Hope

Welcome to a new year of Friday Fictioneers! We are a community of writers from around the world who post 100-word stories each week, all based on a photo prompt provided by our effervescent leader, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. This week’s fabulous photo is by Rochelle’s daughter-in-law.

tree-climbing-poppy

Hope

by Jan Brown

When my daughter, Hope, was a little girl, we had a magic tree.

She would talk to the tree every morning. Sometimes, she would ask a favor: a toy, a ball. The favor would be granted. Then she asked for a puppy! She named him Muggles.

As a teenager, she developed alternative theories for the appearance of these items. Muggles?  She thought Dad must have rescued him from the pound.

But I knew better.

One night, we found Hope with Muggles, sprawled in the street, victims of a hit-and-run.

I rushed to the tree, and asked for the ultimate favor.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For more Friday Fictioneers’ stories, click the link below:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Advertisements

Some Things Never Change

Welcome to Friday Fictioneers! This week’s photo prompt is provided by our fearless leader, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Thank you, Rochelle! Also, happy birthday to two of our group: Randy Mazie and the ever-ageless Rochelle.

There are so many intriguing miniatures in this keepsake display. I thought about the events and memories they represent to the owner and her family.  Are there larger versions of the baby carriage, the roller skates and the bicycle stored in the garage? I know there are full-size books, and definitely a wineglass or two, in the house! These are treasured family moments, encapsulated in time and transfigured in size.

Sweet, tiny reminders.

Or are they?

keepsakes by rochelle

Some Things Never Change

by Jan Brown

Everyone in my family has a special gift. My late brother could fly like the wind. Unfortunately, he used his gift primarily to impress his friends. He eventually slammed into a tree while showing off for a girl.

Then I discovered my own gift. I call it “augmentation.” Dolls and toys come to life at my beckoning.

I brought my mother’s genie figurine to life, and he offered me three wishes.

“Just one wish. Bring my brother back to me.”

He came back, but only for a few days. He flew into a mountain while showing off for a girl.

◊◊◊◊◊

I’ve always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific.

– George Carlin

Read more Friday Fictioneers’ stories here:

The Enchantment

It’s time for Friday Fictioneers, when writers from around the world post 100-word stories based on a photo prompt provided on Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ blog. This week’s photo was provided by Scott Vanatter, used with permission (© Indira).

You can read other Friday Fictioneers’ work by clicking the link that appears below my story.

gnarled-tree

The Enchantment

by Jan Brown

As a boy, my husband would sit in his yard and talk to the tree. He was convinced of a spirit dwelling within.

His grandmother told folktales of Yakshinis, beautiful and powerful tree nymphs. Yakshinis could reveal treasure, cure illness, and teach you how to enchant the hearts and minds of your fellow man (or woman).

But my husband was never wealthy, and his cancer was never cured.

Did the Yakshini fail him? No, she taught him well! He enchanted my heart.

Now, I talk to the tree. With each breeze, its branches enfold me, telling me I am loved.

*********************************************************************************



White as a Ghost

It’s time for Friday Fictioneers, when writers from around the world post 100-word stories based on a photo prompt provided on Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ blog.  This week’s photo, as well as the amazing sculpture, are by Claire Fuller.

You can read other Friday Fictioneers’ work by clicking the link that appears below my story.

Enjoy!

copyright-claire-fuller

White as a Ghost

by Jan Brown

A rustling in the back yard woke me from a fitful sleep. A weekend of moving and unpacking had left me both exhausted and wired. I ventured out to the deck, but fog obscured my view of the property.

The fog evaporated in mere seconds, leaving two wispy spirals of white mist. I pulled my robe tight around me and walked across the yard. The mists dissipated into the earth under the willow tree, leaving behind only an outline in the dirt.

I dug with my hands till I reached them: the previous owners, stark white, mummified in limestone dust.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Happy Halloween

For a bit of Halloween fun, I’m re-running a previous piece of flash fiction with a devilish theme. Hope you enjoy it!

How I Take My Coffee

by Jan Brown

He seemed to be talking to anyone who would listen.

“Everyone thinks the devil is just one guy—one big red guy with horns on his head and cloven hooves for feet.”

I don’t usually talk to men while waiting for my latte, but I had to chuckle. I turned around. “What do you say he looks like?”

“He could look like anyone. He could look like a barista, for example.”

The barista handed me my coffee and started laughing and berating the customer. “Now, Luke, stop spouting your supernatural, bad mojo gibberish. You’ll warp this sweet young lady’s mind.”

“Oh, thanks! But I’m probably old enough to know better!”

