Professor Ludowici was their finest—his experiments were audacious, his imagination limitless.

Then, a year ago, came the silence. The townspeople say it was the professor’s last project, that one day they’ll all come back. Such is their faith in the professor.

Some claim to have seen a light in his window late at night, but there’s no real evidence.

They all crawled to shelter before they fell. If you venture close, you can just hear the gentle snoring.

*****

My Friday Fictioneers contribution. Many thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting the link-up each week.

Short cut

This week’s photo prompt courtesy of Ronda del Boccio

I keep my head down and pull my coat tight as a hug. I feel their eyes on me but I don’t react. Best to pretend I don’t know, or care.

The whispers and muffled laughter are the worst. I’m not imagining them, no matter what anybody says. They echo in my mind even when I’m safely inside. It’s the same every time.

I try to ignore glimpses of tangled spikes and coiling tendrils. Look down, look ahead. Then I can’t see it.

Home at last. Avoid the mirror. I swear I’ll never let that hairdresser near me again.

*****

This is my contribution to this week’s Friday Fictioneers. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this flash fiction link-up.

Fatal attraction

This week’s photo prompt is by Sandra Crook

We tried, but we knew the risks.

We’d talk through the night, keeping our distance, knowing the cost if our wills failed. 

I’d bring gifts – her eyes would sparkle when she saw me approach with treats for her to unwrap. She’d look at me then with such longing, and I’d melt.

I knew I couldn’t hold out forever, as did she. It was inevitable. I weakened, and it was glorious. But she is who she is.

Only moments left. I hang, ensnared in the silken web of her love, and wonder about life, death, desire and the imperative of destiny.

*****

A very late contribution to the Friday Fictioneers link-up, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. And if you can handle a gory little slice of nature in the raw, click on this link.

Black spider isolated on white background. Vector object. : Vector Art

Ragged

Thanks to Dale Rogerson for this week’s photo prompt.

She was fragile before it started. She shouldn’t have to go through this again. But nobody cared. They just used her and tossed her aside.

Once she’d been soft, plump and pretty. How they loved to snuggle into her enfolding embrace.

This one would finish her. Holding her breath, she sank into it, let the comfort permeate through her one last time, relishing the moist, seeping warmth, the slow, rhythmic pulsing.

But she knew what was coming. Here it was—a pause, a shift in momentum, and she was ripped to shreds.

That spin cycle is a killer.

*****

This is my spin on the photo prompt for Friday Fictioneers. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting the link-up each week.

The music

This week’s photo prompt is by Anshu Bhojnagarwala, with thanks.

He had practised obediently since he was tiny, but his performances remained wooden, formulaic. His father said his playing lacked soul.

His mother thought he was intimidated: “He’s afraid he won’t measure up to Alfred.”  And his brother was extraordinary. He had the prizes to prove it.

Madame Baranovnika dreaded his weekly lessons. “Let go, Mikhail. Let your heart take you past the mechanics, into the music itself.” Still he held back. Madame was mystified.

But Mikhail heard other voices too, and resisted. Until he no longer could, and the music took him.

Now the music is all he hears.

*****

This is for Friday Fictioneers, once again. Many thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting and maintaining this weekly flash fiction link-up.

A matter of principle

This is another 100 word story for Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

This week’s photo prompt is by C E Ayr, with thanks.

They’ve only got themselves to blame.

If I curl up everywhere except in the poxy kitty bed I’m supposed to love, that’s their fault.

If I yowl under their bedroom window every night; if I deposit half-chewed carcasses of their favourite backyard birds on the doorstep; if I scratch their woodwork, dig up their petunias, poo on the carpet—it’s their fault.

I could have given them so much—snuggled, purred, gazed devotedly.

I’d have put up with almost any indignity.  

But not what they did.

They called me Mouse. They thought it was cute—thought I wouldn’t understand.

*****

Let me admit straight up that I know very little about cats. I’ve been friends with quite a few dogs during my life, and I’m of the opinion that one knows where one stands with a dog. My cat owning friends might extol their puss’s affection, devotion and loyalty, but I’m not convinced. Just look into the watchful, yellow-green eyes of any cat and tell me it’s not plotting something devious.


Opportunity

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

Photo prompt by Jean L. Hays

Opportunity

They were just kids. They arrived right on closing time wanting coffees, extra hot, and Gina opened the till for their money.

Darlene waited, wishing they’d leave, worried about her own kids left alone while she worked nights.

Suddenly Gina screamed and clutched her face, dripping coffee, and they clambered over the counter, grabbed fistfuls of cash and ran. Darlene froze, then snapped into action—cold water for the scald; call the police. Then she spotted the open till, the stacks of notes they’d missed.

Nobody would blame her. Nobody would know. For once her rent would be paid on time.

*****