Flash! Friday # 43

CLOSED!!!! Thanks to everyone who came to share their stories with us this week. We’ll see you Sunday with the judge’s results. 

It’s true: we have–quite shockingly, I might add, given the shenanigans in last week’s Odd Fellows house–successfully made it to Round # 43. Welcome!  (You should know, by the by, that I’m already elbows-deep in planning a Big. HUGE! one-year anniversary insane blowout. With prizes and everything.)

Back in high school my creative writing teacher gave us daily assignments, but she always said if we had a “rock in our shoe,” something that just had to be written, we could write that instead. Well, today I discovered a rock in my Flash! Friday shoe (yes, dragons wear shoes, though in truth they are more like fluffy house slippers–don’t tell anyone I admitted that). It’s mighty inconvenient, as I had another prompt picked out, and I had the description written up and all ready to go. But then–this pic, this marvelous photo of a child in mid-air silhouette. It bothered me, to the point of shoving the other prompt out of the way and wriggling its way onto the page instead.

Given that display of intense desperation, its stories have got to be good. And I can’t wait to read them.  

(Find the airborne contest rules here.)

This week’s contest is judged by death-defying SVW member Kinza Carpenter Shores who says she’d freely plunge into the depths for a tale that makes her think something new or feel something amazing. Be sure to check out her judge page to find out more.

And now:

Word limit: 150 word story (a leaping 5-word leeway) based on the photo prompt. 

* How: Post your story here in the comments. Include your word count (145 – 155 words, exclusive of title) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. 

* Deadline: 11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday’s on Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post SUNDAY 

Prize: An airy e-trophy e-dragon e-badge coming your way, a soaring winner’s page here at FF, a winged and personalized 60-second interview feature next Wednesday, and YOUR NAME ricocheted across the furthest reaches of the sky (so to speak). NOTE: Winning and non-winning stories alike remain eligible for selection for Monday’s Flash Points. 

* Follow @FlashFridayFic on Twitter for up-to-date news/announcements/dragon aviation tips.  And now for your prompt:

Child. Photo by Alexis/El Caminante

Child. Photo by Alexis/El Caminante

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226 thoughts on “Flash! Friday # 43

  1. Faith

    If I come back down, you’ll catch me.

    Not like when I followed you out of the paper shop, except it wasn’t you, but a different lady with your stripy top on.

    Not like when I sat in the playground for a year and a day until you came to find me, smiling and shiny, late from your meeting.

    Not like when the dog jumped at me with his hot meaty breath, and you laughed and said he was just playing, and look, he hadn’t made a hole after all.

    Not like when I ran to get my ball, and the bus jammed its brakes on so hard it stalled.

    Not like when the water closed over my head for the fifth time, and the man with the whistle jumped in with his trainers still on.

    You’ll catch me this time. I know you will.

    (145 words, excluding title. By @accidentobizaro)

  2. Fizzy Lifting Drinks

    Father turned, expression tragic, eyes filled with tears. “Simon. My boy. He just…” Here Father raised his arms in a helpless gesture, reaching futility.

    Shading my eyes I squinted, just able to see the black silhouette of my brother as he rose inexorably into the stratosphere. I sighed and wrapped my arm around Father’s shoulders. “There’s nothing you can do, right now. There’s no telling how high he’ll go. Get some rest. I’ll get my telescope and keep an eye on him. Perhaps he’ll float back down.”

    Father sobbed and clumsily kissed my cheek. “Thank you.”

    I set up in the garden, telescope faithfully raised while I scanned the heavens. Simon was long gone, now.

    “I told you not to touch it.” I murmured. “Too late now.”

    I pulled out a notebook, looked at my watch, and jotted down calculations. “I must remember to tell Mr. Wonka that the mixture is still too strong.” (155)

  3. Just a Mistake

    152 Words
    @jujitsuelf

    Dad loved to throw me up in the air. It was his thing. It made me laugh and I think it made him feel like a really good dad, just for a fleeting minute.

    Of course, Dad never expected to the be one responsible for flinging me into a different dimension. I know he didn’t mean to do it, but he always was a little clumsy. What he intended to do and what actually happened were often worlds apart. Ha, bad choice of words, considering that’s exactly what we are now.

    Not that I’m complaining. Yes, I accidentally fell through a hole in space-time and wound up somewhere different, but it is awesome here. I can fly! The sky is purple! Did I mention I can fly? Everyone is nice to me and by the way, I can fly. Superman, eat your heart out.

    But I miss Dad. And ice cream.

  4. How to Catch a Cloud.
    155 words
    @jujitsuelf

    “Just a little higher,” I whispered. My fingertips almost grazed the clouds but I fell to earth with the customary thud.

    “Again,” I ordered. “Higher this time, I was nearly there.”

    “All right,” came the doubtful reply. “But not too high.”

    “Yes, too high.” I flew again. So close. The clouds were almost mine. The sinking sun dyed them all manner of colours. I tried to grab one. But gravity clutched at me with traitorous hands. I snarled as I felt solid ground beneath my feet.

    “Again!” I stamped my foot for emphasis.

    “Come on, you’ve done it ten times already.”

    Large, warm hands wrapped around me. I closed my eyes, ready to feel wind rushing past my face, but I didn’t soar.

    “You can fly again another day,” Dad smiled. “For now, how about burgers for dinner?”

    I screwed up my face but…burgers. I nodded and smiled. The clouds could wait till tomorrow.