I smiled at being called “young.” My hair had grown out from its formerly brilliant auburn to a natural silver-gray color, and while I am of course devastatingly beautiful, any reference to my youth is strictly historical.

I turned back to the man called Luke, now awaiting his iced chai. I confided in a conspiratorial whisper, “You know, the barista does look a little devilish.”

The barista looked up and laughed. He really was devilishly handsome, very tall and buff, with a pointed goatee, gold earring, and a finely detailed tattoo poking out of his shirt cuff.  The tattoo was a swirly, mesmerizing miasma of yellow and orange flames, travelling all the way from his hand to his neck, where it peeked out of his collar. But his grin was wide and friendly.

Luke took issue with my appearance-based comment. “My point is that the devil doesn’t look like we expect. And it’s not just one big, bad guy.”

“You mean he has ‘minions’ roaming around, serving coffee, driving taxicabs, teaching school, programming supercomputers…?”

“No, I’m not talking about mere minions.  I’m talking about demons. They can be anybody, anywhere.”

We gravitated toward a table. He held the chair for me and introduced himself simply as Luke. “Hi, Luke, I’m Jez.”

“Pretty name. Unusual.”

“That’s why I like it,” I smiled.  “So what is the purpose of these multiple demons, and how will we know when we see one?”

“That’s just it. We won’t know. We can’t tell the difference, because they use their powers to blend in with society at large.” He was starting to sound serious.

“But there is generally so much evil in the world, do they really need to waste their powers on ‘blending in’? A demon would, by definition, be consistent with the nature of the world around us. We expect evil. We accept evil. We probably don’t even notice evil anymore.”

“And that’s their doing!” Now he seemed a little excited.

“But what is their purpose? What do they ‘get’ out of creating all this evil muck that sucks us in and makes us slip and slide around, losing our way, losing our moral compass and just plain getting stuck in the mire? Are they going to rescue us?”

“No, they aren’t. And that’s a very apt description. Sounds like you might have a little experience?”

“Well, Luke, I could hardly get to this advanced age without some experience!” I grinned. A wide and friendly grin. “But to get back to the point, what is their purpose here?”

“I don’t know what their purpose is.  I only know what they do.”

“And what do they do?” I looked deep into his eyes, which caught glints of the sun, making them turn from light hazel to a warm golden color.

His eyes roamed my face. He moved back from the table abruptly and stood up. I moved quickly, standing, facing him. The barista moved in one quick swoop and stood behind him. We towered over him front and back; he cowered below. In one quick flash, he was gone.

My barista friend looked me up and down, nodding appreciatively. I checked my appearance in the mirror that covered the back wall, noting with satisfaction the long red hair, the perky breasts, the firm midriff and thighs. I was refreshed.

“I guess all I needed was a cup of coffee.”

Travelling Companion

It’s time for Friday Fictioneers, when writers from around the world post 100-word stories based on a photo prompt provided on Madison Woods’ blog. This week’s photo is by Ron Pruitt. You can read other Friday Fictioneers’ work by clicking the link that appears below my story.

Travelling Companion

by Jan Brown

Happy Halloween, I thought to myself sarcastically as I boarded the bus. I would have preferred to travel independently, but my eyesight was damaged in a fire long ago—an incendiary nightmare set by a group that, in today’s world, would be called a flash mob. I’ve since become accustomed to commercial means of transport.

Two of us were travelling with animal companions, I with my service dog and a sleek young woman with an equally sleek black cat.  Pets aren’t allowed, but she cleverly convinced the bus driver that he was a service cat.

Service cat?  Really?  In my day, we called them “familiars.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Watching the garden grow

It’s time for the Friday Fictioneers! Each week, Madison Woods posts a photo prompt, and flash fiction writers around the world submit 100-word stories in response. You can read the other submissions this week via the link at the end of my story.  There is also a Facebook Page for Friday Fictioneers.

We moved to Wisconsin to enjoy country life. Our “back yard” was a lush, green meadow. Our garden was the width of a football field, filled with tomatoes, cucumbers and corn, bordered by the sweetest of end zones: strawberries on one side and raspberries on the other.

I didn’t have a chance to tend the garden last year, what with all the trips to the doctor, hospital, hospice and, finally, the funeral home. I can see the raspberry bushes starting to become a thorny bramble, but all I can do now is hover over them and watch them self-destruct.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



How I Take My Coffee

This flash fiction was inspired by Shannon Wendt’s (@wordswendt) #liblit prompt of June 18, 2012.

He seemed to be talking to anyone who would listen.

“Everyone thinks the devil is just one guy—one big red guy with horns on his head and cloven hooves for feet.”

