This is my first Friday flash in months! Months and months and months! It is exactly 304 words, which is alright.
The baby grinned toothlessly into the camera. Its little fingers gripped the bare mattress.
Than it plopped its butt onto the bed and the blue blanket balanced atop its head slid down until the baby was completely covered, from the top of its bald skull to its bite-size toes.
The baby shrieked, whether in joy or distress, I couldn’t tell. I didn’t know enough about babies. But I knew what I was going to do next. It sure was loud. Nice, healthy lungs on this child. Maybe it knew this was the first day of its new life and it was celebrating with noise.
I turned off the camera and looked across the room at its mother. She looked like she was trying to scream louder than her baby. The bright pink ball gag kept her silent, though. Mostly silent. Tiny sounds still came made it through.
So annoying. Maybe I needed to cut off her tongue. But then she wouldn’t be able to scream when I wanted to hear her. Hmm.
The sweet sounds she would make later were worth a little irritation now, I decided.
“Come to Aunt Rosie,” I told the baby. “You know you love me.”
I reached forward and yanked the blanket off the baby. The baby was startled into silence, looked at me with big blue eyes and scrambled forward on hands and knees.
My sister said the baby was a boy, but how could anyone know? The baby wasn’t old enough to decide on a gender. And I would keep it alive until it did.
For now, its mother would do. She would last until this little one grew up enough for me to decide what to do with it.
Tomorrow was soon enough to take another picture. I would keep a collection as it grew up.
Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
“I helped you.” He was surprised, and bitterly angry at himself for it. This is how it always happened, this was what he got for helping groundlings.
– Stories of the Raskura, Volume 2, by Martha Wells.
I pushed aside the canary yellow silk curtains and looked out over the city through clear modern panes of the balcony doors.
My balcony was made of black, wrought iron, like every other balcony in this city, decorated with fanciful shapes of flowers and butterflies.
Beyond the edges of my apartment, steel and brass towers speared into the sky. They were silver and dun gold, like drops of metal fallen from the sky. On the eastern shores of the island, barely visible from here, were several equally tall and massive trees. Some sported hundreds of flowers; others had only plain dark green leaves; and one bristled with sharp, piney needles.
Hotels, businesses and homes, they housed the most powerful covens to claim a place in this city. Less powerful ones contented themselves with steel and bone-wood homes.
My permanent home, now. Somewhere in the teeming mass of people was my soul-bonded. He wouldn’t welcome me, that I knew. I’d betrayed him. My fingers tightened on the cool silk curtains.
It hardly mattered that the betrayal wasn’t what he thought. I didn’t deserve his forgiveness.
The balcony door panes blurred with water droplets. I glanced up at the sky. Still a clear, hard blue.
I jerked the curtains shut. I didn’t need to see this, didn’t need to think about this. There were other things in my life, now.
V danced for the crowd. The red folds of her dress swirled around her, sometimes obscuring her from the crowd, sometimes revealing her.
The crowd chanted her name: Red V. V. V. Red!
The music thrummed through, a counter point to her own nature, named for her. Venom.
The crowd swayed with her.
She twirled over the stage, her bare feet pounding the floorboards. Thump. Step. Thump. Leap.
With each step the venom in her music spread. One by one the people in the crowd crashed like felled trees.
Only one man was left standing. The reason she was here. The reason for these destroyed lives.
He grinned and jumped atop the nearest body. But the music didn’t stop and she didn’t stop moving.
Soon he, too, fell.
She was free! She turned one last somersault and landed on his chest.
My J word jinni. My take on it is slightly different.
Only the tip of his nose, lower cheeks and jaw was spared. The rest of his face was covered in shadow as dark as night.
His stared at me with eyes like chips of the sun-drenched sky, given life. I had failed him, I and I alone. Seated on either side of me, the other village elders trembled like leaves in a gale. The villagers gathered around us, shocked speechless.
Oh, but for all the honor we did our dead, had either of us expected this?
I kept my gaze fixed on his face; I didn’t want to look at the rest of him. I knew what I had done too well. “Blessed jinni, what may we do for you this night?”
His mouth opened; broken, bloody teeth shone in the firelight.
I rubbed my knuckles under the table, massaging away remembered pain.
I jerked. He’d been blindfolded. He couldn’t have recognized me.
He turned his burning gaze next to me, on my twin, whose life I had chosen over the fruit of my own blood.
The jinnis’ words came again: “Die.”
The villagers gasped. I looked up to see my son staring at me. His head whipped between me and the jinni of his own dead son. Understanding appeared on his face like a storm, with soft rain and gentle breezes, than with the force of winds powerful enough to uproot whole trees.
He knew I’d betrayed him. I failed to protect his boy from the filth of my twin, as I’d failed to protect him decades earlier.
My son’s anger was a blade sharp enough to let free my lifeblood. And, this time, I didn’t fight him, didn’t try to protect my twin.
A story made up of nothing but dialogue is a challenge for me, because I’m not especially good at it. I haven’t written one in a long time and today I feel, oddly, inspired by soap operas. I suspect nothing good can come of this, but I’m giving it a shot.
“Stay away! Go away, or I swear to god I’ll call the cops! Go. Go.”
“Baby, listen. Please, just listen. I’m -“
“You have the nerve to apologize, after what you did? With the pool boy!”
”It didn’t mean nothing. He wasn’t always a pool boy and I know him from way back. But I’m just into you these days, baby, just you. He means nothing to me. Nothing!”
“Officer? Yes, my ex is harassing me and won’t leave. Could you – thank you.”