  5. @StephenWilds
    “Take Away the Ground” – 155 words

    Dexter fell into his father’s arms, sending the man down to the ground with a loud thud. The air had been knocked out of Dex and he struggled to breathe, groaning in a wheeze.
    “I’ve got you!”
    He was happy to see his father, glad he had been caught, sad that it hadn’t worked again. His father stood and with a careful hurried eye looked over his boy.
    “Breathe, Dex. Slow down and just breathe slowly.”
    The door slammed open. That would be his mom. Dexter saw her running towards them as the pain in his chest subsided. He knew she would be angry.
    “What happened,” she yelled to his father.
    “He…” His dad wanted to spare her.
    “He did it again didn’t he!? He tried it again.”
    “I caught him.”
    “And what if you hadn’t been,” she yelled back.
    She picked up her son, holding him now.
    Dex knew he had to try again.

  6. A Certain Lightness of Spirit
    Brian J. Hunt (153 words)

    It was my day off, and Jose and I were returning from the market. From what I had in my basket, we both knew we were having tamales tonight.

    Being eager, he ran ahead and waited for me sitting on our neighbor’s fence. As I arrived, he leapt from his perch.

    I watched dumbfounded as his eyes glowed with light and he began to rise.

    My produce scattered as I shouted his name and ran forward. My fingertips managed to skim the toes of his sneakers, then he rose beyond my reach.

    He laughed as he shot heavenward.

    I have become a better person. I no longer covet my neighbor’s things, nor do I take them to sell when I clean their houses. Each night I pray to God for forgiveness.

    And I swear, every time I leap from that fence, it takes just a little longer for me to hit the ground.

    • I’m never satisfied. Can you please change:

      I no longer covet my neighbor’s things, nor do I take them to sell when I clean their houses. Each night I pray to god for forgiveness. I have become a better person.

      to

      I have become a better person. I no longer covet my neighbor’s things, nor do I take them to sell when I clean their houses. Each night I pray to god for forgiveness.

  7. Can you see it? – 155 words
    @IBMartyn

    ‘I feel sick.’ That’s the trouble with being the smallest. Get through here, crawl under there. But this has to be the daftest.
    ‘I don’t care, just don’t puke on me. Can you see it?
    ‘No try again.’ How is this supposed to work? I’m getting about point two of a second to scan the whole garden.
    ‘One, two, three… Well?’
    ‘Yes, there it is under a bush’ That was lucky. ‘So what now?’
    ‘Hang-on, let me get my breath back. What’s directly below the fence on the other side?’
    ‘Just grass, why?’ He’s smiling. I don’t like that smile. That smile never means anything good for me. ‘Before you say anything the answer’s no.’
    ‘Come on. As you land just go into a tuck and a forward roll.’
    God I’m a sucker. Here goes – grass – tuck – forward roll – ow!
    ‘Quit moaning.’
    ‘Got it. Now, er, how do I get back?’

  8. The Streets of Genocide

    Jibril cradled the boy in his arms, his heart heavy. So young; he never liked it when they were so young. The boy opened his eyes and looked at him,

    ‘Have you come for me? I’m scared…’

    Jibril smiled, ‘No need for worry; I will lift you and be with you all they way. OK?’

    ‘Do I get to say goodbye?’

    ‘No, I’m sorry. It’s too much for the human heart to bear at times like this.’

    ‘My sister? We were walking together, she was holding my hand…’

    Raphael glanced at the charred torso, faceless and flung mercilessly onto the Damascus road. ‘She’s coming too. You’ll see her soon.’

    The noise and putrid smell of death began to fade. Together they drifted slowly upwards and as Aashir looked down he could see his family amidst the wreckage of the shelling, throwing their arms up to Allah, asking why?

    (148 words) @_sarahmiles_

  9. When The Bough Breaks
    (152 words)

    Zak and Trudy tore across the half-awake street. Zak kept his voice calm as he shouted up to the sixth (there hadn’t been time to count) maybe seventh floor,
    ‘Hey there! Take it easy! I wanna help…’

    But the boy was hurtling towards him. Zak’s arms shot up as if in zealous prayer. Trudy’s voice, as it talked to the emergency telephone operator, faded.
    Zak heard only his own breathing.
    It was fast.
    He braced.
    The kid slammed into his chest.

    Zak was on the ground, the kid on top. He felt the kid scramble to his feet and run in Trudy’s direction.
    Trudy’s voice was somewhere out there again, talking to the boy: ‘How many of there are you?’
    ‘Daddy’s got my four sisters up there.’
    Zak was up, adrenalin beating back pain.
    Trudy sprinted to his side, ‘Christ!’ she said as both their arms shot up to the skies.

  10. “Heritage of the Dragon” by Mary Cain (155 words, not including title)

    He always wanted to fly like his father. He longed to have large black wings, darker than the moonless night sky, that would take him beyond the Glass Mountains.

    Curled up behind the temple, Aey buried his head in his kneels and wept.

    “It’s not fair!” He cried. Why did Mother have to be mortal? Why didn’t Father just marry a dragon?

    “Aey,” his father’s voice broke Aey’s thoughts. “What’s wrong?”

    Aey looked away. “Why did I have to be born half human?”

    His father crouched beside him and embraced him.

    “Aey, you are my son. You are a prince of the Glass Mountains. Don’t let your blood make you feel lesser, because one day, you will become something greater.”

    Aey hugged his father tightly and felt himself being lifted up. Suddenly, he couldn’t feel his father’s arms, only the wind blowing around him. He looked down at his father and smiled.

    “I’m flying!”

  11. Erin McCabe

    (@Disturbiakiss)

    155 words

    Title: Failure to Grasp

    I don’t like being touched, they know this.
    I belong here, but not in this room, I do not deserve dissection.

    Yes, I hate how they look; often frail and delicate, like my Mothers.
    I despise how they feel; when soft and encouraging their touch permeates my flesh with the stink of deceit.
    It’s worse when they are hard; expressing judgement and pain through infliction of the former.