I don’t usually talk to men while waiting for my latte, but I had to chuckle. I turned around. “What do you say he looks like?”

“He could look like anyone. He could look like a barista, for example.”

The barista handed me my coffee and started laughing and berating the customer. “Now, Luke, stop spouting your supernatural, demonic, bad mojo gibberish. You’ll warp this sweet young lady’s mind.”

“Oh, thanks! But I’m probably old enough to know better!”

I smiled at being called “young.” My hair recently had grown out from its formerly brilliant auburn to a natural silver-gray color, and while I am of course devastatingly beautiful, any reference to my youth is strictly historical.

I turned back to the man called Luke, now awaiting his iced chai. I confided in a conspiratorial whisper, “You know, the barista does look a little devilish.”

The barista looked up and laughed. He really was devilishly handsome, very tall and buff, with a pointed goatee, gold earring, and a finely detailed tattoo poking out of his shirt cuff.  The tattoo was a swirly, mesmerizing miasma of yellow and orange flames, travelling all the way from his hand to his neck, where it peeked out of his collar. But his grin was wide and friendly.

Luke took issue with my appearance-based comment. “My point is that the devil doesn’t look like we expect. And it’s not just one big, bad guy.”

“You mean he has ‘minions’ roaming around, serving coffee, driving taxicabs, teaching school, programming supercomputers…?”

“No, I’m not talking about mere minions.  I’m talking about demons. They can be anybody, anywhere.”

We gravitated toward a table. He held the chair for me and introduced himself simply as Luke. “Hi, Luke, I’m Jez.”

“Pretty name. Unusual.”

“That’s why I like it,” I smiled.  “So what is the purpose of these multiple demons, and how will we know when we see one?”

“That’s just it. We won’t know. We can’t tell the difference, because they use their powers to blend in with society at large.” He was starting to sound serious.

“But there is generally so much evil in the world, do they really need to waste their powers on ‘blending in’? A demon would, by definition, be consistent with the nature of the world around us. We expect evil. We accept evil. We probably don’t even notice evil anymore.”

“And that’s their doing!” Now he seemed a little excited.

“But what is their purpose? What do they ‘get’ out of creating all this evil muck that sucks us in and makes us slip and slide around, losing our way, losing our moral compass and just plain getting stuck in the mire? Are they going to rescue us?”

“No, they aren’t. And that’s a very apt description. Sounds like you might have a little experience?”

“Well, Luke, I could hardly get to this advanced age without some experience!” I grinned. A wide and friendly grin. “But to get back to the point, what is their purpose here?”

“I don’t know what their purpose is.  I only know what they do.”

“And what do they do?” I looked deep into his eyes, which caught glints of the sun, making them turn from light hazel to a warm golden color.

His eyes roamed my face. He moved back from the table abruptly and stood up. I moved quickly, standing, facing him. The barista moved in one quick swoop and stood behind him. We towered over him front and back; he cowered below. In one quick flash, he was gone.

My barista friend looked me up and down, nodding appreciatively. I checked my appearance in the mirror that covered the back wall, noting with satisfaction the long red hair, the perky breasts, the firm midriff and thighs. I was refreshed.

“I guess all I needed was a cup of coffee.”

The Giver

Note: This little piece of flash fiction was inspired by Shannon Wendt’s (@wordswendt) #liblit writing prompt.

She is the giver. She purchased the gift, at great cost to herself, and is seeking a suitable and lovable recipient.

She has been spectacularly and painfully unsuccessful in this search.

She is the keeper of the crown. She gave it to him, but that was not her true gift. She gave him so much more. He did not know how to care for her gift. Would he have been a better caretaker if he had been smarter, more generous or more experienced?

By his callousness, he forced her to rescind his title. No more would he be called King. No more would he wear the crown. It was the most beautiful crown in all the world. No other gold, no other jewels shone as brightly. It was studded with rubies that reflected her rich red lips and sensuous smile, emeralds that matched the depth and sparkle of eyes.

The crown was a thing of poetic beauty. But it was merely a thing.  A material symbol of a much greater and infinitely more precious gift.

The gift was created from the raw joy and abundance of her childhood, from the intense hardship and loss of her young adulthood.  It was purchased with the tears she shed in sheer sorrow and in blissful happiness.

She could not let him keep the gift. He had mistreated and neglected it. Her gift had lost some of its essence in his care. It had lost freshness and fragility.

She reclaimed the gift, and by doing so, renewed its strength and vitality. It was no longer new. But it was no longer his. It was hers.  Hers to give again, this time to a more suitable and lovable recipient.

She is the giver. She is looking for a new King, a worthy man to whom she can freely give her heart.