“You shouldn’t have done that, baby. You really shouldn’t have. You see this? Give me a hundred thousand and your computer, and the world won’t see it.”
This isn’t the flash I intended to write, but this is what came out of my keyboard.
He stood back and inspected the work. His legs trembled and his arms were weak, exhausted from holding a brush for a so long.
It was perfect for this, the world of his birth, and epitome of all that was decadent and thoughtless. They took pleasure in the suffering their thoughtlessness inflicted on others, saying, this was the way of the world. This was what one sacrificed in order to move forward.
Thousands of pages of bleached white paper layered one over another like angular clouds. It was the perfect base, all sharp points and an inviting texture. He’d laced two women on top, blond, bare skin bleached white, and carefully applied his special red lipstick to their lips. The procurer was well worth the price. He’d tied a hundred thousand of his carefully prepared rose buds on top of the paper, a silent exclamation mark.
People would touch, stroke the bodies, brush their fingers over the paper, marvel over the contrast between the deep red roses and pure white paper.
And they would die. The red poison in the lips and roses would infect the world like a firestorm. Here and gone before anyone quite realized what was happening.
He wouldn’t survive it, of course. But he was glad to pay the price and call it cheap. This, the place where he was born, the place that had nurtured him, deserved nothing less than to drown in its own vomit like a cheap drunk.
This is short, odd Friday flash. Enjoy.
Gigantic diamonds dotted the landscape, as numerous as suns in the galaxy. The cocooning sand, polished to a fine edge by centuries of harsh winds, gleamed in the dawning light.
The grunting, sweating bodies of men swarmed over one especially large gem, six feet tall and three feet wide, tapering to narrow points at the ends. They wrapped it in soft rope and lifted it whole to the back of the truck.
The bottom of the diamond was covered in brown slime. No one paid any attention to it, not even when the muck stuck to the bottom of the workers’ boots. Not even when a tiny crack appeared in the diamond’s shell and a small, black eye peered out.
This didn’t turn out quite like I intended, but here it is.
He heard steps and turned. A woman’s light yellow scarf fluttered outside his window and vanished.
Just a passing woman, he thought. No one was inside.
He turned back to his sketch. His wife had long black hair, large, lively eyes and a faint smile. Her laughter was a balm to his heart, like cut roses floating on water. Pretty, delicate and, he thought now, dead.
He squeezed his eyes shut at the thought. His last sight of her floated into his head. Wrapped in a white sheet, eyes closed, she was very still on the wooden pyre. The warmth licked up his face. His tears dried from the heat of the fire even as the flames consumed her.
The sound of light footfalls and the tinkle of silver ankle bells filled the air. He looked around. A light yellow scarf flickered, but this time kitchen window. That was his wife’s garden.
Frowning, he set the sketch aside and rose. How dare a strange woman enter his wife’s space?
He walked out the kitchen door and – stopped. There was his wife, smiling, standing next to the basil, skin glowing like black pearls. Too much time gardening, he thought dimly. She’d spend months gardening. How had he missed it?
He strode forward, arms wide open. She rushed to him, laughing, rubbing her rounded belly.
The pungent smell of crushed basil leaves teased his nose. No . . . that wasn’t . . . it couldn’t . . . He blinked. Why had he thought he smelled basil? His wife grew roses here. She liked to use the blossoms to decorate glass bowls.
Later that night, he rose above her. She opened her mouth. He gaped at her thick, black tongue. She grinned – and kissed him.
The townspeople found him in bed. The sheets twisted about his body. His eyes stared and he yelled strange things. Black snakes curled up in his lap; he cuddled them like they were his own.
They sent a message to his family and left him be.
I wrote this as a challenge: write a one-page nonfiction story like the first page of this piece by David Foster Wallace.
I have some (a lot!!) doubts as to how well I did. So . . . tell me! Don’t hold back. I can take it.
I’ve seen many people push themselves into a small box. I’ve squished myself onto trains so crowded there was hardly room for one more mouse. I have seen a man give up his seat to an elderly woman. I’ve felt a woman’s sweaty, skirt-covered groin pressed against my butt – and wished her miles away.
I’ve seen rain splatter against the windows like a hundred spiders crawling across clear plastic. I’ve marveled at the confusion the subway map inspires in strangers. I’ve been puzzled by women wearing very high heels on wet platforms. I’ve had random conversations with clowns, a man who used to teach in India and a suburban housewife shocked to hear the city has no Walmarts.
I’ve seen rats scurry across the tracks ahead of a train thundering in. I’ve smelled a homeless man in the close confines of a car – and been grateful for a plastic orange seat. I’ve spent an hour reading the same beer advertisement over and over again. I have become sticky from no AC.
I have heard announcements over the overhead speakers: This is the last stop on this train. Everyone please leave the train. I’ve seen water pumps struggle to pump water. I’ve been forced forward by the push of a relentless crowd. I’ve walked inches from the edge – and come close to falling.
I’ve held fast to poles. I have stomped on the toes of dissipated men. I’ve tried not to see tear-stained faces. I have heard the announcement overhead: The train ahead of us has mechanical problems, only to be told later someone jumped onto the tracks.
I’ve seen boys turn cartwheels in a half-empty car. I have averted my eyes from public displays of affection. I have heard musicians good enough to make you weep. I have seen a flock of geese relaxing on the subway platform in the fall. I have witnessed the tenacity of grass growing in the middle of the train tracks. I’ve felt a baby tug at my fingers, attracted by sparkling nails – and been content.