    The photograph thrust towards me depicts a young boy, thrown into the air, ready to be caught by strong disembodied arms.
    I only see them; them in all their disgusting glory; the hands.
    Tired and burdened, they do not reach out; they are pushing, willing him to float away, erased from time and mind.

    I remain silent.

    Exasperatedly the Psychologist gestures for prison guards to escort me out.
    I take the photograph, I have to; it’s the only one I have of my Father before his suicide.

  12. Autumn Sunset
    By Allison K. Garcia
    155 words

    “Where’s Billy?” I held up the small, blue plane. “I found Bucky.”
    “He just went out the window.”
    “Out the window? But he just started walking last week.”
    “What can I say? Kidrick boys are gifted.” Grant leaned back and wiggled his eyebrows.
    I groaned. I’d never hear the end of this one. “Why didn’t you try to catch him?”
    “Don’t worry, babe. He’ll be back on the ground in no time.”
    “Well, did you at least take a picture?”
    Grant shrugged.
    “Men,” I mumbled and grabbed my phone, rushing to the backyard.
    Our one-year-old son hovered ten feet off the ground, his chubby legs casting a long shadow in the orangey-purple glow of dusk. “Vroom. Ima airpwane.”
    “Smile for Mommy.”
    Through the lens, I watched Billy sway side to side. Was it the sunset or did his face look green?
    Splat.
    “Motion sickness.” Grant caught the dizzy toddler and smirked. “That’s from your side.”

  13. The Hurling
    by A J Walker

    Susan had spent the whirlwind Week of the Chosen elated. Years of sacrifice bringing up Jonathan had paid off. Everything she’d done for the previous five years had been for Jonathan, in the hope that he’d be the Chosen One.

    She sat proudly with her arm around him in the Ivory Carriage as they undertook their journey through the town – the Hurling Festival in full swing was truly a sight to behold.

    When they arrived at the Point of Fealty they were met by the Guardian and Lord Of Highstone – who shook Susan firmly by the hands.

    He put one hand on Jonathan’s head as he spoke the Peace Words to the listening congregations – both on the summit and at the base of the limestone cliff. As he hurled the child to the hungry monstrosities below, he knew that Hightown should be safe for another year – they knew their place.

    (155 Words)
    @zevonesque

  14. Smoothing the Wind

    It was on your first birthday that you took your first steps, one after another, toward the wide-open safety of your waiting Daddy. “One, two, three…”
    I held out my hands as you walked, laying them on an air-traced outline of you, as if I could hold the air around you perfectly steady.
    When you stumbled on “four!” my arms were gloriously ready to stretch, and sweep up. But they could never be permanently wound around you any more, now you were learning to walk.
    They shake a little now, but my hands still hover on the air around you; sometimes ready to drag, poised to guide, holding back, but always outstretched.
    In the evening’s light, I watch your arms rising up in praise, smoothing the wind to ease your son down from his big leap.
    And I know that when he lands, your arms are going to grab him tight.

    151 words

  15. THE LAND OF MORIAH

    Higher, Isaac shrieked.

    So Abe threw his son higher. A dozen feet into the air. The boy stretched his neck to look beyond the farmhouse rooftop but he couldn’t quite see the dusty road that lay beyond. It was paramount that he could.

    On their next attempt Isaac barely reached ten feet. They had been trying for too long. Abe was getting tired.

    Maybe he should finally tell his son what this ‘game’ was all about. But he couldn’t break the boy’s heart. He just wiped the sweat from his tiny forehead.

    Does it hurt, Isaac asked, pointing at the gangrene.

    I’m fine, Abe lied.

    They tried one final time. This time Isaac could just peek over the rooftop.

    There’s a man with a white beard, the boy said. Who is that?

    Someone I made a promise to, Abe replied. He comes to collect. And I’m afraid I can’t stop Him.

    151 words – @dieterrogiers

  16. Sacrifice The sun is setting, and I smell smoke from the fires. While our people emerge from their huts, their faces painted in ashes, I dress you and kiss you this final time. I cannot speak when I look at your smooth face, your trusting eyes.

    I am just Mama. You kiss me and finger the special red and black beads around my neck.

    Soon the elders come, and you walk away with them. You don’t look back, just like I taught you. I’m proud, despite my tears. When the ceremony begins, I kneel in the middle of the floor, my heart beating with the tempo of the chanting.

    A great cheer ripples through the crowd, and I know you have succeeded. You have become an airwalker, your destiny.

    But all gifts come at a price. Red for blood; black for death. I accept the bargain and reach for my long knife. (152 words)

  17. Welcome!

    “Excuse me? Are you two new? I love the earrings, so… out there! But, since you’re new, I can tell you. Those are just not done at this church. I’d take them out before the others notice.”

    “Well, we just want to distinguish ourselves from the others. We’ve got this beautiful cathedral, the best music and programs out the wazoo, if you’ll pardon my language. If you can’t find God here, you won’t find Him anywhere.”

    “Oh, you noticed our billboard. Dreadfully tacky, isn’t it? But what can you do? I noticed that you don’t have children. Thank heavens, right? Their sticky fingers smudge up the pews and I keep finding crude drawings on the communal hymnals. Honestly, I shiver every time one gets close. The less the better, I always say, especially in the church.”

    “You do? I’m sorry, I just assumed. God’s little blessings, aren’t they?”

    152 words – @CultoftheWeek

  18. Reassurance!
    (154 )
    Charley_001

    “You sure you will catch me? ”

    “Of course , mama is right here, waiting.”

