Suzy’s party

Photo prompt by J. Hardy Carroll

She looked a picture: bouncy curls, gauzy pink dress.

The afternoon was a phenomenal success – the garden resounded with children’s laughter and Suzy played the hostess like an expert, welcoming guests, exclaiming at her presents, charming the parents. She excelled in the games, but was gracious to those little ones who lacked her skill.

Then the storm hit. You could feel the air change, hear the hum, but Suzy just stood there, entranced. It took only a moment to short her out, turning her curls to frizzled wisps, her frilly dress to a charred rag.

Back to the drawing board.

*****

Thanks once again to Rochelle for hosting Friday Fictioneers. This is my contribution to this week’s link-up.

At the end

Photo by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Shivering, she stands ready – so young, but her eyes fixed on her goal. Then a signal and she’s off.

I’m in the next lane. I’ve finished my lap and linger to catch my breath and watch. 

“Hi,” I greet her as she surfaces. “You did well.”

“It was my first time to do the whole length,” she pants. 

I smile encouragement then struggle out, ignoring the disapproval on my grandson’s face as he helps me into my chair and hands me my oxygen mask.

“I know,” I pacify him, gasping now. “I just needed to do it one last time.”

*****

This is my contribution to Friday Fictioneers, a weekly flash fiction link-up hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Thanks to Rochelle for this week’s photo prompt, as well.

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.