    Heart in her mouth, those words of reassurance stuck in her throat for she wanted to reach up and lift Timmy down. Her growingly confident son had had a tough time so far and the world just was not geared to cater to his needs and preferences. The last few years had been emotionally wrought for them both. Each step forward had come with emotional pitfalls until one day Timmy had got up with such confidence and determination that nothing since had come close to fazing him.
    As proud as she was there was still an threatingly overwhelming part of her that expected a pitfall and she was often close to tears but constantly surprised by Timmy’s willingness and success.
    “ok Timmy here goes, on three ”
    “ok mama, here I come!”

    A leap of faith filled with love for them both.

  19. MERCY MISSION FLIGHT

    The Plague devastated the United States first. Only one in a thousand of the infected population survived. It was also the country that created the Cure before the rest of the world could suffer the same fate. The future of the country was grim. The other nations joined together in gratitude to avert futher tragedy. The Mercy Mission Flight was created and instituted.

    “Charly Foxtrot Seven inbound for delivery.”
    “How’s it look CF7?”
    “We’ve got a fair sized crowd gathered below.”
    “You are cleared to make your drop.”
    The bl of the coptor’s rotors beat the air. The setting sun painted the clouds a bright orange. “Package away!” Eager hands stretched skyward to catch the falling object. “Package safely delivered.” The helicopter buzzed away. Leaving a pair of ecstatic parents grippping the squirming, healthy little boy tightly in their arms. That had been the most horrific part of the Plague, only the children had been affected.

    155 words @ EmilyKarn1

  20. Your Dragonyness could you pretty please with sugar and spice, change “The bl of the coptor’s rotor’s beat the air.” to “The blades of the copter’s rotors beat the air.” Thank you.

  21. Superman Flies
    vb holmes (@vbholmes)
    155 words

    The nice lady who moved in across the street tells me I look just like Superman. I don’t let her know Mama bought my suit and cape at Walmart.

    She asks me to carry a bag of groceries for her.

    I am Superman. I help people. I pick it up and follow her into the house. She says she doesn’t have any kids of her own, but likes children.

    She gives me milk and cookies and touches my hair. I don’t really like it, but she’s a nice lady and I don’t want to hurt her feelings.

    I offer to carry another bag and we go onto the porch.

    Papa and Mama are running up the walk.

    Mama holds out her arms and shouts, “Jump!” I obey, and she catches me.

    “I told you we should’ve warned him she was on the National Sex Offenders List,” Mama screams at Papa as she hugs me tight.

  22. Chasing Smoke
    152 Words
    @mishmhem

    They say ‘man cannot fly’, yet earthbound we watch in amazement as our children soar. The truth of the matter is we can fly, we just forget how.

    Faced with failure, children learn to pick themselves up and try again. They are undefeated because they learn from each attempt and never stop trying. As adults we learn to see failure as the end, a final judgment and beaten we back away.

    Fear of failure makes us hide that which sets us apart.

    I didn’t want that for Jesse, so I taught him the magic of sunsets and silhouettes. I taught him he could fly, but only when no-one is watching.

    I was told my beliefs made me unfit and so he was taken from me. But each night, at sunset he comes to me and we dance. They’ll never find us, for in the dark we fly and they’re just chasing smoke.

  23. “Free Falling”
    Margaret Locke (@Margaret_Locke)
    151 words

    The wind whipped so fiercely it nearly tore the photo from his grasp. He looked at it one more time, longing for when his father used to throw him like that, the blind faith he had felt even as frissons of fear snaked through his limbs. Dad had caught him, though, every time.

    That innocence was gone now. His father hadn’t been able to save him from everything. The broken heart. The drugs.

    Tucking the picture into his pocket, he peered over the ledge. Dad seemed so far away.

    “I love you, dad,” he shouted. Closing his eyes, he jumped.

    He waited as long as he could before pulling the ripcord, relishing the air rushing against his body, making him feel alive in a way he hadn’t felt in forever.

    Below him he could see his dad’s chute. Above him he could see the heavens, a clear expanse of new beginnings.

  24. “Let me in!” he shouts, swearing under his breath as he tries the handle of the door again. “Let me in or so help me…”

    I hobble slowly to the door fearful of what might be about to happen. My hands, gnarled now with arthritis, fumble with the key, but my shadow through the window silences him, at least for a moment.

    As the lock clicks open, he pushes past me. His eyes are wild, he is unkempt, he reeks of stale tobacco and cheap wine. He starts pacing through the house, opening cupboards and pulling out drawers.

    He sees me looking at the blood splattered on his shirt.

    “I need money, and clean clothes,” he snarls, half smiling.

    I nod mutely.

    I feel sick for helping, for colluding with whatever he has done. But I have no choice.

    He’s my son. The boy I promised to always catch whenever he might fall.

    153 words
    @dragonsflypoppy

  25. Pausing For Thought

    149 words

    “Come on, Little Guy. You can do it. I’ll catch you.”

    God, please don’t let me drop him.

    “Just keep looking at me. It’s not that high, honest!”

    How many storeys IS he up? They’re not getting here on time!

    “Now this is going to be awesome. You’re going to be a Superhero!”

    Please don’t let me mess up. Please don’t let me mess up!

    “No! Little Guy, don’t turn round. Stay at the window.”

    He’s gonna choke to death with the smoke.

    “I need you to climb up on to the ledge, now, Little Guy. That’s it. Keep looking at me.”

    He needs to go now!

    “After three, you’re going to jump like Superman. Ready…1,2,3.”

    Concentrate. It’s left. Left. Under him. Here it comes. Here it comes.

    “Oooph!”

    I can hardly breathe. Is he alive?

    “Little Guy? Little Guy?”

    Thank God! He’s okay!

    “Thank God. You’re okay!”

  26. The second time stood still
    @cperry
    155 words

    The sun was setting, but didn’t sleep. The shadows stretched, but didn’t reach. Night and day was balanced on the point of a pin, and the angels danced as the girl flew up into the air. Her dad was there to catch her, but she did not fall. She hung suspended in twilight’s glow. There she was and there she stayed, out of reach and out of harm’s way. Not quite laughing, not quite scared, her feelings balanced on a breath of wind, as the devils laughed.
    The cancer forgotten, but never gone, the pain was fading, but never for long. Cool air battled the heat of the moment, temperature balanced on the thought of a dream. In her mind’s eye, her hair streamed out behind her, as she flew to magical worlds leaving tears far behind. But her parent’s tears and smiles always caught her, life and death balanced on a second of time.

  27. Today is the day to let him go.

    You know what that means. Unclenching your fists. Letting loose your arms.

    He was never meant to be here, in the first place. He is made of different stuff.

    He can’t even breathe our atmosphere.

    So go outside, out where there is nothing to stop him. And let him go.

    First feel his hair, brush it from his eyes so he can see as he goes. Arrange his shirt, tuck in the tag.

    Touch his face.

    Take his little hands, gently but firmly, and let him begin his journey.

    And has he rises, give his little waist a squeeze, your hands almost going all the way around.

    As his smooth legs slip from your fingers and his shoes bump through your hands, you will want to reach and grab. You will want to hold on with every bit of your being.

    Let him go.

    152 words
    @betsystreeter

  28. Magic

    I had to make them believe.

    The future was revealed. I perceived the doom approaching. Though I knew the darkness could be repelled, they would never listen.

    To them, I was only a child. But the power of the divine coursed through my veins. Knowledge beyond human capacity boiled inside my brain. I possessed the power of magic.

    “I will float into the sky. I will prove my power. Then will you believe?”

    I focused on one word. “Love.” Images of soaring, weightlessness, drifting through space.

    The earth began to move. Downward.

    I lifted my arms and searched the faces below. Mouths agape, arms raised in disbelief, waiting to catch me.

    “Through the love in your hearts, you can become like God. But first, you must love one another, feel each other’s pain, share and breathe as one.”

    A misty rain, a ray of sunshine and rainbow arc. They believed.

    150 words of love
    @ducknado

  29. The Dragon Smile

    “Higher!” The kid shouts.

    The brat wouldn’t go home. “Go to your loving Dad or Mom or those kinfolks you have hovering around,” I think, but I grit my teeth and toss him one more time.

    “Don’t be Mr. Pip.” The dragon whispers in my ear.

    Lately, Mr. Dragon is becoming odd. One moment he is breathing fire in my ear, and next he is admonishing me. I want the fire to stop burning in my ear, in my head, in my heart.

    The kid squeals happily in the air.

    I look up at the setting sun and feel hot air in my ear. I see Mr. Pip standing there. I am falling. Mr. Pip is laughing and mocking me. Mom has to work. I wish my Dad were alive.

    The kid squeals again.

    I don’t want to be Mr. Pip. I catch the kid and hum him.

    The dragon smiles; his fire is out!

    @needanidplease
    155 words

  30. “First in Flight”
    153 words
    @kristenafc

    “Did you know there was a time when children couldn’t fly?”
    “Ridiculous”
    “Can’t be.”
    “Sit still, I’ll tell you. Years ago, a boy named Max believed he could fly. He told everyone – teachers, parents, friends – but no one listened. They said, ‘There goes Max, with his head in the clouds.’ Everyone told Max to begin thinking of his future. ‘How will you grow to be a successful man, if you’re always thinking about flying?’

    One day, Max’s father clasped Max by the shoulders. He said, ‘Max, let go of this silly notion. You can’t fly. You belong here, on solid ground.’

    His father held on tight, but Max started drifting upward. When the other children saw Max flying, they too took off, much to the chagrin of their practical parents.”

    “Can adults fly too?”
    “They can, but most choose not to.”
    “Why would you ever choose not to?”
    “A very good question indeed.”

  31. Fly So High

    Mama worries. Holds my hand so tight wherever we go. And we go so many places. Always people with lights, needles, notes, and tests. Someone always holds my hand.

    Holds me down.

    I tell Mama not to be so afraid. I want to fly again. When I say that, her eyes go so wide I think they might fall out. So I smile, and I pretend my hands don’t hurt from all the holding.

    When we finish, sunset paints the sky all dark blue and orange.

    “I want to fly again, Mama.” I tip my face up. “May I? Just this once?”

    Her hand clamps down on mine.

    “No,” she whispers. “Please, baby.”

    “It hurts to be here. Everything is so heavy.” The world must weigh so much. “I love you, Mama. I’ll come back.”

    “Don’t lie, sweetheart.” Her hold on me eases and the sky lifts me up. “Your daddy said the same thing.”

    @caramichaels
    155 words

  32. Letting Go
    Laura Carroll Butler
    148 words

    He was out of my sight for only a second.

    At the hospital, Steven looked at the child. “It’s not Johnny,” I told them. “He can fly. That child can’t fly.” The police and nurses considered me with pity. Steven held me so tight that I thought my heart would burst.

    Even as the tiny casket was placed in the ground, I expected Johnny to fly back to me.

    That night I dreamt that he hovered over me, held in the arms of an angel.

    “Why didn’t you fly him away?” I asked the angel.

    “I did. He didn’t feel the pain.”

    “I miss you,” I said to Johnny.

    “I miss you, too. But I’m right here.”

    The pressure on my heart eased. When I woke, Steven held the photo of Johnny leaping from the jungle gym into his arms. I curled up into him and we wept.

  33. Title: Favorite Toy

    “Julia! Can you come down here please?!”

    When I started living here a week ago, Julia had her little energy-drainer, Mikey, next to her constantly. I swear she would have taken him to work with her if I wasn’t hired. I, very new to the situation, offhandedly said to her over coffee that “you two are each other’s favorite toy”. I didn’t notice how awkwardly she laughed.

    I also should’ve noticed something weird about the fact he often said that he was just like Pinocchio. After a week of this, I finally said, “Pinocchio’s a puppet. How are you like a puppet?”

    That when he jumped up into the air – and hung there like he had wires. He laughed without moving his lips, and didn’t blink while looking at my panicked, outstretched hands.

    When Julia emerged from her office, Mikey immediately flew over to her.

    “He is my favorite toy – because I cannot have children.”
    @JSHyena/155 words

  34. Unattainable

    The sepia dream comes to visit again.

    Poignant. Sweet. Delicious. Devastating.

    Within a breath of her outstretched grasp, the toddler wiggles from a thick towel in favor of a launching, bare-chested hug, then vaporizes between her hungry arms like cotton candy on a misty day.

    Glittering waves lick and sooth her soul.

    Wet dogs part, revealing chubby hands that toss a stick. It lands too close. They brush past him, and he tumbles, giggling. The stick is abandon in favor of sandy kisses. He rolls to all fours and runs to Ben’s waiting arms, leaving footprints on her heart; each a small prick that bleeds.

    Her husband enfolds him; a squeeze, a nuzzle, a toss high into the sky. He is alight and becomes a bird that flutters farther and farther from her wish to be his mother.

    The weight of two thousand hollow mornings settles in to stay.

    (149 words)
    @KimJGaneWCPosse
    (This is an excerpt adapted from my novel in progress, Bluebirds.)
    Kim Jorgensen Gane © 2010, all rights reserved

  35. A MESSAGE TO CHARLES DARWIN, 2113

    Oh, Mr. Darwin, look upon us now. You provided humankind the early tools to view life as constantly changing, as necessary, to meet the outward challenges. Since you wrote your treatise on evolutionary theory, we humans have tweaked your tenets as we have delved into the very structure of our being.

    Although, Mr. Darwin, some alterations to our DNA have taken 20,000 years to evolve (e.g., skin color and ear wax), other changes have occurred more rapidly (gut bacteria). Scientists have also discovered genetic markers for flight in humans. These genes apparently can be switched on by merely providing infants and toddlers the experience of being tossed in the air and subsequently catching them. The early studies demonstrate the development of precursors necessary for flight: mirth and positive thinking. Longitudinal studies of these same children reveal a measurable lightness of foot and the intermittent capability of being lighter than air.

    WD count = 150, exclusive of title

  36. Coming Down to Earth by @JakeKuyser
    155 words

    “It’s time Johan. It’s time you came down.”

    “I don’t want to. I want to keep flying with all the other kids.”

    “Yes. We love you Johan. We’ve been waiting for you ever since we saw the stork deliver you in the sky. Please come down.”

    “And I’ve always flown. How will I know how to walk? On the ground like a grown up?”

    “You will. We flew when we were your age but we walk all the time now. Once the ground gets to know you it doesn’t want to let go.”

    “Why can’t I just fly forever? I want to fly forever.”

    “Coming down to earth is part of growing up. Only babies fly. Do you want to be a big baby all your life?”

    “I want to be grown up like you. OK. Just for a bit. Oof. Owowow. My legs hurt.”

    “Let mummy and daddy hold you. I’ll kiss it better.”

  37. Cast No Shadow
    (155 Words @Karl_A_Russell)

    The blast left the bricks and steel untouched but of flesh and blood not a trace remained, save the dim grey shadows seared onto the walls, a snapshot of the town’s final moment.

    At first they tried matching photographs from albums and drivers licenses to their heat etched counterparts, but it was too big, too difficult a task, even after the hazmat suits came off, so they settled for numbers, just counting the shadows.

    They came up one short. Close enough for Government work, but every crew stopped by the yard anyway, to look for themselves. Two figures, the woman sat in a lounger, the man standing, facing the blast, hands raised in terror. That much they understood, but the swing set and toys suggested a third. So where was the shadow?

    High above their puzzlement, the clouds coalesce, a shape is formed, a child laughs.

    Then the wind blows again, and he is gone.

  38. “Lucidity”
    154 words
    @RavenNC

    It’s so easy, I’ve been doing it all my life. Or at least, as far back as I can remember.

    Flying – no wings, no parachute, nothing. Nothing but me, held on currents of air, slipping the chains of gravity.

    My hands overlapping above my head, my arms pressed to my ears, I push off gently and arc my body in a bow. In the water it would be the perfect dive.

    It shouldn’t work on land. But it does.

    I should crash into the relentless earth. But I don’t.

    Instead, as I arc toward the ground, the liquid buoyancy of the air guides me upward. My heart soars, my spirit lifts, and I am free.

    I’ve been told that these flights usually stop when the innocence of childhood ends, but as I watch the leaves change for the forty-second time, flight remains.

    My eyes close, my body relaxes, my sleeping mind dreams…and I fly.

  39. Playtime
    154 words
    @CharlesWShort

    I remember when I was a boy, I loved it when papa would throw me into the air and catch me again.

    Back then everything was different. This was a democracy, or precisely, a constitutional republic.

    But now we only have anarchy. There is no economy. It collapsed because we spent money we didn’t have.

    Back then we had jobs, electricity, and stores. Grocery stores, oh how I miss grocery stores.

    But now we must hunt, fish, or gather natural foods. But gardens attract raiders.

    Back then we loved the sunlight.

    But now decent people don’t survive in the daylight.

    Back then we could travel.

    But now there are no cars or even roads.

    Back then we could laugh. We should have laughed more.

    But now I have to train my son to never make any sound. Especially not now, in the few minutes of play right before sunrise. Before we go back underground.

  40. Freedom by @nzstelter
    153 words

    They didn’t want to let me go. All those grasping hands – mum’s boney ones, daddy’s strong ones and grandpa’s frail ones – they reached as high as they could but I have been preparing for this moment ever since I was a babe in arms.

    They were always trying to tell me what to do, you see. Mum wanted me to wear my hair with a slick centre parting so all the other mothers would coo at me. Daddy wanted me to pretend I like fishing as much as he does, but the first time I saw a hook in that trout’s mouth with its dead eyes…well, I just knew it wasn’t for me. And as for grandpa, if I have to sit quietly and listen to any more of his stories, I’ll turn to stone on the spot, I just know it. So I’ve been learning to fly.

    This life. It’s mine.

  41. ‘The Intervention’ by Tom O’Connell (@Conveniently_So)
    153 words

    At midday, the aliens arrived in their stealth ships. Suspended above the humans’ nesting ground, the city, they observed the arrogance of man. It was time for an intervention.

    * * *

    Rubin couldn’t understand it. Flash fires raged in buildings. Explosions sounded. Everywhere he looked, the telltales of destruction licked at his peripheral vision.

    He grabbed Jason, his girlfriend’s son. Rubin hated the little shit, but had to protect him.

    ‘Woah, a laser!’ Jason exclaimed.

    ‘Kid, we’ve gotta go.’

    It all happened so fast. Rubin reached out as Jason began to levitate. He gripped Jason’s ankle and began the invisible tug o’ war.

    ‘Let go, you big jerk! I wanna see!’

    ‘It’s not safe!’ Rubin shouted.

    ‘You’re not my real dad!’

    Then it hit Rubin. Jason had been at the root of every one of their fights, their non-existent sex life. He watched the invisible current drag Jason away. This would be best for everyone.

  42. The Wait

    She reached up her arms to the boy who hovered above, hoping he would fall to her.

    Maybe he was for her, and with the man who stood beside her they would be three.

    Many who came were couples, but singles also felt the pang of years passing too quickly. Not all of them were childless, but they all wanted something. They came to watch, to witness a miracle.

    But the child remained. In shorts and a shirt, socks and sneakers, he hung with arms extended. Unlike those who waited below, he seemed at peace, unaware of the stirring he had started.

    The woman lowered her arms; tears fell from her closed eyes, and her husband’s arms encircled her.

    The child wasn’t theirs. If he was, they would have asked why he was there, where he came from, if he was even alive.

    Instead they turned away, and another pair took their place.

    @josettekeelor
    153 words

  43. The End of the Beginning
    155 words
    @JMnumber6

    Everyone knew it would happen. Sooner or later, someone would be selfish and risk all of humanity. Someone would have a child and keep it secret.

    Humanity had gotten used to the idea that it was doomed. Sixty or seventy years of peace was better than the annihilation of spawning … them. The first one had killed nearly five hundred million people before it was stopped. The second and third had combined for another three hundred million.

    No one knew how it had happened. God or aliens or secret government experiments? In the end, what mattered was stopping it.

    Mrs. Lee didn’t care. All her life, she’d wanted a child. She hid her son for seven years.

    She was discovered as the child’s seventh birthday approached. As the mob closed in, though, they were too late. Her son lifted into the air, out of their reach, and began to transform.

    The Age of Dragons had begun.

  44. Redemption’s Price

    The mineral wealth of the hills was not for mere men to give away…to trade for money and possessions. The land was…had always been a gift from the Old Gods. The village elders had ignored Mwanga Kamari’s warnings and for their transgression had paid a terrible price. For three long years, the land had languished in the grip of drought and desolation. The Old Gods had withdrawn their favor, turning a deaf ear to the lamentations of the people.

    As the sun rose slowly in the east, Kamari knew he had, at last, regained the favor of the Old Gods through his prayers and supplication. The water would return but a price must be paid.

    He knew without looking when young Kunguru, the chieftain’s son, was taken by the Old Gods as payment for the folly of the people. As the boy vanished into the morning sky, the first drops of rain began to fall.

    155 words @klingorengi

  45. Silhouetted against the darkening sky, the children fell to Earth. I couldn’t catch them all, though I tried – a haul like this would keep me in clover for six, maybe seven years. The ones I missed bounced and cried and tumbled and then scurried off into the brush, but I was quick as a flash, and my handmade cages were soon full. Didn’t need strong steel, like for tigers, or fancy locks, like for wizards. Did need earplugs, though – cloud babies yell up a storm when hungry, and I ain’t no wet nurse. My wagon was old, but it’d make this one last run through the pass. Maybe I could still sell it to some townie. Same for the mules that pulled it, but no one really wants an old mule, except the Army for rations. One of the kids smiled at me as I cinched the straps. Maybe I’d keep one this time.

    154 words
    @drmagoo

  46. Bjorn tossed him higher and higher. 4-year old Stefan giggled with each toss. He obviously loved the sensation of flying. Eva watched with trepidation, always afraid something terrible might happen.

    “Not so high,” she called to Bjorn.

    “He fine,” said Bjorn. “Look. He loves it!” He grinned to another peal of laughter from Stefan.

    “You’ll make him sick.”

    “It’s good for him. Maybe someday he’ll be a pilot.”

    “Heaven forbid! People aren’t meant to fly.”

    “He is. Just look…uh. Stefan!”

    Eva’s eyes bulged at the sight of Stefan, still giggling, hovering above Bjorn’s outstretched arms. “Stefan Gunvaldsson! You come down here right now.”

    “How is this possible?” wondered Bjorn.

    “You’ve tossed him too many times,” scolded Eva. “Now he’s stuck there!”

    And so began the little-known career of Warpman. With his ability warp space and time, he was the first human to fly faster than light and, sadly, the first human lost in space.

  47. “Wyndal! Would ya look at that!” “See I told ya! Every year! It’s the same damn thing! Those big rigs pull into town, bringing their grubby things and their grubbier food! People comin; from God knows where, women half; naked! Kids yellin’, and the men! Don’t even get me started on the men. Most; without even two knickels to rub together. I mean, God Almighty, why a strong wind coulda blown that kid clean outta sight.”

    He looks over to Wyndal. “Wyndal? You listenin to me!?”

    Wendell’s unintelligible mumble around a mouthful of food, accompanies an offhanded gesture with his fork. All the while, nodding his head, before refocusing on the sampling of the bazaar’s offerings.

    “Is that slop, really that good? His stomach rumbles loudly, and he begins patting his pockets. Before, sheepishly turning to Wendell. “Mind lendin me a couple bucks, figure I might as well try one a dem plates.”
    153 words
    @RegCPA5963

  48. Super Mum
    @todayschapter
    150 words

    “Tim, it’s time for supper, come inside.”
    “But Mummmmmm, the sun isn’t even down yet.”
    “Never you mind that, you need a hot meal and a bath.”
    Tim’s face wrinkled with disgust, “I just had a bath like five days ago!”
    “It’s not my fault you keep whizzing around everywhere kicking up all that dust. Now quit your yapping and let’s go.”
    “I want to stay outside and play. I’m not even hungry.”
    She reached to grab him but he hovered just out of reach. She felt her blood pressure rising, “Timothy, you get back down here this instant!”
    He stuck out his tongue, “Make me!”
    Mary looked towards the heavens in the hope of spotting her elusive husband, “Honest to goodness young man, if your father wasn’t off saving the world I would have him fly right back here to super spank your little bottom right up those stairs!”

  49. The Detective of Innocence (155 words)

    The disgraced professor stepped into the clearing and clicked on a recorder.
    “You’ll recall I’ve proven weightlessness to be the pinnacle for sentient life.”
    “Will you explain your brilliance?” he asked himself.
    “Gladly, pupil. In wombs we are in the sea, in space. We cry when we feel midwifes’ hands, and develop speech to order our parents to cast us skyward.”
    “That explains my sadness!”
    He nodded.
    “I will interview baby spiders on their gossamer wings, then return to speak with grown ones resigned to web-clinging. Tonight’s work shall rectify my calamities.”
    He attached his beanie cap then released its oversized propeller. The rubber band he’d twisted for days shuddered, and the detective shot up, vanishing.
    That he never returned was celebrated by colleagues, who had tried through conventional means to rid their department of him. Yet elders aver that a windborne skeleton may be seen, though their accounts are discredited by decades of foolishness.

  50. Emmy
    “It’s you, Daddy! Look!” Emmy pointed to her shower drawing, artfully completed with washable crayon.

    “That doesn’t look like me!”

    “Yes it does,” she giggled, “Wait! I forgot your beard.”

    Emmy scribbled a blue goatee and mustache onto the portrait.

    “I’m gonna wash you away just like that drawing!” I laughed, dumping a souvenir cup of water over her head. As the pour ended, I whimpered, the first curl washing away. This couldn’t be happening: her treatment had only started a week ago. It was too soon.

    “What’s wrong, Daddy?” Emmy asked.

    “Nothing, sweetie,” I tried to hide the curl. She saw it.

    “Daddy, don’t be worried: hair grows back. Everyone knows that,” She giggled.

    I swallowed hard, holding back tears. I thought of the innocence we both felt just a month ago when I freely tossed Emmy into the sky: it had been her birthday.

    “You’re right baby. It does,” I paused, “It will.”

    @nXgWVteacher
    155 Words

  51. (reposted for formatting)

    The Detective of Innocence
    (155 words)

    The disgraced professor stepped into the clearing and clicked on a recorder.

    “You’ll recall I’ve proven weightlessness to be the pinnacle for sentient life.”

    “Will you explain your brilliance?” he asked himself.

    “Gladly, pupil. In wombs we are in the sea, in space. We cry when we feel midwifes’ hands, and develop speech to order our parents to cast us skyward.”

    “That explains my sadness!”

    He nodded.

    “I will interview baby spiders on their gossamer wings, then return to speak with grown ones resigned to web-clinging. Tonight’s work shall rectify my calamities.”

    He attached his beanie cap then released its oversized propeller. The rubber band he’d twisted for days shuddered, and the detective shot up, vanishing.

    That he never returned was celebrated by colleagues, who had tried through conventional means to rid their department of him. Yet elders aver that a windborne skeleton may be seen, though their accounts are discredited by decades of foolishness.

  52. Teaching Abroad

    Throwing children out of windows isn’t normal. At the height of their trajectory, they float for a heartbeat in the air. Orange light paints over their skin. It’s almost beautiful, but it isn’t normal.

    Some of the older kids understand, and they all fight our holds instinctively in fear. But we’re stronger, and we’re determined. Their wiggling and crying cannot slow us down. Screams tear through me, but I don’t even pause.

    “I hate heights,” the little boy in my arms whispers.

    “Close your eyes,” I can’t help whispering back.

    The second he does, I clench my jaw and toss. His arms flail as he flies. Fourteen.

    I pray the hands outside will catch him.

    We search the smoky room for any small bodies left behind. The flames lick at my feet through the remaining patches of floor.

    This isn’t what I signed up for.

    (145 words; @AriaGlazki)

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